Story Time: BEA and BookCon 2016

Hey there! I’m back with another super belated (and super long) recap post.

This past May, I attended BookExpo America and BookCon again. This year they decided to try something different and host the two conventions in Chicago.

This made BEA and BookCon really different, feel-wise, from what they’ve been the past couple years. For one thing, Chicago’s so close that my mom and I drove (which meant no luggage restrictions or having to ship heavy boxes of books home). For another, it meant that we didn’t have to stay in a stupidly expensive hotel, because we have family in the area. (However, downside: this meant we had an hour+ drive to get to McCormick Place every morning. Also, it felt like less of a vacation.)

BookExpo America (Friday)

Getting Lost and Finding Food

Like last year, we forewent attending the whole week of BEA and just hit the last day (Friday) instead. Having arrived the night ahead, we got up at 4:30 AM central time to get ready and head out. Our first event of the day was the Children’s Book & Author Breakfast at 8:00. We thought it should be pretty easy to get to McCormick Place by then, having gotten up three and a half hours before it began, but we underestimated Chicago traffic (and overestimated our–okay, my–navigation skills), so we ended up very lost and very late.

We were supposed to be meeting two different friends there, and they are both amazing, because both of their groups saved us seats. Literally one minute before the breakfast began, Mom and I managed to find one of them (Hannah) and we slumped into our chairs.

Speaking at this year’s Children’s Book & Author Breakfast were:

  • Jamie Lee Curtis (master of ceremonies)
  • Gene Luen Yang
  • Sabaa Tahir
  • Dav Pilkey

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I adore all of them and they were all incredible. At one point, Jamie Lee Curtis teared up over Dav Pilkey and his ability to get reluctant readers to love books and it was great.

Panels, Part I: Diversity and the Buzziest of Buzz Panels

After breakfast, we all split off in different directions. First, I hit a panel put on by the Children’s Book Council called “Strategies for Selling Diverse Books.” Speaking on it were:

  • Betsy Bird
  • Elizabeth Bluemle
  • Erica Luttrell
  • Shauntee Burns

I’ve never worked in a traditional bookstore (the one I spent senior year with was a used shop), but owning a children’s bookstore someday is one of my pipe dreams, so this was super interesting and helpful.

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I had to leave about halfway through, though, to head over to my next panel: “Meet BEA Young Adult Buzz Authors 2016.”

The YA buzz authors this year were:

  • Aaron Starmer
  • Billy Taylor
  • Kerri Maniscalco
  • Sonia Patel
  • Stephanie Garber
  • with Susannah Greenberg hosting

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I was already excited about Stephanie’s book (check it out here!), but I hadn’t heard of the others yet and they all sounded wonderful. Billy Taylor’s book in particular, Thieving Weasels, sounded like it was right up my alley; luckily, my mom managed to grab an ARC later on and that was one of the first books I read from BEA this year. (It’s really fun, if you like heist stuff!)

The wonderful(ly awful) Michael met me after the panel and we wandered the floor for a while, then hit the “BEA Middle Grade Editors’ Buzz” panel with Hannah and her friend. The books featured were:

  • Booki Vivant’s Frazzled
  • Kate Beasley’s Gertie’s Leap to Greatness
  • Wade Albert White’s The Adventurer’s Guide to Successful Escapes
  • James R. Hannibal’s The Lost Property Office
  • and Ross Welford’s Time Traveling with a Hamster

I love hearing editors talk about their books. They’re always so enthusiastic and smiley. (Of the MG buzz books, so far I’ve read Time Traveling with a Hamster. Adorable and oh-so-very British.)

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Mikey H20 is too tall for his own good

Signings and Panels, Part II: Three Authors and a MG Buzz Panel

After that, we all split up again and I headed back to the floor to hit some signings. I managed to get one of the last spots in Stephanie Garber’s line (she’s such a sweetheart!), then I joined Mom in the Veronica Roth line (where I proceeded to have my daily existential crisis about where to move to now that I’m done with college). VRoth was as adorkable as always.

Mom and I then went over to the baggage check to stuff our books in our already crammed suitcase (we have so much stuff to give away at Ch1Con this year!), then went and checked if the Sabaa Tahir signing later that day was going to ticket (they told us no), and while doing that ran into Adam Silvera and got to talk with him for a minute.

After that, Mom and I hit the “BEA Middle Grade Buzz Authors Panel 2016” (see the list under the “MG Editors’ Buzz”). Following the panel, we hiked back over to the booth Sabaa’s book signing was going to take place, twenty minutes before it was set to begin–only to find that the employee with whom we’d talked an hour earlier had been wrong about the not ticketing thing and they’d already handed all of the signing tickets out.

Luckily, however, I already had an ARC of Sabaa’s new book, A Torch Against the Night, from the breakfast that morning and the people running the signing were gracious enough to let me get that signed. (Btw: this is another BEA book I’ve read this summer and SO GOOD!) Sabaa was super friendly and kind and I’m so glad I got to meet her. (That line ended up being really cool. Ahead of me were a bunch of BookTubers, so I got to hear them nerd out about BEA, and my friend Cassie stopped by to say hi.)

Galley Drop and Panels, Part III: Gemina and Books for Not-Adults

While I waited to meet Sabaa, Mom went to the Gene Luen Yang signing, then headed to the Gemina galley drop and held a spot for me in that line. I’ve never participated in a book drop at BEA before and it was INSANITY. (Like, Madre got in that line at least an hour before the drop was supposed to happen and we ended up towards the back of the people who got copies. I LOVE IT WHEN PEOPLE ARE EXCITED ABOUT BOOKS IT’S SO COOL.)

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After getting our copies of Gemina, we headed to our last couple events of the day, both at the Uptown Stage: “Surviving Fictional Worlds with Tor Teen!” and “Middle Grade Marvels: Award-winning Authors Discuss Writing Lasting Stories for Young Readers.”

