Sunday, October 31, 2010

What I Learned in School This Month

October has been...busy. Three major events that involved traveling (2 by plane, 1 by car) and assorted deadlines both editorially imposed and self-imposed. But as often happens when barrels full of stuff come screaming my way, I learn a lot.

Start with Encyclomedia in Oklahoma - the state librarian conference. I was on a panel (thanks to Stacy Nyikos) with Class of 2k9ers Joy Preble (DREAMING ANASTASIA) and Fran Cannon Slayton (WHEN THE WHISTLE BLOWS) and 2k10ers Bonnie Doerr (ISLAND STING) and Denise Jaden (LOSING FAITH). (That's, left to right, Fran, Joy, Bonnie, Denise, and me.) We had a great time and a huge turnout - over 100 and possibly closer to 200 - librarians attended our New Voices panel. I finally met the inimitable Cynthea Liu and the talented Tammi Sauer. I loved seeing/meeting these guys and we had such fun talking about our travels and travails and the fortunes of a children's book author...

Homework lesson #1: There is nothing like the camaraderie of fellow writers to (a) help you cope with the ups and downs of writing and (b) cement your determination to continue.

Then to KidlitCon - the Kidlitosphere Conference in Minneapolis, hosted by a gracious triumvirate of Andrew Karre of Carolrhoda, Ben Barnhart of Milkweek Press, and Brian Farrey of Flux, and which brought friendly bloggers from across the "sphere"(I had such fun getting to know the people behind the blog names!) The amazing Swati Avasthi (SPLIT), who lives in Minneapolis, offered to help set up signings and a panel and..voila! I was there with Swati, Michele Corriel (FAIRVIEW FELINES) and Jacqueline Houtman (THE REINVENTION OF EDISON THOMAS), all of us from Class of 2k10 (left to right, Jacqueline, Swathi, me and Michele; photo by Andrew Karre.) And boy, was that a learning curve, the result of which (as I hope you'll see) I'll be REINVENTING THE BLOG OF JANET FOX. Rather than try and describe the conference, suffice to say that I learned one major lesson:

Homework lesson #2: Decide who your blog audience is. Right now, it's you guys who are, I think, mostly fellow writers and teachers and librarians. If I want to have teens visit, I need to rethink. Suggestions welcome. 

Then I was on my way to  Montana Festival of the Book in Missoula. What a great conference. I felt like royalty - I was hosted by Humanities Montana (isn't that a gorgeous poster? yes, I bought one!) and together again with Michele Corriel - who, I might add, knows everyone in Montana because of her legacy as a respected and widely published journalist - we presented a panel and were able to sign our books, and I was invited to read with Jeanette Ingold (which was an honor all by itself.)  That's me below with Cherie Newman, a producer at Yellowstone Public Radio, who interviewed me (a thrill!) for a YPR broadcast for January.

Homework lesson #3: Books in every form are alive and well and frankly always will be. The delivery system may change, but everyone loves a story. Fiction, nonfiction, memoir...everyone loves - needs - story.

So. We fellow writers must stick together, must determine our audience when we blog/speak/whatever, and must remember that story will always be around, no matter what happens to the "industry."



Swati said...

It was wonderful to have you out here and to present with you! I love reading what you have learned. I was there too and didn't learn that. So thanks for helping me see what I missed.

I would say my biggest take aways was blogging is a conversation and so I should not feel shy about responding to blogs and comments on my own blog.

Thanks for sharing and including me in the conversation.

Janet Fox said...

That's another great take-away, Swati. I'm so glad you mentioned it!