An update from the festival trenches: YALLWest and BookCon!

I’ve now been to two (!!) bookish festivals and conventions, and honestly, the experience was amazing.


First up was YALLWest, hosted in Santa Monica, California. YALLWest is a one-day event, and it was wild. The weather was desperately hot, but there were plenty of food trucks with cold bubble tea and fancy grilled cheese to tide one over.

The ARC lines were crazy long, but I managed to snag a few, including THE CHEERLEADERS by Kara Thomas (which was amazing, by the way, and you can find it on Goodreads here). I’d been to visit my agents Holly and Taylor the previous week, and they’d also hooked me up with badass ARCs like CITY OF GHOSTS by Victoria Schwab and THIS SPLINTERED SILENCE by Kayla Olson. I highly suggest preordering these, too. City of Ghosts is a dark middle grade about a girl who can see ghosts and her spectral best friend, and This Splintered Silence is a fast-paced, lyrically-written space suspense.

I actually ran into Kayla at the festival. We’re agent sisters, and stuck together for a while wandering the stalls and picking up new books, fun book sleeves by Book Beau, and making sure we had plenty of A+ instagram moments. We found our other agent sister Rachel Hawkins promoting her new book, ROYALS, and managed to get this badass Root Lit group photo:


There were a couple writer parties we went to, as well, which were super fun. I spent some time hanging out with Twitter friends (and fellow #novel19s), but also met a bunch of new and incredibly interesting people who had great things to say about the industry and process in general. Honestly, that was my favorite part of both YALLWest and BookCon–the people!

…well. And this matcha passionfruit donut:

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BookCon was a whole different beast.

BookCon is a reader-focused spinoff of BEA (BookExpo America), and it was VERY CROWDED. Think Comic Con for books. I signed up for four autographing sessions and went to precisely zero of them. I did catch a few panels, though–like this one worldbuilding panel with Renée Ahdieh, Sabaa Tahir, Scott Westerfeld, Leigh Bardugo, and Marie Lu, in which I actually (!) took notes.

Seriously, though, I can’t even tell you how many ARC lines I stood in only to get to the front and realize the person right before me took the very last book.

I did manage to snag CAMPFIRE by Shawn Sarles though! I’m really excited. I love horror. So.

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I was lucky enough to run into several of my agent siblings at BookCon. I got dinner with Marisa Kanter and Natasha Ngan (whose book GIRLS OF PAPER AND FIRE is coming out this fall–check it out!), who share Taylor as an agent. I also briefly chatted with V.E./Victoria Schwab, who is a Holly agent sister. Ash Poston (HEART OF IRON, GEEKERELLA), also a Holly client, met up with me and we ended up going to dinner with Kaitlyn Sage Patterson (THE DIMINISHED), where we talked about the industry but also about living as an immigrant/expat abroad and being from the US South and creation myths. (Listen. You had to be there. It was great.)

…Seriously. Holly and Taylor have a well-refined affinity for knowing which of their clients are going to get on like houses. Although I’m starting to suspect all their clients are just amazing people.

Speaking of Holly and Taylor, I got to meet up with them both at a party hosted by my publisher on Thursday, during BEA (which I didn’t attend, except for the parties, haha). I honestly felt very adrift in this massive crowded industry party on the roof of this fancy Times Square hotel before H & T showed up as familiar faces.

The venue was freaking gorgeous, though. They had these market lights strung up over the patio, and you were surrounded by skyscrapers so high you couldn’t see their peaks for the fog. And the drinks were….yea. They were good.

I had the privilege of meeting my editor, Jason, and some other people from the Skyscape team. It was great to finally put faces to names…although since I’m faceblind, I hope they forgive me if I ever run into them in some other context and don’t recognize them. (This goes for everyone I met at BookCon or YALLWest actually. I’m sorry in advance!!)

Finally, the Novel Nineteens (2019 YA debut authors) met up for lunch on Sunday, and we managed to take this weirdly-imbalanced but still-good photo together:

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And…that’s it!

It was a great experience overall, for both cons, and I can’t wait to attend next year…this time, with a published book.

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