Tuesday, April 17, 2007

TLA: Just Plain Fun

Last Thursday, I spoke at the Texas Library Association Conference in San Antonio, Texas. Laura Tillotson of Booklinks and Sylvia Vardell kindly invited me to participate in their talk Just Plain Fun:Books for Families to Enjoy session. I, of course, jumped at the chance as I've never had the honor of speaking at one of these big conferences before.

Which is probably why I was not very nervous about my speech. Over the years, I've gotten fairly comfortable with public speaking. I've done so many school visits and speeches that I am now able to speak in complete sentences in front of people (well, most of the time). However, most of my presentations are in venues like libraries and with groups like this:

So I was in for a little bit of a shock when at TLA, the audience looked like THIS:

Yikes! That threw me for a little bit of a loop. But that lovely Southern hospitality that people talk about also applies to Texans because the audience was so warm I felt as if I were speaking to a roomful of friends. Also, Laura and Sylvia were pros, their part of the program was stellar so I felt pretty confident that the audience would at least felt they got their money's worth from them.

And after my speech, the conference was, like our program title, just plain fun. I met wonderful librarians, including Heather Jankowski the librarian who brought Robert's Snow into her Houston School last year (what she did was really amazing, please take a look). I also signed books, (mainly The Year of the Dog as it was on the Bluebonnet List! Yippee!) and got to see some great upcoming titles (my new favorites include Yuyi Morale's Little Night, Piano Piano by David Cali and Hiromi's Hands by Lynne Barasch).

I also got to meet some fellow bloggers! It is strange, yet wonderful, to meet people who read my blog and whose blogs I read. It's kind of like you already know each other, even though you've just met. Some blogger and listserve people I ran into briefly include Cynthia Leitich Smith of THE Cynsations(perhaps the first blog I ever read), her handsome husband Greg Leitich Smith, Leda Schubert and Patricia McMahon. I also chatted for a while with Camille before realizing that she was BookMoot!:

And I met Chris Barton of Bartography. Recently, his blog was driving me crazy with curiosity as he has decided to keep his mysterious "SVT" book classified from the blogging world. Lucky for me, I have connections and threatened his editor with revealing her life-long secrets unless she gave me the goods. I was glad that I could tell him in person that it was only under extreme duress and torture that she gave it up.

And I'll keep it secret too...or will I? Hey, I might have just lost out on a prime opportunity, think of the damage I could've done...blackmail...secret auction...Hmm, too bad the conference is now over and I am back home, far away from Texas.


Meghan McCarthy said...

Grace, I''m glad you had a good time! Yikes, speaking in front of such a large crowd would make me want to vomit. It's always fun to meet fellow online folks iin person.


Anonymous said...

Gosh, Grace, I never would have known that you hadn't spoken at such a big conference before. You were so smooth, funny, and articulate. TLA prides itself on doing things very well, so it's great to hear that you had fun. Thanks so much for coming to TLA.

Jeanette Larson
Austin, TX

Sylvia Vardell said...

Grace, It was an honor and delight to speak alongside you. Thanks for making the trip to TLA and sharing the floor with us. I hope you know you have fans for life here in Texas!