October 24, 2022

West Virginia Book Festival 2022 & VE Scwab

 This weekend I had the pleasure of attending the West Virginia Book Festival in Charleston. I had been so excited to go the moment I saw VE Schwab mention it on social media. 

Sadly though, it didn't look like it work out. It wasn't until just a few days before the event that I had a way worked out to get there. Then the next day a new friend from work (the library) offered to go with me instead. Three of us traveled down together and I am so happy we did. Not only did I get to know these good humans better, but I got to meet someone I really look up to!

The West Virginia Book Festival was set up in the Charleston Convention Center. One area was a vendor marketplace. In this space, there were booths with libraries, publishers, and authors. It felt a little awkward at times as some authors were a little more vocal, trying to capture the attention of those browsing. I much preferred the quiet ones with business cards, samplers, and QR codes so I could scope them out later. 

I did snag a neat sampler by a new indie author, Terry Bartley:

@smalltown_bookworm Picked up a sample of @Terry Bartley - Writer ‘s Tyranny Of The Fey at the West Virginia Book Festival yesterday. The cover caught my eye! Here for the orcs πŸ’œ πŸ’ͺ🏼 #indieauthor #indieauthorsoftiktok ♬ original sound - victoria.ashley_author

The art caught my attention. Ever since Legends & Lattes, I'm a big fan of lady orcs :)

The festival also had a children's area with mascots like Arthur, building blocks, a petting zoo, and KITTENS. Yes. Kittens. The local shelter had a few sweet babies available for adoption and/or cuddles. I held the sweetest little void kitty for far too long and almost walked out with her. 

Another area was set up as a massive book sale area. We didn't take the time to browse the sale. It looked a bit like our own library's used book sale and while we could have probably found quite a few good deals, we simply didn't feel the need. 

We attended Victoria Schwab's panel where she chatted conversation-style with her best friend and her fans. It was amazing. She gave so many little tidbits about writing and story weaving. It really inspired me! She also teased some projects she's working on and encouraged us to ask her for a secret when we went to see her for the book signing. The panel was almost an hour long. Much longer than I expected! I know a smile was plastered on my face the entire time as my respect for her grew.

Each attendee was given a ticket and allowed to take in two books to sign. The staff marked the title page of each book with a post-it so that Schwab could easily flip to the page. I was overwhelmed with anxiety and attempted to make a TikTok. I still can't believe I was lucid enough to ask her if I could record and then semi-do what I'd hoped I could. It's an awful video haha. I am not at all pleased with myself, but I am so happy the moment was caught. Victoria Schwab was so sweet. You can see the video below. I rambled something. Likely "I'm so sorry, you're wonderful, thank you." It's honestly hard to tell, I can't remember. I just remember her being so kind, leaning forward to speak to me and that was it. Anyways, here's the embarrassing video.

@smalltown_bookworm I completely geeked out. Forgot to say anything other than hello and asking if I could record and thank you πŸ˜‚ I adored everything she shared with us in her panel. This video is not good. At all. But just getting to have this experience. I’m just so thankful. I can’t wait to read more #veschwab #victoriaschwab #bookfestival #authormeetandgreet #booksigning #addielarue #invisiblelifeofaddielarue ♬ S.I.M.P (Squirrels In My Pants) [From 'Phineas And Ferb'] - Geek Music

She signed two books for me. The Owlcrate edition of Gallant, which yes comes with a signed bookplate, but it's one of the prettiest books I own, so of course, I'd rather have the real and in-person version. The second book I asked her to sign was the illustrated version of Addie Larue. Ordered it from Canada just in time for the festival. It is GORGEOUS.

The staff graciously let us know we could get back in line again if we had more items to sign. We didn't, but I wish that I had. I wish even more that I had remembered to ask her for the secret. All of the people we spoke to after had also forgotten. Honestly, how sweet and romantic an idea to be able to ask your favorite author for a secret and for her to oblige! I'm jealous of those who remembered!

This experience has made my heart feel so full. I'm still so shocked that I was fortunate to have this experience. It's also been very inspiring. To my left sits my first copy of The Invisible Life of Addie Larue with a stack of post-it note flags. I've started re-reading and annotating it. My first attempt at annotating ever. It's therapeutic diving into the text this way. Another way I've been inspired is... I currently have NaNoWriMo opened in another tab. Thinking about finally doing it. Investing the time to put pen to paper finally. We shall see...

If you've ever considered attending a book signing for an author you look up to, DO IT. It's worth it. Let them know you appreciate them and take the time to listen to more of what they have to say. It's truly a beautiful experience that I hope everyone can have, even if just once.

Have you ever been to a book signing or an author panel? Who did you see?

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