The Highs and Lows of our BEAcation (BEA - BookCon Recap)

Friday, June 5, 2015

Paper Bindings - BEA and BookCon 2015 recap

Not only was last week the great Book Expo America (BEA) / BookCon week, it was also the first time my co-bloggers and I got to hang out in months. (Miss you guys already!) There were laughs, there were tears, and one horrible day I don’t wish to talk about but I will because ya’ll asked for a recap of our adventures.

This post will be long and image heavy, so you are warned.

If you’re feeling a tad stalkerish, err…curious, I tried to use the #BEAcation on my twitter/instagram posts.

(Color guide: Carrie // Tisha // Tracy // Stephanie))

Tuesday, May 26th, 2015: BEAcation Day One

Tuesday was all about the start of vacation happiness. With the breakfast of champions from Wawa I started my travels. Zero alligator sightings later, I feel compelled to look whenever I’m not the driver, I arrived at the airport where I promptly jumped on twitter to share my nervous excitement with others.

One thankfully smooth flight later I landed in New York, where I travelled to my old house to stay with family. It was bittersweet to be back since it’s no longer my home anymore and a whole lot of changes had been made to it.

Sort of depressed, I made my way back to twitter to make sure all my blogger friends were arriving safely….and won a Harlequin Teen T-Shirt giveaway for Nowhere But Here. Someone out there was determined that I stay happy. If my mom did not already think I was book crazy, she does now.

Paper Bindings - BEA and BookCon Recap

Wednesday, May 27th, 2015: And So It Begins

The good thing about staying with family was being able to save hotel money by taking the train in. That’s my story and I’m sticking with it.

If you’re wondering how long it takes me to walk from Grand Central to the Javits Center, the answer is 28 minutes. But I’ve got NYC’s no rules, power walking down pat.

Now, if you know me well, then you’ll know that I seem super shy until I know you and then you cannot get me to shut up. So walking into the Javits Center alone was overwhelming. I got my tickets and did not know where to go from there.

So I have to give a big shoutout and thank you to the wonderful ladies of One Bookish Adventure for allowing the clueless stranger to tag along with them. If it wasn’t for you guys, I’m not sure where I would have been that first day or how prepared I would have been for the day’s rush.

Because, let’s be real, the Truthwitch rush was chaos.

People were running to grab a ticket. I took a least traveled route, grabbed a bag or two on the way, and still made it to be number 63 in line without walking faster than normal. I spent the next two hours shaking from nerves, joy, and panic from being in that mad rush. (I am claustrophobic so I hate being in crowds.) But it was worth it.

Paper Bindings - BEA and BookCon Recap
Jennifer Lynn Armentrout signing my Lux book.

After that I pretty much hung out by the booths, talking to a few people, and picking up a few ARCs before making my way to Jennifer Armentrout’s signing. (I cannot remember your name, but thank you lady who works for HarperCollins Christian Publishing for keeping me company and taking my photo with JLA!) After that it was pretty much time to hover around Macmillan’s booth for the Truthwitch signing.

I was super excited to pass Sophie Barnes’ signing and to find she had no one in line. I thought I missed her completely. So excited that I completely forgot about the Tonight The Streets Are Ours drop. Missed it by only a couple people, but I ended up being like third in line for the Truthwitch signing instead.

Meeting Susan Dennard was the highlight of Wednesday.

She was super nice. I was too busy having a fangirl moment to think of asking for a photo. Maybe next time.

Paper Bindings - BEA and BookCon Recap
Susan Dennard signing Truthwitch ARCs.

On the Truthwitch line I finally met Aly from My Heart Hearts Books, my first real blogger friend. It was super nice finally getting a chance to meet her.

After that I jumped on Jayne Ann Krentz’s line before wandering around some more. This time I decided to venture off towards the Harper side of things and just missed the Rae Carson's Walk on Earth A Stranger drop. That was the real moment I realized that this place was huge and I was never going to see everything I wanted to.

