At this time, I have put Argent Glass on the shelf. I'm not saying I won't pimp it to publishers again soon, but I have other writing items taking up my already spare hours each week. My plan is to complete my Read Write Ponder series, then return to Argent Glass for another round of edits. I have gotten great feedback from my beta readers and there are some strong reasons to make some big changes to characters and story structure. I wrote a second novel last November but don't have the heart to edit it because it turned out nothing as I had originally envisioned it (#authorconfession #thestruggleisreal). Other authors will understand this! Characters have a nasty way of taking over our stories and ripping them from our hands. I also have a new story plotted out to write this year in November. So, I suspect I will be back to Argent Glass toward the end of the year. Until then, please consider reading one of my Read Write Ponder books.
Besides writing flash fiction on my Random Musings blog, I'm spending the month of July looking for an agent for Argent Glass. The agent search is overwhelming! There are so many agents! And how do you know who you should approach?!
I started out searching for agents by googling terms like "book agents." Surprisingly, it didn't return the hits I was looking for exactly, though it did clue me into some databases that gave me names to start with. Each of those were useful in different ways. Some of these databases are very open and share information about the agents, including their wishlists. Other databases require membership. I generally avoided those since I’m already operating on a very low budget. Here is a short list of some of those databases:
Association of Authors’ Representatives, Inc.
Literary Agents Database on Poets and Writers
AgentQuery on AgentQuery.com
QueryTracker on querytracker.net
I also took my search to Twitter and discovered I could find agents by searching for #mswl which stands for "manuscript wishlist." Paired up with the tag #YA, I was able to start following some agents who work in the genre I am writing in and find their agencies to review their requirements for proposal. I like using Twitter to research agents because you get to see what kind of personality they have and how their supporting and promoting their existing clients.
Once I was armed with some names and agencies, I started the real hunt. While I could submit to everyone on every list, it seemed more beneficial to find someone who I thought would be a good match for me. I reviewed their bios, read their tweets (if I could find them), checked out who their existing clients were, etc. Anyone who I thought would be interesting to work with went on my list of “top picks” for submissions. Anyone who I was wishy-washy about or who wasn’t currently taking submissions went on a “secondary picks” list along with the date they were taking submissions again if that information was posted on their website.
I also discovered on the Ask the Agent blog, a link to the Preditors and Editors database. The P&E database helps us new authors avoid scams or other dubious people in the biz. This has helped me eliminate a couple names from my list and potentially saved me a lot of trouble down the road. Be sure to read the Rating Criteria information where they list how people were placed on their various lists as well as special circumstances. This is an excellent source of information and I immediately tagged the site on my Pinterest board where I keep all my links to useful info by category.
And, so now here I am today. I’m submitting to agents and getting my rejection letters/emails back. It’s a tough racket! There are hundreds of books published independently every day because agents are hard to win. I’m not ready to throw in the dice yet. I’m going to keep working on my agent search through July and maybe through part of August, but if by the end of August I’ve had no luck, start watching for news about my book release because I’ll go Indie to get my first book out and into the hands of my family, friends and peers who are waiting patiently for me to get it out there for the world.
This one didn't make it into the novel, but it gives you a little background on Jordan's parents.
His John Deere cap tilted when he reached for the falling bag of groceries. All but a can of apple pie filling was saved, the can rolling underfoot where he was fumbling to grab it as he responded to her.
"Did you ask me what I do? I'm a farmer."
She laughed and pointed to his hat. "I said, 'Oh no thank you.' But that explains your cap."
"Ah. Sorry," he laughed with her and adjusted his hat. "I am deaf in my left ear."
She reached for the bag. "Maybe I'll see you around, Farmer."
He had made sure of it. It was not hard to find her in that small Midwest town filled with farmers and their families. A lab-coated geneticist in town to collect seed samples from the local farms stuck out like a sore thumb in the only local diner. Their first date was a movie and then to her house for a fresh baked apple pie with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. She called him Farmer all night. Everyone in town started calling him Farmer when they heard what happened at the store.
He loved it. He loved that she teased him from the start and continued to call him Farmer because it made him a permanent piece of her just as it made her a permanent piece of him.
Dr. Carrel is a research scientist who fell in love and married one of his research subjects. Devastated by the sudden loss of the woman who captured his heart, he refuses to believe the contradictory evidence surrounding her death. When he uncovers the clues, he begins a quest to expose those who are responsible.
The lab was lit by a soft glow emanating from an office. Beakers, flasks and slide mounts reflected pinpoints of light from the long counter in the center of the room. Two thermocyclers sat back to back near the middle of the counter facing out to either side. Cabinets along the walls held equipment manuals, micropipettors and spare parts for microscopes and other equipment. The window to the office revealed a man and his computer. He flipped through papers and scrolled through pages on the screen, reading each in turn.
