- I got to meet and interview a musical legend, Whisperin' Bill Anderson, who ended up being one of the kindest and most inspirational people I've ever met.
- I got to meet and have The Raven King signed by one of my absolute favorite authors, Maggie Stiefvater, and she was so adorable and sweet. I've wanted to meet her for years, and I'm so happy that I finally got to.
- I got to interview JLA, who was also amazingly nice, and learn some good tips about writing. I figured who better to ask tips from than one of the hottest authors out there.
- I got a ton of books that I can't wait to read and review. I will be holding a giveaway for many of the books that I got at BEA, after I read and review them. I don't have room to store everything, haha.
- I got to meet Sharon Cameron, who is one of my favorite historical fiction writers. I absolutely adore historical fiction, and her alternate realities and historical novels are just mindblowing.
- I got to try out virtual reality for the first time at the Neoglyphics booth, and I was able to learn about some of the creative ideas they have for publishing fully immersive fictional worlds. I am really excited about the work they're doing, and I can't wait to read and review their book, Sunborn Rising.
- I got to meet a lot of the people who work at my favorite publishing houses: Disney, Abrams, Hachette, HarperCollins, Simon & Schuster; Macmillan, Scholastic, Penguin, etc. Every single person I met (aside from the grumpy interns, haha) was so nice and helpful. It was obvious that they were happy to be there and so excited to get the books they're publishing out to people. I really liked that. It really humanized the publishing houses for me. Until now, I'd only interacted with everyone from behind computer screens, so it was nice to actually get to know some of the people in person as opposed to through email only.
- I found some amazing new stores that sell bookish things. Litographs and Out of Print are two of my new favorite t-shirt and accessory shops. You should definitely check them out.
BookCon was more like the comic conventions that I'm used to, so it made a lot more sense to me in some ways. Security was tighter, lines were longer, and it was more fan-based than industry-professional based. That being said, I made some new friends while waiting in those long lines, and I got to meet some amazing authors there, too. It was also a lot of fun, and in addition to having the hottest authors out there doing panels and signing books, BookCon upped their awesomeness by chartering one of my favorite local bookstores, Anderson's Books in Naperville, to sell all of the books at the convention. I love it when people and events shop locally, and they could have chartered Barnes and Noble or Amazon or some other huge book supplier. The fact that they chose Anderson's made me have a whole new respect for the BookCon brand and the event planning company that manages the event.
- I got to meet one of my absolute favorite authors, and a man whom I respect greatly: Sherman Alexie. Not only did I get to meet him, he was so nice to me. He asked me if I wrote, and I told him I was trying to. Then he said one of the nicest things ever to me: "You'll finish the book. I hope that one day I see you at one of these events signing your novel." That meant so much coming from someone who is a NYT Bestselling, award-winning author. Especially because he is bringing American Indian rights into the living rooms of people who never thought about the fact that our history is wrong and that large, important parts are omitted, and that is so important. He does this with a humor and grace that captivates all who read his work. He's one of the best storytellers of this generation.
- I got to meet the Scott Brothers (Property Brothers). They were so nice. They came out and talked to the audience randomly so that people wouldn't get impatient. I know that this sounds dumb, but they actually are a lot like they are on TV. I know it's a reality show and scripted, but the show seems to be a decent representation of their personalities.
- I bought way too many bookish things. Every place had a sale going that day, so I got tons of t-shirts and socks.
- I got to learn a ton about historical fiction because of the panels. BookCon had some seriously good panels. I didn't get a chance to make many of them because I was in signing lines, but the Historical Fictions for Teens was a really good one. It made me rethink how I wanted to write a historical fiction idea I have.
Overall, this was a really fantastic trip. I loved going to BEA and BookCon, and I can't wait to attend one or both again next year. Look for a giveaway coming up soon. I leave you with a couple of pictures.