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    Book Expo America: A Re-Cap of My 2019 Literary Road Trip

    Attending BookExpo America is like going to a huge book fair for adults.  BookExpo America (commonly referred to within the book publishing industry as BEA) is the largest annual book trade fair in the United States. BEA is almost always held in New York City at the Jacob Javits Center over four days in late May and/or early June.

    At BEA, major publishing houses congregate to showcase new titles, introduce emerging authors and meet with other publishing professionals and colleagues.  The event is open to the general public, but several authors, librarians, and buyers for book retailers also attend the event.

    Of course my favorite thing about attending BEA each year is the freebies: ARCs, finished books, tote bags, and plenty of literary swag. I also love their high quality panels where they talk about industry trends, technology innovations and trends, social media and more. I can’t stress enough the value of the panels. You can learn so much about the publishing industry.  Attend one of the keynote speeches too if you can, but line up early as seats fill up quickly.  BEA also has breakfast, tea, and lunch events (require a separate ticket) where you can listen to major authors.

    Oh, and let’s not forget about the exciting author book signings!   Signings take place all over BEA from the publisher booths, to the main floor to the autograph area in the back.  For some of the signings you’ll need a ticket, but most are run on a first come, first serve basis.  Beware: For some authors you may be standing in line for a long time.  However, once the lines start going they usually move along pretty quickly.  Pro tip: If there’s a book you’re DYING to get and have signed, line up early.  You can refer to the schedule BEA provides to each attendee in the registration line.  Pro tip: You can also download the free BookExpo mobile app which I found to be very handy to use this year.  The mobile app is also an excellent environment-friendly tool to use instead of wasting paper.

    If you’re planning to attend BEA don’t forget to bring a rolling suitcase to help you carry all of the “free” books you’ll get while at the event.  (I put the word free in quotation marks because while you don’t have to pay for many of the books you receive, there are costs associated with attending the event: travel, time, food, hotel, parking, etc.)  So yes, the books are FREE (can you say book heaven?), but not really free if that makes sense.  Pro tip: If you bring a rolling suitcase be prepared to pay for bag check as you cannot bring it on the main floor with you for security reasons.

    Are you excited yet?

    Some of the authors/illustrators I met this year include:

    I also had the opportunity to do a LIVE book cover reveal with Alexis Marie Chute to unveil her book Below the Moon.  Alexis and I had such a fun time together interacting with her audience on Facebook and Instagram.

    As always, BookExpo America delivered another amazing experience and I’m looking forward to attending again next year.

    Mark Your Calendars for the 2020 Book Expo: May 27 – May 29, 2020 at the Jacob Javits Center in New York City.  Book Con will take place May 30 & 31, 2019.

    If you enjoyed this post you may like:

    Highlights from My 2018 BEA Adventure
    My First Time BEA Adventure– includes additional helpful tips to keep in mind if you’ve never attended before.

    Your turn: Have you ever attended BEA (or Book Con) before?  What was your experience like?  Feel free to share in the comments.

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    connecticut, family fun, literary road trip series

    Literary Road Trip Series: Lake Compounce in Bristol, CT

    Disclaimer: Thank you to Lake Compounce for providing me and my family with complimentary access to the park. As always, all opinions expressed are my own.

    Did you know Lake Compounce is the oldest, continuously-operating amusement park in North America?  It had its genesis more than 170 years ago in 1846..wow!  Lake Compounce is home to Boulder Dash, which has been voted the world’s #1 wooden roller coaster, as well as Connecticut’s largest water park.  It has over 400 acres of fun and is essentially like having two parks in one.  You get rides, games, food and roller coasters along with an amazing water park that is SO MUCH FUN – especially on a hot day.

    One of my favorite things about the park is how clean it is.  Plus, the lines are usually pretty quick and the staff is has always been very pleasant and helpful each time we’ve visited.  Our most recent family visit was a few weeks ago and as usual, Lake Compounce didn’t disappoint.  It’s definitely our family’s favorite go-to amusement park in the state of Connecticut.

    We like to get to the park as soon as it opens to try and avoid the mad rush.  As soon as you arrive all guests must go through a security checkpoint and bag check for safety reasons.  The lines typically move along pretty quickly although depending on the size of the crowd and time of day, the wait could be about 10 minutes or slightly longer.  Keep this in mind if you’re visiting with smaller children as they may get a little antsy.


