The NoVa Teen Bookfest moved to a new location this year, but was otherwise as fun as before. The Stand Up and Stand Out panel, has Sara Biren, Olivia Hinebaugh, Ben Philippe, Mark Oshiro, and Emily X. R. Pan talking about writing about pushing back, when there are adults who are good and adults who are not, and how having a good one - fictionally or otherwise - can help you understand the bad ones.
The Lean on Me panel had Mia Garcia, Kevin Panetta, Carmen Rodrigues, and Jeff Zentner talking about writing friendships and relationships, along with a sidebar into "Titanic". Mia also said she wrote her book chronologically, even though it hops from person to person.
There was a lunch break Taboo, with quite a few authors, and some teen volunteers.
On the Journey to the Past panel, Libba Bray, Katherine Locke, and Robin Talley talked about historical research - how it can help and help you procrastinate, ways to do it even if you didn't love history in school, and also how history helps illuminate the present. Robin also talked about how having a dual timeline in "Pulp" meant she was able to specifically ground the contemporary timeline instead of having it try to be out there, some vague time like now, and that that allowed for specific references in the way that you typically wouldn't do in contemporary.
The Revolution panel had Tracy Bangart, Cinda Williams China, Dhonielle Clayton, Heidi Heilig, and Alex London talking about worldbuilding and figuring out what kind of fantasy world your character might need to fight back or burn down.
I went to the mini-panel about "Toil and Trouble" with Jessica Spotswood, Robin Talley, and Lindsay Smith. They talked about the stories they had written for the anthology. Jessica had been chatting on Twitter about how she didn't have time to edit another anthology but would love to see one about witches. And Tess Sharpe had said she'd love to do one, but didn't know how to curate an anthology. And their mutual agent had basically been like, yeah team up folks, I can sell this thing. Both Lindsay and Robin enjoyed working with Jessica, and all three liked writing something that only needed a small amount of plot (compared to novel length).
The Girls Run the World panel had Jennifer L. Armentrout, E.K. Johnston, L.L. McKinney, and Kristen Simmons talking about writing female protagonists, and how nice it was that there was space that strong female characters didn't always mean has all the weapons. They also talked about female friendships and how they felt like a lot of media they'd seen growing up portrayed women as rivals, when they had friends they could count on. Also they talked about how sometimes it's not your character fighting because they've been attacked, but because their loved ones have been.
Libba Bray was the keynote speaker. She had a list of twelve things, and I did not take notes but I remember one was "Let's go get pizza" is almost always the right answer. But she also talked about how in the end the one thing you are surely really good at, is being you, so work on being the best one you can.
It was a fun event, even with the new location.