Saturday, November 8, 2014

YALLFest - Where All The Cool Authors Are

This year I went to YALLFest. YALLFest is a festival in Charleston, SC (where I live when I'm not at school... I don't think I've shared that before) that revolves around reading and writing and authors and goodness. I've gone every year (okay, except for last year, sadly), and I've watched it grow bigger and bigger. It's amazing how much it's grown. It's also amazing how many huge... and I mean huge (Veronica Roth, Scott Westerfeld, Lauren Oliver, James Dashner, and of course Ellen Hopkins, who's come every year) authors have started to come. Basically think of a recent young adult book that's turned into a movie/TV series and the author of the book was there. Makes me want to be a YA (young adult) author and be up there with everyone. Except I don't like talking in front of people. So that probably wouldn't happen. But still.

If you don't read YA - you should. I think even as an adult, what am I talking about? I am an adult, I will and do still read YA (when I read). Because it's awesome. And the writers are awesome. And that should be a good enough reason.

So how YALLFest works is there is keynote talks (this year two), panels, and a smackdown (basically all the writers being awesome at the same time). The keynote talks and smackdown are ticketed events which all sold out weeks ago. My friend and I didn't get tickets this year for the keynote talks or the smackdown, but the panels are free and open to everyone.

The panels we attended are:

Assassins, Secrets, and Spies
Alexandra Bracken, Libba Bray, Ally Condie, Becca Fitzpatrick, Kami Garcia, Brendan Reichs, Morgan Rhodes, Scott Westerfeld, and Michael Johnston.

During this panel I learned that Scott is a pantser, like me. A pantser is when you don't have a clue where anything you're writing is going. You just write and whatever happens happens. He also comes up with how it's going to end about two thirds of the way through, also like me. Another bonus was hearing someone, who I *blushes* can't remember, talk about her outlines. She said one time for a book she wrote 18 outlines. The 17th one was called "Dear Jesus Save Me" and the 18th was called "Even Jesus Can't Save Me." That sounds about right. My friend and I also learned that Libbra Bray is adorable. And awesome. I'll have to read her. Her voice was gone so she couldn't talk, but the stuff she wrote down and was shared was great. So funny.

All in the Family
Sarah Dessen, Adele Griffin, Ellen Hopkins, E. Lockhart, Lauren Myracle, Jennifer E. Smith, Maya Van Wagenen, and Aaron Hartzler.

This panel featured Ellen Hopkins, one of my favorite writers since I read her first book right when it came out, Crank. Yes, I know it came out in 2004. Yes, I know I was ten. Was it appropriate for me? Probably not. Did that stop her from instantly becoming a favorite writer? Not even close. It also featured Maya Van Wagenen, who's a junior in high school. And already has a book out. Who already has a book out by John Green's publisher. So that's pretty awesome.

My Name is <Writer> and I am a Basket Case
Libba Bray, Sarah Fine, Lauren Myracle, Lauren Oliver, Stephanie Perkins, Veronica Roth, Sara Zarr, and Margaret Stohl

This was the panel I was most looking forward to. And it did not disappoint. Not going to lie but mental illness is an interest of mine. And the fact that these people are where I want to be with the same problems I have is definitely appealing. It was definitely my favorite panel. Veronica Roth said something that gave me a shiver. Something along the lines of "I told my doctor I didn't want to be on medication forever. He said you don't live forever. You only have this time and you might as well make the most of it." Also my friend decided that Lauren Oliver sounded really familiar. She couldn't pinpoint it at first. Then she realized that me and Lauren Oliver are the same person. So that's pretty cool. She said everything she writes is crap.... Everything I write is crap! Hopefully our crap is on the same level and I can get published like her. One of these days. Libba even broke her non-talking rule for this panel. Some of the stuff they said was so relatable. Like the worst time is in the morning because you have to do everything again. That the worst time is in the afternoon because the morning coffee high is over and it's just sort of blah. And that the worst time is the hours when you can't sleep at four in the morning because well, let's face it, it's a horrible time. I could go on and on about this panel - it was perfect - especially for me. And I think most of the people who chose to go to this talk. I'm really glad that they had this panel, and that I went to it. I'm also glad that while the stigma of mental illness is still strong, it's breaking up enough to have this topic chosen. And I hope they have similar panels again next year.

Incurable Romantics
Lauren Billings and Christina Hobbs (Christina Lauren), Ann Brashares, Kiera Cass, Becca Fitzpatrick, Michelle Hodkin, Sarah Maas, and Lauren Oliver

In this panel my friend and I discovered that Lauren Oliver and I really are the same person. Either that or I just think she's so awesome I want to be her. That could also be a thing. We heard a lot of cute romantic stories and talked about the difference between true love and romantic love. It was very cute.

Hollywood Stories
Ann Brashares, James Dashner, Melissa de la Cruz, Gayle Forman, Kathy Reichs, Veronica Roth, Margaret Stohl, and Kami Garcia

This panel had people whose books had been turned into movies and TV shows. This panel was the one that made me want to be up there with them. Or maybe just be friends with everyone. I think that would be preferable. Good friends are better than publicity.

AND YALLFest has been such a success that they announced a new event coming April called YALLWest in California. It's very exciting. The title though is a bit funny, I think. YALLFest is a play on the southern word "y'all" and "YA." So the fact that they're keeping that in there kind of amuses me. Although I understand there's not many words like "y'all" that would work. Besides the name it's very exciting.

So, on a completely unrelated, but related, topic, how are my goals coming?

1. Don't die. -- Obviously thus far I have been successful. I am off my meds, but so far I haven't been that bad. Which is fantastic.

2. Finish five books. -- I've finished one so far, Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn.

3. Do a deep cleaning of my room at least twice. -- I put some recycling in bags (but left it in my room), does that count?

4. Improve my sleep hygiene. -- I've been working on it.

5. Be a little proactive in the whole school thing (This is from now until the end of the semester, Dec. 12th is my last final). -- Nope. Not yet.

Bonus Goal -- I've written a measly 4,669 words so far. The target for today is 13,336. I've got some catching up to do.
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