2021 Texas Writer Award Recipient: Don Tate

The Texas Book Festival awards the Texas Writer Award each year to a Texas author who has made a significant contribution to the literary arts. Previous recipients include Tim O’Brien, Sarah Bird, Sandra Cisneros, Steven Weinberg, and Pat Mora.

This year, we are honored to name Don Tate as the recipient of the 2021 Texas Writer Award.  

Don’s story:

“Born with a pencil in his hand,” Don recalls that for as early as he can remember, he was always drawing and making things with his hands. He felt that he was always an artist.

What Don didn’t see himself as, or didn’t think it was possible to imagine himself as, however, was a writer. Don wasn’t a reader in his youth. He didn’t see himself represented in books and believed that the world of writers and words were for white people.

But he had an aunt, Eleanor E. Tate, who was a trailblazer. She was the first black journalist at the Des Moines Register and also wrote young adult fiction. When one of her books, Just an Overnight Guest, was adapted for TV, Don attended the premiere at the Des Moines Public Library. For Don, “it was the moment I realized I could be a book creator. It gave me permission to dream.”

Don moved to Austin in 1999 to work at the Austin American-Statesman as graphics reporter, a career he had started in Iowa at the Des Moines Register. Joining the Austin chapter of the Society of Children’s Writers and Illustrators (SCWBI), he credits the encouragement he found within the children’s book writing community, and especially the mentoring he received from Cynthia Leitich Smith, as instrumental in launching his career as an illustrator and writer.

Don’s first book publication as an illustrator was Say Hey: A Song of Willie Mays, followed by many book illustrator credits including Summer Sun Risin’, Black All Around!, Ron’s Big Mission, She loved Baseball: The Effa Manley Story, Duke Ellington’s Nutcracker Suite, Hope’s Gift, The Cart That Carried Martin, and The Amazing Age of John Roy Lynch.

It Jes’ Happened: When Bill Traylor Started to Draw marked Don’s debut as an author and was illustrated by R. Gregory Christie. For his very first book, Don was recognized as the Ezra Jack Keats New Writer Honor winner in 2012.

He wrote and illustrated his next book, Poet: The Remarkable Story of George Moses Horton (Peachtree Publishers, 2015). Poet went on to receive multiple awards and Don made history as the first two-time recipient of an Ezra Jack Keats award.

In recent years, Don has been busy as ever, publishing and illustrating books that celebrate the important stories and contributions of blacks in American history. Don is a 2021 Texas Book Festival author with his latest book, Pigskins to Paintbrushes: The Story of Football-Playing Artist Ernie Barnes. Passionate about raising the awareness of Black voices writing for young readers, Don is the founding host of The Brown Bookshelf. Don also gives so much of his time to inspire young readers through school visits to elementary schools across Texas and beyond. He participates frequently in Texas Book Festival’s Reading Rock Stars program as a featured author and illustrator.

Overcoming his insecurities about being a writer and as an award-winning author and illustrator of more than 80 books, Don reflects:

“What I discovered is that writing is just like illustrating, but using different tools. With illustration, I’m using my stylus and graphics program. With writing, I’m using nouns, verbs, and adjectives.”

 

2021 Festival Schedule

The 2021 hybrid Texas Book Festival schedule is here!

We’re excited to finally share our official 2021 schedule with you! This year’s Texas Book Festival kicks off on October 23 and runs through October 31 and features both virtual and limited in-person author appearances. The Fest begins the weekend of October 23 and 24 with virtual young adult Texas Teen Book Festival programming and virtual children’s programming, followed by virtual adult author programming from October 25 to 31.

Children’s programming continues with select in-person appearances by picture book authors at Symphony Square in downtown Austin on Saturday, October 30, followed by an in-person adult Lit Crawl which will take place from 7:15 p.m. to 9 p.m CT. Adult author programming concludes the Festival with select in-person sessions at Austin Public Central Library on Sunday, October 31.

You can now register for all in-person sessions, which will be filled on a first-come, first-served basis to the capacity limit.

Due to Austin’s current Stage 4 Covid guidelines, we have put safety precautions in place to protect our attendees, authors, volunteers, and vendors. All attendees ages 2+ are required to wear a mask at all times. All attendees ages 18+ are required to provide either proof of vaccine or a negative Covid test performed no longer than 72 hours prior to the event. All venues will be at reduced capacity, and social distancing will be enforced.

