My work friends were very sweet: from making a very delicious, very rich, home-made chocolate cake for me to share (although I did take a small second slice home with me, heh); treating me to lunch (yay, sushi!); to creating a poster birthday card for everyone to sign of my "mightiness". Ha. I was quite flattered. Even the Texas weather celebrated with a lovely Spring day filled with sunshine and near eighty degree temp. Especially nice since the following days have been much cooler and cloudy with some rain here and there.
Meanwhile, I've been keeping busy with my homework: from organizing my art files and setting goals and deadlines for my home illustration work (including the art mentioned previously being developed specifically for my new portfolio); to setting a sterner handle on my budget (I think everyone is doing some tightening there); to getting my taxes done (should have that finished after next weekend - bleh); to having a hella lotta fun doing my creative writing. :)
The DFW Writer's conference that I attended a last month provided a good bit of info to soak up, but no agent pitching from me just yet. If ever. :) I came back with several pages of notes, a better appreciation of the DFW writing community, and some homework. Part of that homework includes doing some recommended reading to help me build stronger, more interesting characters; to help me with developing dialogue for my characters (an area I feel a need to work on); and motivate me to "get my ass in gear" so that I finally finish my first novel manuscript and (possibly) send it out to the appropriate literary agent. Most of what I learned could also apply to my picture book stories and my other Tween or YA story, which is the graphic novel I've been developing. I also attended Sarah M.'s presentation on Graphic Novel development which pretty much affirmed some decisions I'd already made about the one I've been working on, but I also noted some additional points to consider for future projects.
Like anthologies. :)
But first, I need to finish what I've started as well as keep in mind some of the creative priorities that are key to my illustration and vis dev artist career: like finally updating my online portfolio, darn it!
I also have been getting a few newsletters from Holly Lisle that I signed up for about a month ago. Can't think at the moment how I found out about her postings; likely another writing blog that I was checking out from my notes. I like most of her books -- they're usually a fun read; and I'm looking forward to checking out a YA series that she's mentioned (saw the cover artwork in development on another artist's site which originally peaked my interest). I definitely appreciate that she takes the time to share some of her writing experiences and provide some good insights to her writing process, although not all of it is applicable to my stuff.
In any case, my novel is progressing quite nicely by this point. It's been seriously fun (and surprisingly addictive) to finally take my rough notes and outlines and bits of story, characters, world-building, conversation and narrative that I have been writing by hand in my spiral notebooks for the past several years (totally for my own amusement -- some of these notebooks have traveled with me quite a bit, too) and type them into a tighter format on my computer a few nights each week. It's actually somehow turning itself into a 60-90,000 word novel (not quite there yet, I'm only at about 6 delightful chapters typed in at the moment...hmm...about 30,000 words).
Even better, this one I'm writing up is really one out of several notebook stories or potential novels, in fact.
Still occasionally trying to decide if this particular novel is better presented as an eventual pair of books or if I should shoot for a trilogy...(eh, what's that about not counting ones chickens...). However, I'm only focusing on the one novel at the moment (I'm not counting my graphic novel, or the picture books as part of the notebook stories; they are quite a separate development). My sister has kindly accepted being my first reader and I expect she will be quite blunt about what she likes and doesn't like about it (or that needs improvement) -- she's my sister after all; it's lucky for me that we both enjoy some of the same genre reading. :)
My thought is to also include a few BW illustrations scattered throughout the book. They'll be some finished versions of the various thumbnails and sketches that I've done of specific elements, scenes and characters (and am still doing) as I've been writing my story. It's entirely possible, of course, that the only people that will ever see the finished product are my friends and family (or even just my sister and myself), but since this story was/is really written for my own enjoyment, I'm quite happy with that.
If, however, I do decide to take the next step once it's done and submit it to an agent for consideration and then, ideally, eventual publication...I'll let you all know. ;)