I'd like to talk a bit about my newest project, completely different (ok, well, sort of different) from everything I've done up til now.
First off, it's Young Adult... which I've never done before at all. While I've written some stuff that's not romantic--I've got a ghost story piece coming out "soon," in Local Magic--and there are a few non-romance pieces in Whetting the Appetite, I tend to be more comfortable working with romance.
Secondly, while there will be a sub-plot romance, it's more of a space-opera adventure story.
Third, my publisher wants outlines before I start writing.
So, those are a whole bunch of new things; I've written to spec before, but not like this at all. I'm a little nervous, but I'm having fun with the idea.
Today I spent quite a bit of time outlining the first installment; the idea is that in 2016, there will be one novelette released every four months, so three installments per year, of about 17,500 words each. And I wrote up character profiles for my main characters.
Thought I'd take a few minutes to introduce you to my main character, just to see what you think of her. Obviously, not all of this information will come out directly in the novel, and of course, it's all still preliminary. Characters often undergo some dramatic changes between planning and writing.
Ancet Grice - female - series 12 cloned human from Orion IV
Considered sub-human by genuine Terrans, Ancet Grice is the physical descendant of a genetically modified series 12 clone. In order to live on some of Terra's colonies, modified humans are sent to terraform. Once the planet is considered habitable by "pure" humans, the Series humans are collected, modified for the next planet, and sent off. Several hundred years ago, Orion IV's Series humans conducted a revolt against Terra. Terran resources were already stretched thin with war in other parts of the galaxy and after a brief war, Terra offered Orion IV peace.
Series 12 humans, sometimes called slummers, now have the same rights as other non-human species, but they are not allowed to emigrate from their home planet. Some other of the later series have managed to run away from their assignments to freedom on Orion, which is causing some vast over-population problems on Orion IV. Series 20 and later modified humans have genetically altered structure enough that they cannot survive without human intervention, and therefore are less prone to successfully migrating to Orion IV. Most of them die within a few months of escape.
Only within the last twenty years have slummers been able to compete academically for the coveted spots at Terran Academy. Ancet Grice is the first one who has made it through the difficult testing and interview process. She is anxious to learn but also terrified of being on Terra, a place her family and most of her planetfolk consider to be the very depths of Hell. Her parents are also worried that, once on Terra, she'll be drafted into service instead of actually attending the Academy; the demagogue of her planet insisted that she be allowed to attend; they hope to stabilize relations with Terra and eventually allow for freer travel through the galaxy, particularly to colonize, because of the population problems.
Because of the high population density on Orion IV, homosexuality is encouraged to prevent accidental pregnancies. On Orion IV, a couple has to have a license and pay a substantial mating fee in order to be able to have a legal child. This does not, however, keep a lot of people from having illegal babies.
Ancet is extremely intelligent, soft-spoken, and always wants people to talk out their problems. She freezes up in a combat situation, despite having a complete nano-neural work-up for warrior skills. Seeing someone she cares about being hurt will force-activate those skills, but she'll have extreme emotional fallout after.
Her genetic modifications include reinforced flesh, the ability to retain oxygen for lengthy periods of time, vastly improved survivability in extreme temperatures and analysis mods in her tongue for detecting chemicals. She was originally designed for cultivation; she can take soil samples and has an ingrained sense for living things, especially plants.