NTTBF ’18 Recap

Welcome to my North Texas Teen Book Festival 2018 Recap! It was April 21, 2018 in Irving, TX. It is the fourth year for this festival. It was surprising to see so many publisher tables with really good ARC drops and social media interactive ways to get free stuff. I could tell that a lot of extra steps were put in place to ensure everyone’s safety.

2950337_orig.png

Location

The festival was at the Irving Convention Center again. It is a very nice place for an event like this as last year there were between 9,000 and 12,000 attendees. Four floors were utilized but I personally felt some of those vendors on the fourth floor were a bit neglected. That meant there was a LOT of walking and carrying of books up & down escalators.  People seemed a little calmer this year, as if they were confident they had their day planned out and knew where to go. Even more of the convention center was utilized this year but the weather just was not playing nice (think cold and rainy).2950337_orig.png

Book Sales

What booknerd doesn’t love book sales??? Barnes and Noble was in charge of sales again. My plan was to get books first because almost every single book available was presigned. Not too shabby. I spent about 15-20 minutes wandering the tables to make sure I bought the books I wanted. This was the line to check out after only being opened 20 minutes:

20180421_081141.jpg

 

20180421_081138.jpg

It was kind of scary to see how many people were lined up to either look at books (which was not a calm and peaceful process this year) or buy books (which the volunteers were rather rude – I’ll get into that in a bit).

2950337_orig.png

Publisher Additions

There were several Publisher tables again this year, which was awesome to see. They were spread out this year, two or three were on the first floor while the others were on the fourth floor. When I mentioned vendors feeling neglected on the fourth floor, this is what I meant:

20180421_091236.jpg

Sure, there were panels taking place on the fourth floor but from first blush, you have no idea there are two publisher tables around that corner.  And there were some characters from the Captain Underpants book:

20180421_095346.jpg

Overall that floor was relatively quiet, if you can believe that.

I will say that there was one publisher table – I will not name names – that was overly rude to anyone over the age of 15. They were snapping, standoffish, and used non-verbal means of communication (facial expressions) to let me know they were not too happy that I was at their table. They loudly pointed out, “WE SENT THAT EMAIL OUT FOR TEENS ONLY” or “WE DO HAVE BAGS, BUT YOU ARE CLEARLY NOT A TEEN SO THIS IS NOT FOR YOU”. I’m not really the right person you want to go up against so it took everything I had to bite my tongue. I did glare at them and said, “There is no need to be so rude about it. Everyone can see and hear you being a jerk. Is this where you want to be when Jesus comes back? Think about it next time.” I do know I was not the only one they did this too because everyone I talked to about this particular table told me they had the same experience. It makes me question doing anything with the publisher, to be honest.2950337_orig.png

Lines

This may be the shortest part of my post because changes were made to Publisher Events this year. They clearly stated TEENS ONLY on the events that were, in fact, targeted at/for/to teens. Maybe that was because of the outcry from last year, or perhaps it was a choice made by higher ups. Either way, it made my day a hell of a lot easier because it meant I didn’t have to made a decision on if I wanted to stand in line for XYZ event or not.  I am disappointed but there isn’t anything I can or could do about it.

There was only ONE ARC drop I stood in line for (The new V.E. Schwab MG ARC) and that was on the fourth floor. Since there was hardly anyone up there, I found myself first in line for that precious. Penguin Teen, Epic Reads, and Underlined were on first floor doing ARC drops all day. While I wish I could have gotten my hands on most of the beauties they were passing out, I was not going to risk a repeat of last year. I think Penguin had the right idea – they used Social Media to their advantage. If you did *insert task here* and proved to them you did it, you were given your choice of ARC and a shirt. Talk about AWESOME! Not to mention they had coupons handed out that could be cashed in for another ARC. These guys had their stuff down to a science. Well done, Penguin Teen. 🙂

The one main line I stood in was for a wristband for one of four authors. I arrived at 7am (thinking I would be early) only to find the lines started LONG before I showed up. I was informed that the girl at the head of the Cassandra Clare line arrived at midnight to hold her place in line. Girl. I arrived at 7am and still got a wristband for Cassandra. That seemed a little extreme to me but who am I to judge. I had been told that I could only get ONE wristband so that’s what I did. LITTLE DID I KNOW THAT WAS NOT TRUE. *grumble* *grumble*

20180421_071751.jpg

20180421_072917.jpg

This made my time in the chilly April morning worth it:

20180421_075035.jpg

 

The other line that is the real focus is the signing lines… but that will come later. I promise, my darlings, I will give you the skinny on those lines.

2950337_orig.png

Friends

I try to express how important it is to make friends at these festivals. I made more friends this year and was over the moon excited about that!

20180421_101529.jpg

Who doesn’t know Xander! For me it isn’t a book event until I get to chat with him for a few moments. 🙂 Plus, it never ceases to amaze me how authors will stop him in the hallway to talk to him.

 

20180421_123801.jpg

#mysquad

I still stress the importance of making friends at these events. One can never have enough friends no matter what.

2950337_orig.png

Manners

I am still keeping this as a talking point for this event. I will humbly say that I had a better experience this year but I also stayed far away from publisher sponsored events and most ARC drops. It hurt me to stay away from those things because I REALLY wanted to partake but unable to. Either I was not able to attend or I chose to remove myself from the area for fear of a repeat from last year.

