KidLitCon: What There Was and What I Learned

KidLitCon in Austin was smaller than it has been in the past, but since it was my first time to be able to come, I didn’t really notice until it was called to my attention. It was also a great weekend for connections and friendships, old, new, and renewed.

At first, since I believe most bloggers are introverts at heart, we all did the slow, careful dance of introvert intersection: the one where you carefully introduce yourself, see if the other person has any idea who you are or even wants to know, talk about the weather and the setting, and then slowly but surely circle around to the real reason you’re there, blogging and reading. Well, ALL is a slight exaggeration. Not all bloggers are introverts, and Pam from Mother Reader and Melissa the BookNut both rushed up and gave me a big hug and made me (and everyone else) feel so at home that I didn’t want to leave on Sunday morning. Thank God for extroverts.

Thank Him for the rest of us, too. I had wonderful, thoughtful conversations with Jennifer of 5 Minutes for Books who was so kind to provide my transportation from Houston to Austin and share her hotel room with me and share her love of books and kids and matching books with kids. (And she told me something about pictures that I didn’t know. I tried it on this post, and it works!) Then there were all of the other kidlit bloggers, who may or may not be extroverts or introverts, who did all the planning and the talking and the presenting and the socializing and the questioning. Thanks, everybody. (If you didn’t get to come, I’m sorry. You missed out.)

What I Learned at KidLitCon 2013 in Austin, TX:

51YjXKZS+mL._SX258_PJlook-inside-v2,TopRight,1,0_SH20_BO1,204,203,200_1. Cynthia Leitich Smith (Cynsations) reads 300 blogs a day! She’s also Native American, or part native Americand (although, side note, I’ve never understood how any of us can really be “part” some ethnic or racial group), and she’s a really, really good and engaging speaker. She also has a picture book that I want to read called Jingle Dancer.

2. Author Chris Barton (Bartography) is a real person and a really nice person, and his next book is going to be about the world of video gaming for outsiders to that world who want to get in, maybe, a little bit. Sounds cool.

3. Jen Robinson (Jen Robinson’s Book Page) and Sarah Stevenson (Finding Wonderland) are good at analyzing burnout and providing some possible solutions, and Jen gave me a great idea for responding to blog posts that I like when I don’t have time to comment. She tweets a link to stuff she likes. Simple, but I hadn’t really thought about it. I’m going to do that.

4. Author Molly Blaisdell (Seize the Day) is a delightful and inspirational person, and I want to read her (adult?) book, Plumb Crazy, when it comes out in May, 2014.

5. Molly also taught us the Japanese word “otaku”, which is sort of a fan club or a group of influential geeks in any area of interest who wield influence in that subculture.

6. If I take notes on the back of a piece of paper, and I don’t remember what the paper was, I willnot have the notes to refer to when I write this post.

7. Katy Manck (BooksYALove) knows about lots of stuff, and she says I should be tagging my posts. I sort of, kind of, thought so, but she assures me that I should and could.

8. Sheila Ruth (Wands and Worlds) and Charlotte (Charlotte’s Library) are NOT the same person in disguise, but they are both authorities on fantasy and science fiction, and we can all agree that fantasy fiction about albino animals and mutant tennis rackets is not going to make the bestseller list or the awards lists anytime soon. Not to mention picture books with crayon scribbled illustrations. Maybe you had to have been there.

9. Leila Roy (Bookshelves of Doom) is not the same person as author Lena Roy. Embarrassment. Don’t ask. But Leila is a lovely blogger, and she and her fellow panelists (Jen Bigheart, Lee Wind, Sheila Ruth) gave me a lot to think about as they discussed the future of kidlit blogging. Suffice it to say that despite changes and evolutions, there is a future as long as we bloggers are committed to helping children and parents and others find books, and it looks good.

10. Camille (Book Moot) is as wonderful an advocate for books in person as she is on her blog. And she leads a book club for older adults at her church, and they read Wolf Hall over the summer, then Wednesday Wars by Gary Schmidt this fall. Now that’s a contrast. I didn’t make it through Wolf Hall—too much of a challenge for me. Camille says the key is to listen to it on audiobook. Then you can tell who’s who because they use different voices for the different characters.

I learned a lot more from and about a lot more people, but I was told that what happens at KidLitCon stays at KidLitCon. So, except for the few tidbits of tantalizing information I have already shared here, you’ll just have to read about the experiences of everyone else—and come next year to KidLitCon, place and date TBA. But I think it’s going to be in California. (And if I didn’t link to you, I’m sorry, and I probably will soon in another post. Or I’ll tweet your post or something. But this one is getting too long, and I have to go to bed.)

11 thoughts on “KidLitCon: What There Was and What I Learned

  1. Great roundup of Kidlitcon experiences. It was so wonderful to finally meet you, Sherry. I hope to see you next year in California(?)

  2. Thanks for the recap, Sherry. It was such a treat to finally meet you in person, and I’m so glad that you found KidLitCon fun and useful. I think it says a lot about a conference when the introverts have fun, too :-)

  3. You probably did have to be there. :-D And I’ve never really considered myself an extrovert, but I do know how hard it is to come for the First Time, so I feel like I need to be on the Welcoming Committee. And I had the same reaction about Sheila and Charlotte when I met them for the first time, too.

    It was so good to (finally) meet you in person!!

  4. So great to meet you! Thanks for your kind words about my talk.

    I know it’s a bit confusing in the mainstream discourse, but Native people are citizens of Native Nations. So, it’s a political identity as much as ethnic/racial/cultural. And you can’t be partly a citizen; it’s sort of all in, or all out. Which means you’re right. Hope that helps!

  5. All hail the extravert! Though I was on my super power mode to meet all those people. Including you! So glad that you could come this year and that we got a chance to hang out over the weekend!

  6. It was great meeting you, Sherry, after so many years of “knowing” you through your blog reviews! So glad you could make it, and I hope to see you again next year.

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