Vacation’s over.

Yep. Just like that.

back-to-work

So, it’s been pretty quiet around here, the past week or so, and with good reason. With the kids out of school this past week for Spring Break, we decided to take a road trip. To make it even more fun, we partnered up with another family, with whom we’ve become great friends since moving into Ward Manor 2.0 thanks to their daughters and ours going to school together and our living a couple of streets apart (easy walking distance via the lake in our little neighborhood). They’re just the kind of folks with whom I’d want to undertake a little road tip adventuring, which for me is saying something, since many of you know I’m usually rather content to hate most of my fellow humans to one degree or another. See? I’m meeting new people and trying new things! There may just be a slim ray of hope for me, after all.

Continue reading

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It’s William Shatner’s birthday, everybody!

William Shatner

Today we’re celebrating the 86th birthday of the Man himself: Captain Kirk, T.J. Hooker, Rescue 911 Guy, Denny Crane, Priceline Negotiator, and CAPTAIN JAMES TIBERIUS BY GOD KIRK.

:: ahem. ::

86 years old, and still running circles around people half his age. I’ll have what he’s having.

insp_captkirk

Happy Birthday, sir. May you enjoy many more.

Posted in fandom, nerdity, trek, tributes | Leave a comment

Cover for Hearts and Minds!

I love the smell of new book covers in the morning.

Which is sort of an odd thing to say considering it’s only a JPEG file, but forget it and work with me, here. I’m rolling.

At long last, Simon & Schuster is now showing the final cover for Hearts and Minds, my Star Trek: The Next Generation novel that will be published on May 30th. Unlike my last couple of TNG books and their “ship covers,” this one features the ever handsome Captain Jean-Luc Picard. I’m cool with this, as I’m told having Sir Patrick Stewart’s regal countenance on the cover almost always translates to sales. Besides, I think we can all agree that he’s a sexy dude, amirite?

Here , have a look:

hearts-and-minds-cover (Click to Biggie Size)

And in case you’re still interested in what the book itself might be about:


An all-new adventure from the shadows of future history!

2031: United States Air Force fighter jets shoot down an unidentified spacecraft and take its crew into custody. Soon, it’s learned that the ship is one of several dispatched across space by an alien species, the Eizand, to search for a new home before their own world becomes uninhabitable. Fearing extraterrestrial invasion, government and military agencies which for more than eighty years have operated in secret swing into action, charged with protecting humanity no matter the cost…

2386: Continuing their exploration of the Odyssean Pass, Captain Jean-Luc Picard and the crew of the Starship Enterprise discover what they at first believe is a previously uncharted world, with a civilization still recovering from the effects of global nuclear war. An astonishing priority message from Starfleet Command warns that there’s more to this planet than meets the eye, and Picard soon realizes that the mysteries of this world may well weave through centuries of undisclosed human history…


As previously reported, the novel is something of a follow-up to From History’s Shadow and Elusive Salvation. You’ll just have to wait and see how everything connects. 🙂

Hearts and Minds is of course available for pre-order and will be available in mass-market paperback, e-Book, and unabridged audio formats. The book’s page at Simon & Schuster’ website has pre-order links for all of the usual haunts, but you could also take the ISBN,  978-1501147319, to your local independent bookseller and totally make their day by asking them to pre-order the book for you. Just sayin’.

Are we ready to do this all over again?

Posted in books, trek, writing | 3 Comments

Pondering AbeBooks’ “Most Searched for Out-of-Print Books of 2016” list.

Because it’s the sort of weird thing I do, from time to time.

I’m a frequent shopper/user of the AbeBooks.com portal, forever using it to hunt for books I’m wanting to my library. It’s a great resource for finding affordable copies of older and out of print books, like old tie-in novels or entries in the various pulp fiction/men’s adventure series for which I confess to having a nerdy fondness.

As a consequence of my book fetish, I’m on their mailing list and therefore get their various newsletters and other odd articles. The latest of these newsletters brought with it a link to an interesting article:

AbeBooks.com: Most Searched For Out-of-Print Books of 2016

Prompted by an apparent surge in interest and in Michael Crichton’s 1974 novel Westworld thanks to last year’s HBO series based on the premise and the 1973 film, AbeBooks compiled a list of the 30 out-of-print books that apparently were the biggest targets of would-be book buyers. Crichton’s Westworld topped the resulting list, which is an eclectic mix of non-fiction and fiction across several genres and topics.