I will say the one main interaction I had with a RUDE volunteer was during the wait in the wristband author signing line. There was one volunteer that acted like Thanos wielding power. She yelled at nearly every single person and scolded people if they got out of line to use the restroom. At one point I did have to use the restroom (waiting in a 3+ hour line will do that….) and I approached this volunteer for instructions. She became visibly upset that I would dare offend her by admitting I had to use the necessary during her watch! She proceeded to tell me to go through a certain door. I was then informed by security that she was incorrect. Security and Volunteer proceeded to have a loud discussion about what really should be done. The entire time I still needed to use the necessary. Someone finally stepped in, someone on the planning committee maybe? He was a higher ranking person, that is all I know and he helped me. Bottom line – volunteers did NOT know what was going on (especially in the  signing area). They each had their own story of what would happen and spoke it like gospel without bothering to find out the truth. (Edit: turns out none of the stories they told were actually true. Every single person was incorrect.)

I also had a volunteer straight up bite my head off early in the morning while trying to buy books. I asked a simple question about a book and she said, “*SIGH* I don’t have time to deal with you. I have a lot going on.” Uh.. excuse the piss out of me? Was that necessary? The answer (always) is no. Her job was to help direct people and answer questions. Guess what I was doing: asking a question about buying books – which is exactly what she was there to help with. Sorry I disturbed you, your highness. I will know to avoid your grumpy ass next year.

Morale of the story: don’t be rude to people. They are having a hard enough time as it is. Ask someone, it’s okay if you admit you don’t know.

2950337_orig.png

Panels

I didn’t attend any panels. It seems that was a downfall for me as arcs were handed out at a lot of panels. When this girl has to decide if they want panels or a good spot in line for signing, the signing line will win every time.2950337_orig.png

Author Signings

Now we get to the topic that you really want to know about (unless you have really been curious about the entire day). I am guessing that you are probably like me and want to know about the authors and the rush of meeting these awesome people. If you read my post from the last couple of years, you will remember what a nightmare the authors signing was like. I’m happy to report that it was only somewhat better this year. That was due to the simple fact that I gave up my entire afternoon to stand in line. I did have a wrist band for Cassandra Clare so that was my #1 stop of the day. The line for that was still insane.

This was the start of the non-wrist band line. I want to point out that the line curved to the right (in the photo) and went all the way along that back wall, alllllll the way out into the lobby.

20180421_133455.jpg

 

20180421_142007.jpg

 

I want to point out something new that was done this year: the attendees were allowed to line up early in front of the authors they wanted to meet first. It looked like chaos at first but if you think about it, it was kind of smart. It eased the lines a bit so people were not running/pushing/shoving/screaming/being stupid when the lines officially opened.

20180421_160936.jpg

 

I had a game plan this year. I knew who I was going to wait in line for and had a solid plan. This is how I spent my hour and a half signing time:

20180421_153753.jpg

20180421_153532.jpg

20180421_154249.jpg

20180421_154533.jpg

20180421_154626.jpg

20180421_155721.jpg

20180421_160341.jpg

20180421_160521.jpg

20180421_162752.jpg

20180421_162934.jpg

20180421_163746.jpg

20180421_164000.jpg

20180421_164836.jpg

20180421_170010.jpg

20180421_171352.jpg

 

20180421_163714.jpg

20180421_162321.jpg

20180421_162305.jpg

20180421_121733.jpg

20180421_121532.jpg

First thought: Someone teach me how to pose for a photo/selfie. The struggle is real, y’all. Second: I was able to stop by every author I had hoped for! Sure, there was one that left early and I wasn’t able to get my book signed but that’s the nature of the beast. I am not going to complain.

This is how the lines looked while I waited on authors:

20180421_150809.jpg

20180421_160945.jpg

20180421_160942.jpg

20180421_165228.jpg

20180421_160951.jpg

2950337_orig.png

 

My Book Haul

Would you believe me if I tell you that I carried about 90lbs worth of books this year? Go big or go home. I go to these festivals with a mission.

All of the books I carried with me all day:

20180428_134625.jpg

 

20180421_131741.jpg

 

20180421_140445.jpg

 

The swag I walked away with. Swag was not as plentiful this year but that is ok. I’m not a swag collector kinda gal. I am, however, a shirt and bookmark gal. If you are curious, I could tell you the horror I went through to get those enamel pins, deck of playing cards, and the Top Ten notepad. I did think I would make it out alive.

20180428_135550.jpg

 

The books I took from my library to be signed:

20180428_134304.jpg

Now what I actually had signed (this includes pre-signed books I bought there):

20180428_135018.jpg

 

Books bought at the event (only 6! That’s good for me!):

20180428_134416.jpg

 

The ARCS I brought home:

20180428_134459.jpg

 

2950337_orig.png

 

EDIT: Overall Thoughts

I have attended this event every year and I pride myself on that. I have watched this festival grow and evolve. Obviously some years are better than others but that can be chalked up to growing pains and learned lessons, right? As always, please remember that my opinions are all my own and they are meant to be read in a heartfelt tone. I do not mean anything harsh or derogatory tone. I am not bashing this event, nor will I. I simply have thoughts and opinions as an attendee that I feel I need to write down.

I don’t believe this year was as crowded as last year. Maybe the threat of horrible rain kept people away? Maybe it was something else. I’m not a mind reader so I do not know. I do know that there was hella security this year. You could not walk five feet without seeing a cop or security guard. I believe they were there for crowd control but most of the time they simply barked orders about always walking, never stopping. That was not enjoyable, of course, but clearly the committee felt it was necessary.

