Health Hiccup and Copyediting

Surgeon_wikicommonWell, I just spent the last week in and out of the hospital with an on-and-off bowel obstruction. I’d say it’s grist for the mill, but I’m not sure I can be that cruel to any of my characters. That shit (or lack thereof, technically) hurts like nothing else I’ve experienced, and this is coming from the guy with two herniated discs in his back. Anyway, I am theoretically on the mend now, but I still have two more days to go on an all-liquid diet. I swear, by Monday, I’ll be looking at pizza and asking, “Can I make a smoothie out of that?”

In the meantime, my copy editor Karen Conlin has started into Debts of My Fathers. If you want to follow along with her, you can follow her twitter as @GramrgednAngel. And if she comes across anything grammatically juicy, it will show up on Google+ in her Broad Daylight Editing collection.

I’m also finishing up the new cover for Beneath the Sky and working towards the cover for Debts of My Fathers.

Moving Right Along

It’s been another month, and things are moving along. I handed off all my stuff for the Christmas UF Anthology today, and I’ve reviewed and approved some of the Hell Bent copyedits as part of that since the anthology will include an excerpt. Of course, none of that matters to you folks who have been waiting for Debts of My Fathers.

So at this point, the deck is clear for Debts of My Fathers. I’m not going to do another round of beta readers at this point. I think I’ve fixed the main issues raised by the first round of beta readers, and I’m just going to have to believe that my fixes are good. I still have a few details to hammer out, and then I’ll do the language pass where I look out for my problematic words and phrases. As each book goes forward, I’m catching more and more of these, and the most recent, “towards”, was caught by my copyeditor for Hell Bent. So anyway, I’m pushing towards that and then handing it off to the copyeditor sometime next week. At least, that’s the plan. It might need through next weekend as well, but as I’m already on Plan G, I’m trying to avoid Plan H. I still think I’ll get it out this calendar year, but it’s going to be tight, particularly on the cover.

I also have the final art for the new Beneath the Sky cover, so I’ll be pushing that out soon, but to be honest, it’s taking a back seat to my edits to Debts of My Fathers.

When it does finally go out the door, I will be sure to send email out to the list, so sign up if you want to be notified.

As for my health, October was a really painful month with extra stress to my back from stuff around the house plus two business trips.  It’s gotten some better in November. The pain is still there a fair amount, but the back spasms have mostly stopped, and they were the source of the worst pain. That is, the steady state pain is in the 5-7 range while the spasms took me up to 9 and a little beyond. I haven’t passed out yet (the definition of 10), but I have seen stars.  We’re running a few more tests, and I’m meeting with surgeons, but that’s mostly to confirm the non-surgeon opinion that the herniated disc is not operable.

World-Building in Public

I’m considering a blogging experiment. I have a number of things to flesh out in my Hudson Confederacy universe, and I think I might just start publishing them as blog entries here. They won’t be spoilers, and they won’t really be canon either – I figure until this stuff shows up in an actual book, it’s just rumor. Still, it might make for some interesting reading while other books in that universe work their way through edits.

It started when I found myself daydreaming a little about the Navy of the Hudson Confederacy, and after listening to a podcast on building a space navy, I realized I need to back up and look at the history. After all, a Navy is there to perform missions in support of strategic goals, and those strategic goals come from both the surrounding environment and how the nation perceives itself. So, I had to ask myself, how does the Hudson Confederacy see itself?  That, in turn, took me even further back to seeing where it came from.

Why dig so far back? Well, any student of US politics today can’t help but see that many of the forces date all the way back to religious persecution that drove some of the early colonists to cross the Atlantic in the first place. For that, of course, you then need to go further back to the Anglican church of King Henry VIII, then back to the Reformation of Martin Luther, and ultimately back to the politics of the Catholic church in the 1400s.

So… how far back am I going? Well, in the brief back-story of the universe given in Beneath the Sky, humanity shot out to colonize rapidly once they finally got FTL. This led to a vast union called The Republic of Man, usually referred to now as the Old Republic. Sorry, no Jedi Knights. Anyway, that eventually shattered, leaving the original core as the Solarian Union and giving birth to dozens of smaller nations The largest two of those were the League of Catai and the Hudson Confederacy, where the bulk of my space opera will occur. While the League has done well for itself, the Hudson Confederacy has suffered through two civil wars since establishing its independence.

