Boston UnCon- Saturday

Convention Day 2.

The Perfect Release: Make Way for Ducklings

Once again, I woke up a little before my alarm. One of my roommates was going to shower in the morning and I said I was getting up at 8; she said that sounded good. By getting up earlier, I could slip into the shower and wash my hair (to let it dry on its own) before she woke. I ended up showering and then venturing out to release four more books for the Reverse Scavenger hunt. I left a copy of the Pink Carnation in a bush that had pink flowers. I left a copy of Artemis Fowl by a statue at Fenway Park (fowl… foul ball… get it?). I also took that opportunity to snarf the plaques and statues at Fenway. I’d snarfed one from the trolley tour last year, but this was a proper visit.

When I returned to my room, both my roommates were still asleep. I wrote them a quick goodbye note, as I knew they were leaving that day and I might not see them before they checked out, and used a post-it to stick the note to the door.

Fenway Park release

Book buffet

Room with a view

I got back about 15 minutes into breakfast, which ended up being assorted baked goods from Panera! I chose a bagel and it turned out to be something spicy. Ick. But I was hungry and ate it anyway. Bad choice. Lots of orange juice. LOL But it did the trick. After eating, Elle helped me pass out the goody bags. We ended up leaving them on chairs where the presentations were going to be held. Some of the bags had books in them, and as those books were key to my presentation, I wanted to be sure those all got out and were spread around the place (and I didn’t want to have to choose who got what by handing them out in person). This seemed like a good solution.

After the welcome from the Boston UnCon planning team, the main speaker was introduced: Brunonia Barry. She read from the beginning of her book, The Lace Reader, which has ties to Salem. I was hooked almost at once! She also talked about how she came to write it, her road to publication (as first a self-published book and then picked up by a larger publisher), and the impact her book has had in the world and in Salem as well. Lace reading, which she made seem so familiar and old world, is apparently not real (though it feels like something that should be) and now there are people who actually do lace reading because of this book. Quite phenomenal! It was also great to hear her talk about parts of Salem, as I’d just been there the day before. Once again, I was glad I went on that early bird trip there.

BadgerJim was up next with a talk about politics. He’s quite the dynamic orator, doing impressions of politicians and prepared with visuals and such. The main topic of his talk had to do with the electoral college, and some of the quirks and problems related to that. It was a good examination but, more importantly, it was a great presentation. I was highly entertained and even though he talked VERYQUICKLY I don’t feel like I missed anything.

I was supposed to go next, and already stressing a little because there was just 15 minutes until the lunch break and my talk took about 10 minutes without questions or things going wrong (having timed it a dozen or so times). But my slot was switched with Bruce’s, to be sure he got to say what needed to be said about the State of BookCrossing. And as I was quite eager to hear what he had to say, I was all for him taking the stage, so to speak. I have several pages of notes from his presentation. But the short version is that he discussed the new site since its redesign (which is still admittedly problematic in areas) and some of the new features. He showed us the new front page mockup with the three target areas to step people through the concept in a welcoming and informative fashion. He also talked a lot about the new label printing feature, which is something I’ve been interested in ever since I heard about it back in April. He showed us stacks and stacks of labels he’d made-some pre-numbered, some blank. Each label comes with a spine sticker and a front cover sticker for the book! And he explained that you could make them private or shareable. They’ll print with the mailing label and shipping will be free. Later on, when I asked him about cost, they turned out to be cheaper than I had expected (I thought a LOT of people would complain about the price, but it’s actually quite reasonable and less than $1 per label, with free shipping). I’m definitely excited about those and I hope BCinDC will be able to make some with our convention logo to share with everyone in time for people to start registering books for the next convention. Also in the works is more support for users with mobile devices, the meetup manager (finally!), and crossing zone mapping, qr codes, partners, and more.

