Last weekend, I spent a whirlwind 24 hours in New York City for BEA and Book Con. It wasn’t my first time going to New York, but it was my first time attending this massive publishing event, and I really had no idea what to expect.
It blew me out of the water in the best way possible.
New York has always called to me; when I was in high school, I seriously considered taking a gap year before college so I could move to NYC and figure out what life was all about. I didn’t end up going, and even though I think the time for me to live in New York has passed, every time I’ve had the chance to visit, a part of me feels like I’ve come home. I was a little worried that that would have changed; it had been nine years since my last trip to New York, and my dreams and desires are pretty different now than they were then.
But the city didn’t disappoint.
There are a handful of places that do this to me, in very different ways. Stratford, Ontario; Paris; the Atlantic Coast of North Carolina; and New York. I don’t know what it is about these spots that feed my soul, but despite three hours of sleep, the minute I saw the familiar skyline, I felt a surge of energetic renewal.
Because of my super early flight, I made it to the city in time to meet my Bloomsbury Spark editor, the amazing Meredith Rich, for breakfast. It’s so rare to be able to meet the people who make my books possible, and BEA was packed with this kind of abundance, as I was able to meet some of the wonderful people at all three of my publishers (and I got to hug my YA publisher, Georgia McBride, again: seriously, I am so lucky!)
When I got to the convention center, I planned to take a quick wander to orient myself, but I quickly learned there’s no such thing as “wandering” at the Javits Center. It was packed; I don’t think I’d mentally prepared myself for the scope of the event. I had thought that I’d show up, find my YA publisher, Month9Books, and then kill time until my signing by attending a panel or two. I figured I could just drop in and listen to Cary Elwes talk about the making of The Princess Bride and his new book, As You Wish, and then I’d be able to head upstairs and get ready for my signing with a leisurely pace.
Instead of my casual panel-hopping, I ended up standing in line for the bathroom for 45 minutes while one of my friends stood in line for Westley. I was sure I’d make it out of my line and to her before they closed the room, but no such luck. Instead, I stood outside the panel, hovering and wishing for a glimpse, and I got THIS CLOSE to Cary Elwes before they closed the door. (Leather jacket, not the other dude. The girl beside me got a much better picture, and she was awesome enough to email it to me…my precious!)
At a loss, I wandered back upstairs. No, scratch that, I dodged the crowds and scaled a mountain, eventually making my way back to the Georgia McBride Media Group booth for my 2pm signing of Daughter of Chaos. And then the signing.
There are really no words to tell you how stunned and grateful I am for the opportunity to sign books at Book Con. We ran out of copies of Daughter of Chaos, and the swag I’d brought along quickly disappeared, too. People waited in line to meet me…and it still blows my mind. Being able to meet so many readers, almost forgetting how to spell my own name as I signed copy after copy, and riding the energy and enthusiasm that surrounded me was an amazing, heady experience, and I loved every minute of it.
After the signing, I met up with a few of my publishing siblings, and we handed out bookmarks to passerby before we collapsed in a corner and tried to figure out where to grab dinner. If you have the chance to hit the Skylight Diner, DO IT!! AMAZING comfort food, and crazy fast service.
After dinner, it was a whirlwind of walking through the city to find my hotel, meeting an awesome freelance songwriter in the lobby while I checked in for my flight, and finally, repacking my bags, setting a too-darn-early wake up call, and passing out. The next morning, as I rode through the city before the dawn, I couldn’t stop smiling. It may have been the shortest trip on record, but my BEA experience was AMAZING, and I am so grateful I had this opportunity.
And I still ❤ NY.