Thursday, July 26, 2012

The Three B's of BEA

This is the final installment of my BEA experience for this year.

So what are the three Bs of BEA? Books, books, and books!

After the author breakfast on Wednesday morning, I first went on a mission to find the book cover for Joe Hill's new book, NOS4A2. For those of you who don't know who Joe Hill is, he's the son of Stephen King. Joe Hll is an incredible author in his own right, and after locating the Harper Collins booth, I found the cover of his new book on a digital display there:

A funny thing happened on the way over to find this display, and I'm sure people who have attended BEA before are very familiar with this kind of thing. As I was walking through the Harper Collins booth, I had two books thrust into my hands. I don't think I've ever experienced people wanting to give anything away like that before, so I was taken aback by it. By the end of BEA, however, it became very natural and commonplace. What were the two books you ask? The Peculiar by Stefan Bachman and The Great Unexpected by Sharon Creech. I've never heard of either of these books before, but they both look like good ones so I can't wait to dig into them.

Aside from receiving random books, I actively sought out many authors there.

Like John Green, whose book, The Fault in Our Stars, I had already received that morning at the author breakfast.

(Yes, there's my infernal blurry phone camera again.)

My only comment to him was that I had never read anything by him (I figured I'd be honest), and he feigned being taken aback and said that put him under a lot of pressure and that he hoped I enjoy the book.

I got a similar reaction from Maureen Johnson, author of The Name of the Star, when I told her the same thing.

The day before I left, Maureen Johnson was posting info about the Javits Center and made a comment about snakes roaming around the huge conference. So I made mention that I hadn't seen a single snake. She looked all serious for a minute, glanced above her, and said that the thing about the snakes is that they drop down on you from above. Needless to say, I enjoy her sense of humor, which is what got me interested in checking out her books. Can't wait to read The Name of the Star.

Let's see, who else did I see? Oh yes. This guy:

That's me with Mo Willems, author of the fun Pigeon books, among other things. I managed to get a signed poster for his new book, Goldilocks and the Three Dinosaurs, and a signed copy of The Duckling Gets a Cookie?!, where, as he explained to everyone there, the Duckling gets to steal the show from the Pigeon.

Then there's this guy:

Yes, that's a blurry R. L. Stine, back with another creepy book called Goosebumps Wanted: The Haunted Mask. Just take a look at the cover over on the right there. That one will give you nightmares. I'm not sure if he took my comment that my kids and I love books that are a little creepy and "off", because he gave me an equally creepy look back. People tell me he does that kind of thing all the time...

Some other people I saw there:

Dav Pilkey, author of the Captain Underpants series. He autographed the latest book in the series, Captain Underpants and the Terrifying Return of Tippy Tinkletrousers.

Judy Schachner, author of the Skippyjon Jones books that my son and I love so much. The latest installment is called Cirque de Ole'. I talked to her about how the books work on different layers for kids and adults, and she quipped that there's a third layer in the Skippyjon Jones books. It's buried under the kitty litter.

The incredibly prolific Joyce Carol Oates. She was autographing her new book, Two or Three Things I Forgot to Tell You.

Patricia MacLachlan, who has a new book in the Boxcar Children series called The Boxcar Children Beginning. She was so amazing, gracious, and fun when I met her. She not only autographed the hard copy of her latest book, but she also autographed a digital copy of the book which she had sent to me via email after the conference. In addition, she autographed my daughter's copy of Skylark. I loved it when someone in the line mentioned something about an e-autograph not being the same as a real autograph, and her response was to step up, it's 2012, lol.

Finally, that's me with the lovely and amazingly talented Erin Morgenstern, whose book The Night Circus you should put on your reading list immediately if you haven't read it already.

Those are all the pictures I have of everyone I met. If it weren't for my horrible phone camera and the fact that BEA was very overwhelming at times, I'd have more pictures. Next time. And there WILL be a next time. I wouldn't miss this experience for all the world, and I'm only disappointed that I didn't catch on to this much earlier.

Keep checking in at the blog, because I'll have reviews of the books I received at BEA as I finish them. I'll post the reviews on Goodreads (

Thursday, July 19, 2012

11 Questions

Now we come to the question and answer part of our show.
My good writer friend Kat Ellis tagged me for 11 Questions. You can see her blog, her original post on this, and her answers here:

I figured it would be fun to give some info about me, the man, instead of me, the writer.

So, without further ado, here are my answers to her questions:

1. What are your top 5 movies?

This is a tough one. I could go with the whole Harry Potter movie set, but that's more than 5 movies, so that won't even work. So I'll only put that as one on my list. Here goes: Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince (I'll pick that as my favorite of the HP movies), Contact, The Ring, Monty Python and the Holy Grail, and The Matrix.

If I had to pick a couple others, they would be Better Off Dead and Army of Darkness.

2. Would you rather go a year without make-up or without shaving?

This, folks, is a no-brainer. I think I can handle a year without make-up.

