Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Let's Talk About ALA 2013

I went to my first ever ALA (American Library Association) conference this past weekend in Chicago, IL. ALA takes place every year in a different city. Chicago is so close that it would have been stupid of me not to attend. I've done the convention thing before - C2E2, Wizard World, New York Comicon, etc. I figured that while the conference demographic would be different (but let's be honest - there was some overlap because most librarians are some sort of nerd), the principals would be the same. Still... my mind was blown.

My husband and I only had passes for the exhibition floor and there was still too much for only one day. I don't think I could have handled a full blown pass to attend panels for my first ALA visit. We met up with our friend Kristy and entered the opium den of books and authors that was ALA.

Before we even got there, I was excited about the author lineup. I made up a spreadsheet that included Cory Doctorow, Holly Black, Lois Lowry, Jim Hines, John Scalzi, Patrick Ness, Michael Grant, Rachel Hartman, Derf Backderf, Gene Luen Yang, and the biggest draw of all, my favorite YA author, Tamora Pierce. I didn't get to everyone because if you wanted to meet these authors, you had to get in line early. I got The Giver signed by a very distracted Lois Lowery. Patrick Ness was signing ARCs of his book coming out this fall, More Than This - his accent was delightful. Jim Hines trash talked John Scalzi's sexy lady posing, and John Scalzi remembered me from C2E2, where I was dressed as Lumpy Space Princess from Adventure Time and felt like an ass because I didn't have a copy of Fuzzy Nation for him to sign (congrats on winning the Locus this year for Redshirts, John!).

Oh my glob. Fionna. Fionna. We look so good right now.
But the best part of the conference was meeting Tamora Pierce and having her sign my first edition copy of Alanna: the First Adventure. She was my first favorite author when I was 13 and remains my favorite YA author 21 years later. She, Wendy and Richard Pini, and Richard Adams are responsible for shaping my literary tastes and my person as a whole, so this was kind of a big deal. I tried to tell her how much her writing meant to me, but I couldn't stop shaking. She was very nice and didn't call security on me. As soon as I walked away, I started to cry. I couldn't help it. Her characters are more real to me than most people. My love of her work is so profound - it's a difficult thing to explain.

Maybe this is when I ripped my pants and that's why Tamora Pierce is making that face.
Other highlights from the conference include getting my hands on a copy of MaddAddam by Margaret Atwood, which was like fighting for the last Cabbage Patch Kid on Christmas Eve of 1982 (which I understand was a lot like trench warfare), visiting with my library friends, and talking library shop with complete strangers. The only low point was somehow ripping a big hole in the crotch of my pants on Saturday. I don't remember doing it, but am thankful that I didn't notice it until after I got home. I'm just going to assume I hulked out in excitement, and hope I didn't flash anyone.

I feel a little bad that I didn't do more learning and networking. I spent most of my time in lines to meet authors. But the conference itself was a learning experience and I'll be getting spam emails for the rest of my life, from all the contests I entered, to remind me of this experience of a lifetime.

Just kidding about feeling bad. Yolo!


  1. Glade to hear you had a good time. Hope one of these days we can be at the same one and meet up. Meeting one of your favorite writers is always cool...and stressful.