So, I’m going to steal a few minutes away from working desperately on le many items in le packet this month (you don’t even want to know — at the moment, it’s an essay on voice giving me fits) to hit the highlights of the First Kidlitosphere Conference, just because it would be tragic not to.
- First, was meeting everyone, even briefly (and even just putting faces to names on those of you I didn’t get to actually meet). As with all such events, I tended to gravitate toward the people I already knew, but this was a bit different because we all sort of "knew" each other from online. Which made for some fast friendships and meetings that felt like little reunions. More next year in Portland (yay, Portland!), please.
- I continue to be amazed and inspired by the sense of community among the children’s and YA blogging community, and also the amazing organizational skills. (This conference and the Cybils being cases in point, along with the utterly fabulous Colleen-shepherded events that have been happening for the last six months or so.) I have no doubt that some sort of kidlit blogging association will be formed soon to act as a clearinghouse and reach out to all the readers, teachers and parents who haven’t found out about this scene yet. And if we all don’t love the term kidlit, I think we’re still stuck with it, because, well, it’s short.
- I already posted this. Ha. But it was pretty funny watching Noah and Christopher attempt to get in trouble at the Airport Hotel in Des Plaines Limbo (the Chicago Marathon ate all the hotels in the city, so this was where we were). At least they didn’t crash any of the THREE weddings going on–seriously, who gets married at the Airport Hotel in Des Plaines Limbo? It was like mini-Vegas. (And we did see Britney Spears on TV in the bar.)
- The sessions were loose and more like conversations than anything else. In addition to the podcasting intro, there was a fabulous dialogue about the Cybils (which is where the association discussion began) and another on how to boost the profile of the scene in general. A particularly hot topic was the ethics of reviewing and some crunchy talk about "bad" reviews–and a session on how to sharpen reviewing skills generally and the different models that are out there. All this struck me as that much more candid for being in person and not online. People were honest and willing to throw out the first ideas that came to them and so these were particularly valuable starting (and continuing) points for the ongoing conversation about litblogging and its place in the firmament.
- The fantastic burgers and fries at Paradise Pup, which Ysabeau kindly directed us to in our tiny rental car for lunch on Saturday. And, yes, despite the pup of the name, none of us–Micol, Noah, Christopher, Ysa or I–got dogs, and we are not repentant.
- Our table at dinner had loads of fun and Christopher managed to convince illustrator extraordinaire Jim Di Bartolo (husband of the wonderful, beautifully-pink-tressed Laini Taylor) to come along for a first-Bourne-movie-style ride across the street to a Target with a wine aisle. This led to much fun and guzzling and some eventual finger-wagging from the you-deserted-your-post-dude bartender. (Pics of the aftermath here.)
- The next morning we drove Laini, Jim and Ellen Klages out to Esme’s Bookroom (a private non-circulating library and salon, not to mention the place you dreamed of when you were that bookish kid) for the farewell brunch–I wish I could express how absolutely enchanting this space is. If you ever, ever have the chance to visit, do. I want a Halloween town! My non-camera-havingness will not prevent you from experiencing it vicariously though, because Laini has a post with lots and lots of pics. Esme, you are the hostest with the mostest (or at least share that title with conference organizer Robin Brande). (Updated: Liz Burns has lots of pics as well.)
- And that was pretty much the weekend. Like I said: It was lovely.