The Terrific Texas Book Festival

The Texas Book Festival was incredible. Seriously!

Before the event opened to the public, there were a variety of parties and activities so that authors and moderators could meet and mingle. I went to the tour of the LBJ Library, but as soon as I met David Ebershoff and Paula Yoo, I dropped poor LBJ like a hot potato. I mean, he’s not really that interesting compared to this:

David EbershoffDavid, author of The 19th Wife, told me about how he spent four years shuttling between his home in New York and Utah, where he researched polygamy for his highly-acclaimed book.

And when someone asked the tour guide whether it was legal for LBJ’s staff to tape his telephone conversations, author Paula Yoo was fully equipped with the answer. Come to find out, Paula not only released a novelPaula Yoo for young readers titled Good Enough, but also wrote for the hit TV show The West Wing.

The next day, Saturday, the Texas Book Festival was officially underway. Let me tell you, it was truly an honor to sit on a panel with Shelia P. Moses, author of Joseph and several other award-winning novels, and Austin’s own Varian Johnson, author of My Life as a Rhombus.

The topic of the panel was how we create TBF Panelprotagonists different from ourselves. Our thought-provoking moderator was Don Tate, a children’s book illustrator. Don posted a detailed account of our panel discussion on his blog.

The next day, Sunday, I raced out of the house bright and early. I wanted to make sure to get a good seat to hear Kathi Appelt, a beloved Texas author whose book The Underneath was recently nominated for the National Book Award. Kathi and I had a chance to chat before her session, and I immediately understood the buzz –not just about the book but aboutKathi Appelt Kathi.

During her session, Kathi made several excellent points about writing, but if there’s just one I’ll remember years from now, it’ll be this: Writers are like crows. We fly around looking for the shiniest objects we can find. We bring them back to our nests and weave them into our stories. How beautiful! How true!

After the talk, I went out to the children’s tent where I finally got my own signed copy of Kathi’s book. While there, I saw fellow Austinite author Philip Yates working diligently to sign A Pirate’s Night Before ChristmasPhilip Yates for a long line of folks.

Then my husband and son met me in the Children’s Entertainment Tent, where we listened to the most rocking band—I’m not kidding—Super Pal Universe. All the band member are in middle school or high school. There were a hoard of three to five-year-olds grooving in the mosh pit up front. In between songs, band members took turns reading to the audience from P.D. Eastman’s famous picture book, Are You My Mother?Super Pal Universe

Without a doubt, this year’s Texas Book Festival offered something for everyone, big and small. A huge thanks to Clay Smith, the Festival’s organizer, and the legions of volunteers who came out to make sure everything ran smooth as butter.

Posted in Shana's Posts, Writing on 11/03/2008 08:31 pm

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