16 May 2016


On Saturday, May 14th, I attended the Rochester Teen Book Festival for the second time! I had a lot of fun and met some great authors and some awesome bloggers including Emily from Books & Cleverness and Miranda who is the official blogger for the event! I am going to talk you through the day, including LOTS OF DETAILS ABOUT THE PANELS I WENT TO, and at the bottom, you can enter to win a signed copy of THE SERPENT KING by Jeff Zentner so keep scrolling!

And so my day begins...

I started out my day by DROPPING A MUFFIN ON MY COPY OF THE CROWN'S GAME by Evelyn Skye. Which kinda set up how the day would go for me tbh. (The muffin stain will not relent but at least I have a conversation starter? "This one time, I dropped a muffin...") Then when I got to the actual event, I left my purse in the car and had no way of getting a hold of my father who promptly left after dropping me off (he was spending the day record store shopping). THANKFULLY he came back so I had my ID and some money. And that was JUST THE BEGINNING.

The day starts off with a parade of the authors but all my pictures from that are blurry, sadly. Then there was the TRUTH OR TALENT portion so that in case you don't get to see all the authors at their panels or signings, you at least get to learn a little bit about them. Highlights from this include:
  • Jeff Zentner playing the guitar (amazingly, I might add)
  • Jennifer Donnolly writing the first line of her next book, which was FANTASTIC
  • Rachel Hawkins story about lying to meet Maya Angelou (but like #same)
  • Tamora Pierce telling us how she is the most amazing human being ever and keeps every animal as a pet that enters her house *tears* 
  • Kekla Magoon telling us she has a gorilla named after her - AND THAT HER NAME MEANS SUNRISE. HOW CUTE. 

Panel Portion!

My plan for the panel portion was to see Jessica Spotswood/Robin Talley first, then Janet B. Taylor/Harriet Reuter Hapgood/Anna Breslaw, then Jesse Andrews (because they were all in the library and it looked like it was going to rain so I didn't want to jump between buildings and get soaked)! I only got to the first two because I am an "adult" so I got kicked out of Jesse Andrews's panel but I'm okay with this. So let me tell you what I learned at the panels I DID attend...

Jessica Spotswood & Robin Talley!

First of all, both Jessica and Robin are ADORABLE. At the bottom of this section, I'll link to their books Goodreads pages! (Also, if you join in on the #BAMFChat on Sunday, May 22, 2016 at 3pm, you can win a book signed by both Jessica & Robin!)

Jessica talked about how family plays a huge role in her stories because she likes to look at how you (or her main characters, one might say) are in opposition to the rest of your family. She discussed how Ivy (the main character from WILD SWANS) interacts with her family: she wants to be the opposite of her mother and please her grandfather but she also has to become a Big Sister, which is something new to her. She also shared some cute stories about her relationship with her sisters and how you create a space for yourself in your family and have to carve that out in relation to what the other members of your family do. 

Jessica also talked about how April Tucholke (author of BETWEEN THE DEVIL AND THE DEEP BLUE SEA and WINK POPPY MIDNIGHT) inspired WILD SWANS in the sense that April's books use the setting as an extra character so she wanted that in WILD SWANS -- and thought about how it would be to grow up in a town where everyone "knew" you based on your last name and what those types of expectations would mean on someone who is growing up. As well, April inspired Jessica to create the anthology A TYRANNY OF PETTICOATS because April told her that she would be good at creating an anthology since she is such a good editor. Jessica gave Robin and the other 13 authors three instructions for writing their stories: 1. 5000-7000 words; 2. Historical time period; 3. Write about how a female would fit into this historical time. (NONE of the authors followed the first rule, but that's okay, those stories are all fantastic)

Robin mentioned that in WILD SWANS, there is a scene where Ivy is confronted by one boy who likes her while she is kissing another boy who likes her (that is the best way for me to explain it without spoilers) and that she was really impressed that instead of Ivy just saying "oh you are right, I shouldn't be making this decision" she says (in different words), "who are you to tell me what I can and cannot do? Just because you think you know what is right for me, doesn't mean that it is actually right for me." Robin thought this scene was really powerful (I did too) and Jessica talked about how this scene was really important to her because so many times in stories (especially YA), girls are expected to just do what people think they should do rather than be assertive and do what they want to do. It was important to get the message across that Ivy can make her own decisions about what she wants to do.

In regards to her own books, Robin discussed that most of her characters tend to be queer (HELL YAS) and that because she was a semi-out teenager, she wanted to write those characters in modern times so that teens like her could have someone to relate to. She tends to write to an older YA audience and the themes tend to be about when you're still living at home but are ready to be independent and on your own. She noted that in her book WHAT WE LEFT BEHIND, the main theme is how you grow and change on your own and what that means for the relationships you have. Because that is something EVERYONE goes through: have you grown together or grown apart? And it is especially important for teens who are transitioning from high school to university!

