300 authors coming to Texas Book Fest Oct. 17-18

20th anniversary lineup to feature Margaret Atwood, Taye Diggs, Nick Flynn, Linda Gray, Daniel Handler, Gary Hart, Chuck Palahniuk, and more

AUSTIN—A record 300 authors are coming to the 2015 Texas Book Festival, Oct. 17 and 18, the largest number in the Festival’s twenty-year history. Nationally renowned authors include Margaret Atwood, Taye Diggs, Nick Flynn, Linda Gray, Daniel Handler (Lemony Snicket), Gary Hart, Luis Alberto Urerra, Margo Jefferson, Attica Locke, Marie Lu, Chuck Palahniuk, Tavi Gevinson, and Adrian Tomine.

Other headlining authors include Sandra Cisneros (the only 2015 author who was part of the first Festival in 1995), Steve Inskeep, Azar Nafisi, Leonard Pitts, Jr., Mary Helen Specht, Jonathan Lethem, Lauren Groff, John Sununu, Scott Simon, and Robert Christgau. The full list of authors and their featured books is available online at www.texasbookfestival.org.

Celebrating the Festival’s 20th anniversary and her third year as Festival literary director, Steph Opitz says it’s all been “an incredibly gratifying experience.”

“Over the years we've had fabulous big name-authors and we've had ‘trust-us-this-person/book-is going-to-be-huge’ overnight sensations. This year it's going to be all that and some,” Opitz says. “If I wasn't working this thing, I'd be sprinting from session to session trying to get at least a taste of all the magic happening in our Capitol that weekend.”

Standout themes this year include several books about music, poetry, graphic novels including several by women authors, and a strong showing of children’s and young adult authors.

More than 40,000 people are expected to attend the 20th Anniversary Texas Book Festival. The weekend kicks off with the First Edition Literary Gala, featuring Festival authors Margaret Atwood, Taye Diggs, and Scott Simon.

The 2015 Texas Book Festival is co-presented by AT&T and H-E-B. Other major sponsors include Brigid Cockrum and family, Kirkus Reviews, the Texas College Savings Plan, Texas Monthly, the Tocker Foundation, C-SPAN2 Book TV, St. David’s HealthCare, Buena Vista Foundation, Pentagram, Central Market, and the Austin American-Statesman.

About the Texas Book Festival

The Texas Book Festival celebrates authors and their contributions to the culture of literacy, ideas, and imagination. Founded in 1995 by first lady Laura Bush, Mary Margaret Farabee, and a group of volunteers, the nonprofit Texas Book Festival promotes the joys of reading and writing through its annual Festival Weekend, the one-day Texas Teen Book Festival happening September 26, the Reading Rock Stars program, grants to Texas libraries, a youth fiction writing contest, and year-round literary programming. The Festival is held on the grounds of the Texas Capitol each fall and features more than 250-plus renowned authors, panels, book signings, live music, cooking demonstrations, and children’s activities. Thanks to generous donors, sponsors, and 1,000 volunteers, the Festival remains free and open to the public. Visit www.texasbookfestival.org for more information, and join the conversation using the hashtag #txbookfest on Facebook; and @txbookfest on Twitter and Instagram.

Margaret Atwood, Taye Diggs, Scott Simon to be featured presenters at Texas Book Fest Gala Oct. 16

AUSTIN—Acclaimed novelist Margaret Atwood (below, right); actor, Broadway star, and children’s book author Taye Diggs (center); and National Public Radio host and author Scott Simon (left) will be featured presenters at the Texas Book Festival’s First Edition Literary Gala at the Four Seasons Hotel Fri., Oct. 16, 2015.

The popular, elegant prelude to the Texas Book Festival Weekend, the Gala is expected to draw a record number of literary luminaries, dignitaries, and cultural arts supporters as the Festival celebrates its 20th anniversary this year.

The Gala supports the Festival and all of its charitable programs, including Reading Rock Stars, Texas Public Library Grants, and the Fiction Writing Contest for students. This year’s Gala is co-chaired by three sisters: Sarah Queen, Mary Clare Matthews, and Denise Laurienti, daughters of former Festival board chair Jan Hughes and husband David Hughes.

For the second year, this year’s Gala will include an Afterparty, also at the Four Seasons, with tickets for $75. Attendees will have the opportunity to mingle with Festival authors in a late-night, cocktail party setting and be entertained by local funk-rock band Austin Heat, whose lead singer recently appeared on NBC’s The Voice.

Limited Gala tables and individual seats are available; the event sells out every year. To purchase tickets, call 512-477-4055 or email claire@texasbookfestival.org.  Individual tickets are $500. Preferred Leather Bound tables are $10,000, and Hard Cover tables are $5,000. Gold Leaf and Authors’ Circle sponsorships, which include extensive Festival VIP benefits, are $25,000 and $15,000, respectively.  For more information, go to https://www.texasbookfestival.org/2015-first-edition-literary-gala/.

