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September 2013



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SCBWI Orlando Conference Part 1: Road Trip!

Last Thursday, June 23, I embarked on an epic journey with my trusty comrades Marjetta Geerling and Mindy Alyse Weiss, across a treacherous landscape to reach an elusive foreign land—that’s code for taking our lives in our hands driving on the Florida Turnpike to Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort (which seems to be located in some mystical dimension that wreaks havoc with GPS navigation systems like that island on LOST).

The first clue that we were going to be in for a bumpy ride was when Marjetta picked me up and we consulted her GPS (hence known as Gotta Pee Soon!) to find Mindy’s address. The problem was, the darn contraption couldn’t figure out what our starting point was and must have routed us like we were in Nome, Alaska—not to be confused with that village of little drunken garden dwellers.

After calibrating our equipment (aka screaming and shaking it in frustration with a slam or two against the dashboard for good measure) we were off!

It was great being in the car and catching up with Marjetta…who cares that we had to shout over the annoying Gotta Pee Soon robotic voice constantly telling us we had to make a U-turn or something, and the incessant dinging of its warning bells that sounded like an overzealous altar boy summoning the Holy Spirit? Marjetta says there’s a pattern to the bells: One ding means you’re approaching your exit, two dings means you should turn, and three dings means you accomplished your task.

I propose a new method. Rather that a Quasi-Modo-type alert and reward system, how about if monotone-robotic-voice-chick just screeches out: 

Hurry up and get in the left lane or you’ll miss your turn!


You were too busy talking and/or texting and you missed your exit, Dumbass!

I think that’d be much more effective than clanging bells, but that’s just me.

About an hour later (approximately 70% hoarse now), we arrived at Mindy’s, where we got all Sunday-Schooly and re-enacted biblical scripture. You heard the one in Matthew 19:24 about it being easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than a rich dude making it through the pearly gates? Apparently, good ‘ole Matty never tried to fit several large suitcases and a passenger into the backseat of Marjetta’s car. Loo-Yah!

We were off at last! How do three writers effectively pass the next four hours confined to a car? Do we discuss our craft? World politics? Social Issues? The evolving cultural dynamic of present society?

Heck No!

Seventeen Magazine Traumarama, baby!

That’s right. Marjetta and I have discovered that teen gossip rags provide a valuable insight into our target audience. Not only do magazines such as Seventeen, Teen Vogue, Ha! Ha! I’m Younger Than You, Bitch, etc. provide coping skills to survive embarrassing moments (i.e. What do you do when you wet-fart in front of your crush while wearing a skimpy white bathing suit? Oh My!), they also forge life-long friendships and assured that Marjetta, Mindy, and myself would be BFFs for life!—or at least until the end of the conference, whichever comes first.

Sometime later (it’s hard to tell because of the time displacement factor created when one travels through another dimension) we found ourselves on East Buena Vista Drive…or was it West Buena Vista Drive? Do I hear a North? A South? You see, our Gotta Pee Soon! started going all Stacey Anthony on us, changing its tune with each passing second. Marjetta and I exchanged panicked glances—it was happening again! On previous visits we’d gotten lost in this exact same area. It couldn’t be a coincidence! Tip for anyone in need of the Buena Vista Fire Station: Just input the address for the Coronado Springs Resort and you’ll end up at the fire station, I promise!

I was forced to go all twentieth-century and actually call the hotel and ask for directions! The nerve! The woman who answered was very gracious, until she concluded our conversation by telling me to “Have a Magical Day.” To the uninitiated, this may sound cute, dare I say adorable? But anyone who’s spent any time at Disney knows this is akin to telling someone to perform an impossible reproductive act (well, unless you’re a hermaphrodite).

Finally, we arrived at Coronado Springs (though now that I think of it, I don’t recall seeing any Springs, unless you count those fountains that look like lions puking up the Tequila they had the night before). Mindy had done the Express registration thingy online, woo-hoo, but Marjetta and I have a more laid back approach (i.e. we’re lazy) and had to stand in the slacker line. But as fate, and the laws of Disney bureaucracy would have it, we ended up registering at pretty much the same time Mindy did, so nonny, nonny, boo, boo, to you! Hey, we’re BFFs so I’m allowed to be snarky!

The young woman at the registration desk (I think her name was Mamby—or was it Pamby? Probably Bambi) informed us in her best Stepford-Wife-ese that it was her last day of training (Oh, Joy, someone that doesn’t know what they’re doing!), and whipped out a map that looked like something Columbus might have consulted back in the day. She then proceeded to mark it up like a Super Bowl playbook. Basically, the resort is divided into individual numbered buildings called Casitas (You know, to create that authentic third world feel), and we’d hit the jackpot and been placed in Casitas No. 10,007, only four days away from the main conference center by animatronic burro.

After expressing our concern to Bambi that the room was too far away from the workshops, she informed us that buildings 1-3 were now considered premium rooms (i.e. you have to pay more to be in the same time zone) but reluctantly (or was she just constipated?) moved us to Casitas No. 4. On the drive toward the building, my mind was racing with such questions as:

Will there be potable water in the room, or is non-lethal bacteria an extra fee?

Did that sign say Chupacabra Crossing?

It’s a little early for monsoon season, isn’t it?

But we finally reached our room in one piece, rejoicing we had survived and the next adventure was about to begin!

Tune in next time, when the conference actually begins and I recount all the glory of the Intensives (including my specialized Sun & Tan Intensive), as well as the wondrous day of workshops, complete with an all-star cast!


I can't wait to read more about your quest to that mysterious dimension. Wasn't it raining, or were you able to transport yourselves through some kind of SCBWI wormhole?
Oh, it was raining all right! Thank God for industrial strength anti-humidity hair spray!

Wet farts? Really? HAHAHA!

Steven, this was just what I needed to read while procrastinating. Hilarious! Can't wait to read more. :-)

Re: Wet farts? Really? HAHAHA!

Glad you enjoyed it, Linda! There's definitely more where that came from! :-)

Re: Wet farts? Really? HAHAHA!

would have done anything to be in a car with you and the M&M's!

As for the mouse and his house...it's a very strange mix of "magic" and "don't look behind the curtain"...but that's just me....

LOL--it was a great start to an amazing conference...even though the GPS was determined to send us away from the hotel.
You definitely have the gift of humor!