Tuesday Trekkin’: the original AMT Star Trek models.

Me as a kid in the 1970s:

  1. Acquire brand new U.S.S. Enterprise model
  2. Build brand new U.S.S. Enterprise model, to include shoddy paint and poorly placed decals
  3. Take model outside and run around, holding it up to simulate its flight through space
  4. Drop the model onto the sidewalk or parking lot
  5. Cry over all the broken pieces
  6. Try (and fail) to repair the model
  7. GOTO 1

Yup. That was a thing that happened. A few times.

Continue reading “Tuesday Trekkin’: the original AMT Star Trek models.”

April writing wrap-up.

How is it MAY already? How are we a quarter of the way through 2021 already? How did that happen? SOMEONE MAKE IT MAKE SENSE.

:: ahem ::

So, yeah. April. That went fast, didn’t it? I spent a good bit of the month immersed in revisions to my current novel in progress (see below) along with a couple of other items on my writing agenda. Some things are in play as my plans for later this spring and into the summer began shifting as far as what I thought I might be working on. That’s not a bad thing at all, mind you; just an unexpected yet welcome turn of events apparently will see to it I’ll be busier than anticipated on the writing front. More on this as the situation develops.

But before I get steppin’ goward that future, I’ll take one last look at what went down last month:

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Continue reading “April writing wrap-up.”

I went and Trekked myself YET AGAIN.

Because it’s been a minute since the last time I babbled incoherently into a microphone and someone recorded it, I sat down a couple of weeks ago with Darrell Taylor and J.K. Woodward, hosts of the Go Trek Yourself podcast. I’ve been a guest on their show a couple of times already, and it’s always fun to catch up with Darrell and J.K. as our conversations bounce from topic to topic.

Such was this case this time. Things started off well enough, with the guys asking me about my “secret origin story” and how being a childhood Star Trek fan eventually put me on the path to being someone who gets to write Star Trek novels and other fun stuff for something resembling a living. We also spent some time talking about my most recent Star Trek novel, Agents of Influence (available at fine brick-n-mortar and online booksellers everywhere, you know), as well as a little bit of teasing about Star Trek: Coda, the trilogy on which I’m working with friends and fellow word pushers James Swallow and David Mack. Our discussion focused on how the project came about as an outgrowth of the “Star Trek novel continuity” that’s been a real thing for the last 15-20 years. Don’t worry, though! No spoilers lay within. Additionally, I’m a big fan of J.K.’s comic work including his numerous contributions to Star Trek via IDW Publishing, so of course we have to chat a little about that. It’s easy to get lost in these sorts of discussions when there’s a great shared affection for this thing from which we’ve derived such immense enjoyment and which has been responsible for so much of our individual successes.

And if that’s not enough? We even manage to talk about sports a little. Because of course we did.

So, if that sounds like something you’d want to stick in your ears for an hour or so, just go right ahead and click on the handy link I’ve provided:

Go Trek Yourself Episode 91: Dayton Ward and the Agents of Influence

Many thanks to Darrell and J.K. for having me on yet again to shoot the breeze and have some fun talking about our shared nerd love. I’m sure we’ll find a reason (excuse?) to do it again sometime down the road!

Happy Birthday, Lee Majors!

The Six Million Dollar Man himself celebrates his 82nd birthday today!

Yes, I know he’s had a long, full career, both before and especially well after his bionic adventures, but he’ll always be Colonel Steve Austin to me. Okay, with a side of Colt Seavers. And maybe a dash of Christopher Chance. And Pop Scarlet.

A check of his IMDB page shows he’s still finding ways to keep plenty busy. I’m actually kind of tired just reading it all. I saw him pop up for a guest turn on the rebooted Magnum P.I. a year or so ago and he looked great! Here’s hoping I can find my way to having half his energy when I’m his age.

Also? I fervently maintain that Lee Majors has the manliest running stride in the history of running men. Fight me.

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Geek Fact: When I was a kid, I so wanted a jacket like the one in this pic.

Geek Fact 2: I kinda still do.

Happy Birthday, Mr. Majors!

Tuesday Trekkin’: the Star Trek Giant Poster Books.

Okay, so at least this time it’s been less than a month since the previous installment of this “irregularly recurring” blog feature. Not too bad, when considering all the other things on my various plates. I originally thought “monthly” might be a good schedule for this sort of thing, but if I’m feeling froggy and I’m unexpectedly inundated with free time*, who knows?

(* = Yeah, that’s not really a thing, is it?)

