The Texas Sweethearts & Scoundrels adore and appreciate The Literary Lonestars! These ladies are incredibly passionate and do so much to plug authors and promote events. We're lucky to call them our friends!
And also, HAPPY BIRTHDAY, Jen!
Jen was born in Oklahoma (don't boo, you look silly)
Jen has one husband and two kids that are taller than her.
Jen believes that reading is a first class ticket to freedom.
Jen owns too many books and they are all in piles all over her house.
Jen always has a camera in her hand.
Jen is a master cupcaker.
Jen needs a haircut.
Stephanie wrote her first novel in second grade about a boy heart who falls in love with a girl heart, only to learn her “heart” is already taken. The school librarian posted it on the bulletin board and to this day Stephanie still wonders why none of her classmates asked for her autograph. When not working on her young adult novel (which has no love triangles involving talking hearts) you can find her consuming copious amounts of coffee and watching House Hunters. She lives in Austin, TX with her husband and is currently seeking representation.
TXS&S: You are both not originally from Texas, where did you two meet?
Stephanie: I moved to Texas in 2007 when my husband and I got married and he got a job here. I had made a few friends in the area, but not many. I was talking to Heidi Kling on Twitter one day in 2009 and she said, "Hey my childhood next door neighbor is @JenBigheart, she's a youth librarian in Austin, maybe y'all should hook up!" So I shot Jen a message and we met at Panera Bread the following week, and we've been friends ever since.
Jen: I think that's how it happened! I know Heidi put us in the same tweet and that was that. I think she said we both have the same sense of humor - - which is totally true!
TXS&S: Can you tell us about Literary Lonestars and what inspired this great group?
Jen: Everyone kept asking us when and where events were, or would be sad that they missed a signing that they didn’t know about. We started discussing what we needed to do to keep people informed of events in Texas at our holiday book blogger party.
Stephanie: For me I think it was more I was looking forward to getting to know other book bloggers and writers in the Texas area and networking with them, LL became a place we could keep in touch with one another easily.
Jen: Yeah, at the time I was compiling a list of Texas book bloggers, and was amazed at how many of us there were. I knew some of us knew each other, but I also knew that there were bloggers at events that I wouldn't recognize in real life. We needed one location for everyone to go to for info and event information.
Stephanie: We didn’t want LL to be just another blog for people to go to, we thought if we made it a Facebook page it might give people easier access to things, and have people be more involved in the group as a whole.
TXS&S: What are some pleasant surprises you’ve had since forming Literary Lonestars?
Jen: For me it was getting to know others who share our love of reading and literacy. I was also very surprised at the number of Texas book bloggers, we have over 50!
Stephanie: And for me it was how receptive authors were about LL. I remember being so excited when the first author ‘liked’ our page! We were also genuinely surprised at the support everyone showed for our book drive for the Austin Children’s Shelter. We were hoping to get 100 books and ended up with nearly 600 total.
Jen: Agree! We had books left over from our holiday blogger party and wanted them to go to a place that needed books. When we showed up with our 6 boxes, our hearts were called to do more. We reached out to bloggers, authors, and other readers, and they blew us away with their support. Today, the shelter is in much better shape and we are looking for another location in need. We are still taking donations to this day.
TXS&S: To what do you attribute your passion for young adult literature?
Stephanie: Honestly? Because I feel like I never actually grew up. I may be 25 on the outside, but internally I still feel 15. I feel like I identify more with teenagers than I do other adults my age.
Jen: Well I am not 25, but still feel young(ish)! About six years ago, I was volunteering at my daughter's school and lo and behold, there was a book fair. They were short handed, so I tried my best to help. I picked up a copy of The Giver by Lois Lowry and that was the beginning of my return to children's literature. I've been an addict ever since and turned that into a career when I went back for my MLS in 2009.
TXS&S: Any tips you can share for aspiring writers or librarians?
Stephanie: To me, networking was key. Once I found a group of writers (both online and in real life) that I could talk to about my writing with I got a whole lot happier. Being a writer is a hard road to go down, and I think it’s important to remember that it’s a journey that doesn’t have to be taken alone. Reach out to other writers, and don’t shun writers when they try to reach out to you.
Jen: Being a librarian isn’t just about recommending and checking out books, times have changed. Think outside of the box and get creative about drawing people to your library, department, and finally the bookshelf. You know, some people go to the library just to use the computer - that's okay, but we hope that books eventually make their way home. Use every tool possible, including social media, and reach out for support. There are fantastic library blogs out there that specialize in anything and everything.
TXS&S: What are some things you’re looking forward to?
Jen: Definitely ALA in New Orleans this June! We had a fantastic time at TLA with fellow TX bloggers, and can't wait to do it all over again in The Big Easy!
Stephanie: We had a Texas book blogger party around Christmas last year and had the best time! We’re hoping to do that again sometime this summer, I think it’ll be bigger (and possibly crazier) than our last party. We should have details soon!
Thank you so much!