My NYC trip was one of the best trips ever! I had a blast. Part of the trip was business but a large portion of the trip was for pleasure. Holla!
After many flight delays, I arrived in NYC late in the afternoon on Wednesday, January 28, 2009. Holly Stone-Barker, my friend who is an amazing illustrator, was already in our room. We roomed together for the SCBWI conference. She and I went to dinner at Pershing Cafe’, which had delicious food. It was restaurant week so we ate an appetizer, entree’ and dessert for $35!! Holly was so sweet – she treated me to dinner for my birthday (January 15).
Early in the morning on Thursday, January 29, my best friend from high school, Fe Reyes, arrived. We screamed and hugged and cried like little girls when we saw each other (we hadn’t seen each other since HS!). NYC was my birthday gift to her. Holly, Fe and I had breakfast at Pershing then hit the streets. We were doing Chinatown!
Holly, Fe and I power-shopped the stores of Chinatown buying everything from scarves to purses to jewelry to shoes. It was so much fun! Holly, who had gone to college at Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, said that she remembered a fabulous restaurant called Joe’s Shanghi that specialized in dumplings. We could not find the place. Holly asked every little Chinese man and woman where it was. After walking 28 blocks (ok not really but we walked A LOT), Holly finally found it. And it was so worth the hunt. The dumplings were so delicious – the waiter even “cut my dumpling open” for me. LOL I learned how to properly eat a chinese dumpling, full of pork and hot soup. Our waiter even sang me a Chinese love ballad. So sweet.
Holly had to go to another part of town to shop for paper and also to meet other friends. Fe and I had to dinner and theater plans so we parted in the late afternoon. When Fe and I got back to the hotel, we realized that we were running late! It was a mad dash to get ready. But we made it. We rode in a limousine to 21 Club, a posh NYC restaurant run by Executive Chef John Greely.
The maitre’d escorted us to the Upstairs, a more private dining room for which I had reservations. We had a wonderful sommelier and server, Christopher, who catered to our every desire.
We each had an appetizer, entree’ and dessert. They even brought out Fe’s dessert with a candle in it. So sweet. Then the executive chef came out to greet Fe and wish her a Happy Birthday like the VIP Birthday Star she was. She was tickled pink and told me I was the best date ever. LOL
Then it was off to see Mamma Mia! It was a short but brisk walk (soooo cold!) to the Winter Garden Theater. The musical was phenomenal. Fe and I danced in our fabulous seats (middle mezzanine row 2). Yeah, we were totally Dancing Queens, havin’ the time of our lives!
After Mamma Mia, we had drinks at the Inc. Lounge at the Time Hotel, right across the street from the Chicago theater. I stayed at the Time Hotel for a week in the summer and the staff of the hotel and the manager of the lounge remembered me. He invited Fe and I back to the lounge on Friday and Saturday night to a private party, guest list only.
We slept in on Friday. It was snowing so we decided to do something indoors. Fe and I decided to go to the American Museum of Natural History, right across the street from Central Park. Of course, we had to walk to Central Park first.
Here’s a classic picture. Love those NYC cabs!
Then Fe and I headed to the American Museum of Natural History. How cool is this picture in front of the building?!! Author Dianne de Las Casas!
I am working on a Dinosaur book so I was really interested in seeing the dinosaur movie, Dinosaurs Alive! at the IMAX theater as well as viewing the dino exhibit. Fe was all for it.
We had fun walking around the museum and exploring the dinosaurs.
We even visited the… DinoStore where we had the best customer service!
Then it was time to get ready for dinner.
We got back to the hotel and dressed for Ellen’s Stardust Diner, another birthday surprise for Fe.
Ellen’s Stardust Diner was fantastic. The wait staff sings as the customers dine. Of course, we were celebrating Fe’s birthday so she had extra special birthday STAR treatment! We even met some fun people from L.A. – Lower Alabama! Hi Walter!
