Event Recap: Ontario Teen Book Fest 2016!

Hello everyone! This past Saturday was the sixth annual Ontario Teen Book Fest and my fourth year in a row attending. I say every single year that it is my favorite event of the year to attend, patient and I completely mean that. When I first discovered this fest back in 2013, I was chasing down Jessica Brody, Stephen Chbosky and Marie Lu. I was a brand new blogger, still sort of getting my experience with it, and I bravely asked my dear friend Courtney, librarian extraordinaire and brain child of TBF, if I could come and interview the authors attending.

The rest is sort of history. That fest completely changed my life! I met authors like Andrew Smith and Leigh Bardugo and Gretchen McNeil and made connections, and sort of bonded myself to this event. I’d like to think I’m a part of the team, like the rest. Check out my recaps from 2013, 2014, and 2015.

But this year was something bigger, and different. Last year, Courtney asked me if I could come back and be a moderator for a couple panels, and I accepted immediately. At the time, I had no idea that I would be published by this point, that The Awakened would be a real and tangible thing! So not only did I attend this event as Sara, the official TBF blogger, but also as Sara, the moderator, and Sara Elizabeth Santana, the author of The Awakened.

Which made it an entirely new but amazing experience for me.

I showed up early for the event, as per usual, ready for a very busy day. I’ve been attending the author breakfast portion of the event every single year that I’ve attended, but this year definitely felt different. I wasn’t just the blogger anymore, I had made it, I was an author, and I definitely felt that. And let me tell you something, guys, it felt AMAZING. These authors have become friends to me over the years and it felt so good to have Andrew and Jessica and Brad and Michelle coming up to me, hugging me, saying hello, congratulating me on the release of The Awakened. And it felt good, as always, to make new friends, and be treated as a colleague with the authors I wasn’t as familiar with.

I even got my own special guide for the day, and she was SUCH a rock star.

I was able to talk SO much about The Awakened, and I loved every minute of it. The Awakened has been sort of the center of my life the past 2 1/2 years, so its sort of like my baby and I love bragging about her. I thought it was SO awesome that Courtney gave the moderators (myself, Robin Reul, and E. Katherine Kottaras) the opportunity to stand up in front of everyone, during the opening keynotes, and talk about our books.

I was SO incredibly nervous getting up in front of everyone to talk about my book, and I hadn’t really prepared anything because I figured I would just wing it, but it went really well! I felt so supported up stage, after Courtney introduced me, saying she was proud of me, and gave me a big hug. AND I got a fair amount of cheers, both from the audience and the authors in the front row. I made a few people laugh too, which always is a good thing, right?

So much sass in one picture. Thanks Kathy Kottaras for the picture haha.

After that were the keynote speakers: Jay Asher, Marissa Meyer and Andrew Smith, all who had SUCH great speeches, made us laugh and made us think. Seriously, jus tbeing in the same room as them, felt so so so cool.

After that, was my first panel. The first panel ever that I’d be moderating. OH, I was so nervous. I have never moderated a panel before and I am not the biggest fan of public speaking, but I was excited and hopeful that it would go super well. My first panel was all about sci-fi and fantasy books and the world building that went into it, and it included Andrew Smith, Stephanie Diaz, Nicole Maggi and Mary Weber.

And it went really well! I think. I hope. The authors were all super supportive and encouraging and had such great answers, and it was awesome discussing all of the fun of world building with them, and people in the audience were SO engaged and asked great questions and I felt SO much more confident after this panel.

After this, we had our lunch break, and you know, when authors get together and eat Panera, silly stuff tends to happen…

Love these guys haha.

After lunch was the Author Speed Dating. After Courtney introduced it a couple years ago, its become my favorite part of the fest. It gives everyone a chance to mingle with an author for five minutes…and you really get the chance to mingle with most of them! This year I was one of the table hopping authors and let me tell you: it is both incredibly fun and incredibly intense. I thought I would lose my voice by the end of it! But it was also so much to be able to talk to so many readers and answer their questions about The Awakened and about writing and all of that. I handed out about a million bookmarks and I think some of them really were excited about my book!

Then came my second panel. I honestly thought I was going to be more nervous for this one because Marissa Meyer was on the panel and she wrote the Lunar Chronicles, which I LOVE, but it was just so much fun. The panel was all about writing series, and myself, Jessica Brody, Marissa Meyer, Stephanie Diaz and Nicole Maggi, talked and laughed and our room was full to the max and it was SO great. I really enjoyed it and several people came up to me to tell me that it had went well and I did a good job!

Eek, they’re all looking at me!

Lastly, there was the signing for the day. I was so lucky to be able to attend the signing as an AUTHOR this year. I intended to have WAY more books available but due to shipping issues (isn’t that the way…), I only had SIX books available for sale and they went SO SO fast. According to all the awesome people at Once Upon A Time, people kept coming up and asking for The Awakened and I really have to credit being able to talk about it during the opening stuff, and during speed dating for that happening. I felt so so bad that I didn’t have any books for anyone but I ran out of bookmarks, signed books for some people, and talked to a TON of other people about my book and it was SO awesome. It felt surreal and bizarre and WONDERFUL.

