Come find me and Kevin next month at the Freestate Comicon!

I have to tell you I thought I was done with the whole convention/book signing thing for the year. Not that I’m against such things, you understand. Instead, I simply figured I’d attended all the shows and whatnot I was going to see for a while, at least until next spring or so.

Nah. Looks like I’ve got one more in me.

Kevin and I have been invited to be guests at next month’s Freestate Comicon, a one-day show that along with the series of KC Fan Con events has been doing its thing here in the Kansas City area since 2006.

The puppetmaster behind these shindigs, Craig Klotz, has been a friend to Kevin and me for what seems like ever, and if we don’t see him at Planet Comicon or Kansas City Comicon, then we’ve been guests at some of his own shows over the years. So, when he asked us if we’d be interested in hanging out with him and a bunch of other KC-based creators, collectors, vendors, and fans, of course we had to say “Sure!”

So, if your plans for Saturday, September 8th have room for hanging out with this gang of folks, come on and see us! I’ll have copies of various titles including Star Trek: Discovery – Drastic Measures among other things, and we’ll definitely have copies of our issue of Star Trek: Waypoint and even the trade paperback collecting the entire miniseries.

It’ll be a day of comics and pop culture fun for the entire clan, so come on by the Douglas County Fairgrounds in beautiful Lawrence, Kansas, and say “Howdy!”

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Back cover copy and pre-order links for Available Light!

Those of you who weren’t around here back on Wednesday may have missed the announcement that Pocket Books has officially renewed its license to publish Star Trek novels, and the first of the books covered by that new agreement will start hitting shelves in early 2019.

Una McCormack is our lead-off hitter, and her Sylvia Tilly-focused Star Trek: Discovery novel The Way to the Stars will be out in January. Next up will be Greg Cox and his Original Series novel The Antares Maelstrom, out in March.

Then, there’s me, comin’ at ya in April with Available Light, in which I pick up Captain Picard and the rest of the Star Trek: The Next Generation gang from where I left things last summer with my previous TNG novel, Hearts and Minds.

In the wake of the announcement, now I can offer you Available Light‘s official, actual back cover copy, as well as a few pre-order links…because I know you’ll want to get on this as soon as possible, amirite?

Anyway, here we go:

Continue reading “Back cover copy and pre-order links for Available Light!”

July writing wrap-up.

Whaddaya mean it’s August already? How the HELL did that happen?

No. Don’t tell me. I don’t want to know.

Things are definitely busy here at Castle Ward. I’m at that teetering point between enough work to keep me busy and too much to handle, or as I like to call it, “the Sweet Spot.” That said, I’m always on the hunt for the next project, so if you’re an editor or publisher reading this and you need an ace word pusher to help you out, give me a shout.

In the meantime, here’s what went down on the writing front in July:

Continue reading “July writing wrap-up.”

Why, yes…I am indeed writing another Star Trek novel.

It’s been talked about, rumored about, and teased for lo these many moons.

It’s been a long road, getting from there to…..sorry. Accidental Star Trek: Enterprise reference. :: ahem ::

Anyway, at long last, Pocket Books, in the form of editor Ed Schlesinger who is spending this week out in Las Vegas for the ginormous Star Trek convention currently taking place there, announced yesterday that Pocket’s license to publish Star Trek novels was officially renewed, and also introduced the first three books which will lead off the 2019 line-up:

First up? The wonderful Una McCormack is back, this time to bring us an all-new Star Trek: Discovery tale:

The Way to the Stars, January:  Despite being an inexperienced Starfleet cadet, Sylvia Tilly became essential to the U.S.S. Discovery finding its way back home from the Mirror Universe. But how did she find that courage? From where did she get that steel? Who nurtured that spark of brilliance? The Way to the Stars recounts for fans everywhere the untold story of Tilly’s past.

It’s not easy being sixteen, especially when everyone expects great things from Tilly. It’s even harder when her mother and father are Federation luminaries, not to mention pressing her to attend one of the best schools that the Federation has to offer. Tilly wants to achieve great things — even though she hasn’t quite worked out how to do that or what it is she wants to do. But this year, everything will change for Tilly, as she about to embark upon the adventure of a lifetime — an adventure that will take her ever closer to the stars…

Longtime Trek prose veteran Greg Cox is next at bat, with another Star Trek: The Original Series tale:

The Antares Maelstrom, March: Baldur-3 is an obscure planet just beyond the outer fringes of Federation space, until a group of struggling colonists discover vast quantities of the energy source pergium beneath the planet’s surface. An old-fashioned “gold rush” is now underway—a chaotic situation, as neighboring planets and space stations are vastly ill-equipped to deal with the flood of vessels and aliens competing to get to the planet in time to stake their claims. Although Baldur-3 isn’t technically under Federation jurisdiction, Captain James T. Kirk and the crew of the Enterprise are soon diverted to deal with the crisis . . . one which lies on the other side of the dangerous area of space known as the Antares Maelstrom.