    Once you get past security and the ticket lines, it’s time for the fun to begin!  We like to reserve island loungers on the Lake Compounce website prior to our visit.  You get 2 lounge chairs, a shaded straw umbrella, entrance to the exclusive island lounge chair area, and accommodations for up to 4 people. The island loungers are conveniently located right next to Bayou Bay which is one of our favorite attractions at the park.  The lounge chairs sit on a sandy area across from the lake making it feel like you’re spending the day at the beach.  Oh and the best part?  You can leave your belongings in the private island lounge chair area.  It’s always monitored by a Lake Compounce employee giving us peace of mind our stuff will be safe.  If you have a larger group of people you can rent a cabana.  The park currently has 5 Luxury Cabanas located lakeside by Riptide Racers, 6 Private Cabanas located by the entrance of Mammoth Falls, 2 located on the lake, and 5 located next to Bayou Bay.

    Our family likes to explore the water park attractions first, eat lunch and then head to the amusement park rides afterwards before heading back to the island loungers to pick up our belongings.  So far this year we had a chance to experience: The Dino Expedition, Croc-o-Nile, Boulder Dash, Zoomerang, Riptide Racer, The Wave Swinger and Down Time.  We also tried our hand at some the games which is always a blast.

    Lake Compounce has always catered to families with young children like ours, while offering high value thrills for the older kids and adults too.  Our kids love the variety of rides and games in the kiddie park including the Dino Expedition.  There are also plenty of seating/resting options for watchful parents and grown-ups who like to watch children ride and take photos.  The park is interesting enough and accessible enough for our family so naturally always purchase season passes for the amusement park and parking lot.  They pay for themselves on the second visit.  Season pass holders also get other perks throughout the year too like buddy passes and food/retail discounts.

    From the outside, Lake Compounce appears hidden and small, but trust me, you can spend all day inside and not get to everything.  Since they are constantly adding new attractions and features to the park, we still haven’t done everything there yet.

    Prior to our visit we read a few amusement park themed books like: Roller Coaster by Marla Frazee.

    A few other things to keep in mind:

    • Bring all of our summertime essentials if you plan to spend the day there: suntan lotion, bathing suits, extra clothes to change into, towels and strollers if traveling with smaller kids
    • Be prepared to walk – You’ll do a lot of walking from the moment you arrive at the park.  If you have a fitness tracker it’s a great way to rack up your step count for the day!
    • Admission for kids ages 3 and under is FREE
    • They have phone charging stations, family restrooms AND a nursing station for nursing mothers (Woohoo!)
    • Locker rentals are also available for securing your belongings
    • Shirt and shoes are required everywhere except Crocodile Cove water park.  Bathing suits are required for the water park area.
    • Outside food or drink is not allowed in the park (with exception of baby items, food allergies or other special dietary needs)

    I cannot recommend this place more!  Visit at least once to experience all the park has to offer for a fun family day adventure.

    Ready to head to the park?  Be sure to take advantage of my ticket discount by clicking here!

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    Literary Road Trip Series: Winterberry Landscape & Garden Center in Southington, CT

    Spring has sprung here in the Northeast and is our area is now bursting with lush gardens and flowers in bloom. Mother Nature has certainly given us lots of rain this season so far. The rain has been great for all the plants, trees and flowers despite it dampening my mood and thwarting my plans at times.

    Two weekends ago, the kids and I had the pleasure of attending an event at Winterberry Gardens located in Southington, CT. Their 16-acre garden and landscape center is gorgeous! They have everything from native plants to unique plants all planted by certified growers.

     

    I will admit years ago I didn’t have a green thumb to save my life.  Every plant I had died. Now, I’ve learned how to take care of plants after much research, reading and watching videos online.  Now that I have Winterberry Gardens as an additional local resource that’s an added bonus!

    To help provide you with ideas for your home or garden Winterberry Gardens offers tours of their landscapes gardens and they host educational seminars. They also have a wide selection of hanging plants, trees, soil, mulch, perennials and annuals.  Oh, and did I mention they do landscaping too?  Yes, their expert landscape designers can create a plan for you that’s both stunning and easy to maintain no matter the size of your yard or budget.

    I’m so excited with the new plants I purchased from Winterberry Gardens and will be going back soon to buy more and attend their upcoming educational seminars.

    If you’re local in the area be sure to check out this amazing garden and landscape center.  It’s a one-stop-shop for all of your lawn and garden maintenance needs.  It would make an excellent educational field trip with kids and the local library (Southington Public Library) is just 10 minutes away.

    Winterberry Landscape & Garden Center
    2070 West Street
    Southington, CT 06489
    Phone: (860) 378-0071
    Email: info@winterberrygarden.com
    Web: http://www.winterberrygarden.com

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    Literary Road Trip Series: Adorablue Travel Tray for Kids + A Giveaway!

