Tuesday, May 13, 2008

TLA Retro Post/Name Dropping Blog!

Note: We are going to have to use the "way back machine" to set the stage for this blog, which was started in mid-April and saved as a draft. It then got buried. Please excuse the time warp. We now return you to the blog that should have been published in April:

Ok...so you all know I am a librarian, but did you know I was a joiner as well? What I mean is, in addition to my job, and the PhD Program and teaching the class at TWU, I have also spent the last couple years on various committees within the Texas Library Association. One of them is the Children's Round Table, the other the Young Adult Round Table. Both of these organizations promote books and authors specifically for children and teens...something I am very passionate about.

What do I do in these organizations? Attend meetings and have discussions...do presentations and PLAN...for CONFERENCE. Yes, the Texas Library Conference is a big deal! Remember, we are a big state! My main stressor this year was being in charge of the technical side of a multi-media presentation and booktalk. I didn't really do anything except provide the Power Point and run it on stage...and make a few announcements. The perks of being involved in this...and the PhD Program etc, are wonderful though, because, as have mentioned before...librarians are writer groupies!!!!!!

So Madelaine I and I got back from NYC on Tuesday, late afternoon. I put a load of laundry in, kissed the boys and Fred, gave them souvenirs, took a shower and was out the door to attend a dinner at my professor/mentor's house.

Who was there, you might ask? Why, I will tell you! Rosemary Wells the author of one of my favorites...Max's Dragon Shirt was there and very charming and personable. Jordan Sonnenblick whose work has managed to make it onto the Lone Star List for a record three years in a row was there. I love the title of his new book Zen and the Art of Faking It. It makes me smile just saying it out-loud. Rick Rioran was there and I got the chance to thank him for such a wonderful series of books! I told him that when Titan's Curse came out a couple years ago, my sons wrestled each other to the ground in order to be the first to read it. I told him that we had already pre-ordered our copies of the 4th book in the Percy Jackson series. Battle of the Labyrinth comes out May 6th. (Aside: I am not sure when our copy arrived since I didn't check the mailbox for a couple of days...BUT...as of this blogs' revision, I handed each boy a book last night, and they are both almost finished...24 hours later!) John Flannagan, author of Ranger's Apprentice was also there, but I didn't realize who he was in time to slobber on him. And speaking of not recognizing someone. You know if there is ever an opportunity to stick my foot in my mouth, I will take it! As I was walking the party with a pitcher of margaritas, making sure that everyone has something to drink, I stopped and chatted with a woman. She said the margaritas were great and what a fun party it was, I agreed. You know...normal party chit chat. Then I said to her: "You look so familiar...have we met?" She thought maybe we had, so I introduced myself...and then she introduced herself. Yup...pie on face time. Gee...no wonder she looked familiar, I had probably seen her face on the back of her books, I don't know...100 times? Probably more. Let the record show Libba Bray is charming, especially to oafish librarians. You should check out her series, which she describes as "Buffy the Vampire Slayer in Victorian England." Her series is Gemma Doyle Trilogy.

The next night, I went to a dinner the Young Adult Round Table sponsors to thank the publishers and their authors for coming to conference. I got to chat with Gene Leun Yang, whose book American Born Chinese [Photo]won the American Library Association's Printz Award for outstanding Young Adult Fiction. I got him to sign my book and he even drew a Monkey King for me! I also got to say hello to Neil Shusterman, who writes excellent fantasy and is a strong boy writer. I was shy and missed my chance to say hello to Marc Aronson and now I am really regretting it. I even purchased a clean copy of For Boys Only: the Biggest, Baddest Book Ever! I say clean copy, because Owen has used it and performed some of the experiments contained in the book...so some of the pages are a bit water damaged.

