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.