Wednesday, March 23, 2016

{Event Recap} #SarahJMaasinPH + Giveaway

It's been more than a week since #SarahJMaasinPH and I still haven't moved on; because oh my god, that event was literally THE BEST one I have ever been to. March 13th will always hold an insanely special place in my heart because it's the day my fellow Filipino Firehearts got to experience that all consuming joy and elation I felt when I first met Sarah at BookCon last May 2015. Now, 10 months later, I got to see Sarah again (minus the tears but plus the mini-freak out the night before). I think #SarahJMaasinPH was also the most intense and heavily guarded events National Book Store has ever had because the number of people that camped out was insane. The event was on a Sunday (registration starts at 10 AM) and there were already people outside the bookstore as early as 5:30 AM of Saturday. I have so much respect for everyone who camped out because I don't think I could ever do that no matter which author it is (and trust me, I'm already a huge Sarah J. Maas fan). Not sure if you guys know but I run @ThroneofGlassPH on Twitter and you would not believe the number of tweets I got late Saturday asking me to update as to how many persons there were already in line (since there was a 350 person limit), meaning that I got 40% sleep that night and had to function on Starbucks the next day.

While I may not have camped out like the other Filipino Firehearts, I did get up extra early to hand out swag to the first 200 persons in line and holy crap, when I got there, there were over 200 persons in line and it was just around 7 AM. It was crazy but also exciting because I got to see how insanely dedicated Sarah's Filipino readers were.

Here are the pieces of swag I had to give out.
Me handing out swag to people in line. I got super nervous because
I thought I left the buttons at home and I hella panicked, lol. Also,
had a feeling that some people thought I was a total weirdo. 😂 #ohwell
With my Twitter friends, Pam (left) and Karen (centre).
Them bouncers tho. They were legit super awesome and cool.
Sarah was the first ever author to have bouncers at the event.
After I finished giving out swag (with the help of my lovely friend, Hazel of Stay Bookish), Kate (The Bookaholic Blurbs), Hazel and I crossed over to Greenbelt for some much needed caffeine. We met up with the other bloggers there and then made our way to the bloggers forum. Unfortunately, I missed much of the pre-forum fun because I had some other very exciting business to attend to but it was so great to see my blogger friends and chill with them.

A little selfie at Starbucks with my buddies, Kate (left) and Hazel (right).
We were at Starbucks when I found out
that #SarahJMaasinPH was a trending topic!
Sarah passionately answering a question.
Here are some things we learned during the forum:

