TTBF Keynote Speakers Announced


Laini Taylor graphic Leigh Bardugo Closing Keynote Speaker

We are pleased to announce our Keynote Speakers for the 2016 Texas Teen Book Festival!

Our opening Keynote Speaker is Laini Taylor, author of the Daughter of Smoke and Bone trilogy and the new novel series, Strange the Dreamer, the first book of which will be released September 27.

Our closing Keynote Speaker is Leigh Bardugo, author of Six of Crows and the Grisha series. The second book in the Six of Crows series, Crooked Kingdom, is also due for release in September.

We are thrilled to have the chance to listen to these talented Young Adult authors speak at TTBF16, which will be held October 1 at St. Edward’s University.

The full line-up for this year’s Texas Teen Book Festival is coming soon, so stay tuned for more information.

Attention Librarians and Teachers: Printable Writing Contest Flyers are now Available!

Now you can spread the word about the Texas Teen Book Festival Writing Contest with these downloadable flyers. The printable files are 8×10 pdfs, available in color and black and white, perfect for teachers and librarians who want to encourage their aspiring young authors to join this year’s writing contest.

Simply click the link to download and print.

TTBF Writing Contest Flyer color

TTBF Writing Contest Flyer B&W


2016 Fiction Writing Contest Now Open!

TTBF-Fiction-GraphicTexas Teen Book Festival is once again looking for aspiring writers to enter our 2016 Fiction Writing Contest! The contest is generously sponsored by Delacorte Press, an imprint of Random House Children’s books. Submissions are now open to Texas residents ages 11-18 years of age. Winners will receive a prize of $150, as well as a full editorial review by an editor from Delacorte Press, a imprint of Random House Children’s Books!

For submission guidelines, more information, and to send us your work, click here.

(Looking for more reasons to write? Check out the Youth Fiction Contest run by Texas Book Festival.)

TTBF Seeking Volunteer Coordinator

TTBF Volunteer Word ScatterThe Texas Teen Book Festival is seeking a Volunteer Coordinator.

This volunteer position will enlist and direct volunteers to set up tables, booths, and tents for the 2016 Texas Teen Book Festival on October 1. The Volunteer Coordinator also delegates volunteers to direct traffic outside
panel discussion rooms and book signing lines.

While this is an unpaid position, it looks great on a resume and is excellent experience toward honing management skills.

If you’re interested in working with authors, librarians, and fellow bibliophiles, please send your resume to:

Writer Wednesday: Celebrating two influential American authors

Toni Morrison from


To commemorate Black History Month, we would like to honor two groundbreaking American authors who celebrate their birthdays this month: Toni Morrison and Alice Walker.

Toni Morrison was born on February 18, 1931, in Lorain, Ohio. Morrison has won nearly every book prize in existence, including a Nobel Prize in Literature and a Pulitzer Prize. She published her first novel, The Bluest Eye, in 1970. Her works include Song of Solomon and Beloved. She is a supporter of the arts and speaks out against censorship, particularly banned books.

Alice Walker was born in Eatonton, Georgia, on February 9, 1944. Walker, a novelist and poet, worked as a social worker and participated in the Civil Rights Movement in the 1960s. Her novel, The Color Purple, won the 1983 Pulitzer PrizeWalker grew up in the racially dAlice Walker from thirteen.orgivided South and attended segregated schools. She graduated Valedictorian of her high school, received a scholarship, and attended Spelman College in Atlanta. She later transferred to Sarah Lawrence College in New York City. Walker’s career as an essayist, poet, novelist, and lecturer has spanned over four decades. She considers herself an activist and a feminist.

Both authors have contributed a significant body of work in their lifetimes, leaving a legacy for young authors and readers to follow. We wish them both a happy birthday and thank them for their work.

Calling All Readers – Book Festival Love is in the Air

Book LoverBook festivals are the very best for readers who love panel discussions, book sales, book signings, and the chance to chat face-to-face with authors the admire. Book festivals also provide young readers with the opportunity to connect with other readers while looking out for their next favorite book.

Texas Teen Book Festival is set for October 1, 2016, but that’s still a while to wait. In the meantime, Texas hosts a number of regional book festivals to help readers connect with books and authors they love. Here is a list of upcoming Texas festivals to help book lovers get their YA Lit fix:

Feb. 27 – Montgomery County Book Festival (Conroe area)

April 2 – Lone Star LesFic Festival (Austin)

April 2 – San Antonio Book Festival (San Antonio)

April 2 – TeenBookCon (Houston)

April 7-10 – Austin International Poetry Festival (Austin)

April 8-9 – North Texas Book Festival (Denton)

April 16-17 – DEAR Texas (statewide)

April 22 – North Texas Teen Book Festival (Irving)

April 30 – Dallas Book Festival (Dallas)

August 26-27 – East Texas Book Festival (Tyler)

Oct. 1 – Texas Teen Book Festival (Austin)





YAK Fest 2016: Saturday, January 30 at Keller High School

YAK Fest 20154

Make plans now to attend YAK Fest, the Fifth Annual Young Adult Book Festival at Keller High School.

