Wow! Just wow! Unless you have attended this event and experienced it for yourself there really aren't adequate words to express how amazing it is. I will try:
After flying/traveling for 7 hours in the wrong direction then the right direction (NC - TX - FL?) I finally arrived at 2:14 pm. My friend and author Cheri Lewis picked me up at the airport to save me cab/shuttle money. Thank you again Cheri! After a 'mandatory' stop at Wal-Mart for snacks and drinks for our rooms we arrived. I had to hit the ground running as I was already late for a meet & greet with participants of one of Colleen Hoover's fan pages. I quickly changed into the most-expensive-shirt-ever and headed down. *I ordered the shirt specific for this event and got the bright idea to customize it. I chopped off the neckline in order to channel my inner Irene Cara and thought 'Wouldn't it be fun to bedazzle the words?' Famous last words! I've never done this before & should NOT have started on this shirt. I'll sum up the experience: very labor intensive hand gluing every single crystal, the glue was similar to hot glue, so 'stringy', decided to wash to get rid of the strings, lost at least 1/2 the crystals in the wash :(, bought more crystals, more gluing.....the only other thing I'll add is that the crystals are EXPENSIVE & I spent no less than $40 on them. Shhhhh......let's just keep that between us!
I had a small dilemma as I headed downstairs, even though I was really supporting one author with my wardrobe choice, another group I belong to was also meeting at the same time in the lobby. I saw one of the admin's of Colleen's group as soon as I got to the lobby so walked over & we formally introduced ourselves. Totally nice person who invited me to join their group at TGI Friday's for drinks/snacks. As in typical Florida fashion a monsoon blew up so we had to wait before we could walk across the street. While we were waiting I saw the other group congregating over by the bar. Since this is MY blog & I can say what I want to on it I will. They were not nice to me! I was completely shut out when I approached them & tried to introduce myself. Don't cry for me though, because it was totally expected. That page is filled with nothing but mean girls - including some of the admins. I don't have time for that shit so.....moving on!
Headed to TGI's with Colleen's group & had a great time. I ended up sitting next to an author named HJ Harley. She was so my kinda people. She also may have been four drinks into the "meal". LOL! While talking I shared that I was a blogger and she provided me with a free copy of her first book Finding Jordie in exchange for a review. I have 2 months to do so & I look forward to checking her out. My hope is that she writes like she talks! Here is the link to her page: http://www.hj-harley.com/
Pre-registration was that night and also a group photo for Colleen's group with the amazing Griffin Peterson. Totally fan-girled over Colleen last year & blew my chance when I saw her by not getting a picture. I ran into her no less than 10x this trip which totally made up for it. This year - totally star struck by Griffin! He is extremely nice & approachable I guess this year it was just his turn. We did in fact get together and had a quick picture taken with Colleen & the band before heading to pre-registration.
Pre-registration went as expected and I got my wrist band. Walked around for a bit & found out that we wouldn't get our maps until the next day. With my memory it was a waste of time to try & remember where everyone was, but I did note that the Big 8 were in the front of the room. Who are the Big 8 you ask? The ones that cause the long ass lines that everyone has to wait in. LOL! I packed my map so I'll see if I can name them all: Jennifer Armentrout, Jamie McGuire, Colleen Hoover, Abbi Glines, Sylvia Day, Maya Banks.....ummmmm.....oh Kristen Ashley! Nope - that's just 7.....poo....can't remember. Anyway, these authors had a ticketing system this year which did help, but it was still crazy! (I'm home now & finishing this post so the one I forgot was Shayla Black) I ended up leaving after grabbing a few pics with Aleatha Romig, Tammara Webber, Jamie McGuire and another with Colleen Hoover, Griffin & the guys. I had taken a break to go up to my room to retrieve my camera & who do I see on the elevator, but Mrs. McGuire herself. Awesome sauce! I said 'hi' and we started talking. She was headed up to her room for some headache meds and pretty soon we were alone on the elevator. I was keeping it together, but total fangirl moment! She exited on her floor (the 12th) and it was then, and ONLY then that I realized that I was supposed to get off on the 9th floor! Duh! Went back down, got the before mentioned pics & then went to bed. I had been up since 3:30AM!
