Skip to main content

First Virtual Book Event: Seeing Jen Yen & Gloria Chao at Blue Willow Books

When I used to live in Houston, I went to a handful of book events at Blue Willow Bookstore. Before their YA events, my grandma used to take me to their American Girl events, which I absolutely adored. In the last few years since I moved to a very small town, I rarely got to attend a book event. Even though bookstores have been putting on virtual book events for almost a year now, I'd never taken advantage of it. I wasn't sure what they would be like, so I simply avoided it. Tuesday night, I was scrolling through Twitter and found out Jen Yen and Gloria Chao would be (virtually) at Blue Willow for Jen's book launch in about an hour, and I impulsively signed up to go, even though more Zoom is never high on my agenda. Gloria is one of my all time favorite YA authors and Jen has one of my most anticipated 2021 YA books that my grandma just happened to get me from Blue Willow. I figured it must be fate.

I wasn't sure what to expect at all, and it was unlike any Zoom session I've ever attended. It was in a webinar format which meant that the presenters were the only people on screen. I was happy to note for the future that I could attend future book events in my PJ's without having to worry if someone was going to judge me for it. It did make me miss getting to see all the other readers at the event and have a personal connection with the authors, but it's plenty understandable why that security and safety measure needs to be in place. Not having to be on camera any more than I already am will probably make me inclined to go to more of these events. And the chat and Q&A feature definitely made sure the audience was still included. 

Gloria and Jen had a great conversation, and Valerie did a great job hosting and reading all of our questions. It was still plenty of fun to watch, and the audience asked really wonderful questions. Since I've written about every book event I've attended in person, I thought I'd talk about the highlights of Jen and Gloria's conversation and answers to the Q&A so you can learn more about A Taste For Love and pick up some great writing advice. If you want to watch this event or any of Blue Willow's past excellent events, they all get posted to their YouTube channel which is awesome and makes author talks far more accessible (click here). 

What I Learned: 

I was surprised to find out that Jen is a doctor as well as being a writer. The only time in her life where writing fell to the back burner was during med school when the choice was writing or sleep. As many of us writers do, she started as a reader looking for escape. I love how she talked about making the jump from reader to writer by saying, Reading books, our mind starts coming up with stories of our own... some of us feel compelled to write those stories down”. 

Jen is a member of the elite group of YA authors who started by writing fan fiction. She posted stories all through high school and college. Fan fictions was a great place for her to learn how to take and incorporate feedback, and it offered plenty of encouragement that kept her writing. Jen also discussed how fan fiction is a great place to start writing because you can start flexing that muscle with clearly defined characters and worlds to experiment with. Even after her writing pause, it was fan fiction that brought her back again. 

From the Q&A:

Advice for Querying Writers

Gloria's website is a treasure trove for writers, I discovered. She has a page devoted to resources for writing, drafting, revising, and querying. This would've been so helpful when I first started querying because it's so hard to find the right resources, and she has them perfectly laid out. Read it here. She also emphasizes the importance of finding a reputable agent, and told writers not to worry if they didn't have industry connections. 

Jen told her unconventional querying story. She got her agent from a different project than A Taste For Love, and the agent she cold-queried referred her to a different agent at the agency because she loved the project, but it wasn't a fit. She emphasized the importance of not getting stuck that there was only one way to find an agent. Community was also a major part of her answer. I completely agree with Jen that writers should reach out to online communities to learn more. 

What Brought The Most Joy When Writing A Taste For Love?

Jen loved writing about food for the story (it's set in a bakery!). She said it was less about the description and more about all the memories and nostalgia food can evoke. She also loved writing the banter. 

What Was It Like Creating The Cover?

Jen got quite a bit of input into her cover to make sure it represented the book properly. She got to ask about the backgrounds of the cover models and help select the final choices. She also gave input about the pastries on the cover and made sure they were Taiwanese pastries, like the ones in the book. Beyond the representation, she let the designers have their choice of fonts and colors. It's always interesting to learn how covers get made because they're such important parts of the book. 

Do You Ever Think About Reprising Characters for Future Books?

