Posts tagged ‘ala’

July 1, 2011

ALA Conference Highlights

So, what did I do at ALA, besides swoon at David Levithan and go on an awesome ghost tour? It’s kind of a jumble! The conference was so overwhelming, and I also wanted to get in some NOLA tourism, so I definitely didn’t get to see or do half the stuff I wanted to do. (Like, I missed seeing Stephanie Perkins and getting an ARC [Advanced Readers Copy] of Lola and the Boy Next Door. And I saw Daniel Handler but missed getting an ARC of Why We Broke Up. And, saddest of all, John Green did not attend ALA after all, breaking the hearts of thousands of librarians.) But mustn’t dwell. Here’s what I did do and see:

  • Saw Jeff Kinney (Diary of a Wimpy Kid) give a presentation and Q&A. He seems like such a genuinely nice guy, and completely taken aback and flattered by the massive popularity of his books. He also spoke about why he keeps his day job on the website Poptropica, which I guess is an interactive game. He said he loves having a different medium through which to tell stories, and even though it’s stressful to have two jobs he thinks it’s worth it. Oh, he also said that he would like to have ten Wimpy Kid books and then stop.  My favorite part of his session was a young boy (who must have a librarian parent) asked him how he got the pages of his books to look like notebook paper. That’s totally the kind of thing I used to wonder about reading books–like how in the Babysitters Club books sometimes there would be handwritten letters. How did they do that? (The answer is: computers.)
  • Went to the YA coffee klatch event. It was cool, but honestly a little disappointing. The idea was librarians sit at a bunch of tables in a big ballroom and drink coffee, and every four minutes a new author comes to sit down and talk. It was just a big whirlwind, really, and I wished we could have had a few more minutes with each person, but I did get to meet Maureen Johnson (and see her wear a Burger King Twilight crown), Jay Asher (Thirteen Reasons Why), and Carolyn Mackler (The Earth, My Butt, & Other Big Round Things).  Also some new authors. The one I’m most excited about is Leila Sales, who has a book coming out called Past Perfect, which is about teenage historical reenactors. It sounds awesome.
Maureen Johnson & her crown

Maureen Johnson, Queen of YA, doing her best Bella Swan impression

  • Went to signings and met Maureen Johnson, Jay Asher, and Carolyn Mackler again and got ARCs of Maureen’s book The Name of the Star and the one Jay & Carolyn co-wrote called The Future of Us.
  • Shared an elevator with David Levithan and, I’m almost certain, kept my cool about it.
  • Went to a workshop about transliteracy and had some librarians tell me that the digital divide is like a seashell and sometimes you have to teach people how to use the mouse before you can teach them how to use Microsoft Office.
  • Handed out my business cards six times, although once was to my friend Stacey and I wrote “sext me” on it, so that one probably doesn’t count as “networking.”
  • Shamelessly picked up tons of free stuff.
daniel handler

Daniel Handler, aka the elusive Lemony Snicket

  • Saw Daniel Handler (aka Lemony Snicket) read an excerpt of his new YA novel, Why We Broke Up, which features paintings by Maira Kalman (13 Words). (Although, like I previously whined, they ran out of ARCs and I didn’t get one! Boo-urns!) It sounds really funny, though. And his own little comments and asides were perfect and hilarious. I love him. Example (recreated from memory… was funnier when he actually said it): “Hollywood has optioned Why We Broke Up, which is a thing that Hollywood does sometimes where it pretends like it wants to make a movie out of your book but usually it doesn’t really. Anyway, one of the concerns that Hollywood has about this book is that it portrays teenagers drinking alcohol. They are afraid that if teenagers in real life see teenagers drinking alcohol in film, they too will want to drink alcohol. Here is what I say to that, and what you should say, when teenagers, as they so often do, come to you, as adults, for advice. I have had alcohol, and I have had my heartbroken. That is not a coincidence. If you drink alcohol, you will get your heart broken. It is far better to stay sober, and passionless, and alone. So teenagers, do not drink alcohol.”

