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Upcoming event highlights local female writers

Ashley Morales

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Amy Cianci (left) of St. Petersburg Press and Kerry Kriseman, author of "Accidental First Lady," will be at the upcoming "The Women Behind the Words" event. Photo provided.

In celebration of Women’s History Month and the rich literary talent within the community, St. Petersburg Press is hosting a special event titled “The Women Behind the Words.” 

Many of the publisher’s female St. Pete-centric writers will be at The Studio@620 Tuesday, March 26 at 7 p.m. They’ll share their stories, read from their work, sell and sign books. 

Authors scheduled to appear: 

  • Melanie Bowman & Meredith Gaunce, Traveling St. Pete: A Girl’s Guide
  • Kerry Kriseman, Accidental First Lady
  • Andi Matheny, Act ALIVE
  • Maureen McDole, Feast
  • Jane A. McNeil, Days of Fear
  • Brittany Ranew, Lion of Fire
  • Beverly Smith-Tillery, Invisible Wounds of War
  • Shannon Spring, Open Mic for Animals
  • Midge Trubey, Rock Doesn’t Roll on an Empty Stomach
  • Sarah-Jane Vatelot, Where Have All the Mangoes Gone?
  • Jeannie Carlson, Landmarks in the Sand

Kriseman’s 2021 memoir Accidental First Lady chronicles her years as political and personal support system to her husband, former St. Pete mayor Rick Kriseman.

“The book is a real exploration into everything that had gone on for 22 years, and as I was working on it, I started paying closer attention to who was writing their stories,” Kriseman said. “I realized that, thankfully, with all the publishing options that are out there, it casts a wider net for more authors and potential authors to take that step and tell their story.”

“I believe in the value of our stories,” she added. “Stories can connect us with one another, and we need to be connected more than ever now. If books can do that, if sharing our stories can do that, then that’s a good thing.”

Since its founding in 2019, St. Petersburg Press has published more than 35 books by Tampa Bay Area authors, including novels, short stories, poetry, children’s books, non-fiction, and art books.

Amy J. Cianci is the Publisher for St. Petersburg Press. She said “The Women Behind the Words” event was born from a desire to shine a spotlight on the diverse voices of women in the local literary scene.

“This event is a testament to the power of storytelling and the importance of recognizing and celebrating women’s voices in literature,” Cianci said. “By providing a platform for these talented authors to connect with readers and enthusiasts, we hope to foster a sense of community and appreciation for the creative endeavors of local female writers.”

After writing her book and beginning to promote it around the area, Kriseman noted, she was pleasantly surprised by the sense of camaraderie and collaboration amongst writers and creatives.

“We have a plethora of talent in this community. I’m especially proud of how we elevate all voices in St. Pete. But with that said, women are still fighting to have their voices heard on the same plane as a lot of men in the national and international landscape,” said Kriseman. “The women who are coming together for this event, we all come from a different place; our experiences are varied, and it’s important to be able to share that, because we’re still fighting for equality.”

“This year’s theme for Women’s History Month is inspire and inclusion, and I can’t think of two better words that reflect what we hope this event will be,” Kriseman added. “For potential authors or speakers, for women who may be questioning whether they should share their voice, we hope to show them every voice matters. Maybe they want to write, or maybe the next time they go to a meeting at their workplace, they will raise their hand and speak up, because if I can do it and other women can do it, they can, as well.”

Tickets for “The Women Behind the Words” can be purchased online for $5. Those who register in advance will receive a $5 coupon to apply to the purchase of a book of their choice the night of the event. 

Related reading:
Pet psychic tells her extraordinary ‘tail’ in ‘Open Mic’ book
Act like a writer: Andi Matheny pens an instruction book
‘Days of Fear’ chronicles a bleak era in St. Petersburg history
Arts Alive! podcast: Maureen McDole, Keep St. Pete Lit
Shana Smith’s ‘Islands of Cedars’ blends Florida facts and fiction
With ‘Lion of Fire,’ novelist Brittany Ranew opens a magic portal
Feeding the stars: How Midge Trubey cooked up a musical legend
Becca McCoy explores life’s ‘extraordinary’ changes
Book focused on the history, legacy of Tropicana Field site launches Wednesday
Arts Alive! podcast: Amy Cianci, St. Petersburg Press

St. Petersburg Press Founder Joe Hamilton is the publisher of the St. Pete Catalyst.

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