If people know me, they know that I will always bring two massive canvas bags full of books with me to be signed. I am not ever ashamed nor will I apologize. I am not the only one to do so. However, I am an avid YA reader that is always looking to expand my library. That being said, I know the publishers and committee kept a lot of the interactive sessions to teens only. Yes, that does and did hurt because the age demographic for YA readers is technically 18-64. That means I fall into that age range. Yes, more teens need to read and/or get into reading and I completely support that. But it takes me back to the question I asked last year when I was discriminated against because of my age: why do I keep going? Why do I keep my love for this genre, authors, and stories going strong? Small answer is: it makes me happy. Bigger answer: dunno. I often wonder why I keep doing what I’m doing if only to be shunned at festivals FOR YA.

I still urge everyone to try to be considerate and be nice. YES, VOLUNTEERS, I’M STILL TALKING TO YOU. I signed up to be a volunteer this year and sadly it felt unfulfilling. I was not utilized and found myself keeping the wall up at the back of the room. There were four of us volunteering in the same room and it felt like too many. Regardless, none of us yelled at attendees or tried to assert power. That means there are still good people who want to help others – hooray! It seems to be the line volunteers that need to be reminded of basic manners and how social interaction should work.

If you attended, I would love to hear your thoughts on how the day went. Did you go to panels? Did you get all of your books signed at the end of the day? Were you able to attend a TEEN ONLY event? Let me know! I really would love to hear your thoughts.

 

sara-signature1

 

 

 

NTTBF ’17 Recap – The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

Welcome to my North Texas Teen Book Festival 2017 Recap! It was March 4, 2017 in Irving, TX. It is the third year for this festival but it has grown so much. It was surprising to see so many publisher tables with really good swag and ARC drops. I believe this festival was better than last year in certain aspects and I will do my best to explain.

2950337_orig.png

Location

The festival was at the Irving Convention Center again. It is a very nice place for an event like this and thankfully more of the center was used as opposed to last year. This festival was on four different floors. Let that sink in. Four. Different. Floors. That meant there was a LOT of walking and carrying of books up & down escalators. I heard a lot of attendees being confused where things were. They were upset about missing panels because they weren’t sure where GB3 was located. That’s fair if you hadn’t been to this center before. This held true during the 2016 and 2017 festivals. Even more of the convention center was utilized this year but the weather just was not playing nice (think cold and rainy).

wp-1488728779625.jpg

This is how crowded the first floor was at 8:30AM. Just let that sink in because it is reported that over 10,000 people attended this year and this was a snapshot of just one portion of the floor.

2950337_orig.png

Book Sales

What booknerd doesn’t love book sales??? Half Price Books did not provide the book sales this year, Barnes and Noble was in charge of that. I am not always a fan of BN because I never have a good experience when I go into their stores. The BN near me feels like they silently judge me for reading YA books and I don’t appreciate that. This crew was not that way (thankfully) and were on top of their game. The thing that changed this year was you were given a wristband after you bought books. These were supposed to be used and checked when it came time for the signing lines. I’m here to say that didn’t happen.

wp-1488818546340.jpg

2950337_orig.png

Publisher Additions

I’m adding this to the beginning of the post because for me, as a reader and blogger, this made a huge impact on my day. Random House/First In Line hosted a breakfast with some of their authors. You had the chance to quickly chat with them and get your books signed. If you were lucky enough to get your books signed before the signing lines, it made you breathe a little easier knowing you wouldn’t have to fight to get them signed later. I was fortunate to get a seat right before the doors closed. Even though it was rather cold and blustery, it was a really good event. The authors were very welcoming and always had a smile on their face.

wp-1488728570374.jpg

Jeff Zentner, Julie Buxbaum, Jennifer Niven, Nicola Yoon, Kiersten White, and Jennifer E. Smith

wp-1488728559844.jpg

wp-1488728582207.jpg

That girl with the bag had Kiersten sign everything she owned so I never got her to sign anything for me at this event. 😦

wp-1488728597407.jpg

I did get to chat to one of my favorite authors who I’ve talked to at other events, Jeff Zentner. (Isn’t he a doll?)

wp-1488728631059.jpg

Nicola Yoon was the only other author I was able to get close to. That place was packed and some of the attendees seemed to cut in line.

There were also afternoon meet & greets put on by Epic Reads. You could choose between the 1PM and 2PM event. Both had different authors so it really was a tough call. I opted for the 2PM and it gave me anxiety because that meant I would be late to the signing lines.  I really was torn between meeting these authors up close and personal or heading down to get a good spot for the signing lines. (NOTE: My anxiety and fears were confirmed. More on that later.) I opted to go and here is the result: face time with some really awesome people.

wp-1488728707120.jpg

 

wp-1488728720789.jpg

Me with Colleen Oakes

wp-1488728727140.jpg

Me with Victoria Aveyard

 

wp-1488728738139.jpg

Me with Margot Wood (EEK! I fangirled so hard)

 

wp-1488728748902.jpg

Me with Heidi Heilig dressed as a pirate

 

wp-1488728762766.jpg

Me with Angie Thomas 

 

wp-1488728771942.jpg

Me with Katie Cotugno

I felt this event was very, very well done but it felt rushed. That was probably because the author signings were directly after this event. I sat a smaller table and we all worked together so well on getting stuff signed, taking photos, and asking questions. I hope the rest of the tables were able to get signatures and photos.

