By Saturday, I think I was running on pure adrenaline -- I was having the time of my life! Kathy (aka Bermuda Onion) and I agreed to meet in the hotel lobby at 7:15 to head over to BEA for the Saturday Book and Author Breakfast which featured Craig Ferguson, Tracy Kidder, Jeannette Walls and Ben Mezrich.
At the Author Breakfast, we met up with Amy (aka My Friend Amy), Natasha (aka Maw Books), and Candace (aka Beth Fish Reads). I thoroughly enjoyed this event, and I was especially impressed with Jeannette Walls, author of GLASS CASTLE. She has a new book coming out called HALF BROKE HORSES about her grandmother's life which is being sold as a "Real-Life Novel."
The rest of the day is kind of a blur, but I thought I'd take a different approach than I did on Friday. Because I had already waited in a lot of lines and met a lot of authors at the autographing booths, I wanted to spend more time looking around the publishers' booths. While there were tons of book signings in the autograph area downstairs, there were also authors signing books at the various publishers' booths.
Of course, the ultimate highlight of BEA for me was the Today's Buzz Builder Panel on Saturday afternoon. I admit that I was pretty nervous about being part of this panel because I felt a little out of my league considering the other amazing women who were participating -- Natasha of Maw Books, Stephanie of Stephanie's Written Word, Amy of My Friend Amy and Dawn of She is Too Fond of Books, Candace of Beth Fish Reads. The panel, which was moderated by the wonderful Jennifer of Book Club Girl, intended to explore the relationships between bloggers, publishers, authors, and booksellers, and discuss ways we can improve these relationships to best provide information about books.
A few of the panel members were a little concerned about the turnout since the panel was not mentioned in the BEA "bible" -- the book that tells you everything need to know about the show; however, we were happy to see that it was mentioned in the Saturday edition of the Publishers Weekly BEA show magazine. When I got to the room, I was shocked to see that it seated around 300 people. We placed the goodie bags (provided by Book Club Girl) on the 100 seats closest to the dais so the attendees would be nearer to us. My worries were for nothing because we had an great turnout. I was just amazed by the number of people who came to see our panel -- it was pretty much standing room only! Naturally, between the number of attendees and the microphones on the table, I was terrified.
Pictured from left to right: Julie/Booking Mama, Natasha/Maw Books, Jennifer/Book Club Girl, Stephanie/Stephanie's Written Word, Candace/Beth Fish Reads, Dawn/She is Too Fond of Books, and Amy/My Friend Amy.
I think the panel discussion was a big hit. I was honored just to be there with everyone, and I hope we represented the blogger community well. I think it was a great sign that so many of the audience members asked questions and that the panel ended up being very interactive. Dawn (aka She is Too Fond of Books) wrote a fantastic summary. You should definitely head on over to her site if you are interested in learning about some of the specific issues. You can also listen to the panel discussion in its entirely on BlogTalkRadio.
I have to mention that I was just blown away by the support of the book blogging community! I felt myself tearing up when I saw all my "new" friends coming into the room to listen to our panel. A huge thanks goes out to those of you who were twittering live from the event especially Kathy of Bermuda Onion, Jenn of Jenn's Bookshelf, and Trish of Hey Lady!
I was sad to see my BEA 2009 experience come to an end! I headed back to my hotel around 5:00 carrying two heavy bags of books. Kathy was a true friend and carried another bag for me. That way, I didn't have to ship any of my books home -- I could just load them up in our car. (My poor kids were surrounded by books the entire drive home because our luggage filled the trunk of the car.) Once I was at the hotel, I became very excited to see my children whom I hadn't seen since Thursday morning. Unfortunately, they were taking a bus tour of the city and got held up in traffic. I had just enough time to rest my feet before heading out for dinner with them.
We went to Ellen's Stardust Diner for dinner because we thought the kids would enjoy the singing and entertainment. We had been there a few years ago and thought it was fun watching the servers break out in song and dance between taking orders and serving food, but I think my kids were a little too hot and tired to appreciate it that night. I ended up leaving dinner early and walking around Times Square with my little guy (although he begged to be carried because his feet hurt.)
After dinner, we decided to visit some touristy "kid-oriented" stores like the M&M and Hershey's store (not like we don't live 20 miles from the real Hershey.) Then, we headed over to Toys 'R Us where each of the kids got to spend a little of their own money. IT WAS A MADHOUSE!!!! President Obama just happened to be in New York Saturday night to see a Broadway show. They closed off streets surrounding the theater, and the main entrance to Toys 'R Us was locked. My husband, who is 6'2", could actually see President Obama over the crowds of people, and he was able to lift the kids up so they could see; but little ole 5'4" Julie couldn't see anything except the backs of people's heads. Instead, I was crushed against buildings desperately trying to hold onto both kids. I HATE CROWDS like that!
We got back to the hotel around 10:30 and just crashed!
That about wraps up my BEA 2009 experience. I am so glad that I was able to attend this wonderful event; but most of all, I'll treasure meeting so many wonderful people!