Hello everyone! Today, I'm recapping my NoVa Teen Book Festival experience! This was the first time I attended the festival, and it was also the first time I attended a #PenguinTeenOnTour stop. I got the combined experience and it was AMAZING!
When the #PenguinTeenOnTour events were released, I was both ecstatic and dismayed to see that there would be two events in the MD/DC/VA area - NoVa Teen Book Festival on March 11th, and B&N Fairfax on March 12th. Mostly I was dismayed, because I have never been able to attend any bookish in DC or VA (and there have been plenty). I'm in uni and I've lived in Baltimore my entire life... getting to DC or VA is pretty difficult when you have no car and no time for public transportation.
But! My sister came in clutch! One day I moaned about how I wish I could go to book events in general, and she asked what event I was looking at. When she saw that the event was in Arlington, she said she would take me and hang out with me there for the day. Best sister ever? I think so!
So I went home from uni on the Friday evening, and the next morning, we woke up really early and headed off to Arlington (~1.5 hours from Baltimore). Road trip!
After stopping for breakfast, we arrived around 10:15, which was just in time for the first panel - Fantasy!
Alwyn Hamilton, Renée Ahdieh, Wendy Higgins, Peternelle van Arsdale, Mary G. Thompson
Next, we headed to a smaller session! Renée Ahdieh, Lesley Livingston, and Will Walton played The Dating Game. They were asked a series of questions that they had to answer from the perspective of their characters (Shahrzad , Fallon, Tretch). Shahrzad/Renée won!
NTBF volunteer (I can't remember his name!), Renée Ahdieh, Will Walton, Lesley Livingston
GUYS. I was literally feet away from Renée Ahdieh! After the Dating Game ended, my sister kept bugging me to go and talk to Renée, and get a picture with her. Finally I summoned the courage to do so, and I managed not to completely make a fool out of myself! Renée was SO nice! I fangirled so hard (mostly in my head, because I didn't want to freak her out). Ahh!
Renée Ahdieh and yours truly. *fangirls*
After the Dating Game session, we stuck around in the same room for the Family Feud session! That was so much to watch. The authors were broken up into two teams, plus several teen volunteers joined each team. I believe the team on the left won!
Left team: Brendan Kiely, Katie McGarry, Nina LaCour
Right team: Alwyn Hamilton, Wendy Higgins, Jaye Robin Brown
You best believe I squealed when I saw Alwyn Hamilton. Yet again, my sister urged me to talk to her after the Family Feud session. Eventually I summoned the courage and ran over before she left for lunch. SHE IS SO NICE! She asked me my name and then she said that she loved "A" names (Alwyn, Amani... hehehe). I told her I had six books for her to sign and that I was sorry and she might get carpal tunnel. She laughed and said that she was very excited to sign everything! (The signing was at the end of the day.) I adore her! And our outfits matched (sort of)!
Alwyn Hamilton and Fangirl Extraordinaire
Next, my sister and I roamed around and got lunch. The official lunch period was 12:30-1:00, but we also skipped the 1:05-1:45 panel. We checked out the tables, including a table with ladies who were creating buttons! Yes, you read that correctly! My sister and I chose images from old magazines, the ladies cut them out, and made them into buttons. It should surprise exactly no one that we both chose Star Wars images - mine is of the Death Star and X-wings (THIS image, actually), and my sister got one of Obi-Wan in Episode III, wielding his lightsaber. The button maker machine is pretty nifty! I might need to get one. Kidding! Or am I...
We bought food from a food truck outside of the school. Food trucks are great! We got baked beans, mac 'n cheese, and pulled pork.
After lunch, we headed to a 1:55 panel. We really wanted to make the World Building one with Martina Boone, Lisa Maxwell, and Jodi Meadows, but it was full! The room was packed with people. So we went to the Q&A session exclusively with Lesley Livingston and Alwyn Hamilton. About 5-6 people were there, and we all got to ask questions. It was really cool to hear about how Rebel came to be, especially Alwyn's story behind the inspiration - a boy running into a shop and the girl behind the counter hiding him.
I asked Lesley and Alwyn when their next books would be published (The Defiant, and Rebel #3). Answers: approximately February 2018 and March 2018, respectively. I also asked them what their next projects were. They have a lot of good things to come!
Lesley Livingston and Alwyn Hamilton
Lesley is SO fun and entertaining. I think she miming something death-related... no surprise there!
After the Q&A, we headed to the Love on the Rocks panel. I got my first peek at Julie Buxbaum! Julie is so sweet. Katie McGarry was on this panel too, and she is such a great storyteller! She told us about a kiss with her next-door neighbor, and a Homecoming story, and honestly I understand why her books have such great romances. SWOON!
Caleb Roehrig, Rafi Mittlefehldt, Julie Buxbaum, and Katie McGarry
We stuck around in the same auditorium for the Reflection panel. This panel was all about perception, and how you see yourself vs. how others define you. This was a really powerful discussion to hear, with such talented and diverse authors (some #ownvoices, if not all!).
Jaye Robin Brown, Will Walton, M-E Girard, Tiffany D. Jackson
Finally, in the auditorium was the keynote speech. I am so sad that none of the pictures taken from the keynote speech came out well! They turned off all of the lights except the stage ones, and we were too far away to get a good shot. Friends, let me tell you: Nina LaCour's speech was incredible. I don't know if there was anyone who didn't tear up. Her speech was moving and very, very timely. The gist of what she said: it's okay to be who you are (race, sexuality, religion, etc.) -- YOU are okay. I was so moved, and I wish I had recorded it. Nina, I salute you!
