Thursday, June 02, 2011

BEA 2011 Report

So it's taken some time - as I've been moving house and all - but I'm feeling relatively settled in my new digs which means I have some time to share my extremely full week in NY for the Book Expo of America, along with the Backspace Writers' Conference.

It all began on a Sunday . . .

The delightful Lesley Livingston and I flew into NY Sunday morning and parted ways to get settled in our various residences. I was staying with my friend Penny, her husband Drew and their little adorable one year old, Annabel. Coincidentally, our mutual friend Courtney and her husband Aaron, and their one year old Grant were in the city at the same time, so we all had a lovely lunch together and then went to Central Park to hang out:

An oddly blue picture of (from L to R) - Courtney, Aaron, Penny and Drew - in front: Grant, Annabel.

Grant being helpful.

The day was in general quite park oriented. Lesley and I met up again and wandered through it as well, then parted ways for dinner, only to meet up again at The Algonquin (famed for it's literary history - and very pretty). There were some very interesting characters there, all having seen a performance of some kind in the other room. I wish I could have taken pictures of these people, but it would have been rude I think. But here's a picture of me and Lesley:

The next day Lesley was meeting with her agent and various editors, so I had to come up with something to do in the morning before meeting up with her in the afternoon. Thus I did my usual one museum per visit visit. This time the Museum of Natural History. I went straight for the dinosaurs. I love dinosaurs:

I don't recall what these guys are called, but I thought they were both cute and creepy and so I took a picture.

But there was more than just dinosaurs there:

The elephants in the Hall of African Mammals.

A big tree.

The famous blue whale which really is as amazing as people say it is.

When I was done I met up with Lesley to explore the Highline - an old elevated train track that has been converted into a park/artscape thing. It's fantastic. And Lesley, who wanted to visit it for research, got a lot of new ideas from checking it out. If you are in NY, I highly recommend you go, especially as the second part of it opens this month I believe.


So this was a sign explaining about a particular art piece. It's hard to describe, but it's a two dimensional illusion of a three dimensional billboard frame. Uh . . . this is what it really looks like:

I know. It looks like a normal billboard frame. But it isn't. It's flat. Anyway . . .

LOVE these lounge chairs.

Just liked the colour contrast here, and the grumpy bird.

The Highline from below.

The Highline passed through and under many buildings, these were some really cool windows inside one of these underpasses.

I like this building.

They have this cool bit with windows where you can overlook the street below. Thus I am overlooking the street below.

And Lesley . . .

And some total strangers. A cool image of them and their reflections.

Me and Lesley inside this really cool restaurant we went to after the Highline.

Me taking a picture of myself.

That evening I joined my friend John Buxton (we both studied acting at LAMDA in the UK) to watch a staged reading of several ten minute plays written by Kentucky convicts currently incarcerated. They were really interesting, though my favourites were the ones that has nothing to do with prison, that reminded you that these men had had lives before they were in jail. Some of the writing was very strong, and next year they are sending a playwright to be a writer in residence. Kind of amazing really.

Then we went to the restaurant that John works at, Maialino, for an AMAZING dinner. Here we are in our matching shirts:

Tuesday was my day of meetings. Well just one, but it was a doosy. I met my insanely wonderful editor, Nancy Conescu, for the first time in person. My agent, Jessica Regel, and I met at the agency (totally awesome, but I'll describe it anon), and took a cab to meet Nancy for lunch (so yummy, I had Eggs Benedict and we all had dessert crepes for . . . dessert).

The first thing you need to know about Nancy is that she's adorable. Best smile ever. She's also uber enthusiastic and I was very delighted to learn that she loved THE FRIDAY SOCIETY. Remember, I sold the book on proposal and she helped me make the first 20K super awesome before she pitched it to the rest of the house. But she hadn't read the full manuscript until I finished it in April.

The thing is, almost two months had passed since then and though she and I had had several delightful back and forths on other subjects (mostly steampunk), she hadn't said a word about TFS, and I started to worry that she had something she wanted to tell me in person. Well she did. But it wasn't, "Uh, no, let's try writing this over again" but rather, "I loved it!"

Thank goodness.

After lunch we parted ways with Jessica, and Nancy took me to the Dial/Penguin offices. Let me tell you, I'm not sure how long you have to be in this biz before going to a publisher's offices isn't super awesomely cool, but I'm clearly not there yet. I LOVED the Penguin offices. So much creativity on the walls, in people's cubicles and Nancy has a totally fantastic office. If I had an office I totally would have gone to town on it like she did:

The view from her window.

And of course, a pic of me and Nancy (for some reason super yellow, not sure what was up with my camera and its colour choices that week . . .):

She introduced me to the Publisher and President of Dial, Lauri Hornik, who was delightful and so sweet (she gave me a couple board books to give to Annabel). And I also met her assistant, Andrew (who I think I'll be calling Lily from now on. Long story).

