This past weekend, I had the pleasure of attending Book Bonanza 2018 in Denver, Colorado. It was a crazy, fun, exhausting experience that I’m excited to share with you today. If I had to sum it up in one sentence it would be: This was my author bucket list event. It really was. I didn’t get to meet EVERY author there I wanted to, but I got to meet a whole bunch of them. I also got to meet some new to me authors. If you’re interested in my experience, read on. (Sorry, it’s going to be a long post. I want to tell you everything so you feel like you were there right with me!)
THURSDAY, JULY 19th
Thursday wasn’t technically a Book Bonanza day, but it was the day I arrived in Denver and met up with my friend Ashley from South Carolina. We checked into the Hyatt Regency Tech Center Hotel. They surprised us with an “upgraded” room, which really meant we got to share a king size bed. LOL. We made it work. I wish I would have remembered to take a picture of our room for you. Our hotel was just a short walk to the Denver Marriott Tech Center where the event was held.
Book Bonanza registration was easy peasy. We were able to walk right up and check in. We got a cool canvas tote screened by Heath Hoover himself. It was filled with two signed books, a water bottle, information about the event, a small snack bag, a Bookworm Box pen, and a few other small gems.We then headed to the bar for food while we waited to meet up with Kim Holden’s Bright Siders Facebook group.
I have one thing to say about Kim Holden. That lady is sooooo nice. She took the time to greet each and every one of us at the event. She took pictures with us and asked us how we were. She really took time with everyone. Kim Holden made this quick event so special. She also brought along with her some friends. Beth Flynn was there, and J. Sterling made a quick stop in. I also got to meet the one and only Ginger Scott who swung by from RWA to say hello. Ginger was just as friendly and amazing as Kim.
I can’t leave out one incredibly cool thing that happened at the Bright Siders meet up. I got to meet Lenore from Celebrity Readers! I cannot get across in writing how cool this was. This is the first time I’ve gotten to meet a blogger friend in person. Lenore was just as amazing as she is online. I adored talking to her. I got that chance several times over the weekend. I really hope I get to see her at another event some day.
Friday, July 20th
Friday morning and afternoon was filled with panels. The first panel was Welcome and Chat with Colleen Hoover and E.L. James. They did a quick question and answer session. They were hilarious!
The second panel was Writing Sex Scenes – WTF?. It was funny, too. Helena Hunting, Audrey Carlan, Robinne Lee, and E.L. James had some great comments on how they tackle those sexy scenes. We had some of the youngest attendees next to us (they were 16-19 and from Missouri). Ashley and I totally wanted to put on our “mom hats” and earmuff them.
After the second panel, we broke for lunch. We had tons of options with all of the food trucks at the event. I had a really yummy chicken bacon ranch wrap and my friend tried out another truck. These trucks were available for breakfast, lunch, and dinner during the event. It was so easy and convenient.
The third panel was the Rachel Hollis Keynote. If you don’t know who Rachel Hollis is, you need to look her up. I didn’t know anything about her, but by the end I was so impressed with her. I really, really want to read her book Girl, Wash Your Face. She was so inspirational and funny. I had a couple of “ah-ha” moments during her talk.
After those three general panels, there were three more panel sessions where you could choose what you wanted to listen to. We decided to go to two panels and skip one for a break. For our fourth panel, we chose Writing with a Spouse or BFF. The panel participants were Max Monroe, Sarina Bowen, Jane Harvey-Berrick, and Stuart Reardon. This was a great panel. I loved hearing about how Sarina Bowen writes with all of her co-authors. I adored how funny Max and Monroe were in real life. I also got an introduction to Stuart Reardon and Jane Harvey-Berrick’s writing and the process they go through . It was very cool.
We skipped the middle panel to go back to our hotel and grab our books for the evening signing. On the way, we made a stop at the Cupcake Room for our free cupcake. Dang those cupcakes were awesome! I had a peanut butter cup one. YUM!
We came back and listened to the Judging Books by Their Covers panel. The presenters were Fisher Amelie, TM Frazier, Karina Halle, Michelle Mankin, Dina Silver, and Meghan Quinn. It was interesting to hear how they come up with ideas for their covers.
