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Saturday, May 31, 2014

Thursday, BEA Day 1

So I got attacked in the leg by a brass unicorn the night before night. I was actually turning on a wall lamp and it fell off the shelf and hit me. I woke up with a headache and a bruise. It was the kind of headache that could escalate into a migraine. The kind of headache you need Migraine Excedrin for. Two tablets. Although I am disturbed to have found out that the max dosage is two tablets in 24 hours. Oops! Well, it hasn’t hurt me yet, so why start caring now. I popped two, but took extras just in case.

So that is how the day started. I overslept. Well, with a massive headache, you could understand. I was mostly set to go, but had to add finishing touches. I had planned to be out the door by 6:30 factoring in traffic time, but I didn’t leave until 7:30. After stopping at Dunkin Donuts for an ice tea and muffin (my morning ritual throughout the con) I headed in.

I did indeed hit a massive amount of traffic in Secaucus…again. You think I would learn. But I still couldn’t get up early. The ferry ride was uneventful. I decided to forgo the parking lot attempts at the terminal and went straight for the garage. I figured it would be smarter to buy 10 trip tickets because I could use them for Comic Con in October, so when I asked how long they were good for, I was told two months. Round trip please. There was no breeze snatching my ticket out of my hand and flinging it into the river. No mishaps at all for the ride over…for once.

I checked my luggage. BTW, there is now just one baggage check in the front right corner by the registration desks. They made the space bigger, but that just means it was a nightmare to try to find and actually get to your suitcase. Neither here nor there. There was no line to go up the escalator as the floor had already opened and I was late.

After having the spent the previous evening adding to my giveaway spreadsheet and printing out the floor map with sticky colored arrows saying you want to go here, I forgot to actually write the name of the booth so I had a plan. More importantly, I had forgotten to check what booths had the big books so I could look out for them first. I went in by registration which was a rookie move and I should have learned after last year, but it was the first escalator I saw, so it was a million miles away from Random House, Simon and Schuster, Hatchette, Disney, Little Brown. So, I got Penguin, MacMillan, Scholastic and HarperCollins first. I also found Source Books and Bloomsbury before I got to the other side of the floor.

Now keep in mind I had spreadsheets, I had a time table that was blocked off in 30 minute, but sometimes 15 minute increments so I could see where there was overlapping and so I could see easier when A finished what could I reasonably get to get to next. I had a spreadsheet of the giveaways including author, title, publisher and booth, but no times. I had to pick up the sheets for those at the booths. I had holes punched in the spreadsheets. I had the spreadsheets inserted in a protective sleeve. Everything was broken down by day. It was all in a three ring binder with extra pages for things I picked up at the show. I even brought my iPad because I could pull up the app on my iPad and see my event schedule if need be. I did not realize I was getting sent push notifications with sometimes important information until I was home the first night. Also, I will just say here and now that I probably didn’t look at that binder until around 1pm. So, I really didn’t know where the heck I was going.

I had a 10:00 signing at Sourcebooks, but along the way, I explored a bit and found Houghton Mifflin. I knew they were going to be giving away copies of Dearest by Alethea Kontis, so I just asked when they would be putting them out and the nice lady went into the wall and pulled out a copy for me. Awesome!!!

After Sourcebooks, I headed straight for Harlequin. I did not want to miss the YA giveaway. There were five books being signed. It was a pretty long line, but I expected it. My boss had a question about a document that had to be approved, so I actually had to call her while I was on line. Julie Kagawa also came out and was chatting to some people in line and posing for photo ops. When she walked by me, I waved and smiled and she waved back, so that was my squee moment.

