Serena Takes the Orange County Children's Book Festival

9:05 PM Serena 2 Comments

I went to the Orange County Children's Book Festival today! I had never been to a book festival or convention before, so this was a whole new experience for me. New and super cool. Since it is the Children's Book Fest, there were mostly kids and middle grade books and author, but there was also some awesome YA stuff going on. 

My day went like this. Dad, brother, and I left the house at around noon, and it took us about an hour and twenty minutes to get to the actual festival. We got a little lost trying to navigate the campus. But we did eventually arrive, and I was a little bit surprised at how well organized and generally great it was. 

There were volunteers handing out booklets with schedules, a map, and booth info inside. There were helpful signs everywhere. And everywhere I looked there were people with books! Before I got to check out the books though, I had to check out the food vendors because it was like 1:30 and I hadn't eaten all day. 

After I was properly nourished, I wandered around until I found the Mrs. Nelson's booth (which was more like a huge tent) where I was supposed to find the books from the authors I wanted to meet that day. But they weren't there! I was minorly freaking out, but I decided to go to the building the authors would be speaking at and see if they had the books there. My little freak out sesh turned out to be unnecessary because, lo and behold, Mrs. Nelson's had another booth in front of the YA stage building! I picked up these beauties from the very nice bookseller there: 

Illusions of Fate by Kiersten White, The Secret Diamond Sisters by Michelle Madow, and Get Even by Gretchen McNeil! 
And then I went inside! When I got to my seat (which I realized was behind Michelle Madow about five minutes in) Kiersten White was already on stage. She read a super fun excerpt from a book in her Paranormalcy trilogy (she said the vampires in her books don't sparkle and shine), talked a little bit about herself and her writing, then took questions. Kiersten is basically superwoman. Her first draft of Mind Games was written in nine days, and she's released three books this year! She said she writes the books she wishes she had around as a teenager. She was also wearing these super cute boots, and I felt the strangest urge to take them right off her feet. Oops? 

Michelle Madow was up next! She introduced herself and her books (her first books, the Transcend Time saga, were self-published, and she and her mom traveled across the country to promote them and literally sell them out of her car) before reading an excerpt from The Secret Diamond Sisters and taking questions. The Secret Diamond Sisters, the first in the trilogy of the same name, was inspired by Michelle's favorite hotel in Vegas. She loves Gossip Girl and Pretty Little Liars, both the TV shows and the books, but she wanted to write about girls like that who weren't necessarily born into lives of privilege. 

My signed copy of The Secret Diamond Sisters!
Me and Michelle, who is super sweet! 
 Gretchen McNeil was the third and final author I listened to speak at OCCBF! I went into this just knowing about her most recent release, Get Even. I didn't know she wrote YA horror! Why didn't I know she wrote YA horror?! This is such important information. Anyway, Gretchen talked about herself (she was an opera singer before she was a writer!) and her previous books for a bit before she read an excerpt from Get Even. It was a hilarious part made even funnier by the fact that she read the characters in different voices. She described her next horror novel as "a bloody romp through serial killing", and she wants to see more horror in YA, particularly gothic horror. Can't say I disagree. 

My signed copy of Get Even!
After Gretchen was done speaking, I made a mad dash outside to the signing tables to hopefully catch the authors before they left. I missed Kiersten, but I did get to have a lovely chat with Michelle and she and Gretchen signed my books. 

My first ever book festival experience was awesome, as are these ladies!

You can find Kiersten on Goodreads, Twitter, and her website

You can find Michelle on Goodreads, Twitter, and her website

You can find Gretchen on Goodreads, Twitter, and her website

If you'd like to learn more about the Orange County Children's Book Festival, check out the official Twitter page and the website


  1. ...and SERENA - you won a bag of SCHOLASTIC GOODNESS!!! ...pretty cool since they rarely offer bloggers ARCs!!!!

    1. Oh, that's awesome! Thanks for letting me know!