IRA 2008 - Atlanta

>> Friday, May 9, 2008

Why does this picture remind me of Isaac from The Love Boat?

Tuesday and Wednesday I was in Atlanta for IRA, shorthand for the International Reading Association Annual Conference. Attendance is huge--this year a reported 20,000 educators and reading specialists!--and there was definitely a buzz wherever I went. Although that may have been the cold I had that eventually robbed me of my voice. But I'm getting ahead of myself.

Sarah Mlynowski, E. Lockhart, and Lauren Myracle sign How To Be Bad.

After doing lunch with editor Liz and then walking the convention floor (without my camera--d'oh), I was off to meet some great writers, illustrators, editors, and educators at the multi-publisher author reception that evening. It was a huge event, but I managed to catch up with John Green, meet Children's Book Ambassador Jon Scieszka, and connect with lots of uber-talented people.

After the reception I drove up to the Buckhead Barnes & Noble to see my friends Lauren Myracle, E. Lockhart, and Sarah Mlynowski sign their new YA collaboration, How To Be Bad. It's the story of three very different teenage girls on a road trip, and the craziness that ensues. Good stuff, and a super-fun trio of authors. They had a good crowd out for their event, and afterward I was invited to Lauren's parents' home in Buckhead for the launch party. If you don't know Buckhead, it's one of Atlanta's most posh neighborhoods, and that's saying something. The shindig was very swanky, and her family and friends were really terrific. Next up for the three amigos: a car trip/book tour to promote How To Be Bad. Let's just hope they don't get into as much trouble as their characters . . .

Let's do lunch.

The next day I was back at the conference, this time remembering to bring my camera. From two stories above the show floor I snapped the above pic of the dining area, as well as this view of the exhibits, although there are a lot more around the corner I couldn't work into the shot. It was a pretty big show, and it could easily take you an hour to walk every aisle, and that's without stopping to dawdle.

I was able to pick up signed copies of a few books I wanted--I grabbed autographed copies of Susan Vaught's Big Fat Manifesto and Mary Ann Rodman's Jimmy's Stars, though I missed seeing Mary Ann--and made a point of hitting the Bloomsbury booth to get a signed copy of Ophelia by Lisa Klein, which retells Hamlet from his estranged girlfriend's point of view. I talk this book up, among others, when I talk about Shakespeare adaptations on school visits, so I glad to actually meet her. For some reason though Bloomsbury decided to have Lisa Klein sign at the same time as Wendy Corsi Staub and Shannon Hale (!) so the line was longer than I expected. And me without our Shannon Hale books! We already own them all--including The Book of a Thousand Days, which she was there to sign. Dang. Maybe next time I should do my homework before I go. Lisa was cool though, and she told me she's taking on Macbeth next. Great minds think alike, eh?

Shannon Hale, Lisa Klein, and Wendy Staub sign at the Bloomsbury booth.

After Lisa's event I had a bit of time before my own galley signing, so I walked the Georgia World Congress Center one last time:

"Veni. Vidi. Vendi." -- I came. I saw. I snacked?

I know low voltage is certainly the way I preferred to take all my exams.

I was also able to spot some of the damage the World Congress Center took when downtown Atlanta was hit by tornadoes back in March. The damage was pretty easy to spot:

And once outside you could see just how many buildings had been affected.

The view from the greenspace in front of the World Congress Center.

You can see the busted windows on the skyscrapers. I think the round tower is the Westin Peachtree, one of the hotels where people stay for Dragon*Con and where the IRA Author Reception was held. The CNN building--there to catch the news as it happened, I suppose--sits in the right foreground. How odd to have a tornado hit a metropolitan area! It must have been a frightening thing.

Finally I was off to my own event, where I signed copies of Samurai Shortstop, Something Rotten, and advance reader copies of Something Wicked, which comes out this October. The Penguin booth was hopping every time I came by:

And did I remember to get someone to take a picture of me while I was signing? Of course not. That would require a brain. I was a little off my game anyhow, as by this point the near-yelling conversations I had the night before at the author reception and a lingering cold combined to rob me of my voice. I was able to croak well enough to chat with people as they came up to see me, but by the end of the hour my throat was pretty much gone.

My editor Liz Waniewski and me, back at the Love Boat bar. Outta sight!

Despite the loss of my voice, it was a great. I gave out tons of galleys and met people who had actually read my books and were looking forward to what was next.

Next up for me: the keynote speech this weekend at the Richland County Public Library Kids in Print event in Columbia, South Carolina.

Assuming, of course, I get my voice back.


Lisa Yee May 12, 2008 at 4:11 AM  

It was great meeting you. I wish we had more time to talk!

Alan Gratz May 13, 2008 at 11:04 AM  

Oh yes, I met Lisa Yee too! Hi Lisa!

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