YALC is only a few days away now (eek!) and I’m feeling a familiar mix of excitement and anxiety. I’ve spent most of the weekend finalising my schedule, planning which books to take with me and following announcements on Twitter about all the exciting things that are happening!

Since there have already been some excellent blog posts about what to expect at YALC, instead I’m going to spill about all my pre-YALC jitters and how I’m trying to overcome them. Going to big events can be nerve-wracking so hopefully I’m not alone in this…

Learning from past YALCs

This is my third time at YALC but I honestly still don’t really feel like I know what I’m doing! I went to the very first YALC back in 2014 and I loved it but I also hated Earl’s Court sooooo much: it was claustrophobic and unbearably hot and I felt really ill afterwards (I think from heat-stroke or something).

Anyway, that experience meant I didn’t go to YALC in 2015, not realising that the entire convention had moved to Olympia. When I read about how much better it was that year, I made the decision to go to YALC again in 2016 and ended up spending the whole weekend there. I enjoyed it so much that it was pretty much a given that I’d book again for 2017.

This year, I feel like I have a better idea of what to expect, which is helping to keep some of the nervousness at bay. Still, it’ll probably take until I’m back inside the lovely YALC bubble before I feel like I can relax.

It’s also important that I remember to take some time out! The best thing about YALC is that no one bats an eyelid if you just sit down in a random spot and start reading. In any other social situation, this might be considered odd but I need to remind myself that this is the norm at YALC and it’s kind of what makes it so awesome!

YALC Seats
The YALC chill-out zone!

Solo-travel tips

I often travel alone so I’m trying to apply some of my solo travel tactics to YALC. My two mottos when travelling are “over prepare, then go with the flow” and “be prepared to be flexible!” Sometimes it’s hard not to get frustrated when things don’t go to plan (FOMO can get bad at YALC), so I’m going to try and repeat these mottos to myself next weekend.

I’ve studied the schedule in a lot of detail now and planned what I want to do and when. I know I can’t do everything so where there are a lot of clashes, I’ve tried to prioritise. For example, on Saturday afternoon Jennifer E Smith, E Lockhart and Laini Taylor all have overlapping panels and signings. I want to see all their panels if I can, so instead I’ve marked my schedule in order of priority for the signings.

I also have to bear in mind though, that this could all change on the day! Some authors will have longer queues than expected, others will be much shorter. Also, I’ve found that if an author has more than one signing, the queue will generally be shorter the second or third time around.

Shhh…

I have a secret and I’m pretty nervous about it and I can’t talk to anyone… and argh!

Am I too old?

In case you hadn’t already realised, I am not at all the target reading age for YA books. I won’t bore you too much but I’ve just always wanted to write YA (since I was a teen myself) and have therefore always tried to keep up with YA releases. More importantly, YA books are just so good that I can’t imagine ever not wanting to read them! Still, I often feel awkward at YA events. Does anyone else feel like this?

Since there’s not really much I can do about my age (unless time travel is involved), I’m just going to have to try not to worry about it. YALC (and the UKYA community as a whole) seems to bring together a wide range of people and that’s a very good thing. I will embrace being a part of that!

YALC Panel
YALC 2016


Health matters

I am taking a lot of books to YALC again this year and will probably bring even more back (it’s inevitable!) Last year, I returned home with a very sore back. I looked at getting one of those little wheelie suitcases but decided against it, so it’ll be a rucksack and tote bag combo for me again this year. I’ve been bookmarking Yoga with Adriene exercises on You Tube to help and I’m also going to investigate using the cloakroom to store my bags if I need to.

For health reasons, I’m also currently following a low FODMAP diet and it’s proving to be rather difficult to stick to when eating out. So food is going to be an issue at YALC. I’ve been cooking/stockpiling lots of snacks to get me through the long days and also researched restaurants with gluten-free menus for the evenings. My plan is to stick as closely to the diet as I can but not to beat myself up too much if I slip up!

Tongue-tied

I am really rubbish at knowing what to say to authors when I meet them and usually come out with something ridiculous (I will write a blog post about my embarrassing moments at some point). Last year, to stop myself getting tongue-tied, I asked each author I met to recommend me a book. This worked really well, not only giving me something to talk to them about if my mind was otherwise blank, but it also became an epic blog post.

This year, I’m planning to ask as many authors as possible a similar question and compile another list of book recommendations. I’m either going to ask them:

  • Can you recommend a book by another YALC author?
    or
  • What is your favourite YA book of the year so far?

Which one do you think I should pick? Let me know!

Blog preview
A snippet from last year’s author recommendations

So that’s all my jitters and (sort of) solutions regarding YALC. It mainly involves me being as flexible and relaxed as possible and having a positive attitude!

Are you going to YALC this year? What are you most looking forward to? 🙂

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