No, this isn't a book you've never read. Put those damn Kindles down while I'm talking to you! I've got a point here. Sigh.
Up until yesterday morning, I had a pretty good idea of my schedule for the rest of the year, and I knew basically what I was doing. I'm in the run-up to writing my next book, about which I'll talk in a moment, but I wasn't going to do that much yesterday. In the end, I didn't do anything, because I woke up in the morning to find out that I had a serious electrical problem, once which took until late afternoon to resolve and forced me into some inactivity.
That brief period has changed the entire picture for the rest of the year.
Let me explain. What I had planned to do was alternate series for a while, get 'Fox Company' or perhaps yet another attempt at 'Starcruiser Polaris' off the ground. That was the sane, sensible option. Maybe that's why my subconscious was resisting it. I'll say right now that I'm loving the hell out of my current 'Alamo' storyline; it might have shown in the book, but 'Shadows in the Sky' was fantastic fun to write, and the next half-dozen or so promise to be equally good. I'm going to be playing around in the Dyson Sphere for a year, I think, and I can guarantee some fantastic adventures.
So, I've got one series that I'm enjoying, but I'm not sure I want to launch another one; I've tried countless times to get Polaris moving, and each time, I've hit a brick wall. Fox Company would likely have ended up the same way. And yet, I've got a lot of ideas I want to explore, though most of them are stand-alone novels. I'd already decided that 'Rocket Dawn' was probably next; I had a story breakthrough on that a few weeks ago, and I've got to get it out of my system.
What happened yesterday was an even bigger breakthrough. I've talked before about my 'Cosmopunk' idea, partly inspired by the researches I've been doing on the Soviet Space Program for the history I'll be writing on it Real Soon Now, and partly by the happy news that the Sprawl Trilogy is at last out on the Kindle. (You'd think it would have been out for years, but…) Which has meant that recently I reread Neuromancer for the first time in years, and am well into the others; let's just say that Cyberpunk is in my head at the moment.
The key trigger was realizing that I could do more than just a series of one-shots in the Cosmopunk setting. Ben Bova did his 'Grand Tour', and while I've got to admit that I ran out of steam on that series fairly early on, it's still a good idea, and one that I can...er...borrow. Moreover, it gives me a chance to write a 'Future History', a framework for the second half of this century, something to plug novels and short stories into. That's the key that finally unlocked this in my head, so that's now coming up over the next few months.
Critically, I'm aware that I need to diversity. I'm still working on historical fiction concepts – and that's going to happen, though perhaps not until the start of the new year in terms of release dates – but in the interim, doing some noir-ish Cyberpunk sounds like the best option to me. The need to stretch my wings isn't just related to commercial considerations, though I admit that my business hat has been shouting at me quite a bit lately. More, I think I'm on the verge of burning out – and that means that I need to explore some new ideas as a matter of urgency. Which I now intend to do. Cyberpunk will be something very different, a new setting, stand-alone characters...
So, what comes next? First, the 'Writer's Log', which I think is going to push towards six figures, and will mean that everything I've written of publishable quality will finally be in print. (With one exception, but I'll get to that.) That's going to include the original Logan Winter stories, and the recently rediscovered first draft of what ultimately became Price of Admiralty – a completely different book than the one that ended up being published. In addition, a short story I wrote recently; I've got a story in an anthology coming up, and ended up writing two rather than one when the first one didn't fit the requirements; it's worth publishing, though, so that's in there as well. In addition, half a dozen essays on my writing process, probably about twenty-five thousand words total, including 'How Alamo Came To Be' – which will anchor those novellas and the draft Alamo. That's coming up towards the end of the month, probably around the 28th.
Then, Rocket Dawn – which I've written about extensively here, but a book that I've been desperate to get written for months. I've got to get it out of my head to clear space for other things, so that's going to happen, and with a planned launch date of July 14th or so. Sometime in the middle of the month, anyway. What of Alamo, you say? Well, that's the book that comes next on the list – August 7th is my target date for Alamo 27. After that, I'll be launching into 'Cosmopunk'.
There will be a much more detailed post on this (or perhaps an essay in the book, depending on how long it goes) later on, but the short version has three novels and a collection of short stories – possibly two. The novels will cover Mars, Luna and the Asteroids, and in my head, the short stories cover Earth and other parts of the system – Venus, cislunar space, Titan, LEO, et cetera. Never let it be said that I'm not ludicrously ambitious, but I'd like to have the Cosmopunk series completed by the end of the year, even if it isn't all published by that point – it would be nice to arrange monthly releases on that until the first tranche is completed. There might be a second tranche if the first one goes well and/or I enjoy writing them enough!
Because that's what this is all about, and I think I've been in danger of forgetting that lately. This game isn't about selling widgets, it's about telling interesting stories – ones that I want to tell, am bursting to get out there. Ultimately, this is about creativity first and foremost, and until that power cut yesterday, I might have been in danger of forgetting that.
So...let's see what happens next...