As work begins on the first book in the Starcruiser Polaris series – and there will be an excerpt of the first two chapters available in a few days, incidentally, when they've gone through at least the first stages of my editing process – it seems as good a time as any to outline how things are shaping up after the first four weeks of the year. 'Into the Maelstrom' came out a few days ago, and all seems to be going well so far; the next Alamo book, 'Vault of Eternity', will be out sometime in mid-March, I think, about four weeks after 'Blood of Patriots'.
It hasn't taken two chapters for Polaris to change form, at least to some degree, though I think it will pretty much go to the outline I have laid out for the books in the series. 'Strike Commander', as I have said in the past, was extremely instructive in terms of preparing a fixed-length series, and I'm using everything I learned last year to make this even better. I've got a very good feeling about Polaris, and the characters are already beginning to sing to me, so I'm confident that this is going to go well.
As for said characters, there were some late changes to the line-up, and a complete story arc fell out simply because it just didn't mesh with the rest of the book, and there were no signs that it would change; hence the poor lead managed to lose his fiancé without a single drop of blood being spilt. The replacement, a hard-boiled detective in the Robbery-Homicide division of the Carter City Police Department, and that will make a lot more sense when you read the book. Given that the bulk of the first book is set on an occupied planet, I decided to add a character on the other side of the fence, and the results should be very interesting.
One thing I will say now is that the book will be a few days later than I had originally planned, though I still intend to get it out in February – though the month being short might push it all the way to the wire. The outline ran long, and after the third revision I decided that I was cutting bone rather than flesh, so I'm settling for a book that will probably be nearer 80,000 words than 70,000, though so long as this does not include any padding, I don't think this is a particularly bad thing.
Something else I've decided is that I'll be doing Alamo and Polaris back to back for at least the first six novels of the year, rather than the four I had originally intended. Firstly, this will give me more time to prepare for the other big project, my first serious foray into historical fiction, in the 'Vae Victis' series currently in the planning stages, and secondly this should allow the new series to get a good start, especially if Polaris is going to run longer than the Alamo novels. I had planned a 24-day cycle, but I think that's going to end up as a 'when they are ready' – I won't be giving accurate release dates for that reason, but at the very least you will see a book out on a monthly basis, and hopefully a little better than that.
While I'm working on that, I'll be starting my Roman research, as well as moving another project a little higher up the priority list – the Soviet Space History that I've been pondering for a while. I've always known that it would be two books, one covering the Race to the Moon, the second dealing with the Salyut and Mir programs, and writing this has been strongly in my mind for a time; I might just manage to squeeze the first volume into this year, and certainly I'll be working heavily on my notes for the project. This is something you'll definitely see on the blog, less on the Roman, as I intend a second blog to cover my work in that quarter, about which more in the near future.