In the Com­mu­nity

Dozens of best- sell­ing au­thors liven up down­town Fort My­ers at the South­west Florida Read­ing Fes­ti­val

RSWLiving - - Departments - BY MARGIE BYERS

Twenty- eight best- sell­ing au­thors came to Fort My­ers to meet their fans and dis­cuss and au­to­graph their books at the 15th an­nual South­west Florida Read­ing Fes­ti­val. The March 15 event pre­sented pop­u­lar au­thors for adults, teens and chil­dren from all over the coun­try to en­cour­age a com­mu­nity- wide cul­ture of read­ing for plea­sure and per­sonal de­vel­op­ment. The fes­ti­val was filled with dy­namic au­thor pre­sen­ta­tions, ac­tiv­i­ties for teens and chil­dren, the lat­est li­brary tech­nol­ogy, con­tests, lo­cal au­thors and book­sellers and book sign­ings. There was also a free book for ev­ery child and teen, and the Read­ing Rocks! Teen Bat­tle of the Bands fi­nals. Fes­ti­val at­ten­dance was es­ti­mated at 18,000.

The au­thors had a fan­tas­tic time in Fort My­ers, as ev­i­denced by their own words.

“I had such a good time— great reader at­ten­dance, good re­sponses, amaz­ing weather,” said award- win­ning mys­tery writer Mar­garet Maron. “And I was so im­pressed by your beau­ti­ful new li­brary. Ku­dos to Lee County for be­ing so sup­port­ive.”

“I re­ally had a lot of fun and sold a de­cent bunch of books,” said Andrew Gross, au­thor of nu­mer­ous thrillers, in­clud­ing six col­lab­o­ra­tions with James Pat­ter­son. “And since I don’t do many of these— maybe one or two a year— the blend­ing of the group of au­thors al­ways helped, and our group had a blast.”

Chil­dren’s au­thors Betsy and Ted Lewin said, “Ev­ery­one in­volved was so help­ful and friendly, and the au­di­ences were among the most at­ten­tive and ap­pre­cia­tive we’ve ever pre­sented to. It was an al­to­gether sat­is­fy­ing weekend.”

Save the date for next year’s read­ing fes­ti­val: March 21, 2015. Guest con­trib­u­tor Margie Byers is the li­brary de­vel­op­ment specialist for the Lee County Li­brary Sys­tem. Each year, she co­or­di­nates the South­west Florida Read­ing Fes­ti­val.

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