Friday, June 6, 2014

Thoughts From a BEA First-Timer

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 THE JOURNEY TO BEA 2014

Last year, I heard all of this hype around something call BEA (Book Expo America) and I just had to know what it was and why so many people were talking about it. After looking into it, I knew I just had to go! Unfortunately, in 2013 the days in which BEA was the take place, I had started my second week of summer classes and couldn’t take off from school without dropping a letter grade in my classes. So, I made the grown-up decision to wait until the next year.

Fast forward a few months and the planning to attend BEA 2014 was in full swing! After reading everyone’s BEA recap posts, I began my research on hotels, places to eat, and calculating just how much money I would need to save in order to make this girls dream a reality. Of course I wasn’t going to go by myself, so Christie, my fabulous blogging partner and best friend, decided she also had to go. We also managed to snag two other roommates, one of which we had met at YALLFest in November of 2013 and the other being a fellow blogger we had never met.

Fast forward, once again, to the week of BEA 2014! Unfortunately due to some car issues, one of our roommates was unable to go as originally planned, so we were down to three. And then the universe decided to rain down on us a little more and due to work and personal issues, Christie was unable to go at the very last minute. We both cried, a lot. But we made promises that one day, NYC would meet it’s match with the both of us. So after more tears and trying to find light in a dark situation, I headed to the airport and began my first solo journey to The Big Apple.

After a short 1.5 hour flight from the Carolinas to NYC, I made it and was ready to take on the task of getting from JFK to the hotel, ROW NYC. Getting the taxi was easy thanks to the airport staff, but let me tell you…it took everything in me not to get sick due to the crazy taxi ride. I’m pretty sure I jumped out of the backseat as soon as we slowed to a stop at the hotel. Once at the hotel, I was able to breathe and anxious to meet my roommate, Michelle from Pink Polka Dot Books. After a few hours, we met and it was so nice to have someone there to experience all of the BEA excitement with!

NYC DAY ONE: TEEN AUTHOR CARNIVAL

After Michelle and I got settled and took some time to freshen up after our traveling, we headed over to the Jefferson Market Library where the Teen Author Carnival was being held. We were a tad late, but still able to take part in one of the panels being offered. The panel was called Time After Time and featured a great line up of authors – Gayle Forman, Una LaMarche, Jennifer E. Smith, Lauren Morrill, Adi Alsaid, and Tiffany Schmidt– all of which were fabulous! After some great discussion and Q&A time, a panel called Time After Time wouldn’t be complete without all of the author’s and attendees breaking our best Cyndi Lauper impressions and singing Time After Time together. This was most certainly a highlight of the trip and I have a pretty nice video of the authors singing on my phone. 

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Jefferson Market Library

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Gayle, Una, Tiffany, Lauren, Adi, & Jennifer

After the panel, there was an opportunity to meet the authors and get some books signed. Of course, traveling via plane to NYC, I couldn’t really bring any books with me, especially since I would have to get my book haul from BEA back to the Carolinas. So, I happened to be carrying the Out of Print tote that Christie had given me for my birthday and I thought it would be a GREAT idea to have a few of the authors sign it. While I didn’t get to every author that happened to be there, I did manage to snag a few favorites & then some and I thought my tote turned out fantastic! 

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Lauren Morrill

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Signed tote (tote from Out of Print)

NYC DAY TWO: BEA DAY ONE

Day two was an early start, but worth it! We arrived to the Javits Center not long after 7am to grab some Starbucks and sit in line to enter the conference center. The doors didn’t open until 9am, but the wait wasn’t bad at all. In fact, we were able to meet up with two bloggers whom I had spoken to on Twitter a few times leading up to BEA – Jessica from Lovin’ Los Libros and Tonya from Lily Bloom Books. It was so great meeting them and I hope we are able to get together again in the future.

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Me, Jessica, Tonya, & Michelle

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The line waiting to go in on day one

Upon entering, I was slightly overwhelmed and had no idea what exactly I was going to do. Luckily, Jessica & Tonya had a plan so we stuck with them and it was a good thing we did considering our first book we snagged happened to me the highly anticipated I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson. That book alone was enough for me on day one, but of course I wasn’t going to stop there. The rest of the day consisted of standing in signing lines, snagging some galleys, meeting more fabulous authors and bloggers, and overall having an amazing time. I wish I could put into words just how incredible this experience was. After a year of dreaming of BEA, I was finally there and I felt like I was dreaming from time to time.

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Jane Lynch

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Bethenny Frankel

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Day one haul

Highlights from day one involved getting a TFiOS movie poster along with TWO advanced screening passes to If I Stay. I also got to meet Bethenny Frankel! I was definitely a little star struck!

