Monday, June 3, 2013

BEA Day 1: Book Blogger's Conference & Motown

I arrived in New York last Tuesday night and checked into quite possibly the trendiest hotel ever, the W New York Times Square.  From the minute we walked in the door, it felt like we were in a club.  Pulsating music from the Blue Fin on the first floor greets you and plays in the elevator as you take it up to the seventh floor for check-in.  The seventh floor is another club scene and the whole time I was waiting to check in, I felt like I should be doing the Jersey Shore fist pump.  Seriously, the music was so loud and the bar that spills into the check-in area was full...on a Tuesday night.

With dimly lit halls on guest floors, the hotel seemed to be going for some kind of romantic ambiance, but at midnight, all I wanted to do was get to the room safely.  A few minutes later, I'm starting to settle in and unpack when I hear a plea from my daughter for help.  She couldn't figure out how to turn on the water in the sink and, before you laugh, I couldn't either.  Trendy hotel indeed.  We finally figured it out and then discovered that we couldn't turn off a set of lights that highlighted the wine glasses perched on a shelf.  Toto, we weren't in Kansas (or Missouri) anymore.  We finally gave up and went to bed with our built-in night light still on.


Wednesday, I hopped up ready to take on the world, or at least New York (side note: I saw the singer Tank in the elevator that morning.  I stan for authors, not musicians, so meh.), and headed over to the Javits Center for the blogger's conference portion of BEA.    Standing in line, I found myself next to an author that I'd been exchanging emails with for a few weeks and we talked about his latest book.  I'm an introvert by nature, so I patted myself on the back for striking up a conversation with him and holding my own.  After picking up my swag bag, I searched for a table and ended up at one with a bookseller from Joplin, MO and a YA blogger.  Okay, I thought, I can handle this.  And then, Gwen showed up.  I never caught the name of Gwen's blog, only that she's from Texas and she and her crew drove 26 hours to be there.  Gwen was very, very, VERY energetic and talked a lot.  She was very interested in what everyone was reading and what they blogged about and she was a huge YA fan.  Another blogger joined our table and she was a YA fan too.  At this point, I had nothing to add to the conversation.  I don't read YA, in general, and find grown people that read it exclusively to be a little strange.  Yes, I'm judging them.

The morning sessions were divided into adult book blogging and YA book blogging. As I sat through the adult sessions, they just didn't seem relevant to me.  The first session was an editor insight panel in which three editors told us about upcoming books out of their houses. The book that got the most buzz is an upcoming book called S. by JJ Abrams of Lost fame.  The Harlequin rep announced a "So You Think You Can Write" contest, while the rep from Tor spoke in quick, rushed tones and sounded like the Great Gazoo from The Flintstones.

The next session was supposed to be about blogger's success, struggles and insider secrets.  One of the panelists heads up a site made up of 50 contributors.  I don't know that I'd call that a blog, seems more like an e-zine.  Regardless of what it's called, it didn't seem comparable to a blog run by one or two people.  All three of the "bloggers" and the moderator knew each other prior to the panel and it seemed like the panel was one big inside joke/love fest in which they talked about how great (and modest) they were.  If I were a new blogger, there wouldn't have been much I would have taken from their session.

The rest of the day continued in this vein.  Sessions seemed genre-specific, with no love at all for literary fiction.  The majority of panelists and bloggers in attendance seemed to focus on the following genres: romance, erotica, paranormal and YA.  There didn't seem to be room for much more.  Like I said, I won't be attending the blogger's portion in the future.  I walked out of there so disappointed in the lack of diversity in genres, panelists and participants.

Moving right along, I had a chance to nab a piece of cheesecake at Junior's when I left and later that night, got to check out Motown: The Musical, Berry Gordy's love story to himself.  The play was heavy on Berry and Diana Ross' story, with a huge dose of Smokey Robinson, which makes sense because Smokey wrote so many Motown hits and is Berry's best friend.  Songs that other Motown artists sang were performed by Berry's character and the Diana Ross character was slightly annoying.  I couldn't tell if the actress really couldn't sing or if she was playing the role of Diana and shining the light on how weak her voice was.  Overall, I enjoyed the play, but it ran long (like this post) at three hours.  And on that note, I'm out.  Check back Wednesday for BEA Day 2: African American Authors are NOT a Genre.

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