Robin was asked about how to make a retelling your own story while still sticking to the themes of the original to which she said that it is sometimes a hard balance. For her novel, AS I DESCENDED (which comes out September 6, 2016 and is a QUEER RETELLING OF MACBETH!!!!), she wanted to make the story her own while still following the same beats of Macbeth. However, she also knew that there was no way she would be able to make one of her characters go from Perfect to MURDER in as short of time as it occurs in Macbeth. Therefore she had to expand the story in that sense. (There are also GHOSTS in this one. I'm just like SUPER excited about it tbh. I saw that it was a Macbeth retelling and was like FUCK YAS and then saw it was a QUEER MACBETH RETELLING and shouted to the heavens that they have answered my prayers. Anyway) Robin also discussed the merits of making a retelling of a story your own with a special shoutout to EXIT, PURSUED BY A BEAR by E.K. Johnston, which is a retelling of THE WINTER'S TALE, by saying that the general theme is there but it is a great contemporary retelling of it. 

Both Robin and Jessica would hate to have to choose one genre to write in because they've written across multiple genres and would like to continue to do so. However, when faced with the choice, Robin would choose Realistic Fiction because there is so much you can do with it; Jessica would choose historical fantasy because she can't imagine a world without magic. Robin said that a recurring theme in Jessica's books is feminism which made Jessica really happy; Jessica said that a recurring theme in Robin's books is identity.

Find Jessica Spotswood Online!

Find Robin Talley Online!

Check out their books below! By clicking on the cover, it will take you to the Goodreads page! 


Lady Debuts: Janet B. Taylor, Harriet Reuter Hapgood, & Anna Breslaw

My next panel choice was the debut ladies that attended this convention! I will link to their books Goodreads pages below! I was pretty excited for this panel because I have heard such good things about all these books and I wanted to learn more (and I have them all on my shelf but didn't bring them which was silly because I totes ended up having enough time to go back and get them signed). So I got there super early and ended up sitting next to Janet McNally, author of GIRLS IN THE MOON, which debuts November 29, 2016 (but I didn't say hi in case it wasn't actually her. Internet can lie sometimes).
Photo Credit: Janet McNalley

The main aspect of this panel was about tropes and how they play into stories. Actually, there was also a lot of talk about Buffy the Vampire Slayer which was chill with me. All three discussed how tropes are sometimes useful to use "as-is" and how some of them are useful to subvert. Harriet discussed how she has a "boy next door" in THE SQUARE ROOT OF SUMMER but that the rest of the typical YA coming to age things have already happened to her MC (first love, death, etc. etc.) so it was more about the challenges you face AFTER that because there are constant hurdles in life. Anna discussed how she tried to subvert the typical tropes and deconstruct them in SCARLETT EPSTEIN HATES IT HERE because her MC is sort of an anti-hero until the end when she realizes she is being a villain. Janet discussed that she didn't want to use the typical "Mom Is Dead" YA trope in INTO THE DIM, but instead look at how a teen may react to thinking her mom is dead only to find out she is alive and needs to be saved. As well, Janet said that her publisher really pushed for a love triangle but she was dead set against it.

All three would love to write a book from the villains perspective rather than the heroes, and Janet mentioned that after she completes the Dim Series, her next novel will be told from alternating perspectives of hero and villain (which sounds AWESOME). They all agreed that writing an anti-hero or straight up villain book would be fantastic!

Janet and Harriet both discussed the "science" behind their time travel. For Janet it is about the magic of ley lines combined with the science and expertise of Nikola Tesla who created a device that allows her characters to travel in the past. They have exactly 72 hours and must be in the same spot as where they arrived or else they will be left behind. Harriet discussed that she used a lot of quantum physics (which she researched herself so like INTENSE) and then when it was to it's limit, she added in the pieces that would make it possible. Her version of time travel is to go back in time to memories of the person who is traveling. Anna then told them (and the audience) about a program called THE SCIENCE AND ENTERTAINMENT EXCHANGE which pairs authors/screenwriters/etc with scientist who can answer their science questions so that the authors Get It Right. She has been using this for her new novel! 

Find Janet B. Taylor Online!

Find Harriet Reuter Hapgood Online!

Find Anna Breslaw Online! 

Check out their books below! By clicking on the cover, it will take you to the Goodreads page!


Signing Portion!

I lined up during the fourth time slot (2:15pm) for Scott Westerfeld because I knew his line would be long and I wanted to get to as many authors signing as possible. I ended up getting through the line in 15 minutes and he signed all my UGLIES books and I was shaking and couldn't say anything because I was completely enamored and OMG I MET SCOTT WESTERFELD!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 

For those of you who weren't following my tweets yesterday, I talked about how the Uglies series changed my life as a teen. I read those books as they came out (omg 2005. I was so young) and that they are one of the main reasons I want to write my Masters thesis on how the political scheme affects dystopian YA novels. So thank you, Scott Westerfeld even though I couldn't say it yesterday.

