Friday, October 2, 2015

Boston Teen Author Fest 2015!

I had a great time this month going to author panels at the Cambridge Public Library in Cambridge, MA. It's so much fun going to author panels and signings, and I love supporting YA authors and hearing what they have to say. Plus, it's a great way to meet fellow writers. At a few panels I've even bumped into writers I know from Twitter.

Anyway, on Saturday, September 5th, I went to the Boston Teen Author Fest Preview Panel: LADIES LIVING DANGEROUSLY, featuring Laurie Faria Stolarz, Erin Bowman, and Eva Darrows.

Erin talked about her new YA Western VENGEANCE ROAD, Eva talked about THE AWESOME, which is SUPERNATURAL meets BUFFY(!), and Laurie talked about RETURN TO THE DARK HOUSE, a sequel to WELCOME TO THE DARK HOUSE

They answered some of the usual questions about what inspires them to write and what their process is like, but the panel was mainly focused on the main characters in their books and how they like to see young women portrayed in the media. They all agreed that there are multiple ways to portray a "strong" female character and she doesn't have to be physically strong to be a strong character, which I agree with. Erin talked about her main character Kate being morally gray—she does some bad things, but she thinks she does them for a good reason, or she does them to defend herself. I've always loved gray characters. The main character in my current manuscript is very gray, so I really liked hearing about Kate.

It was a great panel! Plus, I spied A.C. Gaughen, writer of the SCARLET series, and Sara Crowe, Erin Bowman's agent, in the audience. I was too shy to talk to them, though. Haha!

After, I found out that one of my Twitter friends, Ellie M, was there, but I didn't recognize her in person. We were bummed about that, but said we'd try to meet up at the author fest later in the month. 


And then last weekend, Saturday the 26th, I went to the Boston Teen Author Fest. I'd never been to something like this before. There were SO MANY young adult authors there! (The full line-up can be found here.)

The schedule for the day was:

Meet the Authors panel 10:30 - 11:20
Panel Session One 11:30 - 12:20
Lunch 12:20 - 1:45
Panel Session Two 2:00 - 2:50
Book Signing 3:00 - 4:00

I was running late, so I missed the Meet the Authors panel. I arrived shortly after Panel Session One started, but instead of picking which panel I wanted to see right away, I bought books for the signing. There was no line, because everyone was in one of the two panels, so I thought it'd be better to get books then. (Porter Square Books was selling books at the fest. They were also at the Ladies Living Dangerously Panel.)

There were two panels for Session One: Author Friendships + Crit Groups and Inspired By. I decided to check out the Author Friendships + Crit Groups, partly because the Inspired By panel was super-crowded and partly because Becky Albertalli was at the Author Friendships panel (and I loved LOVED her book SIMON VS THE HOMO SAPIENS AGENDA).

The Author Friendships panel had Becky Albertalli, David Arnold, Jen Brooks, Sona Charaipotra, Dhonielle Clayton, Lori Goldstein, Trisha Leaver, and Adam Silvera. They talked about their critique partners and writer friends, how they found their critique partners, and what goes into a critique partnership. It was interesting to learn how/when authors found their critique partners and what their revision/writing process is like. It was a fun panel!

When I was leaving the panel for lunch, I heard someone call my name. It turned out to be Ellie M! It was so great to run into someone I "know," and Ellie invited me to lunch with her and a group of her friends from Twitter. We went across the street to a deli to get lunch and then we ate on the lawn outside the library. Just before we finished eating, a group of authors sat on the benches near us! We tried to play it cool, but we were all super-excited to have a bunch of famous authors hanging out near us. And as I was getting up to throw my trash away, Becky Albertalli complimented my shirt*. Internally, I was freaking out, but I managed to say thanks!

Top: Author Friendships panel, Bottom: The Craft panel

After lunch, I went with Ellie and her friends to Panel Session Two. Again, there were two choices: The Craft and Reality Bites. We chose The Craft with Amelia Atwater-Rhodes, Leigh Bardugo, A.C. Gaughen, Melissa Grey, Kendall Kulper, Kim Liggett, and Sara Raasch. This panel focused on magic and culture in fantasy worlds. It was really interesting! I'd never seen Leigh Bardugo speak before, so I hadn't realized she was going to be so funny. (I was extra excited for this panel because the week before I'd won an ARC of BLOOD AND SALT by Kim Liggett in a blog giveaway run by Stacey Lee.) 