Eventually it was time to go, so I made my way up to the Hudson Hotel to meet Lesley on the rooftop patio. We had a nice little chillaxing before it was time for her to fly home:

That evening was party night. I went to the JVNLA agency party at their awesome agency. Let me tell you, it looks exactly what you think an agency should look like. Bright and painted white, on the first floor of a red brick building. Bookshelves stuffed with books EVERYWHERE. Up walls of course but over doorways, under furniture . . . everywhere. They also have a really big garden (for NY) and that's where I spent most of the party, getting to know fellow author clients including the very personable Jack Tomas and his wife Mary Beth:

Me, Jack, Jessica, Mary Beth.

Then Jessica and I, and some of the other ladies from the agency, Elizabeth Evans, Tara Hart and Laura Biagi, went party hopping. We went to the Housing Works party which was packed. My picture of it kind of sucked:

. . . so I stole this from online - the bottom corner says "Ryan Muir" so that's to whom I'm giving the credit:

We moved onto another party (don't remember where). The highlight of this party was having a shot of whiskey followed by a shot of pickle juice. Yes. You read that correctly. No idea why I did it, but it tasted surprisingly good. Jessica found this article on the subject the other day, so if you are curious about this strange new phenomenon you can read about it here.

Then it was time to go back to Penny's.

So I did.

Wednesday I indulged in some touristy stuff, and fan girl stuff. Yes. I went to see HOW TO SUCCEED IN BUSINESS WITHOUT REALLY TRYING starring Harry Potter himself: Daniel Radcliffe. The lad acquitted himself very well, and who knew he could dance like that! It was a kind of crazy experience however, as there were a few school groups up in the balcony and when he first appeared on stage the cheering was so loud it was just a wall of sound. Still, a fun afternoon.

Then I rambled through the ramble, and enjoyed Shakespeare's garden . . .

This is Shakespeare, but the statue is at the top of the Mall not in the garden. Still, it felt appropriate to post it here.

A sun dial in Shakespeare's garden.

Me in the garden. Wearing a hat.

. . . until it was time to meet up with my picture book artist/author friend Peter Brown and his ginormous posse for dinner.

Thursday was my day to actually visit BEA itself. I love BEA just as I love publishers' offices. It's big, it's noisy, and there are free books and stuff. I met with Tim Ditlow in the morning which was such a delight. Tim is the Brilliance Audio publisher I met last year at the Audie Awards. Well, actually, it's more like we went to the awards together. Here we are last year:

We got along great last year and made sure to meet up this visit again. We had a lovely chat at the Brilliance booth and then eventually we parted ways.

I wandered the hall and ran into Peter Brown again. He was signing posters of his latest book, so I got one for me and one for Annabel, and a picture of us and the giant cutout of his main character:

Then we too parted ways (there were many ways parted that week) and collected some cool books:

- Both of the Maggie Stiefvater ARCS: Forever and The Scorpio Races
- The Shallows: What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains by Nicholas Carr for my parents who love these kind cerebral (pun intended) books.
- Pride/Prejudice by Ann Herendeen for my author friend J.M. Frey that I think is right up her alley.
- A children's board book about creatures under the sea that I gave to Annabel and can't recall the name.
- Queen of America by Luis Alberto Urrea
- And an ARC of Great House by Nicole Krauss

Then I left to meet another LAMDA alumn for lunch - Louis Buitendag who is also a children's book author. We chatted, then explored the Barnes & Noble at Union Square. Then . . . you got it! We parted ways.

That evening was the KidLit party organised by editor Cheryl Klein. I was a bit late as I had dinner with Penny and Drew first, but I showed up in time to meet . . . Peter Brown. Again. Met a lot of lovely people, including a manager of that very Barnes & Noble I had visited that afternoon :) . Then Peter and his posse and I went for dinner. Except I'd already eaten, so I had dessert.

Then . . . it was Friday.

Friday was the day I was attending the Backspace Writers' Conference as a panelist. I had one panel first thing in the morning (9am) about YA that I sat on with A.S. King, Barb Ferrer and Jonathan Maberry. As usual the panel went by way too fast, and discussion continued in the lobby area with some of the attendees. Then I became an attendee myself, watching several very interesting panels before getting so exhausted I needed a break. So I wandered up to Bryant Park and just sat for an hour:

I returned for the keynote by Jonathan Maberry, followed by the signing and cocktail party. This is me and author A.S. King:

This is me, A.S. King and Sarah J. Henry. We are imitating those see/hear/speak no evil monkeys. Obviously.

It was so amazing getting to meet people I only knew from online. Despite how much the internet rocks, there's nothing quite like actually being in the company of other humans :). In all it was much fun and very educational.

That night Penny's and my other mutual friend, Carrie, came from Boston to stay with Penny and Drew for the long weekend. So we had a nice quiet evening, and then the next morning the three gals went to a button shop. As one does:

Then it was time for a lovely brunch where Drew and Annabel joined us, followed by a walk up the East River.

Then it was time for me to go home. And collapse. (and then pack my entire apartment to move in two days)

Some pics with Annabel:

Mom and daughter.

An auntie and Annabel (an auntie of the friend variety in case there was any confusion).

Two aunties and an Annabel.

And thus you have the story of BEA 2011. I hope you enjoyed it :) .