Last weekend, I was lucky enough to attend YALLfest, a YA book convention, in South Carolina. Along with several amazing YA authors that were scheduled to attend, Veronica Roth was set as the Keynote speaker for the event. I had been looking forward to this weekend for months.

I left at 10:45 pm to pick up a friend at the airport, then set out for the 8 hour drive from Northern Virginia to Charleston, South Carolina. After many songs, bathroom and gasoline breaks, book discussions, and car games, we finally arrived in Charleston and parked the car. When we reached the destination of the Keynote, which was the start of the convention, there was already a long line of people there, many wearing various Divergent-related apparel. We got our bands that meant we were some of the first 500 people there and we would be able to get Veronica’s personalized autograph. I was number 195, which means there were 194 people there more than two hours before the event was set to begin. Sitting outside. In the cold. For hours.

VRothLine

VRothBands

After much chatter about the various books and authors, we finally went inside, where there were piles of Divergent, Insurgent, and Allegiant for sale. We were given Allegiant posters, as well. We finally found seats for the Keynote. Once the organizers welcomed us all to the event, Veronica Roth and Rae Carson came out to interview each other.

VRothKeynote

Here’s my livetweets from the Keynote:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Then people were off to various panels throughout the day and people with wristbands numbers 1-75 could get Veronica’s autograph.

Finally, a little after 12:00, I was able to get her autograph with my friends. We stepped upstairs and there was only a short line– they had made a good choice giving numbered wristbands to keep the line short. I made it to the front of the line and got my book signed. I also informed her I worked for trisandfour.com. She said she knew the site and remembered it was a pretty new one. My friend snapped a picture of her signing my book, then she was off to sign another’s.

VRothsign

I didn’t see much of Veronica for the next several hours, as she was signing more autographs for most of the day (though if you want to talk to me about the other authors I met, just ask!). But at the end of the day, YALLfest ended with an event called the “Smackdown”. It started with a band created by YA authors (they were really good!), then the authors came up for some book-related improv games. Veronica was included. In the first game, Veronica was playing an executive, asking leading questions to help “publicists” come up with an fantastic awful story. Her questions were the perfect leading questions, such as “But what will the cover look like?” and “How would you make mothers want to read it (for the answer: think 50 Shades of Grey).

But my favorite moment of the smackdown was the very last question in the game section. The authors were giving their “YA curses” for different things that might happen. The last question was “What Divergent fans said when they found out what Veronica Roth did at the end of Allegiant.” My eyes shot to Veronica, who was sitting to the side. She was laughing. Someone stepped up to the mic, took and deep breath, and said…

“Dang.”

In all the excitement, I also ended up with a second signed copy of Divergent. Click the picture below to learn how to WIN the signed book!!!!

Screen Shot 2013-11-15 at 5.55.53 PMOverall, it was an absolutely amazing weekend. We joked the entire way home (after crashing in the hotel immediately following the event). We are already planning our trip next year. Will I see you there?

 

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