This year I was lucky enough to go to YALLfest in Charleston, SC with a couple friends! We’d never been before but I was super excited to hang out and meet my favorite authors. There was a huge turnout for the event and while that was exciting it also meant very long lines. There were so many authors I wanted to meet but I couldn’t carry all those books and I knew it’d be next to impossible to have the time to see them all anyway so I managed to get my list down to 7 or 8 top authors. Well, did I mention how long the lines were? Yeah. They were intense so unfortunately I only actually ended up meeting 3.5 authors.
3.5? Well, my friends and I stood in line for just over an hour and a half to meet Maggie Stiefvater (I meant it when I said the lines were long) but we were seriously pressed on time if I wanted to meet Maggie and Scott and Sabaa so I gave my writing sketchbook (where I brainstorm plots, characters, and ideas) to my friend and dashed into Scott Westerfeld’s line which was mercifully still short (short compared to Maggie’s anyway). Well, my friends finally reached Maggie and I was 10 feet away from her where I was waiting for Scott and well, apparently Maggie only signs her books. I have an autographed copy of The Scorpio Races but her Shiver series is on my Nook and obviously you can’t sign eBooks so I’d really hoped she’d sign my notebook but apparently she doesn’t do that. I was rather annoyed because we had stood in line for just under 2 hours for her signature. Would it be that hard to just sign it?? Oh well, no use being annoyed. I still like her books and I still think she’s cool…I just wish she’d have taken 20 seconds to sign my notebook.
BUT everything else was tons of fun (: I got to meet Scott Westerfeld!!! If you don’t know, he’s the author of the Uglies series and the Leviathan trilogy!! He’s written some other books but I haven’t gotten to them yet (for every book you read you add 5 to your TBR list, am I right?). I’ve loved his books for almost 10 years now so it was really cool to finally meet him. I admit I didn’t say much because I wasn’t even sure what to say because there was so much I wanted to say, but he was very friendly and funny.
The moment I finished with Scott I raced around the block to get in line for Sabaa Tahir (author of the An Ember in the Ashes series) and thank goodness their volunteers got mixed up because her line was supposed to be cut off at 200 people but the volunteer who was supposed to be keeping track wandered off so I was admitted as the last person allowed in her line! Yay!!!
Sabaa was funny, chill, and really nice. She struck me as very cool. Not cool as in chilly but cool as in hip, effortlessly artsy and fashionable, and confident. It was fun joking with her and I’m so glad I lucked out and was allowed into her signing line. I have her sequel but I admit I haven’t read it yet as my to-read stack is quite sizable at the moment, but I absolutely cannot wait to read what happens next!
After Sabaa I really wanted to meet Jay Kristoff (author of Nevernight and Illuminae) but Leigh Bardugo’s line was already huge and I had to make the cut-off so I made the painful decision to skip Jay and wait in Leigh’s line (sorry Jay!). I also wanted to meet Veronica Roth (author of Divergent), but sacrifices had to be made (sorry Veronica!). We waited for almost 2 hours again in the cold but it was worth it. I met Leigh on her book tour for Six of Crows when I fell in love with that series and it was just as much fun getting to talk to her again. She’s so funny and warm and a little quirky! We joked about her books and yes I got one of those coveted custom playing cards. Who did I get? Well I got the King of Clubs, Kaz! I was really hoping for either Kaz or Inej (my faves) so needless to say I was super happy.
(Side note: Why do they not sell a complete Six of Crows card deck?? I know hundreds of fans who would gladly buy one!)
After Leigh I wanted to meet Alexandra Bracken (author of the Darkest Minds series and the Passenger series) but her line had a cut-off at 150 people and it took so long to go through Leigh’s line that Alex’s was already full. There were a few other authors I really wanted to meet but it was almost 4pm and we hadn’t been able to eat since 8am so we were cold and very hungry.
Being in Charleston we stopped in the Market of course and picked up some beautiful trinkets, but mostly we just wanted to make our way to food. You can’t visit Charleston without having at least one meal of seafood so I had shrimp pasta and it was quite tasty! After that we spent the evening wandering the streets of downtown Charleston filming shots for my friend’s college project which is a trailer for Six of Crows. I am proud to say I spread my love of those books to her and now we are both die-hard fans. We did some filming in the mountains a little while ago, now we have some good b-roll of a port city, and we even got my brother to play Kaz. It’s really her project so I can’t wait to see how it all turns out!
Oh wait, it’s not over quite yet. The next day we went back to the bookstore, Blue Bicycle Books, that hosted the event and got there just as they opened. We were allowed to wander into the backroom where they kept their stock since all the authors from the festival signed everything they had and I found an autographed copy of Wolf by Wolf (Ryan Graudin)! Not only that but my friends and I spotted where they stashed all the left over swag from the festival! We were eyeing those goodies with mischievous eyes when an employee told us we were welcome to look through it. Huzzah! I managed to accumulate quite the pile of goodies and I was happy because a) free stuff b) standing in lines all day meant all the swag booths were either cleaned out or closing up c) free stuff!!
Overall YALLfest 2016 was a fun success. Charleston is a great city (although it was quite cold this weekend) and adding all the bookish people, events, and swag was just awesome. I really hope to go again and I totally recommend it to you. It was a little overwhelming at first but now that I know what to expect the next time I attend I’ll be heading in with a much better game plan so I can meet more authors, attend exciting panel events, and visit more booths! I hope to see you there next time!
P.S. Don’t forget to be voting in the Goodreads Choice Awards 2016! The final round is tomorrow so help your favorite authors out by voting for their books!
An Ember in the Ashes Series | YA Dark Fantasy: scholars vs assassins
An Ember in the Ashes (#1) A Torch Against the Night (#2)
***Scott’s Other Books***
Afterworlds | YA Contemporary Fiction mixed with Paranormal: meet the publishing industry as well as the story that reaches stardom within it
Stupid Perfect World | YA Dystopian Novella: what is sacrificed for perfection?
(…and many more!)