Books · Summer · YALC

YALC – Friday 29th July 2016

Last year, at about the start of August, I was reading Amber from the Mile long Bookshelf’s blog on her trip to YALC. I’d never heard of it before but I REALLY wanted to go. It was something I HAD to do!! So all year I’ve been telling my mum we’re going to this and we finally bought our tickets in June, just for the Friday. The timing worked out well. I got back from France on Wednesday and my mum met my at St. Pancras and we went to stay with my aunt in central London.
As YALC and Comic Con didn’t start until the Friday, I spent Thursday sight-seeing with my mum and aunt. We went on the London Eye, took a river cruise and went shopping before my mum and I went to the play, ‘The curious incident of the dog in the night’. It was very good and I really enjoyed it as well as finding it thought provoking. It was also very loud but that was very in keeping with the story!
On Friday morning, we decided, even though we were close to Olympia already, we would leave the house at 7:15 to make sure we got into the venue nice and early as I’d heard the queues last year were terrible. However, we turned up at 8:15 and no one was there so we stopped for a cuppa tea across the road as we’d skipped breakfast. We joined the back of the queue at 8:35.

This was the queue at 8:35.

 The queue wasn’t too bad especially as there was still 25 minutes to go before YALC opened. It was so fun seeing all the costumed beings pass us on their way to the Comic Con queue. The amount of effort and money put into the costumes is unbelievable!!
Me and my mum were joined by Emma and Charli from ‘Paper Trail YA’. They were so nice and answered questions we has about the event. I’m kicking myself now because I knew they had a £10 Waterstones voucher to give away and even had the tweet on my phone screen while talking to them but wanted to give them a chance to get inside the venue before approaching them about it and, of course, someone else walked up to them and got the voucher. No hard feelings! (If anyone from Paper Trail ever reads this, I just want you to know I did know who you were!!) 
Anyway, we got inside and got on our wristbands which were florescent green (!!) and headed up to the lift. At this point we and my mum each had 1 suitcase, 1 tote bag and 1 backpack. When we arrived I was surprised how big the space was. I’d never been to Olympia before and it was a lot bigger than I’d imagined. I joined the back of the Freebies queue whilst my mum wondered around trying to find a cloakroom to leave our suitcases and backpacks in. She ended up on the Comic Con floor and says she saw the most amazing Elsa (from Frozen ) whilst she was there. From the freebies table, I grabbed a lot of badges and samplers. I decided against getting posters as there isn’t any space in my room! I filled up my only tote bag with them and felt so greedy but when I went back there at the end of the day, There was still A LOT of everything!

 We went to have a look at the ‘Wall of Books’ which I’d heard so much about from last year. (Sorry for the bad images in this post, I’ve not edited them as I’ve had friends staying all weekend from as soon as I got back from YALC). I heard that if you stay on Sunday, right at the end they start giving away all the books as they don’ want to take them home. Already, within 10 minutes of the doors opening, people had collapsed on the beanbags and classic book themed chairs. I decided I’d need another tote bag judging by how quickly I filled up the first one so I bought a *special* YALC one for £2. And so our journey around the area begins!!

Initial (blurry) views of the space.

 I started off at the ‘Atom Books; stall where they were handing out ‘Breakfast popcorn’. I took a scoop because food… I then joined the queue for ‘Books with Bite’ stall where, if you added a memory to their board, you received a free proof of ‘The Memory Book’ (more on that on the 7th August). If you added your email to their mailing list you could choose 3 freebies from their stand. I’m not going to carry on with such precision because I can’t remember every stall as clearly but I KNOW I joined EVERY mailing list… My mum made her only purchases of the day some ‘Pride and Prejudice’ colouring books for my cousins for Christmas. We got about halfway through the stalls before rushing to join a creative writing workshop with Claire Hennessey. I’m going to be honest and say I’d never heard of her before but she had so much energy and I love her accent!!