Brunonia Barry



It was well into the lunch hour now, but they still had me go on. I tried to keep it brief and talk quickly, while still getting the info out. I really appreciate Boston not only letting us have a spot in their schedule (considering the two of us were competing strongly against each other to host the convention) but actually saying that they hoped someone from BCinDC could make it because they had made a spot for us. I really respect that, and that was actually the reason I decided to make the trek up to Boston. As these were (mostly) North American and (mostly) east coast BookCrossers, what better group to invite to DC in April?

My presentation, called “Storytime with BCinDC,” was done in Choose Your Own Adventure style and featured Bally, all of the BCinDC committee members, and some other regulars from our local group who are going to be involved in hosting the convention. I think it went over pretty well, and I hope it was entertaining and amusing, even if the “choices” in the story weren’t really choices at all. When I got to a crossroads in the narrative, I asked for people who got certain Margaret Truman books (Murder at the National Cathedral, Murder in Georgetown, etc.) in their goody bags to open to a certain page and read the letter on the post-it I’d put within. Yeah, it was fixed, but it was the only way I could think of to engage the audience while still getting out all the important details that needed to be said about our events. It was also tricky to not give everything away while still giving enough detail to entice them. BCinDC has a whole lot planned for the convention. It’s going to be amazing. You won’t want to miss it! Bruce also told me that he hopes this will be the first year that corporate will be involved in the convention. That sounds good to me and I look forward to working with them on it in the future.

Lunch consisted of boxed lunches; very yummy. There were five vegetable sandwiches and I snagged one quickly (though it didn’t seem like there were any other vegetarians, one can never be too careful when there are 5 or 6 choices and only one thing you can eat). I ate lunch looking out at the giant CITGO sign. Seriously, the venue they chose had one of the best views in Boston- Back Bay out of one window, buildings leading to the historic area out another, and Fenway out a third. Simply amazing. I talked with some of the BookCrossers I hadn’t had a chance to speak to the night before, including one brand new BookCrosser who had just found out about it the day before from talking to convention-goers on a train and registered for the con! What a great mix of BookCrossers- some old hat and some brand new faces. Made for some great conversations about the hobby and books in general.

I dropped my stuff off in my room and found my roommates had left me a really sweet goodbye note in return. *warm fuzzies* I picked up the rest of my books for the Reverse Scavenger Hunt, as well as my backpack, before meeting the group to go on the tour of the Boston Public Library. I’d already snarfed some of the Freedom Trail but I’d never visited the library, so that’s why I chose that option. Originally, I had wanted to go on the literary site tour of Boston, but not enough people signed up for that one. As it was, only 5 of us went to the library, and 2 I think hadn’t planned on doing that in the first place (but we appreciated them coming along for critical mass).

We got to Copley Square and walked around there a little. I snarfed a few things and left a few books, including Angels & Demons in front of Trinity Church (thank you, Miss Markey, Queen of Themed Releases, for the suggestion). Apparently the book was spotted later by BookCrossers on the release walk and people got a kick out of it. The book I left on the tortoise in the Tortoise & the Hare statues was gone by the time I turned around. And my bag was a little lighter by the time the tour began.

The library was amazing. I kept saying that I wanted to just move in and live there. Gorgeous, welcoming rooms, so many books, beautiful art, and an outdoor courtyard that I never wanted to leave. The tour was focused much more on the art and architecture than the collection, which was a little sad to discover, but I still had a good time and learned a lot. I rubbed the lions’ tails for good luck when going up and down the stairs, and my heart skipped a beat in the room with the fifteen murals around the top illustrating every pivotal moment in Sir Galahad’s Quest for the Holy Grail (based off the Tennyson version of the legend). As a fan of Arthurian Legend, I was in heaven. If I’d had more time, I would have tracked down a copy of Tennyson’s work and read it in that room. Maybe that’ll be a goal for my next visit to Boston? One of the larger areas was closed, so we missed out on a key part of the tour. And, sadly, the gift shop was closed as well. So I’ll definitely have to go back. Elle headed off to dinner with friends and the rest of us looked at the exhibit on period travel posters that was set up at the library (very awesome, FYI) before leaving.

