We have returned...and I cannot convey how tired I am right now...and what a great time we had among all those book people. In addition to the actual conference(s), there were a lot of great side-conversations and much fun.
We just got back from five days in Nashville, Tennessee, most of which were spent in the Gaylord Opryland Hotel speaking at the annual conference of the National Council of Teachers of English and the ALAN workshop (that's the Assembly on Literature for Adolescents of NCTE).
Thanks to Little, Brown Children's Books; Candlewick Press; and HarperCollins Children's Books for sponsoring Cyn and me. Thanks also to CLCD for sponsoring the panel Cyn and I were on at NCTE with Uma Krishnaswami; and to April Brannon, for moderating my ALAN panel. I also want to compliment all the organizers of both conferences -- I think I have an idea of how much work was involved (and am somewhat frightened of knowing for sure).
We flew into Nashville Friday afternoon (it's only about a two hour flight to Nashville) and then cabbed it to the Opryland. We then just had time to check in and change before a reception held by Boyd's Mills Press in honor Helen Hemphill and their other authors. The reception and dinner were held in a log cabin at The Hermitage, the historic plantation owned by Andrew Jackson.
Saturday morning, we spoke on our NCTE panel on authors' journeys (it was a blast), signed books, and did a couple circuits of the conference floor. Notable sightings included Jane Yolen, Cecil Castellucci, John Green, Emily Lockhart, Robert Lipsyte (whom I babbled to), Michael Cart, David Levithan, Helen Hemphill, Lauren Myracle, M.T. Anderson, and Kimberly Willis Holt. We also got to chat with Judy O'Malley of Charlesbridge, and Texas librarians Teri Lesesne and Lois Buckman (I can't remember if some of these were on Saturday or Sunday, so we'll just call it Saturday).
I also had the pleasure of seeing my high school AP English teacher, Mr. Vernon Mims, who is now teaching at DePaul University (He was one of my favorite teachers). We didn't have much time to chat, but I look forward to seeing him at future conferences!
Saturday evening, Cyn went to dinner with Candlewick, and I ate with the Little, Brown people at Volare, an Italian restaurant at the Opryland. Afterwards, we hit the Delta Lounge, also at the Opryland, for drinks, where I met Jordan Sonnenblick and where Cecil and Bill Sleator did some swing dancing.
Sunday we relaxed a bit and had lunch with Elisa Carbone at The Cascades (a restaurant at the Opryland). (In case you're wondering, the Opryland is this gigantic, sprawling hotel with these ten-story tall covered concourses done n various themes. There's a Delta Concourse done up like New Orleans (complete with a canal and a boat ride), a Cascades Concouse, with a huge waterfall, and a gigantic greenhouse). It's almost as if someone from the Peshtigo School decided to design a hotel/conference center. :-)
Sunday evening was the ALAN Reception (as far as I can figure, all of the attendees were invited to meet all of the speaking authors). It was a bit of a whirlwind, but author sightings there included Gail Giles, Julie Ann Peters, Nancy Garden, and Ellen Wittlinger. Thanks to all the sponsoring publishers.
After that, Cyn and I headed out with HarperCollins to F.Scott, this great restaurant/jazz bar in downtown Nashville. We sat at a table with Peter Abrahams; (Chris Crutcher and Robert Lipsyte were at other tables, but we never got a chance to talk).
Monday was the beginning of the ALAN Workshop. We didn't make it to everything, but did catch Will Hobbs talking about his new book, Crossing the Wire; and Nancy Garden, Julie Ann Peters, and Patrick Jones on a panel hosted by CJ Bott on bullying; and David Levithan, Sarah Dessen, and Brenda Woods on a panel about romance. We also caught a breakout chaired by some friendly folks at Arizona State University, on "New Ideas for Telling Tales in YA Literature." One of the featured books was Cynthia's Tantalize.
After lunch, we saw (and heard) a panel on audiobooks with Teri Lesesne, Tamora Pierce, and Cheryl Herman. Then it was time for MY panel, called "I laughed so hard, I cried: Opening Minds and Hearts through Humor in YA Books." Co-panelists were Jordan Sonnenblick, Lauren Myracle, and Emily Lockhart. It was a blast - we read passages from each others' books and then answered questions on how we write humor, our most embarrassing moments, and what other humor writers we like. It was over far too quickly. :-)
Afterwards, we caught a Mystery and Suspense panel with Peter Abrahams, Gail Giles, and William Sleator. Then there was a brief break and it was time for dinner, this time at Mambu, in downtown Nashville, with Candlewick. The guest list included Cecil Castellucci, Deborah Noyes, Don Gallo, CJ Bott, and Sharon (sp?) of Candlewick marketing. Later that night, we went on the boat ride with Cecil and John Green (both of whom bought the photo and are threatening to put it up on their blogs).
Tuesday, we caught a keynote by John Green and a panel on Anthologies with Deborah Noyes, Don Gallo, and Michael Cart. Later that morning was Cyn's panel with Paul Janeczko and Sneed Collard on "Using Picture Books to Connect Teens with YA Literature." (Very interesting, and raised points I'd never really thought about :-)). In the afternoon, we had time for a breakout with Helen Hemphill and Bryan Gillis on "Integrating Writing Instruction with YA Literature."
Then we passed out from exhaustion.
Again, thanks to the NCTE/ALAN folks for all their hard work; and thanks to all the people at our publishers, especially including Patti and Jill at HarperCollins, Victoria and Nora at Little, Brown, and Sharron, at Candlewick Press.
(There were a lot more publisher personnel, and teachers and librarians (and, as I said, fascinating side-conversations), but my brain refuses to disgorge any more specifics at this time -- if I've left anyone out, it was not intentional :-)).