The rest of the wait was uneventful. I wanted four of the 5 books, but I only wanted two photos. Julie was first, so I took her picture. Correction. I tried to take her picture. When I pulled up my camera, it was stuck on video mode. Ever since I upgraded to the new operating system something like this will happen where I don’t know how to make it work and this was not the time to have it not work. It was also at this moment that I realized my headache was not going away. Finally after standing there saying it no worky, the person behind me showed me that I just had to swipe the screen to change from video to phone. Oh for the love of all that is holy. Picture taken, I moved along, probably much to Julie’s relief. Next up was Adi Alsaid signing let’s get lost who I ended up blubbering to about how much my head was hurting aaand moving on. Another relieved victim, I mean author, to see me go. Next up was JLA. And nothing was going to be easy. She was signing copies of Stone Cold Touch and had run out perhaps a couple of people in front of me. But here is a consolation prize of these signed postcards! (Actually the post cards are nice and I got the book at Blogger Con, so it wasn’t that big a deal.) Last up was Alexandra Adornetto signing Ghost House. I was out of the line and given a tote bag.

As it turns out, I wasn’t at the autographing tables much. I was picking up the galleys and there were a lot of giveaways that were also books being signed. It is awesome to meet the author, but there isn’t really time to chat and form any kind of lasting friendship, so I figured if I got the galley, I would dispense with the autographing and free up some time for some other things on my list. Harlequin was the big one for Thursday.

I did want to get in line for Billy Idol, but the celebrity lines are always packed and I got off the Harlequin line too close to the start of his signing, so I skipped it. Instead, I headed over the Melissa Marr which would prove to be my second thwarting of the day. I was standing in line a while when a volunteer came by counting heads. She stopped the line two people in front of me. She said we might still be able to get a book, but there was no guarantee. I figured if I was like 10 back I’d leave, but not two because you just never know. Eventually we get moved up and the “start of the line” board was handed to someone behind me so I figure I’m in, but as we are crossing over the aisle to head for the chute, a more important volunteer, and apparently one better at counting told the lot of us, or the majority anyway, that they were out of books. So that was a bust. I wanted a copy and so did my friend Terri.

By this time I really need to take more Excedrin as the headache is not going away, but I realized since I missed Melissa Marr I could catch the signing at Spencer Hill. They were giving away a book called I Wish by Elizabeth Langston about a girl who found a genie and had to make a wish a day for a month.

Jane Lynch was also signing at that time, but I didn’t even look for her. I had passed the Neil Patrick Harris line earlier that was a beast and also the BJ Novak line which I couldn’t touch with a hundred foot pole. I have come to the realization that we love our celebrity signings and will stand in line for a long time in order to get it. My head hurt too much for that.

I got aspirin, had my sandwich, dumped books and headed back in. The next thing I had scheduled was Trial by Fire by Josephine Angelini. Another popular line. I was really excited for this book as well. The author was really nice, but she asked that question that I hope never to be asked again. “Have you read any of my books?” I’d like to ask “Have you seen the size of my TBR piles?” I have read Goddess and loved it. I have the second and third books but haven’t gotten to them, so when she asked the question, I just blanked. I said yes, that I had read the Greek books and loved them and was really looking forward to this one. I mean, come on!! Could I not have given her a title of one of her books so I didn’t sound like a total pratt?

When I got my book, I noticed no one was in the Rebecca Serle line for Famous in Love which was the next table over so I jumped in that line. I asked her to personalize it for me, but as her arm was in a sling, her right arm, she was just stamping the books with a nice big R. She was very apologetic when there was no need to be and I liked her immediately. Unfortunately, perhaps due to the headache, the lack of sleep or maybe just the overall sensory overload, I forgot to ask her what she did to her arm or to wish her health, but I thought it as I moved to the next table over.

Melissa de la Cruz was signing copies of the Ring and the Crown. She was also very nice, but also asked if I had read her books. Here I could not lie. I told her no, but I have been wanting to and I thought this would be a good book to jump on with. I actually ended up buying books one and two of her Witches of East End series when I got book three at BEA, but have yet to read them.

