Looking Back, Looking Forward

Well, the New Year is almost upon us, which means that it is time for me to go over everything that happened last year, and work out my plans for the year ahead. I'd aimed to release a novel a month in 2016, and while I didn't really anticipate meeting that target, I came a lot closer than I had anticipated, with ten books released over the course of the year, the majority of which were, of course, Battlecruiser Alamo novels.

I'd wanted to bring the 'Xandari War' arc to an end, and just about managed it in time, despite losing October for one reason or another, and had intended to start a second series. 'Strike Commander' worked, albeit differently than I had originally planned – my outline for the year had figured on a longer-running series, but it just seemed to work well with three. I had also wanted to work in a new genre, and while I did do some work along these lines, it didn't end up translating to any finished novels, something of a disappointment.

As for the coming year, well, I thought I was being ambitious with hoping for twelve books, but this time I think I am being positively insane. The goal for 2017 is sixteen books. Released, on average, every twenty-four days. Given that I had difficulties with the twenty-eight-day schedule, this might seem to be the height of hubris, but I think, with greater planning and care, that it should be attainable. (Even if not, shooting for sixteen probably gives me a much better chance of twelve.)

The key is consistency. Far too often last year I ended up working at crazy speeds to maintain my schedule, losing whole weeks of work. What I need to do this year is concentrate more on a steady pace; I'm hoping that the days of '10,000 words in a day' are well and truly behind me now, and intend to hold to a steady 3,000 words/day average – essentially, one chapter a day. Given that I write to a novel length of around 70,000 words, that means an average of twenty-four days per book, though I don't intend to commit to a schedule more specific than the targeted month.

For me, establishing the consistent pattern is almost more important than anything else; sliding into a routine will increase my output, and it isn't a matter of anything other than having a lot of stories I want to tell, and my impatience at getting to them. I'd planned to take two weeks off over Christmas, but in the end I managed to withstand my time off for less than a week before getting back to work, and I'm enjoying working on the new novel immensely.

Which takes me to six of these books – which will be Battlecruiser Alamo, as normal, with the goal of at least one every seventy-two days. Five of these books will be novels, the opening of what is currently intended as a ten-book storyline, the details of which will have to remain a secret for the time being. Until the first book is out there, I can't even tell you the name of the arc, as it constitutes a serious spoiler, but I've been looking forward to getting started on this one for months, and it's great to finally be getting to it. You can expect the first of these out somewhere around the 28th of January, I think, though I am hoping to shave a few days off that.

With five novels, that leaves a sixth, and that will be my much-threatened 'Writer's Log', a diary-based account of the writing of an Alamo novel, specifically, 'Into the Maelstrom'. It's shaping up to be somewhere around 25,000 words at present, and my intention is to release it on the same day as the novel upon which it is based, though I haven't decided on any final details yet. I think it might be interesting, if nothing else. (Yes, I'm really selling this one hard, aren't I!)

There is going to be a second long-running science-fiction series, starting in February, under the title 'Starcruiser Polaris'. That's definitely on the schedule now, and I'm very much looking forward to starting the first of them, 'Third Time Lucky', with advanced planning for the rest well in hand. Naturally, there will be a lot more details on this coming up in the near future, but for the present, I will say that it will be rather more free-wheeling than 'Alamo'. Perhaps the best way to describe it would be to say that if Alamo was my attempt at a Gene Roddenberry series, Polaris is going to look a lot more like something produced by Glen A. Larson. Specifically, Polaris is to be the antithesis of the 'finest ship in the fleet' concept. Five of these next year, at least.

That's two slots filled, and I need a third. Ultimately, this is going to be historical fiction. I've been waffling about working in this area for months, maybe years, and 2017 is going to be the year in which I finally do it. I know the period – Sixth Century BC, the Eastern Mediterranean and the Near East, heavily inspired by the writings of Herodotus, and I have story concepts firming up, but this is probably going to be some months away, though I'll be disappointed not to have released the first by the middle of the year. I have a few ideas about how to fill the gap, but I'm not certain which way to jump yet – either I'll simply skip one, add an extra 'Polaris' to launch the new series with back-to-back releases, or write a stand-alone novel – I've got a few ideas on that.

So, there you go. If this works out – and I've no idea whether or not it will – that will finally see me reach the 'million words in print' that has been my target for two years in a row. Let's see what the new year brings...

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