My Hometown Actually Did Something Cool…

Lately Corpus Christi TX has been on national news a lot. They’re not exactly great headlines, either. From hydroflouric acid in out water supply to a facebook-happy Mayor who quit after a month in office–it’s easy to get down on your hometown.


Fake News

But temper that disappointment, youth of CCTX because you get to look forward to one really awesome day out of the year…
No, it isn’t Christmas–why does everyone always guess that?

Ladies and genteleman, welcome to the third annual Teen Bookfest by the Bay!


The Entrance


Bookfest is pretty much what it sounds like. It’s a YA literary conference, aimed at the actual YA’s (and some middle graders) themselves.

I found out about it last year when my wife, who works at a local bookstore, had a booth to work at the event.
Bookfest is the collective effort of a bunch of librarians and educators from all around the Coastal bend area of Texas. They work hard every year to raise money for the event through grants and donations.

People came from miles away to join in and learn somethng.

Did I mention it’s totally FREE? 



Some school districts bussed kids in!

I know teenagers scare some people, so I went deep undercover as a gigantic manchild and attended some of the panels this year.

First and foremost, the organizers put a big emphassis on getting real, published authors to talk with the kids. No crazy-lady from the writing group reading her cat poetry here! The list was long this year with quite a few top notch authors.

These authors and book professionals lead a full day of panel-style discussions and workshops. You can see the full schedule for this year, but I’m gonna tell you about the ones I attended.

  • I started the day in the Illustrators’ Workshop led by Evan Turk. Turk is the author/illustrator of The Storyteller and illustrated the Grandfather Ghandi series, written by Arun Ghandi.
    I liked this panel a lot–Turk walked the group through the basics of illustration and art theory, analyzed his work based upon art theory, and walked the group through his process. He even made special mention of how he des research and finds inspiration.
    After the presentation, he provided a sample story for participants to practice illustrating and offered feedback on their work.


    I chuckled at some of these.

  • Next I swung by the Writers’ Workshop, led by Del Mar College’s English dept. This was a pretty standard writing group and it started off with a series of prompts and paper and pencils for participants.
    Throughout the workshop, college students and professors were on hand to offer advice, critique, or other help.
  • Throughout the Bookfest I kept seeing and hearing mention of a Teens-only panel called “Manga Mayhem.” I wasn’t sure what went on there, but I knew the article I was writing would be incomplete without a description of it. I spoke to some staff who let me observe and take notes during a session, and also answered some of my questions about it.
    Manga (comics and graphic novels from Japan[for the three of you who aren’t aware]) is something of a phenomenon among teens in the US. It comes in all genres from vanilla romance to fantasy elf-quests and yes, even Giant Robots. It’s clear there’s something for everyone but a lot of people under-estimate the power of writing (and particularly READING) a story in a graphic or illustrated form.For instance, a particularly meat-headed school-teacher of mine suggested I find something more intellectual to read than Calvin and Hobbes. Um, what?Contrary to its name, Manga-Mayhem was a safe and fun affair foreveryone. Participants mingle and talk manga and anime, watch a screening of a current anime, and play manga and anime based party games like “who am I” and “pass the present.”
    Encouraging youngsters to read manga is encouraging youngsters to READ and this event does just that.
  • The panel which most interested me was ‘Survivors:’ which dealt with trauma as experienced by literary characters as well as real people.
    It was a great panel and I wish it had lasted longer. And they talked about real issues, physical/emotional/sexual abuse and neglect, suicide and suicide survival–you name it, all done in a tasteful, respectful manner. Each of the authors had a different process for writing trauma, which they shared in turn.
    I was particularly impressed with Jennifer Mathieu’s process of interviewing mental health professionals, mental health clients, and trauma survivors.

Merch booths, a portable bookstore, and meet the author tables.

I didn’t have time to go to every panel–realy wish I could have–but I wanted to do my part to spread the word about an event which I think needs to continue for years and years to come.
If you’d like to help out, visit and tell everyone you know about it.

Thanks for reading ! Leave some comments and start a discussion!







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