It’s Okay To Be Scared

I have some exciting news! I gave my book to someone for feedback. Before her, only my family and three of my closest friends had ever seen it. I have been working on the series for two years and have written three drafts of the first book. It had gotten to the point where I wasn’t sure how much more I could do without an outside opinion. So it basically came down to two options for me and the book: Let someone critique it or drop the project. And after two years I had become far too attached to the series to just give it up. So I decided to let someone read it. And I think the decision is going to better my book by leaps and bounds. It’s only been three days, and the amount of critique I’ve gotten already is way more than anyone has ever given me previously and it’s opened my eyes to a lot of mistakes that I hadn’t noticed before.

I guess what I’m trying to say here is to not let your fears get in the way of progress. Even if it’s just a couple baby steps at a time, keep moving forward. There was a point in time where I couldn’t even share a vague sentence from my book without panicking. But very slowly, I’ve been able to overcome my fears. I know I still have a long way to go, and that it’s taken me three years to get to this point but I did get here. And so can you. Just take it one step at a time. And remember, it’s okay to be scared. It’s okay to stumble. Just don’t let fear stop you from doing what you love most. Take a deep breath, get back up, and keep pushing through. 🙂

Because Feelings Matter Book Tag

I’ve been thinking about which topic I could talk about to ease myself back into this blogging thing and decided that a tag would be best. They’re so much fun! Hopefully you guys enjoy and can relate to some of my answers. 🙂

  1. What book made you feel confident, either about yourself or your life

Definitely Divergent by Veronica Roth. This book guys… I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to say enough about it. It’s high time for a re-read because I haven’t read it in soooo long. But anyway! This book came to me at a difficult time in my life. It taught me how to be brave and how to fight, but also showed me that a person can be vulnerable and weak at the same time as being strong. It showed me that strength, bravery, and vulnerability go hand in hand. Out of all the books I’ve ever read (besides the Bible of course) Divergent has probably left the biggest impact on my life. It’s been an inspiration to me ever since I read it.

2. What book made you feel sympathetic or sympathize greatly with the characters

I would probably have to choose We Were Liars by e. Lockhart. I related to and felt for the main character Cadie. She was going through some difficult stuff and her feelings for Gat were incredibly relatable at the time. The summer I read that book was also the one where I developed one of my first real life crushes. Before that I had had crushes on celebrities and fictional characters but I hadn’t really had a real crush on someone I knew in real life. So I related a lot with Cadie’s feelings for Gat.

3. What book made you feel anxious

Probably Shatter Me by Taherah Mafi. Don’t get me wrong, the writing was brilliant and the characters were amazing but there were just a few content issues that made me feel uncomfortable and anxious while reading. I ended up putting it down before finishing because I couldn’t take the anxiety and discomfort it brought anymore.

4. What book made you feel annoyed

Does this mean annoyed with the book or annoyed with the characters in the book? Because The Fever Code had some really annoying villains that I wanted to punch in the face but I LOVE that book as a whole. And the villains weren’t annoying in a bad way, just in a ‘How could you do that?! You’re a terrible person and I hate you.’ kind of way. I can’t think of any books as a whole that annoyed me so I might have to take a raincheck on this question.

5. What was a book that made you feel disappointed

Okay, before I say this title please know that I absolutely LOVE this series and really liked this book. It was just the ending that was disappointing when I read it. And this book is The Death Cure by James Dashner. Without giving too much away, it introduced us to something new at the very end and then stopped. I mean, it was an okay ending but I wanted more. If a book is going to introduce a completely new element at the last minute they should explain more. It left me feeling kinda confused and in need of an explanation. But I guess that does capture the nature of the book. Everyone is always confused.

6. What book made you feel confused

Hahaha! I was just talking about confusion in the previous question! Yup, The Maze Runner. Because everyone’s always confused about everything in that book.

 

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7. What book made you feel satisfied

The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight by Jennifer E. Smith. That book is the cutest, lightest, most adorable piece of happiness that was ever published in the contemporary YA genre. It made me feel good the whole way through. It’s one of those books that makes you smile and sigh in contentment as you read the last line and close it gently. Maybe you’ll also do a little happy dance and give a squeal of excitement and pleasure as you do so.