Even better…I walked into the room, and was looking for my table. Each table had two authors, and when I spotted mine, I was so surprised and slightly intimidated by the fact that I was at the same table as my idol, Andrew Smith. We are good friends, so it was awesome, but I really felt like I made it, sandwiched in between Andrew and Jay Asher!

I seriously love everything about this picture. Not just that we all look like we’re having a great time, but also that I am a part of it.

Afterwards, I enjoyed dinner and drinks with some of the authors and volunteers and it was a perfect end to such a great day.

Me and my awesome friend Mina

With my awesome friend Krystal, who was also a beta for The Awakened!

With the awesome, Kathy Kottaras

The lovely Marissa Meyer

The super awesome Nicole Maggi, who I’m so stoked to have as a new friend!

Two of my favorite people in the entire world: Jessica Brody and Brad Gottfred. Two incredibly awesome people, and two big supporters of mine. LOVE them both so much.

At the end of the day, it was another amazing TBF. I loved being there, surrounded by people as passionate about reading and writing as I am. I loved being a moderator for the first time, and being able to do so with old friends and new friends. And I loved being able to talk to people about my book. I’m so proud of it, and it felt good to have people talk about it and wanting to buy it and asking me about it and telling me that it sounded so good. Things like that will literally keep me happy for days on end.

Thank you to everyone who makes this such a great event…all the authors and volunteers and Once Upon a Time and all the bloggers that helped on the tour…everyone for making this another great year. This still remains my favorite event of the year and I already can’t wait for next year!

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April California Young Adult and Middle Grade Book Events!

Some of you may have noticed that I no longer do Book Events Listings for the entire country. I used to but it just honestly got to be way too much work for me. I know it was really cool for you guys but it really was a ton of work. If any of you need help on finding book events in your area, visit web I will be more than happy to help, erectile but for now, physician I will be sticking with California (mostly Southern) events!

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April 8th: 

Elizabeth Wein

Kepler’s Bookstore

Menlo Park, CA

7 pm

We are ridiculously excited to be hosting Elizabeth Wein for her new book, Black Dove, White Raven.

As poignant as her award-winning and bestselling CODE NAME VERITY, and as complex as ROSE UNDER FIRE, Elizabeth Wein’s new novel BLACK DOVE, WHITE RAVEN presents a captivating and deeply affecting story that explores race, family, the bonds of friendship, the resilience of young pilots, and the strength of the human spirit. to persevere through adversity

April 11th-12th: 

YALL West

Santa Monica, CA

Saturday: 9 am to 8 pm at Santa Monica H.S.

Sunday: 11 am to 5 pm at Santa Monica Main Library

Please check the official YALL West website for list of authors attending, panels and signing schedule. And if you see me, make sure you say hello! The fest is free however there ARE a few events that are ticketed, at 5 dollars a ticket!

April 16th-19th: 

Star Wars Celebration Convention

Anaheim Convention Center

Anaheim, CA

Click here for tickets!

Head over to the official website in order to find out what sort of things are going on that weekend! I will be there in attendance so if you spot me, make sure to say hello!

April 18th-19th: 

Los Angeles Times Festival of Books

University of Southern California

Los Angeles, CA

Saturday: 10 am to 6 pm

Sunday: 10 am to 5 pm

Please see the official FoB website for a complete list of authors attending. You may also head to the FanGirlFeeels blog to check out a list of all YA authors attending and their panels! 

Most panels are FREE but ticketed! Check out the FoB website for more information

April 21st:

Jessi Kirby

Barnes and Noble, Fashion Island

Newport Beach, CA

6:00 pm

Not Wristbanded

Meet Jessi Kirby, author of Things We Know by Heart, an unforgettable teen romance that fans of Sarah Dessen and Susane Colasanti will devour!

April 28th: 

Sabaa Tahir, Launch Party!

Kepler’s Bookstore

Menlo Park, CA

7 pm

Please join us as we host a very special launch party for local author, Sabaa Tahir.

Set in a terrifyingly brutal Rome-like world, An Ember in the Ashes is an epic fantasy debut about an orphan fighting for her family and a soldier fighting for his freedom. It’s a story that’s literally burning to be told.

Laia is a Scholar living under the iron-fisted rule of the Martial Empire. When her brother is arrested for treason, Laia goes undercover as a slave at the empire’s greatest military academy in exchange for assistance from rebel Scholars who claim that they will help to save her brother from execution. Elias is the academy’s finest soldier— and secretly, its most unwilling. Elias is considering deserting the military, but before he can, he’s ordered to participate in a ruthless contest to choose the next Martial emperor. When their paths cross at the academy, they find that their destinies are more intertwined than either could have imagined and that their choices will change the future of the empire itself.

Sabaa will be in conversation with Evelyn Skye.