2950337_orig.png

Lines

The lines this year were slightly better than last year, but only slightly. There were yet again lines for signing passes, special Epic Reads events, and more. The first line of the day (which I did not stand in) was for signing passes to see Veronica Roth and R.L. Stine. I was not going to put myself through that madness so I avoided. Sadly the weather did not play nice so people had to stand outside in the cold wind to get a Roth/Stine wristband. It was all about the wristbands this year.

This was yet another year where as an attendee I had to make the decision: lines or panels? I certainly could not do both. Did I want the chance to meet awesome authors and/or get ARCs or listen to authors talk on a panel? The honest answer is it didn’t matter because both were not going to happen. I clearly chose the lines.

I did stand in line to get a wristband for the Epic Reads meet and greet. That was not a pleasant for several reasons, the weather being most of them. Here is me freezing with my light jacket.

wp-1488728646416.jpg

wp-1488729993314.jpg

The other reason I did not enjoy this line was… wait. That part of the story should fall under the Manners section. You’ll have to wait just a wee bit for that one. It’s good. You’ll want to stick around for it. The bottom line is I got my wristband and that’s what mattered. (Clearly because the pictures for that are shown above.)

wp-1488729062579.jpg

 

As I mentioned, publishers really stepped their game up this year and did several ARC drops throughout the day. As a reader, that blew my mind in the best way possible. I am forever grateful when a publisher wants to get an upcoming book into the hands of readers. That being said, it quickly became a nightmarish experience thanks to one group of unchaperoned middle grade students. While waiting patiently next to the Penguin Teen table for the upcoming ARC drop, a group of middle grade students rushed up to the table minutes before the line was to form.

wp-1488728668442.jpg

The girls in the green shirts hovered after being told no less than six times by the Penguin Reads staff to “take a lap” and “keep moving”. Once the line was told to form, those girls shoved their wait in front of every single person who had been doing what they were supposed to do. Not one time was there a parent or someone watching them. They had no respect for authority or adults and clearly did whatever they wanted. I know this because after they grabbed books from Penguin, I witnessed them rushed to the guy manning the First In Line/Random House table and take books from him before he could even get them sat out for his ARC drop. They were also rude during the signing lines. Now yes, I know this should probably fall under the Manners section but it seemed to fit with the Lines section as well. I did end up getting the ARC at this drop and I am grateful, but I felt I had to fight to get that. Nothing about these festivals should feel like a battle.

wp-1488728679015.jpg

 

I did also stand in line for a Fierce Reads ARC drop and it was so organized and calm. Not a slam against the publishers or the people that manned the tables, only an observation on the people in line. (I told the couple behind me I would put them in my blog so here you are! 🙂 )

wp-1488728657450.jpg

 

The other line that is the real focus is the signing lines… but that will come later. Let’s just say that it was calmer than last year but my level of disappointment hit a new low.

2950337_orig.png

Friends

I try to express how important it is to make friends at these festivals. I made more friends this year and was over the moon excited about that!

wp-1488729961203.jpg

#squadgoals – am I right? I know April (@aprillovesbooks) and Ashley (@ashleyoutpaged) from Houston but met Jesse (@JesseTheReader) and Makaelyn (@MakaelynP). They were so much fun to hang around! Never a dull moment with these celebrities. (Photo credit Makaelyn’s mom 🙂 )

I also ran into friends I hadn’t seen in awhile. It made me miss them even more.

wp-1488729953645.jpg

#reunited This is my partner in crime! Putting the two of us together is so much dang fun. ❤ (photo credit: @LaCherenda)

I also ran into Xander (@Foreverbookish – he is a big deal) and Liv (@GrangerLiv – also a big deal!) though I didn’t get photos. 😦 Boo on me for that. I did run into Becky (@Becky_LoveDemi) at the start of the day. That made me happy.

wp-1488728033170.jpg

I still stress the importance of making friends at these events. One can never have enough friends no matter what.

2950337_orig.png

Manners

Let me take a moment to talk about manners. This is something that should be common sense to everyone but it seems to have skipped some (a lot of?) people. I saw a tremendous lack in manners and common courtesy through the entire day. This was strong at the 2016 event and it held true this year. Yes, everything felt more organized and calm this year but that did not stop the students from slamming into me, cutting me off, stepping on my feet, shoving me out of the way, glaring at me for one reason or another, or telling me to get out of their way. Not at any point in time did one of them say, “Excuse me”, or “I’m sorry”, or “please”, or “thank you”. I know it is too much to ask, shame on me.

I know I am an older YA reader and I will never deny that. I embrace who I am and what genre I prefer to read. Nobody should have the right to judge me on that. That being said, it happened to me a lot at this festival. By volunteers. You read that correctly. The volunteers were rude this year. So very rude. I know it was mainly to older readers/attendees because I traded stories with others who were treated this way. Talk about uncalled for. Here is my story: After I made my way to the table with my friends for the Epic Reads wristbands, the volunteer said loudly in front of everyone, “You do realize this is for teens, right? The publisher wants TEENS to attend.” I. Was. Floored. I felt so many emotions at once: rage, anger, embarrassment, shame, and fury. Just typing this now is making my hands shake with anger. Who are you to judge me like that? I happen to know the publisher wants YA readers to enjoy this event, not just teens. If publishers did not want older YA readers to read their books, why put so many on mailing lists for ARCs? Why include so many on blog tours and ask for their opinion on books or events?

