I arrived in Minneapolis on Friday evening and found my way to the light-rail station. A helpful security guard pointed me toward the ticket machines, adding: “Costs about two dollars. $180 fine if you’re caught without a ticket.” Do I look like a potential trainhopper? Who knew!
It was a gorgeous night: full moon (or almost full, I couldn’t tell), cool but not cold, clear, bright. I walked the half-mile or so to my hotel, passing right by the convention site, an incredible bookstore/coffee house/meeting place called Open Book that had everyone oohing and ahhing all weekend (and beyond). I knew the KidlitCon welcome reception was just winding down, and it felt a little strange to walk on past, but I was lugging my suitcase and wanted to check into the hotel.
An hour later, I was washed and brushed and peeking into Open Book’s lovely loft auditorium space where Maggie Stiefvater, Brenna Yovanoff, and Tessa Gratton were nearly finished with their panel about their Merry Sisters of Fate critique group and story blog. I scanned the faces in the audience and immediately recognized Liz of A Chair, A Fireplace, and a Tea Cozy, and Pam of MotherReader—both of whom are such longtime blogging pals it was hard to believe I was meeting them in person for the first time. When the panel ended we had a lot of hugging and laughing to do.
These high spirits carried us well toward midnight, both in the chatty aftermath of the panel and in the hotel bar later on. I got to see so many online chums—Camille of BookMoot, Jen Robinson, Sarah Stevenson, and Charlotte Taylor, to name a few—and met other lovely people like Laura Lutz of The Page Turn and Alice Pope of the SCWBI children’s market blog. It’s hard to convey in a post like this how fantastic it is to get a chance to chat with other writers, bloggers, and publishing-world folks. It’s the same thing I love about San Diego Comic-Con every year: the lively discussion, the sense of community, the you read that too?
The next morning a shuttle zipped us back to Open Book for KidlitCon proper. Opening remarks, Maggie Stiefvater’s entertaining keynote speech (much tweeted, much recapped), and then the breakout panels.
My own “Blogging the Backlist” panel took place during the first breakout session. I was privileged to have Jen Robinson, Charlotte Taylor, and the extraordinary Carol Rasco of RIF on the panel with me. We had a grand time discussing the many excellent reasons to blog about older books. I’ll post my notes on this in a separate post (and don’t miss Charlotte’s recap), but in the meantime, here are some of the highlights via Twitter. (HUGE thanks to Greg Pincus, who wasn’t able to attend the convention, for compiling the entire KidlitCon Twitterfeed!)
RascofromRIF:: Brian Farrey, a #KidLitCon organizer, intro’s our panel — he has fond memories of being a RIF kid! http://yfrog.com/5xy17fj
mudmamba:: Funny that four out-of-state presenters are talking about Minnesota’s own Betsy-Tacy books!
mosylu: Charlotte is talking about the benefit of blogging about older books you love instead of all new new new
mosylu: melissa wiley is talking about sharing her enthusiasm for the books she’s always loved
lovelyleann: Is it horrible that I don’t know the Betsy Tacy books? Is that even how you spell her name?
mosylu: benefit to the blog: showing more of your personality when you blog about books that are personally meaningful
justkeepreading: Enjoying Backlist session. Need to blog Lois Duncan because if it!
mosylu: adding to my blogroll listening to charlotte taylor in the backlist blogging panel
mudmamba: Thinking about how blogging the backlist/out of print books will tie in well with the rise of e-books.
mudmamba: Back when I had a books blog I rarely did new titles. It didn’t occur to me that I should.
thepageturn: Blog I haven’t heard of before: Children’s War. All kids books about WWII. Fascinating!
mudmamba: Like the idea of “greater good” blogging to crowd-source a resource on backlist books.
mudmamba: Just scored a Betsy-Tacy volume 1.
mosylu: comments from the panel about contemporary views of older books, like Caddie Woodlawn’s treatment of Native Americans
(Jumping ahead: Later that night, at the dinner, someone asked me, “So, what, are you like the president of the Betsy-Tacy fan club?” And I said, “No, but I get to meet her tomorrow!” And I did. Susan Brown, President of the Betsy-Tacy Society, that is!)
The fabulous Jennifer Hart of HarperPerennial had sent me copies of several Betsy-Tacy and Deep Valley books to give away at my panel. We offered them to people who asked questions. We got a lot of questions. 🙂
Oh dear, here I am only a couple of hours into the day and the post is already 900 words long. I’ve barely begun! What’s to be done? I have notes on all the panels I attended; tomorrow I’ll try to type them up the way I do my Comic-Con notes. Of course many of the best moments happened in the interstices: discussing homeschooling and dear sons with Carol Rasco, who is a treasure; meeting more online friends like Haley Scharf, Mary Lee, Susan Marie Swanson, Maureen, and (at long last) Kelly Herold, the first children’s lit blogger I encountered way back in 2005 shortly after Bonny Glen was born; hearing how Susan Taylor Brown‘s native garden is coming along; swapping stories with Alice and Sarah; trading recipes with Amy Ludwig VanDerwater. I’ll see your dandelion fritters and raise you a chai soup!
OK, so panel notes tomorrow and the Betsy-Tacy tour and Margaret in Minnesota visit after that. For now, tonight, a last expression of thanks (and awe) to KidlitCon organizers Andrew Karre, Ben Barnhart, and Brian Farrey, who did a truly amazing job. Huge round of applause for their efforts.
1000 words! This post is worth one picture!