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Children's & Fantasy/Sci-Fi Books


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Cover reveal for 2 PIRATES + 1 ROBOT

I’m thrilled to reveal the cover of my next picture book, 2 PIRATES + 1 ROBOT, coming from Kane Miller next month! Art by Shiho Pate.

Space pirates Flotsam, Jetsam, and their robot’s rejoicing at their newfound plunder is cut short when they’re attacked by other pirates. They evade by flying into an asteroid field, but their ship is damaged. Despite the robot’s repair efforts, they don’t have enough fuel to reach port. Will Flotsam and Jetsam accept his valiant offer to be jettisoned in order to save them? It’s Firefly meets THE GIVING TREE. An author’s note explains some of the math and physics behind the shenanigans. My engineering degrees finally paid off!


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Good Times at San Diego Comic-Con 2019

Had a fantastic time at San Diego Comic-Con. I participated in three panels and got to hang out with some amazing authors. Took a ton of pictures for my friends who couldn’t be there. Enjoy!

My little Predator? One of my favorite pictures from the convention.

My sons and I outside the San Diego Convention Center

In the San Diego Convention Center, no one can hear you scream!

The Dark Crystal, Planet of the Apes, and Lord of the Rings sculptures

A giant Mr. Krabs from Spongebob Squarepants!

“Not with 10,000 men could you do this.”

Ah, Dungeons & Dragons humor…

Samurai Batman!

Puppets from the upcoming TV show Crank Yankers

Tiki Yoda and Moana !?

Godzilla doesn’t like waiting in lines either.

Gundam figures

Batman: Family

A sketch of me by the creator of Mr. Toast

The importance of good dental hygiene…

I’ve got my eye on you!

 

He-Man!

 

Domino from X-Men

Stephen King’s IT

Final Fantasy characters

3A figures from Ashley Woods

Magic Wheelchairs ❤

Met the kind and talented author of THE NIGHT CIRCUS, Erin Morgenstern

The wonderful author of SHADOW AND BONE, Leigh Bardugo, wins the Inkpot award

Leigh Bardugo and Erin Morgenstern: talented and funny

Are You There, Gods? It’s Us, the Protagonists panel with authors Rebecca Roanhorse, Scott Westerfeld, Margaret Rogerson, Ann Leckie, and Joan He

Ruby Rod cosplay from The Fifth Element. Supergreen!

Joffrey cosplay from Game of Thrones

The Future as I See It panel with authors Gini Koch, Tim Zahn, Steven Sears, Jonathan Maberry, Javier Grillo-Marxuach, and Seanan McGuire

The Fantastic Flavors of Fantasy panel with authors Renee Ahdieh, Lauren Shippen, Katy Pool, Nicole Conway, Sherrilyn Kenyon, and Marissa Meyer

Those green army “men” are real people!

Jonathan Maberry gives Nancy Holder the Scribe Award

Star Wars samurai cosplay!

Elfquest cosplay

Wherefore Dystopia and Darkness panel with bestselling authors Jess Rothenberg, Richard Kadrey, S.L. Huang, Ally Condie, Rachel Caine, and Marie Lu

Admiral Ackbar cosplay from Star Wars. “It’s a trap!”

Fembot cosplay from Austin Powers

She-Ra and Kim Possible cosplay

Tank Girl cosplay

The Writers Coffeehouse author panel with (l to r) me, Jonathan Maberry, Delilah Dawson, Peter Clines and Scott Sigler.

I can’t wait to see this urban fantasy series!

Carnival Row stars Orlando Bloom and Cara Delevingne. Is it hot in here, or is it just me?

Cara Delevingne’s fairy character takes flight off the edge of a cliff.

Six-foot tall LEGO Batman minifigure

Monty Python and the Holy Grail cosplay. “There are some who call me… Tim.”

Wakanda (Black Panther) / Spiderman basketball team cosplay. SDCC is known for such creative mashups.

Chun-Li cosplay from Street Fighter video game

Green Arrow cosplay

Peter Pan Lost Boy Rufio cosplay from the movie Hook

Beetlejuice cosplay. Don’t say his name three times

ALF cosplay

Stellar Stories and Awesome Adventures panel with authors Maura Milan, Mark Siegel, Tochi Onyebuchi, Ashley Poston, and Maryelizabeth Yturralde

Disney Hyperion Publishing panel with authors/editors Emily Meehan, Brittany Rubiana, Serena Valentino, and Jocelyn Davies

 

Theseus and the Minotaur cosplay

Three interpretations of Judge Dredd cosplay

Lord Voldemort: He Who Shall Not Be Named. Oops.

