Monday, May 23, 2016

My First BEA and BookCon...

This year since BEA was in Chicago for the first time in 12 years, and I'm guessing it won't be there again any time soon I decided to try it. I had never gone before since flying to NYC and back is not possible for me. Also since I was there already, I decided to stay for BookCon and see if it was as nutty as people say.

Day 0.5 Highlights:
I started my adventure Tuesday right after school by picking up Heidi of YABibliophile, and loading up our stuff (of which we both packed a lot of.) We headed to Naperville to our favorite bookstore, Anderson's Bookshop, where we listened to Maggie Stiefvater talk about many silly stories, signed her car cover from the tour, received a gorgeous wrap for the full Raven Boys series and got our Raven King books signed!! YAY!! Then it was on to the Hyatt Regency McCormick Place in Chicago to check-in to our rooms, find food and figure out our plans for the next day. Heidi also had these two fantastic gifts for me of a Raven Boys bag she made herself and a small pouch of little essentials for the week when she got in my car! What a sweetie! She is such a good friend. Plus she was an excellent navigator and toll payer! :) I'm so glad we met in college. 
Day 1 BEA Highlights:
There were two things that were good about Wednesday - the blogger panels and the 5th Annual Children's Librarians' Dinner at the Palmer House Hilton. I did have a bit of a panic attack about the fact that I waited in line for a taxi for about 45 minutes and when I was going to be late I ran for my car in the garage deciding to take my chances driving in downtown Chicago for the first time ever hoping Google could get me there and back safely AND that there would be parking nearby. It all went really well, and the dinner was INCREDIBLE! It was probably my favorite thing from the entire week actually. When we arrived, each chair had a bag full of each author's book and a few other fun items. There was a 3 course dinner, then each author spoke about themselves, their works, and their newest book coming out. After that we got our books and posters signed while getting to visit one on one with each author. WOW!! Loved it. No stress, no drama, and so much value from it all. I came away with very cool stories that I can now share with my students when promoting these authors and their books. What wasn't cool was that it cost $42 to park in the garage across the street for 3 hours! Seriously!! O_O 

Here's a link to a post about Day 1 only. I thought I'd do one each day but was just too tired to. 
Day 2 BEA Highlights:
This was an interesting day filled with lots of event floor walking and standing in line after line after line. I think there were so many things to chose from that I just wasn't prepared for it all somehow and that meant I wasn't very into the day. I did make time for signings with Kristin Simmons, Raina Telgemeier, Melissa de la Cruz, Jim Ottaviani, and Jon Scieszka throughout the day. I also wandered and visited with a couple of bloggers I have been following for years who were just as amazing in real life as they have been online, Andye of ReadingTeen and Ashley of NoseGraze. Meeting them was probably the highlight of my day. I also made a couple great connections with publishers that made me quite happy. 
Day 3 BEA Highlights: 
By Friday I felt like I knew where I was going and what I wanted to see realistically. I started this day by attending the Children's Book and Author Breakfast which was moderated by Jamie Lee Curtis. The authors who spoke were Jamie Lee Curtis, Dav Pilkey, Sabaa Tahir and Gene Luen Yang. This was so darn good and powerful. The food on the other hand was rather subpar, but as I was walking in a rep from an association asked if I was a librarian (which I am) and escorted me to a table that was SO close I could almost leap forward and bow at the author's feet on the stage. WOW! I also made sure to stand in line forever very early in the morning before the breakfast to get a ticket in the morning to attend a signing with Alexandra Bracken who wrote Passenger which is still in my Top 5 for this year! Mind-blowing really. I cannot wait for the next book which we got to see the cover of there = WOW! 

I also sat in on an incredible panel of YA authors which was moderated by VERONICA ROTH talking with Melissa de la Cruz, Alyson Noel, Kendare Blake, and Lauren Oliver. I was in the 3rd row on the end allowing for maximum listening and watching, but keeping me far enough away that I was pretty sure I wasn't going to do anything embarrassing like rush the stage and kiss their feet or something. 

I also stood in line for many signings, and even made a few friends in line. I met Melissa de la Cruz, again. (I know, I didn't realize I was so stalker-ish with her until afterwards. To be fair I have read tons of her books compared to 1 or 2 of others. I love her writing.) I also met/got items signed by Kendare Blake, Jennifer Armentrout, Eleanor Herman, Amy Lukavics, and Kiera Drake. 

While I was waiting for the panel earlier in the day to start, a dear friend I had been hoping to catch up with, Anne Greenwood Brown, showed up. Oh how I missed her! We had a great chat while waiting and even had dinner later that night talking and talking into the night. 
Day 4 BookCon Highlights:
This was the most bizarre experience ever. Seriously. I'm glad for the experience, but whoa. I started by walking over to the expo building to get my badge. Then I had to walk about a mile back down to the end of a line that was at least a mile long. Literally. I was glad I was trying to clear out my hotel fridge and just threw my whole yogurt container in my bag to eat breakfast while walking in line. (If you follow Jay Kristoff, he posted a video of about half of the line I was in.) Eventually we all ended up in a room with about 3,000 (I think. Who knows really!?) people standing and waiting to be let onto the floor. I checked the board on my way in that said if author signings still had wristbands left but that was a joke. Nope. So I crossed Victoria Aveyard and Danielle Paige off of my hopeful list to meet. Once we were let in, it was the most bizarre thing with people literally running about and grabbing things here and there. In the end I spent most of the day wandering around, watching people, and getting fun things once and a while. I did go to two panels "Friendship is Magic" with Sarah J. Maas, Susan Dennard, Victora Aveyard and Alexandra Bracken, AND "What is Light without Darkness? Balancing Good and Evil in YA Literature" with Margot from EpicReads moderating authors Lauren Oliver, Veronica Roth, Sabaa Tahir and Melissa de la Cruz. The only signing I went to was for my friend Anne Greenwood Brown and Heather Anastasiu's new book, Girl Last Seen. I cannot wait to read it! 

Then we finished our day by going to another signing at Anderson's Bookshop where we met Sarah J. Maas and had our books signed! YAY! 
Final thoughts: I'm very glad I was given the opportunity to try this national convention this year, and then paid for BookCon too. I will never press my nose against the screen again trying to look in on BEA green with envy again. Once was more then enough. I will stick to visits to Anderson's events and can't wait for ALA Annual in Chicago next summer. LOVED ALAMW15! 
What I came home with clockwise from top left: Rachel's, mine, the fun stuff for all, and the girls.
Were you at BEA? What was your favorite experience? 

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