After all the panels, it was a quick dinner break at the food trucks before lining up for the singing. We were eating when someone came by and told us Jessica Park was doing a pop up signing in the lobby, so we hurried over there. It was cool. Many authors did these little pop up signings throughout the event.
The first signing was crazy! People lined up 2 HOURS EARLY, guys. It was insane! In line, I started talking to some of the other attendees. I had a really great conversation with several of them. The nicest lady named Shelly offered me her blog card, and I realized she was one of the bloggers I was hoping to meet while there! Shelly is from DG Book Blog. She’s such a sweetheart! I loved getting to meet her and learn more about her. I saw her several times throughout the weekend and she always had a smile on her face. I’m excited to keep in contact with her.
Back to the signing. We were lucky to be fairly close to the beginning of one of the lines. We walked in and immediately got wrist bands to see Colleen. We were numbers 13 and 14, if that tells you anything. We were able to walk right up to Max Monroe and have them sign our books. After that, things got a little chaotic. The Book Bonanza staff adjusted quickly and started giving out more wrist bands than I think they anticipated. I got to meet:
- Max Monroe
- Colleen Hoover
- J.A. Huss
- Sarina Bowen
- Elle Kennedy
- Stuart Reardon and Jane Harvey-Berrick
- Meghan March
Every single author and attendee I met was nice and gracious. The signing was from 8:00 p.m. to 12:00 a.m., but we only lasted until 11:00 p.m. We were EXHAUSTED and had to be back to for the 8:00 a.m. signing the next morning. We called it a night and attempted to get some sleep. Here’s one picture of one of the rooms the signings were held in. As you can see, there wasn’t much room for maneuvering!
Saturday, July 21st
Getting up Saturday morning was hard. We had planned to get up about 4:45 a.m. so we could be lined up at 6:00 a.m. It didn’t happen. We got there about 7:30 a.m. Neither of us cared. We split up between the two singing room lines. I was all the way outside this time. It didn’t really matter. I was still able to get wrist bands for the authors I really wanted to see. I saw:
- Rachel Higginson
- Jay Crownover
- Meghan Quinn
- Kennedy Ryan
- Teagan Hunter
- M.E. Carter
We took a quick lunch break and then got back in the line for the second signing session. I, once again, ended up waiting outside in line. It was in the high 90’s temperature wise, but luckily there was shade. The afternoon felt just as easy as the morning. Despite crowded signing rooms, I was able to get all the books I brought signed but one. (My fault — I didn’t realize Tammara Webber was only there Friday evening.) I picked up a few preorders and had them signed along with two new to me authors’ books. Oh, and my friend Ashley got my books signed by Tiffany Debartolo since there wasn’t a line for her when she walked in the room. She was also able to see Willow Aster while I was in the other room. In the afternoon session, I met:
- Beth Flynn
- Dina Silver
- Whitney Barbetti
- J. Daniels
- Mariana Zapata
- Kim Holden
- Audrey Carlan and her cover model
The eight hours of signings took its toll on Ashley and I. We were exhausted from not sleeping much the night before and spending so much time standing and walking. We were so exhausted, we made the decision to skip the Book Bonanza concert Saturday night. I’m sad we didn’t experience it, but I don’t think I would have made it through. We ate dinner and packed up our stuff. We were in bed and asleep by 9:00 p.m.
Sunday, July 22nd
We left early Sunday morning. I was at the airport by 7:30 a.m. I’m glad we went that early because we missed a lot of the airport congestion. I was soon on a flight back to Seattle. Since then, I’ve enjoyed seeing all the posts on Book Bonanza’s Facebook page. I think it’s safe to say that everyone who went had an amazing experience.
My Take Away From Book Bonanza 18
Book Bonanza 18 was truly an amazing experience. Everyone involved was so gracious and kind. I met so many amazing readers, bloggers, and authors. I truly feel like I checked something off my bucket list. I have such an appreciation and respect for Colleen Hoover and her sidekicks. Everyone put so much effort into making sure the event was running smoothly, and that Safe House Denver was never far from our thoughts. I am so happy to announce that they were able to raise $50,000 from the event for Safe House Denver. Book Bonanza was truly a magical experience. I would love to go to another Book Bonanza again one day. There was just something about being surrounded by people who love books as much as I do.
If there’s anything you’re curious about regarding Book Bonanza, don’t hesitate ask me!