That one situation really ruined my day. I carried it with me for the rest of the day and you can confirm that with anyone that was around me. I was not excited to be at this festival any more. Knowing I was being treated that way by volunteers was shattering to my self esteem, my mental status, and my overall thoughts on the festival. Why in the world would I want to attend a festival where I know I’ll be talked to this way by volunteers. Not to mentioned it made me question what I was doing. Should I really be an older reader at a YA festival? More on that later but it made me question a lot of things.

Remember me mentioning the middle grade schoolers who jumped in line and did whatever they wanted? They were very rude when it came to signing lines. One girl behind me huffed a lot and asked me to “move faster” because she wanted to meet the author. Calm down, sweetheart, we are both in the same line that isn’t moving. Being a jerk to me isn’t going to change that. And no, I am not going to let you cut ahead of me. Stop asking.

2950337_orig.png

Panels

I only went to one panel this year: Penguin Teen panel. The description was a bit misleading in the brochure because it made it seem like a lot of the authors would be there. NOPE. It was someone from Penguin talking about the upcoming books.

wp-1488728692385.jpg

2950337_orig.png

Author Signings

Now we get to the topic that you really want to know about (unless you have really been curious about the entire day). I am guessing that you are probably like me and want to know about the authors and the rush of meeting these awesome people. If you read my post from last year (found here: NTTBF ’16 Recap) you will remember what a nightmare the authors signing was like. I’m happy to report that it was only somewhat better this year. Only. Somewhat. Remember how I said I was afraid of getting to the author signing area late? Well, I did show up “on time” (which meant very late) and I was towards the very end of the line. I was already pissed and didn’t care much about being here due to earlier events of the day, so missing the chance to meet a lot of authors for photos and signatures did not hit me as hard as it should have. It hits me hard now and the overwhelming sense of disappointment hits all over again. But feast your eyes on the line to get to the signing lines:

wp-1488728791507.jpg

Chaos. Madness. Rudeness. Whining. Utter defeat. All of these were felt where I was in line. I know I felt a lot of that myself, mainly utter defeat. I honestly asked myself, “Why even bother?” By the time I made it inside the signing area (which you had to continue following a piece of tape along the right wall and around the other side of the room) I had just over an hour to get my books signed. Do you think that went well? No, of course not.

The signing area was done a little differently and authors were given longer lines for people to stand in. sigh That meant I spent 20 minutes waiting to meet just one author. Go ahead, do the math on that. I ended up meeting a total of FOUR authors. FOUR out of FIFTY. To say I was disappointed and defeated, again, is an understatement.

wp-1488728801905.jpg

wp-1488728810756.jpg

wp-1488728821538.jpg

wp-1488728830858.jpg

I didn’t have anyone to help me get my books signed so I was stuck. Again, what else could I do?

Here are the authors I was able to meet:

wp-1488729020840.jpg

Jennifer E. Smith

 wp-1488729028246.jpg

Stephanie Perkins (whom I ❤ so much)

wp-1488729037708.jpg

Adam Silvera

 

wp-1488729045733.jpg

Kiersten White

That is what just over an hour got me. Four authors. Me = let down and defeated (my theme for the day, it seems). I did manage to snag a photo of Veronica Roth on my way out. It was the closest I got to her:

wp-1488729056359.jpg

It isn’t fair that she is that attractive.

2950337_orig.png

My Book Haul

Would you believe me if I tell you that I carried about 60lbs worth of books all day? I even went in light this year thinking I wouldn’t have to carry as much. Little did I know I would be handed beautiful ARCs by wonderful publishers to take home.

All of the books I carried with me all day:

wp-1488914125696.jpg

 

The swag I walked away with. Swag was not as plentiful this year.

wp-1488914142262.jpg

wp-1488758055306.jpg

 

The books I took to be signed:

wp-1488758069314.jpg

Now what I actually had signed:

wp-1488758083501.jpg

 

It looks like a lot, I know, but I had a lot of anthologies that I wanted signed by multiple authors. Should have known that was a pipe dream.

The ARCS I brought home:

wp-1488758100368.jpg

Tote bags for days….

wp-1488914150506.jpg

 

My prize of the day was finding this oddly cut copy of Kiersten White’s ARC Now I Rise

wp-1488758112364.jpg

Pretty rad, no? I did have Kiersten sign it. 🙂 She even took a picture of it!

2950337_orig.png

 

EDIT: Overall Thoughts

I love this event and will go back next year, and the year after that. I will scream it from the rooftops how much I adore and support this event. My opinions here are meant to be heartfelt and with no harsh tones at all.

I have now been on both sides of a book festival – planning and attending. I truly believe the NTTBF planners took the comments from attendees last year that the signings needed to be handled better. I believe the signings were handled better but it still does break my heart to know I was one of those at the back of the lines that was given such a short amount of time to potentially meet the authors I wanted. It really did kick me in the gut and wear me down. I did have thoughts of picking up my book bags and walking to my car to just end the day. Why stand in line for 20 minutes to get no more than three books signed by the author? (I was yelled at by a volunteer for putting four books in front of one author. Thankfully the author came to my rescue but the damage was already done.) I know there were a lot of people at the event and we all had the same goal. It still doesn’t make me feel any better. I know I have a somewhat established library and as a result I have a lot of books. Why would I not take advantage of them being signed? I know I sound super pessimistic and selfish but when I got my hopes up that high to meet authors and have a great time, only to not have all of that happen, I can’t help but feel down.

I urge everyone to try to attend this if you can, but either go with a friend or make friends there. Remember – BE NICE TO PEOPLE. THAT GOES FOR YOU TOO, VOLUNTEERS. Nothing gives you the right to pass judgement on someone because they look over 18 and read YA books. You have no idea how much of an affect your mean words can have one someone’s state of mind, feelings, and emotions.