Thursday, May 28th, 2015: Back For Round Two

BEA day two started off with me singing “ALL BY MYSELF!!” to myself. Then I was able to join up the the same nice ladies from One Bookish Adventure again so I didn't bust out my karaoke skills.

When the doors opened, I quickly moved to snag a most wanted ARC on my way to the Passenger line. Shockingly, they did not have tickets, so every time the lady moved up and down the line covertly counting, I got super nervous. Eventually another lady wielding post-its made her way passed and I relaxed again.

Paper Bindings - BEA and BookCon Recap
Alexandra Bracken signing Passenger ARCs.

Since the Passenger line took longer than I anticipated, I basically abandoned my whole plan. Which worked out wonderfully. I hung around the booths some before jumping on the Harlequin Romance Authors line. They ended up running out of books before me, but I was able to have them all sign my Harlequin tote bag.

Jodi Pickett was walking up and down the line shaking our hands and chatting with everyone once she ran out of books. That is probably one of my favorite experiences of the whole convention. She did not have to do anything, but that small gesture made me feel that yes authors do think we are important.

After that, I ended up #19 on the Harlequin Teen Hour line. Made it onto Eleanor Herman’s twitter video and got to meet some more wonderful people. I about died when Katie McGarry told me she heard of my hometown. NO ONE ever knows where it is.

As if that wasn’t enough, I got to help start the unofficial galley drop line at Little Brown with April and her sister. (I’m 90% sure that’s how they were related anyways. I am so bad with remembering these sort of details.)

Achievement Unlocked.

Then I rushed over to the Lois Lane: Fallout line only to find it nearly wrapped around the booth. I ended up sadly abandoning that line to move over to Macmillan for the second Tonight the Streets Are Ours galley drop. From there I waged a war between hitting the autograph area and staying for the Fairest signing. Halfway over to the autograph area, I turned around.

Since learning my lesson with the Sophie Barnes signing yesterday, I swung back by the Lois Lane: Fallout signing and was able to jump right line.

I walked proudly away from the Javits Center that day.

Friday, May 29th, 2015: All Good Things Must Come To An End

After working until 1am and not falling asleep until somewhere around 2:30am, I was pretty sure I would be a complete zombie by the time my alarm clock rang at 4am for my 5am train. Instead, my brain took it more as a nap and went with it. I am glad that I decided not to sleep on the train, as I had first planned, because I think I would have been a mess. Plus, how could I sleep - I had not seen Carrie in months!

Tisha finally got to join me for the last day of BEA! And I all can say, is she is the greatest person ever.

After making a beeline for Soundless and These Shallow Grave drops, we mainly hung out by the booths during the first part of the day. We got to do a few things I missed out on the first few days and I had someone with me the majority of the time to talk to which was nice.

I have to admit, I was pretty nervous. I am an introvert, am new to this whole awesome blogging world and it was my first BEA. But Carrie was maneuvering everything so effortlessly so I just sort of followed her lead.

I had been really bummed that I picked the wrong one day to go to because all of the things I had really wanted to see had been on Wednesday and Thursday, when I had to work. One of those things was the Jennifer Donnelly signing of These Shallow Graves the day before. So when we got that book which I had desperately wanted first thing I was set, everything after that was a bonus.

((I TRIED to get it for you! The line was super crazy busy.))

Paper Bindings - BEA and BookCon Recap

And then 12:30pm rolled around. Why is Tisha the greatest person ever, you ask?

Because while I was off waiting for the Rae Carson/Garth Nix drop, and planning to make a mad dash over to the Maggie Stiefvater line to use my line jump ticket, she was waiting on the Throne of Glass tote bag (and really awesome buttons) drop. Then she scooted on over to the Six of Crows galley drop line.

After that we split up once again, she went to find a spot to rest, and I braved then abandoned the Patrick Nass line. Instead, I ended up third for another Jennifer Armentrout signing. Won’t lie, I had a little fangirl moment when she recognized me.

