Sunday, May 30, 2010

Sunday Salon: BEA & BBC Wrap-up

Living up to being a nomad reader:
I'm back home in Albany after a whirlwind two weeks away. One of my closest friends from college got married in northeast Iowa the weekend before BEA, and Mr. Nomadreader and I drove out for the festivities. We stopped to see a close high school friend in Ohio for a couple of nights, my parents in Des Moines for one night, then spent two nights at the wedding festivities. On the way home, we spent one exhausted night in Buffalo and had sixteen hours at home to unpack, do laundry and repack for New York City. Whew!

New York City:
New York was wonderful. We rented a small studio apartment, through AirBnB, a wonderful site I discovered through the Frugal Traveler. It felt like I was living in New York again because I had an apartment where I could cook my own meals or easily order delivery. It was delightful. The downfall was that I didn't spend

Book Expo America (BEA) was delightful, chaotic and overwhelming. I went in with a list of signings I wanted to see. I didn't make it to all of them, and I spent a lot of time waiting in line and meeting wonderful book bloggers, librarians and publishing industry professionals. I focused on getting upcoming books, and I was mostly successful. The one I wished I hadn't missed is the new Steve Martin novel, An Object of Beauty.
As a BEA newbie, I thought I did my research, but I was still lost. As I said, I spent most of my time in autographing lines. I didn't particularly care about getting most things autographed; I wanted the books. I wished I knew that publishers kept extra copies in their booths. Many authors had a few minutes or seconds to chat while they signed, and I really enjoyed that one-on-one communication time. I had a long list of booths to visit and authors to see, but I foolishly wrote down authors and booth numbers, as I assumed every booth would list their number like an address. When they didn't, I had to do some investigation to figure out which authors went with which publishers. Next time, I'll list everything by name instead of number.

The highlights for me were meeting Rob Sheffield, author of Love is a Mix Tape, one of my all-time favorite books and the upcoming Talking to Girls About Duran Duran, and Mo Willems, who signed Knuffle Bunny posters and distributed Knuffle Bunny Free. It was also wonderful to (finally!) get a copy of The Passage by Justin Cronin. He knew who I was and high-fived me at the Random House book. It was divine!

Here are some of the books I picked up:

The PassageCan I Play Too? (An Elephant and Piggie Book)Queenpin: A NovelBury Me Deep: A NovelThe Wolves of Andover: A NovelPictures of YouHiroshima in the MorningThe QuickeningBink and GollieA Fierce Radiance: A NovelThe Wake of ForgivenessThe Wrong BloodHector and the Search for Happiness: A NovelPrisoners in the Palace: A Novel of Intrigue and Romance About How Princess Victoria Became Queen with the Help of a Maid, a Newspaperman, and a ScoundrelTalking to Girls About Duran Duran: One Young Man's Quest for True Love and a Cooler HaircutNemesisThe One That I Want: A NovelGetting to HappyApe House: A Novel

Book Blogger Convention:
The organizers did such a wonderful job creating and organizing this event. It was wonderful, but I still felt like I didn't get a chance to talk to most of the people there. Most of the conversations I had were with bloggers I was not familiar with, and I discovered some great new blogs!

If I had one wish, it would be to have part of it be more interactive. Looking around the room with so many accomplished bloggers, I wish there were a way for all of them to share their insights with the group. The panelists were great, and the questions were great, but I know there was so much knowledge in that room left unshared. There were so many bloggers I admired in the audience learning, but I also wanted to learn from them (and many of the organizers). Granted, I have no idea how to logistically incorporate small groups in such a large group, but as this event continues in future years, I hope different panelists are featured each year to help ensure diversity of experience.

Next year:
So many people were already making plans for next year. I finish graduate school in December, and I hope to be employed next May. As Mr. Nomadreader and I have no idea where we'll be working or living next May, it's hard to plan on attending. Going forward, I don't know that I'll need or want to attend BEA. The entire week was exhausting and chaotic. The pile of books is wonderful, but the two days passed so quickly and I was constantly feeling as though I was missing out. It was crowded, especially Wednesday, and I think it's fair to say some attendees had an excessive sense of entitlement. I am grateful for the connections I made with authors, bloggers and publishers, but I'm also cognizant of how little I was able to do in two days.

