Sunday, September 28, 2014

Refections from the Road: The Tweens Read Festival

Yesterday, as the latest stop on the Frostborn tour, I attended the Tweens Read Festival in Houston, Texas. The event is presented courtesy of Blue Willow Bookshop, and featured twenty eight amazing authors. And it blew through their prior (already impressive) attendance records with over 1,700 participants! And while there are a few parents in those numbers, the vast majority of those attendees are a huge sea of tweens. See for yourself:

There was a very nice reception at Blue Willow Bookshop the night before, and then morning of, we were ferried to South Houston High School, where the event took place. The school library was converted into an author "green room," and we were all surprised by the amazing cupcakes set out for us, each with a cover of one of our books.

Then it was on to the auditorium where we were each introduced and Jacqueline Woodson gave the keynote speech.

The way the event was structured, authors were grouped by sub genre. I was in a room with four fellow fantastics, designated "Panel 1: Escape from Reality." My fellows were the amazing authors, Jonathan Auxier (The Night Gardener), S.E. Grove (The Glass Sentence),   Jaleigh Johnson (Mark of the Dragonfly), and M.A. Larson (Pennyroyal Academy).  We were together in the same room all day, for three sessions, and spoke to several hundred kids each session. All my fellow panelist were wonderful, and after spending the day in the same room together, we got to know each other quite well. There were a great bunch, and I hope our paths cross at future events.

Margaret Peterson Haddix was the closing keynote speaker. As I sat down in my seat, a kid behind me chanted "Thrones and Bones, Thrones and Bones", which was, in a word, awesome!

Then we were ushered to a mass signing, so big that it was spread across two gymnasiums. I signed for most of an hour, quite a few copies of Frostborn, and I even signed (and rune-stamped) a few body parts. (Hi girl-in-green-glasses.)

And then the amazing day was over. 

Back to the hotel, where I discovered that middle grade authors are like authors everywhere when it comes to the evening activities. We were out until midnight, shutting down first the restaurant and then the bar. Good times with William Alexander, Jonathan Auxier, Matthew Cody, Jennifer Holm, Varian Johnson, Kirby Larson, Natalie Lloyd, Matt London, and Jennifer Ziegler.

I also enjoyed meeting both keynote speakers, as well as Varsha Bajaj, Jessica Brody, Karen Harrington, Obert Skye, Matthew Ward, Tom Watson, and all the tween volunteers and amazing Blue Willow folks!

This was my first such festival. I sure hope it's not my last! 

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