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BEA & NYC YA Author/Blogger Rooftop Party Highlights & Giveaway
Jun 10th, 2012 by Liza Wiemer

It all started with this:

 

 

 

 

 

I hadn’t planned on going to BEA (Book Expo America), but Jeremy’s tweet got me thinking. So, I talked to my husband Jim about it. Without any hesitation, he said that of course I had to go. I contacted Nili, one of my many cousins who live in NYC, and asked if I could stay with her. That led to one simple thought: Wouldn’t it be awesome to have a party with YA authors and bloggers?

That thought led to action. I contacted Nili about renting a space in her apartment building, which turned out to be the glass enclosed rooftop solarium on the forty-second floor of her building. I had never seen the space, but I could imagine how spectacular the view would be – The Statue of Liberty, Manhattan, the Hudson River, Hoboken, NJ. Nili didn’t hesitate, and because of her, this party became reality. Thank you, thank you, thank you!! xo (See pictures here: http://www.whorublog.com/?page_id=1122 )

Almost immediately, I knew I’d need some help. The talented blogger/designer Jeremy West of Novel Thoughts http://www.novelthoughtsblog.com/ jumped on board to make the gorgeous evites, logo, etc, and then the fabulous Andye and Amy from Reading Teen http://www.readingteen.net/, whom I’ve admired and respected for years because of their thorough and fair book reviews, their sense of humor, their willingness to blog about their opinions on tough topics in YA novels.

The NYC YA Author/Blogger Rooftop Party was on its way.

At the very beginning, there were a few moments of doubt. Will people come? But I asked myself what the worst case scenario would be. The answer was simple – the money spent would be gone and no one would show up but us. (After all, BEA week is extremely busy and authors and bloggers have other parties to attend.) I decided I could live with these risks. Huge expenditure of time, energy, money. But in one conversation I had with Jeremy, I said, “I’d rather take the risk and fall flat on my face, than not try at all.” Generally speaking, that’s one of my philosophy’s toward life. It has served me well.

The experience was way more than we could ever imagined. Each of us brought our strengths to the table and shared ideas through email, Skype, Google Video Chat, texting, and HeyTell. Andye kept an online spreadsheet that included authors and their publishers, bloggers, RSVPs, author facts for our True and False icebreaker. It took tremendous organization and communication. I’ve planned parties in Milwaukee, but never one out of state. I never thought about how convenient it is to get in a car, drive to the grocery store, and get everything I need. In NYC, you have to think about what you can carry. Delivery service is the absolute norm. We had lists of items to bring from out-of-town-I checked two bags at the airport and Amy and Andye’s car was loaded with the centerpieces, books, etc. Jeremy took a bus with name tags, our True and False icebreaker activity, and a canvas he designed for all the authors to sign for one of the ten raffles we had.

These are the book covers of the authors who joined us!

The raffles included Amy’s magnificent book-themed centerpieces (to see her incredible work click here: http://www.readingteen.net/2012/06/my-bookish-crafty-project-for-rooftop.html, Starbucks gift certificates, books, and journals with a cover designed by my husband using all the authors’ covers and Jeremy’s logo. Party favors included blinking “lightbulb” pens, glow-in-the-dark items, Figment tot bags, which we filled with books from Candlewick, Sourcebooks, Harlequin, Flux, Little Brown, Simon & Schuster, Scholastic, Disney, Pendrell, Bloombury, Harper Collins, Random House, Macmillan, Hachette. Thank you to all these publishers for making the party extra special by donating YA novels for us to share. In addition, Simon and Schuster gave us suntan lotion in honor of Burn for Burn, Jenny Han and Siobhan Vivian’s new YA novel.

Nili’s apartment was filled with boxes from publishers, party places, and on the day of, tons and tons of food and beverages.

Several additional people were integral to making this party a success. Jeremy West’s awesome brother Jeffrey of Novel Thoughts was our official photographer and also had been a part of some of the planning. So glad you could make it to NYC. Thanks so much. xo

From nearly the very beginning, Kelsey Dickson of Reading and Breathing gave us a hand. She put together the playlist for the evening, including songs she found on authors’ playlists of the music they listened to while writing their YA novels. She also brought disposable cameras and glow-in-the-dark necklaces and bracelets, which were a HUGE hit! She helped set up, too. Thanks Kels! xo

The YA from Reading Teen, Austin, Abigaile, and Kit, also were an integral part of the party. Their help was critical for putting our gift bags together, setting up, welcoming our guests, cleaning up. Y’all are awesome! Thank you so much. xo

And my cousin Aryeh, who stayed behind the scene and kept everyone in refreshments and made Amy laugh. Love you. xo

Mitali of Alley of Books and the Teen Author Carnival also came early to help set up. Thanks!