Speaking on the Tor Teen panel were:

  • Kate Bartow
  • Kristen Simmons
  • Sarah Porter
  • Susan Dennard (yes, that Susan Dennard!)

And speaking at the “Middle Grade Marvels” discussion were:

  • Becky Anderson (owner of Anderson’s Bookshop!)
  • Jennifer L. Holm
  • Richard Peck

Both of these events were great, and between them I got to gush with Susan for a hot sec about how excited we are for Ch1Con this August.

By the end of the “Middle Grade Marvels” discussion, BEA was winding down: the exhibitors not sticking around for BookCon were packing up their booths and pretty much all of the attendees had vacated McCormick Place. We stopped by the Scholastic booth to take a picture (because always).

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Aaaaand while there we managed to run into Maggie Stiefvater, to whom I squealed, “YOUR BOOK MADE ME CRY CAN I HAVE A PICTURE?” (Luckily, she decided that would be easier than calling security on the deranged twenty-two-year-old.)

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After that, my mom and I grabbed our bulging suitcase full of books and headed back to the suburbs, where we ate dinner at a local Italian place with my aunt and uncle. (It was delicious, by the way–bread sticks, chunky vegetable soup, fresh rolls, steamed spinach, and spaghetti, for me.) Then I stayed up way too late reading (also because always).

And so ended BEA.

BookCon (Saturday)

Line of Death

Upside of staying up late: the next day was BookCon, which starts much later than BEA, so we didn’t have to get up as early. (I mean, we still had to get up at 6:30. But that’s better than 4:30 by, you know, a lot.)

On our way out of the house, my aunt and uncle forced a little container of fresh fruit on me, because it’s apparently a well-known fact that I forget to eat on busy days. (Throwback to last BookCon.) We picked up Ch1Con team member Emma on our way into the city and arrived around 9:00 AM.

Unfortunately, the getting-into-the-event issues of BookCons past continued to haunt this one. (I don’t know why I keep assuming it’ll get better some year.) On the upside, though, McCormick Place had us waiting in a different part of the building instead of outside the way Javits Center does, so it was at least a nicer setup.

Still: getting into BookCon was CHAOS. No one seemed to know which line led to what and people were constantly cutting in line and jostling. At one point, we gave up on the line for getting into the exhibition hall and tried the autographing wristband lines–only for someone to literally come up and steal my autographing bracelet before they could put it around my wrist. (And it was the LAST ONE for that author, too.) Mom, Emma, and I all did manage to get a wristband apiece, though.

Then we rejoined the exhibition hall line and stood in that while all of the morning sessions we’d meant to hit slipped away.

The Day Begins For Real

Finally giving up, we headed straight to the Special Events Hall for the 11:00 AM panel in there: “What is Light Without Darkness? Balancing Good and Evil in YA Literature.”

Speaking on the panel were:

  • Veronica Roth
  • Lauren Oliver
  • Sabaa Tahir
  • Melissa de la Cruz
  • Margot Wood (moderator)

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This panel was wonderful–really funny and nerdy–which was exactly what we needed to make up for the wasted morning.

After that, we split up. Emma and I wandered the show floor for a little, she got food, and we accidentally got caught for a minute in Ransom Riggs’s signing line and, in the process, got to say hi to Margot Wood. Then I dropped Emma at a panel and wandered a little more on my own. In doing this, I ran into one of my highlights of BookCon: Scholastic’s Muggle Wall.

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Can I just say: I LOVE the fact that Harry Potter’s getting really big again. Also, I maybe snuck some Ch1Con in there:

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Magic, Movies, & More

Worried about getting into the next event I wanted, I headed over early–only to find that the panel ahead of that one was still loading into the room and had some standing space left. This was also a panel I’d wanted to see (but had figured I wouldn’t get into), so five points to serendipity.

This first panel was “Friendship Is Magic,” featuring:

  • Alexandra Bracken
  • Susan Dennard (hello again!)
  • Sarah J. Maas
  • and surprise guest Victoria Aveyard

I want to be best friends with all of them, really.

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Following that, I grabbed a seat towards the front of the room for the “YA Blockbusters: From Books to Film And Beyond” panel. It featured:

  • Cassandra Clare
  • James Dashner
  • Richelle Mead (go blue!)
  • Anthony Breznican (moderator)

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This was interesting, because of the three authors, James Dashner is the only one to get a sequel off his initial film adaptation (and at the moment the Maze Runner film franchise is in limbo since Dylan O’Brien got injured on set). Normally authors don’t openly talk about their frustrations with film adaptations (well, besides Rick Riordan obvi), but they were willing to discuss the bad nearly as much as the good, and I think that’s a good thing for readers to hear.

Next, I headed for the Downtown Stage, where I was supposed to meet Mom, Emma, and Hannah and her friend. On the way, I got caught in a knot of people and ended up having to jump out of the way of Sherman Alexie and his team as they hurried him through the crowd, which was surreal to say the least. (BEA and BookCon, really = RUNNING INTO AUTHORS EVERYWHERE.)

However, I did eventually make it to the Downtown Stage, where I caught the end of Leigh Bardugo and Marissa Meyer’s “Truth or Dare.” Then the event our group had headed there for began: “The Power of Storytelling,” with:

  • Sherman Alexie (yup)
  • Meg Cabot
  • Kate DiCamillo

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(Side note: I got to MEET Kate DiCamillo in Ann Arbor a couple weeks back! ONE OF THE HIGHLIGHTS OF MY LIFE.)

The panel was lovely and funny and just a little bit sad (in that relatable-and-bittersweet way that makes them all such great authors) and I adore them.

ARC Signings

Then Mom headed to the David Levithan signing (which is the one for which that girl stole my wristband) and Emma and I headed to the Nicola Yoon one.

