Monday, June 11, 2012

The Big BEA and Life These Past Two Weeks Recap

A year ago this Wednesday I started the most insane run of bad luck ever.  It started with a bike accident, you might remember how I did some serious damage to my face, my left hand, and both of my knees, and couldn't eat, type or walk, and could barely hold a book.  Shortly after that I came out of 13 years of remission for my Rheumatoid Arthritis, then at the end of the summer my grandma died, and a week later the hubbies grandpa died (both in Saskatchewan).  In November I got called for jury duty, and by early January my Rheumatoid Arthritis had gotten so bad I could barely dress myself. In April I got shingles, and then the day before the hubby and I were supposed to leave for the BEA Baxter and Thurman got sick.

Turns out Baxter has a previously undiagnosed genetic heart defect, which had gotten quite serious, and the vet wasn't sure he was going to make it through the weekend.  We cancelled the trip, and except for a couple of tweets and a header for the blog apologizing for the mess and confusion I went offline.

But I'm here with good news!  Baxter is doing well, it's impossible to say if he'll live 4 months or 6 more years at this point but we're committed to making every moment count and enjoying his company.  He's heavily medicated and being carefully monitored so fingers crossed that he'll beat the odds and have a long and healthy life (the crazy unlucky bit here is I've had 3 other cats with this heart condition and only Topaz lived past 6 years old, Baxter is currently 6).  The other good news was that since Baxter was rallying and the big BEA trip was what had gotten me through all the unpleasantness of the past year the hubby made the executive decision that I was flying out to New York on Monday morning, and booked my hotel so that I couldn't back out.  Within just a few hours I was at the airport and on my way.  It's maybe the craziest, last minute, seat of my pants travel I've ever been on.  And just like that I was in New York!

The Internet at my hotel was the pits though, so hence my further lack of Internet presence outside of previously scheduled posts.

I missed the Blogging Conference, which was unfortunate (I was really looking forward to meeting The Bloggess, my new personal hero), but word was that it was much the same as last year and a lot of the speakers were not actually book review bloggers so the info wasn't particularly relevant.  For my first night I stayed at The Gem hotel, a sweet little boutique hotel 2 blocks away from the Javits Centre.  I highly recommend it.  It was a great price, had excellent customer service and was a nice, quiet room (with working Internet, included in the price!).  And did I mention it was TWO BLOCKS away from Javits?? Amazing.  Unfortunately I cancelled our reservation on Saturday and by Monday they had filled it, so I was only able to stay the one night.
Maggie Stiefvater

Julie Kagawa
I woke up bright eyed and bushy tailed at 6:30am, a good half hour before I planned on getting up, a true sign I was BEA excited.  I headed over to Javits, got my suitcase checked, picked up breakfast then promptly started running into blogging friends who were no longer expecting me.  There were many hugs, and to my great delight everyone's first words were "How's Baxter?", which only further confirmed to me, these are my people.  I took it relatively easy the first day, only ending up with less than 20 books, and I took an hour and a half mid-day to change hotels.  The highlights included getting my hands on a copy of The Diviners (Libba Brays newest book!), meeting Maggie Stiefvater (who actually told me she hoped I liked Raven Boys, to which I laughed and told her she was crazy if she thought I wouldn't), and meeting Julie Kagawa (who was also super lovely and we chatted about her training her chickens, didn't I tell you? These ARE my people!).
mmm Shake Shack!

Michelle Hodkin
At the end of the day, I rushed back to the hotel, ate some of my favourite NYC food (shake shack baby!) and then cabbed it downtown for the Teen Author Carnival.  I missed the first half of the first session because of the dinner break (but since I hadn't eaten since breakfast it seemed rather imperative), but I took in the second session which was about Kick Ass Characters (I'll have a full write up about that and the other evening author signing I went to tomorrow).  I had the worst time picking sessions since there was an over abundance of spectacular authors there, but since kick ass characters are my ultimate favourite I thought I'd go with topic over authors (though Barry Lyga, and Jackson Pierce were in my panel which was amazing).  Afterwards I bought The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer (starting my foray into duplicates for this trip, but come on! So many great signatures!), and went upstairs and had a great gab with the charming Michelle Hodkin, who is also my people as we talked animal rescue (as we often do on twitter) and how Baxter was doing.

