I have heard back from both Andy Meisenheimer and Steve Laube and, as I kind of expected, I have been turned down by each.
On the up side, they weren't mean or nasty (not that I expected them to be). They also had some helpful comments. Mr. Laube suggested that I work on characterization. This has always been weakness for me. I'm more of a plot-oriented writer.
Mr. Meisenheimer commented on the structure of the story, so I'm thinking that some kind of rewrite is definitely in the cards. Now I just have to decide how to do that. The way I see it, I have two options:
Option #1 - Divide the two stories (modern and ancient) into their own separate books - We've talked about this before, so I won't go over it again.
Option #2 - Intertwine the two plots in a sort of every-other chapter format. If I were to go with this option, after a chapter of the modern story, we would shift into the ancient story, and then back to the modern, and then back to the ancient. This would blend the two together. I would have to craft things in such a way that there were parallels between what's happening in the present and what's happening in the past and I kind of have an idea of how I can pull it off. I've even seen it done well in Spock's World where Diane Duane intersperses a story of Captain Kirk trying to prevent Vulcan from seceding from the Federation with tales of Vulcan's history.
While this could be an intriguing way to do things, I can already see two problems brewing:
For starters, this would require an even more massive rewrite of the modern storyline, more so than if I just divided the ancient and modern stories into their own separate books. We're talking a complete revamp of the characters, the backstories, everything. I'm not saying that it can't be done. I'm not saying I wouldn't do it. I'm just saying that I'm not sure how it would turn out.
Second, and more importantly, maintaining the momentum of the ancient and modern storylines would be even more difficult (as Mir pointed out in her comments). Right now, the modern storyline comes to a screeching halt when the ancient storyline takes over. That's not good. At the same time, though, if I were to interweave the two together, the modern storyline and the ancient storyline would both come to "rolling stops" at the end of each chapter. Instead of one massive "slam on the brakes" moment, we'd have lots of little stops.
As Mir also pointed out, the temptation then would be for the reader to just stick with one storyline and skip the chapters from the other. For example, in Spock's World, when I re-read it, I tend to skip over the chapters about Vulcan's history and just read the story with Kirk and McCoy and Spock and so on. I may go back and read my favorite parts of the history, but by and large I just ignore it.
To craft a story like this would take incredible skill, something I'm pretty sure I don't have. I suppose I could try it and see how it goes, but I'm thinking it'll just wind up an even bigger mess than when I started.
At any rate, I'm thinking the best thing to do right now with The Leader's Song is to follow the advice of my wonderful wife and one of my crit partners. It'll go on the back burner for a few months so I can let it cool and then approach it from a more objective standpoint.
Of course, then the question is, what do I work on in the interim? Do I continue to brand myself as a sci-fi/fantasy writer or do I branch out into other domains? Huh.