Sunday, November 10, 2013

Y'all Fest 2013 - My Experience

Advanced apologies for most of my pics, which aren't too good. For me, most authors are cooler than singers and actors, and I get all self conscious and twitchy :D

When Epic Reads first mentioned Y'all Fest some time back, I was thrilled to discover that it was only a 2 hour drive away from me. You can imagine that when I double-checked the distance on Friday, I was pretty upset when I realized it was really a 3 1/2 hour drive each way and that they were expecting around 3000 people (I'm an introvert!). Alas. The chance to meet a ton of authors I really like was probably worth it, so I bribed the kid with a trip to the movies two days after Y'all Fest. Luckily, she's 7 and loves books and is an amazing traveler, so away we went.

Before we left for the fest, I spent a bunch of time going over the schedule and deciding who I wanted to see and where'd they'd be - I even made a fancy excel spreadsheet to make sure I didn't mess anything up and miss someone. I researched where to park (I have parking anxiety issues) and made a packet with the map, the summary of panels, the writer's schedule, the restaurants around (for vegan food), and even some hotel info in case I decided we should spend the night.

After we got to Charleston, I drove around in a mild panic over the number of people there. The first parking garage was full, but we found a spot in the second parking garage (I thought it was a $10 garage, but it was $15, but I didn't have to parallel park in traffic, so, worth it). I got my heavy backpack full of books (13 books) and away we went. 

It was about 10:20 and Veronica Roth was inside the music hall with her packed audience for the Keynote address (as soon as I heard you had to have tickets to the keynote to be able to wait in line to get a numbered wrist band so you would know the time slot to wait in line for a signing with her, I knew it was never going to happen), so I tried to find the Epic Reads ladies, even though I figured they must be with Veronica. We went to look at the American Theater Cinema, and nothing was going on in there at that time, but I did get to check out the pretty Art Deco features.

Next we went back to the music hall because I wanted to see the 11am All the Feels panel with Rachel Cohn, Gayle Forman, Ellen Hopkins, David Levithan, Stephanie Perkins, Rainbow Rowell (the moderator was Aaron Hartzler who I'd never heard of, but he was pretty darn funny, so I'll be looking up his stuff for the future). They discussed "contemporary realistic" YA, and how they're usually accused of having sad books when in fact they're just being true to life. Personally, I think most YA books, even those that seem sad, are pretty optimistic overall. They show what's possible in life. Also, I sat TOO CLOSE, if you can believe it. Farther back in the center was a much better shot. Alas.

Here's the kiddo waiting for the All the Feels panel with me.

After the panel, I thought that those who sat on the panel would be signing, but instead, Leigh Bardugo, Gayle Forman, Steph Perkins, and Veronica Rossi were signing at the signing tent - not where the panels were. When I checked over the info with my new knowledge, I realized I had missed Marie Lu and Carrie Ryan's signing (I later heard that a ton of people who were in line for the Marie Lu signing didn't get to get their books signed - she got yanked away for a panel, apparently. She ended up doing another signing at 5pm-ish, but by the end of the day the kid and I were exhausted and I had a migraine and we had a long drive ahead of us so I didn't get to see her in person for a signing - hopefully some day!)

I found a crumpled Epic Reads Tea Time invite on the floor!

I stayed for about 20 minutes of the After the End panel with Alexandra Bracken, Ally Condie, Marie Lu, Carrie Ryan, Lauren Oliver, and Margaret Stohl (moderator was Mike Johnston, who, as he said, wrote the Frozen that isn't the Disney movie, but he's okay with it if you confuse the book for the movie:) I really wanted to see more of the panel, but I also wanted some of the 12pm signers - Leigh Bardugo, Gayle Forman, Stephanie Perkins, and Veronica Rossi. 

