Nature and I are not close friends. We’re more the pause and wave as we pass by and maybe say “hey, how are ya?” before going our separate ways type. But when I told M there was a YA author event in Asheville–and that Nova Ren Suma (who I just finished taking an online class from!) was going to be there so I HAD to go meet her–he barely even flinched.

His only stipulation: he wanted to go hiking.

This meant dealing with bugs and mud and heat and (gasp!) exercise. But I said “Sure. why not. I mean, I am making you go listen to three kick ass writers talk about their similarly kick ass YA books. It’s only fair.” So we drove across the state, had some amazing food and beer (thanks for the mind-blowingly awesome peach habanero saison, Wicked Weed Brewery! <3), and set off into the wilderness of the Blue Ridge Parkway.

Despite the dark clouds that threatened to dump on us at any moment, the views from the Parkway were phenomenal. And when we left the car for the trails, the scenery got even better. We found waterfalls and flowers and gurgling brooks that crisscrossed the muddy trails. Our calves burned. We were stinky and muddy. I was winded and horrifically out of shape while M could’ve run the trails for days. We had a blast.

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And then it was my turn. We met fellow #NovaMediaBistro student Karen, who drove up from Atlanta and is even more adorable in person. After beers and good ole Southern bar food, we walked to the bookstore, found two of the last seats available and started fangirling all over the place when Nova came out. I stupidly didn’t take any pictures while the writers talked (and joked and shared their knowledge and crazy-ass stories about their roads to publication) or when they all signed my books. But because Nova is so damn cool (and funny and nice and enthusiastic about others’ writing and the list goes on), she came out with us for a drink and to chat, and I forced M to take one of the three of us. Not the best shot, but it’s the only one I’ve got. Next time I’ll be better prepared.

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