May 22, 2012

Rochester Teen Book Festival 2012

This past Saturday I had the great pleasure of attending The 7th Annual Greater Rochester Teen Book Festival. I had heard about the event earlier this year, but I figured it was too far away to get to. Then on Thursday I randomly decided "why not?" (especially since it was a long weekend here in Canada), so I recruited my Mom and we drove down to Rochester (about a 4 hour drive) on Friday night in order to be there for the Saturday 9 am start.

The event started off with a parade of authors coming in in cool older cars, and there was a marching band playing. Once the doors were open we were free to grab seats and browse around the gym where they had lots of different booths set up. I bought some TBF merchandise (buttons and a bag), some raffle tickets (I didn't win, but oh well), as well as these books to get signed:

After introductions the event kicked off with the first TBF author game show. There were two contestants who had to try and match authors with their answers (for things like "which paranormal creature would you most like to be?" and "what is the furthest you've ever travelled?" etc), and there were also lightning rounds where every author answered questions. There was a favourite musical question which led to a bit of singing, and it was pretty funny/enjoyable overall.

After this all-author event the day was split up into four different session times, with each author (or author pairing/group) presenting 3 times. You could choose which authors you wanted to see, and the sessions were divided up into different buildings around the Nazareth College campus.

For each session I made some notes, so I'll try to summarize what was said/talked about.

Session 1: Cinda Williams Chima
  • It took a long time for Cinda to figure out what she wanted to do
  • She was named after a character from "House Divided" by Ben Ames Williams. She has a twin sister, Linda, and everyone thinks that Cinda was a made up name to rhyme with Linda
  • Believes strongly that it's necessary to READ in order to write
  • She wasn't a strong student early on, and becoming a reader changed her life
  • Her first poem she wrote in 3rd grade was called "Science is a wonderful thing" -- this was the first time she remembers getting support from a teacher, and it really changed her
  • As a teen she wrote romance novels starring her friends
  • Thinks that you should write the book that only you can write instead of trying to chase trends
  • Everyone has something unique to write about because we all collect databases of our experiences
  • Sees readers and writers as partners in fiction
  • With her first trilogy she wanted to bring magic into the real world, into a high school and world that American students would recognize (as opposed to Hogwarts, which is AWESOME, but not a typical experience for American teens)

Session 2: Melissa Walker & Jenny Han
  • These two awesome ladies were part of the "Girl Talk" panel
  • Jenny is a stress baker, especially when on deadline; that way even if the writing doesn't work out at least she has cookies
  • Melissa and Jenny are Friday Night Lights super fans; they talked about visiting the field when they were in Austin, and bidding on items from the set on eBay
  • They played "Kiss Marry Kill" with TV and YA characters, and answered some "Would You Rather?" questions
  • They both have taken things from real life inspirations; Melissa talked about using her experience interviewing models when working for Elle Girl to write the Violet books, as well as using the emotions of the break up of a friendship to write her latest book (Unbreak My Heart); Jenny talked about how in her first book 'Shug' a character has the same name and almost the same last name as a guy in her life from high school and some of college
  • Melissa and Jenny also talked about the importance of covers; how rare it was that Jenny got to visit the set of the photoshoot for the Summer books, and how with Melissa's blog series about covers that it's about 50/50 of whether people are happy with their cover or not

Session 3: Megan Crewe & Susan Beth Pfeffer
  • "The End of the World" panel
  • Megan's best publishing experience was when "The Way We Fall" sold at auction, as part of a trilogy, after 2.5 years after her first book came out
  • Susan's best moment was going out on a Saturday night for the Sunday NYT and standing on the streets of NYC reading a favourable review of her book in the paper
  • Susan didn't see her 'Last Survivors' books as science fiction; she approaches books as 'family problem' novels, that describe a family in unique circumstances
  • Megan enjoys YA because it's about the time when you're figuring out who you are, and making huge decisions about your life; everything is about "Firsts"
  • Susan loves the family dynamic of YA, and thinks from the teen's POV is the most interesting

Overall these sessions were so much fun! I was also able to pick up some swag throughout the day:

After all the sessions was the big autographing session in the gym. Besides the books I bought at the festival I also brought a WHOLE BUNCH from home. Here are the books I was able to get signed:

"A double sign"
(Yes, I was absolutely nerdy enough to bring all of Melissa Walker's books to get her to sign even though I had some book plates from her already in some of the books.)
"Safe travels"
"Remember everything"
"Stay out of trouble"
"The future is yours" ('Forgotten' by Cat Patrick)
"Thanks for making the trip down"
"Happy reading"
"Best wishes! You have a great mom" (I do have the best Mom, because she stood in a few of the lines for me and got books signed for me while I waited in other lines)
"Never stop believing in magic"
"Believe in magic"
"All my best"
"Read on"
"What matters is the way we live"

I haven't actually been to a lot of signings before, and only a couple big book events. This one was a lot of fun, and I feel very blessed that I was able to attend. It was definitely really aimed at the local high schools of Rochester, and there was a huge turn out. I think it's amazing that events like this exist for teenagers, and I was really excited to see how the teens were so excited to meet the authors. The authors definitely got the rock star treatment, and there was palpable excitement in the air. If I had the chance I would definitely make the trip down again, because it was such a fun day, with a great opportunity to meet a whole bunch of really great authors.


  1. That sounds like soooo much fun!!! I should have gone:) There is always next year :)

    1. Yes definitely, it's not super close but close enough to be worth the drive (especially on such a nice weekend as last week). =)

  2. Looks like you had a great time! Book signings are a lot of fun!

  3. lol! Thats a lot of signed copies!!
    Plus, it looks like you had tons of fun!

  4. That sounds like so much fun Ashley. I have never heard of this event before but I will have to check it out next year perhaps. Great pics and I chuckled at the double signing. LOL I would do the same thing LOL

    1. It was funny, I was like "wellll... I might as well bring them!"

  5. I love reading your recap! I am so bummed I missed the beginning because it sounds like it would have been a lot of fun to see the authors come in for the parade. And look at al those signed books!! I am looking forward to see who will come out for the event next year. :)

    1. I know Marissa Meyer is one of the confirmed authors, which makes me excited. Hopefully some other ones I love will be there and I'll be able to go again.

  6. Sounds like that was a lot of fun, and worth the trip!

    I wish they did that sort of stuff in Australia...
    Look forward to hearing what you think of Revived, I just finished it and loved it!


  7. Dang--your bookshelf is filled with signage! I like the idea of arriving in a cool, old car. Sounds like it was a blast!

  8. Wow, that sounds like so much fun. Especially the game part. It's so neat to see how all the authors sign their books.


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