Hello, all! Hope everyone is doing well!
I know I haven’t been very active this week. My review for Vampire Academy was supposed to go live this week, and that didn’t happen. But I have a good reason for it (besides the fact that it was finals week). I promise.
As the title of this post implies, I met Amie Kaufman, Jay Kristoff, and Marie Lu!!! (And, yes, those three exclamation points are totally necessary.)
So, if you know me at all, you know I love the Illuminae Files, in all its beautiful, cruel chaos. And, while I’d read article interviews and seen video clips of the authors, Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff, I’d had yet to see them in person (probably because they, you know, live in Australia).
And when I heard they were coming to the U.S. to tour for Gemina, I got excited, but didn’t expect much. They’d probably go to L. A., or somewhere else too far out of my reach. Heck, they’d probably never even come to California.
But then Jay shared Marie Lu’s tour schedule for her book The Midnight Star, and said to pay special attention to October 25. So I clicked on the link and scrolled down to October 25.
And saw that Marie would be coming to San Diego on tour. And that Jay and Amie would be coming with her. For those of you who don’t know, the heroine of Gemina, Hannah Donnelly, draws as a hobby, and Marie is the illustrator of Hannah’s drawings in the book. So Marie would join Jay and Amie in San Diego (their first U.S. tour stop) for her last tour stop for The Midnight Star.
In short: Some of my favorite authors would be right in my backyard. And I could go meet them.
I couldn’t breathe.
After I stopped fangirling enough to tell my parents why I was so unbelievably happy, I marked my calendar for October 25 and waited, not so patiently.
Then, before I knew it, the day came. And, while I was excited, I was nervous like you wouldn’t believe.
The day before had been a little stressful, seeing as I found out less than 24 hours before the event that it was ticketed. (And then found out that, no, Mysterious Galaxy wouldn’t run out of tickets, don’t worry, and was subsequently relieved. The guy on the phone was very nice to me.) My mom and I left for Mysterious Galaxy with enough time to get there an hour early so we could get good seats, but ended up getting there 90 minutes early instead. (Turns out we should have headed in; we were left with the back row by the time we actually went inside.) Though I’d brought my ARC of Gemina, I purchased a finished copy of it, as well as a hardcover of Illuminae, which I didn’t have before this point.
After that, we found seats, and I spent the next hour fidgeting in anticipation and making conversation with the people around me. We fangirled over ACOMAF and talked about Bookstagram. Everyone was so, so nice, especially Sierra and Carlyn and Stacee, whom I was so glad to finally meet in person. Their kindness made me feel calmer.
And then, of course, the event started, and I died. (Feel free to add me to that Illuminae 3 casualty list, Amie and Jay.) My ghost, however, was kind enough to stick around, pay attention, and get some pictures (with Mom’s help, of course) for you guys. (Prepare for ample doses of fangirling and photos with really bad lighting. You’ve been warned.)
Jay, Amie, and Marie began the event by thanking everyone for attending and saying that it meant a lot. They then told us a little bit about Illuminae‘s inception and about how they didn’t think it would get picked up by a publisher, but did. Jay and Amie talked about how Marie was actually the first person to ever look at Illuminae besides the authors, and how, in their search for an illustrator for Gemina, they always had her drawings in the back of their minds. Eventually, they decided to ask her if she would illustrate for them, and Marie said yes!
Then Marie talked about her experience writing The Young Elites series (including how she eventually decided to tell it “from the villain’s perspective” instead of the hero’s), and how Amie was her critique partner through the process. It was very interesting to hear about Marie’s creative process with The Young Elites, and how Marie and Amie’s relationship helped lead to Marie’s wonderful contributions to Gemina. There’s always a backstory, and it was nice to hear theirs. 🙂
In addition to having some great backstory, all three of them were so funny, you guys. They’re all so down-to-earth (according to my mom, anyway [which is kind of ironic, seeing as two of them are writing books taking place in space]), self-deprecating, and very pleasant to be around. Even though we were hosting them, it felt like they were welcoming us to San Diego, which kind of humbled me, to be honest.
After giving a little behind-the-scenes scoop on Gemina and The Midnight Star, the three of them opened it up to the audience for questions. They took their time with these, making sure to answer everything thoroughly and laughing a lot (which made the rest of us laugh, too)–so much so that we actually went overtime on the questions. But they still took one more from yours truly, who asked about writing advice for aspiring authors who are drafting and/or querying.