    Have you ever wondered how your child can make better use of their downtime while traveling on road trips or running daily errands in the car?  Don’t get me wrong, sometimes it’s okay to just look out the window and watch cars or people pass by.  However, if you’re looking for a travel tray to help keep kids entertained, I’d highly recommend the one made by AdoraBlue.  It’s convenient for kids to eat, draw, watch movies and most importantly it helps keep things organized.

    On one side of the tray, there is a station for kids to eat, play with toys (like the AdoraBlue Scavenger Hunter game) read books, or to watch/play on the iPad/tablet at eye level.  The erasable side is for drawing, writing and creating.  Yes, it’s reversible!

    I love the media tablet holder being secured by a zipped plastic pocket to keep it protected from accidental spills.  We all know how messy life can get with kids, right? I also like how versatile and portable the travel tray is.  You can either use it as a lap desk in the car/stroller, on a plane for various fun activities, or use it indoors sitting on the couch or in a restaurant.  The custom design appeals to boys and girls alike.  It also has easy access to a large storage with zippers and a built-in bumper to keep your space mess-free whether your child is creating a masterpiece or munching on snacks.

    Here are some of the features:

    • Made of a vegan leather surface that is is easy to clean and soft to the touch.
    • It buckles either around the child’s car seat or stroller.
    • It has large mesh storage pockets on the side and a 2 inch wall to stop food, toys, markers or crayons from falling.
    • It is ideal for short and long trips.
    • It’s portable!  It can also be used indoors at home on your couch or in a restaurant.
    • Fits most car seats and boosters.
    • Comfortable, safe and 100% waterproof.
    • Includes cup holders for baby bottles, water bottles or sippy cups
    • Erasable board for drawing and expressing creativity.
    • Contains 3 different stations to play, eat, draw or use the iPad/tablet in a zipped, waterproof casing.

    The best part?  Our friends over at AdoraBlue were gracious enough to sponsor an Instagram giveaway for one (1) travel tray.  In addition, for a limited time, our audience can get 40% off a travel tray as part of a Mother’s Day promotion.  Click here to get a travel tray using the 40% discount (discount applied at checkout).

    Connect with AdoraBlue!

    Website | Instagram | Facebook

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    Book Expo America: Highlights from My 2018 BEA Adventure

     

    There are so many amazing literary events that take place every year all over the world.  One of my favorite events by far is Book Expo America.  Last year was my first time attending and I’m happy to report I made it back for the second year in a row!  You can read about my 2017 experience here which includes some helpful tips to keep in mind if you’ve never attended before.

    Ok, so what is Book Expo America (BEA)?
    I think BEA is a great event to attend if you want to network and get some face time with publishers/vendors, attend educational sessions, meet book bloggers or authors/illustrators, and get a glimpse of new and forthcoming books.  Don’t forget to bring a rolling suitcase to help you carry all of the “free” books you’ll get while at the event.  (I put the word free in quotation marks because while you don’t have to pay for any of the books you receive, there are costs associated with attending the event: travel, time, food, hotel, parking, etc.)  So yes, the books are FREE (can you say book heaven?), but not really free if that makes sense.

    Here is the official description from the Book Expo America website:

    BookExpo is carefully crafted with content and experiences for all those that play a part in the publishing industry. It’s where authors, booksellers, distributors, librarians, literary agents, publishers and more unite to build relationships, learn tactics to bolster business and get the pulse of what’s trending in today’s shifting marketplace.

    Are you excited yet?

    Some of the people I met this year include:

    • Don Diamont from the soap opera The Bold and the Beautiful (Can you say handsome?)
    • Author Tomi Adeyemi (I was totally fangirling…HARD.  It’s so great to see all of her recent success!)
    • Vera, “The Tutu Teacher” (She is EXACTLY the same in person as she is on social media…except better!)
    • Author/illustrator Christian Robinson (I adore him and ALL of his work!)
    • Actor Taye Diggs (Again, can you say handsome?  I’ve been a fan for years!  Did you know his real first name is Scott?)
    • Illustrator Shane Evans (Love ALLof his work!  Have you read his latest book with Taye Diggs yet?)
    • Author Susan Verde (I finally got the chance to meet her in person…such a gentle soul.  I totally want her to be my Yoga teacher!)
    • Illustrator Sean Qualls (Such a fan of his work!  He signed my Grandad Mandela book…Yass!)
    • Illustrator Peter Reynolds (Finally got a signed Peter Reynolds book!)
    • Author Nic Stone (She is beautiful, amazing and so fun in person!)
    • Author Euka Holmes (What a beautiful and talented woman!)
    • Author Sarai Gonzalez (She’s so cute and such a great role model for young children!)
    • Author Angela Dalton (She came all the way from California to attend the event!  She took a selfie with Vera and I on the stairs along with some other folks attending the event.)