Throughout the planning, we prayed for good weather. (It did end up raining a little, but for the majority of the time, we could use not only the solarium, but the rooftop.) By eight o’clock, the guests arrived. Some of the authors made near Herculean efforts to get to us, including Adele Griffin who was in a taxi for an hour! Tweets were sent, some with the hashtag #RooftopParty. Many of the authors said it was the BEST party they had been to all week. Overall, the evening was a HUGE success. There was laughter, photos taken, budding friendships formed, breathtaking views.

To hear about the experience from Stacy and Shannon from Girls in the Stacks, listen to their comments about the Rooftop Party, which start at approximately 13:00 minutes. (I recommend the entire podcast – their comments about the BEA will make you smile and laugh.) http://girlsinthestacks.com/podcasts/ya-podcast/2012/06/bea-2012/

I have a few more highlights to share with you, but these come from the BEA and the Teen Author Carnival.

Lucas Klauss and Jennifer E. Smith

Jackson Pearce and Eliot Schrefer

Teen Author Carnival was held Tuesday night at Jefferson Market Library. The panel discussions were fantastic. I went to “You Don’t Know You’re Beautiful – Keeping it Realistic” and “What Doesn’t Kill You, Makes You Stronger (Kick Ass Characters)” with over twenty YA authors. http://teenauthorcarnival.tumblr.com/

I saw numerous twitter/blogger friends including Briana from The Book Pixie. Neither of us knew the other was attending, and we just happened to get into the same loooog book signing line right next to each other. I’ll cherish our hug and conversation for a long time. Seeing Stacy (and later Shannon) from Girls In The Stacks also made my day. I saw the AWESOME Lauren Oliver and had her sign her latest middle grade book.

Lauren Oliver and me

Patricia MacLachlan and me

On Wednesday, I arrived extra early for the Children’s Breakfast. To my utter amazement, I was standing next to the legendary Newbery Metal award winning author Patricia MacLachlan. Goose bumps bloomed all over my skin. Talking with her was a tremendous honor. She was so kind, even when I went completely fangirl and asked to have my photo taken with her.

Chris Colfer from “Glee” MC’d the breakfast. He was hysterical, joking with the crowd that he wrote the fan-fiction Fifty Shades of Green, in honor of John Green. You can listen to the clip here: http://lover4klaineandcrisscolfer.tumblr.com/post/24540342391/chris-colfer-confesses-to-writing-the-fifty-shades

Lois Lowry had people in tears. She spoke about her journey writing The Giver and the three novels that followed. She talked about how her son who was killed serving our country influenced her writing. It was his questions that led to writing The Giver.  She said that every generation must have hope to vanquish evil.

I met some extraordinary people standing in line for author book signs. Those connections will stay with me for a long time, and I feel truly grateful and blessed to have made them.

TO SEE PHOTOS OF THE NYC YA AUTHOR/BLOGGER ROOFTOP PARTY GO HERE: http://www.whorublog.com/?page_id=1122

GIVEAWAY:  In honor of the Rooftop Party and BEA, I’m offering several giveaways, including this prize package of Burn for Burn and a signed copy by Rebecca Serle of her newYA novel When You Were Mine, which has been optioned for a movie!

WINNERS CHOSEN – SEE SCOOT READ & UNABRIDGED SHELF, THANKS TO ALL FOR ENTERING 

BURN FOR BURN, by Jenny Han and Siobhan Vivian, BURN FOR BURN Sunscreen, Figment Bag, and a signed copy of WHEN YOU WHERE MINE by Rebecca Serle

Entering the giveaway is easy – just leave a comment. Posting on Facebook or tweeting about it adds an extra entry, please let me know. AND, extra entry if you follow me on TWITTER: https://twitter.com/#!/LizaWiemer – Let me know if you’re a Twitter friend. 😀 Giveaway ends Tuesday, June 19, 2012 at 8 PM CST. (US and Canada only)

To enter additional giveaways from our Rooftop Party go here:

Reading Teen

http://www.readingteen.net/2012/06/rooftop-after-party-giveaway.html

Novel Thoughts –

novelthoughtsblog.com/2012/06/bea-rooftop-after-party-giveaway.html

 

Take The Risk – Step Out Of Your Comfort Zone!
Jun 30th, 2010 by Liza Wiemer

STEP OUT OF YOUR COMFORT ZONE

Some Risks Are Worth It!

By Jeremy West, Age 19

 

Jeremy West

 

When I was sixteen, I learned the value of stepping out of my comfort zone.  I had spent the majority of my life in Anderson, SC going to school, hanging with friends, playing soccer.  So when a teacher at my high school presented the opportunity to travel to China as a foreign exchange student, I wanted the adventure, and so did my friends.  We had seven months to prepare.