Boston Public Library

Polishing its tail for good luck

Search for the Holy Grail


We took the T over to Boston Common and located the place we were all meeting for dinner. I had a lot of releasing left to do and I wanted to get that done before eating, because we were heading straight from dinner to Shakespeare in the Park. So I walked around on my own, realizing after about half an hour of walking, releasing, and snarfing that the Boston Public Garden and the Boston Common are in fact two completely different places, despite the fact that they’re right next to each other. I apparently had missed the common entirely during my visit a year before, which explains why I was baffled about missing so many snarfs in that area when I quickly skimmed the list of snarfs before leaving home. After much walking and feeling lost and wandering into an encampment of reenactment soldiers, I finally found the Public Gardens and, then, located the Make Way for Ducklings statue. I loved that book so much when I was a kid. How amazing to get to release it right where it took place! My release there was worth the entire trip to me.

I got rid of all my Reverse Scavenger Hunt books except for one (the literary one, which I planned to release later that evening at Shakespeare). I found my way back to the dinner location and waited a few minutes until the hostess returned to show me where the BookCrossers were sitting. I headed to the table just as Bruce and his son arrived and we were told to “start a new table” which is weird, because why wouldn’t you want the most important person sitting in the middle of the main table so he has a chance to talk to everyone? It was slightly awkward at first, sitting at a small table with just Bruce and his son, but once we established I knew what I was talking about technology-wise, it got a bit better. We talked a little about everything BookCrossing, from the site to the National Book Festival and some of the other exploits of BCinDC.

Boston Common release

Cemetery release

At dinner

After dinner we all headed into Boston Common again where someone had put down blankets for us and was waiting for us the whole time (thank you, person whose name I didn’t get because I was on the other side of the group from you). This year, Shakespeare in the Park was doing Othello, which I have never read and had never seen, but had always wanted to. It was also one of the deciding factors for going to the Boston UnCon for me, and I wasn’t let down. The production was fantastic. The actors were amazing (honestly, Iago’s wife had some rough moments and her acting was a little hard to take in a few places, but she made up for that in the big scene), especially Iago, Othello, and Desdemona. I also really liked the World War II time period incorporated; it worked quite well for the play. I knew it was a tragedy, so I really hadn’t expected to laugh. But there were plenty of humorous lines and clever lines as well. I have to see Shakespeare performed to really get it, and I really enjoyed sitting out under the stars with hundreds and thousands and watching the free performance.

The Cat Who Knew Shakespeare

Some of the gang


At the intermission, many of our party left to head home because it was getting late. Others went to stretch their legs and didn’t return. So the handful who remained stretched out on the blankets. I was freezing. I kept trying to tell myself that I had been hot and sweating all day in the summer heat and to enjoy being cold again. And for the most part, that actually worked. But when a breeze came through (which happened every few minutes) I had to try hard not to shiver. I wish I’d thought to bring my jacket, which was hanging back on my bedpost in the hostel, but given how hot it had been outside during the day, the thought just hadn’t occurred to me.

We got back to the hostel before midnight and I took one last spin around the book buffet to make sure there wasn’t anything I’d missed and to be sure to have enough books to take home for people. I ended up with another 10 or 12 books, naturally.

I had two new roommates when I got back to my room. I thought there was only one, and we talked a little, as she was getting ready for bed. She had come into town for the Aerosmith concert that night going on at Fenway (if we hadn’t been at Othello I have no doubt we would have heard the concert for free from our rooms at the hostel). Then there was movement in the other loft bed and it scared me so much I almost jumped. I never really met the second roommate, though we passed each other the next morning in silence once as I was coming in to grab my last bag and she was going out.

In an ideal world, I would have gone back up to the 8th floor to make release notes on all the books, but my eyes were really tired and I knew I had a long day of walking ahead of me the next day. I tried to pack up a little because mornings suck and I try to get a head start at night to make them easier.