Yes, that title is correct. This year I ventured out to my very first book convention, held in the historical and beautiful (though a bit smelly) New Orleans. The American Library Association (ALA) convention was actually several days long, but being the outsider that I am I had no clue it was happening until my friend @GReadsBooks mentioned it on Twitter.
Well, I went to researching, and discovered that it was being held just two short days away and only a couple hours drive from my house...I simply had to go, right? Yeah, I thought so too. So after some convincing from more Twitter friends (thanks @MandieBaxter and @cariblogs), I conned a coworker into making the trip with me, and at 6am on Saturday morning we were off!
The drive over was pretty quick. Google maps said 3 hours 12 minutes, but we actually made it in less than three, pulling up to the convention center just before 9am. We whipped into the parking lot and were only feet away from the entrance: SCORE! Or, so we thought.
Turns out that the convention center is GINORMOUS, and the ALA portion was in the very other end. So yeah, we had us some walking to do.
But just being inside the building and seeing all those other book lovers with bright red ALA bags hanging from their shoulders was exhilarating. It was like I had stepped out of the real world and into a place where everyone was like me. Awesome comes closest to describing it.
So when we finally made it down to where the convention was being held and purchased our Exhibit passes, we stepped through the double doors and into controlled chaos. Here is just a very tiny shot of one end of the massive hall:
If you turn in the other direction, it's about 10 times longer than that. Crazy, I tell you. Just crazy.
We had planned ahead as to which authors we wanted to meet, so right away we hopped into the line for Ilsa J. Bick, author of Ashes (which I'm reading right now and is awesome). She was super nice and conversated with each of us. She signed my book, but I don't have a pic to show you because I was too nervous to ask for one (hey, it was my first author signing...go easy on me!). But after that first foray, I was pumped for more!
We weren't there half an hour when someone said my name. I turned in shock and saw @cariblogs staring back at me! It was so great that she remembered my face and said hi. So we hung out with her, @StephPellegrin and @SW_Messenger for a while as we stood in line for THE Ellen Hopkins.
The line moved rather quickly, and soon we were mere feet from her. I purchased a copy of Crank (for only $10!) and was given a free copy of her two newest books, Perfect and Triangles. Before I knew it, it was my turn to meet the author...and yes, I was again nervous. Though this time, my friend Marj forced me to ask for a photo. Which I did. And which Ms. Hopkins was gracious enough to oblige:
This is her actually signing my books!
See how nice she was? (ignore the scary
looking man in the photo. Focus on Ms. Hopkins)
Well after that, I was ready to pull out all the stops. Marj and I separated from the Twitter bloggers (thanks ladies!) and set out to see all there was to see. And boy was there a lot. Books on top of books on top of books. It was amazing. And the best part? Most of them were being given out for FREE! How crazy is that?
Admittedly I didn't ask for many (I came away with 20 books, 3 of which I purchased), but it was cool just to be able to walk up to a booth and say "hey, do you have a copy of X?" and have it handed to you...awesome!
We also got to see THE Cassandra Clare, though the line for her to sign was SUPER LONG, so I snuck around to the front and snapped a quick photo:
Look...she smiled for me!!
We also got to meet Collen Houck, author of the Tiger's Curse series. She was so very nice and, when asked if I could take a photo with her, said "Sure!" and pulled me over!
Not sure why we seem to be looking in
We also met a couple of more authors (Leanna Renee Heiber, author of Darker Still, was awesome and hilarious and I could've listened to her all day) but didn't ask for photos for some reason. Oh well, I have the memories I suppose.
We had lunch at The Riverwalk and spent the afternoon flipping through hundreds of thousands of books before leaving. We made a quick pit stop by The French Quarter for beignets before making the drive home--which seemed to take much longer than it did going!
All in all, it was an amazing trip that I wished would have been far longer (like, days longer). I can't wait until the next convention, where I plan to stock up on photos and books!