I Read YA Week Interview with Melissa Landers!

I am so insanely excited to bring you the second interview with an excellent YA author, information pills Melissa Landers! She is one of my favorite authors and a huge influence on my own writing. I am so pleased and honored to have her here on What A Nerd Girl Says and I’m ready to jump right in so let’s do this!

ABOUT MELISSA LANDERS

Melissa Landers is a former teacher who left the classroom to pursue other worlds. A proud sci-fi geek, price she isn’t afraid to wear her Princess Leia costume in public—just ask her husband and three kids. She lives just outside Cincinnati in the town of Loveland, “Sweetheart of Ohio”.

You Can Find Her:

Her Website / Her Twitter / Her Facebook / Her GoodReads / Her Instagram

HER BOOK

Add Melissa’s fantastic sci-fi novel on GoodReads and buy a copy at your local bookstore or on Amazon, Barnes and Noble or Book Depository!

Life in the outer realm is a lawless, dirty, hard existence, and Solara Brooks is hungry for it. Just out of the orphanage, she needs a fresh start in a place where nobody cares about the engine grease beneath her fingernails or the felony tattoos across her knuckles. She’s so desperate to reach the realm that she’s willing to indenture herself to Doran Spaulding, the rich and popular quarterback who made her life miserable all through high school, in exchange for passage aboard the spaceliner Zenith.

When a twist of fate lands them instead on the Banshee, a vessel of dubious repute, Doran learns he’s been framed on Earth for conspiracy. As he pursues a set of mysterious coordinates rumored to hold the key to clearing his name, he and Solara must get past their enmity to work together and evade those out for their arrest. Life on the Banshee may be tumultuous, but as Solara and Doran are forced to question everything they once believed about their world—and each other—the ship becomes home, and the eccentric crew family. But what Solara and Doran discover on the mysterious Planet X has the power to not only alter their lives, but the existence of everyone in the universe…

HER INTERVIEW

Nerd Girl: Why do you write YA?

Melissa: Quite simply: because I want to. There’s so much to enjoy as a YA author: a supportive writing community, enthusiastic fans, limitless story possibilities. I’m having a lot of fun writing for this market. Maybe that’s a selfish reason, but it’s true. :)

Nerd Girl: What are some of your own favorite YA reads?

Melissa: For me, nothing tops Harry Potter. The series started as middle grade and transitioned to YA in a smooth, seamless way that mirrored Harry’s growth. I enjoyed these books so much, and now I’m reading them to my children. It’s great to share that love of the series with them.

Nerd Girl: Describe your latest work in five words or less.

Melissa: Let’s battle an intergalactic mafia!

Nerd Girl: What advice would you give aspiring science fiction authors, especially those who want to dive into space/alien stories like yours?

Melissa: Don’t be afraid to get WEIRD. In this genre, weird is good! I’ll bet Frank Herbert’s friends gave him the side-eye when he said, “I have a story idea about a desert planet where giant sandworms poop out an addictive drug called spice!” But look how that turned out. Dune is (IMO) the gold standard for science fiction.

Nerd Girl: Both the Alienated series and Starflight do such a wonderful job of balancing a science fiction story and fun and awesome romance. How do you balance the two of them when writing?

Melissa: Thank you! Over time, I’ve learned to become more aware of that balance. My natural inclination is to veer toward romance, (I love making characters fall in love!), so I have to remind myself during the plotting stage not to let the romance take over. It helps to have an experienced editor in my corner. She’s good at pointing out imbalances. In fact…she just sent me an edit letter for Starfall, so I’m going to say “goodbye” and get to work. :)

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Thank you, again, Melissa, for joining us! We were so happy to host you during I Read YA week! I can’t wait for United this summer! EEK!

And you guys, don’t forget to head to my instagram, to enter my I Read YA Week giveaway! It runs until May 8th and includes two contemporary YA ARCs and a ton of signed swag!

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I Read YA Week Interview with BT Gottfred!