8. What book made you feel like you could really relate to the main character

I said this earlier but I really related with Cadie from We Were Liars and I also related with Tris from Divergent. Tris has always been a kind of role model to me and I related with her and the things she was going through. I always felt a connection to her and Cadie’s character.

And now comes the time where I tag people! I tag:

Ana from Inkspot

Zac from Of Bleeding Pens & Pages

Angie from The Randomness of a Teenage Writer

EC from E.C. Reads

Jeneca from Jeneca Writes

Jameson from Lovely Whatsoevers

Libbey from The Comet, The Cosmos, and How to Survive It All

Nichole from The Jumping Bean

K.T. from K.T. Ivanrest

Olivia from Inkspots

Gabriela from A Heart Redeemed

Phew! I just realized how many of my friends have blogs! Of course, you guys don’t have to do this tag if it’s not something you’re interested in. I just thought I’d tag you in case you wanted to try it out as well! I’d love to see your posts! 😀

Hopefully I’ll be talking to you all again soon. Feel free to comment and let me know what your answers would be! I’d love to hear your thoughts!

Keep creating!

Hello, It’s Me.

I know, it’s been awhile… again. I’m sorry! I’m horrible at this whole blogging thing. It’s not that I don’t think about posting, it’s just that I never know what to post about. I’m also scared of not having everything perfect if you know what I mean. Like, what if I have a lot of typos or boring content and everyone ends up hating my blog because of it? O.o

I’ve been wanting to have an honest talk with you all for awhile to tell you why I don’t post very often. Well, there you have it. I guess I’m just not very confident and my posting consistency suffers because of it. I’m hoping to get better though.

What would you guys think of smaller posts? Because sometimes I have smaller thoughts to share but not enough to write a full length post on. Let me know if you’d be okay with that!

Plus, I’m going to be changing the name of my blog. Are you ready to hear the new title? *looks cautiously from side to side* *leans in really close to whisper*

My new blog title will be… Through The Reading Glass! For those of you who follow me on Instagram, this won’t be a surprise (and for those of you who don’t know already, I have an Instagram dedicated to books! Feel free to check it out! @Through_The_Reading_Glass).

I’m hoping that with the name change and the shift in content, I’ll be able to get this blog up and running more smoothly and consistently than it has before. Thank you all for being so patient with me. I’m trying. 🙂

How did I used to close these things out? Something like, talk again soon and until next time, remember to keep reading and keep writing!

….

I don’t know about that anymore… I think I may start something new.

Keep creating!

I kind of like the sound of that one. 🙂

My Writing Journey- What I’m Working On/Thoughts Going Forward

Since I really do want to have writing as my job in the future, I figured I’d start a section dedicated to my journey and where I am. Hope you enjoy following me on my writing journey!

Two years ago, I started a trilogy of young adult, dystopian sci-fi books for NaNoWriMo 2014. Since then, I have been working on the trilogy and last year, on November 1st, I finished it. After giving it some time to rest while I worked on other projects, I am now returning to it for revisions.

The first book in the series is 159 pages long, and contains 79,874 words. It’s probably a bit on the short side but I’m trying not to worry about that right now. I can always make it longer if I need to.

After about a month of lazy editing, (the intense work begins at Camp NaNoWriMo next month, so I’m giving myself some leeway this month), I have hit page 30 out of 159 on my manuscript. I have deleted one character completely, removed another from the beginning, deleted multiple scenes and added a few as well. 30 pages has turned into 26, and I’m much happier with the story and the way it’s written. I feel like, slowly, it’s becoming the book I had intended it to be.

Editing is by far, not my favorite part of the writing process. I personally love writing the first draft. I love it’s creative freedom and the leniency it gives me to write something terrible and know it’s okay because everyone’s first drafts are terrible. But when I get to editing, I often feel boxed up and stifled. There is no leniency anymore, no more freedom. Suddenly, everything has to be good. Everything has to be perfect. You can no longer just throw a bunch of words on the page and call it okay, you have to meticulously organize them. And that’s what I hate about editing. BUT…

I did come up with a new way of editing that is making it a little more bearable. I created a completely new, empty document, and split my computer screen between that and the doc with my manuscript. Now, looking back and forth, I’m able to completely rewrite the entire story onto a new document, which makes it feel kind of like I’m writing a new story, even though I’m not.

