Story Time: BEA/BookCon 2015! (Part 3/3)

Okay, I’m doing it. I’m finally finishing my severely belated recap of BookCon 2015.

(A reminder that I’ve been splitting the recap of BEA/BookCon 2015 into three parts, corresponding with the days of the events we attended. You can read Part I–about Friday of BEA–here and Part II—about Saturday of BookCon—here.) (Also a reminder that all of these posts are long enough to make you an old man, filled with regret by the time you finish reading, so proceed at your own risk.)

Sunday morning we got up early, finished packing, checked out of the hotel, and took an Uber to Javits.

We were expecting the same mess as Saturday to get into the building, but the BookCon staff magically learned how to manage a crowd overnight and we got to walk right in. They even managed to scrounge up a couple VIP goodie bags for Madre and me.

We dragged our luggage downstairs to the cavern, where we waited in line for the show floor to open. (And they actually did have a separate line for VIP attendees there, so yay for that!)

IMG_8721It was weirdly fun waiting in line. There were so many young, excited book nerds all smushed together, talking about who they hoped they’d meet and which panels they were dying to see.

The dividers keeping everyone in some semblance of order were these metal rods on poles that fell super easily. Every time one did, everyone in that area cheered a la someone-just-dropped-a-plate-in-the-dining-hall. It was fantastic.

Tickets and Signings and Free Stuff, Oh My

At ten o’clock, the doors opened, and we all sprinted for the escalators up to the show floor. I left my luggage with Madre, who very kindly went to stash all of it in the baggage check for me, and met up with Hannah’s family. In the show floor, we grabbed tickets to the later Humans of New York poster signing and a tote bag, Madre caught back up with us, and she and I headed for the First in Line author breakfast. Got tickets to that, then I left her in line for a sec to grab more free stuff from the Random Penguin booth.

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The First in Line breakfast was very cool. We got a bunch of ARCs and chapter samplers, met Nicola Yoon and got ARCs of Everything, Everything signed (one of the ARCs I most wanted, after hearing her speak on Friday), and got to choose one of the three more established authors at the breakfast to meet and get a book signed by. I’d already met James Dashner, so instead Madre opted for Jennifer Niven (signing All the Bright Places) and I got to meet E. Lockhart (signing We Were Liars). (Ironically, I’m now interning for the agency that represents her, so I am endlessly surrounded by copies of We Were Liars. My inner fangirl can’t handle it.)

We grabbed food from the buffet table at the end of the path through the event (corn muffin, fancy apple pastry, and a strawberry for me), then ate in an empty part of Random Penguin’s massive “booth.” (They, in reality, had like three giant booths that dominated a corner of the show floor. The middle one was mostly empty on Sunday.)

Panels and Humans of New York

From there we headed to the We Need Diverse Books “Luminaries of Children’s Literature” panel, recapping everything they’d accomplished in 2014, then hit the end of the “writing epic series” conversation with James Dashner and Co.

Speaking on the WNDB panel were:

  • Aisha Saeed (moderator)
  • David Levithan
  • Libba Bray
  • Meg Medina
  • I.W. Gregorio
  • Jacqueline Woodson
  • Soman Chainani

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Aaand from there, we headed to the line for the HONY signing. (In the middle of this, Madre very kindly let me run off on a wild goose chase for Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard shields, because apparently the Disney Hyperion booth had gotten another shipment of them to giveaway–Hannah and I had been trying to snag a couple all weekend–but they were already all gone by the time I got there.)

We met Brandon Stanton, the amazing human behind Humans of New York, got our posters signed, and generally tried not to make too big of fools of ourselves. (He’s so nice and down-to-earth and gah. I want to be best friends.)

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At that point, Madre and I split up. I headed into the end of the “Fierce is My Middle Name” panel about kickbutt female YA protagonists, while she attended another across the hall. I only got to see the last few minutes of the panel, but SO WORTH IT.

Speaking on the panel were:

  • Annette Cardwell (moderator)
  • Charlaine Harris
  • Rae Carson
  • Sarah J. Maas

Afterward, Madre and I met back up and headed to the cafeteria to give our stomachs some much needed TLC. Because it was so late in the afternoon, on the last day of BEA/BookCon, the cafeteria was mostly sold out of decent vegetarian options, but I somehow ended up with a huge pile of Chinese food to gorge on. While eating, I spotted someone a few tables over who looked vaguely like she might be Maureen Johnson.

The person caught me looking and gave me a creeped out stare back. (Proof that she was indeed Mauren Johnson. Also that I should never be allowed in public.)

Finished eating. Headed into the Judy Blume conversation in the special events hall, which had already been going for a while, but was still awesome. (JUDY BLUME!!) Besides sitting down awkwardly late, I also had to get up awkwardly early to make it to the next panel on my schedule–and of course, as I tiptoed my way to the exit, I passed and once again made eye contact with, you guessed it, Maureen Johnson.

