I am so glad that I went to ALA. I met amazing people and authors and fellow book-lovers. I have the chance to read wonderful, buzzy books before they come out.
It was hard, sometimes. I’m an introverted girl, and wandering a conference alone, making small talk, waiting in lines, standing on the fringes of groups, feeling invisible–arg. Awkward. When people would ask whether I was a librarian, I’d explain that I’m an aspiring YA author. Sometimes they’d ask who my publishing house is, and I’d explain that I don’t have one yet. Authors were chatting with their author friends, Debs, Tenners, Elevensies, and I don’t have a debut group yet. It is hard feeling like I’m so close, I have a fabulous agent, my book is out on submissions, but I don’t have a definitive place in the room. Yet.
But mostly it was amazing. Sunday was the day of massive lines: for Andrea Cremer and Ally Condie, for John Green and David Levithan, for Libba Bray, for Elizabeth Scott. I was blushingly excited to have WILL GRAYSON, WILL GRAYSON signed by John Green, literary crush for YA authors everywhere. And I got to meet LJ friends Carrie Jones (the nicest person in the world) and Erin Bow (modestly surprised that I loved her gorgeous poetry). I also met Andye and Amy from Reading Teen, Susan from Wastepaper Prose, and fellow-pink haired girl Sarah from GreenBean TeenQueen.
Possibly the best part was after the exhibits closed, when I got to hang out with Jackie Dolamore. We talked about our works in progress, themes, worldbuilding, critique partners…Jackie is totally smart and interesting, and on a shallow note, she wears gorgeous vintage dresses. It was fantastic to have an actual conversation, not just make small talk. Eventually we wandered over to Busboys & Poets, where we met Jenn Hubbard, Shari Maurer, and Hannah Moskowitz for dinner. They were all lovely, and I loved being among other writers. People who understood my horror/glee at running into editors who have my ms on submission. Who wished me luck so genuinely. Who’ve been there, in the waiting, and know. It was great to hear more about what they’re working on, what their journeys have been like, what their relationships with their agents are.
Sunday I went to a few more signings, including Jenn’s and Heidi Kling’s. I got my sister a signed copy of SEA because she loved it and stole mine. And I got to witness Heidi’s exciting author moment of having John Green in line for SEA. I was so happy to meet Heidi and Kelly Fineman, whose blogs I’ve haunted for ages now. I had lunch with Jackie and then waited in line for Ally Carter’s fourth Gallagher Girl book. By then I was sort of exhausted, and my bag was heavy, and I was a little too excited about the M&Ms they were handing out in line. Nom chocolate nom. (When I have author signings, I am so giving out candy. Diana Peterfreund’s unicorn-horn lollipops were also inspired.) I was going to wait around and see if I could score more free/severely discounted books, but honestly? That was my inner dragon talking. My husband was having a reading of his new play at our house that evening. And I think I have enough books to read for the foreseeable future:
A million thanks to everyone who met me this weekend and was so kind to this nervous first-time conference-goer.