I’m not going to put the whole list here (go read the article. It’s good!), but a few of the hunted titles amused or intrigued me for different reasons. For example:

#2: Sex by Madonna, 1992 – I remember the uproar that accompanied this book’s publication. It caused a lot of pearl clutching in the little Georgia city were I was living at the time, and the Waldenbooks at the mall (THE mall. The only mall.) kept their copies behind the counter. This was a town where you couldn’t even buy a Playboy at the bookstore, at least back then. I’ve thumbed through a copy, but I never felt any real urge to add it to my library. Even when it comes to smut, I guess I’m still pretty demanding.

#5: Encyclopedia of Pierced Quilt Patterns by Barbara Brackman, 1993. I’ve got nuthin.

#8: Fast Times at Ridgemont High by Cameron Crowe, 1981. This book is, of course, the basis for 1982 film. We’ve all seen the movie (“Way to go, Hamilton!”), and I’ve read the excerpts that are included in a 1981 issue of Playboy, but the book itself is one that’s eluded me for decades. It seems like an obvious candidate for republication, but so far no luck, and copies can go for a couple of hundred bucks on the secondary market. C’mon, Cameron! Help us out, here.

#19: Portrait of A Killer: Jack the Ripper – Case Closed by Patricia Cornwell, 2002. I had a copy of this book, and somewhere along the line it got itself purged from my library. Shit!

#24: Lost Moon: The Perilous Voyage of Apollo 13 by James Lovell and Jeffrey Kluger, 1994. The firsthand account of the fateful lunar flight, as told by the mission commander himself. I was surprised to find this one listed as OOP, but I guess that’s the way it goes, sometimes. The book was re-issued in 1995 with the title Apollo 13 as a tie-in to the Ron Howard film. Of course I have a copy, but it’s the original edition.

#25: The Making of Star Trek by Stephen E. Whitfield and Gene Roddenberry, 1968. Pretty much what the title indicates. This tome was written while the original series was in production, and offers a detailed behind the scenes look at how it all came together. One of my very favorite Star Trek books, it was reprinted about a million times over the years, and I’ve had a copy since childhood. Now I have (at least) for different versions, but it’s only in the last couple of years that I finally acquired a mint first edition.

oop-books

Though none of my out-of-print titles made the Top 30 (go figure), the rest of the list is as interestingly varied as the ones I cherry-picked here. You’ll find things like The Essential Woodworker, Stephen King’s novel Rage, a couple of sports biographies, and the novelization of the 1978 film Halloween. There are also links to lists from previous years. I checked the 2015 list, for example, and noted that several of the titles from the 2016 edition appear to be perennial favorites. I also saw that Martin Caidin’s Cyborg (basis for TV’s The Six Million Dollar Man) held the #25 spot in 2015. Heh.

Anyway, definitely go and check out the entire article.

Oh, and if you have a copy of Fast Times, call me.

Posted in books, lists, ramblings, weird shit | 2 Comments

Bright Eyes, Ape City: Examining the Planet of the Apes Mythos – Now available!

brighteyes_apecity_coverThough I knew this book was coming sometime in “2017’s first quarter,” it was only within the last week or so that we got confirmation that publication was imminent. Then, all of a sudden, editor Rich Handley dropped a knowledge bomb on all of us. BOOM! New book in da house!

Bright Eyes, Ape City: Examining the Planet of the Apes Mythos is the latest collection of pop culture essays from The Sequart Organization. Editor Rich along with co-editor Joe Berenato, who teamed up this book’s companion volume, Sacred Scrolls: Comics on the Planet of the Apes, have once again assembled a roster of novelists, film historians, comics writers, and other geeky gurus to take a deep dive into the entire Apes phenomenon. Everything from Pierre Boulle’s original novel through the 1968 movie right up to the most recent re-imagining of the Apes premise (which gets a film new installment later this year with the release of War for the Planet of the Apes) and everything in between is given a look-see.


From the back cover:

“A planet where apes evolved from men?”

