July 13, 2012

meeting the experts

Last night, as part of LauraPalooza, I had the opportunity to meet and chat with a few of my favorite Laura Ingalls Wilder experts.

Each of these authors/producers took a few minutes to talk with me while they autographed my nerd collection. While it is great any time an author does a signing, it is especially fun to talk to someone you admire about someone else you both adore.

Wendy McClure is the author of The Wilder Life. The memoir shares her
experiences of loving the Little House series while also exploring the home sites
and getting in touch with her pioneer routes. One of my good friends told me
about Wendy's book last summer when I told her about a book idea I had.
Unfortunately, it was basically the same idea as this, but Wendy did a better job
pulling it off that I could imagine. This is a funny book, and Wendy was great.

Barbara Walker is the author of The Little House Cookbook. She is basically
my hero. She was reading in the kitchen before I was alive, let alone before
I could lift a spatula. While signing my copy of the book, she offered me a few
cooking tips. She proved to be a funny lady, too, when she made me crack up
as my mom took the photo. When I grow up, I hope I am half as cute and
spunky as she proved to be.

William Anderson needs no introduction. If you are a Little House fan, then you
know the biographer, who is probably the greatest expert on Laura and her
family. My mom took me to meet Bill 15 years ago at an event in Seward, Neb.,
when I was 11. I remember talking to him, then, and having to explain to him
that I was not named after Laura Ingalls Wilder, but I simply picked out the
series at a book fair, because I was vain enough to love that the books were
about a girl named Laura by an author named Laura. He signed my copy of his
biography and the travel guidebook then, but I brought them along this year for
fun. I was surprised and pleased when he signed them again while we talked
about his memories from Nebraska, and LIW's ties to my hometown. (She, Almanzo
and Rose drove through on their way to Mansfield, Mo.) We also promised to meet
again on another university campus in 15 years. We're thinking some school in the
Caribbean. University of St. Thomas, I'm looking at you.

Dale Cockrell collaborated with Dean Butler to create "Pa's Fiddle" on PBS.
But before and since then, he researched and cataloged music featured in the
Little House books. I will write more about this later this week, but I was
completely impressed and blown away by this man's work. I am excited to
take home the CD I purchased (and there are a few more I would like to own).
Like food, music plays such an important part in the Little House books,
and his research and work highlight it. His works also highlight Laura's Pa,
who has to be one of the top five fathers ever characterized in a book.

Looking at all these photos, I'm not sure how I feel about my outfit. I was going for cute writer chic, but I kind of missed the mark. Instead I look a bit like a bit like a lumpy burlap sack in my denim dress. Oh well. One of these days I'll get the artsy creative-type look down.

Special thanks to my mom for following me around with an iPhone. She's a Droid lady, and I'm afraid I became a little impatient with her at times.

To see more photos from the Author's Reception -- or any of LauraPalooza -- and to get my live updates of the festivities, be sure to check my Facebook page and Twitter feeds.

Read my recap of yesterday's conference speakers here.

Receive Change the Word's latest updates in your Inbox. Subscribe by entering your information under "Follow by email" in the sidebar. Follow me on Twitter @lmchap or "Like" Change the Word on Facebook.


  1. I like the outfit. :) And apparently even though I LOVE your coverage of the conference, I picked that to comment on. hehe.

  2. Well I love you, which I'm commenting on! Miss you.