Finally... the signing! We were among the last groups to get to the signing (they called everyone by wristband color, which had to do with who was a VIP ticket holder, and what time you arrived to the festival). I got to meet SO many authors! I'll list them: Renée Ahdieh, Alwyn Hamilton, Julie Buxbaum, Jodi Meadows, Lesley Livingston, Lisa Maxwell, Sarah Nicole Lemon... and I got to meet other authors, though I didn't have books for them to sign.
Here are the books I brought with me, to be signed:
I got ALL of them signed! First, we headed to Renée Ahdieh's line. Hers was easily one of the longest, if not the longest. Renée is such a sweetie! She asked me what my blog was, I told her, AND SHE TOTALLY RECOGNIZED MY BLOG! I almost cried. She was so, so happy to see all of the books I brought (five total), and she gave me a hug. *fangirls*
Here are two of the inscriptions. These are from the two hardcovers I brought!
Next, we moved on to Alwyn Hamilton's line, which was equally as long. Alwyn's reaction to my enormous stack of books was PRICELESS! She was so excited! And to think, I had two more copies of her books that didn't arrive in time for the signing. Gah!
Yes, this is me:
.@Alyssa_Susanna totally made my day bringing this stack of REBEL and TRAITOR to @NoVaTEENBF. pic.twitter.com/7N2G9I57az— AlwynHamilton (@AlwynFJH) March 12, 2017
And then we went to Jodi's table! Jodi knew I was coming because I wanted to make sure it was okay if I brought my ARCs of The Orphan Queen and The Mirror King. I have hardcovers of Jodi's books, but they have already been signed. Jodi is incredibly nice and not only signed my ARCs, but she let me have a little fun with her amazing cloak!
And then I went to Julie Buxbaum's table. I'm a little disappointed in myself because I didn't realize that Julie would be at the festival until Friday night, when I was already home... and my copy of Tell Me Three Things was at my apartment. Oh well! It was extremely lucky that an ARC of What to Say Next arrived at the house just days before the festival, because I took that with me.
The coolest thing - when I told Julie my blog name, she recognized my blog! SHE RECOGNIZED MY BLOG! She was like, OHHHH I KNOW YOU! I almost expired on the spot! Check out her inscription in the book below:
Julie Buxbaum and incoherent blogger/fangirl
2. I <3 Eater of Books!
3. You rock!
*fangirls some more*
The lovely people at Abrams sent me an ARC of Done Dirt Cheap a few weeks ago, and I decided to take it with me. Sarah Nicole Lemon was extremely nice and totally cool with signing an ARC. When I was talking to Renée as she signed my books, Renée told me that I would love Done Dirt Cheap. So I'm even more excited to read it! Hopefully next week. =)
Sarah Nicole Lemon and majorly-cheesing-blogger
Of course I got a picture with Lesley Livingston! And I brought my ARC of The Valiant with me. Guys, these authors are so great and literally do not care about the fact that I brought some ARCs for some of them to sign. In fact, Lesley thought my ARC was so cool because it had the gold slip over the cover - something she had never seen before! She was pretty fascinated. :D I love Lesley's vibrant personality!
Lesley Livingston and currently speechless blogger
I didn't post inscriptions from Jodi's, Sarah's, or Lesley's books (or from the majority of Alwyn's or Renée's that I brought) because I don't want to clog up this post with inscriptions! But trust me, I'm treasuring all of them. I appreciate the time these ladies took to sign my books!
But wait! I didn't just meet authors at the festival - no, I got to meet some bloggers/readers, and a publicist. I met a Penguin Teen publicist, which was so cool. Renée pointed me in her direction, and the publicist and I chatted for a few minutes. She was great!
I almost screamed out loud when Cat (@KainesCat) called my name. I'm so glad she did! I had seen her earlier with her beautiful ARC of Flame in the Mist, but she was in a line, so I didn't get her attention then. Guys! Cat is so sweet! And she let me hold Flame in the Mist and I might have gone to heaven for a minute. It's such a big and beautiful ARC! Cat, you are so kind. Thank you for getting my attention! I'm so glad to have met you. We officially met through Susan Dennard's street team (Waterwitch Babes for life!), and now we've met in person.
Aaaaand, I got to meet fellow Jodi Meadows fan, Sarah Harvey! Sarah (@appifanie) and I are in Jodi's Facebook group. She walked up to me and introduced herself, and I'm glad she did! She is extremely nice and I loved chatting with her. =)
Left picture: Cat and girl-who-almost-jumped-Cat-for-Flame
Right: Sarah and super-happy-to-meet-a-OQSG-member fangirl
So, that was my Saturday! Huge thanks to the authors for being so kind and patient with so many people (probably hundreds) bombarding them. Thank you to the NTBF organizers, sponsors, and supporters. A personal thanks to my sister, who drove me to the festival and also took all of the pictures, and put up with my fangirling and shenanigans. You all know how I am never able to go to these amazing bookish events in DC and VA? Well, this was only possible thanks to my sister. Shout-out and major thanks to her boyfriend for housing me (and her) for the weekend. I love hanging out with both of them, so that was an added bonus to an incredible day.
Before you go!
Keep an eye out for my 1,000,000th pageview post - I'll have several giveaways in celebration, and one will include prizes from this festival.
Tell me: have you been to a #PenguinTeenOnTour event, this year or in the past? Of those featured in this post, which author would you like to meet the most? Are there any upcoming events in your area that you're excited about?