The title pretty much says it all. BEA was absolutely amazing!
Before BEA, though, I actually did a signing at the School Library Journal Day of Dialogue. I got to see finished copies of my book for the first time! How crazy is that? And they looked so pretty all stacked up waiting for the panel downstairs to finish.
The jacket is so smooth and silky, and the title is printed in gold on the naked cover, and oh my God, seriously, it’s a REAL BOOK. And the librarians were lovely people. I was stunned by how many people came to the table and immediately said “Oh, this is the Ophelia book!”
Yes, yes it is!
Here’s where my poor little debut author brain explodes: the other authors at the signing. I was sitting in the middle of a string of Caldecott winners. Jim Arnosky, Kevin Henkes, Chris Raschka, and David Wiesner. I grew up on Henkes and Wiesner, I do their books for storytimes at the store, and I was sitting right in the row with them! I was sitting next to Ayun Halliday, of Peanut fame. Linda Urban, of Crooked Kind of Perfect was there, and I just about died when I saw Elizabeth Wein, of Code Name Verity, down at the end of the line. Elizabeth Wein! Whose book absolutely blew my mind last year!
I’ll be honest, there’s something terrifying about sitting in a row of names you know and adore, because it is super hard to feel legitimate. But everyone was wonderful and supportive, and I loved hearing the librarians talk about how many of the books they were taking home would be part of prizes for summer readers. Anytime people are reading, are being actively encouraged to read, it makes me happy.
And then the next morning, BEA.
This was my first year at BEA, and while I vaguely had the idea of a madhouse in my mind, I didn’t really have a clear picture of the scope. HOLY. CRAP. Walking into the Javits Center, seeing this miniature CITY of publishing booths, was mind-blowing. I literally had to stop and catch my breath. It’s one thing to know there are a ton of publishers and imprints out there, and another thing entirely to see them all spread out before you. It’s seriously a little metropolis of booths and pavilions, and there are SO MANY BOOKS. I’m not even talking about the giveaways, although there are certainly a ton of those, but just the books on display, the posters of some of the big books they’ve done or the big authors in their stables.
As an exhibitor, I got to go in a little bit early, so I could kind of wander around while the floor was still empty, but then the doors opened and the crowds poured in and WOW. SO. MANY. PEOPLE. I mean, seriously, there was hardly room to walk half the time. Although, to be fair, part of that was people, part of that was the multiple, massive duffel bags full of books on people’s shoulders. I honestly can’t even imagine carrying that much around all day.
One of the first things I got to see was at the Lerner Publishing booth, the parent company of Carolrhoda Lab.
And it’s spelled correctly there, which is more than I can say for the BEA Autographing Area sign:
At this point, I’m so used to people spelling my name incorrectly that I’m just grateful it’s spelled correctly on the book.
The signing was at ten, so a little before I went to the green room and got to meet Diana Peterfreund! I LOVED For Darkness Shows the Stars, and her upcoming release, Across A Star-Swept Sea is a post-apocalyptic, gender-swapped Scarlet Pimpernel. *Jaw drops* *drools* Seriously, there is nothing about this book I’m not looking forward to. And she dressed the part! The Pimpernel had a perhaps more-than-healthy interest in fashion, so Diana accessorized accordingly with a giant bow complete with a schooner replica. Honestly. An entire boat. I really, really wish I’d gotten a picture. But she was delightful, and suddenly I was a lot less nervous about my signing.
And it went really well. Thank you to all of you who came by! Everyone was super friendly, and I had a blast.
And I got to meet my fabulous agent! This is the first chance we’ve had to meet in person, and she’s as amazing in person as she is on the phone. I am seriously lucky to have her as my agent. She’s a straight-talker who encourages me to go with the crazy ideas and champions my work, without coating everything in a rosy glow. It took three years for me to find an agent, but looking back, it was totally worth the wait, because I found my perfect fit.
I got to meet up with my friend Shelver, of Shelvers Anonymous, and we trolled around the floor for a bit, and as many incredible ARCs as were available, I’m rather proud of my self-control. I went with a very specific idea of which books I was desperately wanting, and met with mostly success.
The one I completely missed out on was Kendare Blake’s Antigoddess, which, you know, sadness, because I loved Anna Dressed in Blood, so the idea of that writing and lingering creep factor mixed with Greek mythology? WANT. But, I’ll just have to be patient for that one. Two others I didn’t get to get my hands on- but may have successfully made arrangements for- were Across a Star-Swept Sea, mentioned above, and Victoria Schwab’s Vicious.
And speaking of Victoria Schwab, total author crush. She’s wonderful! I mean, I knew she was wonderful already, because I talk to her online, and she’s always supportive and super gracious and just awesome. But meeting her in person was amazing, because 1) HUGS! and 2) Vicious trading cards!
And I think that’s really the best thing about BEA. It’s not the ARCs, it’s not the promotional information, it’s getting to meet people. While standing in line for Sarah J Maas’ Crown of Midnight, Shelver and I just kind of randomly bumped into Sarah Beth Durst; her book Vessel was amazing. I’d see a blogger’s name on the registration tag and there’d be that spark of “Oh! They talked about my cover!” or “Oh! They featured my book on a Waiting on Wednesday!” Putting faces to names and being able to make those real connections is just astonishing.
I was only at BEA for Thursday, and I really, REALLY wish I could have stayed for the whole thing, but maybe next year, right? It was such an incredible experience, and I’m awed by the number of people who came by the signing to support me and A Wounded Name.
Sincerely, and from the bottom of my heart: THANK YOU.
Until next time~