Each one of them answered, and, guys, I wish I had taped it. (And the wonderful Stacee from Adventures of a Book Junkie did, in her recap! If you’d like to read some of their answers for the Q&A in their own words, check out her recap in the link.) They had such great advice.
Marie said she actually doesn’t think of her first draft as a first draft; she calls it “Draft Zero” instead, and considers finishing the first draft alone to be a big accomplishment. For querying, she advised only to query a few agents at a time.
Amie’s drafting advice was to “[j]ust finish it,” mentioning how the first draft, as author Ryan Gaudin says is like “filling the sandpit with sand.” You can go back and develop things more later, but in the first draft, you’re just “shoveling it in.” In regards to querying, she said that the pitch should be less than 200 words, and that, if it’s longer, you haven’t condensed the essence of your story enough.
Jay said that it’s important to read submission guidelines for agents before submitting. Here’s why: Most of the time, when you send your query to an agent, it’s not the agent who’s actually reading it; it’s the agent’s assistant. (Didn’t know that? Neither did I!) For this assistant, reading queries is just one more box in the checklist they need to complete, and it’s much easier to reject something than to request something; they’re already looking to say no. Therefore, if the assistant finds any typos in your query or something in your submission that goes against their guidelines, they’ll delete your query without a second thought.
So, yeah. Read guidelines. Always.
Jay gave drafting advice that was just superb (not that Marie’s and Amie’s advice wasn’t–the way he said it just really struck a chord in me. I’m going to paste it word-for-word in here, courtesy of Stacee (from her recap post):
For drafting, it sounds corny, but believe in yourself. You’re going to meet people who will call you a fool and tell you that you can’t do it and they’re the enemy of creativity. You’re doing an amazing thing, something that calls to you, so believe in yourself.
He said a little bit more than that, but this was the gist of it. Isn’t that great advice?
In short, their advice really inspired me to push through the current drafting process, and to strengthen my commitment to writing regularly. It definitely helped that they maintained eye contact with me the entire time. ^_^
After the Q&A came the signing, and, because my ticket was number 42, I had to wait in a line outside. But I didn’t mind; I met some lovely ladies to make conversation, pass the time, and fangirl with.
By the time I finally got to Marie, I was pretty much shaking. I mean, what do you say to an NYT Bestselling author, you guys? “Congrats?” (I did say that, actually.) I welcomed her to San Diego, asked her to sign Gemina (which she did gladly), and talked to her a little about Day, her hero from the Legend trilogy. She was all smiles the entire time, and so very sweet. It was a pleasure to meet her, and I think doing so miiiight have motivated me to give The Young Elites another go. One thing is for sure, though: I can’t wait for Warcross!
After Marie, I got to meet Amie, and she was so lovely, very kind and warm, which was much appreciated, because I was very, very nervous at this point. In addition to buying copies of Illuminae and Gemina, I’d also brought my Gemina ARC from home, and I asked Amie if she would be willing to sign all three.
“Of course!” she said, so I fumbled around for all of my books. She gave my ARC of Gemina to Jay and signed the hardback, and then they swapped. She customized Gemina for me, and he customized Illuminae. But both signed all three, and they even thanked me for purchasing a hardcover of Gemina even though I already had an ARC. (Now it was my turn to say, “Of course!”)
I mentioned to Jay that I was the girl on Twitter who’d worried she’d start crying when she met the two of them, and he just grinned, gave me a fist bump, and said, “You’re holding up really well so far!” Then Amie mentioned that “every single one of us” has done something embarrassing in the signing line, and she even told me a story about her friend having a similar experience, which made me feel…normal, I guess. Anyway, they were both very kind to me, and I really appreciated it. Meeting them was just as awesome as I’d dreamed it’d be.
Is it bad that this picture still makes me grin uncontrollably, even now?
So, overall, I had a fabulous time, and when Jay said, “See you next time!” and I paused and nodded and said, “Oh, yeah,” I totally meant it. There was so much laughter and fun in the room. If you have the opportunity, go see them while they’re on tour. They’re funny, nerdy, and really personable, and they go off on so many humorous tangents. Not only are they fantastic authors–they’re great people, too, and it was an honor to meet them.
Do I know this whole post as pretty much descended into fangirling at this point? Yes, absolutely.
But do I really care? The answer to that is nope. 😉