Austin, Authors, and Armadillocon

Helen Hemphill spoke on plot to a standing-room-only crowd of more than 70 writers at last weekend’s Austin SCBWI meeting, and she is highly recommended as a thoughtful, nurturing, funny, effective, and brilliant speaker. I’ve been to my share of workshops, and this one was a standout.

She also will be teaching a Highlights Foundation workshop on “Plotting the Novel” from Sept. 18 to Sept. 21. The program is for experienced fiction writers, limited to 10 participants, and costs $898. See more information.

Read a Cynsations interview with Helen, and watch for her posts at Through the Tollbooth, a must-read, craft oriented blog for writers.

Among participants, Sanguini’s logos designer Gene Brenek is pictured with YA author Brian Yansky, who’s modeling the new “predator or prey” dragon shirt. Sanguini’s is the fictional vampire restaurant in Tantalize (Candlewick, 2007, 2008). Read Cynsations interviews with Gene and Brian.

But that wasn’t my only local writer event of the weekend! I also spoke on two panels at the 30th Annual Armadillocon in Austin–“Bloodsucking Friends” and “Challenges of Writing Genre for Younger Readers.”

Bill Crider (above with his wife Judy) did a great job as the opening ceremonies speaker! You can learn more about his books here.

Excellent people who I met included horror author Stephen E. Wedel, a fellow werewolf affectionado. Check out his LiveJournal and MySpace page.

It was a treat speaking on the “younger readers” panel with Mark London Williams, author of Candlewick’s Danger Boy series.

Personal highlights included saying hello to Julie Kenner, author of the Demon-Hunting Soccer Mom series. I went to her signing and basically babbled like the geeky fangirl I am.

It also was great fun visiting with Brian Anderson, author of the Zack Proton series (Aladdin, 2006). Brian’s cool-ness includes the facts that he makes custom pinatas and that he’s a docu-blogger. Read a Cynsations interview with Brian, and check out the wonderful interview videos below. Favorite quote: “You ave not partied until you have partied with librarians.”

See also: The Community Turns Its Camera On KLRU’s ‘Docubloggers’ mixes new media and old by Ashely Moreno from The Austin Chronicle. Source: Jennifer Ziegler.

More Armadillocon authors to know: Central Texas paranormal romance novelist Tess Mallory; and Austin YA horror novelist Thomas Pendleton (his latest book is Mason (HarperCollins, 2008).

My indisputable statement of the weekend (on the “younger readers” panel):

“YA fiction ranges in sophistication from accessible series books like Nancy Drew to The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing, Traitor to the Nation, Volume One: The Pox Party by M. T. Anderson (Candlewick, 2006). I’m a fan of both. But most YA fiction falls somewhere between Nancy and Octavian.”