Gavin Quinn

Gavin serves as the Programs Assistant, responsible for helping out in various odds and ends of Texas Book Festival’s programming, such as the Texas Teen Book Festival and Reading Rock Stars. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Creative Writing from St. Edward’s University. His literary interests include literary fiction, comics and graphic novels, and poetry. His own writing has appeared in Grub Street Literary Magazine and Sorin Oak Review. In his free time, he enjoys watching films and learning how to bake.

Katey Psencik

 

Katey serves as the Communications and Marketing Coordinator at the Texas Book Festival. She is responsible for overseeing the Festival’s communication efforts, including social media, emails, press releases, and other publicity channels. Before joining the Festival, Katey worked as a lifestyle editor, writer and digital producer at a variety of online news publications, including the Austin American-Statesman. Katey graduated from the University of Texas School of Journalism, where she currently serves as an adjunct lecturer. In her free time, Katey enjoys teaching barre classes at a local fitness studio, cuddling with her shih tzu, and reading YA fiction, memoirs, and thrillers.

Interview with Lea Bogner Loy on Bringing Books to Life in Texas Schools

The Texas Book Festival launched by former librarian and then First Lady of Texas Laura Bush and philanthropist Mary Margaret Farabee in 1995 continues to grow in size and impact. Today the literary event brings more than three hundred authors to Austin each fall for a weekend of thought-provoking book discussions. What’s more, its book sale proceeds and attendee donations support powerful student programs in schools throughout Texas year-round.

One of those programs is Reading Rock Stars, which sends noted authors into Title I schools to inspire kids with great books and powerful live presentations. To date, the program has facilitated more than 400 author visits to Title I elementary schools in Austin, Dallas, Fort Worth, Houston, and the Rio Grande Valley, and distributed more than 100,000 autographed books to students at those schools.

The newer Real Reads program serves middle and high school students in similar fashion, pairing close readings of urgent books with deep conversations with their authors. Participating authors include Kwame Alexander, Matt Mendez, Jason Reynolds, Erika Sánchez, Nic Stone, Angie Thomas, Jacqueline Woodson.

I recently spoke with Lea Bogner Loy, who, as the outreach manager for the festival from 2017 to 2019 expanded Reading Rock Stars and launched Real Reads. We discussed what separates these programs from other author visits, why kids need to see themselves in books and authors, and what she hopes her Texas Book Festival legacy will be.

What was the most meaningful part of your Reading Rock Stars experience for you?

I think the focus I brought to the program on working with authors of color. I just saw what a difference it made when the students saw an author that looked like them up there. How much they really connected with the book. I also saw how grateful librarians were because they always felt like they struggled so much to find books that related to their kids. And so for me, being able to give a platform to those authors, and also give kids that experience, was really meaningful.

What are some of your favorite Reading Rock Stars memories?

Oh man, so many. There was one in the Rio Grande Valley with Ying Chang Compestine, presenting [her book The Chinese Emperor’s New Clothes] to PreK, K, and 1 students. She was talking about how she was an immigrant and all the kids were saying how they were immigrants too. There was that moment of cross-cultural understanding that was really special.

And there were always moments where kids would say, “I get to keep this book?” or “I’ve never had a book before.” That happened at every school we went to and every time it was always a gut punch. It was a reminder that we were doing important work.

During your tenure, you also launched the Real Reads program for middle and high school students. Why was it important to you to provide author programming for older students?

I think there’s a magic of reading that starts to get lost as you get older, especially for the students who aren’t seeing themselves in books. It’s an issue across the board. I remember being in school thinking “I can’t read The Grapes of Wrath or Shakespeare anymore. I want to read something that’s relevant and interesting to me.”

When you don’t have any reason to get connected to a book, you’re just not going to read as much. And it’s so important to continue to read—not only for vocabulary acquisition or to do well on standardized tests, but to be connected to modern issues.

