I'm happy to report that 'the call' happened as planned today, and they were lovely & chatty, not anywhere near as scary as I'd imagined . :o)
There was a lot of positives to draw on, they said they feel that my chapter hit the sassy tone of MH well, and that my voice is contemporary & sparkled with a unique & sexy style.
I reckon I could actually die a happy girl after that!
There are necessary revisions though, and loads of things to think about going forward. The main concern is that my story includes a child, which they feel is an incredibly tricky thing to pull off.
I have to say that I can totally see what they mean - i've been finding exactly that as I've progressed on from where chapter one left off. It's an accomplished skill to be able to write in a child without allowing them to take up very much of the word count or get in the way of spontaneous action - def something to leave for later down the line in hind sight.
We discussed options to move the story forward, and i'm going to think on it to see if there's a way I can make the premise work without the child in it. It's quite tricky as lots of the emotional conflict hinges around the fact that my hero is a widower, and without that in the mix a lot of the fundamental elements of the plot have to go too. It's not impossible, but the fear is that in changing the scenario too much I might end up losing the spark that's there now, and I don't want to force the characters to fit the plot. The alternative option is to shelve it for now and do something completely different, which thankfully they've said they'd happily read. As I said, loads to mull over.
I'm hopeful that I'll find a way to make it work for Jack & Nancy though, as I'm fond of them and would love to finish writing their story.
On the phone today they encouraged me to really push the boundaries, so that's the plan i'm gonna go with... stand well back! :o)