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BEA 2010, Day 1: It’s Just Like a High School Cafeteria

A recap of the Posh and Jenny's first day at BEA 2010, with highlights including: not getting trampled the death, the cocktail panel and figuring out that the exhibit hall is just like a high school cafeteria.

BEA 2010, Day 1: It’s Just Like a High School Cafeteria

GATHER ROUND, KIDS! Auntie Posh's here to tell you about the field trip she and yr Auntie Jenny took to NYC for the gigantic clustercuss of nerdery known as the Book Expo of America. Now can one of you sweethearts mix me up a nice adult beverage before I begin? Yr auntie's throat tends to get a bit parched during story time. Ahem.

Alright I'm gonna drop the auntie speak (but not my drink request! Anyone? Hello? Does no one respect their elders anymore?). SO this being our first time and all, Jenny and I were REALLY EXCITED. We had read a lot about BEA, and although we didn't get v. many of our Extremely Urgent & Vital Questions answered, we did have an idea of what to expect. We knew there'd be lots of authors, lots of bloggers, lots of books and HOPEFULLY lots of open bars.

So... we were wrong about the latter. But in spite of that flaw in our strategery, turns out we are actually SUPER AWESOME at BEA. I am not even bragging you guys. I'm just trying to be real with you.

Let's start at the beginning, aka Wednesday morning. Here's Jenny and me in front of the Javitz Center around 8:30 AM. We did intentionally try to look dorky in this picture, but I didn't realize we would succeed QUITE so much:


It actually is pretty fancy. And also HUMONGOUS. Here's the entrance:

Note the Vladimir Tod icon painted on the stairs. You better believe that shizz cost some serious $$$.

Now, although I plan on writing a BEA advice entry for next year, I'll still be shilling out some golden nuggets of wisdom throughout this post. Here's the first tip:

1.  When the doors to the exhibition hall (where all of the booths & books are located) open at 9 AM, you should be positioned at the Closest & Cheapest Mimosa Possible.

That's right, I'm saying that you should NOT BE IN THE JAVITZ CENTER AT ALL (note the "cheapest" clarification-- they do have alcohol there but it's like airport prices WHAT). Because here's what happens: the doors open, and crazy bag ladies run in and scoop up all of the books into their grocery carts (not a joke) and it is ABSOLUTE MAYHEM. I haven't seen that many body slams and elbow jabs since the Houston Fugazi show in '01. And at least those punks had the decency to say "sorry" sometimes. I mean, it was like a grocery store before a hurricane, but instead of batteries, people were foaming at the mouth over copies of the latest Cassandra Clare.

And while all of us at FYA love reading advanced copies cos it makes us feel superior (obvs we have a v. false sense of what superior means), Jenny and I weren't actually there to get lots of books. So instead we wandered around, taking in everything and dodging blows to the face and torso. After about an hour, things calmed a bit, but it was still pretty crazy, as you can see:

Just think of the exhibition hall as a gigantic high school cafeteria, where the big publishing houses (the Regina Georges) rule the school with their gorgeousness and sleekness and bling. For example: Penguin has a Mini Cooper! OMG I LOVE YR NOVEL WHERE'D YOU GET IT?

The Regina Georges are, of course, surrounded by the smaller presses (the Plastics), who are trying really hard to impress everyone. A few of them, the Cadys, actually succeed! Pretty nice, right?

And then, of course, we have the freaks of the school. And just like Damien and Janis, they are TOTES my favorite. These booths don't even try to pretend like they belong! Their weirdness is on full display, like a WTF parade. YOU GO GLENN COCO. THROW ME SOME BEADS, GLEN COCO!

I know, right?!! If that's the Janis, then check out the Damien, Kris Kringle!

Yes, that is exactly what it looks like. A musical. about Christmas. Performed at hourly intervals in the lobby of BEA. Even though I just explained it to you, I STILL DON'T KNOW WHAT IS HAPPENING HERE.

