Sunday, February 24, 2013

"Get Real" Author Panel

I just can't say enough great things about the Montgomery Book Festival. It was such an honor to be invited to this event coordinated by the awesome librarian duo of Tabatha Perry and Natasha Benway. Over 1,000 teens attended in addition to numerous parents, teachers, and other adults.

I served on a panel called "Get Real." It was all about contemporary fiction. My fellow panelists were delightful, funny, and warm. My three comrades were E. Kristin Anderson, Bettina Restepo, and Anita Bunkley. I have already shared an excerpt from E. Kristin Anderson's book, Dear Teen Me, with my high school students. The book is compiled of a series of letters from authors to their teen selves and includes contributions by best-selling authors Ellen Hopkins and Cynthia Leitich Smith.

Bettina Restrepo discussed her first novel, Illegal. It's the story of Nora, a fifteen-year-old girl, whose father leaves Mexico in search of work. When his letters and money stop coming, Nora and her mother make a dangerous border crossing to search for him in Texas. Bettina tackles a tough, but very important topic which all of us who live in border states like New Mexico and Texas are painfully concerned about.

Anita Bunkley was the most seasoned author on our panel. She's published numerous books including Emily: The Yellow Rose and she won a Career Achievement Award in African American Fiction from Romantic Times Magazine.

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