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April 9 – 10, 2022

Bringing Readers and Writers Together

Thank You

Thank you for attending out 2022 festival. Check out photos from the festival. Saturday Photo Album.
Sunday Photo Album.


Welcome to the 2022 Sunshine State Book Festival—bringing readers and writers together again.

Meet and engage in person with nearly 100 authors who will be happy to sign your books at our 2022 festival, being held at the spacious Oaks Mall in Gainesville, Florida. Admission is free. Click here to see the 2022 authors.

A celebration of learning and literacy

A book festival is a celebration of learning and literacy that is fun and educational, bringing together people of all ages who share a love of reading and who will leave the event inspired by their experiences.

Florida has an amazing literary history dating back to William Bartram nearly 250 years ago. Today, Gainesville is a leading center of literary culture and home to hundreds of writers, novelists, playwrights, and poets, many of whom you can meet at the Sunshine State Book Festival on Saturday, April 9, 2022, at the Oaks Mall, and on Sunday, April 10, 2022, at the Matheson History Museum in downtown Gainesville, Florida.

Award-winning Authors

This year’s festival features almost 100 authors writing in 17 genres. Twenty percent of them have won literary awards.

Best Book Award: Natlie Symons

Beverly Hills Book Awards: Peter Rush

Florida Book Award: Veronica Helen Hart, Gabi Justice

Florida Authors and Publishers Association President’s Award: Nancy Blanton, John Hope, Mallory M. O’Connor, Elizabeth Randall

Florida State Poet's Association: Jill Clark

Florida Writers Association Royal Palm Literary Award: Susie H. Baxter, Nancy Blanton, Loren Colden, Richard Gartee, Veronica Helen Hart, John Hope, Elle Andrews Patt, Elizabeth Randall, LM Reynolds, JW Robitaille, Marie Q Rogers

Feathered Quill Book Award: Nancy Blanton

Gourmand World Cookbooks Award: Cynthia D. Bertelsen

Independent Press Award Award: Peter Rush

L. Ronald Hubbard Writers of the Future: John Hope

Literary Titan Silver Medal: Mallory M. O’Connor

MM Bennetts Award: Nancy Blanton

Moonbeam Children’s Book Award: John Hope

National Indie Excellence Award: John Hope, Peter Rush

Ocala Writer’s Conference Poetry Contest: Jill Clark

The Oshima International Hand-Made Picture Book Competition: Melinda Falgoust

Royal Dragonfly Book Award: Natlie Symons

Writers Unlimited Annual Literary Competition: Melinda Falgoust

Coming in 2023

Please check back later for information on our 2023 festival. Author registration should open in early September 2022. Authors who did not participate in our previous book festivals and want to be notified when registration for 2023 opens, may add their name to our list below:

Subscribe only if you are an author who has not particaipated in a previous festival:

Free Admission for the public


Win Free Books

Hourly prize drawings during the Saturday festival.



Sunday 1:00 p.m. Voices of Color: Negro Spirituals to Black Education
Carol Velasques-Richardson
Carol Velasques-Richardson

Carol Velasques-Richardson is the Program Coordinator of the A. Quinn Jones Museum and Cultural Center that pays tribute to Jones, one of the most influential educators in the history of Alachua County. She also succeeded in obtaining a grant from the Florida Humanities Council to bring to life the story of famed African American Educator Mary McLeod Bethune. She has worked with the Samuel Proctor Oral History Department at the University of Florida (UF) to start the Samuel Proctor Oral History Radio Program using the 7,000 interviews in the library.

Velasques-Richardson is a Board Member of the Arts Council of Alachua County; Advisory Board Member with WUFT TV/Classic 89, UF; Chair, City of Alachua’s Parks Recreation and Culture; and Theater Director and Station Manager of WUBA (88.1 FM), High Springs, Florida. She is now in her third year as a Review Panelist for the State of Florida Division of Cultural Affairs in the Media Arts and Multidisciplinary Level 3 category (2019-Present), where she reviews applications from television, radio, community arts, museums, universities and film festivals throughout the State of Florida.

