Remember how I was raving about Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon? And how I promised to refrain from fangirling all over her during our panel at YALLFest? Yeah, I didn’t keep that promise. Not at all.
My favorite book, The Little Prince, plays a big role in Everything, Everything. I am a collector of all things Little Prince. I especially adore the fox because his tail is so big and puffy and he says lots of profound things. As soon as I found out I would get to be on a panel with Nicola, I decided to bring the Little Prince bag I made from a tee I got in Paris that I cut up and stitched onto a Strand tote. I showed her my bag. She asked if I was crafty. I was like, “Not as crafty as your husband,” because David Yoon made all of the charming illustrations in her book. How cute is that? They are like this collaborative creative team just bursting with brilliance.
I was stoked that Carolyn Mackler was on our panel. Carolyn lives here in New York and I’ve known her for years, so she was spared the fangirling I busted out when I first met her like ten years ago. Have you ever met someone you have so much in common with it’s almost scary? Like how did they make another person so similar? That’s me and Carolyn. She pulled off writing a novel that takes place over four years of high school with such skill and ease I was awestruck. Infinite in Between is a beautiful book…and of course I had to document with these beautiful authors.
Who moderated our panel? Um, I don’t know, only Aaron Hartzler! What We Saw is burning a hole in my to-read list it’s so hot. This was also my first time meeting Aaron, but I managed to reel in the fangirling since he felt like an old friend already. You know how sometimes you meet someone and they immediately feel like your people? That’s me and Aaron. During our panel, Aaron shared about a librarian who reached out to him back when his reading choices weren’t being supported. We were all verklempt. This was after I got verklempt over Everything, Everything being one of those rare books that changes you, that makes you see the world differently. So I called us the verklempt panel. If a YALLFest All the Feels Award existed, we would have totally won. As you can see here, I was not excited to be a part of this touching panel. Not at all.
The opportunity to participate in events like YALLFest is my favorite part of being an author. Why? Book events are where I get to connect with my readers in person. My readers are why I write. My readers are why my dream bigger job is reality. So getting to meet you is extremely important to me. Some of you are newer readers. I am excited for our journey together! Some of you have been communicating with me for years online. It feels like I already know you. And some of you are the kind of dedicated readers who know me so well you give me gifts like this one from Emily D.
Emily made this jar of warm fuzzies for me with quotes from my fave book, movie, actor, musician, and author. How cute is that? I have the best readers in the world and I could not be more grateful. Thanks to all of you who were there…and have been there for me.
On the way back home from YALLFest, my plane was delayed three hours. We sat at the gate for a long time. The pilot came out to make an announcement about how we were not going anywhere. Then we had to get off the plane and eat chips while the people in charge figured out if the flight would be canceled. Apparently there were signal problems at JFK in New York, something about their radar system not communicating properly with planes coming in. This was the day after I found out about the attacks in Paris while I was flying to Charleston.
You know how I feel about non-coincidences.
Tragic attacks happen every day, all around the world. Which is why the delay didn’t really bother me. If a three-hour flight delay was tolerable, what does that say about the little things that annoy us on a daily basis? Temporary situations that only last a few minutes? Like a long line at the post office or a slow elevator or just missing the subway? Maybe we shouldn’t even allow those things to annoy us. Maybe those fleeting, minimal inconveniences are part of a life we get to live. And maybe that’s the important thing to remember.
We are alive. We have a responsibility to live this life to its fullest. Focusing on the moments that matter, like all the feels from an epic day, deflates the irritation of those little annoying things to the point that they merely become background noise. They fade to gray while the vivid colors of what really matters shine brighter than ever. The colors of everything we love, everything that makes us happy, everything that inspires us. Let’s put those colors into sharp focus, unfiltered, and live <3