No Longer a BEA Virgin

40

June 10, 2012 by Heidi

BEA Logo

As you know, I spent this last week braving the hustle and bustle of BEA.  Essentially, BEA is a venue where hundreds of introverted bibliophiles with high anxiety are shoved into a comparatively small space to rub shoulders and attempt not to have panic attacks when they see their favorite authors, bloggers, and books, and attempt to withhold a modicum of dignity while fangirling all over them.  At least that was my experience.  But as we all know, I am extremely awkward and anxious in crowds.  Did I succeed?  The world may never know, but I’m pretty happy with the whole experience, fool or no.

Heidi and Melissa Marr

Excuse me while I fangirl all over Melissa Marr: I’ve read all your books and LOVE THEM MUAH!!! *Dies*

This being my first BEA, I was of course overwhelmed by the seemingly endless possibilities to occupy my time, while simultaneously not knowing what to do with myself.  I entered upon opening Tuesday morning to witness insanity.  There seemed to be a veritable mob at the Disney-Hyperion booth (I came back about 20 minutes later an got everything other than False Memory without having to bite or even shove anyone), tote bags were instantly full, and within 5 minutes people had grabbed more books than I brought home all week.  I’ll say this, my eyes grew three sizes that day.

Tuesday also marked the day of me being a complete wimp that was too afraid to walk up and say hi to people I recognized.  Like Anna (Anna Reads) who I stood directly behind for at least 10 minutes in line.  After bucking up that evening, I never saw her again.  But that’s okay, because I did still meet people!  Anna from The Book Smugglers recognized me (see, I knew that post would do me some good) and came and said hi, which pretty much had me stammering.  I don’t often fangirl about other bloggers, I just tell them strait up if I think they’re awesome, but Ana and Thea are honestly my blogging heroes.  They were the first book blog I ever read long before I started blogging myself, and I still read it every day.  I respect their writing, professionalism, and relationships with the community so much, it never occurred to me that they might know who I am.  Not only that, I got to meet Thea as well, and they are both so incredibly friendly, open, and wonderful I’m no longer too intimidated to talk to them!

Heidi and Alyssa

My new bff Alyssa and I.

Now that I’ve proceeded to fangirl a bit more on my blog (I really am shameless), let me assure you that they were not the only wonderful bloggers I got to meet.  I was so excited to meet and spend a little time with Angie (Angieville), Holly (Book Harbinger), Janice (Janicu’s Book Blog), Kristen (Fantasy Cafe), April and Allison (Good Books and Good Wine), Amy (Tripping Over Books), and Tarra (Hobbitsies).  I really wish that I’d gotten to spend more time with all of these lovely ladies, and it felt like somewhat of a comedy of errors trying to track most of them down.  Janice and I stood in at least three of the same lines on Tuesday and Wednesday before finally connecting at Orbit (we particularly needed to meet as we share a friend irl, and not knowing one another seemed silly).  Holly, Angie, and I stared at each other dumbly not believing that the Katherine Marsh line was so short before I was like ‘oh hey, it’s you guys!’.  I was so glad I got to talk to them a bit more on Thursday before heading out!

Of course, the best part was getting to spend each day hanging out with my bookish soulmate and friend, Alyssa from Books Take You Places.  Alyssa and I went to grad school together, but as we only took online classes together, this was our first chance to actually meet in real life!  This girl is awesome, and it was like we’d known each other for years and were pretty much meant to be friends.

And what would BEA be without the B?  Well…a conference with very little direction I would imagine, but let’s talk about the books, or really, the authors!  I’ve only ever met one big name author before.  I was pretty much the boss of Young Authors in Wyoming (a yearly short-story writing competition for school-aged kids), and one year at state Avi was there.  So I can slap you with a signed copy of The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle, but that’s about as far as my author-Heidi contact had gone.  I was even more nervous to meet authors than other bloggers.  Authors to me have always been kind of ephemeral.  They’re these untouchable beings that are out there somewhere in the mists creating things I love, but surely they don’t exist in corporeal form here in the real world.

Heidi with Holly and Angie

Me with Holly and Angie (Yes, Holly and I are unfortunately blurry).

My perspective on authors has, of course, been changing somewhat since I started blogging.  I’ve had contact with various authors via e-mail and Twitter, and I still get the vapors every time an author acknowledges my existence.  I’m happy to report that every single author I spent even a small amount of time with at BEA was wonderful.  Every one was friendly, genuinely excited to be there meeting fans, and grateful for our enthusiasm.  My most pleasant, fun, and genuine interactions were with Cat Valente, Maureen Johnson, and Victoria Schwab.  I can honestly admit I was bowled over by Cat Valente as she was the first author I really spoke to at BEA.  I had it in my head that because her writing is so incredibly intelligent and literary and, well, marvelous, that finding anything to say to her would be an unattainable goal.  That wasn’t the case whatsoever!  She was so pretty and open and friendly, I came away stunned at how easy it was to talk to her.  It certainly set a good precedent for the week!

