Whew! This girl is exhausted! I have a slight headache and I’m ready to sit in bed all day and watch the Disney movie marathon on ABC Family and talk all about the super fantastic amazing day I had once again at the Ontario Teen Book Fest.
I was so very very very excited about this event. I spend pretty much all year waiting for it to happen. As the official blogger, see I get excited waiting for the author list and all of that, and I work really hard on promoting the heck out of this thing and making sure the blog tour runs as smoothly as possible.
I arrived early in the morning, ready to start my day, an absolutely necessary coffee in hand. I immediately ran into Courtney, who runs the fest as her literal third child. She said she had something for me, for all the hard work that I do for the fest. She let me into the author “backstage area”. I noticed there was a spot for each author, and each author had their own name bag and their own bag with their book splashed on the side. She walked me to a table…and I was gifted with my own name badge and a bag with my logo on the side!
I’m not going to lie…I nearly cried. It was just such a small gesture but it was awesome. I seriously want everything with my logo on it haha, I want a travel mug, and a phone case and everything and having this bag is SO SO super cool.
All the authors sat down for breakfast and I intermingled, talking and making sure the giveaway posters got signed (which they did, congrats to Kerry and Amy!) It was super great seeing all the familiar faces like Jessica Brody and Catherine Linka and Lauren Miller and all of those guys and it was even more awesome to make new friends in Melissa Landers and Mary Elizabeth Summer and more.
I really SUPER loved talking to Jessica Brody about the ending to her trilogy. I haven’t talked to anyone who has read it yet and I’m just bursting to talk about it because it was so so good and it was nice to hear that she really loved my review of it. I also nearly started crying again (I swear, I’m not THAT emotional) when both Catherine and Lauren asked about my books. Lauren even told me to keep going, that it’ll happen because she likes my little snippets and that they’re written well. I fangirled only slightly.
First off were the keynote speeches, which were done by Claudia Gray, Aaron Hartzler and Shannon Messenger.
Claudia Gray did a speech on How NOT to Become a Writer which was super fun, fresh, hilarious and actually really helpful. She told in order to not become a writer, you don’t read, you don’t write, you don’t try. I think my favorite part was her saying that writer’s block is not a thing (because that’s what I believe). She paraphrased Dan Wells, and I’m paraphrasing her right now, saying writing is the only job where people stop and say, “nope, I just can’t do my job today.” Which made me laugh a lot.
Next was Aaron Hartzler, talking about growing up in a conservative Christian household as a closet gay boy and having a hard time figuring out who he was. It was incredible and very moving. Suddenly I wasn’t the only one crying that day. He said a particular line that I tweeted out and I kind of want to make my motto on this blog now: “Be the weird you want to see in the world.”
Then was Shannon Messenger. She was SO sweet and funny. She talked about she sort of accidentally fell into writing YA, since she wrote Let the Sky Fall as a way to distract her from the ups and downs of publishing her first novel (which is her middle grade series). She also talked about her film making at USC and I’m just saying, I can’t be the only one that wants to watch Tumble of Love.
Then it was time for the first panel. I went to the Promise Not to Tell: Secret Lies panel where the lovely Gretchen McNeil was moderating with Jessica Brody, Jessica Khoury, Anna Carey, Kasie West and Katie Finn.
The one thing I really loved about this panel was the time they took to talk about writing! They talked about their methods, how they outline or don’t outline or do both (Katie is my girl!) and the kind of research they do and all of that. I didn’t know that Jessica Khoury had actually gone to the Kalahari in order to do some research for Kalahari but that’s super cool. I’m really jealous!
Then we all had lunch, courtesy of one of the sponsors, Panera Bread, and then continued to the Author Speed Dating. I think this is the BEST part of the event. There are tables set up and the authors move from table to table, for a period of five minutes, and talk about…well, whatever, they want. I got to talk to a bunch of great authors, and I’m glad I was able to talk to ones I’m not hugely familiar with like Sherri Smith and Brad Gottfred, both who were fabulous. I loved talking about periods and characters getting their periods in books with Sherri Smith. It was actually a really great conversation haha.
After the speed dating were the second panels. I knew I HAD to go see the Girls Gone Sci-Fi panel with Gretchen McNeil as a moderator to Jessica Brody, Jessica Khoury, Melissa Landers, Lauren Miller and Claudia Gray. I knew some hilarity would ensue and I was DEFINITELY right. All such fabulous ladies and all of them inspirational in my own journey as a YA sci-fi writer. I’m sad because I got hit with a TERRIBLE coughing fit during the panel and had to leave, but I could hear laughter so I’m sure it continued to be super fun and awesome.