Skeleton warrior cosplay

Wonder Woman cosplay

Game of Thrones cosplay: Cersei, The Mountain, The Night King, Arya wondering why SHE isn’t killing the Night King

Rick and Morty cosplay

Global debut of the cover of my upcoming picture book, 2 Pirates + 1 Robot, from Kane Miller Books.

My fantasy/sci-fi author panel with (l to r) Tomi Adeyemi, Lev Grossman, A.G. Howard, Aditi Khorana, and Jonathan Maberry.

They packed the room!

Fans of The Magicians may recall Umber asking for little cakes. I brought Lev Grossman some little cakes.

After the panel, the authors signed their books. Many added graffiti to the tablecloth. Someone drew salmon. Author Chuck Wendig apparently has no respect for sustainable salmon farming. And the feeling is mutual.

Lev Grossman (The Magicians) left his own graffiti.

Mostly, we signed books. Here author Lev Grossman signs a fan’s chest.

My favorite cosplay of the convention: Warhammer 40K Sisters of Battle! Adepta Sororitas

My KidLit literary agent panel with (l to r) Hannah Mann, Thao Le, Kelly Sonnack and Stefanie Von Borstel.

Writing Craft panel with authors Sarah Gailey, Annalee Newitz, Charlie Jane Anders, Seanan McGuire, and Cory Doctorow

Godzilla, Ghidorah, and Rodan resin miniatures

Sci-fi author greats Larry Niven, Greg Bear, and David Brin

Fandom Meets YA panel with authors Livia Blackburne, Mary Pearson, Tricia Levenseller, A.G. Howard, and C.B. Lee

Lord of the Rings cosplay. A Minas Tirith dress! “For Gondor!!”

Reinventing the Modern Girl panel with authors Seanan McGuire, Danielle Paige, Sarah Kuhn, Nila Macgruder, Cecil Castellucci, and Jenn Fujikawa.


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Fun at WonderCon 2019

Had a great time at WonderCon, as usual. Here are some photos to prove it!

The grand entrance.

Miscellaneous superheroes, including a McDonalds Thor and a Jack in the Box Dr. Strange!

Something special for anyone who’s ever worked in an office.

The Empire captures little Spiderman and a Mario brother.

Star Wars trio.

Panel: Unicorns, Rabbits, Aliens and Other People, with (l to r) Maryelizabeth Yturalde, Dana Simpson, Leah Thomas, Jim Pascoe, Nicole Conway, and Cecil Castellucci.

Clever way to protect your vendor booth when nature calls.

Star Trek Fred Flintstone: set phasers to stone!

Is it me, or did it suddenly get very judgey in here? Personally, I prefer Karl Urban’s Judge Dredd over Sly Stallone’s.

Six foot tall LEGO minifigure cosplay. Not so mini now!

My KidLit author panel with (l to r) Lee Wardlaw, Molly Idle, Peter S. Beagle, me, Jo Whittemore, Scott Campbell, and (not shown) Barbara Bottner.

They packed the room!

Any time you’re feeling full of yourself, just do a signing next to Peter Beagle. #LineEnvy

General Grievous bids you farewell until next year!


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Speaking at the 2019 Charlotte Huck Children’s Literature Festival

I had a great time attending the 2019 Charlotte Huck Children’s Literature Festival at the University of Redlands. I saw friends Joe Cepeda, Dianne White, and Carmen Oliver, and met new friends:

Joyce Sidman is the Newbery Honor-winning poet/author of Dark Emperor and Other Poems of the Night, and two Caldecott Honor books: Song of the Water Boatman and Other Pond Poems (also a Lee Bennett Hopkins Poetry Award winner) and Red Sings from Treetops: A Year in Colors (which won the Claudia Lewis Poetry Award).

Bethany Hegedus is the award-winning author of Grandfather Gandhi, co-written with Arun Gandhi, grandson to the Mahatma.

Mrs. Nelson’s Book Fair sold books. Mine had very nice company from Doreen Cronin’s classic.

