Saturday, August 10, 2013


I just got home from spending four luxurious days at the Hyatt Regency in Los Angeles for the 42nd Annual SCBWI Conference (Society of Children's Books Writers and Illustrators). I've been four times before, and every time I come I am just blown away by the comradarie, support, inspiration and sheer joy at being among 1200 fellow writers. I swear this is what heaven will be like for me one day. I met some remarkable people including Laurie Halse Anderson (author of Speak and Chains), Henry Winkler, and Newberry Award winning author Richard Peck.

Me & Laurie Halse Anderson, author of SPEAK & CHAINS

Me & Henry Winkler

The biggest highlight for me was meeting Bruce Degan, author of many beloved children's books and the illustrator of The Magic School Bus series. Long, long ago in a far away place I was once an 18-year-old just out of high school looking for a job. I was hired at Once Upon A Time Bookstore in Montrose, CA. During the year I worked there I purchased many wonderful books, most of which I still own nearly 30 years later. One was JAMBERRY by Bruce Degan, a colorful, lyrical picture book that I just absolutely love. Over the years I have read the book hundreds of times over to my five kids, the oldest of which is now an adult.

Me & Bruce Degan, author of JAMBERRY

Well, I met Bruce Degan!!! Not only did he autograph my original 30 year old copy of JAMBERRY, but I bought a new copy for him to sign for my daughter so she can read it to her kids some day. Wow. I'm still in awe.

Just a sampling of THE LAST ENCHANTER tote bags.

Also a lot of fun was seeing the ocean of bright pink tote bags in the crowd. I brought 450 totebags promoting the release of THE LAST ENCHANTER in October, and they went like hotcakes! My husband said he didn't think the men would like them, but they were a hit. I even saw an older man with a black eye patch carrying one around.

Santa Clarita Schmoozers

But not everything was wine and roses this weekend. In fact, my sister Dorine and my friend Cheryl and I are jokingly calling it the weekend from hell.  Friday my glasses broke (thank goodness for superglue!). Saturday Cheryl's crown broke in two during dinner and she swallowed half of it. My publisher sent the wrong version of my manuscript to the proofreader, so I spent 3 hours Saturday morning tracking down the correct version. My publisher also got attacked by a swarm of wasps and was stung over 20 times. Then Saturday night I felt sick and went to bed early, missing the biggest party of the weekend. Sunday Dorine stayed in bed half the day with a migraine.  It was crazy! But over all, we had the time of our lives. Came home with a stack of books for the kids, and I made many new friends and memories to last a lifetime.

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