One of my favorite conferences I’ve attended twice in the past few years is ALA (the American Librarians Association). You guys, it’s like this massive convention of the nicest people you’ll ever meet – namely, LIBRARIANS, in their natural book habitat, NOT being quiet. It’s also one of the main places publishers go to display (& give away) their upcoming releases – so basically, you get this conglomerate of authors signing books that are not-yet-out, librarians talking books, publishers offering books, and aisle after aisle of…lots of beautiful books.
It is Disneyland for readers.
This year they hosted ALA in Chicago – a city in which I’ve only ever spent time running through their airport but never outside to see any sights! Hence, this was an enormous treat. And oh friends… I. Am. In. Love!! What an enchanting world!
Also enchanting was getting to see some of my author besties. <3 Including this girl.
As if the universe didn’t already know what a rockstar Maggie Stiefvater is – let me remind you. She drove 12 hours (12!) and arrived one minute after my plane touched down at O’Hare airport. (In fact, I think she texted me while my plane was taxiing, something like – “Check THAT timing out for rockstar status, Weber” – and then pulled up in this.)
We met up with the ever-precious Courtney Stevens at the tiny Airbnb the three of us stayed in, which was for all intents and purposes an actual castle – and was begging for either a murder or a movie production. So clearly it was fabulous.
Please note – IT EVEN HAD CROWNS.
Saturday at ALA was a whirlwind! So fun – and full of meetings, signings, and a stage talk. I was honored to share the latter with my amazing friend, Sara Ella, where we chatted about themes in Fantasy & Sci-Fi, and gave book recommendations. <3
I was also thrilled to sit in on Sara’s signing of her latest book – UNRAVELING!! It comes out next week – and if you like fantasy and romance, this one’s definitely a keeper!!!
I feel like it should be a truth well-promoted that readers, bloggers, & librarians have some of the most hilarious (& wise) hearts. They are so full of joy and a willingness to chat – and getting to meet some for the first time during my signing – and meet others I’ve only known & admired online – was the absolute highlight of the whole trip. <3
This year I was signing new release copies of THE EVAPORATION OF SOFI SNOW, but a number of bloggers had also brought the STORM SIREN TRILOGY in their luggage to get signed too! And that may have made my heart swell and eyes cry. (Shutup. Don’t mock me for fangirling over nice humans!)
Annnnd when I finished? I turned to discover Kwame Alexander getting ready to sign his latest!
You guys. This human. He and his family are beautiful, kind, inspiring hearts that y’all should follow through life. <3
It should also be known that across from us were the gorgeous Angie Thomas and Veronica Roth.
Another highlight was finally meeting the lovely HarperCollins’ Spanish team, who promptly took it upon themselves to (1) entertain us with their fantastic humor, and (2) educate us on the “most authentic Columbian food in Chicago.” And plantains are now my new thing, you guys. Omg.
Such a treasure to spend a full day and dinner with my Thomas Nelson, HarperCollins marketing team – Allison (head of publicity) & Paul (head of marketing). I owe these two a ton of gratitude and accolades. They’re both generous, funny, and keep my book-world in balance. Love them dearly. <3
Also, in case the entire world didn’t hear me squealing Sunday morning, I finally got to sit in on a Brene Brown talk!! Score one hundred for the bucket list. When she was finished, I actually walked out of her conference room in total silence (me not talking – whaaat?!). Just so moved.
Man, what a gift she is.
And of course one does not leave Chicago without trying the pizza!! On Sunday, Maggie, Courtney, & I all found this place.
Which I walked blocks and blocks to get to.
In stiletto heels.
While they made fun of me.
Until I stabbed them with said heels. (NOW who’s laughing, Stevens?)
Honest assessment? If I could eat this pie every day I WOULD. Wow.
The pizza was followed by the SECOND most recommended thing to do while we were in Chicago – a sunset, architectural riverboat tour. Basically – this baby was an hour and a half of sight-seeing the city by boat, while historical minds explained the genius architects behind the buildings. Truly fascinating & beautiful. Thanks to the sweet librarian ladies for suggesting it!
Did I mention Chicago’s enchanting?
Oh! And the two books I finished on the plane were both MUST-BUYS. <3
Thank you for the beautiful sights and weather, Chicago!! And thank you Librarians, Author friends, and Book Bloggers for your kind hearts and generous spirits. Y’all bless me beyond reason. <3 And thank you, dear Publisher, for taking me. <3 <3 You all are more than I deserve. <3 <3