April 27, 2015


Hey guys!
A few days ago, I had the pleasure and honor of attending the very first ever Yallwest. Yallwest is the sister festival to Yallfest, held annually for the past 5 years in Charleston, South Carolina. Yallwest was founded by Santa Monicans Melissa De La Cruz and Margaret Stohl. The lineup this year was fantastic, containing authors such as Ransom Riggs, Tahereh Mafi, Kami Garcia, Brendan Reichs, and Lauren Oliver, just to name a few. Check out the entire lineup here. Anyways, Yallwest is typically a two-day festival, but I only stayed for Saturday, which was the main part anyways. Most of the famous authors and interesting panels took place Saturday, so I don't think I missed out on much. Yallwest was fantastically fabulous. I had tons and tons of fun! If you didn't get a chance to go, you should definitely consider making plans for next year. Below, I'm going to talk a little about the panels, the signings, other stuff that was going on, and also a survival guide for all of you who plan to go next year.

Yallwest in all it's glory. So much better than Coachella, guys. Seriously.

~Survival Guide a.k.a What To Bring~
1. This one's the most important- people. Bring lots and lots of people so you can divide and conquer. Some of the lines were reallllly long, and 8 authors sign in the same hour. So, if you bring friends, one of you can stand in line A and the other in line B and one more in line C or something. Also, each author signs a maximum of 3 things, so if you have more than 3 books to get signed give some to a parent or friend that didn't bring any. If you bring parents or friends too, you can get more tickets to spin a wheel and win ARC's and you get more freebies! But, the most important thing is that Yallwest is an experience best taken in when you're with people you're close to. The more, the merrier, right?
2. Coffee if you're a coffee person. Getting in line at 7 or 8 am for a 10 am keynote often means you have to get up early, especially if you're not a local. They did serve free coffee at around 9:15, but just in case.
3. Water and snacks are super important. When you wait in line, being hungry or thirsty is not a good thing. Bring food. There were tons of food trucks serving shaved ice, ice cream, grilled cheese, and in n out, but it's always good to have snacks when you're in line.
4. A portable charger, camera, and phone is really really really important to have so that your phone doesn't die the second you want to take a picture.
5. Money to buy books. Enough said.
6. Comfy shoes. Seriously. I wore Nikes and my feet were almost blister-y by the end of the night. Imagine if I wore heels or something. *Shudders.* Also, wear layers since the weather can be weird.
7. A notebook and a pen are a great idea if you want to take down some notes about what the panelists say. Or, y'know, the notes app on your phone works too.
8. If you have a lot of books you want to get signed ( I didn't) bring a wheeled suitcase or crate. It will save your shoulders.

Patience and enthusiasm are must-haves too. Okay, that sounds corny, but you know what I mean.

I. Signings

I got a grand total of 4 books signed - one that I had brought, and three that I had purchased. I already owned We Were Liars by E. Lockhart, so I got that signed. I also bought The 100 by Kass Morgan, Panic by Lauren Oliver, and Noggin by John Corey Whaley. All three of those were also signed, thanks to my AMAZING mom who patiently stood in all the lines so I could go to the panels. The lines for some authors wrapped around the block three times *cough cough Veronica Roth* and some were only a few people long, like John Corey Whaley's. Either way, bring something to do while you're in line. I also received an ARC of a book by Sara Shepard, but someone asked me for it and in return they bought me a copy Popular. Unfortunately I couldn't get that signed because it was too late in the day. Oh well, maybe next time. Also, you'll notice I only bought paperbacks because I didn't feel like lugging the hardcovers around. Lazy me. :)
My Yallwest book haul, everybody.

II. Panels

The panels at Yallwest were soooo fun. It was actually really hard to pick which ones to go to. At 10 A.M. I attended the Morning Keynote with Ransom Riggs. It was really really cool and lots of fun. Ransom talked about how he found some old photos at a market, purchased them, and began to write stories drawing inspiration from the photo and the inscription behind it. By combining a lot of these photos, stories, and ideas, Ransom wrote Ms. Peregrine's Home For Peculiar Children. His one piece of advice? The mind is a fiction-making machine. Listen!