She looked at me like she thought I was stalking her. I looked at her like I wanted to sink into the floor. (A friend who met Maureen at LeakyCon a few years back assured me not to worry about it. “She’s always like that,” she said. “Don’t take it personally.” Still, here’s hoping Maureen doesn’t remember me or I might have to change career fields out of embarrassment.)

I hurried back up to the show floor for one last panel before the end of BookCon: “Booktube 101.”

Speaking on the panel were:

  • Monica Watson (moderator)
  • Lainey Kress (moderator)
  • Jesse George
  • Kat O’Keeffe
  • Christine Riccio

I didn’t get to stay for much of the panel, but I’m SO HAPPY I saw what I did. The Downtown Stage area was overflowing with eager fans, and there was SO MUCH energy and enthusiasm for books and vloggers and fandom in general. It was incredible.

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Meeting Judy Blume

From there, I ran downstairs, back to the cavern, for Judy Blume’s signing. It had only begun a few minutes before I got there, but I was still already about two-thirds of the way back in the permitted line.

While waiting, a worried buzz grew amongst attendees. A storm was settling in over New York. Flood warnings lit up our phones. People started bailing to try to get home before the worst of it hit.

I wasn’t going to miss meeting Judy Blume though, so I decided to stick it out. Hannah was further up in line, so after getting her book signed she came back to warn me I should head to the airport as soon as possible, then her family left to find a taxi.

My mom found out I wanted to meet David Levithan, who was signing a couple tables over, so she went and met him “for me.” The Judy Blume line stretched on. A metal rod fell, but there weren’t enough people left to cheer for it.

Finally, it was my turn to meet the woman who wrote so many amazing books about being a kid and growing up and ohmygosh JUDY BLUME.

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The cavern was almost entirely empty at that point. It was bittersweet seeing it that way after it had been so full of people and energy just that morning.

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This isn’t even the whole space, if you want to know how large that room was.

Madre and I rushed upstairs to baggage check, where we grabbed our suitcases, repacked them with our plethora of new books, got ready to leave–only to find out that they’d delayed our flight until 10:30 that night.

Stuck at Javits for Eternity

The weather had gotten scary. We were sitting under Javits’s glass dome and the thunder boomed and echoed beneath it. It was raining so hard, you couldn’t see outside. Hannah texted me to say, despite trying to leave so much earlier, they hadn’t been able to find a taxi and were stranded outside the building. There were no taxis or Ubers on the roads, everyone was so freaked out over the storm.

Quite a few attendees were stranded at the Javits Center, so we all huddled together under the glass dome and waited for the storm to pass. It didn’t. Roads and tunnels closed due to flooding. The BookCon and Javits teams packed up the convention around us. Hannah’s family finally managed to secure a taxi and headed for the airport.

People slowly trickled out, giving up, and Madre and I relocated to an exit, where we could better monitor the storm. I held doors open for industry people trying to drag out stuff from their booths. We thanked security repeatedly for letting all of us wait inside. Our flight got delayed to eleven.

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I believe I tweeted this picture with a caption along the lines of, “We’re going to be at Javits until we die.”

Finally, a little after seven, we managed to grab an Uber to Laguardia and headed out into the madness. The storm had mostly let up at that point, but the tunnels were all still flooded so traffic was horrendous. Hannah texted me to say they finally had arrived at the airport, after a couple hours in the taxi. We were really grateful we’d ended up waiting, so we weren’t stuck in traffic as long.

At the airport Madre and I got dinner at a food court (one last slice of New York pizza for the trip). I fell asleep at the table while she played with the free iPad attached to it.

We moved over to our gate, where we found out the terminal’s air conditioning was broken (so they had backup emergency air conditioning on instead, which left the place at approximately polar-bears-would-freeze-in-this degrees). I changed into my warmest clothes, which still weren’t very warm considering I had packed for summer in New York. The terminal was overflowing with people stuck there due to delayed and cancelled flights. They moved ours back even further to twelve thirty AM.

Madre and I played with iPads a bit more, I read a bit, Hannah came over from where her family was camped out and we talked for a while–then our flight got delayed to twelve forty-five. Hannah’s cousins had also been in NYC for the weekend, but had an earlier flight back to Detroit; apparently so many planes were grounded due to the storm, we were now waiting for their already severely delayed plane to return in order to finally fly our even more delayed flight home.

An amazing turn of events: The plane made it back early and we boarded around midnight. Everyone slept on the way home, despite some supa fun turbulence, then Madre and I finally drove home and crawled into bed around three AM.

To Recap the Weekend Haul

We ended up with one hundred and three books (all but the Jude Blume one free), sixty of them ARCs and 29 signed; eleven tote bags; and countless posters, bookmarks, pins, and other freebies.

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And so, finally, came the end of our BEA/BookCon weekend.

And so, finally, you can congratulate yourself on surviving to the end of this post!

Despite all the mishaps of the weekend, I had an amazing time at BookExpo America and BookCon this year. They were so much fun, and I got to see and meet so many people I look up to, and I really, really hope I get to go again next year.

~Julia

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