To Blog or not to Blog/Kidlit ’08

As an aspiring writer of YA fiction, I’ve thought about blogging for a while. It’s a no-brainer when you consider that agents and editors are reported to be heavy readers of kidlit blogs. There are even stories of people who’ve had an agent come to them after reading their blog. As Greg Pincus said in his presentation at the Kidlit Blogging Conference in Portland this weekend, you have to set yourself up to take advantage of the “happy accident”. I was glad he said that, because up ’till then I was feeling like a poser being one of the few “pre-published” authors at the conference. Turns out I’m ahead of the game.

So now that we’ve established the blogging is a Good Thing for a wannabe author, the question is, what to post? I’ve been told you need to be compelling. You need to write about something heartfelt, something that will keep the reader coming back. Humor is always a plus. No pressure there.

So, should I write about the Kidlit Conference, which was totally amazing? I had no idea the “kidlitosphere” existed, and I certainly didn’t know the scope of it. Turns out there’s this whole, virtual world of authors, reviewers, teachers and librarians who are in the business of promoting kids’ books and encouraging children to read. It’s a marketing treasure trove for writers trying to find a home for their books. The most incredible thing about the conference was the energy it created. I came away with all these references to look up, all these new ideas to try, all these books to read. There was almost a manic-ness to it, a feeling of frenzy, and—for a beginner—an overwhelming sense of discovery. It’s that experience you have when you first start to learn about a subject. You know there’s an order to it, but you haven’t figured it out yet. You have questions, but you can’t ask them, because you don’t know what to ask. The fortunate thing about all this is that as you learn a bit here and there the big picture starts to form, then you get that “ah ha!” moment when it all falls into place.

But enough about that. Others have done a much more comprehensive job of reviewing the conference. People who fully understand what the kidlitosphere is. Maybe I should write about my personal life, instead. My ego-crushing struggle to find an agent who recognizes the marketing potential of a YA novel about stock car racing. Let’s face it, most agents are in New York, which is not exactly the hotbed of Southern, blue-collar culture. I’ve actually had agents tell me, “Sorry, I have no interest in stock car racing”. Hello, ever hear of NASCAR dads? The media wouldn’t create a stereotype if there wasn’t a demographic to back it up.

Now I suppose these agents could be rejecting me because my writing totally sucks, and I’m not the most unbiased person when it comes to judging my own work, so my opinion is undoubtedly somewhat circumspect. However, I’ve been told by several people that I have some level of skill at stringing words together. I try to remind myself that it’s just a matter of finding the right fit, and that Stephen King was rejected…blah, blah, blah. Actually, if one more person tells me how many times Stephen King was rejected I’ll probably flog myself to death with his latest manuscript. Or maybe I should just use a copy of Breaking Dawn. At 754 pages it’s likely to bring a swifter demise.

If my experiences as an author put people to sleep, I could always talk about my business, landscape maintenance. Work is slow right now, but there’s plenty to do in my own yard—my “display garden” as the IRS has come to know it. The weather’s perfect for working outside. Western Oregon is magnificent this time of year. Warm, golden sunshine and a sky so blue it slices straight through the crap of everyday existence and leaves you staring in awe, sucked back to your primal connection to the earth. The Kidlit attendants got a real treat visiting in late September. At least those who were able to escape the alternating arctic cold and locker-room-after-a-game stuffiness of the Sheraton’s windowless conference rooms.

Hmm, whaddaya know, 718 words. Looks like I’ve got my first post.

This entry was posted in Humor, News and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

11 Responses to To Blog or not to Blog/Kidlit ’08

  1. Jon Bard says:

    Hey, I’m your first commenter! I’m sure many will follow, as you’re bound to offer up some great insights here.

    And yeah, the conference was wonderful — I’m truly inspired by what transpired.

    Now — keep posting!

    All the best,

    Jon Bard
    Managing Editor, Children’s Book Insider, the Newsletter for Children’s Writers


  2. Hee hee! Welcome to blogging!


  3. Laini Taylor says:

    Hi Lisa! Great to meet you this weekend! I tried to find your blog to link to you (I had forgotten that astronaut’s name until I tried googling you!) and now I see why I didn’t find it — glad you took the plunge! The first post is always a challenge. I didn’t know what to write about so I just tested the waters with a meme.

    On the subject of books about racing: I just read an article in The New Writer’s Handbook (vol 2) by the author Will Weaver, who writes about car racing for young adults. I don’t know the books, or know the different kinds of racing, but if you’re not already familiar with him, it might be worth looking into. One title is Saturday Night Dirt. If the books sell well, that could give you a good “pitch” line when you’re querying agents.

    Hope to see you soon at a Kidlit gathering!


  4. Hi, Lisa! It was great to see you again at KidLit–yeah, wasn’t the energy amazing?

    Fingers crossed for you on your agent search…it just takes finding that one person who really gets it. But boy, can it get frustrating. We’re pulling for you.

    Congrats on your first post–see you ’round the blogosphere!


  5. jone says:

    Lisa, I really wished I gotten to talke with you more! The whole racing thing is cool and my intention was to meet you. I hope that you will continue to post. Great synopsis and thoughts about the conference.


  6. suz says:

    Yay for the first post. And it’s a darn good one! The flogging yourself line…. Hilarious!!

    It was great lunching with you!


  7. susanls says:

    Ohmigod, you’ve got REAL authors posting comments. Well, here’s my .02 from another wannabe. Good job, girl! See, it’s not that hard. And I was pleased to hear that your conference recommended WordPress. As I told you, I’ve tried a bunch over the years and WP is the BEST.

    Looking good, keep it up, and if you need help with the humor, let me know and I’ll verbally abuse you a bit. BTW, I’m offering my little 1/2 acre of heaven as your next display garden! ROFLMAO!

    BTW, no surgery and now in a removable cast! He even recommended spinning as good therapy. Hope to see you tomorrow.



  8. Rachel says:

    Another wannabe here. I was at the conference and had a lot of the same feelings. It is such a welcoming, friendly community. I’m really glad I went. Here’s hoping a couple of ‘happy accidents’ are heading our way!


  9. Katy Skinner says:

    I shall bookmark your blog, Lisa! I like MySpace for blogging best of all. I’ve tried most of them; LiveJournal, BlogSpot, WordPress, Blogger, etc. etc. I just like MySpace the best for some reason. Does this blog send out notifications for when you’ve blogged?


  10. sara z. says:

    Congratulations on your first post! Woohoo! You will be surprised at how quickly it becomes a habit, and as things happen in daily life you’ll be making mental notes. Even better, make an actual note. If I think of something I want to mention in my blog but blog is not at hand, I jot it down on my calendar or somewhere.

    To answer Katy’s question: you can add this (and any, almost) blog to a free online blog reader like Google Reader or Bloglines. Then you just have one page to visit when you want to read blogs and if there are new posts, they are all right there. Whee!


  11. Roxie says:

    Late to the party, impressed, but unsurprised. Good bloggin’ webfoot!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s