Readers, what would you prefer?

I’m planning the next few books in my writing calendar, now that Maxwell Volume 5 is almost ready.  (Look for it next week!)

Over the next year or so, I have three projects definitely planned, and room for a fourth.  2017 looks something like this, if all goes well.

First quarter of 2017:  The second volume of my Western series, the Ames Archives.  Publication probably in mid-year (by Castalia House).

Second quarter of 2017:  A project to be discussed below (independent publication).

Third quarter of 2017:  The third and final volume of the Laredo War trilogy.  Publication probably during the fourth quarter (Castalia).

Fourth quarter of 2017:  Maxwell Volume 6 (independent, publication before Christmas, God willing).

These are potential, projected books, of course.  If all goes very well and I have no interruptions, I’ll probably be able to get them done.  If anything goes wrong, one may slip into 2018.

The book for the second quarter of 2017 is where I’m looking for your input.  I have the following possibilities, all of which are partially written or plotted out already.

  1. A heroic fantasy novel.  Sword and sorcery in the classic tradition, with good triumphing over evil (of course!).  The first draft of this novel is about 45% complete.
  2. Another fantasy novel, less in the ‘heroic’ tradition, but including sword and sorcery in a more formal military setting.  Think late Middle Ages or early Renaissance in a European-style country.  First draft is about 30% complete.
  3. A space detective novel, set in the Maxwell universe and tying in with the Maxwell Saga from time to time (i.e. characters from both series will get together).  First draft is about 30% complete.
  4. A mil-sci-fi novel set in the Maxwell universe, but with completely new characters.  The idea would be to establish a backstory from which the character might meet and/or work with Steve Maxwell in future books.  Plotted out, but not yet begun.

I’d like to hear from you, readers, about which of the above projects most interests you.  I’ve listed them in the order in which I’d like to tackle them;  but I can only make a living by writing what my readers want!  Please let me know, in Comments or via e-mail, which of these four projects sounds most interesting to you, and we’ll see whether there’s a consensus.




  1. Space detective – and not just because it was one of my childhood dream jobs.

    Of course growing older I wondered what a space detective would do – maybe investigate Apollo 13?

  2. I'd order it 3, 4, 2, 1.

    I think your talents might be a good match with Space Detective. You have a tendency for characters in all your novels to explain things and while that detracts from some of the stories, I think it might be a good fit for some kinds of detective fiction.

  3. The space detective might be a bit better than the last, especially as it is the same universe. The advantage is you get additional perspective to aid world building, but it is far enough away to not lead to a huge cast. So you can progress the story without making sure 346 character tell their version of the same event. That being said it can help recharge batteries to work on something else. Brings the Lightning is far from your main setting, but it was still clearly written by you, and well enough that I am really looking forward to the sequel. Odds are, the fantasy project would work too. One thing that is hard for a reader to remember is that what takes us hours to consume, takes the writer months to produce. Just keep putting words to page, and I will do my part to read them, and hand over my Yankee dollars for the privilege.

  4. Hey Peter;

    I like all of them but the "space Detective" would be the most promising, it can tie into the world you have already created and just have a different perspective.

  5. My order of preference as a reader would be:

    1. Space Detective
    2. Heroic Fantasy
    3. Less heroic Fantasy
    4. Mil Scifi

    I'm sure I'd enjoy any of them, I enjoy all your stories.

  6. I don't want to see you burn out on the Maxwell series. The fact you are 45%/30%/30% done tells me you are in the zone on those. Now we all know everyone's different, but I have been told by a couple other authors that when it flows good they feel it's their best writing. The western was a change of pace. The fantasy is another change sounds like you want to write a different type of story 2 to 1 fantasy over detective sounds like you are leaning toward fantasy?
    I personally have like all your books so far. So if you are in the mood to write a fantasy, and expand as a writer then go for it. I'll read it. If you are in the mood to write a detective go for it, and again I'll read it

  7. Not fantasy, I don't read much of that so my choices would be first the mil-sci-fi and second the space-detective.

  8. I'd vote for 1 or 2. You've sold me books in Mil-SF, Western, and Non-fiction genres now and I'd like to hear your voice on the Sword/Sorcery realm.

    3 and 4 are both interesting as expansions of the Maxwell 'verse but it sounds like they are both in the early gestation phase. Something to queue up for 2018..

