I had no intention of posting this morning, but I was too wired to do anything else but share with you our experiences from the kickoff of the UCF Book Festival last night.
Our annual UCF Book Festival (my second in attendance and as an official festival blogger) will be held all day today, and will feature some incredible authors and celebrities. A VIP Reception was held last night in honor of our guests, and Heather (Raging Bibliomania) and I were invited to attend in an official capacity. (We were asked to read and review a number of books from attending authors, which you have seen here at the blog over the last month.) We were expecting a short hour or two of mingling with UCF staff and various authors that had already arrived in town. We were looking forward to some of the friendly faces we met at SIBA in Charleston last year.
It was a top-notch reception. It was held in the brand-spanking new Mordridge International Reading Center, a state-of-the-art facility, and were entertained by a jazz band from a local high school. There was food, drinks (diet coke for me), and a huge chocolate fountain that I had to walk by to get to the bathroom. I resisted but it was hard!
But what we thought would be a quick and casual evening suddenly morphed into what I would consider a book blogger's lottery. Heather and I found ourselves surrounded by six authors who were hungry and wanting to go out to dinner...with us. We all piled into two cars and headed to Houlihans.
Five of the six authors we had met before. We were graced by three of the five Southern Belles of the Southern Belle View ...Lisa Wingate, Rachel Hauck, and Marybeth Whalen (She Makes It Look Easy). You might recall, the bloggers even "bought" Marybeth at the SIBA auction in Charleston and took her and three others to dinner. We were also graced with the company of River Jordan (Praying For Strangers), and Karen White (On Folly Beach and something like 13 or 14 other novels).
And then of course there was JOSHILYN. The one I gush over every time I get a chance. The one who I've read everything she has ever published. I could have gone all screaming-14-year-old-at-the-sight-of-Justin-Bieber on her, but I maintained control. Sort of.
Spending an evening with these ladies was incredible. It was like old home week. Everyone knew each other. Three of them have a blog together. River and Joshilyn went to college together. They'd all done panels together (some great, some not so great). There were a lot of stories, a lot of laughing, and I felt like I basically sat there with a goofy grin on my face at our good luck. My rule of thumb on these dinners is "what happens at dinner stays at dinner"...I never want authors to feel like they have to be guarded in what they say around me.
But I will say this. Joshilyn talks like she writes. You know that wit that comes through her characters that make you laugh out loud? That is just IN her, and comes out in a constant font of hilarity. We also had some fascinating discussions about the Furry Fetish (twisted, bizarre and totally real - it is on Wiki if you don't believe me) and the websites Awkward Family Photos and Awkward Family Pet Photos. I'll warn you...if you start looking you won't be able to stop. And I learned that bunny rabbit costumes cannot look normal EVER.
Group photo left to right: Rachel Hauck, Karen White, Me, Lisa Wingate, Marybeth Whalen, Joshilyn Jackson, Heather Figearo, River Jordan
I look forward to a full day of author panels and seeing some of my good blogger friends. I will provide an update tomorrow in my Sunday Salon!