I’m almost as overwhelmed trying to write this post as I was in New York with the sensory overload and the BEA and the so many books my head is spinning. So I suppose I’ll start from the beginning…
Day 1, Sunday – My gracious hosts showed me an evening on the town. They live in the Chelsea neighborhood, so they took me to the Chelsea Market and to Buddakan where I had a lovely drink called Fate made from Prosecco and other tasty stuff. What’s cool about this place is not only the awesome Asian decor but that it’s a converted bank with some incredible architecture. Then we took the subway to the south tip of Manhattan to see the Statue of Liberty across the water. Next, a beer at The Fraunces Tavern, the oldest bar in the country. Did a quick walk around Wall Street and near the sight of the Twin Towers and the construction zone for the Freedom Tower. Also saw lots of really cool old cemeteries nestled among the high rises. Then off to Little Italy for dinner at Angelo’s. I had what could only be the best mozzarella ever outside of Italy, and we shared pasta, an incredible swordfish and chicken parm with a nice bottle of red wine. Next stop, the Flat Iron Lounge for a dirty martini. We got back to their apartment pretty late and devoured delicious pastries called Lobster Tails.
Day 2, Monday – Walked the full mile and a half from Chelsea to the Javits Center for registration and the Book Blogger Conference. Picked up my swag bag and found a spot at Table 7, where there was a seat reserved for authors to rotate during breakfast. The best part of this morning was the connections I made with my fellow bloggers. I was lucky enough to be seated by Monica from The Obscured Vixen, Kate from Midnight Book Girl, Sheila from Book Journey (who is from Brainerd, MN and goes to church with my cousin, small world), and Kimberly from Lazy Day Books (a fellow Chicagoan, small world again).
Then we got up close and personal with a few authors. First Justin Cronin, author of The Passage promoting the second book in his trilogy, The Twelve. The funny thing about just chatting with him on Monday was that on Tuesday, the line for his signing was incredibly long. Next, Will Schwalbe, who talked about his memoir The End of Your Life Book Club, about reading with his mother while she was dying of pancreatic cancer. Such a sad topic, but he was so warm and enthusiastic. Finally, Amy Sohn talked about her new book Motherland. She’s a little crazy, but knows how to engage her fans and talk up her book!
The keynote speaker was author and blogger Jennifer Weiner, who was incredibly funny, dropped the F bomb and managed to mention vaginas and BJ’s. I’ve never read any of her books, but I got a copy of Then Came You in my swag bag, which I got signed and I’ll read eventually just to see what she’s all about.
At lunch, I moved to a networking table where I finally had a chance to catch up with Trish from Hey Lady Whatcha Readin’? and TLC Book Tours. This is where I was introduced to Jennifer from The Literate Housewife and we became fast friends. The afternoon consisted of a few breakout sessions, but the main thing I got out of any of that was that I NEED to get a Twitter account. Like ASAP. And I did get to promote my book craftiness and hand out bookmarks at one of the sessions.
Last but not least, was the BEA Editors’ Buzz, where editors discussed the 6 most anticipated books of the year. I got my free galley copies of The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce, In the Shadow of the Banyan by Vaddey Ratner, The People of Forever Are Not Afraid by Shani Boianjiu, and Brain on Fire by Susannah Cahalan.
I was fortunate enough to score an invite to the Harper Collins cocktail event for that evening, where I mingled with HC editors, authors like Michael Boccacino, Simon Van Booy and Liza Palmer, who was an absolute riot. Also made an immediate connection with the lovely blogger Swapna from S. Krishna’s Books. And got nice and toasty on free vodka tonics.
On my way home, I decided I was close enough to Times Square to walk through, take pictures and pick up some souvenirs. When I got to where I wanted to pick up a cab, though, the street was barricaded for President Obama’s motorcade, so I was stuck there for 15 minutes before the cavalcade sped through and I was allowed to get back to Chelsea.
Day 3, Tuesday – Finally Expo Day!!! Met up with Jenn from The Picky Girl for a greasy spoon breakfast, then we meandered over to Javits. While Jenn was registering, I headed over to Rachel Joyce’s table to get my copy of The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry signed. Then I said hello to some folks over at the Amazon area, then Jenn and I found each other and started purposefully wandering. At one point I caught a glimpse of Literate Housewife Jennifer standing in the middle of an aisle looking completely bewildered and lost, so she joined us. Then we met up with Amanda from Dead White Guys and the four of us lovely lady bloggers hit up some more exhibitors. This was also where we ran into Simon and he kissed me on the cheek and we all swooned.
We then decided to split up because we all wanted to hit different autograph lines. Along my way I ran into Deb from my local Tuscan Market where we typically have book club. She runs all sorts of book events at this lovely wine bar. Then I headed over to see Simon where he signed a copy of Everything Beautiful Began After, “with affection.” I also had Rebecca Coleman sign a copy of Heaven Should Fall, and chatted up Matti Friedman who signed The Aleppo Codex for me, and finally Selden Edwards who signed The Lost Prince. In one line, I met Kim from Sophisticated Dorkiness and we chatted for a while. She won one of the four big Goodreads Blogger awards, so I was a little intimidated, but she’s very sweet! It was in one of these cattle-corraling lines that I also stood 5 feet away from Natalie Merchant. Plus I picked up so many other books, I’ll do a future post of everything I obtained from the Expo and various swag bags once I get my box…
By this time, I felt like I had accomplished everything I had wanted to, so took care of the logistical aspects of shipping my books, retrieving my luggage and getting a cab. And that, ladies and gentlemen, was Julz’s first BEA. I already can’t wait until next year. I think the best part besides the authors and free books was finally meeting some of my online friends in the flesh and making connections with other book nerds. BEA is heaven…