With those horrified words, Charlton Heston’s Colonel George Taylor summed up exactly what viewers were thinking in 1968 the first time they saw Planet of the Apes in theaters. Loincloth-clad humans reduced to mute savages, living in cages or in the wild? Xenophobic orangutans, militaristic gorillas, and curious chimpanzees with a rigid class structure, Greco-Roman names, religious dogma, and the ability to speak and reason? What goes on here? It’s a madhouse!

Audiences were hooked — and they remain hooked almost five decades later. Planet of the Apes (based on Pierre Boulle’s French novel Monkey Planet) has spawned eight films, with a ninth currently in the works, as well as two television series and several novels. It’s one of the most respected franchises in pop-culture history, thanks to the talents of writers Rod Serling, Michael Wilson, Paul Dehn, John and Joyce Corrington, William Broyles Jr., Rick Jaffa, Amanda Silver, and Mark Bomback; directors Franklin J. Schaffner, Ted Post, Don Taylor, J. Lee Thompson, Tim Burton, Rupert Wyatt, and Matt Reeves; makeup artists John Chambers and Rick Baker; and a long list of beloved actors who have breathed life into some of the most memorable science-fiction characters ever to grace the large or small screen.

Bright Eyes, Ape City: Examining the Planet of the Apes Mythos, edited by the same team behind Sequart’s Sacred Scrolls: Comics on the Planet of the Apes, examines every Apes film, TV show, and novel, from 1968 to the present. This anthology features insightful, analytical essays about the franchise’s long history, from popular film historians, novelists, bloggers, and subject-matter experts. If you’re eager to learn more about Apes lore, then you’ll need to get your stinkin’ paws on this book.


For those wondering, my essay offers up a retrospective and analysis of the 1974 live-action Planet of the Apes television series, a short-lived yet oddly beloved piece of the Apes franchise for which I confess unabashed affection. Those of you who keep up with my writerly antics know that my short story in Planet of the Apes: Tales from the Forbidden Zone revisited the characters and situations from the series.

You can read Sequart’s official press release about the new book by clicking on this linky-type thing right here!

The book is currently available in trade paperback and eBook formats from the usual haunts such as Amazon.com, but you could also score points with your local independent bookseller by taking the book’s ISBN, 978-1940589152, and asking them to order you a copy. Tell them I sent you.

Many thanks to Rich and Joe for inviting me yet again to play in their little writer games.

Posted in apes, books, fandom, nerdity, sequart, writing | Leave a comment

Ask Dayton #121 on the G and T Show: “Rewrite or Wrong?”

Well. Golly gee. Lookie what happened, today.

It’s been a while, but I finally was able to ask a query that’s been in my possession for the G and T Show‘s occasionally recurring “Ask Dayton” segment. I’ve had the question for awhile, but schedules and such kept me from getting to the poor thing.

What do we have this time around?

Dear Dayton,

How do organize your rewrites from first draft to finished manuscript?

Signed,
Dave Chapple

I can’t speak for other writers, but I lay my edits out in counterclockwise fashion.

Thanks for the question.

ask-dayton

Okay, okay, okay.

I don’t know that I’d call my rewriting process “organized.” I’m not even sure I’d call it “sensible.” I suppose if I had to classify this part of the writing cycle, it’d slot in somewhere between “necessary evil” and “too scared to submit this festering pile of elephant shit to my editor for fear of having a contract put out on me.”

Here’s my deal: I tend to edit and rewrite “as I go.” Basically, I might play with a sentence even as I’m writing it, trying out different words or phrases, or reordering it so that it flows better after the preceding sentence, and so on. Once I get a paragraph or two, or maybe even a whole page put down, I go back over that section and make sure it’s the way I want it, then repeat that process for as many times as it takes to complete the novel. Sometimes I get on a tear and write for longer periods without spending a lot of time reworking things, but usually I end up revisiting that output before moving on.

The result of all these shenanigans is that when I finally get to “The End,” the manuscript is probably eighty or eighty-five percent of where I want it to be. Next, I do what I call a “polishing draft,” which along with a check of spelling and whatnot is where I verify that I didn’t leave any plot threads unresolved, and make sure I didn’t do anything stupid. You know, using a character killed in an earlier chapter, or turning a left-handed character right-handed, or flipping somebody’s gender, or whatever. Hey, goofy shit happens, sometimes.

