The Tucson Festival of Books

Hi everyone! So as I mentioned in a previous post I planned on attending the Tucson Festival of Books and….IT WAS AMAZING. First of all, you all should probably know that I’d never even heard of this until literally a month before it was going to happen. This was all thanks to Maggie Stiefvater mentioning she would be in Arizona for it during the month of March on Facebook. Of course, when I read this I nearly peed myself because I’d read the Shiver Trilogy before and loved it. I highly recommend it btw. Just a side note.

ANYWAY, so I had already decided that I was only going to be able to attend the Saturday session due to religious preferences for Sunday. This meant that I needed to cram in as many classes, workshops, networking, and socializing as I could within one day. No pressure.

The day began with me having a head cold (naturally) so I made sure to pack my carryon sized, Pepto Bismol colored purse with tissues, a water bottle, cough drops, nasal spray, and hand sanitizer. Yes. I was a walking mini-pharmacy for anyone with a head cold.

I got there before my first class was going to start so I decided to walk up and down the tents and see what they were about.

***Side note: I was a crazed fan girl and definitely made my husband take me on campus the night before so I could scope out the tents beforehand. This consisted of me running from tent to tent while skipping around saying, “This is amazing!” …they were a bunch of empty tents at the moment, but they were the most beautiful empty sacks of plastic I’d ever seen.

I walked up to a tent that I’d seen the night before called Connected Author. I was intrigued and decided to ask them what they were about and was immediately talked to at paces I’d never seen before by two people who seemed to be running the booth. Despite my usual chatty nature, I was really quiet for most of my time there. Mostly because I hadn’t realized I was meeting actual authors and their own published books kept staring me in the face reminding me that I merely finished my first draft of only 46,000 words just a month before (and that’s not even a novel, folks. That’s called a NOVELLA. The more you know).

*Takes a deep breath* Now I know what you’re thinking. How could I not have known that I’d be meeting authors while at this thing and that they would OF COURSE show me their books in hopes I’d buy them? Well, I’ll tell you. Maggie Stiefvater. I’m well aware that the world does not revolve around her or her books, but they were some of the first ones that got me on track to critically thinking whilst reading them. They hold a special place in my heart and as far as I was concerned that flashing sign indicating the parking lot by the tents was for authors and VIPS may as well have said, “Maggie Stiefvater, this way!” because that’s how this works in my world.

Ok, back on track.

They jabbered on about beta readers and how I would need one since my first draft had been completed and a lady proceeded to hand me her card while saying, “E-mail me and I’ll look over it for you.” I nodded in response, still unsure of just what a beta was, but I pretended to know what all the terms being thrown my way were. I made the mistake at another tent of using the terms “self-publishing” which was quickly hushed and then corrected into the phrase “independent-publishing” for its less intimidating nature. *shrugs*

Before I left this particular tent, however, the author who wrote Forced Magic gave me his card and more information that I thought I’d bargained for. Just as I turned to leave the tent he said, “It was nice to speak with a fellow author,” to which I nearly keeled over for. I raised my hand to my heart, flattered at his compliment (although I’m still wondering if he just wanted me to buy one of his books) and thanked him before I scurried off to my first class.

The first class I went to was a Workshop called Writing Paranormal Characters. I didn’t realize this before but this was to be taught by Erin Quinn, a New York Times best selling author who’s main focus is romance novels. That’s right. The majority of her novels consist of men who look like they’re ready for their Chip ‘n’ Dale auditions. The class was very informative and honestly I’m glad I went. The more Erin talked though, the more she labeled her work as “paranormal fiction” which I assumed meant she liked to write about ghosts and weird Hocus Pocus stuff.

As I’m sure most of you (all two of you) have figured out by now, this experience mainly consists of me just not knowing anything. I’m sure I gave many blank stares and odd answers to people when they began asking me questions that involved words like beta, paranormal, and independent-publishing. More on this later though.

During Erin’s presentation she talked about how she went to a page to get feedback from someone about a problem she’d had with one of her elements in her books (element is also a word I use now to describe things in my own books). Once the class was over I approached Erin to ask her what page she referring to and on came the information again. I scribbled down her tent number as she told me to come by and see her later on and then I scurried off again.

I ran off to go across campus to a class called 20 Ways NOT to Write Your First Book, but by the time I got there they weren’t letting anyone else in. Apparently everyone wants to know how not to write a book. So did I for that matter.

Upon realizing that the class was full, another girl was also turned away at the same time I was so we both ended up leaving together.

“There’s still plan B, right?” she smiled before she turned to leave. I mentally froze as I realized that I just assumed (theres a lot of that going on in this story, too) that I’d be able to make it into the classes I’d selected without any problem. I didn’t come up with any other classes that may have been going on simultaneously just in case. So here you can see that I clearly made just about every novice mistake there was to make, except for going to the wrong class. That one I didn’t make because I made my husband show me where I needed to go the day before.

Disappointed, I went over to the Student Union where my husband was getting some early lunch with our son. Toddlers can be finicky like that and require multiple feedings per day, or so I’ve heard.

