YALLFest, which was founded by Jonathan Sanchez of Blue Bicycle Books in 2011, is a two-day festival that is open to the public and sponsored by Blue Bicycle Books […]. Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl, authors of the Beautiful Creatures novels, assist in coordinating the author line-up and panels. YALLFest has become the largest young adult book festival in the South. (Source: Wikipedia)
Well, that was a rush.
Ever since I got into book blogging 2 years ago, I have wanted to go to a book festival. I didn’t even know they existed before this, and after having major book envy through all of the social media posts and updates and recaps, I couldn’t take it anymore. I was determined to go to one in the 2018/19 circa, and thankfully Yallfest found me.
I didn’t know exactly what Yallfest would entail but trust me, it brought hours upon hours of panicking and planning and probably more panicking. I won’t begin to be able to explain all of the conversations Sha and I had trying to figure out what I wanted to do and who I wanted to see and how to prioritize and get us what we wanted. So so much goes into all of this, and trust me, you will want to do a lot of planning to maximize your trip. I’ll probably do some tips and tricks in a future post for book festivals because it’s a lot and so easy to get overwhelmed.
But shall we start the recap?
My Day 1 was pretty chill. For YallFest, Day 1 is basically some special sponsor events and a few select authors doing signings. I only had 2 things planned and really just wanted to get the lay of the land. No publisher tents were up so I wasn’t worried about arc drops or anything.
I heard a few different suggestions about how early to get there, so I got to the area around an hour to hour-and-a-half before my first signing. The author I was going for didn’t have as big of a following so I figured this would be good. I did see the Jenny Han signing line and omg, you really needed to be there early because she already had a good line with an hour and a half to go (trust me, it spanned a pretty good block by the time it reached 2:00).
I looked around the tents for a while and got a little discombobulated. There is a lot going on, and I had to ask to figure out my first signing place.
[2:00 PM] : Megan Miranda Signing
My first signing was for Megan Miranda, who is one of my favorite authors of all time. She writes amazing YA and adult books, and one of the few authors that will get me to read adult. I met her once before but I had exactly 3 books that hadn’t been signed by her, so it worked out perfectly.
Her signing was in the Get Underlined pop up store that was right next to Blue Bicycle Books. It was actually really legit. It’s this little storefront that Get Underlined had all decked out to sell their Book Nerd merch with a Stranger Things photobooth and more.
I would say that I got in line maybe a few minutes after 1:00. I was second person in line, and the girl in front of me was really nice. We talked about a bunch of different things including how we were both stoked about Robin LaFevers and she gave me some tips. Waiting wasn’t really terrible since I was either chatting with her or Sha online.
The signing did start a few minutes late, but we moved through pretty quickly. Megan Miranda is so nice from the last time I met her, and when I got to my spot in line, she went, “Haven’t we met before?”
I think I might have died??? We met last year, but still!!! After that point, it was all fangirling and a few awkward pauses but mostly I just told her how excited I was for Come Find Me to come out because I love Stranger Things and her and then we both fangirled over Stranger Things.
Seriously, if you haven’t read her stuff yet, please please do because not only is she a great writer but she’s so nice.
[2:30 PM] : Fierce Friday
Since I was second in line, I was out within mere minutes (maybe 2:08?) and my family promised to wait for me to take me to another location with food. The next event I had was Fierce Friday at John Dart Library and it was a hikeeeeee. Every time I asked if I could walk it, people would give me the cringe faces and I assumed that was bad??
It was definitely not walking material, and we got there with probably an hour to spare. They had just started check in when I got into the line, so it worked out perfectly.
Waiting in this line was a bittttttttttt much. The sun was beating down on us, and it got really rather toasty. This princess was not quite built for the heat. And waiting an hour? Yikes. Although I will say I didn’t have it as bad as others. I was wearing a t-shirt and a skirt, but I saw lots of people in long jeans and cardigans. I can imagine how toasty they were feeling, and we were using our little new Fierce Reads badges as little fans.
[3:30 PM] : Fierce Friday (cont’d)
Fierce Friday was a bit…interesting. It was actually based in a small library that had actual students in it using the library. I kind of felt bad because everyone just kind of mobbed in and these poor kids were just trying to do their computer things.
I wasn’t exactly one of the first people in, and I was trying to figure out the lay of the land, and I spotted Adrienne Young toward the back. There was only one person in her line, so I hightailed it straight back there. I was super excited to meet her since Sky in the Deep was one of my favorite books of this year. It was my first five crown read of the year.
When it was my time, I noticed she was wearing this intense (but super cute) cable knit sweater, so I made a comment about it. We chatted about the unexpected toasty weather with Courtney Summers who happened to be sitting next to Adrienne. She was super nice, and she had a cute little gold stamp that she was stamping the inside of the books with.
After I got her book signed, I had one other author I was looking for: Kami Garcia. I absolutely loved her origin story for my love, Fox Mulder of the X-Files series, so she was a must. I was so scared her line was going to be massive, and I did spot a massive signing line, and the panic was so real. However, I quickly discovered as I walked over that it was for Christine Riccio who was signing ARCs of her upcoming book Again, But Better.
I finally tracked her down, and again, I was second in line (honestly, idk how this keeps happening???). She was sitting with Alex London whose new book, Black Wings Beating, just came out a little big ago. There was a little confusion on whether or not the signing was starting, which was entertaining. I handed over The X-Files book, and she immediately alerted her editor who was standing next to her who happened to write the memo that begins the story. We talked about how this was one of her favorite books ever to write, and we talked a little bit about Jonathan Mayberry’s companion novel for Dana’s story. Alex was really cool, too, and he was super enthusiastic.
At that point, I was…kind of done? I mean, I really only came to the event for Kami and Adrienne, and the rest of the authors weren’t authors I was really in deep with. Other authors included: Stephanie Garber, Melissa Albert, Brandy Colbert, Danielle Paige, Courtney Summers, Aminah Mae Safi, and Alex London. I thought about joining Christine’s line, but I wasn’t really excited by the premise of her book and wanted to let the people that were excited get the ARC.
There were three other activities going on: coloring, story building, and trivia. The story building and coloring wasn’t really that intriguing to me, so I joined the line for trivia. The trivia host was asking questions based on what you put on your badge so my question was a Disney Princess one which I aced. My spin landed me on the Yallfest section (others included Fierce Reads or DART), and I got my pick of some candy, a Yallfest bandanna, or a button. I chose a button.
I called the fam to come and get me because there really wasn’t any place to just sit and chill and immerse myself. In the waiting time, they handed out little things of banana pudding. They were delish, but not enough to keep me there.
To be honest, I might have gone with another event for the future. This worked since I didn’t have to wait in Young’s and Garcia’s lines on Saturday, but the event overall was a bit underwhelming. I really could have spent a total of 10 minutes and been good.
And that is a wrap on my first day at Yallfest! Three books down, andddddddddddddd like, a lot more to go.
What do you think? What would you have hit on the first day? Would you have wanted to meet these particular authors? Let’s discuss in the comments below!