3. What is a recent good book you've read?

I'm currently reading Son by Lois Lowry, and it's great so far. So I'll go with that one.

4. What is a recent not-so-great book you've read?

I don't like to diss any books at all, but I'd have to go with Sourland, a collection of short stories by Joyce Carol Oates. I think I put up a review of this one on Goodreads, but as explanation, I'll just say that I found the stories to be a) very, very dark and depressing, and b) very incomplete and random and thus not satisfying as complete stories.

5. Name one food you could eat for one meal every day for a year.

Pasta and meatballs.

6. What was your best part of your senior year of high school?

Graduation and, thus, the end of it.

7. What is one piece of electronic equipment you could live without?

Easy - my cell phone! I get called WAY too many times on it for my day job. If I were to accidentally lose it next time I went to the beach, for instance, I wouldn't miss it at all.

8. Do you usually drink from a straw, a glass, or another type of container?

Plastic cup, since I mostly drink water out of dispensers these days.

9. Would you rather haev glow in the dark skin or squishy teeth?

Are you kidding? Squishy teeth? I wouldn't be able to EAT anything! That ain't happenin'. Besides, glow in the dark skin would be cool.

10. Who would win a fight between Gandalf and Dumbledore?

Gandalf has more experience fighting the forces of darkness I think. So I'd have to go with him.

11. Are push-up bras a form of dishonesty?

Being a guy, I'm not touching this question.

There you have it.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Goodreads Review: Chris Colfer's The Land of Stories: The Wishing Spell

Hi all.

I have put up a book review of one of the books I received at Book Expo America. It's for Chris Colfer's book, The Land of Stories: The Wishing Spell.

Come check out the review here:

Friday, July 13, 2012


Here are some of my promised pictures and a few more details regarding BEA 2012. Disclaimer: my phone that I used to take the pictures stinks! So I'm leaving out the pictures that are really fuzzy and only including the ones that are somewhat fuzzy.

The first thing I did when I entered the conference (after registering and standing in line for tickets to get to see some of the ticketed authors that is) was head right for the author breakfast that I had signed up for. Who was there you ask?

Walter Dean Myers - award winning author, board of director for the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators, and National Ambassador for Young People's Literature - who made the opening remarks for the event:

(See what I mean about the camera? I actually had to use the picture I took of the monitor nearby since the actual picture of him didn't come out so well.)

The theme for the entire breakfast was a great one, concerning the importance of literature in a young person's life, and everyone's talk seemed to center around that theme nicely.

Next up was Chris Colfer, who many may know from his acting on the TV show Glee. Well, apparently he's also written a children's book, called The Land of Stories: The Wishing Spell, and a pretty good one too now that I've read it (I will put my review up on Goodreads hopefully soon). He was the Master of Ceremonies of the event, and after listening to him I quickly realized two things: he's a natural in front of an audience (I guess no surprise because of all the experience he must have so far), and he's a really funny guy. Anyway, here he is:

It was fascinating to know where he got his ideas for his story and how they went from conception to the finished product. He showed early drawings and notes. He also went into a funny anecdote about being interviewed about the book and some of the crazy questions he was asked. I think many writers could relate, although some were very specific to him and his acting career, etc. All were funny as hell. As far as I'm concerned, unlike some other celebrities-turned-writers, he's one of us.

Next up was John Green. Now, I'll admit I've only heard the name thrown around in writing circles but have never read anything by him. But I've heard plenty of buzz about his book, The Fault in Our Stars, and he's another guy who's incredibly cool and funny, trading banter with Chris Colfer on stage, telling his take on the topic of reading and its importance in a child's life, and telling a surprisingly funny anecdote about a news report he saw during the war in Afghanistan.

So now I have a whole lot of catching up to do on this guy's career, the whole Nerdfighters thing, etc. I know, I live under a rock. I admit it.

After that was the amazingly talented and prolific writer, Lois Lowry. Although her talk was very serious, she opened with a fun anecdote about how she no longer has to take off her shoes in the airport because of her age. Then her talk turned to the latest installment in The Giver series, called Son, and I learned something about her that I didn't know. The four books in the series all tell a very personal journey of hers involving her son. It gave a whole new perspective on the books, and I can't wait to get into the new one (I just started it yesterday).

She also talked about the first time she was at BEA and the great company she was with at the time, such as Dr. Seuss and Robert McCloskey. They all received standing ovations at that time, and at the time she was a newcomer. The day of the breakfast, she got her standing O, which she greatly deserved.

Finally, the last speaker was Kadir Nelson. Again, like John Green, I didn't know much about him before I went to the breakfast. His talk was a bit different than the others', focusing on the artwork for his new book,  I Have a Dream, where he created illustrations to go with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr's famous speech. The details of the artwork were amazing, and it illustrated not only Dr. King's passion during his speech, but also the passion of Mr. Nelson himself with the work he was interpreting.

