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

 

 

Wordy Wednesday: Ink and Sunlight

I preface this post by saying: I swear the graduation and BEA/BookCon recaps are coming soon(ish). I’ve run into a bit of a hiccup this week (my laptop charger broke), but as soon as everything’s back to working properly (and thus I have access to pictures and everything), I will totally get those posts up. Totally.

In the meantime: BEA/BookCon happened this past weekend! And it was so much fun/so tiring that I sat down to read Monday afternoon and accidentally fell asleep for four hours! (I am eighty years old.) Other than that and the broken laptop charger, not much else has been going on. (Anything new with you? Do something cool? Go somewhere fun? Pet a cat? Really, I will be excited to hear about pretty much anything. I’ve basically just been marathon-napping for three days now.)

Aaanyway: this week’s Wordy Wednesday is a poem.

**********

Fingers brushing against crisp white pages
laced with ink and sunlight, and
don’t you see the stars rising from the
black and white streaks,
the way the falling apart pieces
are planting growing things,
and maybe maybe maybe–
this will be the time
the words are worth more than
another promise of another tomorrow

Maybe this time
the daydreams will cross from
scribbled out hopes
to shelves and smiles and something other than
the silence at the end of
another day spent trying but going
nowhere

Maybe I should give up, but
ink and sunlight;
it’s all ink
and sunlight

and for now that is enough
**********

Thanks for reading!

~Julia

P.S. Less than two weeks left to register for the 2016 Chapter One Young Writers Conference at our special early bird rate! The rest of the Ch1Con team and I would absolutely love to see you there. Check it out at www.chapteroneconference.com.

Wordy Wednesday: Writing

Happy Wednesday! The past week has been weirdly hectic without very much actually going on (mostly just family stuff, grad party, and endless trips to the dentist) (my mouth loves me).

Tomorrow, though, my mom and I leave for BEA and BookCon in Chicago, which is going to be SO ACTUALLY HECTIC and SO MUCH FUN and I CAN’T WAIT TO SEE PEOPLE. Let me know if you’ll also be there so we can meet up!

Meanwhile: this week’s Wordy Wednesday is a poem.

**********

Sheets of paper, crisp with
ink and lines and scribbled words,
stacked thick and high enough to build
a tower (or a world)–
I disappeared through the pages,
my own portal to Narnia or Neverland or Wonderland,
and I have come out on the other side
in a place that had been waiting
for someone to find it

I was looking for a story,
a girl and a wristwatch and ivy-coated walls,
but instead I found the universe
waiting

**********

Thanks for reading, and keep a lookout next week for a BEA/BookCon recap! (Also hopefully my graduation recap at some point?) (I am really falling behind on this whole blogging thing, whoops.) (Love youuu.)

~Julia

P.S. You only have two weeks left to enter my giveaway of a signed copy of Susan Dennard’s New York Times bestseller Truthwitch, as part of the Ch1Con blog tour! Read Susan’s exclusive guest post and find the giveaway here.

P.P.S. Two weeks is also how much time you have left to register to attend the 2016 Chapter One Young Writers Conference at our special, discounted early bird rate! Register here by May 31st to only pay $74.99.

P.P.P.S. I am currently totally addicted to “Spirits” by The Strumbellas. It feels a lot like writing, if that makes sense. I dare you not to like it.

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

Story Time: BEA/BookCon 2015! (Part 2/3)

Here we go! Part II of our crazy bookish weekend.

(A reminder that I’m 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.) (Also a reminder that all of these posts are going to be long enough to make your brain bleed, so read at your own risk.)

BookCon 2015 expanded from last year’s event by spanning both Saturday and Sunday. They also expanded by selling more than twice as many tickets as last year, so EIGHTEEN. THOUSAND. PEOPLE. came to BookCon this year.

Take a minute to wrap your mind around that: Eighteen thousand people. Came to an event. About books. (Excuse me while I go into heart palpitations of joy.)

I was wary of attending BookCon this year, because I honestly had a, well, not great experience at it in 2014. (“Not great” might be sugarcoating it too much, actually. It was terrible.) However, there was a glimmer of potential in 2014’s Land of Poorly Organized Chaos, so I was willing to give it a second shot this year. (But with a VIP ticket this time.)

Before I go on, I want to preface this all by saying that I had an amazing time at BookCon this year. It so, so blew my expectations out of the water and I can’t wait to go again (no VIP ticket necessary).

However, the beginning of BookCon on Saturday was arguably worse than last year.

The BookCon website boasted that VIP attendees would have an exclusive, separate line to get into the show in the morning. So, with this in mind, we decided to sleep in a bit after the long day at BEA and didn’t leave our hotel until about an hour before the show floor was supposed to open.