Happy Friday everyone! The best day of the week in my opinion and today is no exception since I’m bring you not one, more about not two, viagra dosage but THREE awesome interviews with three equally awesome YA authors. Lets jump into the first one, with one of my absolutely favorite people ever, Brad Gottfred :)

ABOUT BT GOTTFRED

Taken from Brad’s website: Wrote and directed the play, “Women Are Crazy Because Men Are A**holes” that has played over four years in Los Angeles and Chicago and just made its Off Broadway premiere at the historic Cherry Lane Theatre. Los Angeles Times said: “Seldom have I been a part of a more enthusiastic and vocal audience. Brad T Gottfred’s play about young couples stumbling through the minefield of codependency taps a universal nerve.”

Wrote, directed, and executive produced the feature film “The Movie Hero” which played at over 20 film festivals worldwide, winning numerous awards including First Prize at the Rhode Island Film Festival and the Audience Award at the Austin Film Festival.

My first play, “Marry, F**K, Or Kill” was called “a guilty pleasure for veterans of the single life” by the Los Angeles Times. It went on to an Off Broadway premiere in the fall of 2011.

First web series “Sex and Love Conspire to Destroy the World” was released by MyDamnChannel in 2013.

My first-ish novel, “Forever for a Year”, was released in July 2015 by Macmillan/Holt. My second-isa novel, “The Nerdy and The Dirty” arrives November 2016 from Mac/Holt.

You Can Find Him:

His Website / His Twitter / His Facebook / His GoodReads / His Instagram

HIS BOOK

This book comes out in November 2016. I just started reading it and I already totally love it! Add it on GoodReads and preorder it on Amazon and Barnes and Noble

Pen Lupo is sick and tired of hiding who she is. On the outside, Pen is popular, quiet, and deferential to her boyfriend. On the inside, however, Pen is honest, opinionated–and not quite sure that she’s like other girls. Do they have urges like she does?

His classmates may consider him a nerd, but Benedict Pendleton knows he’s destined for great things. All he has to do is find a worthy girlfriend, and his social station will be secured. Sure, Benedict is different–but that’s what he likes about himself.

When fate intervenes, both Pen and Benedict end up at the same vacation resort for winter break. Despite their differences, the two are drawn together. But is there such a thing as happily ever after for a nympho and a nerd?

THE INTERVIEW

Nerd Girl: Why do you write YA?

Brad: Because the not-really-a-secret of the universe is that no matter how old you get, you’re always a ‘young adult’ inside and so this allows me to express all my crazy emotions while not-so-secretly-hiding them in the lives of teenagers.
Nerd Girl: What are some of your own favorite YA reads?
Brad: I fall in love with strong voices, ones so vibrant that you can feel them thinking inside your own brain. ‘Catcher in the Rye’ is the parent of all such books. Sherman Alexie’s ‘Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian’ was a recent favorite.
Nerd Girl: What do you think is a big misconception about YA and why do you think its wrong?
Brad: That all the books are the same. The variety is just as wide and interesting as work for ‘adults’. (Note the quotes are the word ‘adult’ ;)
Nerd Girl: Why do you think its important to have a “I Read YA” week?
Brad: All of us ‘adults’ will be forever dealing with issues that first rose in childhood so it’s vital everyone encourages everyone else that they should be proud they are exploring these issues through YA.
Nerd Girl: Describe your latest work in five words or less.
Brad: Brainy boy, fiery girl: collision
Nerd Girl: You have worked in both theatre and fiction. How do you tackle each one? What are some similarities/differences?
Brad: Both require me to be relentless in my pursuit of honoring the authenticity of the characters. In fiction, I get to explore their inner life a thousand fold while in theatre I have to reveal character through their interactions with others.
Nerd Girl: Do your kids have any influences over the stories that you create/do you think they will influence you in the future?
Brad: Much of what draws me to stories are wanting one-of-a-kind characters to have a voice and a place in the world. And I hope my kids feel empowered to be their own kind of one-of-a-kind ;)

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Thank you again Brad for lending yourself to What A Nerd Girl Says to celebrate I Read YA Week! You are awesome and I can’t wait to get my hands on a finished copy of The Nerdy and the Dirty!

