Adventures in Atlanta

 

January 19 kicked off the American Library Association’s Midwinter Meeting & Exhibits in Atlanta, where the energy was high and history was in the making. Not only was the tradeshow in full swing that weekend, but so was the presidential inauguration, the Atlanta March for Social Justice and Women, the Hot Chocolate 15K/5K run, as well as two basketball games and the NFC Championship between the Atlanta Falcons and the Green Bay Packers! There was also a severe rainstorm, which slowed traffic but didn’t deter revelers and tradeshow attendees from making it to the Georgia World Conference Center.

The crowd waiting for the tradeshow to open

It was wonderful to be surrounded by “book people,” to witness the enthusiasm and excitement on everyone’s faces, to be a part of something greater, something with roots but also ever-growing branches. The crowd was made up of many industry vets and librarians with twenty-plus years of knowledge, but also a younger generation of industry folks and book enthusiasts. The spectrum of ages and interests with one love in common— books—was a heartening sight. The momentous weekend, both at the tradseshow and what was happening outside of it, reiterated that libraries are more important now than ever.

Cameron + Company sent me, Marketing & Publicity Manager Emma Kallok (hi!), to represent us at our tradeshow booth. My first ALA also happened to coincide with my thirtieth birthday, and though I was working, my special day in Atlanta proved to be a night I will never forget. Here’s my Atlanta adventure:

I should start off with a bit of backstory. Growing up, I was a great fan of the Amelia’s Notebook series, by Marissa Moss. If you haven’t read them, they are a must. You can check them out here. I actually wrote Marissa a fan letter when I was ten years old, and I was beyond delighted when I  received a letter in return, handwritten and illustrated by the author herself. Inspired by Marissa, I actually went on to write and publish a couple of children’s books of my own—with her same publisher!—but that’s another story.

That’s me (Emma Kallok) at age 11

Fast forward about fifteen years or so. I joined the Cameron + Company team last year, and in my first month at work, I went to a meeting in Berkeley about children’s literature with our distributors. Guess who started her own publishing company, Creston Books, about three years ago and was in attendance at the same meeting? Marissa Moss! Not only did I get to meet my childhood idol, but at the past two tradeshows our company and Creston’s booths were beside each other; I got to be booth buddies with her!

So when ALA came up, as well as my birthday, and unbeknownst to me, our publisher called ahead to make sure Marissa knew it was my birthday and that I was taken out to dinner that night. I will forever remember my thirtieth birthday not only as the night I got to have dinner with Marissa Moss, but also as the night I had a bit of an adventure with her. Here’s what happened:

On our way to dinner after the tradeshow, Marissa led us and a couple of our fellow small-press companions through an area that was blockaded due to the many aforementioned events. Though the other two women voiced their hesitation about us being able to get through, I never doubted that we would. Marissa Moss was leading the way! But when we came upon what we thought was our exit, we realized we actually wouldn’t be able to get out unless we turned around or went the long way around (which we had been trying to avoid of course). All that stood between us and our destination was a fence. What to do? Climb it of course. With Marissa leading the charge, we hooked our bags on the fence and climbed over, laughing the whole way and starting quite a trend; two more people followed our lead. It was awesome.

A big thank you to Cameron + Company for making my birthday so special, and thank you to the amazing Marissa Moss for making it a night I’ll never forget! I can’t imagine a better way to spend my thirtieth birthday. Here’s to not letting fences stop us and continuing to climb walls of all kinds.

 

 

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