Most speakers are published women authors, five of whom are local, who will be reading from their own works, said Alison Solomon, event spokesperson. One local woman will be reading from a lesbian literary journal.
“We hope to make the event an annual thing,” said Solomon, who came up with the idea from having attended similar writers’ conferences and author events elsewhere. “We had the ArtOut event this summer” that featured local LGBTQ artists in cooperation with the annual St. Pete Pride activities. “We thought it may be cool to do an author event” scheduled close to the annual Lady in Red Ball charity dance on February 10 at the Historic Gulfport Casino.
“The long-term goal is that we would have a women’s week in Gulfport” that would include “Lady in Red and ReadOut,” she said.
When Solomon and others originally started planning ReadOut, it was not going to be just books for lesbians, she said.
“But when we put the word out, lesbian authors or authors who write for lesbians” are the people who expressed an interest, said Solomon. That’s when organizers decided to “make it an event just for lesbians. And, maybe, in the future we’ll do some other event that would be directed toward queers or transgenders or gay men. The possibilities are endless.”
On Friday evening, February 16, the library will host a Meet and Greet event where authors and the keynote speaker will be available to answer questions, said Solomon.
“Perils and Payoffs: The Risky Business of Researching for Fiction” is the title of Saturday morning’s keynote address that will be given by Elizabeth Sims, a prizewinning author and contributor to Writers Digest.
“She’ll discuss how to gain first-hand experience,” said Solomon. “Her tales, often hilarious, always truthful, will give you a real taste of how serious writers bring authenticity to their work.”
Also on Saturday, 15 authors will do readings. The 10 authors scheduled for after lunch will also host question and answer sessions, she said.
Published works that will be featured include a variety of fiction genres as well as humor, memoir and poetry. Authors will also be selling and signing copies of their books.
All events are open to the public, but the Sunday morning workshop requires pre-registration, said Solomon.
On Sunday, Sims will be leading a workshop entitled, “Fearless Writing.”
Solomon said Sims will “help writers find the heart of the book they want to write.”
Sims will also provide tools that every writer can use at any stage of a project, said Solomon. Following the workshop, a panel discussion will address the topic “Why Write for Lesbians?”
Gulfport’s library is the first in Florida to have a dedicated LGBTQ Resource Center, said Solomon.
For more information about the event, call the library at 727-893-1074.