Richard Michelson is the poet/author of The Language of Angels, which won the National Jewish Book Award, the Junior Library Guild Gold Medal, and the
2018 Sydney Taylor Gold Medal.

Doreen Rappaport is the award-winning author of 48 children’s books, including BEYOND COURAGE: The Untold Story of Jewish Resistance During the Holocaust.


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Interview with picture book author Heather Macht

Heather Macht is the author of THE ANT FARM ESCAPE! (Pelican, 2019), REX THE…WE-DON’T-KNOW (Pelican, 2019) and YOU MAY JUST BE A DINOSAUR (Pelican, 2015). Macht has a degree in Fine Arts, is an active member of the SCBWI, and is the Assistant Administrator, the Newsletter Coordinator, and a volunteer judge for Rate Your Story. She loves spending her Saturday’s in bookstores or in libraries with friends. Macht’s happily married and currently resides in Florida next door to a quiet beach. When she’s not writing, Macht enjoys painting, reading poetry, and watching scary movies with her husband and children.

For what age audience do you write?

Thanks so much for having me! I mainly write picture books for children, ages 3-8. Two of my picture books, YOU MAY JUST BE A DINOSAUR and THE ANT FARM ESCAPE! are also STEM book with fun science facts woven in. The best part about that is I’ve even had some adults come up to me and tell me how they learned something new from reading my books. Mission accomplished!

Tell us about your latest book.

My latest book, THE ANT FARM ESCAPE!, follows a group of worker ants who, unbeknownst to them at first, are trapped inside a young girl’s ant farm. After digging tunnels and setting up a home, these tough ants soon devise a new plan to break free and head outdoors! Also, a lot of people don’t know that worker ants (the ants that do all the tough work, food-finding, and heavy lifting in an ant colony) are ALL female! The Ant Farm Escape! is filled with STEM facts about ants and shines a positive light on that fact, showing young readers just how tough girl power truly is.

Henry: Do the male ants just hang out and eat snacks?

What do you hope readers will get from reading that book?

I hope readers have a lot of fun reading it – that’s always the most important thing to me, and what I always take to mind first, when writing a new book. The book has a lot of humor and fun scenes throughout, so it should bring giggles and smiles to the faces of its readers! Also, I hope everyone reading learns a lot more about this amazing matriarchal species – I’ve learned a lot myself when researching about ants and writing this book.

Henry: I’m filled with ANTicipation!

What aspect of writing do you find most challenging?

For my STEM books, it’s most challenging finding a completely original and clever way to “trick” my readers into having fun. I first want to make sure I’m telling an interesting story that would stand alone without STEM facts. Once I have that down, then I start adding the STEM facts that tie in with the story. While it’s definitely challenging making sure everything is original and matches up appropriately, it’s definitely rewarding.

Henry: YES! Fiction is the melted cheese to nonfiction’s broccoli.

What is a powerful lesson you’ve learned from being a writer?

Not giving up. I’ve had tons of rejections (hundreds) that span across the course of 18 years! It takes a lot to dust yourself off an keep going after being told “NO” that many times. Here’s something to keep in mind: if you get a rejection it doesn’t mean you’re a bad writer, it doesn’t mean your idea is lousy, a lot of times it just means you may not have found the right agent, publisher, or market for your story. Keep trying!

Henry: Word.

What has been a memorable experience that you never would have had if you had not been a writer?

I will never forget this moment: I was at an event, selling books, and a young girl stood in line waiting patiently for me to get done talking with the adult in front of her. When he finished and left, I started talking to the young girl. To my surprise she told me she already had my book, YOU MAY JUST BE A DINOSAUR – it was her favorite, in fact! She said she went to my book launch party, wanted to tell me how much she loves my book, and how she wants to be a paleontologist when she grows up.

Feedback like that means the world to me. I may not be on the “bestsellers” list, but that’s just as good in my book!

Henry: Exactly. It’s not like we’re doing it for fame and fortune.

What advice would you give to aspiring authors?

I wish I would have known about critique groups when first starting out. If you’re an aspiring author, and don’t have a critique group, GET ONE! I’m currently a part of two amazing critique groups, and they are so beneficial in helping me get my manuscripts in perfect shape before submitting.

Henry: Absolutely

Do you have any favorite quotes?

