‘An Evening with the Authors’ before Reading Festival

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The Lee County Library System will offer book lovers a chance to meet and mingle with Southwest Florida Reading Festival authors during “An Evening with the Authors” fundraiser at the Edison Restaurant & Event Center from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. on Friday, March 4.

Pre-paid reservations are required for this opportunity to socialize with up to 20 Reading Festival authors during an Italian buffet dinner overlooking the Fort Myers Country Club. Tickets are $75 per person and available for purchase online at www.ReadFest.org through Feb. 15.

In addition to the dinner fundraiser, five festival authors are each raffling off the chance to be named as a character in an upcoming book. Name a Character raffle tickets may be purchased during “An Evening with the Authors,” at the Southwest Florida Reading Festival and also online through midnight March 5. The authors participating in this fundraiser include M.E. Hilliard, Joe Ide, J.A. Jance, Sophie Jordan and Kate Quinn. Raffle tickets will be offered at one for $10, three for $20, 10 for $50 and 25 for $100. The drawing will take place Monday, March 7, with winners contacted later that week. All proceeds benefit the Southwest Florida Reading Festival. More details and the link to purchase raffle tickets online are available at www.readfest.org/events.

Proceeds from “An Evening with the Authors” and the Name a Character fundraiser benefit the Southwest Florida Reading Festival, a free, all-ages outdoor event in downtown Fort Myers where book-loving fans are invited to listen to and meet a diverse line-up of bestselling authors, participate in contests and activities and find the latest in books and technology. In addition to author appearances and autograph sessions, there will be a free book for every child and teen, storytelling programs, youth writing contest awards, arts and crafts, and food truck vendors.

The 23rd annual Southwest Florida Reading Festival will be held 10 a.m – 4 p.m. Saturday, March 5 on the Fort Myers Regional Library campus, 2450 First St. The lineup of award-winning authors scheduled to attend includes adult authors Alafair Burke, J.A. Jance, Nathaniel Philbrick, Kate Quinn and Brad Taylor, along with youth and teen authors including Miranda Paul, Stacy McAnulty, Jenna Evans Welch, Alex Willan and Adrienne Young. The complete list of authors can be found by visiting the festival website at www.ReadFest.org or downloading the festival’s mobile app “SWFL ReadFest” at the App Store or Google Play.

For fans who prefer to enjoy author events virtually this year, festival organizer Melissa Baker said there will be livestreams of several of the adult author presentations during the festival and additional live virtual author presentations leading up to the festival. Authors offering online Q&A sessions ahead of the festival include Bonnie Kistler on Feb. 25 and Tim Dorsey on March 1. Information on pre-festival events can be found on the library’s calendar of events at www.leelibrary.net/events. Livestreaming on festival day will be available within the mobile app and on the Lee County Library System’s YouTube channel. Details for livestreams and other preview events can all be found in the festival app.

The Southwest Florida Reading Festival is community-supported through donations, sponsorships and grants. To help ensure the continuation of this event, please visit www.ReadFest.org to make a secure online donation. More information is available at www.ReadFest.org or by calling 239-533-4832.

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