YALLFest 2019: First Year Experience

Hello everyone!

I'm currently still recovering from how drained drained but overjoyed I felt this past weekend because it was my first year at YALLFest. For those who don't know, YALLFest is a yearly, two-day book festival in Charleston, Sc. It mostly focuses on Young Adult Literature and features author signings, keynotes, panels, publisher events and so much fun!

I began "preparing" for it probably two weeks before it happened, mostly my friend Diamond and I prepared for the second day because we work for the library and decided to volunteer on the first day.

YALLFest 2019: First Year Experience by Lourdes Montes. Two Arts in a World, November, 2019.

Here's the breakdown of what I did each day:

Day 1

I woke up super early Friday because I was nervous. There were two main events that were going to take place at the library, the Red Carpet Preview happened in the library I work at, and Fierce Friday at the John L. Dark Library, where I was going to go volunteer.

I sat through work not being able to focus completely, especially when I was at the desk because I was going to meet some of my favorite authors and I was overwhelmed with excitement.

YALLFest Day 1. Meeting Roshani Chokshi, Sara Fairing, Emily A. Ducan, Adrienne Young, and Maureen Goo.

When I drove to Dart, I tried to keep myself busy. I was shy about bringing my books so I left them in my car although I sneaked my copy of The Star-Touched Queen in my purse just in case. When I told a coworker I had my books in my car she encouraged me to get them, so I did.

When the authors arrived we were receiving instructions on how to help with the signings. My brain only received half the information we were given because I was freaking out!

Dart is a tiny branch, all the authors gathered in the workroom, and then I entered that room I was shaking from head to toe because they were right there!. Sara Faring (author of Tenth Girl) hugged me because she recognized me since we exchanged a couple of messages the previous day through Instagram. I mentioned my contraband books and they were so sweet about signing my copies before the event started. I only had with me The Star-Touched Queen by Roshani Chokshi, Wicked Saints by Emily A. Duncan, and Tenth Girl by Sara Fairing.

I had the privilege to help the readers lining up in Roshani Chokshi's line. Spending time with her felt like a dream come true because I love her books and her writing has inspired my own journey. Close to the end the event began to slow down and I was able to go around and chat and take pictures with some of the authors. I think I felt super comfortable in the end because they were all so welcoming and kind. The only author I feel like I embarrassed myself with was Adrienne Young (author of Sky in the Deep), she was so kind and I honestly don't know what was with me, maybe it was because I didn't have my copy of Sky with me.

I was over the moon that evening. Before the event ended Roshani came to say bye and that's when we took the picture together with Sara Fairing. We were later joined by Maureen Goo.

When I got home I was exhausted, so I went straight to sleep in order to be ready for the next day.

Day 2

YALLFest Day 2. Book Signings with Adrienne Young and Renee Ahdieh, Thrill Seekers Pannel, Truth or Dare, and Keynote with Roshani Chokshi and Kate DiCamillo, moderated by Ally Condie.

Excitement was the best alarm clock. I woke up at 7:00 a.m. even through the events were officially going to begin at 10:00 a.m. My friend Diamond and I arrived downtown at 8:30 and there were already long lines at the publishers' tents. Diamond and I had tickets for the opening Keynote with Holly Black, but we missed it because we were caught in the ARC giveaway lines. After that, I hurried to go get my books signed by Renee Ahdieh (Wrath & the Dawn duology, Flame in the Mist duology) she is another one of my favorite authors, and meeting her was amazing! She was so nice and complimented my makeup, which truly meant something. I was too excited I would have embarrassed myself, but she made me feel super comfortable even through I was freaking out from my excitement.

I was already tired by the time I was done with the signing, too conscious of the weight of my backpack that I decided to go to the Thrill Seekers panel. As an aspiring writer, the time I spent in that panel helped me a lot because I got to hear other authors experiences with writing, publishing and their stories.

At 12:00 I went to the Truth or Dare panel, which was super fun and packed with great energy. Thanks to Soman Chainani, it mostly consisted in dares that authors got to do with kids in the audience.

Events like these make a difference. They show you that authors are regular people who can be silly and have fun.

I also got to sit through the Keynote with Roshani Chokshi and Kate DiCamillo, moderated by Ally Condie. I don't think I can express enough how much I admire these women. Being there, listening to them as they answered silly questions and questions that truly mattered made me feel hopeful about my own journey. They empowered me, Lourdes the reader, the writer, and the woman trying to live pursuing her passions.

Because of my embarrassment the day before, I went over to Adrienne Young's line to get my copy of Sky in the Deep signed. Then I bought three books: Star-Touched Stories by Roshani Chokshi, The Way You Make Me Feel by Maureen Goo, and Spectacle by Jodie Lynn Zdrok. I focused the rest of the day on getting the rest of my books signed.


YALLFest 2019. Signed books stack, ARCs, samplers and book art.

The spoils of the festival were worth it. Overall in the two days I got 15 books signed, 4 arcs, 5 samplers, a CTD print (courtesy of my friend Ashley who knows how close this series is to my heart), 4 tote bags that aren't in the pictures, and tons of little buttons for my collection.

I was lucky to get the Keynote ticket from Ashley too, and really, they were less than $10 so the prices for the paid events are actually affordable.

One thing I will finitely change next year is bringing a suitcase instead of a backpack because I felt like my body wasn't prepared for the weight I carried around all day.

The next day I felt like I had been run over by a truck, and I couldn't get anything done.

Would I do it again? Absolutely! it is an experience worth living because I got to meet the people that have written the books I love and other readers like me.

I had super fun conversations in the author lines with other readers who love the authors I love and truly understood why.

We had fun and we learned how to navigate through the festival. My friends and I are considering going to California next year for YALLWest, but since I live in Charleston, I will make YALLFest every year if possible.

Thank you so much for reading! Please comment your experiences if you got to attend, or ask any questions about the festival you think I might be able to answer. If you have an ARC of The Silvered Serpents, I'm asking for a friend, message me.

I just finished reading Serpent & Dove and I'm hungover from the book because it was great! I'm currently reading Americal Royals and have four books left to review because I'm still the worst. I will post the review for We Hunt the Flame on Tuesday, I promise.

Love, Lourdes.

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