Monday, November 5, 2012

2nd Annual Ontario Blog Squad Meet-Up

Watermark Irish Pub
On Saturday, November 3, 2012, over 70 Ontario book bloggers, publishers, and authors met up in downtown Toronto at the Watermark Irish Pub for an amazing afternoon of book-related fun! For many people, it was a day to finally put a face to a name after months of online chatting, a chance for bloggers to meet their fave authors, and an opportunity to greet the book fairies who work at publishing houses.

The Ontario Blog Squad members met up at the restaurant at noon for last minute preparations, lugging the dozens of blue tote bags filled with goodies and making sure everything was set up for when the attendees arrived. Nicole had been keeping the contents a surprise from us so we wouldn't accidentally give anything away, and it sure felt like Christmas morning to see all the bags filled with awesome books! (Also, thanks to Jessie, Hayley GMeg, Avery and Ashley who arrived early for the event and helped us carry them!)

Look at all those goodie bags!
Just when I thought there were no more tote bags to come, Nicole appeared with more boxes filled with books and swag to give away! Everyone who attended the event received a copy of Elizabeth Miles's Envy and a HCC Frenzy magazine, which we distributed to all the tables. In no time at all, we also had an extra table completely covered with books like Libba Bray's The Diviners, Julie Kagawa's The Lost Prince, Beth Fantaskey's Jessica's Guide to Dating on the Dark Side, Maria V. Snyder's Inside, Robin LaFever's Grave Mercy and more.

The event officially kicked off at 1 p.m. with a steady trickle of bloggers coming in, introducing themselves and then taking a seat. Michele and Angel checked people in, crossing off names and handing name tags to everyone which included our names, twitter handles, and blog names. Wendy helped to hand out blue tote bags to each person filled with goodies... and I'm not sure how anyone could not resist peeking inside right away!

Credit: Tiff from Mostly YA Lit
Soon enough, the restaurant was filled with the loud chatter of hyper book bloggers, and arriving authors guests and publisher contacts. When we organized the Meet-Up, we wanted to keep the event casual, yet intimate, and I think we accomplished this. We encouraged everyone to mingle and not be afraid to introduce themselves to others. It was very difficult to stay in one place when there were so many new people to meet and familiar faces to greet once again! 

Nicole Greeting Everyone
After everyone had arrived, we managed to get everyone to quiet down a few moments. (Everyone may think bookworms are quiet and shy, but bring them all together in one place and we're LOUD.) Nicole took charge and introduced us Ontario Blog Squad members to everyone in the crowd, and then Jen later took over to point out where we could find the special author guests sitting in various spots across the room.

If you've been keeping up with the announcements on the blog, you'll know we were thrilled to have nine authors join us at the event: Lesley Livingston (author of Starling), Allison Baggio (author of In The Body), Brian Francis (author of Natural Order), Grace O'Connell (author of Magnified World), Susin Nielsen (author of The Reluctant Journal of Henry K. Larsen), Elizabeth Miles (author of Envy), Maureen McGowen (author of Deviants), Joanne Levy (author of Small Medium at Large), and Cinda Williams Chima (author of The Crimson Crown).

Bloggers and Authors at the OBS 2012 Meet-Up... Can you spot authors Joanne Levy, Maureen McGowen, Susin Nielsen and Elizabeth Miles?
Cinda Williams Chima with Bloggers - Credit: Tweet from Author
After the general introductions, everyone was free to walk about the huge area of the pub that was dedicated to the Meet-Up! Last year, the venue choice was a bit difficult to really mingle and meet people, so we were more confined to sitting at our tables, but it was much easier this time around to venture around. During the lead up to the event, we helped to encourage people that the Meet-Up was a great opportunity to swap books with other bloggers and they sure took our advice. I saw plenty of stacks of books and quite a few people brought mini suitcases on wheels to transport them!

And for bloggers, the event was also a great opportunity to meet with marketing contacts from publishers to say thanks for all the awesome books they send for review, or to introduce themselves if they hadn't met before. Lindsey from Random House Canada, Pamela from Tundra Books / Random House Canada, Vikki and Shannon from HarperCollins Canada, Michelle from Simon & Schuster Canada and Amy from Penguin Canada were some of the publishing representatives we were absolutely delighted to have joining us at the event!

Vikki and Shannon from HarperCollins Canada
Lindsey and Pamela from Random House Canada and Amy from Penguin Canada

We didn't have any official book signing times, so attendees were also free to grab their books and have them signed by the authors whenever they had a spare moment in between chatting with fellow bloggers. Sometimes when you go to a book signing at a bookstore, you don't really get a chance to talk with an author for very long, but the Meet-Up really gave you a chance to converse with the authors for a longer portion of time.

