What I Did at My Annual Conference

Returning from ALA’s Annual Conference, I thought I might do one of those roundups I read in other blogs — what I did, who I saw, and how it went. But just as being at conference keeps me too busy to do “live blogging” (a term I’ll never grow to like), returning from conference seems to preclude the possibility of summing it all up. There’s all the accumulated e-mail, for one. There’s my ability to remember things clearly, for two.

But even if there’s no time for a thoughtful essay, there’s always time for a list.

I did lots of demos for Booklist Online, natch, for what seemed to be a lot of interested parties. Do people say they love your product just to be polite? Well, probably, if they’re not sure how to tell you they wandered into your booth by accident and they really want to go across the way to play Guitar Hero or Dance Dance Revolution. (The photo from the right is actually from Midwinter.) This year we seemed to be talking to a lot of people from major metropolitan libraries, too.

I attended some very nice dinners as the guest of some very nice publishers. (Don’t worry, I escaped with my ethics intact. I’m not afraid to give someone a bad review just because we clinked glasses.)

That said, I really enjoyed reading a book, Heartsick, written by one of the dinner honorees, Chelsea Cain, just for fun. Bill Ott’s review was already in and I read it anyway. So sue me.

And during that dinner’s dessert, a waiter gave me a champagne shower: I got it head, shoulders, jacket, and trousers. He brought me a fresh glass, saying, “This one’s on me.” People around me were fighting to issue the riposte to that one.

At a dinner for Donna Leon (Suffer the Little Children), Sherman Alexie (Flight), and Andrew Ferguson (Land of Lincoln), I sat next to Donna Leon’s cousin, a charming lady who just happened to be a postmaster in a small-town in Pennsylvania. She intimated that she was the holder of a great many of the town’s secrets, and I imagine she is. Maybe she should write a book!

I was also the dinner guest of my own publisher. Let me just say that it was very hard returning to ramen noodles and mac ‘n’ cheese at home.

I gave a short reading from my forthcoming book, My Fellow Americans, at the LIVE! @ your library Reading Stage. It went pretty well, but I think I would have had a better turnout if they would have printed my name correctly on the program. It’s spelled “Nick Hornby.”

I was introduced by a very nice woman named Rochelle who writes the Tinfoil Raccoon blog. I discovered from reading her post-conference post that I look older than my years.

The signing afterward went better. Especially because we were giving away the books for free. But a lot of people did seem genuinely interested in the zingy back-flap description. Toward the end two teenaged boys wandered up, seemingly with the intention of “messing with the author.” Mostly it was a lot of umming on their part while we politely thanked them for stopping by. As a veteran heckler, I almost wanted to give them some tips. Almost.

After closing up shop, I headed over to the National Mall and played tourist. (And I have the blisters to prove it.) I was struck by the grandeur of the monuments, of course, but even more so by the poor condition of the grounds. The grass was yellow, the reflecting pools had trash in them, and there were fences and barricades everywhere. I had hoped to climb the Capitol steps for the view but was deterred by more fencing and, yes, a sniper. Fortunately the Lincoln Memorial is still open for business.

Where are we going next year? Disneyland, of course.



About the Author:

Keir Graff is Executive Editor of Booklist Publications and the author of five books. His most recent is the middle-grade novel, The Other Felix (2011). Follow him on Twitter at @Booklist_Keir.

3 Comments on "What I Did at My Annual Conference"

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  1. Hi Keir–Glad someone reads the blog! I was referring to John Clinch, who is in his late 40s or early 50s when he wrote Finn. I actually thought you were about 17. 😉 It was a pleasure to meet you! Will make the correction. Thanks for pointing out my Graff gaffe. –rochelle

  2. lisrochelle@gmail.com' rochelle says:

    Hi Keir–Apologies! I meant Jon Clinch and have made the correction. You look significantly younger than 45. I *know 45, and you don’t look like anyone born in 1962. Pleasure to meet you. –rochelle

  3. Keir says:

    No worries, Rochelle. People do usually think I’m much younger than I am (I’m 38), so it was funny to read what I thought was a very different opinion.

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