  9. My vote would be #1 or #2 first than the space detective one, but in reality, you write it, I'll buy it and read it.


  10. May I suggest a totally different project. I've always found your articles about Africa interesting. Why don't you draw on your experience from your African days to write a non fiction book explaining what is really going on in Africa, the different tribal factions, their conflicts, their attitude towards each other, problems caused by foreign intervention (especially colonial), and about life in Africa in general.

  11. Seth form New Hampshire, if you aren't aware Lawdog is writing a book of Africa stories for publication. Might be worth your time- Mr. Dog has a way with words as well, and his not-very-often-updated (as of late) blog has some gems in it, if you care to read the archives.

    For the books, the space detective barely edges out the fantasy for me (I'd rather like to hear your take on the fantasy genre, myself). Write what you like, though, what moves the words on the page best whenever you sit down to the keyboard. Or whenever the new kitten leaves you enough peace to do so!

    Thanks for all the good books so far, as well. They've proved good Christmas gifts in the past, as well as fine reads for my own enjoyment.

  12. My first impulse is to nail your feet to the floor in front of your desk until the tenth book in the Ames Archives is done.

    But failing that, I like the idea of #2. It's an area that hasn't been well done very often in my opinion. Drake has done a few stories in something similar to this vein, but most other attempts are pretty unrealistic.

  13. I'd be most interested in #1. Would be interesting to see your take on the genre. The fact that it's #1, and that you mentioned listing in the order of your interest is also a factor. Sure, you have to write what people like, but you also have to write what YOU like, and I think the majority of your readers are probably going to give anything a chance (I have no idea if sales data contradicts me, obviously).

  14. With the caveat that I haven't read your novels (yet!), I would say 3., space detective, is the most interesting genre that has been delved into the least.

    Hell, I would settle for ANY good modern-day mystery. Outside of Jo Nesbo's work, I haven't come across any.

  15. I think it's a business decision that boils down to whether you should take a risk and try something new, or stick to a proven formula. You can guess that the Maxwell-based story will probably perform on par with the Laredo War series. The other options are more of a crap shoot: could do better or could do worse.

    My hunch, not knowing lots about your sales, is that the Ames Chronicle experiment worked well, and it may be helpful to branch out and try new genres. I'm speaking as a big Maxwell fan who'd love to see more in your Maxwell universe, but you haven't disappointed me yet, and I'll buy whatever you have to sell.

  16. Jack up Jim Butcher! Tell him to write faster dammit!

    Jack up David Weber. Tell him to climb off the dime.

    Jack up Taylor Anderson. You guys hang out. Tell him to write faster!

    Tell Megan Whalen Turner to write faster!

    Square away that Aaronovitch guy. He needs some calibrating!

    and, of course, in your own good time, write as it pleases you. We will be here.

  17. I know it's not on the list.

    But I think an Autobiography would be good. To be honest, your past seems more interesting than 95% of the autobiographies out there. I know it's one of those super personal things that you might not want to publish or write, but I think it would be interesting to read. Even just the mini snippets you've posted about your past have been fascinating.

    If I could only choose between the ones you posted, the War to the Knife completion would be my preference. But I still believe an Autobiography would sell well. Between all the friends you have on blogs to your readership fans, I think you could do well with it.

  18. Number 2.

    Brings the Lightning was great with excellent detail. I'd love to see something in the same vein for Fantasy.

  19. I think your proposed order is fine.
    It's not like you're writing to spec for Boy's Life magazine, or that sort of thing. Writing to your own interests may not always be the best choice, but absent a book order from a publisher, why not? I've never heard of an author soliciting input from readers prior to this, so you may be unique in this regard.

    You DID run this idea past your better half, yes? 😎

  20. In order: 1, 2, 3, 4. But it's a tough decision as they all sound like good ideas.

    May your fingers fly upon the keyboard, and your mind flow with ideas.

  21. 3, 1, 2, 4 — just to keep working on getting all the permutations out there. (Well, not *just*: that really is my preferred order.)

  22. I k=like your order just fine. The traditional S&S is especially my first choice; after that, I would be happy with any order …

  23. The Renaissance novel sound interesting. I'd like something along the lines of Pikes, muskets, and ritual magick.
    Or maybe knightly orders, galleys and ritual magick?

  24. I'd vote for anything else in the Maxwell universe. You've created quite the interesting universe and getting to explore more sides of it sounds like a lot of fun.

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