Now, my mom felt awful that I hadn’t been able to get the David Levithan wristband (especially since I’d wanted to meet him last year and she met him instead and here it was happening again). So, she devised a plan to be the last person in his signing line, to try to convince them to let me go up and meet him with her. (We didn’t need anything extra signed. I just wanted to meet him, because David is incredible and a huge inspiration, with the way he manages to do a billion things at once.)

Of course, the David Levithan line moved about three times as fast as the Nicola Yoon one (because she is a sweetheart and wanted to stop and talk with each person to come through it)–so by the time Emma and I got up there and met her, David’s line had emptied out and, even though his signing technically wasn’t supposed to be over for a while longer and several people hadn’t even gotten in line yet because of that (not even including my mom), someone made the decision that he should leave.

Which then led to a tween girl, her mother, and my mother all chasing him through the exhibition hall to try to at least get a book signed for the girl. (Have I mentioned that BookCon is not the best organized event in the world?)

The girl did eventually get her book signed, though, and I’m sure my mom and I will have another chance to meet David Levithan, so it all worked out well enough in the end.

BookSPLOSION

Mom agreed to meet Emma and me, next, at our last BookCon event of the day: the “Booksplosion BookTube” panel.

(So, I honestly don’t watch that many BookTube videos, but the BookTube community has SO MUCH ENERGY and are so enthusiastic and unabashedly in love with reading. So I try to hit the BookTube panel at BookCon every year.)

Anyway, on the way to the BookTube panel, all of the exhibitors were breaking down their booths and, as we passed HarperCollins, they discovered that they had an entire box of Gemina galleys that they’d forgotten about, so we ended up getting a couple extra copies shoved in our hands (which kinda hilarious considering how long people waited for copies the day before).

By the time we reached the BookTube panel, they’d already cut off admission, so Emma and I went and waited in an auxiliary line, which they said they’d let in for the post-panel meet and greet. We had nothing planned for after BookTube, so we figured we might as well hang around for it. Which is how we ended up meeting Christine of PolandBananasBOOKS, Jesse of JesseTheReader, and Kat of Katytastic.

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(Side note: isn’t Emma’s sweater adorable??)

After the meet and greet, we bid adieu to McCormick Place and headed back to the suburbs, where we had a late dinner (during which the waitress seemed confused by the idea that vegetables are actual food, but that is a story for another time). Then we dropped off Emma and headed back to my relatives’ house–where I proceeded (you guessed it) to read until wayyy too late.

And that was BEA and BookCon 2016.

In total, this year we collected 151 books (all free, most ARCS and/or signed), 22 tote bags, and countless posters, pins, chapter samplers, bookmarks, and more. Not bad, eh?

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Thanks for reading!

~Julia

 

 

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Story Time: BEA/BookCon 2015! (Part 1/3)

Here we go. I’M FINALLY RECAPPING BEA/BOOKCON!

(Warning that I’m splitting this recap into three posts, corresponding with our three days of book events. But even with that, this post is going to be a billion words long, so read at your own risk.)

A couple weeks ago was the biggest publishing industry event in the US: Book Expo America (better known as BEA). This year’s event was hosted in the Javits Center in NYC–and my mom, roommate Hannah, her mom and grandma, and I attended the last day of it (Friday). Afterward was BEA’s sister event for consumers, BookCon, which ran Saturday and Sunday. Aaand we attended both days of that.

My mom and I got to New York Thursday evening, after lots and lots of super fun plane trouble (because it wouldn’t be a trip to NYC without it). We dropped our stuff at our hotel, then spent a couple hours checking out the area where I’ll be living later this summer and all that. We grabbed a late dinner at this place across the street from the hotel, and apparently a famous dude was sitting right behind us, but who really knows. (I didn’t recognize him, but the waitresses got supes excited and made him take a picture with them.)

Part 1 of BEA: Children’s Author Breakfast

First thing Friday morning, we headed to the BEA shuttle. Unfortunately, I forgot our empty suitcase (for putting freebies in), so Madre graciously ran back to the hotel to grab it, so I ended up riding the shuttle alone. Got to Javits Center, got Madre and my badges, then headed for the line to get into the Children’s Author Breakfast.

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Eek! Look how pretty my badge was!

Fortunately: Hannah and her family got to Javits way earlier than I did and saved my mom and I spots at the front of the line.

Unfortunately: My mom was still back at the hotel waiting for the next shuttle when they let us into the Special Events Hall to do the mad dash for decent seats.

Because we were practically the first people in line, we managed to find a table where we could all sit together and I could even save a seat for Madre. But then it was five minutes to the start of the breakfast and she was still waiting in line at the luggage check to drop off the suitcase (you aren’t allowed to have wheeled bags anywhere in Javits outside of the luggage check areas). And, like, that was a problem because I had her badge and her ticket to get into the breakfast. And I wasn’t exactly close enough to the door for it to be polite to just get up and leave partway through the authors speaking in order to get her stuff to her.

I felt so bad, because a really nice lady sat down next to me, and she was asking all about Ch1Con and talking about how she has a client who lives near where I’m from in Michigan (turns out she’s a literary agent) (BEA is the kind of place where you just randomly get talking with literary agents)–and through it all I was FREAKING. OUT.

Then, thank God, one minute before the breakfast was supposed to begin, Madre texted me to say she was at the door and I scampered over to hand her her stuff. We sat back down at our seats right as the lights dimmed.

The authors speaking at the Children’s Author Breakfast this year were:

  • Master of Ceremonies: Nathan Lane (Naughty Mabel)
  • Oliver Jeffers (The Day the Crayons Quit)
  • James Patterson (too many books to keep track of) (not that he’s written most of them, ugh) (but whatever)
  • And Rainbow Rowell (Fangirl)

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I want to be everyone who spoke at the Children’s Author Breakfast when I grow up.

