Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Discussion: BEA Highlights

So who'd like to take a guess as to what the four of us were up to from Thursday, May 29th - Saturday, May 31st? If you guessed that we were slitting the throats of the women of the Game of Thrones universe and bathing in their blood in order to achieve clear skin, you're wrong. We're just naturally blemish-free. If you guessed that our feet were being unforgivingly rushed across the floors of the Javits center in NYC at BookExpo America, you would be correct. Last year, we attended BEA as Power Readers, which was a fancy term for consumers, so basically we just really liked books and thought it would be cool. And then we got lots of books and decided to start this blog and climbed up one rung on the BEA ladder and attended as bloggers, buying non-editorial media passes and attending for three days. Now that we've had some time to rest our feet and get some sleep, here are some reflections on the past few days:

Noor's Highlights

I'd say this year was definitely a huge learning experience, even moreso than last year, because I got to view it from a blogger's perspective rather than just a consumer who had no idea what it would be like and really just wanted to be surrounded by books. 

A lot of the big highlights that come to mind involve meeting people and authors I really look up to. I spent a lot of this weekend starstruck because I got the chance to meet people I've admired for so long. Some authors I met literally shaped my childhood. I met Lemony Snicket and told him all about how his writing style for A Series of Unfortunate Events blew my mind and really got me thinking about how plot wasn't everything when it came to writing and voice mattered so much and I mentioned how I also loved his first novel, The Basic Eight, which he published under his real name, Daniel Handler, and he said I was "a woman after his own heart" and I just about died.

Of course, he wasn't the only author I met that I spoke to and felt like, for lack of more articulate words, my insides had disintegrated in mere seconds and the vessel I was inhabiting had to hold itself together long enough to keep composure so I could fall apart after speaking to these wonderful people and not during our short conversations. I also met people like Rick Riordan, which was such a wonderful experience because of reasons that just come with the name. And then there was Jodi Picoult, who isn't YA but has been one of my favorite authors for years and I've absolutely devoured her books every time I've read them and so meeting her was so exciting for me, too. One of the other big ones that stuck out in my mind were Michael Grant, not only because he's a great author -- I read his Gone series and loved it and knew I wanted to get on line for his signing -- but because when I mentioned how I loved him and gave him a business card for our blog, he gave me his personal email and told me to email him if I ever wanted to do an interview or something -- how crazy and exciting is that?!

I also was really looking forward to meeting Scott Westerfeld. He has been one of my writing idols since middle school. You know how I mentioned Lemony Snicket and how his voice blew my mind? Scott Westerfeld's plot blew my mind for every single book he's written and I cannot for the life of me understand how he does it. Even though I already had a copy of the book he was signing, I really just wanted to meet him and figured that even if I didn't get a signed book -- the line was getting reaaaaaaallly long -- I didn't care as long as I got to speak to him (I ended up getting the book and the conversation, which was fabulous). And of course, it goes without saying that I was super excited for signings by Holly Black and Cassandra Clare.

Oh, and another huge person I was excited to meet, who isn't an author in the traditional sense was Brandon Stanton of Humans of New York. I've been obsessively in love with his project for such a long time now and when I learned he would be at BEA, I was so excited to get a chance to meet him. On Friday, he was signing a poster and I got the chance to talk to him for a bit and let him know how much I love what he does. He posed for a picture with me, but Amrutha didn't understand how cameras work so she didn't get the shot, although she got one I liked from behind where he looked engaged in what I was saying. I wasn't hung up about it, because hey, I had a signed poster and I had a chance to meet and speak to him. But then on Saturday, he did a panel which I really wanted to go, so I did, and he was interviewed by David Karp, the founder of Tumblr, and it was so interesting to hear about the way he started the blog and how his photographing process works and it was a very in-depth and intriguing look into his perspective. After his panel, I managed to get a selfie with him, which was totally awesome and made me very happy!