April 29th: 

Sabaa Tahir

Barnes and Noble, The Grove

Los Angeles, CA

7 pm

Sabaa Tahir is joined in conversation with Marie Lu celebrating the launch of An Ember in the Ashes, a tale brimming with political intrigue and haunted by supernatural forces. Join us for an amazing discussion followed by both authors signing.

Event Recap: Ontario Teen Book Fest 2015!

Whew! This girl is exhausted! I have a slight headache and I’m ready to sit in bed all day and watch the Disney movie marathon on ABC Family and talk all about the super fantastic amazing day I had once again at the Ontario Teen Book Fest.

19 authors, abortion both guests and moderators, cost came together to celebrate the love of books and writing.

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I was so very very very excited about this event. I spend pretty much all year waiting for it to happen. As the official blogger, see I get excited waiting for the author list and all of that, and I work really hard on promoting the heck out of this thing and making sure the blog tour runs as smoothly as possible.

I arrived early in the morning, ready to start my day, an absolutely necessary coffee in hand. I immediately ran into Courtney, who runs the fest as her literal third child. She said she had something for me, for all the hard work that I do for the fest. She let me into the author “backstage area”. I noticed there was a spot for each author, and each author had their own name bag and their own bag with their book splashed on the side. She walked me to a table…and I was gifted with my own name badge and a bag with my logo on the side!

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I’m not going to lie…I nearly cried. It was just such a small gesture but it was awesome. I seriously want everything with my logo on it haha, I want a travel mug, and a phone case and everything and having this bag is SO SO super cool.

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All the authors sat down for breakfast and I intermingled, talking and making sure the giveaway posters got signed (which they did, congrats to Kerry and Amy!) It was super great seeing all the familiar faces like Jessica Brody and Catherine Linka and Lauren Miller and all of those guys and it was even more awesome to make new friends in Melissa Landers and Mary Elizabeth Summer and more.

I really SUPER loved talking to Jessica Brody about the ending to her trilogy. I haven’t talked to anyone who has read it yet and I’m just bursting to talk about it because it was so so good and it was nice to hear that she really loved my review of it. I also nearly started crying again (I swear, I’m not THAT emotional) when both Catherine and Lauren asked about my books. Lauren even told me to keep going, that it’ll happen because she likes my little snippets and that they’re written well. I fangirled only slightly.

First off were the keynote speeches, which were done by Claudia Gray, Aaron Hartzler and Shannon Messenger.

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Claudia Gray did a speech on How NOT to Become a Writer which was super fun, fresh, hilarious and actually really helpful. She told in order to not become a writer, you don’t read, you don’t write, you don’t try. I think my favorite part was her saying that writer’s block is not a thing (because that’s what I believe). She paraphrased Dan Wells, and I’m paraphrasing her right now, saying writing is the only job where people stop and say, “nope, I just can’t do my job today.” Which made me laugh a lot. 

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Next was Aaron Hartzler, talking about growing up in a conservative Christian household as a closet gay boy and having a hard time figuring out who he was. It was incredible and very moving. Suddenly I wasn’t the only one crying that day. He said a particular line that I tweeted out and I kind of want to make my motto on this blog now: “Be the weird you want to see in the world.”

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Then was Shannon Messenger. She was SO sweet and funny. She talked about she sort of accidentally fell into writing YA, since she wrote Let the Sky Fall as a way to distract her from the ups and downs of publishing her first novel (which is her middle grade series). She also talked about her film making at USC and I’m just saying, I can’t be the only one that wants to watch Tumble of Love.

Then it was time for the first panel. I went to the Promise Not to Tell: Secret Lies panel where the lovely Gretchen McNeil was moderating with Jessica Brody, Jessica Khoury, Anna Carey, Kasie West and Katie Finn.

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The one thing I really loved about this panel was the time they took to talk about writing! They talked about their methods, how they outline or don’t outline or do both (Katie is my girl!) and the kind of research they do and all of that. I didn’t know that Jessica Khoury had actually gone to the Kalahari in order to do some research for Kalahari but that’s super cool. I’m really jealous!

Then we all had lunch, courtesy of one of the sponsors, Panera Bread, and then continued to the Author Speed Dating. I think this is the BEST part of the event. There are tables set up and the authors move from table to table, for a period of five minutes, and talk about…well, whatever, they want. I got to talk to a bunch of great authors, and I’m glad I was able to talk to ones I’m not hugely familiar with like Sherri Smith and Brad Gottfred, both who were fabulous. I loved talking about periods and characters getting their periods in books with Sherri Smith. It was actually a really great conversation haha.

After the speed dating were the second panels. I knew I HAD to go see the Girls Gone Sci-Fi panel with Gretchen McNeil as a moderator to Jessica Brody, Jessica Khoury, Melissa Landers, Lauren Miller and Claudia Gray. I knew some hilarity would ensue and I was DEFINITELY right. All such fabulous ladies and all of them inspirational in my own journey as a YA sci-fi writer. I’m sad because I got hit with a TERRIBLE coughing fit during the panel and had to leave, but I could hear laughter so I’m sure it continued to be super fun and awesome.