And so that’s what Real Reads did. It gave students books that were really interesting to them and relevant, but that were also connected to things that they were seeing in the news and dealing with on a personal level. So they were able to really bring it all together and ignite that spark for reading.

I think people, especially literacy programs, have started to write off older students and think that they’re kind of a lost cause by the time they get to high school. And I really disagree with that.

What do you hope your Reading Rock Stars legacy will be?

Legacy is a big question. There are two parts of it. One is you’re just getting kids excited about reading, which so many authors are great about. But I think in publishing and in charity it’s easy to fall into the white savior complex of “I’m going to do these nice things for these kids of color and it’s going to change their lives.” If we’re not more intentional about it, it’s not going to make the kind of impact that it should.

I hope my legacy is that this program is not only about showing kids that reading is fun and important, but that they deserve books and that they’re empowered to do whatever it is they want to in their lives.

When I was in the classroom, the curriculum that was given to me was all about young white boys and 100% of my students were black. It was heartbreaking. Kids deserve to see themselves in books and if I had the platform to be able to bring a book to a child, I wanted to make sure that either it was going to be really funny and make them really love reading or they were going to see themselves in the book and feel empowered and seen.

This interview has been edited for brevity and clarity.

Lucy Vélez

Lucy serves as the School & Community Programs Coordinator, responsible for Reading Rock Stars, Real Reads, and Library Grants programs. She has a PhD in Curriculum and Instruction and a doctoral portfolio in Mexican American Studies from the University of Texas at Austin. She is a Tejana, raised a few blocks away from the U.S.-Mexico border, and the community cultural wealth of this region continues to drive her commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion. Prior to joining Texas Book Festival, Lucy worked in higher education in multiple capacities including teaching, student support programs, and admissions review. Outside of the TBF, Lucy and her husband, Efraín, spend all their time making sure their two boys fall in love with Austin, road trips, wildlife, Texas summers, BBQ, tacos, and of course, books. Her favorite genre is Chicana literature- it validated her border crosser identity as a teenager and continues to inspire her today.

We’re hiring a Literary Director!

The hunt is on for the Texas Book Festival’s next Literary Director! Think you have what it takes to curate the TBF’s literary programming and wrangle hundreds of authors, publicists, and moderators for our annual Festival? Please read the responsibilities, expectations, and qualifications below. Qualified applicants only. Please submit your application (resume and cover letter) by December 1.

TEXAS BOOK FESTIVAL LITERARY DIRECTOR

POSITION DESCRIPTION

The Literary Director position with the Texas Book Festival is responsible for creating, developing, and implementing year-round literary programming for the organization, including the two-day annual Texas Book Festival, Lit Crawl, and the Texas Teen Book Festival.

All TBF staff members help with planning work, event support, and communication strategies for the annual Texas Book Festival, the Texas Teen Book Festival, Reading Rock Stars, Real Reads, and other literary events in Austin and around Texas throughout the year.

RESPONSIBILITIES

Literary Programming

  • Develop and implement TBF’s literary programs in Austin and other cities as needed
  • Curate and schedule the annual Festival author lineup, developing relevant and engaging topics and panels. Programming includes Lit Crawl and other author events
  • Work closely with publishers to feature the year’s most compelling books at Festival events
  • Work with selection committees and organizational partners to create engaging programming that will appeal to a wide range of audiences
  • Oversee master grid of author invitations, submissions, declines and rejections.
  • Oversee Festival author and schedule information on website, ensuring author lineup and schedule information is published by target deadline
  • Work with School and Community Programs Coordinator to align and coordinate Reading Rock Stars author bookings with children’s and middle grade author Festival bookings
  • Work with Development team to create author programming that meets development goals
  • Serve on Texas Teen Book Festival programming committee to collaborate on Teen Book Festival authors and schedule
  • Produce literary program reports for Executive Director and Board as needed
  • Manage literary programming budget, continually striving to improve efficiency and cost savings