Wednesday morning was the Random House Power Reader Breakfast.  I was starting to feel the BEA fatigue setting in, and wasn't nearly as bright eyed and bushy tailed, with considerably sorer feet and shoulders, as expected.  I was super lazy and took a cab the 10 blocks up (have to baby those feet when you can!) and was promptly rewarded with a delicious array of food and a cappuccino.  I ran into a bevy of twitter/blogging friends including Jenn of Jenns Bookshelves, Jennifer of Lit Housewife and Candace of Beth Fish Reads, and we gabbed books, gardens and our respective trips into NYC while eating our way through breakfast delicacies.  There was a brief chat by two forthcoming Random House authors: Nate Berkus and  Charles Duhigg, then it hit 9 and the party started to break up to commence another marathon Javits day.

Elizabeth Norris, Veronica Roth, Bethany Griffin and Aprilynne Pike
I decided to camp out in a couple of the long lines Wednesday, for some of the group signings.  Although it meant less time tramping the floor I got a number of great books by authors I really enjoy, all signed.  The other huge perk was getting to sit on my camp stool a lot and having some much needed foot rest and some slightly more regular meals. So win, win all around.  Amy from Amy Reads was floating around Wednesday and we texted back and forth and met up several times between signings and coffee meet ups.

Brandon Mull
Highlights of the day included meeting Veronica Roth, who I told I loved the direction she took with the ending of Insurgent (she said she was glad because it had been controversial. Obviously I need to pay more attention to the interwebs because I'd totally missed that and am wondering why), meeting Jonathan Maberry (who was lovely, and had exciting news which I won't disclose since he said it was top secret), and Brandon Mull (who I had to compliment on the worlds best battle cry "Frito-lay!", which lead to a great conversation about how much the hubs and I loved Fablehaven and how much we were currently enjoying the Beyonders, which made him very happy and lead to him telling me how he's finished the final Beyonders now and that he's really excited about it and thinks it's the most epic ending he's written- to which his editor agreed).

That night I joined up with Amy and Alix of Romance Book Forum, and had fabulous free truck tacos (sounds sketchy but was instead fantastic on so many levels) and then hit the Penguin Bird Bash and the indie Pub night party with the smaller presses.  I have to say, I've never been in a club with so many book people before, it was pretty funny.  Amy introduced me to Alex Stone who she met at the Harper Collins party Monday night.  He's a magician whose book Fooling Houdini comes out in 8 days.  Can I just say? Hanging out with a magician is fun, though in all likely hood Alix's comment to Alex's tricks "I'd be more impressed if he did it naked" seems to have gone down in BEA history already as one of those classic moments (sort of like the biter last year actually, you know, the type of moment everyone hears about and remembers).

Thursday morning found a very tired me staggering out of bed with very sore feet and shoulders, and staggering all the way to the Javits in a very half asleep fashion.  I was roundly rewarded for my efforts though by a significantly quieter day on the floor (despite the fear of all attending about the 1000 power readers that were set to show up Thursday.  For the record I only spotted 2).  I finally found the Quirk booth, which I had been hunting for all week, had a lovely chat with the Edgemount folks, who I also had troubles finding earlier and went to several very exciting signings.  Among them, Kristin Cashore!! Who blew through an incredibly long line in a record amount of time and still took time to chat to each of us, as well as Maggie Stiefvater, Tessa Gratton and Brenna Yovanoff who were signing their very popular compilation The Curiosities from their Merry Sisters of Fate website.

Thursday night, after a decent late lunch and brief rest at the hotel, I headed out to Bryant Park and the main branch of the New York Public Library.  I've been before, but had never seen the Children's book room.  Since it was only a few blocks from the hotel it seemed like a good quick outing, and for the record was the second NYC library branch visited this trip (talk about a bookish binge).  I was thrilled to see they still had the book bag I had coveted off their website three years ago, and even better yet, now it was on sale!  So I grabbed one, headed back to the hotel to switch it out from my purse (way more comfortable on my poor shoulder!) and then headed down to Books of Wonder for the 2012k signing.