Don’t forget everyone, head to my instagram to enter my I Read YA Week giveaway, which includes two YA contemporary ARCs and a TON of signed swag!

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I Read YA Week Interview with Jennifer Wilson!

Yay! Another fantastic interview with another equally fantastic YA author. Today is yet another of my amazing OfTomes siblings, buy Jennifer Wilson. Jennifer’s book, sales New World: Rising, came out just after mine did and its absolutely FANTASTIC! I’m so happy to have her here today on What A Nerd Girl Says!

ABOUT JENNIFER WILSON 

As a child Jennifer loved getting lost in the stories of others, but struggled greatly with reading. A notoriously slow reader who stumbled with words and spelling, Jennifer shied away from books, leaning heavily on musical theater and movies to get her inspirational fix.

It was not until in her mid-teens, when a persistent friend convinced her to read the Harry Potter series, that Jennifer found her love for the written word. J.K. Rowling’s books opened doors not only to the fascinating world of a young wizard, but to a life filled with a multitude of literary friends and fantastical worlds. Once a timid reader, Jennifer now devours books and loves getting lost in a new series.

When Jennifer is not writing, she is enjoying life in Colorado, rock climbing, camping, exploring new foods, playing with her golden retriever, Duke, and sharing her life with her wonderfully supportive husband.

You Can Find Her:

Her Website / Her Twitter / Her Facebook / Her GoodReads / Her Instagram

HER BOOK 

Add Jennifer’s epic dystopian novel on GoodReads and purchase it in ebook or paperback format on Amazon

Since witnessing her parents’ murders at the age of eleven, Phoenix’s only purpose in life has been to uphold her mother’s dying words- to be strong and survive. But surviving outside of The Walls- outside of The Sanctuary- is more like a drawn-out death sentence. A cruel and ruthless city, Tartarus is run by the Tribes whose motto is simple, “Join or die.”

Refusing to join and determined to live, Phoenix fights to survive in this savage world. But who can she trust, when no one can be trusted? Not even herself.

HER INTERVIEW

Nerd Girl: Why do you write YA?

Jennifer: YA is my absolute favorite genre both to read and to write. It has infinite possibilities and has more sub-generes than most writers could ever dream about. YA is generally also packed full of emotions and desires that a reader of any age can relate. The YA perspective tends to focus on pivotal points in both the readers’ and the characters’ lives when they are truly figuring out who they are and who they want to be. I find so many of these books both inspired and inspiring. I only hope my books are perceived the same way.

Nerd Girl: What are some of your own favorite YA reads?

Jennifer: I recently devoured The Lunar Chronicles like a maniac and of course adore anything Harry Potter. Some of my other favorite YA reads include: the Legend series by Marie Lu, The Darkest Minds series by Alexandra Bracken, The Fault in Our Stars by John Green, and The Mortal Instruments series by Cassandra Clare. I have also fallen in love with Victoria Aveyard’s Red Queen series and have been reading all of my Oftomes siblings’ books like a crazed book nerd—there is so much talent there!

Nerd Girl: What do you think is a big misconception about YA and why do you think its wrong?

Jennifer: That it is only for Young Adults. YA is for every age! For a long time a lot of my friends were embarrassed to admit they loved YA, but the truth is a large majority of YA readers are well over the age of 25.

Nerd Girl: Why do you think its important to have a “I Read YA” week?

Jennifer: There are way too many closet YA readers out there. It is time to admit you love YA and be proud! You might be surprised that most of your friends do too.

Nerd Girl: Describe your latest work in five words or less. 

Jennifer: Death—closer than you think. (You will find out more about this work soon! Stay tuned to Oftomes!)

Nerd Girl: You have been self published before and now are officially published through OfTomes; what has been your experience with both?

