Friday, November 14, 2014

I Went to Y'ALL Fest, Y'ALL!

Hey, readers and fashionistas!  Over a week ago, my friend Emily and I road tripped from Indianapolis to Charleston, SC for Y'ALL Fest, the largest book festival in the country (and it's only been going on for four years!).  It was a BLAST!  We're talking 60+ YA authors just walking around Charleston, meeting their readers and giving panels on various topics.  Totally up my nerd alley!  Here is a list of my favorite things about Y'ALL Fest and my highlights:

  • Blue Bicycle Books--This bookstore hosts the festival and is book proud.  The employees were helpful and excited and showed off why I love local indie bookstores so much.  The bookstore itself has cute decorations and just makes me want to sit down with a book and a cup of tea.

 Yes, they had a bicycle outside their store with books on it.

What a neat idea--painting the covers of books to spell a word!

  • Charleston--What a beautiful city!  It was so easy to access everything at the festival, and I loved how local businesses got involved (I got to meet Gayle Forman in a donut shop and James Dashner in a toy store!).  I have a soft spot for South Carolina (my family used to vacation there every summer) and I love the warm air and palm trees.  I was ready to move down to Charleston!
 We ate at Hyman's Friday night for the BEST hush puppies in the world!  This is my friend Emily, who is slightly obsessed.

  • The experiences I had meeting authors--Obviously this is one of the best parts of the festival.  Authors walk around, take photos, meet readers, and have signings.  I literally bumped into Stephanie Perkins and talked to Rainbow Rowell for a second like we were old friends.  Every author was so gracious and excited to talk with their readers--Varian Johnson was so appreciative, Laini Taylor was just plain fun, Maya Van Wagenen was so genuine, and I could go on and on.

 Stephanie adorable is she?!

Epic Reads--they are so fun!  I look like a crazy person here with three chins...that awkward selfie strain.
  • Aaron Hartzler--This guy gets his own category.  I literally drove to Charleston because I wanted to meet him.  I loved his book Rapture Practice and could tell from Twitter that he would be a fun guy.  He was fan-tastic!  Just what I wanted in my experience to meet him.  Out of the thousands of people at the festival, only about 10 of us were in line for Aaron, which just made the experience even better.  It was AWESOME to talk with him, take photos together, and just act like it was totally normal for me to be hanging out with him.  Aaron later hosted a "Hollywood Squares" author game at the Smackdown event, and he was the highlight of the event.  He is hilarious!
 Yep, Aaron Hartzler has his arm around me!  I loved meeting the others in line, too.  This was the highlight of the trip for me!

 I was the first in line to meet Aaron, so I got to hold the author paddle!
  •  The lines--Why would I love the lines at Y'ALL Fest?!  Because that's where you meet other readers.  That's where you connect with people all over the country who love the same authors as you.  You meet parents who take their kids out of school so they can meet Veronica Roth, dads who willingly stand in line for two hours so they can get a romance author's autograph for their daughters, librarians who are passionate about students and reading.  I have to give a shout out to Megan and Brian, an engaged couple who I met in the James Dashner line and who I kept running into throughout the festival.  
 Most of the lines at Y'ALL Fest are looooong.  These were the lines for Libba Bray and
Kami Garcia/Margaret Stohl.

 The line of people behind me for James Dashner.  How ADORABLE is that girl behind me?!
  •  The road trip--Traveling with my friend Emily was perfect because we're both librarians.  And what do you do when you are in a car for 11 hours?!  You listen to an audiobook!  We listened to The Here and Now by Ann Brashares on the way down and Panic by Lauren Oliver on the way home.

The author autographs I got:
Lauren Myracle (She told me librarians are her heroes!)
Varian Johnson
Sara Zarr
Carrie Ryan
Kami Garcia
Margaret Stohl
Jennifer E. Smith
Leigh Bardugo
Maya Van Wagenen
Melissa de la Cruz
Aaron Hartzler
E Lockhart
Sarah Dessen
James Dashner
Lauren Oliver
Laini Taylor
Ann Brashares
Alexander London
Libba Bray
Becca Fitzpatrick
Kiera Cass
Marie Lu
Gayle Forman

And there were so many others!  I missed out on Ally Condie and Sarah Maas...maybe next year?!

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