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My First Time… at BookExpo America

Being a writer and author and a long-time New York City resident, you’d think that by now I would have attended at least one BookExpo America (BEA). Can you believe that I never attended it? Until about a year ago, I considered myself more of an expert who wrote and who read for leisure only occasionally. Before then, I really didn’t know or think much about what the fuss about BEA was all about BEA. Having attended my first just last week, I can now say I get it.

A full-fledged lover of fiction, especially the kind that falls under the Young Adult category (I’m still 16-years-old at heart, aren’t I?!), I can honestly say that BEA’s self description on its website as “the largest publishing event in North America that gives you access to what’s new, what’s next, and everything exciting in the world of books” is all true. My first time was magical and did not disappoint in the least.

I thought it would be fun to share some thoughts about this past BEA—my own thoughts, and those of two fellow attendees (including a debut author) I met while there. If you attended and would like to share a comment about your experience, we’d love to hear from you!

bea tag


As for my experience, it was fantastic. Before the conference actually started, I attended the BEA Bloggers Conference. I did this because even though I’ve been blogging for years (not just for my own website, but for,,, and other outlets), there’s STILL so much for me to learn and to stay on top of. It was especially important for me to learn a few new things as I’m transitioning my current blog into a Food, Fitness, and Fiction blog that celebrates my two professional passions (food/nutrition and fitness) and my latest but sure to endure passion (fiction- especially young adult (YA) books). I’m especially excited to share author interviews and if you follow my blog I’ve already posted a few of them (thank you, Jennifer Niven, Densie Webb, Melissa Walker, and several others in the pipeline).

I enjoyed all the sessions I attended (see here), especially Tactics to Create Killer Content Fast. I also appreciated Optimizing Your WordPress Blog and even got some one-on-one help from one of the presenters, Rhys Jones, during lunch (see his interview below).

As for Day One of BEA, the highlights for me were attending the Young Adult Editors’ Buzz panel at which the following books were presented:

Dream Things True by Marie Marquardt (St. Martin’s Griffin, September 1, 2015) (I happened to sit next to the author, and she was so lovely and her book sounds fantastic.)

Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon (Delacorte Press, September 1, 2015) – I read this and it’s fantastic and quite original; stay tuned for my interview with the author (pictured below)



Nightfall by Jake Halpern and Peter Kujawinski (G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers, October 13, 2015)


The Death And Life Of Zebulon Finch, Volume 1: At The Edge Of Empire by Daniel Kraus (Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, October 25, 2015); and This Raging Light by Estelle Laure (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Books for Young Readers, January 5, 2016).

On Day Two, I attended the Children’s Book Author Breakfast. It was a fantastic panel moderated by Nathan Lane (pictured below) who presented Naughty Mabel, coauthored with Devlin Elliott and illustrated by Dan Krall (Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, October 6, 2015).

nathan lane


Artist/illustrator Oliver Jeffers entertained and delighted all of us with his drawings, and even a one-minute movie, and James Patterson talked about the need for us all to encourage young people to read. I loved ALL the presenters.

However, the absolute highlight of the breakfast for me was seeing the amazing Rainbow Rowell in person. She was humble, hilarious, and simply delightful. A tremendous fan of her work (especially Eleanor and Park, though I also really really enjoyed Fan Girl and Landline and will soon read Attachments), I was thrilled to hear her speak about her beginnings and even her insecurities. It’s great to know that no matter how accomplished a person is, we all are alike in our core in our doubts and insecurities. To me, she’s a rock star.

me and rainbow


So you can imagine how I felt when I met her (pictured above!), when she signed my books, and when she gave me a hug. A HUG!!!! I even wrote her a note and gave it to her to read at a later time. (I hope she read it. It was the second draft. I didn’t want to come on TOO strong). Knowing I’m (just a little) obsessed with Rainbow, my husband said (jokingly) to just tell her “You complete me.” (If you’re reading this Rainbow, you DO complete me, and I adore you!)

 rainbow books rainbow ticket


But enough about me… Read on about the experiences of a UK student/blogger and a debut author at BEA.

thirst fiction

Name: Rhys Jones

Where you live: Canterbury, UK

Occupation: College student

Website: Thirst for Fiction (pictured above)

Favorite authors/books: Ruta Sepetys, Out of the Easy; Becky Albertalli, Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda; Jenny Han, To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before; Elizabeth Wein, Black Dove, White Raven

Favorite book acquired at BEA: I only acquired two because of luggage restrictions (I’m backpacking) so I’m just gonna say both of them – Another Day (David Levithan) and Me and Earl and the Dying Girl (Jesse Andrews)

Favorite author(s) you met at BEA: Ruta Sepetys

Favorite panel(s) attended and why you loved it/them: N/A

Any mishap or low point or something or someone you missed that you regret? I wish I had met David Levithan, Jenny Han, and Katy McGarry

You can follow Rhys on Twitter, on Facebook, and on Instagram at @RhysWolfgang / thirstforfiction



Name: Sarah J. Schmitt

Where you live: Indianapolis, IN

Occupation: Librarian/Author

Website: Sarah J Schmitt (pictured above)

Favorite authors/books: Libba Bray, Beauty Queens; Tina Fey, Bossypants; Candace Fleming, The Family Romanov; and J.R. Roper, The Hunter Awakens

Favorite book acquired at BEA: Dumplin’ by Julie Murphy, Lair of Dreams by Libba Bray and Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

Favorite author(s) you met at BEA: Libba Bray, Rainbow Rowell, Julie Murphy, Kim Liggett, Kaitlin Ward, and Mo Willems

Anyone you wish you had met? In person, Nathan Lane… because he’s Nathan Lane, and Oliver Jeffers

Favorite panel(s) attended and why you loved it/them. The Children’s Author Breakfast was great! It was fun to hear about how other authors got started in writing and some of the struggles they have faced. Plus, Nathan Lane was the MC and he was hilarious!

Any mishap or low point or something you missed that you regret? Finding out that I was standing in line for almost an hour for a cupcake and foam shield from Disney. Still, I also got a free sample of Pinkberry while waiting, so it wasn’t all bad. LOL.

You can follow Sarah and learn more about her upcoming book, It’s A Wonderful Death (she signed ARCS of it at BEA!), on twitter, facebook, and instagram at @SJSchmitt

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About The Author

Elisa Zied is a nationally recognized and award-winning health and nutrition expert, author, speaker, and spokesperson. A trusted source of food, nutrition, and health information, Elisa has garnered millions of media impressions, lending her expertise and real-world perspective to dozens of TV shows, web sites, news organizations and magazines. She’s the author of four nutrition books. An avid walker, she loves motivating others to #moveitorloseit. A book lover, she recently earned a certificate in children’s literature from Stony Brook Southampton and is currently working on several young adult novels. You can find her previous Food, Fitness & Fiction posts here and connect with her on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.

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