TLA Spirit of Texas Author & 2012 Annual Conference

By Cynthia Leitich Smith

What terrific fun I had last week at the Texas Library Association annual conference in Houston!

As for highlights…

The lovely Deborah Wayshak, my Candlewick editor, was there! It was such a treat to spend in-person time with her.

I also had a chance to connect, at least briefly, with a bounty of rockin’ librarians, publisher marketing pros, Texas authors like Joy Preble, Jennifer Ziegler, and Kelly Bennett, new voices like Lynne Kelly, Cynthia Levinson, Nikki Loftin and Augusta Scattergood, and author pals from the national scene like Sara Zarr, Toni Buzzeo, David Lubar, and Dom Testa while snagging a few drive-by hugs from folks like Barry Lyga and John Green. I considered saying “howdy” to living legend Judy Blume, but she was of course mobbed.

On Wednesday, I spoke on the panel “Connecting Teens and Authors: Teen Book Festivals and Awesome Author Visits” with Cathy Berner of Blue Willow Bookshop, Lisa Stultz of Hastings High School and Margaret A. Hale and Julie Mulkey of Bobby Shaw Middle School.

We talked about how librarians can work with independent booksellers to bring authors to schools and festivals for teens and tweens. Thanks to my fellow panelists for sharing their wisdom and for inviting me to chime in! I greatly enjoyed it. Thanks also to everyone who came to my signing (even though it was at the same time as Judy Blume’s talk). It was wonderful visiting with you.

On Thursday, I met with teens in conjunction with the TT4L program, wherein Candlewick sponsored a giveaway of my graphic novel Tantalize: Kieren’s Story. I had some terrific conversations with teens at the conference–at TT4L and also at my hoppin’ signing with Permabound. (Here’s a quick shout out to a certain blonde writer/reader girl — loved talking to you; take it scene by scene!)

And on Friday, I was deeply honored to be named the first featured Spirit of Texas author for high-school aged readers. See more information tying into use of the Tantalize series in classrooms, including an Evening at Sanguini’s program, Origins of Our Myths (with curriculum tie-ins), and Vote for Your Favorite Character! Really, check it all out! The committee worked so hard. I’m hugely wowed and grateful.

The featured middle-school author was Andrea White. See more information and related resources about her novel, Windows on the World (Namelos, 2011). Andrea and I spoke briefly together on the panel. She has been instrumental in working with TLA on Texas-author programming.

Thanks to everyone who came to my panels and signings! Thanks also to YART, especially Natasha, Jennifer, Renee and the whole SPOT committee…to Barb and the whole crew at Permabound…and of course Deb, Hilary, Jenny and Sharon from Candlewick!

Before leaving, I signed Diabolical giveaway bookmarks on the treadmill desk.
Greg signed Chronal Engine with Clarion.
My heroes! Spirit of Texas committee members in Sanguini’s T-shirts.
Check out Chronal Engine on the sign at the HMH booth.
Texas Sweethearts & Scoundrels in action!.
Author-illustrator Don Tate.

Cynsational Notes

Texas middle and high school authors and illustrators are encouraged to register with SPOT’s Texas Author and Illustrator Directory. Note: you qualify if you currently live in Texas, have lived in Texas in the past or have created a Texas setting/topic book.

See also Thanks, TXLA 12! by Joy Preble from Joy’s Novel Idea; On How I Got “Dorked” at TLA by Don Tate from Devas T Rants and Raves; TLA 2012 from Nikki Loftin.

The Sanguini’s/Tantalize series logos were designed by Gene Brenek.

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