What I don’t do is go over and over and over the manuscript multiple times, at least not before I deliver it to my editor. A writer I admire, Dean Wesley Smith, cautioned against that years ago, and it’s one of those bits of advice that’s stuck with me. Basically, he believed that all those rewrites usually served to drain the life or energy from whatever creative spark gave birth to the original story. Instead, he’s a big advocate of writing it, doing a quick edit, and calling it done. Over time, I adapted my process along those lines. Now, years later, I’m usually fairly confident that what I deliver to my editor is going to pass muster, and the notes I get back are almost always pretty minor.

It’s when I get the copyedited manuscript returned to me that I give the whole thing another, comprehensive read-through. At this point, it could be as much as two months since I last looked at the thing, so I’m able to bring fresh eyes to it. I also know that this is likely my last chance to make any major changes, so I take advantage of this window of time and fix things I’ve decided need revising all while addressing the copyeditor’s notes.

A month or so later, I’ll get the typeset manuscript, which is basically a PDF of what the final book will look like. This phase represents my last chance to make any sort of changes or fixes, and except for extreme circumstances those updates have to be very minor, like replacing a word choice or something similarly limited. That’s not to say that there haven’t been some wild rides, like finding out that the entire middle section of a book was nothing but blank pages, or that the page headers at random intervals change to show a different author or book title. Yep, those are real things that really happened.

I think they do shit like that as a test to check whether I’m actually reading the damned thing.

So, there you go. That’s my process, which I’ll grant you might come off as six or seven different flavors of fucked up in the minds of some people, but hey! It works for me. I’ve developed this approach over time as I’ve grown accustomed to writing pretty much everything on a deadline. I simply don’t have the luxury of torturing myself with a manuscript or dicking around with “writer’s block” while waiting to engage my “muse.” There are bills to pay, faces to feed, and other projects waiting in the queue, so I’ve learned to just get on with it and leave the second-guessing at the door.

I can’t say I’d recommend my method to anyone who’s just starting out, and still finding their way through the various twists, turns, and other weirdness to be confronted as one attempts to tame the written word. As with pretty much every other piece of writing advice out there, your mileage may vary.

Good luck, you glutton for punishment, you.


This question and its answer was read during G&T Show Episode #270 on March 12th, 2017. You can hear Nick read the answers each week by listening live, or check out the replay/download options when the episode is loaded to their website: The G and T Show. Listeners are also encouraged to send in their own questions, one of which will be sent to me each week for a future episode.

As always, thanks to Nick, Terry and Mike for continuing to include me in their little podcasting games.

Posted in ask dayton, friends, g&t show, writing, writing advice | Leave a comment

Cover reveal for PREDATOR: IF IT BLEEDS!

“Get to dah book stoah!”

AvPGalaxy.net, the UK-based fan news site that covers any and all things happening within the Alien and Predator franchises, has just revealed the cover and full author roster for Predator: If It Bleeds. Edited by Bryan Thomas Schmidt, this anthology of all-new Predator stories is set for publication in October from Titan Books.

Check it out, yo:

predator-antho-cover(Click to Biggie Size)

From the back cover:

“Seventeen brand new, never before seen stories—exclusive to this collection—featuring the Predators throughout space and time. Based entirely on the original films, novels, and comics, PREDATOR: IF IT BLEEDS (a quote from the original movie) reveals the Predators stalking prey in 12th Century Japan, 9th Century Viking Norway, World War I, Vietnam, the Civil War, Hurricane Katrina, and the modern day, as well as across the far reaches of future space.”

Titan’s held the license to publish Alien and Predator novels for a while now, including tales that further the Alien vs Predator mythos that began waaaaaaaay back when in the pages of various Dark Horse comics (and all of it owing to that one scene in Predator 2 where we see the skull of an Alien xenomorph on the Predator’s trophy wall).

I’ve not yet had a chance to play around in the Alien universe, but that’s definitely on my Bucket List. So, too, was Predator, so many thanks to Bryan for inviting me to contribute a story to this new collection.

