Friday, November 16, 2012

My (ridiculously lengthy) Texas Book Festival Recap + Giveaway

So as I previously mentioned, this year I was lucky enough to be able to attend the Texas Book Festival, held annually in Austin, Texas. It's a bit of a drive (3 hours there, 3 back home) which is why I'm not always able to go, but once I saw the line-up, I begged and begged my ride, and of course, as my constant whining usually wins out, my non-bookish friend agreed to accompany me. (YAY! Two for you, April Coco! What a trooper.)

Day One

We arrived a little late, which meant all the parking garages in close proximity to festival grounds were already snatched - just our luck, of course. So we spent a good chunk of the morning circling the capitol in search of a non-sketchy parking space. We finally found a pretty questionably deserted garage, but decided to just not question it and instead, went with it and parked ourselves.

The first day of the fest, I didn't actually attend any of the panels, just the signing tents since they were all taking place at the same times and more than anything, I just wanted to meet my favorites and get my books signed.

Luckily, I started the day off with two of the best: Maggie Stiefvater and Maureen Johnson. For some reason, I was the only person there that had more than two books for them to sign, and even more surprising, they looked a little surprised to see my fangirl stack, too. Yeah, sorry, I can't help myself. I hardly go to many signings since the area of Texas I live in isn't that blessed with author visits, so you can't blame me for taking full advantage of this opportunity.

The two of them were really nice as I handed them each my stack of books to sign. Maureen even had some Maureen Stare tattoos and she gave me a few when I asked about them and told her about the blog. Maggie was also super great and I kind of went all ditzy and tongue-tied on her and unleashed my love for The Scorpio Races and Sean Kendrick. She said it was also her favorite, and she loved writing it so much, she wanted to write a sequel, only she realized there wasn't any story left to tell. (Thankfully, I'm quite pleased with how it left off even though I'd love some more Sean Kendrick...) I also asked her how she liked Austin and she said she loved it, and told me a story of her cabby in Houston, who asked where she was headed next, and when she said Austin, he said she'd love it - it was full of her kind of people.

Next was the line for Kristin Cashore. It was pretty insanely long when I found it, so I stood in good ol' bipolar TX weather for a good 45 minutes until I was able to get up to the front. Kristin was really sweet and really quiet, but so am I so it wasn't really a chatty experience. (I really need to work on not getting all star/author-struck.)

After that, it was Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl's time to sign. As I stood in line, Beautiful Creatures movie posters were being passed out for us to get signed as well. They, as always, were really fun and asked who else I was going to see. I mentioned the authors whose lines I'd just previously stood in, and they started talking about how crazy/cool it was that Maggie Stiefvater bought a racecar, which yes, totally happened, and even intensifies her coolness factor.

Once out of that line, I decided a much needed Starbucks break was in order, as well as a break from standing and carrying a bazillion pounds of books. (Did I mention I had a rolling bag, and it was still oh, so painful? Because it totally was. I had multiple handcramps that day.)

When we finished our drinks and decided our legs were maneuverable again, I made my way to Becca Fitzpatrick's signing. She was super adorable and really interacted with everyone in the line. She asked how my time was at the festival so far and I said tiring. She laughed and said she was surprised at how big it was, since it was her first time visiting, then we chatted about how everything was going there and who I was there to see. Her publicist even asked if I wanted a picture, which I thought was really sweet considering not all authors pose for pictures, but I had to decline due to my appearance. (Did I mention I had some horrible static frizz going on? Because yeah, I did. It was just a really bad hair day weekend.) Thankfully, they thought it was more funny than rude and we parted.

Afterwards, the only author left for the day was Andrea Cremer. I met her for the first time in Austin at the book fest in 2010, so it was nice to see her again - this time, with three additional books to sign. She also had posters available, and signed one for me.

I'd really wanted to stay for the nighttime activities the fest has to offer since I've yet to experience any of it, but I knew I subjected my friends to enough torture of walking and carrying books all day, so we decided on a dinner & a movie night instead. (We saw Pitch Perfect and it was fabulous!)

Day Two

I'd never attended both days of the festival before, but I figured not many others did either so it wouldn't be as hectic. I was surprisingly right for once. I got there early because it was the day of Michelle Hodkin's, David Levithan's and Hilary Weisman Graham's panel. I was excited to say the least. This was the only panel I attended, and of course, I have no pictures because I was dumb and forgetful in all my excitement while packing, that I left my camera behind. But it was so great!

They all talked about their different ways of writing, and Michelle said she's not a big outliner; she's always known how the series is going to end, but there are many paths and twists that have come up along the way. That said, even with those little surprises and adventures, there's always been a distinctive end she's been writing towards. She also said first drafts are the worst since it's almost like vomiting words, but it gets better once it's out; revising is the most fun for her (for example, for Evolution, she loved bringing up certain things that come back into play from the first book).

She also talked about loving and being addicted to Twitter and social media, and really interacting with her readers, which I loved since I honestly don't think there's quite an author like her when it comes to talking with fans; she's so gracious and humble.

David Levithan talked about how Every Day was the only book he just wrote and didn't outline; it took him a year to write, like most of his books. And I thought it was particularly interesting that he seemed to have quite a different view of social media. He stated that he doesn't think interacting on Twitter impacts book sales much, and the best way for an author to improve and broaden their audience is to write more books, not more tweets. As much as I agree with writing many books for us (yep, greedy reader here), on the contrary (as a blogger and reader), I think an online presence has a big impact on sales. From my own personal experiences, there are numerous books I've picked up or put on my wish list or to-be-read lists simply because I discovered the author through Twitter. Also, I'm very much more inclined to buy someone's book who loves talking to readers and @replies them back with a nice response as opposed to someone that has absolutely no online presence. That's just me, though.