Like Friday, we grabbed our empty suitcase and headed to the shuttle stop nearest our hotel. Then we waited.

And waited.

And waited.

And, you guessed it: The shuttle never showed up.

Last year, BEA was still going on during BookCon, so we’d been able to take the shuttle to and from BookCon. For some reason, we’d just assumed the shuttle would still be running for BookCon this year.

After about fifteen minutes of waiting at the stop, we realized no such luck.

Which meant we had to walk to the Javits Center.

Not a huge deal. Oh well. We grabbed some quick breakfast sandwiches at a Dunkin’ Donuts we passed and finished the mile+ long trek in not too much time. It shouldn’t have been a problem.

Except, of course, that it turns out that the wording on the BookCon website was misleading and there actually wasn’t a separate line for VIP ticket holders to get into the show. Only to get into the show floor. Which meant when we arrived at Javits, after having several different harried security people tell us to go different places to get into the building, we finally found ourselves, once again, over a mile away–this time at the end of the general line to enter the Javits Center.

I’ll repeat that: Over. A mile. Away.

People had been lining up since 4:00 AM to get in. Again, eighteen thousand people attended BookCon and most of them were there on Saturday.

It was hot. It was humid. And after paying so much extra for the VIP tickets, my mom and I were pissed.

It’s not that I felt like we deserved special treatment or anything, believe me. It was that BookCon had told us something would be there, then it wasn’t.

At one point, when we finally got close to the doors, a few women tried cutting into line a little ways behind me and I turned around and full out yelled at them. (You should know: I’m not a confrontational person. I tried slapping a friend once for a rude remark–he’d asked me to as a means of getting him to stop making them–and I ended up just gently patting his cheek because I cannot physically hurt people.)

When we did finally get into the Javits Center, VIP attendees were supposed to get a special BookCon tote bag full of books, but none of the staff members near the entrance knew anything about them. Later we found out that they’d ended up giving a bunch of them away to random non-VIP attendees because the staff didn’t understand the VIP people had paid extra for those bags.

Yeah. It was fun.

The first thing I did upon finally getting into the Javits Center was find Hannah’s family in the line for the official BookCon bookstore (located in what had been BEA’s shipping cavern), because we’d picked up coffee for her grandmother while at Dunkin’.

I thought 2014 had been chaos? No. Chaos was that football field-sized room.

To the left of the doors were the lines to get wristbands for the Special Events Hall panels, flooded with people already lined up to see John Green and Co. at the end of the day. At the far end of the room and stretching almost all the way back to the doors were the autographing lines, at that point fairly empty but already buzzing with activity as people gathered around the white boards near them to figure out which authors were signing when. And finally, to the right of the doors, was the nightmare that was the line for the bookstore.

It was a mob. You couldn’t tell where one curve of the line ended and the next began. I waded through the exasperated, shouting masses and practically had to toss the coffee at Hannah’s outstretched hand.

I managed to squeeze my way back out alive and took a second to catch my breath. Then I got out of that room as quickly as possible.

However, that was the end of the bad part of BookCon.

And I heard that they got straight onto fixing the mess in the cavern, so the chaos died down within a couple hours. And, spoiler: When we arrived on Sunday, they’d figured out how to handle the line into the building well enough that it was, get this, nonexistent (more on that in the next post).

So, say goodbye to Complain-y Julia and hello to “OMG I HAD SUCH A GOOD TIME” Julia.

Part I of Saturday: Show Floor and Signings

The first thing I did once the mess was over was find the Wreck This Journal event Random Penguin was hosting. There I added Ch1Con to the life-size Wreck This Journal they were putting together, got my first tote bag of the day, and met up with blog reader Rachel for some freaking out and picture-taking.

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From there, Madre and I headed to the other end of the Random Penguin area to meet one of my favorite authors from when I was growing up: Norton Juster(!!!)

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He was funny and kind and I kind of want him to be my grandfather.

After that, we grabbed tickets for Macmillan’s One Book panel (detailing the publishing process from start to finish, following one book), then split up to wander. I grabbed some more free stuff, met a random debut author whose in-booth signing line I accidentally found myself in, and pet the Menswear Dog. We attended the One Book panel together, got ARCs of the book signed, then split up again.

This time Madre went to stash all the free stuff so far that day in the suitcase while I went to check on Hannah’s family, once again trapped in the bookstore line. I was planning on hitting some signings in the autographing area at that point, but pretty much every signing for the rest of the day had already maxed out. So, instead, I found my way back up to the show floor, where I grabbed a ticket for Carrie Ryan’s in-booth signing, then attended the Inside the Recording Studio panel on making audiobooks.