Leadership and Management

  • Represent organization at literary events in Austin, New York, and throughout Texas
  • Oversee literary events, serving as project manager for other TBF staff supporting literary events.
  • Serve as lead project manager on implementing Festival-related strategic plan improvements, working with staff and Deputy Director to plan, track and measure progress
  • Manage literary interns and any part-time literary support staff, managing their schedules, tasks, and recommendations

Communications

  • Produce literary content for emails, website, press releases, ads, and promotional materials, including blog posts, interviews, and lit events calendar, working with TBF Communications and Marketing Coordinator
  • Work with Communications and Marketing Coordinator and PR agency of record to raise the organization’s profile and build support with literary community

EXPECTATIONS

  • Actively participate in and contribute to organization’s long-term strategic goals and success
  • Actively contribute to a positive, professional, and respectful work environment. Support TBF team members when they need help
  • Embrace the all-in commitment required to make the annual Festival a success and understand that evening and weekend work will be expected in the weeks leading up to the Festival and for some outreach and special events. Flexible hours and generous time off in the off-season are provided in recognition of extra work time needed for the Festival.

QUALIFICATIONS

  • Bachelor’s degree; graduate studies in a relevant field preferred
  • Five years of relevant work experience, including writing, planning and executing literary programming and events
  • Experience with event-planning management on a large scale
  • Experience with book events
  • Enthusiasm and passion for literature and literacy
  • Knowledge and experience in publishing industry, including curiosity about contemporary trends in publishing
  • Knowledge of the Texas literary community
  • Experience in recruiting, motivating, and managing volunteers
  • Excellent communications skills (oral, written, and presentation)
  • Excellent interpersonal and organizational skills. Attention to detail is critical for this position
  • Strong technological aptitude. Familiarity with and flexibility across platforms and operating systems expected.
  • Media and public relations skills
  • Ability to think creatively to problem solve and promote the Texas Book Festival
  • Dedication and enthusiasm for fulfilling the Texas Book Festival mission
  • Flexibility to work evenings and weekends when needed
  • Some travel required

To apply, email Maris Finn at maris@texasbookfestival.org with your resume and cover letter detailing specific relevant experience. Applications received without cover letters will not be considered.

Patricia V. Hayes

Patricia V. Hayes, J.D., is a strategist, executive advisor, public speaker and career empowerment coach.  She is the owner of PVH Consulting Group, LLC, a strategy consulting, public policy, and leadership development firm where she supports executive-level leaders. A passionate advocate and community leader, Patricia is committed to issues affecting education, child abuse awareness/prevention, workforce development and women’s empowerment. Patricia is a 25-year veteran of the legislative and policy arena, where she served as a respected policy confidante and advisor to executive leadership in governmental, private and non-profit organizations. She served as the first African American and female Vice Chancellor in the Texas State University System. She has served on numerous community boards and committees including at the Center for Child Protection and Texas Legal. Currently she serves as Board Chair of the Community Advancement Network, Immediate Past Chair of the Greater Austin Black Chamber of Commerce, on the Central Health Equity Policy Council, and as an E3 Alliance Blueprint for Educational Change Leadership Council member. A dedicated Girl Scout leader, she was awarded the GSUSA Volunteer of Excellence Award in July 2019. A licensed attorney, she graduated from Pepperdine University School of Law and earned a Bachelor of Arts in Government from the University of Texas at Austin. She is married with two children.

Contract Logistics & Volunteer Coordinator

2018 CONTRACT LOGISTICS AND VOLUNTEER COORDINATOR JOB DESCRIPTION

 

This position is in review. Applications are currently closed.

