Fresh Books

Julius Douglas, 9, of Daytona Beach checks out a book by author Harold Harvey, right, as his older brother, Tremell, 11, and his mother, Shantain, also examine the author's work during the F.R.E.S.H. Book Festival at the Midtown Cultural & Educational Center last year.

The F.R.E.S.H. Book Festival has grown from a little-noticed literary event to a large festival that has even added films.

Sponsored by the City of Daytona Beach Jan. 10-12, the festival is in its eighth year at the Midtown Cultural and Education Center with the Community Film Festival at the performing arts center on South Beach Street.

The film festival starts off the weekend at 7 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 10. The book festival is Jan. 11-12.

Donna M. Gray-Banks, founder and director of the festival, said the first one got little attention in its infancy.

But, in 2012, City Commissioner Paula R. Reed made the book festival a premier project for her district.

“We have had sponsors give workshops on reading medicine labels and making sure seniors understand how and when to take their medication,” Ms. Gray-Banks stated in an email. “Other workshops that have been sponsored are 'I Want To Write A Book, Now What,' 'Young Gifted and Published,' 'Publishing Your Book By Steps' and 'Trademarks, Copyrights and Patents'.”

The festival was developed to assist young authors with their marketing and to introduce them to veterans of the book business. Authors interact with their fans while also providing workshops and introducing newly published works to the community.

F.R.E.S.H. stands for Fiction, Romance, Erotica, Spiritual and Health.

The festival now includes music, poetry and art.

The festival will feature 25 authors from New York, Washington, D.C., Maryland, Jacksonville, South Florida, Tallahassee, DeLand, Daytona Beach and Orlando.

The film festival will feature three short films by Professor Booker T. Mattison, a filmmaker, director and author. The film titles are “Exit 13,” “Bird” and, his latest film, “Bosniak,” which he will premiere at 7 p.m. The event is ticketed, but free. For tickets, email or call (386) 627-4353.

On Friday, January 11 at the Midtown Cultural and Educational Center at 925 George W. Engram Blvd in Daytona Beach There will be poetry and jazz Friday, Jan. 11, at the Midtown center at 925 George W. Engram Blvd. in Daytona Beach. Friday night features Amy Alysia and the Soul Operation, and Poets Devery Broox, Johnty Love and Gary Holmes. Authors that will be at the festival on Saturday also will be featured.

Friday's event costs $25 and there will be limited tickets at the door.

The following day at the center, the doors open at 9:45 a.m. and the day begins with workshops.

Literacy is a Legacy Awards will be given to Dr. Terence “TC” Culver, Worthy Matron Arlene Armstrong, Majesty Chapter No. 565 Order of the Eastern Star, Dr. Primrose Cameron, Davita Bonner and Stan Harrison.

Ms. Gray-Banks also is an author, having published Ila’s Diamonds I. Ila’s Diamonds II will be completed by February. She is looking for opportunities with book clubs. Contact her at or

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