January in our part of the Great White North brought us record snowfall.  For the first time, we hit our snow removal service’s 250-centimeter cap in mid-winter.  Not to be outdone, February said, ‘hold my beer and watch this.’  At least the mouse problem seems to be solved for now.  I haven’t seen any mouse spoor nor caught any mice in my traps in the last three weeks.  But they’ll be back.  They always come back, no matter how well you think your house is rodent-proof.  Now if only the warm weather could come back…

Progress on Imperial Twilight has temporarily ground to a halt.  I’m about a third done and face doubts about the storyline.  I always meant Ashes of Empire to be a sweeping saga, covering several centuries with different characters taking the lead in each installment, many of them perhaps related to or the descendants of characters in earlier books.  But somehow, the first third of Imperial Twilight written so far occurs immediately after the closing chapter of Imperial Sunset.  And when I say immediately, I mean the Jonas Morane story line picks matters up precisely where they ended in the first book, at the Estates General meeting on Lyonesse.  So much for a sweeping, multi-generational saga. 

Nothing wrong with that, of course.  The 125 pages written to date cover interesting developments that move the Lyonesse tale forward, but this week, I began to wonder about whether I’m working on a side story rather than the main one.  After all, in the first book, Morane achieved his goal of bringing his ragtag band of survivors to Lyonesse and convincing the authorities to adopt his plans.  Perhaps following Morane and the others through their first weeks and months after arrival is indeed a side story, exciting as it may be, and not the central tale of a disintegrating interstellar empire.  As my editor says, the Ashes of Empire universe gives me so much scope for storytelling, it’s easy to experience decision paralysis — so many tales, so little time and I’m not getting any younger!  I know at some point, a flash of inspiration will strike me and I’ll know precisely what to do.  Unfortunately, that process can’t be hurried.

But I’ve not been idle.  While my subconscious figures out Imperial Twilight I began work on my next project though I won’t discuss it in detail just yet.  Suffice to say I’m trying something a bit different from my usual starship stories.  It’ll still be sci-fi, with a slight dystopian twist, though not of the military variety, and takes place in the relatively near future rather than five centuries or more from now.  But that’s both the joy and frustration of being a writer.  When the creative process works, does it ever flow!  However, when it stops, instead of staring at a blank computer screen in despair, I can always get a head start on my next project.