Thursday, October 18, 2012

Southern Festival of Books 2012 Recap

Hello all,

Last weekend, for my brithday, my mom and I packed up the car and headed north to Nashville, Tennessee to attend the Southern Festival of books. This is the story of one of my best weekends ever.

"Tell everybody I'm on my way, new friends and new places to see!"
At dark-o'-thirty me and mom were on the open road, driving the estimated 13 hour trip to Nashville from Florida. We talked, sang and I managed to sleep a little. The best part of the drive was going up Monteagle Mountain in Tennessee. As a girl raised in Florida, mountains impress the crud out of me, as well as cool/cold weather which Tennessee and Georgia were blessedly full of. I almost cried at how beautiful and dark the clouds were, the gold, orange, red and even pink leaves falling from huge trees, looking down at the valley from such a great height. It was utterly gorgeous. Also, we drove through clouds. CLOUDS, people. I cannot even explain how mindbogglingly awesome that was for me. We arrived at my uncle's house in a little over 12 hours, ate dinner and got  ready for the next day.

Food- For dinner ordered Mezethakia "little delicacies" (tomatoes, red onions, kalamata olives, labne in house dressing along with homemade bread) and a thin crust cheese pizza with ham slices and olives from Pizzereal. It was amazingly delicious.


Bright eyed and bushy tailed, my uncle, mom and I made our way to the capitol building early in the morning for the first panel, The Hero, The Heroine and The Assassin. When we got there, the first person I saw standing outside of the room was Sarah J. Maas. My knees went a little fan-girly weak at the sight, but my uncle and mom pushed me towards her and I creeped at the edges of the conversation. It was Sarah, CJ Redwine and Kat Zhang talking about butterbeer and Harry Potter World with some fans. Karen Henley was also there, keeping track of time and making sure our room was empty.

So worth getting up super early!

Sarah showing her much used copy of Throne of Glass for signings.

We were able to get into the room, find seats (I sat next to Kat Zahng! OMG!) and joked around before the panel. The whole time was amazing. I only embarrassed myself maybe once during it. Our moderator was great! The authors talked about the books, Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, Star Wars, the hero's journey, heroine's roles, YA categories and a whole bunch of other topics. Afterwards, we all headed out to the signing colonnade to meet the authors and get our books signed. This is where I had the best moment of my life.

First, I got my copy of Defiance signed by CJ Redwine. I was able to tell her in fangirl gibberish how much I loved Rachel's strength and Logan's intelligence. She was very nice and told me she'd wanted to write the characters that way, to display their best attributes. I got a picture and went to Sarah's line.

There is a story behind this picture. My mom, whom I love dearly and is never pushy decided I needed to be handing out business cards. I refused because I thought it would make the signing awkward, not knowing blogger-meeting-author etiquette. I got to the front of the line and handed Sarah a letter I'd written her along with an envelope covered in my drawings for her current and not-yet-written books. She liked it and thought it was awesome. Mom completely ignored my request and took the stack of business cards I'd given her before the trip, placing one in front of Sarah. Sarah takes one look at it, gasps, and says something to the effect of "oh my god, it's you! I have to hug you!"

You could have knocked me over with a feather. I was so completely shocked. I managed to hug her back, but simply could not believe it AT ALL. Apparently incessantly tweeting Sarah about how much I loved her and her books paid off. She went back around the table and signed my book, while I signed her event copy of Throne of Glass. It was seriously the best moment of my life. Nothing wiped the smile off my face for the rest of the day. I managed not to ugly-cry when I met Sarah but I can't say the same for my letter to her! We had a Twitter conversation a few days after the festival about the letter that simply made me glow with happiness.

Next, I went to hear Jenny Han and Siobhan Vivian talk about their book Burn for Burn which I loved. They revealed some of their writing processes, stories about bullies, more information about the book and a tiny bit about the next one. Afterwards, at the signing colonnade I gave them little shells as presents and they gave me bookmarks and two signed limited edition Burn for Burn posters. They were super nice to me even though the line was long. 