It also makes it easier to change already existing things using this method (in my opinion anyway). For example, when I deleted my character, instead of having to find every scene she was mentioned in and remove her from it, I simply have to remember that she’s no longer in it and not include her. I no longer have to find things, I just have to write. It makes things so much easier.

But here come the thing that’s bothering me most right now. Not the editing, not the stifling perfectionism that comes with it, but the thought of what comes after. Once the second draft is done, the story won’t be able to grow without other people’s opinions and I’ll have to get beta-readers which, as a protective writer, is quite frankly terrifying.

And then after beta-readers comes something maybe slightly scarier. Querying.

And IF I’m lucky enough to get an agent, and when that agent then shops my manuscript around to publishing companies, and then IF a publishing company picks it up and offers me a deal, and IF I actually get published, my book will be out there in the world for ANYONE to see! Which ultimately is the goal and excites me more than anything, but… it also terrifies me.

All in all I guess, writing this second draft seems like the beginning of a very long process of scary new things. I’m committing myself to this project in a way that I’ve never committed to a project before (except my very first book but I’m not sure that counts because I was only a baby writer at the time).

I know I have an amazing family and group of friends who will rally around me and support me through every last second of it but still… it scares me.

So I’m trying to take this all one step at a time. Right now, all I need to focus on is finishing the second draft.  And I’m trying my hardest. I set myself a deadline of July 31st and I plan to be done by then.

And when the time comes, I will think about beta-readers and then after that querying, getting an agent, and then publishing. And can we please not even think about a movie deal? *faints*

Most of that stuff is pretty far into the future, if it ever happens at all, so I’m going to try not to worry about it now. If I’ve learned anything about writing recently it’s that it’s one big waiting game. And I just need to take it one step at a time. So that’s what I’m going to do. 🙂

Queen of Hearts by Colleen Oakes- Book Review

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At BookCon, near the end of the event, some people came by and gave my brother a bag full of books. I hadn’t heard anything about Queen of Hearts before pulling it out of the bag, but decided to start reading it. As I read, I got sucked into the book more and more, carrying it with me everywhere I went. I read while waiting in stores, while sitting through my brother’s piano lessons, in the car, while walking through stores. Pretty much anytime I could!

I absolutely loved this book! It’s a fairytale retelling of Alice In Wonderland but, instead of being focused on Alice, it’s focused on the Queen of Hearts. In this book, Dinah (The Queen of Hearts) hasn’t even become Queen yet. She is still a princess. She feels that something is off in the castle. And when a mysterious note finds it’s way into her hands, she’s plunged into a world of danger and mystery, and can trust no one. Not like she ever had before.

The way this story was re-imagined was interesting and magical. I have never been a fan of Alice in Wonderland, but this book has flipped that around. If the story was always told like this, I would adore this franchise!

I felt like there was a familiar face around every corner. I kept running into characters I knew, only in re-imagined forms. Like Cheshire, only this time he isn’t a cat, but instead, The King Of Hearts devious, conniving advisor.

I especially love the way The Mad Hatter was re-imagined, as Dinah’s brother, which I found worked really well for the story. I fell in love with his character right from the beginning. He was sweet and funny and generally insane. But all the best people are. 😉

And Wardley. Oh Wardley. He is Dinah’s love interest. Completely loyal and charming. I loved his character and the way he treated Dinah. He and Dinah have been friends since they were little. They grew up together. And now Dinah’s feelings for him are developing into something more. They’re so cute together!

Okay, I won’t spoil anything, but there was this thing that happened at the end of the book during the climax and it completely broke my heart! I was sick while reading it and therefor couldn’t cry as much as I wanted to but… why Colleen why?! Why did that particular thing have to happen to that particular character that I adored so much? 😭😭😭

You know that little leap your heart does when you turn the page and realize it’s the last one? That’s what happened to me while reading Queen of Hearts. I thought there was more to go because they included a sneak peak of the next book in the back. It kind of broke my heart I was like “No! No! NOoOOOOOOOooOO!!!! That can’t be it! Where’s the rest of it?! I thought I had more!!! What?! Now I have to wait until January 2017!?!?! WHY CRUEL WORLD WHY!?!?”

There was so much mystery in this book, and not very many questions were answered by the end. If I could change something about the book, it may be that. I have so many questions and almost none of them were answered. I feel like I have some pretty good guesses on where things are going but nothing was ever answered for sure. I feel as if maybe throwing readers one or two answers would keep them even more intrigued for the next book.

