Okay, so, was ALA only last weekend? Two quick things, and then a little trip report.
- Thing the First: The Woken Gods lives! aka, there are ARCs. As always, the author is the worst place to get these, though I'm happy to point people in the right direction. If you're a reviewer/bookseller/librarian, you can go request on Netgalley or contact Strange Chemistry about print ARCs. A couple people have asked, so to clarify: this is not a sequel to Blackwood, but an all-new world and characters, completely different. (By the by, if you're not on the Chemistry Set email list, where notifications and things go out, you can also sign up for that.) *nervous* Hope all you lovely early readers (and the ones who come later) like the book! (Stating the obvious, I know. I doubt there's ever been author who was truly all: "I am not nervous at all. And please, hate my book, it's what I do this for.")
- Thing the Second: The winner of the signed copies of Blackwood and The Woken Gods is… ::drumroll:: Tiffany Snyder! Who I'll be contacting via email. Hope your students enjoy them!
So…my time at ALA was brief but wonderful. It was my first time there, and I didn't have any official events or programming so was just able to wander around and get a feel for how it works and see people. And even though I managed to see a LOT of them, there were plenty more I missed (Jules, for one!), saw far too little of, or only found out were there afterward. Such is the conference life.
I did take my camera with me, but–as usual–left it in the car the whole weekend. I seem to have mostly managed to take photos of food and cocktails with my phone, so I'm stealing a couple of pictures for this post via twitter. Mwahaha. The rest behind the cut; gratuitous mentioning of people ahead (always dangerous, but otherwise I forget who I managed to see, so you're getting it–if I forget anyone, it's because my brain is a sieve).
Friday, I ended up hitting Chicago just as the Blackhawks parade was finishing up, which meant lots of joyously drunken hockey fans dangling over the highway with handmade banners. This also meant I missed my very first designated hang out, but happily that got rescheduled. I made my way to the spectacular environs inhabited by fellow Angry Robot author Wes Chu (and his lovely significant other Paula and wonder-dog Eva), where I stayed the weekend (along with author and Angry Robot sales/marketing guru Mike Underwood and fab middle grade author Mary Thompson). You know you want to see a picture of Eva, and I am happy to oblige:
— Gwenda Bond (@Gwenda) June 29, 2013
Wes was a fabulous host. So fabulous, he and I stayed up until 3 in the morning blabbing that night. Check out his first novel The Lives of Tao.
But before staying up way too late I met up with the most fabbest agent of them all, mine own Jenn Laughran (stage name: literaticat, of course). We ended up at a place where we chose cocktails based on their names:
— jennifer laughran (@literaticat) June 28, 2013
And we went hither and thither, to a publisher cocktail party then by the kidlit drink night, where we arrived late enough to miss lots of people. (But saw others! First Kelly Jensen sighting, among others!) Some hotel hang-out and then the late night.
I awoke early Saturday and learned an important lesson about staying up late and drinking Naked Ladies: I am too old for both. Thus, Saturday moved very slowly. Though after wandering the exhibits floor with Wes and Mary, we managed to locate and exchange hugs, taunts, and catch-up with Barry Goldblatt, Joe Monti (the best dressed man of the day, hands down–sorry, Wes), Paolo Bacigalupi, Will Alexander (National Book Award Winner–saying that never gets old!), Brad Beaulieu, John Klima, and probably other people I heart but am blanking on at the moment. Anyway, good times.
We decided to make it a quiet evening, with lots of guacamole. Fun dinner at Julio's with a big gang (including the super-fab Carolina Valdez Miller and Liza Kane, who I'd never met before). John Klima and I came up with a whole invented backstory for our chiseled, stone-faced waiter–and here's a shot of me, Mike, and Wes (which I share despite being shiny with the red eyes of doom):
— Michael R. Underwood (@MikeRUnderwood) June 30, 2013
Sunday involved better planning, and less aimlessness. I ran into Sunshine Ison, one of my oldest friends, John Scalzi, and a passel of VCFAers, all people it always makes me happy to see. I happened to see Barry over by an author I almost recognized who was signing–and it turned out to be Marcus Sedgwick, whose books I adore, and who I got to meet and thank for giving me my first ever blurb for Blackwood. Then Jenn and I finally managed to corral Liz Burns and Kelly Jensen, and also lured Jackie Parker and Sara Ryan (finally! got! to! meet! Sara!) along to what will be forever known as the Algonquin Round Cafeteria Table of ALA. At least, it will IN MY MIND.
Then we wandered with Sara to her booth appearance (in support of her forthcoming awesome graphic novel Bad Houses), collecting Malinda Lo en route, and I finally got to meet another Sara I've known forever on the online–Sara Gran! Discussion of interpretive dance, harmonica playing, and the like. And then I finally got to meet the wonderful Dan Ehrenhaft, mutual friend with too many people to name, author, and the man behind the fabulous new Soho Teen imprint. Happiness.
— Steve Thomas (@stevelibrarian) July 2, 2013
Gluttonous deliciousness tapas dinner followed, and then it was back to the Sheraton to catch the Caldecott/Newbery speeches. Katherine Applegate is my hero, now and forever. The whole thing was magical. And afterward, last hang-out involved meeting the legendary Walter the Giant, who I instantly adored, and E.M. Kokie (likewise!).
So an exhausting, exhilarating whirlwind? Yes, one of those.
ALA, you were magnificent, and I will see you again.