Well, it's done.
After nine weeks of hard-graft, slaving over a hot laptop and grinding endless plot complications through my weary brain, Luigi's recommendations and my own improvements have resulted in a manuscript that is now 115,000 words, down 35,000 from the original, and with an entirely new and very exciting plot device for the story.
What excites me the most is that Luigi's marketing plan for me, which involves developing my work as a particular 'brand', has resulted in me coming up with two sparkling new ideas for subsequent novels, both of which are represented by recently completed synopsis. I've had some feedback from Luigi on one, and am awaiting an opinion on the other, but I've got a gut feeling that both stories really are quite unique, just like the first, and could cement me a place on the shelves of bookstores that really is my "own".
Getting published is the main priority right now, but once happily published it's standing out from the crowd that really matters. Whilst I can't say what will happen in the future, I feel very optimistic that I'll be producing material that really will be unlike anybody else's work. Can't wait to see what Luigi thinks of the finished re-draft: if it gets his thumbs-up then things can start moving, and we'll have an entire series of potential books to back it up!