This morning our hamster escaped, my cat is in trouble with the law, I deeply needed Second Breakfast at 10:30 a.m. and it was Oreos. What a perfect time to write about the Second Annual Kidlitosphere Conference.
I started my day at 5:00 a.m. on Friday, September 25th, to make my 7:20 flight to Portland. Summing up that day, I almost missed my connection, dozed and read through a long flight, had lunch, stole a roll from the hotel’s buffet, and took a nap. For all intents and purposes (anyone else ever thought that phrase was “for all intensive purposes”?) my conference experience started at 5:00 p.m. in the hotel lobby when Sara Zarr saved me from my aimless wandering by saying hello.
After I congratulated her on her awesomeness, we chatted about travel and wondered how we’d know our people when they arrived. We shouldn’t have worried, as Laini’s legendary pink hair showed us the way to the bloggers and authors gathering by the bar. Conference organizer Jone was there as well, and our group begin to pull in the attendees by some sort of literary force.
In this pre-downtown excursion, I met Maureen from Confessions of a Bibliovore, Anastasia Suen, and author Alma Alexander. It wasn’t long before the dynamic duo of Jackie Parker and Colleen Mondor hit the scene and actually recognized me from my rarely posted photos. We hit it off immediately, and kindred spirit feeling was quickly confirmed on the ride to Powell’s City of Books where we discussed Portland, politics, and Dr. Horrible.
Powell’s was overwhelming, but it was fun seeing my peeps all around. We left as a group to get dinner only to find a bit of a wait. I used my time wisely, meeting Lee Wind and Suzanne Young. But when I saw that Bridget Zinn, Adrienne, Farida, Betsy, and Mark Blevis were already there and up for a table, the opportunist the very hungry opportunist in me latched on to that group without another thought.
Betsy Bird entertained us with stories as Mark and I munched down our elk burgers. (High in protein, low on fat!) I heard about Adrienne and Farida’s Fabulous Day in Portland. A possible Newbery contender was revealed, while Bridget talked about the recent book she Did Not Like. (I totally stole this picture from Laini.)
After a failed attempt to visit Voodoo Donut, it was back to the hotel and a drink with Jen Robinson, Gregory K. (and brother), Jackie, Colleen, Suzanne, and my New Best Friend Lee. (I mean, everybody’s new best friend. The most likable guy ever.) It’s very possible more people were involved as I have no evidence either way, and the lack of sleep was getting to my brain.
Now, conference day. Panel discussion on bridging books and blogs. Blah, blah, blah.1 Hold it! That’s Eric Kimmel! Talk to him! Talk to him!!! Duo panel about blog tours. Blah, blah, Funny stuff. Blah, blah.2 Stepped out to take some deep breaths before...
MY session on building a bigger blog. Once I started talking, I felt comfortable and it seemed to go very well. It was packed, especially since we had to move to a smaller room, but I liked the cozier feeling. I got good feedback from the attendees and it was well received. I’d like to make the handout available later. Maybe here, or on the conference site.
Next was the Cybils session, and then I lunched with those folks Jen, Jackie, Colleen, Anastasia, and Sarah. This was my first time meeting Sarah Stevenson, and she was so nice. It’s like her super power. We talked a lot of Cybils and promotion stuff, making it a working lunch. Then it was off to hear Laini and Jen talk about the author and book reviewer perspective on blogging. Good stuff. Gregory K. gave a knockout presentation on promotion and using social networking sites. I skipped the last session about author blogs to refresh and regroup.
The last official conference activity was a time to meet the authors, and I did my best to meet them all. I chatted with Sara Ryan and Sara Zarr. I got books from Barbara Shoup, Christine Fletcher, Matt Holm (signed Babymouse book, so my kids will love me!), Clare Bell, Lisa Schroeder, Emily Wing Smith, and Deb Lund. I chatted with many, many more people and took cards, postcards (the prettiest from Dana Arnim, whom I actually tracked down to get her lovely card), and pins.
Afterwards, it was non-stop socializing through drinks and dinner. I finally caught up with Kirby Larson and browsed her new book. Love-ly! We talked about her next book, which will also be a picture book, and her next, next book, which will be a another hysterical... I mean historical novel.
Dinner was great with a cool crew, including the duo that rocked the blog tour discussion panel Colleen and Jackie. The next table over was blitzing through the raffle, but I did win a couple of items with my tickets. After two wins, I passed on the rest of them to Mark Blevis and the Readergirlz so they could share the joy of winning. (Actually, I gave them to Lee who gave them to the Readergirlz, but I still deserve credit.)
After dinner, it was yet more socializing at the hotel bar. I fit in a catch-up session with Betsy Bird and her fanged sock puppet. I think the puppets were some sort of club or cult. I could have stayed up until dawn, but my my voice started to go about midnight. So I took that as a hint, left the die-hard party folk, and headed for bed.
Sunday was breakfast with Lee and Maureen, and our tearful (okay, not really) goodbyes. Jone took me on a field trip to Multnomah Falls and we used the car ride to talk conference stuff, since I’ll be taking the show to D.C. next year. Once back in Portland, I hooked up with Jackie, Colleen, Lori, Holly, and Dia to finally get to Voodoo Donuts. After lunchtime, I was on my own in Portland, where I explored the street festival/art show at length, checked out the waterfront, and made another trip to Powell’s. At 5:00 p.m. I was D-O-N-E. But I still had hours to go until my flight, and even more hours until I hit Virginia again. I cruised through that period on my last bit of steam, got home, and slept like a baby.
Now things are back to normal by which I mean the chaos of the the hamster, the cat, and the breakfast Oreos. But you know what? The hamster was quickly caught, the cat is under house arrest, and the Oreos actually were the perfect choice. It’s all good.
(OMG, I don’t know when I have ever written a post with more links or more pictures or that took this long to put together. Whew. I’m worn out. You should know that I’m getting all these links from the Portland Kidlit site where attendees are linking to their posts. Go there to read about other folks’ experiences.)