I texted Kelly (Belle of the Literati) and Betty (Book Rock Betty) earlier this year about being interested in going to BEA, but it was so early that no one really had their plans figured out yet. Betty wasn't sure if she wanted to go because she's pregnant with Baby Betty #3 (YAY!), and Kelly didn't know where work was going to take her. When Kelly got an incredible job opportunity in San Diego, I figured chances were good that BEA just wasn't going to happen for us.
And then... I got a text from Betty asking if I was for sure not attending. I told her that I was still open to going if we could figure everything out, but it was almost May at that point so we were running out of time. After a crazy week, we made the final decision: WE WERE GOING TO BEA.
BEA was only two weeks away at that point, so it was time to get my butt in gear. I spent a few days binge reading all the BEA advice and planning posts that I could find. Y'all, those are intimidating! As helpful as some of the advice was, it also made me feel so unprepared. But, since I love organizing, I threw myself into creating a BEA calendar and ended up with a color-coded spreadsheet that was a thing of beauty.
Finally, BEA week was upon me. I packed on Monday (excited much?) and managed to make it through my one workday. And then it was time...
|Airport selfies + judgy onlookers|
Nick dropped me off at the airport, and I made it through security and to my gate pretty quickly. Since I was one of the few people already there, I obviously had to document my excitement about finally heading to BEA with a selfie. Come on, y'all.
My flight was mostly uneventful - although the grandma in the seat next to me kept falling asleep and leaning over into my area. PERSONAL SPACE, YO. She did have a Kindle though, so I gave her a few points for reading a book when she wasn't napping because it meant she didn't try to talk to me. That's reading time, obviously. My book of choice was a re-read of Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers!
|Airport pickup! | Photo from Betty|
I flew into Newark Airport and had my car service waiting for me: Betty + Mr. Betty! Yep, that's right. They dropped off the babies beforehand and then picked me up as soon as I landed. Mr. Betty was kind enough to drive us to Javits to get our badges and then dropped us off right outside our hotel. It was a good thing, too, because traffic was crazy that afternoon. Betty and I checked in and then proceeded to verify the cleanliness of the hotel room.
|No bed bugs here!|
And by that I mean: Betty checked for bed bugs. She scared the crap out of me with that post she wrote a few days before BEA, so I was only too happy to let her make sure there weren't any critters hiding out in our room. Although we had a king-size bed, I realized just how different it is to stay in the city. We barely had room for all our (*cough*Betty's*cough*) bags!
Once we freshened up, it was time to head to the Teen Author Carnival at the Jefferson Market Library.
|Headed to Teen Author Carnival | Photo from Betty|
When we got there, we almost immediately met Wendy (Books Scents), CeCe (CeCe Reads) and Danielle (Love at First Page). Then, we spotted Gaby (Queen Ella Bee Reads) and tried to distract her from the serious business of selling books. Betty introduced me to Jeremy and Jeffrey who were so nice, and then it was supposed to be time for the first panel. But... we talked too long, went in a little late and there were no chairs left. Instead of standing for an hour, we just sat outside the room, talked and waited for the next panel to begin.
We then sat in on the "Us vs. Them" panel with authors Lenore Appelhans, Jennifer L. Armentrout, Julie Kagawa, Claire Legrand and Cara Lynn Shultz. I've actually never read anything by any of these authors (I know, I know) so it was really great to hear them introduce themselves and their books. I ended up buying only two books after to get them signed - The Cavendish Home for Boys and Girls by Claire Legrand and Prep School Confidential by Kara Taylor. I didn't hear Kara speak, but I knew I wanted her book after scoping it out beforehand. I didn't take any pictures with the authors because, as you'll soon realize, I'm hopeless when it comes to remembering to take any pictures. I thought about buying more books, but I kept reminding myself that I was about to get more than enough at BEA.
|Finally meeting these two lovelies! | Photo from Alexa|
We got a late but delicious dinner at Chipotle, which is where I got to meet Lauren (Love Is Not a Triangle). I was starving at that point, so I'm sure we had great conversations but I was too busy stuffing myself with the best guacamole in the entire world to remember. I think we talked a little about our plans for the next day, which is when Betty and I realized we had a lot of work to do once we got back to the hotel.
|Curbside selfie + cab snagging skills! | Photo from Betty|
We said our goodbyes, and Alexa proved she's a real New Yorker by catching us a cab and sending us on our way. Such excellent service - if only we'd had her around every other time we needed to get a ride! Once back in our room, Betty and I got to work. We talked, laughed, stayed up SO late and got ready for the next morning.
Betty and I got ourselves out of bed, ready for the day, grabbed some breakfast and headed off in search of the mysterious BEA shuttle. Our hotel was not close to a route, despite being listed as one of the hotels that was serviced by a shuttle, and we were flustered by the time we figured out where we were supposed to go. Thankfully, the shuttle pulled up not long after we got to the right stop, and we made it to Javits after the doors opened. Honestly, that was perfect for me because I had no desire to sit in a line before the day even started.
Betty and I intended to book rock the BEA floor together, but we realized we'd have to split up not long after we got there. In fact, I barely saw Betty during the day! We had totally different books on our radars, and there was no way we could stick together and get them all. Betty was off to wait in line for a signing that started at 10, and I headed to the Adult BEA Editors' Buzz panel to hear from the authors.