My only regret (and I'm leading up to another BEA tip here) was that the poster that was given out to promote this book during the breakfast got a bit ruined during my time at BEA. For anyone interested in attending BEA, it might be a wise idea to bring a tube for any posters you might pick up. That might help them survive the jostling your posters are sure to take throughout your day.

I'll end this post here, but will put up more shortly. I'll leave you with one last picture of John Green, Lois Lowry, and Kadir Nelson sitting on the panel, just in case you thought I was viewing this on a monitor remotely somewhere:

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

BEA The First

Hi all.

Although it's a bit late, I am finally getting around to posting about my experiences going to my FIRST Book Expo America event EVER. I went for the children's book day only, which was on Wednesday, June 6th.

I just have 2 words to describe it: EXCITING, and CRAZY.

First, for those of you who don't know what Book Expo America, or BEA, is all about, here's a quick description:

BEA is the largest annual book trade fair in the USA. Book publishers use BEA to tell librarians, book sellers and buyers, and basically anyone involved with or who loves books about their upcoming titles. You can find out information about them here:

Before I let everyone know of my first experience there, I want to share the lessons I've learned this time around so that hopefully anyone who is thinking of going next year will have a great experience there. Not that I didn't have one, but I think it would have been much easier if I had done these few things:

1. Bring a decent camera. All I packed with me was my little junk phone, which is one of those old flip phone jobs. Although it DOES take pictures, it doesn't take very good ones, as you'll soon discover when you see them. You'll want to take lots of pictures there, because there are lots of authors floating around to meet, talk to, gets books from, and get autographs from.

2. Bring a lunch and lots of water. I did pack some snacks and ONE bottle of water. The water went FAST. The snacks? Well, the snacks were in the same bag as the one I started cramming books into. So you can imagine what they looked like when I got a chance to eat them. So a simple lunch, preferably one that doesn't need refrigeration, is key. And snacks. Durable ones. And lots of water. Which brings me to my next lesson learned...

3. Bring BAGS! Lots and lots of bags. So how many did I bring, you ask? I brought TWO. One of them was a plastic bag which had the aforementioned snacks in it. The plastic bag didn't last long once I started putting books in it. I also had a cloth bag my sister in law, who attended BEA with me, gave me, but one cloth bag wasn't enough to hold all the books I wanted to bring home. Fortunately I aquired another cloth bag at the author breakfast I went to Wednesday morning. Someone suggested to me that I bring suitcases next time, check them in the baggage check in area, and then as I fill up the bags I am carrying (and I'd bring at least two bags you can carry easily and that are durable), I can dump the books into the suitcases and then fill up on more books.

4. Check the itinerary carefully. Planning my attack would've helped me find out things that I either missed or found out about too late. I did a little planning, but I still wound up missing a couple things I REALY wanted to check out. BEA is huge, so you're bound to miss something anyway. It's inevitable. But I'd do as much planning as you possibly can before you get there.

5. Go for the whole conference. I could only take one day out of work, so I could only go for the children's author day on Wednesday this year. It was very hectic traveling to New York City, going to BEA for one day, then trying to drive back home and get some decent sleep to go back to work the next day. Also, there is so much going on, as I said earlier, that you don't want to miss anything. For instance, if I had stayed for Thursday, I would've been able to see Daniel Handler, a.k.a. Lemony Snicket, and that's one person you don't want to miss.

So there are my lessons learned. Now, on to the fun stuff.

Like, the books!


OK, so in addition to my camera having not so good pictures on it, it appears that my USB adapter that I plug my phone memory card into isn't working either. *sigh*  I'll have to post all my pics another time.

For now, though, I'll say that I managed to bring home a bunch of books, ARCs or partial ARCs from BEA this year. An ARC, for those who don't know, is an Advanced Reader Copy. Just about all the books I have from BEA are books that aren't even out yet, which is definitely exciting because I get to read them before most other people do. And I will, of course, in the good spirit of a BEA attendee, be reviewing all those books. I'll most likely post my reviews on Goodreads, since I want to reserve this blog for my own writing experiences. If you're not on Goodreads, I'd definitely recommend it. You can connect with other readers, get reader reviews of books, and connect with the authors themselves. When I post a review of one of my ARCs, I'll leave a link here so followers of my blogs can check them out. For now, head on over to and create an account there.

One last thing. Just to show how awesome the BEA experience was, here are some of the authors I saw while I was there, and their new books:

Lois Lowry - Son (last book in The Giver series)
Chris Colfer - The Land of Stories: The Wishing Spell
Eoin Colfer - Artemis Fowl: The Last Guardian (last book in the Artemis Fowl series)
John Green - The Fault in Our Stars
Maureen Johnson - The Name of the Star
Mo Willems - The Duckling Gets a Cookie
R. L. Stine - Goosebumps Wanted: The Haunted Mask

Just to name a few.

OK, signing off for now. I'll try not to be a stranger. Look for my book reviews soon. I've already finished Chris Colfer's The Land of Stories and the partial of Kevin J. Anderson's Clockwork Angels, so I'll be putting up those reviews on Goodreads shortly.