It took me a bit more time and effort than I had hoped, but I've finally gotten moved back down to Texas for the last year of college. Actually, I should have more time to work on my various writing projects now than I did while I was fighting fire in Oregon. Something about living out in the woods and not having reliably stable power kind of screws up anything resembling measurable progress.
Despite the fact that classes have already started, I'm continuing the process of looking for an agent for The Serenity Solution. I have one submission that I'm still waiting to hear back on, and I spent much of today preparing another one to go out, hopefully in tomorrow's mail. This one includes two things I've never had to do before (in my admittedly limited experience): first, I had to trim my synopsis down to two pages. It wasn't as hard as I thought it might be, but it certainly feels... lobotomized. Secondly, I had to come up with a one-paragraph pitch for the entire book, which doesn't give away the ending. In other words, it looks like something you'd see on the back cover of the book. Thankfully, I've already taken a few shots at that in my own attempts at shameless self promotion, so all I really had to do for that was trim it down and make it look a little more professional.
In the course of sharing my triumphs and woes with a friend over the summer, I hit upon a possibly reason why my first two submissions might have been met with polite rejections: they both relied on my selling myself and my work solely through a one-page query letter. Kudos to anyone who can do that, but let's face it: I'm a newbie in this field, and I'm no salesman. I found myself following the train of thought that just about every hopeful author has: "If only they'd take a look at my book..." Well, as it turns out, a lot of agents ask for a writer to send part or even all of their manuscript along with their query letter. The downside is, such agents often take longer to respond, but this is far outweighed by the potential benefit: they're much more likely to actually look at your book. Following this line of reasoning, both of my last two submissions have included parts of my book. The first asked for the first ten pages, and the second requested the first three chapters.
Keep in mind, if your work has any hope of passing the test, it will have to be just as well written as a work that gets sold only by a query letter. The reason agents request only the first part of a manuscript is to see if you can get the reader hooked right from the start. If you can't, they're not going to keep reading the manuscript in the dim hope it will pick up somewhere around Chapter Ten. So, here's hoping I can get the agent hooked with the first three chapters of my own manuscript.
In other news, I'm still trying to figure out exactly what project I want to work on next. I haven't made any progress on the potential sequel to The Serenity Solution, though such a work is planned. One project I was working on over the last half of the summer is another military(-style) sci-fi thriller tentatively code-named "Contagion." I say tentatively because at this early stage, I don't even know if that name would fit it well. I do have some brief character bios drawn up, and some things I'd like to see in the plot. Lately, I've been thinking about going back to one of my old medieval fantasy projects and rewriting it. I've been wanting to do that for a long time, but it got put back on the shelf by TSS. That project right now is going under the guise of "The Bounty Hunter Quartet," with the original project planned as a series of four books (hence "Quartet"). Anyway, I'll keep you updated on those as progress arises.
Next time I post, I'll try to put up some more of the promised information on The Serenity Solution. Hopefully, I can get back to my once-weekly posting schedule now that things have calmed down a bit. "Hopefully" being the operative word there...