It's strange to think about, isn't it? I started making a highlights post and I've just been going on and on about how starstruck I've been and how thrilled I was to meet certain people and how I could feel my heart reverberating inside my chest like a speaker turned up too loud. But they're just people. They are literally just human being who happened to sit at computer screens and type a lot and then edit a lot and then type some more and then other people liked what they typed and now they line up so they can write their names on stacks of paper on which there are printed words that they wrote. We hype people up to be more than human beings and I am definitely one of the many people who gets caught up in the moment and finds herself unable to breathe around these people but after meeting them and seeing how weary and tired they look from signing hundreds of books, it's an interesting experience to see that they aren't two levels above the rest of us on the human scale. They might be a hundred levels above us on the awesome scale but they're still just normal people.

Anyway, some of the other highlights from the past few days involved meeting people I didn't have to stand in a line for. BEA was just full of some really interesting people who had great things to say. I met some cool people on line for things or literally bumped into some others. We even made a new friend (shoutout to Zoe if you're reading this) who might do a guest post for us some time. I was completely overwhelmed by how friendly and approachable people were and how genuinely interested they seemed in our conversations.

I learned a lot even from a day-to-day basis. Like, the first day I stood in a lot of lines and didn't go to as many galley drops, which I thought wasn't a great decision, so I did the opposite the next two days, although there were still a fair amount of lines there, but for big authors I refused to miss. I played a lot of it by ear, but it was definitely an experience that was worth it.

The last two events that stick out in my mind are both actually panels involving movies. The first is the Bookcon kickoff event with Tina Fey for the upcoming movie This is Where I Leave You and featured the author, director, a couple of the actors, and showed some scenes from the movie and how they compared to the book and overall hyped up the movie. As someone who hasn't read the book or heard much about it, the panel really made me want to both read it and see the movie, so overall I enjoyed it.

The final event I'll speak about is the final event of our weekend: the panel with John Green for The Fault in Our Stars. It was full of laughs and great comments and some more serious questions too and I was personally very partial to the presence of a particular Nat Wolff. They showed us some scenes from the movie, which I am so excited about seeing, and it made my heart hurt out of a combination of excitement and pain and something unidentified. Even though it was a crazy mob of people swarming the entrance trying to form a line, it was definitely a panel that was worth it.

Like I said before, this whole weekend was a learning experience. I might have went off and rambled a bit with some of my highlights but I had a great weekend and although there are some things I definitely would have changed (cough bookcon) I'm glad I got the opportunity to meet the people I did and to do all the things I got to do. I'd say BEA 2014 was a success!

Kiersten's Highlights

Going to BookExpo America this year as a blogger was such a wonderful experience - not only did it allow me to attend the convention for not just one day but three, but it also allowed me to meet so many great people and get so many awesome books!

I cannot tell you how many lines I waited on... SO MANY! But, in the end, it was so worth it. Here are some of the books/authors I waited for that I felt were most worth it:

Heir of Fire by Sarah J. Maas - To say I waited on line for this was an understatement... I got on line at approximately 9:50 and the signing wasn't until 11:30. Yea. And I waited on that line until about 12:30 since I was around 95th in line. But Sarah J. Maas is so nice and beautiful and I was really excited to get a copy of Heir of Fire!

The Vault of Dreamers by Caragh M. O'Brien - I'm very much intrigued by the concept of this book and it's one of my top priority reads this summer! On top of that, Caragh M. O'Brien was so nice and she even asked for my business card! (!!!!!) It was extremely exciting because it was one of the first business cards I gave out and made me feel super official.

RICK RIORDAN!!! - While I didn't much care what book I was receiving (I already had The Mark of Athena on Kindle), it was so exciting to meet the man behind such brilliant stories! Rick Riordan was soooooo nice. Like, I know I keep saying this about all the authors but he was SOOOOOO nice! I also met the artist who did the Percy Jackson covers (John Rocco), which was really exciting since I did a whole Cover Cosmetics about it. I showed him my makeup and he said it was awesome, which was super cool!