Jennifer: Having done both—self-publishing first and now being published under Oftomes—I can honestly say there can be benefits and downfalls to both. I am very lucky that I happen to click really well with the Oftomes team and couldn’t be happier under their name. But I do know not every published author is happy with his/her publishing agency. Finding the right publisher for you is extremely important, as you are essentially trusting them with your baby. I have learned so much about the literary world as a self-published author and adored getting to know my fans on such a personal level, but now that I am with Oftomes, I also get to focus more on writing which is that part I love most. Honestly there is no right or wrong when it comes to how you publish, it just needs to be what suits you best. Here’s the most basic break down I can give you:

Self-Publishing Pros:

  • Your profit is not cut to pay an agent or publisher, so you earn more money from each individual sale
  • You have total freedom with what you write, your timelines and graphics
  • You get to know your fans on a more personal level
  • You have more control over your book
  • Your book will definitely be published, trends be dammed

Self-Publishing Cons:

  • You have to front all of the money for things like review copies, editing, cover design, ISBN numbers and advertising
  • You have to handle all of the marketing
  • It is harder to get your name out there
  • Sales are generally lower than that of a professionally published book
  • You must wear many hats other than just a writer— you must be your own marketing director, agent, publisher and editor.
  • Spelling errors are more common

Nerd Girl: Talk to us about your trilogy; where did the idea for it come, where did you get the inspiration?

Jennifer: I have always had a bit of an overactive imagination. My mind tends to wander and being a very visual person, I generally get these flashes of scenes­—a girl on a rooftop, an action-packed fight sequence or an impassioned kiss.  From there, my mind melds around these moments and a basic plot begins to develop. As the plot matures, so do my characters.

         New World: Rising was born out of an epiphany moment for Phoenix. I could see this girl racing on rooftops, hiding in the shadows, being kind of a badass. The opening scene in the first book is the moment Phoenix was born in my mind, a dark shadowed figure standing on the ledge of a building as her hair whipped around her face in the wind, the city below her in ruin. The world just spiraled out from there, shaping around her.  I wanted to write about a girl who could take care of herself, who was just as tough as the boys and preferred to rescue herself rather than be recused. But of course she is not without her flaws. It was important to me that she—and all of the other characters—were still human, relatable and made mistakes.

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Thank you so so so much Jennifer for joining us on What A Nerd Girl Says! We are all dying for the sequel to New World: Rising and can’t wait to hear what else you’re working on!

Don’t forget, everyone, head to my instagram to find out how to enter my super epic giveaway, including two YA contemporary ARCs and a TON of signed swag!

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I Read YA Week Interview with E. Katherine Kottaras!

Welcome everyone to the SECOND author awesomeness today on I Read YA Week here on What A Nerd Girl Says! I am having such a blast this week with all the amazing authors that have been guests here on my blog and I’m so ready to share another fantastic one with you, this so let’s do this!

Don’t forget, this when you head down to the end of this interview, there’s a giveaway! Yay!

ABOUT E. KATHERINE KOTTARAS

E. Katherine Kottaras is originally from Chicago, but now she writes and teaches in the Los Angeles area. She holds an M.A. in English from the University of California, Irvine and teaches writing and literature at Pasadena City College. She is interested in the stories we tell, the stories we are given, and the ways we can redefine our worlds by discovering which stories are true.

She is the author of the YA contemporary novel, HOW TO BE BRAVE (2015) and the forthcoming THE BEST POSSIBLE ANSWER (2016), both from St. Martin’s Press/Griffin Teen.

You Can Find Her:

Her Website / Her Twitter / Her Facebook / Her GoodReads / Her Instagram

HER BOOK

Add Katherine’s incredible debut novel on GoodReads, and pick up a copy at your local bookstore or on Amazon, Barnes and Noble or Book Depository

Reeling from her mother’s death, Georgia has a choice: become lost in her own pain, or enjoy life right now, while she still can. She decides to start really living for the first time and makes a list of fifteen ways to be brave – all the things she’s wanted to do but never had the courage to try. As she begins doing the things she’s always been afraid to do – including pursuing her secret crush, she discovers that life doesn’t always go according to plan. Sometimes friendships fall apart and love breaks your heart. But once in a while, the right person shows up just when you need them most – and you learn that you’re stronger and braver than you ever imagined.