Oh well. The next book will probably be even better than the first because now that the entire story is set up, we can finally delve into figuring out the mystery that is behind the Wonderland and it’s royals! I absolutely cannot wait for January 2017! I’m really hoping to be lucky enough to get an ARC of the next book because I don’t think I can wait until January to read the sequel! I need it now!

So yeah, please read this book! It was absolutely incredible! Definitely recommend it! I gave it a 4 out of 5 stars on Goodreads.

If you do end up reading it, let me know what you think!

I’ve been starting to get into fairytale retellings recently. I think Once Upon a Time started it and now I’m realizing even more how amazing they are! If you guys know of any good, YA fairytale retellings, I’d love some recommendations! 😀

This was my very first book review posted on here. I tried to avoid spoilers and hopefully it wasn’t too rambley or anything. Hope you all enjoyed it! 🙂

I’ll be back soon with another post and, until then, remember to keep writing and keep reading! 😀

Reasons Why Twitter is My Favorite

As some of you may know, Twitter is my favorite social media site. And for those of you who didn’t know, well, now you do!

I’m here to tell you why this is the case.

  1. It’s easy to use and navigate.
  2. You can tweet as many times as you like about anything you wish! Want to give some writing advice? Go ahead! Want to show off your latest book purchase? No problem! Want to rant about your uncle’s mother’s niece’s pet cat Henry? Go right ahead! Someone will probably see it and think it’s cool.
  3. It’s easy to connect with people who share similar interests with you! I’ve met so many amazing writers through Twitter! (Hi Hannah and Hannah (yes I know two Hannah’s), Tim, Stephanie, Dana, Libbey, Ana, E.C, Chloe, Angie, Zac, Brianna, and Martha!) The Twitter writing community is such a friendly and helpful place!
  4. You can make lifelong friends through Twitter. (again, *waves at all my wonderful Internet friends*)
  5. You can talk about topics of your choosing, with people who actually care. Instead of bugging your non-reader/writer friends, go to Twitter to fangirl and talk! People love talking about their fandoms!
  6. You can grow your author platform if you’re a writer! By gaining followers, you are automatically increasing the amount of people who will someday see your ‘Hey! My book just got published and it’d mean an awful lot to me if you’d share the word/buy a copy!’ tweet. Also, who knows? Maybe one of your tweets will inspire someone? I know that that’s something I strive for. To stay new and inspiring for my amazing followers.
  7. There is always someone out there who knows more than you. You can gain insights from people better than you, and they can help you improve at whatever it is you’re trying to get better at. Again, the writing community on Twitter doesn’t hesitate to help to other writers.
  8. You can talk with your favorite authors! I’ve had multiple interactions with famous authors and bookish people on Twitter. It’s always super cool when they like, retweet, or comment on something of yours.
  9. You can stalk amazing hashtags like #amwriting. If you have Twitter, are a writer, and haven’t looked at this hashtag yet, what are you doing? Go check it out! You’ll thank me later.
  10. You can share little peices of what you’re working on! If you’re a writer like me, share some sentences from your book, talk about your characters. Get people excited for your novel! Their excitement will seep into you and you’ll be even more inspired to write!

Well, those are 10 reasons why Twitter is my favorite social media site. I absolutely love it! What’s your favorite social media? Why? I’d love to hear!

Thanks for reading! I really hope someone enjoys this post. I wanted to put something up for you guys but I couldn’t figure out what to write about. If you have any suggestions, feel free to leave them in the comments!

I’ll talk to you again soon and until then, remember to keep reading, and keep writing!

BookCon 2016

So… a thing happened… I went to BookCon 2016!!!

I’m going to give you guys a quick run through of everything that happened. Be prepared for feels and flailing because I met a LOT of really cool people! 😀

The week before the event was a bit hectic. A lot of time was spent preparing, researching, and stressing. It would be my first time attending an event as big as this so, I made sure to watch a lot of YouTube videos and read articles on how to survive. It helped a lot!

A few days before the event, I downloaded the BookCon app and, through it, met of group of sixteen girls. We created an Instagram DM chat, calling ourselves The Spectacular Sixteen, and decided to meet up at the event. We made signs so we could find each other while we were there. It was really exciting!