I also met Jackson Pearce (author of Sisters Red and others) standing in line to get a book signed by Maureen Johnson. That weirded me out, like I assumed that all YA authors would automatically be in the same club and not have to wait in line to see each other. I had this interaction with her:

Me: Excuse me, is this the line for Maureen Johnson?
Jackson Pearce
: Yes.
Me (looking at her name badge):
Okay, thanks. And, um, are you Jackson Pearce, the author?
Jackson Pearce: Yes, there aren’t too many of us with this name.
Me (awkwardly)
: Oh, um, cool! I really like your books!
Jackson Pearce
: Thank you!
Me (still awkward and confused)
: Um, are you having a signing sometime?
Jackson Pearce:
Oh, I had one yesterday, and we already ran out of copies of Sweetly (her upcoming book).
Oh, too bad! Um, nice to meet you?

And then I kind of awkwardly was going to shake her hand but we were both holding books and I kind of shrugged and then got in line to see Maureen Johnson. Oh well, what can you do?


Later I got this free lollipop to commemorate Jackson Pearce's new book. Pretty sweet. GET IT?

All in all, it was a fantastic weekend and I’m so glad I went! I just wish I could have cloned myself so I could have gone to all the workshops and all the signings and all the paranormal tours! Being in the same place with 20,000 librarians is a trip. There is a definite “librarian look” and “librarian personality” and we were all just sort of dressed sensibly, yet quirkily, and all very polite. And many, many of us were constantly on our smartphones, livetweeting our conversations about the power of social media and #hash-tagging them.

June 28, 2011

ALA: Ghost Tour

This doesn’t really have anything to do with YA stuff, but it happened to me while I was at the ALA conference. I no longer have a personal blog, only a personal Twitter, and this is the first thing I’ve ever put on Twitter that I really felt like needed to be saved somewhere besides Twitter.

I am talking about our GHOST TOUR. There are a variety of themed New Orleans tours available: Vampire Tour, Swamp Tour, Cemetary Tour, GHOST TOUR. My friends & I mulled it over and decided that the GHOST TOUR sounded really cheesy, but also like it would be entertaining. And even though we probably wouldn’t see any ghosts, we figured at least we could see some of the French Quarter and hear some cool historical stories.



I think I am just going to tell this story by reposting all of my tweets, which I rudely (but necessarily) posted throughout the entire tour. (If you’re not familiar with Twitter, using the # is a way to label your tweets. For example, you can search Twitter for #ala11 to see everything tweeted about the ALA 2011 conference. Or you can search #ghosttour to see all the tweets about ghost tours. You get the idea.)

ghost tour

Getting ready for the ghost tour!

  • “I hate haunted houses!” “Me too!” “Why are we going on a ghost tour?” “I like real ghosts.” “I don’t like to be touched by surprise.”
  • “‘Touched by surprise’ sounds like a 90s pop song.” “I hope it’s the new Justin Bieber song.” #touchedbysurprise
  • Our Ghost Tour guide: “This is parapsychology, not science. You can’t put a ghost in a petrie dish. I look forward to the day we can.”
  • Guide: “We’ll see a multi-million $ haunted house.” Me: “IS IT NICOLAS CAGE’S HOUSE?!” Guide: “… yeah.” #haunted #yessss
  • Also everyone besides me & my friends quit the tour already. Or got ghosted?! We think it’s the guide’s first day. #stillawesome
  • Me: “Do you know where Live & Let Die was filmed?” Guide: “Yeah, we already passed it.” Me: >:( #worstghosttourguide
  • Sam: Is this everyone? Guide: Yeah, everyone else left the tour. Me: They couldn’t take it when shit got REAL.
  • Ghost Tour guide (plaintively): “I wish I were better at telling ghost stories.” #ustoo
  • Guide: “I think the reason people don’t see many ghosts here even though it’s so haunted is it’s crowded & our electromagnetic fields….”
  • “… tend to interact with ghosts and repel them.” #ghostscience
  • “I’m thirsty. I’m going to die & haunt a water cooler.” “Ghosts can’t interact w/ water. They’re noncorporeal.” “I’m so glad you said that.”
  • YESSS FINALLY, NIC CAGE’S OLD HOUSE. IT HAS A TRULY EFFED UP HAUNTING STORY ATTACHED TO IT. [You can read about this house and its horrifying story from someone else.]
haunted house

