Saturday, June 9, 2012

Breaking Down BEA: Tales of a Triple Timer

My first BEA I was so green around the gills that I missed all the fun.

Last year, when I got home from BEA, I went overboard recapping the event. From my BEA Blues post - which I think is still incredibly relevant and deserves a peek if you haven't seen it yet - to individual posts on  networking and namedropping, and publisher events, (yawn)....

I promise not to put you through all of that again - it's ok, breathe deep, I know you're relieved! But what I will do is touch on some of the most memorable moments of this past week in one big honking post. Because, you know, no one experiences BEA the same way... no one! And I totally want to tell the tales of my triple time...

By the way, these are in no particular order. At best, I'm listing them in the order in which they took place, sort of:

* Driving into and out the city every day with Tara (booksexyreview). Why yes, we are glutton for punishment! By the end of the week, we were functioning on only a few hours of sleep, lots of caffeine from our early morning mocha lattes, and our sometimes cranky but always entertaining deconstruction of the day's events. It was lovely to have a passenger this year - the previous two years I had driven in with me, myself, and I - and as much as I love myself, I was so grateful for the company! She mommy'd me, I kept her out past her bedtime... we were each other's side kicks throughout all of BEA, and I wouldn't change it for the world! It's that comfortable silence and knowing at a glance when to leave each other the hell alone that made us realize we were totally rocking it this year!

Me, Ben, David, Jason

*Attending the CCLaP readings at the KGB Lit Bar the night before BEA officially began. This was my most-looked-forward-to event of BEA week. CCLaP is based out of Chicago and never, ever, sends their authors out this far east, so there was no way I was missing it. I reunited with Ben Tanzer (to my immediate left in the photo) and finally met the ever intriguing David David Katzman (in the cool ass shirt holding the beer) and Jason Pettus, founder of the small press (hiding in the back). It was a night of stupendous readings, many of which I will be uploading to youtube as soon as I find the time. Keep your eye out for those, I guarantee you will be googling the site and downloading the books as soon as you hear the authors reading from them! If you missed the event (which I pimped on twitter like a rabid person), for shame!

Jenn and me
* Meeting Jenn (Picky_Girl) and Susie (Insatiable Booksluts) in person. So one of the highlights of any BEA for me has always been meeting the bloggers I've come to know and love online. I've been following both Jenn and Susie now for the better part of the past year and was thrilled to hear they were both headed to BEA. Jenn met Tara and I at the fountain in Bryant Park an hour before the Uncon kicked off Monday morning. She was as sweet and southern as I imagined she would be, and we became fast BEA friends - from discussing our thoughts at the Uncon, to connecting on the BEA showroom floor, to breakfasting together at the Random House #powerreader event and stealing a lunch at Javits between signings.

me, Tara, and Susie
Susie was the IBBA winner for Adult Fiction, and even though she kicked my ass in the contest, I was beyond thrilled because that meant I could meet her and be all "indies rock" and "long live the indie". We snuck an early dinner before the CCLaP event on Sunday, and then also had some chill-out time at the Consortium Books #indieview cocktail party Monday evening. She was a bit shy to start but quickly warmed up to us over tuna melts and meatloaf sandwiches, dishing on our current reads, schooling each other on our favorite authors, and just being our bookishly wonderful selves.

* Reuniting with Bookish friends near and far. In this list, I include the lovely Marisa of Graywolf, Erica of Harper Perennial, Amy of Amy Reads, Alix of Romance Book Forum, Jessica of Swift Ink Editor, and Rachel of A Home Between Pages. Bookishly good times had with all, all parties and hang outs, and eats, and chats. BEA is the only time I get to see them all, and I always feel like I am scrambling to spend time with them but the time I do get is always amazing.

Sky Ice's Chocolate Lava Cake..yum
* Nana's and Sky Ice in Brooklyn. OK, funny story so bare with me. Tuesday night was the one night Tara and I weren't double or tripled booked with parties for the evening and we ran off to Brooklyn with Amy (Amyreads) and Alix (Romance Book Forum) to have ourselves a sit-down-and-enjoy-ourselves dinner. We decided on Nana's - which I believe is a Japanese restaurant. All I know is that nothing on the menu made any sense to me, and while I'm not afraid to try new things, I did need help from the ladies and the staff to order something semi-familiar. (I was also the only one at the table who had to request a fork, because, no, I have not yet mastered the skill of chopsticks. Stop laughing at me.) I ended up with Tangerine Steak Stir Fry -or something to that effect. It was delish: thin strips of steak in a sweet sauce with rice and red and green bell peppers. So there I was, munching away, chit chatting with the girls, when all of a sudden I felt a gigantic fire burning a hole in my mouth! I went from completely normal to wanting to claw my mouth off of my face in zero point two seconds. Apparently, what I mistook for a slightly burnt piece of red bell pepper turned out to be an entire chili pepper which I had happily chewed and swallowed before realizing what I had done. While Tara, Amy, and Alix continued to eat and chat, I was holding cold water on my tongue and trying not to scream my head off. Every breath I took fanned the flames of my mouth. It was hell. Eventually, eons and eons later, the fire in my mouth calmed into subtle campfire ashes that would periodically rekindle as I bravely placed more food in my mouth, extremely careful to avoid all other chili peppers lying incognito in my meal, but willing to take the chance because my dinner was really good and I was really hungry. (throughout all of this, I am pretty sure some panicked tweets about my imminent death-by-chili-pepper went out...)

