The KidLitosphere needs your help. If you have ever been to a KidLitCon or plan on going to the next one, please fill out this short online survey. It only takes a few minutes, and you have the opportunity to comment or make suggestions to the next committee for KidLitCon 2011. To spur your suggestions, I thought I’d spend today talking about my experiences with the four conferences I have attended.
In 2007, it was just a lark. Robin Brande thought it would be cool if we got together for a potluck dinner, and the idea grew. So many people were on board that she realized that it actually could happen. With her taking the lead on location and dinner and hotel reservations, everyone pitched in to come up with sessions. What I remember most about the Chicago conference was the leap of faith we all took to be there, and how amazingly well it turned out to be. I met my blogging friends for the first time and it was incredible. These people I “knew” online? It turned out that I did know them, as so many folks were exactly like their blogs. I credit that personal interaction with keeping me going with this whole blogging thing.
In 2008, the conference moved to Portland under the direction of Jone and Laini. While the first conference introduced me to my already-blog-friends, this one found me in the company of brand new friends. I met Lee Wind, and we hit it off so well that we began doing this Comment Challenge together. I knew Colleen from Chasing Ray, but was intimidated by her blog persona — so smart and intellectual. Well, she is smart and intellectual... and funny and sharp and opinionated and so much fun to hang out with. Colleen, Jackie and I spent a lot of time together, and I’m looking forward to working with them on the 2011 conference. I remember Jone taking me to see Multnomah Falls on the Sunday after, where we talked about conference planning because I had agreed to take on the next year’s event. Gulp.
In 2009, it was my show, so I remember far more about it than I can convey here. While I went the sessions, my mind was generally on the logistics of the next event and it was hard to concentrate. No matter, as I got so much out of the planning. I was determined to take some of the best parts and lessons learned from the two previous conferences and turn them into something great. I could talk about this at length, so I’ll try to bring it down to a few high points for me. I loved how many people turned out for the informal Friday night dinner. It was a blast. Along with scheduled meals for Saturday breakfast and dinner, and a free lunch time, it gave everyone many opportunities to hang out together and meet new people. I loved the casual feel of the meet-the-author session, and learned about some great new books. My personal favorite thing was the charity raffle. The format of it gave a little something to do during cocktail hour, and I liked putting together the packages with my daughters and family friend. It was also a treat watching them announce the winners, and just basking in that kind of support from my family. I’ll never forget my DC experience.
In 2010, I took myself to Minneapolis with a need to energize among my friends. I got that in spades, hanging out with old blogging friends and meeting new ones. I reconnected with Kelly Herold, who is now back to blogging at Crossover. I loved the author event on Friday, going to hear Maggie Stiefvater, Brenna Yovanoff, and Tess Gratton talk about their critique partner relationship. The location at Open Book was fantastic, and just a short walk from the hotel. I found the meaning of these conferences in one line from Amy, “Ah… there was a whole VELVETEEN RABBIT feel to the whole #kidlitcon day. Everyone is real at last!” So true.
Hopefully my little trip down memory lane has got you thinking about KidLitCon. So take that energy and those opinions and fill out the online survey. The future of KidLit Cons depends on it.