HER INTERVIEW

Nerd Girl: Why do you write YA?

Katherine: First, I write YA because I read YA. I started reading YA literature when I taught high school. My students were the ones who introduced me to the body of literature that I have since fallen in love with.

I also write YA because I love exploring moments of intense change. I write for teens, but I understand why adult readers (like me) enjoy reading YA – because life is change – and conflict and discovery and joy. Even as I’ve become older, I recognize when I am in a new situation, whether it be at work or at home, in times of joy or crisis, when my emotions are flooded and I am trying to figure out how to be in the world. I love YA literature because so much of it explores the intensity of life, something I’ll never want to give up, both as a reader and as a human being.

Nerd Girl: What are some of your own favorite YA reads?

Katherine: Ball Don’t Lie, Matt de la Pena; Two Boys Kissing by David Levithan; Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson; Boxers & Saints by Gene Luen Yang; anything and everything by E. Lockhart; 

Nerd Girl: What do you think is a big misconception about YA and why do you think it’s wrong?

Katherine: The most common misconception I’ve heard, both in the media and when talking to people, is they think that YA is light, fluffy, and shallow, in other words the opposite of “literary.” More likely than not, those critics have not actually read many (or often any) young adult books. I teach a college course on Children’s Literature, and I’ve had many students over the years express surprise at how soulful the young adult books are, how they didn’t expect to cry, how they didn’t expect to feel the pain of the characters so intensely.

I also think that culturally, we devalue the experience of being a teenager, so anything associated with teens must be bad. Of course, this is the most ridiculous misconception because as we YA readers and writers know, teens are the most resilient, hopeful, open-hearted, and courageous humans on this planet. Their experiences deserve to be validated and celebrated.

Nerd Girl: Why do you think it’s important to have an “I Read YA” week?

Katherine: I’m all in favor of any event that celebrates the specific contributions of YA writers to the world!

Nerd Girl: Describe your latest work in five words or less. 

Katherine: THE BEST POSSIBLE ANSWER=

SAY ANYTHING meets ADVENTURELAND, kinda.

(I think I cheated with that last word.)

Nerd Girl: You get the call that HOW TO BE BRAVE is going to be published: how did you celebrate?

Katherine: Well, I was parked in the middle of an empty parking lot waiting for the second-hand store to open, so my immediate reaction was to jump out of the car and scream and flail and dance. Then, I called my husband and my best friends so I could scream and flail some more. Later, we celebrated together with a Turtle Pie from Baskin-Robbins because it’s my favorite.

Nerd Girl: Have you had a moment yet where you thought “Yes, I am a writer/author now” and if so, what was it?

Katherine: Yes, when the first reader who I’d never met before wrote me to let me know how much HOW TO BE BRAVE meant to her, how it made her cry, and changed her life. I’ve had many similar responses since, and each time, I am humbled at the reality that I get to write for others.

Thank you for having me!

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Thank you for joining us! We loved having you! Make sure you all grab a copy of How to Be Brave!

And make sure to head to my instagram in order to enter my exclusive giveaway with two YA ARCs and a TON of signed swag from authors such as Marie Lu, Shannon Messenger, Jessica Brody, Sabaa Tahir and more!

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I Read YA Week Guest Post by Hilary Thompson!

I know I keep saying this, this but I am really excited to bring you yet another amazing author for I Read YA Week on What A Nerd Girl Says! I have another OfTomes sibling with me today, the fantastic Hilary Thompson! She is new to the crew so I’m just as stoked to learn all about her as you are! Plus she wrote a fantastic guest post about YA AND there’s a giveaway at the bottom of this post.

It really doesn’t get any better than this. Lets jump in!

ABOUT HILARY THOMPSON 

Taken from Hilary’s website: 

I’m Hilary, and I used to be such a practical girl. Then I let the stories out.