I then lined up for Jesscia Spotswood, who I had the most books for because I HAD THEM ALL + two copies of TYRANNY. Jessica was SUPER NICE (and recognized me from Twitter because I have been tweeting excessively about going to this event and WILD SWANS which I will continue to push on people). She gave me one of the fancy art prints for TYRANNY and has super neat hand writing. Right next to Jessica Spotswood was Robin Talley, so I jumped over and got her to sign TYRANNY as well since she contributed (probably my favourite) story in the anthology. I also have AS I DESCENDED pre-ordered but you know, September is not May so I didn't have that to get signed. Robin was SUPER NICE and let me babble about how I was super excited for a Queer Macbeth book because MACBETH IS THE BEST. AND MAKING IT QUEER MAKES IT BETTER!!!

Then I moved over to Jeff Zentner's line which was SUPER LONG. It was SO NICE to meet Jeff in person and I got him to sign my copy of THE SERPENT KING and one for you guys (which you can win below!). He also gave me bookmarks! And a hug! And he's so nice! Thank you to the people in line behind me who not only complimented me on my hair and earrings (which were from Fandom of the Month Club!) but also took the picture of Jeff and me

Because I finished all these authors so quickly, I had time to MEET TAMORA PIERCE. So I scooted over there and waited for almost a full two hours to meet her. Sadly, because time was running out, we could only get one thing signed instead of everything we had, so I got my copy of ALANNA signed since it's the first in that series. I also told her, and I quote, "My friend Nori LOVES YOU. I do too but probably not as much as her. Thank you so much for being here and signing my book. I really appreciate it." But it was really fast because I was REALLY NERVOUS so hopefully she understood. 

Then I drove home...

My drive home was fairly short (2 hours and 15 minutes) but we were at the border for a good 15 minutes even though we ourselves got through really quickly. I put all my signed books away, packed my suitcase and my Maggie Stiefvater books, and I am leaving for that event in Michigan tonight after work! I have a really busy schedule for this past weekend tbh. (Well that has already happened by the time you are reading this. IF YOU'RE READING THIS IT'S TOO LATE)

Thank you so much to Teen Book Festival and all 31 of the authors who came out! I wish I could have met more of you but time, man, time. If you come to Canada I will for sure be there! Until next time, Rochester! (Aka MAY 20, 2017! I already have it planned out since the next week I will be going to BEA 2017!!!!)

And again, if you are still reading, I am hosting a chat on Sunday, May 22, 2016 at 3pm ET and you can WIN a copy of A TYRANNY OF PETTICOATS that has been signed by both Jessica Spotswood and Robin Talley! Come join us at #BAMFChat and discuss AWESOME characters! 

One winner will receive a signed copy of THE SERPENT KING by Jeff Zentner! International. Ends March 31st.


  1. Ahhhh TBF sounds awesome!! The last author event I went to was a Chapters author signing featuring Lida McMann, Kevin Sands, and Kevin Sylvester :) Have an amazing time tonight with Maggie!!! SO EXCITED FOR YOU!

    1. I love Chapters events! I was contemplating that one but couldn't justify taking time off of work for it. Hope you get to more events soon!!

  2. I've never been to an author event, my parents both work full time so can't take me as I'm only 14 but I'll definitely go to all of them, as soon as I get the chance! ��

    1. I completely understand! I didn't start going to events until I was 17 and had my license! Hopefully you'll get to go soon!

  3. Drat - I put my Instagram name in wrong, it's meganthestrangest ��

  4. Eeep, I'm sorry that your day didn't start out too well, but it sounds like it improved and I'm glad you had a great time overall! I would have loved to attend the panel with Janet B. Taylor because I adore Into The Dim! Thank you for sharing your experiences ^_^

    Brittany @ Brittany's Book Rambles

    1. It was so interesting! She is also so funny and great. You would have learned a lot at that panel :)

  5. So exciting!!! Ah!!! Veronica Roth was the one and only author I had the chance to meet. She was so lovely and sweet. <3

    1. That sounds like a fun event though! I would like to meet her but I haven't had the opportunity.

  6. I've never been to an author event, because I'm in Saudi Arabia! Sometimes we do events here but not as charming as there. I would love to pay a visit and meet authors in US and UK!

    1. Maybe one day you will be able to go! I know for me it is even difficult (although MUCH EASIER THAN FLYING) because more authors are in the US than Canada so I have to travel to see them! But it's worth it :)

  7. Unfortunately I've never been to one, but I hope my time will come soon...

  8. I haven't been to one yet...

  9. I actually just went to my first one yesterday! It was for Mia Siegert and her new release Jerkbait! It was so fun meeting her and listening to her talk about the book.

  10. I haven't been to any yet but there is one coming near me June 11 and I am going to that one.

  11. I haven't been to any kind of auto events, sadly. I live in the middle of nowhere pretty much...hours away from anything remotely interesting, and with two small kids it's impossible to ever go anywhere, haha.

    Thanks for the giveaway!

  12. Last year i was in Austin Teen Book Festival its a free book festival for teenagers in Austin. It is a public group. There is no strict limitation for the members. Anyone can take part in this group and also could invite others to join.

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  15. Well, all three would love to write a book from the villains perspective rather than the heroes, and Janet mentioned that after she completes the Dim Series, her next novel will be told from alternating perspectives of hero and villain.

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