We can’t wait to see you online and in-person, October 23-31! 

Olamaie Brunch with Joshua McFadden!

We are thrilled to partner with Olamaie to host Joshua McFadden for an exclusive brunch on Sunday, October 31, at 11:45 a.m. Tickets include a three-course brunch featuring recipes by Chef Fojtasek in collaboration with Joshua McFadden along with a signed copy of Grains for Every Season: Rethinking our Way with Grains. The event is presented by Festival sponsor Central Market.

The event will start with passed appetizers from Olamaie, while Chef Joshua McFadden mingles with guests. Every ticket is $125 and includes a signed copy of Grains for Every Season along with food and cocktails at the brunch.

Get your Brunch Tickets

Joshua McFadden’s first book, the James Beard Award–winning and perennially bestselling Six Seasons, transformed the way we cook with vegetables. Now he’s back with a new book that applies his maximalist approach to flavor and texture to cooking with grains. These knock-your-socks-off recipes include salads, soups, pastas, pizzas, grain bowls, breads—and even desserts. McFadden works as intuitively, as surprisingly, as deliciously with whole grains as he does with vegetables. Grains for Every Season will change the way we cook with barley, brown rice, buckwheat, corn, millet, oats, quinoa, rye, wheat (bulgur, farro, freekeh, spelt, wheat berries, and whole wheat flour), and wild rice.

Joshua McFadden is the founder of Submarine Hospitality in Portland, Oregon. He owns and manages Ava Gene’s, Cicoria, Medjool, and Tusk restaurants. In between running the restaurants, he is bringing new life to Berny Farm, a historic fifty-acre farm in Springdale, Oregon, with the goal of creating an agricultural complex that will host collaborations between farming, food, and design.

All attendees must provide proof of vaccination or negative COVID test within 72 hours of the event to attend. A vegetarian meal may be requested in advance of the event however a vegan option will not be available.

Announcing Book Tickets for Colson Whitehead!

Join us for a conversation with Colson Whitehead as he discusses his new book Harlem Shuffle on October 25 at 12:45 pm. Each ticket is $35 and includes the cost of the book, processing fees, and shipping. The first 100 ticket buyers will get a signed copy of Harlem Shuffle. This will be a virtual session.

Colson Whitehead is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of ten works of fiction and nonfiction, and is a two-time winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, for The Nickel Boys and The Underground Railroad, which also won the National Book Award. A recipient of MacArthur and Guggenheim fellowships, he lives in New York City.

Get tickets here!

Please direct questions to the Texas Book Festival at bookfest@texasbookfestival.org. Every book ticket sold and book purchased through the BookPeople Festival Store supports the Texas Book Festival and Festival authors. Thank you!

2021 Author Lineup Announced!

The Texas Book Festival is excited to announce the lineup for its annual festival featuring nationally renowned authors, including Chandler Baker, Oscar Cásares, Sandra Cisneros, Ann Cleeves, Tamron Hall, Louis Menand, Sam Quinones, Don Tate and more!

As one of the largest literary festivals in the country, the 26th annual Texas Book Festival is expanding its hybrid festival dates with additional virtual programming on October 23 and 24. The nine-day event will kick off on October 23 and run through October 31 and will feature both virtual and limited in-person author appearances. Attendees of the festival are now able to see which authors will have virtual or in-person sessions on Texas Book Festival’s website, and the full schedule will be released online in early October.

The 2021 hybrid festival lineup features nearly 200 authors, illustrators, poets, journalists, artists, chefs, and thought leaders across a diverse array of genres and topics. The festival will also showcase previously announced authors Rumaan Alam, Mary Gaitskill, R. J. Palacio, Raj Patel, Amor Towles, Colson Whitehead, and more.

Texas Teen Book Festival

Angeline Boulley, Benjamin Alire Sáenz, and Neal Shusterman will headline the 2021 Texas Teen Book Festival, taking place online on October 23 and 24. The TTBF lineup also includes David Bowles, Jennifer Lynn Barnes, Candace Buford, Hafsah Faizal, Jennifer Mathieu, Lilliam Rivera, Tracy Wolff, and more.