They spoke about "hard" and "soft" magic and the pros and cons for both. They also talked about what inspired them to write/when they knew they wanted to be a writer. It's always interesting to hear writers tell stories about themselves when they were young. Kendall talked about writing stories in elementary school and how her classmates were always dying to read the next one. There were also some funny jokes about "hard" vs. "soft" magic. ;P

The book signing started right after Panel Session Two. I hopped in line for Leigh Bardugo and spent the majority of my time waiting in her line—she was very popular! After I got SHADOW AND BONE signed by Leigh, I got my ARC signed by Kim Liggett. She was really nice and excited to see one of her ARCs. She also gave me a black ribbon just like the one in BLOOD AND SALT! And then I had Sara Raasch sign SNOW LIKE ASHES and Melissa Grey sign THE GIRL AT MIDNIGHT. They were both really nice and we talked about having purple hair. :)

Top: my book haul, Bottom L: Sara Raasch, Bottom M: Adam Silvera, Bottom R: Leigh Bardugo

When I approached Adam Silvera, he told me I was his favorite person because of my shirt and we squeed over Simon from SIMON VS! He signed MORE HAPPY THAN NOT for me, which I'm super excited to read. He was really nice and even offered to take a picture for me.

My signed copy of MORE HAPPY THAN NOT
Me and Adam Silvera!

Next I had Kody Keplinger sign THE DUFF and Mackenzi Lee sign THIS MONSTROUS THING. Mackenzi had done a coloring contest as promo for her book, so I told her I'd participated. (After, I kicked myself for not saving the coloring page to give to her. Oh well!) Mackenzi had a copy of her book that she asked readers to sign, which I'd never seen at a signing before. I thought it was a really cool idea. After Mackenzi and Kody, I had Renée Ahdieh sign THE WRATH AND THE DAWN. She complimented my hair, but I was too nervous to say much. I was in awe of her makeup and jewelry—so flawless. She also had a book for readers to sign! Hers was full of signatures, so I had to do some searching for a blank spot.

Me and Renée Ahdieh

Last I went up to Becky Albertalli. She was so nice and asked if she could hug me. I had a million things I wanted to say to her, but of course I couldn't think of a single thing when I was finally in front of her. 


After the signing, I went outside to wait for my husband to pick me up. I ran into Ellie (we'd lost each other during the signing) and her friend Lauren (who I'd actually met at a NESCBWI conference a year or two ago) outside and we waited together. I found out that Lauren is friends with my Pitch Wars Team Devine sibling(?) Kyle and that he was at the fest! What a small world! I was bummed I found out too late because it would've been fun to talk Pitch Wars with him. Oh well!

Anyway, while we were talking and waiting for our rides, Leigh Bardugo came out to wait for hers. Ellie chatted with her about Disney while I tried not to act like a weirdo. Haha! I couldn't stop staring at her nails and jewelry—they were so cool!

It was an awesome day and great to meet so many lovely authors. I didn't have enough money to buy books by every author because there were so many there. I'm pretty bummed about that. But, as a reader, I guess it's a good problem to have—that there were so many different YA authors there.

Anyway, it was a blast! Thanks so much to the Cambridge Public Library for hosting it!

Did you go to the Ladies Living Dangerously panel or the Boston Teen Author Fest? What was your favorite part?

*I was wearing this shirt, which was made in celebration of Pride month (and SIMON VS THE HOMOSAPIENS AGENDA), and you can order it here!


  1. What a great round up, Melody. I just found this post because BTAF retweeted it! The event was packed with teens, which I LOVED. and love your Simon shirt too!! It sounds like you had a great time and good luck on PitchWars :)

  2. Sounds like you had SUCH a great time, and everyone sounds so so nice!!!! <3

    1. Everyone was super nice! Maybe next year we can meet up there. I think you'd have a blast! <3

  3. What a great recap!! And those are some awesome pictures! I wish I had taken more than just panel shots hahaha I hope they have more Book events around here so we can hang out again :D

    1. We should've taken a pic, but I didn't think of it until after. And yeah, we should def meet up at another event! :)