Thursday, May 12, 2016

My first day at BEA 2016 #BEA16

As many of you know, I've been to plenty of comic conventions, so I thought that going to a book expo would be close to the same experience. I was so wrong. Don't misunderstand me; I had a great time today, but it took me awhile to learn the rules. Being the socially awkward person that I am, today had a lot of embarrassing moments.

I woke up, got ready, and headed down to get coffee. I can't function before coffee. I went to the Starbucks, ordered my coffee, and the people handed me a cup. I asked where the coffee was. It was right in front of me. Then I managed to fill the coffee too full and spilled it when I was putting cream in it. Yes, I'm THAT girl. Anyway, I cleaned up my mess because it wasn't the employees' fault I'm so clumsy. I also avoided that cafe/store for the rest of the day because I'm super awkward.

Coffee in hand, I headed confidently over to the West Building of McCormick Place to register and get my pass and everything. Well, for some reason I thought the convention started at 8am instead of 9am, so I went onto the show floor and started browsing. Security let me pass. Anyway, some publisher's interns shooed me away from the show floor, and then when 9am came, I couldn't get back in without waiting in line for 42 years, so I went back to my room to gather stuff for my first interview.

Around 10am I headed back to the show floor, and there was no line. I went to stand in line at the Penguin booth to get Last Days Night by Graham Moore signed. As I was walking over to Mr. Moore, I tripped on the carpet Penguin had put down (they really need to tell you to watch your step) and almost tackled the poor man. He asked if I was okay. I told him yes, there was carpet. He said that happens sometimes. I laughed, probably turned 70 shades of red, let him sign my book, and scurried away.

After my face turned back to its normal skin color, I went over to talk to the guys from Neoglyphic. For those of you who haven't heard of this publishing company yet, you need to check them out. Their first published novel, Sunborn Rising by Aaron Safronoff, is set to be released at the end of May, and how they are promoting it is amazing. Aaron, and the rest of the Neoglyphic team, has created a fully immersive book experience. The book has a soundtrack; it has video games with it; there are tons of beautiful, full color animations in the novel; and there are animations that go along with the series. While I was at their booth, Aaron and David were kind enough to let me experience virtual reality for the first time so that I could immerse myself in this beautiful fantasy world. It was an amazing experience. I may have gotten a little motion sick and dizzy from the way the virtual reality glasses thingy messed with my head, and I may or may not have almost puked on David's shoes, but I didn't, and that's what matters. I felt like I got a broader understanding of the world through the experience, though. I will be writing a lot more about Sunborn Rising and Neoglyphic in a later post. Needless to say, their innovative take on publishing was really inspiring and impressive to me.

Virtual reality adventure complete, I mosied around the show floor, got the opportunity to get a hardcover copy of Remember to Forget by Ashley Royer signed. She's a 17 year old author; how cool is that? I wish I'd written a book at 17. Instead, I just ran around causing trouble. I was a terrible teenager. ANYWAY. I also got to pick up an ARC of Elite by Mercedes Lackey from the Disney booth, so that was cool. I made a deal with myself that I'd only grab books that I was super interested in at this conference since I don't really want to mail 15 boxes of books to my house, especially if I have no desire to read any of them. I'm not one of those "grab everything if it's free" types. I'd rather leave the books I don't want to read for people who would like to read them. And I'm getting really sidetracked and off topic.

Once I looked around at all of the cool booths and books, it was time for my interview with THE Bill Anderson. Yes, you heard me right, the musical legend himself, Whispering Bill. Bill has had hit songs every decade for the past 70 years. It was such an honor to meet someone so talented. I love all kinds of music, including country, and I'm a huge fan of Bill's work. I went to the media room and sat down with Bill, and he was so nice! I really loved talking to him. I learned so much, just from the short time I spent speaking with him. I was blown away by how down to earth he was. He's also one of the most intelligent people I've ever met. I'll be posting his interview in the next few days, as soon as I get it transcribed. He told me to come by his signing later and he'd give me a book. I can't wait to read his autobiography and learn more even more from him. I'll post the review as soon as I finish reading the book. Bill signed the book for me and told me he'd see me in Nashville at the Ryman. He's one of the main Grand Ole Opry hosts. I had the privilege of going to the Opry around Thanksgiving, and it was one of the coolest experiences of my life. I felt like I was sitting in the middle of history. It's the last live radio show in the world, and Tracy Lawrence was the main act. I'd been dreaming of seeing him since I was in 6th grade, so it was just awe-inspiring to see how the Opry was made. I really do hope I see Bill there some time. It'd be nice to talk with him again.

After Bill's signing, I headed over to Sharon Cameron's autograph table and got an ARC of The Forgetting signed. I absolutely adore Sharon's books and historical fiction, so I can't wait to dive into this book. She was extremely nice, and is also from Nashville. I have family in Nashville and am from Knoxville, so it was cool to see so many people here from Tennessee. She was also extremely nice. Everyone I met today was nice, except the interns who shooed me. They weren't my favorite people. I may have given them the stink eye...

On my way out, I got some really cool reusable bags/totes from various publishers and stopped by the Abrams booth. They're one of my favorite publishers, and I picked up a YA fantasy novel there called The Red Abby Chronicles: Maresi. I hadn't heard of it, but it looked interesting, so I figured I'd give it a try. I'm a sucker for all forms of fantasy.

After I finished my laps around the show floor I headed back to my hotel room to rest up and get ready to do it all again tomorrow. Today was a lot of fun, and I know that tomorrow will be, too. Look for my posts about Neoglyphic and my interview with Bill Anderson in the next few days. If any of you are here at BEA, please come say hi if you see me in the crowd.

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