BEA Day 4: The Wrath of (Book)Con

Finally, it’s my last post about BEA 2014! (But you can still check out parts one, two, and three.) The biggest lesson I learned from BookCon is that I will (most likely) NOT be doing it again! It was absolutely INSANE. The prior days of BEA were limited to people with some type of connection to the publishing industry, but BookCon was open to the public; anyone who bought the (relatively inexpensive) ticket could come. As a result, the Javits was almost unbearably crowded, and the lines were ridiculous.

I had just two goals for the day: (1) get Cary Elwes’ autograph and (2) see the interview with Amy Poehler and Martin Short. First, Cary Elwes was set to arrive at 11:30, so I (feeling very wise and superior) decided to get in line at 10:00. And the line was already HUGE, snaking up and down corridors multiple times! Also, the poor girls in charge of wrangling the line didn’t really seem to know what they were doing. They kept directing us to move to different places and to shift positions…as a result, I’m pretty sure I ended up ahead of some people who got there before me. And meanwhile, some people came up to the line and jumped right in the middle of it, presumably unaware that there was a whole other segment of the line that they’d missed! In short, it was utter chaos. Fortunately, I did eventually get to the front of the line! This is what happened:

CARY ELWES: Hi, what’s your name?

ME: Christina.

CARY ELWES: Hi, Christina, I’m Cary. *extends hand to shake*

ME: *shakes hand* *swoons*

Cary Elwes 1

Cary Elwes 2

So that was pretty awesome. And I did talk to some really nice people in the line, so it wasn’t a total drag to be waiting there!

Then I immediately got in line for the Amy Poehler event, which was supposed to start at 12:30. I got in line at 11:30, and once again, the line was incredibly long already! I did eventually get a seat in the events hall, but I was in the very back, and I could barely see anything. (It didn’t help that some woman in front of me thought it would be appropriate to stand up so she could film the whole talk on her phone.) At least I could still hear them, though, and it was a thrill to listen to Amy Poehler (whom I love from “Parks & Rec”) talk about her career and her upcoming memoir, Yes Please!

BEA Books + Swag Day 4
(Books and swag from BookCon. Note the awesome button in the bottom right corner!)

When that was over, I thought about going to a couple more panel discussions…but honestly, I was wiped out! I went back to my hotel to chill out and read. In the evening I went to a local pub for the “Meet and Drink” activity sponsored by Katelyn from Tales of Books and Bands (host of the Tune in Tuesday meme!), Andrea from The Overstuffed Bookcase, Alexa from Alexa Loves Books, and Jen from YA Romantics. It was really fun to meet some great bloggers in a less hectic setting — and I definitely needed a drink by the end of BookCon! 🙂 I’ve begun following a bunch of new-to-me blogs, and I hope to increase my participation in the blogging community in the future!

BEA Suitcase
This is what my suitcase looked like on the way home from BEA. My dirty clothes were flung haphazardly into a backpack. I’ve got my priorities straight!

BEA Day 3: Author Anticipation

My thoughts on Day 3 of BEA! Also check out Day 1 and Day 2.

Friday was an early day because I’d bought a ticket to the Children’s Author Breakfast, which featured Jason Segel, Carl Hiaasen, Mem Fox, and Jeff Kinney. The breakfast itself was TERRIBLE (stale bagels and muffins, anyone?), but the talks were an absolute joy. Jason Segel talked about how his own childhood nightmares inspired his forthcoming children’s book — and how he used to wear a Superman cape under his clothes for a long time as a kid, “just in case.” Carl Hiaasen talked about adapting his eccentric character Skink for a younger audience, expressing shock that anyone would ever want him to write a book for children. Mem Fox read from her forthcoming book Baby Bedtime, which may or may not have caused me to tear up (hint: it did!). And Jeff Kinney made a convincing case for why his Wimpy Kid is a better protagonist than Harry Potter. 🙂 Even though I don’t tend to read a lot of children’s lit, I’m really glad I went to this event!

After the breakfast, I rushed over to the Quirk Books booth to snag one of their totes:

Totes Books

It’s the one that says Totes Books — adorable, no? And by the way, if you need tote bags, BEA is definitely the place to be; I came home with 4, and I could have gotten a lot more if I’d wanted them! I also love that Chronicle Books number (black with the glasses logo).