When I got there, they were eating Panda Express but forgot to get fortune cookies so I meandered over in line to get one. The man taking my order gave me a weird look when the only thing I asked for was one single fortune cookie, but he handed it to me and said, “No charge.” Surprised, I asked him if he was sure. I was more than happy to give him a dollar or whatever the going rate was for a fortune cookie. “Just come back later and order something,” he said. DEAL, I thought to myself. As I’m sure will come to no surprise to any of you I definitely have eaten at Panda since this exchange. It’s Panda Express. Need I say more? When I got back to the table I handed the one single fortune cookie to my now beaming son who was delighted to rip the fortune out of it, throw it to the side, and devour the cookie. Curious, I read the fortune. Your most memorable dream will come true it said. I smiled and put it in my wallet because I have another one already pinned to my cork board that says the same thing. I found the first one after having a lengthy talk with my husband about pursuing my dreams of being a published author. Now I have a second one that accompanies it from the place where I got to meet more authors than I could shake a stick at.

Inspired by this fortune cookie, I decided to find a plan B. I knew that there was a forum I’d considered called Adventures of Magic: Zombies, Unicorns, and Robots with Mo O’Hara, Dan Santat, and the one and only Maggie Stiefvater. I rushed over to the Education building again just in time to catch the majority of the forum (an accurate depiction of my reaction when I walked into the room and saw Maggie for the first time). It was more entertaining than informative for me, but then again I also didn’t want to be bothered with note-taking in case I missed something. When they announced that there would be book signings afterwards I already knew that I was going to be all over that.

Right after the forum got out, I rushed over to the nearest tent where I knew they were selling copies of Maggie’s books. Like a true and dedicated fan, I left all of my copies at home. I managed to find a copy of her newest book The Raven King which is the fifth in the series. I haven’t touched this series yet, but I’d already made up my mind that I was going to have her sign something even if it was a copy of a book from a series that I probably wasn’t going to get to for at least another year (I have a list over over a hundred books to read for now and I don’t need help adding to that just yet).

I hopped in line and stood behind a 15-year-old girl who looked like she might crumble at any minute. She was a die-hard Maggie fan and even said at one point, “She’s everything that I aspire to be.” Well, dang. She kept apologizing to me for being “small” which I translated into meaning that she was really young, and hoped that Maggie wouldn’t mind. Well, let’s see, Maggie writes Young Adult Fiction and caters to the younger audience. Yeah, I think she’ll be fine with it. The girl ooed and awed over Maggie some more and even asked me if when she got up to have her book signed if I’d take a picture of them together. “Absolutely,” I responded. I could tell this moment meant a lot to her. Certainly she was on a different level than I was. I was here to hopefully make a decent enough impression to be able to e-mail her later without it being weird…we’ll get to that story later.

FINALLY, after what seemed like a day and forever we’re next. The girl and her sister both step up to Maggie (who I still can’t really see because her face is being blocked by the young girl) and I can hear her talking to her with ease. I’m impressed by this girl. For a split second I stare at the phone the girl turns to hand me because in true Kristin fashion I forgot that I said I’d take a picture for her. It’s an i-Phone. I’m intimidated. I hold it like I know what I’m doing and begin taking pictures of Maggie signing the girl’s books and think that I’ve done my duty so I exited out of the screen. “Can I get a picture with you?” the girl asks Maggie right after I exited. FRICK. I awkwardly say that I accidentally pressed a button and ask the girl to open the camera feature back up for me. I manage to snap three decent pictures of the girl and Maggie and then finally it’s my turn.

*rubs fingers to temples* Ok I’m going to give you two scenarios of this scene, OK?


Maggie: Hi.

Me: Hi, Maggie! I’m a fan of your work and really enjoyed what you did in the Shiver Trilogy. You’re really creative with your fantasy worlds and character development. Would you mind signing my book?

Maggie: Sure! And, thank you. How would you like me to sign your book?

Me: Oh, to Kristin if you don’t mind. By the way, I was wondering if it would be alright to keep in touch with you. I’m a fellow writer myself and just have a few questions I’d like to ask you if you’re alright with that.

Maggie: Yeah, that’d be fine. Here’s my e-mail ask me anything you want.

Me: Thank you so much! Again, I love your work. Have a great day.



Me: Hi, how’s it going?

Maggie: Good, how would you like me to sign your book?

Me: Surprise me. Do you know if there will be any other events held similar to your Seven Sentences event. I was going to try to go, but it just doesn’t look like it’s going to happen for me this year.

Maggie: I’m not sure if we’re doing it again next year.

Me: Oh, Ok.

Maggie: *hands me back my book*

Me: Thank you and it was nice meeting you. *shakes her hand in my best business way possible*

Maggie: Oh, we have to shake again. It’s bad luck to do anything in an odd number.

Me: Oh! *shakes her hand again, but does it in a weird limp fish way and then walks away*



*voice dripping with sarcasm* I like to leave lasting impressions on people that I meet.

Due to the already gargantuan nature of this post I’m going to split this into a two-part post. Stay tuned for the rest of last Saturday’s shenanigans.

Until next time, readers (yes, all two of you).








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