ALA conference–wonderful!

Holy cow, ALA was simply wonderful. The summary is below. You can find my speech here:

Got to go to dinner, ride in cabs, and chat at length with:

  1. A bunch of librarians who were complete characters. One guy named Milton Wolf who has written a lot on SFF and has been known to ski cross-country naked. Another gal named Diana Herald who had over 40 foster kids (official and non), and lives in a tire house. Then another named Edith Helbert, with whom I literally shared my meal (she had a fab pork burger, I had bbq beef brisket: I got half of her burger, she got half of my bbq). She is also in the Society of Creative Anacronism and was telling me about some war between two kingdoms she attended where the archers shot tennis ball/tube arrows at each other. Finally, Christy Donaldson introduced me in the meeting. Later she and I talked and I found out that not only is she a librarian in Happy Valley, but she loves the Sundance film festival. I’ve never gone, thinking it was probably going to be too artsy-fartsy for me, Mr. beef and bologna man. But she said I had to go and offered to go with me. So Nellie and I will probably be watching a Sundance documentary in the near future.
  2. Kathleen Doherty (One of Tom’s daughters) who runs the children’s division. Very smart. But the thing that stood out most was how warm and personable she was. She showed great affection for her librarian friends. Respects her dad immensley. Forgives new authors their fau paux. And is, among other things, a true blue capitalist. She made an argument for capitalism I hadn’t heard before, but rang true the moment she said it–there will always be corruption, but capitalism is the only structure that allows you to mitigate it because it spreads the power around. There was more, but I found it compelling.
  3. Jim Frenkel, editor who did Goodkind etc. He’s a total crack up. And seems to always get caught speeding by the cops. He threatened to tweet on me when I ordered a Shirley Temple to drink.
  4. David and Joelle Lubar, very nice folks. David tried to lead us on a goose chase, but was ultimately prevented.
  5. Ken Scholes. We love Ken.
  6. Robert Charles Wilson. Very, very nice guy. Humble. And so freaking accomplished. He’s won just about every award out there. I loved his Darwinia. Need to read his latest.
  7. Margaret Weis. Here’s someone who has written so much. It was interesting hearing about how she and Tracy go about their projects.
  8. A cabbie from Haiti who told me all sorts of nifty things about how it used to be down there. Like how cell phones are like chocolate because land lines were so bad and rare that you’d often have to call a phone station (where the phones were), have someone run down to your house and tell your family you’d call back. Then they’d have to come back on time and hopefully be there for your appointed call. Then sit in a phone box with no AC and sweat, sweat, sweat.

Saw Alethea Kontis briefly, which is always a lovely thing.

Then I got to be one of five speakers to a huge crowd. There were 300 seats, people were sitting and standing in the back. There was a lot of energy in that group and I just ate it up.

Tor made up 200 bags with a book from each author and handed them out. Of course, we ran out. And, no, I had no book, but Tor printed up ARCs. And so SERVANT OF A DARK GOD was in there with all the grown up books.

Then I got to sign. Now, I’m just a new guy. A few people had read my stuff, but most hadn’t. Nevertheless, it was simply wonderful to be inbetween Ken and Margaret putting the old John Handcock on books for a line that queued up from the table at the front of the large room to the doors in the back.

This was my first signing. How sweet was that? Being the clueless man that I am, I didn’t bring a pen. I thought they would be provided. So one of the organizers found one. It was pink. It’s going in my book of remembrance.

I should have brought all the nifty bookmarks I have printed up and am sending to various cons. Next time.

What a great experience.

Oh, and we were in this Omni hotel (on Michigan ave). I totally lucked out and got a sweet room in the 17 floor in a corner. So my bedroom had two windows out of which I could gaze at the lake, two blocks away, and all the fabulous architecture. I’ve never really spent any time in downtown Chicago. What a fantastic place.

People everywhere. Brown people, black people, white people–so many interesting people. I’m telling you, after living with a huge population of cattle, it’s nice to see a variety of homo sapiens.

And I found a blue Eddie Bauer shirt for 20 bucks.

Like I said–fabulous.

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