The compact office was warm compared to the expansive lab outside. A flush suffused the man’s gaunt cheeks beneath several days’ worth of stubble as he opened a case study folder and located Subject CJC-Bt-Cry1Ab-147F. His wife's life had been reduced for him to the large handful of lab reports from both the hospital labs and from his own study of the Cry1Ab proteins found in blood tissues of humans who consumed foods with genetic modifications created by his company, Maverick BioScience. The information sat waiting for him every night in a folder on his computer. When he opened the folder, her emaciated face from the last days of her life exploded in his mind.
“What can I get you?” he whispered into her ear as he pulled the hair back to tuck it away. With his lips near her ear, she could not see the tears that threatened to spill over.
She leaned her head into his lips and he breathed in the apricots of her recent shampoo. Her fingers fluttered at her side but she no longer had the strength to raise her arm and he gently took her hand in his. A fresh, glossy coat of pink polish decorated her nails. It had come to this. Tiny joys. Sunflowers on the windowsill. New fuzzy socks. And nail polish. He had never felt so helpless in his life.
The computer beeped. He had been holding down a key too long on the keyboard.
The reports in front of him had been studied for so long now that he dreamt about them, yet he knew Subject CJC-Bt-Cry1Ab-147F was hiding something.
He went through the sequence of thoughts that followed opening this file every evening. Humans lack a receptor for the Cry1Ab protein. It wasn’t the protein. What? What was it that nagged at the back of his brain at him? There was something there, something in those files that would tell him why his wife had died. He knew it was there. Healthy women in their twenties did not die from ALS three months after diagnosis. He just had to keep looking.
Jordan and Jinho are teenagers living with their families in a secret research facility. Jordan feels she is being punished by her parents' choice to remove her from a troubling environment while Jinho rejoices in the opportunity to expand his scientific aptitude away from the bullies found in the public education arena. Together they unwittingly uncover a dangerous secret that could threaten the lives of everyone they love. Here's a short snippet from ARGENT GLASS that takes place when they are sneaking back home one evening.
Spotlights lit up a long empty canvas of arid land occupied by nothing but boulders, brush and a straight, thin ribbon of pavement leading away from the mountain. Long shadows reached out to engulf the two as they sprinted from one boulder to the next keeping as close to the mountainside as they could to avoid the patches of light patiently poised to expose them.
The mountains pinched in on either side of the road and the two stopped behind a boulder to catch their breath. They sprinted along the road, the soft soles of their tennis shoes padding lightly, and then suddenly crossed. Weaving around more boulders, they made their way to a guard shack adorned with an imposing security gate.
Inside the shack, a guard sat tipped back in a chair reading a magazine under a florescent light. The door was open and cigarette smoke drifted from the light to the dark.
Jordan and Jinho squatted to pass below the window.
They froze. Inside the shack, the legs of the guard’s chair slammed to the cement floor. A moment later a whiptail sailed by and landed on the ground beside them. It scurried away from them around the corner of the building.
Jordan’s hand flew to cover her mouth to suppress a snort of laughter.
“Poor little cnemidophorus neomexicanus,” Jinho whispered at her.
“Lizard! It’s a lizard!” she mouthed back.
Jinho slowly raised his head, peered into the window and nodded to Jordan. She ran to the security gate and wriggled under it close to the post. Standing up, she glanced around the post at the guard and waved Jinho under.
Pierce is a former soldier who did multiple tours in Afghanistan. His job is to patrol and secure a research facility hidden between two obscure mountains in New Mexico. Here's an except from ARGENT GLASS when Pierce is out on patrol.
The soldier sat at one of the highest points on the mountain feeling like Zeus upon Mount Olympus. The flatter terrain on this side of the apex spread out to the horizon before him and looking down upon it made him feel powerful in a way nothing else could. At the top of the mountain, he was the master of his destiny. At the top of the mountain, he had the power of choice. He could turn around and go back down the north face retracing his route, or he could take a short cut down the south face plummeting like a hawk chasing down a jackrabbit. Unlike the hawk, he would not have the grace in swooping at the last moment to halt his descent, but in the end, his descent would still be halted.
The struts of the ATV creaked in anger as he stood up on the pegs, pulled a camouflaged cap from his head, stretched his arms wide, and took a deep breath in. He held his breath while he threw his head backward and arched his back to stretch his spine. The heat of the sun was warm on his face contrasting with the light breeze that foreshadowed the onset of Autumn and dried the light sheen of sweat on his tightly shaved scalp. The bike bounced as he let the air out of his lungs with a sigh, dropped back to the seat and resettled his hat. Today he chose the north face.
The ATV started up with a growl. He backed it up and turned it around to head down the mountain, squeezing the hand brakes when a flash of light caught his eye. Surprised by the brief speckle of light, he wondered if he had imagined it as he scanned the area from where he thought it originated. There.
The soldier’s heart skipped a beat as he discovered a tiny splash of red incongruent with the browns and grays of the earth and the scattered greens of the sparse foliage. Someone was tentatively making their way up the mountain.
Velcro affixed an M-4 rifle to the side of the ATV. He ripped the strips of Velcro back and caught the gun as it fell to his waiting hand. The scope’s adjustable objective was kept on infinity so when the soldier brought it to his eye, the small field of red color metamorphosed into a tee shirt. And a boy. With a girl.