Friday, April 29, 2016

Bentonville's Second Annual Youth Literature Festival, 2016

Spring Greetings!

Last Friday & Saturday my husband and I took a weekend vacation to Bentonville, Arkansas, to help support the community's fairly new children's literature festival. The event was held at the Bentonville Public Library where picture book, poetry, and YA authors presented seminars to children, teens, and adults.

We knew many of the authors attending, so this felt more like a reunion with close friends than a literature event. The authors in attendance were Henry Cole, Obert Skye, Mary Casanova, Janet Wong, Cheryl Harness, Michael Spradlin, Kashmira Sheth, Karen Akins, and Roland and Marie Smith.

Roland and Marie's daughter, Bethany Culpepper, was responsible for starting up the festival. She and her staff did a fabulous job in making things run smoothly for their second annual event. Keep up the good work!

On Saturday morning, we headed to the library and started our day with Ard Hoyt. During his slideshow, he showcased a new picture book series he and Amber Harris, a Bentonville author, worked on together called Wisteria Jane. Amber was actually in attendance and Ard turned some time over to her to describe the ten book series. Their books are about a little girl who gets into hilarious trouble but tries to blame it on her dog or other people. The next book in their series, Bingo Did It!, will come out in October.

After Ard's presentation, we watched Roland Smith present. My husband had never heard Roland before, so it was a treat for him to learn about Roland's adventurous life of zoo keeping, mountain climbing, world traveling, and storm chasing that led him to becoming a successful YA author. During Roland's presentation, he showed the upcoming cover for the sequel to Beneath called Above. That will be coming out in September. I look forward with GREAT anticipation to the ARC of Above I should be receiving soon!

After a short lunch break, we headed off to our next presentation with Henry Cole. We had both heard Henry present before, but his stories, humor, and quirky character always bring us back for more! At the end of his presentation, he turned on some music and drew his Sammy Shine character from his new book The Somewhat True Adventures of Sammy Shine. So fun!

Finally, our last author of the day, Karen Akins (pictured below), was new to both me and my husband. Karen is another Bentonville author but she specializes in humorous YA science fiction. She has written two books, Loop and Twist, that are a duology based on time travel. Her presentation was more about writing than discussing her books. She compared telling a good lie to writing successful fiction. She used examples from Harry Potter and the board games, Balderdash and Monopoly, to illustrate her points. She also gave some good writing tips on what to do when you get into a writing slump. One suggestion was writing your story from the antagonist's perspective. So for a few minutes we all took some time thinking about our favorite story and then tried to write a scene from the antagonist's perspective. A very insightful and instructive presentation!

When we finished for the day, we joined the authors in the library's "Walmart Room" to get books signed. Bethany had invited us, my mom, and my Warrensburg buddy, Linda, over to her house for a Happy Hour with the authors. Of course we don't drink, so we enjoyed our bottled water while getting to know the authors even better and solidifying friendships.

After the Happy Hour was over, we walked around downtown Bentonville. It seriously is a lovely, homey place with lots of charm, artistic flare, and character. We definitely plan on returning for next year's festival!

Stay tuned for next week's highlights of the Allen County Young Author's Celebration!     

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