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literary road trip series

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.

literary road trip series

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.

literary road trip series

Book Expo America: My First-Time BEA Adventure!

Last year I made it a goal to attend Book Expo America (BEA) in New York City.  I’m so thrilled I achieved my goal and was able to go just a few weeks ago – it was fantastic!

What is Book Expo America?

Book Expo America or BEA is basically book heaven for book lovers and nerds like me.  Here is the formal description taken from the Book Expo America website:

BookExpo provides a focused professional environment to discover emerging authors and the next blockbuster titles, engage with the world’s most influential publishers and learn from industry leaders and peers.  BookExpo culminates with BookCon, our two day Fan event where storytelling and pop culture collide.

My Experience

Overall, my first-time experience at BEA was great.  I opted to drive into the city since I live one state over from New York.  If you’re local and plan to either drive or take the train or other local transportation be sure to budget accordinglythat’s my first tip. Have enough money for parking, tolls, gas, or other fees like food.  Of course if you’re staying at a local hotel you’ll also want to ensure you include those expenses into your budget as well.

Upon my arrival at the Jacob Javits Center I was impressed with how smoothly the registration and check-in process went.  The line to check-in was a bit long, but it moved very quickly.  Once I received my badge, I immediately took my suitcase to the baggage claim area.  Yes, I brought a suitcase with me.  I was told to bring a suitcase so it will be easier to carry all of the free books you’ll receive.  So that’s my second tip: bring a rolling suitcase.  Trust me, you’ll be happy that you did.  Also, be sure to have a few single dollars on hand to check your suitcase.  I paid $3.00, but that price may increase for next year and beyond.

After my suitcase was checked I made my way up the escalator to the main floor.  I was initially overwhelmed with how huge it was – there was so much to see!  However, once I scoped out the main publishers (big publishers and smaller independent ones too) I wanted to network with on the map it was less confusing and overwhelming.  Also, it was easy to spot many of the publishers from their banners and signage.

It was great to meet so many publishers and subscription box owners who I connect with on a regular basis in person!  I also enjoyed making some new connections, networking with other bloggers, meeting celebrities and well-known authors.  It was also interesting to see all of ARCs (advance review copies) of books being signed and handed out as freebies to attendees.  My suitcase was filled to the brim with nothing but books and publisher catalogs!

In addition to networking with different publishers, there were also various author discussions taking place on the main stage and at other areas.  The one thing I didn’t notice was a session that specifically targeted to book bloggers. I would have loved to see something like this on the agenda.

Hanging out with the creators of the Lit Joy Crate subscription box at one of the BEA after parties.

My two final tips are:

1) Wear comfortable shoes – preferably flats.  You’ll be doing a ton of walking!  And if you wear a Fitbit like me – bring it with you.  I racked up over 20,000 steps on the day I attended BEA.

2. Bring your phone charger – This is crucial especially if you’re a blogger.  Although I brought my charger with me, I left it in the car like a moron!  I was not about to walk all the way back to the garage where I parked so I had to make due without it for the day while at the expo.  Luckily, a few people were nice enough to share their chargers with me, but not everyone I asked was so friendly and willing to share.  Long story short, bring your own charger with you.  There are plenty of charging stations located throughout the Javits Center on the main floor.

Here are a few other tips from the BEA website to make your experience more enjoyable:

WATER—bring either a Camel-Bak or refillable water bottle to have on the go, all of that walking builds up quite a thirst!

EXTRA LAYERS—pack a light sweatshirt or sweater, running around the exhibit floor may make you hot, but once you enter a conference or leave the exhibit floor, you may get a bit chilly.

PACE YOURSELF!—don’t rush! You have three days to walk the floor. Take a break every few hours to relax and calm down from the hustle and bustle of the exhibit floor and Autographing Area.

BREAKFAST—be sure to have breakfast before heading to BookExpo even the smallest amount of food will give you hours of energy to carry you till lunch.

EAT ON-SITE—scope out the food court for food allergies, budget, and acquired taste options. Be sure to grab lunch so you are energized for the afternoon.

Interested in attending BookExpo or BookCon next year?
 It will be held in New York City at the Jacob Javits Center on May 30 – June 1, 2018.  I look forward to hopefully attending again next year!

Your turn: Have you ever attended BookExpo or BookCon?  What was your experience like?  Feel free to share in the comments.