Children’s programming

Children’s authors and illustrators in the full lineup include Gloria Amescua, Kathi Appelt, Adrianna Cuevas, K.A. Holt, Oliver Jeffers, Varian Johnson, Jon Scieszka and Steven Weinberg, and Nicholas Solis. 

Texas Authors

Texas authors featured at this year’s festival include Jeff Abbott, Kate Biberdorf, H. W. Brands, Ellen Riojas Clark, May Cobb, Carrie Fountain, Cassy Joy Garcia, Dolores Huerta, Priya Huq, Elizabeth McCracken, Bill Minutaglio, Juan Miró, Tomás Q. Morín, Jarrett and Jerome Pumphrey, Divya Srinivasan, S. Kirk Walsh, Lawrence Wright, and many more.

Hybrid programming

Virtual children’s programming will run the weekend of October 23 and October 24, and select in-person appearances by picture book authors will take place at Symphony Square in downtown Austin on Saturday, October 30. Virtual adult author programming will run from October 25 to 31, 2021, with select in-person sessions at Austin Public Library Main Branch on Sunday, October 31.

Book Sales

All Festival titles will be available in the official BookPeople Texas Book Festival online bookstore. Select titles will be available in person at Symphony Square and the Austin Central Library. BookPeople is the official bookseller for the Texas Book Festival. BookPeople donates a portion of every book sold through the online Festival store and at the Festival back to the Texas Book Festival. Thank you for supporting authors and readers in Texas! Check out the full Festival book list!

Check out the full author list!

2021 Texas Book Festival Update!

Out of concern for the safety of our community, we are significantly scaling back the in-person portion of this year’s Texas Book Festival and greatly increasing the number of virtual sessions that people can participate from anywhere.

Symphony Square

We love hosting our huge, rambling, open Festival at the State Capitol but, after much deliberation, we have decided it is safest to host the in-person portion of the Festival in venues where we can better monitor attendee numbers and enact proper safety guidelines.

We are thrilled to partner with Waterloo Greenway’s Symphony Square and the Austin Public Library on the Festival this year. Texas Book Festival will host children’s storytime programming at Symphony Square’s outdoor amphitheater on Saturday, October 30, and adult programming at APL’s Central Library on Sunday, October 31, for a limited number of in-person sessions.

Austin Central Library

All in-person sessions are free, but please note that capacity will be limited at our in-person venues. Attendees must RSVP for each session on a first-come, first-served basis in advance of the Festival. RSVPs will be available online once the schedule is announced in the first week of October. There are no attendance limits for our robust lineup of virtual sessions featuring authors for all ages and genres. We will be offering a small number of ticketed virtual events with the featured author’s book included in the ticket price.

Subscribe to our e-mail newsletter and follow us on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter for the most up-to-date information about the lineup, schedule, and registration dates. 


Revised Hybrid Festival Dates

Virtual

Oct. 23 – 24:

*Children’s programming

*Texas Teen Book Festival: Young Adult Authors and panels

Oct. 25 – 31:  Adult fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and cooking

In-Person

Oct. 30: 

*Read Me A Story children’s picture book authors at Symphony Square 

*Lit Crawl at Symphony Square

Oct. 31: Adult programming at Austin Central Library


The full author lineup will be announced on September 22 and the schedule will be announced the first week of October.

Every year, the annual Texas Book Festival features a wide array of the year’s best books and this year is no different. We are so passionate about this year’s authors and can’t wait for you to meet them, whether in person or online.

The Festival continues to be free, thanks to our generous sponsors and volunteers. The 2021 Texas Book Festival is co-presented by H-E-B and AT&T. Other major sponsors include Brigid Cockrum and Family, Kirkus Reviews, Tocker Foundation, Tapestry Foundation, Texas Monthly, Buena Vista Foundation, Still Water Foundation, St. David’s HealthCare, Central Market, Austin American-Statesman, Pentagram, Jordan Foster Construction, Loewy Law Firm, and BookPeople. Thank you to all our sponsors, donors, and partners!

Sneak Peek: 15 authors coming to TBF 2021

The Texas Book Festival is excited to unveil fifteen authors joining the weeklong hybrid Festival this fall.

The Festival will feature Pulitzer Prize-winning author Colson Whitehead, Michener Center for Writers instructor Elizabeth McCracken, bestselling novelist and 2016 Kirkus Prize finalist Amor Towles, National Medal of Arts recipient and 2005 Texas Writer Award recipient Sandra Cisneros, bestselling children’s author R. J. Palacio, and many more.

