The alarm rang at 5 a.m. last Saturday. Oh man, what I really wanted to do was turn it off, go back to sleep, get up when I felt like and hang out with my husband all day. But I was determined to learn about blogging, so I dragged myself out of bed, showered, dressed and hit the road for Robin Brande’s first annual Kidlitosphere in Chicago. I had a great book on tape and there was zero traffic between Indianapolis and the Windy City (what nut gets up at that time on a Saturday?) So except for an inadvertent segue through O’Hare airport, it was an okay trip.
Confession: I’m so out of it that when I got to Kidlitosphere that morning, I didn’t even really know what blogging was. The thought of blogging myself was pretty much incomprehensible. Where would I start? Kidlitosphere gave me a crash course in all that—and more. Plus, who wouldn’t want to be part of such a smart, friendly, funny community of people who are crazy about books?
Thank God, I was almost immediately adopted by Maureen Kearney—children’s librarian by day, blogger (Confessions of a Bibliovore) by every other spare minute. She answered all my (dumb) questions and those I’d never have thought to ask. Plus, she kindly included me in her Steak & Shake lunch group—along with Betsy Bird, the voice behind what seemed like everyone’s favorite blog, Fuse 8; Lisa Chellman, another blogging librarian—who made my day when she asked, “Didn’t you write Wish You Were Here*?; and the very hilarious author/blogger Ellen Klages. The conversation—partly involving how to create cool (small, safe) explosions with soda (diet, not regular, because doesn’t leave a sticky residue on the walls) was as good as (maybe better than) my cheeseburger, fries and gargantuan chocolate shake—which means something, coming from me. I love Steak & Shake!
Every single session was packed with information and practical advice—from how to set up a blog, how to find your voice, how to get arcs (advanced review copies, for those who were as clueless as I was before Saturday) and how to podcast. And it was fun to watch the bloggers meeting each other—most for the first time. “You’re just like your voice,” they kept saying.
My favorite session was “Blogging for Authors,” where about thirty people crammed cozily (standing room only) in a conference room and shared tips about...everything. Talking about the ethics or just plain decentness of blogging, Robin Brande cut to the chase, sharing this simple philosophy: Don’t be a dick. (Are we allowed to say that in a blog?) We’re all in this together. What’s good for one of us is good for everyone who loves books.
Amen to that! And to the whole idea of Kidlitosphere. Thanks, Robin! It was a really great day.
* Yes, she did, obviously. And we'll be re-releasing it this May (the Children's Book Council voted it the book they'd most like to see back in print; so we obliged). And Barbara's new novel (and recipient of the Phyllis Naylor Working Writer Fellowship) Everything You Want will release this April.