Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Since the last time I checked in...

On Saturday I received feedback from my best college buddy, who also happens to be a former editor at Scholastic. So, while she is intrinsically biased, I asked her to pretend my ms was straight from the slush pile. She had a few changes here and there, but nothing major. She said, "I would feel proud to read this to my children (if I had any)." Well, that sounds good to me!

In other news, as a result of the many hours I spent trawling the web in an effort to procrastinate, I made a few discoveries. One is that another college buddy (lost touch) is a literary agent and is active on blogs and at conferences. (UPDATE 6/09): met up with him when he was in town for an SCBWI event -- what fun!!)

I spent eight hours yesterday working on one illustration in Photoshop, and I got just part of it done. I imagine I'll get faster as I get used to this particular style I'm going for, but sheesh!

Everyone I've shown the illo to has appeared to be really impressed. Grain of salt, though. It's hard to get a real sense of the illo's worth because none of these people sit in a room reading slush dummies all day, and besides that, I'm standing right there, so it's hard to be critical. But I like seeing people smile, and this picture makes them do just that.

Did I mention I got a commission? I'm painting an 18"x24" portrait of "Happycat," the I Can Has Cheeseburger cat. After that, I've got a pretty good lead for another commission to paint a couple's dog. (No official agreement yet, but they've seen my portfolio, and want me to come in and meet the dog).

The copious amounts of money I'm going to be flush with will be used to defray the costs of my SCBWI membership and conference fees. Anything left over goes towards getting a new heating/cooling system for the house. By the way, that 'copious' comment...yeah, that was sarcasm. But I'm happy. Besides, in this economy, it's amazing that people want to buy work.

I went to my first SCBWI event tonight -- the Westside Schmooze. It was Picture Book Critique night. I knew three people there, all from various UCLA classes. So, not as scary as it could have been, even though I didn't get to sit with any of them. As my ms was read aloud, I held up the roughs for each page.

I asked for comments about length, as I am afraid it may be too long. I'm not sure if it was the power of suggestion, because although they nodded, they were unable to provide me with a good example of something that could be excised. I think that if it really needs to be fixed, it will require a reworking of the story, because all the lines they suggested where all part of the established repetition and would leave a gaping hole in their wake if they were removed.

One woman said she thought that I needed to take my story to a conference and have an editor look at it. She said it in a really nice way, so I'm taking it as a compliment.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

A Runcible Spoon

I’ve been reading tons of literary agents’ and editors’ blogs, trying to find out who is looking for what and what kind of query letter they prefer. Long or short? Funny or formal? Also, I’m starting to feel like all my sentences are still overly long and contain too many unnecessary transitions, conjunctions, etc…


Unfortunately, I’m also reading about how the number of query letters these people have been receiving has skyrocketed as of late. This makes me nervous. Even though I know my story is good, and I know my illustrations are good, are they good enough to negate the fact that I really have no 'real' published credits to my name?


Later –
So, I worked on my story again today, and I ended up adding words, something I’ve been telling myself not to do! I think I’m worrying too much about the story not flowing. So far, the only critique I’ve gotten is that it’s a little long. (So, I cut some, but now I’m almost back to where I started!)

But the majority of my day was spent reading blogs. All of which is turning from something that was maybe-sort-of productive to something that is really a ‘new and fascinating’ way to procrastinate.

Yesterday, I worked at the studio until the cold weather froze me out (it’s an uninsulated garage), so I was able to escape the evil yet tantalizing lure of the internet. And I got three SFD illustrations done. SFD, for those who haven’t read Anne Lamott’s “Bird by Bird,” stands for Shitty First Draft. Meant for writing, but I have appropriated it, because the concept has enabled me to get something, anything(!) down on paper.

Soooo…I have two, count ‘em TWO SFD illustrations left before I have completed the SFD of the dummy! So close! I will have to redo most of them, probably all of them, because now I have to work harder on consistency, meaning that my characters have to look like themselves throughout the story.

One more thing before I call it a night: So, I’ve been reading all about the things “Not To Do” in query letters, and I took them all out of my draft (yep, they were pretty much all in there, or at least it felt that way). However, I took all the stuff I didn’t even dare put in my query letter and put it in my JacketFlap profile. Now I’m worried that people won’t say, “Oh, that’s nice. I wanted to know a little more about her actual experience (or lack thereof) and that’s why I’m looking at her profile,” but instead will point their knifelike pointer fingers at me and hiss, “AMATEUR!”

All that to say, I know. I know! I know I’m not published in anything that counts to anyone in the children’s publishing world. But I had to put it somewhere. Otherwise, I would feel like I would be lying through omission. Please don’t sneer at me. At least not until I regrow a skin.

And by the way, I just want to put it out there that I got a letter in the mail two days ago from my UCLA Ext instructor saying, “…I know you will be published…I love your story.” Ahh, that's better. Nothing like a little bit o’ that to stroke my newbie ego.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Do Elephants Get Migraines?

So, my doctor says I'm too stressed out. Which I think is ridiculous. If I decided to venture off and do the thing I love, how can I be stressed? I know, I know, it's the nature of the beast (me), but I always assumed I was pretty laid back compared to all my friends working corporate jobs. After all, I get to doodle and write notes to myself all day, and I don't get in trouble for it anymore. I guess the 'problem,' if you want to call it such, is that I am taking the process too seriously. What, no more long nights researching rhinoceros feet? Pshaw.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Hello World.

As much as I would like it to be, Tweeting just isn't the same as blogging. And also, as opposed to reporting on ALL my daily doings, this here blog will be strictly work-related. (Well, as strict as it can be, given the circumstances).

Here's (work-related) me, in case you don't know:


- BFA from NYU
- MBA from UCLA (studied painting there as well)
- Member of SCBWI

Facts Pertinent to the Setting, (yet unmentionable under any circumstances, b/c it screams "AMATEUR"):

- Writing since eight years old

- Illustrating since 10 (won some contests, submitted to Cricket Magazine, etc...)

- Wrote and illustrated first 'Children's Book' at 11 years old, "The Foot That Crunched LA" - (and it stays in the vault, thank you very much!)

- Wrote screenplays and storyboarded scenes before, during and after college.

- Wrote my first full-length book at 21. (And, oh, I thought I was so clever! Adverb this, and adjective that, blah, blah)

- Photoshopped out tourists and power lines from clients' vacation photos as a side gig until 2003.

- Learned the ins and outs of starting my own company in Business School.

- Post-B-School, endeavored to build fine art portfolio before undertaking the writing/illustrating. Some samples (not all pertain to children's book illustration, but you can get the idea):

- Currently, fulfilling commissions for paintings, and the rest of the time working on stories and dummies.