On the writing front, I heard back from an agent I queried seven months ago. Apparently, my query was dumped into some random folder on her computer. This happened to the follow-up I sent as well. She wrote a very sincere apology for the delay and asked for 60 pages, though she was certain I must have already found representation by now. Alas, no. Not with today's economy. But, she clearly liked the ten pages I sent her initially. Anyway, it's encouraging.
And, I got my critiques back from the Do It Write Literary Competition in which I won second place. These were a complete turnaround from the ones I received when I entered the Royal Palm Literary Awards Competition. Extremely enthusiastic and full of lovely praise. Of course, the novel has undergone significant revisions since then. I owe much to my mentor and all my critique partners.