Next? Why, that’d be Yours Truly, returning to the realm of Star Trek: The Next Generation and all the craziness you may have read about at the end of David Mack’s novel Control, and my own TNG tale from last year, Hearts and Minds:

Available Light, April: As fallout from the exposure of the “Control” AI security program and the unchecked crimes of Section 31 spans the entire Alpha Quadrant and ultimately reaches the halls of Starfleet Command, the admiralty must decide what the consequences will be for their own… including Captain Jean-Luc Picard, who helped bring down a Federation president and violated the principles of his oath. Meanwhile, deep in the unexplored section of space known as the Odyssean Pass, Picard and the Enterprise crew must put aside personal feelings on the matter and distant political concerns as they investigate the mystery a centuries-old massive spacecraft adrift in the void and under attack from marauders looking to claim the ship for themselves—and armed with weapons that are evenly matched with Starfleet’s finest…

(As you can see, I’m already rather busy with mine.)

Now, it’s worth noting that these are just the three books out of the chute. Rest assured more will be announced as deemed appropriate by The Powers That Be.

As for these three, expect more information as we get closer to the weekend, including pre-order links and actual/updated back cover copy descriptions, which are supposed to be fed out to the various book retailers/catalogs/etc. over the next couple of days.

So, for those of you who’ve been patiently waiting for news on this front along with those of you who…you know, haven’t…I for one appreciate you hanging in there with us as we all careened down this rather bumpy road to get to this point. Bring on 2019!

A 24 prequel on the way?

So, last night I was perusing my Facebook feed, I happened across this news item from The Hollywood Reporter:

’24’ Prequel From Original Series Creators Eyed at Fox

Okay. You’ve got my attention.

Those of you who’ve been around here for a while know that I’m a huge fan of all things 24. I watched every episode of every season from the beginning, read all the spin-off novels and comics, hung on for even the craziest plot twists, double agents, double blinds, and double crosses through eight seasons (and a special TV movie) and then came running back when they announced and broadcast follow-ups like 24: Live Another Day and 24: Legacy.

The former left me wanting for more things Jack Bauer, while the latter succeeded in scratching an itch but offering only temporary relief. Though I was perfectly fine with focusing on a new set of characters in the 24 “universe,” I thought Legacy fell into too many of the same traps that plagued some seasons of the original show. That said, if the Powers That Be opted to revisit that setup in some future installment, I’d check it out.

In between Live Another Day and Legacy, a couple of buds and I were able to scratch said itch in our own fashion. James Swallow gave us Deadline, the first of two novels set between the series’ eighth season and LAD, and David Mack followed him with Rogue, set a couple of years after Jim’s book.

Then I had to go and screw up the whole formula by writing Trial By Fire, a prequel to the series itself and set in 1994. Whoops.

But hey! Prequel.

The idea of setting stories before the events of the original television series isn’t really a new notion. While the show was still in production, publisher Harper Collins gave us a total of eleven Jack Bauer literary adventures under the umbrella title 24: Declassified, and comics publisher IDW also had a couple of “prequel stories” during its run with the license. However, those efforts – as is the case with most novel and comics tie-ins – were charged with remaining faithful to the events of the series as shown onscreen. The people who do TV don’t always – or even ever – have to follow such “rules.”

The Hollywood Reporter‘s story is light on detail, but the involvement of the original show’s creators is a big plus for me. Of course, it also raises some questions: Is their intention to actually make a prequel, with a younger version of the character we already know, caught up in events set prior to those of the series? This would require it to be a “period piece” of sorts, set somewhere in the late 1980s-1990s timeframe.

(Wait. Hold up. Let’s just pause a moment to consider the impact of a statement like “Period piece, set in the late 1980s-1990s.” Damn, I’m getting old.)

On the other hand, maybe they’re thinking it’s a prequel but also a reboot, similar to what’s being (and been) done with the Jack Ryan character, or even James Bond. This approach would allow the series creators to free themselves of the show’s “canon” and set the show in the “present,” which of course would let them continue making use of current (and somewhat future-esque) technology within the storytelling framework. Besides, don’t we already know what a Jack Bauer/24 series set in the 1990s would be like?

We kid. We kid.

