The #Yallwest Experience
It is more than a little embarrassing that I am only finally posting this in July!! However, life is what it is and lately mine has been crazy busy. Since I have been hosting a giveaway on Twitter, what ended last night, for Yallwest swag packs I thought what better way to announce the winners than to finally tell you about my first time at Yallwest.
It all started on Friday April 29th, I live in a small town close to the US border so I got up really early (like 3:30AM early) and drove to Spokane, where I caught my flight to LA. The flights went smoothly, with a short lay over in Vegas, and I continued on to LA behind this cutie.
I arrived at LAX at 2:30PM and was greeted by my friend Kelly (@seekellytse) who held up the best airport sign ever that I kick myself for not getting a photo of! It was all about how we met, as witchlanders and honestly that sort of set the tone for the whole weekend. Books. Friends. And a lot of fun. We were heading straight to the Santa Monica Public Library for the Fierce Friday event. I was going to meet another online
friend Jennifer (@jennfsantucci) there and ended up meeting lots of new friends. Camille and Grainne were two of those, they know Kelly and met us in line for Leigh Bardugo. I was so excited that my first author meeting/signing/yallwest experience was going to be with one of my all time favourite authors! I was also SO nervous – we were at the front of the line! This was my first experience at a signing or book festival and it felt so incredible to be surrounded by all kinds of people who had a love of books in common. I can’t think of another time in my life when I was standing in line and knew I could had something in common with the person standing next to me. Fast Forward to us moving inside the library and lining up and I am #3 to meet Bardugo! What was I going to say?! (No I had not really thought about this in advance and anything I had, suddenly gone from my mind) Meeting her turned out to be incredible of course. I was a little embarrassed about my rumpled appearance, having traveled for 15 hours and no time to shower since. Leigh was beautiful in appearance and personality as she asked where I had traveled from and signed my copy of Six of Crows. She also signed a book-plate for Crooked Kingdoms with the quote “get the damage done”, as well as my Yallwest Poster, handed me some temporary tattoos, pins and gave me a hug. (The Yallwest Poster as I dubbed it is a print by @seoevie that I brought to have every author sign – photo below) And then it was over. I was smiling, beaming really, and reeling from the experience. How it worked at Fierce Friday is, you chose a line to begin with and once you were done you could hop over to the end of another line but there was no guarantee you would get to the author before they were done for the night. I wanted to meet Bardugo, Pearson, Rutkoski, Chainani, and Rowell. I went to Rutkoski’s line next. Waiting in line there I finally got to say hello to Jennifer and she introduced me to Jade (bedtimebkworm) and we all chatted for a bit. Then it was my turn again! I felt a little more composed this time and Mary was really awesome, she signed the first two books in the Winners Curse trilogy and my poster. Then came the hard part – I only had time for one more author! I wanted to meet Rowell because I wanted to get a book signed not only for me but for my #otspsecretsister, but her line was SO LONG. Did I risk standing in it and not meeting her when I could meet one of the other authors? I risked it. AND IT WAS SO WORTH IT! I was the very last person she met with and the library
has already turned the lights off in preparation for closing. LOL. And yet after who knows how many hellos and signatures Rowell was still all smiles and warmth. She signed my copy of Fangirl, the copy for my #otspsecretsister and my poster. She also signed a stand up poster of Carry On that had been sitting next to her all night and gave that to me! Which was pretty amazing of her and she had saved me a button as well.
Then it was time to go home. Well to Jennifers house, because that was where I was going to be staying for the weekend. After a stop for some fast food. I was feeling too gross for a restaurant but starving, when had I last eaten? All the way to her house we fangirled pretty hard. I was already so satisfied with the weekend it could have ended right there but that was only the beginning!
We sat up a that night planning out the next day, what we wanted to see and do. It was a little overwhelming to be honest, I hadn’t realized that panels, signings, activities and giveaways were happening all at once. By the end of the weekend though I was happy to say that I got the chance to do just about everything I set out to and then some!
Day One went something like this…
9:30 Arrived at the front gate and saw the lineup for the Rainbow Rowell Keynote was already miles long! Decided that we would rather go look around at all the booths. I was a little disappointed because I was missing my very first event but I told myself there would be more. We walked around and checked out the booths for Owlcrate, Riveted, First In Line, Epic Reads, Penguin Teen and Macmillan. They each had schedules for events and giveaways they were doing over the weekend.
11:00 I went in to listen to the Heros and Villians panel with Sabaa Tahir, Victoria Aveyard, Leigh Bardugo, Kiersten White and Ransom Riggs. It was fantastic! I left a little early to grab a bracelet for Alexandra Brackens 2pm signing. I spent most of the morning solo while Grainne and Kelly camped out for the Heartless ARC but met up with Jade from time to time.
12:00 Victoria Aveyard Signing. This was really important to me because I wanted to get a bookplate signed for a friend back home who loves Red Queen. These signings were much quicker than the signings at Fierce Friday, so I was really glad I had made a point of makign Bardugo a priority the night before.
1:00 I enjoyed Harry Potter is Lyfe pannel with Leigh Bardugo, Sabaa Tahir, Tahereh Mafi, Erin Bowman, Veronica Roth and Adam Silvera. This was possibly my favourite panel of the weekend because it was fun and full of laughs. It’s neat to see the authors I fangirl over, fangirling over another author.
2:00 I wanted to go in five directions at this time. I never made it to the book swap but I did make it to the Riveted Cupcake Hour where I met up with Kelly and we scored some awesome swag bags complete with ARCs! (Love & Gelato, & Every Hidden Thing) then I ran over to the Alex Bracken and Erin Bowman Signing. I really enjoyed meeting both of these authors, they are both so genuine and friendly. I do wish I could have made more coherent thoughts though, and actually said something intelligent!