Keep in mind if you have to sacrifice panels to stand in line, ask yourself if it is really worth it to you. If the answer is yes, there you go. I skipped panels for the chance to see what the publishers brought or what events they were holding. Still not sure if it was the best thing for me due to manners and crowds but at least I tried.

As you can tell, that one comment from early in the day really did stay with me. Heck, it is still with me. No matter how much I interacted with fellow readers or was recognized by authors (still blows my mind…), that one comment shadowed everything else. I could not move past it. I don’t like holding on to things like this but I don’t ever want anyone to have this happen to them. It did raise a question in my mind that I may create into a discussion post: Should your age determine if you attend a YA festival? Obviously my answer is no because a majority of the demographics of YA readers/book buyers is 18-64. What I do strongly believe is that nobody has the right to judge me or anyone else on what books they read. I know, I know, it shouldn’t matter right? I was only 1 of over 10,000 and I should move on. Answer me this: How would you feel if something like this was said to you? end soap box rant.

 

So tell me, did you attend this event? Or would you attend this event? What are you thoughts on everything I laid out about the day? I want to hear from you.sara-signature1

 

 

NTTBF ’16 Recap

Welcome to my North Texas Teen Book Festival 2016 Recap! It was April 23, 2016 in Irving, TX. It is only the second year for this festival but it has grown so much from its first year. I will do my best to properly review this lovely book festival.

 

Location

The festival was at the Irving Convention Center. It is a very nice place for an event like this and thankfully more of the center was used as opposed to last year. This festival was on four different floors. Let that sink in. Four different floors. That meant there was a LOT of walking and carrying of books up & down escalators. I heard a lot of attendees being confused where things were. They were upset about missing panels because they weren’t sure where GB3 was located. That’s fair if you hadn’t been to this center before.

 

Book Sales

What booknerd doesn’t love book sales??? Half Price Books provided the books again this year and they did a great job. They had (nearly) all of the books alphabetized and easy to find. Absolutely no complaints here.

 

Lines

Oh have mercy on me, lines. There were lines nearly everywhere you went. There was a line to get into the festival first thing in the morning. This year they did not open doors until 8am, which caused a huge backup/congestion of attendees. They were standing into the garage, which was almost blocking traffic. Last year they let us in to wander around before 8am. That way you could buy books or just get familiar with the building.

The organizers did something new this year where you had to wait in another line for signing lines tickets if you wanted to see one of three authors: Marie Lu, James Dashner, or Gayle Forman. Those tickets were going to be handed out at 11am, but with the way the crowds were going…. waiting until 11am would not be an option. I was in the book signing line with my new friend, Cherie (HI!! *waves*), at 9:30am when we chose to forgo any panels to sit in line for the ticket signing passes.  Once I found out where the passes would be handed out, I sat down and saw many people fall in line after me. Somehow I managed to be first in line for the passes! But I clearly was not the only one who wanted these golden tickets.

20160423_100329.jpg

That line wrapped around to the right of this picture and kept going. We found out later that they had 160 tickets to pass out. I had to be the muscle and kick people out of line for trying to cut in front of everyone, or asking if they could just hang out with us ignoring the hundreds of people that were already in line. The topic of Manners will come later in this post. Needless to say, I only got passes for the authors I wanted – Lu and Forman. I was trying to be mindful of the people who truly wanted to see Dashner and did not just grab all of the things.

20160423_111736.jpg

20160423_110141.jpg

 

The other line that is the real focus is the signing lines… but that will come later. Let’s just say that it was insanity, terrifying, and maddening in the worst ways possible.

 

Friends

I cannot stress enough how important it is to make friends at these events! Not only is it awesome to have new book friends in general, but you are able to have a partner in crime throughout the day! I drove to this event with the mindset I would be by myself all day. That was not the case! While standing in line for some swag, my new friend Cherie started chatting me up. I swear we became insta-friends! She was my better half on this day and I am forever grateful she turned around and asked me some weird question. 🙂 Cherie found a friend while standing in line to buy books, Han! Here we all around in front of the “Endless Stories” display. I’m standing really weird because the girl taking the picture did NOT get all of our books in the picture. If she would have, there would be about 7 large bags full of amazing.

20160423_105416.jpg

Festivals are also a GREAT time to meet up with wonderful friends you don’t get to see too often! I ran into two of my favorites: Xander and Mary. ❤

20160423_084553.jpg

20160423_105751.jpg

 

Manners

Let me take a moment to talk about manners. This is something that should be common sense to everyone but it seems to have skipped some (a lot of?) people. I saw a tremendous lack in manners and common courtesy through the entire day. Not only in verbal manners, but physical as well. I was ran into, knocked into, ran over, shoved out of the way, and cut off more times than I can ever remember. Not one time did anyone stop to excuse themselves, it was all about them and clearly I was in their way.

Please always remember that the Golden Rule still does mean something and it works. I could use other phrases like, “You get more flies with honey than with vinegar” but you get my point. Being a rude, inconsiderate, screaming attendee is not going to make anyone want to help you. On top of that, if as an attendee you are rude to other attendees, you just lost any chance you had of me helping you. Just remember, you are not the only one at this festival. I am not saying I am better than anyone else, please know that, but when I asked for guidance or help from a volunteer, believe me when I say they were more apt to want to help me than if I had started screaming at them. And they remembered me in a good way! I would run into the same volunteers later in the day and they would ask if there was anything they could help with. That was amazing.

