I was a very busy chica over the last few weeks. Oye's release and all the April readings/signings/events coincided with the most hectic part of the semester (thesis defenses, final papers, exams etc.) and added to that "usual craziness" was the largest annual writers' conference I attended--this year's AWP was in Minneapolis and it was really great. Five of my current and/or former UCF students co-presented with me on two different panels. There were really excellent sessions on marketing one's work, small presses, teaching, and more such as the overwhelming wonderful book hall and readings by well known and emerging authors. I also signed books at the Midwest Independent Bookstore Association's meeting and recited a poem by José Martí for the favorite poem project sponsored by Tatestreet (check back for the link). It was exhausting but exhilirating.
After AWP was the UCF Book Festival. I was featured on a panel with novelist Chantel Acevedo, author of Distant Marvels, A Falling Star and two other novels. We are both graduates of the University of Miami--though not classmates. She is returning home to Miami to join the MFA faculty this fall. The UCF Book Festival has been an annual event for the last five years and this year's keynote was the always entertaining Terry McMillan.
A returning author was Ann Hood who participated in the inagural Book Fest; she spoke about the origins of her latest novel An Italian Wife. She was featured on a panel about fierce women/girl characters along side Chantel who spoke about the story-tellers in her family and inspiration for her work as well as the pull of research. Pictured here below is also Sandra Gail Lambert, a first time novelist whose The River's Memory is an evocative tribute to Florida's spring fed rivers and some powerful women who populated its banks during different time periods. The UCF Book Festival is a wonderful event for the Central Florida community. Check here for videos from previous years' festivals.