North Texas Teen Book Festival 2015

The NTTBF. One day, fifty plus authors, and you. I added to that a few of my favorite people–such as one of my best writer friends over at Snifferblog and some from my writing club–and the fact that out of those fifty plus authors, one of them was Tessa Gratton and, well, that day ended up being one of the best I’ve ever had.

This was the first year for NTTBF to be held, and I think I said enough over the course of the day that it had better keep on going. It was hundreds of readers and thousands of books all gathered together in the same place to attend panels full of authors, signings by those authors, and a couple of different events such as Book Speed Dating. Publishing houses such as Penguin Teen had tables set up, as well as a promoter for the Insurgent movie that comes out in a couple weeks. Authors brought bookmarks and pins and things for their books, and in one special case their latest book, which isn’t released in stores until the 24th.

I got there pretty early, which was one of the best things I did. Nothing started officially happening until nine, and so being there by about eight fifteen made sure that I was able to spend a lot of time in the book sales room, and ensured that I actually got all of the books I wanted, as a lot of them were sold out by the end of the day.

Book Speed Dating was one of the three ticketed events and the only one that I attended (both others were panels that didn’t really interest me). You got taken to a table, read a synopsis, and told to pick a book. It was super quick, super fun, and really unbiased. There were a variety of things to peak a variety of interests at the table, and so you were forced to go only by what grabbed your attention the most. (I have My Soul To Take by Rachel Vincent and can’t wait to start it.)

The sessions were, of course, a big part of the day. There were up to six or seven sessions running at all times from ten AM to three PM, so you got to attend five sessions total. I stuck pretty close to my favorite authors for most of the day, and went to sessions on secondary characters, romance in unlikely places, captivating fantasy worlds, thriller novels, and horror. Two of the absolute coolest people to hear from were Leigh Bardugo and Nova Ren Suma, who happen to be two of my favorites. Leigh is a joy to watch and listen to because she’s so full of energy that you can’t help listen to what she’s saying, and it’s good stuff too. Nova is a little quieter, but absolutely full of amazing ideas and insights, and a super easy person to pay attention to.

Another thing that was cool about the panels was that as I listened to the authors speak, I got convinced to read their works. Julie Kagawa and Sherry Thomas were both ridiculously cool people, and through hearing them speak and answer questions, I got interested in their books. (Granted, my reading list is already a mile long, but y’know…) It was a really cool kind of setting to be in on, watching authors interact with each other and with the crowd and the panel mods and learning about how they work and what they like.

It was also a little like being in the same room as a rock star. On the way to my first session I walked right by Tessa Gratton and just about had a heart attack. She’s amazing, by the way.

One of the best parts of the day for me was staying right up until the end, when there wasn’t really anybody left. I got to talk with Natalie C. Parker and April Tucholke for a bit as everything was emptying out, which was the neatest experience. Natalie is amazing and I got to hear an Author Story first hand, and while April is kind of intimidating she is seriously incredible as well.

All in all, one of the best things I’ve ever done. I’m super excited for the future of NTTBF and am already planning on next year. I was surprised with how smoothly everything went, even given the amount of people there and the traffic jams that occurred. Rock on, NTTBF. Rock on.



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