Here's a partial to do list for Post Partum Expression. Feel free to add to it and share your wisdom:
1. Format, copyedit, write and revise query letters, tightening your pitch and audience focus;
2. Find readers. In my case, I had two dazzling pre-teen Junior Editors read the manuscript for language and age authenticity (11 year old girls don't say "chill out," they say relax, and they never heard of the word "ammonia," for example). Giving readers specific directions is important so that they don't do something useless, like put your entire manuscript in present tense. Readers should NOT include close blood relatives or best friends who don't want to hurt your feelings;
3. Use a critique group, or join one if you haven't already, composed of other serious writers in your genre. YA and children's author Catherine Stine's critique group saved my life, and plot;
4. Daydream and envision how you will celebrate when you land the agent or publishing contract. Count the cash later;
5. Engage your audience--who do you want to reach? Ask why, how, and when questions as relevant. That information should go into all marketing materials, query letters, and proposals;
6. Catch up on the life you missed with spouse, partner, children, or friends you ignored, taxes your forgot to pay, mail you haven't opened, lost socks, mold cleaning jobs, diet and health routines, passport renewal, movies, reading, etc.
7. Keep good company with your mind. Post partum expression is a transitional process. Deal with the stories and characters from your past as needed while moving on to new ones. Have the next baby. Start the sequel.
8. If all this advice seems overwhelming, warm up with a Write Away prompt.
Write Away, Sheila Lewis. Dec. 16, 2011