Before I write up a kidlit blogging conference I attended over the weekend, here's a photo of the whole criminal bunch:
I'm in the front, second from the right with my feet sticking out.
Notice the ratio of men to women. This is why the men are smiling. Or not. I can't really tell.
Author extraordinaire Robin Brande and several of her friends brought us all together and set up speakers, a schedule and a dinner to discuss where children's and YA book blogging is headed. I'm not going to attempt to cover everything, just a few tidbits that leaped out at me.
It was a dizzying day, to be sure. Some of my recollections and notes will be posted here and some at Cybils (link to come later, when I've posted there). Some of the presentations were very freeform -- come with questions, jump in anytime -- true to the nature of the blogosphere.
Being something of an introvert, those weren't my favorite sessions, but I didn't shrink from them either. Others seemed fine with it, but I heard grumbling in a few quarters that there was no coverage of the basics: this is a blog, here's how to get started, this is what kidlitosphere means, etc.
A somewhat troubling rift opened right away between authors and reviewers, with each group sitting on opposites sides of the room (tables were arranged in a huge rectangle so everyone faced inwards). Through mingling over lunch and dinner, some of these rifts vanished, but there will always be tension between those who send their baby off to be reviewed and those whose job is to point out baby's bad manners and odd looks.
Mark Blevis of Just One More Book de-mystified podcasting for us and I had to resist running out to Best Buy for the latest recording gizmo. His step-by-step presentation was energetic, fun and infinitely useful. I know he was going to try and record it; if he podcasts it, it's well worth a listen just for the behind-the-scenes glimpses (that's him lying down in front of us all).
At one point, authors split off to discuss the why's of blogging, while Cybils participants joined co-conspirator Kelly and myself in the main conference room. Our preparation for this consisted of me shouting through the bathroom stall; "should we talk about what goes onto the Cybils blog?"
This was a non-starter; after two minutes, people hit us with far more general -- and pressing -- issues. What are the judging criteria? How do you determine "kid friendly"? Can we do a better job defining each genre? Whither Cybils (i.e., future plans)?
I can't speak for Kelly, but I came away energized. People wouldn't criticize if they didn't care passionately, and absolutely no one argued with the concept, its necessity, its rather loose-knit infrastructure, or our management style (which is to say, our lack of a management style).
Yes, I'll post more on that over at Cybils. Meanwhile, here's a picture of some of us, thanks to Jules and Eisha:
From left to right (with blog links):
Bottom row: Eisha and Jules
Would you believe the hardest work got done over lunch? I wandered over to Chipotle with Pam, Liz, Jen and Kelly. These are some of the earliest and most ardent bloggers in the kidlit world, people whose writing, passion and knowledge merge in consistently readable and enlightening posts.
Plus, they're my virtual girlfriends.
I think Jen was concerned that more hadn't gelled during her presentation on promoting the kidlitosphere. No consensus emerged that this was even an important idea, with some people still chafing at the word "kidlit" (though politely) and others insisting on an online primer of sorts for kidlitosphere.
So we couldn't get into the hows until we answered the whats and whys.
But Jen, being the practical sort, plugged away over lunch on the need for an umbrella group to house us all, with a home page with explanations, links, news and perhaps even an email newsletter. We're using SCBWI as our model and I imagine it started just this way, with a few impassioned volunteers.
(Note to all: this was all worded horribly. I blame temporary insanity. Jen kept us focused on the immediate task at hand, and we all brainstormed in an incredibly productive way. My apologies if this sounds anything short of the fun that it was).
We have no firm plans, of course, just a meeting of minds. I'm sure there will be fodder for many posts to come.
And now, because this has grown colossally, you'll have to wait for my next post (tomorrow) for details on my presentation. Sorry!