Now I create worlds, people, and problems that are grounded in real life, if you accept that real life has magic around every turn.

I was born to parents who made a habit of taking roads less traveled. But I was also a first child, and an independent, willful child, so I’ve made a habit of taking a few roads on my own.

Now I teach Creative Writing, English, and AP Literature, write whenever and wherever I can, and read as much as my eyes can handle. I play superheroes and dress up games and read books in bed with my own independent, willful children and play at homesteading and world traveling with my wonderful soulmate of a husband. I tend to ignore laundry and dirty dishes.

You Can Find Her:

Her Website / Her Twitter / Her Facebook / Her GoodReads / Her Instagram

HER BOOK

I’m actually going to skip this section. I know, I know, I’ve been talking ALL about it on the other authors. The only reason I’m skipping it is…okay there’s two reasons. One, Hilary has been self-published before, which I admire so much. Not an easy road to take AT ALL. And two, those books are going to be revamped and republished under the OfTomes header. I am so insanely excited about this and I’m going to give all the honors and hype to OfTomes for all that. But in the meantime, all of her links are above and I encourage you all to check it out and enjoy :)

HER GUEST POST

HOPE

To be honest, I went about everything backward. In high school, I obsessed over Shakespeare, lost myself in Voltaire, was entranced with Plath. And this doesn’t even touch the school-assigned lists. My guilty pleasures were musty copies of Pynchon and O’Connor and Kerouac I found in odd used-book sales. Eclectic, yes, but always solidly in the realm of Literature, capital L.

College was no better – an English major’s nightstand is covered in esoteric essayists and Important Works. I plowed through Milton, Shaw, Chopin, Hemingway, Rushdie, Dostoyevsky, and so many more.

I loved them with all my heart, but none of them broke my heart.

Each of these writers twisted my mind and forced me to question my mortal morality, but none of them wrung a tear from my soul.

For a long time, I was afraid I just wasn’t getting it. Oh, I could hold my own in literary discussions and write the crap out of a thematic essay. But as much as I loved these stories, I felt like there just had to be more out there. Surely the book life wasn’t always so…serious.

Enter YA. I was in my late twenties and tired of reading – I had no idea what to do. So one day I wandered into the teen section at the library and picked up a few random pretty covers.

And there wasn’t any wow moment – not yet. At first, I was reading Meyer and Collins and Roth. Solid stories, but predictable. Not even close to the poetic language I’d been used to. But there was something in those stories that sent me hunting for more.

On to Laini Taylor, Leigh Bardugo, Maggie Stiefvater, and of course J.K. Rowling. These stories were more layered, the language often more intense. And that something was still there.

Now, many years later, I can identify it. Over here in the “teen” section we don’t worry about Literature, capital L, and that’s a good thing. Over here, we have something better – hope. Hope that evil will somehow be defeated by good; hope that humanity isn’t quite as broken as we think; hope that whatever failings our relationships have now, they can get better.

There is hope that despair is fleeting.

And this, my friends, is what high schoolers should be reading. Perhaps everyone, really. Because despair finds everyone and makes its way into every story mankind tells. But not all stories find their way out of that pit, and not all people can, either.

I read YA because I want to believe in possibilities.

Not always happy endings for everyone, mind you. And plenty of characters will die. (Roth, I’m looking at you.) But just like a young person with their whole life before them, YA offers a promise.

I read YA because I have promised myself that I am not broken. I have hope that no matter what despair is lurking in my life, I will be strong enough. I will find the perfect weapon. And I will have a true companion to back me up when I need them most.

So come on over to our section. Don’t worry about the capital letters. We have something better than the prestige of brokenness. We have the grit to fix it.

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Thank you SO much, Hilary, for being a part of I Read YA Week and welcome so much to the OfTomes family. We are so glad to have you!

Don’t forget everyone! Tune in all week to make sure you don’t miss one moment of all the interviews and guest posts happening here on What A Nerd Girl Says!

