Friday, July 01, 2011

ALA 2011

WOW!  I feel so crazy lucky to have had the chance to attend three library-focused conventions this year: ALA Midwinter in San Diego, TLA in Austin in April and ALA Annual in New Orleans.  At each one I had the chance to meet so many amazing new people and run into old friends.  Also, since I’m terrible at saying good-bye, it’s been kinda nice being able to say, “I’ll see you in a few months at the next convention!”

And of course, as usual, I totally neglected to take many pictures (why do I always fail at this!?).

ALA began for me on Thursday, flying into NOLA and meeting Jackson Pearce at the airport (we were renting a car together).  Jackson rightly pointed out that somehow we’ve ended up seeing each other every two months for several years… it just seems to work out that way (which makes me quite happy since Jackson is so much fun!). 

We drove into the Garden District where friends had rented a house so in a sense the whole trip was part writing retreat and part ALA.  The house was really awesome -- one of those big rambly types with bathrooms hidden in odd nooks.  Plus it had a pool table/ping pong table that got lots and lots of use J

Friday I headed down to Beau Monde to meet Laini Taylor, her husband and editor for beignets.  So tasty and fully of powdery suger goodness?  We ambled around the French Quarter for a while as I tried not to fangirl all over Laini because I’m such a massively huge fan of her writing.  Then it was off to lunch with another friend, an afternoon hanging out in a hotel lobby (which turned out pretty great because  got to meet some very cool people) and a stealth invite to a party that night (including dancing which I haven’t done in ages and let me just say, there are some NYC pub folk who can seriously dance J)

Saturday was another full day at the convention, stalking down ARCs, meeting people, fangirling over authors…. Typical stuff J  I felt like every time I turned around there was someone new to meet.  And because everyone there shares the same love of books it sometimes feels easier to just introduce yourself to a stranger (I pounced on a few people from my home states of NC and SC).

That night I joined Tessa Gratton and we headed off to the Random House Children's Books party during which there was much revelry and fun (with bonus MardiGras beads!).  From there a group of us including James Kennedy and Daniel Kraus headed off to a long dinner at the W Hotel with Jackson Pearce, Natalie Parker, Tessa, Brenna Yovanoff, Cassandra Clare and Javier Ruescas which included much merrymaking.  (Again, how do I fail at taking photos of these things?).  And yes, I ate fried alligator.  And bananas foster (which came with waffles... is that normal?)

Sunday was yet another day hitting the floor to see the likes of Maureen Johnson and Lauren Myracle.  We ran into Jennifer Lynn Barnes which was awesome because I love her and it somehow TOTALLY escaped my attention she'd be there.  So we grabbed her and Jo Whittemore for lunch -- such a treat!

And yes, if you're starting to get the impression that these events are my definition of utopia, I think you're right: good food, good people, good books... seriously, what could be better?

Monday was a day off at the house (we did manage to track down some shrimp poboys) with much revelry.  This is a group of writers who have been doing retreats for several years now and it's always really wonderful to touch base because we always make sure to talk goals and dreams and where we are in our careers/life and where want to be.  

Tuesday I had the great fortune of running into AS King, Eric Wight and Snow Wildsmith in the NOLA airport and even greater fortune of being able to sit with Snow for the flight home!  

I got to stay at home for one whole day and now I'm at the beach to celebrate the 4th with my in-laws and then it's up to another beach to spend with my family.  Of course there will be much writing because deadlines loom... but at least I'll be writing with a fantastic view :)

In fact, my mother-in-law just announced it's time to go crabbing so I'm taking my rancid turkey neck and heading off to the creek!

Thanks to everyone in NOLA and at ALA for making the entire even so utterly fantastic! I can't wait for next year :)