All of the authors were super, super awesome and funny and adorable (even, I hate to admit it, a little tiny bit James Patterson). We stuffed ourselves with bagels and orange juice, ogled our first free books and tote bag of the weekend, then trooped out of the Special Events Hall to figure out our game plan for the rest of the day.

Part II: Wandering and Buzz Panels

Of course, five seconds out of the Children’s Author Breakfast, I made a fool of myself for the first of what would become many, MANY times over the course of the weekend when Hannah spotted Rainbow Rowell heading for the escalator and we not-so-sneakily fast-walked over to her to tell her we love her books and her and can-we-be-best-friends-please-OMG. We didn’t fast-walk quite fast enough though, because we reached her right as she was stepping onto the escalator, so it turned into us kind of shouting our adoration up to her as the escalator carried her away from us, and she very politely shouted an awkward thanks back, and the fact that Hannah and I didn’t die of humiliation is a testament to our strength.

However, THE STORY GETS BETTER: Only a couple minutes later, we were discussing the Encounter That Must Not Be Named while riding up another escalator when, GUESS WHO WALKS BY TO GET ON THE ESCALATOR BESIDE OURS, GOING DOWN. THAT’S RIGHT. RAINBOW. FREAKING. ROWELL. And of course, not thinking, my automatic reaction was to say, “Oh, hey!” And, of course, her automatic reaction was then to turn towards the person who seemed to be speaking to her. Except at that point we had already long passed one another on the escalators–because, you know, they were moving in opposite directions. And, like, I honestly don’t know how I’m still alive right now. I should be dead. Oh my gosh.

Luckily, things got slightly less awkward for a while after that. (BUT DON’T YOU WORRY; MORE IS DEFINITELY TO COME.) We wandered the exhibit hall for a bit, picking up free ARCs and bookmarks and stuff, then headed to the Meet BEA Young Adult Buzz Authors panel. The authors speaking on the panel were:

  • Moderator: Susannah Greenberg
  • Nicola Yoon (Everything, Everything)
  • Jake Halpern and Peter Kujawinski (Nightfall)
  • Daniel Kraus (The Death And Life Of Zebulon Finch, Volume 1: At The Edge Of Empire)
  • And Estelle Laure (This Raging Light)

The authors were absolutely lovely, and so smart and nice. Afterwards, though, came Part III in the Adventures of Julia Not Knowing How to Human: On our way back into the exhibition hall, we passed Maggie Stiefvater and Jackson Pierce preparing for the panel they were about to be on, and I… maybe… accidentally… stared them down while trying to figure out if Tui Sutherland (who was also going to be on that panel) was with them.

(Quick back story on that: A billion years ago, Tui Sutherland had a message board on Scholastic’s online forums for kids, called the STACKS, where if you shared a wacky story about a pet, she’d respond. I have a lot of wacky pet stories. We ended up talking on there a pretty decent amount and she even mentioned one of my stories–I think it was about our suicidal water frog?–in a blog post. I haven’t talked with her in like eight years though, so it would have been really cool to see her.)

I didn’t spot Tui though, and the others dragged me off (thank goodness) before I could make an even bigger fool of myself. From there we wandered the show floor some more, picked up more free stuff*, then headed downstairs for the Middle Grade Editors’ Buzz panel.

The editors and books on the panel were:

  • Moderator: Sarah Hines
  • David Levithan, talking about Alex Gino’s George
  • Nany Paulsen, talking about Lisa Lewis Tyre’s Last in a Long Line of Rebels
  • Martha Mihalick, talking about Nicholas Gannon’s The Doldrums
  • Elise Howard, talking about Adam Shaughnessy’s The Entirely True Story of the Unbelievable Fib
  • And Andrea Spooner, talking about Ali Benjamin’s The Thing About Jellyfish

It was a FANTASTIC panel, and afterward they gave out ARCs of all the books. (I’m so excited to read these things.)

As we were picking up our ARCs, we ran into Hannah’s cousin who works in the industry. Esther is amazing, so it’s always a pleasure to talk to her, even if only for a couple minutes. We all split up after that and I headed back to the exhibition hall for my first book signing of the day.

However, on the way there, I got a little lost and ended up running into this beautiful human:

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Part III: Book Signings and More Panels

The first signing line I braved for the weekend was Shannon Hale’s, signing The Princess in Black. I adore Princess Academy–it’s one of those books I grab when I wake up from a nightmare and need something to calm me down; it’s just so sweet and beautiful and ugh–so it was really nice to get to meet her.

Of course, because being awkward around authors had become a reflex at that point, I stumbled all over my words while meeting her and it took me like thirty seconds to remember the name of Princess Academy and I had half a second of panic when I wondered if she truly was the one who’d written it or if it had been someone else. (Yeah. I don’t even know.)

Then, as she was handing my book back to me, Scott Westerfeld appeared out of nowhere to talk to her.

And she went, “Oh hey. This is Scott Westerfeld.”

And I went, “Hi.”

And he went, “Oh hi there.”

And I went, “IT WAS NICE TO MEET YOU LOVE YOUR BOOKS ‘KAY BYE.”

And then I ran.

After that, Madre and I found each other, stopped by a booth to talk with a friend, then dropped off the books we’d collected so far in our suitcase (seriously, such a nice thing to have there). From there, we headed to the WNDB Presents: Diversity, Be the Change You Want to See panel. (However, Madre kindly left it early to go grab a signed copy of Rules for Stealing Stars for me from Corey Ann Haydu.)

The speakers were:

  • Moderator: Ellen Oh (Co-Founder and President of WNDB)
  • Matt de la Pena (super cool author person)
  • Linda Sue Park (other super cool author person)
  • Tim Federle (yet another super cool author person)
  • And Lamar Giles (VP of WNDB)

It was an amazing panel. A part that especially resonated with me was when Matt de la Pena called for more literature focused on characters who are incidentally diverse (as in: while diversity is important to these stories, the plots revolve around something else). This is the kind of diversity I’ve really, really been wanting to see more of, so it was SO COOL to hear someone like Matt say he wants the same thing.

