Some of you may already know this (through my Instagram or from me just chatting with you recently) but I visited Charleston, SC for a bookish event on November 12th! My feet and arms are actually still a little sore from Saturday (lol) but the trip was so worthwhile because I got to meet many wonderful authors and hang out with the coolest bookworms.
This was my second year attending Yallfest, the biggest YA book festival and event in the southeast US. I want to say the level of excitement was about the same as last year, and the turnout of people attending and participating were a lot higher, which was to be expected since this event only grows each year.
Since I had already gone in 2015, I had the routine down to a tee this year. Driving and parking was so much easier. (Though I’ve been to Charleston many times before I had never driven there myself. So it was a bit of a struggle with the congested streets to find a parking garage last year.)
I also learned my lesson and didn’t bring a book bag. I do think it’s an absolute must that attendees bring something to carry their books in, such as a backpack, tote, or even suitcase (don’t worry people actually bring wagons of books to this event-it’s pretty intense). However, if you plan to drive there like I did and find a parking space near the venue, you can easily go to your car to exchange and get books throughout the day. But I must say this only works well if you can coordinate these mini runs. Personally, I really liked this technique because it really saved my back. I would only carry about five books at a time, which wasn’t any trouble at all, and after each signing I tried to use my time efficiently so that I could make a trip to the car to exchange it for another set of books for the next signings. I did this about twice in the day. Like I said, it may not be practical for some, but this method gave me a much better experience because I was more comfortable as I was walking around.
Oh! Plus, throughout the day it’s very unlikely for you to not get free totes along the way to signings and panels. So you’ll end up with more bags than books by the end of the day anyway. (I literally had a huge book bag and 5 totes to lug around last year hence the body aches the following days.)
Also, this year was much more meaningful with signings for me. Because I took a long hiatus from reading during high school and the beginning of college, I wasn’t up to date with new authors that wrote YA fiction. It wasn’t until I started blogging early 2015 did I come to learn about these authors (such as Rainbow Rowell, Leigh Bardugo, Sarah J. Maas, etc). So the author line up from last year had a lot of familiar names but only a handful were ones that I had read books by them. And since I wanted to see as many authors as I could, all the while trying to avoid picking those that I read their books pre-2010, I decided on authors of books I’d already owned (regardless if I read their books yet) to get signed. (Man, what a wordy sentence. I hope I made my point…) I was somewhat greedy, and didn’t want to waste the opportunity of getting to meet those authors even if I hadn’t read their books. (Honestly, it was only three authors that I did this: Alexandra Bracken, Renée Ahdieh, and Victoria Aveyard. This proved to be a smart move since both Bracken and Aveyard became “wristband authors” this year where only a limited number of readers could get the chance to meet them if they had a wristband.) I was still able to make great conversation, but because this year I only chose to meet authors where I’ve read nearly all their published work (and quite recently)… I was able to have much more meaningful, memorable conversations.
Anyway, I don’t want this post to be just text… so like last year’s Yallfest blog post, I will continue to recount my fun day in pictures and captions from here on. Hope you guys enjoy!
To begin my day off right, I met one of my all time favorite authors (and absolute favorite YA contemporary author), Sarah Dessen. She said she loved my name, guys. T_T And that she liked it so much she was close to naming her daughter Summer. (Dessen’s husband insisted on a different name though so their daughter’s name is Sasha.) Also, she was the only author where I wrote an actual letter to. I made it the day before because I knew I probably wasn’t going to be able to adequately express how much I love her books in the short time I got with her. (And the other author also signing in the background is Adam Gidwitz.)