The Iron Trial by Holly Black and Cassandra Clare - Even though I just met Holly Black and Cassandra Clare at the City of Heavenly Fire book launch, it was still awesome to see them again and get a copy of The Iron Trial! I feel like I've known about The Iron Trial FOREVER and it was one of my most desired books for the weekend, which made me feel very accomplished! I also brought my deluxe Shadowhunter's Codex and waited on line for Cassandra Clare right before getting on line for The Iron Trial and Cassie complimented my t-shirt and said we had a cool blog name! It was so exciting. I love her endlessly.

GRUMPY CAT!!!!!!!!!!!!...!!!!!!!! - All the exclamation points in the world are not enough to portray my extreme love of Grumpy Cat. (One might reference my Grumpy Cat Stuffed Animal Saturday post). This was honestly the most important event of the weekend to me and my life has been made due to meeting this glorious cat. I hope that in the future I will get to gaze upon her beauty once more.

Some honorable mention selfies:

As you can tell, I'm the queen of selfies with people who aren't paying attention to the selfies. Of course, these are not the only awesome books I got! To see a full list, check out my shelf on Goodreads here!

Besides meeting awesome authors and getting awesome books, I met some of my favorite bloggers and some new friends (shout out to Zoe!). Some highlights include Steph and Kat from Cuddlebuggery, Katie from Mundie Moms, and talking to Ariel Bissett and Kat from Katytastic some more!

Oh, and I also made some badass t-shirts for us to wear. The ombré dying and embroidering took FOREVER, but it was worth it.

Overall, BEA 2014 was extremely successful and I look forward to even more fun next year!

Amrutha's Highlights

Oh my gosh guys, guess what I spent last Thursday through Saturday doing? Roaming around Book Expo America, which is a huge book conference for those in the book industry (including Kiersten, Noor, Marlon, and me) where we are able to meet authors and actors, interact with big names in publishing, and get free books. It is honestly one of the most rewarding experiences and it is safe to say that I cannot wait until next year.

What an exhilarating experience. My last experience with BEA, although surreal, was only a few hours long, as I came to the conference on Saturday (the last day) as a Power Reader (fancy word for consumer) after SATs. This year, going as a blogger with a few of my favorite people was incredible, both as a learning opportunity and a fun time.

A few big highlights of mine are as follows:

1) Waking up at the crack of dawn and chilling out for hours on end for tickets and to get into the conference. Just kidding, this is probably the only part of the conference when we were all extenuated and grouchy and just felt like scarfing down hash browns.

2) Meeting and taking pictures with Lemony Snicket/Daniel Handler on the first day of the conference. A Series of Unfortunate Events was one of my favorite series growing up: My fifth grade life basically revolved around his word, and meeting him in real life was literally so fabulous. He was so nice and chatty and its something I've come to appreciate - When you only have like 45 seconds to interact with someone you idolize, the few kind words they have for you mean a lot. Getting up to get tickets for him was totally worth it.

3) Selfie with Neil Patrick Harris. (He's made of awesome, even if I barely got to interact with him).

4) Crazy galley drops, which are when big publishing companies give away already published/yet to be published books by both up-and-coming and famous authors. This one publisher from the Hachette group gave me some pretty rad books by some incredibly famous authors (i.e. James Patterson/James Mott ARCs). S/O to him. ILY.

5. Meeting super cool bloggers and authors and stalking the Spencer Hill Press signings. They have some really interesting YA books and by the 6th time I stopped by, the people began to recognize me.

6. Tote bags. 'Nough said, I got like 20+ of them and a lot of them are really cute. S/O to the "People Tools" tote bag which came with a USB drive. That's pretty awesome.

7. Definitely meeting/getting an autograph from/picture with Rick Riordan.The Percy Jackson series is one of my favorite, and if you haven't read our live blog of House of Hades, I'd recommend checking it out and just seeing a fraction of my love for him.

8. Cool signings for YA books I can't wait to read, like by Morgan Matson or Sarah J. Maas (looking at you Kiersten, I'm trying to borrow that book, please and thank you). Also having Marlon get me Be With Me, by J. Lynn (if you haven't read my review of Wait for You, do it, it's hysterical).

