|Main exhibition hall entrance on Day 1; the yellow carpet is where the long line had started|
Loren and I were out of the Yotel by maybe 7:40, slightly later than the previous day. The convenient thing about the Yotel is that it a.) offers a complimentary breakfast (aka muffins, which Lo and I had there & took to BEA for lunch) and b.) is only .40 miles away from the Javits center (though, for anyone considering attending next year, you should be warned that it has really small rooms, everything smushed together). This time I had my business cards (they finally arrived -- yay!) and we had an organized schedule. When we arrived, here was the first sign of us being slightly late: the baggage check we'd used yesterday was already full and we were directed elsewhere. And then we found out what the difference between the main line and side lines were.
Afterworlds. Even though we'd been pretty early in that line, we nearly missed the drop - only a small, small pile by when we got there. BEA is intense, folks. After that, we hustled over to the table signing because we knew there'd be a line already formed for the Sarah J. Maas signing. And so there was. Loren was #14 in line, I was #15. Two hours before her signing.
Loren held my spot in line while I wandered around the convention center; I had yet to do that for myself. I found out that Karen Bao's Dove Arising had been pushed back a season. At Scholastic, I asked for a copy of Love Is the Drug because I've heard such good things about Johnson's books and that one particularly looked interesting. I went to some other publishers, but about twenty minutes after I'd left the line for Maas, I returned because Loren had called me to say they'd moved the line around because it was so long. And so the wait began with C.J. and Loren, but we got to meet some awesome people in that line too: Jon from Scott Reads It and Kelly from Effortlessly Reading. Ashley from Nose Graze was behind them (I saw her badge, and Jon also advertised her awesome blog designs lol), but she was reading the Jewel and I didn't want to bother her (though now I'm kind of sad I didn't at least say hi). And then, soon enough, after the people who'd donated $50 for signing costs and had passes, we were up with Sarah J. Maas. Loren and I had already met Sarah last spring when we'd had her at our college for a world-building workshop. Loren was the main correspondent/planner; I was kind of that sweaty girl bringing in the In N Out dinner and hustling back to the vent. She definitely recognized Loren. I'm not so sure she recognized me. Oh well.
With new friends at #BEA14! @chbreadsYA @ScottReadsIt @cjlistro pic.twitter.com/1PHgZxdns7
— Lo Hi (@CLuBLoHi) May 30, 2014
So excited for Heir of Fire (#BEA14)! Lovely meeting @SJMaas again (first met at college world building event). pic.twitter.com/EJzyyjLp5z
— Christina (@chbreadsYA) May 30, 2014
After the Sarah J. Maas signing, we went over to the Macmillan booth to see if there were any copies of Landline left, which, awesomely, there were. I also had a really awkward moment when clearly I should have just said: "No, thank you" or "I'm good, thanks." A representative was holding out a copy of some adult novel -- I don't remember the name anymore -- and she offered it, but I thought that it was really unlikely that I'd have the chance to read the book, especially with all these others. But still I thought: what's it about? And I asked her... and realized my opinion hadn't changed. And then was like: "Sounds good," but I didn't grab the copy. Stood there awkwardly while she was still smiling. I don't remember what she said, but I was like, "Uh, well, good luck with everything and thank you so much!" (AHEM, thanks for the back-up, Loren and C.J!). Anywho, after Landline, we went to HarperCollins, where I was pretty sure that Landline luck had run out; there were no more copies of Rooms, but again the representative was kind and said that she'd try to send a copy to the address on the card I've given her. There was nothing to do until 1:00 so C.J., Loren, and I settled down to eat our lunch (Loren and I went to the CVS Pharmacy across from our hotel on Wednesday and bought snacks whereas C.J. had actually packed lunch, which I'm sure was much more satisfying).
|Sarah Maas signing lines + lunch on the colorfully decorated steps|
|me putting our books away + Sandy Hall & Loren + the representatives at the Vault of Dreamers drop|
Gina La Fornarina. We walked around a bit and on our way back to the hotel that night, we got shakes from Shake Shack (which seems, to me, like the In N Out of New York). We watched the basketball game (OKC Thunder vs. San Antonio Spurs) and then Sense and Sensibility... and were eager for our extended sleep.
Book Haul from Day 2:
Day 3: Book Con/Saturday
There didn't seem to be much to be done on Saturday, so Loren and I didn't arrive until like 9:30. I went to the #WeNeedDiverseBooks panel while Loren went to grab a paperback of The Bone Season (which a friend and I had been discussing around her, trying to get her to read) and The Mime Order sampler. Immediately I worried whether Loren was going to be able to make it. I sat all the way in the back - it was almost already full, a half an hour before the event - and saved her a spot. I talked to Adele from Persnickety Snark, which was really cool because those of you who read my bookish rounds know that I've frequently linked to her blog.