I missed the 11 o'clock panels because of signings, but I did go to the 12 o'clock panel, It's A __ World. This panel was about how gender, race, and sexuality can affect a character and a story. People on the panel were Libba Bray, C. Alexander London, Marie Lu, Tahereh Mafi, and Nicola Yoon. This was moderated by Kami Garcia. After a really interesting discussion, I asked a question, which was, "Does writing a straight white character become a bad thing when we're trying to diversify YA?" A lot of the authors complimented me on my question, to which I was like, !!!, and then they told me that no, it's not a bad thing, because we're trying to write the world as it really is, and there are straight white people in the world. Very astute, if I do say so myself.

It says - For Soumya- Thanks for being here and for reading! Lauren Oliver.

At 1 PM, I attended the That Time I Sucked panel, moderated by Brendan Reichs. On this panel, there was Melissa de la Cruz, Lisi Harrison, Tahereh Mafi, Veronica Roth, Coe Booth, and Greg Neri. It was one of the best panels ever. Most of the authors shared a one-star review their book had received. For example, someone called a book of Veronica Roth's "The Taco Bell of Books." The question remains whether they mean tasty or cheap and easily reproducible. Unfortunately my money's on the latter. In addition to this, another reviewer called one of Brendan Reich's books "My first and last book." That's pretty intense, but at least his book was the first one someone read! Authors also talked about other things such as death threats from readers. (!)

Aww, thanks, Kass Morgan.

At 2 o'clock, I got to watch a crazy round of truth or dare between Julie Berry, Aaron Hartzler, Holly Goldberg Sloan, Gary Rosen, and John Corey Whaley. The moderators, Pseudonymous Bosch and C. Alexander London, also took part in some of the challenges. Below, I'll talk about some of the highlights. Aaron Hartzler did an interpretive dance of his memoir with the help of some parasols. Holly Goldberg Sloan told a funny story about when she got bit in the face by an alligator, and did the expressions as well. Gary Rosen talked about how he wished he could go back to eighth grade and solve the Manson Murders. He also said that the entire panel had slept at his house. Take that as you will :D. John Corey Whaley had to pick a historical figure to put his head on, and he chose Channing Tatum and James Dean. *Starts singing Style* aaaanyways, there was also a speed round, in which JCW kissed HGS on the cheek, PSB sang a few words of "Somewhere Over The Rainbow" JB did a celebrity impression, and AL hugged a random crowd member. It was so funny and I had a great time.

I just read this and fell in love with it. Guys, read Noggin. Read it.

At 3. Oh, at 3. At three, I got to meet jessethereader, polandbananasbooks, and katytastic, or, Jesse, Christine, and Katy. It was a lot of fun to ask them questions. I asked them about their favorite YA characters and they had a lot to say about that. Christine said Will Herondale and Percy Jackson, as well as Tessa Gray, and Sydney from Bloodlines because she's anxious like Christine. Jesse said Isabelle, as in SimonandIsabelle from the Mortal Instruments, and also Harper. I forget what Harper's from. Ooopsies. Kat chose Katniss Everdeen, Will Herondale, and Hermione Granger. I also took part in a round of Jeopardy where I lost on the question "What is the latest movie release that was a contemporary book?" The answer was The Duff. I should have known that. I didn't. :( I didn't get a picture, however, because the line was too long.

E. Lockhart had a very fitting personalization. And I got a bookmark. Double win!

I missed the 4 pm keynote because the tickets had been sold out, so instead I spun a wheel and won some ARCs, got a few books signed, and did some other fun stuff like a photobooth strip with my mom and getting my makeup done like a character's. At 5, I attended part of a Pants Not Required: Real Talk About Writing seminar with Elizabeth Craft, Marissa Meyer, Kass Morgan, Brendan Reichs, Ransom Riggs, and Carrie Ryan. It was moderated by Veronica Rossi. Midway through, I left to go back home. Overall, Yallwest was AMAZING AMAZING AMAZINGLY AWESOME. I had an insane time and I really hope to go back next year.

That's it for this crazy long post! Hope you enjoyed and didn't fall asleep midway through. Tell me what you thought down below in the comments!

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