The Inside the Recording Studio panel was super cool, in large part due to the fact that a couple of the people on it worked on the Harry Potter audiobooks. They talked about how they originally weren’t going to make American audiobooks for the series, but then someone high up at Scholastic decided that the original British narrator was (get this) “too British,” so they got Jim Dale instead. And now he has a Grammy for it. So, like, that happened.

After that was the Carrie Ryan signing, which was very cool.

Part II: Movie Panels Galore

I love movies almost as much as I love books, so I spent my afternoon going to lots of film adaptation-themed panels.

First was the Me and Earl and the Dying Girl panel, featuring:

  • Alfonso Gomez-Rejon (director)
  • Jesse Andrews (author and screenwriter)
  • Thomas Mann (Greg, aka “Me”)
  • Olivia Cooke (Rachel, aka “Dying Girl”)

I haven’t read the book or seen the movie yet, but my screenwriting class did study the first act of the screenplay a few weeks ago, so it was amazing to get to learn about the process of adapting the story and all that. (Also, if you ever have the chance to read the screenplay for Me and Earl, do it. Do it now. It’s freaking hilarious.)

The way the Me and Earl adaptation came about is also a really cool story. Author Jesse Andrews imagined his own childhood home and high school while writing the novel and screenplay, and that came through so much in the writing that they realized they couldn’t shoot the movie anywhere else. So they got his parents (who still live in the house in which he grew up) to lend them his bedroom, and they got permission to fix up parts of the old high school (which had already been approved for demolition at that point) to film the school scenes.

They laughed about how Jesse’s mom would make all the crew breakfast down in the kitchen while they filmed scenes upstairs in Jesse’s bedroom, and like–how awesome is that?

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After the panel, everyone rushed the stage to get books signed. I managed to get close enough for awkward stalker shots of the actors.

After the Me and Earl panel, my mom and I went and checked out the VIP lounge, spent some time trying to locate our VIP tote bags (still to no avail), then stopped by the Rotten Tomatoes panel. (It was as hilarious and insightful as should be assumed.)

Then came the main event: the Paper Towns panel.

Speaking on the panel were:

  • Kathleen Heaney (moderator)
  • John Green (author)
  • Justice Smith (Radar)
  • Nat Wolff (Q)
  • Michael H. Weber (screenwriter)
  • Ryan Lott (composer)

People had been lining up for it all day, because despite the fact they all already had wristbands guaranteeing they’d get in, everyone still wanted to get as good of a seat as possible. Since we had VIP passes, we just had to show up a half hour early and were guaranteed admission (thank God).

The moment the doors opened to the VIP line, we all sprinted for the front of the Special Events Hall. Hannah and I ended up grabbing seats for our group in the second row, stage right. Which meant our view was this:

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Teeny tiny complaint about the lack of women on the panel. I’d assumed when they announced who’d be on it that they’d asked the female stars of the film to be on the panel, and they’d just turned it down for whatever reason. From the sounds of it, that wasn’t the case. Disappointing, BookCon. (But also: OMG JOHN GREEN AND NAT WOLFF.)

Our seats also meant that when it came time for the audience Q&A, we were right next to the microphone, so Nat Wolff and John Green and all of them looked right at us as they listened to people’s questions. Which was, you know, all right.

They showed us the new trailer that was going to premiere during Pretty Little Liars later that week, spent a ton of time having to explain inside jokes and on-set antidotes to us (like the time Nat and Justice got themselves kicked out of their apartment complex from shooting down a light that was annoying John with BB guns), and confirmed that John’s cameo made the final cut of the film.

This was news not only to us, but John himself, and he positively FREAKED. OUT. when he realized he was going to be in the movie. It was hilarious. Such a good panel.

It ended up running over (although the staff didn’t let it go as long as they did the Fault in Our Stars panel last year), and they jokingly had all of the people waiting in line at the microphones shout their questions at once, then gave out random answers (“Yes! No! Only on Sundays!”). But even then the audience got really upset (in a scary way) when they realized it was over. Hundreds of people rushed the stage and security ended up having to escort the panelists off while BookCon tried to sedate the mob by playing the new trailer again.

Now compare that reaction to what’s been going on with John Green the past couple weeks. Fame is scary.

Part III: Something Rotten (Is Ridiculously Good)

After the Paper Towns panel, my mom and I temporarily said goodbye to Hannah’s family while they grabbed a taxi and we grabbed our now full suitcase from the luggage check. Then we half-walked, half-ran with it all the way back to the hotel. Because we all had tickets to see Something Rotten. And it was starting in a half hour.

Luckily, Madre and I managed to dropped off our stuff at the hotel and get into the theater just before the lights went down, but it was a stressful thirty minutes (especially because I was starving by then).

