The plan as it stands right now for the "Servant" book is that it will have enough new stuff in it to make it appealing to everyone, including the fans who have read the short stories. To this end there will be one longish new short story that my beta readers have unamimously declared the best so far, and a novella length story that I think is turning out to be even better. "Novella" means at least 17,500 words, which is okay because I am guessing the final count on this story to be 18,000-20,000. I have co-opted the premise and the title from the started-on novel--- "The Tears of Ishtar" are the McGuffin here as well as the title. Bill Snodgrass made a couple of suggestions that really started the juices flowing, and now I am typing just as fast as I can to get it all out.
The word count stands at bedtime tonight at a little over 5700, which puts me nearly a third of the way done, which is the place I am at story-wise as well. If this rate continues the story may be ready for beta readers as soon as the end of next weekend.
I am really having fun with this, by the way. The new direction has really opened the floodgates, and I am writing stuff that seems quite vibrant and alive to me, almost like I was watching an old movie that somehow perfectly captured the end of the bronze age in rich and interesting detail. It is a good feeling!