Also, please do not ask or assume you can cut in line with someone that you do not know. We had this happen many, many times while waiting for signing line tickets early in the day. I spent a good portion of my time in line directing people away from cutting in front of us. I swear I came across as a bully but I’m not. Please know that I am not. One boy even asked if he could hang out with us. I kindly told him this was the front of the line and he would have to go to the end of said line. He said, “I know, but I want to hang out with you at the front.” No, sweetheart, that is not how this works. Another girl pretty much begged us to get her book signed for her by one of the authors. Sorry, but that doesn’t work either.

 

Panels

I was only able to attend about 1.5 panels throughout the entire day. I spent the rest of my time in lines or grabbing lunch. One panel I attended was really good and I enjoyed it a lot. I felt bad for Marie Lu, who was on this panel, as the poor girl was mobbed by fans before the panel started and then had to be escorted out by security.

 

Author Signings

Now we get to the topic that you really want to know about (unless you have really been curious about the entire day). I know, you are probably like me and want to know about the authors and the rush of meeting these awesome people. Yes, it was a rush but it was more terrifying than anything. I don’t mean meeting the authors was terrifying… the 1.5 hours leading up to the signings were terrifying. I have never been involved with a mob rush before, but I can now say that I have. My friends and I did what we were supposed to do: we sat by the door that was going to open and let people into the signing area. This year, it was in one large room, not like last year where it was in three different areas. About 45 minutes before the doors were supposed to open, things got really scary. With no communication and out of nowhere, there was a mad rush of thousands of kids running to the far side of the convention center and they were all screaming at the top of their lungs. Try to picture that. Thousands of screaming kids running. I had no idea what was going on but it was truly horrific. I found myself smacked by book bags and more bodies than I care to count. We found out later that the kids/teens mob rushed to the far side of the center because someone told them the line to get into the signing area was moving over there, where everyone would be put into another line. If you did what you were supposed to and waited by the doors, You. Were. Screwed. You lost your place in line and you found yourself at the end of an 8,000 person line. And with only an hour and a half for signings, that meant you were pissed and screwed. Kiss any and all chances of meeting the authors goodbye.

Now, I want to say that I am sure that the line was moved for the safety of everyone because one cop walked by at one point and was a d-bag yelling at kids, telling them to get out of the hallway because they were blocking the walking path. I am all for rules and safety, but screaming like that was not necessary. If there had been an emergency and medical needed to get to someone, they were simply not getting through that crowd. But herding us into another line and only letting 20 people into the signing area at a time was not making anyone happy. I found out later that the people at the back of the line were forced to stand outside of the building and were out there for almost an hour, waiting to get in.

My friends and I were invited us to stand with another group of friends I made earlier in the day . Here is the roped line inside of the signing area – and this was to get into the author signing area:

In front of me

20160423_145944.jpg

 

Behind me:

20160423_145954.jpg

I did not see the lines beyond this room but I heard it was a nightmare. It still took me 20 minutes or so to get into the actual author signing area and I swear to you – I did everything reasonably within my power to make the most of my time. I was still very nice to everyone. Even the occasional author that walked by and remembered who I was! Here we are with Becky Wallace herself. I truly adore her.

20160423_153115.jpg

 

Here is who I was able to meet once I made it past the ropes:

Gayle Forman was my first stop. The author next to her stole my thunder when I thought I was the first person to meet Gayle, when in fact I was the second. You will notice that I held to the two book rule, but am kicking myself. I noticed later that people were giving her (and others) 5-6 books to signed. I gave up having her sign two books to stick to the rules. It appears I was the only one.

20160423_154432.jpg

 

Jodi Meadows. I popped over to her table to have her sign my ARC of My Lady Jane20160423_155002.jpg

Caragh M. O’Brien. She was such a delight to meet! 20160423_155548.jpg

 

Marie Lu (!!!) Sorry the picture is fuzzy. We were given NO time to take photos, even if they were awkward off to the side photos.

20160423_160334.jpg

 

Carrie Ryan (!!) She was so adorable! I loved chatting with her.

20160423_160900.jpg

 

Amy Spalding and Jessica Spotswood. I was moving pretty quick through the signing lines so if I had the chance to get a photo with both authors, I jumped at it. Both of these ladies were just lovely.

20160423_161146.jpg

 

One of my dear favorites – Victoria Scott! (TX will miss you, my dear)

20160423_161727.jpg

 

Brodi Ashton and Victoria Aveyard. I was getting ready to take this picture and told Victoria, “Just so you know, I’m getting you in this photo”. She laughed and did her best to pose. She was so in demand at this event.

20160423_162123.jpg

 

Rachel Caine was a doll! She was so excited to meet everyone!

20160423_162504.jpg

 

Jessica Brody and Julie Buxbaum. I adore these two! They were both such amazing people.

20160423_162854.jpg

Cynthia Hand. She was another delightful author to meet. 🙂

20160423_163751.jpg

 

The ever lovely, Claudia Gray. She wanted to talk to me about her fanfiction. 🙂 If I had more time, darling, I would have let you talk my ear off about it. ❤

20160423_165552.jpg

 

Andrea Cremer. She was so incredibly sweet!

20160423_165744.jpg

 

Sarah Rees Brennan (!!) Sarah did tell me that she loves to collect her reader’s tears and wear them in a jar around her neck. I believe I love her for this.