After the panel, Hannah and I went up to talk to Matt, because our YA literature professor from this past year knows him. He was super nice and, like, please go read his books. (Here. Here is a link to his GoodReads page.) Then, on our way out, I spotted Kaye (one of this year’s Ch1Con speakers!) and I stopped to say hi to her. The moment she found out who I was, she threw her arms around me like we’d known each other forever, and OHMYGOSH KAYE IS SO INCREDIBLY NICE TOO. EVERYONE IS SO NICE. YAY PUBLISHING.

From there, I scurried off to my next round of book signings.

First up was Maggie Stiefvater and Jackson Pierce (signing Pip Bartlett’s Guide to Magical Creatures), who luckily didn’t remember the Stare Down From Hell. After that I hopped into the Marissa Meyer line and got a signed copy of Fairest.

I wasn’t sure what to do after that, because I had a bit of a blank patch in my schedule, so I decided to try the Patrick Ness line. After only a couple minutes in it, though, I spotted Christine Riccio of PolandBananaBooks on Youtube. Her videos give me life, so I hopped out of line to grab a picture with her.

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Because of that, I missed the cut off for the Patrick Ness signing line (but so worth it to get to meet Christine, along with Kat of katytastic and Jesse of jessethereader). Luckily, right as I was trying to figure out what to do instead, Hannah texted me to say she was going to the Middle Grade Characters & Adventures panel, so we rounded the group up and all hit that together.

The panelists were:

  • Moderator: Peter Lerangis (Seven Wonders series)
  • Corey Ann Haydu (Rules for Stealing Stars)
  • Lauren Oliver (Curiosity House)
  • Kevin Sands (Blackthorn Key)
  • And Ken Oppel (Nest)

It was yet another really, really great panel. Afterward, I grabbed ARCs of Blackthorn Key and Nest (I was too slow to get the others), got a couple Curiosity House pins from Lauren, talked with the authors for five seconds, got my Blackthorn Key signed, and managed to get out of the panel without being too much of an idiot. (Improvement!)

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Part IV: Last Few Signings

Madre and I had Avid Reader Passes (basically, they let you into special signings) for Meg Cabot and Jennifer Armentrout, so we headed back to the Autographing area for the last few signings of the day.

Neither of us had used our Front of the Line passes (pretty self-explanatory) yet, so we used those to jump the massive line to meet Meg Cabot. She is beautiful, and just as funny and sweet in person as you’d expect from her books.

She was one of the few authors during the day I remembered to ask for a picture with. It was the Return of the Awkward though, because in order to get behind her signing table to take the picture, I had to dodge around the line divider and a trash can, which obviously meant that I consequently tripped all over the trash can. But Meg Cabot–bless her beautiful, funny, sweet heart–helped me untangle myself from it, all the while cracking jokes and making sure I was okay.  

After that, Madre and I met Jennifer Armentrout, got wrangled into getting some other books signed from an author we’d never heard of (the poor guy had gotten stuck at the signing table in the far corner where no one could see him, so his line was nonexistent), then headed out to the lobby area to grab our suitcase and figure out what to do with our books.

On our way, we spotted a mob of Youtubers sitting on the floor, just kind of hanging out, so we stopped so I could get a picture with Kristina and Kayley from FiveAwesomeGirls(!).

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Still can’t get over the fact that I got to meet some of these people.

We also stopped at the Scholastic booth, because I had to snag a picture with their sign in honor of my days on Write It. (LOOK HOW FAR WE’VE COME.)

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At the luggage check, we quickly realized we had way too many books to fit in our suitcase, so we ended up lugging all of them down to the shipping cavern to send home in a box.

Afterward, we met back up with Hannah’s family at the tables by the Penguin truck. Hannah, her cousin Esther, and I talked for a while, while our moms and Hannah’s grandma talked, then we all grabbed our stuff and walked to a cute little hole-in-the-wall Italian restaurant a few blocks away.

Post-dinner, Madre and I said goodnight to the others, dropped our stuff at our hotel, then went exploring a bit. We ended up spending like an hour just sitting at a table in Times Square, taking it all in. We joked about how I won’t be allowed to enjoy the touristy parts of New York anymore once I move there in a few weeks, and it was really weird to think of how This Is Truly Happening. I’m actually moving to New York for two months. I’ve been dreaming of living in New York City since I was like ten. It’s kind of terrifying and kind of amazing.

IMG_8665From there, we walked back to the hotel and called it a night.

And that, I guess, is where this first obnoxiously long and detailed recap post ends.

Thank you for slogging through this entire thing, if you made it this far. (And if you just skimmed the post, I totally understand.)

Check back later this week for Parts 2 and 3, covering BookCon!

~Julia

PS. I want you to know that I’m currently dyeing my hair with honey (because why not) and it keep dripping on my hands as I type. #Professional

*I freaking. adore. free. stuff.

Wordy Wednesday: The End

I AM SO TIRED RIGHT NOW. I’m almost finally caught up with everything, though. (And, luckily, most of the stuff left has to be done in the daytime–which means my night looks like just hosting Ch1Con Chat, eating cold pizza, and watching Netflix until I fall asleep.)

Meanwhile, on top of everything else, my right knee has been hurting for a few days now (started during BookCon). I’ve got a brace on it, so hopefully it gets better soon–but can we just address the fact that I managed to injure myself while literally STANDING IN LINES all day at a CONVENTION GLORIFYING READING? (Even my injuries are nerdy.)

This week’s Wordy Wednesday is some song lyrics I wrote a while back.

