This year the Eighth Annual Venice Book Fair and Writers Festival has a new home and room for more authors and publishers and others in the field.
Overflowing Centennial Park in the area near the gazebo and challenged by road construction along West Tampa Avenue, the festival moved to Blalock Park, which is in the 300 block of Nassau Avenue, across the street from the Venice Museum and Archives in the former Triangle Inn. Also on the Cultural Campus with the archives is the new William H. Jervey Venice Public Library, Venice Community Center and Venice Art Center. In addition to an abundance of parking on the cultural campus west of the library, there is plenty of street parking all around Blalock Park where the book sale will be held on Saturday.
On Friday, beginning at 2 p.m., there will be panel discussions on children’s books and publishing and a master class by best-selling author David Hagberg. A suggested donation of $20 will cover the cost of all three classes and a cheese and wine reception following the classes in the library.
Since its beginning, this event has been designed as much for writers and would-be writers as it is for readers looking for something new.
Readers will find plenty of books for all ages at the book fair on Saturday, March 16, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Just look for the tents in Blalock Park. There also will be plenty of parking on the city’s cultural campus which contains the library, art center, community center and Venice Museum & Archives. Tents will be set up in Blalock Park with the primary entrance in the area of the arboretum which is close to the intersection of Milan and Nassau.
With at least 50 tents offering the work of possibly 60 or more writers, including an area devoted to children’s books, there will be plenty of genres for readers plus the opportunity to talk with the authors.
One of the most prolific writers to have a tent at the annual event is Venice resident Clarissa Thomasson, who has been at every event since the beginning.
She has a delightful series of children’s books — “The Little Green Monkey” series. If you think a green monkey might be extra mischievous, you might be right.
With a bachelor’s degree form Duke and a masters from the University of Florida (both in English), this retired teacher based her first novels on her own family history. The first two, “Defending Hillsborough” and Reconstructing Hillsborough,” were selected for use in the high school study of the Civil War in North Carolina public schools. Her third book, “Lorinda’s Legacy,” also was a best seller in North Carolina. Retiring to Florida, the Miami native soon settled in Venice where she has written several more novels based on the history of Florida, including Sarasota and her latest, “Venice Dreamers.” In those books she blends history and real people from the past to craft intriguing tales that offer a bonus — plenty of true anecdotes about early people and their influences on this area that is today known as the state’s “Cultural Coast.”
In her Venice book you will find whole chapters on the likes of Capt. John Charles Casey (Casey Key), early homesteader Jesse Knight (Knight Memorial Cemetery), Frank Higel who named Venice for the similarity of its canals to those found in Venice, Italy; Bertha Honore Palmer (largest landowner in area), Dr. Fred Albee (famed surgeon and more), John Nolen (city planner) Edward Worthington (he was the first mayor), and so many others.
Thomasson also is participating in Friday’s event for writers and would-be writers. She will be on the panel discussing “Today’s Youth Market,” featuring children’s books and aspects involved with their creation and eventual publication.
New to the fair this year is children’s book author Joan Kahil Creamer, who will display a coloring book based on her “Magic Scepter” series and the book, “The Magic Scepter,” from that successful series.
Creamer, originally from Cleveland, Ohio, is a graduate of the Cleveland Institute of Art. Now retired to Venice, she is using her art background to create lovable and bewitching characters such as “Beaula the Witch,” a witch who was frightened by Halloween and seeks help from Santa Claus at the North Pole when she learns that he knows more about magic than anyone. Not only is the story charming but the end result is that it is designed to alleviate fears of ghosts in young children who might be frightened by such things. Look for her booth and you might discover why her books have sold in excess of 30,000 copies.
Brenda Spaulding will feature “Sailing Away to Nod” and several of her other childrens’ books. She is a book fair veteran who has helped many area children’s authors.
Also returning this year and once again on a panel discussing publishing is best-selling novelist Susan Klaus who writes fantasies and thrillers, is one of Amazon’s Top 100 authors of Mystery and Romance and won a RPLA Award for Best Fantasies for her book, “Wayland,” a sequel to “Flight of the Golden Harpy,” published by leading fantasy publisher Tor.
Active with the Sarasota Authors Connection which she founded, Klaus has helped many aspiring writers to improve their work with workshops and more.
Mystery writer David Hagberg is back again at the festival to offer a master class for writers. He is a master at character creation among many other aspects of storytelling, which has made him a best-selling author.
The panel discussions and Hagberg’s master class will be Friday afternoon beginning at 2 p.m. with the panel on children’s books. From 3 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. the authors on that panel will be available to sign copies of their books
The second panel, on publishing, will run from 3:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. again with 30 minutes at the end for meeting the authors and purchasing signed copies of their books. Hagberg’s master class will run from 5 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. and be followed by a wine and cheese reception. Friday programs will be held in the new William H. Jervey Jr. Venice Public Library on the northeast corner of the city’s cultural campus, at 300 S. Nokomis Ave.
All the speakers have donated their time to participate in the afternoon event on Friday. A donation of $20 is requested for participation in the three class sessions and reception. Proceeds from the festival benefit the Venice Area Historical Society.
Saturday’s book fair will be in Blalock Park, the 300 block of South Nassau Street, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. From 2 p.m. to 3 p.m. there will be an open-air workshop on self-editing led by Camille Cline, a former editor at Tor, a major publisher of fantasy science fiction books.
If you are a reader, a writer or a would-be writer, head to the Eighth Annual Venice Book Fair & Writers Festival this weekend. For additional information, visit: venicebookfair.com.