After giving this an awful lot of thought, I've leapt to the conclusion that Sword & Sorcery is probably a logical place to start here, but largely for one simple reason...these books will be shorter. Fantasy epics are all well and good – just ask any of the fans of the Wheel of Time or Game of Thrones...or look at the bookshelves of almost any bookstore that carries genre fiction, and you will see them covered in weighty tomes.
And yet. The truth is that these works are in a sense an accident of publishing history. It doesn't cost much more to print a 600-page book than it does a 300-page book, certainly a lot less than double, but you can easily charge more for each book. Excellent news for the publishers, not perhaps such good news for the poor overworked writers having to write 200,000 words where once they were writing 60,000. For 60,000 is more of the sort of length that more traditional fantasy reached; typically the 60-80,000 word length, and often then, it was more collections of short stories than longer works. Howard only wrote one Conan novel, and it was only 255 pages long.
So that's my plan. The next project; in a sense the first project, is three Sword & Sorcery novels, each at about 60-70,000 words, all featuring the same protagonist yet remaining stand-alone. I think that's the key here; rather than having to worry then about stringing together wide-ranging epic adventures, I can concentrate on telling self-contained wide-ranging epic adventures!
For that is the heart of this sort of story; the epic! Grand vistas, long-lost civilisations, decadant, dreaming cities, blood-splattered daggers wielded by beautiful courtesans, daring heroes carving a path through their enemies to wealth and power...getting the idea? Good!
This about answers the 'next three covers' conundrum...because all of them will be filled by these works. (I know I said a couple of days ago that I was going to alternate, but...well, an man can change his mind.) The schedule I will be setting is somewhat demanding; three eleven-day stints of writing with three-day breaks in between. Starting, probably appropriately enough, on April 1st, and concluding on May 17th...which happens to be my birthday! Target for release two weeks apart, probably sometime in June/July...by which time I should be well into Battlecruiser Alamo. (The irony that I'm writing the books in reverse order of covers received does not escape me; nevertheless the covers should all be with me well before then.)
As for the month of March, well that is preparation time. A month to bury myself in books, a month to outline stories, a month to concoct ideas to create a world. I'm not exactly starting from scratch here, but this is as much an exercise in 'getting into the mood' in any case. It's going to be a wild ride!