Xfinity Lunch N’ Learn: Using Media as a Learning Tool

The phrase “screen time” is often associated with being negative, especially in today’s society.  Growing up as a kid, we did have some television rules in place like: we were only allowed to watch “G” rated and “PG-13” rated movies.  Relative to my childhood, limits on screen time have become increasingly restrictive and confusing.  At least to me anyway.

Since I work in the technology field, it’s important to me that my children are familiar with technology and know how to use it.  At the same time, I don’t want to overdo it and let my kids overdose on having too much screen time.

The iPad, Kindle, and various other tablets have opened up a world of “educational” screen time.  For this reason, I totally subscribe to the new “transmedia approach” that some schools and colleges have recently adopted.  Basically, the transmedia approach uses different forms of media to teach and reinforce key concepts.

For example, using the transmedia approach, you can let your kids watch a 1o-15 minute episode of a TV show, then move to an app that reinforces the lessons from the TV show, and then extrapolate on the topic in your lesson plan, workbook, read a book, or do another learning activity.

Recently, I was invited to attend an exclusive Lunch N’ Learn event at the Home of Distinction with a few other fellow mom bloggers in my state.  The event was sponsored by Comcast (my local cable provider).  Being a current Comcast subscriber I was excited to attend this event for a few reasons: 1) I’d have the opportunity to network with other local bloggers in my area.  2) I wanted to learn about some new features my family could take advantage of. 3) I was excited to learn more about the X1 platform because I think it’s a great way to incorporate the transmedia approach with my children at home and on-the-go.

The Lunch N’ Learn consisted of three different segments:

1) Xfinity X1
2) Xfinity Home
3) Xfinity Mobile Apps

First, I’ll provide a brief description about each segment, then I’ll tell you how I think you can apply it to your family and the transmedia approach.


Xfinity X1

During this segment I learned about the new voice-activated remote control.  That’s right, you can “talk” to the remote and tell it what to do.  How cool is that?  For example, you can say the name of your favorite show, tell it to turn to a specific channel, and so much more!  It’s also bi-lingual, but only understands English and Spanish at the present time.

I also learned more about the Kids Zone which is a safe place for kids to independently explore their favorite shows and discover new ones too.  Although my kids still don’t know how to maneuver the entire remote, I would feel safe leaving the room knowing the television was tuned to the Kids Zone.  Also, since you can activate the parental controls you won’t have to worry about your kids changing the channel to another program outsize of the “zone”.


It was also interesting to learn about the new integration of displaying movie ratings and reviews directly onto your TV.  It’s similar to the Rotten Tomatoes movie ratings you may have seen online.  This is so helpful for parents to determine what content is appropriate for different age ranges.

How to incorporate the transmedia approach: Using Xfinity X1 you can watch a television show with your children at home.

Xfinity Home

The Xfinity Home Security System is a steal starting at just $30 a month.  Using a mobile device, laptop, or desktop computer you can do things like: turn on/off the lights, arm/disarm your security system, control the temperature, and even view a live video feed to see what’s happening in your home in real-time.

You also set up notifications to let you know when a door is opened and receive other e-mail/text alerts related to your home.  Some of the other security features they provide are: 24-hour monitoring, door/window sensors, water sensors, glass break sensors, smart thermostats, indoor and outdoor cameras and smart light switches.

How to incorporate the transmedia approach: Using Xfinity Home you can teach your children about video cameras and how they work.  It’s also a great learning opportunity to teach kids about security and the importance of being safe.

Xfinity Mobile Apps

With Xfinity mobile apps television shows and movies can be watched on your smartphone or tablet making it a truly portable experience!  And the best part is you and kids can can watch your favorite shows even if there is no internet connection available!  Simply download your favorites including DVR recordings and then watch them at any time whenever you want!  Another cool feature is the ability to share live stream video and photos with other Xfinity subscribers using Xfinity Share.

I was completely surprised at how much I learned about Xfinity and all they have to offer in a short two-hour period. For me, learning about the Xfinity Wifi app and downloading your DVR recordings were truly game changers!  Having the kids favorite shows available at my fingertips at anytime when I need them to sit quietly will definitely come in handy.

How to incorporate the transmedia approach: Using Xfinity Mobile Apps you can you can watch a show with your children on-the-go.

So you see, screen time isn’t such a bad thing, right?  The truth is in today’s tech-savvy world kids will ultimately have access to screens.  There’s not much we can do about that except be aware of how they’re using them, AND get creative with ways to keep them occupied (and ourselves sane) both with and without screens.

Let Xfinity show you how media can be an amazing tool for learning when used correctly.

P.S. If you live in Connecticut, you can tour the Home of Distinction during one of their public tours.  See their website for more information.