Then I went to something called “Hot Fall Fiction 2014,” but I’m pretty sure I left before it was over, because it was clearly a device for publishers to peddle a select few books from their fall lists — and I wasn’t particularly interested in any of the books. So instead I picked up a few more galleys from the exhibitors’ booths, including Mortal Heart by Robin LaFevers, which I ended up reading on the train ride home!

BEA Books Day 3
(My book haul from Day 3.)

Then I went to an absolutely fascinating panel called “Girl Books, Boy Books, and Gender Hooks,” which was about the way female-authored fiction (both literary and genre) is marketed and packaged differently than male-authored fiction. Author Jennifer Weiner was there with some very sassy, pointed remarks about covers of books written by women — the pink or lime green backdrop, the images of legs and shoes, the faceless girls, etc. The panelists also talked about women in the publishing industry, critical responses to female-authored vs. male-authored books, and more. I basically came away from this panel feeling sad that women (in general) will read any type of book, but men (in general) won’t read a book that seems too “girly.” And of course, there are no easy answers about how to change these behaviors.

Anyway. So after lunch, which was a truly terrible $6 hot dog from the Javits Center (seriously, GO ELSEWHERE FOR FOOD when you go to BEA!), I lined up for a copy of Morgan Matson’s Since You’ve Been Gone. She was giving out new hardback copies and signing them, which was amazing! I read the book while I was still in NYC and thought it was an absolutely perfect summer read! I later waited in Elizabeth Wein‘s line, hoping against hope that she would sign my copy of Code Name Verity that I’d brought from home, because I love it SO MUCH — and she did! And when I tweeted about it excitedly, she actually responded! So that was definitely a highlight of BEA for me.

Finally, I attended yet another panel, this one entitled “The Journey of a Book: From Writer to Reader.” I wasn’t expecting it to be about one particular book, but it was — and it turned out to be better than I expected! The book in question is The High Divide by Lin Enger, which will be published by Algonquin in September. Mr. Enger was there, as were his agent, his editor, and the person in charge of the marketing campaign for the book. Each person talked about his/her role in creating the book, and they all answered questions about their part of the process. It was fascinating to see the journey of this book from start to finish!

So that was the end of my participation in official BEA events. BUT. I heard through the grapevine that a bunch of YA authors would be at a children’s bookstore called Books of Wonder and that Maggie Stiefvater would be among them. Now, I knew Ms. Stiefvater would be coming to BEA on Saturday to sign copies of Sinner, but what I really wanted was for her to sign my copy of The Scorpio Races, which I LOVE. So one of those lovely girls whose names I can’t remember (I am the worst networker ever!) suggested that I’d have better luck at Books of Wonder than at BEA itself. And y’all, I am so glad I took that advice! The authors present were Garth Nix, Jennifer Armentrout, Alethea Kontis, Maggie Stiefvater, Alaya Dawn Johnson, Gretchen McNeil, and A.G. Howard.

Garth Nix & Jennifer Armentrout

Alethea Kontis & Maggie Stiefvater & Alaya Dawn Johnson

Maggie Stiefvater & Alaya Dawn Johnson & Gretchen McNeil & A.G. Howard

Sorry about the poor image quality, but let it be known that I am not using a zoom. THAT IS HOW CLOSE I WAS TO GARTH NIX. Ahem.

So these authors were a lovely bunch; they talked about their latest releases, answered a bunch of really interesting questions from the audience, and graciously signed our books. And Maggie Stiefvater drew a horse on my copy of The Scorpio Races, and I love it forever. I’m so glad I decided to brave the NYC subway and go to this event!

BEA Day 2: Finding my feet

Argh, I’m falling even more hopelessly behind on blogging! I said I’d do a series of posts about BEA, and so far I’ve only done Day 1! It’s time for me to get cracking, so here are my thoughts on Day 2 of BEA.

I got up bright and early so that I could be at the Javits by 9 a.m. I carried a meticulously detailed list with me so that I wouldn’t miss out on anything I wanted to see, and this was a really good tactic for me. Someone from Blogger Con (I forget who, but she was an angel!) told me that Rainbow Rowell was going to be making a surprise appearance to sign galleys of her forthcoming novel Landline, which I have been dying to read for months! So of course I made a beeline for the Simon & Schuster booth right away, only to be told that we weren’t allowed to form a line. (Not that that stopped a lot of folks!)