To round out the day, I went back to MacMillan for a Craft Beer tasting where they were also promoting the book The Craft Beer Revolution. It was Brooklyn Brewery which is one of my favorite three labels. Perhaps not the wisest choice to end the day considering I had now downed four Migraine Excedrin and still had a headache, but I just couldn’t pass it up. There were lots of cocktail parties going on, but after the one sample, I knew I just had to get home.

My suitcase was considerably heavier coming back than going in. I couldn’t even put the suitcase in my car without emptying half of it out into totes. But no real issues. I hit traffic as I expected. Got home, had some pizza, took a long hot bath to soak and cranked up both the air conditioner and the fan. Sometimes that is the only way for me to get rid of the sinus headache. And as I didn’t have any more organizing to do other than figure out my first move for the morrow, I was able to fall asleep by midnight, but only after crossing off the titles I already picked up and crossing them out on the autographing time table as well.

In an amusing, little aside, I checked my iPad when I went to bed and saw that I had gotten push notifications. I never pulled it out all day and that is when I saw the announcement that James Patterson was being handed out at 10am at Little Brown. So, I missed it and now I have to tell my boss. I asked the next day and they said they were all out. I kept checking throughout the weekend just to make sure though. Sometimes you never know.

Friday, May 30, 2014

Book Bloggers Conference: Endgame

The lunch session was a Q&A which some people found to be very interesting, but I was kind of bored and was waiting to get to the next session.

Here were the break outs.

Session 1 - Design 101: Creating a Picture Perfect Blog or Design 201: Taking Your Blog to the Next Level – I attended the 101 session because I figured why bother taking my blog to the next level when I need so much help on a basic level.

In Design 101, we talked about blog design and the tools available to assist. Tools, fonts, images, color, etc. We were given some websites to checkout. Then we talked about programs like Photoshop that can be used to enhance a blog. Then there were blogs Dos and Don’ts, which also incorporated typeface, the header, sidebars. We talked about organization ti make it pleasing to the eye. We discussed hiring a designed to update all or part of a blog and the average costs associated. A lot of really useful information.

Session 2 – Software 101: Best Blogging Tools or Technology 201: Ad Networks. – Ass I am not even thinking about ads at this point, I again went to session 101.

In Software 101, we discussed different blog platforms as well as free vs pay host sites. We also discussed the flexibility found with each of the platforms discussed. We talked about RSS feeds, newsletters, scheduling posts. While it was helpful to a degree, we discussed some of this information last year. I didn’t take a lot of notes.

Session 3 – Beyond the Blog: Introduce Yourself to Vlogging and Podcasting or Blogging and the law. Well, since I am not currently entertaining podcasts or vlogs. I had no choice but to attend the legal presentation. This was actually a bit better than last year. Last year’s discussion was basically about the law and what you can and can’t do. This year, we also discussed what the blogger can do to protect himself or herself.

Session 4 – The Publishing Process: How Bloggers Have Changed the Game or Engaging Your Readers: Take Your Writing to the Next Level.

Now both these sessions sounded good, but I went with the writing one as it indicated it was a writing workshop. Okay. Now we’re getting somewhere, learning to apply everything we’re being told. It was a lot of rehash. We did discuss SEO, how to bring people to the blog. We also discussed how to generate comments and using social media. I was bored for most of the presentation and wished I had gone to the other session instead, but figured it would be bad form to get up and leave in the middle of the presentation.

Alexandra Bracken was one of the panelists in the other session and had I actually read the program earlier rather than just now, I would have seen there were giveaways; a copy of The Darkest Minds, a series tote bag and a special sneak peek of In the After Light. But I didn’t. Although, I did see the ad for the Disney Booth where if we mention the ad, we would get an ARC of a “Hot, New YA Title!”

It matters not, though. Now last year, the sessions were genre specific. We could either take the YA track or the adult fiction track which I believe was Sci Fi. The afternoon sessions were more generic. There were galleys for each track, but if you were in the YA track, you only got the YA books. It seems, or at least I was told, some people complained about the organization last year, so all the tracks were non-genre specific. The ARCs were all handed out at the end and everyone was able to choose any of them. There must have been about 20 titles and some only giveaways for the Blogger Conference, like Stitching Snow, which is a futuristic telling of Snow White.