    In addition to meeting all of these fantastic people, I mingled with a few vendors including: Moonlite and Book Beau.  I also met up with literary agents, book bloggers, publishers, librarians and subscription box owners.  Overall, it was another amazing experience and I’m looking forward to attending again next year.

    Mark Your Calendars for the 2019 Book Expo: May 29 – May 31, 2019 at the Jacob Javits Center in New York City.  Book Con will take place June 1-2, 2019.

    Your turn: Have you ever attended BEA (or Book Con) before?  What was your experience like?  Feel free to share in the comments.

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    Literary Road Trip Series: Sun Valley, Idaho

    Sun Valley is a gorgeous resort city located in Blaine County, Idaho, known for its fantastic ski activities and beautiful sights.

    Thousands of tourists flock to the Sun Valley each year to ski Bald Mountain or to take their children to Dollar Mountain to master the art of skiing and snowboarding.

    However, there’s more to the Sun Valley than snow sports. Here, you’ll find a hidden cultural scene which is wonderful to discover as well as several educational hot spots where you can kick your feet up, grab a book and learn something new.

    If you’re planning on visiting Sun Valley this season, continue reading this article to find some exciting tips as well as the best things to see and do in the region.

    Where to Stay in Sun Valley

    While there are a wide variety of places to stay in Sun Valley, one thing you most certainly need to keep in mind is that depending on the season, accommodations can really fill up fast. In order to avoid disappointment, it’s recommended that you always be sure to book your Sun Valley Idaho Lodging or some of the many alternatives prior to your arrival.

    Family Activities in the Sun Valley

    Now it’s time to start planning the destinations you’ll explore and the activities you and your family will participate in during your stay in Sun Valley.

    Although the Sun Valley is a relatively small destination, there are several experiences which families simply cannot miss during their trip to the region.

    Learn how to Ski or Snowboard

    Visiting Sun Valley and not experiencing the snow is like going to an ice cream shop and not spoiling yourself with an ice cream. There’s nothing inherently wrong with avoiding the winter months in Sun Valley, but if you do, you’re missing one of the highlights of the destination.

    Take advantage of the fantastic instructors and community surrounding the Dollar Mountain to learn all you need to know about skiing, snowboarding, and a variety of other snow sports. This is an excellent opportunity to bond as a family and have a fantastic time playing in the snow.

    If you’re already familiar with the snow sports, you might want to head over to the Bald Mountain, or Baldy as the locals call it is the best spot to ski in the region. With dozens of beginner to intermediate trails to ski as well as some expert routes for those who are experienced skiers.

    Visit the Ketchum/Sun Valley Heritage and Ski Museum

    Alternatively, if you and your family are not too enthusiastic on participating in the winter related activities and would like to stay warm and dry but still care to learn more about skiing, we recommend you make a quick stop at the Ketchum/Sun Valley Heritage and Ski Museum.

    The Ketchum/Sun Valley Heritage and Ski Museum is a fantastic place that both preserves and tells the story of the region, it’s cultural and economic growth through the ages and the importance of skiing to the Sun Valley and its community.

    Mountain Hiking

    You can also experience the sights and beauty of the Sun Valley region mountains without having to wear skiing gear. You can take a leisure trek through the region and bond with your family as you walk through this fascinating destination. If you and your family are hikers, you will really love the hiking trails available in the area.

    Have an Educational Tour at the Sawtooth Botanical Garden

    Whether you’re traveling with young children or visiting with your significant other, touring the Sawtooth Botanical Garden is a fantastic way to learn about the natural diversity of the region, the importance of native and cultivated plants, and the beauty of gardening and its relationship with humanity.

    Not only are the botanical gardens absolutely stunning, but you’ll learn a great deal about the ecology of the region and a number of other things you might not know about gardening and plants.

    The Chapter One Bookstore

    For those who love reading and can’t be far away from a local bookstore while traveling you should stop by the Chapter One Bookstore, a fantastic shop that feels just like home.

    A perfect mix between an indie bookshop and large favorite bookstores, this place is perfect to dive in and seek out rare books, enjoy a cup of coffee, and chat with some locals about the community.

    The Community Library

    If libraries are included in your idea of a great family trip, you won’t want to miss the Community Library of Sun Valley.

