Tuesday, March 31, 2009

TLA 2009: The Pre-Conference

I survived my first day at the Texas Library Association conference!

The day started on shaky ground. Before I could pack the car, I had to finish a short story I wanted to submit for an anthology - and the deadline is tomorrow. I needed to finish the story this morning so I could edit it tonight. Okay, the situation wasn't' quite that bad. Most of the story was written and edited. I just needed an ending that would work. Attempts 1-4 had a date with the shredder. Deadline inspiration did strike and I came up with an ending I liked.

Next, I loaded the car and headed downtown. I, of course, got lost. I always do when heading to downtown Houston. I needn't have worried. Most of my cohorts also got lost. I was the second person (out of eight) to arrive, and spent the first hour waiting around. The problem was, the person with the rugs for the booth was the most lost and arrived last. We really couldn't start to set up tables until after the carpet was in place. The wait was worth it though. We put together a fantastic booth display. (See how modest I can be?) Perhaps the "we" is a bit strong. I don't have an artistic eye. It's so obvious that no one even bothers to pretend. My job during set up is to put things where I'm told to put them. I do that pretty well.

I'd love to share a picture of our booth with you, but the pictures I took with my phone are all corrupted. I'm hoping someone remembers a camera tomorrow.

We completed set up earlier than planned and had some time to visit with each other - quite a luxury. I learned about a science fiction conference in Austin called Armadillocon. I'm told that if you are a reading kind of science fiction fan, this is a great conference because the focus is on books.

I soon waved good-bye to my boothmates and headed to the Internet Room for my two-hour volunteer stint. I had no idea what I'd be doing or what qualifications were needed. I only knew they needed volunteers, so I raised my hand. As it turns out, I had a very important assignment. I stood at the entrance with paper and pen in hand and drew a tick mark on the paper every time someone entered.

Sounds easy, huh.

I thought so, too. However, it turns out I was not fully qualified for this role. You see, people coming in had questions about what they could and couldn't do in the Internet Room. At first I couldn't answer their questions. Luckily for me, I heard the same few questions over and over. So, after the first round, I had it down.

Of course, people leaving also had questions. Those were tougher and unique. Let's just say I learned a great deal today.

We has short lull in Internet Room traffic and I was able to spend those few minutes talking to a fellow volunteer. Arlene from Spring Branch I.S.D. told me about a fascinating program she's helping to design called B.O.Y.S. - Boys On Your Story. The idea is to encourage reluctant fourth-grade writers to serve as reporters and write stories about school activities, classroom projects, and events.

Is that a great way to learn Who, What, When, Why and Where? The idea is to mentor the students and help them develop story and leadership skills.

Mentoring and leadership programs already exist for girls. Girls Inc. is one example.

On may way out the door, I came across a book with a stamp on the front that said, "Take Me Home." I opened the book to investigate further and learned a little more about a cool sounding program at http://www.bookcrossing.com/. I plan to spend some time looking into that later this week.

The full conference opens tomorrow. Conference attendees were not permitted in the Exhibitor Hall today, so no one has yet seen our lovely booth. Can't wait to see who I meet!

If you're a conference attendee, stop by booth 1744 and meet some local authors.

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2 comments:

Autumn Storm said...

Charlotte,
You are absolutely wonderful person and you give so much inspiration without even knowing you have done so. I am so glad that I have come over and started reading your blog.

Good Luck with the TLA and have lots of fun.

Charlotte Phillips, Co-Author of The Eva Baum Detective Series said...

Autumn,

You are making me blush!