After the last session and the giveaways, we had a party! There was candy on all the tables, beer (although crap beer in my opinion), popcorn. The author of Diamond Sisters, Michelle Madow was at the party and was signing copies of her book. We also had live entertainment by Tiger Beat and while the sound was crap, the band rocked. They played the Cure and Bow Wow Wow. There was also a song they performed about David Levinson and there were David Levinson heads on popsicle type sticks I guess we were supposed to raise in the air during the song or some such. It was actually quite a bit of fun.

I stayed to listen to a set of music and made my way home.  The rest of the day didn't end up being too bad.  I had to stop at the store on the way home and was planning on relaxing once I did get home, but my friend Terri from Alexia's Books and Such sent me a bunch of links for BEA giveaways and signing schedules.  So while I thought I was all organized, I found I actually had more to do now, so thanks, Terri.  Actually I'm really glad you sent the links as I had missed some stuff.  Didn't get to bed until after midnight again, though.  Surely it is enough time to get a good night's sleep and get up on time for BEA.??

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Book Bloggers Conference 2014

I 45 minutes.  Could be because I couldn't sleep last night.  Everything I needed to have and do for the next few days ran through my mind.  I kept getting up to take care of things.  I slept, fitfully.  I probably didn't get to sleep until about 2am.

Consequently, I meant to get up at 6am, but could not get out of bed this morning. I finally got up at 6:45, but ended up not getting out of the house until close to 7:30. Stopping at Dunkin' Donuts on the way made my departure 7:30. The drive wasn't too bad until I hit Secaucus where I found an inordinate amount of traffic.

Still, I made fairly good time through the traffic and arrived at the ferry in Weehawkin. I wanted to park in the first lot, but it was closed. I drove past the terminal and the parking garage planning to park on the other side of the terminal, but found both those lots were full except for monthly. I tried to turn around, but found the way to the garage was one way and I was going the wrong way.

I had to go back out to the road and go around and back to the garage. Parking set, I headed for the elevator. I got half way there until to realize I forgot the parking ticket on the roof of my car. Backtracking, I was lucky the ticket didn't blow away.

No mishaps in the elevator thankfully, and I got to the terminal, got my tickets for the ferry and headed down the plank. I stopped mid-plank feeling something was amiss. Sure enough, I checked my hand and was holding only one ferry ticket as I watched my round trip ticket floating away in the current of the river.

At the ferry, I told the ticket takers my round trip ticket flew into the river. Luckily, they let me keep the one ticket I still had so I could get home without having to buy another ticket. Well, at least something went my way.

I finally got to Jacob Javits Center frizzy and slightly worse for wear. I went downstairs to register only to find that I needed to register upstairs and come back down for the breakfast. So, back up the escalator to register and get my badge. I asked this time about the lunch voucher, but once again, they were out of lunch vouchers and I have to go back up to get one once they print more or whatever they have to do to have more in stock.

Back downstairs for a quick breakfast while awaiting the keynote speaker to come on stage for her opening presentation. The keynote speaker was Maureen Johnson and she basically riffed most of the presentation while espousing the benefits of having good coffee. She was an absolute hoot and now I feel like I need to read at least one of her books.

I went back up to registration after the keynote speaker to check on the lunch voucher. They were still out, so I went to my first session which was Design 101: Creating a Picture Perfect blog. There was a whole lot of useful information. I am going to try to employ some of it. I would say more, but come on, I'm being realistic.

After the first session, I went back up to registration and I was told, the luncher vouchers were actually just taken away and I would have to go to event management. The woman behind the counter took pity on me. It was, after all, my third visit to registration. She went in search and came back with a voucher. She would not turn it over to me, though, until she received verbal confirmation that I am , in fact, a blogger and she asked to see my badge. Then she turned over the voucher. Now I can eat lunch. So, I guess I win.