Something Rotten was AMAZING. I haven’t laughed that hard at a show since Book of Mormon and I highly recommend it if you’re in NYC. (“A Musical” is my favorite number to come out of a Broadway show possibly ever. SO GOOD.)

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After the show, we parted ways with Hannah’s family again. My mom and I wandered into the Theatre Circle gift shop because she’d never been and ogled all the Broadway paraphernalia, then finally, FINALLY went to John’s Pizza for dinner.

After an entire day of standing and carrying around a billion books, on minimal sleep, with only a 240 calorie “healthy” breakfast sandwich from Dunkin’ Donuts in my stomach, you had better believe I was ready to eat that entire restaurant Hansel and Gretel-style when we walked in at eleven PM.

Madre is much healthier than I am, so she ordered grilled vegetables. I ordered mozzarella sticks and pizza and gorged on both of them until I dozed off at the table.

From there, it was back to the hotel, where we packed to go home and finally dropped off to sleep.

And that was the end of Day 2!

Congratulations, if you survived this entire post. Part 3 (Sunday of BookCon) will be coming soon!

~Julia

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

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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.

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

Talk to you this weekend!

~Julia

Central Park and Airplanes

Sorry I didn’t get the chance to post yesterday! We didn’t get home until midnight and I had been fighting nodding off the entire way (for some reason a weekend of being touristy in NYC can do that to you), so I just collapsed on my bed the instant I was through the door.

BookCon ended Saturday evening, so Sunday was purely a day for sightseeing. We started with brunch at a French restaurant (peppermint tea and a multi-grain waffle with fresh strawberries and syrup and whipped cream!). Then we were off to Central Park. (Side note: I just yawned and my right ear finally popped after getting off the plane at TEN. THIRTY. last night. Gee thanks, ear.)

We spent the majority of the afternoon walking around Central Park. It was about seventy five out and sunny, which meant the park was packed. The lawns were practically standing room only with so many people spread out to nap or eat or play catch or just take it all in. We trekked to the Obelisk (which was unfortunately under construction, but still pretty cool), the Alice in Wonderland statue (adorable children climbed all over it, paying no mind to the heat), and the Strawberry Fields mosaic (where a guy with a guitar sang “Imagine” and laughing tourists crowded the mosaic for pictures).

After Central Park, it was a whirlwind of making it to our plane on time. We stopped at a street vendor for fresh fruit on our way back to the hotel, then grabbed our luggage and hit the road–at which point all efforts to reach the airport were thwarted by multiple car accidents that completely stopped traffic on our way through Queens to LaGuardia.

Fact: Getting in a car accident in New York City seems to be about one of the worst places to get in a car accident. The firetrucks and ambulances were slow on their way to and from the accidents because so many cars blocked their way to them and these blocking vehicles had nowhere to go. Add in the impatient taxi drivers and angry tourists, and it’s like something out of a disaster movie.

Despite all that, though, we did make it to the airport with plenty of time. We got dinner at one of the LaGuardia food courts, caught a ride with a very bored-looking airport transport vehicle driver dude (thank God, because suitcases full of books are HEAVY), then it was onto the airplane.

Which immediately began to loudly beep. Like it was going to explode.

“It’s just the smoke detector in one of the bathrooms,” a flight attendant assured the guy across the aisle from me. “Although, we can’t seem to find any smoke, so that’s strange.”

I obviously spend far too much time thinking up crazy, violent acts for stories, because my first thought was that someone had rewired the thing to turn it into a bomb and the plane was going to blow up the moment they turned the engines on.

With the help of some maintenance people, they managed to turn the alarm off (which then required closing the bathroom, which then led to massive lines to get into the working one for the duration of the flight–fun times).

Anyway, I spent the flight reading The Lord of the Rings in preparation for Oxford, and mi madre did Sudoku, and Hannah read a Percy Jackson book, and I’m not really sure what Hannah’s mom did because I couldn’t spy on her from my seat. But rest assured, we didn’t blow up and safely made it home and I miss New York already.

But I’m also really glad to finally get some sleep.

Next up in the Summer of Bookish Traveling: Chicago for the Chapter One Young Writers Conference! If I haven’t already driven you crazy with how much I go on about it, you can check out our website at www.chapteroneconference.com. The conference will take place Saturday, June 14 and Sunday, June 15 outside Chicago and it’s for anyone interested in writing, ages 12-22. Registration closes next Wednesday (the 11th), so you should get on that if you might want to come! We’d love to have you. 🙂

Watch out for an in depth, rambling post about BookCon on Saturday (and possibly a review of BookCon as an event, itself) sometime this week!

 

~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