Saturday, November 8, 2014

The Texas Book Festival 2014: I Stay in a Tiny House and Meet Lots of Authors

Call me geeky. Call me a retro-hippy girl. Call me whatever you want, but I've always wanted a tiny house. How could I pass up the opportunity to rent one for our Texas Book Festival weekend in Austin? 

And what did I learn from the stay here? A tiny house is...well, tiny. And going up and down rather steep stairs twice a night to a loft bed might be a bit much at 58. But cozy. Beautiful. And quite ecological and economical, I think.

And...surprise! Who would guess that the owner of the tiny house is...wait for author!
Look what she left for me at the tiny house!

And then it's time for the book festival. Gloriously beautiful weekend weather at the Texas Capitol for the festival. Thank you. 

You'll be happy to know that Texas continues to be properly defended from those who would invade our Great State.

I exclusively focused on children's books this year. My first stop was a presentation, complete with a sitar and drum serenade from a musician who once privately played for Gandhi, for the new children's book, Grandfather Gandhi.

Pat Mora and her new book I Pledge Allegiance were next. Grandma becomes a citizen in this one.

It just can't be a Texas Book Festival without author Mac Barnett. He presented his new book, Sam and Dave Dig a Hole, sans illustrator Jon Klassen, shaming his friend for his failure to show up this time. Facing the blank page, Barnett tells us, is "like having homework every day for the rest of your life." Being an author is pretty nice, though, because he gets up in the morning, walks ten steps to his desk, and "that's my morning commute." 

The Big Reveal. TLA Librarian of the Year ("This ain't your grandma's library") John Trischitti and a crew of twenty elementary students read blurbs for the Texas Bluebonnet nominees. You'd be proud to hear these twenty Texan kids read so beautifully, despite the fact that the blurbs had been presented to them only moments before the reveal. A couple of the authors of the nominees were happily present to appear at the reveal, including Separate is Never Equal author/illustrator Duncan Tonatiuh (left) and Grandfather Gandhi author Bethany Hegedus (right).

The awesome Jacqueline Woodson along with fellow kids' authors Isabel Quintero and K.A. Holt talk about the ways they use poetry as both reflections and windows in their writings. 

A great way to end the first day was with Dallas chef Dean Fearing. He shared recipes from his new cookbook, The Texas Food Bible, though he admits he's not from Texas and he never intended to become a chef. When questioned from the audience about the next wave in cooking, he replied cheerily, "The Texas Food Bible!"

I've been to Book People in Austin many, many times, but I've somehow failed to obtain an iconic Devoted-Reader-in-Front-of Fav-Bookstore photo until now.

Another must-visit stop on this trip was at Recycled Reads, a resale shop for the Austin Public Library system. They always seem to have some sort of paper arts on display.


Sunday, the last day of the festival, was devoted to escorting children's authors around the festival. In the past, I've always been assigned to one author, but this year the Powers-That-Be apparently learned of my author-escorting gifts and sent me scurrying to escort six including Chris Barton (his Shark vs. Train continues to be a favorite at my library), jaunty Melissa Guion (Baby Penguins Everywhere), friendly Molly Idle (Flora the Penguin) and Nathan Hale (Nathan Hale's Hazardous Tales). Nathan Hale was the only one who seems to know of my true navigating abilities.

Nathan Hale's presentation was amazing. Here's a taste.

You never know who you are going to meet in the author green room at the festival. Nathan Hale, in his session, told us a cool story from earlier in the day in the green room, while he was waiting to present. Had to share his Facebook post:

Hanging out in the author green room at the Texas Book Fest. Nice older gentlemen is sitting at my moderator table/meet-up spot. I walk up, sit down and ask if he's my moderator. He says no, he's moderating another panel on law enforcement. I make standard festival-related small talk, "Hot out there, huh?" "Is this your first time at the festival?"
At one point, somebody came up to him and said, "Pardon me, sir, I just wanted you to know how much the show meant to me."
I asked what show the person was talking about. He said, "Oh, I worked on M.A.S.H." I asked if he was a writer for the show.
He said, no, I was on the show. 

