So since I was a bonehead and misinterpreted the guidelines for the Delacorte Yearling Contest for a First Middle Grade Novel and failed to include an SASE, I have been spending entirely too much time checking their site to see if they've announced a winner yet. They haven't.
I think I'm safe in assuming I did not win.
Therefore, I have been preparing to query agents. Last week, I reread the manuscript (again) and tweaked a few things here and there. Since it was in pretty decent shape for the contest, most of it was just wordsmithing (a term which really annoys me, but for which I've yet to find a suitable substitute). I've never liked the ending and so I just deleted it today. It's easier to revise something when you have no choice.
I've also started working more on the business end of this whole, well, business. This past week I've been playing with a query letter and I threw my rather haphazardly constructed first attempt up on Verla's Blue Board where it was promptly and deservedly torn to ribbons. The criticism was extremely helpful and although I'm not quite done tinkering, I think I've now got something that agents won't pass around the office and snicker (or worse) at.
Now starts the process of researching agents. Today I started with the following gents: Josh Getzler, Daniel Lazar, Stephen Barbara, and Steven Malk. Thanks largely to blog interviews, there's an unbelievable amount of information out there. Like everything else in writing, this is going to take a while.