Now, while I’d likely at least give a reboot show a chance, I’m hoping they go the other route and do something that ties into the original 24 chronology. In fact, last night I started thinking about potential storylines that could serve both as a flashback/prequel and a way to resolve Jack Bauer’s arc, which left us hanging at the end of Live Another Day. Plus, I also want to see more Chloe O’Brian, and hey! Tony Almeida is still out there, somewhere.

Who knows that these guys will do?

(No, they won’t be using anything established in Trial By Fire or any other prequel novel or comic. The likelihood of something like that is hovering right on that decimal point between “0.0,” all right?)

Anyway, I’ll be keeping an eye on this to see what develops. Like Star Trek and certain other media properties and even though it may have stumbled every so often, I’m always up for more 24.

Your Moment of TrekZen*.

Because sooner or later, if you keep rilin’ them and tryin’ to keep them caged up rather than allowing them to roam free, they’re gonna get mighty pissed.

I only just today learned that this is actually a licensed T-shirt design. You can obtain it from places as varied as Walmart, Amazon.com, and various other online T-shirt retailers. I think the design is hilarious, though I confess I tend toward darker colors for my shirts of choice.

What this does do for me, however, is make me want to write a series of scary yet kid-friendly Star Trek tales based on various original series episodes.

Hmmmm…….

(* = inspired by the “Your Moment of Zen” segments from The Daily Show)

2018 Scribe Awards Announced!

iamtwYesterday at Comic-con International in San Diego, the International Association of Media Tie-In Writers (IAMTW) held the annual “Scribe Awards,” which celebrates excellence in the field of writing licensed works that tie into other media such as television, movies, gaming, or comic books. They include original works set in established universes, and adaptations of stories that have appeared in these other formats, and which include every genre from mainstream police procedurals to science fiction, fantasy, and horror to romance.

Here’s the complete list of nominees, with the winner in each category in bold.

The Twelfth Annual Scribe Awards

Short Story (tie!)
Joe Ledger: “Ganbatte” by Keith DeCandido
Planet of the Apes: “Banana Republic” by Jonathan Maberry
Planet of the Apes: “Pacing Place” by Bob Mayer
Planet of the Apes: “Murderers’ Row” by John Jackson Miller
Deadworld:
 “Rear Guard” by Sarah Stegall
Predator: “Storm Blood” by Peter Wacks and David Boop

Adapted Speculative and General
Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets by Christie Golden
Doctor Who: The Pirate Planet by James Goss
Kong: Skull Island by Tim Lebbon
Resident Evil: The Final Chapter by Tim Waggoner

Original Speculative
The Librarians and the Mother Goose Chase by Greg Cox

Halo: Legacy of Onyx by Matt Forbeck
Star Wars Battlefront II: Inferno Squad by Christie Golden
Star Trek: Discovery: Desperate Hours by David Mack
Supernatural: The Usual Sacrifices by Yvonne Navarro
Interface Zero: Solar Singularity by Peter J. Wacks, Guy Anthony Demarco, and Josh Vogt

Original General
Don Pendleton’s The Executioner: Fatal Prescription by Michael A. Black

Robert B. Parker’s The Hangman’s Sonnet: A Jesse Stone Novel by Reed Farrel Coleman
The Will to Kill by Mickey Spillane and Max Allan Collins

Young Adult Original
Warriors Three: Godhood’s End by Keith R. A. DeCandido
X-Files Origins: Devil’s Advocate by Jonathan Maberry
Star Wars: Adventures in Wild Space – The Cold  by Cavan Scott

Audio
Doctor Who: Across the Darkened City by David Bartlett
Doctor Who: Cold Vengeance by Matt Fitton
Warhammer 40,000: Agent of the Throne, Blood and Lies by John French
Torchwood: Cascade by Scott Handcock
Torchwood: The Dying Room by Lizzie Hopley

Congratulations to all the winners and nominees, especially to my good friend Greg Cox, who not only won this year for his Librarians novel but also received from IAMTW the Faust Award, elevating him to Grandmaster status within our little cabal. He now stands alongside previous recipients Alan Dean Foster, Terrance Dicks, William Johnston, Diane Duane, Donald Bain, Kevin J. Anderson, Ann Crispin, Peter David, Keith R.A. DeCandido, and Christie Golden.

Many thanks to the judges and the rest of the IAMTW membership for continuing to sponsor the Scribes and for helping to shine some light and attention on an oft-overlooked and unappreciated corner of the publishing world.

Happy 30th Anniversary, Midnight Run!

Monday: Escape with their lives from New York.
Tuesday: Impersonate F.B.I. agents in Chicago.
Wednesday: Steal plane in New Mexico.

Thursday: Almost kill each other by accident.
Friday: Almost kill each other on purpose.

