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Sunday, September 19, 2010

Shifting Gears

Not too much to report this time around. I haven't come up with any new insights regarding my attempts to get published. After the major re-writes and change-ups to the first chapters of The Serenity Solution last weekend, this weekend has been remarkably quiet. I did send to e-mail queries to agencies on Friday. I've actually already heard back from one of them, but of course it was a polite rejection. I think there was a grand total of fifteen words in it. But hey, at least it's better than not hearing back at all.

Despite the temptation to become obsessed with getting The Serenity Solution published, everything I've read about publishing says that I have to keep moving forward with other writing projects. There are two reasons for that: one, getting a book from manuscript form to the bookshelf in a store can take a long time, and I can't put my career on hold for it; and two, I have to face it - this book might never get published. I think just about every successful author has a manuscript or two that never made it to the shelves. That's just the nature of the business. So, I have to keep my options open and keep other projects going.

So, in the spirit of progress, I've been working on one of my old projects, a fantasy series that I started back in 2002 or 2003. Actually, elements of the story - characters, settings, plot lines - can be traced back much further than that, possibly as early as the late 1990s. It wasn't until 2003 and 2004 that these various elements began coming together in the form of the Bounty Hunter Quartet. The first book, tentatively named The Pillars of Heaven, reached a full 193 pages in MS Word, or 124,000 words, before it fell victim to a variety of issues. One was just the fact that my life was incredibly busy at that time, between going to school and then joining the Navy. Another was that I'd never really written any sort of cohesive plan or outline for it, so when I did get a chance to sit down and work on it, I couldn't remember where I'd been going with it. Somewhere around 2006 I decided that it just wasn't going the direction I'd wanted it to; it felt more like a patchwork of different projects rather than a single cohesive one. Then of course, in 2008 I began working on The Serenity Solution in earnest.

Now that TSS is finished as a manuscript, I've decided that I'd like to at least take a long hard look at the BHQ. Mainly, is it feasible as a story, and it what ways do I need to update it to fit my current writing style? I've already decided that I'm going to have to completely rewrite it, reducing those 193 pages to nothing more than extensive notes and reference material. Since the project has literally been over 7 years in the making, I won't be satisfied with it unless it's a true masterpiece of fantasy. In other words, I've got my work cut out for me. Switching gears from military sci-fi to fantasy is harder than I thought. And on a side note, I had a crazy thought the other day. What if I took the BHQ from a fantasy and turned it into an urban fantasy, complete with technology, guns, magic, etc? There are some serious pros and cons to that, of course, which I'll discuss more in depth later if I actually pick this project up and go somewhere with it anytime soon.

So you're probably wondering what the Bounty Hunter Quartet is all about. Not surprisingly, it's about a bounty hunter, at least in part. Mathen Nors is a mysterious man with a shady past, like most bounty hunters. He's attained the status of myth and legend among the common folk, who call him "Gray Death" because he's always cloaked and hooded in gray - at least, when he sees fit to reveal himself. But Mathen Nors isn't just a cold, heartless man who captures targets for whoever is willing to pay. He's a broken soul who carries with him the crushing guilt of past deeds, for some of which he truly is responsible, and some that he took up because no one else would. He has a strong sense of duty, but lately, the sense has become confused and clouded, mixed with a personal agenda and pride that he just can't quite shake.

After a demon shape shifter kills his sister, Mathen Nors embarks on a quest to bring the monster to justice, whether or not anyone is paying for its head. But at the same time, a shapeless evil is taking form in the far southern reaches of the Known Realms and extending its claws northward. Enslaving entire nations and using their peoples as proxy armies against those who remain free, it unleashes forces of chaos that will ensnare everyone. Mathen Nors will have to decide where his duty truly lies: with the rapidly diminishing free peoples of the world, or with the oath he swore to avenge his dead sister. Along the way, he'll begin to uncover pieces of his own mysterious past, and he'll find that it is far darker than anyone could have imagined.

That's just a quick look at what the BHQ is about, and of course there will be more details as it unfolds. Comments are welcome, particularly on what would be more interesting in this case: this plot as a traditional high fantasy, or as an urban fantasy. I still can't make up my own mind.

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