2019 in review: “My job is weird.”

Dayton-BeatYep. I think the headline says it all.

2019 was definitely a year of new and exciting things, on several fronts. There was much change here at Ward Manor, but in reality the more things changed the more they stayed the same. This is a good thing.

First, I’m happy to report that Clan Ward is doing well. Our daughters, now in 7th and 6th grades, continue to amaze me. They’re both excellent students, involved in extracurricular activities in and outside of school, and generally just awesome kids in every way worth measuring. I’d like to think my wife and I had something to do with that, but one can’t discount the value of the teachers from whom they’ve learned as well as the friends they’ve made along the way.

We’re fortunate to live in a neighborhood that is rather close knit in many respects, and the friends we’ve made since moving here have been amazing. I don’t make new friends all that easily and for far too long I was pretty okay with that, so there are times when I’ve had to take a pause and reflect on just how big my social circle has grown in the past few years. That’s thanks in large part to meeting and hanging out with the parents of the kids our daughters call friends. Now we’re to a point where our family vacations with a few of these other families. If you’d told me even five years ago that would be a thing, I’d have given you severe side-eye.

Yet here we are, and I’m pretty damned cool with that.

Oh, and hey: Did I mention I’m now the father of a teenager? Also, I’m here to report she’s well aware of this fact. Indeed, I was getting a countdown to T-Day all through the summer. I’m sitting here thinking about how in a couple of years I’ll be taking her to get her driving learner’s permit and I’m pretty sure it was yesterday I was changing her diaper. Had to be, right?

My wife, after unofficially “retiring” from the world of corporate accounting a couple of years ago, has found a job she loves working with people we both love like members of our own family. It allows her a freedom she’s watched me enjoy for years: the ability to work from home and all the scheduling flexibility that entails. Further, she now understands the awesomeness that is working in your pajamas or sweat pants ALL DAMNED DAY if that’s that you want to do.

To this point, we’ve had an unofficial rule that we try to stay out of each other’s way (and hair) during the work day. The obvious exception is when we decide we want to go somewhere for lunch or if an errand needs running. For 2020, we’ve opted to amend the existing “rule” in order to take our own version of hookey days every so often and go do stuff. This will largely be predicated on work schedules and deadlines, of course, but there are a number of places in and around the KC metro area we’ve never visited or else haven’t visited in a long time. Most if not all can be reached in an hour or less (maybe two, in a few cases), and the kids are old enough that racing to get back home before they return from school isn’t the priority it once was. Museums, galleries, other points of interest, odd shopping excursions and atypical dining options await. Or, maybe we’ll just go to a movie. The goal is to just get us away from our respective desks while the sun is out.

Speaking of work, it was an interesting year on the publishing front. 2019 saw the publication of my Star Trek: The Next Generation novel Available Light from Simon & Schuster‘s Gallery Books imprint along with two more installments for Insight Edition‘s IncrediBuilds series. Instead of Star Trek this time around, they asked me to contribute books for their Toy Story figures Sheriff Woody and Buzz Lightyear. Those were a nice departure and like the two Trek ones I did that came out in 2018, it was fun writing for a younger audience. I also got to dip my toe back into the original fiction pond a bit with my short story “Lost and Found” for the anthology Footprints in the Stars and what I hope is just my first collaboration with editor Danielle Ackley-McPhail and eSpec Books.

A couple of other unusual projects also found their way to my desk during the year. First up, I got to have some fun with the gang at Eaglemoss, creators of the Star Trek Official Starships Collection. They had created a model of the “Mirror Universe” version of the U.S.S. Enterprise NCC-1701-D and asked me to provide the content for the magazine which was to accompany the model and whaddaya know? I did. Elsewhere, I was hired by Rittenhouse Archives to write copy for a brand spankin’ new set of trading cards, Star Trek Inflexions. That was a neat bit of quickie on-the-job training, as I’d never done anything like that before, and I’m here to tell you that writing for such a medium is more challenging than it looks. It was fun to work in that space and I think the cards themselves turned out fabulously.

As for the writing I did this year, in addition to “Lost and Found,” I got to have some more fun with original fiction, this time with Kevin as we teamed up to write a story for It Came From the Multiplex: 80s Midnight Thrillers and Chillers, a forthcoming anthology from Hex Publishers. Our story is very much in the vein of such classic 1980s horror movies as House or The Return of the Living Dead. We made ourselves laugh pretty much the entire time we were planning and writing this thing. It Came From the Multiplex is currently scheduled to be published in Fall 2020. As I write this, Kevin and I are working through another short story, this time for Pangaea III, a massive shared world anthology edited by Michael Jan Friedman. Kevin and I previously collaborated on a story for the first Pangaea anthology, and Kevin himself wrote a follow-up for the second book. For this latest outing, I honestly don’t know how he’s going to pull this off, but I guess that’s why he’s the editor. Pangaea III will debut in July at the Shore Leave convention.

Back in the Star Trek universe and in addition to contributing material for a pair of new sourcebooks supporting Modiphius Entertainment‘s Star Trek Adventures role-playing game, I also wrote another Star Trek novel. Agents of Influence is another original series tale featuring Captain Kirk and his merry Enterprise band, getting themselves into all sorts of new trouble. That’ll be out in June from Simon & Schuster. And while I didn’t write it in 2019, there was some editing and polishing involved and Kirk Fu: A Guide to Starfleet’s Most Feared Martial Art is finally coming, in March from Insight Editions. I’ve been waiting a loooooong time for this one. I think it turned out great, and I can’t wait for folks to see it. I do have another project in the works from Insight that was supposed to be published early in 2020, but it’s looking like that one will be pushed back a bit. I have no info on that and as they haven’t formally announced it I can’t really say much at all about it. Stay tuned?

The main change to my work life happened back in April, when I was hired as a consultant to the Star Trek Brand Development arm of CBS’s Global Franchise Management team. In this capacity, I’ve been assisting certain licensing partners such as Simon & Schuster and IDW Publishing as they develop, respectively, novel and comics tie-in projects based on the newer Star Trek series like Discovery and Picard. I’ve also been helping out with various internal efforts and reviewing proposals for other possible projects on an “as needed” basis, and I’ve even found time to provide content for StarTrek.com, mostly with pieces focusing on different aspects of Star Trek publishing. Expect to see more of that sort of thing in 2020.

So, yeah. I’ve been busy. I’ve been warned I likely will be even busier in the new year, but I’m having a ball with a job I truly love, so what the hell do I have to complain about?

Right. Nuthin’.

Happy New Year to you all, and I’m sure we’ll be yakking all through 2020.

One thought on “2019 in review: “My job is weird.”

Lay it on me.

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