Of course, no dinner is complete without the requisite, Marianne sticks her foot in it moment. After the Libba Bray incident, I made sure to study the photo of another author who I wanted to thank and maybe snag an autograph from: Jim Murphy. His book An American Plague was probably the first nonfiction book I ever read in one sitting and made me say "Wow!" Unfortunately the person I complimented was Terry Trueman. After blushing horribly and apologizing profusely he said..."Your cute and funny, so I forgive you." But whenever he saw me chatting with someone else for the rest of the night, he commented "Don't believe her if she tells you that you are her favorite author...she uses that line on everyone!"

I did get a chance to later talk with Jim Murphy and he did sign my book. He must be a slightly twisted individual because his comment in a book about the Yellow Fever epidemic of 1793, spread by mosquitoes read: "Bzzzzzzzzz...Goodnight!"

Guess who else was there at this dinner?...my good friends Libba Bray and Jordan Sonnenblick. When Terry Trueman was teasing me later...Jordan commented, "Are you kidding...she stalks me!" I mentioned that he wasn't quite famous enough for stalking yet! (Just kidding Jordan, we all know you are HUGE in Texas and Ill.)

The evening was capped off with running into Neal Shusterman and his agent on the way out. They were waiting for a cab and well, this is Dallas, not NYC...cabs are not as plentiful. So I offered and they accepted a ride to their hotel. I felt bad for Neal though...I drive a Jetta, which is fine for my 5'2" frame. I think his 6'2?4? self was a little cramped!

Thursday I went to the Bluebonnet Award luncheon. Every year a group of TX librarian read hundreds of books and narrow them down to the top 20 which then becomes the Bluebonnet List. School aged children across the state read these books and vote for their favorite. This year's winner was Lucy Nolan's book "Down Girl and Sit: On the Road." Down Girl is a dog, so is Sit. They are definitely smarter than squirrels! The book chronicles their adventures with their humans. The book is written on a 1st grade level and I have to admit, I read this story aloud and three out of three children in my house stopped, listened and laughed.

This was a landmark Bluebonnet event for me. I have been on the Children's Round Table for the last 4 years, so have had to sit on stage twice and eat lunch on a dais. This is not fun...especially since they go around and introduce you after you have eaten, with a camera on your face to make sure everyone knows who you are...and if you have spinach in your teeth. Quite frankly, I will miss the stress of public eating.

I ran into Jordan again and he signed my book "To my subtle stalker, Marianne." Everyone is a comedian! I also ran into Neal Shusterman and got his autograph before heading out for the day.

Thursday evening I was invited by Random House to attend a dinner with some authors. I got to meet author Jarrett Krosoczka of Punk Farm, a wickedly funny twist on Old MacDonald. You should check it out! He was telling us a funny story that his friend, who is a TX librarian and at the dinner that night, had been immortalized as a cartoon character in the sequel, Punk Farm on Tour. At his prompting, I went over to her and used the old "You look so familiar..." line. Then I asked her if she knew Farmer Joe. She cracked up and said I shouldn't encourage him!

Have you ever been to one of those dinners where your wine glass was always full, the conversation lively and slightly loud, with loads of discussion and laughter? It was a wonderful dinner. We were seated with the author Rosemary Clement-Moore whose book Prom Dates From Hell, I won in a table-wide game of rock/paper/scissors. After we did the usual gush of appreciation over her book we discussed everything from the Gossip Girl series, censorship, intellectual property and how it applies to the recent J.K. Rowling law suit, and many many more topics. It was a great night. A storm blew into the area, in typical Texas style, so we ended up spending more time than we intended together. I can't remember a better evening. (Thanks Random House!)

Oh yes, and my new friend Libba Bray was there as well! Friday was meetings aplenty meetings galore. I did have to leave one a bit early so I could drive Graphic Novelist Rob Espinoza to the airport. Just call me taxi to the writing stars!Anyway...please excuse the delay of this post, but I thought I would share it with you anyway. Conference was fast and hectic as always...but I think I may have had more fun this year....at least being starstruck!

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