MotherReader (aka Pam Coughlan) has spoken. In recognition of the fact that there is only one week left to register for next month's Kidlitosphere conference (and lock in the excellent hotel rate), she started a meme. I don't usually do memes, but for Pam, and because I am a huge, huge fan of the Kidlitosphere conference, I'm going to participate.
Pam says: "If you’re wondering whether it will be worth it, I can only assure you that I haven’t talked to anybody after the two other conferences I attended who left without feeling that it was a fantastic experience. And in that vein, I’m going to introduce a meme to make the rounds of previous KidLitosphere Conference attendees. Please pass it on." So, here's the meme:
Why did you decide to attend the KidLitosphere Conference?
As Pam said, the first conference was started by Robin Brande, who suggested that it would be fun to get together face to face, after commenting back and forth on blogs. Somehow, even though I was completely burned out on travel, I couldn't resist (and was, in fact, the first person to commit to traveling for what was going to be just dinner in Chicago). And that first conference exceeded all of my expectations. It was amazing to have the chance to meet people I'd only know virtually up to that point. It was also hugely validating to be surrounded by a room full of people who shared the same interests. Like Pam, I was sold after that, and wouldn't have missed the second one for anything.
Who was most like their blog? Who was least like their blog?
Pam is just as warm and funny in person as she is at MotherReader. Greg Pincus is just as entertaining and community minded as he is at The Happy Accident and Gotta Book. Liz B. has the same ability to laugh one minute and then cut right to the heart of an important issue the next that she displays at Tea Cozy. Tasha Saecker, who has been blogging longer than just about anyone in the Kidlitosphere, struck me as more ... informal than I expected. Not that Kids Lit isn't fun - but I somehow expected Tasha to be some sort of elder stateman of the community, and found instead someone with a ready laugh, who was easy to hang out with.
What surprised you at the conference?
I think the thing that surprised me most was how quickly I made the transition from "these are my blog friends" to just "these are my friends". To paraphrase one of my favorite authors (D. E. Stevenson), it was like building a house with the foundation already laid. All of our commenting and emailing back and forth makes connecting easy when we meet face to face.
What will you always remember about the last conference?
What tends to stand out for me are those moments of connection. Sitting in the bar at the hotel after the dinner, talking for ages with first Sarah Stevenson and then Laini Taylor. Meeting Anastasia Suen across the dinner table the night before the conference. Things like that. Thinking back to the first conference, here's something I will always remember. I got there quite late, missing the first session. When I arrived, everyone was sitting at tables arranged in a huge, open square, with Mark Blevis presenting in the middle. As I slunk around the room to find an open seat, people recognized me. People I'd never met face-to-face before. Those people were welcoming me, waving and mouthing their names. And I felt like I had come home.
Did you blog about the conference?
I blogged about the first conference here. I don't seem to have blogged about the second one, but it was equally excellent.
Even more than I resist doing memes, I generally resist tagging other people. But, since I do want to do my part in encouraging more people to attend the Third Annual Kidlitosphere Conference, I will make the attempt. I tag Liz B. from Tea Cozy, Susan Kusel from Booklights, Sarah Stevenson from Finding Wonderland, Adrienne from What Adrienne Thinks About That, and Andrea and Mark from Just One More Book. But if anyone else who has attended one of the other conferences would like to participate, I'd love to read your comments.
Hope to see some of you in Washington next month. It's going to be great. I promise! Much more than worth the time and money.