Great Lakes Book Bash 2017 & Its Hidden Gems

Can’t buy me love – unless, of course, you’re referring to books – then you can totally buy me love!

What I’m trying to say is… a week ago from today, I was an easy target for the authors at the 2017 Great Lakes Book Bash as I made my rounds from one stellar booth to the next.

For the most part, this conference is relatively newer as far as symposiums go, so my expectations were not high going into it. That’s why it’s an absolute delight for me to be able to say that it far surpassed my expectations and I’m rather happy that I decided to take the time to attend.

Right off the bat, I received a goodie bag upon check-in since I purchased the Rock Star Pass. This pass was not only super affordable (only $20!) but it allowed me to attend all of the panels. Inside the goodie bag that came with it, was a free copy of Tempting Dusty by author Helen Hardt, along with various items popped in there by some of the attending authors. There was everything from sneak-peek chapters of books to a vase and more!

All in all, my first impression was pretty spectacular.

GreatLakesBookBashAfter signing in and all that jazz, I then made my rounds to a few of the booths. It was pretty great to be able to chat one-on-one with authors about their novels, especially when some of them showed so much enthusiasm when I expressed interest in their stories and characters.

Most of the authors really transformed their space into a reflection of their brand – which I found to be a breath of fresh air compared to the signings I’ve been to in the past. They had everything from masquerade masks, to free handouts, to book keychains – which were the coolest things ever – and much more!

I only visited about half of the authors on the first day, as I wanted to give each author and their booth a fair amount of time and attention. Then I went to the panels which I found to be informative but more for someone at a beginner’s writing level. I probably would have ate it all up, when I was just starting out as a writer, but after years of working in the publishing industry, I didn’t hear too much that was new to me.

However, author Zoe Blake presented a panel on Social Media & Marketing 101 that piqued my interest on a few points. You could tell that she really knew her stuff and she treated the panel as an opportunity to really help others get the most out of what she had to say. I wish some of the other speakers had been more in line with her approach but, all in all, I don’t think a writer just starting out would have been disappointed.

After the panels, I left for the day and returned on Saturday to once again pillage the booths of books. Although the majority of the books there were romance or erotica, there was a somewhat healthy selection of other genres, as well.

Debut author Jimmy Leonard was there with his book, The Evangelist in Hell and G.S. Scott attended with a couple novels, including Cleansed which also came with a cool map! I stopped by Katherine Stone’s booth and was pleasantly surprised to find out that I was her first customer, at the conference, to purchase her novel, The Reappearance of Tom Ferris, which I’m eager to learn more about.

A few children’s authors were in residence as well, including Beverly Davis with her novel, Great Gray which is all about bullying. Likewise, there was a pretty spectacular author in residence by the name of Deedle Miyares who finds herself still in grade school with the published novel, Mermaids Can Ride Bicycles, under her belt.

If only I had thought to start writing novels before I hit middle school…

Rachael Brownell, the mastermind behind the Great Lakes Book Bash, showcased a lot of her latest work, including Chasing Fate and Jumping Puddles. Her friend and fellow author SF Benson also showed up with a wide assortment to choose from and I totally splurged on her YA series entitled The Alliance Chronicles which feature four books: Regress, Rescue, Release, and Rebel that all take place in the mitten state. (That’s Michigan, just FYI.)

Author Mackenzie Flohr had a booth, too and I was quick to pick up a copy of The Whispered Tales of Graves Grove An Anthology which featured her short story entitled, “Shadow Hauntings.” The book, published by BHC Press, showcases 22 stories from various writers. According to Flohr, each chapter is a different short story written by a different author, but it reads like a book.

Seriously? How could I not buy something so original?

Kacey Hammell and SJ Maylee shared a booth with each other and chatted wildly away about their respective novels, Guarding Midnight and Unexpected Destiny. These ladies were both hoots and I found myself chatting with them whenever I saw their gorgeous faces at the panels or around elsewhere.

I will say that I’ve only managed to read a few of the books since last week, but I’ve already found a handful of new authors that I’d like to personally track down and ask them to dish all about their books and the flippin’ awesome characters inside them.

Great Lakes Book BashI’m not ashamed to say that I spent all of Saturday night and most of the wee hours of Sunday reading Hexed Hearts by Becca Vincenza. Why? Because it was just that good. I took a short little snore fest before spending the rest of my weekend following it up with Hunter’s Heart, which is the same story from the main male character’s point of view. Needless to say, they were both freaking delightful and I seriously can’t wait to read more from her.

But back to the conference…

As if my experience wasn’t good enough, I ended up winning a giveaway from designer and photographer Lindee Robinson on the first day of the conference. Obviously I was super pumped to be handed a big basket with tons of books to feast my eyes on, along with a bunch of hilarious but stylish cards, a bracelet, key chains and more. Likewise, I won a vase with flowers during author Zoe Blake’s raffle on the last day of the book bash.

So, all in all, I made out like a very stealthy bandit and even spoke with a lot of authors about participating in future interviews on my website – which is pretty fantastic if you ask me!

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