Authors contributing to the anthology include Jonathan Maberry, Keven J. Anderson, Tim Lebbon, John Shirley, and Mira Grant along with a whole bunch of top-shelf word pushers. For those wondering, my story, “Recon,” is set during the Vietnam War.

Check out AvPGalaxy’s complete rundown of authors and stories:

AvPGalaxy Exclusive – Predator: If It Bleeds – New Predator Anthology Book!

The book is available for pre-order from Amazon and Barnes & Noble, or you could take its ISBN, 978-1785655401, to your local independent bookseller and have them pre-order it for you. Your hometown merchant will really dig that sort of thing.

So, if it bleeds…will you read it?

Posted in books, predator, writing | Leave a comment

Star Trek: Waypoint collection: Comin’ at ya in November!

Good news, everyone!

For those of you who haven’t yet partaken of IDW Publishing‘s bi-monthly Star Trek: Waypoint mini-series (and really…what’s up with that?), you’ll be pleased to know that the entire 8-issue run will be collected into a trade paperback and officially made available for your reading pleasure on November 28th.

st-waypoint1-4
This means that the story Kevin and I wrote for issue #2, “The Menace of the Mechanitrons” (and which was gloriously illustrated by the great Gordon Purcell), will be able to annoy the people we missed the first time around last fall, or perhaps irritate you all over again if you went in on the individual issues.

While this will be mine and Kevin’s first time having a comic story collected in such a manner, longtime readers and supporters may recall that it’s not our first time being in such an anthology in any capacity. Au contraire! Indeed,  our short story “First, Do No Harm” from 2006’s Star Trek: Constellations anthology was also included in Tokyopop’s Shinsei Shinsei, the first edition of their Star Trek manga collections. One of their manga stories was also included in the back of Constellations, as part of a marketing crossover in observance of Star Trek‘s 40th anniversary in 2006.

shinsei_shinsei-covers

Holy crap….2006? My, how time flies.

Speaking of time flying, I know November sounds like it’s a ways off, right? Particularly when you consider that the fourth Waypoint issue only came out yesterday and with the remaining four issues in the pipeline for (presumably) May, July, September, and November releases. But, if 2017 is anything like the last couple of years, November will be here before I know it or I’m ready for it.

In the meantime, pre-order links are already active at both Amazon and Barnes & Noble. You an also take the book’s ISBN,  978-1684050178, to your local independent bookseller and have them set up a pre-order for you. I’m betting your hometown merchant would love you for that.

Besides, it’ll be out just in time for Christmas, and I’m betting copies of this will make great presents. No, really.

Posted in books, comics, idw, trek, writing | Leave a comment

Talking about Star Trek Adventures for MODIPHIA!

One of the more unexpected developments to come out of 2016 was my getting involved with Modiphius Entertainment and their still-gestating Star Trek Adventures role-playing game.

Hey. I have a weird job, sometimes.

sta-awayteam-1

I spent a good bit of last fall working with friends Scott Pearson and Jim Johnson to carry out the task I’d been given: fleshing out a storyline that could be used as part of a “living campaign playtest,” during which the game’s rules would be run through the wringer and kinks addressed and worked out. Players would participate in this testing phase, playing through scenarios developed by the game’s designers and other contributors and offering feedback on what worked and didn’t work for them. The results of this effort will eventually find their way into the game’s core rulebook, scheduled to be released later this summer, and set the stage for many more storylines and scenarios to come within the game’s setting.

So, yeah. That sounded like some cool action to get in on.

Want to learn more about what we came up with, and how I ended up as a part of this snazzy new thing? You can read about all of that and more in the very first, minty-fresh issue of Modiphia, the “official digital magazine” of Modiphius Entertainment, which is now available in PDF form as a free download from the game publisher’s webstore.

modiphia1-cover.pngIn addition to extensive coverage of Star Trek Adventures – including a peak at the storyline we developed and an article I wrote about my own involvement – Modiphia #1 also includes new articles and content for several other games in the Modiphius stable, including Achtung! Cthulhu, Conan, and Thunderbirds.

Many thanks to Chris Birch and Sam Webb at Modiphius for inviting me into their sandbox to play for a bit. I’m honestly not sure what my level of involvement will be in the short term, as everything now is focused on the living campaign and fine-tuning the rules, scenarios, and other info that will be included in the core gaming materials. Those are tasks better left to people who know what they’re doing in those arenas.