Earlier in the day I had spotted a book that I had not heard about, but looked interesting This is Where it Ends by Marieke Nijkamp, so when we split up, I decided to join the line for the ARC and signing of the book. It was pretty awesome to meet Nijkamp and she was very nice. While the line, I was looking at my twitter and happened upon a secret drop of Libba Bray’s Lair of Dreams which you could only get with a code word she had given on twitter. I have to say I felt pretty awesome going up to Little Brown booth saying “Project Buffalo” and getting one of the books I had really wanted. Then I went to find a spot to relax and get away from the crowds for a little bit.

After that, we left. Note: You cannot find a single taxi in NYC when you are bone tired, and lugging heavy books. Apparently intellectual girls freak them out. So we kind of walked zigzag towards Books of Wonder searching for one. The subway line that took us close was a blessing from some benevolent spirit.

I went to school in NYC so I feel like I am usually pretty good about walking through the city to make my way to places, but the Javits Center is away from nearly everything and the long avenues just make it seem to take forever. Plus we had tons and tons of awesome giveaways to lug around on our tired feets, so when we saw that subway station, I could not have been happier.

If you see me in any Books of Wonder photos and I look like death rising….now you know why.

Paper Bindings - BEA and BookCon Recap
Kass Morgan, Melissa Grey, and Virginia Boecker at Books of Wonder.

The Fantastic Teen Fiction event was pretty fun. Everyone on the panel was great, and I kept laughing throughout the hour. I really regret forgetting my Girl at Midnight book, but I was able to get my The Witch Hunter one signed. I may have had to buy a second copy of the entire Rae Carson series (HECTOR! He demanded I do this) because mine is still in storage. Besides, I didn’t have a physical copy of the novellas anyways.

Not entirely sure what I’m going to do with the second set now, but we will see once I get them from storage.

Great panel, though I was not overly familiar with any of the authors, they were all hilarious and super awesome. And the bookstore, Books of Wonder, was great, I am definitely going to check out another panel soon. The panels at BookCon were pretty good, but nothing beats being in a small gathering with your favorite author. I love the show The 100, and just started reading the books so it was great to meet Kass Morgan and have her sign my book. Plus, I also got to meet Rae Carson! Unfortunately, I was super tired by that point and completely forgot to have Morgan sign my other 100 book, or take a picture with her. Whoops!

Paper Bindings - BEA and BookCon Recap
Rae Carson, Michael Buckley, and Cao Wenxaun at Books of Wonder.

We basically refused to walk further than the intersection until we snagged a taxi, but were smiled upon by the taxi gods and quickly made it to Grand Central. One hour and a half train ride and I was passed out in my bed.

BEA was a great experience. I got to talk to some people on line, meet great authors, and get way more giveaways than I had ever imagined. Also, I once again realized that I tend to be a creature of habit and tend to stick to the same authors and books, so it was great to get out there and explore new authors that I cannot wait to read!

Saturday, May 30th and 31st, 2015: The End All That Was BookCon

I am not entirely sure how Carrie was functioning after so many days of BEA, because after just one I was beat. I woke up a little later, 5am for a 6am train, and Tracy and I met Stephanie and Carrie on the train. Tracy and I had been to BookCon the year before and… lets just say our expectations were pretty low. Our expectations were very, very low. So much so that I was just like f’it I’ll just go with the flow and didn’t make a game plan ahead of the time. I just wanted to hang out with all four of us again.

After Friday, I really cannot say it was a surprise I woke with a headache. By time we made it to the Javits and had to stand on that long line (we arrived two hours early) I was not a happy camper. Approximately thirty minutes later we were moved to the cattle shoots inside to wait.

Once the doors opened, it wasn’t that bad to start. Most of the line was behind us, so we were able to do things. BUT time we were online for the tarot readings at Macmillan, (she gave great readings! - agreed :)) a large crowd was gathering around me.