After the Nana's fire-fiasco, we headed over to Sky Ice, on Alix's recommendation. It was the strangest ice cream shop I had ever visited because it wasn't exactly ice cream, and it wasn't exactly italian ice. It was like the two had a baby and this weird mushy icy thing was the result. Alix was taste testing a few of the flavors. One tasted like ass, another tasted like a shot of rose perfume to the mouth. I played it straight and chose the chocolate lava cake with caramel sea salt ice cream. It made up for the hellish dinner I had just eaten. I burned and died and went to heaven all in the span of two hours.

* Breakfast of Champions. The most memorable moment of the Random House #powereaders breakfast has got to be the discussion Andrew Shaffer and I had about his upcoming release 50 Shames of Earl Grey. Only Andrew can make topics like "the shocker" and "tea bagging" seem almost natural at the breakfast table. Of all the authors I know I'll see at BEA, Andrew is the one I look forward to bumping into the most. Precisely for reasons like this.

* Richard Nash Big-Pimpin' Maidenhead. Richard Nash is a sweetheart. Anyone who meets him and thinks otherwise is simply not to be trusted. He's a shmoosher and sweet talker all the way. A hugger and kisser of cheeks. And I love the way he pimps me to the publishers whenever we are around one. But this one time, Richard turned the tables at the Couch House Books booth while we were deep in conversation with Ethan - their publicist - and pushed Maidenhead on me. For those of you not in the know, Maidenhead is Couch House's "smuty" novel of the year. Sex sells ever since 50 Shades broke loose, and everyone who's got something like it is letting you know! While I'm steering clear of the "mommy porn" scene, I did get a kick out of Richard demonstrating the clever little cover images they had used on the galley... subtle but not so (you'll understand once you see the back cover image, trust me).. if you know what I mean. The moment was truly priceless.

* Goodreads for the win. Due to a packed schedule on both my part and the part of Patrick Brown - Goodreads Community Manager - I managed to get an invite to their private shindig Wednesday evening for a quick meet-n-greet. Patrick and I were trying desperately (alright, most desperately on my part) to meet one another face to face all throughout BEA and the stars were just not aligning. Ok, so the invitation is extended and Tara and I go, and I find myself chatting the hour away with Otis (Founder of Goodreads) and Patrick about recommendations and ideas I have for their site, while Otis subtly questioned me on things like monetizing and beautifying TNBBC. It was all kinda silly and blurry - I'd had a beer or two by then - but I left feeling wonderful and full of the goodreads love. Patrick was adorable and lovely, and Otis sees all the things and knows all the things, and I enjoyed picking their brains. And if I said anything untoward or pushy, I blame it all on the beer.

Me and Jonathan Evison
* Couch Lounging with Jonathan Evison. I know how this is going to sound, but I really do love being me sometimes. Especially on nights like Wednesday night, at the PubDate party, chilling on the couch with Tara and Amanda (deadwhiteguys), when I spot Jonathan Evison walking around on his own holding two beers. I shout above the crazy loud music and call him over for a sit-and-chat and he beautifully obliges. ( I fan girled on him the day before at an impromptu run in where he so kindly signed his book and let me talk him up on All About Lulu and West of Here). Kicking back on the couch, we were BS'ing about his novels, torturing himself with dense classic literature, and how much he misses home but at the same time adores the attention the new book is getting. A class act of a guy in a cool hat and suit vest, Jonathan wins my author-of-BEA award.

* Canoodling with Graywolf and J. Robert Lennon. How anyone ever gets any productive discussions going under the bass and drum beat of club music is beyond me. But it happens, and I have proof of it. Up on the stage of the PubDate party space, drenched in red and blue lights, Marisa of Graywolf, J. Robert Lennon (author of Castle and Familiar), and I spent some time locked in conversation. Lennon and I discovered we have sons around the same age, the same soft spot for old school music-listening-apparatus, and an interest in hearing him read his own work. Perhaps some cool new TNBBC series was born this night? You will have to sit tight and wait, my friends... these lips will never tell...

And so goes my top 10 favorite memories of BEA 2012. What will the fourth year hold? God only knows but if it's following in the same footsteps of these past three years, it can only be greatness. I am already counting down the days....


  1. So jealous of your goodreads meet-up!!!!


  2. Aw, seriously, you and Tara made my BEA this year. Such a fantastic treat.

    And I saw Evison but had no idea that was him. Love his style.

    I'm super excited about some of the things I think we'll see from your blog in the next year. I love what you do here, and I love your willingness to collaborate and work with others.