What an experience! I can’t believe it has been almost a month since I attended my first “Book Expo America” and met Tara Paterson, Founder of *The Just for Mom Foundation and Dawn Matheson, Executive Director of the *Mom’s Choice Awards.

It all started months before, when I wasn’t quite sure I would be able to fly out to Los Angeles during this time period. You see . . . I had a personal conflict of interest.. My twin granddaughters’ very first birthday was June 1st and this year’s BEA was going to take place--May 30th through June 1st. I spent many hours on the computer looking for a flight that would bring me back home in time for this special celebration. By the time I finally found a red-eye flight back to Chicago, I had encountered another situation. Most of the hotels nearby the big LA Convention Center, the site of this year’s BEA, were full. To make a long story short, with the help of the Mom’s Choice Blog, I had the pleasure of rooming with the wonderful Terry Doherty, Founder and President of *The Reading Tub.

Thank you Terry!

Well there I was, a newbie at my first Book Expo America, where writer, publishers, and booksellers from all over the world hobnob and show off the upcoming year’s latest and greatest books. And I mean all sorts of books from fiction and business to children’s books and cookbooks. This once a year event that attracts over 37,000 attendees from over 80 international countries was overwhelming and exciting at the same time. It started off with a bang on Friday morning, when I attended opening-day’s Children’s Book and Author Breakfast. There, right before my eyes, where well known authors, Judy Blume, Sherman Alexie, Neil Gaiman, and Eoin Colfer. I knew then, this was going to be a fabulous weekend.

Later that morning, I was off for my interview at the Mom’s Choice Award booth. Being the recipient of the “Mom’s Choice Award” is such an honor and I had anticipated this wonderful opportunity to meet both Tara Paterson and Dawn Matheson for so long. Needless to say, my stomach had more than butterflies in it. What gracious ladies! As I approached the booth, they greeted me with accolades and open arms. After the interview, I was introduced to many of the other honorees, past and present. We talked about how very excited we all were to be honored with this prestigious award and soon discovered how much we had in common. There were many photos taken and I even had an unscheduled book signing on Saturday afternoon. Thank you Dawn.

It was then time for me to explore. I felt just like a little girl in a candy store. So much to learn, so much to see, so many people to meet and not enough arms to carry everything. I soon had the pleasure of meeting many people in the industry that I had been corresponding with by mail, fax, phone and email. Finally, I could put a face with a name. I can’t begin to tell you how incredible it was to have the opportunity to display my books in booths like the “Mom‘s Choice Award”, “New Title Showcase”, “Partners Publishers Group”, and the “Independent Book Publishers Association.”

It didn’t take long for me to get caught up in what is known as the “Autograph Program” at BEA. Whenever I had the chance, I found myself standing in hour-long lines getting autographed copies of books by authors such as Brooke Shields, James Patterson, Jamie Lee Curtis, and Barbara Walters. I must admit, it was worth every sore-foot moment. What a weekend. So many books, so little time!

As I sat on my red-eye flight back home, I thought about everything I had just experienced and most importantly about my family and the two sweet little faces I would soon be seeing. How grateful I am for my family and all the opportunities life has given me. You just never know where life will take you. Hopefully it will take me on to “Book Expo America 2009”, New York City, New York.

*The Just for Mom Foundation

*The Mom’s Choice Awards

*The Reading Tub