I (Heart) the Austin Teen Book Festival (and FUN!)

The Austin Teen Book Festival, taking place on October 1st, 2011 10am – 5pm at the Palmer Events Center, is a FREE festival with the mission of connecting teens with authors of books for teens. Panels of authors will discuss a wide variety of topics, sign their books, and celebrate all things teen fiction.

To give you a taste of what to expect at the ATBF, we’ve invited some of the panelists to write about their panel here on the BP blog. This week’s guest blogger is Jennifer Ziegler, who is will appear on the I (Heart) Love Stories panel.


By Jennifer Ziegler

I can’t wait for October.  With it comes cooler weather (let’s hope), Halloween fun with my kids, and the Austin Teen Book Festival!  This year I’m especially thrilled to be featured on the I (Heart) Love Stories panel alongside Christina Mandelski, Jenny Han, Stephanie Perkins, and Simone Elkeles.

I love doing these panels.  I really do.  What do I love about it?  Well…

*I love getting to know readers – YA book lovers in particular.  Events such as these are a great opportunity for me to get direct feedback from fans, to float ideas, to reach out to the people I write books for and about, and to laugh and play with my kinds of folk.  I come away feeling inspired, and my writing flourishes because of it.

*I love being surprised with thought-provoking questions like the ones Christina Garcia will surely spring on me and my co-panelists.  I’m always happy to share “insider information” on process, inspiration, the basic diet of a writer on deadline – anything.  What’s amazing, though, is how much I end up learning from the discussion.  Not only am I enlightened and educated by my fellow panelists (I often take notes – no joke here), but I find myself looking at my novels in a new way.  It’s great when a question makes me consider something about myself or my methods that I wasn’t aware of before.  I’ve been writing all my life and I’ve been publishing fiction for thirteen years, but so much of what I do still remains a mystery.

*I love meeting other authors and listening to what they have to say. In fact, I’ve met some of my best friends at these events.  Three years ago I was on a panel with Varian Johnson (who will be moderating “Edgy” at this year’s festival) and he told an anecdote about his research for My Life as a Rhombus that I’m still laughing about.  On another panel, Margo Rabb (who will be moderating “Pen Fatale“) described a strange phenomenon that occurs whenever she works on a romantic plot. I’d had the exact same experience but thought I was the only one!  [What is this phenomenon?  Come to the I (Heart) Love Stories panel and you will probably find out.]

And the number one reason why I love doing panels (and the number one reason why you should come to the Austin Teen Book Festival)?

It’s FUN!

Hope to see you there.  Come ready to laugh a lot and learn a lot – and hopefully enjoy a cool breeze.


Jennifer Ziegler is a writer, speaker, mother, spicy food lover, movie buff, and fan of all things wacky-yet-real. A graduate of the University of Texas, she lives here in Austin. She is the author of the books Alpha Dog, How NOT to Be Popular, and her latest, Sass & Serendipity.

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