And also head to my instagram to enter my giveaway where you can get your hands on two YA ARCs AND a ton of signed swag from authors such as Marie Lu, Jenny Han, Morgan Matson and more!

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Event Recap: YALLWEST 2016!

This past weekend was the second annual YallWest weekend. YallWest is a weekend all about young adult books. There are dozens of authors who do panels and signings, drug and free books and sing-a-longs and all sorts of things.

I had an absolutely blast! I was able to meet a ton of authors, this web some that I’ve already met in the past but was excited to see again, more about and some new ones. I got my hands on some new books and some incredible swag and hung out with my awesome friends. Hands down, it was an incredible weekend. I had such a blast. I can’t wait for next year.

What I think makes YALLWest so great is that its an event all about YA, which is my passion in reading and writing, and its organized by those who are just as passionate about it…YA authors and booksellers and bloggers and librarians and all of that and it all adds up to an incredible event. The YA community is amazing and I’m always so glad to be a part of it and I’m definitely reminded of that every single time I’m there. I hope very very much to make the transition from reader/blogger to author next year and we’ll see both The Awakened and The Sanctuary in hands of readers.

I’m exhausted but I have so many pictures to share so let’s do that! Because the pictures are the best way to share my weekend!

DAY ONE

Day one was intense! It was hot and I sprained my ankle last week and I was ready for a crazy day. But even with the running around like a crazy person for most of the day…I got all the authors I wanted to meet and got my hands on a lot of swag and ARCs and it was awesome. I missed some opportunities with some ARCs but it was no big loss :) I figure my TBR pile is so large it doesn’t need to be any larger!

I loved that this year’s setup was much different than last year’s! Last year, all the signings were in a super awkward area and there wasn’t a whole lot of room. I loved that the signing area was much larger this year and there was a sort of…staging area for future signings. It made more sense and was way more organized and it made things go by much quicker and cleaner than the year before. I did especially like that some authors were wristbanded. The authors didn’t seem to be as rushed and I was able to chat and take pictures with everyone that I met that day.

I also liked that there seemed to be more booths this year…or that it just maybe seemed that way because of how spread out it was. There were a lot of vendors to visit and swag to grab and it was a ton of fun. I loved everyone that was there and I hope they all return next year. I was also super glad to see that Mysterious Galaxy had been the book vendor this year; I adore them and think they did an amazing job with book sales.

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I was so excited to meet debut author, Evelyn Skye, whose debut novel, The Crown Game, comes out this May. It sounds absolutely amazing and she was SUCH a doll. We talked about how surreal the reality is of being debut authors, and she was just so cool. I’m glad to add her book to my pile!

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Always an absolute wonderful time to see one of my absolute FAVORITE authors, Rainbow Rowell. Her novel, Fangirl, is easily in my top five favorite books and she remembered me from Festival of Books a couple years ago!

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Jay Kristoff and Amie Kaufman were so totally awesome! I am sad to say that I have yet to read Illuminae yet but I’ve heard nothing but good things AND I got my hands on the sequel so I can’t wait to read it. Plus we took a pretty epic selfie so there you go.

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It was totally wonderful to see Richelle Mead again! Somehow, between meeting her at YALLWest last year and RT last year, I’d not gotten my copy of The Fiery Heart signed! But now I do so my vampire set is complete ;)

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Oh you know, just Veronica Roth, walking by casually, looking fabulous as always. I kept considering getting a wristband to meet her but…I have all her books signed and have met her several times so I left those wristbands to those who haven’t!

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Me with author Adam Silvera, who wrote More Happy Than Not, which was so fantastic. He was such a blast to meet, and I’m not saying that just because he indulged my total Hamilton obsession!

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Libba Bray! I adore her so much and even though I already have all her books signed, I definitely needed her to sign my copy of The Awakened, since I’m having all the authors that have been an influence for me sign it. She was so sweet and congratulated me. Such an awesome lady.

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So excited that I finally got to meet Alexandra Bracken! I feel so bad that I have never read her The Darkest Minds trilogy but after devouring Passenger this past winter, I needed to meet her. That book is just so so so good!