After the End panel:

While trying to seek out the noon signers, I realized that the signers are all in different places, and that each fairly lengthy line was for ONE person. After standing in line for Gayle Forman for 10 minutes, the line hadn't budged, so I decided to seek out the other ladies. I didn't go to Steph's signing because I saw her in Raleigh some time back, and Leigh and Veronica's lines were next to each other in an old bar so I chose them. I waited in Veronica's line and when it was almost my turn, Leigh's line was down to one person, so I sent the kiddo to her line for me, and then I ran over real quick to tell her that I was the one who asked her via twitter if the dog on the queen's lap in "Shadow & Bone" was a Pug (she said I was the first person to ask her that which made me really proud. I HATE when people ask authors the same stupid questions that are usually all answered in their FAQs and every interview they've ever done. One of my biggest pet peeves - if you're really someone's fan, you should know basic things). She seemed to remember my pug story and me, so that was pretty awesome. Here's the terrible quick pick I took of her before she left, and my signed book.

Next I got to see Veronica Rossi (I swear I saw a Peregrine Falcon atop a street light on the way home) and I told her about how I LOVE her trilogy because it's different. There are a ton of trilogies out there that are so reminiscent of each other that it drives me a little batty sometimes - I've started more than a couple books and thought "I'm not reading that again" - but with her trilogy (as well as all the trilogies mentioned in this post - I'm only mentioning the most important authors at the fest in this part, and of course by most important, I mean most important to me, so not trilogies that are like other trilogies) I can remember most of it and I know who the characters are and I can keep it all straight. She said that was a huge compliment, so hurray!

After that the kiddo and I went questing for Team Epic Reads, Margot, Aubry, and Snarkles - meeting them was actually the thing she was most looking forward to. 

When we got to the music hall, I bypassed the Veronica Roth signing line to go upstairs to where I knew Epic Reads was supposed to be. I went charging up stairs and some volunteers said "you can't go up there" and I said "I just want to see the Epic Reads girls?" and then I realized Veronica Roth was RIGHT THERE, eating her lunch. Sorry Veronica! Margot wasn't there, but Aubry came down with a book shimmy bag and some fun free things, as well as Snarkles!

This pic has these cool Divergent stickers and "prepublication excerpts" from "Ignite Me" by Tahereh Mafi and "Dorothy Must Die" by Danielle Paige. The buttons were from Rainbow Rowell and Leigh Bardugo.

Here is the kiddo happily hugging Aubry and Snarkles (Margot wasn't there right then).

And here's the kiddo and Snarkles!

After that we ran over to see if I could see Myra McEntire and Margaret Stohl. Myra remembered me from twitter as well (Egmont publishing once took a few days longer than they intended to reply to a question I asked them, but then Infinityglass, the third book in her trilogy, magically appeared on my doorstep about a week or two before release date. Awesome!).

After I saw Myra, I saw that Margaret Stohl's line was almost gone and I asked the Y'all fest employee with her if I could jump in line and she said yes. I'd gotten a high five from Margaret earlier in the day when I told her I was the vegan who had tweeted her, but I was really happy to be able to get her to sign my book.

After that, the kiddo and I went to lunch at Black Bean Co because they had a whole vegan section on their menu - awesome! I got a wrap with southwest tofu, mango salsa, guacamole, jasmine rice, black beans, and mixed greens and it was just as awesome as you think it is, as long as you're smart and thinking it was amazing.

The kiddo wanted this wrap with broccoli, edamame, apples, carrots, mixed greens, and a few other things I'm sure I've forgotten.

I left our leftovers in the music hall bathroom, and I wanted to weep. SO SAD. 

Next it was 2:20 and we were going to go see Epic Reads again real quick, but we walked past the Rainbow line which was already enormous, so we jumped in for the almost two hour wait. Early on I'd realized that the lines were all going to suck, so I had to decide what I most needed out of the day, and for me, I knew I would wait in Rainbow's line. 

