So, I'm doing this talk next weekend at the Oregon Reading Association conference on the subject of "Kids & the Kidlitosphere" -- that is, how young readers can connect with authors and other book-minded folks online and enrich their reading experience.
Do you have any thoughts on this topic?
When I was a kid, authors were. . . remote. Unreal. Inaccessible. I suppose they loved getting letters then as much as I love getting emails now, but I just didn't think to do it. People like Madeleine L'Engle and Paul Zindel just didn't seem like humans inhabiting my planet who might ever write back. I'm not saying they wouldn't have, it was just so different then than it is now. Authors are ONLINE. We're so easy to reach, and I can't speak for every author, but we LOVE to hear from young readers (and un-young readers alike).
In my blogroll I have a special section for awesome young bloggers, and right now there are only three on it: Lexi, Jehsyka, and Erica, all (I think) thirteen, all smart and funny. I love reading their blog entries, knowing they are writing books, hearing their unique voices. Jehsyka recently posted covers she designed for her series-in-the-works and they're so professional they could easily have been plucked out of a publisher's catalog. These young bloggers rock. I imagine myself at thirteen and how much I would have loved a space like a blog to connect with readers and writers around the world -- it would have been an amazing thing for me. A world-unfolding experience. As it now, as a writer, I love the opportunity to connect with other writers and with readers. I can't imagine if this ether-space didn't exist. How lonely!
For my talk, which I am devising now, I'll be talking about emailing authors and posting reviews on Amazon, and about fanfiction and blogging, and about readers' sites like Teenreads.com and Readergirlz. I'll also mention different book-give-away contests that authors have run, like Maureen Johnson's marvelous Zombie Idol of last year, in which she, along with fellow judges Meg Cabot, Justine Larbalestier, E. Lockhart, and John Green, read oodles of entries of great works of literature rewritten with zombie content. Awesome!
I had a drawing (no writing contest portion, though I'd like to do that someday) to choose early readers of the Silksinger manuscript, who would read the second draft even before my editor did and give me feedback. Lexi, mentioned above, did not win the drawing but I was so taken with the Dreamdark-inspired faerie character that she emailed me that I sent it to her anyway.
I'm trying to think of other particular ways that young readers can get involved with the reading & writing community online. Can you think of anything? Please let me know. Also, if you are a young reader/writer with a blog, let me know about it; I'd love to see it and maybe add it to my blogroll. If you are a young reader/writer who has thought about creating a blog but hasn't started yet -- start now! It's great. I encourage you to post reviews of your favorite books and let the authors know. For my part, I LOVE that! (I have Google Alerts that let me know about any new reviews). Also, post your writing and art. Find other bloggers, make new friends. (Don't use your full name, and don't put up clear photos of yourself, for safety sake. You can even create a cool secret identity if you want.)
Help, anyone? Thoughts? Insights? Personal anecdotes about interactions with favorite authors, or writers: interactions with readers? I'd love to hear it!