BOOK FAIR WEEKEND

This past weekend I participated in not one, but TWO book fairs! I got to meet lots of interesting people and loads of new readers.

For all my readers spread far and wide who couldn’t attend, I thought I’d give you a little BOOK FAIR RUN DOWN so you can imagine you were there...

SATURDAY

TRANSPORT Topanga literary festival

Venue: 

Topanga Public Library, Topanga, California

The Vibe:

Very relaxed and chill. Grounded by a deep sense of appreciation for art and literature. To give you a flavor for the type of event this was, the day opened with a performance of America The Beautiful by a local cellist. So beautiful! Other acoustic performers sang and strummed throughout the day.

Have you ever been to Topanga? If so, you’ll understand exactly what I mean when I describe it as a world of its very own.

Topanga is located in the Santa Monica Mountains between Malibu and the West Side of LA. The name of the fair is very appropriate because when you turn off Pacific Coast Highway and drive into the mountains, you instantly feel transported to another world, another era.

The hills are dappled in gold and green, backed by the vast blue horizon of the Pacific ocean. The mountain’s winding roads are dotted with old-timey general stores, cabins, and shops that feel like you’ve entered the old west. Topangans are an interesting bunch made of actors and performers, writers and artists who pride themselves on their eclectic community and their unique sense of free-spiritedness.

My Fellow Authors:

I got to meet and share stories with Eric Pierpoint, author of middle grade historical fiction. He shared his interesting stories of getting published and his experience writing his middle grade novels. 

I also spotted a name tag for Chuck Rosenthal, my creative writing professor at Loyola Marymount University. I didn’t get to see him, unfortunately, so maybe I’ll send him a book.

Reader Low-Down:

There were tons of locals here and many of them writers, too! Mostly older adult readers, but a few teens as well. The event organizer, Oleg Kagan, also happens to be quite the reader. He's on Goodreads and is head of the Topanga Library

 

Event Highlight:

By far the best part of the day was the Social Media Panel with a whole group of amazing book bloggers, book tubers, and bookstagramers! They gave a great talk about their love of books, reading, and sharing them with readers and authors online.

Here’s who was there:

Jesy Elyse, a bookstagrammer and booktuber from Southern California!

Carmen Seda, known on Instagram and her book blog as Oh The Book Feels.

Ciara Orness bookstagrammer on Instagram as Lost In Reading.

The panel was chaired by Topanga local, Caden Armstrong, known on Instagram and YouTube  as A Thousand Books to Read. 

Aren't they an awesome bunch?

From left to right: Carmen Seda, Caden Armstrong, Ashley Mansour, Jesy Elyse, Ciara Orness

From left to right: Carmen Seda, Caden Armstrong, Ashley Mansour, Jesy Elyse, Ciara Orness

Top takeaway from the panel...

They say don’t judge a book by its cover but that’s exactly what book-lovers do, according to our panel of social media mavens. 

Cover art is vitally important when it comes to the bookish community finding a novel and falling in love with it. And it should be exactly what its name suggests: art!

If you follow the book-loving community you know that shelfies are a thing and that book-lovers take great pride in displaying their collection. So cover art matters in the book world. 

So when it comes to designing a beautiful book cover, the girls have some advice. Listen up!

To achieve a striking cover, Jesy recommends authors and publishers branch out and work with artists of different mediums. I was so flattered (and surprised) when she mentioned that the cover of Blood, Ink & Fire was one of her favorites! 

Carmen also added that a good book cover should have an air of mystery about it, or an element in the artwork that ties into the themes and meaning of the story. Her point was that authors and publishers should avoid putting details on the cover simply because they are aesthetically pleasing. If they don't tie into the content of the book, they don't belong! Well said, Carmen!

All in all…

It was a really cool day that opened my eyes to just how vast the reading and writing community is. This was the first year the TAG the Topanga Author’s Group had hosted the event in conjunction with the Topanga Library, but I sense that it will be the first of many literary festivals they put on.


SUNDAY

Orange County Children’s Book Festival

Venue:

Orange Coast College, Costa Mesa, CA

The Vibe:

Aside from the book signing I did with Alex Pettyfer at Costco last December, I’ve never done a large book event before so I truly didn’t know what to expect.

Talk about a change of pace from the quiet hills of Topanga! The OC Children’s Book Festival was a huge event and you knew it from the second you got there.

There’s nothing like the feeling of pulling up in the early morning hours to your booth, coffee in hand, the bustle of all your fellow authors and exhibitors setting up and getting ready. Everyone’s there for a purpose and the anticipation in the air before the festivalgoers arrive is palpable.

Getting ready and setting up the booth is an exciting feeling, and makes you feel really proud to be there showcasing something you created.

The day was full of upbeat music, loads of different stages and performers, face painting, Baby Olympics, a full-on Scholastic booth and so many other book vendors, authors and publishers.

 

My Fellow Authors:

I got to meet some really cool fellow YA authors. We were all on the YA/Teen panel together, and I was really surprised to be the only woman there! I met…

  • Aaron Galvin, author of The Salted Series, Vengeance Trilogy, and The Grave of Lainey Grace.
  • Michael Mullin, author of Simon, a modern day Hamlet adaptation for YA readers as well as several other awesome middle grade and YA titles.
  • Derek Taylor Kent, author of Kubrick’s Game, which just released on the 26th! Congrats, Derek!
  • Daniel Sweren-Becker, author of the new YA sci-fi series, The Ones.

Also one of my favorite picture book authors, Sheri Fink was there! I wish I had stopped by and said hi. Hopefully I'll get to meet her soon. Checkout her Facebook page

Reader Low-Down:

Okay so this was a family day out. And by family I mean families with really young kids who want their faces painted and to get glittery hairdos and eat funnel cake. I have a feeling that most of the teen readers ended up at South Coast Plaza, which is just minutes from the fair.

Surprisingly though, I did get my fair share of middle grade readers approaching the booth, intrigued by the front cover. The rest went to parents, other authors, and teachers. It was interesting to see who came along and who was attracted to the Blood, Ink & Fire booth.

Event Highlight:

I had signed so many books throughout the day that I eventually lost track. But one reader stood out because he and his brother got a signed copy to share between them. Later on at the close of the fair, they walked past my booth again and one of the brothers (whose name I remember was Gannon), turned, held up his book and said, "Thanks for the awesome book!" He then gave me a thumbs up sign and a huge smile. 

MIddle graders getting their signed copies of Blood, Ink & Fire!

MIddle graders getting their signed copies of Blood, Ink & Fire!

When things like that happen I remember: that's why I do what I do. 

All in all…

The OC Children's Book Festival was a fun-filled, truly awesome day. I learned SO MUCH from my fellow authors and gained the most valuable experience working the booth, giving out stickers, signing books and just generally talking to loads of new readers, some of which have already reached out to me and followed me on social media. If that’s you- thanks for finding me!


UP NEXT...

I’ll be at the POMONA READS book fair all day on Saturday, October 15th and I seriously cannot wait. I’ll be signing books, meeting readers, handing out goodies and even speaking on their awesome YA panel!

If you missed my last book event, don’t worry. October 15th promises to be even bigger and better. I hope you’ll come along because I would love to meet you!

POMONA READS! Book Fair

Saturday, October 15th, 2016

Pomona Civic Plaza

12:00pm-4:00pm

YA Panel from 2:00pm-3:00pm