As a writer some months mean more than others and for me April (National Poetry Writing Month) is tops because I usually participate in NaPoWriMo, a 30-day poetry writing challenge. June also rocks because the first week of the month ushers in Book Expo of America (BEA) which takes place in New York City at the Jacob Javits Center. It is a non-stop four-day book blitz where you can attend conferences, meet, greet and network with authors and grab some of the best book swag known to man! Writers are on-hand to sign and give away books that are coming out (you get to read them first before anyone else and review them for your blog!) and also meet their fans.
This past week was my fourth BEA and it always feels like the first time. An actual first for me this year was being able to attend the Blogger's Conference. It was an all-day networking and learning affair that began with a keynote address from one of the most popular and beloved authors we have right now. Jennifer Weiner has written over 10 fiction titles, had one of her books made into a movie, developed a sitcom for ABC Family and has appeared as a guest on scores of national TV talk shows to speak about her work.
I found her keynote to be funny, engaging, authentic and very educational. Here are some of the best take-aways she gave for writers:
- Always promote others
- Ignore your critics
- KEEP WRITING!
- Speak in your OWN voice
- Tweet like your mom is not online
She also talked about the importance of blogging in the digital age when it comes to promoting books and she had one line that I thought was really cool, "Bloggers can be passionate, while their print peers have to be objective."
For Jennifer's complete keynote address click here: Jennifer Weiner's keynote.
In between all of the speeches and presentations was the chance to network with fellow bloggers and authors. I made some great connections and even got to chat with Jennifer and talk-up my upcoming novel. She asked me to send her a link when it is published! Whoo-hoo!
Another highlight of going to BEA this time around was the chance to connect with a blogger I met on Twitter last year. Jennifer Poe (hmmm, cool literary ladies named Jennifer seem to be a theme in this post, huh?) writes a wonderful blog called Imported Chocolate that caters to women of color who love to travel. We have been visitors on each others blogs, but just met for the first time in person at the expo! What fun we had! My only regret was that we didn't take a picture together. We were so busy gabbing about books and meeting our favorite authors that I guess we forgot! No worries. I think I have met a life-long friend, as we are now sisters in blogging and writing. YAY! She even got me to step out of my comfort zone and read some Young Adult (YA) titles. I can't wait to see if I'll like them! I really think this first meeting will be the beautiful beginning of a friendship built on a bookish foundation!
As Jennifer P and I were walking the expo floor we ran into author and activist Kevin Powell. He was on my list of authors to see and was very gracious as he signed his new book, Barack Obama, Ronald Reagan, and The Ghost of Dr. King: Blogs and Essays.
I'm telling you, four days (I only attended two days due to pending meetings) of books, blogs and beautiful beginnings left me breathless and beat! But in a good way! But before I leave you...
NOVEL UPDATE: So I promised to keep you all updated about the publishing opportunity I spoke about in my Shades of Green and Gray: Embracing Challenges to Become a Better Artist post and here it is! For those who don't know, I was a finalist along with six other writers to have my novel published by a small press who only publishes 2-3 titles a year. I thought my chances to get one of the spots was pretty good, but I didn't make the cut. I was disappointed, but I received some great feedback from the publishing house and they liked my work so much that they offered to mention my book on their social media channels when I self-publish it. You can't beat that with a bat!
Also, I connected with a mid-sized press at the Book Expo who asked me to submit my novel to them! So it looks like I will have another crack at traditional publishing after all. What an amazing week! As always I am moving forward, traditional deal or not, but it is a blessing to have other options as well.
So my advice to you bloggers is to get out there and attend as many publishing events and readings as you can. You never know who you might meet!
Stay blessed and happy blogging!