Welcome to 2024! I hope it’s a great year for us all personally, and it sure would be nice if it turned out to be a good year for the world.
Well, we can hope.
Update: Totally new plan for writing schedule this year!
Well, not TOTALLY new, but pretty new.
A) Silver Circle is going to be TWO BOOKS. There is no possible way it’s going to be one. This is great!
I mean, in some ways. This means, among other things, that it was fine to take four (more likely five) whole months to write it. Them. The two books it’s going to be. It also means I don’t have to worry about length anymore, yay! because that was plainly getting out of control by Christmas. I mean, it’s all very well to say “I’m going to cut 30,000 words!” because the truth is, sure, yes, I’m certain to do that, but I can also see that I’m probably going to add about that much length in order to deepen character arcs and do *waves hands vaguely* other writerly stuff like that. So it’s going to go over 200,000 words and that’s fine. The draft is currently 210,000 words and STILL not complete.
The only real problem is that now I need (a) a new title for book five, or, (b) subtitles.
I’m leaning toward the latter, because I don’t think this is going to be two self-contained books. I think it’s going to be a cliffhanger situation. Subtitles will prevent readers from being surprised about that.
B) Releasing Silver Circle this spring is not going to happen. This is not only not finished, it is also a horrifically rough first draft and I’m not even going to think about pushing to get it out before fall. I don’t need the stress, and you all deserve the best story I can write, and that means slooooow down. No one is even going to see this draft till I’ve had time not just to finish it, but also to clean it up. I’m going to aim to release these books in October / November and plan to release both of them close together, though probably not on the same day.
C) So! Before I look at even finishing Silver Circle, I’m going to take a break from it and write Marag. This one should be short, about as long as Suelen. (I think. We know what that feeling is worth, right? Not much. But I hope less than 80,000 words.) I mean, we’ll see, but I’m hoping to write a good chunk of it before classes start (Jan 17th) or at least by the end of the month. Granted, I don’t know what the heck to do about a certain plot point, but whatever, I’ll figure it out when I get there.
D) After Marag, I’ll write Rihasi. I’ve got the whole basic plot in my head, I’m pretty sure. I’m thinking it should wind up a normal length, maybe 115,000 words or thereabouts. It should be fast, barring unanticipated problems, and I am dying to write it.
I’ll schedule those for preorder just as soon as I have complete drafts. Obviously that can’t be super early in the year, but maybe March for one and May for the other. That’s what we might call a wild-ass guess.
E) After Rihasi, if I haven’t already done so, I’ll write first chapters for (i) a NFS sequel, and (ii) an Invictus sequel; and (iii) the first book of a series featuring Tano.
F) Then, while early readers are reading Marag and/or Rihasi, I will finish Silver Circle, then revise the whole huge thing into a readable draft. And that’s as far as I’m planning. Because I think I might stick to this much of a schedule, more or less. If I get this far without anything going sideways, I will then think about the back half of the year.
About midway through December, I saw this post at tor.com: Tor.com Reviewers’ Choice: The Best Books of 2023
And I didn’t really care because my TBR pile is more than high enough, thank you, and I am much more interested in the books you all mention here anyway. However, I noticed this specific line from Liz Bourke’s comments in that post:
Valerie Valdes’ Where Peace is Lost is my favourite novel of the year. It’s a well-executed, rip-roaringly good planetary space opera adventure with an incredibly skilled warrior protagonist—a protagonist whose commitment to the cause of least harm involves a willingness to die rather than kill, because her enemies’ lives are also valuable. A refreshing and entertaining look at the ethical conundrum of armed pacifism.
So I poked around, looking for a full review, because Liz Bourke writes great reviews, and I found this one at Locus:
When [Kel’s] young friend Lunna brings word of a dormant Pale war machine suddenly reactivated, Kel finds her past life feeling much more present. If the giant automated machine isn’t stopped, it’ll devastate everything in its path. The two strangers – charming, flirtatious ship-captain Savvy, and laconic, private, former soldier Dare – have their own secrets and their own goals, but it turns out they’re honest about their desire to turn off the war machine, and their potential ability to do so. War machines don’t just turn on by themselves, though. A group of Pale soldiers turned this one on in order to extort a huge payout from the populace, indifferent to the death and suffering that would ensue. They could turn it back on very easily, or worse, let loose other war machines stored in a remote, disused Pale military base. And if they learn who Kel is, who Kel used to be, they might burn the whole planet to get to her. And Kel won’t let that happen. Kel will hand herself over for execution first.
That’s a brief, telling excerpt from Liz’s review, which you should certainly click through and read in its entirety, but here’s another bit:
[This story sees the protagonist] choosing to keep her ethics, even in extremis, to reclaim her identity as a protector rather than a refugee in hiding, to kill only when she can find no other option to protect others.
That makes it a deeply felt, deeply moving novel. And a very effective one. If you’re looking for something fun, fast, and unexpectedly thoughtful, give this one a try. There are few science fiction novels in the last two decades I’ve enjoyed more, or found more entertaining. It helps that Valdes isn’t lecturing on ethics, but making thematic arguments.
You know what this reminds me of? The Phoenix Feather quadrilogy. This is exactly how Sherwood Smith presents Mouse … or Ryu/Ari/Firebolt, whatever name she goes by … my point is, this sounds very similar in its treatment of what Liz is calling “armed pacifism.”
I’ve picked up a sample, downloaded the sample to my phone, and I have to say, based solely on this review, I am thinking of deliberately making Where Peace is Lost the first novel I pick up in 2024. It sounds like it would strike just the right note for a new year.