20160423_173159.jpg

 

Lori Goldstein (!!!!) I have been such a huge supporter and fan of hers from the start! I was over the moon excited to finally meet her in person. This had made my day!20160423_163515.jpg

 

If you are curious about how busy and crowded the signing lines were, here are two photos I took and these were at the end of the day. :-O

20160423_170128.jpg

20160423_170130.jpg

 

My Book Haul

Would you believe me if I tell you that I carried about 75lbs worth of books all day? My motto: go big or go home. I come to festivals on a mission and I get the most I can out of them. My bags for the day:

 

20160423_093526.jpg

 

Here is a better view of all of the books I carried with me throughout the entire day (no regrets, btw):

20160424_202823.jpg

After the maddness of the signing lines and various lines closing or being cut off early, this is what I actually got signed:

 

20160424_202917.jpg

 

Notice a lot of my stack disappear, don’t you? I will openly admit that I am heartbroken that I wasn’t able to get to meet some authors that hardly ever come to Texas (Dallas or Houston). There were some books I was okay with not getting signed, but the rest really did upset me. I will count myself as one of the fortunate ones that was able to move through so many lines. Before the lines truly shut down, I saw many kids have to leave lines because their school buses were leaving. I’m sure there were some people that didn’t get to meet anyone.

 

The swag I walked away with (if you want swag, we should talk. I have TONS)20160425_210608.jpg

 

Fast Pass/Super Fast Pass

This was new for 2016. For $100 you could buy a Fast Pass that got you to the front of 10 signing lines. For $200 (or $250?) you could buy a Super Fast Pass and get to the front of 25 author lines. I see pros and cons to both. I did not purchase either of these (I don’t have that kind of disposable income) but I can tell you that after standing in one line for 20 minutes at the end of the day to see the last author that was there only to find out we hadn’t moved because four girls used their Fast Pass at the same time, it made me and the other people cranky. We gave up seeing other authors to stand in that line and making us wait longer was not enjoyable.

 

 

EDIT: Overall Thoughts

I love this event and will go back next year, and the year after that. I will scream it from the rooftops how much I adore and support this event. My opinions here are meant to be heartfelt and with no harsh tones at all.

I have now been on both sides of a book festival – planning and attending. I can only hope that the planners attempt to plan the author signings better. My personal opinion (as an attendee) is that the signing worked better last year. Last year there were three different signing areas and that let the attendees plan where to go and who to see without the congestion of terrifying kid/teen mobs. Maybe there is nothing that can be done to ease congestion if the number of attendees keeps jumping. That is a great problem for NTTBF as it means they are being well received in the book community, but it is horrific for the attendees as they have to sacrifice panels to get in line for something else.

Concessions/Food was MUCH better, thank you for having multiple areas for people to get food. Last year I waited with my friend Mariah and her now husband for over an hour to get a $7 sandwich.

I urge everyone to try to attend this if you can, but either go with a friend or make friends there. Remember – BE NICE TO PEOPLE. It will get you farther than you think it will. Have some sort of game plan. If you have to sacrifice panels to stand in line, ask yourself if it is really worth it to you. If the answer is yes, there you go. I skipped panels to get tickets to Lu/Forman and I do not regret this decision.

Addition: The one question I asked to every author – every single one of them – was if they were having a good time or not. I feel this is important to mention because all of them, every single one of them, had the same response, “This festival is amazing!” They never saw what we, as attendees, saw. They didn’t experience the complete terror that was a rush of thousands of screaming kids/teens, but maybe that is a good thing. These people get noticed almost everywhere they go so I’m sure things being quiet on their side was a good thing. If they have a great time, they will tell others, who will tell their managers/publishers/etc, and that is always a very good thing.

 

So tell me, did you attend this event? Or would you attend this event? What are you thoughts on everything I laid out about the day? I want to hear from you.sara-signature1

Book Festival Season: NTTBF ’16

I do love Spring for various reasons… Winter is finally gone and temperatures are warming up… Time for cute clothes that are not seven inches thick which can make you look like a snowman….  also because it is book festival season! Time to start planning which book festivals are coming close to where you live and who might you meet: new or old friends; new authors or ones you have met before; so many possibilities! Plus, there is the anticipation of getting your beloved books signed. I take a lot of pride in my books, but more so when I know the author themselves have written a note to me inside the cover. Well, it could be a generic note but I don’t care. It is signed to me and the author autographed – that is worth its weight in gold to me.

One of the newest festivals, and one of the most exciting yet, is North Texas Teen Book Festival. 2016 marks the second year for this event and I have no doubt it will be bigger and better than its first year.

image

I was so beyond myself excited for the amazing attendees and authors last year, that I came home totally worn out but had a huge smile on my face. I think I walked away a winner with the books I got signed.

image

I want to note that at this time I had not read The Grisha Series. When I met Leigh Bardugo and she asked me who my favorite character was, I openly told her that I had not read her series because it scared the sh*t out of me. She laughed loudly and said that nobody had the guts to tell her that before. Interactions like that stay with a reader for a long time.

I feel 2016 will be one for the books (no pun intended)! It is difficult for me to say exactly who I am most excited to meet because I want to meet them all. I hope to make new friends as I believe fellow bloggers will be attending and that makes me happy. NTTBF16 is this coming from weekend (April 23) in Irving, TX so expect a follow up post about how everything went down. If you are attending and we talk, be warned I get super nervous and tend to become a huge dork – I apologize in advance for that.

So tell me, are you going to NTTBF16? What book festivals will you be attending this year? Which author are you most excited to meet? I wanna hear from you!

image