An interesting dilemma


So – I have an interesting quandary to ponder as I close in on the two-thirds mark of the first of the Battlecruiser Alamo books. I'm really enjoying writing it (oh no, what a total disaster) to the point that I am seriously beginning to consider starting the second in the series, 'Not One Step Back' (which was originally supposed to be the first, but hey, these things happen) pretty much as soon as I have finished the redraft on the first, probably around the start of next month. The trouble is that I'm slated to be working on 'Warlords of Hyperborea' next, a sword and sorcery fantasy novel, and the first in its series. My plan for the first six months of what I am really hoping will be a long writing career is to write three of the 'Alamo' books and three 'Hyperborea' books, alternating month on month, the idea being to build interest in both lines. Ultimately, my intention is to have three series going at the same time, preferably in different genres, largely so as not to swamp my series. If I'm doing three or four a quarter (because I am also planning to do a few stand-alones as well) then there's less chance of overloading the series with books.

The catch is this; Alamo – almost without my input, because it is really moving ahead by itself story-wise now in a strange way – has a long arc of its own that I rather want to get on with! The first book, as well as being a good story in its own right (at least, I certainly hope so!) introduces the setting and sets up a few of the long-term character arcs, as well as some hints of what is to come in the further exploration of the setting, but there are books that – according to the current plan – are three years away that I'm looking forward to getting to, and I have a vague idea of where things are four years down the road...and that's a lot of books! I'm beginning to really get to like some of these characters, largely because they are surprising me so much as I write them. (And to be fair – my new goal is to sell well enough to get this on the screen. Because some of this stuff would look really nice. I wrote one scene today that sounds totally implausible but in fact is drawn totally from life. That's as far as it gets with a spoiler.)

Hyperborea, however, is drawing me as well. That's a grand sword and sorcery setting in the old tradition, to the point that 'Warlords' isn't even one book; it's some long novellas and short stories, a collection in the style of the old Conan collections I love so much. As soon as I finish 'Admiralty', then I start re-reading some of those (at least, once I have read 'Guardian', the last of the Lost Fleet books) and don't think I'm not greatly looking forward to that! I pretty much know the setting, it's all in my head (I suppose I should take notes, but I don't seem to be very good at that. With Alamo I have frighteningly little down on paper) and the plots for the first dozen or so stories are essentially ready to go. I have a horrible feeling that I will be writing an analogous blog post in about a month from now, debating with myself whether I should return to Alamo or carry on with Hyperborea.

I think it's a question fundamentally of discipline. Its taken me a while, but I'm pretty much heading to a five thousand word a day standard, which isn't bad; I'd like to get to six or seven at some point, but five means a complete book in sixteen days – so half a month to write, half a month to prepare, basically. The last bridge I have to cross is pushing myself to write certain books at certain times, to make sure that I have that one book every month that I feel is an essential, especially if I'm going to be doing this full-time, and to make sure that my release schedule is balanced. Of course, dear readers, your book purchases could decide all of this for me; if they are stretched one way or the other then it will be hard to resist the temptation to focus more tightly on one side, or perhaps try something else entirely. I have a spy/action thriller set in the Russian Civil War in the pipeline as a potential third series, and I'm pondering a series set in Ancient Rome at some point, but both of those will require me to seriously crack into my shelves. Not something I have a problem with, per se, but these aren't the series I'm ready to write now.

All I know at the moment, then, after all of that, is this – fingers crossed the first Alamo will be on the cyber-shelves sometime in the first week of June. What comes after it at the start of July is rather more in the lap of the gods. I hope that one of them tells me!

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