The news is out: The Tampa Bay Times Festival of Reading is back, with more than 50 authors on hand to talk about their books and meet their readers.
The 23rd annual Times Festival of Reading will take place from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Oct. 24 on the campus of the University of South Florida St. Petersburg, 140 Seventh Ave. S.
Headlining the festival is beloved author Judy Blume, whose books for children and adults have sold more than 40 million copies.
Two other notable women, successful in very different occupations, will present their books as well: Gen. Ann Dunwoody, the U.S. Army's first female four-star general, and Amber Tamblyn, a star of movies and TV and an accomplished poet.
The free event this year boasts a whole lineup of Pulitzer Prize-winning journalists: Margo Jefferson, Leonard Pitts Jr., Times staffer Lane DeGregory and former Times staffer Anne Hull.
As you'll see on these pages, authors will present books of contemporary and historical fiction, mystery and romance, YA and horror. Nonfiction books cover everything from pop music to popular sports.
The poet laureate of Florida, Peter Meinke, will be there for a ceremony celebrating his new position and handing on his former title of poet laureate of St. Petersburg to Helen Pruitt Wallace.
The festival also will feature several Tampa Bay Times staffers. As the 2016 elections approach, the Pulitzer Prize-winning PolitiFact team is gearing up for a busy year. Times editor Neil Brown and PolitiFact staffers Joshua Gillin, Katie Sanders and Aaron Sharockman will talk about how they sort out truth, half-truth and pants on fire, with a live fact check and audience participation. It all happens at 11:15 a.m. in the Student Center Ballroom.
Four of the Times critics will be on hand to talk about our work, all in the Haiman Amphitheatre at the Poynter Institute, 801 Third St. S: movie critic Steve Persall (11 a.m.); myself (noon); pop music/culture critic Jay Cridlin (1 p.m.); and performing arts critic Andrew Meacham (2 p.m.).
Leading off the day in the Haiman Amphitheatre at 10 a.m. will be Poynter vice president and bestselling author Roy Peter Clark (How to Write Short: Word Craft for Fast Times) with a talk titled "Writing With Roy Peter Clark: Twerks and Quirks From His Greatest Works."
Author talks are followed by book signings, with books available for sale from Barnes & Noble at several locations. There also will be a book market with more than 40 vendors, performances of excerpts from Charlotte's Web by American Stage, live music, food and drink, including a beer tasting and happy hour starting at 3 p.m. at the Tavern at Bayboro, 121 Sixth Ave. S. Free event parking is available.