Yup, still deployed. Will be through Spring next year. Yup, still largely off the social media radar as a result. Just occasionally popping my head up now and again, with decreasing frequency. Which is a blessing in disguise, because it forces me to work on things that are both more important and more pressing, than who is shouting at who on the intarwebz.
The cosmetic revamp continues. I will keep fiddling with things, as connectivity and time permit. Until I settle on something that feels right. It’s been my habit to re-do my web look annually, but as one reviewer noted, we’re also dealing with “branding” issues, and this includes the artwork for my covers. So, it’s a slow process. Thanks again to everybody for the ongoing feedback. Especially since I switched my WordPress theme from Twenty Ten, to Twenty Eleven. Similar, but also different.
During the “remodel” I’ve been thinking back to when I first set up this blog. 2009 isn’t so far away. And yet, 2009 also seems like an eternity ago. Seven years (on the internet) is practically an epoch! My very first post was regarding my initial Finalist story, with the L. Ron Hubbard presents Writers and Illustrators of the Future Contest. I hadn’t published a single professional word at that point. Being a first-time Finalist was as close as I’d ever come to scoring. Wow. That was exciting! After so many years of rejection letters and disappointment, I was within striking distance.
Which meant being double-plus crushed a few months later, when I found out that my novelette “Outbound” didn’t make it. Damn, was that ever a bummer. The toughest rejection I ever got in my whole life. I sat at the kitchen table and sort of stared off into space, thinking, this is the best thing I’ve ever written to date, and I know it, and it couldn’t even win in a contest where the competition is with other aspiring writers!
How was I ever going to cut it in the big leagues?
Thankfully, I got my answer in January 2010. Analog magazine said, “Yes, we want this,” just 60 days after Writers of the Future told me I’d won, for a different story.
“Outbound” ran in September 2010. It was a hit with readers, none of whom knew me from Adam at that point. I’ve since had a few other hits with Analog. Enough to establish myself as one of that venerable magazine’s top new names, for the new century.
I’m immensely proud of that. More than I can sufficiently say. Because Analog is the cauldron of creation where so many amazing and spectacular names in this field, have first come forth. To include personal heroes like Orson Scott Card. As well as current top professionals like George R. R. Martin. Analog has been home to Larry Niven, Jerry Pournelle, and Robert A. Heinlein. Also: Lois McMaster Bujold, Vernor Vinge, Robert J. Sawyer, Frank Herbert, and so many others. In fact, the wikipedia entry lists several dozen notable names of both past and present. I am humbled enormously to see my name tucked away to the side, on that roster. And immensely gratified.
Of course, my track record with Analog (as well as Orson Scott Card’s InterGalactic Medicine Show) got me the attention of Toni Weisskopf, at Baen Books. Who would eventually publish my “fix up” book, The Chaplain’s War, which was assmebled and expanded from the bones of two stories which had appeared in Analog.
To frame all of this so that you can understand, it’s a bit like being Charlie from Willy Wonka. One day I am an often-rejected, some would even say failed writer, who’s never managed to do much of anything worthwhile despite years and years of fruitless effort, and the next . . . it’s golden ticket time! Holy crap, sometimes dreams really do come true!
Now, of course, there is the question: what next? What about the seven years ahead? What’s happening between now, and 2022?
I can tell you that Baen has contracted me for the first book in what I am calling my Star-Wheeled trilogy. The launch novel, A Star-Wheeled Sky, is in a seperate universe from the Chaplain’s stories, and focuses on a future human civilization which finds itself at a critical juncture. Restricted for many hundreds of years to a relatively small region of the galaxy, there is finally the potential for first contact with an actual living alien race of unknown origin or power. The various nations of human space will each be in a mad rush to exploit this discovery. They’ve been at war with each other for a long time, dividing and re-dividing the limited worlds of humanity during a slow spiral toward civilizational cataclysm. All three books deal with this initial premise, and I’ve been writing portions of them for months. The first draft of the first book is a bit overdue, so I am going to be focusing entirely on that for the next month, to be sure Toni gets it well before Labor Day. Then? Completion of the remaining two.
Assuming all goes well with the Star-Wheeled books, I will try my hand at alternative history epic fantasy, with a trilogy I am planning (and which Baen has shown a lot of interest in) called Norse America. The setup is like this. The pantheons of the various peoples of Earth are real. Magic is also real, albeit dangerous and not necessarily well understood. The Viking settlers who’ve established themselves in Vinland around the year 1000 find themselves being pushed out by a relentless march of Frost Giants, coming down from the arctic. Retreat to Iceland has been made impossible. Leif Erikson and his heirs — along with perhaps a thousand Viking warriors — must flee to the Chesapeake Bay, where they encounter the remnants of the mound-building civilizations who have been pushed out of the Ohio region by a terrible threat coming up from the Southwest. The gods of the mound-builders and the Norse gods of the refugee Vikings know this is the time for a last-ditch alliance, through their respective peoples. Blood and traditions mingle. But the threat from the Southwest only grows stronger. The Frost Giants are still coming. And the shamans tell of visions of a third, perhaps still greater danger: men in boats from across the ocean, which has remained closed to Viking longships because of sea monsters and cursed storms. The invaders are seeking treasure as well as glory. It’s conquistador muskets against Ulfberht swords! Political alliances being forged, tested, and shattered. Family dynasties born, destroyed, and born again. The one god comes to drive out the many gods. And the chosen sons and daughters of a hybrid nation will rise to claim their destiny, as defenders of their civilization — or see it all burn in bitter defeat.
So, those are the major projects. I’d say they will keep me busy until mid 2017, at least?
Of course, that’s not everything. I’ve also got some collaborations in the works — for both stories, as well as books — in addition to new manuscripts and story ideas I want to pitch at Analog, Orson Scott Card’s InterGalactic Medicine Show, Galaxy’s Edge, and other venues. Including a planned Monster Hunter International story which I’ve already agreed to do for a book being put together by Bryan Thomas Schmidt, and Larry Correia.
Which doesn’t mention the extant stories soon to hit print! Including a story for an anthology inspired by the songs of the prog rock band, RUSH, being assembled and edited by Kevin J. Anderson.
So, that’s all of this year, all of next, and much of the following year. Beyond that? I want to get back to my nascent Emancipated Worlds project, which has been in stasis since 2011. I’ve got ideas for an additional space opera type trilogy, as well as an original swords-and-magic fantasy trilogy, plus the brewing seeds of at least two or three dozen other items which may evolve into either novelettes, novellas, or full-blown books. Including sequels to popular stories like “Outbound” and “Ray of Light.”
If the time between 1993 and 2009 was a desert, the time since has been a green field of trees, fruit, and honey. I am grateful to have had the opportunity to do things with my imagination which I only dreamed about 20 years ago, when I was still trying to get my feet under me — as an aspiring writer. The long proto-professional drought (seventeen years?) taught me to appreciate the good stuff, when it finally came. I don’t think I’d have the right perspective, had publication and success come quickly or easily.
I had to work for the shit. You know?
But it’s been worth it. And in many ways, I feel like I am just getting started!
I want to borrow something Geoffrey Lewis said so well, when asked (in story form) what the most pleasurable experience in his life has been.
What’s the best book or story I’ve ever done?
“The best one, is the next one.”