Okay, so that went well. Maybe one of my Best Days Ever. Let’s start at the beginning.
I woke up at 4:30 a.m., all charged up. I tried to go back to sleep, but gave up at 5:00 a.m. and decided to read Letters from Rapunzel (great book, btw) since I would be seeing the author at ALA. And what else was I going to do with myself at that ungodly hour of the morning?
Took the Metro into town by 9:00, and shared a seat with a nice YA librarian from Richmond. Together we figured out where to go for registration. It was very helpful to have someone else with me for this because the Washington Convention Center is huge, and I hate navigating around unfamiliar places. Even though it seemed as if there were lots of long lines to sign in, with my online registration I just had to walk up to a computer, type in my number, and my badge printed out. How simple. Everything was already off to an easy start.
The exhibit hall was immense. But I kept in mind my first goal of the day, and went directly (pretty much) to the Horn Book booth to meet Roger Sutton. He was there as promised, and I introduced myself. We talked a little bit, but he had someone else who came up to see him, so I excused myself. I would have loved more time to chat, but perhaps another time. Great to meet him in person in any case.
My goals for touring the exhibits were to see what books were coming out, introduce myself to some publishers to smooth the requesting books process, and get some books signed for me and for next year’s 48 Hour Book Challenge. I was able to get to the signings of Avi, Gregory MacGuire, Jack Prelutsky, Nancy Perl, Eric Kimmel, Laura Schlitz, and Jeff Kinney. The only one I really had to wait for was Jack Prelutsky, and he was very friendly and funny about signing the book “You’re a winner!” for the 48 HBC. Other notables were Avi, who was a little bit cranky about doing the same thing, and Jeff Kinney of Diary of a Wimpy Kid, who was very sweet and gracious. I may be biased though, in that at least he knew my blog. I bought his book for my daughter, but he’s committed to a donation for next year’s contest and I will remember that.
So then I’m minding my own business, walking around, and who should I run into but John Green and Cecil Castellucci! Now they were two of the people I had most wanted to meet, but they were on the Sunday author signing schedule. And yet, here they were. I talked to Cecil about how much I had loved her book Beige and other book stuff, including an interview I’m going to do with her as soon as I can send her the questions. I introduced myself to John Green who did know my blog, but I had never met him personally and we talked briefly about his email overload, his Judy Blume encounter, and his Brotherhood 2.0 project. He let me take the picture, as long as I promised to let go of his arm.
So then I’m minding my own business again, but this time at the Harcourt booth, when I ran into M.T. Anderson. After waiting somewhat awkwardly (awkward for him I mean, since he was talking with his publisher and I was all but actively staring at him waiting to talk to him), I introduced myself and he did know my blog (niiice) and we talked a bit about blogs (he mentioned Seven Impossible Things specifically) and book contests (well, mine) and Tulane readers theater (we agreed that asking Kate to sign it was probably inappropriate) and his Brotherhood 2.0 appearance (which, frankly, was why I recognized him so quickly). A nice Harcourt rep took our picture.
He escaped from my clutches, and I turned around and recognized after a few seconds Liz from Tea Cozy. As if that weren’t enough for my chance meeting quota, then I saw Rebecca Stead who I had so enjoyed meeting in NYC and Sara Holmes whose book I had read that morning without moving from the Harcourt booth. Since we were all going to Mitali’s party, I didn’t have to go in alone and got bonus time walking and talking with these cool folk.
Mitali’s book launch party was lots of fun with a reading, quizzes, and a bhanga lesson. I got to meet Mitali for the first time in real life, and she was just as nice and sweet as I’d guessed. Sheila from Wands and Worlds took my dare and came to the party, and even with her tight schedule, Betsy from Fuse#8 made it too! As everyone circulated, I met lots of fun bloggers and publishers and librarians. (Oh my!)
Afterward, about fourteen of us headed over to the KidLit Drink Night. There was some confusion about where to put us, but that was mostly my fault because I didn’t realize that as Julie from Reader’s Carousel (picture already up, so timely) went there first, she’d reserved a great table for us near the bar. I had a little more time though not nearly enough time to meet the bloggers from Biblio File, Zee Says, The YA YA YA’s (well, one ya at least), and 2nd Gen Librarian. Book lovers Genivieve and Kristin came into town just for the event, and we were joined by Blue Rose lady Alvina and Summer Blog tour interviewee Justina Headley. Oh, and Rebecca’s friend and fellow Class of 2K7er Karen Day. Oh and Sondra and Jenna from Kane/Miller and Mindy (oh no, is that right?) from Hachette that I loved talking to and not just because she knows Mo. Oh, and an author, Rhonda Roth, and an independent publisher, Sarah Doyle, stopped by too to chat and meet people.
I love parties, so I had a great time meeting everyone, and I am ninety percent sure that everyone else had fun too. I have to say that after being up since 4:30 a.m. (not my usual practice), eating very little (also not my usual practice), and talking to people all day (which revs me up), I was a little wired. And I’ll admit that. But it was an awesome end to an incredible day.
I have to send out a special thank you to Sheila, who not only came to the book launch and happy hour even though she was headed on a vacation the next day, but helped take care of business at Capitol City Brewing Company. She was great at dealing with the waiter, who was very confused by our using the fourteen seats at the table as some sort of KidLit musical chairs game. Some people had to leave early, some came later, some moved around, some ordered dinner, some didn’t. The poor waiter. She also took over my most dreaded chore settling the bill and making sure it worked out. Not only did it work out, we had more than enough. So if you are feeling like you overpaid, let me thank you for buying me a beer. (Love and smiles.)
We left about 8:00, and I took the Metro home. I had promised myself that I would not pick up lots of ARCs but I couldn’t resist. Hauling them around all day was enough of a chore, but walking to the Metro I was starting to feel the strain on my shoulders. But today it’s just YEAH, NEW BOOKS!
And I’m going to throw this in because it’s related to meeting bloggers in person. Last weekend I got to meet Kelly from Big A, little a after her conference in the Hampton Roads area. We met in Norfolk with the kids and I knew they were her kids as soon as we approached the meeting place because the oldest child was reading a book. We took a free, self-guided tour of the battleship Wisconsin, walked along the harborside, and had dinner. Kelly was just like I would have guessed, so engaging, friendly, and and interesting. We had great conversations, our kids all got along well, and we had a wonderful time. I can’t wait to see her again some day. Ah, one more picture. Why not?
Back to yesterday I hope to get some pictures from people (email me!) since I forgot about my camera phone for almost all of the time. If I missed putting you in my post, I apologize, but it’s a loooong post and I’m losing steam now. I’ll be interested to see what experiences everyone else had at ALA. It was good for me. Was it good for you?
Next week I start talking about books again I know, amazing starting with a Very Special Picture Book.