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Forum Home > The Journey > 2011 UCF Book Festival - Orlando Florida

Tracy L Darity
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I really enjoyed the 2011 UCF Book Festival, held April 16th, on the beautiful campus of the University of Central Florida; and look forward to participating again next year. Allison Jefferson and her team were very professional and went above and beyond to make it a positive experience for everyone from the featured authors, exhibitors, to the patrons. They provided updates on a regular basis leading up to the event and offered independent and self-published authors the opportunity to have their books included in the festival door prizes and raffles, as well as an opportunity to do book readings (which I will touch upon later).


One thing I am particularly grateful for is their willingness to help me locate an assistant for the event. I sent them an email and within 24 hours they had located someone. Her name is Mia Williams and she was wonderful with a sweet spirit and willingness to do whatever. I loved that everyone kept asking if she was my daughter. Throughout the day I kept thinking that I had met Mia before, because she had a certain familiarity about her. I have finally decided that it may be that she has a striking resemblance to someone I use to work with, named Jaime. Hopefully, she will be available for future events I am sure to participate in, around the Orlando area.


Another treat was meeting members of the Orlando chapter of Sistahfriend Book Club, Inc. Sistahfriend's is an international book club with chapters in South & North Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Tennessee, Texas, the Bahama's and Japan. They continue to grow, not just because they love to read books and have fabulous book club meetings filled with gifts, gab, and their sexy pink and black gear; but because these sister’s give back to their community. When you get a chance sheck-out the video on the homepage of their website.  Thanks Deborah and Charlene for your support.


The UCF campus, I thought was very impressive. It is like a city within a city. If the students don’t want to leave campus they don’t have to because everything they need is right there. This was my first visit to the University of Central Florida, and now I know why so many people are starting to take notice of this college. Watch-out Florida State and UF.


Back to the festival, a huge plus I felt was the size of the event. The festival was held inside the UCF arena, with a limited number of exhibitors. Unlike the Miami International Book Fair where the number of exhibitors populated both sides of the streets surrounding a city block in downtown Miami, and expanded onto the courtyard and inside one of the buildings. Set-up and breakdown was made easy by access to the loading docks at the rear of the arena. Advertising for the event drew thousands of book lovers through the doors. They were friendly, and many ready to meet the authors and support them. As with most book festivals there was plenty for the kids, including puppet shows, miniature horses, a production of The Wizard of Oz, and characters from Star Wars. Even R2D2 made an appearance.


My only real disappointment of the day was the book signing set-up for the Self-Published Author’s. It was merely a bar like table with four chairs, placed in a corner. There were no announcements of who was getting ready to do a signing. Therefore, unless someone was specifically looking for an author to hear their reading, if you happened to pass by on your way to the restroom or elevators, you probably would have thought it was just a couple of people taking a minute to chat. But I am willing to forgive considering it was the first attempt, and we were asked for feedback on how to make things better.


I am truly appreciative of everyone who stopped by my booth to learn about my work, and to those who purchased copies of my novels. As always, at the end of these events you can sense the dismay of some of the exhibitors. It would be nice if more people took advantage of book festivals to get to know the independent authors who buy exhibitor space (thus making the event possible). We are there to introduce you to our work and hopefully to make you a fan. You can go to Barnes & Nobles, or the other book retailers any day of the week to buy the latest book by whatever authors are topping the best-sellers lists. Not only will you be amazed by the gems you will find, but it may also be the only opportunity you have to meet a particular author. Imagine how much that autographed copy would be worth if he or she becomes an all-time bestselling author.


Before I close, at the Miami festival I mentioned above renowned author Bernice McFadden could be seen walking the grounds and checking folks out, which gave me the opportunity to meet someone that has inspired me. Unfortunately, I don’t have one of those “OMG I met so-and-so” moments to take from this event. However, it did bring a smile to my face to meet Pamela Miller, the artist commissioned for the artwork on the official festival poster. I am very happy for this sister because I know and have met many artists who are struggling these days, and to have such an honor bestowed upon you is truly a blessing.


Once again, thanks to Allison Jefferson and her team for a great job. Allison it was so nice to meet you, and I am not going to lie, it never entered my mind that you would be the sassy sister who showed up at my booth at the end of the day to thank me for participating. I really need to stop doing that.  Event Photo Album


Much Love,




Tracy L. Darity is the author of He Loves Me He Loves Me Not! and Love…Like Snow In Florida on a Hot Summer Day. She is currently working on her third novel, The Red Bear Society, due for release in the fall of 2011. For more information visit www.TracyLDarity.com and click on "Books."

May 1, 2011 at 1:37 PM Flag Quote & Reply

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