I was right. And for some unknown reason I had the strength to wait until I got back home, made a strong cup of tea, and sat down and logged onto Yahoo Messenger to relay the news to Nell before I opened the package!
I am a very lucky girl -- my report was wonderfully thorough and ran to 7 pages of single-spaced text, covering possible markets, characters, and plot. The greater part of the report was taken up with recommendations for ways to improve my writing, my structure, and in particular my characters. I agreed with every single point about my areas of weakness, and I can't believe I didn't see some of them!
My reader also said some very lovely things about my writing itself. Of course, I couldn't get away without posting a few snippets...
"Firstly you are to be congratulated on completing a full manuscript. This is no small achievement. I see from your form that you have already had a short story published and have won a novella contest. This success shows in the accomplished and fluent style of your writing."
"Your dialogue is easy and natural and your descriptive passages are very evocative. I particularly liked the phrase [when describing the oil paintings in the house] "the oils themselves looked dirty and jaundiced in the sticky summer air" and there were other lines equally good later in the book. You also write the sensual scenes with skill -- no mean feat -- creating a romantic and emotionally tense relationship between your hero and heroine."
"...your writing is smooth and stylish and shows a great deal of potential, and I wouldn't be going into so much detail if I didn't feel you had the ability to succeed."
"[Another] possibility is that you expand the book by 20,000 words or so and develop it into a paranormal romance in the style of Barbara Erskine or Susanna Kearsley. I felt the book was particularly reminiscent of Susanna Kearsley's style in Mariana -- the atmospheric country setting, the past and present stories woven together."
"This is your book and it is entirely your decision which direction you want to take your writing. I should add here that it is extremely difficult to get UK publishers to accept mainstream paranormal romance even though they all claim to want to discover the new Barbara Erskine, but it is not impossilbe and if that is the sort of thing you want to write then I would go for it!"
"...you have two very attractive protagonists and a wonderful setup in that they have had a relationship in the past that ended unhappily and now they are meeting again and having to dealing with all the past pain as well as present attraction. I thought that [your heroine], in particular, was nicely drawn and mainly sympathetic... [Your hero] has the makings of a very attractive hero. He's gorgeous, intelligent, and under the surface he is sensitive and thoughtful about how [your heroine] feels."
"It may appear that I have suggested a great number of changes to your manuscript but I would like to stress that there are many positive aspects of your writing. The first and most important thing is that you can write. You have a fluent style and a very nice turn of phrase...You do have the skill to succeed. I wish you the very best of luck with your writing and with this manuscript."
Excuse me while I get Kleenex!
I am so, so thrilled. It was such a fabulous report. All I want to do now is abandon my plans for The Guardians, revise HH according to my report recommendations and get it out there. Okay, so my reader didn't say I AM the new Barbara Erskine, but to have her name mentioned in my report is pretty thrilling. It wasn't long ago that I read Lady of Hay and really enjoyed it. How mad!
OK, I need to eat dinner. Been too busy absorbing.
Thank you, NWS!!