Gloria said that she feels like all of her character's storylines are finished and she hadn't really thought about it. She did mention considering basing a story around the origin of the Rent Your 'Rents company in her latest book, Rent a Boyfriend.

Jen hinted that the main couple from her debut will make an appearance in her top secret second book. 

What Are You Working On Next? 

Gloria was recently on deadline for her next book that's mostly a secret. She said it's a love letter to her culture and is the happy book she needed to write during COVID. She also has upcoming short stories in In Love and Game On.

Jen has been staying up late to finish revisions on her next book that is in the same universe as A Taste for Love but is its own contemporary stand alone. Jen is also in upcoming anthology Every Body Shines and already has a short story out in Together Apart, which I also reviewed here.

If you want to pick up a copy of A Taste For Love (I believe you can get a signed one), here's a link to Blue Willow's website here.

More on Gloria's Books:

American Panda Review

Rent a Boyfriend Review


Popular posts from this blog

Halsey's I Would Leave Me If I Could Poetry Review

  I Would Leave Me If I Could  by Halsey  I've started this review a couple times and scrapped all of them. I've written hundreds of reviews before, and this is the first time I have absolutely no clue how to review a book. It's not just because it's poetry. And it's not because I don't have thoughts on every single poem. I've read the book twice and scrubbed a million notes around her words and highlighted every poem on my second read through. I have so many favorites, and my heart feels like it's going to burst after finishing each poem. Halsey exceeded every expectation I had set to the high bar of her music. I almost feel like this book is too good for my review to remotely do it justice, so I don't even know where to begin.  This book is extremely vulnerable. Halsey has never held back on telling the ugly truth in her lyrics, but the poetry takes it so much farther. She has space to tell the entire story, fewer constraints than what will fit in

Swimming Lessons By Lili Reinhart Poetry Review

  Swimming Lessons  by Lili Reinhart  Overall: 5 This is the first poetry book I've ever read in its entirety outside of Shel Silverstein, so I've checked off one of my reading goals for the year with this one. I've now read a graphic novel and a book of poetry. I've been anticipating Swimming Lessons  so long that I can't believe it's actually in my hands. I've been a fan of Lili since Riverdale, and I've continued to be a fan of hers even when the show got a bit too ridiculous for me to keep watching every week. I've been excited for the chance to get to see something completely created a controlled by Lili.  I'm not sure what I expected from Swimming Lessons . I think I had almost no idea what it would be like or the topics it would cover. After the first couple poems, I was completely hooked. In the intro, Lili prefaces the collection by noting that poetry has always given her solace in knowing other people felt the same specific emotions tha

Coming Up in February 2021: Can't Miss YA

It's almost February which means it's time for tons of brand new books. I picked the five I was most excited about to spotlight in this post! There's a mix of past favorite authors (like Courtney Summers and Phil Stamper) and some new authors I can't wait to read for the first time! I'm so excited to dive into these soon. A couple are on my ARC TBR, and the rest I put in library requests for. If you have a local library, placing a request for a book purchase from your library is a great, free way to get new books. You help the author with a sale, and the library also offers them more exposure to new readers!  If you do want to add some of these books to your personal collection, I will be adding purchase links that go to Bookshop to this post. Clicking the affiliate link means that the blog might get a small commission at no extra cost to you. Shopping these Bookshop links is a great way to support the blog, authors, and independent bookstores!  The Project by Court

Into YA with Rachel Lynn Solomon

Pardon me while I go fangirl for a moment. You'd think I'd get used to talking to my favorite authors after so many years, but of course, that never happens. That is especially true today as I'm taking to Rachel Lynn Solomon, brilliant author and nicest human. Rachel has been one of my favorite authors almost as long as I've been a blogger. Her first book came out about 7 months after I first started my blog, and almost four years later, I finally get to chat with her. I can't believe this didn't happen sooner, but I think I was always intimidated.  There's a lot to cover in this quick chat, so Rachel and I talk about keeping up with writing on a quick release schedule, wading into the romance world with The Ex Talk , working in public radio, plotting Today, Tonight Tomorrow , and what's next (luckily, there's quite a bit coming soon). I hope you enjoy our conversation.   1. You’ve been releasing books steadily since your debut in 2018, and this year

