This is the 3rd year I’ve been involved in Ontario Teen Book Fest. Its one of my favorite events to be apart of because Its very intimate, I love the panels, I always leave inspired to do great things & did I mention its FREE?? Yes it is Free & Unticketed!
We have a great line up this year! So if you are in the So Cal Area you do NOT want to miss this awesome event!
When: March 21st, 9 am to 5 pm
Where: Colony High School
3850 E. Riverside Drive
Ontario, CA 91761
Also… ITS FREE!
Teens get Priority seating!
Did I also mention Dating Authors? I Didn’t?
Well, There is a Speed Dating Round & its seriously THE BEST!
There will be Raffles & Free Lunch!
FREE FOOD? WHAT?
You can find more information about the Event on the Official Website HERE
Once Upon A Time Bookstore will have books available for purchase at the event.
February 28th: Spotlight on Kasie West — Adventures of a Book Junkie
March 1st: Spotlight on Melissa Landers — What A Nerd Girl Says
March 2nd: Spotlight on Brad Gottfred — Recently Acquired Obsessions
March 3rd: Spotlight on Catherine Linka — Read Now Sleep Later
March 4th: Spotlight on Debra Driza — Read Now Sleep Later
March 5th: Spotlight on Katie Finn — Fearless Kurt Reads YA
March 6th: Spotlight on Claudia Gray — A Bookish Escape
March 7th: Spotlight on Shannon Messenger — People Like Books
March 8th: Spotlight on Lauren Miller — The Thousand Lives
March 9th: Spotlight on Mary Elizabeth Summer — What A Nerd Girl Says
March 10th: Spotlight on Anna Carey — The Reader’s Antidote
March 11th: Spotlight on Sherri Smith — Movies, Shows and Books
March 12th: Spotlight on Elizabeth Ross — Kid Lit Frenzy
March 13th: Spotlight on Jessica Khoury — The Consummate Reader
March 14th: Spotlight on Maurene Goo — The Windy Pages
March 15th: Spotlight on Cecil Castellucci — Nite Lite Book Reviews
March 16th: Spotlight on Jessica Brody — The Romance Bookie
March 17th: Spotlight on Gretchen McNeil — Movies, Shows and Books
March 18th: Spotlight on Aaron Hartzler — FangirlFeeels
March 19th: Spotlight on Michelle Levy — The Consummate Reader
Taken from his Website
A writer and actor, Aaron’s autobiographical performances have been seen in Los Angeles, San Francisco, and New York where he received a GLAAD Media Award nomination for Outstanding Off-Off Broadway Performance. He’s performed in plays and musicals on regional stages across the country, and was featured in several TV pilots no one saw. You might have seen him in the very first episode of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia in the role of “Handsome Guy”–although you may have missed him, too, because at the time, his hair was strangely blond and decidedly not very handsome. Aaron lives in southern California with his boyfriend Nate (who is decidedly very handsome) and their two dogs Charlie and Brahms.
Follow Aaron on the Internet:
When Aaron Hartzler was little, he couldn’t wait for the The Rapture: that moment when Jesus would come down from the clouds to whisk him and his family up to heaven. But as he turns sixteen, Aaron grows more curious about all the things his family forsakes for the Lord. He begins to realize he doesn’t want Jesus to come back just yet—not before he has his first kiss, sees his first movie, or stars in the school play.
Whether he’s sneaking out, making out, or playing hymns with a hangover, Aaron learns a few lessons that can’t be found in the Bible. He discovers that the girl of your dreams can just as easily be the boy of your dreams, and the tricky part about believing is that no one can do it for you.
In this funny and heartfelt coming-of-age memoir, debut author Aaron Hartzler recalls his teenage journey from devoted to doubtful, and the search to find his own truth without losing the fundamentalist family who loves him.
Purchase your copy of Rapture Practice:
Once Upon a Time Bookstore|Amazon|Barnes & Noble|Book Depository
Fangirl: The one major thing I noticed while reading Rapture Practice was that you did not come across angry or bitter toward your parents, you weren’t trying to preach or tell the reader what to think about Christianity. How were you able to find this balance in your writing?
Aaron: I found that balance by doing a great deal of writing on the subject. I always said that I wanted this book to be a parade, not a baseball bat, and I didn’t sit down with the express goal of writing a book that “wasn’t bitter,” or portraying fundamentalist Christian culture in a certain way—or at all really. I was only concerned with writing my teen story as honestly as possible. I hate memoir where the author is constantly jabbing you in the ribs telegraphing how you should feel about what’s going on in the scene. I worked very hard to keep my adult perspective out of this book, which is why I wrote it in present tense.
That was a big process, and these stories didn’t start out as a book. I began doing one-man shows, standup, and essay nights back in 1999. I wrote a lot of these stories, over and over again trying to find the heart, and the funny, and the focus. In the beginning, I was in my mid-20s and I was really angry. I did a show in New York in 2002 and, trust me, there is a theater somewhere in the East Village where the paint is still blistered from the heat of my rage.
But, with maturity comes perspective. I had a couple of great therapists and I worked hard unpacking the garden variety unfinished family business we all drag around with us. Being able to find empathy for my parents and individuate from them to see that they did the best they could with what they were given helped change my perspective on my anger. Dealing with those issues allowed me to find a way in to the stories that wasn’t angry. I found that this was key to letting other people into my stories as well.
I love This American Life, the radio show Ira Glass hosts where he just puts different snapshots next to one another and allows the listener to draw his or her own conclusions. For my money, the best memoirs do the same thing, and i attempted to do that as well.
Fangirl: In your book you struggle back and forth with your parents beliefs and discovering your own path. What advice would you give to teenagers who are questioning their faith & or sexuality but also want the approval of their parents, Especially for those who feel like they are alone or have no one to turn to?
