Thursday, July 18, 2013


by Colleen Maree Quill

I was always going to attend Book Expo America (BEA) this summer, however I only snapped up my ticket the night prior hoping to win my way in (thanks New York Magazine I’ll win next year!). Upon my arrival at the badge pick-up desk I was told I was too dressed up and should be sipping mimosas somewhere (thanks to St. Martin’s Press’ new romance label Swoon I did get some champagne along the way).

I made to an extremely long line at Starbucks cursing myself for not taking advantage of the empty Dunkin’ Donuts I had passed walking to the convention center. Then I hurried with a full bag of MacMillan books that had been handed to me as part of the power reader admission fee into the author’s breakfast hosted by politico Chris Matthews. He introduced Helen Fielding as the woman who begat the important question “Hugh Grant or Colin Firth?” I was so glad Chris recognized that debate is important, but we all know it was a slam-dunk victory for Colin Firth. The librarians next to me applauded when Ms. Fielding stepped up the podium claiming her as “our muse” immediately which put a big smile on my face.

Ms. Fielding was charming and honest. She also said she never thought she would write another novel about Bridget Jones after the last one. It’s been fourteen years since BRIDGET JONES: THE EDGE OF REASON hit shelves. Fielding explained she felt she lost her voice, but then last year, suddenly certain things started to be funny to her again and she sat down and secretly started writing the third novel BRIDGET JONES: MAD ABOUT A BOY, and not telling anyone what she was doing allowed her the creativity anonymity she needed to succeed.

The other interesting take away was answering the question of why Bridget is so universally appealing “even to women in Japan, where they all look fabulous and eat very small amounts of fish” being that Bridget represents the gap between how you feel you should be and how you are inside. Fielding ended her speech by mentioning she would now proceed to go on a massive diet (she has quiet a small frame) and get loads of plastic surgery ready for her book promotion.

Following several other speakers, I made my way onto the main concourse. I had circled which booths I wanted to make it to and en route found myself in a death match worthy of THE HUNGER GAMES at The Scholastic area. I came away with an arc of teen novel MARIE ANTOINETTE, SERIAL KILLER by Katie Alender (out October 2013) who also wrote BAD GIRLS DON’T DIE. Books seemed to appear out of nowhere.

I saw a line for Jim Carrey yet I kept moving towards a place I knew I would find comforting- Harlequin. I was ushered onto a line and met some graduate students, one of whom went off and came back with a copy of an arc for me of GORGEOUS by Paul Rudnick, which I just finished reading and highly recommend. It’s the story of girl from a trailer park faced with an offer of putting her full trust in the magic of a famous designer, Tom Kelly, to make her three magical dresses which transform her into the most beautiful woman in the world. She has one year to fall in love or she will be transformed back to normal.

Harlequin stationed fourteen authors signing bookmarks and brand new releases. I wound up with fourteen books ranging of bodice rippers, regency romance, contemporary romance (DARE TO), paranormal romance (ETERNITY CURSE), mystery and even a vegetarian cookbook.

After that I came across random author signings at many different booths. Soon I was loaded down with three more tote bags all of which wound up filled. I lined up for a National Geographic book HOW TO SPEAK DOG, and nabbed a lovely little pug balloon I dragged behind me for the next several hours, and later out to Long Island for my nephew who had just turned one. He played with the pug excitedly for five minutes before he sank his teeth into it and popped it, but it was definitely worth the photos.

Finally, I was ready to leave in order to make it for my first RWA/NYC chapter meeting. That’s when I spotted Penguin’s book truck and book hot dog stand. I had to go and admire them fully. Tired, exhausted from being loaded down with books, I marveled at what a good idea the book truck is when I spotted the Penguin Classics area across the hall. There was a moving line so I knew by now a signing was happening. It turned out to be the illustrator for Penguin Classic’s limited edition Drop Cap Series of classic literature. Although I initially had Faust’s MADAME BOVARY in my hands, I managed to get the last copy of Jane Austen’s PRIDE AND PREJUDICE. You never know what can happen if you ask. I declined engaging in a debate over the merit of Austen’s romance with a young children’s book illustrator who clearly didn’t know what a Janite is and when to not argue with someone who has just expressed how thrilled they are at nabbing such a treasure.

It was time to make my exit. When I reached the heat outside, I tried to flag down a cab to no avail. After a few minutes a wonderful man named Seth from Simon & Schuster, who was about twenty feet from me hailed a cab and offered me a ride. Thank you sir you really ended my first BEA experience with the warmth and generosity I had experienced inside.

The best part aside from the high of hearing Helen Fielding speak and coming away with so many books was meeting the wonderful authors such as self-published Jasinda Wilder who’s DELILAH’S DIARY is a hilarious romp that starts with the mc finding her husband “balls deep” inside the church secretary to J. Courtney Smith who asked me about the pug dog balloon while signing THE ENGAGEMENT, her follow-up to her best seller MAINE, and Harlequin’s paranormal author Julie Kagawa. I can’t wait until BEA14 next May, by which time I hope to have read all the books I gathered and have been sharing with friends in an effort to make my home look less like I robbed a library!♥

Colleen Quill is a writer and digital marketing expert. Prior to that, Ms. Quill was the Head of Digital Marketing for Universal Republic Records and Head of Music Video Programming for Yahoo!. Her career has encompassed developing online brands and engaging online audiences including Disney Channel, A&E, The Food Channel, American Express and Sony Music. Colleen has bylines on,, and To read about Colleen’s passions please read her blog:   Colleen is currently reworking a chick lit manuscript and exploring Kindle single ideas. She is a member of RWA (National, NYC and WF).


  1. 1. There's a reason why DD was empty. ;-)
    2. I pity the fool who questions the merits of any Austen romance.
    3. Thanks for sharing your experiences! I had to travel for work over this year's BEA (which, to be perfectly honest, I found out about way too late) (I live under a huge rock), so I couldn't make it this year. Will try for next year! (Unless it conflicts with the RT Convention.) (Ack, does it?????) :-)
    Some Dark Romantic

  2. I'm glad you had fun. Your post reminds me of the days I attended BEA with my son.