If you could gather an abundance of young adult readers, bloggers, vloggers and writers, throw in a confetti of literary booths, from publishers to a monthly book subscription box business, to literary apparel, you would find yourself at the second annual young adult book festival, Yallwest, at Santa Monica High School. Sister to the original festival Yallfest, in Charleston, North Carolina, Yallwest held over 113 authors including New York Times Bestsellers along with locally acclaimed authors, as well as notable Hollywood directors and creators.
On Friday, Yallwest held a Fierce Friday event at the Santa Monica Public Library, as a preview to the actual festival that started the next morning. Fortunately, I was able to attend this event and got to meet the very sweet Rainbow Rowell. A highlight from her long line –which was definitely worth the wait- was that she had started a story, that she wanted us, her readers, to continue. She started with the sentence, ‘A girl tripped over a unicycle’ and by the time I had reached that point in line, the story had found its way to the Emerald City! After getting my copy of Fangirl signed, I left the event because I didn’t need anything else signed, but I passed by a few authors and they were really nice to stop and smile at me!
Learning something from going to Yallwest last year was that prepping for the event was a good idea, if not good but needed. First off I figured I would not bring over a hundred books –like I mistakenly did last year- but instead 4, excluding my copy of Fangirl that Rainbow Rowell signed at the preview night, which included: The Divergent Trilogy and Everything, Everything. My schedule for the second festival day included attending two signings, snagging multiple free arcs, and a few panels.
Also, last Yallwest, I made the mistake of forgetting my coveted copies of The Divergent Trilogy. I felt like such a noob, so I had Veronica sign my Yallwest T-shirt instead but this year I didn’t forget! And it was such a pleasure meeting the author I aspire to be one day, like I was literally shaking and nervous and all the feels were rushing through me. It was great.
I was so caught up with obsessively sticking to my schedule, strict with time and trying to slide things in last minute that my aunt and I completely brushed over the fact to eat. We had water and shared a bag of Dorritos. This is something I do not recommend because I am quite sure I was on the verge of passing out, but I’m pretty sure it was all the excitement that kept me upright. But it was all worth it and once i got back to my hotel, I gathered everything on my hotel bed and stared at all six of my new tote bags, filled with bookish goodies and the six arcs I acquired.
Waking up feeling successful, I was excited about volunteering on Sunday. I got there around an hour early, again, and made sure that I stuck to my schedule for the first half of the day before I was scheduled to volunteer. This day was more focused on attending panels and getting at least one more arc that I was uber excited for, enough to make me begin flailing at the sight of! This Savage Song by Victoria Schwab was being given away at 2:00 pm, and I made sure to focus my schedule around this, I even made a few friends in line!
Another fact I learned was that you have got to learn to practically teleport from place to place. And seeing that Santa Monica High School is pretty big, I made sure to hustle from place to place, panel to panel, giveaway to giveaway and signing to signing.
Something really awesome was being featured on Epic Reads Snapchat story, filmed by the fabulous book shimmy queen, Margot Wood, which she had told me would be seen by over five-thousand other book lovers like me. I felt pretty cool, not going to lie.
I also attended the ZOMG! Authors As Fans panel, moderated by authors: Margaret Stohl with Victoria Aveyard, Alexandra Bracken, Soman Chainani, Danielle Paige, Neill Shusterman and Melissa De La Cruz. Here they discussed all their favorite fandoms and personal experiences through these fandoms. I especially favorited Victoria Aveyard’s story on how she broke both her arms for Pokemon cards. You honestly had to be there, and listen to Victoria tell the story. It’s great.
After I had accomplished my goal of acquiring a copy of This Savage Song, I headed over to the volunteer Green Room, checked in, got my badge and rushed over to the signing area, my backpack heavy with five books weighing me down. I took a paddle board with an authors name, who seemed familiar. Aimee Friedman was kind enough to carry a conversation with my awkward-self and I was happy to continue it back. Her newest novel, Two Summers, published this past Tuesday and I am excited to read it. The second author I helped during their signing hour was Pseudonymous Bosch, and the third author I helped was Danielle Paige. She was also very kind and I loved helping, running after all of her bookmarks blowing away in the wind, holding down umbrellas for the fans and checking in with each author.
A few other authors that made my passed weekend all the more special were Evelyn Skye, author of the forthcoming The Crown’s Game -who is unbelievably awesome and sweet, she’s just cool and I’m starting the book soon-, Simon Curtis, author of the forthcoming Boy Robot -who i was actually able to meet on Sunday, and Riveted Lit was giving away bound manuscripts, which he signed-, and a few of the amazing 2016 debuting authors: Jessica Cluess, Tara Sim, Traci Chee, and Audrey Coulthurst.
Yallwest was honestly so very awesome. I just want to thank every reader who wasn’t afraid to talk to me as we all waited in signing lines and giveaway lines, because I’m actually hella awkward but you all opened me up! Shout out to seeing Jess from Princessica of Books, Alexandra from Twirling Pages, and Jessica from Jesy Elyse; It was really great see you all, but I wish I wasn’t so awkward, so that I could’ve talked to you guys and taken a selfie like -ugh- i’m weird.
And a big thank you and shout out to all the authors and Yallwest volunteers, like wow you guys are all freaking amazing! Can’t wait to see you all next year!