Wednesday, October 26, 2011

A Recap of the 2011 Texas Book Festival

Another Texas Book Festival (TBF) has come and gone and a heartfelt thank you goes out to all the organizers, staff, volunteers, authors and presenters who made this year's festival a success. A special thanks to TBF committee members Clay Smith, Festival's Literary Director, and Marika Flatt, Co-owner of PR by the Book, for asking me to moderate for the Books Between Us panel.

Clay Smith (photo compliements of Cynthia Leitich Smith from CYNSATIONS)
The weekend kicked off with a children's and YA social event on Friday at the home of David and Amy Roberts (Amy was on the author selection committee and has supported past Texas Book Festivals) for authors, publicists and moderators. It was an opportunity to network and talk about the wonderful children's literary world. Marika Flatt and I had the privilege of driving authors Eileen Christelow, Adam Gidwitz, James Daschner, Judy Sierra, Divya Srinivasan and Bernadette Cruz, publicist with Penguin Young Readers Group. What a fun group!!

The tables were draped in white linens with glowing Mexican pillar candles and picture books and novels created place settings and table centers. It was extraordinary! Gorgeous! I mingled throughout the evening and met Jack Gantos who is hilarious and charming. He poured me a glass of Chardonnay but first he had me sample it, making sure it wasn't too oaky. Just right! Thanks, Jack! 

me and Marika Flatt and a lovely person who I can't recall her name. Shame on me!
I saw many of my peeps including Jennifer Ziegler, Jo Whittemore, Emma Virjan, Greg Leitich Smith, Jill S. Alexander Chris Barton, Liz Garton Scanlon, Don Tate and Jeanette Larson (who took the lovely picture of Marika and I plus many more!! Thanks, Jeanette!). I was introduced to one of my panel authors Heather Vogel Frederick by New York Times bestselling author Cynthia Leitich Smith. Thanks, Cynthia! Without her help, I would have missed seeing Heather as there were scads of authors and illustrators milling about. I'd seen Heather's picture on her website but it does not do her justice. She's as beautiful on the outside as she is on the inside. The night was magical and the home exquisite. Thank you to David and Amy!

Don Tate and me (Compliments of Cynthia Leitich Smith from Cynsations )
The next morning a few of us Austin SCBWI members met for breakfast at the Hideout on Congress for breakfast delights and coffee before Saturday's Festival events got under way. Forgive me if I'm missing anyone, I think I am. (Donna Bowman Bratton, Emily Kristin Anderson, Jeff Crosby and Shelley Ann Jackson, Jenny Moss and Nikki Loftin.) We had fun discussing which panels we were going to attend first. Some of us went and caught author/actor Molly Shannon in the Paramount. She was entertaining to say the least. She tragically lost her mother and sister in car crash when she was just four years old. What a survivor! Plus, I won't forget the cleaning pill story she told. You had to be there for that one. I can't possible do it justice.

Jeff Crosby with his fans!
After breakfast, I had my panel with authors Nancy Tillman and Heather Vogel Frederick and we talked about Books Between Us. The roles books play in children's lives and how they bring families together. I couldn't have asked for a more inspiring topic.

Heather's books span several genres but some of her recent titles include the adorable picture book Hide and Squeak, illustrated by C. F. Payne and Home from the Holidays from the popular Mother-Daughter Book Club series (the last chapter is a tear-jerker and incredible. I'm inspired to start my own Mother-Daughter book club). 

Some of Nancy's books have been on the New York Times bestseller list including On the Night You Were Born, but her most recent picture book is The Crown on Your Head which is an amazing read for parents and their children. 

Thanks ladies for your wisdom and insight and inspiration! I feel honored to have met you.

After my panel, I scooted over to catch Young Adult authors Libba Bray and Sarah Dessen as they interviewed each other. Libba ended the session with a few Vanity Fair type questions. What a hoot! It was a packed house and I laughed until my sides ached. It was also very touching hearing about their writing process and knowing that they too agonize through revision and lose their way at times. 

me and Meredith Davis at YA panel featuring Libba Bray and Sarah Dessen
The day ended with a schmooze at the Driskill Hotel before heading over to the cocktail party at Eddy Safady's impressive home on Congress. The rooftop blew me away. Equipped with bar, pool and enough deck space that makes my main floor living space look teeny tiny!

Jill S. Alexander, Vanessa Lee, Debbie Gonzales, Me and Bethany Hegedus
Thanks to Austin SCBWI RA Debbie Gonzales for her company! We had fun networking with the literary crowd, didn't we? What a day!

I was planning on taking the family back down for Sunday's events but one of my wee ones came down with an awful stomach virus and needed her mom. I happily obliged but would've loved to see her meet one of her favorite authors, Kate DiCamillo. Maybe next year?

A huge thanks again to the organizers of the Texas Book Festival for bringing the love of reading and books to Texas and supporting Texas public libraries and literacy across the State with the proceeds from book sales and merchandise sold during the Festival! This was my third time attending the TBF and I can't wait for next year's 17th edition.

Below are fabulous links to event recaps that will leave you feeling like you were at the TBF if you missed it or want to relive it!

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