A few weekends ago I attended the Ontario Teen Book Fest! This book festival is about 45 minutes away from me, so I was so excited when I heard about it from Christy @ BookCrushin and Camille @ The Literary Empress a few days before it and was glad that it fit into my schedule so last minute!
The event began with three keynotes—one from Stephanie Garber, one from Isabel Quintero, and the last one from Suzanne Young. Stephanie spoke about the call to adventure and shared how challenging her own journey to publication was. Isabel shared her life story and how important it is, especially as if you are marginalized, to use your voice and not let anyone take that from you. Suzanne also talked about her road to publication and how her grandmother was the only one to support her. Sadly, her grandmother died before she was able to publish a book, but all 16 of her books are dedicated to her.
After the keynotes, there were three panels to chose from to attend. I went to the “A Call to Action” panel with Ciny Pon, Jeff Sweat, Jennifer Brody, Stephanie Garber, Jessica Brody, and Suzanne Young. While the whole panel was interesting, at the end, the authors talked about how many books they had written before their debut was published and how old they were when it was. I loved hearing this as each author had a different journey to publication and it goes to show you that you’re never too old to be published.
After the panel, it was time for lunch, which was from Panera! Since this festival is on the smaller side, lunch was free for all attendees. After lunch, the cafeteria was cleared out and prepped for speed dating. This was my favorite part of the day as every five minutes a new author would come to our table. They talked about their books, handed out swag, and answered any questions we had—such a fun experience!
Next there was time for one last panel. There were three options again and I chose the “Teamwork Makes the Dream Work” with Suzanne Young, Isabel Quintero, Jennifer Brody, Emily Wibberley, and Austin Siegemund-Broka. It was interesting hearing about the authors’ different collaboration experiences and how they all varied from one another. I especially enjoyed listening to Emily and Austin share their writing process as they are also a couple in real life.
After the panel, it was time for the signing. All of the authors headed to the cafeteria where the tables had been set up for them. Since the festival was so small, I was able to get all of my books signed fairly quickly. I loved attending the Ontario TBF because of the awesome author line up and how small it was! A huge thank you goes out to the Ontario Library, all the volunteers, and the authors for creating an amazing event and day. I look forward to attending next year!