The lunch was not much of a fiasco, at least not for me. I already had my lunch voucher and knew where to go from last year. As soon as the second session was over, I footed it over to the cafeteria. There was really no line at that point. Instead of selecting a refrigerator section sandwich like last year, I actually was able to order hot food, so I got a hero sub. I was on line for about a minute or two and headed back to the main room for the lunch time entertainment. Last year, for those of you who do not recall, the lunch line was wrapped about and took forever to get rung up. There was no time to actually order food, so everything was from the refrigerated section. This year it was much better.

More to come...

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Book Review - Undressing Mr. Darcy by Karen Doornebos

So, let's just pretend like I have been posting regularly and I won't make lame excuses for why I have been inattentive. And we'll go from there.

I will say, though, that hockey season, for me at least, is now over with the defeat of my Pittsburgh Penguins in Round 2 of the Stanley Cup play-offs. They may be out of the race for the Stanley Cup which saddens me, but I can say that I now have time to do more. And to all of my Canadian friends, Go Habs! I'm rooting for you.

So, I thought Jane Austen had been played out, for a time at least. I kind of ran Austenland into the ground, both in video and book format and I thought, that's it! I'm done with it for a while. And then I bought the Blu Ray of Northanger Abbey which stars J.J. Feild as Mr. Tilney, J.J. Feild playing Mr. Nobley in Austenland. (Of course, I then come to find that I actually already owned the DVD, but I looked for it before I bought the Blu Ray. I swear I did and didn't see it!) So, I had to play that as a broken record.

Then I thought to myself that I should read Northanger Abbey as I do not believe I ever read it. And I thought, well this has got to be it. And then I remembered I had some Austen inspired books by Amanda Grange in the attic, so I had to go searching for them. I have her entire Diary series of books, told from the perspective of the male lead and she just happened to write one called Mr. Tilney's Diary. Why not? I just read Northanger Abbey from Miss Morland's perspective, so why not give Mr. Tilney the opportunity to tell his side of the story. Could not put it down. But this is not about either of those books.

I have an entire collection, probably larger than I think, of books that are inspired by Jane Austen and her characters. I picked up Undressing Mr. Darcy because, quite frankly, who doesn't want to undress Mr. Darcy? But this was a refreshing take as it was not Jane Austen's character's or the Regency era. It's just about a man. In modern day. In Regency garb. Taking it all off. To save his home. And we learn some stuff about Jane Austen on the way. Win-win!

Book Description:
Publication Date: December 3, 2013

Taking it off in the name of history…

Thirty-five-year-old American social media master Vanessa Roberts lives her thoroughly modern life with aplomb. So when her elderly Jane Austen–centric aunt needs her to take on the public relations for Julian Chancellor, a very private man from England who’s written a book called My Year as Mr. Darcy, Vanessa agrees. But she’s not “excessively diverted,” as Jane Austen would say.

Hardbound books, teacups, and quill pens fly in the face of her e-reader, coffee, and smartphone…

…Until she sees Julian take his tight breeches off for his Undressing Mr. Darcy show, an educational “striptease” down to his drawers to promote his book and help save his crumbling estate. The public relations expert suddenly realizes things have gotten…personal. But can this old-fashioned man claim her heart without so much as a GPS? It will take three festivals filled with Austen fans, a trip to England, an old frenemy, and a flirtatious pirate re-enactor to find out…

My Review:
This is not your mama’s Mr. Darcy. This Mr. Darcy does a strip down to his undergarments while giving a lecture about regency attire for men. His name is not actually Mr. Darcy. It is Julian Chancellor, but he spent a year living the life of a regency gentleman and then wrote a book about it, with a quill pen no less. He has eschewed all things modern and doesn't like to use technology, but he has an ancestral home that is crumbling down around him.