Somehow I managed to survive the craziness, and made it to the night before. I spent all day preparing, then attended a birthday party at 4:30 (If you’re reading this, happy birthday again, Addy!).

We got back to the house around 10:00 that night and I still had things to get ready for tomorrow! It was a crazy stressful few hours but, I managed to get everything done and fall asleep around 12:30-1:00.

About one and a half hours later, I woke up and couldn’t fall back to sleep. I got out of bed at 3:00 to leave. I was far too excited to sleep in the car, and stayed awake for the entire three hour drive.

We arrived at McCormik Place in Chicago at 6:00 in the morning, and managed to score a pretty good place in line. We happened to get a spot right next to some really nice Canadians, and we ended up hanging out a lot through the event. (if you ever read this, hi Lindsey and Lauren! *waves*)

After waiting in line for awhile, I decided to go on Instagram to see if any of The Spectacular Sixteen had arrived yet. They had and they actually weren’t too far away from where I was in line! I went to find them and it was so nice to get to meet them in person! We hung out, talked and went to find Epic Reads totes and take pictures! Having them to hang out with made waiting in line for a few hours much more bearable. They were all really nice and they were booklovers like me so we instantly had something we could all connect with.

Around 8:00, they opened up the doors and let people into the area where they were giving out wristbands to see the authors. Lindsey, my brother, and I went straight to the James Dashner line, hoping to snag a wristband. We managed to get one and then headed to the Veronica Roth line which we were also lucky enough to get one for. Then we split up, and my brother and I were able to grab two more wristbands. He got Morgan Matson, and I got Jenny Han. My mom also snagged a Lauren Oliver wristband which was so amazing because she would be giving out ARCs of her new book Replica at the signing! We then went to wait in line to get onto the floor, which didn’t open up for another two hours.

The crowds were huge! There were people everywhere. I tried vlogging and I was pretty much shouting for my camera to pick up my voice!

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Instead of going out on the show floor, my mom and I decided to attend the Balancing Good and Evil in YA Literature panel which was a super cool experience! Not sure if I would ever choose to go to a panel over the show floor again but I wanted to at least have one panel experience.

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Once we got out of the panel, we immediately headed to the autographing sessions because Veronica Roth’s signing was right afterward. I joined Josiah and Lindsey there and we waited for an hour or two before I finally got to meet Veronica. It was so cool to finally be able to see her in real life! Her book, Divergent, has really impacted my life and I got to tell her that. It was super cool and surreal!

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This isn’t me in the picture. It’s someone who was ahead of me. Just thought it was a really cool picture. 🙂

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After meeting Veronica, I immediately headed to the Jenny Han line and waited for another hour or so. I got to meet Jenny Han and tell her that her book, To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before, was one of the first contemporaries I had ever picked up and how it had really inspired me during NaNoWriMo 2015. It was super cool to be able to meet her in real life!

Straight after her, I headed to the James Dashner line. I was freaking out in line because his series, The Maze Runner, is one of my favorites and I was finally going to meet him! AHHHHHH!!!!

I wanted him to sign four books and a board (I take it to all the book events I attend for authors to sign), so I needed to split the stuff up between people. I had my brother take my first edition copy of The Maze Runner, and a copy for my friend Alexa. He got those signed and then I came up behind him and had James sign page 250 of The Death Cure and apologize for what he did (if you read the book you’ll know), and then I also had him sign my board. GUYS!!! LOOK HOW HE SIGNED IT THOUGH!!!!

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O.O I just, I what, I huh, I CAN’T!!!! 😀

He was super nice and liked that I had a first edition copy and that I cosplayed as a Glader. It was awesome that he knew what I was! : D

After we left the Dashner signing we had about an hour to wander the show floor before the Booksplosion panel. By this time we had accumulated so many books that my arms were falling off and my mom and I made a trip to the car to drop some books off. I felt much better after dropping them off. Books are heavy guys! Especially when you’re carrying like 30 of them!

When we got back from the car, we wandered the show floor a little more and I got to see Aimee Kaufman and Jay Kristoff signing ARCs of Gemina, and Ruta Septys signing copies of Salt to the Sea. I headed to the Booksplosion line shortly after.

