Texas Book Festival 2011

I have been a terrible blogger lately, but will try to get back on track. This means that posts about some things, like the Teen Book Festival (which happened almost a month ago) and our trip to Europe (over two months ago) will be belated and out of order, but full of stuff worth mentioning. If you’re interested, I posted my personal Texas Book Festival schedule—the panels I intended to visit—here. I did not make it to all of them, sadly, but you can read about how fun and cool and worth a trip to Austin this Festival really is. And it will give you some idea of what I’m talking about if you weren’t there.

There was so much, so incredibly much, about the Festival that was awesome, inspiring, hilarious, encouraging. I will try to distill this colorful list down to my own personal highlights (things I shall file away in my writerly toolbox):

Amazing YA author Sarah Dessen talking about her outlining process. She claims it’s not really an outline, but that she’s always got the first scene, climax, last scene, and first line down before she starts the rest of the book. As someone who barreled blindly forward when I began my first YA manuscript, I can appreciate Sarah’s process as wonderfully structured.

I did not get many pics, but here is one of Sarah in our local graveyard. Don’t be afraid, the location will be explained later:

My new fangirlish love for author Martha Hall Foose, a delightful Southerner I was unfamiliar with. She knocked the socks off the audience at the Literary Death Match. All the authors involved did a wonderful job of reading their work aloud for seven minutes. Martha blew us away—the delivery, the content, the humor. I will be purchasing Martha’s books just to read the language over and over.

The “Convergence of Souls” panel, for which over a dozen prominent YA authors gathered in the Texas State Cemetery and made up stories for audience members. In the graveyard. In the dark. Seriously, how cool is Austin?

And last but not least, the amazing, incredible Kate DiCamillo mentioning that early drafts (the first through fourth, I believe) of her book “Because of Winn Dixie” are online. Kate said it’s a gift to other writers to be transparent about one’s own early drafts. I looked and was fascinated….wonderfully encouraging to see that everyone begins somewhere, especially this literary great with her fable-like language. I think the next time I’m on a school visit and a child is discouraged about writing because they want to get it right the first time, I will direct them to Kate’s drafts.

A pic of Kate DiCamillo’s and Rebecca Stead‘s signing table. Author/editor David Levithan is on the right:

And…for way more great festival pics and a general round-up of events, Cynthia Leitich Smith‘s has a wonderful blog post on it. So does Shelli Cornelison here, and Donna Bowman Bratton here.

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