This weekend I attended my first big book convention. I didn’t get a ticket because I’m an author, but rather because I’m a trustee of my local public library. The American Library Association’s annual conference is a big one and authors and publishers and library software companies and anyone else associated with libraries occupy the hundreds of booths at the convention.
I thought I’d attend some of the many great lectures scheduled throughout the conference, but I ended up hanging out with a good friend and meeting her YA author friends. We went from booth to booth, collecting review copies or new books and getting most of them signed and personalized.
We walked away with a ton of books!
As a mom and a reader, I’m always looking for diverse voices for my kids and myself. So I was really excited to meet the author who started #WeNeedDiverseBooks, Ellen Oh! Rich Lo is one of my favorite picture book authors and illustrators and I’ve had this fantasy of him coming to my kids’ school to talk about his immigration experience and his family’s early years in the US and how that wasn’t always easy. His books are so beautiful, both in the illustrations and in the words he writes. I was so excited to meet him today and chatted with him a bit because I was first in line with my friend Gloria.
I also met writer Claribel Ortega, who reminded me that we’re Instagram friends. Duh. It took me a couple of meetings to put two and two together! We talked about Hong Kong and she recommended books I should get signed at ALA.
Maurene Goo’s book, I Believe in a Thing Called Love, looks soooooo good and she was super friendly, despite her huge signing line. I’m also here with author Lizzie Cooke, a fellow Chicagoan. I think this photo shows the magic of the conference and how fabulous it was to meet other authors and collect oh so many books!
Some authors I knew already, like the fabulous Sonali Dev! Sonali stopped me on the street three years ago after one of my book signings. She recognized me from Facebook. At that time, her first book hadn’t come out yet. And now she’s getting ready for her FOURTH book release! Sonali is huge and it’s been so great following her success! Even so, she is completely down to earth and treats every reader as if s/he is the only person in the room.
I didn’t know Samira Ahmed before this weekend, but now I feel like we’re old friends. Her debut YA novel, Love, Hate & Other Filters looks beyond amazing and I love the branding her publisher, Soho Teen, has created around her book! We both discovered our shared love for Badoit!
Suzanne Kamata and I are both represented by super-agent Carrie Pestritto. Although Suzanne wasn’t at ALA (she lives in Japan), one of her books was! I went to visit that booth and had a fantastic chat with her publisher. I asked for a copy of Suzanne’s book and was super excited when the publisher said yes!
I’d read Stacey Lee‘s debut novel, Under a Painted Sky, and was an instant fangirl for life. So meeting Stacey in real life was like meeting a movie star for most people. The first thing I asked when I met her was if I could take a photo with her. She has another book out now and a third coming out soon.
And here’s a bedraggled one of me (I’d just finished dragon boat racing) with Gloria Chao, the friend who took me around ALA and whose debut novel, American Panda, comes out in February, along with superstar author Cindy Pon!
I am so thankful I had an opportunity to attend ALA. And I feel so lucky it was in Chicago. Now to dig into the books I just picked up!