  • If Sarah could change certain parts of the Throne of Glass series, she would because she'd constantly be editing the book if she was left to her own devices and then she'd never be able to release a book every year if that happened (which is why she has an editor to go back and forth with about the books and keeps her at a certain pace).
  • As she writes, Sarah learns something new not just as an author, but also as a person.
  • She wrote Throne of Glass when she was sixteen and the next two books between high school and university.
  • Sarah's favourite book of hers is usually the one that's about to be released because it symbolises how much she's grown as a writer (she actually panics every time she writes a draft, she normally seems bad to her, she constantly agonizes over every book she writes).
  • Sarah has the biggest mouth ever (according to her). She had so much anxiety over the Empire of Storms title release because the two graphics (the teaser and the title one) were side by side on her phone and she was scared that she would accidentally post the title graphic instead of the teaser one on Instagram.
  • Her childhood was filled with different foreign fairytales and if she could write a retelling it would be of Vasilisa the Beautiful (Sarah was so into Russian folklore that she took a class on it in college) but the inspiration for the retelling hasn't hit her yet but she's hoping it does. (Baba Yaga from Vasilisa the Beautiful inspired the Ironteeth witches.)
  • Sarah is a hybrid of a pantser and a plotter: She likes to know how the story will start and end (as well as what epic and romantic events will happen) but as the story flows, she likes to listen to her characters and let them guide her. Usually, when Sarah loses interest in a project she's working on, it's because a character has stopped speaking to her or she's stopped hearing what they have to say and she has to revisit.
  • Regarding ships, she had one in mind that she wanted to get to but also wanted Celaena to guide her (she didn't want to force Celaena into boxes to serve the story), she listened and let Celaena speak to her.
  • In the novellas (see The Assassin's Blade), she listened to Arobynn when it came to sending Celaena off to the desert (it was something she never saw coming).
  • LOTS OF SAD THINGS IN EMPIRE OF STORMS. Sarah: "I'm so evil." (You are, Sarah, you are.)
  • There are a lot of secrets in A Court of Mist and Fury (Sarah wrote ACOTAR back in 2009 when her agent was on maternity leave and wrote ACOMAF around that time as well). When she sold A Court of Thorns and Roses to Bloomsbury, she had a lot of time to really build layers and secrets in ACOMAF as she was editing it. The Night Court is layered with secrets. (Eeeeeee!) And ACOMAF will feature a lot of old and new characters. There are also action sequences in ACOMAF that are sort of disgusting but really fun. Lots of sexy times in ACOMAF that its tag line should be "Now with 400% more sexy times!" (Sarah banned her family from reading it because she'll never be able to look them in the eyes.)
  • She can't talk about the characters involved in the Target exclusive of A Court of Mist and Fury. (You can pre-order/read about it HERE.)
  • The map in ACOTAR was kind of blank (which was intentional) but it gets a bit more filled in ACOMAF and even more in book 3. The map is a reflection of Feyre's scope of the fae world and how much she knows about it.
  •  The best writing advice she'd received isn't about the technical parts of writing but about being in a community of writers. She wouldn't be where she is today had other authors not reached out to her. Sarah also does whatever she can to give back to aspiring writers in thanks to those who have helped her; it's a circle and chain where every writer is connected. (Mandy Hubbard really helped her out, reaching out to her on FictionPress and offering help.)
  • Celaena came to Sarah's head fully formed but she had to get to know Celaena, starting from the smallest of details (what food Celaena likes, etc). In the first draft of ACOTAR, Feyre wasn't an artist, it was when she sold ACOTAR and her editor told her to get deeper into Feyre's character that Sarah noticed the way Feyre described and saw the world; Feyre noticed the texture and light in things, she saw things with an artist's eye. Sarah was able to build her character up with that, Feyre giving up her passion for art for/to feed her family.
  • When writing about strong heroines, Sarah wants to write women who are real people, about women with different strengths. (She believes that there is strength in kindness. And that she quiet ones are sometimes the strongest.) Sarah talks about Elide Lochan (from Queen of Shadows) and how she's handicapped but learns to cope with all the stuff that happens to her emotionally and uses her mind and observational skills more (especially in Empire of Storms). Because Sarah likes to write about different kinds of women with different strengths, she still gets excited over physically strong women, which she manifests with Celaena (whom Sarah writes into epic battle sequences and make her do badass stuff and still survive).
  • To get into a character's headspace, Sarah listens to music. Heir of Fire was the darkest she had to go and she listened to a lot of Kanye. *SPOILER ALERT (for Crown of Midnight)* (When Nehemia died, Sarah imagined her best friend dying to really get there. It was the worst thing ever.)
  • Every time she writes a sad scene, Sarah always cries a lot. *SPOILER ALERT (for The Assassin's Blade)* When Sam died, she had to walk away from writing not because of his death but because her heart broke for Celaena. Even though Sarah says she enjoys her readers' tears, she actually suffers with her characters because she has to get into their heads and feel everything they're feeling.
  • It was so exhausting for her to write Heir of Fire because of how much she cried (she calls it the Migraine Book because she cried so much). However, Heir of Fire will always have a special place in her heart because she opened and pushed herself in ways she hadn't done before.
  • She cried a lot while writing Empire of Storms.
  • ACOTAR is set in a UK/Ireland type of place but in terms of writing the different fae in her books, she tries to deviate from just one place. Sarah researched all kinds of fae all over the world (she went into a Wikipedia spiral that just went on and on). The Naga came from Hindu mythology, some were inspired and some she made up on the spot. In ACOMAF, there's the Weaver in the Wood (she doesn't know where in her offed up head it came from but it was also kind of inspired by Hansel and Gretel.)
  • She wanted to write about about murder faeries and not about cute ones. Lots of horrible things are going to happen in ACOMAF. Also, it was fun for her to write about Feyre going against those types of faeries.
  • The Filipino readers have helped the fandom grow so much.
  • Sarah's biggest dream was to see her book in the shelves while being a New York Times bestseller was a dream she was secretly hoping for and she didn't see it coming.
  • While she was still on FictionPress, she used to write FanFiction of her stories (*ahem* smut *ahem*) wherein Rowan and Celaena would end up together because back then, that version of Throne of Glass did not lead in a direction wherein the two would be together.
  • Chaol's arc has always been tied with Dorian. He loves Dorian more than anyone else and he would choose Dorian before anything/anyone.
  • Sarah originally wanted to bring Manon and her Thirteen later in the books but knew that if she wanted to get Manon and the Thirteen where she needed them to be, she would need to bring them out in Heir of Fire. (Sarah's editor told her to cut out the ironteeth witch parts in Heir of Fire because the book was too long but she really pushed for them to stay.)
  • She wanted the Thirteen to reflect the different journeys they'd been on. (Ghislaine is black and it's not a big deal because they're so used to being mixed and it's normal for them.) And when it came to the gay characters, Sarah loved the idea of two lovers and the Thirteen who have had each others backs for a hundred years, they represent a different kind of love. She would love to write Thea and Kaya's story one day.
  • Sarah had a Wiccan phase as a teenager.
  • Her fear of the number thirteen was channeled into making the Thirteen (Sarah first made a list of names and then added different histories and characteristics for each).
  • Sarah didn't see Asterin's backstory coming/didn't know where it came from but knew that Asterin would be a part of the "baller, epic moment" she had planned, it was just her listening to her character. She can't write a novella about Asterin's life because it'll be like writing The Assassin's Blade plus Asterin tells her story beautifully on her own.
Whew, that was a lot! It was so much fun getting to interview Sarah and pick her brain a little (okay, a lot). All the little tidbits she told us only makes me more excited for ACOMAF and Empire of Storms. And after that fun Q&A, a lot of us got our books signed, Sarah was gracious enough to sign three books each for us and take some photos as well. (Get ready for a flood of photos in 3... 2... 1...)