My family and I walked around until it was time for Bethany Griffin to sign copies of Masque of the Red Death. We found where she was signing and Bethany was very nice to me. She also happens to have very pretty writing! After I got Bethany, we headed home and got ready for the last day of the festival. I managed to get a picture with my favorite big red dog before I left!

Food- Breakfast was toasted bagels with hazelnut cream cheese. For Lunch, we ate from food trucks. My mom and uncle got BBQ. I got shrimp tacos from a Mexican food truck. It wasn't as good as I had been expecting. As an afternoon treat, we went to Ugly Mugs for spectacular hot chocolate. For dinner, we went to the Holland House Bar and Refuge! There was seasoned popcorn laid out to eat. As an appetizer we shared a cheese plate with a blue cheese, a soft goat cheese and another one I can't remember. There was little crackers on the side as well as honey to spread over the cheese. This was surprisingly good! As my entree, I had rabbit with open faced ravioli, cheese grits, some vegetables and a yummy sauce. It was so good! I'm salivating just thinking about it. Also, no kids are allowed, all patrons are encouraged to be 21 or older. For dessert, we headed to Jeni's for ice cream. I got the salty caramel and the milkiest chocolate in the world. Delicious!


WIND. It was so freaking windy the next day! We decided to skip out on going to the panels, since they were all in the public library, down quite a long way. Instead we waited in the colonnade for the authors to come to us.Before we got to the colonnade though, I spotted R.L. Stine in the lobby next to the conference room signing a lot of books! I wish I'd been brave enough to snap a shot of him. I also got to see Gillian Flynn the day before, author of Gone Girl when she was signing.

First to the colonnade were Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl, authors of Beautiful Creatures, who were extremely professional and nice. They also let me grab an extra bookmark and bracelet. Vania of VLC Productions was there too and I got to chat with her for a couple of seconds. Sadly, I was too chicken to ask her for a picture.

Last, but never, ever least, I got to get my copy of What's left of Me signed by Kat Zhang. She was the most adorable! I got to tell her about my love for Addie and Eva and how much I wanted the sequel. In retrospect, that was probably a bad idea since I think she was in edits on it then. Oh, well! After Kat signed for me, we left and got ready to go home on Monday.

Food- Hands down the BEST food of the week. We went to Marche for brunch. (It opens at 9am, get to the first seating or you will have to wait a long time for a table!) I had the croissant french toast with powdered sugar and maple syrup with a side of fried eggs over easy. Ah! Soooooo bone-meltingly good. I also had delicious hot chocolate with homemade marche-mallows! It was the absolute best hot chocolate ever. We were too stuffed from brunch to even think about real food, so we headed back over to Jeni's for more ice cream. I got Wildflower Lavender and Pistachio and Honey, such a good combination. At dinner, we went to Blackstone Restaurant and Brewery. Our appetizer was nachos, which had enough jalapenos to make me cry. My entree was chicken pizza with roma tomatoes, mozzerella, and another cheese I couldn't identify. For desert, mom and I shared a vanilla cheesecake with strawberry glaze.

Here is a gratuitous photo of the awesome stuff I got at the festival all thanks to my awesome uncle.

I already owned the books, they just needed to hold the poster down!

And, as a thank you for those who made it all the way through this post, I have a giveaway!

You might have noticed that I said I had extras of a few things. I am giving away a signed Burn for Burn poster, an SFoB event guide, a Beautiful Redemption bracelet and a Beautiful Creatures series bookmark! 

a Rafflecopter giveaway
Thank you to my mom for handing out those business cards and driving 90% of the trip. I promise to listen to you next time! Thank you to my aunt and uncle and their cats who so graciously hosted us. Thank you for all the delicious food and great shopping time. Thank you to the organizers of the Southern Festival of Books event. Thank you to all the publishers for sending the authors. Thank you all authors for attending, being so nice and writing amazing books!

Happy Reading,

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