When I was a little girl, my first best friend was a book. The title of the first book my mom ever read to me escapes me, but it may have featured a princess or bears or pigs or an old woman in a shoe. I’m so glad I had those bonding times with Mama Lillian. She made me love reading, books and ultimately writing.
Honestly I have been a little grumpy lately and I’m sure it’s because I haven’t been reading or writing as much as I usually do. So when I learned about Book Riot Live earlier this year I knew it was something I needed to do, not just because I loved books and wanted to network with book people, but I needed to reconnect to my inner book lover and I needed something to spark up my writing.
I’m not blocked. I write a lot for work as a social media marketing professional, but we all know that’s not the same for people who like to put prose on paper. I will admit that one of the reasons I haven’t been reading or writing as much is due to my love of certain digital distractions. My favorite TV shows, video games (Life is Strange is an obsession right now), Twitter and Facebook have had more of my attention than my Kindle or writer’s software. For shame! Bad Tameka!
Counting down the days to Book Riot Live gave me something to look forward to and calmed my guilt over not stretching my literary muscles and I was glad for that. I also decided to treat myself to a hotel stay as well during the conference so I could be closer to the event venue. Actually, I truly needed a break too. It’s good to step out of your day-to-day living arrangements to get a new perspective. Being pampered and catered to also does wonders for the spirit.
Thankfully the wonderful folks at Book Riot Live provided a list of suggested hotels for attendees to stay at and I chose Ink48. In reading up on the property, I learned that it used to be a former printing house. How perfect! Attending a book conference? Stay at an old printing house. The book Gods couldn’t have conjured up anything better.
When I arrived at the hotel I was greeted by a warm and sensually lit lobby and friendly front desk staff and an inviting wine reception area where each evening guests are treated to free wine.
Lovely, right? When I got to my room I was very happy and here’s why:
Once I got my bags unloaded and relaxed for a bit, I floated downstairs to have dinner before stepping out to the first Book Riot Live event at the Strand Bookstore.
What’s cool about Ink48 is there is a literary theme throughout the property. Even the names of the restaurant and bar. Here is what I had for dinner at Print Restaurant:
I hadn’t eaten that well or that clean in a while. Gotta love farm to table restaurants. My tummy was full and my conscience was clear! Then I was off to mix and mingle with other book lovers:
I really should have taken more photos here, but I was consumed with getting to know the other book geeks, some who had traveled far and wide to attend Book Riot Live. We all buzzed about, drank wine and got to know one another a little better before the main event started the next day, bright and early on Saturday, Nov 7th. Here is one cool pic I snapped though:
Because of our cool Facebook group, I knew there were a few other attendees staying at the hotel. After we met up for breakfast the next morning we snapped a selfie while we were waiting in line to get in. Hey new friend!
What took place over the next two days was a glorious gathering of book fans, authors and vendors coming together to share knowledge, talk, buy and sell books and learn more about the amazing business of publishing, but in a fun way. Here are some of the panels I attended:
That pic is a little blurry, but I love the colors! Here are some better photos of the SOME of panels I attended:
I would have to write quite a few blog posts to share everything I learned over the past weekend, but what I can say is that one of the main themes I walked away with is that diversity in publishing is something that readers and authors are very passionate about. The Fighting The Good Fight: Turning Awareness into Action panel was one of the most popular and the most packed. We discussed the importance of creating diverse characters, talking about social justice in our books and getting more publishers on board when it comes to creating diverse and inclusive book covers and promoting more authors of color. I am sure this topic will always be one that will attract a large audience until things get better across the board for all authors when it comes to fair representation on bookstore shelves and bestseller lists.
Another panel that had a large audience was Farm to Table: How a Book Gets Made. It was really nice to see all of the particular players that represent each piece in the puzzle when it comes to getting a book from the manuscript page into readers hands. I thought I knew this process pretty well, but there were some things on the art and publicity end that I learned like how little input an author has when it comes to their book cover. We have some input, but once we hand our babies over, it truly becomes more of a team effort. I am really looking forward to getting to that step!
There was a lot of fun to be had in the midst of all of the learning too. Take a look:
As you can see, I had a lot of fun! I am so ready for next year! I would recommend this conference to any writers or readers who want a book learning experience that is fun. Often conferences like these are so jam-packed with sessions that you don’t get a chance to do much networking, but with the book mixers and activities they built into it from a book fan perspective, it just made it so thrilling. I felt like I learned a lot and enjoyed myself while doing it.
Also key for me was being able to stay at a cool hotel away from home so I could conveniently walk to the venue each day, explore a new neighborhood, eat at new places and kick back in comfort. A lot of my stress that I walked in with is gone (for now) and I got to spend more time with a good friend of mine who just happened to live in the neighborhood! Super cool!
I just realized that I may have to do a part 2 to this post because there are just too many photos and fun I want to share. This really could be the blog post that never ends, but I need to wrap it up! Here are just a few more takeaways from this experience before I close out:
- Taking care of yourself is a necessity for your mental health.
- Book people are the BEST people!
- Reading is a gift you should give yourself every day.
- Writers need to be around other writers.
- Learning is growing.
- Underwest Donuts are the devil!
- I will own a hotel one day. Perhaps a bed and breakfast.
- I am bourgie.
- Don’t judge me!
So until next year Book Riot Live! Thanks for a grand time! You too, Ink48!
© 2015, TamekaMullins. All rights reserved.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.