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If you haven’t heard of YAK Fest, then listen up. It’s the newest YA book festival in Texas. And we want YOU to come.  Here’s the deal, it’s free fun entertainment and you just might make a new friend or two. Maybe even get your picture taken with your favorite author. So, check out the 411 below and COME.

WHEN: Saturday, January 19, 9am – 5pm

COST: Dude, it’s FREE.  
OPEN DOOR: Come when you can and stay for as long as you like, of course we want you there all day!  
WHERE: Keller High School, 601 N. Pate Orr Rd. Keller, TX 76248  
SOCIAL MEDIA: twitter / facebook / blog 
KEYNOTE SPEAKER:Simone Elkeles, BAM. That’s what we’re talking about.

Panels of AWESOME Breakdown:

Keeping It Real – Jessica Anderson, Charles Benoit, Chris Crutcher (afternoon only), Simone Elkeles, Guadalupe Garcia McCall, Jessica Warman, Lori Aurelia Williams and Shannong Greenland
Tis is Not Normal – Rosemary Clement Moor, Cory Oakes, Victoria Scott, Mary Lindsey and Jeff Hirsch
This is Not Normal Either – Kirissi Dallas, Tracy Deebs, Greg Leitich Smith and Andrea White
Vampire Smack Down – Cynthia Leitich Smith, Rachel Caine and Jason Henderson
Poetry Workshop – Colin Gilbert
A Walk on the Weird Side – Kelly Milner Halls
Choctaw Tales – Tim Tingle
Because we know you’ll have questions, here are some things that CAN and WILL HAPPEN:
There will be books available for purchase from The Book Carriage, and they will be selling books all day.  The Book Carriage will accept cash and credit cards. You may bring some books from home for authors to sign. 
Food and drinks will be available for purchase at lunch.  
Why, yes there is a twitter hashtag. It’s  #YAKFest13 – thanks for asking. We WANT you to tweet.
Of course you can talk and have your picture taken with your favorite author(s) during the signing.  We insist upon it.
I, Karen (@tlt16), will be live Tweeting all day from YAKFest and, of course, will bring you a round up post after the festivities of the day.  Then, on Saturday, February 2nd, I will be doing the same for the Montgomery County Book Festival.
Other stuff that is just as important:

Want to VOLUNTEER? It’ll be fun. We promise.  If interested please contact Janet at Janet.Adams@kellerisd.netMEDIA INQUIRIES? Please contact Stacy at stacy@girlsinthestacks.com

Reflections: Tornadoes in Texas part 2, a librarian’s point of view

On Tuesday, April 3rd I was at work at my Texas library when tornado sirens started going off.  I tend to think about things.  Probably to over think them.  The next day I posted this message to the yalsa-bk listserv.  If you are a teen librarian, I highly recommend you join and actively participate in the Yalsa listserves, we share and learn a lot from one another.  And sometimes we just support one another.

Yesterday, I was at work when tornadoes started ripping through Dallas, Texas.  I live and work in the Dallas area. The sirens went off and we had to get all of our patrons to shelter. There we stood in the designated hallway and stared at one another.  Thankfully school wasn’t out yet and we were fairly slow. As the storms moved on we went back to business as usual to a degree, but still had the emergency radio on because there may have been more coming. I sat at my desk when they announced that a tornado had just touched down in my hometown and gave a highway location which was the exact exit I take to go home. In that moment I was no longer a librarian but a mom with tears streaming down her face and an anxious beat in her heart.  I drive less
than 2 minutes down the road to my house, my 3rd grader was at school on that road. My husband was home with our 3 year old. The phone lines were all jammed or down. At one point a text message had gone through before the storm announcement and I knew that my house was already without power. I had no idea what was happening with my family or how to find out. I was so used to finding out what I needed to know right away and here when it mattered most, I couldn’t. All my technology failed me. As soon as it was clear I rushed home and into the storm.

As I drove down the freeway there were about 20 police cars with flashing lights on the road ahead of me. Traffic was almost at a stand still. The sky was black, it looked like 2 more funnel clouds were forming, and lightning periodically lit up the sky. I thought to myself for a brief moment that this must be what the beginning of the apocalypse would look like. I drove by where a business lay now in a pile of broken wood. I cried. 

