Goals for 2016

Sit back and relax, everyone, because this is going to be a long one.

Around this time last year, I said that I had hoped to write a million words. As it turned out, I fell far short of that, and just crept over the half-million mark, finishing the seventh Alamo novel of the year just a few days ago. (All ready to go, by the way, so I’ll be hitting the button in a few days.) What went wrong doesn’t need much analysis - I’d wanted to start a second series, one that was to run parallel with Alamo, but it didn’t happen. I spent a lot of time plotting books that I didn’t write, or working on various ideas that ended up going nowhere.

Having said that, I think it was a good year for Alamo! I’ve tied up a lot of the loose ends from the 2013-14 books, and set up a lot of plots for 2016-17. The hardest - by far - were the two I wrote near the start of the year, ‘Take and Hold’ and ‘Traitor’s Duty’. I keep telling myself that I will stop trying for two-novel plots, but I’ve done it twice now. My belief is that the Alamo series works best as stand-alone novels with connected story and character arcs, and that is definitely the direction I’ll be taking the series in next year. I’m moving to a 56-day release schedule, which means releases in January, February, April and June...I’ll see how that goes after the first half of the year! All of those books are either already written or firmly plotted out, and I can’t wait to get started on the next one.

This year, I wrote seven books. Eight if you count the unpublished Crusader book. Let’s stick with seven. Next year, 2016, I intend to write thirteen and publish twelve. There are two keys to this. The first is the new 56-day schedule between releases, and the second is that darned second series! I’ve been going around and around on this for many months now, trying to work out what to write. I went a long way on an epic fantasy concept, and that still might come to the surface at some point, and again on historical fiction. I had some thoughts about a spin-off, but it didn’t work out.

Why another genre, you ask? There are two reasons for this. The first is that I would like to stretch myself as a writer, and working in a different area would do that. The second, and most important, is that whenever I have come up with a new science-fiction idea, it’s been obvious that it would either work better as an Alamo book, or that I could easily adapt it for the main series. ‘Malware Blues’ started life as the lead book in a series titled ‘Xenopunk’, and ‘Ghost Ship’ and ‘Aces High’ were originally conceived as Spitfire Station books. There’s a series called ‘Fox Company’ that I’ve been playing around with, and that might see the light of day at some point - but I now finally have my second series!

Naturally, I don’t intend to give out any spoilers on this, but I’ve already said that the lead ship is called Churchill, and can say that the secondary ship (yes, two ships in this one) is a Turing-class Techjammer. (A ship concept I originally developed for Alamo, but it fits a lot better in this universe.) There will be lots more details in the coming months, but the characters and the stories for the first four books are locked into place, and it will be taking its place in the rotation early in the year. The first should be out at the end of March, and will alternate with Alamo thereafter. About the only thing I haven’t finalized is the series title, but I always prevaricate with them.

As well as the new series, I have a few other projects I’m working on as well. For a long-time, I’ve been wanting to write a popular history of the Soviet Space Program; it’s a project very dear to my heart, and I’ve been working on the research side for years. If I get a chance, I might squeak this one into 2016 - in current concept, it will be a two-book series, each one about the length of an Alamo novel. I’m at a stage where I have all the reference works I need to get started, and it’s a matter of going back over the material and breaking it down into an outline.

Another possibility - depending on how things turn out - is that I might have a shot at a third series. Historical fiction is still drawing me towards it, and I still want to take a crack at it, though this might end up being a 2017 project rather than a 2016 one. Nevertheless, I intend to get going on the research - either still focusing on the Crusades, or perhaps venturing to another era, I’m not completely decided. (Though in honesty, I suspect I might try a different era. As usual, I’m juggling half-a-dozen ideas in my head at the moment.) No timelines or deadlines on this one, but it’s something that’s going to happen, just a question of when.

Other goals for the New Year? Well, I’m on Twitter now, and I’m actually finding it a lot more engaging than I was expecting. You can find me at @REBTongue if you’ve a mind to. I’ll be using that more next year. I want to do more with the blog, as well; I’m aware that it goes through long periods of quiescence, and I want to do something about that. At least one post a week next year, and I hope for two. I think that’s optimistic enough, but there are a few things I want to write about, and with a new series coming up, there’s room for author’s notes and analysis.

Well, I think that’s about everything. Happy New Year, everyone!

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