October 25, 2010

KidlitCon: In Which I Wander around Minneapolis

Like last year, I had had marvelous, wonderful, amazing,
exhausting time at KidlitCon 2010. And like last year, the best part of it all was the times in which a group of us -- three, four, seven, a dozen -- sat around chatting and drinking (well, them, not me) and talking about everything from books to blogs to politics to TV. The reason I want to keep going to these is not so much because I learn at the conferences -- though I do; I came home with ideas and ruminations on publisher-blogger relationships, how to improve my blog, and the desire to actually read more of what I love and not worry so much about what is popular -- but because the people, the community, of kidlit bloggers and authors is so wonderful.

I got in Friday, which was an amazingly beautiful day, and did some wandering around. None of which was planned -- I was looking for the hotel, but forgot to get the address/directions, and so spent a good part of my morning wandering downtown looking for it, and then (once I found it), went looking for the Mississippi River... in the completely wrong direction. The upside? I found some lovely fall trees.

I met up with Pam (Mother Reader), Liz (A Chair, A Fireplace and A Teacozy), and Laura (Pinot and Prose) for lunch and drinks and stimulating conversation before heading over to the Loft for the first session: a very hilarious, very interesting (even for a non-writer) discussion with Maggie Stiefvater and her two critiquing partners Brenna Yovanoff, and Tessa Gratton. I'm sure there was some deep discussion and interesting nuggets, but I never got past how funny they all were. I also sat in the back, which was not conducive to getting pictures.

I didn't get any pictures from the Saturday sessions, either (ha, but other people did! Check out the photos on Flickr); I was too busy listening and talking and didn't remember that I should have taken pictures. But, I did snap one of Maggie this time.

She spoke about the 8 things she's learned about blogging. The best-remembered (re-tweeted) advice? Never blog tired, sick or drunk. You wouldn't think it needs to be said, but it does.

(That said, I'm breaking her rules right now, being both tired and sick. But I'm not drunk, so I figure that counts for something.)

I'm not going to sum up all the sessions I attended, but a few highlights:
  • In the Blogging the Backlist, Charlotte (Charlotte's Library) mentioned that when she blogs about books she loves, she feels that it gives her readers as sense of her personality. I need to find a balance between blogging the "hot" books, as well as blogging books that I love.
  • The publisher's panel after lunch was a great discussion about the relationship between publishers, authors and bloggers. Things publishers look for in a blog: a readily available (top right hand corner, please) statement of what you like to read. That you have a pet turtle (or in my case, that I stay home with my girls and like to read, period), is not helpful. Also have your email address available.
  • That said, there was some discussion about when a review of a new book should go up. Publishers, for obvious reasons, want buzz right around the review date. And yet, they're also looking for blogs that go beyond the "me too" reviews. I think there's value in reviews 3 or 6 months, or even a year (or five), after a book is published, because I'm writing to spread the love of reading and books, and not to sell them. It's a conflict that I'm not sure will ever be resolved.
  • The session in which a couple of the authors from From the Mixed-Up Files
    was interesting, even if it wasn't really applicable to me. I just think it's wonderful to see middle grade books and authors finding a (bigger) place in the kidlitosphere.
  • I didn't go to the Book Tour session, but I followed it on Twitter. The one thing that I got out of it is that I need to be better with researching authors before asking questions. And not asking generic "did you always want to be a writer" questions. I do okay with some authors, but not so great with others. I'm curious: if you do author interviews, how do you come up with questions for them?
Dinner afterward was a blast. I managed to snag a picture of our table, which was hopping with lively discussion. Going clockwise from the lower left hand corner: Janet Fox, Jacqueline Houtman, Liz, Charlotte, me, Carol Rasco (who has the most wonderful Arkansas accent; I loved sitting next to her and listening to her talk), Jen Robinson, Maureen (Confessions of a Bibliovore), and Pam.


I did eventually find the river, in case you were wondering...


I'm sure as the week goes on, there will be more highlights put up. I'll try and link to them as I find them. At any rate, many, many thanks go out to our wonderful trio of organizers: Brian Farrey (Flux), Andrew Karre (Carolrhoda Books) and Ben Barnhart (Milkweed Editions), and held at The Loft, which was an amazing building in its own right. They did a fantastic job.

Here's looking forward to Seattle next year!

6 comments:

Michelle said...

Out of all the awesomeness that Kidlitcon provides, educationally speaking, what I was most disappointed at not being able to participate in was the personal interaction. I got some great info through the Twitter stream so it was like I was there, but seeing all the pictures of dinners and what not made me long to be there with you all.

I'm glad it was a fantastic weekend (though sorry you're sick)

Melissa said...

I agree, Michelle: it's the face to face interaction that makes these so worth while. And thanks: I think I'm on the mend.

aquafortis said...

I love the face-to-face interaction, too--definitely one of my favorite parts of the Kidlitcon--and it was great to meet you in person!

I loved the recap--glad to hear the MG panel was good. I was really torn about which one to go to during that particular time slot.

Hope to see you next year!

Jen Robinson said...

Those hanging around having a drink times are my favorite part of KidLitCon, too, Melissa. It was great seeing you again! Looking forward to next year. And thanks for posting the group photo. My Mom enjoyed it!

Charlotte said...

I'll try my best to come to Seattle too--it's such a nice change from regular life, to be able to talk books incessently!

Melissa said...

Charlotte -- you're right; it is wonderful to talk books so much. And Jen -- I'm glad your mom liked the pic!

And Sarah -- I was torn, too. I suppose, one of these days, I'll actually get a phone/bring the laptop, so I can tweet (and follow the tweets) during the sessions, so I can at least feel like I'm in more than one place at one time.

It was good to see you all, too.