BEA 2014, Part 1: Books and Lines, Chicken Tenders and Fries

Now that I’ve shared my recap of the BEA Bloggers Conference, it’s time for the fun part. Let’s talk about the trade show! (Please bear in mind that this particular post is going to be very photo-heavy.) This post will cover day one, which was Thursday, May 29. (Yes, it was that eventful.)

Good morning, Manhattan. I was much happier and more excited to see you today than I was yesterday…because now I know where the heck I’m going!

When I first arrived at the Javits, I entered through the same doors I had for BEA Bloggers. This time, however, there was no confusion; the small booth to pick up autographing tickets was right in front of me and the line, mercifully, was very short. I received every ticket I wanted (except for Rosemary Wells, who had been rescheduled to appear on Friday) and sat down in the line slowly building outside the exhibit area. The people in front of me were poring over their Show Daily magazines, figuring out plans for the day, and conversations naturally struck up. (I spy Jenn Cunha! So nice meeting you!)

My first stop, as I’d planned, was the Autographing Area and Dorothea Benton Frank. My best friend Becca had told me about The Last Original Wife, which I’d pulled from the library, and then I discovered through the BEA Show Planner that Ms. Frank had an upcoming book titled The Hurricane Sisters, which she would be autographing copies of that morning. I was set on picking up a copy and having it signed to Becca…and then I found out that Neil Patrick Harris was doing a signing and, for some reason, it didn’t require a ticket. I knew his line would be much, much longer than hers — nothing against Dorothea Frank, but this is Doogie Howser we’re talking about! — so I figured I’d wait in his line first and then run to hers if I was close enough to the front to get to both of them within the signing period. NPH didn’t start signing until 10am, when her line was closing, and I was really sad to miss out on an autographed copy of her book. (I’m going to have Hubs pick up a copy at the indie bookstore near his office…I wonder if she mails signed bookplates?) On the bright side, though…hello, Neil Patrick Harris!

(By the way: Yes, Neil’s nails are painted! They were a sparkly navy blue when we met. The reason for this, of course, was because he’s currently starring in Broadway’s Hedwig and the Angry Inch.)

After that, I had some free time so I walked around for a while, trying to get the general lay of the land and figuring out each publisher’s general position on the show floor. By noon, I was back in line in the autographing area for Adriana Trigiani, who required a ticket for signed copies of The Supreme Macaroni Company. Can I just tell you how much I love her?! I’d never read any of her work but I knew her name, and I wanted to read something of hers; I figured a free, autographed copy was a good place to start, right? She came to say hello to everyone in line prior to her signing period, and I got the immediate impression that she’s a loud, tactile individual…or, in other words, she’s a consummate Italian. Someone in line a few spots ahead of me gave her a bottle of wine, and she offered to crack it open and let everyone take a swig. I think a big spaghetti dinner at her house would be loads of fun!

I also made sure to get in line for Dan Harris from Good Morning America! He was signing copies of his recently-published 10% Happier, which is about how he stopped using drugs and replaced it with meditation while learning to reconcile a Zen-like state of mind with the fast-paced world of journalism. He’s one of my favorite TV news personalities — Joshua and I watch GMA every weekend — and I hoped he’d be as kind and funny in person as he was onscreen. We talked for a moment about meditation, GMA, and having children, and he kindly offered me an important word of advice: “Meditate 5 minutes per day!” He even wrote it in my book above his signature so I’ll never forget it! Thank you, Dan!

All of these events were great fun, but the best part of the day — I’d even go so far as to say the best part of the whole Expo — was what came after I left Dan Harris’ line. The time had come, my friends, to meet the author whose book I haven’t been able to shut up about since discovering it over the winter. It was time for my lunch date with Miranda Beverly-Whittemore! I had no idea what, or who, to expect and what was supposed to be “lunch” turned into three hours together! Miranda introduced me to the lovely Dan Blank and Kathi Gadow and the four of us walked down to the basement food court, where all of us ate the same lunch (approved by toddlers and preschoolers everywhere!):

We chatted about BEA Bloggers, where we’re from, Miranda’s book launch party, and lots of other things. I’d share them with you but, as we all agreed, “What happens at BEA, stays at BEA.” My lips are sealed!

Kathi had to go after a while, so the three of us walked upstairs where Miranda and Dan introduced me to Shirley Showalter, who is as sweet, intelligent, and all-around lovely as you’d want an author to be. I’m so happy they introduced me! (I’m even happier that we’re all friends on Facebook now. Yay for keeping in touch!) We sat down outside Starbucks, where I just sat and listened to Miranda and Shirley’s conversation about writing and books, counting my lucky stars that I could find myself among such incredible people. Before we decided to walk the floor together, Miranda very kindly signed my copy of Bittersweet, which I will keep forever. Forever. Thanks a million, Miranda!

Once my book was signed and safely stowed away my bag (in its own compartment, no less!), we walked the show floor together until the time came for my second ticketed autographing session with Gregory Maguire, the author of Wicked. (Ringing any bells?) Unfortunately, by the time I got there the line appeared to be very long, and I knew that the ticket was not a guarantee of a signed copy of his new book, Egg and Spoon, so I decided to head home. My bags were a bit heavy, but I managed to pretty evenly divide all of the books I’d received between my backpack and my favorite Vera Bradley bag, so they weren’t so bad to carry. I walked back to Penn Station thinking about all of the wonderful friends I’d made and about how memorable the day would continue to be.

And then I got on the wrong train, which I barely hopped off of before it left the station…and then I realized that I’d left my ticket on the wrong train. The conductor on the right train was nice enough to let me stay aboard anyway, but that’s one story I’d like to forget.

On to BEA day two, and BookCon!

  • OMG!!!! You got to meet so many great people! I’m beginning to wonder if you’ll have enough space in your luggage for all these new books.

  • readathomemama

    Fortunately, I took the train home from NYC every day — I live close enough to the city that I could reasonably make the commute. That being said, I had a different configuration of bags every day, and each day I also found myself carrying a different number and weight of books. Friday was hands-down the worst, weight-wise…but that’s coming in my next post. However, I will tell you that all of the books I picked up over the four-day period could easily fill a large suitcase! You’ll get to see my final haul in the next recap post as well 🙂