I'd never been to ALA's Midwinter conference before, so it was an interesting change of pace from the annual conference. A lot of committee meetings and discussion groups as opposed to panels. The reason I'm really really glad I went though is the Author Forum put on by the Exhibitor's Roundtable. This year the authors were Mary Doria Russell and Geraldine Brooks.
Mary Doria Russell was absolutely fabulous! I've read all of her books and she writes serious books so I wasn't expecting her to be funny. But she was. She made me laugh so many times during her speech that I lost count -- she referred to librarians as "pushers" and carried the joke through her entire speech. And her delivery made it funny. After the forum, the exhibits opened and I went to see if they had any copies of The Sparrow that I could buy and get her to sign. Well, they had advanced reader copies of Dreamers of the Day, her new book! So I got it for free and she signed it. (Bablelbabe, I tried to get you one but they only let you have one and when I went back the next day, figuring they wouldn't remember me, they were all gone.)
Geraldine Brooks was interesting too, just not as funny as MDR. Even though she has written several novels, she still sounds like a journalist. She made her new book, People of the Book, sound really interesting even though I've read it's kind of "blah," so I bought it and had her sign it. No arcs since the book had already been released, but it was half the price I would have paid in a store.