UCF Book Festival

I went to the UCF Book Festival today, and had the best, most unbelievable time ever. I believe the experience can best be described by pictures.

The first event we went to was a YA author chat with (in order of above photo) Ellen Hopkins (!!!), Ty Roth, Allan Wolf and Jessica Martinez. In the end, I spoke with Martinez and Roth one-on-one. They asked if I wrote, and when I mentioned I just secured an agent, they literally cheered for me. We got to discuss the intricacies of the next stage, and they never made me feel like a fan, but more so someone in the same industry as them. Which was amazing. They are the nicest people ever, and if I could singlehandedly get the world to buy their books, I would.

We then saw a contemporary voices panel with Lauren Groff, Darlin’ Neal, and Michael Griffith. Here’s the thing – Groff’s first novel, Monsters of Templeton, is one of my all-time favorite books. So seeing her was like a dream come true. After, we went to her signing. Because I’m the biggest dork ever, I showed her the family tree I made while reading MoT (which thankfully she liked and didn’t consider me crazy) and then she, too, asked if I wrote. When I told her about my agent, she hugged me and my life suddenly felt complete. Biggest geek-out ever.

The last panel was another YA chat (with the same authors as above), where they discussed the importance of YA literature, and how it gets teens to read. And how books can help people. And how books create new, safe, exciting, worlds. I nodded along the entire time, and had to stop myself from screaming AMEN. Because these authors? They’re so inspirational.

The crazy thing is that if my book is published, I may be in their company one day. I may even be at this festival. Which is all so insane to even consider.

During the first chat,  Wolf explained that he wrote his book, The Watch that Ends the Night, because he liked the idea that different people get different stories from the same event. I’m sure many stories came from today’s book festival. Some may have enjoyed the other panels more. Some may have wished there was more. But me? I had the best day ever.

Oh, we also saw some mini ponies.