**********

[Capo 3 – Em, C, G, D]
VERSE1
Look out my window / and what do I see
A blank strip of sky, stretching away from me
And I am alone here / lost in a crowd
Can’t even miss the silence / when it gets so loud

And I can’t see your features / washed out by the lights
I can’t hear your voice / or care enough to fight

TRANSITION
And I don’t know how to move / when we’re locked here in one place
And I’m looking for a sign / upon your face

CHORUS
We can’t see the stars at night
They’re washed out by the city lights
We stare at the satellites
They’re the only things to penetrate the night

But we know / the stars glow
Burning somewhere up there / so far away from here
And we know / this is breaking past bend
Wishing on this satellite / will be our end
Will be our end

VERSE2
Walking down the street / music in my ears
Disconnected from real life / and all my fears
I am only one / of a lost generation
No one can save / an entire broken nation

And I can’t hear your voice / or care enough to fight
I’m always too tired / but no, everything’s all right

TRANSITION
And I don’t know how to move / when to move is to leave
And I’m looking for a way / to believe

[Repeat CHORUS]

BRIDGE
Tell me, where is this going / because I don’t know anymore
Tell me, where is this leading / because I don’t see a door

Tell me, where is this going / because I don’t know anymore
Tell me, where is this leading / because I’m looking for a door

We can’t see the stars at night
They’re washed out by the city lights
We stare at the satellites
They’re the only things to penetrate the night

We can’t see the stars at night
And that’s not all right, all right

[Repeat CHORUS]

ENDING
This is the end
This is the end

**********

I should finally get the BEA/BookCon recap posts up sometime this weekend, so keep a lookout for those! Thank you for your patience. And, as always, thanks for reading!

~Julia

Wordy Wednesday: Character Development Tricks

Heads up that I’m writing this Tuesday evening, because I have a big project due in my screenwriting class Wednesday (and, like, procrastination is fun).

I spent this past weekend at home with my family for Memorial Day. We played lots of Wii U games and ate a thousand tons of ice cream and it was really nice. Now I’m back at school, I just got off work, and a freak rainstorm has trapped me at No Thai. (Not the worst place to be, except I already finished eating and it smells so good and NO YOU DO NOT NEED MORE SPRING ROLLS DON’T YOU DARE.)

SO MUCH IS HAPPENING THIS WEEK. Ch1Con just announced another speaker (Kaye M.!), our blog tour is finishing up, and Thursday I’m off to BEA and Bookcon in NYC!

Speaking of which: As always when I get to attend big writing events, I’ll be blogging throughout the weekend. HOWEVER, I’m probably not bringing my laptop with me this year, so warning that the posts will likely be short and a little typo-ridden (because iPhone). But I promise I WILL blog!

Anyway. This week’s Wordy Wednesday is a writing process post.

So, one of the things that can be hardest to get across without straight up handing things to the reader (aka: the accursed “telling”) is character development. It’s so easy to fall into the trap of having your protagonist look in a mirror, or just outright tell the reader his or her entire life story out of context of the scene at hand, or something else unsavory.

However, there are also some easy ways of avoiding those weak methods of developing your characters. The trick is to focus on the things around your character rather than your character him/herself. For example:

Bedroom/Locker/Car/Etc.

So I’m not going to take a picture of my current bedroom, because it’s a bit of a mess (I’m mid-BEA packing), but this is what it looks like: Lots of bright colors, walls coated in posters and white boards and photo collages, with a zigzag of white Christmas lights across the ceiling. I have two bookcases, both overflowing, and there’s an exercise mat by my door that I have long since given up putting away. My bed is all fleece blankets and cuddly pillows, and my desk is buried under notebooks and Ch1Con flyers.

You can tell a ton about me from my room, and the same goes for your characters. Maybe your protagonist doesn’t do well with mess, so she keeps her room neat and clean. Or maybe he loves Star Wars, so his room is coated in movie posters and figurines. And within these types of traits is a second, deeper layer of development: If she’s a neat freak, chances are she’s also a very responsible, orderly person, and that’ll dictate how she acts and reacts throughout your story; if his entire room is coated in Star Wars, that shows that he’s a fanboy and nerdy and can be obsessive about things.

You can use this method with other spaces your protag occupies, as well. Think locker, car–really anywhere that is his or her own.

Appearance

I talked about this one already in a previous post (read it here), but basically: The way your characters dress, wear their hair, etc. (and why) says a lot about them. Maybe your protagonist has to wear a uniform to school, so he likes to wear really bright, crazy stuff on the weekends. Or maybe your protagonist really likes music, so she wears a bunch of band merch. Is your character trendy or classic? Does she prefer dresses or jeans? All of these things can help you flesh out your characters.

Name

Names are a little tricky, because they define the parents as much as the kid. But does your protagonist choose to stick with his long, formal first name even though he easily could go by a nickname? Or does your protagonist’s friends call her by a different nickname than her family does? How does your protagonist refer to him or herself? What does s/he think of his/her name? All these things go a long way towards helping you pin down your characters’ personalities for the reader.

**********

What are some of your favorite ways of developing your characters?

Talk to you this weekend!

~Julia

BookCon: Saturday Craziness

So today was both insane and insanely long, which means I’m way too tired to write a halfway coherent post. Hopefully I remember everything well enough to give you a proper update once I’m home.

In the meantime, highlights of Saturday:

– Hannah’s awesome publishing industry cousin snagged us passes to the Adult Author Breakfast, where we ate massive muffins and freaked out over the speakers (aaand maybe possibly met Lena Dunham).

– I met amazing reader Rachel! And she knit me a hat!

– Met Margot Wood of Tea Time again (and maybe picked up one of all the freebies at her booth while she talked) (sorry not sorry).

– Got to watch Brandon Stanton of Humans of New York demonstrate his process for street photography.

– Was THIS. CLOSE. to the authors at the kids’ lit panel, thanks to Hannah’s VIP status + seat saving skills. (Thanks for everything this weekend, Hannah!)