Hear from 29 amazing YA authors such as Julie Murphy (keynote speaker), Michael Buckley, Jessica Brody, Lauren Oliver, Robison Wells, Kimberly Derting, Lindsay Cummings, Victoria Scott, Alex London, and many more! There will also be workshop rooms devoted to writing stories, writing poetry, storytelling, and anime illustration. Check out the YAK Fest website to see a list of all the authors and the schedule for the day.

YAK Fest is FREE and open to all middle and high school students and adults that love to read YA literature. Remember to bring money to purchase books, food, drinks, and t-shirts. Food trucks will be on site to sell BBQ, pizza, and sandwiches. More food and drinks will be available for purchase inside the school so plan to eat your morning snack, lunch, and dessert at YAK Fest.

Visit our website for more details about the event, including a complete list of authors, the schedule, and pictures from previous YAK Fests.

Check out our website and other YAK Fest social media sites.      #YAK16

If you would like an extra-credit assignment to share with teachers or students or a  YAK Fest 2016 poster to print at your school to help advertise YAK Fest, please e-mail Janet Adams.

Hope to see YOU at YAK Fest 2016

Out of Darkness Wins Michael L. Printz Honor for Excellence in Young Adult Literature

Ashley Hope Perez and Out of Darkness

Ashley Hope Perez

Out of Darkness, written by Ashley Hope Pérez, received the 2016 Michael L. Printz Honor, which awards books that exemplify literary excellence in young adult literature.

Using the facts of the New London, Texas, school explosion, as the backdrop for her novel, Pérez explores the topics of segregation, family, love, and the forces that destroy people’s lives. The New London school explosion is still considered the world school disaster in American history.

Pérez is the author of The Knife and the Butterfly and What Can’t Wait. Visit her online at You can also follow her on Twitter at @ashleyhopeperez.

(photo from

Stephen Emond Interview With Teen Press Corps Parker!

-This post comes from BookPeople Teen Press Corps member Parker.



Parker: How do you like Austin, and what’s been your favorite thing here so far?

Emond: It’s a cool city. I got lost in an Uber yesterday. They took me to the wrong hotel, so I went downtown. I got to experience downtown through an Uber, and I got a whole history tour of Austin, and they have a lot of funky little restaurants, and everything was cool. Nothing was brand name chain stores or anything like that. It’s a really cool atmosphere.


Parker: Keep Austin Weird, have you heard of that?

Emond: (Laughing) Yeah, I have heard that. They’re doing it. It’s successful so far.


Parker: So let’s talk about Bright Lights, Dark Nights. What was your inspiration for the story of Walter and Naomi, and then Walter’s dad?

Emond: If I were to say what was the genesis for writing this book, there were a lot of things that kind of led to it. One of them was I have a friend at work, Takara, who is a black girl, and she read my book Wintertown. She loved the book, but she said, “You have all white people in your books,” and I felt like, That’s not what I want; I don’t want all white people, so I started wanting to have more diversity, more representation. So that was one thing. Another was I had a crush on a girl I worked with, a different girl that was African-American, and this was from afar, so kind of my way of playing with that was, Well, what would that be like? So I would banter with Walter and Naomi. It was just me kind of daydreaming this relationship that didn’t actually exist. And a third thing was my cousin started dating a Nigerian man who was really nice and an engineer, and my grandmother was bothered by it. It was kind of a wakeup call. It was interesting that there are people who still think that way. So it was a long line of things that kind of finessed and led to the book I ended up writing.


Parker: In the story, people write a lot of comments on Facebook about Walter’s dad and also things about Naomi and Walter. How do you feel about social media as a way to express one’s thoughts about something?

Emond: (Smiling) Social media…It’s both really evil and really positive. I started this book in 2011, and it’s really the past couple of years there’s this mob mentality online. Sometimes it’s good. There’s a lot of really broad changes and feminism. There’s a lot more comic books having more female led stories and better roles for female…a lot of that comes from internet outrage and people complaining and making themselves heard. There’s a lot of good for minorities that wouldn’t normally necessarily have a voice…being not only heard, but people agree with, and they kind of push that voice to the forefront. There’s a lot of really good stuff. There’s a lot of bad stuff, too. There’s a lot of constant negativity, a lot of anger. There are people whose careers have been ended overnight because they said something stupid in an interview. Sometimes that mob mentality is very scary and very negative, and I wanted to show in this book two things. I wanted to show, one, how they could flip somebody’s life completely upside down, and I also wanted to show the short attention span and how they move on to the next thing, and the other person is kind of left with this tornado having blown through and ruined their life and have to pick up the pieces.


Parker: The cover of the book is really nice. How did the idea of their arms and shoulders making a heart come to you? Were you just drawing and it just happened?