Eventually they distributed tickets that guaranteed a copy of the book, so I felt secure enough to wander over to the Harlequin booth and get a signed galley of I Want It That Way by Ann Aguirre. I basically wanted this because I’d read Grimspace several years ago and liked it. This book is an entirely different genre, new adult romance, but it looks like fun (and is named after a Backstreet Boys song!). I then went back to Simon & Schuster, chatted with some lovely girls in the line, and got my signed copy of Landline! Rainbow Rowell was super nice and friendly, and she wrote “Call me. Maybe.” on the title page, which is just fantastic.

Then I spent some time just wandering around BEA, taking everything in and grabbing galleys that looked interesting. It was a much larger event than I was anticipating, and I found it overwhelming at times. But it was super cool to have all these books laid out and free for the taking! (Although some of them were NOT free and were for display only. The exhibitors really need to be better about specifying which are which!) Eventually it was time to get in line for Billy Idol. Yes, he was there signing copies of an excerpt of his upcoming memoir, Dancing with Myself! I was kind of shocked as to why he would show up at BEA — especially since he didn’t really do a meet-and-greet with the fans. I chilled in the line for an hour, finally got close to the front, and was presented with a signed copy of the chapbook, but I didn’t actually get to meet Billy Idol. Part of me was disappointed, but a bigger part of me was like OMFG BILLY IDOL! And I did get a picture of his profile:

Billy Idol

Later that afternoon I went to some panels of varying quality. I saw a brief conversation with Douglas Preston and John Scalzi called “Where Near-Future Techno-Thrillers and Sci-Fi Meet.” I didn’t care too much about the subject matter, to be honest, but I wanted to hear John Scalzi since he seems like an interesting guy. They talked about artificial intelligence and the complex algorithms used to predict shifts in the stock market…so yeah, most of it went over my head. 🙂 But I do kind of want to read more sci-fi now!

So then I went to a talk called “Beyond Authors: Self-Publishing and the ‘New’ Agents,” mostly because I wanted to get a feel for what literary agents actually do. It was a fairly dry panel, comprising literary agents from various publishing houses, and it really seemed to be geared toward people in the publishing industry. The topic was, essentially, what is the role of literary agents now that self-publishing is so accessible (and often lucrative) for authors?

And finally, I went a panel on “Making the MAKE Book: Success Stories from Publishers.” This turned out to be a talk about books that have been big successes in the past few years, with panelists from 4 different publishing companies focusing on 4 different books. I remember one guy talked about The Rosie Project, which I just bought and am planning to read later this year. It was an interesting look at how books are published and marketed, although I was left wondering why some books get more attention than others. Surely it’s not ALL based on how good the book is, right?

And speaking of books, here’s my haul from Day 2!

BEA Books Day 2

Don’t forget the swag:

BEA Swag Day 2

BEA Day 1: Blogger Con

I’ve been meaning to write a recap of my experience at Book Expo America ever since I got back a week ago. But with one thing and another (i.e., work plus utter physical exhaustion), I haven’t gotten around to it yet. Now, however, the wait is over (much to your relief, I’m sure)! I think I’m going to do a series of posts so that I can break everything down into smaller, more readable chunks (with pictures!). So without further ado, here’s what I did on Day 1 of BEA, otherwise known as the Blogger Conference:

1. Successfully found my way to the Javits Center, registered, picked up a stale bagel, and plopped down at a table next  to a total stranger. Chatted with four or five other women who also sat at my table. They were a really nice group, but I failed as a networker — I don’t think I got anyone’s contact info!

2. Listened to a keynote speech by Maureen Johnson, author of 13 Little Blue Envelopes, etc. I’m going to be totally honest here and admit that I don’t remember a ton of what she said…but I do remember that it was funny! She talked a bit about a particular review of Fifty Shades of Grey (which I can’t seem to find now, annoyingly) that basically eviscerated the book and characterized anybody who read it as dumb. Johnson didn’t like the article because it was attacking readers and telling people not to read things. She is in favor of reading things!

