The first draft of The Path of Duty is done, and on target for Easter, so you Siobhan Dunmoore fans out there, rejoice. I’m going to take a break now, to clear my mind and gain some distance, before I get started on the first re-write. I know that there’s going to be a lot of work involved. The earlier parts of the book lack the level of detail the later parts have, and because of that, and a few other things, the story is uneven. That’s normal. A first draft is like a rough sketch of a house, not an architectural plan. I’m satisfied with the story itself, and with my portrayal of the various characters, though I suspect that I’ll find a few loose threads I forgot to tie back into the main tale. It’s harder to write around moral dilemmas in a military fiction setting where the slant is more towards action than reflection, but I think I’ve done a decent job of portraying Dunmoore’s perplexity in choosing between the letter of her oath and its spirit. I know I’ll need to massage that some more, perhaps a lot more, to really get across the anguish of facing the true definition of dilemma, it being a problem offering two possibilities, neither of which is practically acceptable. However, there is still enough action to satisfy all readers, so in that respect, I’ve found a good balance. I’m confident that I’ll hit the planned mid-summer publication date. I expect to publish some teasers on this blog after the first re-write, late April or early May.

In the meantime, the hero of my other story, retired Marine Sergeant Zack Decker, has seen fit to refuse to be a one book wonder, and has declared that he will have a new adventure. In one of my recent afternoons where I had to let Dunmoore stew around for a few hours before pushing out the next sequence, I found myself committing the first chapter of Cold Comfort, the second Zack Decker book, to the page, and boy does it start off with a bang. From there, it just gets worse for Zack as his carefully rebuilt life collapses into a deadly mess, and drives him to seek revenge among some of the worst scum in the galaxy. This time there’s no one to pull him out of the fire at the last minute, but with nothing left to live for, he doesn’t particularly care. Since Decker’s stories are more in the pure action and adventure sci-fi genre, writing it will be somewhat quicker than the Dunmoore books, and I hope to have it out by the end of the year. Dunmoore Book Three is germinating the back of my mind – I already have the initial concept nailed down, as well as how I wish to see it end.

It’s been quite the journey, and we’re only part-way there.