Required hours:

June 18 – September: 20 hours per week

October 5- 6: all day availability to work Texas Teen Book Festival

October: 40 hours per week

October 25- 29: all-in availability to work Texas Book Festival Weekend and post-Fest cleanup

Texas Book Festival Coordination and Logistics

  • Serve as primary liaison with Texas Book Festival Volunteer Committee Chairs (VCCs) managing all aspects of volunteer coordination including recruitment, meetings, correspondence, requests, retention, goodwill, and events
  • Serve as liaison with contract Festival logistics team, working with them and Executive Director to help manage Festival venues, tents, maps, banners, signage, exhibitors, and food vendors
  • Work with TBF Literary Director and Literary Communications Coordinator on all Festival venues as they relate to literary programming (set-up needs for A/V, furniture, backdrops, signage, green room, etc).
  • Help produce and set-up Festival session signage with TBF Literary Director and Lit/Comm Coordinator
  • Assist with TBF merchandise inventory and 2018 order, working with TBF staff, TBF Store Volunteer Committee Chair, and merchandise vendor on deadlines and deliverables
  • During Festival Weekend, manage VCC communication and assist with Festival set-up and break down, including step and repeat banners, Author Green Room supplies, trash collection, signage, and VCC supply return
  • Run logistics-related errands leading up to and during Festival Weekend, including printing and merchandise pick-ups/drop-offs, special event deliveries, special programming-related book deliveries, and errands as needed
  • Coordinate VCC Festival Weekend kickoff/appreciation event held during the week leading up to the Festival, including organizing catering, preparing supply bags, and preparing pre-Festival materials for the VCCs
  • Manage over-street banner placements with City of Austin, including communication, drop-off and pickup.
  • Assist with site logistics for Festival Author Lineup Announcement and other summer/fall events, as needed

Texas Teen Book Festival Coordination and Logistics

  • Serve as logistics coordinator for Texas Teen Book Festival, serving as liaison between TTBF director and TBF staff to coordinate tent and other rental needs, medical services tent, signage, and other logistical needs.
  • Serve as TTBF exhibitor coordinator, serving as point of contact for all TTBF exhibitors and being on-site contact during the TTBF on October 6, 2018
  • Assist with Texas Teen Book Festival set-up at St. Edward’s University on Friday, October 5, 2018, including coordinating exhibitor move-in and assisting with placement of Festival signage, wayfinding signs and any other set-up materials.

Communication and Administrative Support

  • Contact potential local and regional advertisers for program insert. Coordinate ad deadlines and deliverables
  • Other duties as assigned

Application Instructions:

To apply, submit the following to Maris Finn at maris@texasbookfestival.org

  • Cover letter
  • Resume
  • References upon request

Application deadline: May 31
Start date: June 18

Go Kayaking with TBF!

Enjoy the great outdoors (and indoors!) with the Texas Book Festival on Sunday morning, October 28, before the festivities begin!

There’s nothing quite like stretching and getting some fresh air on a crisp fall morning in Austin, and what better place to do so than our own Lady Bird Lake?

Join us for a morning spent kayaking—sign up here!

We’re so grateful to our partner Congress Avenue Kayaks this activity to Festivalgoers free of charge!

 

May Book Club

Our May Book Club picks are all about questioning what you know. Every book on this list, including Manuel Gonzalez’s incendiary, action-packed thriller, Nancy Isenberg’s examination of class in America, and Chuck Klosterman’s book-length essay urging us to quite literally question our commonly-held ideas, and Margaret Atwood’s  The Handmaid’s Tale (the television adaptation of which premiered on Hulu just last month), all invite us to re-think our realities.

 

 

The Regional Office is Under Attack by Manuel Gonzalez, 416 pages, Fiction

In a world beset by amassing forces of darkness, one organization—the Regional Office—and its coterie of super-powered female assassins protects the globe from annihilation. At its helm, the mysterious Oyemi and her oracles seek out new recruits and root out evil plots. Then a prophecy suggests that someone from inside might bring about its downfall. And now, the Regional Office is under attack. Recruited by a defector from within, Rose is a young assassin leading the attack, eager to stretch into her powers and prove herself on her first mission. Defending the Regional Office is Sarah—who may or may not have a mechanical arm—fiercely devoted to the organization that took her in as a young woman in the wake of her mother’s sudden disappearance. On the day that the Regional Office is attacked, Rose’s and Sarah’s stories will overlap, their lives will collide, and the world as they know it just might end.

