For the past year, I've been communicating online with the most talented, funniest and kindest writers in a group called The Chick Lit Goddesses. We've bonded over books, families, relationships and promoting. I knew I had to meet these writers in person and what better place than New York City during Book Expo America?
Eight of us decided we would host an author event at Stone Creek Bar and Lounge on May 30, 2013 in New York City and embarked on planning a rocking party we called Book Buzz 2013. I couldn't believe I was actually going to my favorite city in the world and would finally get to hug these amazing women who I chatted with all day every day. If that wasn't fantastic enough, I was invited by Kobo to appear at their Kobo Writing Life booth at BEA to sign copies of Finding Lucas and meet readers and authors. When I saw my name listed among the prolific bestsellers who were also being featured, well, I cried. It's not often that all of your dreams come true, but mine had.
So, very early Thursday morning, I hopped in a cab with enough time to have a coffee and some breakfast at the airport before we took off for NYC. Or so I thought. When I got to the airport, it was packed, but I wasn't worried because I still had two hours before my flight. One hour and 59 minutes later, my head was about to explode. With one minute to make my flight, I raced to my gate, red-faced and near tears, just as they were taking my bag off the plane. I still can't believe I made that flight!
I landed in New York, shaking with excitement because I was being picked up by Francine LaSala, who has quickly become one of my closest virtual friends. We are so similar that it's actually eerie. Both small and blonde, we have kids close in age and are both professional editors. In fact, we have recently gone into business together editing indie manuscripts. So, if you're an indie author and would like to have two editors for the price of one, check us out! But I digress. :)
Meeting Francine was like finding a long lost sister, and we laughed so hard the entire weekend that our stomachs ached. She is truly my soul sister. We raced to my hotel, and to my surprise, I had gotten the penthouse. I had recently turned 40 and going to NYC was my big celebration, but the penthouse? I felt truly special and took full advantage of my weekend away. Francine and I went to meet the awesome Meredith Schorr, who has also become a piece of my heart. I love her, and she is as beautiful and easy to talk to in person as she seems online. We lugged the boxes of books and swag for our Book Buzz event to the bar, and met Jon, the owner of Stone Creek Bar and Lounge, who helped us pull this off.
After a great lunch with Meredith, I jumped into a cab, hoping my newly straightened hair wouldn't curl in the heat wave. Sweaty and dishevelled, I arrived at BEA for my Kobo appearance. I couldn't believe that I was sitting at their booth as an author, on a schedule with Abbi Glines, M. Leighton, Liliana Hart, CJ Lyons, Bella Andre, Barbara Freethy, Tina Folsom, Jasinda Wilder, Deborah Cooke and Elizabeth Reyes. It would never have happened without Mark Leslie Lefebvre, who is the director of self-publishing and author relations at Kobo. He helped make my dreams come true, and I owe him a debt of gratitude.
After tossing my book at anyone willing to take it, chatting with wonderful people who stopped by the booth and getting to know Shayna Krishnasamy, self publishing and author relations coordinator, it was time to get ready for Book Buzz 2013! (By the way, both Mark and Shayna are authors so be sure to check them out!)
Francine brought me a coffee (how did she know that I need coffee at all times?), and we booted back to my hotel to get ready. Meredith met us, and we mutually admired how great we all looked. We walked into our event to set up, and I had to take a moment to mentally capture what was happening because standing there was my longtime writing idol, Eileen Goudge. Bending down (because she is so tall and elegant), she wrapped her arms around me, and I sighed. How did I get so lucky to be hugged by a writer I had admired for so long? Thanks to Twitter, Eileen and I have become good friends and forged a deep connection that only grew when we actually met.
And then my heart swelled as I met the other authors I had come to love. The stunning and uniquely talented Cari Kamm, writer and publisher extraordinaire, Lucie Simone, the lovely and funny Heather Thurmeier and sweet, wonderful memoirist Jen Tucker. But the person who made the event a success was uber blogger and author, Julie Valerie, who is perhaps the most interesting person I've ever met in my life. And a huge thank you goes out to our sponsors for Book Buzz 2013--Diversion Books and Shpilka Vodka.
The authors of Book Buzz 2013!
The event was a massive hit, and by the end of it, we had not only created an annual author party but had solidified a magical bond. I love these women.
Friday it was back to BEA with Francine and Julie, and I was so excited because I was finally going to meet the book publicity and PR star Amy Bromberg, who I'd gotten to know through one of my favorite book blogs, Chick Lit Central. I hugged Amy so hard I might have broken her, but she didn't seem to mind. We then went to lunch with Meg McAllister, PR goddess and so down to earth and hilarious that I can't wait to see her when she's in Toronto. The lunch was so memorable that we have coined ourselves "The Real Housewives of BEA" and someone now needs to pitch it.
Friday night was dinner at Eileen Goudge's, and I don't think I've ever laughed so hard in my life. Eileen cooked us an incredible dinner, and her husband, entertainment reporter Sandy Kenyon, was so charming and gracious. We women became so close that we are already planning our next visit.
More champagne, please!
Though for some, the might had wound down, Lucie, Meredith and I kept the party going and stopped by the Kobo celebration. By 2 a.m., we were exhausted and I had lost my voice from talking so much. Lucie, Meredith and I covered every topic, and I almost didn't want to get out of the cab so we could keep chatting. Instead, we decided to meet for lunch before Lucie left for LA. I didn't want to let her go! Lunch was as wonderful as every other incredible moment, and then Meredith and I headed over for the last day of BEA.
Meredith and I spent so much time together, and both she and Francine made sure I was taken care of at every moment. I loved seeing New York City with New Yorkers, and having dinner with Meredith and a friend of hers, teaching the bartender how to make a Caesar (is it a Canadian drink, I wonder?), chatting about our lives and loves and eating steak the size of our table was like being with people I had known forever. And I will know all of these women forever.
After I had shopped for my family and navigated my way from my hotel to Times Square and back by myself (anyone who knows me knows that this was a massive feat never before accomplished), it was time to go home to Toronto and back to real life. I had never been away from my kids for so long, and I missed them and my husband like crazy. But I was so happy to know that I could do this and feel comforted that everyone was okay without me for a few days.
The four days I spent in NYC were a time I will never forget. It was my first time traveling as an author (I have a feeling it won't be my last!), and I felt proud and ecstatic that what I have worked so hard for had come true. The events changed my life, for sure, but it is the women I met who have made my life better, and I have found people I call friends, sisters and colleagues. I am so very lucky. Until BEA and Book Buzz 2014!