The talk was relatively brief, and each of the authors either talked a bit about their book or read a bit from their book and then there was a really nice, laid back, signing. I had a great little chit chat with Meredith Zeitlin (author of Freshman Year and other Unnatural Disasters), and A.C Gaughen (author of the much raved about Scarlet).  Yes, I bought Scarlet, and then I had dinner in Union square while watching a band, and THEN I went to The Strand, where I was very well behaved and only bought 4 books.  I would congratulate myself but to be honest I think I was finally starting to hit book acquiring burn out (shocking, I know) and was also starting to have heart palpitations about packing all these buggers without the help of my clever husband.

Friday morning I spent two hours organizing myself and packing (which I managed pretty well, and not only fit everything I wanted but also got everything home undamaged!), and then took off for the Met to see the Schiaparelli and Prada: impossible conversations exhibit, which was spectacular.  I finished off the day with a small walk through Central Park before heading to the hotel for what was to become the most stressful attempt to make a flight I've ever had in my life.  Despite the best efforts of the most appalling customer service ever at the Marquis Marriott hotel, and one of the single worst cabbies in the history of NYC, I manage to make it out on my 8:10 flight for Toronto.  Thank god for the amazingly flexible folks at Porter Airlines, who were both kind and generous with me- I made a flight I technically wasn't in time for, and with additional checked bags that were overweight! AND while semi hysterical from my two hour foray trying to get to Newark on time, and while having to pee so bad I could barely stand still.  In all honesty I don't know how I made it through security without getting pulled aside for a full body cavity search, I must have seemed insane.  Also thank god for the very large glass of wine Porter handed me as soon as we were at cruising altitude.

In the end I brought home 79 books (already arranged on my shelf by release date! Though I've had to start doubling up books on shelves, cringe), and had another wonderful time.  I've met a bevy of wonderful new bloggers, and many of my favourite authors, many of whom I feel like I know from Twitter, but who I loved meeting in person at long last.  Like last year, BEA was the ultimate extravaganza for book lovers to get together and do what they like best, gab books and socialize.  I'm not likely to go next year, but if you haven't been before I highly recommend thinking about putting it into your travel plans.

Now it time to catch up on some reading and blogging!


  1. In the same place and time a lot. Did we meet???? I can't recall my own name and face at BEA much less anyone else's. Thanks for mentioning Alex Stone, I had been trying to recall his name since I left the party. Also thanks for the name of the hotel. If I go next year I am not staying way across or downtown.

    1. Hey Steph! We met last year, and I saw you through the crowds this year but never managed to make it close enough to say hello. The Gem was great, I highly reccomend it, and so, so close!

  2. I was so happy to see you ate BEA and so glad Baxter was doing better. I'll keep my fingers crossed for him! Oh, and great haul!

  3. I'm so glad Baxter is doing better. I hope you get lots of rest over the next few days and recuperate so you can blog about all the fantastic books you received at BEA!

  4. I'm glad you had such a great week after such a tough year! And I'm really happy Baxter is doing better! (:

  5. Seems like you had a great time, despite the sore feet and shoulders! You did really well getting all of your books home undamaged. And so glad to hear that Baxter is hanging in there!

  6. It was such an exciting moment when we got your Tweet that you were on your way, and then to see you on teh floor at the Javits! So glad that Baxter is doing better - you've certainly had more than your fair share of drama and excitement; time for some uneventful life moments (y'know - groceries, laundry, etc) and some quiet time with your husband and books and furry ones! Enjoy xo

  7. Glad to hear you had a great week after such a lousy year! And your book haul looks amazing.

  8. Wow, what a haul! I can't believe how bad your trip home was though, eecks. Thank god for wine is right. I miss BEA already, mostly because I miss seeing everyone :) We need to hang out again soon! (hugs)

  9. Thanks for the kind words everyone! It was amazing to get to go in the end, and although Baxter didn't get his happy ending at least I was home for it.