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Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Dispatches from ALA

This past weekend the American Library Association (ALA) held it's conference in Chicago. Since it was right in my own city, I asked the lovely people at MTV Books if I could attend. They said yes and it turned out that Jeri Smith-Ready who is not an MTV author, but a Pocket author which MTV Books is a part of would also be attending. Since I love the books in WVMP vampire series, Wicked Game and Bad to the Bone, I invited her to stay at my house.

So I got to spend the entire weekend with Jeri and I also met a number of other incredible authors and book bloggers.

Saturday, Jeri and I just roamed McCormick Place taking in the vast number of exhibits. The Simon & Schuster booth had our books on display so we posed with them:

Toward the end of the afternoon there was a reception for some of the S&S YA authors including Laurie Halse Anderson (I bought a copy of Wintergirls and had her sign that and my copy of Speak!), MT Anderson, Holly Black, and Lisa McMann. Jeri and I talked to Lisa McMann at length and wound up going to dinner with her, Lisa Schroeder, and a few other authors, journalists and people from S&S. Since I was the local, it was my responsibility to pick a restaurant for us. I chose my favorite "eclectic Asian" place, Tamarind. Fortunately everyone loved it. Though I think I freaked out a few of them by order bubble tea. Lisa Schroeder took a picture of me drinking it and you can read more about our dinner on her blog.

The next day was the big day, the day I had to do actual events. And the first was at the ungodly hour of 8 am. For many people, I'm sure being somewhere at 8 am is no big task. But I'm a bartender. My sleeping hours are from 2:30 to 10 am. But the event was YALSA's YA Author Coffee Klatch. A ton of very cool authors were there to basically do what was described as speed dating with librarians. We got to sit at a table with five or six librarians and spend four minutes explaining why they should be interested in our books and us as writers. It was a bit nerve-wracking and stressful, but the librarians were so nice and I was starstruck by the authors at the event. Like Sarah Dessen. Yeah, Sarah Dessen. At the end of the event when we were all getting our photo taken as a group, she stood sort of behind me, right next to Jeri. So after the photo was over, I worked up the nerve to say hi to her.

There were also some people I knew and was more comfortable talking to, local YA authors Tina Springer, Kimberley Pauley, Pam Todd, and Simone Elkeles who I'd all met at other area events, so it was nice to see them again. Simone even went out to lunch with me and Jeri after the Coffee Klatch. Sadly, we couldn't go to her signing because it was the same time as ours.

I was kind of hoping Jeri and I would sign side by side because somehow that makes it easier, but she was across the booth from me:

However, the highlight of my ALA was about to happen. Yes, even bigger than meeting all those authors, including incredible NYT bestsellers like Lisa McMann and Sarah Dessen, more important than that to me was meet book bloggers Chelsea, aka The Page Flipper and Kristi aka The Story Siren and their friend Emili. Book bloggers mean the world to YA authors, or at least to me. They are passionate about books and share it with the world and that seriously rocks. So here I am with Chelsea, Emili and Kristi (I was trying not to get tattoo goo in her hair, but we'll get to that in a minute):

So yeah meeting those girls was my biggest highlight. That and the new tattoo I went to get with Jeri. We were both celebrating our birthdays (hers was on Saturday and mine on Monday) and wanted to get tattoos. It was Jeri's first and she was totally a trooper and I think might have even enjoyed it and will probably get more ;) Simone Elkeles was kind enough to take this picture.

I did a video blog about my new tattoo and posted it on Monday as the kick off to the Ballads of Suburbia Cyber Launch Party. Check out that vlog here (and enter to win a copy of Ballads!) I hope you will visit my blog daily from now until Aug 14 to meet all of my guests at the Cyber Launch Party. It's gonna be a blast. Just as fun as ALA, but online so everyone can attend!


Kimberly Pauley said...

It was great to see you again too :-)

I was totally in awe at the Coffee Klatch too! Not only Sarah Dessen (who was super nice) but Patricia Wrede and Richard Peck and David Levithan and Libba Bray and...

yeah, it was a great time.

Anonymous said...

That sounds like so much fun! I'd be awestruck the whole time. Authors are like freaking rockstars to me. And you met Sarah Dessen? Wow!

Stephanie Kuehnert said...

It was a great time, Kimberly and 13r3asonswhy, yeah authors are like rockstars to me to so I definitely freak and get quiet!

The Story Siren said...

It was so fantastic to met you! I'm glad you had a good time and enjoyed the experience. I'm reading Ballads right now, and loving it.