65 — Sunny Foggy San Francisco

My mind spins with sights and smells, colors and characters, images from our whirlwind trip to fair San Francisco.

Union Square. Where else to reunite with friends and family.

Now to head out and see the city.

I confess…I LOVE San Francisco.

Everything about the city is colorful! The locals…

…if cautiously curious.

The buildings…

…the food.

There’s plenty of music…

on every street corner,

And characters abound.

With no dearth of ways to get around.

…whether there are two of you…

or you need a bicycle built for seven!

The “Conference Bike” has its own website!”

Even a busride is full of fun.

As much as I’ve seen the sights before,

this time, I had a list of new things I would do.

First up…


We swung by the ticket office
and were told to our dismay–
Next Trip
July 12.

Hmmm. Guess it does pay to plan ahead. We got to save money by not 😛

This is as close as we got to the infamous island.

Second on the list–
Climb Coit’s Tower.


By the time we got to the bottom of the stairs we’d worn out our legs and energy was selling at a premium we couldn’t afford.

There were things we’d never seen before.
Like a fake alligator all baked of sourdough.

And a real alligator that was albino!

A cable car changing direction, the old fashioned way–
by hand.

We got to see the birthplace of the famous San Francisco sourdough, Boudin’s, where they toss sourdough boules to grasping tourists.

We visited the birthplace of San Francisco itself–
the lovely Mission Dolores.

Simple on the outside.

Elegant on the inside.

Peaceful in the graveyard.

We stood in line to see baby ostriches at the California Academy of Sciences…

and to eat world famous ice cream.

My favorite?

Brown sugar-caramel-ginger-roasted banana!

We learned that green tea cookies taste best in the Japanese Tea Garden.

If you want to ride the cable car–
you need to follow a few rules…

And hold on for dear life!

So as the sun sets, on this dreamy city…

I know I will be back. I’ve got a little list of things that I have yet to see,
and Alcatraz is at the top again.

Not to mention, plenty more food,

and wine!

64–SCBWI Turns Forty: Of Phantoms and Dragons and Phantom Dragons

Yes. SCBWI has turned a fun and frolicksome forty.

Before this year’s conference, I used to think children’s books were non-fattening.

That was before I ate a chocolate one.

If you can’t pronounce SCBWI, no worries, our founding parents, Steve and Lin, proclaim they can’t either.
In fact, they insist that its non-pronuncibility (pronounce that! OK, spell it first) was a major factor in the choice of that title.

A lot has changed with the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators over the forty years.

For one,

Steve and Lin don’t quite look the same.

Although they are still lollipop-sucking young at heart. That’s what children’s books will do to you!

The headquarters have changed too, from a non-descript shopfront that is now, yes, a dental office doling out loads of braces, no doubt…

…to a fancy building of our own!

Our membership has increased from a local handful to more than 22,000 international members reaching out all the way to Mongolia, where,

not everyone is totally delighted.

The faculty at the first conference would have gawked at this year’s panelists whose line snaked out the door of the conference hall.

All that brilliance under one roof.
People like Norton Jester, uh Juster, who’s just as funny in person as he is on the page in The Phantom Tollbooth.

Donna Jo Napoli with a smile as winsome as her book The Smile .

Gary Paulsen whose life as he tells it is far more exciting than Hatchet .

Laurie Halse Anderson who first stole my heart with her books, and then by calling me her “sister-friend!”

Forty years ago, lunch meant KFC on the lawn.

Lunch now is still chicken, but it’s decorated with exotics such as broccolini and served in a ballroom, no less!
We are a true Cinderella story,
though we are no fairy tale.

My critique group buddies Julie, Nancy, and Kathy.

But some things, never change.
Like the pearls of wisdom the faculty are so ready to share.

Bruce Coville’s advice to all children’s writers — Marry rich.

Oops! Where did that dragon bounce in from? Hmm. That can’t be good. I have a nasty feeling about this.

Maybe if I ignore that pesky green thing, it’ll go away.
Where was I?
Oh yes. Some things never change.
Like the heart-warming stories, the evocative illustrations…

Illustrator David Small with his evil cell-phone wielding publicist as he graphically explains the difference between signing books at a large chain versus an indie bookstore.

…and the pure joy of what we do that makes us break into song and dance spontaneously.

David Small and his wife, author Sarah Stewart, dance to “How good it is to be loved by you.”

Some of our members haven’t changed, like the ever young Judy Blume who dropped in on us as a surprise.

Yes. That really is Judy Blume and…

…yikes, the dopey dragon’s dragged in a fiendish friend.

Go away!
We have enough wild things at this party already.

And that’s another thing that will never change.
We will always party into the WEE hours of the night…

…even if it means sneaking out after bedtime in our pajamas.

Oh no.

Somebody train that dragon to behave before she beats up on all our illustrious faculty.

She’s gone.
Back to the party.

Whether we look utterly cute,

pretty in pink,

or downright classy.

Party we will…

…until the lights go out.

Thank you Steve and Lin and SCBWI for an amazing conference.
May we have many, many more!
And may the inspiration and motivation keep flowing to all children’s writers and illustrators everywhere.

The phantom dragon’s exiting the building.
Something tells me, though, we’ve not seen the last of her.
You let me know if a dopey dragon crashes your pajama party, ya hear?