For those joining the program already in progress, “Tuesday Trekkin'” is pretty much just an excuse for me to wax nostalgic about some facet of old-school Star Trek fandom, be it a fondly remembered bit of funky merchandise, “milestones” or convention memories or whatever else tickles my fancy on any given day. For this latest entry, I’m digging into my archives and pulling out some truly 1970s pop culture goodness: the Star Trek “Giant Poster Books.”

Continue reading “Tuesday Trekkin’: the Star Trek Giant Poster Books.”

Margaret Wander Bonanno, 1950-2021.

Today I was shocked and saddened to learn about the passing of author Margaret Wander Bonanno. According to information shared by her family, she died unexpectedly of natural causes. There’s precious little information available at this time, but my thoughts now are for her family and friends.

Though she wrote more than a dozen other novels of fiction and science fiction, I came to know her back in the mid-1980s thanks to her first Star Trek novels, Dwellers In the Crucible and Strangers from the Sky. I greatly enjoyed the latter book when I read it soon after its initial publication, and to this day it remains one of my all-time favorite Star Trek tales. She was one of the great contributors to that era of Star Trek publishing and — though I didn’t know it at the time — an inspiration for me years before the silly notion of becoming a writer entered my head.

While she’s credited with writing five other Trek novels, she’d be the first to tell you one of them really isn’t hers. How one novel, Probe, came to be is a story only she can tell the way it deserves to be told, and you can find that account on her website’s bio page. As for the novel from which Probe is derived, Music of the Spheres, it is just what you’d expect it to be: a wondrous tale told by a master, that just happens to also be a Star Trek story. My copy of the original manuscript is one of the true prizes of my rather disturbingly large library.

She was a gifted writer with a wicked sense of humor, but also a kind soul, warm and welcoming when upstarts like me started showing up on the Star Trek fiction scene. I still remember the first time I met her at the Shore Leave convention, already established as a writer but still smiling like a fanboy as I handed over my copy of Strangers for her to sign. This happened soon after one of the true highlights of my Star Trek writing career, when Margaret joined Kevin Dilmore and I along with writers Mike W. Barr, Dave Galanter, Christopher L. Bennett, and Howard Weinstein along with editor Keith R. A. DeCandido for Mere Anarchy, the six-part eBook novella series published to coincide with Star Trek‘s 40th anniversary in 2006. From the beginning of that project’s development, it was a no-brainer that she would write the sixth, concluding piece of our little celebratory saga, and one has but to read her contribution to understand why she was perfect to anchor the series.

Back to Strangers from the Sky for one more bit of reminiscing: For those unfamiliar with the novel, it depicts humanity’s first encounter with Vulcans in the early 21st century, with Kirk and Spock traveling through time and keeping the fugitive Vulcans safe until they can secure transport away from Earth and back to their home planet. Part of the book involves events from a fictional novel Kirk is reading, also called Strangers from the Sky, and it becomes apparent that the supposedly fictional story is chronicling real events in which he and Spock somehow took part.

While Margaret’s story was later superseded by the 1996 film Star Trek: First Contact, which depicts the “canonical version” of the first visit by Vulcans to Earth in the mid-21st century, her novel has remained a fan favorite since its initial publication in 1987. Skip ahead to 2003, when I was working with Kevin on our first Star Trek novel collaboration, A Time to Sow. I was writing an early scene in that book when I made an impulsive decision to reference Strangers from the Sky. In this case, it was in the form of Will Riker giving Captain Picard a copy of the fictional novel Kirk was reading. As Riker and Picard were both involved in the film’s events and that version of first contact, it’s a bit of an in-joke on my part.

When I inserted the reference, I had no real idea I might do it again, but a few years later I was in the midst of writing another Star Trek: The Next Generation novel and found a way to drop in another nod to Margaret’s book. Then I did it a couple of more times as circumstances allowed, such as it becoming a book Picard read to his young son. A few months ago while writing Moments Asunder, my latest Trek novel which will be published later this year, I once again found a way to work in a reference. Even though I never call out the book by name in any of these instances, sharp-eyed readers still catch the “Easter egg,” which I once explained as a recurring tip of the hat to Margaret. Like I said earlier: Strangers remains a personal favorite.

At some point, she caught wind of what I was doing and wrote me a private note on Facebook, thanking me for acknowledging her in that way and how much it meant to her. As I told her at the time: “I know it sounds corny, but you and the others writing Trek novels back in those days inspired me to try my hand at writing. I have you all to thank for where I am now.

It’s true. Along with her contemporaries, Margaret Wander Bonanno helped to set the bar for Star Trek novels, elevating them to something more than simple “tie-in fiction” and establishing a standard I along with my colleagues strive to emulate. It’s an honor to be in her company, and she will truly be missed.

Thank you, Margaret. For everything.

Happy 70th Anniversary to THE THING FROM ANOTHER WORLD!