 She made us think up all sorts of things like 25 uses for a brick. Apparently, we weren’t violent enough for her tastes!! She then got us to use one of these ideas and create a short story which had to be exactly 100 words: No more, no less. It was hard!! In the end I had 99 words so I changed couldn’t to could not. I think that’s cheating but still… One thing I really loved about Claire is that she couldn’t seem to know such thing as a bad idea. Everything someone suggested, she always was so enthusiastic and it was so encouraging. We quickly left and joined the signing queue for Sarah Crossan. I’ve reviewed her book ‘One’ here. I didn’t get a photo with her but she was so lovely!! .After her signing, we headed around some more stalls.

From the AccentYA stall

My mum colouring in part of Doctor Who

 Every Stall had some sort of competition on and all the paperback books were £5 which encouraged me to spend far to much money!! We realised that with the signing, we had missed the start of ‘Publishing 101’ in the agents area but not to worry, we could go to the ‘Publishing 102’ in an hour.

Stamps from the Hot Key Books stand

 After an hour, we arrived at the Agents area for the ‘Publishing 102’ but it was all sold out. NOTE FOR NEXT YEAR: Book any events within YALC you want to go to apart from on the main stage.

I attended the ‘She who laughs last, laughs laughiest…’ panel (Thanks to the late Louise Rennison for the quote) with my personal favourite Holly Smale. I found it so funny and it has inspired me to keep a list of embarrassing situations I have found myself in that one day might be funny to someone whilst reading my best-selling novel. After the panel…

 …A signing with Holly Smale. I was very lucky that I had booked myself into the creative writing workshop which was at the same time as it allowed me to jump the queue. Sorry to anyone who had been standing in front of me! I asked Holly where her top came from (H&M) and what her favourite joke is (It’s too long to post here but go to my Instagram and I’ve written it out there). She was so lovely and I later picked up another pre-signed book of hers from the on-site Waterstones. I hurried to the creative writing workshop with Lisa Heathfield (author of Paper Butterflies) and, although unfortunately I missed the very beginning, it was also very good. She gave us a sheet of paper with a range of writing exercises to use wherever we want and I’m looking forward to using them. I struggled a bit more to get the ‘creative juices’  flowing in this workshop so I’m less happy with the results but still… I managed to get a copy of Paper Butterflies signed straight afterwards. By this time me and my mum were a bit tired and hungry so we went to the café and ate cake and scotch eggs. My mum sat down next to a random woman and the just started talking…for almost 2 hours…!!! I missed another workshop because I didn’t sign up but I’ll learn for next year!! I wandered off and spent another £40 in Waterstones taking the grand total of books up to 27. We sat in the café reading or chatting for quite a while as we wanted to catch the last panel talk of the day and the earliest train we could catch was 7pm. But I’m very glad we stayed!! Juno Dawson and Lisa Williamson were the BEST panel host and were so funny.

Lisa read out her teen diary and then they invited other authors up to read their teen diaries out. We played a sort of bingo. You had to cheer every time hating mum, fancying boys, calling mum names, teen pregnancy etc. came up. All the criteria came up at least once! It was such a good thing to end the day on and it made me realise the things that seem so major in our lives now will be small bumps in the road and will hardly matter later in life. Wow, that last sentence was deep and philosophical!! I always start diaries but forget about them so quickly they never get anywhere!

I just wanted to share this photo. My mum, who previously hadn’t been too bothered by the idea of feminism either way, wore this badge from the Usborne stand al day and actually cared a huge amount for feminism by the end of the day. I think Holly Bourne has found a new reader in my mum who is very much looking forward to reading the ‘Normal’ series!

When I arrived home, I found my  prize from Amber at the Mile Long Bookshelf had arrived. It was a newspaper and pen from Bic for their #JustWrite campaign. And a lovely handwritten note too!! 

Here is my book haul from YALC. I received so much more free stuff as well but look out for the next couple of posts here.
I’ve had so much fun at YALC this year and next year I am 100% certain I will be there for all 3 days!! I feel like there is so much room for YALC to expand even more and there was so much extra space this year. Next year, I hope to actually know some people there as I did feel a bit lonely at times. I’m so glad my mum was there! I have so many things I’d do differently next year and so I feel that this year was the trial run before next year. I can’t wait already!!
And just because I find it funny, this year I went from owning 1 tote bag to owning 6!! 
Tell me your favourite YALC experience below!!


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