3. First panel — “Design 101: Creating a Picture Perfect Blog.” As someone who knows basically nothing about graphic design (hello, pre-made WordPress theme!), I found it pretty interesting. The panelists, who both work in graphic design and have blogs, talked about: pros and cons of various blogging platforms; design programs such as Photoshop; places to find images with Creative Commons licenses (i.e., you can use them, with certain restrictions, without violating copyright laws); and what kinds of things to include in your sidebar, header, etc. I’m fairly happy with my blog’s design right now, but if/when I want to dive in and make some changes, I’ll have a few ideas to get me going!

4. Second panel — “Software 101: Best Blogging Tools.” This was another good panel, featuring bloggers from Book Smugglers, Smart Bitches, Trashy Books, and Cuddlebuggery. All the speakers were great fun and very entertaining! The content was somewhat similar to the first panel, dealing with different blogging platforms. They also talked about good plugins to use in order to increase efficiency of posting and readership. Now I have to figure out plugins!

5. Third panel — “Blogging and the Law.” I almost didn’t go to this panel. I figured, hey, I took classes on copyright and intellectual property in law school, so I already know this stuff! But I’m very glad that I attended after all, because the speakers were really interesting and had some good general insights about copyright issues, plagiarism, and the like. They also suggested that bloggers check out the Electronic Frontier Foundation website, which talks about bloggers’ rights and responsibilities.

6. Last panel — “Engaging Your Readers: Take Your Writing to the Next Level.” This one was a bit of a dud, to be honest. The description made it sound like it would give concrete suggestions for types of blog posts other than book reviews, or maybe suggest strategies for increasing your blog readership. Instead, I felt like the suggestions were so vague and basic as to be useless — vary your content! Read other people’s blogs and comment! Um, thanks, but that’s pretty obvious. I wish their advice had been more specific.

7. Free books!

BEA Books Day 1

Allison Leotta was one of the panelists at the “Blogging & the Law” session, and she was giving away copies of Discretion and Speak of the Devil. Unfortunately, they’re books 2 and 3 in a series of legal thrillers, so I’ll have to track down book 1, Laws of Attraction, before I can read them! I also picked up The Accidental Highwayman by Ben Tripp, because I’m a sucker for any book with a long and humorous subtitle. I was intrigued by R.C. Lewis’ Stitching Snow, which looks like a sci-fi retelling of Snow White. The Only Thing to Fear by Caroline Tung Richmond is an alternate history in which Germany won WWII. And I’ve already read Jackaby by William Ritter, which is a charming YA novel set in 19th-century America. The titular character shares more than a passing resemblance to BBC’s “Sherlock,” and there are lots of fun, fantastical hijinks!

8. Swag! Specifically, several bookmarks, an e-galley of Fives and Twenty-Fives by Michael Pitre, and a cute nerdy button from DK Publishing.

BEA Swag Day 1

9. Went to the New York Public Library with Hannah from indiewritergirl0329! I didn’t end up doing a lot of touristy things in New York, mostly because I was there by myself and I didn’t feel comfortable wandering around the city alone in the dark. But I really wanted to go to the NYPL, so I’m really glad I was able to make that happen! It’s a gorgeous building…

New York Public Library Lion 1
New York Public Library Lion 2

…and they had the most amazing exhibit about children’s literature! Seriously, this was the best-curated exhibit I’ve ever seen.

Great Green Room

Look, it’s the “great green room” from Goodnight Moon!!! I wish I had taken more pictures of the exhibit, because it was AMAZING. It made me wish I had a kid just so I could bring him/her to see it!

So that was my first day at BEA, and happily, it was a good one! If you were there, which panel did you enjoy the most? What books did you pick up? Was Blogger Con worth it to you?

En route to Book Expo America!

So apparently I suck at this whole blogging thing, because I forgot to mention that I will be attending Book Expo America this week! It will be my first time at BEA, so I’m a little nervous, but also very excited! It seems like a great opportunity to meet authors, snag some free books, and (of course) interact with other bloggers. So with that in mind, if you’re going to be there too, please come and say hi! I’ll probably be in line for Elizabeth Wein’s autograph or hanging out with Cary Elwes. 😀