I realize it is has been quite some time since my last post - and while it would be easy for me to feel guilty for such a long delay, I know that it simply could not be helped. Last Thursday morning ( early morning - as in left the house at 5:30am) my husband and I left for a trip to New York City. The primary purpose of the trip was for me to attend my first ever Book Expo of America (BEA) - but we also combined business with pleasure (well.....ok....it was really combining pleasure with pleasure). We used this opportunity to visit old friends and belatedly celebrate Geoff's 50th birthday. It was a phenomenal trip on all accounts!
I normally post in chronological order (my highly organized, logical brain oftentimes does not see any other way), but this time I thought I would write 4 different posts about this amazing trip. The greatest highlight for me was to meet the bloggers whom I follow on a regular basis, so that will be the focus of today's post. I will also write entries on the wonderful authors I met, a few of the Village independent bookstores that I visited, and then finally a post on the NYC restaurants at which we ate in the off-hours.
I was filled with many pre-BEA jitters on Friday morning as I boarded the M34 crosstown bus. We stayed with family friends on 30th and 1st Avenue and the Expo was held at the Javits Center on 34th and 11th Avenue. It was a rather drizzly Friday morning and the bus was very crowded. The entire trip up 34th Street I allowed all my doubts and fears to surface: will they have my registration; will I get lost; will I be asked a lot of bookish questions that I will not know the answers; will be so overwhelmed that I will choose to leave rather than persevere. Fortunately the ride was only about 20 minutes, as who knows what other questions I would have developed.
Stephanie of Stephanie's Written Word
Come to find out - every single one of those questions was totally unfounded. I arrived at the Center, went straight to the Express Registration Booth, showed them my email with barcode, received my Registration Badge and was set to go in less than 5 minutes! Stephanie of Stephanie's Written Word called me to say that she was waiting in line to get into the exhibit hall, so I was able to meet up with her. What an absolute joy she is! We were able to get acquainted in line before entering the "bedlam" and she is such a delightful, upbeat woman of character. Come to find out she is a trained pastry chef - which is exactly what my daughter is interested in pursuing! We had lots to talk about.
Amy of My Friend Amy
The exhibit hall is a bit overwhelming at first. There are booths EVERYWHERE with thousands of people darting in and out. I am glad that I had a partner to navigate the aisles. We basically wandered around and "oohed" and "ahhed" over everything. We just tried to soak it all in and get the lay of the land. I must say that by the end of my two day stay, I had learned the setup of the exhibit hall, and I could easily navigate between the two floors. I had a blast looking at all the free ARCs and galleys and will know better how to pick and choose which ones to bring home (yes...I WILL return to BEA next year!) I did not do much networking, but hopefully, with another year of blogging experience I will feel more comfortable approaching the publicists in person.
The first day I was also able to meet Dawn of She is Too Fond of Books, Kathy of Bermuda Onion, Amy of My Friend Amy, and Julie of Booking Mama. We met outside the Convention Center (the rainy morning had transformed into an absolutely gorgeous sunny day) and ate "dirty water dogs" and pretzels in the sunshine. On Saturday I was also able to meet Candace of Beth Fish Reads, Nicole of Linus's Blanket, Trish of Hey Lady Whatcha Readin', Lenore of Presenting Lenore, and Steph of Reviewer X. How I wish I could have met all the bloggers in attendance, but with nearly 30,000 people at the Expo, it was near impossible.
Candace of Beth Fish Reads
Now my own children make fun of me because I can always find an educational experience in just about any activity, and the meeting of fellow bloggers is no exception. I teach high school English and I use the 6 Trait Writing curriculum. The one trait that is the most difficult to explain is Voice. I tell students that Voice is like personality. Each person has a unique personality and each writer has a unique style. That was clearly evident when meeting these wonderful bloggers! The personality of the blog is exactly the personality of the writer. I would recognize them ANYWHERE - and in many cases, we did not even have to be introduced. The blogs are genuine - they come from the heart - and that is what makes them so uniquely wonderful.
Jennifer of Book Club Girl
The Book Blogger Panel was quite simply - amazing! Jennifer of Book Club Girl was the organizer of this event and it was one of the most professional break out sessions I have attended. The questions were pertinent, the conversation lively and concise, and the Jennifer did a great job of keeping the discussion on track. The break out was nearly full - with not only fellow bloggers but also booksellers, book publicists and authors. The audience was riveted by what the bloggers had to say and asked very specific, detailed questions. In fact, the session could have easily lasted another hour based on the audience interest, and when the discussion ended the panelists were swarmed with book industry professionals asking questions and requesting business cards (I had hoped to take a great photo of everyone, but I did not want to interrupt the amazing networking opportunity, so these "candid" shots will have to suffice). ALL seemed to recognize the impact that book bloggers can have on the industry and they were receptive to learn how this can be a mutually beneficial relationship. I left the session so proud to be acquainted with the 6 who represented us, and also proud that I am a part of this wonderful, essential community.
If you are interested in reading more detail about this panel discussion, please visit Dawn's posting here or to hear the recorded session visit here.