Yes, I live in poems! One of my favorite quotes is the ENTIRE poem: Listen to the MUSTN’TS by Shel Silverstein:

Listen to the MUSTN’TS, child,
Listen to the DON’TS
Listen to the SHOULDN’TS
The IMPOSSIBLES, the WONT’S
Listen to the NEVER HAVES
Then listen close to me-
Anything can happen, child,
ANYTHING can be

And, since I’m an art major, I’ll quote my favorite artist while I’m at it:

For my part I know nothing with any certainty, but the sight of the stars makes me dream.
-Vincent Van Gogh

Do you have any strange rituals that you observe when you work?

Does shoosh-ing my kids and husband count? 😉

Henry: The judges rule yes, yes it does.

In all seriousness, before I start a new book I like to spend an hour or so reading books. They could be my favorite picture books or new ones in the bookstore, but I look for inspiration first in the existing…then new inspiration usually flows.

If you could have one superpower, what would it be?

My superpower would be to NOT be afraid of dangerous sea creatures. Seriously, I love the idea of swimming in the ocean…but I loathe the idea of being surrounded by creatures that could bite me. So, yeah, swimming in the ocean is sadly a NO from me.

Henry: I can’t imagine why.

If you could have three authors over for dinner, who would it be?

I would love to have Maya Angelou, Emily Dickinson, and Shel Silverstein over for dinner. Could you imagine the poetry they’d recite?

What is your favorite creature that exists only in literature?

I’d have to say Maurice Sendak’s Wild Things. How amazing would it be to spend a night causing a ruckus with them?

Henry: Best. Answer. Ever.

What do you like to do when you’re not working?

I really enjoy cooking super-spicy pad thai, baking rum cakes, watching scary movies with my husband and kids, and looking for seashells on the beach.

Henry: Do you like drinking pina coladas and getting caught in the rain?

What would you like it to say on your tombstone?

Ha, I’d love it to read: “Because I could not stop for Death, He kindly stopped for me.” I mean, of course I’d want an Emily Dickinson poem on my tombstone!

Where can readers find your work?

My books are available in brick and mortar stores, libraries, on Amazon and BarnesandNoble.com, and on my website at http://www.heathermacht.com. Thanks so much for having me!

Henry: Thanks for visiting with us, Heather.


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Interview with children’s author Marsha Diane Arnold

Called a “born storyteller” by the media, Marsha Diane Arnold’s picture books have sold over one million copies and been called, “whimsical,” “inspiring,” and “uplifting.” Her books have garnered such honors as Best First Book by a New Author, Smithsonian Notable, Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library and state Children’s Choice awards. Recent books include GALÁPAGOS GIRL, MAY I COME IN? and LOST. FOUND, a Junior Library Guild selection illustrated by Caldecott medalist Matthew Cordell, which received three starred reviews. Marsha was born and raised in Kansas, lived most of her life in Sonoma County, California, and now lives with her husband in Alva, Florida, near her family.

For what age audience do you write?

The best stories, those that hold enduring truths, are really for all ages, so  

I like to say I write for all ages. (My publishers usually note my books are for ages 4 to 8.) Before moving to picture books, I wrote an award-winning, syndicated column entitled homegrown treasures. My column was read by grandparents, parents, teens, and toddlers, all sitting together, enjoying “story.”

Mostly, I write picture books. I also write board books, like BABY ANIMALS TAKE A NAP and BABY ANIMALS TAKE A BATH, and am working (from time to time) on a chapter book and middle-grade novel.

Henry: I’m in the same boat. I’ve published only picture books, but am trying my hand at middle-grade.

Tell us about your latest book.

GALÁPAGOS GIRL began as a tiny seed in 2007, when I visited the Galápagos Islands. My naturalist guide was Valentina Cruz, whose family were some of the first inhabitants of the remote island of Floreana in the Galápagos.

Through email and video chats, Valentina shared her adventures growing up on Floreana with her parents and eleven brothers and sisters – stories of living with wild nature, of swimming with sea lions, of finches flying into their house to sample her mother’s homemade jam. Her idyllic life led her to become a biologist and naturalist guide so she could share with the world her knowledge and love of the islands and their unique flora and fauna. She’s the inspiration for my fictional character Valentina in the book.