After Ellen’s, Fe and I went back to the Inc. Lounge. As soon as we walked up, we were ushered in like VIP as “friends of Jesse.” It was awesome. Jesse had some friends in from Boston and they were dancing up a storm. It was a blast. What a night! Thanks, Jesse!
On Saturday, January 31, 2009, it was Fe’s real birthday. It was also the first day of the SCBWI (Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators) conference. The day was full – beginning with a keynote by Jarrett Krosoczka, author of Punk Farm. He had the most hilarious video featuring children’s book stars like Tomie dePaola, Jane Yolen, John Scieska, Mo Willems, Grace Lin, Tony DiTerlizzi, and more. Then it was off to editor’s breakout sessions. The lunch keynote speaker was Jay Asher, author of 13 Reasons Why. Jay gave a moving keynote about his journey into being a published author. More editor’s breakout sessions in the afternoon and then the SCBWI cocktail hour. There I see my friend, Bonnie Bader and my sweetie, Allie!
Afterwards, Fe and I met met my fun and fabulous friend, Ellen Hopkins, NYT best-selling author of Crank (among many other books) for drinks and dinner. We had a huge group of people – YA writers. We went to a place called Public, where we had a great dinner. My cousins, Valerie and El-Al met us there. After dinner, it was time for more dancing. We got back to the hotel late/early! LOL
On Sunday, February 1, 2009, we headed downstairs for Bruce Hale’s morning keynote address. Bruce is the author of the Chet Gecko series and he wowed the crowd with his singing abilities. He also gave a wonderful keynote on how to appeal to middle grade kids. Plus Bruce was pimpin in his MacDaddy hat and tailored jacket. You go, Bruce!
Fe and I still had to pack so we ended up missing the closing keynoter, Jack Gantos. I made a lot of great connections at the SCBWI conference. Hey to all my new friends out there! Be sure to meet me on FaceBook!
Fe and Holly had to head to the airport that afternoon and I had to go to my friend, Katie Davis’ house. So after a teary goodbye to Fe and a big hug for Holly (we see each other often – Holly lives in Louisiana), I headed to Grand Central Station to catch my train to Bedford Hills, NY.
Katie Davis, my good friend and wonderful author, was at the train station to greet me and pick me up. She had a surprise for me too! Elizabeth Dulemba (Author/Illustrator) and Hope Anita Smith (Coretta Scott King Honors Author) were at her house. It was going to be a slumber party. Unfortunately, they had all just returned from Kindling Words, a writer’s retreat and were dead tired. We talked for a bit but everyone was ready to retire. Elizabeth and I were sharing a room and ended staying up a little longer trading technology tips. It was so much fun. When I awoke the next morning, both Elizabeth and Hope were already gone – they caught a 6:30am train into the city.
Katie and I hung out all day. Her gorgeous 13 year old daughter, Ruby, was sick so we ran a few errands, getting medicine and lunch.
Here’s cool Katie saying, “Hurry up and take the picture already!”
Katie is so talented. I got a tour of her studio. Not only does she illustrate but she knits (she knitted the sweater she is wearing), makes jewelry, and cooks! She made me the most awesome cold sesame noodles for dinner that night. Wow!
We had wine, talked shop, and visited like girlfriends. She is one of the coolest chicks I know. I love her energy, her intelligence, and her family! Thank you Jerry, Benny & Ruby for having me as a guest in your house!
On Tuesday, February 3, 2009, it was time to head back to NYC to catch my flight home. It began snowing and I was worried that I would have flight delays. I don’t see snow very often so I was like a giddy little girl watching the flurries build drifts.
Around 2:15pm, Katie brought me to the train station. Thank you for the wonderful visit, Katie! On the train, I met a wonderful young lady, Heather with gorgeous flaming red hair. She is going to be the next big Broadway star!
My trip to NYC was phenomenal! Thank you to everyone who made it special!
Until next time…