My intent is to look at the forces that eventually broke up the Old Republic, how that breakup occurred, and what that meant for the various nations that resulted, specifically the Confederacy. Then, I’m going to look at the two civil wars that rocked the Confederacy. I’m thinking of the first one as mostly a rocky transition from a loose gathering of colonies into something with stronger central control – a bit like if the US’s transition from the Articles of Confederation to the 1789 Constitution had resulted in a civil war where the 13 colonies were reduced to 9 states and some foreign neighbors.

But it’s the most recent civil war that is both drawing my attention and completely stymieing my imagination. A fair amount what is going into the Father Chessman saga (Ships of My Fathers, Debts of My Fathers, etc) is the fallout from that civil war. It left a lot of bad blood, but while I know a fair amount about how the war was fought, I haven’t really figured out what led to it. That seems, well… important.

So, I’ll be making history here, literally. Well, make-believe, future history, but you get the idea. Tune in and see how it develops.

Ships of My Fathers, Launch Day

If you’ve been paying attention, you know that I wrote another book, Ships of My Fathers. Well, it is now out there, officially, available for purchase. Right now it’s in print and on the Kindle. The other e-book platforms will follow later in the year.

It’s another space opera, in the same universe as Beneath the Sky, though it’s not really a sequel. It’s the story of a young man who finds out that his recently deceased father was not the man he thought he was and what he does with the mystery that leaves behind. Here’s the cover and blurb:

ShipsOfMyFathers_Cover300pxMichael was orphaned at seventeen, light-years from home. His inheritance: a starship, distant relatives he never knew existed, and inescapable questions that challenge everything he thought was true.

Michael’s quest for answers takes him halfway across the Confederacy, from the gleaming corridors of the wealthy super-freighters to the dark holds of Father Chessman’s pirate ships.

The truth is waiting for him, but he’ll have to survive to find it.


Where did this come from?

This story traces its origins to two main ideas. First, my father died of cancer about eight years ago. No, he did not leave behind any great mysteries, but I started to wonder what it would have been like if he had. What if he had not actually been an electrical engineer? What if he had secretly been a Cold War spy instead? Or what if he were a member of some ancient secret society? What if his old friends and enemies came looking for me?

We think we know our parents, but what if they really did have some dark secret? They could probably be quite effective at hiding it from you. You might not trust them to take you ice skating or to deliver on your Christmas wishes, but you figure that you can trust them on some fundamental issues, like what your name is, or whether they’re war criminals. Because of that, you never think to dig into those kinds of secrets. But sooner or later, the past catches up to everyone, and those secrets come out.

Another big source of this was someone who was a minor character in Beneath the Sky: Father Chessman. Something about him really appealed to me, and a number of other folks said they liked him as well. He’s the other half to the larger story arc in this series, as our protagonist Michael learns more of his own history, he finds himself learning more about the origins of Father Chessman.

In the end, the series is going to be about the rather big idea of moral equivalence, whether terrible acts are justifiable in dire situations or if some acts truly are beyond the pale. If so, which ones? What if it was your father who did it? What if it was you?

But along the way, there will plenty of space opera fun, with merchants, pirates, conspiracies, young love, and even the occasional explosion. Check out the sample chapters.

Ships of My Fathers is off to the Copyeditor

Last week, I handed my next novel off to the copyeditor. If all goes according to schedule, she’ll have it wrapped up by the end of March, and I’ll be able to release it around the start of May.

BeneathSky_Chessman_ParallelShips of My Fathers is the first of a five-book series set in the same universe as Beneath the Sky, though it’s neither sequel nor prequel. In truth, it happens in parallel to Beneath the Sky and touches on one or two minor characters from that book, most notably Father Chessman and the Yoshido pirate syndicate. Chessman is not the central character, by far, but in search of a good-sounding tagline, this might very well end up being known as the Father Chessman Saga. I’ll say more about it as the release approaches, but until now I suppose it’s been nothing more than a title to everyone but my beta readers.

BloodOnThePageHanding it off to my copyeditor is a strange milestone for me because it marks the beginning of the hurry-up-and-wait stage. I still consider copyediting to be part of my polish process, but until I get those edits back, there’s very little for me to do. That sudden inactivity comes on the heels of a major push to reach that point, so in some ways I’m still hearing my writing-brakes squeal.

