The submission method preferred by most agents: complete the novel first, however long that takes, then start sending queries. The query process will take months at least. Possibly much longer.
Meanwhile, Brad Strickland and I are up against a juggernaut, scheduled to arrive next year, with a storyline sharing at least one huge ingredient. We started first, which doesn't count. Besides, we don't compete with it but hope to synergize. To that end, writing well--even writing brilliantly--can only be part of our game plan. Our timing and our marketing will have to be world class.
Our progress report to date:
1) Amy Strickland, Brad's daughter, completed a bold and breathtaking business card that captures the tone and the style of the book. Meanwhile, Brad and I have decised a bold plan for the use of the card.
2) Brad and I have decided to first approach his agent in mid to late November with the novel's first fifty pages. Fingers crossed. But better to know than to wait till next spring.
3) We've begun to assemble a carefully chosen group of five beta readers to sneak preview the same fifty pages.
4) Meanwhile, Brad works on the last pages I sent him while I go through the last section I'll write and wait for his revisions. While he writes the ending, I'll go through all of his corrections and proposed changes so far.
5) Today I began to consider a plan for New Year's--to keep us on track while allowing a rest from the intensive writing and editing. The plan for his approval: each of us will go through the 'completed' manuscript with his own list of things to watch out for: time line, effectiveness and fairness in the layout out of clues, character development, consistency of imagery, etc. After this dual cakewalk, the draft that counts: the final one!