Even as I'm working on the Different Skies short story collection there is a novel waiting in the wings to follow when I've learned from the mistakes I'm bound to make in the process of publishing DS. It's called 'Pioneer War: The Secession Campaign'; and it's intended as the first part of a trilogy. It came together surprisingly easily compared to past efforts; which is odd because it started as an idea I had no intention of writing.
About a year ago I was browsing the 'History, Literature and the Arts' section at the JREF forum and someone had started a thread looking to talk about weapons and shield technology for their science fiction novel; what they got instead was the third degree about about their vaguely described background of rebels vs evil empire.
How could the rebels have better tech than the the empire? How come they are so much better at combat than the empire? etc. For some reason I decided to come up with answers to those questions and my idea went like this:
At one point the rebels and the empire were part of the same political group. What became the empire were the core worlds of that group; peaceful and united with little or no recent combat experience and no need to maintain their fleet at the cutting edge of technology.
The worlds on the fringe, the future rebels, on the other hand faced constant external threats and the occasional internal one from warlords who have held out against being incorporated into the larger body. As a result they have plenty of combat experience and they are constantly working to improve their ships and firepower.
Of course the core worlds ruthlessly exploit the fringe and eventually this leads to a revolt and war that the core are completely confident they will easily win...
Now the person whose thread it was didn't show any interest in my little explanation but the more I thought about it the more pieces slotted into place until I had a universe and a plot in my head that insisted on being written. I have in the past written synopses for books that were thousands of word long but for Secession Campaign it was just a couple of pages with chapter titles and one sentence descriptions of the 'scenes' that made up each chapter, and yet it worked.
I'm currently polishing up a second draft and then comes the hardest part of writing; proof reading. :)