Sarah signing my copy of ACOTAR.
She actually asked if she could start calling me Lou
and I freaked out because eeee, I have a nickname! Lol.
The Hardest Selfie Ever 13.0 feat. THE QUEEN
The #KaiSelfie! Totally beats the Oscars selfie.
#Relationshipgoals right there.
Chilling with #PapaMaas, nbd.
The #PapaMaas hashtag actually started as a joke between me
and my NBS friends but then we decided to just roll with it
and it's amazing how popular it's become.

At BEA 2015.

10 months later.
Sarah asked me if I wanted a proper selfie with her and I said,
yes, of course.
A gif of my interaction with Sarah.
She signed my Polaroid of the two of us.
She also waited to see how it turned out,
exclaiming that we were so cute. So I gave her
a copy. ❤️ AND MASSIVE HUG
A group photo of the bloggers with Sarah and #PapaMaas.
And here is Sarah's message to the Filipino Firehearts (cue fangirl tears and flails):

(Hi! I'm Lou, lol.)

After that insanely amazing and fruitful bloggers' forum, my #TeamActiveRomance besties (Ly of Defiantly Deviant and Michelle of The Twins Read) and I headed over to our usual lunch place, Chili's. It was so much fun catching up with the two and talking about everything under the sun. We were all pretty high from the forum, gushing over how kind and beautiful Sarah was (we were all starstruck, really).  It was an awesome lunch, as always.

#TeamActiveRomance (minus Geraldine and Nicole, boo)
After our eventful lunch, Lyra and I parted ways with M and the two of us went over to Glorietta 1 for the actual event. The 350 slots filled at around 9 AM (an hour before registration) and all the attendees were just chilling at the event area. Took a bunch of photos with people I frequently tweeted with online and also others who recognised me from my blog and even strangers who just wanted a photo, I totally felt like a celebrity. Lol.

A part of the crowd.
Me with Feyre and Celaena!
(Best. Cosplayers. Ever. The Feyre one is 10000% on point.)
Sam Cortland back from the dead.
SO happy to have finally met Danielle, whom I absolutely LOVE
chatting with on Twitter.
With my other Twitter friend, MJ (center) plus her friend (left). 😘
It was so great to meet my fellow Filipino Firehearts, they were all so enthusiastic and lively. So after I took photos with practically everyone, I stood by the door to wait for Sarah's arrival. People were screaming because every time they saw a car stop outside the store, they'd assume it was Sarah. But then a black car pulled up and oddly enough, Sarah saw me standing by the door and waved at me (she has eagle eyes, lol). And here is a short clip of the chaos that ensued when Sarah walked in:

So the event proper finally started with an interview with Sarah plus some fan questions. But before that all went down, this happened:

I freaked the hell out when she called me out. It was definitely a deer-in-the-headlights moment for me. I was so flattered and honoured but I really did not know how to react. There was definitely some internal screaming/crying/blushing going on inside of me. Easily one of the greatest moments of my life.

