What a an awesome turn out for SCBWI-Illinois' Prairie Writer's Day. More than 175 writers attended. Most hailed from Illinois. Some traveled from Indiana, Wisconsin, Iowa and as far away as Pennsylvania.
I've so much to report about the day, I plan to post a little bit each day this week.
First of all, my First Pages critique went better than imagined. Discussion among the editors and agent ranged from the story's voice, to its tone, to its high fantasy feel, to the fact that the story opens from the antagonist's point of view.
Questions raised: The magical system is so unique it needs further simplification so the reader can better visualize its workings. (No surprise here. This has been a constant refrain with all my readers, even while developing the concept during my VC days. The more I read the novels that work, the more I realize how simple and specific magic needs to be in order for a reader to grasp it. Its almost there. I can feel it.)
Another observation: the language needs tweaking here and there to keep the tone from sounding too purple in places. An easy fix as I was experimenting with an omniscient narrator during deadline time for the First Pages submission, but hadn't yet had time to refine his voice.
Overall, comments were positive. I wish I had specifics about what was said. I tried taking notes, but my hand was shaking too hard to make sense of any of them.
Bottom line: Two of the editors are interested in reading KM. The third doesn't do fantasy. The agent wants to see more as well.
I feel a real connection with one of the editors. During the networking session late in the day, I introduced myself so she could place a name and face with the piece. She asked me more about the novel. I pitched the book, explaining the premise and the three alternativing points of view. She confirmed she definitely wants to read more. Woohoo.
Now all I have to do is finish quilting together the many versions of my story.