Last week, I was lucky enough to attend two days of ALA, and I had a marvelous time. You can find a day-by-day breakdown on Lit Up Review, but the entire experience was too fabulous to leave off this site.
Almost as interesting was the way everyone loved Willa and me for being the only actual teens there. When Willa asked if we, as teens, would be more likely to receive books for review, every head in the room turned to us and many exclaimed, "You're actual teenagers?" We ended the meeting in smaller groups through which attendees could wander, and we were greeted at each with, "It's the real live teens!" Every group. Those exact words. We became quite popular, and one of the organizers even filmed us at the end, asking us to share our names and our favorite part of the event.
It was sad to leave, but we had to get in line for the exhibits, and we headed over to wait for an hour and a half.
|Me, Erika, and Willa outside the exhibits|
Although I left too early to meet Lauren Myracle, Ally Carter, or Elizabeth Wein, I was lucky enough to talk to a few other authors, if only in a passing book signing. Emily M. Danforth signed my copy of The Miseducation of Cameron Post, one of my favorite books ever, saying she approves of my name, and I also got signed ARCs of Elizabeth Scott's Heartbeat and Annabel Pincher's Ketchup Clouds, both of which I cannot wait to read.
All the publishing employees I met were so nice, so responsive, and so generous. And I pretty much want their jobs. I briefly talked with one sweet lady from Sourcebooks about how much she loves her career, and she agreed to answer some emailed questions from me following the conference.
I was worried about felling pressured into taking books I wouldn't read, but I ended up being able to say "no" and getting a decent amount of books that continue to induce books shimmies. I grabbed a bunch that I have been wanting to read for ages, and I also stumbled upon a few books I had not heard of, but am now looking forward to picking up.
If you are interested in all the books I received, you can watch book haul vlogs from Willa and me here and here.
At one point during the conference, I recognized more than ever before that the people around me were my people, a beautiful group of individuals who love books as much as I do.
Willa, Erika, and I were walking the exhibit hall, talking to people, snagging ARCs, and fangirling, when I saw someone walk by with an advanced copy of Rose Under Fire. Naturally, my immediate reaction was to squeal, "Oh my gosh, ARCs of Rose Under Fire!"
And as we dashed into the Disney-Hyperion booth to ask about them, I was thinking four things:
1. I am so freaking excited for this novel because I love books and I know I will love this one!
2. I also love my in-person friends, but, um, if I were to say, "Oh my gosh, ARCs of Rose Under Fire!" to them, they would look at me like I was speaking Romanian.
3. But I'm with by bookish friends and so many other bookish people, so when I say, "Oh my gosh, ARCs of Rose Under Fire!" to them, they react with commensurate amounts of passion.
4. These are the people with whom I want to work. I will get a job promoting books for a publishing house in seven or so years, and I will get to live in this atmosphere of love for stories every single day.
We didn't even get copes of Elizabeth Wein's upcoming novel. They had run out before we got there. But I didn't care because one, I can easily read it when it comes out as I would have done had I not gone to ALA, and two, all I noticed in that moment was the ecstatic environment of enthusiasm present not only in me for once, but in everyone around me.
Nothing feels better than that.