Firstly, crystal meth kills. Secondly, Cyndi Hughes is leaving the Texas Book Festival. Thirdly, Geronimo says we can drink!

Director Cyndi Hughes is leaving the Texas Book Festival after eight years, and Chair Mary Margaret Farabee will likely leave after the 2004 festival, which takes place Oct. 29-31. "This is something I've been thinking about for a while," Hughes says. "When you've been doing something of this scale for eight years -- and eight years is a long time in nonprofit -- you eventually say, 'OK, it's about time to go out and do something else.'" Hughes, who is pursuing job possibilities both in Austin and beyond, says that she has "several irons in the fire" and that diving into the New York City publishing world is a possibility "if the right offer comes along. ... When I find out what I'll be doing, I'll rent one of those planes with the big banners saying 'Cyndi Hughes Found a Job!'" As the festival has grown into national prominence, Hughes says that "one of my favorite parts of the job is every spring when we get to send out those checks." More favorites: walking David McCullough from the Governor's Mansion to the Capitol on a Saturday morning and overhearing insiders telling East Coast authors like Stephen L. Carter that "if you're going to do a festival, this is the one you have to do." While Hughes says that she'll miss the "little family" of the TBF staff, "it'll be great for them to get some new blood and fresh ideas, and someone else to get on the walkie-talkie wondering where Shawn Badgley is and why he's late for his panel." Hm. Well, speeding ticket en route to said panel aside, we act as your delegate in congratulating Hughes -- who will still serve on the TBF advisory committee -- on a great run and wish her all the best, while hoping for one more good year in the sun for Farabee. A search -- headed by Peggy Hubble, who minds the P's if not the Q's in the Planning and Policy Committee -- is under way for Hughes' successor, and we'll make damn sure you know who it is just before the time is right... More big news: Texas State University's Dagoberto Gilb has seen his collection of essays, Gritos, nominated for the National Book Critics Circle Award in Criticism alongside Nick Hornby's Songbook, Ross King's Michelangelo and the Pope's Ceiling, Rebecca Solnit's River of Shadows: Eadweard Muybridge and the Technological Wild West, and Susan Sontag's Regarding the Pain of Others. So, say a little prayer for him, please... Big reminder: The application deadline for the 2004-05 Dobie Paisano Fellowships is Jan. 30. Applicants must meet at least one of the following requirements: must be a native Texan, must have lived in Texas for at least two years, or must have published writing that has a Texas subject. Visit or e-mail Dr. Audrey N. Slate, director, at [email protected] for more information... Another big reminder: The winners of the 12th annual Austin Chronicle Short Story Contest -- judged by Sarah Bird, Scott Blackwood, Stephen Harrigan, and Dao Strom -- sponsored by BookPeople, Moonshine Patio Bar & Grill, and KGSR -- will be announced on Wednesday, Feb. 11, 7pm, at BookPeople.

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Kim Lehman, Vive Griffith, Emily Rapp, Kate Cantrill, Dominique Smith, Dao Strom, KGSR, Moonshine, BookPeople, Sarah Bird, Stephen Harrigan, Scott Blackwood, Austin Chronicle Short Story Contest, Audrey N. Slate, Dobie Paisano Fellowships, Peggy Hubble, Texas Book Festival, Cyndi Hughes, Mary Margaret Farabee

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