Maybe this isn’t a recap, but a farewell and that’s what makes it so hard to write. What other event do I get to hug Margaret Stohl? Or be introduced to Leigh Bardugo’s Ravka? Or interview V.E. Schwab? None other than YallWest.
Let start at the beginning, that’s always a good place, right? April 11th 2015. I was in my last semester of undergrad and I honestly can’t even tell you how I found out about YallWest. Magic, I guess. Because reading is magic. It’s powerful and wonderful and mysterious. My philosophy is the right book will find you at the right time. That first year was something for the books, quite literally. I had never seen that many Young Adult authors or fans in one place. * I didn’t have a twitter or a blog then, I was such a newbie. 2015 was also the year of the Sunday panels, where I told her Margaret how amazing this event had been and she hugged me, which I was told she didn’t do often. I also was introduced to Leigh Bardugo. I picked up Shadow and Bone and then it sat on my shelf for 9 months (but more about that later).
2016 brought about Hamilton sing-alongs and new found friends as I dipped into the blogging world. Said friends also shoved ARC’s (Advanced Readers Copies) at me, and I have to thank them for throwing an ARC of Gemina in my face and saying I HAD TO read it, getting me a copy of My Lady Jane, and the reason I’m rambling, This Savage Song.
2017 was the year of matching shirts for our #WCBCGG group (West Coast Best Coast Girl Gang). Honestly, that year is a blur! I remember meeting Evelyn Skye and getting The Crown’s Fate, meeting Kayla Olson for the first time and fangirling about The Sandcastle Empire, eating an In-N-Out burger in under 2 minutes, and probably getting sunburnt. Also, there were Leigh Bardugo Wonder Woman: Warbringer ARC’s that were seriously like the Hunger Games to get.
2018 The WCBCGG had dwindled in numbers but we still showed up at some outrageous time to get in. I don’t think I made a single panel this year. But I did claim several unicorn ARC’s: My Plain Jane and City of Ghosts. Lies! I did make it to the Grishaverse meet-up and the unveiling of which Six of Crows character would be featured in King of Scars – Nina Zenik, my waffle child.
And then, there is 2019. My super senior year and my farewell tour. With the prospect of living outside of California for the next 2 year I came to this year’s YallWest like it was a goodbye. Yes, I am this dramatic when it comes to my favorite book festival. With that in mind, I made a bucket list: prioritize my goals, attend panels, and do something out of this world- interview an author idol.
After 5 years I thought about posting a YallWest prep guide… until I realized I made a fatal mistake— I forgot to plan a lunch break in my schedule. I had been telling newbie YallWest attendees to make sure to hydrate and schedule a lunch break for months now and look who forgot their own advice. This gal. So my advice flew out the window with the exception on one thing: Prioritize.
It is so easy to get swept away by it all. The panels! The swag and ARCs! The signing lines! And yet, there are never enough hours in the days or clones of yourself to get all the things you want— so, prioritize. This year, my fifth, was the first year I actually accomplished every single thing I wanted and got every single ARC I had dreamed of. How? Prioritizing. I made it a goal to come at this year’s YallWest with the motivation to make it the best one yet. And then it got a thousand times better.
I’ve always been told: there’s no harm in asking. It’s in my nature. I was the Editor-in-Chief of my college yearbook and interviewed some amazing alumni and professors, but I had never taken that skill and transferred it to my love of books and the craft of writing. Why? Because I would fangirl myself into a panic if I had to interview my idols. So guess what I set as a goal this year? Yup. I interviewed my idol. It all started with a simple question of, why not. They probably won’t respond. I’m a nobody blogger. I’ll never get a response. … Then I got an email. And then a time slot. And I showed up at YallWest with the jitters and a can of coffee armed in my vest * true story. So, I tell you— the worse anyone can say is no, the best is, maybe they say yes. Sitting across from V. E. Schwab was like Christmas morning, with all the marvel and wonder of a fangirl. More than that is the feeling that I proved to myself I could: I could talk with my favorite author who treats her craft as a career, I could interview for my blog and not worry about how it won’t be perfect, I could say all I did was ask.
If you glanced at my schedule you would see that the morning was full of ARC drops and swag meet-ups, and the afternoon was full of panels— mostly of the V.E. Schwab nature. Why the split? Because I’m a blogger and a writer, so I fill both creative wells. I’ll be the first to admit my notes for panels pertain to me and my process of writing, so that won’t be making this post. Perhaps in the future I can distill it down and make sense of it in a universal way? The gist is: don’t give up. If you want to write— then sit your butt down and write. Write a shitty first draft, and then come back and edit. Write the story that is crawling underneath your skin begging to make a difference. Read what you want with no inhibition because it makes you happy. These are the notes I write because it reminds me why I love this community so much, and why events like YallWest are more than just a few hours in the sun with books.
Who am I kidding? You know I’m going to come back in 2020 (because it’s the roaring 20’s and my 30th) and who doesn’t want to fangirl in flapper attire? All things said, all jokes aside, YallWest is the best book festival because of one thing: You. The glorious community of readers and YA lovers, the fangirls and fanboys who stand around at 6:00 am on a Saturday morning to go to a book festival. So keep faning about YA literature and sharing the universal love of reading.
*Up next is my short and sweet interview with V. E. Schwab— because I couldn’t last more than 15 minutes without fangirling.