Editor’s Note: Our top reporter Charlene Mayo visited BookCon in New York City this weekend. Charlene represented The Dundalk Eagle, Baltimore County and her very own children’s book, Mallory the Alley Cat! We invited Charlene to write about her experience this past weekend. Congratulations on your book, Charlene! We are your biggest fans!

It’s hard to believe when people say this generation doesn’t read anymore — because BookCon 2019 was packed!

BookCon’s motto is “where storytelling and pop culture collide.” The weekend -long event is hosted by ReedPOP in New York City.

ReedPOP also organizes New York Comic Con, Chicago Comic & Entertainment Expo, Emerald City Comic Con, Star Wars Celebration, Keystone Comic Con, Penny Arcade Expo and more across the world.

This eight-hour, two-day event allows attendees to mingle with authors and publishers, network and express fandoms, and also take part in writing workshops, panels and booksignings.

It was awesome to see book lovers of all ages, races and cultural backgrounds join together to celebrate the books they love, the authors who wrote them, and their favorite publishing companies.

Lines were wrapped around booths so people could get autographs and briefly meet their most beloved authors.

I looked around the packed event hall and thought, “One day that will be me, signing the covers of my books.”

I’m a self-published author of a children’s book called Mallory! The Alley Cat, and I knew for my own development that I had to take the three hour hike to the big city!

In the spring of last year, I took the leap and uploaded my manuscript and cover to my book on Amazon.com.

I always wanted to be an author and reporter — ever since I was in the eleventh grade.

When I came up with the idea — and then the manuscript — for my children’s book, it came at a rough time in my life.

How ironic, right?

When people think about children’s book, they think about happy times of hearts and rainbows. But my book idea came from a place of despair.

Did you grow up with both of your parents in the home?

If you did, awesome!

If you didn’t, then you understand the hardship a child, mother, father or guardian can go through without a complete family.

Plenty of children are raised by only their mother or father, grandparents or even a step-parent.

When I was growing up, I only had my mother.

Entering my adult years, I was already at a disadvantage — I was lacking a fundamental understanding of family life. Like the character in my book, I was labeled “zestfully zany” by school mates.

It was hard to survive.

I worked my butt off, day and night. I went to college, slept on friends’ couches, but had little to no success finding the job I wanted and making the money I needed.

I would think: Why was it so easy for others and so hard for me?

In a moment of frustration with my life, Mallory! The Alley Cat was born.

Mallory is an alley cat, living life in a single parent family with her mom, Michelle. Life is good.

Mallory has a multi-colored tail that makes her different, but Mallory’s mom protects her from bullies. She gives Mallory the confidence she needs — until Mallory’s life gets turned upside down.

No matter what she did, it seemed like life beat her down, and her funny colored tail didn’t help either. But her tail ends up being the very thing that makes her stand out and helps her get out of a bad situation.

I wanted the book to inform kids that, sometimes life isn’t always fair. But we shouldn’t always focus on what’s fair and what others have — you just have to focus on what you are doing.

Being consistent and working hard is not always easy and may not always seem fair, but eventually it will pay off!

I made some great connections with publishers while I was at BookCon.

I hope to get a book deal out of it. If I don’t — I’m happy I chose to go and at least make strides towards getting my book out there. I know it’s going to big!