There are few things I can think of that are more exciting and inspiring than getting to meet the author of a novel that has swept you off your feet and devoured hours of your day. YALLfest was a sensory overload of these kinds of epic authors and I couldn't wait to get there early morning!
We headed over around 9:30 am and parked in a parking garage we'd sought out the day before. From there, I wheeled my suitcase and extra bag of books to the big white tent Blue Bicycle Books had set up next to their store. From there, we got a flyer with all the events on it and headed over a block to The American Theater.
Both of these images are from Saundra Mitchell's blog which you can visit to see more of such things!
Here's what we found inside:
The stage was set!
The ceiling of The American Theater
The first panel was JR. YALLfest and featured the middle grade authors that attended YALLfest. It was comprised of: Pseudonymous Bosch (The Name of this Book is Secret), Lisa Brown and Adele Griffin (Picture the Dead), Kaleb Nation (Bran Hambric: The Farfield Curse) and moderated by Katie Crouch (The Magnolia League).
I thought this panel was a good idea as it drew even younger audiences to the tent. As far as the panel went, I thought Kaleb Nation really stood out because he was incredibly funny. I had gone to see Lisa Brown and Adele Griffin because I had their novel Picture The Dead. Promptly after the panel, I ran to get my copy signed in the tent:
The next panel was Fangs Among Friends and was definitely one of the panels I was looking forward to the most. I'm the tiniest bit IN LOVE with Andrea Cremer's Nightshade series and was so super excited to finally get to meet her in person since I've interviewed her several times on the blog. The panel consisted of (from left to right): Andrea Cremer (Nightshade), Heather Brewer (The Chronicles of Vladimir Tod), Melissa de la Cruz (Blue Bloods), Margaret Stohl (Beautiful Creatures) and was moderated by Andria Amaral (CCPL Young Adult Dept.).
As you can see, she was on the end closest to me which I took as a good sign. This panel was funny and charming and they all really loved each other's books (which is without a doubt the best thing about the YA community).
Andrea Cremer and Heather Brewer
There were quite a few highlights from this panel so I'll try to keep it to a minimum. Essentially we learned that Andrea Cremer enjoys writing about "the sexy times" (coined by Heather Brewer), Andrea Cremer "looks to the past" when she thinks about the future, Margaret Stohl's daughter is a genius after she responded to her mother saying one Kelley Armstrong's characters aren't real with "he's about as real as any other boy who isn't here right now" and Heather Brewer believes that "princess manatees" are the next big thing in YA. The moderator also asked what each person would have as a superpower if they had to go back and relive high school again and most of the answers were that they wouldn't want to go relive high school. Of course, Margaret Stohl responded that she was a supernatural and thus, she already had superpowers.
As you can see, these ladies were funny and thoughtful and we learned a lot about them. After the spoke we had 20 mins to try and get our books signed so I left the hubby at the ballroom and ran a block with all 9 of the books I need signed.
I got to meet and take a photo with Andrea Cremer (and tried very hard not to fan girl all over her). She was super nice in person too! My friend Ashley also really liked her because she's an historian.
Andrea Cremer signing my books!
Andrea Cremer and I!
Here are my signed books:
I also meet and got my novels signed by Margaret Stohl but didn't have time to grab a photo with her which makes me sad. By the time I'd stood in both lines, I'd missed the Demons, Witches and Casters, Oh My! panel which had Sarah Rees Brennan (The Demon’s Lexicon), Caitlin Kittredge (The Iron Thorn), Victoria Schwab (The Near Witch), Kami Garcia (Beautiful Creatures) and was moderated by Kim Derting (The Pledge). I was REALLY bummed about this but I needed to get my books signed so it had to be this way. My friend Ashley and my husband saw it though. My friend reported that she felt Victoria Schwab did an awesome job building excitement for her novel The Near Witch and expressed that she'd be picking it up stat.
Though I missed the panel, I did get to meet some of these amazing ladies and got my photo taken with them.
First up was Victoria Schwab who recognized me from Twitter and the blog. I never know how to approach the author to let them know I'm a blogger so I just told her who I was and showed her a business card. Kami Garcia said she recognized me blog too which was pretty cool (and makes me want to read the Beautiful Creatures series yesterday):
Victoria Schwab and I
My signed book:
Kami Garcia and I:
My finished signed books with both authors:
After getting these things signed, my husband and I scurried back with our massive load of books and met up with Ashley for the Reality Bites panel with David Levithan (Nick and Nora’s Infinite Playlist), Holly Goldberg Sloan (I’ll Be There), Natalie Standiford (Confessions of the Sullivan Sisters) and moderated by Andrea Cremer (Nightshade). I didn't get to take any photos becuse I was almost late but this one was a lot of fun.
We learned that David Levithan doesn't need "no f--king vampires" in his fiction and that he is a freak for books to be accurate, particularly if they are contemporary and are set in places he knows. He explained that what is there doesn't matter as much as the things the character does there. He gave the example of a character getting on a subway and magically being from east to west New York in a few seconds. He also broke down the process of co-authoring which was very interesting.
Natalie Standiford piqued Andrea Cremer's interest when she spoke about her newest novel coming out set during The Cold War and explained she wrote about it because she "just wanted to". She also talked a little bit about what it's like having David Levithan as an editor.
Holly Goldberg Sloan talked about the differences on writing screen plays and novels and how she doesn't think YA is the right way to market books.
The line for David Levithan was HUGE but I braved it and got my books signed by him:
Natalie Standiford was signing next to him so I hopped into her line and got to speak to her for a few minutes. She was really excited to see that I had two hardback copies of How To Say Goodbye In Robot and talked about how much she loved the phone on the hardback version of the book that is underneath the cover. I told her I did too and she explained that she lives near Scholastic HQs and that David Levithan walked the book over to her house when he got it to show her the finished product in person because it was so beautiful. It was really great getting to meet her and she was so nice in person!
By now it was past 2 pm and we decided to forgo the next panel for lunch since we didn't need anything signed.
So concludes Part 2. It is all coming down to the finale now. I'll be writing up Part 3 later tonight and there might just be a signed book I'm giving away at the end so check back!