NYC DAY THREE: BEA DAY TWO

Day two of BEA was once again an early morning for me and one that left me feeling as if I had been struck by a dump truck. I was so sore from all of the previous days standing and walking, but it was so worth it. I arrived at the Javits Center a little after 7am and snagged my morning coffee and plopped myself down to wait in line. While waiting, I was able to meet a few more bloggers and also plan out my strategy for the day. Day two, for me, was probably my most busy day and one that left me running from one end of the exhibit hall to the other all day long.
I seemed to come out of my shell more during day two. I’m a shy gal. While waiting in several lines I was able to meet and talk with several bloggers and book lovers. It was such a cool experience meeting all of these people whom I follow on Twitter and in the blogging world. A few of them were from the UK and even Australia!
A few of my favorite authors I met this day were Becca Fitzpatrick, Amanda Maciel, Morgan Matson, & Rachel Harris. I also go to sit with one of my favorite bloggers, Jamie from The Perpetual Page-Turner during the Real YA panel.  Jamie’s blog was actually one the first I came across when I was considering starting my own blog. I loved meeting her and being able to spend a few minutes chatting before the panel started. I wish we had gotten a picture though!
The Real YA panel had E. Lockhart, Gayle Forman, Meg Wolitzer, and Jandy Nelson and it was a fun panel to sit in on and interesting to hear some of the author’s thoughts on diversity in YA.

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Becca Fitzpatrick

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Morgan Matson

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Real YA panel

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Day two haul

Day two also consisted of dinner with a group of some wonderful bloggers and venturing out to Central Part for the Book Blogger Picnic. Of course, we were a little late and got caught in the rain, but it was still wonderful to meet up with more bloggers and talk books. After some cake and talking, a group of us went to McGee’s Pub for drinks.

Before I go on, I want to thank Alexa from Alexa Loves Books, Andrea from The Overstuffed Bookcase, Jen from YA Romantics, and Katelyn from Kate’s Tales of Books and Bands for putting together the Book Bloggers Picnic!

It was so much fun spending the evening with so many fabulous bloggers and having the chance to meet them in real life. I hope our paths cross once again!

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Pictured with me above is Teresa from Readers Live a Thousand Lives, Danielle from Love at First Page, Cece from Cece Reads, Chelsea from Starbucks & Books Obsession, Tonya from Lily Bloom Books, Jessica from Lovin’ Los Libros, and Wendy from Book Scents.

NYC DAY FOUR: EXPLORING & THE STRAND

Day four, Michelle and I decided not to attend Book Con, which was open to the public as well as those registered for BEA. We heard it was a madhouse so we were glad we didn’t have to go an deal with the massive crowds. We used our last day in NYC to do some exploring of 5th Avenue, Union Square, and even getting slightly lost in the subway. The main highlight from the day would have to be our visit to The Strand Bookstore. I have a list of indie bookstore I want to visit when traveling and this was definitely at the top of the list. I was amazed at how big it was and how reasonably priced everything was. I got a hardback of a book for only $9! That’s something to get excited over! I wish we were able to spend more time there, but of course we had to leave and go our separate ways.

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Overall, my BEA experience was fantastic and I so hope to be able to go again in the future. It was so nice meeting so many bloggers & authors and being in literary heaven for four days.

Please be sure to say HI from time to time, whether it be on here, FB, or Twitter!

Happy reading!

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10 Responses to “Thoughts From a BEA First-Timer”

  1. Dizneeee

    Hooray, Heather! I’m so glad you had a good time. I’m super sad for both you and Christie that she was unable to attend. My heart broke a little for y’all.

    Y’all will make it together. Soon!

  2. Wendy @ Book Scents

    It was awesome meeting you Heather!!! Also, I adore that tote bag and am on that site right now. I realize I got a bazillion totes from BEA but I think I may buy it… it’s just so awesome!! Too bad we didn’t get to hit the Strand but it looks really cool! Maybe next year!
    Wendy @ Book Scents recently posted…My NYC Adventures and BEA Recap!

  3. tonyalee

    I had a great time meeting you at BEA! And missed you during BookCon! I’m glad, overall, you had a good time 😉

  4. Micheline @ Lunar Rainbows Reviews

    Fantastic recap post – man, I just loved looking at your lovely pictures and reliving the whole BEA experience all over again 😀 I love your signed tote and picture of Jane Lynch!! You met some brilliant authors and got a lot amazing books – not to mention meeting all the cool bloggers at the picnic and McGees 😉 Hopefully we’ll see each other there again next year – BEA really is a dream come true isn’t it?

    Micheline @ Lunar Rainbows Reviews
    Micheline @ Lunar Rainbows Reviews recently posted…Stacking the Shelves 36 – BEA’14

    • Heather Anne

      Thank you! It was a blast, overwhelming at times, but I still enjoyed it! So nice meeting you! Come to YALLFEST in November if you’re able! It’s not as big, but still so much fun!

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