The fan questions were insanely amazing (a lot of ship questions), there were a number of Throne of Glass and A Court of Mist and Fury questions (everyone was pumped for ACOMAF, #TeamRhys over here). And so the signing portion started and I sat by Sarah, talking photos of different interactions between Sarah and her Filipino Firehearts. My heart soared every time Sarah would reach over and hold on to her reader's hands and tell them something special (I promise that I did not eavesdrop). There were people who cried, who laughed and all of them were inspired and enthralled by Sarah's open-heart and genuineness.

Sarah talking to a fan.
#PapaMaas had his own signing line. He was Mr. Popular.
Dead pool dropped by to say hi.
I wonder if he'll make a cameo in any of Sarah's books.
Sarah with the awesome, awesome cosplayers.
And thus concludes my phenomenal #SarahJMaasinPH day. I will never ever forget March 13th. My one dream when I first met Sarah was to be able to share that beautiful experience with my Filipino Firehearts and I did because of NBS. I have so many people to thank for making that day/experience so special; I have never ending thanks to the amazing National Book Store team for making this girl's dream come true (Chad and JB -- you two are the actual best, to Louie, Miss Malou, Sheza and whomever else I may I have missed, thank you for all that you do!). My lovely blogger friends, Lyra and Michelle, I am so happy to share this moment with you and thank you for understanding my flailiness. Kai (Amaterasu Reads) and Kate, thank you for the photos! To my Twitter friends, @dncueco, @karenchii, @pamelamraz (who also runs @ThrnsAndAll), @castergurl and whomever else I may have missed, our Twitter conversations never fail to make my day and I am so happy to finally have met you all; I hope your experience with meeting Sarah was everything you thought it would be and more. Thanks to my mom for driving me hella early to the venue because she knew I had to be there early -- thanks, ma! Love you!

Last but never, ever the least, thank you so freaking much to Sarah J. Maas for saying yes to visiting our beautiful country. Thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you so much for everything, Sarah! I am crossing all my fingers that you make it here again one day, the Philippines misses you greatly. So much love to you, Sarah.

Incase you were wondering what books I got signed, I had ACOTAR, Throne of Glass and of course, Queen of Shadows signed. Why Queen of Shadows? Other than the fact that it's my favourite book of Sarah's at the moment, my name is in the acknowledgements. I freaked out so much when I found out (I jumped around my house and my mom thought I was a loon).

My copy of Queen of Shadows plus my Polaroid. I love how
imperfect the picture is, it makes it all the more special to me.
Me in Queen of Shadows. Eeeeeeeeeeeeee!!!
Sarah and #PapaMaas's special message to the Filipino Firehearts.
And here it is, the giveaway (the only reason some of you are here, lol). To start things off, this giveaway is open INTERNATIONALLY (yay!), just fill out the form and you're good to go! Wondering what you'll win? Look below:

This hella awesome Sarah J. Maas themed swag pack!
(You even get an elusive Prythian Court button.)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

I have another giveaway for you guys, you can win an A Court of Thorns and Roses prize pack (which includes a paperback of ACOTAR, a bookmark and a tattoo). This giveaway is open to residents of US/CAN/UK/AUS.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

That's it! Thank you so much for reading my recap. I hope to catch you at the next event!
Talk to you all on Twitter! (You can follow my Throne of Glass/ACOTAR fan Twitter HERE.)


  1. "Sarah had a Wiccan phase when she was a teenager." SAME HAHAHA!

    I'm super duper glad this event was a success despite the issues that went through with it. I'm so happy for you, Louisse!! ❤️

  2. YAY YAY YAY! I'm so happy Sarah was able to visit the Philippines <3 I loved your recap, and these photos, and this post!!!

  3. Who won the ACOTAR/TOG-themed SWAG pack internationally?