Having a claustrophobic panic attack on the Javits floor was not fun. The only plus was I managed to convince my friends to see the Tor’s Crowd Storytelling panel because there was open space for me to breathe in. That was probably the weirdest round robin I have ever seen. Something about mechanical unicorns that were created by giant squids. Or something. We kind of sat down in media res Agreed on that being the strangest panel ever. Sadly I think they knew it. The authors participating had a sort of “let’s just muddle through it” vibe going in. When all four of us got up to leave, I’m pretty sure they apologized.

After that we moved on to the panels on the far side. I must say if I didn’t have a headache, I would have happily hung out there. But my headache of doom transformed into a full fledge, light sensitive, nausea inducing migraine. I ran crying back to Grand Central (see I told you there were tears involved) where I jumped on the first train back.

Unfortunately, we did not know the extent of Carrie’s migraine. We were in the We Need Diverse Books panel, which was informative and I had missed, but really wanted to see last year. After grabbing a quick lunch (the food was awesome), we decided to go to the Taye Diggs panel of his new children’s book Mixed Up Me. Honestly, we did this just so we would be able to get into the Rainbow Rowell panel, which was in the same room right after, but I am glad we did because not only do I really want to get the book, but thought it provided great discussion (Agreed. I’m going to suggest that the Children’s Librarian at work get it. Once a ‘Renthead’ always a ‘Renthead.’)

Then we went to the Rowell panel.

Which was amazing. She’s awesome and I wish we could be friends. She even provided me with millennial validation!

Paper Bindings - BEA and BookCon Recap
That moment when you fangirl over an author responding to you.

By the end of a long day we were met with a nice surprise when a very nice and well dressed man (who was cute in a beard-y way) (love beards!) (yes breads!) gave up his cab to us. Chivalry isn’t dead! It is maimed though, as evidenced by the fact that the cabbie tried to rip us off. Well, I say tried. He mostly succeeded XP

One Tylenol PM dose later, and I was out. When I awoke the next morning, I was feeling a bit better but I knew going to the Javits would aggravate my brain so I stayed away.

I knew from midday Saturday, that I would have went if everyone really wanted to go, but I was not really keen on coming back to BookCon for Sunday. The only thing that I really wanted to do was the Libba Bray signing, but I had already gotten a copy of Lair of Dreams so I could not justify buying another one, when I know Bray has events in the City all the time. I have to say they tried very hard to fix the numerous problems the BookCon had last year (there were less lines, less confusion, and much less crowded - no fire marshall called this year!) I concur that it was a lot better crowdwise this year from the previous one. That said I think some of the… excitement of it was missing from last year. Even though it was insane, I felt like everyone felt special to be there. This year I think most of the excitement was reserved for BEA. Even the press was a bit meh on the whole thing. Last year “The Fault in Our Stars” and I think some other panel broke BookCon. It was nuts, but seeing that many devoted book fans all willingly standing on line for hours just to see an author was an amazing sight. It showed that books still matter. I didn’t feel that “vibe” as much this year. From what Tisha and Carrie have said about BEA, I think I’ll skip out on BookCon if I’m fortunate enough to go next year and just do BEA, but since I had seen the Show Floor the day before at BEA there was not much left to do. For next year, BookCon should spread out their panels more, so you are not left with just seeing one. Plus, I think it would be a good idea to be able to buy the wristbands for the panels/signings that you really want to go to when you buy your ticket and get it sent to you before BookCon even starts. Good idea! That way you can enjoy the event stress free without worrying about standing on this line or that line. I still feel really bad that we did not go back though, Stephanie! Sorry!

No reason to apologize! The only must see I had for the con was Rainbow Rowell, and I got that. The autograph would have been cool, but the panel was worth the price of admission. She was so hilarious and down to earth. People asked really great questions and she gave great answers. My favorite questions were when someone asked about her dream casts for her movies, and when someone asked whether she had intentionally thrown shade at John Green in Fangirl (No- if you were wondering, lol).