When I started the year, I set a schedule that called for an “editing” deadline in late January, but when February 1st rolled around, I was nowhere close to being done. Knowing that much of the rest of the schedule would be out of my hands (copyedits, bake time at printers and retailers, shipping time for galley proofs, etc.), I realized that if I missed my end-of-February deadline, there was no hope of catching up. So I doubled my efforts and did three different editing passes in February:

  1. I finished the story edits, incorporating the beta feedback. The book grew about 5000 words along the way.
  2. I did a word-crafting pass, beefing up my word choices, slaying weak adverbs, adding more colorful metaphors, and just getting rid of really annoying filler words like “just” and “really”.
  3. Then I did my own copyedit pass and found some truly awful errors that had amazingly slipped past every one of my own reads as well as those of my beta readers.

In the end, I missed my deadline by two days, passing it off near midnight on March 1st rather than my original February 27th goal. It now stands at about 85,000 words, and I think I’ve read it beginning to end at least four times. At this point, I’m strangely ambivalent about it. In some ways I’m sick of it, but in other ways, I’m reveling in it. This one bit towards the end still makes me tear up, even after that many readings. So, either I’m incredibly narcissistic, or the book is pretty good… though I suppose both could be true.

So now I’m edging into the publishing process, even as the polishing process is wrapping up. I’ll be doing a rough cut of the print formatting so that I can get an approximate page count. This is necessary to calculate the spine width, and I need that to correctly size the wraparound cover. I have a pretty good idea of what I want to do with it, image and text-wise, but I’m still toying around with fonts and such. I also need to think forward to the next four books and their likely covers, so that the series will have a more unified look.

And I’m also starting to think about other projects. I’m going to revise the cover of Beneath the Sky and get back to the edits on Hell Bent. Hopefully I’ll be handing that over to my beta readers about the same time I get my copyedits back on Ships of My Fathers. And then I need to start thinking about drafting a new novel from scratch, quite possibly the sequel to Hell Bent, tentatively titled Stone Killer.

Fill Up Your Kindle

I am generally not a self-promotion whore, but since a number of you may be loading things onto your brand new Kindle today, I thought to remind you that I have a book out there you could grab:

Maggie is a young schoolteacher on the multi-generation colony ship, God’s Chariot, bound for their promised world, New Providence. When a faster-than-light freighter crosses their path, a forgotten history catches up with them and puts their future in doubt. Maggie and her father are drawn to the center of the conflict over what will become of their colony, their faith, and even their lives.

It’s the space-opera analog of the Mayflower landing in modern Boston, filled with high technology, different customs, and 747’s cutting their travel time down to hours.

Battling conspiracy, politics, and even pirates, Maggie must rise to the challenge or face her colony’s doom.

The Next Big Thing Meme

Rhonda Eudaly, one of the Four Redheads of the Apocalypse, did a meme recently on her upcoming book Vagabond. She herself had been tagged by J. Kathleen Cheney, but Rhonda did not get any volunteers to be tagged for a followup. I’m was a little late to the party to get officially tagged, but I figured I would do the meme anyway.

So, here are my answers for the “Next Big Thing” meme. If I could actually tag whomever I wanted, I would tag Nathan Lowell, C.J. Cherryh, Elizabeth Moon, Jack McDevitt, and Jim Butcher.

1) What is the working title of your next book?
Ships of My Fathers

2) Where did the idea come from for the book?
This one bubbled up out of a number of sources, but the central event was the death of my father seven years ago. Then, quite some time later, I heard a tale about someone discovering all manner of things about their father after his death, including details of some secret life the father had led. From that, I began to wonder how I would have reacted if I discovered that my father had actually been some kind of secret government agent, or a mobster, or an elite assassin for dark powers… and what would I do if they wanted me pick up where my father left off?

3) What genre does your book fall under?
Space Opera, which is basically Science Fiction where we get to have faster-than-light travel and the occasional ray gun. It’s written in the same universe as my first novel “Beneath the Sky”, though it is not a sequel. It’s just another story happening elsewhere in the neighborhood.

4) What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition?
This is hard for me, because I don’t really follow actors that closely. I’d probably want an older Nathan Fillion as the father, but it’s a very tiny part. It’s just that’s the kind of guy the father was. I think I’d want Joseph Gordon-Levitt for the protagonist, but I’d need him younger than he is now. He’s had that boyish innocence when he was younger, and he’s grown into a tougher figure. As for the rest… wow, too many characters to cast here.

5) What is the one sentence synopsis of your book?
On the cusp of adulthood, Michael Fletcher finds out that his father Malcom was not what he appeared, and Michael sets out to find out who he really was and what happened to his mother seventeen years ago.

6) Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
It will be self-published. I already have feedback from my first set of beta readers, and I’m doing another pass at the edits. It might need one more set of fresh eyes, but I hope to be doing the copy edits by late January and releasing it by March.  (And kudos to Rhonda for pointing out that self-publishing and getting an agent are not the only two options in this business.)

7) How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript?
Two months, and that wasn’t even full-time, since I took off about three weeks in the middle. Of the four novels I’ve written, this one was the fastest as well as the cleanest.

8) What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
I would like to compare it (and the four that will follow) to the Vatta books by Elizabeth Moon or perhaps some of the Merchanter books by C.J. Cherryh, but I’m still too much of a fan-boy of these two legends to say I’m in their league.

9) Who or what inspired you to write this book?
I suppose it would be easiest to say “my father”, but other than having died, he doesn’t have anything in common with the protagonist’s father. Most of the ideas came simple noodling around in my head, but I should say that I “got permission” to do some things from Nathan Lowell’s Solar Clipper series. Most space opera is all dashing captains, exploding ships, and political intrigue. While this book has its fair share of that, I also wanted to include some wrench turning, the kind of boring day to day stuff that would make up most of your life aboard a starship. Nathan Lowell showed me that this boring stuff could actually be pretty interesting, so I went for it.

10) What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?
If you read my first book “Beneath the Sky”, you’ll have seen hints of the Confederacy’s darker underbelly with pirates, corrupt politicians, and shadowy figures like Father Chessman. This book (and the four that follow) shows a young man coming to terms with what Father Chessman did to his family and him deciding to go after this powerful figure himself. And if you didn’t read Beneath the Sky… hey, come on, the link is RIGHT THERE! Ahem… I mean, give it a shot, ok?


This blog is now officially one year old. My first post was little more than “Hey! This is my blog!” and a brief introduction. I didn’t have any grand plans then. I can’t say my plans are that grand now either, but at least I’ve got some momentum.

And momentum is exactly what I was lacking a year ago. I had been piddling around with my writing for years… well, decades really. I felt I had a lot of stories to tell, and I thought my writing was rising to a professional level, but I was not getting anywhere. Of course, I wasn’t trying that hard, either. I had a couple of leads on agents, but I wasn’t sure how I wanted to proceed. For that matter, I wasn’t sure I even wanted to proceed.

You see, somewhere in that tentative agent hunt, one of those agents had asked an important question: why do I want to be published? This was different than the age-old question of why do I want to write, and notably, it was a question I had never asked myself. At the time it was asked, my only answer was that it seemed to be the next logical step, but writing and publishing are very different tasks, and just because I enjoyed one was no reason to think I would enjoy the other.

The other lurking question was whether to pursue traditional publishing at all or head out into the lands of self-publishing on my own. “No unagented submissions” was the rule of the day, and even getting an agent was a dicey proposition. Meanwhile, a legion of scam artists were eager to pounce on my dreams and turn them into debts and disaster.  And the self-publishing evangelists were making claims that seemed too good to be true.

To say I was stuck would be an exaggeration of my forward motion, but that had changed two weeks earlier. I was having lunch with a friend, and we were both bemoaning our lack of progress. He was trying to make the jump “above the line” in films, and I was trying to move forward on some kind of writing career. We had both been stuck for years, and we didn’t see anything obvious that was about to yank us forward.

And that’s when I said it. “I don’t want to be having this same conversation in two years.

It’s not pithy enough to be a Nike slogan, but it had the same effect. I dusted off this domain – registered but idle for years – and started blogging. I finished the edits to Beneath the Sky. I finished the draft to Hell Bent. I wrote the draft to Ships of My Fathers. When the new year came around, I finally answered my questions about publishing and made the decision to self-publish Beneath the Sky.  In May I did exactly that. Since then I’ve done first pass edits to Ships of My Fathers and launched into the draft of its sequel, Debts of My Fathers.

I’d like to say it’s been one steady roll of successes, but I’ve had my stumbles along the way. Publishing Beneath the Sky took longer than I had hoped, and I feel like I rushed the cover. The draft to Debts of My Fathers stalled over the summer due to distractions from a house full of special-needs kids and some problems with how the third act was shaping up. I’ve resolved those now, and I’m heading back in to finish it up. But now I’m two months behind where I wanted to be.

Still, I’m eager to keep moving and confident that when next September rolls around, I won’t be having that same stuck-in-the-mud conversation. Tasks that I’m still hoping to finish off this year include: finishing Debts of my Fathers, polishing and publishing Ships of my Fathers, getting Hell Bent into the hands of my beta readers, and writing the first draft to the sequel to Hell Bent, tentatively titled Stone Killer.

