November 11, 2013

KidLitCon '13 Recap, Part I: The Part with the Pictures

There may only be a Part I, actually. I should probably self-flagellate back into my Work Cave of Exile for the next 2 weeks, and in fact, it's possible you may only see me briefly after this until Nov. 25, the Deadline Date of Doom. (Yes, I like giving things dramatic titles.) However, I did want to post some pictures from KidLitCon Austin this weekend while I'm still riding high on the fabulousness of having gotten together with my blogging kindred spirits to compare notes on two of our favorite things: kidlit, and sharing kidlit.

Jen and Pam at the registration table
You are all the most lovely people. We have such an amazing community, I can't believe it sometimes, but Kidlitcon always reminds me how incredible it is.

"Kindred spirits" is the two-word phrase Leila used when I asked my roundtable panel to describe what they felt was the greatest thing about the kidlitosphere. And I couldn't agree more. It's one of my favorite parts of the Kidlitcon experience. This year was no exception: sharing SFF opinions (and cringeworthy first lines) with roomie Charlotte, getting caught up with Lee Wind on his many wonderful projects (and his gorgeous family), meeting Paula of Pink Me's book-toting sons, renewing good friendships with regulars like Pam and Jen and Maureen and Melissa and Sheila and Kelly and Camille and Katy, finally meeting old blogging friends Chris Barton and Leila Roy and finding out that kindred spirits are everywhere. Oh, there's more, much more. Great conversations abounded. I met Jennifer Donovan of 5 Minutes for Books, Kelly's blog partner Kimberly Francisco over at Stacked, Sherry Early of Semicolon, Rosemond Cates of Big Hair and Books, authors Margo Rabb and PJ Hoover, serious blogging bigwig and all-around amazing person Jen Bigheart, Guys Lit Wire frequent commenter Liviania--aka Allie--of In Bed With Books.

Cynthia enlightens us on writing and blogging--a perfect start to the day
Really, that isn't even all of it. Did you know many a kidlit blogger is addicted to Candy Crush Saga? I seriously cannot start on that. I had a major Tetris addiction growing up, and have loved games like Mean Bean Machine and Jewelbox and Columns and whatnot. I'd lose weeks of my life.

Cynthia Leitich Smith is a GEM. We all knew that. But her keynote, "Blogging on the Brain," was not just a throwaway inspirational speech but full of heart and full of fantastic tips for all of us bloggers from someone who is an inveterate blogger herself, devoted to sharing information. I especially liked these:
  • Re: her own writing: "It was time to change perceptions or I couldn't write many of the stories I wanted to write."
  • Re: building a successful blogging platform: "We associate consistency with credibility," and "You can build an audience by playing to your strengths." 
  • Re: the potential dangers of engaging with critics online: "Blogs are a battlefield, so pick your battles and pick them wisely." 
Kimberly and Kelly of Stacked discuss the importance of critical reviewing
Jen and I presented on Fighting Blog Burnout, and hopefully sharing our stories and strategies was something others could relate to and benefit from. I moderated a panel on where we've been and where we're going, us folks in the kidlitosphere community. I learned about Soft Sell Marketing from Molly Blaisdell, who knew just how to pique my interest by using Malcolm Gladwell's The Tipping Point as a point of departure. And I broadened my knowledge of Critical Reviewing and Middle Grade Books.

Blogging the Middle Grade Books with Katy, Charlotte, and Melissa
And, of course, I came out of it feeling energized about blogging again, which is always one of the great benefits of attending. I feel like one of my big goals for after my rewrite is turned in will be to spend time thinking about my own blogging and what I want to do going forward, and to get my blog READING under control, too--getting back into it a little more, even if it's just in small ways.

Lastly, not to get overly sentimental here--because the curmudgeon in me hates that--but I got a little teary last night when I got home, thinking about how I have all these wonderful online friends and yet we live so far away from each other geographically speaking. At the same time, without our blogging we would never have met at all, would never have found this community of kindred spirits.


Jen Robinson said...

I'm in the middle of a post that focuses on the Kindred Spirits aspect, too, Sarah. And I'm grateful that we at least have the chance to see each other a bit more often than once a year. It was so great having so much time with you this weekend!

Sarah Stevenson said...

Ditto on all counts, Jen! I hope we'll see each other soon.

Charlotte said...

It was so lovely to really meet you for reals, Sarah! And I hope the next few weeks go well for you...

Liviania said...

Great writeup! And Leila did really well with those words.

Unknown said...

It was great to meet you. Let me know if you ever get down to Houston to the other community here.

Sherry said...

Yes, Leila nailed it with the "kindred spirits" terminology, in response to your good question. I think we'll remember this conference as the Austin Kindred Spirits KidLit conference.

Unknown said...

Lovely post. I'm getting a little teary thinking about all the kindred spirits, too. Sherry - I love "Austin Kindred Spirits Kidlit Conference!"

MotherReader said...

You got me a little teary now.

Honestly, it was fantastic spending time with you this weekend. Certainly the planning could have been easier, but I'm glad that it was with you. We did it!

Lindsey McDivitt said...

Thank you Sarah! Nice job. And to all those "teary" folks out there--At least you were able to BE there! sob.