THIS PAST SATURDAY six students chose to wake up extra early to attend the Oklahoma Teen Book Con in Guthrie, Oklahoma. The journey began at a brisk cold 5:00 am for 4.5 hours on the road anticipating what this rookie event bring. We arrived at about 9:30 at the Scottish Rite Masonic Temple and were in awe of the regal historic building. We were greeted with smiles and bright green back full of goodies. Our first stop was of course, the restroom, then a quick visit of the vendors. They gave away free portable charges with Veronica Roth’s new book, Carve the Mark, as the decorative design, pens, notepad from EpicReads, official posters, and free books from an Oklahoma Publisher. The opening session featured famous author Maggie Stiefvater. She is well known in young adult literature all over the country. She has written the Raven Cycle series, Shiver series, The Scorpio Races, and the recent All the Crooked Saints. We were in awe of being the presences of such a famous author and enjoy her sense of humor and her demonstrating her talent in playing the bagpipes. The conference had many options to choose from next. We decided to attend the A Whole New World session with Kristen Simmons, Rachel Vincent, and Scott Retgen. Students weren’t sure where to sit until they were told that their odds increased if they sat towards the front for free stuff. We were in the very first row and listened intensely. Students used their new notepads to keep track of the books they heard and were interested in reading. A moderator asked some pre-chosen questions before turning to the audience for questions. One of our students asked their favorite authors and received some insight. We missed an opportunity for an ARC (Advanced Review Copy) from Kristen Simmons, but it only heightened our awareness for more give-aways.
Lunch was only $5 and student chose either a pulled pork sandwich, hot dog, or salad with chips and a drink. We soaked up the nostalgia of the dinning hall and enjoyed a solo artist singing and playing contemporary music with her ukulele.
Next we split up and some attended Is This Just Real Life, Or Is This Just Fantasy? session with Wendy Spinale and PJ Hoover while others participated in an Author Meetup with Samantha Mabry, Peter Bognanni, Jessica Taylor, Julie Buxbaum, and Roy Deering. The Author Meetup was similar to speed dating with different authors. They discussed their writing style and inspirations and took questions from the small group. The small group setting was comfortable with everyone on antique chairs and sofas and felt like visiting in your own home.
At 12:45 we all agreed to meet in the main hall for the second book giveaway. We missed the first one but we weren’t missing the next one. All of our students received their choice of a free book from the EpicReads vendor. It was in limited supply but we were at the front of the line. For the last break out session some with to When YA Gets Real with Peter Bognanni, Julie Dill, and Jared Reck and others did the final Author Meetup with Kathleen Baldwin, Adriana Mather, Wendy Spinale, Ryan Graduin, and Jennifer Latham.
In the closing session Maggie Stiefvather and Ryan Graudin discussed why they write young adult books and what it means to them. The last event of the day was author sigings. Many of our students bought new books and were able to get them signed and personalized. All of the message were very sweet and personable to our students. All of the authors where very motivating and inspiring to us all. There were lots of conversations and questions about writing. We have many teen writers among us all over the state. I witness many lights came on about writing and different types of books on this day. Our students LOVED it and talked about returning next year. I would like to thank everyone who supports our library. Because of your support I was able to purchase breakfast and dinner for our kiddos and new books for the library. We were able to get a travel grant from the OKTBC committee this year with hopes of bring more students next year.
It was a long 15.5 hours with middle school students but it was completely worth it and our kids agreed. They ate it all up with a shovel. Keep your eyes and hears open for next year. It was a great experience for us all. Find and follow the convention on Instagram @OKTBC.