Usually, during the middle of a book, there comes a point when I have to stop writing for a day, sit down, and take stock of where I am and where I am going; this has been the case of each of the Battlecruiser Alamo books so far, and I was completely unsurprised when this morning I woke up to realize that one of the two chapters I was planning to write today just didn't work. It's usually a signal that I need to unravel a few threads in my head; so I took half the day off, went for a stroll, and managed to resolve it; hopefully everything will be full steam ahead for the rest of the book. (I plan on having the first draft ready in around a week; got about thirty thousand words to go.)
What this has given me a chance to do is sit down and take stock of my plans for the next few books. Sales of 'Price of Admiralty' have, well, blown my breath away. I'm overjoyed that people are buying and reading it, and I'm really looking forward to progressing with the series – for the rest of this year, Battlecruiser Alamo is my absolute top priority. (On that note – I'm really glad that I did the second book before releasing the first. I'm nervous enough writing the third book, I hate to think how I would have been if I'd had the 'can I do this twice' bear on my back as well.)
As I said above, I aim to have what is now titled 'Not One Step Back' finished on or around the 16th of this month, then it's off to my beta readers for their verdict. A nervous time, to the point that I shall very definitely arrange to be doing something else on the following day if at all possible! The last thing I want to be doing is checking my emails every five seconds to see if there are any new comments. (If curious, I have a pool of around half a dozen people who read each book before I revise it...and none of them pull their punches, I assure you!) As soon as that book is out to the betas, once I have gathered my nerves back together again, I'll be working on getting book two, 'Fermi's War', ready. That's going to take a good solid week, I think, so you can expect to see the second book in the Battlecruiser Alamo saga out around the 23rd. You can take it as a given that I'll be posting as soon as it's up, but if you want to make sure you hear, remember the mailing list...
What comes next? Well, book four of course! I've committed – at least in my own head – to release a book each month this year. Fast? Well, yes and no. Actually getting the words on the page is pretty quick, but for me personally, a lot of the hard work is done by then. I spent most of the last two or three years working all of this out in my head, and although my characters are throwing some interesting surprises at me, a lot of the hard brain-work is done. Which is not say things are proceeding as planned; they aren't. I'll give you an example; the book I'll be writing in August was not on my original schedule. By about twenty thousand words into the book I'm working on know, it stood up on my desk and demanded to be written; in truth a whole plot segment leapt into place that puts the characters in an interesting place and advances the overall story nicely.
That's the other thing about 'Not One Step Back'; in the first two books – although they are both stand-alone – I've put in a lot of seeds for future plots. There is an ongoing arc, at least in my head, and the third book starts to make some serious progress along it, and this gets reinforced in the fourth book nicely. Which is odd, because that wasn't actually part of my early conceptions of how this series was going to go! (I'm really sounding like a shambles here, aren't I!) As I started to spin books together a few months ago, when I decided I was really going to knuckle down and do this, it only then occurred to me that a story arc was dropping into place. I'm looking forward to seeing how it comes out myself – at this rate, I'm going to be as surprised as the rest of you! (Though in time-honoured tradition, I'll have to claim that it was 'all the plan all along'. Looking at you, Final Five Cylons.)
So – right now the projection is for seven 'Battlecruiser Alamo' books to take the series up to December, and which should wind up the primary plot arc I have in mind. (Not that it will represent the end of the saga, oh no. I already have some vague ideas for a six-book series which will follow it, but that's a bit vaguer in my head at the moment.) After I've done that, I think it's going to be fantasy; those who read this blog in its early stages (Hi, Mark!) will know that I have enough of a fondness for Howardian Sword & Sorcery that it's pretty much inevitable that I'm going to be working in the field again, so that's looking likely for next year, whether as a trilogy or something longer, I don't yet know. (Battlecruiser Alamo started as three. Then four. Then five. Now seven. So it's anyone's guess; my primary criteria is simply 'is it interesting?')
All I know at the moment is this; I'm having a complete blast writing them.