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reading festivals and events ::

:: the st. petersburg times
:: festival of reading

:: Writing Tips from Word Smitten ::November 2004:: A Festival of Reading ::

The 12th Annual
St. Petersburg Times
Festival of Reading

Eckerd College, St. Petersburg, Florida

Held on the Eckerd College campus and sponsored by the Times, this event begins at 10 a.m. and lasts until late afternoon. The festival offers regional and national publishers an opportunity to bring newly released books to the Outdoor Festival Marketplace. Invited authors in past years have included Connie May Fowler, author of Before Women Had Wings, Haines Johnson, Rick Bragg, and previous years included music, readings, and children's activities.

On a campus in the Tampa/St. Petersburg area, this book festival provides waterfront views and notable authors. It is held in November but Florida's erratic heat often provides sultry weather so dress in light layers for this one: for writers, booksellers and book lovers. Check early with hotels and B&Bs - they quickly fill up during the season.

For details, visit the conference site. St. Petersburg Times Festival of Reading.

Read an excerpt from a previous interview with SPT's book editor:

Margo Hammond discussed her experiences as a newspaper columnist and book editor. She comments on her philosophy about writing, writers, and the book industry.

(Updated rom a previous WS edition.)

:: Writing Tips from Word Smitten :: Editor Margo Hammond on books, writers, and the craft.

Word Smitten: Before we get to questions on writing and publishing, first a question about the St. Petersburg Times Festival of Reading. The festival quickly achieved popularity during the first years and draws more than 20,000 participants each year. What are you planning for the next few years to keep it vital and attractive?

Margo Hammond: The Times Festival of Reading is now in its 12th year. This year the festival will again be in November and offer a variety of programs.

As for expansion, we are hoping one day to have another festival, perhaps at another time of the year, somewhere in the northern counties. The location is undetermined yet, but the University of South Florida is a possibility or maybe in Clearwater.

When I started this project, newspaper didn't sponsor book fairs or festivals. The Washington Post and the New York Times had author luncheons, and there were newspapers that were affiliated with festivals, but we were the first to actually put on our own event. I patterned it after the Miami book fair, a street fair that draws all economic levels.

Word Smitten:
What type of individual does it attract--writers, students, readers?

Margo Hammond: The festival attracts a high quality audience -- our core readers. It is filled with people who are open to ideas and who are not necessarily would-be writers as much as they are consummate readers. And they read newspapers. Nationally recognized authors who participate in this festival say they get a high caliber of questions from our festival audiences. The festival is especially popular with NPR (National Public Radio) listeners.

Word Smitten:
What was your position prior to book editor of the St. Petersburg Times?

Margo Hammond: I was a travel writer and freelance writer in New York. I thought I'd be here for a few years to take a break from what I was doing--traveling. When I told my New York friends I applied for the job they told me I'd be back. I planned to take the job and stay for about three years. I've been here since 1990.

Word Smitten:
Is there a book in your future, and if so fiction or nonfiction?

Margo Hammond: Lots of book ideas go through my mind, but the best reason I have for not writing is in a book written by Marcel Benabou. The book talks about all the reasons people procrastinate, and the reasons they find not to write. Its title is, Why I Have Not Written Any of My Books.

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