I’m thankful to have Lee & Low as my publisher and Angela Dominguez as my talented illustrator. GALÁPAGOS GIRL is bilingual with an author note and back matter that includes information on each of the animals mentioned in the book.

What do you hope readers will get from reading that book?

In general, my wish for my readers is that my books give them some whimsy and fun, a lot of enjoyment and entertainment, heaps of inspiration, and something to ponder.

I hope when my readers read GALÁPAGOS GIRL, they will feel the joy of being in nature. From a unique perspective, they will glimpse a way of life different from their own. I hope they’ll close the book with a desire to help keep all wildlife safe.

What aspect of writing do you find most challenging?

Those rejections! They always make me question my value as a writer, but eventually, “I pick myself up, dust myself off, and start all over again.”

Henry: Yes, the two most valuable author attributes (after writing ability) are being thick-skinned and indefatigable.

What is a powerful lesson you’ve learned from being a writer?

I can do it. Being an introvert and filled with self-doubt most of my life, that’s a powerful lesson. Each of us can do it!

What has been a memorable experience that you never would have had if you had not been a writer?

Author visits! What wonderful times I’ve had visiting schools from California to Puerto Rico, from Germany to Kenya. In Alabama, I had to run three miles at a school where they’ve been celebrating THE PUMPKIN RUNNER with a day of races and games for six years! At one Kansas school, they built a tornado on the school’s roof to celebrate THE BRAVEST OF US ALL. One librarian called my visit a “Big Vivid” for the school community, an inspiring memory that will stay with them forever. In truth, my visits to schools have always been “Big Vivids” for me.

Henry: Run three miles!? Now, that’s a commitment to a school visit!

What advice would you give to aspiring authors?

Think of rewriting as polishing a stone until it’s smooth and bright and beautiful.

Do you have any favorite quotes?

I have two that come back to me again and again over the years.

You must concentrate upon and consecrate yourself wholly to each day, as though a fire were raging in your hair.” Taisu Deshimaru

We need another and a wiser and perhaps a more mystical concept of animals… In a world older and more complete than ours, they move finished and complete, gifted with extensions of the senses we have lost or never attained, living by voices we shall never hear. They are not brethren, they are not underlings; they are other nations, caught with ourselves in the net of life and time, fellow prisoners of the splendour and travail of the earth.” Henry Beston

Henry: Lovely

Do you have any strange rituals that you observe when you work?

No strange rituals here. Maybe a walk in nature, which, sadly, for many today, may seem like a strange ritual.

If you could have one superpower, what would it be?

The power to let everyone see that all humans, all creatures, and all plants are part of a precious web of wonder. Then maybe we’d respect and care for one another as we should.

Henry: I’m reminded of the Tree of Souls in the Avatar movie.

That’s my serious answer. My not-so-serious answer is to be a Teleporter! Is that a word? What fun to be able to transport instantly to any place on this magnificent planet. As inhabitants of Earth, I think it’s our responsibility to experience as much of it as possible. My air miles aren’t stretching far enough, so to be able to instantly move from place to place would come in handy.

Henry: Plus, it would be easier to conduct school visits!

If you could have three authors over for dinner, who would it be?

I must choose naturalist and writer Henry Beston. Afterall, he’s responsible for one of my favorite quotes.

Charles Dickens – because he’s the master of creating fascinating characters and he still influences the way we celebrate Christmas, what with “A Christmas Carol” and all.

J.R.R. Tolkien – for his brilliance.

Wait! That’s not right. I need some women at our salon.

Henry: You had me at Tolkien

Let’s include Emily Dickinson. She won’t take up much space. “I’m Nobody!” she wrote, “how dreary to be Somebody.” I have always loved her poetry.

To round things out, let’s invite two more. Eudora Welty, Pulitzer Prize winner and lovely Southern lady. Her ON WRITING is so readable, so excellent.

Sheila Turnage, another writer who is a master at creating characters, like her Miss Moses LoBeau, would be my living author. I want to learn from Sheila how to write great middle-grade novels.

What is your favorite creature that exists only in literature?

Dragons, for certain. The Galápagos marine iguanas on the Galápagos reminded me a bit of dragons.

Henry: “My armor is like tenfold shields, my teeth are swords, my claws spears, the shock of my tail a thunderbolt, my wings a hurricane, and my breath death!”
― J.R.R. Tolkien, THE HOBBIT

What do you like to do when you’re not working?

