Admittedly, I’ve been geeking out for the past few weeks over Austin Teen Book Festival, and for good reason. It was so. Freaking. Awesome. I can’t even describe. The whole reason I drove the six hours was to meet both Sarah Dessen (my favorite author; hands down) and Rob Thomas (the producer/writer/director/mastermind behind Veronica Mars, one of my favorite shows EVER), and I DIDN’T EVEN GET TO MEET THEM! Rob (cause we’re on a first name basis) had to catch a flight to a mystery location and Sarah left sometime during the signing (literally 5 seconds before I was making my way to her table. I know this because when I was getting another author to sign my book, I looked over and saw that she had her jean jacket on and then got giddy because I was about to meet her. My giddyness was premature). Even though I didn’t get to meet the two people that were the whole reason I decided to go to ATBF in the first place, it was still AH-mazing.
My sister, Breanna, and I started the day by getting lost. First, the GPS was taking us in all sorts of wrong directions (I guess I should update it or something. Oops) and then when we got there, we walked around the entire convention center parking garage before realizing that that wasn’t the Austin Convention Center. If these two incidents hadn’t occurred, we would have been on time. Instead we got there are 8:50 am, just in time to hear Maggie Stiefvater speak.
Maggie was adorable. Her outfit kind of reminded me of the old Avril Lavigne. Cargo pants and a black tank top with the bra straps showing. Her opening speech was so funny. She really did set the tone for what the rest of the day would be like.
The first panel Bre and I went to was Truth and Consequences. At the end of Maggie’s speech, we were informed that Rob Thomas would only be there for his first panel and his lunch speech, so we made sure that we went to see him first.
Other authors in the Truth and Consequences panel included Bill Konigsberg, Siobhan Vivian, Jenny Han, Sean Beaudoin, Jo Knowles, and E. Krisin Anderson.
Honestly, this was probably one of my favorite panels of the day. All the authors were hilarious, and they kept on bouncing off of each other with funny things to say. If I had the money, I would have bought every book from the authors in this panel. They were all just very open and honest about their answers. All of their books are about pretty intense topics, and it was so refreshing to hear everything they had to say. I did buy three books from this panel – Rats Saw God by Rob Thomas (don’t judge me, but I already had this book. I bought another one because I knew Rob wasn’t going to be there for the signing, so I bought one of the signed copies. Fangirl much?), Openly Straight by Bill Konigsberg (I really liked Bill, and I’m so excited to read his book), and Fire With Fire by Siobhan Vivian and Jenny Han (I already read the first one, so I had to get the second one, especially since it’s not available in any of the libraries around here).
After the first panel was the Fierce Reads vs. Dark Days. I couldn’t really get into this activity because I didn’t know what was going on for a good portion of it. For the first part, they were using dry erase boards, and I couldn’t read what any of them said, and the “host,” Topher (I love that name. Any Dollhouse fans?), wasn’t reading all of the answers. Then the second part was cool, but I didn’t know what a lot of things were, so it was just a bunch of confusion. And then there wasn’t really a point system. I don’t know. It was just strange. I was too far away to get any cute pics, so moving along.
The next thing was lunch, but who wants to eat when Rob Thomas and Sarah Dessen are about to speak? Not me. Bre and I scored second row seats, and as soon as the two of them and Lauren Myracle sat down, I was snapping pictures. I loved the two of them talking because I was genuinely interested in everything they had to say. I’ve read every single one of Sarah Dessen’s books, and Rob Thomas talked a lot about Veronica Mars, so I was literally hanging on every word each of them said.
We skipped the next set of panels to eat lunch because we were starving. We had overpriced hot dogs and shared a bottle of water. The struggle is real. I couldn’t afford a decent lunch, but I could afford to buy four books. In the word of Ron Weasley, “She needs to set out her priorities.”
The next panel was Fierce Reads. It was a group of the sweetest four girls, and I love each of them. The four authors at this panel were Leila Sales, Alexandra Coutts, S.A. Boudeen, and Marissa Meyer.
Again, I wanted to buy all of their books, but I’m embarrassingly poor. When they were describing their books, I kept thinking “I want to read that!” I was especially interested in Marissa Meyer’s Lunar Chronicles series. I mean, I’m a girl and I love fairy tales, so I know I would love books about futuristic fairy tales. I’ll definitely be getting my hands on those books soon, I’m sure. The only book I bought from this panel was Leila Sales’s This Song Will Save Your Life. She was just really sweet, and I loved the cover. When I read up on all of the books before going to Austin, that was one of the books I really wanted to read, so of course I had to buy it.
The last panel I went to was I Made You a Mixtape. The authors in this panel were Sarah Dessen, Lauren Myracle, Sara Farizan, Trish Doller, Leila Howland, and Julie Murphy.
This was another awesome panel. The thing I liked most about this panel was all of the advice. There were a lot of questions about how to get published, editing, choosing your title and cover, and what rights you do and don’t get when you sign a contract with a publisher. It was awesome and discouraging at the same time to hear that some of them had been writing for years (and had written several books) before any author was interested in their books. Another thing I loved about this panel was that the moderator only asked a few questions before turning it over to audience questions. There were a lot of good questions asked, and I felt like I got to know the authors on a personal level in a way. I wanted to buy all of their books (I know I said that for all the other panels too, but it’s true). I didn’t buy any books from this panel, but Bre bought The Infinite Moment of Us by Lauren Myracle, which I also wanted to buy, so I’ll be borrowing that in the near future. I was also in the second row, right in front of Sarah Dessen and Lauren Myracle. Eek!
The closing speaker was Holly Black, and I just loved her. She had blue hair. You can’t help but love someone who has blue hair. She talked a lot about her past and her inspirations and how she made her Barbies into vampires. Yeah, vampires.
The last part of the festival was book signing! I was super pumped. I was fangirling hard core in every single line. We went to see Jenny Han and Siobhan Vivian first. THEY REMEMBERED ME FROM TWITTER! I was freaking out. Siobhan had retweeted me when I posted my blog about the Burn For Burn book review. And I tweeted during the festival about the two of them, and Jenny favorited it.
Bre got Lauren Myracle to sign her book. When I first saw Lauren, I thought she looked like the aunt from Raise Your Voice. I still do.
I was very excited to meet Bill Konigsberg. He asked me if I wanted him to write something funny, something inspirational, etc. I said to write something funny.
The last author we met was Leila Sales. She was just the sweetest and the cutest. Loved her. I’m so excited to read her book.
ATBF was so much fun! I felt really nerdy telling all of my friends that I was going to it, but who cares? I had an amazing time, and I feel so inspired to write after the whole thing. If there are authors I like next year, I may go to it again. Who knows? Oh, and I got a lot of social media love.