9. Meeting my writing hero in high school, Jodi Picoult. Totally worth a two hour wait for her, all of her books have made me cry tears of sadness and meeting her brought out the tears of happiness because she is just so so awesome.

10. Getting to meet and take a picture with Brandon Stanton, of Humans of New York. He is one of my favorite photojournalists and I think his work is so refreshing and insightful that I check in every day. I also got to see his panel presentation with David Karp, CEO of Tumblr. HONY is the love of my life.

11. Going to some awesome panels, like one with Tina Fey and Jason Bateman, and another with Nat Wolf and the author I have been obsessed with for years, John Green. Both panels discussed upcoming movies and while the panels were awesome, it was even better just to be breathing the same air as John Green.

12. Meeting up with Nicole on Book Con day and showing her the ropes as though I was a seasoned professional or something. I mean, I kind of am, you guys should probably take notes or something.

13. Getting a copy of The Iron Trial ARC that Marlon stood in line for like three hours for. Also Cassandra Clare and Holly Black were wearing matching outfits and that is just like the cutest thing EVER.

14. Just piles and piles of free books. It was a crazy ride and now I have like a billion and seven books to remember it by.
In summation: BEA was an amazing experience and I recommend to anyone who loves books and gets the chance to go and enjoy all the craziness themselves. Just be sure not to download the app for BEA because wow it is the worst. Regardless though, probably one of the most rewarding experiences I've had in a long time, and I am so grateful for the opportunity to go.

Marlon's Whylights:

Damn damn damn. A lot different than last year, let me tell you that. Last year, it was all about the galley drops, all about the signings. I was new, can you blame me? I latched on to the Convention rather than the Conference. This year . . . this year was a lot of networking, a massive learning experience I'm overwhelmingly grateful for. Trying to get a blog out there is a tough job, but made a whole lot easier when you have business cards! Thanks Kiersten. Much of the networking involves the authors themselves, along with their agents, marketers, lots of other bloggers, that whole ordeal. However, what really sticks out in our minds, are the authors we've been dying to meet forever.

Last year, I missed Rick Riordan. This year, I think I more than made up for that.

Neil Patrick Harris (minus the sparkly pink unicorn. I love love love him, from Harold and Kumar to the posts of HIMYM to his amazing social media presence. Unfortunately, the line was so long, I barely managed to get this picture, much less talk to him! A lot thinner in person . . . but just as well dressed as expected. God damn he looked good. This was one of the first authors ("I didn't even know he wrote!?") that I lined up for. Around this time I missed Rainbow Rowell and a couple of others, which is sad, but BEA is a hellish ordeal of sacrifices and negotiations. Life lessons!

Lemony Snicket aka I can't get a good picture because this line is insane aka damn his expressions are hilarious aka damn those eyebrows aka Daniel Handler aka snugglemuffins. He was signing 13 Suspicious Incidents. I'm only slightly excited since, you know, I'm just a tiny bit of a fan of Unfortunate Events, and everything he's ever written and said. Jesus. Apparently, though, I can't even talk about him because Noor has called dibs, which I didn't know made any sense. One caveat if you ever meet him, though: he is snarky, snarky as a snorkler fish. That was a bad simile. I'm very excited.

And super duper important: BRANDON FLIPPING MULL. HE REMEMBERED ME FROM LAST YEAR. Don't tell him this but one day I'll be his adopted son. One day. Fablehaven. This is the author of Fablehaven. That's like one of my limbs right there. He wrote my leg. Do you see that cleft in his chin? What mysteries lie within? What mysteries? Sorry, when I get excited, nothing I say makes sense. I just really love Brandon Mull. He is one of the greatest story-tellers alive, in my opinion, best exemplified in his Beyonders series (I've written reviews about this!) His characters are always captivating, his plots wind rivers around you, he is overwhelmingly meticulous in how precisely he crushes your heart -- all the trappings of an amazing author.


