Chicago North Spring Fling ’14

I attended my first writers conference this past weekend. Chicago North Spring Fling was so much more fun than I expected. I honestly didn’t know what to expect, but everyone was super nice and eager to talk about books or anything at all, and it was as great a first experience as anyone could have, I think.

I finally got to meet my agent Suzie Townsend after 2.5 years! And my CP Mindee Arnett after 3 years! I also met the insanely entertaining Erica O’Rourke, Stacey Kade, and Cat York.

Mindee, Stacey, and Erica were signing at Read Between the Lynes* in Chicago on Thursday:

*All bookstore photos taken from the Read Between the Lynes FB page.


Cat, who is a wonderful artist and MG author (and also my conference roomie!), and Mindee


Me and Stacey, who likes to kill her MCs by hitting them with a bus 😀 (not a spoiler)


Erica’s storytelling skills translate well into an oral medium.

For dinner, we had real Chicago deep dish pizza, and NGL, I’m already craving it again. *shakes fist* I would have taken a photo of its magnificence, but my phone died. SO. DANG. GOOD. ALL THE CHEESE.

Friday was a blast. I was totally nervous for the panel, but it wasn’t until Cat asked if I was nervous that I actually began to get stomach pains from the anxiety. My pulse was racing and my stomach was cramping and I was, no lie, thinking about ways to get out of it. But I put on my big girl pants and got up on that stage.


Photo by Erin Brambilla

The first time I had to speak (to tell the audience about my book), I was legit terrified. And also an idiot because I hadn’t quite prepared beforehand to deliver my “This is what my book is about” speech, which Mindee and Erica could recite like the pros they are. But it did actually get easier as the panel progressed. Whew.

At some point, I may have confessed that, at twelve years old, I was writing about teens doing highly inappropriate romance novel type things, and WHY DID I SAY THAT? *facepalm*

Anyway, I had a lovely coffee and cookie outing with Erica, and then we congregated at the bar where I asked for the sweetest, least alcoholic drink the bartender could give me. When she arrived with my drink, she announced it was called Unicorn Blood (on the left).

My reaction was basically to throw out my hands and go, “SHUT UP, I LOVE UNICORNS. FATE!!!” And then it didn’t occur to me until afterward that I was drinking Unicorn BLOOD, but oh well, it was delicious. I get it now, Voldie.

The obvious way to end the night was to attend Hot Night, where we listened to and critiqued sex scenes. Listening to writers read their sexy time scenes out loud with your agent sitting next to you isn’t as awkward as one would think, but mostly because Suzie is awesome. The whole thing was fantastic though. They had chocolate covered strawberries. Why am I always talking about food???

Then I tagged along with Erica and her fantastic writer friends Ryann and Lynne back to the bar where an older gentleman interrupted our conversation to tell us all about how susceptible he is to hypnosis. He tried, repeatedly, to get Lynne to hypnotize him. It was a lot weird. We contemplated doing it and then leaving him with a Hot Night goodie bag. I’m a little disappointed we didn’t.

When I tried to get into my room, I couldn’t b/c Cat had locked me out with the dead bolt haha. I had to rattle the door and yell for her to let me in. That was hilarious.

Saturday, I sat with Mindee at her signing table and then flitted around Erica’s table (where Erica sold out of the first two books of her Torn Trilogy!).

The highlight was possibly the 1.5 hours Lydia Kang and I spent trying to find each other in the Atrium and then the Exhibition Room. After a while, we finally realized we were actually at TWO ENTIRELY SEPARATE HOTELS/CONFERENCES. She was at C2E2 while I was at Spring Fling, and it was hilarious and I lol’d and lol’d.

AND THEN I TALKED TO COURTNEY MILAN. And I’m sure she was just being polite, but she asked about my book and said she wanted to read it, and I may have died a little.

Had lunch while listening to Mary Balogh give a keynote speech, which was FANTASTIC. I read her books when I was young, and thought about how amazing it is that she’s still writing. Truly a career worth striving for.


This is not a picture of Mary Balogh. This is me going I’M HAVING LUNCH WITH SUZIE AND ERICA!

Before leaving, we took a bajillion pictures to commemorate the weekend:


I got a lot of compliments on my shoes 🙂


Isn’t Suzie gorgeous? I literally could not get over how gorgeous she is in person.

Everyone was so incredibly nice. I was asked to talk to an aspiring writer about how I balance writing and motherhood, which was really sweet. And a fellow Asian writer told me how cool it was to see me on the panel because we need more representation. I met so many wonderful writers, readers, and even some super cool editors.

And I’ve never drank so much coffee-type drinks in one weekend. But I think I’ve been converted to the caramel macchiato.

As first experiences go, this was a great one 🙂