I was finally able to make it to my daughter at school at 5 pm (the tornado hit a little after 3). We rushed home and found my husband, my 3 year old, my house all fine. The girls cried. We sat in the dark. We turned off all our technology to help preserve the battery life. We would later learn that just 1.47 miles from where my daughter sat in school with her head covered, 20 houses were ravaged by the tornado. Just 2.2 miles from our home a whole subidivision was ripped to shreds. Our friends were in the dentists office when the tornado came through it, sucking all of the air out of the room. Everyone there is fine, though perhaps even more afriad to go to the dentist then the rest of us.

I thought a lot last night about technology. Oddly enough, I could still get on Twitter with my phone and I did Tweet. I tweeted to find out how my other Dallas library friends were doing. I tweeted to express myself. I tweeted to stay connected because I am a connected person suddenly living in a primitive, isolated world. Facebook failed me; it wouldn’t work. The phone lines failed us. We couldn’t get online as the wireless router was down. Perhaps there is something to also having a landline phone and a good old fashioned cord to plug into your computer and get online. 

Today is another beautiful day here at my house. The only signs that chaos reigned supreme yesterday are the homes, businesses and trees ravaged. The birds are singing. The sun is shining. The bugs are crawling. But our hearts pause now in fear. The world seems a little less safe. Mother nature has thumbed its nose at us and put us in our place.

I am so thankful to live in world that is connected. I am thankful that my library had an emergency procedure and even though we needed it, we really didn’t. Not when you look at what happened to others. I am thankful that there were few serious injuries. I am thankful for the Twitter support I got when I didn’t know what was happening with my family. But most of all . . . I am thankful my family is okay.

Read a teen’s point of view about the tornadoes here.

Reflections: Tornadoes in Texas part 1, a teen’s point of view

On Tuesday, April 3rd tornadoes ripped through the Dallas, Texas area.  Here, teen book lover and blogger Aneedqah talks about her experience at school on the day that tornadoes hit.

So, as many of you know, we had some tornadoes in the DFW area.  Before I moved to Texas, I’d been in plenty of tornado warnings and watches.  Nobody where I used to live really took it seriously.  I’ve never actually been in a real tornado {I’ve had some close calls, though}.

So when my school told the whole school to get into their assigned duck-and-cover rooms, I admit, I didn’t think anything was wrong.  Looking outside the windows, I saw the sky was getting increasingly darker, but I didn’t think anything of it.  I just thought it was going to be a regular thunderstorm.  My class went into our designated rooms and chatted, and waited for the school to stop being so scared for what we thought was going to be a tiny little thunderstorm.

But, after about 20 minutes in our safe room, my Spanish 1 teacher put on a weather radio.  Our class got quiet as we started to listen to what was happening outside.  When I heard that there were indeed tornadoes, and one might be headed our way, I got kind of freaked out.  Not exactly for me, but my family.  I knew one of my younger sisters was afraid of storms, and I had no idea what she was experiencing right now.

After about 20 more minutes, the principal came on to the intercom and told us to get into our actual duck-and-cover safety positions.  This was the point where everything got really serious in our classroom.  People were starting to freak out.

Finally, after an hour of sitting in the room, we were told we could come out.  This was the point where I began to freak out, because I knew my mom was driving to Arlington to pick up on of my other younger sisters {I have 3!}. This was also the point where the rain started to come down. Hard. Also at the point, I had no idea how badly Arlington had gotten hit {as of right now, the city is in a state of disaster}.  So I was extremely worried.

I ran home from school, hoping that my mom had made it home safely.  I held my breath as I walked in, but my mom and sisters were all home safe, with news on. I was extremely surprised to see all the damage.  I didn’t think the tornadoes were going to be that bad.  I just sat in front of the TV with my mouth hanging open.

Aneeqah is a teen reader and book blogger.  You can visit her blog My Not So Real Life and read her reviews.  I am a big advocate for following teen book bloggers to get teen opinions on books and libraries.  Plus, Aneeqah is pretty awesome.