Emond: It’s funny because literally the first thing I drew for the book was this little doodle. I don’t know, somehow it popped into my head. I said, What if their arms were like this…their shoulders…there’s kind of a heart thing, so I did a little doodle, and I was like, Oh yeah, you can kind of make a heart out of this. And yes, it was an early sketch, and I sent it to my editor, and she was like, “Oh, cute!” And when it came time to start talking about the book cover, I had this guy Ben Mautner design my first two books Happyface and Winter Town, but he had quit his job, so I asked, “Can I take a stab at making my own book cover?” I came up with a lot of different things. They’re all on my website. I did a whole bunch of sketches. There were two of them—one was Walter and Naomi on top of a roof looking out over the city, and one with them on a fire escape, and those were like the two that were in contention, and I must have done fifty drafts over the course of a month, just tweaking every little thing about these, and I was like, Which one is it going to be? I’m making two covers here. And at the end, she (his editor) goes, “We were looking through your extra material and saw this little sketch you did with a heart. What do you think of doing that?” And that was like the first thing I pitched when I started the book, so I was like, “Yeah, it’s a good cover; I’ll do that.” So it was after I had completed two finished different covers that we finally came back to that sketch and I fleshed it out, and I like it. I think it’s a really good cover.


Parker: What advice do you have for aspiring writers and illustrators?

Emond: My advice is usually just to write. Or for drawing, I will say to just do it and enjoy doing it, because people get really hung up on the idea of, Oh, I’m going to get rich off this, or I have an idea for a book that’s really going to sell a ton of money, but how am I going to write it?, and you have to just enjoy doing it. If you enjoy doing it, you’re going to do it, and if you keep doing it, you’re going to get better at it, so my advice is not to think about money, not think about having a finished project, not think about I gotta get published off my first book, but just write because it’s something you enjoy doing.

Parker: Who are your favorite illustrators and artists and sequential artists?

Emond: Craig Thompson was a big influence. He did a book called Blankets. It’s similar to Winter Town in that it takes place in winter. It’s all really lush brushwork…kind of a young adult, coming-of-age story. He’s amazing. I always liked Charles Schultz in Peanuts, Bill Waterson in Calvin And Hobbes. Jim Borgman has a comic called Zits…that was really good. I like a lot of indie comics. There’s a guy Nate Powell who’s a really good artist. I tend to kind of gear towards that young adult… kind of like This One Summer (a book I mentioned)…like that kind of aesthetic…I like of lot of brush stuff.


Parker: Some of my favorites—have you heard of Reina Telgemeir?

Emond: Oh yeah, definitely. She posted a picture of Happyface with Smile cause they had similar covers. She’s really nice, yeah.


Parker: And the author of the Amulet series Kazu Kibuishi.

Emond: Oh yeah. The last time I was in Texas was for the TLA, Texas Library Association, and we had a mixer that we had to go to, and I was there with my editor, and she’s escorting me around going, “C’mon, we’ve got to find someone for you to mingle with,” and I looked across the room, and there was somebody in the corner, and it was Kazu Kibuishi. I said, “I think I know who that is,” so we walked over to him, and Connie (his editor) was like, “This is my author, Stephen Emond. He had his first book published, Happyface.” I was like, “Kazu, what’s up? I’m a big fan of your work. I did a comic book series with SLG.” He’s like, “Oh yeah, Emo Boy!” So we just sat around talking about the movie adaptation for Amulet that he’s working on, like Will Smith was attached to it, and his advice to me was to write a series. He said, “Stop your nonsense; write a series.” Ever since that day, it’s in my head: Write a series, write something commercial, and I just can’t do it. I keep coming back to these coming-of-age, one-off character pieces, but one of these days I’ll make ‘em proud and do it, do a series.


Parker: What can your readers look forward to next from you?

Emond: Right now I’m pitching a historical fiction. It’s a book I was talking about in the panel—about the professional artist vs. his personal art. It takes place in the civil war, actually, so I’m doing a lot of research on the 1860s. Almost every line I’ve written I have to go research. I’ve written about 15,000 words of the first two chapters. I think people will like it; it’s a clever idea. But it’s just a pitch right now. There’s no contract or anything.


Parker: I love historical fiction, so if you do carry out on that, I will be excited to read it.

Emond: Oh great. I hope it works out.


Parker: That was my last question. Well, I really appreciate you letting me interview you. Also, my sister and I got the game you made, Penumbear. My sister has been playing it a lot.

Emond: Oh my God, that’s so cool. There’s a guy that did all of the programming, and I did all of the art and animation for it, and we spent like a year and half working on it. It got like 9s and 10s reviews. Everyone seemed to love it, but it wasn’t featured on the App Store, so it’s kind of like saying there’s a really cool toy out, but there’s no commercials and nobody knows it exists. So unless you read all the reviews and find out about it that way, nobody knew it existed. So it was a really well regarded piece of, um…cult…it had a little cult following, and that was about it, but I was really proud of it. I loved working on that game.

Parker: Well, thank you so much!