But there were obstacles.  Money was one – the trip would cost $2300 for two weeks.  That would have been a big enough reason not to go, especially when you don’t have parents handing over the cash.  If only it were that simple.  The greater challenge was mental.  The teacher had told us that traveling to China would not be easy.  He told us that the food would be unlike anything we had ever tasted, that we would see extreme poverty, and that we would walk most places, so being in top physical shape was crucial. In other words, it was not going to be a vacation.  This was going to be a hardcore trip.

I started fundraising for the trip, working at school to pay for the plane ticket.  Family and family friends also helped out, which I deeply appreciated.  Unfortunately, every one of my friends decided not to go.  Sure, there were other kids from my school who committed to the program, but without my closest friends, I knew the experience would be harder.

The idea of leaving America was unsettling.  I had never left the country let alone faced an eighteen-hour flight around the globe, which was how long it took to reach Beijing, China. To say I was stepping outside of my comfort zone is a super understatement!

Upon arriving in China, I immediately became the minority surrounded by millions of people who spoke only Mandarin, not English. That was one of the scariest parts of the experience – not speaking or understanding the language.  The people stared at me as I walked down the street. They took pictures of me, and with me. Beijing was a nice city in comparison to the majority of cities in China, though it still had smog, litter, disease, and crime.

It wasn’t until I went inside the heart of the country that I truly realized that I had stepped into a whole different world, one of extreme poverty. I went from the grandeur of the Great Wall to the dirty rice fields of inner China. These people had nothing! I felt true compassion for the first time in my life. I had left my comfort zone so far away, and I didn’t even miss it. Sure, I missed a home cooked meal, but my eyes and taste buds were exposed to something completely out of my comfort zone, and I soaked it up.

At one point we traveled by mamu (a taxi cab, which is a motorbike with a cart) to a middle school – grades 7-9.  We had printed cards with the address of our destination so that the driver knew where to take us.  Some students from our group got lost and ended up arriving at our destination much later than expected, a frightening experience to say the least (some were even in tears). The school we visited was different from anything I have heard of or experience in America.  It was a boarding school with thirty-five hundred students.  There was no air conditioning, we were told not to even step into the bathrooms because they were revolting, and the English class we attended was crammed with fifty or sixty kids in a room way too small for that number of students.  They attended school from eight in the morning until seven at night with a two-hour mid-afternoon break for naptime.  Each day, from 7:30 until 8:00 A.M., the students were outside on their school field doing tai chi.

Food was definitely an issue.  Some kids hardly ate anything during the trip, but I am one to try new things, including fish heads, scorpion, squid,octopus, and even snake.  We stayed in a real nasty hotel – there wasn’t a vacuum cleaner in the entire place, we always walked with our shoes on, and bugs were crawling everywhere, even the beds.

If I had the choice to take that trip again, I would pack my bags and go immediately. Life is all about experiences. We learn through making decisions.  From those decisions come experiences, and from experiences we can learn how to step outside our comfort zone. The comfort zone constrains us, while leaving that place of comfort defines us.  My trip to China was definitely one of the most defining moments of my life, and I hope it inspires others to step out of their comfort zones.

While at first I was constrained by fears of all these things I had heard about China, ultimately I wanted to experience it for myself to know the truth. The experience changed me, changed my perspective on the world.  I had never seen so much poverty in a nation, except for on TV, and experiencing it touched me in a much more personal way than seeing it on TV.

Renowned video game developer Steven Coallier once said, “Attack life, it’s going to kill you anyway.” He couldn’t be more right! Life is about experiencing all that you can, but if you are held back by your fears then you will stay stuck inside of your comfort zone forever. It takes true courage to take that leap, but once you do you’ll never look back and miss it.

Before I left for China, I was perfectly content  staying where I was.  There was no reason for me to go on that trip other than the desire to leave my comfort zone and experience all the differences that China had to offer. I ate some of the grossest (and best) food I’ve ever tasted. I made friendships that will last forever. And most of all, I kicked my comfort zone to the curb, and now try to live every moment as if it were my last. I am more willing to help others, more up for personal challenges and try new things.

All of life’s experiences, whether good or bad, define who you are. Challenge yourself – completely revolutionize your future. It doesn’t have to be by traveling to China, though I recommend it!  You could challenge yourself by taking a harder course in school or not smoking dope when everyone else is doing it.  Desire to have more, do more, and see yourself as someone who can be different by stepping out of your comfort zone.  If I had passed up this opportunity to go to China, I don’t know if it would ever have come up again.  One thing is for sure, my life would not be the same.

“Be brave. Take risks. Nothing can substitute experience.” – Paulo Coelho, Brazilian novelist and lyricist

About Jeremy West: Jeremy is a student at Full Sail University in Orlando, FL studying film.  He’s a photographer, writer, designer, and Apple computer lover.  His blog, NOVEL THOUGHTS, is another way he shares his creative side with the world – reviewing YA novels, interviewing authors, and providing cool opportunities to win awesome giveaways.  Find Jeremy through his blog at  www.novelthoughtsblog.com

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