Local Authors Cover It All Sunday at Book Fair

The 27th Annual Miami Book Fair International didn't lose its punch when George W. Bush finished the opening session. Tasha Cunnigham, Michael Carlebach, Virginia Jacko, Linda Gassenheimer, and M.J. Fievre are five local authors presenting at this extraordinary event on Sunday that are worth getting to know -- if you don’t already.

Tasha Cunnigham

Newspaper columnist and founder of website Don't Date Him Girl, Tashsa Cunnigham can now add "author" to her resume. With the second instalment to her sassy, real-girl relationship advice empire, So the Bastard Broke Your Heart, Now What?, Cunningham is curing the world of bitter women one page at a time. How so? You’ll have to read the book to find out. But when she’s not managing Don't Date Him Girl, she’s advising local businesses. Her column, Biz Bytes, has become a go-to guide for news on the latest technology and social media tools strapped business owners can use to get an edge.

Q: Tell us about So the Bastard Broke Your Heart, Now What?

A: It’s a take off my first book Don’t Date Him Girl, for women looking to go in a better direction. When I went to bookstores looking for relationship books, I found that books were all about how we could change ourselves. Women do need to change yourselves, but not the way you dress. Being smarter about the men you choose and avoiding the same dating patterns. When I tell women to take an inventory, it’s a “don’t date him girl” list. It’s helpful because you can see what you’ve been doing in the past and figure out what you need to avoid.

Q: So what will you be doing at this year’s Miami Book Fair International?

A: I’ll be reading on Sunday, November 21st at 3 p.m. in room 3315, and basically I’ll be there to answer questions about relationships. Also, because Match.com sponsors the book, everyone who attends will receive a goody bag that contains all sorts of surprises, including a free trial membership to Match.com.

Michael Carlebach

Photographer Michael Carlebach moved to Miami by way of New York in 1971, and found his niche in taking pictures others weren’t: the Demolotion Derby in Hialeah, sleezy strip joints, and pesticides. And guess what? Miami loved it. He also found a way to do what he loves: mold up-and-coming talent. As a professor at the University of Miami for the last 25 years, Carlebach has helped produce some prominent talent behind the lens, including Carl Juste, and now he’ll be presenting his latest collection Sunny Land at this year’s book fair.

Q: So tell me about the Sunny Land collection that you’ll be presenting at the Miami Book Fair International?

A: It’s a collection of pictures from South Florida I’ve taken throughout my time in Miami. It’s a sideways glance at South Floridians. No celebrities, no glamour, and people from Miami will see familiar places and be able to relate. People not from Miami will probably think it’s just funny.

Q: How did you fall in love with photography?

A: I was a French major at Colgate University and my senior year I began taking pictures for fun. I was set to go to Columbia Graduate School for International Relations. But I took a photo class for fun and never looked back. I came to Miami and worked very briefly as a staff photographer for the Miami Herald. I did work for Time, US News, and of course freelance and teaching at UM.

Q: What you’ll be doing in the book fair and where people can buy your work?

A: I’ll be there Sunday, November 21st at 1:30 pm in room 7128. I’m going to debut pictures from Sunny Land and talk about the type of photography I do. Anyone who wants to buy my book can visit any Books & Books or Barnes & Noble locations or Amazon.com.

Virginia Jacko

Virginia Jacko is the CEO of Miami Lighthouse for the Blind. But what makes her different from most execs is that she used to be their client. In the midst of a successful executive career at Purdue University, her eyesight began deteriorating from retinitis pigmentosa. She didn’t allow blindness to disable her, and after completing the professional rehabilitation program at Miami Lighthouse for the Blind, she stayed to volunteer. In a short span of time, she went from volunteer to being named CEO in 2005.

Q: What led you to write this book and how did you decide to work with Doug?

A: As CEO, I felt the Board needed some executive training and I hired Doug Eadie to teach them all these skills. After some time of working with us, Doug told me that he had been looking for a CEO to write a book about and asked if he could write about me. A year later we began the book and in late 2009 it was completed.

Q: What do you love about your life now and being an author?

A: I like my ability to give back and see everyday how people excel. I have a wonderful opportunity to lead an organization with deep roots. Miami Lighthouse is becoming a place that continues to build upon excellence to serve more people. We increased our budget and revenue base and are now able to serve 8,000 blind adults in Miami (Ed: up from 2,000 blind clients before her term).

Q: Tell us about what you’ll be doing at the Miami Book Fair International?

A: I feel very privileged to talk about The Blind Visionary Sunday November 21st, at 11am in room 3315. I am very honored and this will be my first time attending the Miami Book Fair along with Doug Eadie. And those interested in purchasing my book can do so at www.TheBlindVisionary.com, where it is available in hard and soft cover and as an e-book and audio book.

Q: Most important lesson?

A: We all have issues, bad days, more serious issues, and financial difficulties. But this is for everyone because a lot of people impose a self-disability upon themselves sometimes because of fear. “Never Let Fear Win” is a lesson featured in Chapter 3” Lessons Learned” is my favorite lesson.

Linda Gassenheimer

If you’ve ever listened to NPR’s “Food, News, and Views”, then you’ve already been wined and dined by Linda Gassenheimer. She’s a London Cordon Bleu-trained chef who's been sharing her wisdom since she brought her talents to Miami in 1986. She is the author of the column, “Dinner in Minutes” for the Miami Herald, has written 24 books and just released her latest savory treat, A Taste of Florida Keys.

Q: What sets A Taste of the Florida Keys apart from other cookbooks?

A: When I first moved here I was asked to do a book on Florida Keys and I wrote Keys Cuisine. But in 1991, the Keys was a chain of islands reminiscent of the 1950s. Today the Keys has funky, chic, sophisticated ambiance. It’s still a fun place, but a little more sophisticated. Through this book you can wander up and down Duval Street, go through Stock Island to Duck Key and learn the recipes and tales that made these restaurants and shacks famous. Like when I went to Islamorada and visited Bakery and Bob’s Bunz someone told me I had to try the potato chip cookies. Now the recipe is in the book and it’s one of my husband’s favorites.

Q: What you’ll be doing at the Miami Book Fair International and where they can we get your book?

A: This isn’t my first time at the Miami Book Fair but I would like to say kudos to Mitchell Kaplan for putting together this amazing event. My book can be purchased at all major bookstores and the book fair.

M.J. Fievre

M.J Fievre is an author of fabulous children’s mysteries and adult fiction originally from Haiti that moved to Florida 8 years ago. While contributing to NervousBreakdown.com and the Women Writers of Haitian Descent, this dynamic woman balances her life behind the teacher’s desk, in front of it as an FIU Grad student and as far away from it as possible as a wife. Her latest contribution in, Haiti Noir, brings her to Miami Book Fair International. Haiti Noir, by Akashic Books, is a series that has taken cities and countries by storm as it reveals the many artistic perspectives in a single place.

Q: Is this your first time attending the Miami Book Fair International?

A: No, I had the opportunity to attend the Miami book Fair in 2003. However, this year I will be on the panel for Haiti Noir and reading part of my story on Sunday, November 21st at Noon in Pavilion A. There will also be a book signing afterward.

Q: What are you writing now?

A: Unless I’m writing fiction, I write whatever is on my mind. My next project is my memoir that tells the story of what growing up in Haiti is really like.

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