As for the blog, I have a few changes in mind. Some of them are cosmetic, but a few are content-focused. I will probably be dropping my intermittent blog entries on making gold in World of Warcraft – though for the record, I did punch through the one million gold mark this summer. (Fanfare?  Cheers?  Golf clap??)  Instead of talking about gaming, I’m going to take a stab at writing more short fiction. This is something I have not done regularly since the 1990’s, but I want to give it another shot. The SF/F essays will continue, and I will likely continue to talk some about writing and publishing. The book reviews will keep coming along as fast (er, I mean, as slow…) as I read them, but I’m thinking about adding some columns on movies as well.  Podcasting is still a possibility, but it’s iffy.

I hope to have two or three more books in print by the time this blogiversary rolls around next year, but other than that, I have no idea where this is all headed. As always, I’m making it up as I go.

My N-man Starship

How many people do you need to run a starship? I see stories where it’s a crew of hundreds, while others manage with just one. It’s not that either is wrong. I think it simply depends on the rules of the story’s universe and the purpose of the ship.

At one end, I think about the one-man ships of Larry Niven or Jack McDevitt. These typically have a fair amount of computer automation. McDevitt’s ships in particular have an AI who is perfectly capable of taking the ship through all its maneuvers and activities, leaving the “pilot” as little more than a bossy passenger.

Even taking a more active hand, the single crewman usually only has to be alert and on duty for key transitions such as sub-light maneuvering thrusts or transitions into and out of the FTL-drive of choice. As long as nothing else goes wrong, this one crewman has a lot of time to kill. Then again, if something does go wrong, he has to be the one-man repair crew, and in many cases, his options are limited to sending out a distress call for a rescue ship.

At the other end we have giant warships like the Enterprise or the Galactica. They seem to have less computer automation, so they require more people spread around the ship pushing the right buttons at the right time. They also have extra functions that those one-man ships do not, ranging from combat to exploration, so they need extra crew to deal with those things. And as the button pushers and red-shirts add up, you need more officers for command and control.

Furthermore, a lot more can break on a warship than on a small passenger ship. In fact, warships frequently seek out situations where things break spectacularly. No longer is one lonely crewman replacing a leaky fuel line. Instead, it’s a team of thirty repairing a hull breach and welding the engine mounts back into place.

But what about the in-between cases?

One of the reasons I really enjoyed Nathan Lowell’s Solar Clipper series (start with Quarter Share) was that he paid attention to all the boring little details of keeping a ship up and running. From his books (and some of the ones I’m working on), I’ve realized that in addition to the obvious jobs of sitting in the captain’s chair and locking phasers on target, there are three main things that occupy the bulk of the crew: standing watch, doing maintenance, and sleeping.

Standing watch is probably the most boring thing you can imagine, because you’re essentially waiting around all day for something to go wrong. This looks like a prime candidate for computer automation. After all, the computer can wait 24/7 for something to happen, and it doesn’t need a chair. Still, it’s important to have an actual person there, because when something does go wrong – and sooner or later, it will – then you want to have a live body there, paying attention, and ready to take action. There are quite a few things that could wait five or ten minutes for you to wake up and get dressed, but the matter/anti-matter injection valves probably can’t wait.

Maintenance is almost the opposite. You’re not waiting for anything to go wrong. You’re fixing it or replacing it before it can. The environmental team is changing out the CO2 scrubbers, and the engineers are realigning the polarity on… well, you know how those engineers can be about polarity. Some maintenance is hard to do when you’re underway, but if the ship has any kind of redundant systems, you can be sure that they’ll be falling back to them on occasion both as a test and for a chance to do maintenance on the primary system.

And sleep? Sleep is kind of a placeholder for all the drawbacks to those lazy organic crews. They keep wanting to sleep, and that’s on top of wanting to eat food several times a day. I figure about the hardest you can push someone is twelve-hour shifts, seven days a week. We’re not talking about heavy physical labor in the cotton field, but keeping alert for twelve hours is a challenge. You’d be a lot better off with eight-hour shifts and enough crew to allow other downtime. Toss in a galley, maybe a small gym or some recreation, and the crew to manage all that. Pretty soon your little eight-man ship is ballooning up to twenty or more.