There were seven adult titles being featured, two non-fiction and five fiction. I prioritized the panel because I was really interested in a number of buzz titles and wanted to hear the authors talk about their books. At first, I almost felt like I was wasting time. The panel was an hour long, and you could hear all of the activity from the floor behind you. It felt a little bit like I was missing out on all the excitement! However, as I listened to the authors, I became totally focused and found myself really looking forward to reading their books. I was able to grab a copy of Neverhome by Laird Hunt (one of the buzz books) right before the panel and then Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel (another buzz book) right after it ended.
They announced a drop for We Are Not Ourselves by Matthew Thomas at the end of the panel (also a buzz title), so I then made my way out onto the floor to grab that one. Honestly, the rest of the day was a total blur. I only wanted one book from an autographing area signing that day - Liar, Temptress, Solider, Spy by Karen Abbott - and actually got to start that line. This non-fiction title was one of my most-desired books from BEA. It's about four women who went undercover during the Civil War!
Almost every other book that I got on Thursday came from galley drops, and I ended up being really glad I'd made a general schedule beforehand. I'd gone through what books were expected to be at BEA and made a list of everything that interested me. I noted signings or drop times for books where that information had been released, but I filled in what I didn't know once I was there and was able to ask about each booth's schedule.
The only other big line I waited in on Thursday was for the Throne of Glass tote at the Bloomsbury booth. I was in line with Octavia (Read Sleep Repeat), Nikki (There Were Books Involved) and Jennifer (Live to Read Love to Read), so it was fun to pass the time chatting with them. Finally, the tote was mine! I was so proud of myself for only getting two totes at BEA, and they were (in my opinion) the best ones there.
|Bloomsbury tote + Quirk Books tote|
I took zero pictures from the floor, which is evidence of my compete absentmindedness. I mean, y'all, I got to meet some awesome bloggers and authors during the day! Alas, those memories live only in my mind... You'll have to check out my BEA 2014: All the Books post (coming soon) to see what other books I snagged. I know I met Jamie (Perpetual Page-Turner) and Steph and Kat (Cuddlebuggery) on the floor, but my mind is blanking on others because I DIDN'T TAKE PICURES. Fail. Either way, it was so fun to meet these ladies in person!
As we neared the end of the day, I noticed the line for The Book of Life by Deborah Harkness. I haven't read this series, but I know how much Cassie (Books With Cass) loves it. I was missing her and hated that she wasn't able to be there, so I hopped in the line, and texted her to find out if she would get a book personalized to Cass or Cassie. She answered Cassie and asked why. Knowing patience isn't her strong suit and how she hates surprises... I made her wait about five minutes before replying with this picture:
|Yay book surprises!|
I was so excited that I was able to get her a little something, especially since BookCon turned into such a disaster. Not long after this, it was finally time to call it a day. Betty and I grabbed our bags and went out to the shuttles. But, knowing how far the drop off was from our hotel, we talked about how we really just wanted to be taken right to our door (especially with all those books in our bags). So, we decided to get a different ride back. There were no cabs to be found, and we were desperate enough to pay a car service at that point. Despite being expensive, it was the best ride of the whole trip.
Before I left for BEA, I had asked Kelly to send me a few videos that I could surprise Betty with while we were together. She recorded one that I could play to tell Betty to hurry up and finish getting ready so we could get out the door, and the other video warned Betty not to talk to strangers or let weird men carry her bag. Needless to say, we enjoyed sending Kelly this ambiguous picture:
|Thanks for getting our bags, stranger!|
It was really just the driver, but Kelly had a minor freakout thinking we were letting some random creeper take our stuff. Silly Kelly! Traffic was bad, so we weren't in our hotel long before it was time to leave again. We spent forever in rush hour traffic trying to find an available cab to take us where we needed to be so that we could check "see a show on Broadway" off our BEA to do lists!
|Scoping out books makes you hungry! | Photo from Betty|
After finally making it over there, we ate a delicious dinner at the Playwright Tavern. We pretty much picked it because it was right by the Winter Garden Theatre, the show was starting soon and our stomachs were threatening to revolt if we didn't put food in them soon. Thankfully, our meal was great and then we walked over to the main event: ROCKY!
|Ready for Rocky!|
I had no idea before experiencing BEA just how much I'd want to just sit and be entertained in the evening, so I'm glad I had Betty there to steer us in this direction. She'd scoped out shows beforehand and was psyched to find Rocky on Broadway. I've seen the movie once or twice, but Betty has major levels of love for this story. Before we took our seats, we made friends with the merchandise guy and Betty (accidentally but with my encouragement) bought a Rocky hoodie and t-shirt... Don't worry, I talked her out of the keychain.
We were both worried it would be cheesy, but we had nothing to fear. The show was really amazing! The music was good, the sets were really cool, the acting was great... and the final fight scene was EPIC. Part of the audience went up on stage and the boxing ring came out into the theater so that people were surrounding it like at a real boxing match. I've never seen anything like it at a play before, and I'm so glad we saw the show for that moment alone.
We cabbed it back to the hotel but stopped at a drugstore across the street first because we needed some sugar. A crazy dude dressed like Elvis and a drunk guy talking about the Rangers led to me lecturing Betty about not being so friendly to strangers, but I really needed Kelly there to say it with Sicilian sass. We finally made it back to our room, sent Kelly videos about our escapades and proceeded to stay up until two in the morning perfecting our schedules. No regrets, even if I was a walking zombie the next day.