BEA Madness!

June 3, 2013

I can hardly believe that 1) it’s already June, and 2) this last weekend was the third time that I’ve attended the annual BookExpo America conference, held in the glass labyrinth that is New York City’s Javits convention center.

This year was the most thrilling, by far, because of all the remarkable women I know who were there supporting their brilliant books. Jessica and I decided that this was the weekend of celebrating excellent things happening to deserving people. My favorite thing!

Through some lucky happenstance, I was able to room with some of my favorite ladies for free during the conference, in exchange for cat-sitting some cute, if ornery, kitties (Max, at left, was particularly… vocal). It was great to have a homey place to retreat to after very, very long days pacing the convention center.

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When you walked into the mass of steel and glass that is the Javits, the first thing you noticed was the MASSIVE poster for Veronica Roth‘s Allegiant! It was thrilling to see the Divergent series getting the attention it deserves, as the movie continues filming and the rest of us salivate for the final book!

And even better was that Veronica was giving the keynote for this year’s Children’s Author Breakfast. Hot damn, guys, she really tore the roof off. I’ve always known Veronica to be poised, thoughtful, and genuine. She was all of those things, magnified, during her speech, which was about approaching books, and life, with an open heart. I’ve got to share some quotes, because it was so dang good:

School taught me, whether I knew it or not, to approach books with [the attitude of] I am here to learn. But when I got older, something changed. In my Advanced English program, surrounded by peers I was sure were much smarter than me, my own insecurity started to creep in, telling me it was risky to be enthusiastic about anything, lest I be deemed not good enough for the people around me. It was comparatively safer to turn my nose up to everything because I felt like only a loser enjoys something wholeheartedly and I didn’t want to be a loser. …

And the thing is, when you adopt that attitude, ‘I’m here to learn,’ the world becomes a fascinating, beautiful place. I’m the author of the ‘Divergent’ series, and that means I am here to learn, specifically about knock-out mice and genetic engineering, gunshot wounds, exposure therapy, Chicago architecture, zip-lining, aquaponics and post-traumatic stress disorder — all things I researched while writing my series.

Every writer I know is also here to learn — about spaceships and fall-out shelters and international abduction and horitculture and language and everything. Everything else, everything that makes this world strange and rich and mysterious and ugly and beautiful. Humility in reading and in writing really means freedom, freedom to love things with unbridled enthusiasm. Freedom to critique things thoughtfully, freedom to write about topics you aren’t that familiar with, freedom to admit to your mistakes and learn from them. Humility is freedom.

– Veronica Roth in her keynote speech at BEA 2013 (transcript here)

Oh man. It was amazing. Video is here as well, if you’re into a more immersive experience.

After I wiped away a few tears from being SO. DAMNED. PROUD. of Veronica, it was off to being proud of OTHER amazing people!

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The BEA Buzz Panel this year was packed with fantastic authors, including fellow D.C.-area author and super rad friend Cristin Terrill (second from left), whose forthcoming debut All Our Yesterdays is going to melt your face off. She rocked the YA Buzz Panel Author session like a boss.

And the familiar faces, each with something to celebrate, kept coming!

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From top left: Jessica BS and Sasha with Rainbow Rowell‘s Fangirl; Me with the adorable Amy Tintera, who signed her debut Reboot and ran out of books; Rainbow Rowell being fabulous, signing my treasured copy of Fangirl; Gorgeous Erin Bowman was just kicking off her 2.5-week tour and signed her badass thriller Taken; Lindsey Roth Culli, as usual, made me smile and kept me sane through the madness!

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From top left: Cristin Terrill reads the opening of All Our Yesterdays, which is so good that Sumayyah was about to storm onstage and grab the ARC to keep reading; The super-rad agent (and fellow unashamed Dashboard Confessional fan) Logan Garrison was a blast to hang out with; and having some down time with Veronica Roth, Kody Keplinger, Phoebe North, and Sumayyah Daud was just the thing to re-energize the writerly batteries. Love those girls. I also FINALLY got to hang with the peerless wonder Michelle Schusterman, who is debuting the cover for her MG I Heart Band this week, and we got into some pretty deep conspiracy theories about Doctor Who. As one does.

And though I was too nervous to snap a picture, I also got to meet my amazing agent, Sarah Burnes, for lunch! It was great to meet her in person, catch up with everything YA, and talk about books, books, books!

It was a helluva weekend, all around. Oh, right, and I snagged some excellent early reads too:

image_8How about you?! Did any of you go to BEA? Did I see you there?? What books are you looking forward to?

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