The 2015 Texas Book Festival is co-presented by AT&T and H-E-B. Other major sponsors include Brigid Cockrum and family, Kirkus Reviews, the Texas College Savings Plan, Texas Monthly, the Tocker Foundation, C-SPAN2 Book TV, St. David’s HealthCare, Buena Vista Foundation, Pentagram, Central Market, and the Austin American-Statesman.

(From Texas Book Festival press release)

Permian Basin Writers’ Workshop
coming up Sept. 18–19 in Midland

The Permian Basin Writers’ Workshop will be held September 18–19, 2015. Sponsored by the Midland Library Foundation, the workshop has been designed to offer two tracks that attendees may move between at their discretion. One track addresses elements of the writing process, and the other will focus on navigating the industry. Venues will be Midland Centennial Library and Midland College, and registration cost is $35.

Presenters include Sara Cortez, Stephen Graham Jones, Seth Fishman, Kay Ellington, and Barbara Brannon.

Above, from left: Sara Cortez, Seth Fishman, Stephen Graham Jones

A native Houstonian and councilor of the Texas Institute of Letters, Sarah Cortez is the author of an acclaimed poetry collection, How to Undress a Cop, and winner of the PEN Texas literary award in poetry. She has edited Urban Speak: Poetry of the City and Windows into My World: Latino Youth Write Their Lives, winner of the 2008 Skipping Stones Honor Award. She has also edited Hit List: The Best of Latino Mystery, Indian Country Noir (Akashic Books), and You Don’t Have a Clue: Latino Mystery Stories for Teens, which was short-listed for the 2012 International Latino Book Awards.  In 2012 her spiritual memoir, in poetry and prose, titled Walking Home: Growing Up Hispanic in Houston, was published by Texas Review Press and was hailed by the Houston Chronicle as “a love letter to the city of Houston.” A collection of poetry from the urban street cop’s perspective, Cold Blue Steel, was published in 2013 by Texas Review Press and shortlisted for the Writer’s League of Texas Poetry Award. A volume she edited, Our Lost Border: Life Amid the Narco-Violence, was also published in 2013 and has won both a Southwest Book Award and International Latino Book Award. Cortez was recently named to the 2014–16 Texas Commission on the Arts Touring Roster.


Stephen Graham Jones has twenty books out — five collections and fifteen novels. This year he has two or three more out as well: the young adult Floating Boy and the Girl Who Couldn’t Fly (Dzanc, with Paul Tremblay), After the People Lights Have Gone Off (horror collection, Dark House), and Once Upon a Time in Texas (Trapdoor), the second installment of his Bunnyhead Chronicles. He also has a couple hundred short stories published, from literary journals to truck-enthusiast magazines, from textbooks to anthologies to best-of-the-year annuals. Jones has been an NEA Fellow and a Texas Writers League Fellow, and has won the Texas Institute of Letters Award for Fiction and the Independent Publishers Multicultural Award.

Born and raised in Midland, Texas, Seth Fishman received his MFA in creative writing from the University of East Anglia in Norwich, England. He's the author of two YA thrillers from Penguin Putnam, The Well's End and The Dark Water, and three forthcoming picture books from HarperCollins (Greenwillow), the first titled A Hundred Billion Trillion Stars. When not writing, Seth is a literary agent at the Gernert Company.

Kay Ellington (far left) and Barbara Brannon (left), coauthors of the Texas novels The Paragraph Ranch (Booktrope, 2014) and A Wedding at the Paragraph Ranch (2015), combine more than five decades of experience in book publishing, news, and other media in their teaching, editing, and marketing endeavors. Kay, whose newspaper management experience has taken her from West Texas to New York, California, and the Carolinas and back again to her home state, is the founder and publisher of LoneStarLiterary.com, the online newspaper for all things bookish in Texas. Barbara, who studied poetry with James Dickey while earning the PhD at the University of South Carolina, was formerly managing editor, publisher, and marketing manager for several university and regional presses. She currently heads up a nonprofit under the Texas Historical Commission and serves as editor and publisher of numerous regional publishing projects.

(Information from the event website)

Sandra Cisneros literary archives acquired by Wittliff Collections at Texas State University

SAN MARCOS—The Wittliff Collections at Texas State University has acquired the literary archives of internationally acclaimed author Sandra Cisneros.

As one of America’s leading writers, Cisneros helped launch the Latino literary boom and is the recipient of a MacArthur “Genius” Grant. She is the author of poetry, a memoir, essays, children’s books, and fiction, including The House on Mango Street, which has sold more than six million copies and inspired generations of readers worldwide.