 

The Nest by Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney, 368 pages, Fiction

Every family has its problems. But even among the most troubled, the Plumb family stands out as spectacularly dysfunctional. Years of simmering tensions finally reach a breaking point on an unseasonably cold afternoon in New York City as Melody, Beatrice, and Jack Plumb gather to confront their charismatic and reckless older brother, Leo, freshly released from rehab. This is a story about the power of family, the possibilities of friendship, the ways we depend upon one another and the ways we let one another down. In this tender, entertaining, and deftly written debut, Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney brings a remarkable cast of characters to life to illuminate what money does to relationships, what happens to our ambitions over the course of time, and the fraught yet unbreakable ties we share with those we love.

 

White Trash, the 400-Year Untold Story of Class in America by Nancy Isenberg, 480 pages, Nonfiction

But What if We’re Wrong by Chuck Klosterman, 288 pages, Nonfiction

But What If We’re Wrong? is a book of original, reported, interconnected pieces, which speculate on the likelihood that many universally accepted, deeply ingrained cultural and scientific beliefs will someday seem absurd. Covering a spectrum of objective and subjective topics, the book attempts to visualize present-day society the way it will be viewed in a distant future. Klosterman cites original interviews with a wide variety of thinkers and experts — including George Saunders, David Byrne, Jonathan Lethem, Alex Ross, Kathryn Schulz, Neil deGrasse Tyson, Brian Greene, Junot Díaz, Amanda Petrusich, Ryan Adams, Dan Carlin, Nick Bostrom, and Richard Linklater.

 

Joe Gould’s Teeth by Jill Lepore, 256 pages, Nonfiction

From New Yorker staff writer and Harvard historian Jill Lepore, the dark, spellbinding tale of her restless search for the missing longest book ever written, a century-old manuscript called “The Oral History of Our Time.” Joe Gould’s Teeth is a Poe-like tale of detection, madness, and invention. Digging through archives all over the country, Lepore unearthed evidence that “The Oral History of Our Time” did in fact once exist. Relying on letters, scraps, and Gould’s own diaries and notebooks—including volumes of his lost manuscript—Lepore argues that Joe Gould’s real secret had to do with sex and the color line, with modernists’ relationship to the Harlem Renaissance, and, above all, with Gould’s terrifying obsession with the African American sculptor Augusta Savage. In ways that even Gould himself could not have imagined, what Gould wrote down really is a history of our time: unsettling and ferocious

 

The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood, 311 pages, Fiction

In this seminal work of speculative fiction, the Booker Prize-winning author asks: In the world of the near future, who will control women’s bodies? Offred is a Handmaid in the Republic of Gilead. She may leave the home of the Commander and his wife once a day to walk to food markets whose signs are now pictures instead of words because women are no longer allowed to read. She must lie on her back once a month and pray that the Commander makes her pregnant, because in an age of declining births, Offred and the other Handmaids are valued only if their ovaries are viable. Offred can remember the days before, when she lived and made love with her husband Luke; when she played with and protected her daughter; when she had a job, money of her own, and access to knowledge. But all of that is gone now…. Funny, unexpected, horrifying, and altogether convincing, The Handmaid’s Tale is at once scathing satire, dire warning, and literary tour de force.

 

What are you reading this month? Share your May reads with us on Twitter @texasbookfest !

April Book Club

Happy Spring! For our April Book Club, our theme is “Spring Fever.” These books will take you from glitzy New York restaurant life to rural Texas to South Korea and everywhere in between. Whether you’re looking to escape your spring fever, or looking to spice up your book club, this list has a little something for every reader!

April Book Club (1)

What is Not Yours is Not Yours by Helen Oyeyemi, 352 pages, Short Stories.

