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I feel the need to recap my trip to New York for Book Expo America because it was quite a trip indeed. I got hugged by a professional hugger, interviewed by a 12 year-old Dungeon Master, celebrated Dogtoberfest with 2 pugs in lederhosen, and ate a cupcake the size of my head and saw God shortly after. Or maybe it was Moses. No matter, that darn cupcake was a religious experience. I’m getting light-headed just thinking about it.

BEA is 3 days long but I think the only way I’ll get something written is to break it down into days. It was quite an overwhelming experience and one you may very well care nothing about but hey—whose blog is this anyway?

It will take time to fully recover from Book Expo America, the most surreal and scariest jaunt into the bowels of the human psyche this little convention-goer has ever seen. Like I said, Book Expo is the show young writers dream about—a convention center likely in a seedy part of some metropolitan city filled with free books piled from floor to rafters. Authors, editors, agents, and professional huggers. In my fantasy, authors are all friends, the editors are all editing and the agents are all clamoring to offer representation. (The hugger wasn’t actually part of my fantasy but I’m finding it hard to leave him out now.)

I was told to bring an extra suitcase because I’ll likely be coming home with more pages than a television network employment fair. I don’t need more books. I just donated five boxes of books. My nightstand isn’t even a nightstand anymore; it’s…well…a pile of books with a drawer filled with more books sticking out of the middle. I deliberately bought smallish bookshelves in hopes I’d be deterred from buying more books. Didn’t work. I just found more creative places to stash my books. I guess this is the same kind of theory as to have your dinner on a small plate so you’ll eat less. This also is complete bunk because I happen to enjoy small foods like M&Ms and Fruit Loops, which can do a lot of damage on a small plate.

Imagine my delight when I’m told I’ll get to attend BEA this year—just one of the many perks of working for a publishing company. Perhaps they sent me because I could perform double duty—act as Associate Brand Manager for Mirrorstone books AND promote my own book, Confession of a Part-Time Sorceress. Okay! Plus BEA was in New York this year, which is always a nice bonus. Away we go!

One of the best parts of going to BEA was finally getting to meet Hallowmere author, Tiffany Trent. We’ve been working together for several months now on the upcoming release of her awesome series but never met face to face. She’s great. We bonded over our love of 80’s bands (she’s a Duranie, I’m a butt-rocker) and our alter egos, Trudie and Kiki who strap us down to kitchen chairs and force us to eat dessert. Bitches!

In keeping with my fantasy, the Javits Center is absolutely monstrous and yes there were free books piled nearly to the rafters. I’m sure there were authors, editors and agents there but I didn’t see any. Or at least, didn’t notice any. They actually look remarkably like librarians, publishers, and bookstore owners. Who knew? What I did see were people who may or may not have anything to do with the publishing industry, storm our booth demanding to know where the “free stuff” was. Perhaps these people too were low on bookshelf space, which is why they TRIED TO STEAL OURS. That’s right. OUR DISPLAYS!
“Are you giving these away after the show?”
“You’re not going to ship them all the way back to Seattle, right?”
“My apartment is only seventeen blocks from here. My friend with a truck can come by on Sunday and pick them up.”
How about you have your friend with the truck take you to Ikea to BUY YOUR OWN STINKIN’ BOOKSHELVES? But please help yourself to the free bookmarks.

We also had someone try to steal our Sharpies. Yes, Sharpies. They’re cool and all but three black Sharpies on a folding table do not a give-away make. I mean, why would Wizards of the Coast be giving away Sharpies anyway? I’m not seeing the connection there.

I seldom left our booth on Day One, mostly because I was afraid it wouldn’t be there when I returned. I did manage to make nice with the cookbook people who had an exhibit next to us. I was drawn in by the 1,000 Cheesecake Recipes signage on their shelves. That’s a whole lot of cheesecake and let me remind you, cheesecake fits very nicely on a small plate.

Another big event in little author world was the three interviews I did on Friday. “Did” as in answered the questions. How cool is that? Everyone was very nice and asked intelligent, well-thought questions, which I hope I answered in an intelligent, well thought out way. One of my interviewers was a 12-year-old Dungeon Master who is the nicest, most articulate, charming kid I’ve ever met. He and his mother (who was also very sweet and obviously skilled at raising polite, articulate children) conducted the interview and of course he’ll end up giving me a scathing review because I’ve been telling everyone how great this kid is. Ain’t that always how it goes?

This was also the first day I saw God. It happened after I ate the noggin-sized cupcake. Let’s talk about the cupcake. Joe from our events team brought a nondescript brown paper bag into the booth and told me if I could guess what was in it, I could have half. I said cupcake. Not sure why, but Joe was certainly impressed. But this wasn’t just a cupcake. It was carrot cake with—wait for it—cream cheese COCONUT frosting. As if cream cheese weren’t good enough on it’s own! I blacked out it was so good. And Joe was either so amused or sympathetic, he promised to bring more cupcakes on Day 2. If you happen to be in Manhattan or will be ever in your lifetime, get ye self to Burgers & Cupcakes STAT. And send some to me?

Day One ends with another fabulous meal (and yes I’m counting the giant cupcake as a meal) at a trendy, modern restaurant in Hell’s Kitchen where everything is cement, white and accented with tall green grass potted in silver rectangles. Bathrooms were great and I’m kind of a bathroom snob. I will judge you and your establishment by your loo. Sorry, but that’s how I operate. Some people judge on looks or intelligence or political preference. I judge fixtures and hand towels and availability of Neat Seats. I’d tell you the name of this fine establishment but honestly all I remember was what looked like a ruin stone carving in the cement to the right of the door. I told you it was trendy.

We walked back to the lovely Affinia hotel, happy and full and ready for Day Two. By the way, the Affinia used to be studio apartments so every room has a kitchen. By far the biggest kitchen I ever saw in Manhattan. The bathrooms were decent but rose dramatically in my esteem the second I spied Aveda toiletries! Shampoo, conditioner, moisturizer, soap and mouthwash. I hid them every morning in my nightstand so the housekeepers would give me a fresh supply. I love you, Affinia housekeepers!

And that is a wrap. Stay tuned for Day Two and Three. The hugger, a book signing, the real Rainman, a toucan, a shrunken head, another God sighting, and more cupcakes! Oh my!

Shelly Mazzanoble

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