Jen, Christa and Wendy asking trivia questions
I don't think I'm alone in thinking we were all too busy happily talking about books to remember taking more pictures of the event! It was only when our lunches arrived when many of us began to take our seats. 

Afterwords, Jen, Wendy and Christa made their way across the room to ask trivia questions. Whoever could raise their hand the fastest with the correct answer was able to win a free book! Here were some of the book-related questions asked:

Michele and Wendy raffling prizes
~ This phenomenal novel had readers of all ages falling in love with it's New Beijing setting and the irresistable Prince Kai. Answer: Cinder by Marissa Meyer
~ This series takes place in a dystopian Chicago, who's society is divided into five factions - Candor, Abnegation, Dauntless, Amity, and Erudite. Answer: Divergent by Veronica Roth
~ This novel follows the UNBECOMING of a female protagonist who wakes up in a hospital with no memory of how she got there. Answer: The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin
~ This incredible fantasy novel by Erin Morgenstern follows the enchanting tale of a circus that arrives without warning. Answer: The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern 
~ Banshees, ghosts, and a hilarious reaper named Tod. Answer: The Soul Screamers series by Rachel Vincent  

When it was already around 4 pm, we began to raffle off more books! If an attendee's lucky ticket number was called out, they were able to pick one of two books from the raffle table. And since we also had a few more boxes filled books that had been dropped off by Dan from Raincoast Books, Jenn H and I went around to each of the tables offering such books as Janet Gurtler's Who I Kissed, Jo Weiner's Among Others and Chevy Stevens's Never Knowing to whomever wished to have a copy if it sparked their eye.

Lesley Livingston Closing the OBS 2012 Meet-Up
But like most things in life... all good things come to an end. We officially ended the 2nd Annual Blog Squad Meet-Up at 4:30 p.m., but most of us were reluctant to leave right away. We were honoured to have Lesley Livingston close the event for us, thanking all the bloggers for their hard work in taking the time to spread the word about their books.

The day would surely not have been nearly so successful without the support and generosity of the following publishers: Raincoast Books, Thomas Allen & Son Ltd., Random House Canada, Simon & Schuster Canada, HarperCollins Canada, Penguin Canada, Kensington Publishing, Harlequin Teen, Scholastic Canada and Hachette Book Group Canada. Thanks so much!

As well, thank you to Elaine Levine, Cassandra Carr, Linda Poitevin, and Anna Hope for reaching out to us, and providing books and swag to give away to attendees. And a warm thanks is also extended to authors Joanne Levy and Maureen McGowen for providing books for door prizes and the raffle draws!

And what's that? You'd like more pictures from the event? Here's some more!

Lesley Livingston with Bloggers - Credit: Tweet from Jenn H
Authors Grace O'Connell and Brian Francis Introducing Themselves to Bloggers
Bloggers at the OBS 2012 Meet-Up
Bloggers Meeting Author Elizabeth Miles - Credit: Natalie from Browsing Bookshelves
Bloggers at the OBS 2012 Meet-Up
Author Allison Baggio Chatting With Bloggers - Credit: Tiff from Mostly YA Lit
Ottawa Book Bloggers

On behalf of the Ontario Blog Squad, we'd like to thank the bloggers, publishers and authors who joined us at the event! It's hard to believe that after months of planning, organizing and anticipating the big day, it's already over and we're left waiting for the next time we can all see other again!

Ontario Blog Squad: Christa, Angel, Nicole, Liz (me!), Jen, Wendy and Michele - Credit: Tiff from Mostly YA Lit

If you attended the 2nd Annual Ontario Blog Squad Meet-Up, we'd love for you to link up and share your blog recaps and pictures below. And if you weren't able to make it to the Meet-Up, we still have extra copies of books... so be on the lookout for upcoming giveaway posts on the blog!


  1. It was so fantastically lovely to see everyone on Saturday!! A big thank you to all again!

  2. Thank you lovely ladies for an amazing event. The Ottawa Blogettes had so much fun!

  3. Thanks again for having me! It was a great time and I'm so glad I got to see/meet you all!

    I have pictures, too - I just need to find a few minutes to get them uploaded from my phone. As soon as I do, I'll share.

  4. Great recap, Liz! Thanks so much to all of the publishers, authors, and the Squad - you guys are amazing!

  5. Great recap! I had an absolutely wonderful time. Thank you all for organizing such an outstanding event!

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  12. Thanks again for having me! It was a great time and I'm so glad I got to see/meet you all! asbestos work