I realize that this has been a bit long, and mostly involved fangirling about all of the wonderful people I had the opportunity to meet this week.  I hope it doesn’t come across as braggy, I’m really just excited, so I hope you’ll forgive me.  I was so overwhelmed and caught up, I didn’t make it to any special panels or events, but I’m already resolved to next year!  I’d love to attend the children’s author breakfast in particular.  I’m also thoroughly resolved, now that I know I can talk to bloggers and authors because they are real people, that I will head into the city for more events, such as those at NYPL or Book of Wonders.  Turns out it’s not so scary after all!

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40 comments »

  1. nymeth says:

    Ha, I love your first paragraph. I get nervous in crowds too (and struggle with social anxiety in general), so the idea of BEA is pretty overwhelming to me. But knowing that all the people around me were fellow book loving introverts who totally got shyness and fangirling would really help, I think. How wonderful that you got to meet so many blogging friends and authors. Cat Valente! I worry I wouldn’t be able to put two words together around her too. Good to hear she’s so friendly and approachable 😀

    • Heidi says:

      She really was! I was terrified. But yes, being surrounded by bookish people really helped. It was funny to travel from place to place and see the variety of people attracted to different books. I think every time I stood in a Sci-Fi or Fantasy line we talked Ray Bradbury, every time I stood in a YA line, I got asked at least 10 times who we were waiting for and was shocked when I got clueless looks at names like ‘Libba Bray’. It was certainly fun, and I got more comfortable by Thursday.

  2. VeganYANerds says:

    Your post doesn’t sound braggy at all, hun! BEA sounds like such a great opportunity and I’m so glad you enjoyed it and got to meet so many bloggers and authors!

    • Heidi says:

      Thanks! It was a great opportunity. It kind of felt like diving in the deep end that I chose this as my first bookish event, but I think I’ll feel better doing about any of them now!

  3. That all sounds amazing! I would love to go someday if I stop teaching or school miraculously ends before the first week of June, but I doubt that. It’s kind of comforting knowing that I’m not the only wimp at social events where I recognize people but don’t say hi…I’ve totally done that. Going to RT really helped that, though, and I’m hoping I’ll be more confident at the next event I go to!

    Glad you had a good time!

    • Heidi says:

      I’m glad going to RT helped you get over your shyness a bit! BEA certainly did that for me, and by the end I was so comfortable doing things I was too terrified to do on Tuesday.

      I grew up out west, and for us school was always out before Memorial Day (but we also started before Labor Day). Still don’t have down the mentality that most people go through June!

  4. It was SO AWESOME to meet you, Heidi!! This was my first BEA as a blogger, so I was jazzed to meet some people irl who only existed previously on my computer screen. I’m so glad that we both decided to wait on that SUPER long line for Throne of Glass together! And also Crewel. :-)

    • Heidi says:

      I know! I was so happy to meet you, it was so much fun to talk to you irl. Please let me know if you ever come up to the city for other events! I’d totally hang out with you again. 😛

  5. I wish I had been able to spend more time with you as well. Seriously you are just as cool in person as you are on your blog. 😀 I am very glad to see that you had a good time :-)

    • Heidi says:

      Thanks, April! I wish we could have hung out more too. If you’re ever down in the city for something let me know so we can hang and get drinks or something. =D

  6. Kristen says:

    It was great to meet you, Heidi! I wish I’d gotten to spend some more time chatting with you as well.

  7. I really wish I could meet more bloggers in real life- this whole post made me feel so jealous! I don’t know about any UK blogger events but I’m sure there are some…maybe I should look it up! I’m glad you enjoyed it and it’s nice that the bits you seem to have enjoyed most are meeting people rather than the goodies 😉 x

    • Heidi says:

      Meeting people was the best part! The goodies I was most excited for were just ones I stood in line for mostly to meet the author anyway. 😛

      I would think there would be some blogger events in the UK, or at least regular author events where you’d be likely to meet other bloggers. You should check into it!

  8. I love everything about this post!! YAY BEA!! YAY to all of our new real life friends!!

  9. Favorite part of this post:

    “I’ve had contact with various authors via e-mail and Twitter, and I still get the vapors every time an author acknowledges my existence.”

    Because i love that you used the expression “get the vapors” and I know EXACTLY how you feel:)

    It sounds like you had a blast Heidi, it’s been fun reading about everybody’s experiences last week:)

  10. Anna says:

    Dude. I cannot believe we didn’t meet! Gah! And also: Lord, I hope I did not do anything stupid while you were in line behind me hahaha!

    • Heidi says:

      You didn’t, I swear! And yes, I suck. I’ve totally bucked up though, and will SAY HI next time. Big girl panties, that’s what I’m wearing these days.

  11. flannabanana says:

    Hahaha, I am the exact same way about authors that you are. I even get a bit nervous on Twitter about it. At book events, I pretty much run out of the place the second they start talking about a signing. I FINALLY sucked it up the other week and had Kristin Cashore sign a book for me. The two of us together would be Awkward City, for sure.

    You don’t sound braggy at all:) I’m so jealous you got to meet so many bloggers and authors (though I have met Holly before at a…wait for it…Chuck E Cheese before:)) I loved this recap so much.