Nic Cage's creepy haunted house

  • The tour guide’s friend, inexplicably dressed like a Newsie, has joined us on the rest of the ghost tour.
  • OH DUH the guide’s friend is a ghost. That explains his Newsies costume.
  • “Would that guy be offended if I asked him if he was a Newsie?” “Just ask if you can buy a pape.” #newsieghost

I didn't really mean to take a pic of the Newsie (far left, obviously) but I'm so glad I did.

  • Guide: “Now that this tour is over, I’ll confess that this is the first time I’ve given a solo tour.” #obvi #wecouldtell
  • I forgot one key piece of info: halfway through the tour our guide started smoking a corncob pipe. #wtf

We survived the Ghost Tour. Barely.

Honestly, I had an awesome time on the tour, which is no doubt partially thanks to the enormous Hurricane I drank during the tour. But also I was with a group of people who had a good sense of humor about how ridiculous the tour was. Oh, goodness. Anyway, so, I guess I would probably recommend taking the New Orleans Haunted History tour, because even if you don’t see any ghosts or receive a fully-trained tour guide, you can still have a really enjoyable evening.

June 25, 2011

ALA Dispatch: Series Fiction & Claudia Kishi’s Wardrobe

Hello all! The ALA conference is going wonderfully. I’m so happy to be in New Orleans with so many rad librarians (and my non-librarian friend Arianna, who is graciously hosting me even though I won’t stop telling her about YA things that she doesn’t really care about.)

Anyway, we’ve only been at the conference one day, but I wanted to post about the session I attended last night, because it was wonderful! The session was Keep ‘Em Coming: Series Fiction Creators Talk Shop. The panelists were:

  • Dan Gutman (Baseball Card Adventures, My Weird School)
  • David Levithan (Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist; Will Grayson, Will Grayson; The Lover’s Dictionary; and, among other things, ghostwriter for Ann M. Martin)
  • Jonathan Stroud (the Bartimaeus Sequence)
  • Lauren Myracle (TTYL, etc)

I’d only heard of two of these authors (Levithan and Myracle), but all four were great speakers. I really want to pick up Jonathan Stroud’s books after hearing him talk (and not just because of the British accent). I probably won’t pick up any of Dan Gutman’s books since they are for younger readers and/or are about baseball, but they sound great for younger readers and/or baseball fans.

But, let’s talk about David Levithan, shall we! He talked about the “heyday” of series fiction in the late 80s/early 90s, when the Babysitters Club and Goosebumps and Animorphs books were all coming out once a month or even twice a month. And now publishers have moved away from that kind of “episodic” fiction, where there isn’t much character development, but the same characters come back over and over and stay in 8th grade forever and deal with Jackie Rodowski forever. (He said something about how unbelievably cruel it was to keep characters in 8th grade forever. He and Lauren Myracle both talked about how junior high is traumatizing but provides great fodder for books.) Now the trend is toward series books like Harry Potter, where there’s a smaller number of books and a definite plot and character arc. But, for example, Levithan edited the Hunger Games trilogy, and he said when he came into the office with the cover for Mockingjay, which says, “The final book in the Hunger Games trilogy!”, his adult co-workers all said things like, “Is it really the last one? Can’t she write one more?” and he said, “No! It’s a trilogy! The story is over!” But even adults have this impulse to want more of characters we like, and that’s why books like the Babysitters Club stick with us. We had more of them. We know those girls. They were our friends.

David Levithan proposes that with digital publication, we’ll see a return to this kind of episodic, book-a-month series fiction. The 39 Clues, which I have not read, is apparently a step in this direction as a “multimedia” series, where there are the books, but the characters and adventures continue online in between books. What an exciting concept!

