BookExpo America (BEA): Day 2 by Jami Kelmenson
BookExpo America (BEA), the largest annual book trade fair in the United States, runs through this Saturday. Special correspondent Jami Kelmenson – a freelance writer, blogger, and first time attendee – is reporting for us from the floor. If you missed her adventures on her first day at the fair, catch up here.
OMG talk about stress. I haven’t even figured out how to navigate the ginormous Exhibitor Hall at BEA and already two of my favorite author gal pals, Chelsea Handler and Dani Shapiro, have back-to-back booth autograph signings. I just have to get in there and get going, long lines be damned; I’m a blogger on a mission!
That’s what I told myself as I entered the more than 300,000 square foot fair space in the Jacob Javits Convention Center this morning, stumbling over booth numbers (literally, as it took me a while to realize they were on the floor!) until I finally came upon the space where Chelsea was supposed to be. Turns out she’d already left and wasn’t coming back. Strike out on my very first attempt!
My head hung low, I then set out to find Dani Shapiro, but on the way ran into one of those little surprises I was hoping to find throughout my four days here: the Harlequin booth. Harlequin has come a long way since the bare-chested men and wavy-haired damsels that have become a long-recognized staple of their covers. They also have several contemporary imprints like MIRA (mainstream fiction) and LUNA (sweeping sagas) that make them more accessible to a wide array of readers like you (and writers like me.) So I was thrilled to stumble upon a new debut author there, Jason Mott, whose novel, The Returned, contemplates the notion of our dearest loved ones returning from the beyond. It has a soft embossed cover that makes it feel like you’re running your hands through silky powder.
I made sure I was at the front of the line for Dani’s signing next. I gushed to her about how much it meant to me that she wrote a book about writing, described as “at once a memoir, a meditation on the artistic process, and advice on craft, Still Writing: The Pleasures and Perils of a Creative Life is an intimate companion to living a creative life.” I loved her first memoir, Devotion, so much that I can already feel as though she will be speaking directly to me as she shares her “hard-won wisdom and encouragement for staying the course.”
Another book in my bright orange tote bag from BOOK TV is a little gem I picked up at the booth of an independent publisher, Turn the Page Publishing, called Lube of Life. No, it’s not an erotic novel. It’s about two 60-something’s who meet online. I’m a sucker for online dating love stories since I’ve written a few of my own for Match.com’s Happen Magazine. And the idea of finding love over 60, for me, brings comfort to the idea of being single in your 40’s.
And lastly…I was just strolling by the “Autograph Area” minding my own business when a representative for The Bohemian Love Diaries struck up a conversation with me and the next thing I knew, I was on line to get an autographed copy from the author, Slash Coleman (yes, he looks as cool as his name.) I’m looking forward to this “irresistibly weird and wonderful story” about the author’s “upbringing in a warped but warm-hearted household of eccentric artists.” I haven’t had a laugh-out-loud read since Nick Hornby’s High Fidelity, and while Slash may have been compared to David Sedaris and Augusten Burroughs, that will be my litmus test for the funny factor. And, okay, I’m glad it’s a memoir so I can find out if he’s single.
To wrap up my first crazy fun-filled day at the BEA Exhibit Hall, I found free champagne and cupcake giveaways at the Children’s Pavilion (smart marketers to recruit us non-children’s book readers, huh?) And I sipped it with a new friend, a children’s book author named J.Z. Bingham. Her artful series of stories from Balcony 7 Publishing, the Salty Splashes Collection, is infused with her infectious California girl spirit on every page. After sharing a deep conversation to the effect of—we can’t get away from our past but we can learn to manage it—I’ll be waiting for her autobiographical novel to come out in a few years.
Has an author ever made a lasting impact on the stories you’ve read?
Jami Kelmenson is a freelance writer and blogger living and loving in New York City. She is currently seeking representation for her first novel, Crossing Paths. Read of her ongoing tales of travel, life, love and the pursuit of getting published in NYC at her blog, www.jamikellywriter.tumblr.com.
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