Texas Library Association Annual Conference

The Texas Library Association annual conference is one of my favorite youth literature events. This year, the setting was San Antonio, my hotel was the Westin Riverwalk, and my sponsoring publisher was Candlewick Press.

My husband, author Greg Leitich Smith, and I drove to San Antonio on Friday and attended the TLA Welcome Party at the San Antonio Musuem of Art. It’s not a children’s/YA literature event per se, so we didn’t know a lot of people there. But it was quite festive. The planners featured a string group outside and a horns group inside. A Mexican buffet was served. Guest were welcome to wander the museum, which had a wonderful collection and historic architecture.

I spoke the next morning on a YA Roundtable panel, “Magic in the Middle,” with Tim Wynne-Jones, who’s a pal of mine from the Vermont College MFA program in Writing for Children and Young Adults, and Margaret Peterson Haddix. It was my first time to meet Margaret, which was exciting. She’s one of my favorite YA authors, and I often hold up her writing as an especially good example of plot and pacing. Gary Schmidt also was supposed to be on the panel, but like a number of authors, he was snowed in up north.

My signing at the Candlewick Press booth followed, and I was pleased to hear that Tantalize sold out at the conference. Thanks to all who stopped by! Thanks also to everyone who told me how much they had enjoyed the novel!

That night, I attended the YART author/publisher dinner. The other author at my table was Lila Guzman, and it was lovely to see her.

We stayed over for the TLA Joint Publishers Reception on Friday, which was elegant. I was especially impressed by the fountain. It was held at the Hilton Palacio del Rio.

On a more personal note, highlights included:

(1) Being mistaken for Laurie Halse Anderson. Chalk it up to conference brain fuzz, but I actually didn’t realize what had just happened until the librarian had walked away. She’d mentioned reading Twisted (Viking, 2007), which I agreed was amazing (I just finished it), and the challenges of placing upper YA in middle school libraries. Jeepers. Oh, well. I’m sure she later realized the misunderstanding. And frankly, I’ve always wanted to be Laurie Halse Anderson (who wouldn’t?). So, that was my chance!

(2) Meeting for the first time A.M. Jenkins, Sharon Draper, Justine Larbalestier, Grace Lin, Yuyi Morales, Mitali Perkins, Dana Reinhardt, and Scott Westerfeld. I was beyond star struck. I also can’t stop thinking about Justine’s statement that there are fox-sized bats in Australia. I may have to visit. Really. Soon.

(3) Coming “home” to TLA. I couldn’t begin to name all the Texas librarians I’ve known and worked with over the years. How great to see so many in one place! I’m thrilled by all their efforts and proud of their success. It’s a particular pleasure to hear my out-of-state author colleagues gush about the conference and our state association.

My one lingering question: could someone please recommend shoes comfortable enough for the conference floor? By the end of day one, my feet were plotting revolt.

Author/illustrator sightings included Brian Anderson, Dianna Hutts Aston, Anne Bustard, Chris Barton, Toni Buzzeo, Cecil Castellucci, Esme Raji Codell, Kathleen Duey, Lupe Ruiz Flores, John Green, Peni Griffin, Helen Hemphill, Emily Jenkins, Julie Lake, Debbie Leland,E. Lockhart, Patricia McMahon,Elizabeth Garton Scanlon, Leda Schubert, Don Tate, Tim Tingle, Jerry Wermund, Kathy Whitehead, and Jennifer Zeigler. My apologies to anyone I’ve missed.

Special thanks to Candlewick Press, the YART librarians, and other TLA planners! All of your efforts were most appreciated. It was such an honor to join you all!

More on TLA

Never Sign Near Mo and Other Conference Survival Tips by Mitali Perkins at Mitali’s Fire Escape.

Suitcase? There’s No Suitcase Here… by Greg Leitich Smith at GregLSBlog.

TLA–1 from Camille at Book Moot.

TLA, Just Plain Fun by Grace Lin at The Blue Rose Girls.

TLA Today by Don Tate at Devas T. Rants and Raves. Read a Cynsations interview with Don.