Monday 20 July 2015

My Top Ten Favourite Things About YALC 2015

I'm sad! Utterly miserable! I'm suffering from post YALC depression. I want to be back in Olympia, just breathing the same air as Judy Blume and Michael J Fox.  All I want to do is talk YALC to everyone but no one at home is really that interested. So to cheer myself up, I'm going to write a YALC post!

The weekend was amazing. It was so much better than I could ever have imagined. I met some wonderful bloggers. I got a wee bit star struck by a couple of authors and I took part in some fantastic panels and workshops. If that wasn't enough I BOUGHT BOOKS! Well every true book addict, needs to buy books at a book event, don't they? I came away yesterday buzzing. I'm now brimming over with writing inspiration and I have a long list of books that I really want to read by authors I'd never considered reading before; which are two things that haven't happened to me in a while.

Last year, I struggled with YALC; the heat, the crowds and the noise were all too much for me. This year, it was instantly obvious that the YALC team had addressed all these issues and put on a  spectacular event to remember. It felt like everyone owned the event. Published and unpublished authors, bloggers and PR people mingled with REAL LIVE TEENAGERS who were brimming with love for these books. Their energy and excitement was infectious!

So this year I really want to share with you  the things that  I loved about the event. They are in no particular order, because I loved them all equally. 

1) I got to be on the blogging panel. 
For the blogging community, this was huge; an immense privilege to be asked to talk to other bloggers and share the things I have learnt. I loved every minute of it. Andy, Laura and Michelle did an amazing job on the first panel and  I think Lucy, Jim and I pulled off the second panel really well. 

 I now realise that:
- I'm really rather gobby when I get going;
- I probably came across as a demented author stalker;
- I love the sound of my own voice.

I'm ecstatic that we were asked. We wouldn't have had the opportunity to take part in this, if it wasn't for the UKYA Book Awards, set up by Andy Robb. I really hope the awards run again this year, as I think it is a great way of highlighting the blogging community. 
Photo taken by Laura - Sister Spooky

2) Anna McKerrow's writing workshops.
This was the first time that I'd met Anna McKerrow and I'm so pleased I got the opportunity to take part in her writing workshops. Thanks to Sophie from So Many Books, So Little Time for securing a place on them for me. The workshops involved generating ideas using random passages and pictures in the first session and using the tarot in the second. I've now come home with four different story ideas I hope to one day work on. Anna made me enthusiastic to write again and I can't thank her enough.

3) Meeting Louise O'Neill
Louise is one of those authors that has you giggling as soon as you meet her. I described her on Twitter as being 'hilarious in a serious sort of way' and that is the only way I can think of her.  I can't wait to read her new book, Asking For It. 
Photo taken by Michelle from Fluttering Butterflies

4) Laura Dockrill loving the present I made her.
 Earlier this year, I offered to make Laura a headdress during a Hot Key event. It took me a while to make, but thankfully it was ready for YALC. So I took it along and Laura really loved it, wearing it for most of the morning. 

5) The Being a Girl panel.
On Saturday, authors Hayley Long, CJ Daugherty, Holly Smale, Malorie Blackman and Laura Dockrill discussed feminism and female characters in books during a panel hosted by Anna James. It was a brilliant panel. Hayley Long's comments really hit home and I totally agreed with everything she said. She has written an excellent post about it here. 

5) Meeting Sarah Crossan
After spending the last few days constantly linking Sarah Crossan's latest book, One with the phrase OMG!, it was absolutely lovely to finally meet the lady herself. And she is wild! Infectious with her warmth and humour, she hugged everyone she met, like they were old friends. How can you not like someone like this? 

6) AJ Grainger and Non Pratt discussing the author and editor process. 
This was a brilliant workshop that really showed the behind the scenes relationship between an agent and their editor. As Non and Annalie work so closely together, it was really good to see how they coped with the huge task of making a manuscript publishable.

7) The Blogger Brunch.
Thanks to Kat McKenna and Nina Douglas for organising such an amazing event. It was lovely to mingle with the authors, while stuffing my face with drool worthy pastries. I loved that I got to chat with Annabel Pitcher, as well as being introduced to Steve Camden. 

8) James Dawson dressed as Daryl Hannah is Splash. 
This image will stay in my brain for a very long time... oh and the Bringing Sexy Back panel was awesome too!

9) Spending time with blogging pals. 
This was a huge part of the weekend for me. This event brought so many bloggers together. We all had time to actually chat and catch up, instead of running off in all directions.
It was lovely to talk to bloggers I've known for years like Jenny from Wondrous Reads, Ana from The Book Smugglers, Darren from Barts Books and Jax from Live Otherwise. I also really enjoyed spending time with bloggers like Debbie and Michelle, who I don't normally get the opportunity to talk to.  I also got to talk to lots of new bloggers who are excited and full of enthusiasm, which most certainly rubbed off on me. 
Photo taken by Debbie from Snuggling On The Sofa.

10) Catching up with authors and PR peeps
I loved that I got to talk to  so many amazing authors. Liz Kessler, Keris Stainton, Alexia Casale, Hayley Long, Jo Cotterill, Lucy Coats you all rock. The Brighton Rocks authors - Lisa Heathfield, Nikki Sheehan, Tatum Flynn, Jenny Maclachlan, Sarah Sky and Eve Ainsworth - I love you all!!! And the publishing peeps - Hannah Love, Rosi Crawley, Emma Bradshaw, Caff Ward, Kat McKenna, Nina Douglas, Lauren Ace, Venetia Gosling - you are all amazing.

Phew! So that's my Top Ten for YALC - all the things I loved. 

Would I recommend any chances for next year? Apart from working out how I can be cloned so that I can attend the events and work shops at the same time, no. Though I am putting a request in for a workshop next year - I would love Sarah Crossan to teach us how to write in verse, because she makes it look so easy. Also it would be amazing to see SCBWI and the Golden Egg Academy represented there too. 

Next year I can only imagine it will be bigger and better, if that is actually possible. Congratulations to the YALC team, you really pulled a cracker this year.


  1. Awww, I'm literally smiling away to myself in work now - what a wonderful write up. I'm so glad it was brilliant :)

  2. James Dawson was dressed as Khaleesi from Game of Thrones :)


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