– Got to see part of the TFIOS panel. (It was the audience Q & A and this kid went up to the mic and thanked John Green for finally clarifying for him what to do with his prosthetic leg during sex and then John jumped off the stage to hug him and IT WAS AMAZING. Dude, the Nerdfighter community is the best.)

– Got to see part of the panel on dystopian fiction, and all the authors were awesome, only I’m too tired to remember all their names off the top of my head so I’m just not going to say any right now. But they were awesome, I promise you.

– Tonight the group of us saw If/Then (Idina Menzel’s new Broadway musical). It was FANTASTIC. Aaand afterward, Hannah and I quite possibly waited in the mob at the stage door for over an hour, and befriended a cool tall dude named Tom who held our playbills for us for the actors to sign since as aforementioned his is a) cool and b) tall–and then, you know, IDINA HERSELF CAME OUT AND SIGNED OUR PLAYBILLS. AND WE TOOK CREEPY PICTURES OF HER. AND IT WAS AWESOME.

And there you go: my highlights of the day.

BookCon was such a whirlwind. A lot was good, but also a lot was honestly not-so-good. I’ll go into it all more sometime when it’s not going on two in the morning, but what’s important is that overall I had a really good time today. (And I now have many new books to read.)

G’night!

 

~Julia

BookCon: Friday Night

Hey there! It’s 10:47 PM, someone is singing loudly (but actually sort of well) at the bar across the street from our hotel, and I am exhausted.

It’s been a long day.

After not going to sleep until around 2:00 yesterday because of packing, I woke up at 7:00 to shower, pack some more, shove a bowl of Lucky Charms down my throat, and print about a million pages worth of various passes and schedules for the weekend.

The passes actually wouldn’t have eaten so many pages, except the first time through they printed wrong. (Everything came out but the barcodes. Of course the one parts of the dumb things we actually needed).

Between that and other random setbacks, Madre and I ended up leaving the house over an hour later than planned, which then led to a mad dash to the airport and through security. We reached our gate on time, thank God, and while waiting there–in the middle of a discussion on marriage, of all things–a guy got down on his knee on the moving sidewalk beside us and proposed to his (joyfully) stunned girlfriend. It was adorable.

Then there was some trouble with our luggage. And once we reached NYC our taxi got stuck in a massive traffic jam because the driver thought it would be a good idea to take us through Times Square (why? the world may never know), so we ended up walking the last few blocks to the hotel. And then the hotel didn’t have our room ready yet so we had to leave our luggage at their baggage check. And we couldn’t find a free taxi so we walked all the way to the Javits Center, where both BookCon and its parent event Book Expo America (BEA) are taking place right now (which, you know, is a pretty long walk when you’re out of shape and it’s hot out).

All in all, it was actually really nice. I will never turn down an opportunity walk Times Square and finding our way to the Javits Center on foot was fun.

However, what you need to understand in all this: Our flight was scheduled to land at 2:00. The BookCon kickoff event for tonight (a panel about the film adaption This Is Where I Leave You, featuring the author, director, and, you know, stars Tina Fey and Jason Bateman) was scheduled to begin at 4:00.

That was two hours to get out of the airport, through the hotel, to Javits. Basically a superhuman feat.

And I was not missing Tina Fey.

So when absolutely everything seemed out to keep us from making it to the panel on time, for some reason neither my mom nor I were happy campers.

But then the plane landed early, and the walk to the Javits Center wasn’t as long as we thought it would be, and we arrived and checked in at the BookCon registration desk with five minutes to spare.

We raced down to the Special Events Hall and got in the mile-long line to get into the panel.

Inched every so slowly towards the quickly filling seats.

At which point Mom said, “I thought Hannah and her mom were saving seats for us?”

And I replied, “Yeah, they said they’re at a table at the front, but I don’t see–”

Frantically waving arms alerted us to the fact that when Hannah had texted me that they were sitting at the front of the hall, she didn’t just mean TOWARDS the front. She meant the FRONT of the front. Like front row. Like right next to the stage.

So yeah. The BookCon kickoff event ended up being awesome.

Afterward, we went out to the BookCon happy hour, where Hannah and her mom introduced us to their amazing cousin (like dude, I want to be related to this woman too) who’s attending BEA. And who, then, ever-so-casually introduced us to some friends of hers who, you know, happen to run New York Magazine. (Is this even real life?)

This is only one of the things Hannah’s cousin did for us tonight. She is my new favorite human.

The entire time we were in the Javits Center, I was basically a hyperventilating, creepishly-staring-at-everything mess. I’ve been dreaming of attending BEA ever since I first heard of it back junior year of high school, and after lusting after all the pictures of massive book advertisements filling entire walls and beautiful stacks of ARCs on table after table and all the rugs! the BEA logo on all the rugs! –It just. I couldn’t believe I was actually there.

Not actually for BEA, of course. For BookCon. But still. My Twitter feed has been nothing but BEA all week and it was crazy to actually be standing in the middle of it. (I would have cried if it weren’t for the fact that I would have gotten lots of weird looks from the industry people, half of whom basically hate BEA but are required to go, and therefore, you know, would not have understood why this random girl was crying about the fact she was standing in the Javits Center. Especially because she was happy about it.)

Plus, just to solidify my unhealthy levels of excitement, after the kickoff event I spotted Christine Riccio of Page to Premiere and polandbananasBOOKS (my favorite BookTube channel), and it REALLY hit home for me that I was ACTUALLY. THERE. (Unfortunately, I spotted her as she got on an escalator on her way out for the night, so I wasn’t able to go fangirl all over her. But fingers crossed I have a chance to gush about how much I love her videos tomorrow?)

