YALLFest Day 1: Recap

10:35:00 PM

I don't even know how to write an intro to this post, I am still that shaken up over today!! Today was so incredible, I got the opportunity to meet some of my top favorite authors and had an unforgettable time while doing so.

I started out this morning by swinging by the Charleston County Public Library to pick up my reserved wristbands for the Red Carpet Preview event. The CCPL has its very own YA section, complete with cardboard standees of the Golden Trio, BBC's Sherlock Holmes, Groot, a reading nook accented with iconic DFTBA posters and book quotes, a big giant TARDIS, a chalkboard wall, and tons of other neat things that really tie the department together. I wish my library back home had a teen space comparable to this one! When I got there, they were setting up for the afternoon event by rolling out a red carpet and making signs denoting the lines for each author's signing.

After leaving the library, I decided to walk over to King Street and get a feel for the layout, scope out signing locations (and already forming lines, eeks!) and basically see what was way. I grabbed a cup of chai over at Kudu Coffee before heading over to Blue Bicycle and watched other YALLFest attendees gather around stacks of books and gush over their favorites. They were still in th process of setting up their merch tent, so my parents and I continued to make our way down the block. As we passed Jeni's ice cream shop (a huge line for Veronica Roth's signing already forming), my dad noticed a micro distillery next door and we went inside; to my utter delight, the owner had brought their two dogs in to work, two incredibly friendly and super cute shih tzus. I mean, come on. PUPPIES!

After this, we headed over to Magnifilous Toy Emporium, where Victoria Aveyard was set to sign in a few hours. We browsed the shop, a total delight for anybody who is a kid at heart. Their selection ranged fro vintage toys to modern, eclectic collections and a wide range of stuffed animals and other neat trinkets. We marveled at the shop's whimsy; it truly had charm of its own, and independent toys stores are harder to come by these days.

We ate lunch at an AWESOME restaurant/bar called Prohibition. The inside was made to look like a 1920's speakeasy, and their specialty drinks included moonshine and hooch in real prohibition era fashion. The decor was an interior design/pinterest geek's heaven. The food? Ridiculously good. I ordered a BLT and the amount of bacon on my sandwich was probably enough to cause heart disease. But that was fine by me, because the garlic goat cheese and butter lettuce on a toasty ciabatta roll were exceptionally paired with the smoky bacon.

Hungry yet? Sorry, I got a little off-track there... Back to the books! Right after lunch, I went back to the toy store to meet up with Lillie! There was a very small line formed by then, but we only had to wait about an hour and a half before the signing. Victoria was by far one of the sweetest authors I've ever met! She signed my book to Gee, my nickname, as I share it with one of the characters in Red Queen! She complimented my button-making skills and even recognized Lillie from twitter! She graciously posed for pictures with us, too:

After seeing Vic, Lillie and I booked it back to the museum so that we could get to the Red Carpet Preview early. We were met with the surprise of goody bags provided by Penguin Teen that contained bookmarks, prieviews of An Ember in the Ashes and The Glittering Court, and even an ARC of Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys! BIG thanks to Penguin Teen for putting those together for us! 

(I tried --and failed-- to squeeze Greg Neri into the picture on the far left...)

The panel itself was fantastic. Each author was so funny, real, and down to earth. It felt like having a conversation rather than watching them all talk to us. After the panel we were able to get our books signed. I started with Leigh, and got all four of my books signed by her as we chatted for a little brief moment about her books; she asked who my favorite character was, but stopped herself after she saw my Darkling button that I had made! She thought it was cool that I share my middle name (Alyna, spelled with a Y) with her character Alina, as I had her make out one of my books to me with my first and middle name. After Leigh, we got in line to sign for Richelle. She was just as fun to talk to, super laid back and very kind as she signed my copies of Bloodlines and The Last Sacrifice.

Altogether I got my top authors to sign my books tonight, which I'm extremely happy about because that means tomorrow I get to focus on more authors instead of the really big ones whose lines will, no doubt, be super long! My night ended on a high note, as my parents and I went for a drive by the waterfront and got some yummy boba tea treats.

 I know this was pretty long, and I'm about to go to bed so I haven't proofread this post, but I hope it was coherent enough for you to follow along! What authors would be your priority at a festival like this?

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