Books, Bloggers, and Blisters: BEA
Check out Part 1 of my New York adventures HERE.
Be prepared, this is a long one.
On the night before Blogger Con, I saw a tweet from Cait asking if anyone wanted to join a bunch of Canadian bloggers for dinner in NY. I am a Canadian blogger and would have loved to meet them for dinner. Unfortunately, husband & I had just finished our dinner and had plans to go to Rockefeller Center that night. But I tweeted Cait back anyway and we started making plans to meet up with them for dessert.
After watching the sunset from Top of the Rock, husband & walked over to Toloache and met the group of East Coast bloggers that would kind of become my crew for the next couple days: Cait (Escape Through the Pages), Gwen (Rants-N-Scribbles), the Jenns (Lost in a Great Book & Misbehavin’ Librarian), Nicole (Nicole About Town), and Sarah (Workaday Reads). Even though I had only ever talked to Cait previously, they were all super welcoming… although, it should be noted that they we all a bit tipsy at this point ;)
Heading back to the apartment that night was when it hit me: Ohmygoodness, I am going to BEA tomorrow!! Between the coffee I had with dessert and the growing excitement, I did not sleep a wink that night. I was up with the dawn, and after a quick subway ride and sketchy bus trip, I was standing in front of the Javits Center.
I thought I was running late, but it turned out that I arrived so early that no one at the registration booth knew where I should be going for Blogger Con. Thankfully, however, them pointing me in the opposite direction caused me to run in to the East Coasters. We picked up a few other lost bloggers in our search, but finally we made it to the right place and started the line that would eventually wrap around the hall we were waiting in.
I’m not going to go too far into what Blogger Con day was like, other people have already shared opinions very similar to my own and much more eloquently than I could have. But this is the gist of what went down.
Blogger Con started off with a networking breakfast, the opening keynote address by Jennifer Weiner, and a panel called ‘Blogging Today,’ which was followed by the networking lunch. In the afternoon we had a couple break out sessions; the ones I went to were entitled ‘So You Want To Make Money’ and ‘Creating Community & Driving Engagement.’ The day ended with your choice of event, you could either listen to Jenny Lawson (aka The Bloggess) give her closing remarks, or you could attend the BEA Editors’ Buzz and hear about upcoming releases.
From what I’ve heard of other people’s experiences with the networking meals, our table majorly lucked out. For breakfast, we were visited first by Ally Condie (Matched) and then by Marie Lu (Legend), and they were both so friendly. We chatted about their books, inspiration, and whatever else came up. However, after them we were visited by an author who wasn’t even on the itinerary, who saw the 15 minutes with us as Pitch Time. If other attendees had to put with with more than one of those, I can see why they skipped out on the networking lunch.
At lunch we met with Leanne Renee Hieber (The Twisted Tragedy of Miss Natalie Stewart), Kari Chapman (Grow Your Handmade Business), and Emma Koeing (F*ck I’m in my 20s!), who, again, were all really nice and it was lots of fun talking with all of them. Also, Leanne Renee Hieber told us that she’s going to be in a web series that’s based in the Harry Potter wizarding world, but set in New York. How awesome does that sound?!
Jennifer Weiner & Jenny Lawson’s speeches have kind of become interchangeable in my mind. They were both entertaining, they were both hilarious, but neither of them had much to say about blogging.
As for the panels, I thought the best one was ‘Blogging Today’, which provided more practical advice than the other two I went to. I also liked the ‘Building Community’ panel, but by that point I was so exhausted all I wanted to do was crawl under my chair and take a nap.
Needless to say, that night when everyone was off at their awesome sounding parties, I was in my PJs at 7pm ;)
The next day was the BIG EVENT: BEA. I was at BEA for one day, so I wanted to make the most of it. Unfortunately, I got separated from the East Coasters just before the doors opened to the floor, and spend the first hour or so wandering around aimlessly, more than a little overwhelmed by it all. And my first experience chatting with a publisher was not all that pleasant. Thankfully, that all seemed to turn around after the one author signing I had added to my schedule before showing up that morning: Simon Van Booy, who’s Everything Beautiful Began After was one of my absolute favourite books from last year. For a while it was just me and one other man in line, and I had a great time chatting with him. It turns out he is also an author and did a signing last year, and it was such an encouragement to hear him say that he’s so glad bloggers come to BEA now.