Hilary Weisman Graham talked about her switch of careers from producer to screen play writer and novelist, as well as her time on the reality show On the Lot, a reality show on the lookout for America's great director, which she credits helped her realize that what she liked most about directing/producing was writing and developing stories.

Setting was also discussed; Michelle said Florida seemed perfect at first since it was where she grew up and there weren't that many YA books that were set there at the time she was writing it, but it's also a particularly weird place, and one she's never forgotten, so it made the perfect setting for her book. David said for Every Day, it was less about the setting since it was always changing, and Hilary said since it's a road trip, the only constant setting was the lime green van the girls are traveling in, which is named the Pea Pod.

Overall, it was such a great panel, but I decided to leave a little early to get ahead in the signing line, since we still had a long drive back home. Kinda bummed now thinking of all the questions and interesting answers I missed.

When it was time to sign, David was really great and signed all three of my books for me. Then I got to Michelle and introduced myself, FINALLY! We finally met. She's one of my absolute favorites, so to say I've finally met her is such an accomplishment - her books are that amazing, people. She thanked me for my review (which you can find here, hint hint, nudge nudge) and exclaimed at how many books I'd brought with me. Since I already have a finished signed copy of Mara Dyer 1 that I bought from her launch party at Books&Books last year, she signed my FC of Evolution and both my ARCs. (Funny sidenote: she mentioned how pristine my ARCs looked - I told you I'm that anal about my books' condition, even she noticed! haha) She said she was jealous I had an ARC since she didn't have any more. Then she asked what other authors I loved and I replied with the name of the lady whose next book I am seriously DYYYING to read - Gayle Forman, then we gushed at how hot Adam was, and she mentioned she'll be in NYC with Gayle soon, which she's excited for since she hasn't met her yet. (FYI, this event was cancelled due to stupid Sandy, but I'm assuming they met at Yallfest) It was oh, so great to meet her and I especially loved the Noah bookplate she gave me and the quote she wrote in my Evolution ARC.

She asked who my favorite character was, I replied Noah, of course (haha, no shame) and she included this^. I may have died from a swoon-induced stroke. Twice. Needless to say, this quote is present in one of my FAVORITE scenes. *insert swoony sigh here*

Since it was time to go, as we were heading out passing the children's signing tent, I noticed Lisa Mcmann was scheduled to sign just minutes later, so I decided to get in line and wait. She came, and was so nice. I only had her Dream Catcher series on me, but she commented on how it was a first edition and I explained to her how I'd bought all of them on their release day since I'd first met her online years ago through myspace. She asked what my username was and I couldn't even remember, it was that long ago (sorry myspace). She asked who else I'd seen at the fest and I told her of Levithan and Michelle Hodkin. I also let her know how excited I was for Crash's release and how much I was looking forward to it and she agreed she couldn't wait either. I thanked her, and then headed on my merry way.

My collective haul:

Overall, this event was a huge success and I am so glad and SO THANKFUL to everyone that attended - my friends who went with me and carried many of my bags, my favorite authors for being so great and nice and fun, and my mom for funding the trip.


Now, the fun part! I wasn't able to pick up much due to the time constraints - it was seriously SO hectic and the lines - signing and buying - were crazy, but I knew I was not going to leave Austin empty handed for my followers. So up for grabs is:

- a signed HC copy of The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer + a matching bookmark
- a signed Beautiful Creatures movie poster + a Caster Chronicles bookmark
- a Maureen Johnson book of your choice + 2 Maureen Stare tattoos

To enter, we're going retro, so please fill out the form here.

*Contest is now closed. Thank you for participating and be sure to check back for more!

-You don't have to follow me, though it's appreciated since I have these giveaways particularly for my followers
-Deadline is at 11:59 pm, Friday, December 7, 2012.
-Extra entries are specified in the form.
-Winners will be notified by email within 24 hours of winning. If no response is received within 72 hours, another winner will be chosen.

Good Luck!!!

Comment question(s): Have you ever attended a book festival or event? How was your experience and who did you meet? Who is the one author you'd LOVE to meet that you haven't yet?


  1. Ahhh you got to meet so many amazing authors!!! I haven't been so any book events since most authors I love are not from Holland :) But I'd LOVE to see Maureen Johnson, David Levithan and John Green!
    And I also want to keep my books in the best condition possible (bit of a perfectionist).

    1. I've yet to see John Green, but Levithan and Johnson are seriously awesome. I hope you'll be able to see them somehow.

      And same here! I'm extremely careful with my books, everyone thinks I'm insane. haha

  2. Wow Bree quite lengthy (; very enjoyable though and so jealous of all of the books you picked up!

  3. So insanely jealous of everything that happened in this entire post!!! (props for the mean girls reference) I've never been to a signing, and it's funny because I always thought we just never got any in Montreal, but then I found a month-old signing recap from someone that was ten minutes from my house. So apparently we do get at least one and I should pay more attention since I missed meeting Kami Garcia, Margaret Stohl, Rachel Caine, Melissa Marr and more. Summary of this long comment: jealous.

  4. Soo lucky to be able to go to that! Sounds like you had quite the adventure as well!
    Thanks for this awesome giveaway opp :)

  5. Haven't attended any festivals, but I LOVE your recap. It was like we were there with you:)

    I'd love to meet Kami Garcia and Margaret STohl because I love the Beautiful Creatures series!!

    Thank you:)

  6. I've never been to a book festival, I haven't even heard of any around here (which is weird, Tampa's a pretty big city)/ I'm SUPER jealous of you right now.

    1. Oops, I forgot to check off "I am a new blog follower" in the form :(


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