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After skipping 2011, I made a return visit to Book Expo America last week, the American publishing industry’s really big show.

I have to say, Day 1 of BEA is always weird. It’s like you’ve entered a tsunami zone; crowds everywhere, the perpetual buzz in the hall, and general sensory overload. What to do? Where to go? Where’s the shipping area so I can unload my books and catalogs?

I started by catching the last 20 minutes of the “YA Editors’ Buzz Panel,” in time to hear the spiel for What’s Left of Me, by Kat Zhang (HarperCollins), and Colin Fischer, by Ashley Edward Miller and Zack Stentz (Razorbill). Totally intrigued by What’s Left of Me.

The room was so darn crowded, although the table-round seating didn’t exactly help (Note to BEA organizers: THEATER SEATING, por favor), I had to lurk in the doorway, thinking I could snag a book or two. Think again, Cyndi. The minute the drapes came off the tables, the hoards descended in mad push-you, pull-you mob. I got one book out of the deal, but probably have bruises on my calves to tell the tale. I mean, REALLY! Haven’t these people ever seen a book?! In hindsight, the other Buzz book I’m most interested in is Skylark, by Meagan Spooner (Carolrhoda Lab). (For a recap of the panel, check out Publishers Weekly’s “Diversity Rules at YA Editors’ Buzz Panel.”)

Then I wandered upstairs to the show floor and bumped into Jerome Kramer, whom I always seem to find within my first hour or two of Book Expo! Funny how I can be in a hall of 20,000-whatever people and run into people I know.

I landed a few galleys and caught the end of the “Meet BEA Adult Buzz Authors” panel, followed by “Science Fiction & Mainstream: Crossing Over,” then more wandering before settling in at “The Ongoing Evolution of YA panel. (Look for upcoming posts with outtakes from those sessions). Then I had a meeting with my agent to  finish off the day.

I came away a bit underwhelmed by being overwhelmed. It just all seemed too much. The totebags were HUGE; signing lines snaked everywhere, jamming the floor; and the lack of catalogs at many booths crimped my scouting style. And I didn’t even get to the digital book booths to explore ebook options for one of my current projects.

The good news: Fiction is still everywhere, and children’s books are doing EXTREMELY well! And for all of those fabulous sessions I missed (including Dan Rather on Thursday), BEA has video available for viewing! So if any of you dear readers missed out on the BEA fun, check it out here.

DAY 1 Scorecard

  • Favorite galley du jour: The Mirrored World, by Debra Dean
  • Big miss of the day: Justin Cronin’s The Twelve (DANG!)
  • Favorite swag: Pan scraper for Lucinda Scala Quinn’s Mad Hungry
  • Miss authors: Julie Kagawa (and her wonderful agent, Laurie McLean!) and Justin Cronin
  • Celebrity sighting: Nada (unless you count the President Obama impersonator flogging a bizarre book)
  • Dog sighting: None in Javits, although I did see a black-and-tan Cavalier like my Violet at the bus stop.
  • Favorite overheard comment: Dan Wells (who does a fabulous job chitchatting with fans, by the by) joking about a request for a non-personalized autograph for Partials: “Oh, great! Another book that will show up on eBay.” (Wish I’d’d braved the line for Partials!).
  • Favorite not-overheard comment: Stephen Colbert at the Adult Book and Author Breakfast: “BEA is the Lollapalooza for quietly reading to yourself.”
  • Biggest waste of time: BEA’s Mobile App. That thing wasted so much of my time as I tried to prepare for BEA.

Next up: Day 2, in which yours truly has lunch with Neil Young and Patti Smith!