I screwed up on this in my first book Beneath the Sky, in that the merchant ship Jinley is crewed by only four or five, but I never delved into the day-to-day shipboard life in that story. In the upcoming Ships of my Fathers and Debts of my Fathers, I thought about it a lot more and concluded that a merchant ship that size really should have six or seven crew: two navigators, two engineers, an environmental specialist, a cook, and a captain who can hopefully jump in to fill any of those slots in a pinch. That’s largely because the rules of this particular universe makes FTL a hands-on task, dealing with the shifting tachyon winds and managing the ephemeral sails that grab that wind. Twelve-hour shifts are a bitch, but bigger ships with more crew provide an easier life, with more downtime, better rested crews, and more redundancy.

So, before you head out on that long solo flight, give some thought to who is going to fix the toilet when you’re laid up with flu. Do you have a robot helper? A first officer in cryo-sleep? The 800-number for deep space Roto-Router?

Avoiding the Genre Trap

I want to write more than one genre of fiction. For that matter, I want to write some non-fiction as well. But a lot of writers end up writing in only one genre, the literary equivalent of type-casting. How does that happen, and how can I avoid it?

For starters, it happens to fewer authors than it appears. Quite a few of them write in multiple genres already, but they do so under different names. When their name is invested with a genre identity, like Anne Rice and the supernatural, it makes some sense to go with a different name for a different subject, such as the kinky erotica of Anne Rampling. This isn’t always the author’s choice, as it has often been forced by publishers, but a number of them have crossed genres under the guise of a new name.

But regardless of the name, there is still a real temptation to keep writing the same kind of thing. After all, if you crank out a great SF trilogy, you get pretty good at writing SF. While the nuts and bolts of writing SF would serve you well in fantasy or mystery, it would not be quite as simple. I suppose it’s the difference between building a second lawnmower vs. cobbling together a leaf blower. It’s simply easier to crank out the same old thing over and over.

Easier yes, but not as much fun, I would think. Having already done some genre jumping, I find I enjoy the mental muscles it exercises.

Then there’s the bird-in-the-hand issue of selling books before they’re written.  I’ve heard more than one author talk about how different things are once they’re selling books via a proposal. Once they’re a proven commodity, they can sell a book based on an outline a few chapters and then live on the advance while they actually write it. But publishers seem to want exactly what sold well last year, just newer. So, if your last SF novel was a success, they’ll want another successful SF novel.

One author described how his advances became something of a trap, because he felt he could no longer afford to branch out and try a different genre or experiment with some of his stranger ideas. While it might make a fabulous novel, even a commercially successful one, he knew he could never sell something that different on a proposal. So he stuck with what he knew, living from one advance to the next.

Most of all that, of course, is second or third hand information, but I confess that this is one of the things that pushed me towards self-publishing. I did not want to find myself in the position of writing a particular book simply because it was a lot like the last one. That’s hardly the only reason I went that way, but it did enter into my thinking.

The other thing I’m doing to avoid the genre trap is to write as much as I can and to do it in multiple genres. Certainly, I’m going to write some series books, but they won’t all be in the same genre, and some of them will definitely end so that others can begin. Right now I have three book projects strongly underway, with several others taking shape in the shadows.

Two of those are the first two books in a new SF/space opera series, set in the same universe as Beneath the Sky. These will follow the tale of a boy learning the truth about his parents and will eventually lead him into conflict with Father Chessman, a minor character from Beneath the Sky. The first of these, Ships of My Fathers, should be out this fall.

The other book that’s well in hand is the start of an urban fantasy series set in a Pittsburgh but stretches into other realms, ranging from Hell to the city of Fae. It’s less about the mighty magical powers coursing through the world and more about living in the nitty-gritty reality of that society. The first of these, Hell Bent, should be out early next year.

As for the other stuff that’s forming in the wings, I have a military SF series taking shape (also in the Beneath the Sky universe), two solo SF novels addressing more existential questions, a vampire series set in Japan, an epic fantasy of aging heroes, a mystery or two, and even some sketchy plots around romance and erotica. And then there’s the epic seventeen-novel future history that I’ll likely never write, as well as the many free-floating ideas that haven’t settled into a home yet.

If I go as far afield as romance, I’ll probably use a pen name, but I’d like to keep all of my SF and fantasy under my original name. There are enough successes like Elizabeth Moon and C.J. Cherryh who have spanned that pair of genres to prove it can be done. Whether mystery would go out under this name is an open question.

All I know is that I don’t want to end up writing book 17 of a series I’ve grown to hate, but perhaps I’m overly claustrophobic on that front. Maybe someone else would snuggle right on into that situation and be happy as a clam.

What about you? If you write, is your chosen genre a cozy sweater or a bear trap?