Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Taking a short break

by Stephanie Osborn

Hi guys! I'm sorry to disappoint you today, but I've just come off a very busy holiday season, I'm working on three different books, and I just haven't had a chance to devote time and grey matter to a blog article for today.

We have family scattered over three states, and everybody does stuff at different times, beginning at Thanksgiving. See, there's my in-laws, who do lunch. My family, who does dinner. Oh, and my sister's birthday is Thanksgiving weekend, so we have to celebrate her birthday while everyone's in one spot. And traditionally we all decorate my parents' Christmas tree too, because again, all in one spot. All that makes for one very long, very eventful, very fun day.

Plus my husband, graphic artist and award-winning magician Darrell Osborn, scheduled several really cool shows for us to attend -- such as the Radio City Christmas Spectacular at the Opryhouse in Nashville TN. And the Mythbusters Behind the Myths Tour.

So we did a lot -- a LOT -- of traveling. Pretty much all day trips, but still. It was a good holiday season.

Meanwhile, I'm working on, like I said, three different books. Four really, if you count the one I'm editing. Okay, there's five I really need to work on. Six, if you count the one that's at the publisher's editor right now. (Yeah, I am a busy little -- LOOK! SQUIRREL!)

I'm working on the Cresperian Saga book #4, which will be titled Heritage. I've kind of decided that, well, I'm already the THIRD author to have worked on the series, maybe it should be one of those "shared universes" things, like the 1632 Series (into which I've been invited to venture, by the by, just as soon as I can dig out from under). So I've invited another author to come in and co-author with me, and he's agreed. More about that at a later date, but it'll be fun, and it'll help provide my co-author with some good experience and training, and most importantly we will get the current Cresperian War story arc tied up. I don't plan on closing off the book with a hard series ending, because I think this might be a fun series, like I said, to be a shared universe, and just maybe my co-author and others might want to kick up their heels in it.

The book at the publisher's editor is the fifth Displaced Detective book, entitled A Case of Spontaneous Combustion. I swear to you that the story is contained in one volume this time! I'm currently waiting for edits to come back from the publisher, then I'll have to review them and incorporate them. The core of the mystery involves a tiny village in England, on the Salisbury Plain, which is wiped out in an apparent mass spontaneous combustion. Holmes is, naturally, brought in to investigate, and hijinks ensue.

I'm writing book 6 in the same series, and it's going to be called Fear in the French Quarter. I'd had an idea for a story in the series, but I was going to set it in a castle in Europe someplace, much later on in the series sequence. But back in October I was a special guest at a science fiction convention in greater New Orleans, called CONtraflow. It was HUGE fun, made more so by getting to play tourist while we were there. I got to try alligator (I love it!) and visit Cafe du Monde, and prowl the French Quarter with friends (one of which had been a Tulane student, so knew the area well), and generally enjoy myself. (I already knew I liked crawdads, gumbo, jumbalaya, and beignets.) So I'm walking through the French Quarter at night and suddenly in my head I start hearing Holmes and Skye talking, making comments about the place, and I realize they're having their own adventure -- someplace out there in the multiverse where they exist and are real!

I started writing that story the next day.

It's already completely plotted out; I just need to get it into the computer in readable form. It's basically a ghost story -- since NOLA is rumored to be the most haunted city in the world, it seemed an even more natural setting than an ancient castle, for that sort of thing.

Book 7 in that same series was originally going to be book 6, until the plot bunny of Fear in the French Quarter hit. So I just slid it on back -- it works even better that way, I think -- and so I've started A Little Matter of Earthquakes. Actually had started it early in 2013, but I'm still working on the science to make the central concept doable, aided by my friend and grad school mate, physicist Dr. James K. Woosley. (He makes a great partner to brainstorm scientific concepts, being a huge SF fan himself.) So sliding it back a bit, like I said, works well, not only in terms of my work load, but in terms of the flow from book to book of the series. What's it about? Eh, just what it sounds like: seismic activity is ramping up in the Pacific Northwest. The problem is that it's even occurring in places that, geologically speaking, it shouldn't. When an old friend of Skye's from their graduate school days is killed in a phreatic eruption, the Holmeses attend the funeral, and discover the unusual nature of the seismic activity.

And Book 8 is that book I told you I was editing on, but haven't submitted yet. The Adventure of Shining Mountain Lodge was written before I even finished Book 5, but it requires some building of history among the characters. It's finished, I just have to tweak it periodically to account for things that get included in 5, 6, and 7. A wetback is found in the middle of a snowdrift in January in Rocky Mountain National Park, half-starved, barely dressed, filthy and battered...and dies almost before they can get him to the hospital. Of radiation exposure.

The book that I need to be working on is the sequel to Burnout: The mystery of Space Shuttle STS-281. It's in work...slowly. It's called Escape Velocity. And it picks up pretty much where Burnout left off.

But you're going to have to be very very patient with me for this one. It took me over a decade just to write Burnout, because it hit so close to home. I spent over two decades working console for space missions of one sort or another, much of it for Shuttle and Station, and my main focus was getting the science while protecting the astronauts. When I lost a friend aboard the Columbia disaster, it devastated me. It was all I could do to keep working on Burnout. It was written, but it needed polishing, see. And I find that Escape Velocity is just as hard to write, and for the same reasons. So it comes in fits and spurts. I plan to try to get it completed in 2014 though. Because I've also developed a concept that my partners and I believe will ensure that no one else has to die like KC did.

I'll tell you about SPEARED next week, if y'all are interested.

-Stephanie Osborn