My Most Anticipated of 2021/2021 ARC TBR

  A few days ago, I put out a list of my favorite books of the year that I couldn't stop talking about all year long. Now I'm here to introduce you to a brand new slate of books that I'm predicting will make my favorites list next year. These are the books I can't wait to get my hands on because they sound absolutely amazing! I've decided to separate the list into an ARC TBR so far for 2021 of ARCs I have and then to make a wishlist section below that with ARCs I hope to get or books that I'll splurge to buy. I'll include preorder links to the books that are already up for preorder so that you can easily grab a couple surprise gifts to show up throughout the year if any of these books look exciting! These will be affiliate bookshop links which means shopping the links support the blog at no cost to you. Also, if you're looking for even more 2021 books, Rachel and Vicky made the most amazing database/spreadsheet/blog to collect all the 2021 debuts togethe

Positions Book Tag

Today, I'm sharing a new book tag created by Cielo over at Bellerose Reads who tagged me in her new Positions book tag. I love working on book tags inspired by pop music, so I was thrilled to get the tag. If I'm being totally honest, I wasn't super into Positions, Ariana Grande's latest album. I'm much more of a Thank U Next fan because that album was far more lyrically focused. Positions reminds me a lot of Sweetener. I do like "POV", the closing track of the album. Still, I'm super excited to share the tag because these are some of the best tag questions I've ever seen. Cielo did a wonderful job coming up with really cool prompts. I had a blast thinking of books that fit them. As always, just click the book title to read my review of any of the books I mentioned. And don't forget to read the original tag here .    shut up – a book you couldn’t shut up about  There are way too many. Honestly, a ton of them are already sprinkled through this po

January 2021 Wrap Up

 I feel like I say it every month now, but this month wasn't my best reading month. Oddly, even though I read and post less than ever, I'm more in love with blogging than I've been in a while. I think that stems from the fact that I've stopped putting pressure on myself to read a certain number of books or write a certain number of posts. It stung a bit to see my lowest book total for the year yet in December, but also, the world didn't end. At the end of the day, reading is about having fun, and I do enough reading not for fun for school.  January has lasted a million years. I don't think I'm exaggerating. For the last fifteen days, I've been telling everyone, "How is it still January?". It's finally about to not be January which is lovely. Even with the seeming abundance of time stemming from the never ending January, I only read three books. And the third I still have 80 pages of, but I should be finished with it by the time this post go

Concrete Rose by Angie Thomas: YA Book Review

Concrete Rose  by Angie Thomas Overview: Maverick Carter is stuck in a big mess. Or two different big messes considering he's close to having two kids at 17. Maverick starts the book finding out he's actually the father of a baby with a girl he can't stand. To make matters worse, she gives him the baby and disappears after finding out he's the real father. Navigating school, his relationship with his girlfriend, Lisa, his new baby, and the politics of the gang he's in makes for a chaotic life. Maverick feels like the rug just keeps getting pulled out from under him, and he has to decide how he's going to cope with oncoming adulthood with far more responsibility than his classmates. Overall: 3.5  Characters: 3 I didn't feel like the character development here was as stellar as Angie's past books. Her last two were five star reads for me, and I was immediately immersed in them. This time, I struggled even though I already knew a little bit about who these

Wrapping Up 2020: How'd My Reading/Blogging Go This Year

 It feels weird writing a year end post, which is probably why we're almost a week into the new year and I still haven't posted one yet. 2020 was such a hard year for the world and a weird one for me personally, and it still feels far from over. From a reading perspective, there were parts of the year that were super strong and others where I hardly picked up a book. I started the year working at a bookstore which, contrary to popular belief, made me read less than usual. I had a good run during lockdown and through the summer (though that certainly had ups and downs too), and then I started my first semester of college. That created a serious reading slump, though it wasn't like I stopped reading! In one class alone, I had 1,000 pages of reading saved in my class notebook. All the academic reading replaced my fun books, and there were moments where I honestly thought I hated reading. I wondered what was wrong with me and if I was just done with that part of my life. Over b