Travel! When I’m traveling, I love to hike, scuba dive, snorkel, and see new sites and sights. I also love being home, surrounded by my family, exploring the rural roads in our golf cart, swimming, and investigating the natural world.

What would you like it to say on your tombstone?

A Kansas farm girl, protector of nature, lover of family, whose writing was enjoyed by all ages.

Where can readers find your work?

Readers can find my books in libraries, bookstores, and online.

They can find me at www.marshadianearnold.com and www.earthsvoices.wordpress.com and at my course at Children’s Book Academy (http://www.childrensbookacademy.com/writing-character-driven-stories.html )

Thank you, Henry, for inviting me to your website! I had fun answering your questions.

Henry: You’re welcome. Thanks for spending time with us.


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Good Times at San Diego Comic-Con 2018

  1. Arriving at the Convention Center
  2. Horrific tooth creature from Channel Zero: Candle Cove
  3. Amazing Lord of the Rings models from Weta
  4. A stylized Gandalf
  5. The Moose from Chappie resin kit by Weta
  6. Alita Battle Angel
  7. One man’s interpretation of Edna Mode
  8. Cuphead figures
  9. Star Wars trooper
  10. Scary creatures from Sideshow Collectibles
  11. Warhammer Space Marine Blood Raven
  12. Terrifying evil Batman and Robins
  13. Alien vs. Predator
  14. With NY Times bestselling fantasy author Todd McCaffrey
  15. Bioware power armor suits
  16. With children’s authors M.T. Anderson and Eugene Yelchin
  17. With children’s editor/author Ed Masessa
  18. Author collaboration panel with Jenni Holm, Matt Holm, M.T. Anderson, Eugene Yelchin
  19. Mars panel with astronaut Leland Melvin and The Martian author Andy Weir
  20. Stargate cosplay
  21. Cosplay knights
  22. Comics panel with Stan Sakai, Cecil Castelucci, and Sergio Aragones
  23. YA/MG Fantasy panel with authors Tomi Adeyemi, Daniel Jose Older, Victoria Schwab, Kiersten White, and Maggie Steifvater
  24. Apocalypse panel with authors Cory Doctorow, Scott Westerfeld, and Andrew Smith
  25. Flame Princess cosplay
  26. With NY Times bestselling authors Peter Clines and Jonathan Maberry
  27. Fearless women author panel with NY Times bestselling fantasy authors Rachel Caine, Seanan McGuire, Susan Dennard, Victoria Schwab, and Laini Taylor
  28. With NY Times bestselling author Nancy Holder
  29. Star Wars cosplay
  30. Giant Boba Fett display
  31. Animatronic Deadpool’s Super Duper Dance Party
  32. South Park characters. Kenny lives!
  33. Pacific Rim
  34. Dragonball Z
  35. Dragon cosplay
  36. Self-deprecating Deadpool advertising on toilet seat covers
  37. Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein panel with Jonathan Maberry, Kiersten White, and Merrie DeStefano
  38. Frankenstein takes the cake
  39. Academy Award winner Sir Richard Taylor (The Lord of the Rings) sculpting in clay.
  40. With co-panelist and NY Times bestselling fantasy author Laini Taylor
  41. With co-panelist and NY Times bestselling fantasy author Livia Blackburne
  42. With co-panelist and NY Times bestselling fantasy author Maggie Stiefvater
  43. With co-panelist and NY Times bestselling fantasy author Kevin Hearne
  44. Our fantasy literature panel packed the room
  45. Huge Hot Wheels cars
  46. Life-sized LEGO Aquaman
  47. Life-sized LEGO Thanos
  48. Mantis photobombing the Power Rangers
  49. Personalized Magic the Gathering cards
  50. Dungeons & Dragons panel with Naomi Novik, Delilah Dawson, Kevin Hearne, Ray Feist and R.A. Salvatore
  51. Trump’s Titanz standee
  52. Game of Thrones cosplay Iron Throne wheelchair

53. Children’s Literary Agent panel with Taylor Martindale Kean, Tim Travaglini, Jen Baxter, Kari Sutherland, Thao Le

54. Fantasy Literature panel with Victoria Schwab, Livia Blackburne, Maggie Stiefvater, and Kevin Hearne (Laini Taylor not shown)