After leaving Javits, we took one of the BEA shuttles to Grand Central Station, where we got sorbet/gelato and admired the architecture. Then we headed to Bryant Park and stumbled upon a Shakespeare in the Park production of Hamlet. We watched that for a while, but it started raining and it seemed like the weather was just going to get worse, so then we were off to somewhere indoors–John’s Pizzeria for dinner, to be specific.

(By the way: If you’re ever looking for a pizza place near Times Square, I’ve eaten at John’s twice now and have been fully satisfied with my pizza both times. I highly recommend it for all your New York-style pizza needs.)

Then, after dinner, it was back to the hotel. And now Mom and I are just sitting in our room, listening to the drunken singing from the bar, and it is 11:51 PM.

What a weird day, right? A little bad and a ton good.

As Hannah and I walked out of the Javits Center, I looked around, all wide eyes and burning cheeks from smiling too hard, and I said, “I feel so… content right now.” It’s amazing how true that was (and still is; I never want to forget this feeling).

Here’s to hoping the rest of the weekend lives up to Friday.

 

~Julia

PS. Sorry for the lack of pictures in this. My phone ran out of space basically the instant we got to New York (and I can’t figure out how to upload what I do have using this computer, anyway). But hopefully I can take a few tomorrow.

Big News Post, Take Two

I’ve been promising another Big News post for a couple weeks now, and I FINALLY CAN SHARE THINGS WITH YOU!

Drum roll please…

This is a Book Too is back!

Yup, after our unplanned hiatus (school has this annoying habit of getting in the way of projects like this, yes?), Mel and I are finally back in action with This is a Book Too. Check out new chapters on the official This is a Book Trilogy blog at: www.thisisabookthebook.wordpress.com.

I’m attending BookCon (AKA “Power Reader Day” of Book Expo America)!

I’m so excited to finally get to check out this event! (By which I mean “fangirl all over my favorite authors, likely scaring them so badly they’ll never come near me ever again.”) Plus, I’m attending with my super talented writing friends Ariel and Joan, and a couple of our parents, so that automatically makes it 110% awesomer. (Also: I love New York. Like a lot.) (Also, also: BROADWAY.)

I won the Arthur Miller Award!!!

The Arthur Miller Award is a prize here at U of M for writers. The winner receives a scholarship, an autographed copy of DEATH OF A SALESMAN (because Arthur Miller), and, you know, the right to stare in disbelief at the email and jump around a lot and maybe even cry, just a little bit. (Not that I did any of those things.)

I’m so incredibly honored to have been selected to be this year’s recipient. U of M’s got a kind of crazy number of talented writers, so the fact that they chose my entry blows my mind. A lot.

… Aaand, last but not-at-all least:

I’m studying abroad at Oxford this summer!!!!!

THAT’S RIGHT. I GOT IN TO MY DREAM STUDY ABROAD PROGRAM. AND I’M GOING. OH MY GOSH, OH MY GOSH, OH MY GOSH.

I’m studying British literature in the place it was written, and some of my friends are going to be there at the same time, and it’s basically going to be beautiful.

On top of that: While in the UK, Hannah (who’s in the same program as me!) and I are attending–wait for it–JK Rowling’s session at the Theakstons Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival! (If you happen to feel a flutter in your chest at this news, that’s probably the heart attack I had while scrambling to purchase the tickets rubbing off on you. I apologize.)

The plan is to keep the blog up and running while I’m over there, so prepare yourself for a deluge of posts about how wonderful Europe is.

I’m off to daydream about summer (so close, yet so far away). Love you!

~Julia

Armchair BEA: Introductions!

Sorry I’m posting this late (and also currently flooding this poor blog with posts)–I just now found out about Armchair BEA, and it looked like too awesome an opportunity to pass up.

Don’t know what Armchair BEA is? Check out a description of it heeeere.

If you’re also attending Armchair BEA, hey there! It’s great to meet you. Make sure to leave a comment, so I know to check out your blog. 🙂

I’ve gotta answer five of the questions provided on the site, so here we go.

  1. Please tell us a little bit about yourself: Who are you? How long have you been blogging? Why did you get into blogging? Hi, my name is Julia. I’ve been blogging for about a year and a half now, and I got into blogging because a) I was bored and b) it looked like fun. Perfect combo, right? Plus, it was a great way to let my friends and family finally get a taste of some of my writing, since as an unpublished novelist I don’t get to share my work much.
  2. Have you previously participated in Armchair BEA? What brought you back for another year? If you have not previously participated, what drew you to the event? Nope, this is my first year! I’ve been dying to go to BEA ever since I first found out about it a few years back, but I’ve never had the money or time to go. I figured this was the next best thing.
  3. Tell us one non-book-related thing that everyone reading your blog may not know about you. I was completely obsessed with dogs growing up. I had this massive dog encyclopedia that was probably a thousand pages long, and I must have read it all the way through five times, not to mention scouring the pages upon pages towards the back that described all the different dog breeds. I used to be able to glance at a dog on the street and be able to tell you what breed(s) it was, its temperament based on that, and what it would take to care for it. The insanity settled down, though, when my parents finally caved and got me a puppy for my thirteenth birthday. Check out how beautiful my Sammy-girl is:
    49
  4. If you could eat dinner with any author or character, who would it be and why? That’s hard, but I think I’d have to go with Veronica Roth, as long as I’m continuing with my now very public Divergent obsession. (I would say Katniss Everdeen from The Hunger Games, but she’d probably try feeding me squirrel stew or something, and that ain’t happening, sister.)
  5. What literary location would you most like to visit? Why? Narnia. I can’t even put into words my love for Narnia. Other kids wanted their Hogwarts letters–I was that weirdo who regularly walked into closets in search of snowy forests and Aslan. (Not that I would have said no if a Hogwarts letter arrived on my doorstep, but you know. I would have preferred magicking myself into Narnia.)

Yay for Armchair BEA, letting those of us on unemployed college student budgets to still attend Book Expo America! 🙂 Talk to you soon!

~Julia