Playful, ambitious, and exquisitely imagined, What Is Not Yours Is Not Yours is cleverly built around the idea of keys, literal and metaphorical. The key to a house, the key to a heart, the key to a secret—Oyeyemi’s keys not only unlock elements of her characters’ lives, they promise further labyrinths on the other side. Winner of the PEN Open Book Award, an NPR Best Book of 2016, as well as many other accolades, Oyeyemi’s stories are sure to spark conversation.

The Son by Philipp Meyer, 592 pages, Fiction.

Soon to be a TV Series on AMC starring Pierce Brosnan and co-written by Philipp Meyer! Part epic of Texas, part classic coming-of-age story, part unflinching examination of the bloody price of power, The Son is a gripping and utterly transporting novel that maps the legacy of violence in the American west with rare emotional acuity, even as it presents an intimate portrait of one family across two centuries.

Barkskins by Annie Proulx, 736 pages, Fiction.

Annie Proulx tells the stories of the descendants of Sel and Duquet over three hundred years—their travels across North America, to Europe, China, and New Zealand—the revenge of rivals, accidents, pestilence, Indian attacks, and cultural annihilation. Over and over, they seize what they can of a presumed infinite resource, leaving the modern-day characters face to face with possible ecological collapse. Finalist for the Kirkus Prize for Best Novel, a New York Times Notable Book, and a Washington Post Best Book of the Year.

Sweetbitter by Stephanie Danler, 386 pages, Fiction.

Newly arrived in New York City, twenty-two-year-old Tess lands a job working front of house at a celebrated downtown restaurant. What follows is her education: in champagne and cocaine, love and lust, dive bars and fine dining rooms, as she learns to navigate the chaotic, enchanting, punishing life she has chosen. The story of a young woman’s coming-of-age, set against the glitzy, grimy backdrop of New York’s most elite restaurants, in Sweetbitter Stephanie Danler deftly conjures the nonstop and high-adrenaline world of the food industry and evokes the infinite possibilities, the unbearable beauty, and the fragility and brutality of being young and adrift.

Rosemary’s Baby by Ira Levin, 256 pages, Horror.

Looking to shake up your book club this month? In this new Fiftieth Anniversary edition of the classic masterpiece of spellbinding suspense, evil wears the most innocent face of all. Rosemary Woodhouse and her struggling actor husband Guy move into the Bramford, an old New York City apartment building with an ominous reputation and mostly elderly residents. Neighbors Roman and Minnie Castavet soon come nosing around to welcome the Woodhouses to the building, and despite Rosemary’s reservations about their eccentricity and the weird noises that she keeps hearing, her husband takes a shine to them. Shortly after Guy lands a Broadway role, Rosemary becomes pregnant—and the Castavets start taking a special interest in her welfare. As the sickened Rosemary becomes increasingly isolated, she begins to suspect that the Castavets’ circle is not what it seems…

The Sympathizer by Viet Thanh Nguyen, 354 pages, Fiction.

*2015 Festival Author*

A profound, startling, and beautifully crafted debut novel, The Sympathizer is the story of a man of two minds, someone whose political beliefs clash with his individual loyalties. In dialogue with but diametrically opposed to the narratives of the Vietnam War that have preceded it, this novel offers an important and unfamiliar new perspective on the war: that of a conflicted communist sympathizer. Winner of the 2016 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction.

Staff Pick: The Vegetarian by Han King, 208 Pages, Fiction

Before the nightmares began, Yeong-hye and her husband lived an ordinary, controlled life. But the dreams—invasive images of blood and brutality—torture her, driving Yeong-hye to purge her mind and renounce eating meat altogether. It’s a small act of independence, but it interrupts her marriage and sets into motion an increasingly grotesque chain of events at home. As her husband, her brother-in-law and sister each fight to reassert their control, Yeong-hye obsessively defends the choice that’s become sacred to her. Soon their attempts turn desperate, subjecting first her mind, and then her body, to ever more intrusive and perverse violations, sending Yeong-hye spiraling into a dangerous, bizarre estrangement, not only from those closest to her, but also from herself. Winner of the 2016 Man Booker International Prize.

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