I had decided ahead of time to not stand in line this year as I had last year. I'm talking like 3+ hours before the event even started. I did however head down to the BAM store to see if they had Jamie's not-released-yet copy of Beautiful Oblivion. I still had to wait in line for about an hour to get into there due to the small size of the 'store'. It was fun seeing all the people in line & finding out how early they got there. A lot were EARLY - like 4AM. No thank you! I hung out in my air conditioned room watching all the people in line sweating to death and headed down a little before noon. Cheri Lewis & I were sitting in the lobby and struck up a conversation with 2 friends that were there as well. It was their first time & we told them that we were 'veterans' and we were not getting in line. So, they ended up waiting with us and Marie, Michelle & I totally hit it off. As in, we are going to be roommates next year! I demand it :D The signing doors opened and once most everyone was in we jumped in ourselves & the chaos that is Book Bash commenced. I don't know how else to describe it, but non-stop movement & craziness! The Big 8 had tickets this year so I bee lined it up to the designated spots to retrieve mine & then pin-balled all over the room while trying to listen to the announcements of ticket #'s and colors. Completely confusing! I said it the other day & I mean it - I will NOT be trying to get the signature of the Big 8 authors at this signing again. I miss out on so many other people I really wanted to see. So, for the 2nd year in a row I didn't get my photo book completed :( Hopefully with the other 2 signings I'm going to this year I can catch up to the ones I missed.
After the signing I headed to a blogger only event that I had been invited to by Erin Galloway and Penguin Books. Upon walking into the event I received a gift bag with 7 free books in it. Plus they had cupcakes! I appreciated them taking time to talk to all of us and get feedback on what we look for in books. Fun!
I needed to eat as I had skipped lunch (literally had NO time to eat & for a diabetic this is not a good thing & no I didn't eat the aforementioned cupcakes). I had run into Shayr Guthrie of SheReader video blogs earlier in the afternoon and I ended up heading to dinner with her.......at TGI Friday's again. I got a HUGE plate of pasta that just hit the spot & enjoyed my conversation with Shayr. She is an awesome lady.
Headed back to the hotel to try & get cute for the after party & GRIFFIN!!! The Colleen Hoover crew had scored a table & my new friend Marie had saved me a spot. (LOVE HER!) We were right by the dance floor and to the left of the stage. Without going through every second of the after party I will just tell you that I had an absolute blast & Griffin & the guys were awesome! It was like the Beatles his the stage when they walked out. Not kidding! My one regret is that I headed upstairs not long after they were done (still recovering from the 3:30AM of the day before & well......I'm old), but I wish I would have stayed & boogied with the band. Oh well!
Sunday morning I slept in & then headed down to Starbucks for some caffeine. I ended up sitting next to a couple of guys in the band, Adam & Carey, and tried to be cool. Next thing I know here comes Colleen Hoover and joins them. Pretty soon I see the Atria rep bring 2 sealed boxes and some loose books over and pile them in front of Colleen. They open up the boxes & it is hard copies of Finding Cinderella. (Atria was so great in that we all got a free copy in our swag bags for the signing & these were left over.) Of course I had my phone & I see Colleen take a pic of the pile & ding.....I get a notification from her stating that they are in the lobby for whoever wants them FREE! Luck of the Irish my friends that I was sitting right there. I grabbed a hardback copy of Beautiful Wedding by Jamie McGuire, one of Abbli Glines' books, and a couple of copies of the Finding Cinderella. Score! I also took that opportunity to strike up a convo with Adam & Carey. They are such sweet guys! Their mother's should seriously be proud of them! I wish nothing but great things for all of them. I ended up getting to talk to John (the drummer) when he came down, had Colleen sign my books (including Jamie's book! WTH? I was hungover & sleep deprived still, but I'm not sure she even noticed), I ran into my new friend Samantha's fiancé and found out that she was at a breakfast with author Jay Crownover. This was one of the author's I had 'missed' and after finding out what she did for 25 of her fans - she is now a must read! I actually ended up talking to her for a brief moment in the lobby & look forward to meeting her again. I reserved a shuttle to take me to City Walk & went there for the afternoon. I assume you only want to hear about book stuff, so ......... end of Sunday!
On Monday I managed to cram all of my stuff back into the 2 suitcases I brought and headed down to the lobby to see who else I might come across. Social media is an awesome thing. I see on FB that Jamie McGuire sent out an SOS to her MacPack crew for anyone still in the hotel that she was having trouble getting a bellboy to her room with a cart & could anyone come help? Ummmm.....YES! So, I can put on my resume that not only was I in Jamie's hotel room I got to help carry her luggage. I scored a hug & I loved every second of it! That was just one of the highlights for me, but a great way to end the weekend!
Thank you to all of the authors who took the time to come meet & greet with us & helped to make this another amazing weekend for me! In particular Colleen Hoover, Aleatha Romig & Jamie McGuire!
*I failed to mention that I did obtain a copy of Jamie McGuire's Beautiful Oblivion, had it signed and have read it. Blew me away! Want to know how 3 little words can rock your world? READ IT!
**** I have pictures, but the blog page will NOT let me attach them :( I'll put them on my FB page instead. Grrrrrrr.......