My BEA Experience, 2014

I am back from BEA and have enough energy to give a visual recap, which, in the end, looks something like this:

BEA 2014 haul
Highlights from the haul. See? I restrained myself, oh yes I did!

The plan was simple: I'd hang out with friends Jen & Jen over in Stratford, get up early so I could make my blogger breakfast at 8 a.m., catch a few friends' signings until my own at 11:30 where I would get to hug and laugh with the Harlequin Dream Team and associated author friends in line until we were released back into the wild whereupon I would get to fangirl to my heart's content on the BEA floor until catching dinner with Amalie Howard, Derek Silver and Mike Underwood. Friday was free to play. Then home to celebrate with a Grown Up Playdate with friends. Finis.

Can you hear the fates laughing? I can! HAHAHAHAHA! (I think Eddie Izzard said it best, but I digress.)

Essentially, this is basically what happened, but not quite. It began innocently enough by staying up way too late talking Interesting Things with Jen & Jen, who indulged me with my nervous prattle as I have a "thing" about being late (the "thing" being that I hate it with the heat of a thousand suns) and so I wanted to be very, very sure that I'd be on the early train on time in order to leave plenty of wiggle room to make the blogger breakfast. It was the whole reason that I was down early in the first place so I wanted to be as sure as houses, forgetting of course that houses can be easily blown over. So while we drove down (I can get lost in a paper bag so I depended on GPS and following the other car, discovering quickly that the three worst words in the English language are "Lost Satellite Connection"), got the tickets (YAY!) and were ready to board the train at 6:15 a.m., what we couldn't have anticipated was that a bridge somewhere down the line had gotten stuck in the "up" position. I soon learned that the two worst words in the English language are "Indefinitely Delayed."

I was, unfortunately to say, not taking this well. But Jen & Jen are good humored people and I am nothing if not resourceful! I asked around politely for news, checked in with the bus depot for any buses heading out, checked if we could confirm shuttle transportation around the problem site, called husband for advice, called friends for help, and basically sent filaments of inquiry out like so many kracken tentacles and came up with nary a sausage. (This is a Britishism I picked up during my Year Abroad...I blame the earlier Eddie Izzard reference.) Bottom line: bupkiss. Nada. Zilch.

What happened was that the train left bound for the trouble spot with warnings that there may or may not be a shuttle which might or might not get us into the city any time soon since the highway was blocked solid by all those people who were now avoiding the train. Fortunately, Amalie was nearby and volunteered to come get us and drive us around the back ways as long as she could get back to her house with a plumber coming at nine. She even got in her car with a kid and drove to rescue us...just as the bridge went down, the train cleared and we were on their way. Murphy's Law. I thanked her for being wonderful and apologized for zooming off, but vowed to make it up to her with some sort of grand gesture.

Alas, while we'd gotten on the train at 6:15, we arrived at Grand Central Station at 10:20--the blogger breakfast was long over and the free shuttles had just stopped running. Fortunately, we hailed a cab. Unfortunately, it got stuck in traffic. With my signing at 11:30, I managed to get inside and registered and to the booth at 11:15. I took this as a good sign, drank some water, bounced in my seat and smiled to my Dream Team and the first of some 250+ people who came out to have an advanced copy of INVISIBLE signed and receive a cool temporary tattoo of the cover art that looks like this:

Invisible Tattoo pic

Huzzah! I did it! I successfully signed my books at BEA!
*pause for dramatic effect* *drink water* *gird for battle*

Right! Armed with my smartphone and an impossible Wish List, I sallied forth to get coveted books, find biz pals, or at least say "Hi!" to lots of online friendly faces including Steve Brezenoff, A.S. King, Melissa Marr, Eoin Colfer, Holly Black, Becca Fitzpatrick, Jane Yolen, John Scalzi, Kate DiCamillo, Shannon Hale, Derek Silver, Kat Yeh, Frankie Diane Mallis, Jackie Dolamore, Susan Adrian and Shari Arnold. (I even got hugs!) All in all, the day looked--and felt--something like this:

BEA Dawn & Shari BEA Dawn & Rachel Cohen BEA Dawn & Frankie BEA Steve B BEA Scalzi BEA Kate DiCamillo BEA Dawn & Eoin Colfer BEA Dawn & AS King BEA Julie & Amalie & dragons BEA bag & Brooke & Dvorah BEA Dawn & Derek BEA Dawn & Jackie

Whew! What a whirlwind! But Amalie and I were off to meet up with Derek and Mike for dinner at Ninja, an adventure only slightly thwarted by the next cab that drove into traffic and after almost 20 minutes of full-filled nothing happening, we got out and walked the 11 blocks to dinner, only 30 minutes late. (Remember my "thing?" I was all about giving up the "thing" by this point!) The two experienced diners (Amalie and Derek) had a laugh watching the two inexperienced diners (Mike and I) having ninja staffers jump out at us, bang doors, leap towards us with trick knives, etc. But what the two experienced diners didn't realize was that both Mike and I were sitting on our hands trying to chant to ourselves not to do anything rash since we were both martial artists. Mike *did* manage to block and trap our wayward table magician's offending hand and I *did* lift an elbow and just touch someone's groin who appeared behind me to stab me gently in the throat--it was only fair to my mind--and so a great time was had by all with surprisingly good food and unsurprisingly great conversation. Unfortunately, we had to split before the big Rainbow Rowell Book Riot party because we'd eaten so late and Amalie and I went off to the Harlequin after-party after I changed into the sparkle and bling I brought for the occasion. Behold! Photo evidence with our editor, Natashya Wilson:

BEA Dawn & Amalie & Tashya
***Sparkle Sparkle!***

Train. Bridgeport. Drive. Collapse.
Wake. Rinse. Repeat.

On my second day on roughly four hours of sleep, I wasn't at my shiniest, but the trip was smoother and I wasn't "on" for the day, which makes me suspect that I may have been babbling nonsensically with anyone I met and spoke to that day (I'm thinking of a couple of darling bloggers in particular). Fortunately, I find that when you are in a good mood, are polite and surrounded by tons of like-minded bibliophiles reveling in books and bookish geekery, it's all good. I met up with fellow HQT authors Julie Kagawa, Michelle Madow, Amalie Howard, Alexandra Adornetto, Jennifer L. Armentrout, Robin Talley and Adi Alsaid for lunch at HK, gave hugs and thank yous to our hosts and scuttled off to snag the MG Buzz Panel where fellow Greenhouse sib, Kay Yeh, was being featured and bragged about by editor Alvina Ling for her darling THE TRUTH ABOUT TWINKIE PIE which, if I hadn't already had my copy, would have made me want to trample someone to get it. I got it signed with a smile from Kat herself and then meandered my way back to a bus. Then a train. Bridgeport. Drive. Home. (With a break to grab some hot soup and Airborne in an attempt to stave off the onset of BEA plague. Success!)

Of course, the next day I bemoaned not sticking around for greats like Cassie Clare, Maggie Stiefvater, Horn Book Awards, etc. but I was also very glad to be home and triumphantly present my family with books and hugs and kisses all around.

And that, my friends, was my BEA experience.


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