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May 9, 2017

Maurene Goo, Author of I BELIEVE IN A THING CALLED LOVE, Reports From YALLWest


In November 2016, Teen Board member Taylor F. blogged about her experience at YALLFest, a two-day book festival celebrating young adult books and authors. During the last weekend of April, this beloved festival headed west to California, where YA-lovers were treated to YALLWest --- a sibling festival to YALLFest --- in Santa Monica. After seeing the incredible lineup and schedule of panels and events, Teenreads was dying to hear more. Luckily, Maurene Goo, author of I BELIEVE IN A THING CALLED LOVE, was on the scene to blog and take pictures of YALLWest from an author's point of view. Read this post to learn all about her experience.

YALLWest made a dramatic entrance --- starting on a day full of strong, gusty winds that had all my author friends’ flights delayed at LAX. It seemed appropriate, though, because we had a wild weekend ahead. On Thursday evening, after picking up my friends from the nightmare that is LAX, we met up with some authors for dinner, the first of many very fun social events.





















From left to right: Dinner with author friends who flew in from all over the country: S.E. Sinkhorn, Veronica Roth, Debra Driza, Somaiya Daud, Sarah Enni, Kristin Holbrook, me, Kate Hart, Kaitlin Ward, Amy Lukavics.

This was my first year attending YALLWest as an invited author and it was also the first time the festival was held for one day rather than two. My schedule was packed but I love a good, packed festival schedule. I get a nerd rush from it.

















The festival was kicked off with “Fierce Friday,” a preview event on Friday hosted by the Santa Monica Public Library. There were giveaways, games and food for attendees and some of us authors showed up for signings. It was so great to get a sneak peek for the weekend and I loved meeting people in my signing line. I also got to sign next to fellow FSG author and good friend, Kate Hart, which was just a little extra.

Me with author Kate Hart at the Fierce Friday signing.






























Loved signing ARCs of I BELIEVE IN A THING CALLED LOVE and getting to chat with readers about K dramas! (Photo by Kate Hart).

Afterwards authors and guests were invited to author (and YALLWest Director) Margaret Stohl’s gorgeous home for food and drinks. Despite the winds, it was a warm night and so lovely to see everyone. I’m an extrovert but even I was a bit overwhelmed at having so much of YA in the same place at once! I talked to everyone I knew for about 5 seconds each and two hours just flew by. I had to say good night early to head over to my husband’s birthday dinner downtown, eep!

Then it was Saturday, the day of YALLWest! So, of course, I was running late. And LA being LA, I got stuck in traffic and tried to get creative on my route there. My first panel of the day was at 1 pm, “I Ship It.” Seriously getting anxious about being late, I texted Veronica Roth, who was moderating our panel, and told her I would meet them at the panel. She assured me that if I was late they would just make fun of me. This actually relieved me! But I got there with five minutes to spare and had a great time talking fandoms with Margaret, Veronica, Melissa De La Cruz (who blurbed my book!), Marie Lu and S. Jae-Jones.

















From left to right: Authors Margaret Stohl, Veronica Roth, Melissa De La Cruz, Marie Lu, S. Jae-Jones and me talking about fandoms in the “I Ship It” panel. Photo by Disney Hyperion.

Right after my panel was my signing so I rushed over to the Centennial Quad, where there were tons of people waiting patiently in the scorching hot sun (some had great paper umbrellas that YALLWest kindly handed out to attendees). I met up with some nice folks from Macmillan who had copies of my ARCs and cute buttons that I was giving away. My favorite part of any book festival is getting to meet readers and this was no exception. I got to talk K dramas and YA with everyone I signed books for…how in the world is this my job??

Photo by Fierce Reads.



































I had a couple hours until my next panel so I headed to the green room where I was able to eat (but missed the In N Out truck! SO SAD) and catch up with authors. The green room is where everyone lets loose and I love it. (See picture of Veronica trying on Amy Lukavics’s amazing signing shoes.) Also, did I mention the sweets table?

Photo by Kristin Halbrook.




















Photo by Debra Driza.













































Author Jennifer Smith, YW coordinator Tori Hill, and author Adi Alsaid wearing some cool head gear in the green room.

My next panel was one I was moderating! Eep! The Femship, Bromance, and Platonomy panel featuring Ally Condie, Sarah Nicole Lemon, Sarah Mylnowski, Riley Redgate, and John Corey Whaley. I had to poke fun at Corey who showed up ten minutes late (granted, the location was hard to find!). We had a good time talking about non-romantic relationships and also doing a lightning round where I found out no one but me on the panel enjoys The Fast and the Furious movies (what a shame).













Moderating a panel on all the non-romantic relationships in our books with authors Ally Condie, Sarah Mylnowski, John Corey Whaley, Sarah Nicole Lemon, and Riley Redgate. Photo by Brendan Reichs.

After some more downtime in the green room, I had my final event for the day --- the Smackdown. I’d never been before so I didn’t quite know what to expect. Certainly not friends reading from their old writing (Adi Alsaid nearly killed me with his unintentionally romantic bro-vampire story and Laurie Devore with her Hermione and Ron fanfic), Shannon Hale and Brendan Reichs re-enacting edited scenes from Twilight, or Angie Thomas playing Taboo in a Slytherin cape.
















Laurie Devore reads from her old Ron and Hermione fanfic at the Smackdown…things stopped before it got too steamy. Photo by Kate Hart.

It was a fun way to end YALLWest --- appropriately irreverent, silly, and good times. I love that this festival is held in my city and so well-attended by teens. Thanks so much to all the organizers and volunteers for all the love and care that went into it, I had such a blast.