Last Wednesday, I met Sarah J. Maas, author of the Throne of Glass series.

It wasn’t easy–it was a school night. I lived about 30 miles from Naperville. My school was hosting this curriculum night thing–so my parents had to attend.

But tenacity was in my blood. I vowed to see Sarah, and my lovely dad supported me. So right after school, we took off for Anderson’s Bookshop, Naperville.

When I arrived at the store, it was 4 pm and the event was to start at 7. Waiting wasn’t long at all; hours passed easily in a bookshop.

At around 6 pm, I was buying a copy of Little Women at the front register. Then I saw Sarah walking down the street. She turned…and walked into the bookstore.

When I saw her, I said–no, squeed–“There’s Sarah!”

In a millisecond following, I fortified myself not to collapse all over the countertop and drool.

Because she was there. I had never been so excited to see an author in my life.

So we introduced ourselves. She was very, very friendly and I commend her for not being scared off by my 14 year old fangirling vibes.

Sarah then went to all the autographing table and engaged in book-event-business-y stuff and I ran into the shelves to hide.

So fast forward to 7 pm. The people were assembled in chairs, a good-sized group. Sarah came in and instantly put us at ease.

I really can’t describe it. Sarah was incredibly down-to-earth and kind. Though I had read her story to publication time and time again, she managed to make it sound fresh and engaging and hilarious. She highlighted her geeky side of childhood and confessed to having a life-sized cardboard cutout of Legolas from LOTR that was lipsticked all over–which all had us howling in laughter. She sounded humble, she sounded grateful, she was real–she spoke about how she grew and how Celaena, the main character in the series, grew with her.

But somehow, the whole event seemed surreal. While waiting in line for the signing, I chatted with a few people (Namely, Katie: and we geeked out over all sorts of books and how trilogy thirds like Champion and Allegiant were coming out this fall. It was amazing to talk with people who actually knew the books and could carry on a conversation. We talked about the saddest deaths in Harry Potter (I voted Fred Weasley, Katie voted Hedwig) and then I found myself standing in front of Sarah J. Maas.

It wasn’t until then that it all became very, very real.

I stacked the books that I had brought–and the books that my friends had begged me to bring–all in one pile.

“My friends and I love you,” I said.

And that was the beginning of everything that spilled out. Sarah was so amazing, and she listened and smiled while I told her how I discovered her on NaNoWriMo, how I followed her blog, how on the day Crown of Midnight came out I swore to my dad, “This is going to be a NYT Bestseller”–and it did. I showed her my friends’ fan art, told her how she was such an inspiration for a young, unknown writer. I told her how she deserved Every. Bit. Of. Success. that she got because hell, she had been working on it for ten years and more and how when she was on The List, we all felt like we were on the list with her.

And at one point, Sarah stood up, and walked around the table to give me a hug, and told me she just KNEW I was going to be published one day, and it was one of the most gratifying moments of my life.

And when my shaking hands finally took the signed books off the table, I walked to a corner of the bookstore, gingerly set down the books, and knelt there, just staring at her books. My brain was completely numb.

It’s hard to tell someone else just how much Sarah J. Maas means to me, how much her writing and her story to publication speaks to me. But she was struck down, again and again, and she stood up. When she first got her book deal, she put up a video thanking the people that helped her–and sobbed in it. The journey took her through everything and she came back and she is one of the authors that deserves her success, and every bit of it. The whole time I talked, she kept thanking me. 

I am so INCREDIBLY grateful for the night I had, for the sacrifices my dad made to drive me to and back from the event.

And I so, so, wish that I could give back. I wish that one day–one day–I could give her a book I wrote and thank her, again and again, for what she did to me.

…One day.

I’m back! It has been an amazing week of traveling!

First up, BookExpo America–I woke up on May 31st at 4:30 AM for my 6 o’clock flight, but I wasn’t a bit tired–I think I was being super hyper or something. And then the whirlwind of the convention took me up. The place was so huge, and there were so many people. I met amazing authors–namely, the Young Adult authors I had been following for a bit of time: Erin Bowman, Sarah J. Maas, Susan Dennard, and Kat Zhang!

This is them! I am second from the right (Sarah wasn’t pictured.) 
I also met Robyn Schneider, whom I long admired, and was super sweet. 
But best of all, I met Grant Faulkner,the director of Nanowrimo–and I think I was kind of fangirling (which, by the way, Blogger wanted to correct to fang idling–which doesn’t make any more sense). He was amazing. Being the nice and humble person he was, he agreed to take a picture with me, and when I told him how much Nanowrimo had helped me, he seemed to be surprised and happy at the same time. 

After my two-day explosion of BEA had ended, my dad and I went down to Baltimore, and then to Philadelphia to meet author Andi Buchanan!
I emailed Andi back when I was 9, and her Daring Book for Girls book had come out. Eventually, we established a great friendship over email, where she is a brilliant mentor and we talk about books and writing and piano–I have been learning it for a long time, and Andi herself was once a concert pianist. And 5 years later, I was so incredibly glad to finally meet her!

And then there was the stack of books that I acquired. I think the picture speaks for itself. 

I just have to get through them all…

But I cannot express in words how INSPIRING this trip was–to connect with industry professionals, to meet the authors I wanted to meet for a long time, to tell them thank you. 
I wasn’t sure about this trip, because I wasn’t anywhere in the industry yet–after all, I still was an unknown writer. But BEA went above and beyond all my expectations, and I returned with a suitcase of books and a heart literally bursting with the energy and inspiration–just what I need for the next stages of my writing. 
Speaking of which, I will have another post up shortly, about the ongoing journey into Revisionland.