August 13, 2009

The Blog is Back!


Also known as the best weekend ever!!!

I'm incredibly grateful to Lin Oliver, Steve Mooser, Sid Fleischman and all the wonderful SCBWI peeps involved in bringing me to this amazing conference. Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!

First on the schedule was a faculty dinner outside the Hyatt hotel. I walked up to the first person I saw, thrust out my hand and said, "Hi, my name is Donna." The woman shook my hand. "Hi, I'm Karen." I asked, "So, what do you write?"

It was Karen Cushman. Um, I know what she writes -- Catherine, Called Birdy, The Midwife's Apprentice, etc.

Donna and Karen Cushman

At the party, I met Jay Asher, Lisa Yee, Alice Pope, Melinda Long and hubby Thom, Paula Yoo, Jenn Baily and many other cool, funny people.

The next morning, Sherman Alexie kicked off the conference with a fabulous speech. I figured I could go home at that point and I'd have gotten enough from the conference.

But there were other wonderful speakers and workshops. Details here.

Then it was off to a wine and cheese reception, where I had neither wine nor cheese, but lots of fun.

Buddy, Jill, agent, Tina Wexler and Donna

I met Delacorte author, Varian Johnson, from Austin, TX. His new book, Saving Maddie, comes out a month before mine. Varian and I share an editor at Delacorte Press -- Stephanie Elliott. Varian and I have so much in common, I'll bet you won't be able to tell us apart . . .

He's the one with the great laugh. Donna and Varian Johnson.

More great speeches and workshops on Saturday. I had the pleasure of hearing Karen Cushman, Ellen Hopkins, Eve Bunting, Arthur Levine, Kadir Nelson, Melinda Long, etc.

Then it was time for the Blue Moon Ball Saturday night by the pool . . .

Here's Jill in her blue hat.

People dressed as The Blue Man Group, a blue octopus, an alien, Austin Powers, etc. Crazy, dancing, laughing fun, fun, FUN!

Sunday, after some more stellar speeches by Dan Yaccarino and Holly Black, it was time for the Golden Kite Awards luncheon with a special keynote by Richard Peck.

By this point, I'd practiced my short speech 4,783,264,096 times so I was able to enjoy the speeches of the other award recipients and the lovely lunch.

Here are Jill, Tina Wexler and Linda Bernfeld, Florida's Regional Advisor, readying their cameras for the big moment.

Really, I wasn't nervous at all. I mean, all I had to do was walk up the steps without tripping, find my way to the podium without vomiting and deliver a memorized speech with no notes in front of 1,000 people. I really wasn't that nervous, but he was . . .

Dan the Man, aka World's Best Hubby, flew in for the event and was way more nervous than I was. Next to Dan is Hyewon Yum, who won the award for picture book illustration for her book, Last Night. She told about how she had such a difficult time talking with people that she created the book, which won the award and caused her to have to, um, talk to 1,000 people.

Richard Peck's keynote rocked. He's such a smart and witty man.

Lin Oliver (co-founder of SCBWI, with Steve Mooser -- not pictured) and Richard Peck

Receiving the Sid Fleischman Humor Award was a thrill and a dream come true. You can read a bit about it here and see a photo of my face on a giant screen. The award presented to me was heavier than I imagined. To give you an idea of its size, it's beside a six-foot-tall sumo wrestler named Clem.

Sid Fleischman Award for Best Humorous Children's Book of the Year . . . and Clem

After the banquet, I had the pleasure of signing copies of my book, while sitting beneath this sign:

And who should come over, but the real life Vanessa Rothrock. (That's the name of the main character in my book.) Funny, she didn't look like a 12 3/4 year-old spelling bee whiz who lived in Florida's Governor's Mansion.

Vanessa Rothrock and Donna

Monday, I had the great pleasure of presenting a workshop, titled: 12 3/4 Ways to Tickle Young Reader's Funny Bones. I couldn't have asked for a more enthusiastic, engaged audience.

Wonderful humor writer and all around lovely and generous person, Mary Hershey, introduced herself. I owe Mary some dark chocolate because she managed to recognize me before I recognized her. We'd only connected on-line before here and here. Her books have great, long titles, like The One Where The Kid Nearly Jumps to His Death and Lands in California. Mary, the chocolate is on its way.

Mary Hershey and Donna

Dinah Stevenson gave the first speech Monday. Ingrid Law, author of Savvy, followed. My gosh, that woman can write! She created a story that was a metaphor for the trials and tribulations of the writing life. Best story ever! And her daughter is adorable! Kathleen Duey ended the day with an informative, inspiring farewell speech.

To top off the best conference ever, I was invited to the wrap party at Lin Oliver's home. Thank you, Lin! There I met more wonderful people -- regional advisors from around the globe, editors, agents, authors.

And because my niece will think I'm cool, I asked Ellen Hopkins if I could take a photo with her.
So, Nicole, this is for you . . .

Ellen Hopkins and Aunt Donna

On the flight home, I thought about the wonderful experiences during the conference and came up with reason #4,567,083 that I love Southwest Airlines. This was my seatmate . . .

A long-haired chihuahua that weighed under two pounds.


Paul R. May said...

Sounds like a amazing adventure, Donna. So glad it went well. And you got to meet so many cool authors!!

Congrats again... You deserve every bit of this, lady!!

Anonymous said...

Welcome back, blog! We've missed you. And congrats again, Donna. It was a great weekend, even if you did make me C-R-Y during your speech. xox Tina

Amanda Coppedge said...

So proud of you, Donna!!! So glad you had a wonderful time and a safe trip there and back. I am really hoping to make it to the Palm Springs group in September, I miss you and Jill and Sylvia and Linda and and and . . . so much.

Jill Nadler said...

It really was the best weekend ever. You're a great travel buddy and your speech was amazing!

You rock!

Elysa Graber-Lipperman said...

You are truly amazing! Congratulations! We cannot wait for the next book!

Anonymous said...

Donna, Welcome home and congratulations! What an exciting trip for you! You will have those memories forever. I'm so glad Dan was able to be there to celebrate with you. We'll have to come over and check out your statue!


Nicole said...

Looks like a wonderful time, congrats donna!!

DanR said...

Add my name to the top of the list of people who are very proud of you and what you've accomplished. I'd love to hear the speech you gave at the conference. See you soon.

Sylvia said...

I'm rejoicing in your glorious best-ever weekend. We were all there with you in spirit, Donna, cheering ourselves hoarse and feeling so proud. Can't wait to see that trophy.

Varian Johnson said...

It was great meeting you last weekend. Congrats on all the success, and good luck with the new novel!

Stephanie Elliott said...

Sounds wonderful Donna! A hearty congratulations again. Wish I could've been there to see your speech!

Edrian said...

Congratulations Donna!!! What a wonderful time to be celebrated and recognized among your peers! All the best!!!