ALA 2010

I’ve been meaning to post about my first conference of the American Library Association for a while now.  I had an amazing time.

Scholastic brought me in to promote The Clockwork Three.  It was the first real publicity for the book, with a reading and signing, and ARCs handed out.  But the weekend was also a chance to hang out with lots of great people who are involved with and passionate about children’s literature.

The reading took place at the Scholastic Literary Brunch, along with several other wonderful authors.  I enjoyed hearing passages from Lucy Christopher’s Stolen, Cynthia Lord’s Touch Blue, Erin Bow’s Plain Kate, Blue Balliett’s The Danger Box, and Deborah Wiles’ Countdown. All were engaging and made me want to read their books.  Which fortunately, I’m able to do because everyone attending the brunch left with a copy of each in a gift-bag.  Free books are a perk of this job I could definitely get used to!

After the reading, my editor, Lisa, showed me around the conference show-floor.  We walked through most of the publisher’s booths, and I met lots of people and saw lots of great books.  Friends’ titles were well-represented, including Mette Harrison’s The Princess and the Snowbird, Jessica Day George’s Princess of Glass, Rebecca Barnhouse’s The Coming of the Dragon, Lindsey Leavitt’s Princess for Hire, Carol Lynch Williams’ Glimpse, and Bree Despain’s The Dark Divine (Have you seen Bree’s book trailer yet?  Check it out here).  I was excited and grateful to see that The Clockwork Three was present as well.

Me and Blue Balliett

My signing that afternoon went great.  I’d never done a big signing like that before, and it was wonderful to meet librarians and readers from all over the country.  I signed for about an hour, but I was having so much fun I felt like I could’ve kept going forever.

After that, we went back to the hotel and changed into fancier clothes for the Newbery & Caldecott banquet, which was also amazing.  The energy and the shared love of children’s literature were palpable.  The speeches given by Rebecca Stead and Jerry Pinkney were eloquent and inspiring.  And I got to meet and thank M.T. Anderson, whose advice to “write what you think you can’t” led very directly to my second novel.

The next day, Lisa and I went to the Smithsonian’s Natural History Museum.  When I was growing up in Maryland, it was my favorite museum, and I even had dreams of running away and living there, a la From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler.  I hadn’t been back in years, so it was pretty neat to see it again, although a lot of things have changed.  I don’t know if I like it as well as I used to.  Lisa noted how the displays don’t seem to follow any easy sense of order or sequence, and I agree.  It’s rather chaotic.  Everywhere you look, there’s something to see, but nothing to tell you what order to look in.  Perhaps this reflects a shift in the way we take in information in this modern internet age, that is, everything-from-everywhere-all-the-time.

After the museum I still had a couple of hours before I had to catch my plane, so I walked back over the convention center.  This turned out to be a mistake, because it was pouring rain by the time I had to leave.  There was a huge line for taxis outside the center, and I still had to get back to the hotel for my luggage.  So I decided to make a run for it through the rain, and while I was waiting a little too close to the curb at a cross-walk, I got splashed by a car.  I mean, really drenched.  Like in the movies.  The poor guy next to me was wearing an expensive-looking suit, and we just looked at each other, dripping, and he used an expletive I won’t repeat here (though I silently agreed with him).  I made it back to the hotel, got my things, took a cab to the airport, and changed into dry clothes while waiting for my flight.

The airport was extra fun, because there were two flights with very similar numbers, but going to very different locations, using the same gate.  My gate.  They kept announcing the wrong flights, causing everyone to get in line, even though half of them wanted to go to Atlanta, and the other half to Salt Lake City.  Fortunately, Jessica Day George was on the same flight as me, so we were able to commiserate and laugh about the whole thing.  (Did you enjoy your “crispy rice,” Jessica?)

All in all, it was a wonderful trip, full of great experiences and great people.  Many thanks to the wonderful folks at Scholastic for making the trip so enjoyable and memorable for me.  I hope I get to go to ALA again in 2011.  New Orleans or bust!

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4 Responses

  1. I’m so starstruck! And totally jealous! Blue Balliet!

  2. If I were as young as Julie and you , I would feel starstruck too . . . I think. As it stands, I’m too tired for starstuck. I would probably feel and be out of place with my old-man hobble, chronic cough, and old ways of thinking where you you’ve been and where you’re going.

    Leave off the star, however, and I am feeling struck.

    For one thing, I’m struck by how many women you mention: Lucy, Cynthia, Erin, Blue, Debora, Mette, Jessica, Rebecca, Linsey, Carol, and Bree. Congratulations to them all. And again, in your sidebar, where you refer to blogs you read, mostly it is heavily weighted toward women, although there’re some heavy hitting male authors mentioned there, too. Boys need a great role model like you.

    Most of all, I’m struck by this whole opportunity of mine: watching you work (not only you, but others, like Julie, too) and begin to succeed at what you indicate you have long loved and dreamed of doing and worked at.

    Oh, and I’m also struck in the first picture by that happy smile on your face in front of the bookcover poster.

  3. Sigh . . .

    How lovely.


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