Several people asked me if someone was sitting next to me, and I felt bad, but it turns out that they had stopped letting people into the panel at the beginning until a large enough crowd had been there and they all came in at once, Loren with them. The Diverse Books panel was packed, standing room only. Firstly Ellen Oh ("Let's raise our voice to a roar that can't be ignored") introduced Aisha Saeed (Written in the Stars), who recapped how the WNDB team had been formed, what the campaign had involved and its successes (over $162 million impressions on twitter). Then Marieke Nijkamp discussed the need for diverse books ("Representation Matters"), and after that Ellen Oh (The Dragon King Chronicles) discussed the long-lasting changes that have occurred as a result of the WNDB campaign: Lee and Low's New Visions award was mentioned, First Book is specifically looking for diverse books from publishers, and NEA will join the WNDB campaign with a "Diversity in the Classroom" initiative and the Children's Literature Festival in Washington D.C. in 2016, where every panel and event will be dedicated to celebrating kidlit diversity. After everyone cheered these announcements, the moderator I.W. Gregorio (None of the Above) took over. She had the panelists introduce themselves and discuss how they first found out about the campaign and what their first reactions were (Jacqueline Woodson (Brown Girl Dreaming), Matt de la Peña (The Living), Grace Lin (Where the Mountain Meets the Moon), Mike Jung (Geeks, Girls, and Secret Identities), and Lamar Giles (Fake ID)). Her next question was specifically addressed to Lamar Giles, because he wrote a response to all the people who had been criticizing the campaign. She asked him about what the public can do to create constructive dialog.
The first thing Lamar Giles emphasized was that both sides had to be willing to listen to the other. His other three points: 1. Counter misinformation with facts; 2. Propose real solutions to the problem at hand; and 3. Recognize that constructive dialog may not always happen because there will always be people who dislike YOU and what you're discussing. I didn't quite catch the next question from Gregorio, but I think it involved personal experiences with diverse books now and as a child. I think I also missed Mike Jung's answer, sadly. Matt de la Peña mentioned how much he loved The House on Mango Street and Junot Díaz's Drown. Grace Lin mentioned how, as a child, she had continued to read this series on cheerleaders because of the one Asian character it featured, despite the fact that that character was very stereotypical, because she was so enthused to see herself in a book. Jacqueline Woodson mentioned her love for Stevie by John Steptoe. Lamar Giles mentioned how librarians had pointed him to a lot of books about slavery when he was growing up, as if that was the only thing he was interested in; but when he read Fallen Angels by Walter Dean Myers, he loved it and Myers was a great idol to have.
Gregorio then addressed Mike Jung and asked him whether he'd thought of his children while he was writing. Of course he had -- but to me, the most compelling aspect of his response was when Mike said that he didn't have a *compelling reason* NOT to include diversity in his book. The next question was addressed to Matt de la Peña about his work with secret readers. Matt mentioned something he'd really connected with at a Díaz event; Díaz had said that he had noticed that a lot of comic book villains often say that they don't get represented -- that there was a connection between their lack of representation and their becoming villains. Matt also said that he was fortunate to have met a lot of savvy librarians who had pointed teens to his books and said that it was important for the suburban white kid to be reading these books as well. PoC readers are supposed to identify with white characters, and the vice versa should happen too. It isn't either or, it's also.
The next question was addressed to Grace Lin, who'd had an interesting experience with a librarian who had been afraid to recommend her "Oriental book." Grace recapped what had happened at the school -- it was not full of ethnic kids, so the librarian said that she wasn't sure the kids would like the book, but they did. A lot. But Grace wondered - well, if it wasn't for her visit, would these kids have even been exposed to diverse books? Jacqueline Woodson was up next. She was quoted in a Publisher's Weekly interview about the long-lasting changes / vision she'd like to see on diverse books, so she was asked to expand on that here. Jacqueline said that she'd like there to be a day when you don't have to have the WNDB panel anymore. She emphasized that there is no Other population and how important it was for allies, or the people with significant power, to help make these long-lasting changes.
Finally the last question for all panelists: Perception or reality: do diverse books do well in reality? (It's often said, "oh, we don't have diverse books because they don't sell well," so this Q was to address that perception). Jacqueline started the question off by asking what a diverse book even was. She said that the problem was that people kept trying to market diverse books as issue books, and we all know the stigma of issue books. Grace mentioned the importance of booksellers. She said how sometimes a bookseller might show a customer a book with PoC on the cover, and that customer might instinctively say no without even realizing why. Grace thought that this was the job of the bookseller - to put the book in terms that that customer would understand, like "it's an adventure story with X and X" instead of emphasizing the Otherness, to sell diverse books to people who don't know they need them. She created a cheat sheet for that purpose. Matt talked about publishing as a job, that this was the author and publisher's job to push, that there was a movement in publishing on diverse books and it was coming for you, no matter what. Mike said that he thought the "diverse books don't well" perception was a smokescreen for long-lasting change. Lamar ended the question with a quick response, emphasizing that we all had the power to enact this change.
It was a really great panel and both Loren and I felt like we had a lot to think about for ourselves and our experiences after it was finished. I hope that I did a decent enough job recapping the event so that you've also that experience.
After the panel, Loren and I ate some snacks and went around to publisher booths on the BEA side (the bookcon side was very, very crowded). I wanted to go around and thank the workers at most of the booths because I'd had a great time at BEA and I know that this is because of the wonderful welcome from both publishers and bloggers alike. Thank you to you all! After those rounds, we tried to attend the Epic Storytelling panel with Cassandra Clare, Maggie Stiefvater, and Holly Black, but at noon, one hour before the panel, the line was already closed. You can see the huge crowds in the pictures below.
|Loren was not a fan of my picture tweet, so here's a retake.|
Liked this post? You can read my recap of my first day at BEA here.
If you were at BEA, what were you up to on Friday & Thursday? Best/worst moments? If you weren't there, what did you like best/dislike most about the recaps? What books are you excited for?