Fortunately, the BEA cafeteria also features really nice people, including Summer, a real live FYA commenter! Summer asked us to come by her booth so we could take a picture together, which made Jenny and I feel V. FAMOUS. However, the real celeb is Summer, who, we discovered, GOT TO MEET SUZANNE COLLINS LAST YEAR cos she and her roomie made this totally fantastic Hunger Games video. SWEET HOLY RUE!!! Way to make us feel way less cool, Summer. P.S. WE LOVE YOU.

Because we are supernerds, we arrived about half an hour early to our first panel of the day, "You're Reading THAT?: Crossover YA/Adult Readers Come of Age," which leads me to tip #2:

2.  You don't need to get to panels more than ten minutes in advance just to get good seats, because THIS ISN'T A LADY GAGA SHOW. And also because apparently book people really don't like attention so no one sits in the front row. No one except suckups/people who like to pretend that the first row is VIP, i.e. Jenny and me.

And guess who came and joined us in the VIP section front row? Our new YA author bestie, Natalie Standiford! SHE IS THE GREATEST! But more on her later.

Overall I enjoyed the panel, even though (or maybe because) I felt like all of the panelists sort of contradicted each other. Lizzie Skurnick, who wrote the Fine Lines series on Jezebel and has therefore earned my eternal admiration because OMG SHE WROTE FOR JEZEBEL, spoke first, mostly about how she, like many teens, read lots of adults books and that no one should be ashamed of what they're reading, regardless of age or book quality.

Sitting next to her is Jennifer Bailey Hunt, an editorial director for Little, Brown books for young readers. She spoke about how she believes authors should write to a specific audience, so if it's a YA book, they should be writing to teens, not adults. I kind of agree, although I'd clarify that idea by saying I believe that YA authors should write to everyone's inner teen.

I actually tried to be a responsible journalist and took notes on Sadie (my phone) but accidentally left her at home today so... there goes my highly academic analysis! Ha ha, just kidding, like that was ever going to happen! Not just cos I'm lazy, but also cos nothing on the panel was particularly new or groundbreaking. Still, it's always a blast to watch Libba Bray (also on the panel) tell a story, so here's one I captured for y'all about what happened when she, in the midst of writing her first YA book, went to the grocery store...

Next up on the BEA schedule was our most highly anticipated event: THE COCKTAIL PANEL! Starring YRS TRULY! Showcasing DELICIOUS BEVERAGES!


It took us a while to find it, meaning the Javitz Center is surrounded by a dry wasteland. After walking about seven blocks, we thankfully stumbled upon a pub and set up our presentation materials. COMMENCE PANEL!

Sorry, official BEA events, but can any of yr presenters compare to my tall vodka soda? No. Does any of yr swag beat this buttery gooey mass of mac & cheese? PLAYA PLEASE.

Refreshed and replenished, Jenny and I made our way back to the Javitz Center for the YA Editor's Buzz Panel, which we quickly discovered is a way for editors to shove lots of marketing down our throats. Still, they all seemed nice, and Jenny and I totes started swimfanning on the guy in this picture cos um guess what he edited? MOTHER EFFING HARRY POTTER. I KNOW!! I wanted to, like, kneel down and kiss his ring or some shizz.

That photo should also tell you that book people? Not so much with the technology.

So here's the books we heard about:

•  Plain Kate: Mr. Superhero Editor dished about this one, which is about a girl living in Salem during the witch trials who is accused of being a witch. to save herself, she makes a deal with the devil and exchanges her shadow for a wish. or something.*

•  Infinite Days: According to the editor, this isn't yr typical vampire book because the heroine is a vampire who wants to be human! See? IT'S TOTALLY DIFFERENT YOU GUYS.

•  The Duff: Kody Keplinger wrote this when she was 17. Because she wanted to make Jenny and me fly into a jealous rage. "DUFF" stands for designated ugly fat friend, which is totally not what I thought it stood for? Um?