Sunday 2:00 p.m. Saving Florida’s Springs: A Prescription for Springs’ Health
Robert Knight
Robert Knight

Robert Knight, Ph.D., an environmental scientist, is the founder of the non-profit Howard T. Odum Florida Springs Institute. As Director of the institute, he has conducted health assessments for many of Florida’s largest springs and written numerous springs restoration plans. Also, as founder and president of Wetland Solutions for seventeen years, he led hundreds of treatment wetland projects, including the planning and design of Gainesville’s Sweetwater Wetlands Park. 

Knight served as an adjunct professor at the University of Florida for six years, teaching graduate-level courses in Springs Ecology and Treatment Wetland Design. He has written three books about springs, including Silenced Springs: Moving from Tragedy to Hope (2015), Death by a Thousand Cuts: An Anthology of Springs Opinions (2020), and Silver Springs: the Liquid Heart of Florida – Its past, Its Present, and Its Future with Marian Rizzo (2020). His talk will focus on the limits of fresh groundwaters that not only support the ecology of North Florida’s springs and rivers but also the entire agricultural and urban human economy.

Sunday 3:00 p.m. Writing About War: Two Views
Robert Mason
Robert Mason

Robert Mason was born in New Jersey and grew up in Delray Beach, Florida. He learned to fly in high school. He attended the University of Florida (UF), dropped out, married Patience, and joined the Army to become a helicopter pilot. After the war in Vietnam started, he went over with the First Cavalry Division and spent a year flying more than a thousand combat missions. He came home to train other helicopter pilots. When he left the Army, he returned to UF and majored in Fine Arts. Eventually, he wrote Chickenhawk, a bestselling memoir of his year in Vietnam. He followed that with Weapon, a New York Times notable book, which was later made into a movie called Solo. He also wrote a sequel, Solo, and a second memoir, Chickenhawk: Back in the World.

Patience Mason
Patience Mason

Patience Mason was born in Boston and grew up in Massachusetts and New York. She went to the University of Pennsylvania but dropped out to marry Bob. She finished her English degree at UF. After Chickenhawk came out, she became interested in the after-effects of war and wrote Recovering from the War, the book she wished she’d had when Bob came home from Vietnam. The book became a cult classic with veterans and their wives, and she went on to write books for kids and a newsletter, The Post-Traumatic Gazette, for seven years.

Sunday 4:00 p.m. The Struggle for Democracy: From Slavery and Colonialism to Black Lives Matter
Paul Ortiz
Paul Ortiz

Paul Ortiz is director of the Samuel Proctor Oral History Program and professor of history at the University of Florida (UF) He received his PhD in history from Duke University. He earned his BA from the Evergreen State College and his Associate of Arts degree from Olympic College. He served from 1982 to 1986 with the 82nd Airborne Division and 7th Special Forces Group in Latin America. He received the U.S. Armed Forces’ Humanitarian Service Medal for meritorious action in the wake of the eruption of the Nevado del Ruiz stratovolcano in Tolima, Colombia, in 1985.

His book An African American and Latinx History of the United States was identified by Bustle as one of “Ten Books About Race to Read Instead of Asking a Person of Color to Explain Things to You.” Fortune Magazine listed it as one of the “10 books on American history that actually reflect the United States.” Beyondchron.org called his book Emancipation Betrayed: The Hidden History of Black Organizing and White Violence in Florida from Reconstruction to the Bloody Election of 1920 “as both an essential teaching of American history and a critical resource for understanding grassroots organizing today.” Oritz co-edited People Power: History, Organizing, and Larry Goodwyn’s Democratic Vision in the Twenty-First Century.

The Sunshine State Book Festival

is made possible with the assistance of our gracious sponsors.

Funded in part by Visit Gainesville, Alachua County, FL. For 2022, we again look to the business community, non-profit organizations, and government agencies for their generous support.

Please consider becoming one of our sponsors.  Download a Sponsor Brochure

Make a Donation

Personal donations make a difference, too. Support the Sunshine State Book Festival by clicking the button below.


WAG is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization and your donation is tax deductible.