March 14, 2016

Event Recap ~ Sarah J. Maas in PH

You guys, we met Sarah J. Maas! *fangirl butt shake* *confetti*

So SJM is touring Asia, and Manila is one of her tour stops. This book signing event happened yesterday, March 13th. A lot of Filipino readers were very enthusiastic when her Manila signing was first announced, but then that enthusiastic crowd slowly dwindled when National Book Store (who was the host of her Manila tour) published the signing guidelines.

SJM book signing mechanics

There had been a lot of outbursts and complaints all over Twitter about this. When NBS hosts a book signing, there's usually two events: one in Cebu and one in Manila. In this instance, though, the signing was only in Manila and none and Cebu. A lot of Cebuano and other Filipino readers in the Visayas and (probably) Mindanao region were very sad about this because they wouldn't get to meet their favorite author.

Not everyone in Manila was very happy, either. I mean, 350 signing slots? 350? My first thought when I saw this was You've got to be kidding me. There'll be something akin to Hunger Games for slots. I have read a lot of dismayed tweets for that particular guideline. Sarah J. Maas doesn't have just 350 readers, folks. She's got thousands here in the Philippines alone. However, we learned that it wasn't NBS's call--it was SJM's team who decided the mechanics.

In the end, many readers decided not to come to the signing at all, thinking they wouldn't be able to make it to 350 slots. Some readers--very dedicated ones, I must add--started waiting in line for registration as early as Saturday (March 12th) morning. They camped out outside the book store all night just so they could hold their slots. The others, like the three of us who had to work on Saturdays, just went way too early (like 3am) the day of the signing.

Allyn and I were monitoring the tweets Saturday night, gathering information on how many readers were already in line. We panicked every time the count would rise and wondered if we'd make it. We originally planned to be at the venue at 6am, but then my mother urged us to go earlier so we'd make it to 350. So we woke up at 3am and asked my parents to drop us off in the book store at 4am. We endured almost 5 hours in line waiting for the registration to open, then endured another 7 hours waiting to actually meet and greet SJM. Because many readers decided not to come, the 350 slots didn't fill out until around 9am.

In the end, it was totally worth it.

This is what the venue looked like after registration. The signing didn't start until 2pm.
This place would have been bursting to the roof had all of SJM's readers attended.

Allyn was 168th in line, I was 170th, and Djan was 171st. A Court of Thorns and Roses (ACOTAR) was Djan's, and Allyn and I had the same books: Throne of Glass (TOG) and Crown of Midnight (COM).

There are always readers who dress up as their favorite character in every book signing. They are one of the reasons why I have fun in book signings. They entertain other readers while waiting for the event to start.

I haven't read ACOTAR, so I have no idea who the other two in the right are. But there's Celaena Sardothien and Sam Cortland--who, by the way, had been mistaken for Chaol Westfall a lot of times. It was hot, even inside the (air-conditioned) book store, so he didn't always have his mask and hood up. I must admit he did look like Chaol without the hood and mask. Even SJM thought he was Chaol because she saw him without the mask and hood at the time.

Sam Cortland (left), Allyn (middle), and Celaena Sardothien (right)
The one cosplaying Celaena just wouldn't shut up even as I'm taking pictures. That's why I captured her with her eyes closed. LOL. She's so funny.

Oh, and yes, she's wearing Celaena's gown in the back cover of COM. :)

Dorian Havilliard (right), Z (middle), and Sam Cortland slash Chaol Westfall (right)
There I am with the Crown Prince and Assassin Extraordinaire (I totally made that title up).

We even met Louisse Ang, the incredible lady behind the @SarahJMaasPH twitter page.

Allyn (left), Louisse (middle), and Z (right)
Alright, let's get to the exciting part! Here's SJM as she was entering the book store. I was very lucky to have found a place near the entrance and watch her entrance.