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Then it was time for the book signing! I don’t have a lot of money right now so I only got a few books that I already owned signed. But I talked to all the authors and took pictures and got them to sign my writing advice poster #2. They all were absolutely fabulous.

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I love how personalized this is :) Most of my books from Morgan (Katie) say its great seeing me. I’m also stoked because this is an ARC with the original cover, but when the book actually releases, it’ll be a totally different cover, so that’s kind of cool!

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Now my collection is complete! And again with the awesome personalization. You’re extraordinary too Jess! And she signed a super cool poster with the Unremembered trilogy on one side and a map of the Diotech compound on the other.

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Aw thanks Melissa :) It was fabulous to see you too! I fangirled only *slightly* at meeting her. I absolutely LOVE this series and I can’t wait for her next one!

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Finally! I only owned an e-copy so I’m stoked to have this finally!

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Michelle Levy is a debut author whose debut novel will be releasing THIS August and I’m so INCREDIBLY excited for it, and I’m so happy for her as well. I was super surprised when she gave me an ARC, and I can’t wait to dive in!

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All of the authors! There’s a picture with me somewhere and I hope I will find it eventually. All such awesome, great authors.

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Me and Elizabeth Ross

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Me and my new bestie (I don’t think she knows it yet) Mary Elizabeth Summer. Read her book Trust Me, I’m Lying. Seriously. Do it.

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Me and Michelle Levy and her beautiful ARC for her debut book. I can’t wait til August and I’m so excited to read it!

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Me and Kasie West :) I was relieved to meet another author that is a pantser and not a plotter. I’m kind of a plotter. Kind of. But mostly a pantser.

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Me and Anna Carey. I seriously adore her and want to be like her because any author that can write not one, but TWO books, in second person is seriously amazing.

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One of my favorite authors of all time. I absolutely adore her. She writes amazing books as both Morgan Matson and Katie Finn.

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Me and Shannon Messenger. She is absolutely adorable. I really enjoyed her keynote and I’m really hoping that I can read her middle grade series soon!

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Me and Jessica Khoury. I cannot stress enough how much influence she has had on The Awakened. She is a fantastic writer, balancing nature and science fiction and romance and all sorts of things. I adore her. Plus she’s a Doctor Who and Harry Potter fan and has a cute husky! She also gave me a super cool Corpus trilogy poster that could potentially be a giveaway soon ;)

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Me and Aaron Hartzler. I was seriously bummed because I had thought he had left before I had the chance to get a picture with him and have him sign my writing advice picture but he reappeared and I managed to grab him. He is amazing and I can’t WAIT for his new book!

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*flails* I am so glad I met Melissa Landers! I fell in love with her books last summer and I just love her. Great writing advice, and she really seemed to appreciate the fact that I throw her books in everyone’s faces haha. And she gave me a cool poster for my wall.

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Me and Claudia Gray. I have to admit, I have yet to read her books but you better bet that I’ll be reading A Thousand Pieces of You soon. Not only does it sound amazing but Claudia is just a badass lady in general!

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After the event, I was invited out to dinner with some readers, some authors and some of the booksellers, and of course, Courtney, as well. I literally had to stop in the middle of dinner and just look around. I am so happy and grateful to be a part of such an awesome community and to be surrounded by such amazing people that I can genuinely call friends. Its incredible and I feel so lucky.

At the end of the day, I headed home and I just felt SO happy. I had such a great day. I was surrounded by readers and librarians and booksellers and bloggers that enjoy the same kind of books that I do and get why they are so incredibly important to me. I was surrounded by fellow writers, both published and unpublished, and got to share in that. I was around all these authors that I admire and that inspire me.

I also am grateful for every single person who came up to me, said hi and was awesome. My little ol blog just keeps getting bigger and bigger and I appreciate when you all say hi to me, whether you’re a reader or a fellow blogger. I love meeting all of you!

And a huge shoutout, hugs and kisses, tears and mountains of gratitude to each and every single author. You are all so incredible and I worship you all. You are all doing what I work hard every single day to accomplish and I appreciate all that you do for your readers. You donate your time and you take pictures and sign books and answer the same questions over and over again and we all appreciate it so much. I also appreciate how wonderful you’ve all been to me. You’ve become my friends, shown me a ton of respect, and have encouraged me and supported me in my own journey to become a published author. I cannot begin to express my gratitude to all of you. I feel incredibly lucky!

And lastly, thanks to Courtney Saldana. You are such a fantastic person and I’m glad that the Ontario TBF brought us together and that I get to work with you every year on such an awesome event. I’m so grateful for you letting me have this event because it has done so much for me as a reader, writer and a blogger. You are the absolute best and I can’t wait for many years to come, especially since one year I WILL be a guest!

Awesome event again and I can’t wait for 2016. Check out some of the guests already confirmed!

