ALA was the bestest conference EVAH!

Dang, that was good. ALA was absofreakinglutley astounding. How to best describe this???

Imagine the thing you care about most in the world (besides the people that you love). In my case, this is books. Specifically, books for kids and teenagers. OK, now, take thousands of people who work in the field that you love. These people have devoted their lives to your passion and care about it every bit as much as you do. Maybe even more. And get this – they are nice people; not jerks or chuckleheads. They are smart and funny and it lifts up your heart to be in their presence.

That’s what this year’s ALA conference was like for me. My only regret is that it did not last for an entire month.

I took some pictures.

Image and video hosting by TinyPic The first big event was a reunion of the Printz Class of 2000. From the left: Ellen Wittlinger, Walter Dean Myers, me, and David Almond.

Image and video hosting by TinyPic Ellen and me hamming it up. She has a new book coming out next month, Parrotfish, that sounds amazing. David looks a little nonplussed here. He is a very sweet man with an adorable accent. I overheard librarians begging him to read the phone book.

Image and video hosting by TinyPic A standing-room-only crowd came out to hear us talk about the impact the Printz has had on our work and on YA literature. It was an incredible evening for me, especially listening to Walter’s comments.

Image and video hosting by TinyPic At the party afterwards, I ran into old friend Toni Buzzeo and new friend, Gail Giles, who needs to move to Central New York so we can hang out because she is a very funny lady.

Image and video hosting by TinyPic The boys were back in town: Terry Trueman, Sweet Author Whose Name Has Completely Flown My Mind And I Feel Like A Jerk About It, and Chris Crutcher. (edited to add, thanks to input from David Lubar) The guy in the middle is Roland Smith.

Image and video hosting by TinyPic Me fangeeking about Sherman Alexie, who was at the party, too.

Image and video hosting by TinyPic Here I have somewhat recovered by composure. Somewhat.

Image and video hosting by TinyPic The next night, I lost my composure again, because Eileen Kreit (from Penguin) and I got to have our picture taken with JUDY BLUME!!!!!!!!!! AHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!

Image and video hosting by TinyPic Sherman and I spoke on a panel with Cecily von Ziegesar (she writes the Gossip Girl series) and Alyson Noel (Kiss & Blog ) The room was small and crowded but my voice was powered by a venti coffee with a double-shot of espresso so it all worked out.

Image and video hosting by TinyPic The next morning started with the YALSA breakfast. Think speeddating – 25 or so authors, 400 librarians. Many, many thanks to all the nice folks I met. I just wish we would have had more time!!! After the breakfast, they lined up the authors so the librarians could get photos of us all. This is what the wall of paparazzi librarians looked like to us. Ellen W and I called them the Bookarazzi.

Image and video hosting by TinyPic Me and my little brother, aka M. T. Anderson. I was born first, and the first letter of my first name comes before his in the alphabet, so make sure my books are in front of his on the shelf. But also make sure that his books are faced out, because they rock the universe. Yes, Mom and Dad are proud.

And I have just realized I am an idiot. Because John Green and I hung out several times at the conference. We chilled in the hotel lobby, we shared cabs, we even spoke to a bunch of teens at lunch ::waves to all the teens who ate pizza with us and asked great questions:: And we talked a lot about YA literature and life, and I really, really like him. And he signed nice things in my books. But did I remember to take photos of any of this??? No, because I am an idiot. Sometimes. Maybe he has one. John? Anyone?

Catch more ALA stories and photos courtesy of Edwards Award winner Lois Lowry, Linda Sue Park (great Newbery dinner shots), David Lubar, Paul Acampora was there, thanks to Yum-Yum, and Miss Cecil Castellucci (who has pictures of Holly and Theo – more friends I forgot to photograph!. You can also listen to all kinds of cool people on YALSA podcasts (scroll down to find them.

Know of any other ALA blogs/photos out there? Tell me in Comments!

Quick update & my ALA schedule

Storm clouds are rolling across the county, so our power should go out in a minute. Here’s my update:

1. My revision is proceeding well, despite last week’s chickenbutt moment. I won’t get the manuscript turned in by ALA, which I had hoped, but it should be there by the end of the month.

2. Father’s Day was great because I spent it with my Beloved Husband, my dad, my father-in-law, and I talked to my former husband (aka father of two of my kids). Got all the Dad-bases covered! The middle of June is the perfect time for Father’s Day. Kudos to whomever thought that one up.