    With contemporary exhibits, dozens of different programs to educate the community and its visitors, and thousands of resources to learn from, The Community Library is an excellent place you should visit if you’re an avid reader who loves this essential part of life.

    Discover Ernest Hemingway’s Legacy in the Sun Valley

    Ernest Hemingway is one of the most memorable writers in American history. An author that influences millions of writers worldwide and still is held with high esteem in the places he lived and gathered.

    Sun Valley is the final resting place of this magnificent writer, and there’s a great legacy that surrounds his works that you can find in the region.

    You can find his home, which doubles as a museum thanks to the efforts of the Community Library, where hundreds of different artifacts and items of his life are on display. The exhibit is an excellent place to learn about the life and works of this influential writer.

    Experience the Indie Art and Music of Sun Valley

    With the influence of Ernest Hemingway and dozens of other artists who once called this region home, Sun Valley has become a fantastic scene of contemporary art, indie music, and theatrics.

    From the Sun Valley Summer Symphony to the other art galleries set throughout the region, the Sun Valley has an impressive display of places to enjoy art and surround yourself with a loving community.

    More than just Snow and Ski — Experience Everything Sun Valley has to Offer

    While many tourists assume that Sun Valley is simply as a ski resort or a winter getaway for those looking to take part in some of the many snow sports on offer, it’s actually much more diverse than that.

    From learning about the legacy of Ernest Hemingway to exploring and discovering surprising new artists who live and perform in the venues of the valley, there are dozens of activities and events for everyone in the family, regardless of the age difference.

    Hopefully, you’ll find the locations and tips in this article helpful for your plans to make a literary road trip to Sun Valley, Idaho, and you can enjoy this magnificent location and all the experiences it has to offer.

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    Literary Road Trip Series: Wee Faerie Village + Old Lyme Public Library


    The Wee Fairie Village is pure magic!  The kids and I recently visited for the first time a couple of weeks ago after learning about it from a friend.

    What is the Wee Fairie Village?
    The Wee Faerie Village, is a popular, annual tradition at the Florence Griswold Museum.  This year the theme was Lettersburg Junction, which featured enchanting regions where faeries live in alphabetically placed houses resembling all the letters of the alphabet, from A to Z. There were also the Numbertown and Punctuation Stations which were all amazing to see in person.

    Upon entering the museum we were provided a handy DIRECTIONARY (map) to begin exploring Lettersburg Junction one fairie destination at a time.  Before we headed out to the village, we spent about a half hour inside the museum learning about Florence Griswold who transformed her home into an art colony in the early 1900s.  Her home is now a national historic landmark which is today known as the Florence Griswold Museum.  The museum exhibits both American art and historical material. Its collection spans fine art, sculpture, works on paper, artist’s studio material, toys and dolls, ceramics, furniture, textiles, decorative arts and historic artifacts, and the Lyme Historical Society archives.


    With our map in hand, we began search the grounds for the elaborate faerie dwellings.  Each one was a beautiful miniature habitat made out of natural or found materials.  The map listed the faerie dwellings along the route using cute faerie-sounding place names such as “Beachy Bungalow”, “Umbrella Utopia”, and “Gnome Sweet Gnome Home”.  Each village had witty monikers that were often wordplays on some aspect of the historic artist or their art.  Also, at each fairie dwelling there were hidden items to find which added a fun scavenger hunt and reading theme to it.

    Can you find the garden gnome?

    Can you locate Lily’s little locket?

    Can you find our magical quiver filled with rainbow arrows?

    Checking out the Pagoda Palace fairie dwelling

    The Wee Faerie Village project was designed to encourage visitors to explore, use their imagination, enhance their creativity and develop love and appreciation for the arts.  I think it definitely meets and exceeds those goals – we truly had an amazing time!  I loved seeing the kid’s faces light up as we marveled at each enchanting fairie dwelling.  The range of artistic expression in the faerie dwellings was astounding!  It was also great to see other kids exploring the grounds with parents and sometimes even grandparents making it a fun inter-generational event for everyone.  We’re looking forward to attending again next year!

    Old Lyme Public Library, Old Lyme, CT

    After visiting the Wee Fairie Village we headed over to the Old Lyme Public Library which was only a two-minute drive from the museum.  It was our first time visiting that library which was originally established as a free public library back in 1897.  The library was recently expanded in 1995, which more than doubled the square footage of the previous building, including a large Children’s Room and Community Room for public use.

    Your turn: Have you the annual Wee Fairie Village yet?  Feel free to share in the comments.

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