Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Kidlitosphere 2008: A Blog Post About Blogging, Bloggers, the Second Annual Kidlit Blogging Conference, and why I'm so Happy!

Okay, it's taken me three days to process this past weekend in Portland, when I went to the Second Annual Kidlit Blogging Conference.

I met so many ubercool people - literally a whole new community of friends! I learned a ton, and got so many great ideas for things I want to do with this blog! I took some notes, and even managed to snap a few photos. So here's some of the best things I heard and learned, with pictures of some favorite folks I met (mind you, I'd make a terrible wedding photographer, as I missed some of my favorite peeps completely!)

Friday night was great fun, meeting up with folks at Powells and then going to dinner at some brewery, and then back to the hotel for pre-conference schmoozing. Stayed up late making new friends, and then after a refreshing four hours of sleep, was all set to go Saturday Morning!

So we were all set to go, pens in hand, for the first panel:

Left to right: The Lovely Readergirlz blogger Dia Calhoun, Readergirlz co-founder LorieAnn Grover (with a new blog here), The Quirky and Delightful Betsy Bird of Fuse #8 Fame, The Charming and thoughtful Alice Pope (she's the editor of "Children's Writers and Illustrator's Market"), and The Podcasting Wizard and super nice guy, Mark Blevis (who with his wife Andrea does the Just One More Book podcasts!)

Pearls of Wisdom I caught during this panel:

Betsy Bird: Find your cool niche. It's consistent writing (and posting) in that niche that gets readers' attention. Know that Editors, Agents, and Publicity People DO read blogs.

Dia Calhoun: The founding idea - conceived by Justina Chen Headley - behind Readergirlz was to provide author visits online for Teens whose schools can't afford them.

Lorie Ann Grover: The Readergirlz divas came up with a list of 12 traits they want young women to explore, and those qualities help guide the selection of the books they (and their postergirlz) choose.

Alice Pope: Recognize that you build an audience for your blog over time. Also, look out for a new social networking community site from writersmarket coming in the future...

Mark Blevis: Be passionate so it resonates with people following you. The trick is to get in the conversation - comment on other people's blogs! (This last point became a bit of a theme during the conference!)

The next session was

Left to Right: The inspiring Powerhouse Colleen Mondor (of Chasing Ray and the founder of Guyslitwire) and The uber-awesome Jackie Parker (of Interactive Reader, and a Postergirlz for Readergirlz, as well as the Cybils YA organizer)

These gals were FUNNY. Seriously, they could take it on the road, or to Vegas, with their banter like:

Jackie: "If you can get my humor, I'm probably going to like your book."

Colleen: "Good luck with that."

They talked about their Summer and Winter BLOG BLAST TOUR, which was this amazing re-thinking of what a blog book tour can be - and a real sign of the power of the blogging community. It was inspiring.

Then I went to MotherReader's session on "Kick your blog up a notch!"

Pam Coughlan, a.k.a. Mother Reader, talking to a seriously standing room only room!

Pam was awesome, and spoke about lots of ways we could improve our blogs. Some of the stuff that really sunk in for me was:

Know why you're blogging and keep that focus - go back to the CORE

Keep commenting on different blogs - after a few comments on someone else's blog, people will backtrack to see who YOU are, and it will drive YOUR traffic up. It will also make you feel that you are Part of the community, which you will be!

She also challenged us to write down the three core values for our blogs - this is an excellent exercise!!!

She talked about branding youself, pinpointing blogs you think most resonate with you and commenting there, and if she was starting out today, she'd try to blog with a group of others rather than individually.

It was awesome, and I felt so fortunate that when we hung out later that night, Pam's ideas just kept on rolling!

Next was Mark Blevis' PODCASTING session.

Mark Blevis keeping us mesmerized with his
"There's a PODCASTER at the end of this book" homage!

The amazing Mark basically did a podcasting 101 session, and I was sooooooo inspired, and emboldened! So keep your eyes out for some podcasts coming from me in the future!

In addition to the twenty or so technical "oh, so THAT's how you do that!" epiphanies, the main points I got were to consider:




And to recognize that you need unique stuff even within a show and blog - that it's important to break up the rhythm every once in a while.