It creeps… It crawls… It strikes without warning!

A group of scientists and military officers at a remote Arctic outpost near the North Pole discover a mysterious craft buried in ice. They also find a body, similarly entombed, and excavate it from its frozen grave.

And — as things tend to do in stories of this sort — everything goes straight to Hell, for what they have discovered is not a human or indeed like anything on Earth. Instead, what they’ve found is….

Following premieres in Cincinnati and Dayton as well as Washington, D.C., The Thing from Another World stomped its way onto theater screens across the United States on April 7th, 1951, seventy years ago today. The film’s screenplay was written by Charles Lederer, loosely adapting John W. Campbell, Jr.’s seminal 1938 novella Who Goes There? (originally published as a 12-capter serial in the magazine Astounding Science Fiction under Campbell’s pen name, Don A. Stuart).

Continue reading “Happy 70th Anniversary to THE THING FROM ANOTHER WORLD!”

Happy First Contact Day, Trekkies!

April 5th, 2063: We’re only 42 years from this most excellent of events, yo.

While we wait, we continue to look to the future with hope and excitement. After all, we know that this monumental meeting between humanity and intelligent beings from a world beyond our own will usher in a new era of peace, optimism, prosperity and collaborative spirit as the people of Earth take their first tentative steps into a larger universe.

first-contact

So, grab yourself the first Vulcan (or other non-terrestrial biological entity) you meet, wriggle to the left, wriggle to the right, and do the Ooby Dooby with all of your might. Let’s get this party started, all while living long and prospering in forthright, logical fashion, of course.

Thrilling Adventure Yarns 2021: Now available in hardcover and trade paperback!

So, it’s like this: Back on March 16th, Thrilling Adventure Yarns 2021 was released by Crazy 8 Press in eBook format. As editor Bob Greenberger explained at the time, the eBook was obviously easier to format and make available as a download, helping him to start sending digital perks to those folks who supported the Kickstarter campaign to secure the funds required to publish the book. At the same time, preparations were being finalized to have the book made ready to offer in hardcover and trade paperback formats.

Well, they’re now available!

Thrilling Adventure Yarns 2021 is yet another celebration of those exciting pulp fiction stories of yesteryear, but with something of a modern twist. The book is jammed to overflowing with 27 stories told in classic pulp style, each one filled to overflowing to action, adventure, excitement, thrills, chills, mystery, romance, humor, and all sorts of juicy pulpy stuff.

Several of the writers from the original Thrilling Adventure Yarns return for the new volume, spinnning all-new tales with characters created for the first go-around. Others take on popular characters who now lurk and quest in the public domain, such as Sherlock Holmes himself! There are also new additions to roster, which explains Kevin Dilmore and myself teaming up for a new story, “Protocol 23,” which might very well be the first such yarn featuring characters we created. Plus, the cherry on top has to be a never-before-seen story by legendary pulp writer Lester Dent, the creator of Doc Savage. That alone has to be worth the price of admission, but buy your ticket and you still get 26 more stories as a bonus, amirite?

The roster for Thrilling Adventure Yarns 2021 includes: Michael A. Burstein, Russ Colchamiro, Greg Cox, Paige Daniels, Lester Dent, Mary Fan, Kelli Fitzpatrick, Michael Jan Friedman, Robert Greenberger, Glenn Hauman, Heather E. Hutsell, Paul Kupperberg, Karissa Laurel, William Leisner, Jonathan Maberry, David Mack, Ron Marz, Danielle Ackley McPhail, Stuart Moore, Will Murray, Jody Lynn Nye, Scott Pearson, Aaron Rosenberg, Dayton Ward & Kevin Dilmore, Richard C. White, and Sherri Cook Woosley.

The book also contains all-new art to go with each story, so readers be treated to the artistic stylings of June Brigman, Kerry Callen, Gary Carbon, Mike Collins, Daerick Gross, Matt Haley, Karl Kesel, Peter Krause, Luke McDonell, Ron Randall, Dan Schkade, Bart Sears, Daniele Sera, Jeff Weigel, and Mark Wheatley.

The book’s page at Amazon.com has been updated to reflect the availability of the hardcover and trade paperback editions along with the eBook version, so go and get your pulp on, whydontcha?

March writing wrap-up.

All right, March. You were at least a little better behaved than you were last year.

Compared to February, March was a cake walk. I spent a bit of time decompressing after delivering the manuscript for the new novel. A few other housekeeping items also needed some love and attention, and now I’m starting to get the itch to work on the next thing. What will that be? Well, you’ll just have to keep reading, I suppose.

So, what was up, writing-wise, during March? Let’s have a look….

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Continue reading “March writing wrap-up.”