3:00 Sabaa Tahir Signing. Sadly I had to run to the little girls room and by the time I made it to Tahir’s line they told me they had capped it. So Tahir was the one that got away that weekend. I did get to go meet Sherri Smith, the author of Orleans which is one of the best dystopians I have ever read, and I had managed to find her book at the airport of all places so I had a physical copy for her to sign.
4:00 I met up with Jade and Jennifer for the Where Have All The Parents Gone panel with a bunch of authors I hadn’t heard of and Alexandra Bracken. It was a really good panel and afterwards the three of us got to chat with Bracken which was pretty amazing and goes to show that sometimes the best things happen without any planning.
5:00 We were all exhausted! And decided to call it a day. Jade and Jennifer decided I had to have Mexican while I was in CA so we went to a small place not far from Yallwest and it was such good food! (I never take photos of food but I made an exception)
*** At some point in this incredible day although I can’t remember when exactly, I discovered they were giving away The Crowns Game in gorgeous purple bags and that Evelyn Skye would be there signing them! Needless to say I made a point of being in that line and it was so incredible to meet her. It has been two month and I still cannot describe what it was like to meet these authors beyond incredible and amazing. Life changing? Yup – it was that too. ***
Day two was another whirl wind of…
10:00 Arrived and hopped in line with Jade, Grainne, Kelly, and Camille. We all decided it was time for a group photo and exchange game plans for the day. It is one of my favourite photos from the whole weekend.
11:00 Marie Lu & Tahereh Mafi Keynote. We rushed to line up for this one so we didn’t miss it and received beautiful Young Elites totes and Furthermore chapters samplers. And that was when I met Grace! I knew Grace from instagram and she had bumped into Jennifer the day before, but here she was now and she said she had something for me. She took one of her prints out of her bag and omg, I was so surprised I was catching flies. It was a Six Of Crows print I had been drooling over for a while now. And to top it off like a cherry she handed me a origonal drawing on Nina! Seriously, for incredible art you should go check her out on IG. Fictograph
The keynote was great and after hearing Tahereh Mafi speak a few times now I am convinced I must read her books ASAP.
12:00 I wanted to get in line for Marie Lu but the line was crazy long already so I decided to spend my time elsewhere. I touched based with the girls and met up with Jade. I ended up snagging a My Lady Jane ARc but gave it to Jennifer who was in a line somewhere else and I knew it was one she wanted. Then I got in line for the This Savage Song ARC giveaway.
1:00 Grainne held my place in that line while I made my way over to Renee Ahdieh singing. I loved The Wrath and the Dawn and was very excited to meet this beautiful author. Her line was way shorter than she deserves but I was thankful because it meant I got more time to chat with her.
2:00 On my way back to meet up with everyone I nearly walked into Marie Lu! I asked her if she would sign my author poster because I didn’t have her books with me at this point and she did! She was so lovely to talk to but was with a friend so I thanked her and let her get back to whatever she had been doing. I figure they have pretty long days and not much time between signing and panels to just relax. Finally it was time for the This Savage Song ARC giveaway. Honestly I didn’t know there was going to be any ARCs at Yallwest so anything would have been exciting but This Savage Song?! I was giddy with excitement.
Still 2:00 Jade and I had some time still so we went and caught the second half of the Myths & Legends panel with Renee Ahdieh, Mercedes Lackey and Evelyn Skye.
3:00 We stepped out to get some fresh air and ended up in another ARC lineup for A Shadow Bright and Burning before going to the First to Finale panel with Marie Lu, and Sara Raasch. This was another excellent panel, especially for me as a writer. It really announced to me that there isn’t one way to write, no formula to follow, no set path. And even successful published author struggle with the writing process. I heard a lot I needed to hear and leant a lot as well. And at the end I caught Marie Lu for a quick chat and asked if she would now sign my books since I had them with me.
4:00 All of us rallied together for the last event of the day, the Story Mob Finale with Veronica Roth, Victoria Aveyard and Ransom Riggs. It was an hour of creativity and silliness but I enjoyed being there for the very last minutes of Yallwest.
Afterwards Jennifer and I went out for sushi! I love sushi. And for dessert she took me for froyo. So here’s where my small town Canadian-ness shone through and I was a little emabressed but… when I walked in and saw that it was like a froyo buffet where you fill a cup with any flavor and any topping you want (and there were a lot! fruit, chocolate things, sauces, sprinkles, you name it!) I was flabbergasted – awestruck – IN HEAVEN. I just didn’t know where to start. Now I can’t even remember what I choose but at the time I was ready to pack my bags and move to CA permanently. Book festivals, amazing sushi and buffet style froyo? Sign. Me. Up.
For my very first book festival and signing experience it had been AMAZING. It still hadn’t all quite sunk in and now looking back I know it is an event I will remember for a long, long time. A tick off the bucket list for sure. And it was made all the more special because of the people I met there and the friendships I now have because of it.
And THIS is the crowning jewel of my weekend ❤ The poster everyone signed (even Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff thanks to Grainne)
That was my #Yallwest experience, as best as I can remember it. When I got home I had swag falling out of every corner of my suitcase! And ten more books than I had come with. So I decided to do a giveaway, which many of you have entered over the past two weeks and I’m happy to say that the winners are… Dailyn @dailynmorris and the second winner is… Alice @alicesbookvault !! Congrats guys The winners will be receiving swag packs and ARCs from my Yallwest haul.