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Andrew Smith

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Marissa Meyer

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Leigh Bardugo

Ontario Teen Book Fest Blog Tour: Spotlight on Mary Elizabeth Summer

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I am so pleased to be bringing you the Ontario Teen Book Fest blog tour once again! This is one of my absolute favorite events of the year and I’m honored to help promote it as much as I possibly can. There are a ton of wonderful authors this year and an equally wonderful batch of bloggers to help me spotlight them.

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When: March 21st, advice 9 am to 5 pm

Where: Colony High School
3850 E. Riverside Drive
Ontario, CA 91761

This event is a completely free and un-ticketed event! Priority seating WILL be given to teens, but come one, come all! There will also be giveaways and raffles at the Fest, also free! Also, keep scrolling to find a giveaway held by us bloggers!

You can visit the website, to see the full schedule of the day by visiting the official Ontario Teen Book Fest website.

Books WILL be available for purchase at the event, available from Once Upon a Time Bookstore :) They are an amazing company so definitely bring your books from home, but try and support Once Upon a Time by purchasing a book!

Its going to be an incredible event and I’m honestly counting down the days! I hope you can come along for the ride, in the days leading up to the event.  Check out the full blog tour here!

Official Blog Tour Schedule

February 28th: Spotlight on Kasie West — Adventures of a Book Junkie

March 1st: Spotlight on Melissa Landers — What A Nerd Girl Says

March 2nd: Spotlight on Brad Gottfred — Recently Acquired Obsessions

March 3rd: Spotlight on Catherine Linka — Read Now Sleep Later

March 4th: Spotlight on Debra Driza — Read Now Sleep Later

March 5th: Spotlight on Katie Finn — Fearless Kurt Reads YA

March 6th: Spotlight on Claudia Gray — A Bookish Escape

March 7th: Spotlight on Shannon Messenger — People Like Books

March 8th: Spotlight on Lauren Miller — The Thousand Lives

March 9th: Spotlight on Mary Elizabeth Summer — What A Nerd Girl Says

March 10th: Spotlight on Anna Carey — The Reader’s Antidote

March 11th: Spotlight on Sherri Smith — Movies, Shows and Books

March 12th: Spotlight on Elizabeth Ross — Kid Lit Frenzy

March 13th: Spotlight on Jessica Khoury — The Consummate Reader

March 14th: Spotlight on Maurene Goo — The Windy Pages

March 15th: Spotlight on Cecil Castellucci — Nite Lite Book Reviews

March 16th: Spotlight on Jessica Brody — The Romance Bookie

March 17th: Spotlight on Gretchen McNeil — Movies, Shows and Books

March 18th: Spotlight on Aaron Hartzler — Fangirl Feeels

March 19th: Spotlight on Michelle Levy — The Consummate Reader

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Today’s spotlight is on:

Mary Elizabeth Summer

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Taken from her Website:

Mary Elizabeth Summer contributes to the delinquency of minors by writing books about unruly teenagers with criminal leanings. She has a BA in creative writing from Wells College, and her philosophy on life is “you can never go wrong with sriracha sauce.” She lives in Portland Oregon with her wife, their daughter, and their evil overlor—er, cat.

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

Her Book

TrustMeImLying

Julep Dupree tells lies. A lot of them. She’s a con artist, a master of disguise, and a sophomore at Chicago’s swanky St. Agatha High, where her father, an old-school grifter with a weakness for the ponies, sends her to so she can learn to mingle with the upper crust. For extra spending money Julep doesn’t rely on her dad—she runs petty scams for her classmates while dodging the dean of students and maintaining an A+ (okay, A-) average.

But when she comes home one day to a ransacked apartment and her father gone, Julep’s carefully laid plans for an expenses-paid golden ticket to Yale start to unravel. Even with help from St. Agatha’s resident Prince Charming, Tyler Richland, and her loyal hacker sidekick, Sam, Julep struggles to trace her dad’s trail of clues through a maze of creepy stalkers, hit attempts, family secrets, and worse, the threat of foster care. With everything she has at stake, Julep’s in way over her head . . . but that’s not going to stop her from using every trick in the book to find her dad before his mark finds her. Because that would be criminal.

Find Her Books at Your Local Bookstore of the Following Links:

Amazon / Barnes and Noble / iBooks / Book Depository

The Interview

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Nerd Girl: Trust Me, I’m Lying is your debut novel. Talk about what it was like to find out your novel was going to be published? 

Mary: I believe the first words I said when my agent called to tell me about my first offer were: “I think I’m going to puke”. She very calmly told me to not do that until after we finished discussing the details. As it turned out, I had a couple additional offers after that initial one, so there was a whirlwind of editor calls and figuring things out. When the dust finally settled, and I had officially accepted an offer, I walked around with wings on my feet for weeks. The only thing that gave me an equivalent feeling was seeing the finished book on a shelf in my favorite bookstore. Its euphoric. And slightly frightening. But mostly euphoric.

