The One About to Pass Out at Her Desk

Man oh man, it's been a crazy couple of weeks. First, I don't think I ever blogged about this, but we totally got my sister a dog for Christmas! That's right--I'm an Auntie!!

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Miss Olivia Newton Dog was adopted from the Humane Society and is a little Frenchie (though she's built like a Boston Terrier, which is weird--then again, she's a weird little dog, so it kind of fits). So OND? I first met her when my brother brought her to the airport to pick me up. She was this nervous, shy, trembling little creature who didn't really want to be touched. Some of her reaction to humans was due in part to the fact she had just been spayed and was still a little drugged up. Actually, I take that back. ALL of her reaction was due to the drugs, because, by the next morning, she was running around, grunting happily, and demanding attention from everyone. SUCH a sweet little girl. Even my dad ("GranDan") couldn't resist those froggy eyes for very long...

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After I left Arizona, I went straight to San Diego for ALA Midwinter. ALA Midwinter is one of two big conventions held by the American Librarian Association. This one, compared to Annual (which is held in the summer and will be in New Orleans this year), is light on author appearances and mostly dedicated to promoting winter/spring books and awards. You may have heard recently that the Printz, Caldecott, and Newbery were handed out--the committees made their selections while they met at ALA Midwinter.

I'm sorry I didn't get pictures of this (next time!), but the first thing we did after settling into our hotel (The Hilton Bayfront! So pretty! So close to the convention center!) and getting a good night's sleep was set up our booth. We had a big, big booth. Thankfully, we also had some extra hands in putting everything together and sorting the hundreds of galleys that we brought with us. When I first started at my new job, one of the things one of my bosses said to me was, "You'll be amazed by how everything comes together. Once they put the carpet down, it's like magic!" And it totally was! It was very much like icing a cake. Once the carpet was down, we were all ready to start the show.

Since we ended up finishing set-up a little early, I got to go to the zoo with two out of three of my bosses (the other one was back in the office). I was SO FREAKING EXCITED about my first trip to the San Diego Zoo... until my mom pointed out that I had been there before. Like, two, maybe even three times.

Zero recollection of this people. Zero.

Anyway, later that day the convention opened, beginning what can only be referred to as The Running of the Librarians. Since this 5-8 PM window was the only time during the convention that no one had any meetings, EVERYONE was on the floor. It calmed down considerably over the next few days, when the attendees had previews, meetings, and discussions to attend throughout the day. You can see some pictures of the different children's book publishers' booths here.

Let me tell you, I LOVED talking to bloggers, librarians, and the other authors wandering around, but it is EXHAUSTING to be on your feet from 7:30 AM or so to 5 PM. Padded carpeting makes all the difference in the world, for real.

We had a few late nights here and there depending on where we went for dinner. We also had one big party for an upcoming release we're all excited about, and a big ol'Librarian dinner, during which I got to hear all about when Harry Potter was first acquired in the United States and the librarian perspective on the digitalization of books and reading. Librarians? AWESOME. They were so welcoming and were very patient with all of the questions I had for them. Not to mention they're all just terribly smart and funny people and a blast to spend time with.

We had a couple of weird things happen while we were there. During set up, one of the support beams actually fell on one of the publicists that came with us, and narrowly missed giving her a concussion. I can't remember which night it was (they've all blurred together!) but around 2:30 AM I was awakened by a man's voice blaring through some unseen speaker in my room. (I legit thought there was a strange man standing in my doorway yelling at me!) The announcement was something like, "False alarm. Please return to your rooms and resume your previous activities." (He actually said that last bit!) But only one floor heard the actual alarm go off, and I was convinced the next morning that the guy had said, "The fire in the closet has been contained." Soooo... yeah. It wasn't really a fire, by the way--someone had just brought a smoke machine with them to their hotel room. Which... what? And, why?

My favorite morning--even though I had to get up at 5:30--was Monday morning. Now, the way award notifications work is that some award committees finish early and notify the publishers on Sunday, or even Saturday. So we knew about some of our awards and honors going into Monday, but not if we had won the Caldecott or Newbery. We were all supposed to meet in one of my bosses' hotel rooms at 6:30 AM to sit and stare at her phone, praying for it to ring, but I got down there at about 6:20. And, good thing! They actually called around 6:25 with the news we had won one of the BIG awards and, like that wasn't enough, an honor, too. We were all screaming and jumping up and down and trying to call into the office to give everyone the news--so, yikes, sorry people trying to sleep next door!

At about 7:15, we all started to make our way back over to the convention center to the awards press conference. We couldn't reveal that we had won any of the awards--we just had to keep our poker faces firmly in place. So we sat, and waited, and sat some more. When they finally got to announcing the Big Award, I swear my heart was about to jump out of my chest. I was so nervous, which made NO SENSE seeing as I already knew our book had won it. But, ahhhhh... we got to start screaming again when they finally announced it to the world. The poor librarians sitting in the rows in front of us!

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We were originally scheduled to leave the next morning, but because of Big Award, we had to switch our flights to a red-eye. The over-hyped snow storm also played a role in the decision, because some of the airlines were cancelling flights left and right that day and rescheduling for Thursday departures. But we wanted to be back in the office for the toast to our winners and because the Big Award Winner was going to be there live and in person!

We also discovered that Big Award Winner, for the first time in eleven years, wasn't going to get to be on the TODAY SHOW with the other Big Award Winner. They got bumped because the show claimed that there was "no interest or time" available for them, but they apparently had time for Snooki. So, yeah. Not so awesome.

I was pretty much a zombie on Tuesday. I only got about two hours of sleep on the plane, and when the driver dropped me off at my boss' apartment, I got lost trying to find my way home. Even though I've lived in my apartment complex for, you know, like two years. It was dark! I was tired! I can't see anything with my glasses! Everything looked exactly the same snow on the ground!!

Anyway, things are starting to settle down again. Thank goodness for the long weekend, though. I still have to finish unpacking!