October 20, 2014

KidLitCon 2014: Further Thoughts (and Sketches)

I meant to do this post last Thursday, but work spun dizzily out of my control, tossing me into a whirling black hole (do black holes whirl? I feel like they do) of getting-caught-up. Tanita's done some amazing posts with lovely photos of the KidLitCon last weekend, and while I can't compete with the photos (mainly because I forgot to take any...sigh) I do have a couple of quick sketches I did during sessions, which is a Thing I Do at Conferences when I'm not jotting notes. And I did jot notes, too, and was left with a lot of food for thought on blogging and on diversity.

Charlotte of Charlotte's Library--a fellow Cybil-ite and a good friend from previous KidLitCons--gave a very practical and thought-provoking presentation the first day on Finding Your Voice. You'd think this wouldn't be a problem after blogging for as long as I have (EONS!) but it really and truly is something I constantly agonize over. Here are some things I learned from Charlotte; things I'm still working through in relation to my own blogging and what I might want to do with it in the future, and making myself feel like it MATTERS:
  • What makes a blog interesting? Focus + intensity/passion + personality
  • However, in order to stand out and be authoritative, a personal approach needs reasons to back it up.
  • People will relate when you talk about what you care about--but to what extent should one talk about personal things? 
  • "Things that make the blogger a protagonist in their book journey" - that's what many readers want to see from a book blog
  • Consider who is the target audience, but also who isn't.
  • What is holding you back from writing strong blog posts? Is it diffidence? Or a desire not to hurt feelings?
Those were some big take-aways for me, especially the idea of showing one's personality through a conscious attempt to share our journey with books. Also diffidence--because I have trouble getting very personal with blogging. 

Another great session I attended was Getting Beyond Diversity, with Jewell Parker Rhodes (pictured), Hannah Gomez, and Edi Campbell. One point that really resonated with me was something Jewell said, which is that when considering diversity in books, we have to think about what we don't see as well as what we do see.  Hannah added that it's important to know your own biases as well as your readers' biases. Edi shared a list of diverse reads she recommended, and I was reminded during this session that posting a themed roundup of books is always a good thing for book bloggers to do now and again, and something I haven't been doing.

I honestly can't gush enough about keynote Mitali Perkins or the Skype presentation from Shannon Hale. They were awesome! I think my tweets are probably the best record of those particular sessions, as well as the one by the folks from #WeNeedDiverseBooks. There were a lot of provocative ideas brought up, and not-so-provocative things we should all think about and remember. A few of my tweets from the conference sessions (and a drawing of S.E. Sinkhorn from the #WeNeedDiverseBooks panel):
  • Zetta Elliott: blanket policies that exclude self-pubbed books uphold the status quo. @zettaelliott #kidlitcon
  • Diversity: Review books that you think matter. @shgmclicious #kidlitcon
  • A child's imagination co-directs story along w/writer, & accesses all 5 senses. W/movies, director is in charge. #kidlitcon @MitaliPerkins 
  • Tropes, good or bad, when repeated again and again, begin to acquire power. @MitaliPerkins #kidlitcon
  • Writing diversity: how is race defined, if at all? If not, is it assumed that white is the "default race"? @MitaliPerkins #kidlitcon
  • If you're going to cross a border of power in your story, have you done the work to authentically tell that story? @MitaliPerkins #kidlitcon
  • An important job of writers: stop being safe & scared and start telling the truth of the world. @haleshannon #kidlitcon
  • The assumption is that stories about men & boys are universal, while stories about women & girls are only for girls. @haleshannon #kidlitcon 
  • When will writers/books of diversity not be solely relegated to "diverse reads"? @haleshannon #kidlitcon 
  • Making a personal/emotional connection helps readers engage with your blog or campaign. @karensandlerYA #kidlitcon 
  • Kids need to see others, see diversity, so they can learn to be empathetic. @karensandlerYA #kidlitcon #WeNeedDiverseBooks 
  • .@karensandlerYA on reading outside our comfort zone: "I think it's good to be a little uncomfortable. #kidlitcon #WeNeedDiverseBooks 
  • .@farre talks about how diversity is more than race or culture - it's also socioeconomic status. #kidlitcon 
  • "Caring is not trying, and trying is not succeeding." @shgmclicious #kidlitcon #WeNeedDiverseBooks 
  • Bloggers have an important role in reaching people who care but who don't know where to go from there. @shgmclicious #kidlitcon 
Thanks to Unconventional Librarian Pam, I also took a SHELFIE with Mitali's upcoming book Tiger Boy, but I'll leave you to find that for yourself on Twitter if you really must see it. I always think I look weird in photos (and selfies possibly even more so) and this is no exception. Don't forget to check the #kidlitcon hashtag on Twitter to read more live tweets from the conference--believe me, they were flying fast and furious, and it was a great simultaneous discussion.

I really hope to be there next year in BALTIMORE for more amazing book talk. I always end up feeling much more energized about blogging, with all these wonderful ideas (which I currently have no time to implement, argh) and I honestly couldn't recommend this conference more if you are a kidlit or YA blogger or author. Really really.


tanita✿davis said...

I LOVE that I recognized Miss Jewell IMMEDIATELY! She was just amazing, wasn't she? I hope she comes again and TALKS more. She was just a breath of fresh air. As I said, I'd pay to be in a writing class with she AND Mitali - that would be such fun.

Sarah Stevenson said...

She was SUCH a dynamic speaker! I really thought she was just a lovely person. I do hope she comes again.

tanita✿davis said...

(Also... that's the girl from We Need Diverse Books - the hair, I got the hair and the dress, too, but for the life of me, I CANNOT remember her name.)