Talked with agent, who checked on production schedule, and said "Yeah, if you need it, go for it."
Mixed feelings. I'm SO close...but not quite close enough, but I just don't turn things in late, but it will be better if I can "sweat" it down some tens of thousands of words, but...etc. And relief, because I really do want this one to be as good as, or better than, the original Paks books, and I had all the time I needed with those. (Unpublished writers have all the time they need.
Relief has the upper hand.
Meanwhile, 20 chapters were gone over in detail, and aside from quitting at 10 pm instead of 1 am, and spending the hour a day I really need to spend on the music for the MESSIAH performance, I plan to keep at it with intensity. For me (not everyone) it works best to go through the whole thing, fixing everything I see...then go through it again, fixing the things I didn't see before (and the new infelicities that arose from the "fixes") and then again....and so on.
Since this needs to be smaller, every pass will involve looking for cuttable passages. Everything in it needs to function in multiple ways: plot, characterization, setting, etc, etc. I've already chopped all the redundancies and a couple of scenes--and reduced another. Eventually it will come down to the single-hair brush, plucking out individual words ("the" is always a candidate for deletion) but with a little extra time I can save that level to last, unless something jumps out at me. (For instance--second sentence of this paragraph--"needs to" could be "must.")
Back to work.