Then it was time for the book signing! I don’t have a lot of money right now so I only got a few books that I already owned signed. But I talked to all the authors and took pictures and got them to sign my writing advice poster #2. They all were absolutely fabulous.
I love how personalized this is :) Most of my books from Morgan (Katie) say its great seeing me. I’m also stoked because this is an ARC with the original cover, but when the book actually releases, it’ll be a totally different cover, so that’s kind of cool!
Now my collection is complete! And again with the awesome personalization. You’re extraordinary too Jess! And she signed a super cool poster with the Unremembered trilogy on one side and a map of the Diotech compound on the other.
Aw thanks Melissa :) It was fabulous to see you too! I fangirled only *slightly* at meeting her. I absolutely LOVE this series and I can’t wait for her next one!
Finally! I only owned an e-copy so I’m stoked to have this finally!
Michelle Levy is a debut author whose debut novel will be releasing THIS August and I’m so INCREDIBLY excited for it, and I’m so happy for her as well. I was super surprised when she gave me an ARC, and I can’t wait to dive in!
All of the authors! There’s a picture with me somewhere and I hope I will find it eventually. All such awesome, great authors.
Me and Elizabeth Ross
Me and my new bestie (I don’t think she knows it yet) Mary Elizabeth Summer. Read her book Trust Me, I’m Lying. Seriously. Do it.
Me and Michelle Levy and her beautiful ARC for her debut book. I can’t wait til August and I’m so excited to read it!
Me and Kasie West :) I was relieved to meet another author that is a pantser and not a plotter. I’m kind of a plotter. Kind of. But mostly a pantser.
Me and Anna Carey. I seriously adore her and want to be like her because any author that can write not one, but TWO books, in second person is seriously amazing.
One of my favorite authors of all time. I absolutely adore her. She writes amazing books as both Morgan Matson and Katie Finn.
Me and Shannon Messenger. She is absolutely adorable. I really enjoyed her keynote and I’m really hoping that I can read her middle grade series soon!
Me and Jessica Khoury. I cannot stress enough how much influence she has had on The Awakened. She is a fantastic writer, balancing nature and science fiction and romance and all sorts of things. I adore her. Plus she’s a Doctor Who and Harry Potter fan and has a cute husky! She also gave me a super cool Corpus trilogy poster that could potentially be a giveaway soon ;)
Me and Aaron Hartzler. I was seriously bummed because I had thought he had left before I had the chance to get a picture with him and have him sign my writing advice picture but he reappeared and I managed to grab him. He is amazing and I can’t WAIT for his new book!
*flails* I am so glad I met Melissa Landers! I fell in love with her books last summer and I just love her. Great writing advice, and she really seemed to appreciate the fact that I throw her books in everyone’s faces haha. And she gave me a cool poster for my wall.
Me and Claudia Gray. I have to admit, I have yet to read her books but you better bet that I’ll be reading A Thousand Pieces of You soon. Not only does it sound amazing but Claudia is just a badass lady in general!
After the event, I was invited out to dinner with some readers, some authors and some of the booksellers, and of course, Courtney, as well. I literally had to stop in the middle of dinner and just look around. I am so happy and grateful to be a part of such an awesome community and to be surrounded by such amazing people that I can genuinely call friends. Its incredible and I feel so lucky.
At the end of the day, I headed home and I just felt SO happy. I had such a great day. I was surrounded by readers and librarians and booksellers and bloggers that enjoy the same kind of books that I do and get why they are so incredibly important to me. I was surrounded by fellow writers, both published and unpublished, and got to share in that. I was around all these authors that I admire and that inspire me.
I also am grateful for every single person who came up to me, said hi and was awesome. My little ol blog just keeps getting bigger and bigger and I appreciate when you all say hi to me, whether you’re a reader or a fellow blogger. I love meeting all of you!
And a huge shoutout, hugs and kisses, tears and mountains of gratitude to each and every single author. You are all so incredible and I worship you all. You are all doing what I work hard every single day to accomplish and I appreciate all that you do for your readers. You donate your time and you take pictures and sign books and answer the same questions over and over again and we all appreciate it so much. I also appreciate how wonderful you’ve all been to me. You’ve become my friends, shown me a ton of respect, and have encouraged me and supported me in my own journey to become a published author. I cannot begin to express my gratitude to all of you. I feel incredibly lucky!
And lastly, thanks to Courtney Saldana. You are such a fantastic person and I’m glad that the Ontario TBF brought us together and that I get to work with you every year on such an awesome event. I’m so grateful for you letting me have this event because it has done so much for me as a reader, writer and a blogger. You are the absolute best and I can’t wait for many years to come, especially since one year I WILL be a guest!
Awesome event again and I can’t wait for 2016. Check out some of the guests already confirmed!