Rick Riordan. The one, the only, the man himself. The brains behind Percy Jackson, and more importantly, Leo Valdez (we've written about this, but let's be honest, who isn't a Leo fan?). Let's have a little story. Back up to eight grade. I was a bit of a punk, and a bit of an anime fan, and I spent most of my time watching Nova documentaries. And I hated reading. It was tedious, endless, just words on a page. Until I had to read from this tiny bookshelf for my English class. I picked up The Lightning Thief. Now I aspire to be a writer. I believe you can fill the spaces between those two points. When I met him, I could hardly breathe. I exhaled, inhaled, and then forgot how to do the exhaling bit. My voice cracked like Percy's, but he was so nice and accommodating, moved me to his side to take the picture. I thanked him about a hundred times. I left him with the words "YOU WERE MY CHILDHOOD". Because he was. Or at least, my teenage-hood.

(Ok but seriously why can't
I take a good picture . . .
Some time after that, I began the line for Eoin Colfer. About two hours early. And if you've been to BEA, you'll know that's nothing. The Holly Black line was started almost four hours early and snaked across half the building, for instance. Artemis Fowl was the second(ish) series of books I got into, immediately after Percy Jackson. And I loved it. I actually bothered my friends a great deal because I started subconsciously becoming Artemis. Or at least, my impression of him. No one's that smart (except Eoin Colfer, maybe). I love, love, love Eoin Colfer for everything he's written: for finishing Douglas Adams's The Hitchiker's Guide and paying infinite respect to the texture, timber, and beauty of Adams's voice; for writing that incredible end to the Artemis Fowl books, the wait was worth it; for the Supernaturalist; godamnit just go to his goodreads. I love especially that eyebrow and hair flip and ugh he's so perfect, he reminded me of my mental image of Artemis's father. He's so damn intelligent and collected, and I could go on forever but I won't.

And finally, though I apparently can't have him either because of Noor, I met Scott Westerfeld. I think by now you've realized the depth of my author-worship. Incredibly, I've read every one of his books but the Uglies series. It's mostly been a lack of time, and before anyone banks on me, his Leviathan trilogy and his Midnighters series are to die for. Westerfeld has this incredible air around himself and his words, an air of magic as if the whole world has been laid out in perfectly told lies, lies that need to be amended with his stories. I don't know if that makes sense but I hope it does. This is a picture of me telling him a joke. He laughed. I swear it. It's a good joke, despite Noor's disapproval. The joke will be found on my twitter one of these days.

Before it gets too crazy, I'll cut it off there.

I met a few amazing people that I had never heard of before. Author Lenore Appelhans was probably the most important! Her personality was a bit striking (in a great way!) and she's my new best friend. I actually met her in the Lauren Oliver line . . . which I was in mostly to tell her a joke about her book, Panic (the joke was Panic! at the Expo, which Noor can claim). I told her the joke, she didn't get it. But through my friendship with Lenore, I met her literary agent, who is the agent for Lauren Oliver and a bunch of others as well. I really love the publishing industry . . .

I met a few bloggers, like Jennifer James, who apparently already knew about WLABB? Kind of awesome!

The list is kind of endless . . . so let's stop, eh? There's almost too much to say. I had an amazing time. Well . . . I mean bookcon kind of tore my heart out and stomped on it, but then again I also met Cassandra Clare and Holly Black and Kelly Link twice in a week because of that day, so . . .

I also met some amazing people, like Gone author Michael Grant, some dude named John Green, whoever that is, and piles of others that would kind of make this post unbearably long! HOLLY BLACK FOLLOWED ME ON TWITTER ALONG WITH KELLY LINK. LIKE. ARE YOU SERIOUS?

Also Noor and I did a thing. You may know this thing from a certain pair of popular booktubers:

BEA 2014 WAS AMAZING. Hope to do it again next year!

Did you go to BEA? What are some of your highlights?
Let us know in the comments!


  1. The Lauren Oliver line was the MOST FUN.

    1. Considering I was there, of course it was!

  2. Best BEA ever!! You'd think after being in the Sarah J. Maas line for so long I'd have started it already...

    1. I know, right?! It's kind of funny if you think about it.

  3. What's the difference between attending BEA as a power reader vs going to Book Con? Only ever been to Book Con and dying at the thought of possibly going to BEA!