Aaron: Breathe. You don’t have decide anything right now. Being a teenager is all about the messiness of starting ask those questions. My teen experience was all about questions, not answers. Those came later. I’d remind LGBTQ teenagers in strict religious homes to keep in mind their own safety. As hard as it may be to stay closeted, for those teens whose parents are not supportive, it may be better to wait to come out until after you’ve graduated and are on your own. That’s the decision that I made. Your sexuality is your own. It’s a special, super-fun perk of being human. I like to think of it as a sort of glorious trade-off for all of the pain involved in our journey on this planet. So love it. Explore it as you are ready to. Don’t let anyone pressure you to label it before you’re ready.
Also, we like to say “it gets better” a lot these days, and it’s true: things do get better. But not everything gets better. Because of their religious beliefs, I will unfortunately never have the relationship that I’d like to have with my parents. So, I’ve had to make boundaries with them. I’ve have gotten to go out and choose a family of my own. I’ve learned that it truly does get better not because other people change, but because I do.
Fangirl: What is the one thing you want your readers to take away after reading Rapture Practice?
Aaron: First and foremost, a sense that he or she is not alone. It’s so important to understand that others have experienced hard things, too, and not only survived, but succeeded because of them. I like to remind teens especially that we are made up of our experiences. I wouldn’t go back and change even the hard parts of my young life because they made me the man that I am today, and I’m very pleased with the guy I grew up to be.
Secondly, I especially want teen readers to come away with the idea that their story is valuable—that what they are experiencing is worth writing down and remembering. When I was in high school, no one told me that what I was experiencing was extraordinary. It was just normal life. There are true stories happening to teenagers all around us that are epic and amazing and real life. While escaping into fiction is one of my favorite things, I’ve also become a huge proponent of YA memoir and we’re in a bit of a golden age of it at the moment. So many have come out in the past two years including two of my favorites, We Should Hang Out Sometime by Josh Sundquist and Popular: Vintage Wisdom for a Modern Geek by Maya Van Wagenen. There’s a great list of other YA memoirs here.
Fangirl: Can we hope for a sequel to Rapture Practice? College years?
Aaron: Yes! I am in the middle of a two-book deal at HarperTeen right now—both for YA novels. The first, What We Saw comes out on September 22, and the second is called Twitch which I’m working on now. I’ve already started making notes for a new memoir about college and beyond.
Fangirl: Which book have you read that you wish you would have read in High School?
Aaron: There are too many of these to name, so I’ll just give the shout out to my favorite YA books of last year: I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson and Grasshopper Jungle by Andrew Smith. Both featured characters with whom I identified so readily and deeply that I felt like someone was transcribing emotional moments from my own past—even though the worlds looked very different from the one in which I grew up. In addition, Holly Goldberg Sloan’s I’ll Be There and its sequel Just Call My Name feature writing that snaps, crackles, and pops with humor and warmth. They are a delight that should not be missed.
Fangirl: Your love for music was mentioned throughout your book… do you listen to music while you write? If so, which artist do you listen to?
Aaron: Sometimes. I am the world’s least disciplined writer. Sometimes I have to have complete silence. Other times, I need a tune to inspire. When I wrote the last scene of Rapture Practice I downloaded a swelling epic contemporary Christian ballad by Stephen Curits Chapman from my youth to take me back to the sort of beautiful heartbreak that it inspired and found the end of the story with that song on repeat. Generally, if I write to music, it’s sort of chill electronica without many lyrics to distract (bands like Empire of the Sun, Daft Punk), or alternative singers who do a sing great melodies like Bright Lights Bright Lights or The 1975. However, I’ve also been known to write to Taylor Swift and Betty Who. It all depends on my mood and the scene I’m working on.
Fangirl: Can you tell us a little about your next book What We Saw?
Aaron: What We Saw is based on the events that took place in Steubenville, Ohio, in 2012. A young woman at a party got very intoxicated and was molested by two football stars. The story was all over the news, and I couldn’t stop thinking about it. At the time, my youngest sister was still in high school, and the conversation about rape culture that sprang up online and in the news somehow seemed to leave out the humanity of both the victim, and other young people who were at the party, but not directly involved. I saw a lot about how “evil” the town of Steubenville was, so I wanted to write a bit about what it might be like to be at the edge of a situation like that. The book deals with sexism, the issue of consent, and looks at how silence in the face of sexual violence can make one complicit.
Fangirl: Can you tell us about your favorite reader experience?
Aaron: I have received several emails from young men who are growing up in homes very similar to the in which I was raised. I’ve been able to correspond with them when they have questions and even given dating advice. There are still some parts of our country where the norm is to stay closeted in high school like I did. But it also seems that there are more and more young LGBTQ people finding support and even boyfriends and girlfriends. I am very pleased that there’s a generation of gay teens who is actually having their adolescence during their teen years, instead of having to wait until their 20s like a lot of men and women in my generation.
Fangirl: What are you most excited about for Ontario Teen Book Fest?
Aaron: I’m always delighted when I meet people—especially teens—who have taken the time to read my book. I feel so honored when someone feels my story is deserving of their time, and more humbled still when I’m told that the book has been helpful in some way. I knew that my little memoir wouldn’t be some giant sales juggernaut, but even better, I can report that the teenagers who need this book most are finding it, one reader at a time, thanks mainly to librarians and English teachers. That my writing is helpful to others is the best reward I can think of, and makes the idea of having a book deal pale in comparison. It’s not about being a bestseller or famous for me. It’s about having found true purpose in being of service to my readers.
The Giveaway will run until March 20th
There will be 2 Winners
Each winner will receive an official Ontario Teen Book Fest poster signed by ALL attending authors!