(Photo by Alan Goldfarb)

“We are delighted that Ms. Cisneros’s papers will serve as a foundational archive for the Wittliff Collections,” Texas State president Denise M. Trauth said. “Ms. Cisneros is among this country’s unique literary voices and her writings about the Mexican-American experience are not only relevant to an international audience, but treasured by individuals from all backgrounds.”

Cisneros was one of the first Latina writers to be published by a major press, and her books have been translated into more than twenty languages. Hundreds of articles and scholarly studies have been written on her work, testifying to her extraordinary talent, vision, and influence.

“It’s important to me that my archives have found a home where I’ve felt at home and respected in my lifetime,” said Sandra Cisneros. “The Wittliff Collection reflects an admiration and appreciation for Texas’s Mexican and Tejano legacy. Their support of Tejano writing projects and Tejano writers firmed my final decision.

“One more consideration: I think it imperative scholars studying my work travel to the world I knew and called home to better understand my work. I’m grateful and thrilled to have my archives at home finally at the Wittliff,” she said.

The Sandra Cisneros Papers comprise 250 file boxes documenting the entirety of her literary career. Included are manuscripts for all of her major works, personal diaries, travel journals, correspondence, photographs, videos, awards, publicity material, personal effects, interviews, and speeches; original drawings by Cisneros; files on her famous “Purple House” in San Antonio; and the Canon portable typewriter she used to create many of her works. Also present is the original artwork used for the first edition of The House on Mango Street.

“It is a privilege to honor the spirit and safeguard the substance of Ms. Cisneros’s work,” said Wittliff Collections director David Coleman. “We believe the Wittliff Collections — with our distinct mission focusing on major authors and artists who have interpreted life in the Southwest and Mexico; with our highly regarded reputation for quality preservation, service, exhibitions, and public programming; and with our location on a thriving campus situated between San Antonio and Austin — are the best possible home for Ms. Cisneros’s literary legacy.”

Born and raised in Chicago, Cisneros moved to Texas in the 1980s and made her home for many years in San Antonio before relocating to central Mexico in 2013. In addition to The House on Mango Street, her books include Woman Hollering Creek: Stories, the novel Caramelo, and two full-length poetry books, My Wicked, Wicked Ways and Loose Woman. She has also published a children’s book, Hairs=Pelitos, as well as an illustrated book for adults, Have You Seen Marie? Her memoir, A House of My Own: Stories from My Life, will be published by Knopf in October 2015.

The House on Mango Street, first published in 1984, has been embraced worldwide. The book is required reading in many middle schools and high schools, and is part of the standard curriculum at universities across the United States. The novel is taught both in English and Spanish, which makes it an accessible and invaluable teaching tool. The Cisneros Papers at the Wittliff Collections will provide a valuable resource for dramatically enhancing the vitality and visibility of Latino literature. It will also present a significant opportunity to enrich young Latinos, encouraging scholarship, and inspiring young writers to find their own voices for self-expression.

Cisneros herself has often led the way in promoting literacy, creativity, and social responsibility. She has worked as a teacher and counselor to high-school dropouts, and she has taught creative writing to people of all ages. She has also fostered the careers of many aspiring and emerging writers through the two organizations she founded: the Macondo Foundation, which serves socially engaged writers, and also the Alfredo Cisneros del Moral Foundation, which provides grants to Texas writers.

Cisneros’s writing has been honored with numerous accolades across her forty-year career, including an American Book Award, a PEN USA Award, two National Endowment for the Arts Fellowships, and several international prizes. She has received honorary doctorates from three universities. Schools have been named for her in Chicago and Los Angeles.

The Wittliff Collections is celebrating this important acquisition by exhibiting a preview selection of treasures from the Cisneros archive. Her entire collection will open for research once cataloging and preservation work is completed. Additionally, the Wittliff will launch a major exhibition showcasing the Sandra Cisneros Papers at that time.

The archive’s purchase was made possible, in part, by the contributions of many donors.

The Wittliff Collections, located on the top floor of the Albert B. Alkek Library at Texas State, was founded in 1986 by Drs. Bill and Sally Wittliff to collect, preserve and celebrate the literary and photographic arts of Texas, the Southwest, and Mexico. Among the major holdings at the Wittliff are literary papers of Cormac McCarthy, Larry McMurtry, and Sam Shepard. The Wittliff also has one of the largest collections of Mexican documentary and fine art photography in the United States.

For more information and news updates on the Sandra Cisneros Papers, follow the Wittliff Collections on Facebook.

For more information on Sandra Cisneros, visit her website at www.sandracisneros.com.

(Press release from Jayme Blaschke, University News Service)