Nerd Girl: Where did the idea for Trust Me, I’m Lying come from? 

Mary: I got the idea for the Trust Me series one night while watching back-to-back episodes of White Collar and Leverage. I thought, “Man, I’d love to read a book about a teenage con artist, but I don’t think there are any.” (It turns out there are several, I just didn’t know about any of them.) Then I didn’t think any more about it till I woke up the next morning with Julep’s snarky voice in my head, demanding to be written. As you’ll discover reading the book, Julep doesn’t take no for an answer. So I spent the next year with her poking me until I finished.

Nerd Girl: Julep is a unique character in her own, a little more anti-hero than straight up hero. Is there a reason(s) that you created a character like this and can we expect more characters like this in your future?

Mary: Oh, yes. I have always loved the villains-turned-sort-of-heroes trope. There was a storyline in the original animated Voltron where the son of the Big Bad had a thing for the Princess, and he would often mess up his father’s plans (against his own best interest) to save her. And in He-Man, my favorite episodes were always the ones where Skeletor and He-Man had to team up to defeat a common foe. And then Firefly happened, which just had my villain/hero-loving heart all in a pile of mush for every episode. There’s nothing I wouldn’t do for a tender-hearted villain. So the answer to your second question is a resounding YES — all of my protagonists in every book I write will be at least half evil.

Nerd Girl: What are some of your own favorite books to read? 

Mary: I love sci-fi. I could read sci-fi every day of the week. My favorite sci-fis I’ve read recently are Alienated by Melissa Landers, Illusive by Emily Lloyd-Jones, Run to You by Clara Kensie and Beyond Our Stars by Marie Langager. I also like paranormal and fantasy — Cracked by Eliza Crewe was one of my favorite books I read last year. And of course, myster: Nearly Gone by Elle Cosimano, Far From You by Tess Sharpe, The Conspiracy of Us by Maggie E. Hall and Tabula Rasa by Kristsen Lippert-Martin are all amazing.

Nerd Girl: What made you want to write for teens as opposed for adults? 

Mary: I like writing for teens, because I like writing about teens. I like how cagey they have to be, how observant and opportunistic, just to get a ride to the mall. I like how vulnerable they have to stay in order to keep their lives in order and their loved ones happy. They’re the ultimate martyrs, really, and oh, how I love to sacrifice them on the alter of…er, *cough*, I mean, bring to light the inner depths they’re capable of when their lives get turned upside down.

All joking aside, YA is a powerful genre. It challenges us to grow up before our time and yet be strong enough to hold onto our innocence and belief in magic. No other genre can say that.

Nerd Girl: Have you ever had a fangirl moment and who was it with?

Mary: I’ve had a lot of fangirl moments at book signings (because authors! :-D) But my favorite story is when I had Margaret Stohl sign my copy of Beautiful Creatures. I told her how my wife read it to me aloud while I was in labor with our daughter, and she jumped out of her seat and asked one of the other authors there to take our picture with her camera, as if were the celebrity. LOL I loved it.

Nerd Girl: Because this is for the Ontario Teen Book Fest, all about the teens, what is one of your favorite memories from when you were a teen? 

Mary: Several good moments come to mind — musical solos, murder mystery parties, a popular senior guy (who didn’t know me) asking me if I went to the Starfleet Academy because I had the sticker on my car (there was much laughter and an ‘I wish’ on my part). But if I’m being honest, my favorite memories all happened in books. I was a book addict, and every story was another set of best friends and another opportunity to save the world.

Nerd Girl: Last question, who is your fictional crush? 

Mary: This is a tough one for me because I like girls, but not the kind of girls that usually get written about. So I’m going to plead lack of options to choose from here. If I were into boys, though, I’d say my fictional crush would be Chuck from Chuck. He’s such a woobie. Or maybe Seth from The O.C. (for the same reason). I prefer smart, sensitive dudes.

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The Giveaway 

Two Prizes, Two Winners!

Each winner will receive an official Ontario Teen Book Fest poster signed by ALL attending authors!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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March California YA and MG Book Events!

Some of you may have noticed that I no longer do Book Events Listings for the entire country. I used to but it just honestly got to be way too much work for me. I know it was really cool for you guys but it really was a ton of work. If any of you need help on finding book events in your area, illness I will be more than happy to help, stomach but for now, ailment I will be sticking with California (mostly Southern) events!

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March 10th:

Penguin Teen on Tour

Morgan Rhodes, Rachel Hawkins, Seth Fishman, Maggie Hall, and and Jessica Khoury

Vroman’s Bookstore

Pasadena, CA

6:30 pm

Not Wristbanded

Those wishing to get books signed will be asked to purchase at least one copy of the author’s most recent title from Vroman’s. For each purchased copy of the newest title, customers may bring up to three copies from home to be signed. This policy applies to all Vroman’s Bookstore events unless otherwise noted. Save your Vroman’s receipt; it will be checked when you enter the signing line.

