I know the TLA convention is supposed to stand for Texas Library Association, but it really should stand for
TOTALLY LIVE AWESOMENESS!
What happens when you connect 7,000 librarians with publishers, vendors, and authors?
A convention floor full of orthopedic shoes?
Wrong answer. Aside from the mosh pit of ARC hyenas, y0u get an amazing experience. In no particular order, here’s why you shoulda been there, Holmes…
13. The Locale: Three Words. San Antonio. Riverwalk. Fiesta.
12. Suzanne Collins: Not only did Suzanne do a question and answer session about The Hunger Games series, she also autographed books in the author’s area. She is supremely kind and gracious in greeting fans. She’s also one of the few people I’ll sprint-across-the-convention-floor-to-score-a-signing-wristband for.
Go Team Peeta!
11. Publishing People: As a library convention, TLA is second only to ALA. Most of the major publishers are there. It’s not uncommon to meet editorial staff at the booths. It’s wonderful to get a sneak peek at the wonderful new titles coming out. These folks know their stuff. They know what’s good and they know what’s hot. And they are incredibly kind to librarians! And we love them for it.
10. Maureen Johnson: Wowsa, MJ brought a million jars worth of crazy coolness to TLA this year. She spoke on a YA panel and signed at her publisher’s booth. (And don’t think I didn’t score an extra autographed copy of Suite Scarlett for a blog contest. I absolutely did!)
9. Authors, Authors, Authors: Jeff Kinney. Julie Powell. Jay Asher. We have more authors at TLA than Scarlet Whisper has jewels. The sessions and autograph area are always chock full of the very best scribes in the known universe. Don’t take my word for it, you can check out the author and speaker list here. I can’t tell you how fun it is to hear the stories and musings of these talented folks. At TLA, writers are ROCK STARS!
8. ARCS: Advanced Reader Copies are in no short supply on the convention floor. Publishers kindly supply librarians with books to preview. Here’s the thing, though. Nobody likes the hyena who snatches every book in sight and stuffs copies into her free tote bag. I’m not an indiscriminate ARC hog. I stop, look at the book, and decide whether I’d like to read and review it. Also, the booth folk are kind enough to give the ARCs, so I always try to get their input on what books they’re excited about. They know the good stuff. I’ve found more evergreens and wonderful titles this way. For example, Connie Hsu was nice enough to share a book she’s really proud of and I can already tell you, SORTA LIKE A ROCK STAR is going to be a great book. Can’t wait to review it.
I also got a copy of Charles Benoit’s YOU. You’re jealous now, aren’t you? You should be. It will be talked about for years.
7. Cynthia Leitich Smith: True confession time–I’ve been a fan of Cynthia’s blog for writers, CYNSATIONS, for ages. You can’t beat her advice and informative posts. As one of her twitter followers/fans, it was great to meet her in person. She positively sparkles with energy, enthusiasm and sweetness. And ETERNAL is shaping up to be an smashing read.
6. Panels: Let’s see. How about a panel on graphic novels hosted by Shannon Hale, Jennifer Holm (Babymouse) and Jarrett Krosoczka (Lunch Lady)? Or a YA panel with Jay Asher, Maureen Johnson, Cory Doctorow, Judy Watson, and Cynthia Leitich Smith? Or the Delacorte Dames and a Dude? Or you could hang out with my friend Candace Havens and her fellow romance authors Rachel Caine and Rachel Vincent, who hosted a steamy romance panel.
5. Jeff Kinney: Mr. Wimpy Kid himself spoke at a standing room only session. He shared the inspiration for his super popular series (I’ve been known to bogart them from my nine year old, but what of it?) and he graciously autographed afterward.
4. Vendors: Just about every library/book/publishing related product and service has a booth at TLA. Need a story teller? Junior Library Guild List? Cloud Computing Solution? TLA has it. And these folks are amazing, helpful people. They supply the tote bags, posters, and demonstrations that keep the convention floor going. A LOT of my library orders originate at vendor booths. Be kind to them and they will be kind to you.
3. Other Librarians: Connecting with other librarians is a big plus. I get to hang out with a posse of wickedly cool libraries from my district and I get to hear what’s up with librarians across the state. It’s a lot of fun. Here’s a shout-out to Caron Ervin, my library partner in crime!
2. Great Sessions: Of course, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention all the terrific learning opportunities at TLA. It’s not your grandma’s library anymore. TLA programs bring the best of technology and innovation to information professionals in the trenches.
1. Jay Asher: I got to attend his panel and get my copy of THIRTEEN REASONS WHY autographed. Jay is charming and genuine. During the signing, he even paused to chat for a second with another librarian and me. He’s met my agent and one of my favorite Twitter pals, author Bryan Bliss. Little did I know that just a few days later, I would be signing with the same agency which reps Asher. Alongside such a great author, I’m excited to be the new small fry at Andrea Brown Literary. If you haven’t read THIRTEEN REASONS WHY, you MUST! It provokes a lot of reflection and discussion. I’ve had to wrestle the book away a few times from friends and relatives.
Hungry for more?
Try this recipe for pralines, similar to the candy I enjoyed at Mi Tierra Restaurant and Bakery on the Riverwalk.