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Me and the totally darling Marie Rutkowski, who wrote The Winner’s Curse. I loved the first book and I can’t wait to eventually hopefully finally read the rest of the trilogy!

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So while I was waiting in line to grab an ARC from Epic Reads, my friend Carmen showed me that she got her hands on Shadowhunter tarot cards and I knew I NEEDED them. I went to the booth and after, maybe, possibly, flashing my two Shadowhunters tattoos, I managed to get my hands on them. It was my big score of the weekend; they’re absolutely gorgeous!

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It was amazing to be able to take my own book to YALLWest! I had several people come up to me and talk to me and I signed some books and bookmarks and got to talk about my book and it was fantastic. I can’t wait to hopefully share more of The Awakened world next year!

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Hanging out with my sisters all weekend at YALLWest was easily one of the best parts. My sister Jessica (right) has been a book reader like me for quite some time but my sister Dink (left) hasn’t and so it was great to bring her along and see her meet the handful of authors that she does love!

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From left to right: my sister, Jessica, my sister, Dink, me, and my friends Jade and Logan. The weekend would not have been nearly as fun as it was without them, and my friends Nicole, Erin and Mina as well!

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I got to go up on stage during the Smackdown and play Hollywood Squares with some pretty cool authors and I won! So that was super fun :)

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Last but certainly not least of day one at YALLWest, was Libba Bray’s band Tiger Beat playing some songs. My favorite was their incredible “Purple Rain” cover and the Time Warp with all the authors at the end!

DAY TWO 

Day two was so much more relaxed than day two, but in a good way. I had already gotten most authors the day before and I only needed a handful for day two. I spent most of the day wandering around and getting my hands on ARCs and swag and all that :)

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Up and ready to go for day two of YALLWest! I’m rocking a Doctor Who and Harold and the Purple Crayon crossover shirt by Karen Hallion and feeling good about that day.

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Tahereh Mafi looking fabulous as always. She’s another author that I’ve met many many many times and so I didn’t feel bad skipping her, and I’m glad my spot could be taken by someone that perhaps has never met her before. But seriously, those outfits are always SO on point!

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Holly Black is just one of the coolest authors and people I know. I was so glad to get her signature in my copy of The Awakened and to talk books and being published. Such an awesome awesome author.

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I was so glad that I finally got to meet my dear friend Kevin, who I have known on instagram for quite a few years now. Its so nice to meet your internet friends in real life; its one of the best parts about coming to events like this. Hanging out with book friends, meeting internet friends in real life and making new friends!

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This was the moment that I decided that Sara Raasch and I would be best friends forever. Not only do we spell our first names the same way, but we also have the same middle name! We bonded hardcore over this and I’ve now decided we are besties.

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Me and the epic Sara Raasch. I’m so glad to share a first and middle name with such an awesome author.

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It was so awesome to finally meet my dear friend Valerie Tejeda, the author of Hollywood Witch Hunter. She has been such an inspiration and friend and mentor the past couple of years and it was amazing to finally meet her in person!


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YALLWest tradition: a mac and cheese grilled cheese with tots from Grilled Cheese truck. Yum!

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It was so awesome to see David Peterson again! I met him a few years ago with my friend Erin (who is friends with him) at Leigh Bardugo’s release party for Siege and Storm. David is a linguist and literally comes up with languages for TV shows like Game of Thrones and Defiance and The 100. So. Freakin. Cool.


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My haul for the entire weekend. All but about five books were mine but everything else was given to me FREE this weekend, all the swag and posters and tote bags and ARCs and all of it. It was such an epic weekend and I love every single thing in this picture!

I love YALLWest and I loved it this year just as much as last year. I love the new things they brought in this year and I love the small changes they made, with the signing lines, the book vendor and the other vendors there. It made all the difference. I also super loved that both days were in the same location; that was SO much easier than two different ones last year.

All in all, another great year. I’m already counting down the days until next year!