Feedback! There's something wonderfully inspiring, overwhelming, and heartening about getting thoughtful brainstorms, observations, criticisms, and questions from trusted early readers who care and are rooting for you.
I'm the lucky soul who received long letters and marked mss from my critique group this week (along with shrimp, cheese, crackers, strawberries, and iced cream--we don't believe in being "starving artists").
What I'm doing with them is reading slowly through each, transferring notes to a master print-out so that I can have it all in one containable version. So far, everything's clicking. You know, in the world of critique, there are comments that immobilize and comments that launch. I'm soaring! More on that later.
F&M is still fairly new and needing much love before sending to my editor, but I'm increasingly confident that if I apply myself I can get it in shape to send by December/January.
The big opponent is time. I have a busy summer ahead, and an even busier fall with the release of Santa Knows (Dutton, 2006)--short, intense window for promoting holiday books--and taking on six VC students. Basically, my psychology will have to be that working on the mss is my baseline, and I'm taking breaks to do other things.
For those wondering about the title of this post, it's a quote from "Little Shop of Horrors," which is not surprisingly one of my fave musicals.