SJM getting out of the car

SJM entering the book store

SJM right in front of me

There's her husband behind her. :D

While SJM and her team were on the stage, a lady stood beside me and called Sarah's name. SJM looked at her and smiled and walked closer until she stood RIGHT IN FRONT OF ME. *swoon*

She looks like Jennifer Lawrence!

If I remember correctly, the lady she was talking to is from Fiction Press. SJM WAS RIGHT IN FRONT OF ME! *fans self*

When everyone had toned down their excitement, SJM and the host took their seats on the stage and she was interviewed for a bit. She talked about her books and her journey while writing it. She started TOG when she was 16, and it took her ten years to write the first three books of her first series.

Allyn and I are both writers, and hearing SJM talk about her journey while writing what became a very successful series today is very encouraging and inspiring. SJM is very humble, too, thanking those authors before her who paved the way into the success of YA literature today.

SJM talking about her books before the actual signing.

Sarah J. Maas

After answering some questions from readers, the host announced the commencement of the actual signing. Everyone went back to watching her and fangirling among themselves.

SJM's husband posing with both the author and reader.
Her husband is so sweet. And cool. Readers requested that he pose with them, too, and eventually a line formed for him and he did a signing of his own. It was so funny. He's such a great guy for entertaining the readers while waiting to have their turn to meet his wife.

It was a long wait before our numbers were called, but finally!

Allyn with SJM.
Allyn told me her conversation with SJM, and we both couldn't stop fangirling. Upon hearing that Allyn is also a writer, SJM told her, "I hope someday you'll be the one in this chair."

I do hope so, too! It would be so fun when I could finally brag that Allyn is my friend and she wrote your favorite book. *wink*

SJM signing my books.
There I am fidgeting with the book mark that Loiusse gave to the first 200 in line. When SJM saw it, she took it from me and also signed it.

SJM signing my books

I had a whole conversation rehearsed in my head, but then she asked how to pronounce my name and I told her and she said, "That's such a pretty name!" so genuinely. All the words went out of my head and all I could utter was, "Thank you."

So I tried again while she was busy signing, but my stomach was fangirling. My voice ended up sounding shaky and I was stammering because my heart was fluttering. I told her that I was an inspiring writer and how hearing her talk about her journey and experience in writing TOG encouraged and inspired me. I also told her that my parents had to wake up at 3am so they could drop me off outside the book store. 😂😂 She thanked me for coming, and I told her it was worth it.

She squeezed my hand in hers as she told me not to give up.

She was so genuine. She held my hand and squeezed it as she told me, "Never give up. Never give up. You'll make it. Just never give up on your dreams."

My cheeks--it hurts.

SJM and I still holding hands as we have our picture taken.
Her smile, though! I couldn't stop screaming when I saw her smile. I'm so happy to have met her. Let's take a closer look:

Alright, alright. Fine. You've seen enough SJM and me. 😂 Sorry. I just couldn't stop fangirling!

SJM and Djan
There's Djan with SJM. This is not his first book signing event, but this is the first where he actually had a book to be signed. Congrats on your first signed book, Djan! *confetti*

We left after we had our books signed because we had another friend meet us for drinks, but we went back to the book store before we go home to discover that the signing wasn't done yet. It was almost 7pm when SJM signed the last book. The funny thing is, she was done signing but there was still a line on her husband's side. When she saw it, she wondered what was going on and she had just realized that he was signing her books, too!

Papa Maas signing books even after his wife was finished.
And this is SJM's reaction upon seeing her husband doing that:

SJM looking cute while laughing when she realized what her husband was doing.
SJM with the NBS Team as the event wraps up.
Some readers lingered in the book store until the event ended to wish SJM a happy and safe trip. She again thanked all of us who came before finally making her exit.

Z (left) and Allyn (right) after the signing event.
Our cheeks hurt from smiling so much. This day was such a blast. We didn't expect SJM to scribble a personal message for us, but there you go. 😁

. . .and that's a wrap. Thank you so much for reading this (long) blog post. I'm still not done fangirling, but yeah. I'll stop this post now before it gets out of hand. 😂

~ Zee


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