Well, it wasn’t just my imagination — the 10 pages I submitted for a critique at Saturday’s conference really were overstuffed with too much plot, too soon. Still, I was encouraged by what Bloomsbury co-editorial director Melanie Cecka had to say about it, and relieved that I also wasn’t just imagining that at least some parts of those 10 pages were funny.

A little encouragement goes a long way. This won’t be the first time that the feedback I receive during a 10-minute conference critique helps propel me through the completion of a manuscript. Editors and agents and art directors who take the time to provide this invaluable sort of guidance — often to a dozen or more folks per conference — are due a heaping helping of good karma.

During her speech earlier in the day, Melanie shared her enthusiasm for a debut picture book that Bloomsbury will be publishing next spring: How to Be a Good Dog, written and illustrated by Gail Page. I think a lot of folks were surprised by the number of drafts — 19 — it took to get the final manuscript just right.

So, why such dogged determination (I’m so, so sorry for that) to keep working on the story? “There was always, always, always that seed of greatness there,” Melanie said.