Since my instructor gave me a thumbs-up, I've sent out my manuscript to a dozen people who have never read it before. I'm looking for critique on all counts- plot, character, the way the historical and cultural details weave through, etc. I've gotten two readers' feedback so far (thanks, Brian and Judy!), and their input has been valuable and supportive. I'm looking forward to more feedback so I can get the ms in the best possible shape before I send it out.
Meanwhile, I'm working on a query letter. That's a one-page introduction which serves multiple purposes: hook the editor, summarize the plot and characters, give my biographical info and writing credentials, and offer to send more of the ms. A tall order, and very hard to write.
And get this, the faculty for the Pocono writers workshop has been announced. Dianne Hess, the Executive Editor of Scholastic Press, will be there. Her profile says she acquires and edits many kinds of books, including middle-grade that cross over to YA and history. "It is important to me that a book has an authentic emotional and spiritual resonance, and that it gives readers a richer understanding of their world." How amazing would it be to get a critique slot with her.