I am sure you have been waiting for my post about KidLitCon 2012, the New York version!
I could have commuted each day from home, and enjoyed the long, long, long train ride. But where’s the fun in that? So instead, I shared a room with Kelly from Stacked (who ate scones in bed! on the plus side, they were scones from Alice’s Tea Cup and she shared) and Pam at MotherReader (who came up Friday with the most amazingly packed bag). Thursday night, Kelly and I met friends for dinner, including Leila from Bookshelves of Doom. I had never met Leila before, and meeting someone you “know” for the first time? So. much. fun. Here’s Leila!
I helped organize things with Betsy from A Fuse # 8 Production and Monica from Educating Alice. Betsy and Monica had the hard work; I mainly just helped brainstorm ideas and plans and select programs and such. KidLitCon is totally organized by individuals; very much I have a barn, let’s put on a show, without the barn. It moves from place to place each year, with different organizers, and so each year KidLitCon is a little bit different. This time around, it was New York, and what does New York have? Publishers. Monica took on the task of arranging publisher previews for people attending KidLitCon. It’s fun, and interesting, to hear about the upcoming books.
Friday night dinner was at IchiUmi. The buffet was wonderful, so much food and such a selection! One of my resolutions before KidLitCon was to not come home gaining weight from all the food. Take a peak at the desert and understand why that was a hard resolution to keep. My second resolution was to not bring home too many books. The publisher previews made that tough; it was made even worse by the guest speaker at dinner, Grace Lin (thanks to Little, Brown for that!). By the end of the dinner, I had two more books to add to my pile (thanks to the Bank Street Bookstore for being there to sell the books.)
Saturday was the conference itself. Pam had selected the hotel the three of us stayed at. In addition to have very nice size rooms (and not just “for New York” nice), and free Internet, there was a buffet breakfast which was a real breakfast, not just muffins and bananas. Things didn’t start till 10, so plenty of time to sleep in, chat, eat breakfast and then congregate on the steps of the New York Public Library, AKA the one with the lions.
Betsy gave opening remarks; one thing that distracted me, to be honest, was that this was the old reservoir! The Diamond In The Window has some terrific pictures and an explanation. (More here on New York City’s historic water system.)
The first program I went to was Don’t be a Twitt! Building a PLN Using Social Networks by Teri S. Lesesne (The Goddess of YA). It was fabulous; yes, I use social networks. Teri really helped put into words exactly why social networks like Twitter are important for professional development, complete with data. I’ll be pulling out her data and quoting her the next time someone says Twitter is just about sharing photos of food.
Next up, Kelly and Nova Ren Suma on Getting Series-ous: How Blog Series Can Engage, Inspire, and Grow Your Audience. Kelly and Nova spoke about blog series and tours that are put together by bloggers; and Nova also spoke from the point of view of the benefits of this type of promotion as an author.
Lunch was on our own, and after that, it was time for the panel I was on: KidLitCon 2012: Critical Reviewing in the Age of Twitter (from School Library Journal; photo also from SLJ). The moderator was Jen Hubert Swan of ReadingRants; panelists were quite the assortment: Marjorie Ingall, a columnist with Tablet Magazine; Monica Edinger of Educating Alice; Maureen Johnson; Sheila Barry of Making Books for Children and Groundwood Books; myself; and Betsy. What was particularly fun and informative about this panel was that we represented a range of viewpoints, from author to publisher, traditional book reviewer to blogger. This seems a good time to put in Leila’s photo, because her Bookshelves of Doom got a lot of love from the panel.
After, was The Changing Relationship Between Reader and Writer moderated by Karen Halpenny, VP of Children’s Media Association. Authors participating were Gayle Forman, Michael Northrop, Alyssa Sheinmel, and Adele Griffin. It was a fascinating look at public and private lives, all the more so from having been informed by the previous programs on Twitter, blog series, and the critical reviewing discussion.
Finally, the keynote by Maureen Johnson! Keynote Speech (South Court Auditorium) delivered by the illustrious YA author Maureen Johnson! Being Maureen Johnson, she did something a bit differently. Instead of her standing and talking while we stared at her and Tweeted her words of wisdom, she brought in her friend and fellow author, Robin Wasserman, and the two had a witty, intelligent conversation. It was just like we were all stalkers hiding in her spare room as she chatted with a friend. Only, without the stalking.
Sunday, pretty much everyone had gone home. (I didn’t realize until reading Sondy’s post at SonderBooks that she was around). I went to my favorite, Alice’s Tea Cup, for breakfast; picked up cupcakes from Crumbs; indulged in a cab to save my back from all the books; and managed to catch the train that was full of football fans heading to the Meadowlands.
Here’s my final photo, and by “my” I mean that I lifted this from either Kelly or Pam’s blog. That’s Jess from Alice in Baker Street; Leila’s friend, Amanda; Leila of Bookshelves; Kelly of Stacked; Me, in a photo of myself I don’t hate but it doesn’t show to full advantage the terrific Peter Pan collar of my shirt; and Pam of MotherReader with the amazing Mary Poppins bag.
Not to be sappy, but this is what KidLitCon is really about. Connecting with old friends; meeting on line friends for the first time; and making new friends. I haven’t even mentioned how terrific it was to just sit and talk with Greg and Maureen and Sondy and Sheila and Melanie and Amy, well, you get the picture. Before this, I was all ”I don’t know how I can afford to go to KidLitCon next year,” but now I wonder how I can afford not to.
Some links to posts about KidLitCon, in no particular order: Kelly at Stacked; Leila at Bookshelves of Doom; Pam at MotherReader; Betsy at A Fuse # 8 Production; Monica at Educating Alice; Melissa at The Book Nut; Maureen at Confessions of a Bibliovore; Sondy at SonderBooks; Jess from Alice in Baker Street; Lee & Low Books. And even more links at the KidLitCon webpage!
I’m sure I missed some; so please leave a link to your post in the comments.