Wednesday, June 3, 2015

BEA the Melissa A Way

By Melissa Amster

You may remember my post about BEA (Book Expo America) from 2014. Well, I got to go again and it was an even more amazing experience. I'm going to break down my visit into a time table so you can see how busy it was and how much I was able to do in that short of a time span! (In New York, time goes by at warp speed.)

Wednesday, May 27th

4:45 pm: I arrived at a wine tasting party in honor of Laura Dave's latest novel, Eight Hundred Grapes. It was an intimate gathering and Laura was so friendly and welcoming. This is where I first got to meet Kaley from Books Etc. in person. I also got to meet Jackie Friedland, who has guest reviewed for CLC a few times. I was not expecting to meet Melody from Read Baby Read, so that was a nice surprise too. Liz and Lisa were there, as well. I met a few other authors, publishers, and publicists. Right before I left, I got to meet Robert and Morgan from BookSparks. It was fun chatting with them too. There were little snacks and desserts to nosh on at this event, but I was saving room for dinner too. I even got to take home a mug!

With Laura Dave

With Liz and Lisa

6:10 pm: Hopped into a cab with Liz, Lisa, and Kaley to go to the Ladie's First event hosted by Jennifer Weiner at Le Parker Meridian. Right when I arrived, I met Kristy Woodson Harvey, who is as delightful in person as she is online. I also got to meet Elisabeth Egan, Elin Hilderbrand and Jen Lancaster. They were all really nice! I reunited with Samantha Stroh Bailey, Meredith Schorr, and Brenda Janowitz, as well. Before I left, I got to chat with Jennifer Weiner for a few minutes. It's been three years since I last saw her and she still remembered me. It was a really cool party and I felt honored to be there. As we were getting off the elevator when we first arrived, I saw Jodi Picoult leaving with an entourage. I didn't get a chance to talk with her though.

With Kristy Woodson Harvey

With Brenda Janowitz

With Jen Lancaster
With Elin Hilderbrand

With Jen Weiner

7:40 pm: Hopped into another cab with Kaley, Samantha, and Meredith to head to dinner, where we were meeting a few authors and bloggers. The ride was taking forever, so at one point we finally got out and walked the rest of the way in the rain. I was helping Samantha with her umbrella since it kept going up in the wind and we didn't want her hair to get all frizzy. When we arrived, the first person I saw was none other than Amy Bromberg! I finally got to meet my blog partner in person after FOUR long years! It was wonderful too. She's so enthusiastic and I had a lot of fun chatting with her face to face. When we talk by phone or e-mail, we tend to misunderstand each other, but this time our communication had no awkwardness. It felt like we had never not met in person, if that makes any sense! While I was initially worried I'd feel like a giant next to her, it ended up that we were pretty close in height. Anyway, it was an intimate group of eight women (including myself), sitting around and making each other laugh. Julie Valerie, Francine LaSala, and Lynn Marie Hulsman rounded out the group. We had so much fun chatting and even celebrated Samantha and Kaley's birthdays.

We meet at last!
With Samantha Stroh Bailey

With Meredith Schorr
With Julie Valerie
With Kaley from Books Etc.

After dinner, I went home, still high on the energy of the wonderful evening. However, I had to rest up for BEA...

Thursday, May 28th

8:45 am: Got a ride from Uber to Javits Center and then hightailed it over to where people were lining up to meet Kunal Nayyar, who plays Raj on The Big Bang Theory. I didn't want to be stuck at the end of a long line, so I figured it was better to stand around and wait. I had Jane Green's latest novel to keep me company, as well as some friendly bloggers and librarians standing nearby. (One of the women next to me in line reminded me of Marlene from Book Mama, both in looks and personality.) Once it was time to meet Kunal, the line moved quickly. They wouldn't let us pose for pictures with him, nor let him personalize anything. However, they let us take pictures of him and he smiled for each and every one. I somehow was able to speak coherently and told him how much I enjoy BBT. He was very gracious and told me that meant a lot to him.

10:50 am: Lined up to meet Mitch Albom, author of Tuesdays with Morrie. While he was really nice, he also spent a lot of time talking to everyone who came by to meet him. So the line moved slowly. When it was my turn, I told him how my husband doesn't like to read much but enjoyed "Tuesdays." He said a lot of women have told him that. :) And apparently, people will read his books while waiting in line to meet him and finish them before they even get to the front of the line. His latest novel is The Magic Strings of Frankie Presto. Afterward, I got in line to get Vanessa Diffenbaugh's new novel, We Never Asked for Wings (this one was for Amy). Then I walked around for a bit and found Liza Wiemer (more about her later) in line for a children's book, so I lined up to get it too. Afterward, I met up with Samantha and Julie for a quick snack. On the way over to meet them, I ran into a Facebook friend who is also named Melissa. We recognized each other right away!

12:30 pm: Met up with Pam Jenoff, as well as Tamara of Traveling with T and Kristin of Always with a Book. We grabbed some snacks and had a picnic since there were no available tables and chairs. We just chatted about our favorite TV shows, shared book recommendations, etc. It was fun and relaxing.

Pam, Tamara, Kristin, and me at our year we'll bring blankets!
Afterward, I walked around a bit more and checked out the various booths before my next meeting.

2:00 pm: I met up with Ann-Marie Nieves of Get Red PR. We've been working together whenever she has a chick lit novel to promote, so it was a treat to finally meet her in person. She's really sweet and we had fun talking for a while. We were sharing pictures of our kids and talking about what it's like to blog vs. actually work as a book publicist. I got a lot of insight from her.