We waited in the panel line for about an hour and a half before they let us into the room. While we were waiting I was able to let someone use my portable charger because their phone had died which was really nice to be able to do, and Jesse and Christine came into the room to film two or three times and everyone freaked out. I was a bit too stunned seeing them in real life for the first time to scream but the others definitely weren’t. 😄

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When they finally let us into the room, my mom and I raced to find seats and were able to get some pretty close to the front.

The entire room exploded when the BookTubers came in, and I died right there in my seat! Not really though cuz if I had I wouldn’t be writing this… unless ghost me is writing this… hmmmmm… anyway!

The panel was super cool and I got to ask them a question! (if you guys want you can answer the question I asked them in the comments: If you could have as a pet any animal from any book, which animal would it be? I’d love to hear your answers!) The panel definitely wasn’t long enough. I seriously could have stayed in that room for another hour or two! 😄

But, fortunately, they had a meet and greet afterwards! I was super nervous the line would be too long to meet them, but I did! When I walked up and they all said hi I was freaking out on the inside but I think I managed to act pretty normal on the outside (at least I hope I did). I asked Jesse (link to his channel here. You guys should check out his videos! They’re seriously amazing and never fail to make me smile) to sign my copy of Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children because it’s his favorite book and his channel was the thing that introduced me to it. He seemed pretty excited about signing it when I asked him!

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I was able to tell him how much his videos have helped me. Whenever I’m sad, his videos make me smile and I was able to thank him for putting out such amazing content and having such an impact on my life. He teared up and I teared up and we hugged and took a picture and it was honestly one of the best experiences of my life! This book is never leaving my sight. 😄

I also got to meet Kat from Katytastic (link to her channel here), and Christine from polandbananasbooks (link to her channel here) which was also so incredible and surreal! I was like ‘uh what, this, what, they’re right in front of me THEY’RE REAL *dies from fangirl excitement*. 😄

 

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Jesse signing my book! 😀
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He gave me a hug!

I was also lucky enough to meet Natasha from tashapolis and Sasha Alsberg from abookutopia (links to both their channels here and here. You should seriously check out all of these channels. They’re really amazing! Especially if you love books!). Sasha even signed a card of her new book Zenith for me and gave me a signed bookmark too!

After the Booksplosion panel, we were leaving the convention hall when we ran into Margot from Epic Reads! I asked her if she would take a selfie with me and she did! She also gave me one of the yellow roses she had. It was so cool!

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It smelled so good!!!

 

The next morning, we laid out all the stuff we got on the table to see our haul. This is what we ended up with!

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I only bought four of those books! The rest were free! And this isn’t even everything, we have some more tote bags that weren’t shown in the picture!

Out of everything we got though, these items are definitely my favorites-

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Everything in this picture is signed besides the Passenger bookmark, the Miss Peregrine’s tote, and the rose (obviously. Not sure how one would sign a rose).

I cannot believe how amazing my first BookCon experience was! I went there expecting to maybe, maybe, get into the Veronica Roth line, the James Dashner line, and the Booksplosion panel. On the ride over though I was trying to make my expectations even lower because I thought the chances of getting into the signing lines were so low, it wasn’t going to happen. But I ended up getting everything I wanted and more!

BookCon was like an amazing, incredible dream. I think I’ve convinced myself it actually happened but, the day after, I was kind of doubting that it was even real. 😄

I want to go again so badly and hopefully it’ll come back to Chicago soon so I can! I met many amazing people and seeing all the authors who were exactly where I aspire to be someday was incredibly inspiring! Someone I was waiting with in line even told me that maybe, if BookCon came back to Chicago in two years, I would be on the other side signing my book for fans! She asked for my name so she would be able to recognize it when she saw it on shelves one day! It was incredibly inspiring to hear a complete stranger sound so excited about me and my career.

I’m so excited to see what the future holds and I’m so glad I was able to attend this event!

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Thank you again so much to Veronica Roth, James Dashner, Jenny Han, Jesse, Kat, Christine, Sasha, Tasha, Margot, and The Spectacular Sixteen for making this event such an amazing experience! I hope to meet you all again someday! 😀

Did you go to BookCon this year? If you did, let me know what signings or panels you attended or if you walked around the show floor all day! I’d love to hear about your BookCon 2016 experience!

That’s all from me for now! I’ll be back soon with another post and until then, remember to keep writing, and keep reading!