Starting October 23, the weeklong hybrid Festival will include a robust, diverse lineup of established, emerging, and debut literary talent for readers of all ages. TBF’s full lineup will be completed and revealed later this summer. See the full press release.

Order your copy! Find all of the sneak peek authors’ books at BookPeople.

The list of the fifteen sneak peek authors includes:

Rumaan Alam, Leave the World Behind
Benjamin Alire Sáenz, Aristotle and Dante Dive into the Waters of the World
Sandra Cisneros, Martita, I Remember You / Martita, te recuerdoMary Gaitskill, The Devil’s Treasure
Gabriela Garcia, Of Women and Salt
Elizabeth McCracken, The Souvenir Museum
Maggie Nelson, On Freedom: Four songs of Care and Constraint
R.J. Palacio, Pony
Raj Patel, Inflamed
Don Tate, Pigskins to Paintbrushes
Amor Towles, The Lincoln Highway
Sergio Troncoso, Nepantla Familias: An Anthology of Mexican American Literature on Families in Between WorldsColson Whitehead, Harlem Shuffle
Cecily Wong, Gastro Obscura: A Food Adventurer’s Guide
Lawrence Wright, The Plague Year

2021 Fresh Ink Fiction Contest

UPDATE: The deadline has now passed for submissions. Please stay tuned for more information.

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Calling all young writers of Texas! It’s time to submit your stories! We are proud to announce that the submission window for our 2021 Fresh Ink Fiction Contest, supported by the AT&T Foundation, is now open. Create a fictional story based on this theme: Thrive in a Hybrid World

Eligibility Requirements
– Live in Texas
– Enrolled in grades 6-12th
– Submit an original work of fiction, no more than 2,000 words
– Written by a single author, no co-authors

Submission Requirements & Format
– Follow the theme provided, choose your own genre (see types of genres)
– Use language that fits your audience
– Submit only one entry
– Include title page with your name, email, and word count
– Format: Double-spaced, Times New Roman, 12 pt size font, 1-inch margins
– Number all pages and submit in one of the following formats: .pdf, .doc, .docx
– Save your file using: TitleofStory_YourInitials [example: ThroneofGlass_SJM]
– Submit to link: Fresh Ink Fiction Contest
– You can also try: https://forms.gle/ocafpM26x1ysVTbz8

Deadline: Wednesday, September 15, 2021 at 11:59 p.m. CT

Entry must be the author’s original work and creation – no plagiarism or fan fiction.
Still have a question about the contest? Email Lucy: lucy@texasbookfestival.org 

You can also attend a Writer’s Q&A with Austin Bat Cave on September 4th, 1 p.m. CT. Go to austinbatcave.org to pre-register for this virtual session.

Entries will be judged by Texas Teen Book Festival authors, educators, and leaders in the publishing industry. Judges will look for excellence in dialogue, imagery, character development, setting, plot, conflict, and resolution. Winners will be invited to be part of virtual opportunities at the Texas Book Festival and Austin Bat Cave plus receive a fun literary prize. Winners will be announced on October 18, 2021.

Announcing the 2021 Texas Book Festival poster artist

We are thrilled to announce the 2021 Texas Book Festival poster artist is San Antonio-based artist Clemente Guzman! The selected piece, Viva Texas Rivers!, will also be the cover of a book of essays by the same name from Texas A&M Press. Guzman’s career embodies this love of Texas wildlife and nature, which seems appropriate for 2021 as we have sought solace in our beautiful state, as well as in books.

See the full poster image

Guzman was a Texas Parks and Wildlife staff artist from 1988-2017. Career highlights include producing five Texas Conservation license plates (White-tailed Deer, Largemouth Bass, Camping, Diamondback Rattlesnake, and Lucifer Hummingbird), thirty-three Texas game stamps, and illustrated posters for the Texas Wildlife Expo, Great Texas Birding Classic, Texas Freshwater Fisheries Center, Texas Game Warden Memorial, and Texas State Railroad. Guzman was the Tejano Conjunto Festival en San Antonio poster winner, 1992, 1995, 2002 and the California Upland Game Bird Stamp Art Contest winner, Sacramento, California, 2012.