Me and Ann-Marie...whose hair is curlier? :)
3:00 pm: On the way to New York, I finished and really enjoyed Wishful Thinking by Kamy Wicoff. I had heard she was going to be at BEA, but wasn't sure when, and I "wished" to meet her. I reached out to her and she wrote back saying that she wasn't intending on being there Thursday, but since I was going to be there, she'd stop by. It meant a lot to me that she'd take time out of her busy day just to meet a blogger. We made plans to meet at 3:00 at the She Writes Press booth (where I also got to see Robert again.) It was great meeting her in person and I even got some background into how she created the characters for her book.

With Kamy Wicoff and her wonderful book!
3:30 pm: I lined up to get Pretty Baby by Mary Kubica and The Last Summer at Chelsea Beach by Pam Jenoff. Before the line started moving, I got to see Samantha one more time. Kaley was there too, but she was also in line. I got to meet Beth from Fuelled By Fiction, as well.

With Samantha and Kaley

I didn't realize that to get the two books I wanted, I also had to first get the other books being offered at that time. I wasn't as familiar with the other authors at the booth, but they seemed nice. Then I stopped by Hachette's booth to get Saint Mazie by Jami Attenberg and swung by the Penguin booth to get Auggie and Me (which my son is currently devouring) by R.J. Palacio (whom I met last year).

I tried connecting with some other people I know were going to be at BEA, but they had left for the day. Before I left, I swung by the Spencer Hill Press booth to say hi to Liza Wiemer (pronounced "Leeza Weemer," which I didn't realize until earlier this year) from WhoRuBlog. She was busy, but we got to chat for a few minutes. She was going to give me one of her copies of her upcoming YA novel, Hello?, but someone apparently snatched it out of her bag. I just hope that person gives her a good review! I can wait for a copy, but I definitely want to read it! The staff at Spencer Hill is really nice and I enjoyed talking to a few of the people standing around the booth at the time.

With Liza Wiemer

Are you exhausted yet? Well, I definitely was! And I left with three bags full of books! (Yet I somehow still envied some other people's stashes...go figure!)

Next year in Chicago! (Maybe some of you will get to meet my mom...)

What came home with me from BEA and the parties (see close ups below)


Book Mama said...

Love, love, love all the pics. I wish I was able to be there with you this year. It looks like you had a fab time. xoxoxo

Angleterre71 said...

What a great recap!!!! Such an amazing groups of women! So glad you had a wonderful time and I'm sorry I didn't get to meet you in person! I was only able to do a few hours here and there since it was a last minute trip for me. Love living vicariously through your posts. :)

Meredith said...

Sounds like you had such an amazing time. I'm so thrilled to have been part of it! Can't wait to see you again...

Colleen Turner said...

Wow, thank you SO MUCH for giving us a play by play of what actually happens at BEA! I've never been but I really hope I can go in the next few years. I would feel like a kid in a candy store with all those authors and books :).

Unknown said...

Sounds tiring and awesome! Mostly awesome! Thank you for letting us know.

Samantha Stroh Bailey said...

I love this so much! It also makes me really miss you. How do you take so many great pics? What an incredible time and an amazing recap. xoxo

Unknown said...

Goodness gracious, Melissa! You were busy, busy, busy! Wasn't that a great week? I'm a bit homesick for BEA reading everyone's blog posts. I have to get mine written before the week ends. I managed to return home to a spastic end-of-school week with all four kids getting out of school and starting summer. Momma is exhausted! Loved the post, Melissa. LOVED SEEING YOU, ROOMIE! (See you soon with Jen Tucker!)

OnDBookshelf said...

Fabulous recap! I was at the Ladies First party (I was hanging out with Kristy Woodson Harvey for a lot of the evening), we probably walked right by each other. Great book selections......I'm extremely jealous of Saint Mazie, I just couldn't juggle my schedule to get there for that signing.

Kristy Woodson Harvey said...

Metting you was one of the highlights of my trip! Thank you so, so much for taking all the time to chat. I loved it! You and quite a whirlwind of a trip. Next time, I'm just going to follow you around ;) Thanks for all the love you've shown DEAR CAROLINA too. You're amazing! xo Kristy

cpr040304 said...

Oh how fun! Would have loved to have met Mitch Albom, I've read all of his books :) Love all the great books you brought home with you. The mug and tote bags are cute!

Amber @ A Little Pink in the Cornfields said...

OMG! Another RJ Palacio book?! My students have devoured each book and sequel that has been released and this book has turned non-readers into readers before my very eyes. It has been such a joy to see! I cannot wait to get Auggie and Me!!

Cher B said...

Looks like you had an amazing time and picked up some great swag. Looking forward to the reviews to come!

susieqlaw said...

What a wonderful recap! Thank you.

Janine said...

This is perfect. It was almost like being right there with the descriptions and pictures. Thank you so much for sharing your experience with us all!

Connie said...

What a wonderful time you had. I bet that everyone you met was just as excited to meet you as well. One day, I would love to meet you too!

Unknown said...

What a journey! I loved every moment of living vicariously through you! XOXO

Anonymous said...

Thank you for posting this! What fun! You got to meet/reconnect with so many great authors! It looks as if you had a wonderful time and what great 'swag'!

Kathleen Bylsma

Carol Fragale Brill said...

Melissa, fun living BEA vicariously through your pictures. Thanks for sharing.

Unknown said...

I loved this recap. Thank you so very much for sharing! It looks like so much fun. I cannot believe that you and Amy had never met! How is that possible:)? Oh, the power of the internet!