What happens when an ex-cop turned bounty hunter is sent to find an accountant who embezzled millions from the mob, and who’s now being hunted by mobsters as well as the FBI as he tries to get his fugitive from New York to L.A. before the accountant’s bail bond defaults?

Comedy gold, that’s what.

After a string of dramatic turns including the previous year’s The Untouchables, Robert De Niro goes totally against type as he shifts gears for this comedy-action fest. He plays Jack Walsh, a bounty hunter sent to retrieve federal fugitive Jonathan “the Duke” Mardukas (Charles Grodin) after he jumps bail. Mardukas has millions in mob money stashed somewhere, and Jimmy Serrano, the guy from whom he took it, wants that shit back. Meanwhile, the FBI’s got their own case building against Serrano, and they want Mardukas as a material witness. Walsh doesn’t give a damn about any of that, as he just wants to get the Duke back to L.A. and the bail bondsman who’s going to pay him $100,000 for the job.

Released on July 20th, 1988 – mere days after Bruce Willis’ breakout hit Die Hard – Midnight Run is basically “The Odd Couple on the lam,” as well as a bit of a salute to the classic Bob Hope/Bing Crosby “Road” pictures of the 1940s and early 50s. De Niro and Grodin play off each other to absolutely epic effect, their efforts supported by stellar performances from the likes of Yaphet Kotto as FBI Agent Alonzo Mosley, Dennis Farina as Jimmy Serrano, John Ashton as Walsh’s rival bounty hunter, Marvin Dorfler, and ever-reliable Joe Pantoliano as skeevy bail bondsman Eddie Moscone.

Director Martin Brest, who two years earlier had given us the first – and still the best – Beverly Hills Cop, manages to strike a pretty decent balance of action, humor and quiet character moments throughout the film, while Danny Elfman provides a rollicking musical score to wrap around the whole thing. It’s not a perfect movie, and there are a couple of places where the “guys who hate each other eventually become friends” trope starts to wear thin, but De Niro and Grodin’s chemistry is more than enough to elevate the material and cement Midnight Run as one of my all-time favorite “buddy flicks.”

Thirty years after its original release, I still laugh out loud at the rapid-fire dialogue from De Niro and Grodin to say nothing of the rest of the cast. I’ve been known to hold up my end of entire conversations with quotes from this flick.

Trivia: Did you know there were three made-for-TV sequels in 1994, made as part of Universal’s “Action Pack” TV-movies? I’ve never seen them…and I’m not sure I want to. I mean, “Action Pack” gave us stuff like Hercules: The Legendary Journeys and TekWar, but they also gave us Team Knight Rider and sequels to Smokey and the Bandit. So, you know…tread carefully.

There’s been talk of De Niro and Grodin teaming up for a proper sequel to the original film, but the last news I heard about this was a couple of years ago now. I’d be in line for it if such a project ever came to fruition.

Meanwhile, I think I’ll be spinning this one up tonight.

“See ya in the next life, Jack.”

Omega Directive podcast interview, and they’re talking about us over at Literary Treks!

It’s been a busy week, so I’m a bit behind on feeding the Blog Beast. That included all but forgetting that a new interview with me has been posted. Then I felt my ears burning as people who’ve interviewed me in the past were talking about me again, and I guess they figured I wouldn’t find out?

Please. I’m a writer with a fragile ego. I cringe whenever my name is said aloud.

First up? Local Kansas City fan Steve Atwell has launched a podcast, The Omega Directive, which he describes as a place for “Casual discussions & in-depth interviews about Star Trek. We’ll chat with writers, artists, actors, directors, & fans who’ve contributed to the franchise – canon & non, over its 50 year run. We’ll also talk about its cultural impact, & examine the elements within that make it tick.”

For his third episode, Steve reached out to me, and among the various topics of discussion was my book from last year, Hidden Universe Travel Guides – Star Trek: The Klingon Empire. The conversation bounces around a bit, of course, from how I got into writing to being a Star Trek fan and even a trip down Memory Lane and my time in the military. Steve even finds a way to bring up a goofy story I wrote, about four guys sitting in a movie theater waiting for Star Trek V to start. Yeah…we bounced around a bit.

If you’re needing something to stick in your ears during a work commute or while you toil in the yard, feel free to have a listen:

The Omega Directive: Trek Travel Take 1

Meanwhile, elsewhere in the digital space, Literary Treks hosts Bruce Gibson and Dan Gunther have devoted a recent episode of their podcast to mine and Kevin’s first novel-length collaboration, A Time To Sow, the third in the 9-book Star Trek: A Time To… series published by Pocket Books during 2004. Talk about your blasts from the past? It’s actually been a long time since I gave any serious thoughts to this series, let alone this book and its companion, A Time To Harvest, so it was nice to hear about it from someone who just recently read it. Have a listen to Bruce and Dan’s conversation about the book:

Literary Treks Episode #235: Make it Sow!