Look for more info on Star Trek Adventures in this space, as I’m given the thumbs up to share details. Meanwhile? Get gamin’, yo.

sta-01

 

 

Posted in fandom, games, modiphius, nerdity, trek, writing | 2 Comments

Happy 30th Anniversary, Lethal Weapon!

“Have you ever met anybody you didn’t kill?”

“Well, I haven’t killed you yet.”

LethalWeaponSpring, 1987: Some friends and I head out from the base to the movie theater, ready to check out what looks to be a pretty fun action movie. Ah, such innocent times. Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger were riding high, but Bruce Willis, Steven Seagal and Jean-Claude Van Damme were still waiting in the wings. What did we have? Mad Max as a “cop on the edge” partnering with…Albert from The Color Purple (or Mal from Silverado, if you prefer)?

Okay, then.

Our admittedly minor concerns were baseless of course, as Mel Gibson and Danny Glover bring us the first team-up of Martin Riggs and Roger Murtaugh, and proceed to lay down the smacketh upon all manner of criminal folk. Drug dealers, mercenaries, and other miscreants stand no chance against the “Lethal Weapon” and his partner, who may or may not be too old for this shit.

As unlikely partners, Riggs and Murtaugh soon find themselves hip deep in a murder mystery involving the daughter of an old war buddy friend of Murtaugh’s. Soon, the detectives uncover a drug trafficking scheme that stretches back to the Vietnam War, of which both cops are veterans harboring memories they’d rather not revisit. They dig too deeply, of course, and run afoul of the drug runners, who retaliate by taking Murtaugh’s daughter hostage. It quickly becomes apparent that the only way to deal with the problem is to let Riggs loose to do the one thing he does with uncanny skill…..

These days Mr. Gibson is perhaps better known for his directorial efforts (including the recently released and very well-regarded Hacksaw Ridge), and for some unfortunate personal issues that he’s battled, but back in 1987? He was The Man. Coming off his third turn as Max Rockatansky in Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome, Gibson gives us an all-new take on the tried and true “loner cop on the ragged edge” trope, with Glover serving as his older, more experienced, and ever-suffering compadre. The action, quips, and typical 80s tough-guy humor all come fast and furious as Gibson’s Martin Riggs shoots, punches, kicks, and otherwise pummels his way through a seemingly unending wave of bad guys. Gary Busey provides a worthy foil for Riggs, in the form of “Mr. Joshua,” loyal lieutenant to the movie’s main bad guy, General Peter McAllister.

Oh, and Eric Clapton is on hand to provide some kick-ass music, too.

Directed by Richard Donner (The Omen, Superman: The Movie, and The Goonies) from a script written by Shane Black, Lethal Weapon premiered on March 6th, 1987. It was the hot action ticket at the time, and of course spawned three sequels over the next eleven years (along with a sorta kinda cameo nod-type thing in 1994’s Maverick). There was talk for a long time about a fifth installment, but such discussions and gossip seemed to fade as the years went by. Whether that was due to Gibson’s off-screen troubles, a lack of involvement from director Donner – who directed the previous four films…oh, and Maverick with its aforementioned cameo nod-type thing – or the simple fact that he and Glover had aged out of the roles is fodder for the gossip mill. There also were rumors about a reboot of the property for the silver screen, with Gibson to be replaced with another, younger actor (Chris Hemsworth’s name was batted around for a time), but nothing ever materialized on the movie front.

Television is another story, however, with the franchise being reimagined in weekly series form beginning last fall on Fox. The show stars Clayne Crawford as Riggs and Damon Wayans as Murtaugh, and while the basic premise that drove the original film is honored in the broad strokes, the series has taken the characters and setup in their own direction. It didn’t hurt that writer/director Shane Black, who wrote the screenplay for the original Lethal Weapon film, helped series creator Matt Miller write the story and lay the series groundwork with the show’s first episode. Despite a few quibbles, I’m enjoying the new take on things and eager to see where the series goes.

As for the original film? I place it and its sequel alongside Die Hard as my favorite 80s-spawned action fests. (Don’t worry….Commando still gets in there, too.)

I’m not too old for this shit. Are you?

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