This past weekend I had the opportunity to attend Yallwest! This was my second time attending this festival—the first was way back in 2015 during the inaugural event! This was also my first ever Fierce Friday as this event was added during the second festival. By the way, I totally forgot to grab photos during Fierce Friday and of all of the booths at Yallwest, so this post will be a little bare.
I headed up to Santa Monica mid-morning on Friday so I could arrive at the library at 1pm. I met up with a bunch of other bloggers that I talk with online so it was great meeting several of them for the first time and seeing a few of the others again. They didn’t start handing out wristbands until 3:30, but I was glad to have arrived early and be towards the front of the line. Once we got our wristbands, we lined up in the line for the author we chose for the first hour—I went with Angie Thomas and Nic Stone as they were signing together. I was fourth in line for them, so once we were let in, I was able to get my books signed and then jump in some of the other authors’ lines.
During the first hour I also met Claire Kann, Lauren Myracle, and Karen M. McManus. I luckily had a couple of friends who took my books for Victoria Schwab and Susan Dennard to get signed as their lines were so long! During the second hour, I met Jay Kristoff (who I got my wristband for) and was able to get a copy of Aurora Rising signed as it was on sale early. After him, I also met Zara Lisbon, Alex London, and Maurene Goo! Susan Dennard also continued to sign into the second hour as her line was super long so I was able to meet her towards the end once it finished. I’ve met her a few times before and have been on the Witchlands street team since the beginning, so I was so happy when she recognized me and jumped up to give me a hug.
After Fierce Friday ended, the group of bloggers/readers I was a part of headed to grab dinner together. There was about 20 of us total so it was fun getting to know everyone a little better. I then drove all the way up to Santa Barbara that night as I attended my friends’ graduation in the morning. Due to this, I didn’t arrive to Yallwest until about 3:45pm. Several of the booths were already closed down by this point (Epic Reads, Disney, etc.), but I was still able to visit several. I visited the Novl, HMH Teen, Riveted by Simon Teen, Fierce Reads, Penguin Teen, Get Underlined, and Owl Crate booths—some were still going strong with giveaways and some were definitely getting rid of the last few pieces of swag. I also was able to buy a book sleeve from BookBeau!
At 5pm I headed to one of the last panels of the day, “That Time I Sucked,” featuring Susan Dennard, Sarah Dessen, Alexa Donne, Sarah Enni, Katy Loutzenhiser, LeUyen Pham, and Randy Ribay. This was a pretty neat panel as the authors are all over the map in genres so it was more about personal life experiences. I especially enjoyed listening to Susan Dennard and Sarah Dessen, two of my favorite authors!
Next was time for the Smackdown: Campfire Edition! This was the last event of the day and featured all of the authors. It was run by Sarah Enni, Maurene Goo, and Abdi Nazemian, who were very lively and kept the atmosphere fun. There was a lot of games such as Telephone, Truth or Dare, Never Have I Ever, and even a lip-sync battle. At times it definitely felt geared towards the middle schoolers in the audience, but I was glad I went since I came so late to the festival.
Overall, I really enjoyed Fierce Friday and the little I saw of Yallwest. Next year I definitely want to make it for the entire festival! Huge round of applause goes out to all Yallwest coordinators, volunteers, authors, publishers, and vendors for creating such a fun weekend.