ALA: Me, My Friend, & A Trusty Bag

So on Sunday I attended the ALA annual conference in D.C. and now I'm reporting back with some pictures. I was supposed to bump into some bloggers like Tara (The Bodacious Pen) and Angela (Bookish Blather), but it was kind of overwhelming and - oops - it slipped my mind to be on the lookout! I did meet some amazingly nice authors though... And these pictures were all taken with my cell phone, so excuse some bad quality.

6:45 AM: Since I can't get my driver's permit until July 3rd, my mom picked my friend Katie up and drove us to the metro.

Picture of Katie I took at the metro station after the long, toilsome day was over.

7:50 AM: We arrived at the metro station in DC and had an amazingly nice duo of librarians (one was from Cali, wow!) walk us to the convention center. Because, of course, I HAD to leave my Google-mapped directions to the convention center at home. Once we arrived, I went to go pick up my badge while Katie registered. Running-around-the-building ensued then as we tried to secure small pamphlet #2 with an exhibit map. I considered getting Starbucks but there were too many early morning caffiene-addicts in line, so we went down, sat near the exhibit entrance, and started highlighting the booths we (or more like I) wanted to visit and signings we wanted to attend.

9:00 AM: EXHIBITS OPENED. Neither Katie nor I had been to any sort of convention before and it was WAY bigger than I expected. We kind of walked around looking like awed ducks. The Scholastic, Penguin, Simon & Schuster, and other YA book booths were all in the mid-2000's aisles, so we started heading to that area but were stopped by the Candlewick Press booth. They had Stork, which was on the wishlist I made, and a couple other interesting ones. I almost didn't get Stork because I was waiting for the wolves fellow convention-attendees near the ARC table to move away - until I realized they weren't going to move as long as ARCs still remained. So then my planned method of "asking before taking any ARCs" kind of flew out the window and I dove in there; Katie was a much more aggresive grabber than me. Pretty much all of the booths had clearly labeled their display copies with "display" and the ARCs with "free, please take!" so it made it much easier.

I'll skip the quick ARC-grabbing we did on the way, but just after we grabbed copies of Clockwork Angel (I was surprised at how calm it was), we saw Ellen Hopkins! Aka amazing author of Crank and Fallout. She wasn't scheduled for anything on Sunday, so we kind of jumped her and asked to take pictures. She took us maniacs in stride though, and she even asked if the booth staff had any copies she could sign for us! Unfortunately no, but Ellen was so incredibly nice and a great start to the day. (I saw her again in the bathroom later but gave a "I might know you and you may see me but I'm don't want this to be embarrassing" smile.)

That's basically what I looked like.

And this is the part where the trusty bag comes in. I WOULD NOT HAVE SURVIVED WITHOUT THIS BAG. Katie and I luckily stopped by just as Harlequin was handing out these cute and BIG bags below:

Trusty bag on right, Vladmir bag on right (from purchasing books at Penguin).

Throughout the day, people kept asking me where I got it and for the directions to the booth. If you're reading this, publishing companies, please remember to splurge on bags at conventions. People want BIG bags for lots of books. No one asked my about my small Vladmir Todd bag, which is cute but small. Good bags = the best publicity.

10:30 AM: Time for Andrea Cremer and Ally Condie's joint signing! Again, we were surprised by the number of people in line. But their books are definitely worth all the attention they garnered. Again, amazingly nice authors and Andrea remembered me from our emails (for hush-hush purposes)! I think I was awkward and smiling way too much but they kinda went along with it.

You can see the too-excited-smile trend for the rest of the day...

We then lined up for the John Green and David Levithan line, which was already spanning across 5 aisles. It went slowly at first, but the Penguin reps then cut out the part where John/David (I feel like I have to say their first names with their last times) would pose with us. So 50 minutes later, I walked away with two more awesome signatures and a four-books-heavier bag.

After, Katie and I listened to Laurie Halse Anderson's reading of Forge for a while then walked around looking at booths. The novelty of free-and-AMAZING galleys was dying at that point along with our arms. We stopped by HarperCollins and saw Rachel Cohn and David Levithan's Dash & Lily's Book of Dares and Jennifer Donnelly's Revolution - but couldn't take them. *sniffle*

1:00 PM: Back to the Penguin booth for Elizabeth Scott's signing of Grace. LOL, she's funny and writes awesome books. She immediately commented on my shoulder-killing messenger bag and proceeded to take this picture:

At this point, Katie and I had already grabbed about thirty books - each. We slowly trudged upstairs, stuffed all the books we could into one Harlequin bag, and checked it into the coat & baggage check. SO MUCH BETTER. We then headed off to lunch where we were ripped off on a tiny pizza for $9. I passed on the $4 cup of soda.

2:30 PM: Reinvigorated and back to the exhibits! Katie and I did a couple more signings, picked up a couple more books on my wishlist, then we decided to head back around 3:30. Just as we were about to leave we spotted The Cat in the Hat, so of course we had to take a picture (sorry, it's blurry):

The walk back to the metro was TORTURE, but we made it. All I can say is: I can't wait to drive. 5:30 PM and I'm back at home and never more grateful for a comfy bed.

I'll go into more detail in my In My Mailbox post this week, but here's a quick picture of what I got:

It doesn't look like much from this angle, but I counted for a total of... 40 books! Recall: grabbing-mania at the beginning. Despite all my complaints and sore shoulders, ALA was incredible and I'll definitely have to make it to BEA one day! :D