    • Heidi says:

      Hahaha, I knew you and Holly had gone out to dinner, but I didn’t know it was at CHUCK E CHEESE! That kind of makes my night, thanks for that. And yeah, by like my 20th author, I was over the awkward and just kind of went for it. Victoria Schwab had a stuffed narwhal and chocolate, so she was pretty much my new best friend instantly. Glad you finally sucked it up for Cashore! She was at BEA but I figured I should maybe read Graceling before I spend an hour waiting for her to sign Bitterblue.

      • Grace says:

        You can read Bitterblue without reading Graceling first. I saw Cashore do a reading at the NYPL and decided to brave the line the next morning because I just had to know what happened next, even though I hadn’t read the two previous books.

        This was my first year at BEA as well. I feel like I’ll definitely be more prepared for it next year, but even this year was such an amazing experience. The highlight of my trip was getting to meet John Scalzi and have a brief conversation with him about bacon. 😀

        • Heidi says:

          I met Scalzi too! But am now extremely jealous about missing out on the bacon conversation. I’m always up for bacon. I know what you mean though, I will certainly be more prepared and less nervous next year. I’m too OCD to read Bitterblue before Graceling, I do really want to read the whole series soon!

  12. janicu says:

    Book cons where I know everyone else is a big book nerd kind of sets me at ease. I think I’m the most extroverted at BEA where I have met enough people to have a regular set of people to cling to. The first year? Mega nervous! Now it’s a lot more fun and I feel better about going up to other bloggers and saying: “It’s you! I’m Janicu on Twitter! Hi!!” . Authors I still feel like I want to keep some distance from since I review, but at BEA the wall can get thinner. I still feel very excited to meet certain authors whose books really bowled me over though. I was very excited to meet Tracy Hickman this year because of my childhood memories of exchanging copies of Dragonlance with a small group of nerds (no other girls in this group, they didn’t know what they were missing!) – it was surreal.

    I can’t believe we were in three lines together and didn’t know! Really twitter is not as easy to kept track of people in a mob as texting is. The only time I texted this year or used the twitter app on my phone was the week of BEA.

    • Heidi says:

      I kind of liked not having Twitter mobile because then I didn’t have to panic seeing things others were doing that I was missing. I was able to pretty much relax and enjoy it, and I did! I’m so happy you got to meet Tracy Hickman! I know I for one will be far more relaxed and extroverted next time. I was already much more comfortable by the end of the week. =)

      • janicu says:

        I didn’t really feel like I was missing out with the twitter app, but I understand. I think I get that feeling the week before BEA when I’m scheduling – I keep checking that I looked at everything. By the time BEA actually comes around I’m resigned to having only so much time. I still miss stuff every year. It’s a place with so much going on, and as you saw with Orbit, some publishers only put their signings on their blog (Tor is another by the way). I found out Wednesday afternoon that the SFWA did the same thing and I missed signings I definitely would have gone to. (@**!*@&!!

        • Heidi says:

          I think looking at it as there’s no way you could do everything anyway, so you should just enjoy what you are doing is the right outlook to have. =)

          I did see the Tor schedule ahead of time, thankfully, but I’ll know in the future to check things like Orbit and Flux. I’ve certainly started to pay more attention to who publishes the books I love in general more since I started blogging!

  13. Allison L. says:

    I’m so glad that we were able to meet each other in person! I’m just wish that we could have spent more time together. It sounds like you had a wonderful time at BEA! :)

  14. bookishfeminist says:

    I’m so glad that we were able to meet each other in person! I’m just wish that we could have spent more time together. It sounds like you had a wonderful time at BEA! :)

    –Allison (Good Books and Good Wine)

  15. I AM SO HAPPY I got to meet you!! And come again next year. You won’t be shy next year. That is all.

    (I say that because last year I was like WAHH I DON’T WANT TO TALK TO ANYONE NERVOUS NERVOUS and then this year I was like HI WHO ARE YOU.)

    • Heidi says:

      Yes! I will come again next year, and we can hang out a bit more. By the time I met you I was largely over that, but I was horrible on Tuesday. Yay! I’m already all excited to see bookish friends again.

  16. Chachic says:

    Sorry it has taken me a while to comment on your post but it looks like you had an amazing time! I knew you’d enjoy BEA. I feel like the highlight of that event is getting to meet authors and book bloggers in person. I really wish I could go someday but I’m not sure if it will ever happen. In any case, I’m happy that you had a great time. :)

    • Heidi says:

      Thanks, Chachic! Yes, meeting people is definitely the biggest highlight of BEA! I’m so grateful for all of the people I had the opportunity to meet. It was fantastic, and I hope that I get to go back again next year!

  17. Melanie says:

    How awesome! BEA sounds great. I like your first paragraph. I can just imagine myself starting to hyperventilate from the crowds and the noise. 😀

    • Heidi says:

      I thought the same, but the anxiety of crowds didn’t get to me as much as I’d expected! The vast majority of people were very polite and respectful, and only a couple of times did I feel truly penned in. =)

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