Sunday, November 11, 2007

Texas Book Festival, Sunday sessions

Women Writers of the Southwest, first session

Susan Wittig Albert wrote for the Nancy Drew Case Files; Heart of Danger was the only book set in Texas. She reccommends to writers that they read their work out loud while they're editing. SWA founded the Story Circle, focusing on writing about place, blogs daily now. Her latest (edited collection) includes both published and non-published rural and urban writers. She's been fascinated about "coming to the West" stories since childhood (fueled especially by the Little House series). When asked, stated that she's not had a problem selling her regional work. She finds that Western writers tend to be more open, brash, and forthright. Female writers tend to be more realistic within their freedom. Buddhists find "joy in limitation", and western female writers understand and embody this. When asked about the differences between men and women (western writers), said: whereas women see the threat to our environment, have concern for their homes, and are passionate about resource management, men tend to keep these issues at an arms-length abstraction. She closed by mentioning that Native and Hispanic voices are raising about community.

JS loves writing a good footnote. Suggests reading My Antonia in the original publication, as you really need the illustrations to get the full effect. Mary Austen [in? sp?] Little...Rain has similar illustrations to My Antonia. Austen was better known than Cather; they eventually met, interacted, and fell out. She regrets not having any formal training in art history. Her interest in the West comes from being born in Fort Worth ("where the west began"). Katherine Anne Porter and Willa Cather were favorite authhors who moved to New Mexico. "There's just an identity of being from the West." Laments that some Easterners don't know the difference between places in the same state [I believe she used Dallas and Fort Worth as an example]. She says that Austen and Cather were conscious of enjoying new freedoms (at least within expectations of social propriety). When asked about the differences between men and women (western writers), said: the general pattern for men is to write about conquest and violence, women generally focus on the dometic side of life, nature, freedom, physical vigor, and peace. In closing, she stated that Austen's political agenda worked against her in regards to her posterity (that is, why no one knows who she is now)--she wrote about environmental issues, gender wars, and Native American groups (when no one else was).

Books and authors recommended:
Terry Temple Williams
Waist High in the World
Leslie Silco, Storyteller (essay: "Not You, He Said")

Texas Comics Scene, second session
[thank goodness this one was literally, next door to the first I attended, oh, and I saw my friend, too--we were the ones giggling maniacally occasionally in the left front row]


Terry Moore--Strangers in Paradise (set in Houston, 110 issues/6 collections, self-published)
--an expanded audience changes the way you write (characters MUST be taken care of, and you have to balance having a huge arc versus keeping audience interest)
--one creative reason to continue serialization, is that the periodicals meet the audience's attention span

Paul Benjamin--Pantheon High (manga, set in L.A.)

Matthew Sturges--Jack of Fables, House of Mystery
--one creative reason to continue serialization, is that the comic book is a legitimate slab of culture.

When writing/promoting your comic, ask yourself: How big do I want my audience to be? (place your limits)
Graphic novels boomed when bookstores started distributing them.
Most publishers have their own graphic novel line.
Movies don't promote comic book sales significantly.
Diamond Comics is THE only comics distributor.

Yard Art and Handmade Places

Speaker introduced as the "original environmentalist", and has a show on NPR.
Opened her talk by asking: "Why do we have a fascination with these places?" and suggests that too many places look the same.
Book/quest seeks how people modify their outside spaces to make the exterior more welcoming. Criteria for inclusion in the book mandated that the place be occupied, and that the creations be original. She was also looking for soulful connections, and sense of an intermediate zone between outside and in.
Themes covered in the book: landmarks, recreating paradise, staying or coming home, overcoming personal adversity, indoor collections spill outside, sacred gardens.

*go to Paint Rock to see pictographs, look up JD Jackson regarding landmarks
*looked like an interesting book, but not enough to bring home at $30. I'll keep an eye out for it at the library.

Yay! Not much more to add about the festival, except that I'd like to be more on the ball next year, have babysitting set up better (or maybe bring sitter and Anthony with, he may be old enough then for some of the kids' programs), get some of my friends to hang out with me (at least for lunch), and maybe have some money in the budget for books.

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