Yesterday will be hard to top.

For starters, news came that my manuscript for The Day-Glo Brothers — stop me if you’ve heard this one already — may actually be finally, finally finished. Or at least ready for release to the art director, which will mark the beginning of the illustration phase. It’ll be exciting to finally have the art for this story exist somewhere other than just in my head. Anyway, I should know on Tuesday whether the manuscript requires any more fixing. I submitted my latest fixes at 11:00 Thursday night.

On to the Austin SCBWI conference. I arrived at the Austin airport just before noon to pick up agent Stephen Fraser (Jennifer DeChiara Literary Agency). When I got there, to our mutual surprise, Frances Hill and Brian Yansky were there to pick up art director Cecilia Yung (Putnam). A few moments later, more surprise — Mark Mitchell showed up to pick up art director David Caplan (HarperCollins). Our guests all arrived, along with editor Mark McVeigh (Dutton), so we headed en masse to the hotel, and then en masse minus one to a terrific lunch. I never cease to be surprised by how smart and clever and kind and fun children’s literature people are.

Then I had time to do a little more research on James at the Center for American History and to browse around Book People (is there any kind of writing that M.T. Anderson can’t do well?) . After that, I resumed my chauffeur duties by giving a few of the out-of-towners a ride to an evening get-together honoring them and the locals involved in making the conference happen.

Last night I joked that there will be more volunteers at today’s conference than there will be regular attendees. And that’s an overstatement, but not by all that much. If you’ve never volunteered to help pull one of these off, you and your local chapter are both missing out. There’s plenty of work to be done, and there are payoffs galore for you. This morning, I already feel like I’ve gotten my money’s worth, and the conference is still three hours away.