Though Guzman was born in Martinez, California, he has always considered himself a Texan. “Three months before I was born, my family left Doss, Texas, as my dad was a cowboy looking for work in California,” he says. “Soon after I was born, we returned to Doss. I should have been born in Fredericksburg. We moved to San Antonio when I was in first grade.” Guzman currently lives and works in San Antonio and is honored to be selected as the 2021 Texas Book Festival poster artist. To learn more about Clemente, his love and respect for the natural world that he paints, and the poster image, check out this TBF interview with Clemente Guzman. Read the full press release here.

As always, we will have Festival shirts and posters for sale during the Texas Book Festival Weekend, on October 30-31. Please fill out the Festival poster form, and shirts and posters will be shipped in October. Please contact bookfest@texasbookfestival.org.

 

 

Get to know our 2021 Festival Poster Artist: Clemente Guzman

Clemente Guzman is the 2021 Texas Book Festival poster artist, and we are honored to feature his work Viva Texas Rivers!. Clemente sat down (virtually) with TBF Deputy Director Claire Burrows to talk about how he became an artist, why he focuses on nature as a subject, and what this particular image means to him.

The Texas Book Festival places great value on the importance and value of storytelling which makes your painting a great choice for our 2021 poster art as the characters in your painting seem to be living different stories at seemingly different points in history.  What stories were you hoping to capture? How did you choose who to represent?

When I started this project in conjunction with the book, I was sent stories from different authors that covered many different rivers, like the Red River, Pecos, Comal, Guadalupe…

There was so much in the stories, that I had to create categories to help create clear ideas: plants and trees, activities, relationships, and many more. These categories helped me see themes that I could depict so that I could show how important the rivers are in Texas.

There was so much to work with, and it became a montage of different stories from different authors from different times. I hope it depicts the past, present, and future of Texas rivers.

What is the message you wanted to convey?

Rivers have supported, entertained, and brought us together. I’m personally so moved by this idea, of rivers bringing everything together.

Why are rivers so important to Texas storytelling?

A lot of the places like the Rio Grande, Guadalupe, and Nueces are being changed and destroyed, and we’re losing our natural habitats. We can’t forget that we’ve connected to the rivers, that’s where we came from.

How did you start painting wildlife and nature?

My first painting was actually in seventh or eighth grade, it was a sparrow on a branch. My dad was trying to get me to learn refrigeration as a career, but when I showed him the picture, he liked it a lot. He was impressed.

My family moved to Minnesota, and we worked in the fields. There are a lot of wildlife artists in Minnesota and galleries full of wildlife paintings. I would go to those galleries and be inspired by all this beautiful artwork.

Then a friend introduced me to artist Mario Fernandez, who paints lots of eagles and songbirds. I went to his house and he had original paintings, maybe 25 paintings, all over the house. On the couch, leaning against the walls, everything. I thought, “I could do this. I could make a living as an artist like him.”

What is your artistic process?

When I first start a project, I don’t know what it’s going to look like, I can’t visualize it. I do lots of research to educate myself. I have to learn about the markings of animals at different stages of their lives and where they migrate. I look at lots of other artist renditions of the animals and plants to see how other people have depicted them.

Then I start with simple sketches until I’m happy with the final layout. Then I scan the final sketch into the computer where I keep working on it and adding color.

Each process is a little different, but overall I try to put stories together then simplify. Key is learning how to simplify so it makes sense to someone else looking at it. I try to see it through other people’s eyes.

What is a memorable book or story from your childhood?

I remember a copy of Little Red Riding Hood. It had a bright red cover, beautiful drawings, and simple text. Two other books that stand out to me due to the art are The Fox and the Grapes and Curious George.

We all learn differently, and when I was in elementary school I learned visually and drew lots of pictures, paying attention to details.

What do you like to read today?

About twelve to thirteen years ago, I started studying my family’s genealogy. It started because my grandmother wanted to know more about her father’s family, where did they come from, what were they like. I said, I don’t know but I’ll try to find out. It can be overwhelming, but very interesting, tracing back.

Right now I’m reading Of Texas Rivers & Texas Art by Andrew Sansom.

What else would you like people to know?

I would like everyone to go outside and enjoy a river in your town. Pay respect, enjoy nature. Think, “my ancestors use to work here, live here, swim here.” Simply just go out and appreciate the river. If we all do that, I think we would do more for protecting our natural world.