Thursday, April 22, 2010

UCF: Ultra Cool Festival

Well, now that I'm home and caught up on email and blog posts, I can tell y'all about the University of Central Florida Book Festival.

It was fun.

I grew up in South Florida, so going to Orlando was a little like a trip home. A good friend of mine lives there, so we got to hang out all day Friday, and I was able to sneak her into the VIP reception Friday night for the authors and guests of the festival. (Okay, maybe sneak isn't the right word. It was more like me saying, "Hey, can I bring a guest?" and them going, "Sure.")

The reception was held at the Barnes & Noble store on the UCF campus. They did a bang up job, had lots of yummy snacks for us (Even if I did manage to spill my soda all over my plate while talking to someone. Note to self--stop talking so much with your hands). All the authors there were super nice and we mingled about meeting everyone. I got to say hi again to an author I was on a panel with at the South Carolina Book Festival in February, James O'Brian (or Jim O. Born for the crime novels). I really wanted to meet Carl Hiaasen, the keynote speaker, but I was too chicken to go up and say hi. He always had folks around him and I didn't want to butt in. The highlight of the evening was a reading of a short story by a fourth grader from the day's Young Writers Conference. A great story and I suspect we'll be seeing her name in the shelves in ten years or so.

So what do authors do at these things when the festival isn't going on? Well, Friday night a bunch of us went next door to the BBQ place and chatted and ate. (okay, yes, drinks were also involved). I got to try gator bites, which were made of actual gator. And they really did taste like chicken. You'd think the conversation would be all high brow and literary, but we gabbed a lot about Family Guy. (Because ya know, the bird is the word).

We called it early since we all had panels the next day and headed off to bed.

Me on my panel with Bryan Davis and the very nice moderator whose name I embarrassingly forgot until a very nice commenter told me was Dr. Jeff Kaplan, Associate Professor at the UCF College of Education

Saturday rolled around and it was off to the festival itself. My panel was around 11:45, and I got to talk shop with fellow YA author Bryan Davis (and hear about his cool dragon books, which of course led to buying some of his cool dragon books). I've added Starlighter, the first of his new series to my To-Read pile. Good thing he's a D so I can get to it soon. I also got to meet blog reader Sarah (hi Sarah!) and her sister, Kaylee (did I get that right? I'm betting no).

We did the book signing thing and got to meet some folks after, then I was on my own for the rest of the festival.

Well, not really on my own. My sister drove up to hang out with me, which was really great since I haven't seen her since Thanksgiving. The rest of Saturday was spent checking out the other panels and cruising through the exhibitor booths buying books (I think my To-Read pile is back to 40 again -sigh-)

Of course, if you're in Orlando for the weekend, you have to slip in a day at a theme park, so we headed over to Universal Studios on Sunday. Naturally, it rained most of the day, but that only made it easier to ride the water rides without fear of total soakage. I got to totally smoke the big sis on the Men in Black ride (it's like a giant video game), though my glee at her getting spit in the face by fake dinosaurs on the Jurassic Park ride earned me a wave in the face on the Dudley Do-right log flume.

We hit Islands of Adventure first, where I was nearly devoured by a T-Rex. Really. It came out of the bushes and practically snapped my head right off.

Me getting attacked by a T-Rex

I must have been wearing "smells like lunch" perfume, because later, a zombie shark tried to eat me. I barely escaped with my life.

Me getting attacked by a zombie shark

And later, this fish came out of nowhere and tried to bring me down just like a ninja or something. We had to call security and everything.

Me getting attacked by a ninja fish

All in all it was a great weekend and I had lots of fun. I always enjoy meeting other authors and finding new books I might not have otherwise picked up, and when I can meet readers on top of that, well it's a treat for sure.

And because you stayed with me through all those really bad photos, here's a cute picture of Darwin, my cat.


  1. Just moved away from Orlando. Used to work at Universal. Don't miss either! But glad you had a great time. I'm off to the Pikes Peak Writers Conference tomorrow. Jim Born is a hoot, though, isn't he!

  2. Sounds like you had a great time. And, absolutely love the pics!!

  3. :-) Hi! (And it's Kayelee, but don't worry, everybody gets it wrong. Kaye is my mom's middle name and Lee is my dad's...)

    I posted a (much shorter) blog post about the Book Festival on my blog

    Jim Born is always so nice!

  4. Those pics are hilarious. :)

  5. What Lydia said. You crack me up, girl.

  6. Those pictures are awesome! I love the guy in the blue shirt looking at you like you're insane when you're being attacked by the Zombie Shark.

    Not insane, blue-shirted man: Awesome.

  7. The moderator of your panel discussion was Dr. Jeff Kaplan, Associate Professor at the UCF College of Education. Glad you enjoyed your time and participation.

  8. Your photo essays highlight the dangers of Florida. I'm glad you braved the state and had a good time. Also glad you're back!

  9. OMG - your cat looks exactly like one I had in high school, and I have a picture almost just like that one! I love the pict with the shark btw - too cool. Sounds like you had a lot of fun. :)

  10. Those pictures rock! And Darwin is adorable. Universal Studios is so much fun. I've been once, back in high school as part of a spring break band trip. I'd love to go again, especially I got to combine the trip with a book festival. It sounded like a blast.

  11. Thanks Rich! I hadn't even unpacked yet when I wrote this, so all my festival materials were still locked away.