Disclaimer:  This post is sponsored by Comcast.  All opinions expressed are my own.

Your turn:  Have you tried Xfinity TV yet?  How are you and the kids enjoying it?  Do you limit screen time in your home?  Feel free to share in the comments.

children's books

Boscov’s Grand Opening Plus an Instagram Giveaway!

There’s a new “kid’ on the block in my neck of the woods in Connecticut.  Boscov’s department store opened its doors to the general public last Thursday, October 8th.

I had the privilege of attending the grand opening of their 44th store with a few other fellow bloggers who were also invited.  This was my very first blogger event so I was super excited to be there and have the opportunity to connect with other local bloggers, see the store, and get a glimpse of what other bloggers experience at these types of events.  Thanks again, Boscov’s for the invite!

Ok, now on to the good stuff…

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If you have never been to a Boscov’s department store, let me tell you 5 reasons why you should totally consider going:

1. They sell books!
Of course, I had to mention books first, right?  Now, before you get your hopes up let me warn you they don’t have a large selection of books available, at least not yet anyway.  However, if you’re a Dr. Seuss fan, they have a nice variety of those types of books.  I also saw some books that would make nice baby shower gifts like the 1940’s classic book Pat the Bunny (one of the best-selling children’s books of all time) which was packaged nicely in a clear box ready for gift-giving.

2. They provide FREE gift wrapping throughout the entire year!
How many times have you gone to a store to buy a gift, and then turn around and go to another store to purchase either a gift bag, wrapping paper or tissue paper?  Too many times, right?  One of the great things about Boscov’s is they offer this service to their customers FREE of charge throughout the entire year, not just during the holidays.  You can take your purchase directly to the gift wrapping counter to have them wrapped and receive quality customer service with a smile.

3. They have activities for children!
One of the many things that makes Boscov’s unique is their commitment to serving local communities.  They have a long history of charitable programs and activities for children and adults. Throughout the year, Boscov’s holds fundraising and awareness events for local community non-profit organizations in their community auditorium.  Some of their events may include: famous entertainers, fashion shows, face painters, balloon artists, and health and wellness classes.

4. They have a candy department in the store!
At Boscov’s they make their own fudge and its served fresh everyday.  They also have a great selection of chocolates, candy and other sweet treats.

5. They have an exceptional bargain section!
I don’t ever recall seeing a bargain section in a department store that actually has good, quality items.  I scored some really great deals in the bargain section like a 2 quart tea kettle for only $2.99!  Most of the items I saw started as low as $1.00 and went up to $9.99 or more.  Get a head start on purchasing your stocking stuffers now!

In addition to all of the wonderful things I’ve mentioned above, Boscov’s also sells everything you’d find in any other department store like: brand-name merchandise including apparel, shoes and accessories for men, women and children, home furnishings, toys, cosmetics, and small appliances.

If you’re one of my local subscribers who lives in Connecticut, I highly recommend stopping by to check out Boscov’s at the Westfield Meriden Mall!  Right now until October 17th they’re having a mega grand opening sale with blockbuster deals.  Plus, there are activities for children and you can register to win some fantastic prizes.  Also, Academy Award Winner Shirley Jones and her son Patrick Cassidy are performing alone or together in the community auditorium.

Other Upcoming Events

Sunday October 25 – Friday October 30
Come out to watch a fashion show with your family and friends!

October 31, 2015
Boscov’s invites you and your family to join us for a day of Free Halloween Fun, make and take crafts, costumes parade, games and more!

Boscov’s currently has locations in: Pennsylvania, New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Maryland, Deleware, and Ohio.  Not in one of those states?  Don’t worry, you can take advantage of their great deals by shopping online at

Disclaimer: I was invited to attend this event by Boscov’s public relations and marketing team, however all views and opinions expressed are our own.

Your turn:  Have you ever shopped at Boscov’s before?  Feel free to share in the comments.

My First Instagram Giveaway!
In celebration of the grand opening of the new Boscov’s department store, I’m giving away a selfie stick I purchased from there this past weekend.

image3 (1)
To enter, go to my Instagram page (@hereweeread), find the picture of the selfie stick, and then tag a book loving friend in the comments below the picture. I’ll select a random winner this Thursday morning (10/15) at 6am Eastern time. Sorry, only open to US residents. Prize will ship by the end of this week.  Good luck!

10/16/2015 Update: This giveaway has ended.  The random winner chosen was Instagram user @usbornestagram.  Congratulations!