While we were in Rainbow's line, I met three super nice ladies (one of whom gave the kiddo two bandaids after kiddo fell down amusing herself in line) and they were all pretty great. While I was talking to them, I realized that - I think - most book nerds are, like me, an introvert. And based on things I read from authors on twitter, I think most authors are introverts, which makes it cruelly hysterical that book fests put introverts in situations totally counterintuitive to their basic survival instincts. *twitch* 

While in line, I bought an already signed copy of Divergent.

And finally. RAINBOW. Who was super amazing and letting people take pics with her even though they'd said they stopped letting people take pics with her after the first 40 minutes or so to move things along. I thought that was really fair of her and I appreciated it. (I have clearer pics but in them she's signing and looking down so I went with this one for the blog.)

I admit it. I used my Rainbow time to confess to her that I loved her. You, go read all the Rainbow books, and if you don't love them, I'm pretty sure we can't be friends. (Also, I don't yet have a copy of Attachments to sign, but I love it as well, and I almost said "You're supposed to say 'no, it's Iowa.'" to her but my fangirl side made me forget. (Here's where I feel really anxious and hope I didn't screw up the Rainbow pic I took for the awesome ladies who were behind us in line.)

After that I spotted Steph Perkins on the sidewalk! I didn't get her shoes, but she was wearing saddle shoes and rocking them - I know my fat nerdy 9 year old self didn't look anywhere near that awesome in the pink saddle shoes I used to own. She was super nice (but I already knew that) and I showed her my Maureen Johnson tattoo (will have to upload that pic later) and had the kid hug her. I would have gotten a picture with the kiddo and her, or the three of us, but there were these tween fangirls waiting next to us and they looked so excited to see her that they were just glowing, and they were waiting so patiently so I left abruptly. Seriously, they were glowing and it was adorable. I mean, how much more awesome would the world be if tweens fangirled on amazing authors instead of whomever they'r fangirling all over (cough*cough*Miley*cough*etc*).

Next up, back to Epic Reads! So ridiculously nice those two are. Really. <3 and if I still lived in Brooklyn, I would beg them to hang out with me sometimes.

Before leaving, I asked who was in the panel because I'd misplaced my schedule. The lady told me it was the YA-List in Hollywood panel and that Veronica Roth had just stopped in, so in we went!

Veronica Roth, Margaret Stohl off to the side (moderating off screen), Rachel Cohn, David Levithan, Melissa de la Cruz, and Gayle Forman.

My unsigned books. Sad face. Also, I didn't get to have Kami Garcia sign my Beautiful Creatures, and I had wanted to show her my cool Supernatural shirt and phone case. Alas. (I did see on twitter that Margaret signed Kami's book, "Unbreakable," for someone, which I thought was pretty funny.)

Okay. So basically, this was a good opportunity, but it was also . . . I don't know. It seemed not as well planned out as it could have been, and I think some of the info they had up on their site was incomplete. I thought that (hey, maybe all the errors are in my mind) that I would be able to see panels AND get things signed, and really, that's not true. Ideally, you bring a bunch of friends who don't like YA books and you send them to wait in lines for you while you pick some panels to watch. There were 3 different panels in 3 different locations per hour from 11-4, not including the Smackdown and Keynote (which people bought tickets for). I hope that they put the panels online, because I really enjoyed watching them.

There was a map with the signing tent shown, but they had about 6 signings going on at a time, and the lines were all pretty long and slow, so you have to hope that your favorite people are all at different times. I discussed this with a few people, and we thought maybe if they did a bunch of panels in the morning, and in the afternoon had the authors lined up at tables (in a huge hotel ballroom or something) and you could wait in a line and go through all the authors (like the Character Spot in Epcot; ). 

If we still live in NC next Y'allfest, I might consider going down with the kid and the husband, so then they could experience Charleston and I could do my thing, but that wouldn't solve my other issues. It was good - I did get to meet 5 authors and the Epic Reads team and get signed books and swag, but I was hoping it would have been MORE. 

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