•  Matched: MAN Penguin has been pushing this book like fresh coke from Colombia. Still, I'm intrigued: set in a dystopian society (I know, I know) where everyone is matched by some sort of computer with their "perfect mate," the heroine must figure out what the heck it means when the system matches her with her best friend and then suddenly changes its mind. And by computer system, I think they might mean: teenage hormones.

•  Firelight: The editor said it best. THIS IS A DRAGON ROMANCE Y'ALL (ok, she didn't the "y'all" part). See, dragons have evolved to the point where they can look human, and the dragon girl falls in love with the dragon hunter. IRONY!!!!!!

*Keep in mind this event happened immediately after the cocktail panel. So some of my details may be a bit fuzzy. Or wrong. Completely wrong.

After the panel, Jenny noticed that the lady next to her had a copy of Firelight, so she asked where she got it. When the woman offered the book and Jenny politely refused, saying, "I don't want to take yr book," the woman replied, "Oh no, it's ok! I'm the author!" cue nervous laughter from Posh and Jenny as they wondered if they had said literally laughed out loud at the "dragon romance" comment. Thankfully, Sophie Jordan seemed really cool, so party foul or not, she agreed to take a picture with Jenny:

Note Jenny's expression, which I will translate for you: "OMG I AM SO GLAD I DIDN'T MAKE ANY CATTY COMMENTS JUST NOW."

4.  Keep yr snarky comments to yrself. Or, even better, save them for the cocktail panel!

In spite of the terrible marketing techniques of the editors (one read a quote from the back of the book that said something like, "This novel will appeal to all types of readers, from fans of Twilight to fans of The Hunger Games!" UGH), I definitely wanted to get my grabby hands on all of these titles, so Jenny and I headed over to the autograph area, where you can queue up and have the author actually give you a book (and sign it, obvs). We ran into our friend and NYC-roomie Talya, who has got WAY more BEA skills than Jenny or me. Seriously. If even one copy of Mockingjay exists, this girl would know how to get it. She's like, the raider of the lost ARC (CUE LAUGH TRACK).

Jenny and I ultimately ended up with all of the "buzzworthy" books, so you can expect reviews soonish. In fact, because you've been such good listeners, I'll give you a sneak peak and tell you that I am not a fan of The DUFF. And not just cos I'm jealous of Kody (promise! I can actually be profesh sometimes, in spite of what my wardrobe may tell you!).

After a brief nap (did I mention that we could barely sleep the night before? I'm talking Christmas Eve levels), we headed over to the book blogger reception hosted by Harper Collins, which had the most noble distinction of being the ONLY FREE OPEN BAR we encountered (read: were invited to) during BEA.

5.  When Harper Collins, aka a Regina George, asks you to come to their party, YOU GO TO THEIR PARTY. Because not only will there be beverages, it will also totally elevate yr popularity status, just like a kegger in high school.

THANK YOU HARPER COLLINS. You know how to treat the ladies! And yes, we will now give everything you send us "Eternal Love" relationship status! Ok that's a lie, cos we're actually not the school slut BUT we really did appreciate the endless supply of wine. Plus it was great to actually talk to publishing people and realize THEY'RE JUST LIKE US. Except they get paid for talking about books. And their HAIR IS FULL OF SECRETS.

So that, my dear FYAs, was our first day at BEA. I would say it was a pretty big success, considering that we:

1.  didn't sustain any life-threatening injuries from the crazed book collectors,

2.  put on a highly successful Cocktail Panel,

3.  attended a party hosted by one of the popular kids,

and most importantly

4.  made friends in the caf!! Like, people who let us sit with them! OMG! Next stop: BFF CHARMS!

Stay tuned for day 2, in which Jenny and I drink more cocktails, make more friends and get voted prom queen! Just kidding. y'all that takes YEARS of social manipulation, and we are no Lindsay Lohan (thank god). But we do totally win the Mathlete "Divvy Up the Drink Tab" Championships!

Posh Deluxe's photo About the Author: Sarah lives in Austin, TX, where she programs films at the Alamo Drafthouse. Sarah enjoys fancy cocktails, dance parties and anything that sparkles (except vampires).