Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Texas Book Festival 2013

Ah, book festivals. Pretty much the best invention ever. Am I right? Well, aside from the books themselves. This past weekend was the Texas Book Festival in Austin. And I have to say WOWZA! It was so much fun. The festival takes place just outside the state capitol building and spans two days. So many authors. So many books. It was heavenly.

This year was my first year at this festival as it's the first year I've been in Austin at the end of October. My dad, my 3 year old son, and I went and waited in lines all afternoon. There was so much to do there. All of the authors would speak on panels and then make their way to the assigned tent and sign their books. Some authors only signed their names, no personalization, and only one book per person. Then there were other authors who would not only personalize, but sign as many copies as you had. I looked over the list of panels and wanted to attend several, but realized quickly that wasn't going to happen at all. It seemed that for every panel I wanted to sit in on there was another author signing at that same time. So we waited in lines for a quick hello to authors and their autographs most of the time we were there. No panels for us. My legs hurt by the end of the day from all of the standing around. So, why all the standing around? 

The lines for autographs was crazy! And then there was the rushing from one tent to another tent. They had the adult and young adult books in one tent on one end of the festival and the middle grade and children's on the other end. We purchased two books over at the adult and YA tent first and noted the signing times for those books. Then we made our way to the children's book tent and bought a bunch of books there.

I got so many books it was crazy! I had already missed Karen Harrington's signing, but luckily there was still a couple copies of Sure Signs of Crazy she had signed. Then I stood in line for an hour and a half for R.L. Stein to get A Midsummer Night's Scream signed. When he arrived it was as if a rock star had just arrived for a concert. Everyone in line was giddy and excited, pointing in his direction as he walked up, people were taking pictures of him from all angles. The best part were the teens who were beyond excited to see their favorite author. I was lucky that Adam Gidwitz was still signing after getting R.L. Stein's autograph and I was able to have him sign A Tale Dark & Grimm.

It was then a quick race over to the adult and YA book signing tent to jump in Kami Garcia's line where my dad was holding a spot for me. While I had been in R.L. Stein's line forever my dad got Mr. Penumbra's 24 Hour Bookstore and Ajax Penumbra 1969 signed by Robin Sloan for me. Seriously isn't that a catchy title? Mr. Penumbra's 24 Hour Bookstore? The title alone is a huge catch. Of course that could just be a book nerd's view. My sister and my fifteen year old daughter both looked at me like I was crazy. They didn't find it near as intriguing as I did. Their loss.

Every year my parents go to this festival and get the latest book in the Caster Chronicles by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl signed for me. I have all four books signed by them. And now I have Unbreakable by Kami Garcia signed as well. And that was the highlight of my entire day. She was so sweet. I asked if I could get her picture and she instantly said I should get in the picture as well and one of the wonderful volunteers took the picture. Yes, that made my day!

While I was in line for Kami Garcia my dad took my little man to get food. Of all of the food trucks there was only one with real food that people wanted to eat. The line was insane, but the chicken gyro was delicious. They were also the only ones selling bottled water, for $3 a piece! That was the best cold water ever. Hahaha

After lunch we wandered back to the children's tent to have Click Clack Boo signed for the little man. He was so funny, asking when they were going to sign his book as we waited in a line full of parents and kids ranging in age from upper elementary all the way down to tiny tots. As soon as the line began to move the little man passed right out. And no matter what I tried he refused to wake up! Both Doreen Cronin and Betsy Lewin thought it was great and had a good laugh. My dad angled his stroller right next to the table and got a picture of him fast asleep next to the authors signing his book. When we got home he wanted me to keep reading him the book over and over. So cute!

I wanted to return on Sunday to have The Year of Shadows signed by Claire Legrand, but a nasty headache reared it's ugly head and there was no way I was doing anything productive, let alone drive downtown, search for a parking spot, stand in line, and deal with the loud crowds and light. But, I'm still glad I got her book on Saturday. It looks so good! 

For those of you familiar with Austin you may have heard the local saying, "Keep Austin Weird." Well, it wouldn't have been a truly Austin event without a little dose of amusement. As I zipped my son through the crowd from the children's tent to the main book tent for Kami Garcia's signing I noted what made the festival truly Austin.

Throughout the day a group of young college student age boys and girls wandered the festival spreading the word that God is writing a new book. They were handing out business cards with information printed about their message and they held poster boards with their messages hand written on them. Apparently I didn't look like someone they were targeting because they skipped me when handing out the cards.

Anyhow, as we were racing along I noted a couple of them in front of me. One holding up a poster board and the other reading a message about the Lord at the top of his lungs as he paced back and forth. Behind me there was a tent dedicated to the Austin's true love: live music. As I looked around I saw people ranging from those dressed in casual business attire, to those with bright pink or bright blue hair, piercings & tattoos, cowboys, and everyone in between. And that is the Austin I grew up in. Which may explain why I was the only one not staring at the man in drag standing outside the gas station in New Jersey about six months ago. It didn't even register until I noticed everyone else staring at him. I guess you could say growing up in this "weird" town desensitized me in some ways. After all, I did grow up in a town where everyone knew of Leslie, a local cross dressing homeless man who even has his own Wikipedia page.

If you have the chance next year, you really should make the trip to Austin to take part in the Texas Book Festival and experience the Austin atmosphere.

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