Many thanks to Steve to for having me on his show, and to Bruce and Dan for their continued coverage of the ever-expanding Star Trek literary universe.

Happy 30th Anniversary, Die Hard!

Come out to the coast, we’ll get together, have a few laughs….

Christmas Eve: A group of terrorists seize control of a 40-story office building in downtown Los Angeles. They’ve taken hostages, they’re well-armed, and they’re dug in like ticks. The local police and even the FBI seem powerless to stop the terrorists, or even to figure out what it is they want.

The only hitch in the terrorists’ plan? One off-duty cop, in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Oh. Hell. Yeah.

Thirty years ago today, moviegoers were introduced to John McClane, a New York cop who’s in L.A. to visit his estranged wife and their kids for Christmas. Things are supposed to be low-key, right? McClane meets his wife at her office within the impressive Nakatomi Plaza, after which they’ll drive to her house and enjoy all the various yuletide traditions and so on and so forth.

Of course, everything goes completely to shit, which is why we end up having a movie.

Released on July 15th, 1988, Die Hard remains a benchmark for action movies, redefining the whole “one man against a bunch of bad guys” trope into its own subgenre of films. Masterfully directed by John McTiernan (Predator, The Hunt for Red October), the movie presents nothing less than a clinic on how to lay out a perfectly paced, well-plotted and well-acted action thriller. It has been endlessly imitated, parodied, homaged and just flat out ripped off. To this day, similar projects of every sort often are pitched as being some variation of “It’s Die Hard on/in a ________.”

Speed? “Die Hard on a bus.”

Under Siege? “Die Hard on a battleship.”

Paul Blart: Mall Cop? “Die Hard in a shopping mall, but not as funny.”

As for the actual film? It elevated its star, Bruce Willis, to A-List action hero status where he has — more or less — remained since then. Willis does a fantastic job selling us on McClane, the wise-cracking, acerbic cop who’s in way over his head, facing off against the smooth stylings of the late Alan Rickman’s delicious turn as Hans Gruber, supposed terrorist with a secret agenda. Indeed, the whole cast is superb from Willis and Rickman on down, including solid performances by Reginald VelJohnson as LAPD Sergeant Al Powell and Paul Gleason playing yet another in a string of dickhead authority figures with his singular aplomb. But it’s Willis and the very much missed Rickman who carry the load here, pitting sarcasm against sophistication in a battle of wills for all the marbles.

Thirty years after its release, Die Hard remains my very favorite Christmas movie. It even has its own holiday-themed book, so I know I’m right and the haters are wrong. Nyah.

Based on the 1979 novel Nothing Lasts Forever by Roderick Thorp, Die Hard might well have ended up being a sequel to the 1968 film The Detective, itself based on another Thorp novel and starring Frank Sinatra. When ol’ Blue Eyes declined the opportunity to reprise his role from that movie, the idea next was reworked into a possible sequel to the 1985 Arnold Schwarzenegger flick Commando. After Arnie passed, the idea then was modified again, becoming a standalone story but still retaining much of the plot from Nothing Lasts Forever.

The film did huge bank in the summer of 1988, earning nearly $150 million after a $28 million budget. A sequel was inevitable, and Hollywood didn’t disappoint, with Die Hard (so far) eventually spawning four sequels. Though each successive film has its own things going for it, all of them fail in varying degrees to match the quality and unfettered — dare I say it — fun of the original:

Die Hard 2 (Die Harder), 1990, based on the 1987 novel 58 Minutes by Walter Wager

Die Hard With A Vengeance, 1995, adapted from the unproduced screenplay Simon Says by Jonathan Hensleigh

Live Free or Die Hard, 2007, inspired by the Wired magazine article “A Farewell to Arms” by John Carlin

A Good Day to Die Hard, 2013, written by Skip Woods

Only Die Hard With A Vengeance really comes close, owed perhaps in no small part to John McTiernan once again occupying the director’s chair. Will there be another one? Hard to say. Though critics ripped the latest entry in the series without mercy, it still did major box office business. There have been rumblings about a potential sixth installment, and even the dreaded “r word*,” but so far those seem to be nothing but rumors.

In the meantime, we still have the first — and the best — Die Hard, who still looks mighty fine at 30.

“Yippee-ki-yay, Mister Falcon!”

(* = reboot, yo)