He also talked about how in 1996, Scholastic got its first Internet connection and used it to host AOL Chats with the Babysitters. (I very definitely remember reading about those chats in the backs of books and being soo mad that we didn’t have AOL.) If you did have AOL and participated in those chats, you were talking to young David Levithan, who started off as a 19-year-old intern at Scholastic (“I was this 19-year-old man sitting on the subway reading the Babysitters Club books with a highlighter.”) He talked about how funny the chats were, since the girls already knew everything about the babysitters–which got him into trouble when he was asked about Jessi’s favorite ballet. (“The Nutcracker.” “What’s your favorite character from The Nutcracker?” “Uh… the Nutcracker?”)

“I was this 22-year-old gay Jew from New Jersey, and these 11-year-old girls were asking me, ‘What are you wearing?’ ‘Uh, Capri pants, of course!'”

Love it. Now I would please like for David Levithan to host AOL chats as Katniss Everdeen. “What are you wearing, Katniss?” “Clothes don’t matter! No one is safe!”

Anyway, after the presentation I sidled up to David Levithan and told him how much I’d loved reading my friend Amanda’s stories about his visit to her library, and all the fun facts he told her about the Babysitters Club. I told him how I got an extra hole in one of my ears to be like Claudia Kishi. “I’ve since realized that I am no Claudia Kishi, but it never healed over, so I have an extra hole in my ear because of the Babysitters Club.”

Also, THANK GOD, he told me that in the process of relaunching the BSC books and making them “time-neutral,” they made no changes to Claudia’s wardrobe, because “Claudia doesn’t care what’s in fashion.” So true!


Fear not: beneath this trendy new cover, Claudia Kishi's wardrobe remains unchanged

I also got my picture taken with David Levithan, and you bet your books (I meant to type “boots” but I think “bet your books” is actually more appropriate) that I will post it, as soon as I get it from my friend Michelle’s camera.

Edit: here it is! God, I look kind of psychotic. That is just how happy I was to meet David Levithan, I suppose!

David Levithan & Renata

My face looks as crazy as Claudia's outfits! (Topical humor.)

More about ALA later–I have to leave and go see Jeff Kinney!

June 23, 2011

ALA Conference Excitement!

Hello all! I am getting ready to leave for the biggest social event of the year (for librarians)! The ALA Annual Conference! Several of my grad school friends and I are road-trippin’ down to New Orleans to geek out with 30,000 other librarians (and librarians in training). I guess it’s my first professional conference, although when I was a senior in college I presented at the American Pop Culture Association National Conference (on why Neil Gaiman’s Sandman is awesome, which I am still happy to discuss). But since I plan to become a professional librarian, and not a professional Scholar of Pop Culture (UNFORTUNATELY), I’m going to go ahead and call this my first professional conference.

There are TONS of workshops and talks scheduled, and I’ve spent a lot of time poring over the schedule and figuring out what workshops to attend. Obviously some on networking and the job search, but what else? Some of my peers are focusing on learning about new technologies, or joining new committees. Me? I’m planning to stalk as many YA authors as possible. Here’s a list of people who will be there:

  • JOHN GREEN, the YA love of my life
  • David Levithan (there to talk about series fiction, meaning I will hopefully get to pepper him with questions about his history as a Babysitters Club ghostwriter)
  • Jeff Kinney
  • Daniel Handler (aka Lemony Snicket)*
  • Rebecca Stead
  • Laurie Halse Anderson
  • Maureen Johnson
  • Holly Black
  • Lauren Myracle
  • Other authors I haven’t heard of but who are probably also awesome

* I met Daniel Handler once in San Francisco. It went like this:

Me: UMMM, I’m sorry, I just have to ask, are you Daniel Handler?
Daniel Handler (noticeably surprised): Yes.

And then we talked for awhile. I don’t remember. It’s not a great story. But he did sign my copy of The Unauthorized Autobiography of Lemony Snicket.

(By the way, if you are an ALA member and will be at this conference, or if you are just curious, or if you are stalking me, you can view my planned ALA conference schedule at ALA Connect.)

I also created a “professional” Twitter account for “networking.” Feel free to follow @sanckenr for my “professional” “tweets” about “librarianship.” It might be the fastest way to find out if I throw up on John Green when I meet him.