March 10th: 

Andrew Smith

Book Passage

Corte Madera, CA

6:30 pm

Once again blending multiple story strands that transcend time and place, The Alex Crow author Andrew Smith tells the story of 15-year-old Ariel, a refugee from the Middle East who is the sole survivor of an attack on his small village. Now living with an adoptive family in Sunday, West Virginia, his story (beginning with a misplaced summer at a boys’ camp for tech detox) is juxtaposed against those of a schizophrenic bomber and the diaries of a failed arctic expedition from the late nineteenth century. Oh, and there’s also a robotic, reincarnated crow.

Andrew Smith knew ever since his days as editor of his high school newspaper that he wanted to be a writer. His books include Grasshopper Jungle and Winger.

March 11th: 

Lauren Oliver and John Corey Whaley

Barnes and Noble at the Bella Terra

Huntington Beach, CA

7 pm

Bestselling YA author Lauren Oliver will discuss her anticipated new novel Vanishing Girls. Lauren will be joined by Printz medalist and SoCal local favorite John Corey Whaley, author of Noggin.

March 20th: 

Girls Gone Sci-Fi Tour

Jessica Brody, Debra Driza, Claudia Gray, Melissa Landers and Jessica Khoury

Mysterious Galaxy

San Diego, CA

7:30 pm

Blast off for adventure with young adult authors Jesssica Brody (Unchanged), Claudia Gray (A Thousand Pieces of You), Jessica Khoury (Kalahari), Melissa Landers (Invaded), and Debra Driza (MILA 2.0: Renegade). Unchanged completes the thrilling SF trilogy started in Jessica’sUnremembered; fans are encouraged to check out the ebook short, “Unleashed,” as wel, for more insights into the mysterious Diotech Compound. Bestseller Claudia’s A Thousand Pieces of You is blurbed as “Orphan Black meets Cloud Atlas in the first book of this epic dimension–bending trilogy about a girl who must chase her father’s killer through multiple dimensions.”  The Corpus Files that Jessica began with Origin in the depths of the Amazon rainforest and continued with Vitro in the South Pacific islands now takes readers to the wilds of Botswana with Kalahari. Linda’s review of Melissa’s Alienated reads, “Appealing to science fiction and YA readers, a plot with a forbidden love theme involving intergalactic exchange students allows Landers to discuss important issues such as teen romance, peer pressure, trust and acceptance of those a little bit different from ourselves.” The story continues in Invaded. The 2015 version of San Diego author Debra will captain the ride!

March 21st: 

Ontario Teen Book Fest: Where Books and Teens Meet

Click this link to find out ALL the authors, panels and more information!

Colony High School

Ontario, CA

9 am – 5 pm

March 21st: 

Authors Under the Lights

Hilton Universal City

Los Angeles, CA

11 am to 6 pm

This multi-author/genre signing event will take place in sunny Southern California at Universal City Walk Hilton in Universal City on March 21, 2015.

Any and all pertinent information pertaining to attendance, including a list of featured authors, party with the authors & models, blogger/author brunch, hotel information, and sponsorship opportunities can be found on this site.

March 22nd: 

Girls Gone Sci-Fi

Jessica Brody, Melissa Landers, Jessica Khoury, Lauren Miller

Once Upon a Time Bookstore

Montrose, CA

2 pm

Jessica Brody, Jessica Khoury, Lauren Miller and Melissa Landers all write terrific SCI-FI adventures for young adults.  Join this gaggle of writers to discuss current trends in writing, YA, new science discoveries and more!

Sweet treats will be offered as well as booksignings for all authors’ books.

March 24th: 

Jennifer A Neilsen

Kepler’s Books

Menlo Park, CA

7 pm

Jennifer A. Nielsen, author of the NYT and USA TODAY bestselling Ascendance Trilogy (The False Prince, The Runaway King, and The Shadow Throne), has woven an electrifying tale of greed and power, magic and destiny, and one boy’s courage at the heart of it all.

March 27th: 

Cecil Castellucci and Rachel Searles

Mysterious Galaxy

San Diego, CA

6 pm

The Galaxy includes Speculative Fiction for readers of all ages – our event with Cecil Castellucci and Rachel Searles is focused on SF for teens, and middle grade readers, but of interest to readers of all ages. In Stone in the Sky, Cecil’s thrilling follow-up to Tin Star, Tula will need to rely on more than just her wits to save her only home in the sky, as she faces possible death and romantic complications. The Stolen Moon, second in Rachel’s Lost Planet series, offers hero Chase an opportunity to save the world, maybe, with the help of hacker BFF Parker and the assistance / hindrance of his younger sister.

March 28th: 

Ridley Pearson

Barnes and Noble at the Americana

Glendale, CA

7 pm

Check store for details. 