Were you at BEA and BBC? What were your thoughts?

Happy Sunday and happy reading!

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Thursday, May 27, 2010

Guest post & giveaway: Lee Nichols on Libraries

Deception (Haunting Emma)
In April, I had the privilege to read and review Deception, the first in the new Haunting Emma young adult paranormal series by Lee Nichols. I really enjoyed the book, and in conjunction with its release June 8, Lee Nichols graciously agreed to write a guest post about her love of libraries. You can also win a copy of Deception by filling out the form at the end of this post.

Lee Nichols on libraries:
I can still remember my elementary school librarian’s voice, and the books she read: How to Eat Fried Green Worms, Tomas and the Red-Headed Angel, and The Gift of Magic. My class sat between the stacks of picture books, as she mesmerized us in the late afternoons. Lois Duncan became a favorite of mine, and it’s where discovered the joys of Judy Blume.

I’ll also never forget the Jones Library in Massachusetts, where as I college student I came across one of Marion Chesney’s Regency romances in the new books section. Nothing is better than falling for a new author and discovering they’ve got a hefty backlist. In Chesney’s case, it was twenty or so books. I read them all, before moving on to her cozy mysteries written as M.C. Beaton, which I loved just as much.

During this same period, there was a librarian at the Forbe’s Library in Northampton, dressed in a tweed jacket, who grumbled when I asked her to find me copies of  Woman’s Home Companion from the 1930’s, which I desperately needed for my senior thesis. She tried to talk me out of it, but I persevered. She reappeared from the basement, moments later, cobwebs in her steel-gray bun, and a smile on her face. “There’s a Willa Cather story in this one,” she told me. It was the first time I read Willa Cather.

I sometimes hesitate to take a chance on a new author at the bookstore, but never at a library. And the chances have paid off big: I’ve discovered authors from  Toni Morrison to Elmore Leonard, and from Isabel Allende to Helen Fielding to Jonathan Lethem. Once I fall in love with an author, I’m theirs for life. I’ll read everything they ever write, even after they’ve lost my enthusiasm. Hear that, Laurell Hamilton?

So my dream is that someone will see the first book in my new series,
Deception, A Haunting Emma novel, on the shelf and think, “Hmm, I wonder if I’d like this. No reason not to try it.” Or that maybe a librarian will hand it to her, saying, “Try this one.” And I hope she takes it home and forgets herself for a brief moment, happily living in the world I’ve created--and eagerly waits for the next book. And that libraries continue to have funding to support new authors, their communities and most importantly: readers.
About Deception: When Emma Vaile’s parents go missing while away on a mysterious business trip, she’s left all alone in her creepy old house. But her brother’s very cute best friend, Bennett Stern—Emma’s knight in J. Crew armor—arrives unexpectedly to whisk her away to New England. There, Emma settles into his family’s museum-like mansion and enrolls at an old-fashioned private school. She quickly finds friends in the popular legacy crowd at Thatcher and spends her free time crushing on Bennett. But the eerie visions she’s been hiding from everyone have gotten worse. Emma has memories of Thatcher that she can’t explain—it’s as if she’s returning home to a place she’s never been. Finally, Emma confides in Bennett and learns she is a ghostkeeper, a person who can communicate with ghosts. Bennett brought Emma to Thatcher to protect her, but now he needs her help tracking an other-worldly murderer.  
A rich New England setting filled with mystery, tradition, and prep-school intrigue make Deception the perfect choice for fans of series like Kate Brian’s Private, as well as all those paranormal fans. The shocking ending will leave readers desperate for book two. 
About Lee: Lee Nichols is the author of five romantic comedies with Red Dress Ink: Tales of a Drama Queen (2004), Hand-Me-Down (2005), True Lies of a Drama Queen (2006), Wednesday Night Witches (2007) and Reconstructing Brigid (2008). This spring, Lee will be debuting on the YA shelves with the first book in her haunting paranormal trilogy, Deception ~ A Haunting Emma Novel (Bloomsbury Children’s Books, June 2010). Follow her on Twitter at LeeXNichols or Friend her on Facebook at Lee Nichols.
Want to win a copy of Deception, the first Haunting Emma novel? Fill out this form by midnight Eastern Daylight Time on Sunday, June 6, 2010!