Update on the Next Book

When last you left me (or I left you), I was setting Across the Blue Line aside to let it ferment some and starting a different project. It’s a big departure from the Parasite invasion, humanity-hangs-in-the-balance nature of Across the Blue Line and fits instead into what I’ve taken to calling a “low stakes” book. Hopefully that doesn’t mean “boring.” I don’t think it does.

Since starting the project a month ago, I’ve written over 60,000 words. The characters have absolutely sprung to life and I’ve loved writing their story. When I started drawing a crude outline, I wasn’t even too sure where I was going but now, everything is completely dialed in. It may not have the far-reaching impact of an alien invasion but the main characters are certainly vested, and with a smaller cast I’ve been able to develop their personas in a deep fashion. So what’s this as yet untitled book all about?

The story takes place in the Coreward Corporate Zone, or CCZ. In my galaxy that’s the collection of corporations tucked between the Solarian Federation and the upper right corner of the Brevic Republic. It’s also the corporate zone I’ve least detailed in the other books. You know all about the Lesser Magellanic Arm and you’ve seen a little of the Central Systems in Loyalty to the Cause and Last Measure of Devotion, but the CCZ was little known by my readers. The only clue to the zone was the origin of Hussy’s old engineer. Of course, the new story doesn’t stay within the CCZ and it gave me a chance to not only deepen the Federation a little but also to fill out that region of the galaxy. All in all, it’s a great location for a story and a location that’s very different from the other books.

The timeframe of the story is 004. If you recall, Garrett Heskan took command of Anelace  in This Corner of the Universe in 995. The Republic began its ill-fated Parasite Initiative in 005. This means that all of the events of the TCOTU series have happened but we are less than a year away from Hero of the Republic when Caden Twist will take Pathfinder into Parasite space with the rest of the Brevic expeditionary fleet.

The subject matter of the new story revolves around a rather roguish freighter captain and his chief engineer. Both Reece and Mercer have interesting pasts that place them on a collision course. While the book is unnamed, I originally thought of this as “The Trader Series” although I’m not sure it’s a “series” …it might be just a one book and done. However, given the couple’s situation and how they’re overcoming the obstacle in front of them, the name has evolved to “The Scoundrel Series.” I’m very excited about this book and I think readers will have a great time with it as well. There’s even a pretty significant tie-in with my past TCOTU books that will tie up a loose end from Last Measure of Devotion.

In my last blog, I wasn’t sure if I would pick back up on Across the Blue Line or continue with the new book. I’m definitely finishing this new book first and I will be completing Across the Blue Line next year. I hope that isn’t too disappointing for some of you. Please believe me when I say that I want my readers to be happy and I just didn’t think I could maximize the story in Across the Blue Line this year. Now, I’ve got an extra year to make sure that book is worthy.

On a final note, I’ve already got the ship art lined up for the new book. Once again, I am humbled by the generosity of the artists at Deviant Art. Mike Doscher has been gracious enough to permit me to use one of his pieces that blew me away. It’s the PERFECT ship for this novel. If you’re interested in seeing some incredible sci-fi starship art, you should check him out at Deviant Art. Incidentally, Mr. Doscher’s art also inspired the layout of Hussy, the freighter from Loyalty to the Cause. Here is a sneak peek at Captain Reece Lochlain’s ship, CSV Zanshin. Be sure to look for this novel late Summer/Early Fall.

Art by Mike Doscher

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Switching Gears

I’ve been writing Across the Blue Line for a few months now and although progress is being made, it’s been slow. The outline of the story I want to tell is firm and I love it, but the actual writing feels like I’m not fully taking advantage of what should be an awesome tale. There are some very strong parts to the book to be sure but there are also areas that need to be punched up.

I get this feeling at some point with nearly every novel I write but I’m encountering more uncertainty with this one for some reason. I’m worried that I’m not giving enough of the spotlight to some main characters while attempting to develop others. The Chetellx, for instance, are not coming together the way I had envisioned. I want them to be in the story but there just doesn’t seem to be room with a cast that’s already quite large. Aoife Covington (a personal favorite) feels like she’s been pushed aside and I refuse to let that happen.

All of these feelings combine to form a dread that I am leaving something on the table. There is quite a bit of tension in this novel and I’m worried that I’m not bringing it out like I should be.

The only book release schedule I follow is the one I announce on this blog. Although I do feel a strong commitment to my readers when I set a date, I also realize the deadline is ultimately my own.  I know the book should be absolutely fantastic if I can just get the words out, but it’s time to pivot.

I am taking a step back and tabling Across the Blue Line. I feel like I’m pushing it too hard and I don’t want to see the story suffer because of that. For the next couple weeks, I am going to start a different story set in the same TCOTU galaxy but with a different cast of characters. Where Across the Blue Line is such an incredibly “high-stakes” novel, this new story will be much more humble.  Eventually my readers get both.

In a couple of weeks, I will reassess and decide which novel will be the better product for 2017. My main goal is to tell a great story every time, not to push out a series that I struggle to write and people struggle to read. Where’s the fun in that?

For fans excited about Across the Blue Line, please trust me when I say that you’ll be reading it either this year or next. The finale of The Parasite Initiative series (that is, the third book) will follow the year after Across the Blue Line is released. Please also believe me that when you read it, you’ll know that I’ve given it my best effort and didn’t compromise the quality of the story because of a deadline.

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2017 Schedule

Welcome to 2017, everyone. After taking a nice break with my wife, I’m back to the grindstone and working hard on Across the Blue Line. I’m only about 20% complete but hope to finish the rough draft by late Spring, setting me up for a late Summer/early Fall release (as usual).

As much as I would like to write a second novel this year, either a sequel to Scorched or something different, I don’t know if I’m going to be able to fit it in. Certainly Across the Blue Line is my priority. However, writing Scorched was a nice breath of fresh air and I enjoyed Kat and Sadler’s exploits. Scorched happened more or less “by accident” so we’ll see what happens during the dog days of Summer while I am waiting on my beta readers to go over ATBL.

I will try to write more consistently on the blog now that the holidays are over. I’ll tease some of the major characters in the new book and the interactions between them. Plus, I’ll discuss some absolutely new characters that enter the stage that have been a long time coming. It’s funny how many seeds I planted in my very first book, This Corner of the Universe, not knowing if they would ever come to fruition. It’s very satisfying when one does. A good example is a one sentence acknowledgement of corporate systems in TCOTU that established their existence. They certainly became major players later in the series.

For now, I hope everyone enjoyed the holidays. Here’s to all of us having a great 2017!

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