A meeting with my dear Inklings last Friday revealed the truth: My novel begins on page 42.
The rest was backstory.
I'd suspected as much but needed validation. I received it with smiles, hoorays, and colorful markings all over my submission. To me it was as good as a ticker-tape parade. I know I'm moving in the right direction.
Plus, Sonia brought a great plotting tool to our critique group. Go here and click on "helpful sheet" to find it yourself. You'll be glad you did. Focus, focus, focus.