Mark and I had a great discussion afterward about the pros and cons of video versus audio podcasting, and that segued into a really yummy lunch at the hotel restaurant, with a bunch of other cool cats! (yeah, I was so hungry, taking a picture completely eluded me.)

However, Holly Cupola (the newest Readergirlz diva!) did corner me (in the nicest way) to introduce myself on video - here it is (oh, and that's Mark Blevis being so silly!)

After lunch, Laini Taylor and Jen Robinson kept us riveted:

The super-smart and creative Laini Taylor, conference co-organizer and
author of one of my favorite fantasy YA novels (Faeries of Dreamdark: Blackbringer),
is in the pink hair,
and Jen Robinson, Renowned Book Reviewer
and one of the Cybil Awards founding advisors is the brunette!

Laini and Jen spoke about author blogs versus kid lit blogs, and the distinction between being a book reviewer and a book recommender. (That last one really floored me - it's so obvious, and interesting, and I'd never considered it in that way before.)

Another point that really stuck with me from their panel was that with author interviews, remember that you shouldn't try to make it a commercial for yourself or your book - your goal should be to make it an interesting conversation.

Next up was blogging guru Gregory K.

Gregory K., a.k.a. Greg Pincus,
"I'm geeky... so you don't have to be"
was AMAZING! Not only is Greg the NICEST guy,
he's savvy about technology -
AND he's able to translate geek-speak into plain English!

His session was covered by his brother, Jon, in an impressive feat of simul-blogging, here.

Greg talked about "setting yourself up for the happy accident," and the list of things I felt that I needed to do in the aftermath of his talk took up two pages in my notebook!

He spoke about about how for a LONG career, you want to promote your name recognition.

And to consider tapping into the latent groups of people out there in the world that you can bring together via your blog - i.e., people who care about children's literature.

You MUST (I mean this) check out this website he set up which will inspire you.

Okay, then I went to Sara Zarr's session!

The brave and honest and charming Sara Zarr,
talking about the Personal / Professional balance in blogging.

Sara spoke about how a blog has power - to let Teens know they're not alone.

She advised us to be professional ALL THE TIME - don't write anything on our blogs that we wouldn't want our agent or editor to read (for that matter, recognize that ANYone can read it!)

She talked about her advice when talking about politics, religion and sex:

Use care, take your time, revise, let it sit... Be compassionate, generous. Think about the person who would disagree the most with what you are writing, and be compassionate towards them.
Have a private life and private thoughts, even when being personal on your blog.

After that there was still so much more -

The meet the authors event

Dinner and the raffle, and then

the Readergirlz' party celebrating Holly's book deal
and being made an official "Diva!"

The late-into-the-night hanging out and talking blogs
and kid lit with some awesome new friends!

Left to right: Jackie Parker, Colleen Mondor, Lorie Ann Grover, Holly Cupala, and Me!

And the bleary-eyed breakfast before flying home...

Left to right: Holly Cupala, Dia Calhoun, and Colleen Mondor

Left to Right: Jackie Parker, me, and Lorie Ann Grover

It was a wonderful experience! While the photos above are nice and well focused and look like a moment frozen in time, I think this photo best sums up the wonderful energy of the experience:

My heartelt and giant-sized THANK YOU! to Laini Taylor and Jone MacCulloch, who really pulled off an AMAZING event.

Next year will be in Washington D.C., organized by the unstoppable MotherReader - and I can't wait!

Check out ALL these other fabulous blog posts from the other bloggers who were there!



Jen Robinson said...

I really like how you've captured pearls of wisdom from so many of the presentations, Lee. I'm still digesting the conference too (plus spending a lot of time on the Cybils), but with posts like yours, I don't feel like I a summary from me is really needed. Thanks! It was great meeting you, and I look forward to next year.

ReadWriteGo said...

Wow - it looks like you had such a good time! Your video post was tres cute, too. I loved Parrotfish (which I learned about from your blog) and I've since read several more books by Ellen Wittlinger as a result.

Thanks for doing what you do here. It's so exciting to see how much more LGBT literature there is now than when we were young.

Anonymous said...

Holy moly, it looks like it was a blast! All those smiling faces! I'm sorry to have missed this year's conference, but I appreciate all the little nuggets of insight you've laid out here.

Anonymous said...

What a nice recap. I think we were at all the same sessions.

It was great to hang out with you!

