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Books, Dancing, Authors & More Books!

BookExpo, WFUV #FUVBoat, and BookCon Panel Discussions

Congested traffic and the late arrival of my mass transit choice combined with another person’s (in line in front of me!) registration woes kept me from attending “Being a Person Is Hard” with Tom Papa (of “Marriage Ref” fame), but while waiting to disembark, my seat mate recommended two interesting books to add to my TBR list: Daughter of the Cold War by Grace Kennan Warnecke and Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden. So that gave me my book fix for Friday.

The mad dash to the Javits Convention Center to catch the end of BookExpo very conveniently placed me within a few blocks of Pier 40. Hornblower Cruises and Events provided a lovely floating venue for the annual WFUV #FUVBOAT dance party. Their roster of djs uploaded one fab tune after another and didn’t miss a beat between spin duty hand-offs during the three hours of shaking it in the packed dance flour (with equally enthusiastic participation by most of the men, which is rare compared to my experiences in other dance events). Total bonus of making friends with an assortment of brilliantly vivacious women: a high school dean, a charter bus business owner, and their two friends.

Gorgeous night views of the Brooklyn, Manhattan, and Williamsburg bridges, the new Seaport like a jewel suspended from Pier 17, and the Statue of Liberty offered a captivating tableau of engineering and architectural brilliance against the backdrop of crisp, clear night on the Hudson River.

Sweaty, happily exhausted, and home a little after midnight, then a shower, and late into bed at 1:45 a.m. for an early rise at 4:30 a.m. to catch the first train into Grand Central to watch The Today Show at the #TODAYplaza. Sheinelle Jones, Dylan Dreyer, and D.C.’s own Craig Melvin were even more professional and engaging in-person than they are on television. A little glad-handing and exchanges of greetings before heading back to Javits for BookCon.

The Ultimate Guide to Turning Your Manuscript into a Published Success

Acquisitions manager Justine Bylo provided a tantalizing overview of reasons for author newbies and seasoned veterans to consider the Ingram Spark platform for their publishing projects.

Takeaway advice from J.B. for self-pubbers: “Own your ISBNs.”

Defying Borders

Panel discussion takeaway: Generating imagination and empathy by reading books about other kinds of people.

Tommy Orange’s book was labeled “historical” fiction on a list of recommended titles, but the author doesn’t feel it’s an accurate designation because indigenous people are often thought of as existing only in past tense (outside of reservations).  

Tor Presents: LGBTQ+ Authors on Gender and Identity in Science Fiction and Fantasy

Provocative question from moderator to panelists: Does Sci-Fi fail with inclusivity more often than other fiction because there’s more to unpack?

Reading recs from panelists: Octavia Butler, Julia May, Diane Dwayne, Bebop (from Archie’s Sonic Universe #29?

Memorable quote: “Sexuality is not a spoiler.”
(My apologies for not remembering which panelist said this.)

Diversity in Graphic Novels

Sadly (and ironically) this panel discussion got derailed before it started by a setup oversight that prevented Tee Franklin from having access for her motorized scooter to the elevated platform where the table was situated. After some juggling of positions to the same level with the audience, T.F. shared her feelings of being “a problem” (even though she is 100% NOT a problem) because some version of this lack of accommodation keeps happening at events where the organizers who’ve invited her to participate don’t make sure that she has equal access. She (understandably) choose not to participate in the panel, although she did recover her bonhomie by the time for her autographing session.

Her absence was a loss for all of us.  

It was a prime example of the need for conscious consideration of the need for all kinds of people with every level of physical ability in event planning.  

Diverse Voices in Mystery

Marquee author: Walter Mosley
Author revelations: Kellye Garrett and Joe Ide

Kellye Garrett’s remark about reclaiming the multifaceted humanity of black female characters beyond the sassy best friend who says, “Girlfriend…” all the time really resonated with me.

Optimistic takeaway: Millennials expect diversity in casts of characters.

Women of Mystery and Thrillers

Moderator: Mackenzie Dawson, NY Post editor

Panelists: Megan Abbott, Sandra Brown, Sara Blaedel, Karen Ellis, Kate Kessler

Shared reaction among panelists to this question from men: How does such a nice woman write about such brutal crimes?

Sunday 6/3
Marvel: From Prose to Panels

·         The moderator is the creator of Powers of a Girl, which is scheduled for an early 2019 release.
·         Rainbow Rowell writes Runaways, but she and her writing partner don’t watch the HULU show to preserve their clarity in the context and timeline of their version of the Runaways universe.
·         Charles Soule has a new novel out called The Oracle Year about someone who can predict the future.
·         Brandon T. Snider’s new release for kids is Grow Up, Ant-Man!

Fierce and Fabulous: Find Your Inner Beyoncé!

Memorable quote: “The purpose of writing is to encourage empathy.”

Takeaway concepts from multiple panelists: Girls and women should stop asking permission and apologizing for taking up space.

Provocative idea: Dismiss the notion that there are “girl” books and “boy” books, especially in which girls are expected to read about boys, but boys aren’t expected to reciprocate.

Romance and the Resistance

Moderator: Tina Jordan, NY Times editor
Panelists: Aya De Leon (Thanks for the free book!), Sarah MacLean, Ronnie Lauren, K.M. Jackson, Donna Kauffman

Provocative question from moderator to panelists: Are romance novels inherently political as they reflect the evolution of the women’s movement?
K.M. Jackson’s writing supports the case for the cheerful black woman.

Donna Kauffman stated that everyone falls in love with someone or something, which makes romance the most realistic fiction genre.

Gems from Sarah MacLean: “Romance centers the female gaze on women in positive ways more so than any other media.” and “Orgasms are two for one, women to men in romance, which should apply in real life.”

Vintage Carol Hanisch quote sited more than once: “The personal is political.”

Re-Orientation: LGBTQ Creators of Mass Media, Culture and the Stories People Want to Read

Moderator: Emily Jordan, Salon

Damon Suede quote: “Romance is the literature of hope.”
Damon Suede hashtag-worthy terms: Bland-Aid, gayelles

Dhoinelle Clayton talked about the need for targeted beta sensitivity readers and reviewers from marginalized groups. She also discussed racial and queer coding for stories that operate on multiple frequencies.

Mackenzie Lee discussed the navigation of queerness in the 18th c. at a time when the specificity of vocabulary didn’t exist yet.

Harper Miller’s writing supports sex-positive characters who are secure within themselves.   

Reading recs from the panelists: Coffee Will Make You Black, Odd One Out, Tiger’s Daughter, Fingersmith, Fire and Stars, The Prince and the Dressmaker  

Toxic Male Syndrome

All of the panelists discussed ways of re-inventing and subverting unhealthy “alphahole” tropes in romance fiction.

Being alpha is not synonymous with being toxic, but the two terms often get conflated in romance fiction.  

Reading recs from panelists: Sinner by Sierra Simone, A Distant Heart, The Metamorphoses trilogy, books by Ruby Lane, The Prey of the Gods, The Rook by Daniel O’Malley  

Random update from my visit to OverDrive booth 1258: Libby is the new and improved “one-touch” update that’s coming soon. Among other desired functionality, users will be able to load multiple library cards from different library systems into one account. Yay! (Yes, I cheat on my primary library with other library systems.)

The preceding offers just a taste of all of the bookish deliciousness that BookExpo and BookCon provided to book readers, authors, fans, and publishing professionals. It was an entertaining and educational weekend. Apologies for any errors with quotes or attributions. Fandom-induced adrenaline rushes combined with sleep-deprivation was the most likely source.

Many thanks to for making it possible for me to attend by signing off on my press credentials. 


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