And then Simon Van Booy came out, and I tried not to swoon because being at the front of the line, that would have been awkward. I’m so used to being rushed through autograph lines and the importance with coming up with a quick antidote to share when it’s your turn in front of the author. But Simon Van Booy (and yes, I need to say his whole name every time) was ready just to sit and chat, and I was totally thrown by that. It was absolutely lovely meeting him, and the day greatly improved from then on.
This post is ridiculously long, so real quick: That evening I went to the Teen Authors Carnival at the Jefferson Market Library and Wednesday morning I went to the Random House Power Readers breakfast. The Carnival was lots of fun, the breakfast was delicious.
I am glad that I attended both Blogger Con & BEA, but what made those days so fantastic for me weren’t the scheduled events or the towering piles of books. What made BEA so fantastic were the people. Yes, I’m getting a little mushy here, but meeting other book bloggers in real life is always wonderful. Evening if you’ve never come across someone in the gigantic blogosphere before, you have an instant connection through your love of all things bookish.
All my highlights from those couple days involve bloggers: getting to know the East Coasters, hanging out with Memory, spying on John Green as covertly as possible with Tirzah and Erika while in line for Ruta Sepetys, quickly chatting with Sheila as we both flew in our separate directions, stopping in the middle of the madness to talk to Amy, Kim, and Mark (who recommended a book that I immediately searched out and added to my collection), finally meeting Cindy (after getting each other’s names in 3 holiday exchanges over the last two Christmases), grabbing cupcakes with Jenn, Jenn, and Kim and then running in to Florinda, Kim, Memory, and Teresa at Rockefeller Plaza.
I would go back to BEA in a heartbeat for more of those memories. It’s like the internet came alive, and instead of stumbling across someone’s blog or tweet, you’re face to face with the actual person.
In fact, my biggest complaint about Blogger Con was that there wasn’t much room for blogger interaction. I wish there had been a better way to put blog names to faces instead of walking up to one of the 400 attendees, peering at their badge (if it was flipped the right way around), and asking ‘Do I know you from the internet?’
Of course, apart from memories I also came home with a couple piles of books, which I’m not complaining about ;)
From Blogger Con:
Moo by Matthew Van Fleet
Sprinkle Bakes by Heather Baird
Burn for Burn by Jenny Han & Siobhan Vivian
Let’s Pretend This Never Happened by Jenny Lawson
Then Came You by Jennifer Weiner
Kobo mug – with chalk to draw on it :)
Come August, Come Freedom by Gigi Amateu
After Life by Rhian Ellis
Magisterium by Jeff Hirsch
Does This Church Make Me Look Fat? by Rhonda Janzen
Stolen by Susan Lewis
The Heart Broke In by James Meek
Ashen Winter by Mike Mullin
The Good Girls Revolt by Lynn Povich
Rachel’s Secret by Shelly Sanders
Between Shades of Grey by Ruta Sepetys
Out of the Easy by Ruta Sepetys
Zom-B by Darren Shan
The Light Between Oceans by M.L. Stedman
Plus all sorts of swag including Dark Divine nail polish and a packet of kleenexes.
Next To Love by Ellen Feldman
Wife 22 by Melanie Gideon
Paris in Love by Eloisa James
Plus excerpts for:
Year Zero by Rob Reid
In The Kitchen With David by David Venarle
Clockwise from top left: ‘Where’s Waldo’ from Candlewick, ‘See Things Differently’ from Chronicle, Penguin Classics (BEA Tote), ‘A Wrinkle in Time’ from Macmillan.
TIPS FOR NEXT TIME (before I forget)
* Comfortable shoes! I know everyone says it, but oh dear, is it ever important. After walking around NY in all sorts of flats and sandals, I resigned to wearing my *gasp* crocs to BEA. Don’t worry, they weren’t the clogs with the swiss cheese holes. Still, they weren’t the most stylish of shoes in attendance, but at least my feet weren’t in pain at the end of the day.
* If you really want to meet up with another blogger, don’t be afraid to exchange phone numbers. There are a couple bloggers that I never would have found we hadn’t had been able to text each other.
* If you’re from out of town (or country) invest in a data plan. I thought I would be able to get through BEA with texting only, and while it was definitely beneficial to be able to do so, I felt like I missed out on a lot of what was going on by not being able to access Twitter.
* Take pictures! It saddens me that I only have 2 pictures of bloggers. Next time, I will be a regular paparazzi. Considered yourself warned.