It was Mike Farrell, aka Captain B.J. Honeycutt.

I am an idiot.

And that was my weekend. Full of delightful stories.


  1. What a wonderful post! I actually love tiny houses, too, although I have never lived in one. Many small apartments, however, over the years...LOL.

    When I lived in the foothills, I had a guesthouse near my A-frame could probably qualify as a tiny house. I enjoyed spending time in it.


  2. I've always wondered what it would be like to live in a tiny house, but I don't think my quilting fabric and accouterments would fit into such a small space! I'll bet it was a cozy place to spend a few days.
    Your photos of the book festival are terrific. I'd love to attend one of these days! Thanks so much for sharing your adventure.
    Here are my Saturday Snapshots.

  3. Nice pictures! a wonderful weekend!

  4. The festival looks amazing, and it's difficult to pick out one photograph, but I do love that tiny house... And the paper art. My blog is at

  5. What an interesting post! That tiny house is lovely... like you're staying in a doll's house, or, a log cabin. I've always wanted to visit authors and book festivals, but never have the chance here. So, glad I can learn something about it from your post.

  6. What a great post!. You have a wonderful weekend! Great pictures too. I know I couldn't live in a tiny house for very long. A sleeping loft would not work for this old lady with arthritis! But I love the look of the minimalist lifestyle!

  7. Great photo's! Thanks for sharing. I hope you're having a fabulous weekend.
    Sharon @ Sharon's Book Nook!

  8. Great post and photos! I would love to live in a tiny house if it was at the beach or on a lake.

  9. There is SO much happiness in this post :)

    I love the Tiny House movement and while I'm not sure I could live that way year 'round, renting a tiny house may be the perfect compromise (I had no idea that was a possibility).

    And since I am a Texan at heart... I want to some day re-visit Austin, and what better time to plan a visit than during a book festival!

  10. *Facepalm* moment for Nathan Hale, huh? Of course, I recently just finished watching the entire series again so I'm a bit prejudiced. :) Based on the photos, it looks like you had a great time. Glad you went and shared your experience with us.

  11. Looks like you had a great time! I am just enamored with tiny homes and I keep trying to talk my husband into selling everything we own and moving into one. Maybe when the kids are gone :D

  12. Love your post, Deb! First, what a great time you shared at the book festival! I am so jealous! One of these days I'm going to get to the one in DC, which is amazingly the closest (I think) to me. AND then, you get to stay in a tiny house! I love tiny houses! I actually subscribe via email to a tiny house website that posts new tiny houses (and some for sale). Of course, what a big amount of down sizing we'd all have to do, but sometimes I think it would be worth it! Have a great week!

    Suzanne (Chick with Books)

  13. Wow, looks like you had a wonderful time at the book festival. I am intrigued with the concept of tiny houses, I saw them for the first time on an episode of Design Star my wife was watching a couple of years ago.

  14. Tiny houses are cute! The problem of course with them is there would no room for all the books I buy at book festivals. :-)

    How incredible that you had the privilege of escorting authors around the festival. I'd love to have met Jacqueline Woodson!

    In the past, I've covered our local children's book festival in just one post too. This year, I expanded my coverage to several posts, but list all the links on one page. Here's that page:

  15. The Texas Book Festival looks like so much fun! I wish we had something similar in my state. Haha, I love the Mike Farrell story!! That's too funny.

  16. I would love to attend a book festival like that! It sounds like a fabulous weekend!

  17. Looks like a fun trip & festival. I like the cozy house. Efficient!

  18. What a great opportunity to stay in a tiny house. Did your husband stay with you too? And I know how much you love festivals, and meeting all those authors. I have to update my flash so I can see your video.

  19. Weekend well spent with books. :)

  20. You kept your "true navigating abilities" well-hidden, Deb! Thanks so much for getting me where I needed to go. Hope to see you again soon.


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