3. I am running and working out again. Stress level is plummeting!

4. I leave for ALA on Friday. Here is my schedule. (Will any of you be there?)

Friday, June 22
8-10 pm Booklist Forum: “The 2000 Printz: A Reunion” at the Renaissance Washington Hotel. I am SO looking forward to this!!!!!!

10pm YALSA’s 50th Anniversary Reception, also at the Renaissance Washington Hotel. I will be the one asleep in the onion dip. I am an annoying perky morning person. I vote that the next time YALSA has a party, we make it a 5am pancake and French toast gig.

Saturday, June 23
10-11am Signing at the Penguin booth, #2710-2711

Spend an hour or two trying to get out of the convention center. (I remember the Washington Convention Center from BEA last year. It is a mammoth, ginormous building that self-replicates, adding on halls and floors every time you near an exit.)

1:30-3:30pm FOLUSA program “Teens Read!” This is where I get to meet Sherman Alexie!

4-4:40 Signing at the Simon & Schuster booth. #2111

6pm Penguin Young Readers Cocktail Party, Fairmont Hotel (I will probably not fall asleep in the onion dip. This is a good time for me, late evening.)

After the party, I’m going to have dinner with some awesome librarians. And coffee.

Sunday, June 24
8-10am YALSA Author Breakfast at the Renaissance Washington. Yes! A breakfast event!

11:30-1pm Penguin Teen Luncheon with John Green and the BBYA teen readers. Not sure if John and I will have time to hang out before or after this event. Must write to him.

Fly home and put suitcase in the basement for 12 weeks.

Rest of the Summer
1. Finish revision.
2. Eat strawberries.
3. Start a new book.

“Chickenbutt!!!!!!!” she screamed

Chickenbutt is my new all-purpose curse word. I stole it from an NPR piece I heard in which it was the “clean” curse that a truly foul-mouthed elderly great aunt used when in the presence of delicate ears. So when I say “chickenbutt,” please substitue the ugliest, nastiest curse you know so you can get the full effect of my pain, horror, and rage.

Chickenbutt, I say. Chickening, chicked-up, mother of all chickens, chickenbutt. ARGH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

::beats self on head with hammer::

Why such profanity on a gorgeous summer afternoon?

Because I lost four days of work today. Because even though I have the best computer in the world (PowerBook G4), I am an idiot and I run Microsoft (insert devil horns here) Word for Mac on it. Don’t ask me why. Just accept that I am an idiot.

You don’t want the details. They include things like a poorly designed Autorecovery system (I HATE YOU, MICROSOFT. I HATE YOU WITH THE FURY OF SHARYN NOVEMBER!), too many hours at the computer, too much coffee, blood all over the keyboard, and a lot of tears. And yes, I back up my files. In fact, I backed up on June 7th.

Seven days ago. Take away three days of not-writing because of the conference, and you are left with 4 days of words lost in the ether. Roughly 20 pages of new material, and MUCH moving around of previous stuff. Because this is the final draft, and this is the last part of the final draft, and I needed to tighten and polish. Four chickenbutting days of work.

(Don’t worry, I made up the part about the blood. Most of it, anyway.)

Those of you who having really been watching this blog closely will remember that this is exactly what chickenbutting happened in February 2006 during the last revision of TWISTED.

Actually, that is the only reason I didn’t perform a swandive from the roof into the driveway. Because what I wrote after I lost 8 hours of TWISTED (it was the most critical scene, of course, the one where he is alone in his dad’s bedroom and he almost…. you know, the scene that almost sent me back into therapy) was some of the pages that I am most satisfied with in the whole book.

So I am trying really hard to convince myself that this is going to be OK. Really.

I’ll be back when I finish fixing this disaster. Until then, BH is keeping the tea kettle bubbling and locking away all the sharp objects.


And now for something completely different

I have really enjoyed the ongoing discussion about how/if we can/should alert readers to content in YA novels that some might not want younger kids reading. I have much to think about. Please keep the opinions coming!

But it is summer. The farmers down the road just finished their first cutting of hay. Local strawberries are abundant and sweet. The days are long, but the nights are cool.

And the Japanese have launched a new flavor of soda: Pepsi Ice Cucumber.