Turns out she loved the plot (best so far, yes!), loved the new characters and loved the way Hal showed a new side. Suddenly I'm full of confidence again after a damn near sleepless night, and I know I can nail this thing.
On the minus side, she pointed out that the first 100 pages need a lot of tightening and there's no real humour. Neither bothers me - I'd already flagged the beginning as too slow and I have up to 20,000 words of snippage available to me. As for the humour, I usually add that during the polishing stage, when the draft is almost there. (If this seems a bit mechanical ... well, I never claimed to be an ad-libbing comedian either.)
So, good news on all fronts. I have about three weeks to lose the verbiage and address all the other queries and issues Janet raised, and then I'll send out the final draft to my first readers. After I've selected them ;-)
Simon Haynes is the author of the Hal Spacejock and Hal Junior series (Amazon / Smashwords / other formats)