Colleen said...

Meeting you was one of the best things about this conference, Lee - we just all "clicked" in the best way possible.

It was kismet. I'm so glad we have all found each other.

PS. I'm just sorry you couldn't go get scary donuts with us later that morning!! (Jackie & I were truly in our element at that point....)

Jackie Parker said...

I <3 Lee Wind. Tons. Even when he puts pictures of me up on the internets. ;)

Does this count toward the up-coming challenge?

Anonymous said...

The conference sounds like fun! I'm glad you got so much from it.

As for blogging, I've long thrown in the towel insofar as substance-rich content goes. I can do an occasional review, but beyond that?

Navel-gazing and toenail-clipping. Wanna know how I got my canker sore? Saunter on down to my blog, yo!

The kind of blogging that you do - that I wish I could do - requires a certain personality, level of commitment, and, yes, passion. Unfortunately, I don't come anywhere near the levels you're blessed with.

So if you don't mind one more guilt-wracked weight leaning heavily on you for inspiration and reading material (because she's seriously made of fail where being a blogger of substance is concerned), I'll be peering over your shoulder for the long haul. And adding a review here and there in your comments. :)

Lee Wind, M.Ed. said...

Jen, thank you!
SMD, I so appreciate your kind words.
Jackie, here's some <3 right back atcha!
Hayden, you're a prolific, gifted author and do detailed reviews - I wish I could be so productive as to come out with 3 new books in one year! Don't be so hard on yourself - you are on a great journey, as are we all!
Thanks for the comments, everyone!

Lee Wind, M.Ed. said...

Kim, thanks for the praise.

Colleen, yeah it was cool to "click!"

And for the record, I think I would have passed on the maple and bacon donut, but the secret to chocolate chip cookies IS to sprinkle them with salt before you bake them, so I get that salty and sweet is a great combination...

Maybe if it was VEGGIE bacon I'd have tried it...



MotherReader said...

What an amazing and useful post! I wrote a lot, but gave no actual helpful information. But you. Why, people could learn from your write-up.

But perhaps I gave all my awesomeness at the conference. ;^)

Cuppa Jolie said...

What a lovely recap, Lee. I'm going to send some friends your way for a read! So great meeting you.

Anonymous said...

Oh, dear, I wish. Regarding those three books, they were written in a three-year period. Honestly. All of them just happened to be accepted to help launch Prizm Books as a new YA imprint. Otherwise, I'm a book-a-year kind of gal.

Rita said...

I love the way you've recapped this blogging conference! (And, amen to the tip on salting chocolate chip cookies, btw. I just recently tasted the results of same at Irvin's dessert party, and I'm a complete convert.)

All my admiration,

Pat Schmatz said...

Wow Lee, thanks for that recap. Since you are the first blog that I read regularly, and therefore my source of information on all things blog, it's good to know you're studying up!

My favorite picture is that last one. Made me feel like I'd been there, for a minute anyway.

And I'll take this opportunity to tell you how much I really do appreciate your blog - I've sent a number of people here already, and have a whole new reading list.

Anonymous said...

Lee, that last photo says it all! Fabulous post. I am still working through reading the posts (and Porcessiong the conference). I have been thinking of that idea you and Panm had of the weekly comment goal. I am hoping to get a conference post wrttien this weekend.

Barbara Shoup said...

Thanks for the great re-cap--and also for your wonderful blog. I love what you're doing for GLBT kids. They need you.

Lorie Ann Grover said...

Awesome recap, Lee! Thanks for the great photos. :~)

holly cupala said...

Hi, Lee! One of the best parts of the conference was meeting you first thing in the morning and then saying goodnight to a new friend the last thing that night. You posted great pics, too!

Greg Pincus said...

Now I know what you kept writing in that notebook! Great stuff, Lee (from the guy lucky enough to be hanging with you from LA up to Portland!)

Anonymous said...

Great post! Very informative.

And it's in DC next year? SO. GOING. TO. THAT. since it is much closer than this one was.

I'm esp. jealous that you got to meet the readergirlz and postergirlz! I can't wait to meet them whenever the chance arises.

Picking up Women said...

Recognize that you build an audience for your blog over time.

Best Hotel in Manila said...

I met so many ubercool people - literally a whole new community of friends!