We felt terrible about poor Carrie, true, headaches are never fun and we missed you Carrie!. When she decided to stay back the last day, we did the same. Another day at BookCon would have been fun, but nothing beats friends and dessert. Especially when one of those friends is leaving town the next day. Come back soon Carrie!

Instead, my friends and I ended up going for ice cream and making book club plans.

Lessons Learned

  • The rolling suitcase recommendation should be a BEA requirement - You will get more books/swag than you think. Even if you only get five a day, that’s basically five pounds of extra weight directly on your shoulders or wrists. Owww. 
  • Talk to people on line - Because you will see the same people over and over again. It is super easy to make new friends at BEA, and it is super nice being able to have someone to chat with while online. 
  • Even if you’re convinced you missed something, if time is not up check it out anyways - Several times I thought I missed signings or a secret code word galley drop but I found by double checking I was glad to be wrong. 
  • Talk with the publishers - I knew I was going to have to interact with the different booths. I was trying to make some contacts in the publishing world. And who would pick that random business card over the one where they actually remembered the person? But I found I got more than that by talking with the staff. I got a better understanding of some of the books being promoted as well as some personal book recommendations based on my tastes. At one booth I was even told to come back on Friday because they would be giving away all of their display books that day. 
  • Look at the agenda before you buy tickets - If you unfortunately can not go to everything, buy tickets after you look at the what is happening for the day, not before. This way you do not miss your favorite author or giveaway. This may seem obvious, but I was a little too excited and bought my tickets before everything was announced. I think this would be made easier if the Con made things clearer. I was often confused about what was happening when and where. That might just be my ditzy-ness though... 
  • Go with the flow - I had a much better time when I just went with the flow and just did the things I could. I second going with the flow. Makes life so much easier.


  1. Wow, your experience at BEA sounds amazing - I could relate to your claustrophobia. I get paranoid in super crowded places although, it's not as extreme. I agree about going with the flow as well, I feel it's more fun that way instead of making a plan and sticking with it throughout the day. That just tires you out and puts pressure on you as well, your haul looks wonderful though! Happy reading :)<3 Benish | Feminist Reflections

    1. I think next year I'm skipping BookCon for sure because of the crowds. Which kind of stinks because I'll miss it but also because I have serious doubts about now attending Comic Con. I've always wanted to go to SDCC but now I'm not sure if I can handle it. I don't remember my claustrophobia being this bad the last time I attended a convention.

      Thank you for stopping by.

    2. Thanks for your reply. Yeah, I'm probably skipping BookCon next year and definitely just going with the flow.

  2. I loved seeing all of your experiences and am so glad you guys could meet up last week!!

    Hey, we went to the same two AM panels for Diverse Books and Taye Diggs on Saturday, whoo! That was a smart way to make sure you got into Rainbow's room! I skipped out when his Q&A started b/c the one ARC I wanted was Serpentine by Cindy Pon at 2!

    And UGH to cabbies who rip you off!!

    I think Book Con was SO MUCH BETTER, but I see pictures of super crowded areas and still wince! I ran in, did the two panels and my signing and got out pretty fast before it could get too messy. I'm also glad BEA was more organized with lines this year!! I like your idea for panel bracelets, too!

    I love your Lessons, too. Definitely go back if you think you missed something because the line will be gone a lot of the time! Friday was amazing for this reason!!

    Great wrap-up!

    1. Hope you managed to snag one of the Serpentine ARCs! Even if I was feeling 100%, I'm not sure I would have braved the crowd to go after any ARCs.

      Thank you for stopping by.

    2. Thanks! It was great to all catch up. That's funny that we were in the same two panels, small world :)

      Agreed, BookCon was so much better than last year. Ugh, I remember not being able to move at all on the show floor.


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