March 29th: 

Ridley Pearson

Mysterious Galaxy

San Diego, CA

2:30 pm

Ridley Pearson is known to many readers as the award-winning author of multiple adventure series for (young-ish) readers, including The Kingdom Keepers, Steel Trapp, and with Dave Barry, Peter and the Starcatchers. Ridley is also a best-selling crime novelist of more than two dozen titles. The adventure of the Kingdom Keepers, a group of young people responsible for battling magical villains in Disneyland afterhours, continues in The Return, as they discover defeating the Overtakers is not their only challenge. The Red Room, a Risk Agent novel, is Ridley’s most recent adult suspense novel.

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Ontario Teen Book Fest 2014!

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I know. I know. I know.

I’m awful! This was almost two weeks ago and I’ve just been SO incredibly busy and I kept meaning to vlog about it, sildenafil but that never happened so I’m just going to write about it quickly because all I have to say about this awesome event is that it was awesome.

Last year’s Ontario Teen Book Fest introduced to me to a multitude of amazing authors, a lot of whom I’ve since then become friends with. Which is incredible to me, both as a book blogger and as a writer. It means the world to me.

So I was most definitely looking forward to this year’s fest. I organized the blog tour, held a giveaway and did all kinds of promotion for it, because I love this event SO much.

I was asked back again as an official blogger, with my best fangirl friend, Sylvia from Fangirl Feeels, and we attended the official Author Breakfast, and started meeting the authors, getting to know them, and interviewing them for our vlog, which you can check out now!

[YouTube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-MpjOfZXNfw]

It was a blast, like always, and I really enjoyed meeting all the authors and talking about fictional crushes and great teen books they wish they’d had as teens. I feel like I made a lot of connections and a lot of friends that day.

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There was the opening keynote speeches from Jessica Brody (LOVE her), Lauren Kate (seriously, she was so pregnant and IN HEELS, much props!) and John Corey Whaley (who seriously should be my best friend). They all had wonderful things to say about life and writing. They made me laugh, and they made me think, and they all made me feel a lot better about being a struggling writer. Lauren talk a lot about the struggles of getting through a book, and it felt good to hear that even a published, seasoned author can feel that sort of despair where you want to throw your computer across the room. Jessica and Corey both talked about finding the right path to writing, and emphasizing that it can take time, and it can take making the wrong choices and making mistakes to get to where you need to be.

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We then split up to go to our first panel, and I made sure to attend the debut author panel with Katherine Ewell, Livia Blackburne, Ava Dellaira and Catherine Linka. They had so much to say about writing and reading and getting into the world of publishing and writing. What struck me as super awesome is that they all had very different backgrounds (high school student turned Stanford student, neuroscientist, screenwriter, bookseller), and were obviously different ages, but they had all accomplished the same goal and that was great. They all had wonderful things to say.

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We broke for lunch after that, which was cool, because we were back in the room with the authors again! Yay! We sat near Katherine Ewell, Ava Dellaira and Livia Blackburne and talked about writing and books and Disneyland and all sorts of fun stuff, and that was just an awesome experience to have.

After lunch, we headed to the newest addition to the Teen Book Fest schedule: author speed dating. Basically there were tables for all the readers to sit at, and every 8 minutes or so, the authors would switch to another table. You basically got some personal time with about…six or seven authors and it was SO great. Sylvia and I, along with my sister Jessica, sat a table together and had some great conversations with Lauren Miller, Catherine Linka, Jessi Kirby, Jessica Brody, Ava Dellaira and Katherine Ewell and it was awesome. A GREAT addition to the Fest, for sure!

Photo Credit to: Sylvia from Fangirl Feeels
Photo Credit to: Sylvia from Fangirl Feeels

After that, we had the final panel for the day, and we headed to a panel with Jessi Kirby, Elana K Arnold, Ava Dellaira and John Corey Whaley, all about relationships and I’ve read most of their books so that was cool. Talking about the dynamic of relationships, whether family or friends or love interests, is important and the title of the panel was “It’s Complicated” so the authors tried to insert “complicated” into as many answers as possible!

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After the last panel of the day, all the authors gathered at their tables to sign their books, and we finished gathering interviews for the vlog above, and got all our books signed. It was awesome meeting ALL of the authors, and getting to know them. I am glad I’ve read some of their books and can’t wait to get my hands on the others!


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I have to throw out MAJOR MAJOR MAJOR props to Courtney Saldana, the Youth Services librarian, for putting on another fantastic event and for letting me be a part of it. Much thanks to her partner in crime, Aly, and all her volunteers as well, and the Mrs. Nelson’s Book Fair Company. You guys ROCK.

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I canNOT wait until next year, to meet all kinds of awesome authors and to be a part of it once again. Plus I heard from an inside source that my darling Andrew Smith will be there, so I’m ready for it!

Remember, you can check out all the pictures from the Ontario Teen Book Fest (at least the ones I took), on the official What A Nerd Girl Says facebook page here.

Lastly, congrats to Peyton, Jasmine and Stephanie for winning the prizes in the official Ontario Teen Book Fest blog tour giveaway!

OH! And it felt SO awesome being in the program. I felt important, and helpful!

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Happy Reading!