Being invited to speak at the Jane Austen Society of North America’s annual conference, he hops a plane to Chicago. The proceeds of his book sales will go towards the restoration of his estate. Being the niece of Ella Morgan, the conference organizer, Vanessa Roberts has taken him on as a client pro bono to help him save his home.

Vanessa is a brilliant PR exec who is more comfortable living in a virtual world of social media than in the real world. She also has no love for Jane Austen and is not a great reader of leisure books. She has no time for leisure or dating and her only family, Aunt Ella, has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, so she helps her aunt out as much as she can. Which is one of the reasons why Vanessa took on Mr. Darcy as a client for no pay.

What she didn’t expect was how sexy a man could look in a pair of breeches. But she is doing a job and keeps reminding herself that he is a client and to keep it professional. Which is just so darn difficult to do when he is stripping off the layers of clothing. She begins to think of the possibilities and to question if her virtual life is enough.

Now enter Captain Jack Sparrow. Because if it wasn’t bad enough to have a convention full of Janeites in their regency attire, the hotel is also hosting a comic book / science fiction conference called Hero Con. While Vanessa is out in the hall taking a phone call from the doctor about her aunt’s condition, she walks into Chase MacLean, who makes a really convincing Captain Jack Sparrow.

The funny thing about Chase is he just keeps turning up and seems to be around just when Vanessa needs help the most. While not a professional pirate, he does moonlight on the side at kid’s parties and such, but his full time job is an auctioneer. He works with Aunt Ella’s sweetheart, Paul, so he knows Aunt Ella and he knows Vanessa as well from way back although she doesn’t remember him.

The trouble with Chase? He doesn’t have a British accent. While he is trying to get Vanessa to step away from the media devices, she is thinking that maybe she could allow herself to fall for a guy and it doesn’t seem to be him.

From Chicago, Vanessa drives Julian to a Jane Austen festival in Kentucky and back to Chicago. She is really hoping that they might spend some quality time together during the short trip, but alone time is not what they get as they are accompanied by a self-proclaimed Mrs. Darcy (and she’s got the shirt to prove it – real name Sherry) and an ex-friend of Vanessa’s named Lexi who tags along as part of a bribe.

When Julian flies back to England, Vanessa figures that would be that, but she can’t get him out of her head. She does the only thing she can think of, she follows him across the pond. He is going to be a guest speaker at the Jane Austen festival in Bath, so onto Bath.

As part of her Conference package, she has been entered into a Mr. Darcy scavenger hunt, the winner of which gets a dinner with Julian at his estate. Vanessa just has to win that race. So she embarks on a mad dash to find the clues and secure the required items with the help of Lexi, who she has somewhat reconciled with, and Sherry. It is a trip through Bath and London as she is directed to places from the life or books of Jane Austen. At every turn, she is expecting to find Julian, but he proves evasive.

It is a classic case of being in the right place at the wrong time and time seems to be running out. As she searches for clues, she discovers a passion for Jane Austen, but will she find her Mr. Darcy?

Thursday, May 8, 2014

What have I done? What have I done!!!

Well, I have finally registered for BEA.  I totally meant to register back in March, but somehow never got around to it.  There was much anxiety and gnashing of teeth, especially when I needed to print out my receipt, but my wireless connection has been having issues connecting to the printer in the other room. 

Of course, hubby came in and just hit click on the print menu.  Believe me, I have tried to print and have stared at documents sitting in cue for hours and not printing, but he comes along and 'click', my receipt printed immediately.  What the freak is up with that?  See?  Machines hate me.

Anyway, now the long arduous task begins of preparing for the big event.  I need to know where I'm going, who I'm seeing and mapping everything out.  Not to mention looking on line for event swag, giveaways and galley drops.

I've got some of that info already, but I will need to do a bit more research.  Last year I was more prepared than the prior year, but I need to get it sorted out better.

I can actually say I am BEA bound now!!!!  Oh man, it's gonna be a really long four days...