Closing the door on 2022.

Well, at least 2022 was better than 2021, right?

I suppose it depends on where you land with various things. We celebrated successes, our own as well as those close to us. We enjoyed the company and love of family and friends. We endured heartache. We mourned.

Elsewhere, it seems people are starting to wake up to the fact that elections have consequences. We were warned, of course, but we wouldn’t pay attention. We were told to look three and four moves down the board and consider pesky things like Supreme Court nominees and gerrymandering and voting rights and women’s rights and civil rights. People seemed to wake up a little in response to some of the more egregious moves. Better late than never, I guess.

I try not to get too political in this space, but suffice it to say the midterms gave me only slight cause for hope as we – slowly – take steps to mitigate the damage that’s already been done. Here I am, with my fingers crossed that it’s a small but growing trend away from the insanity of the last several years and the utter chaos that certain segments of our elected leadership seem all to happy not just to egg on but indeed instigate or assist.

NOTE: If you’re reading this and taking issue with those previous paragraphs, I understand and respect it but I have absolutely no interest in discussing or debating it with you. I also respect that you might feel the desire or need to find the exit ramp from this little banal corner of the internet, and if that’s the case then I wish you well.

Still here? Cool.

On the home front, things are doing rather well, I think. Our kids, now in 10th and 9th grade, continue to amaze me not just with their aptitude but also their attitude when it comes to school. They’re both straight-A, honor roll students, knocking it out of every park you can find on the regular. Oldest Child continues to pursue their interests in both music and art. They’re consistently playing three different instruments: piano, guitar, and viola, the latter for their school orchestra. They participated in a holiday recital where they take their piano lessons and absolutely knocked it out of the park. As for their art pursuits, they gifted me with a painting for Christmas, the subject of which should be immediately recognizable to anyone who’s even a casual Rush fan:

Yeah, we’re totally testing for echo, here.

At the same time, Youngest Child continues to play volleyball for a private club out in town, and we’re just getting started with tournament time! Lots of weekends over the next few months will be devoted to shlepping to venues both near and far as her team mixes it up with other Missouri and Kansas based clubs. Then there’s the horse riding and care, for which she’s always had a love. Thankfully, we have access to stables where she can indulge this passion with trusted friends. She’s also expressed an interest in working with her hands and getting them dirty, so we’re looking into workshops and other classes where she can sling some tools. Her hobbies continue to include jigsaw puzzles, Sudoku, and reading. That’s true for both kids, if we’re being honest, and there were a several books under the Christmas tree this year. Dad ain’t gonna balk at requests for more books, that’s for sure.

Then there’s my wife and me, doing our best to balance all of this with our own work and other schedules. The good news is that Oldest Child now has a driver’s license and we have absolutely no reservations about sending them to run errands we don’t want to do. This can sometimes include shuttling Youngest Child to her volleyball lessons. 🙂

2022 brought with it the 20th anniversary of my first novel, In the Name of Honor, being published. Of course it was a Star Trek tale, having come about after my brief run selling stories to the Strange New Worlds writing contests way back when.

Now here we are, nearly 21 years later and I’m still finding ways to annoy the Star Trek Powers That Be with my scribblings. I’m never sure what they might be thinking, but I intend to keep riding this particular wave until they kick me out of the boat.

Near the top of the Pile of Odd Things I Thought Would Ever Happen to Me is my participating in the film In Search of Tomorrow: The Definitive 80s Sci-Fi Documentary. Filmmaker and “nostalgia curator” David Weiner, who’s already traveled a similar path with 1980s horror movies with the three(!)-part In Search of Darkness, invited me to join dozens of actors, writers, and other folks (including some legit-I-kid-you-not legends) to reflect on pretty much any 80s science fiction movie you care to name – the good ones, the bad ones, and the very bad ones. It was tremendous fun to be a part of such a wickedly cool project. So, you’ll see me popping up here and there throughout this nearly five-hour retrospective, hopefully not taking too much time away from people who actually worked behind or in front of the camera on the various films being discussed. I suppose you could watch the thing and make spotting me a drinking game?

On my actual work front, I’m still doing my consulting thing for Paramount Global, specifically the Star Trek Franchise team. What does this mean? At its most basic, it means I do whatever Star Trek-related thing they ask me to do. Perhaps the most consistent thing I do is read and comment on various “expanded universe” projects such as novel outlines and manuscripts, comic scripts and art, games, and other storytelling efforts that help to expand “the Star Trek brand” beyond just TV and film. I also find myself reading and making notes on the scripts for the different TV series coming our way via the Paramount+ streaming app. To that end, everything I read is with an eye toward (hopefully) helping these various efforts stay in-step with what’s been (and being!) established on screen. While this primarily means efforts based on the newer Star Trek series, it doesn’t rule out anything tying into “legacy Trek.”

I also get to pitch in and help with a variety of other initiatives. Some of these are pretty obvious and visible – like writing the occasional column for Others might involve vetting scripts and other material to support everything from trivia to exhibit data cards to marketing copy. Like I said, “whatever Star Trek-related thing they ask me to do.” I’ll admit it’s a pretty weird way to earn a living and I sometimes have trouble explaining what I do to actual grown-ups, but it sure is a hell of a lot of fun.

As for my writing in 2022, it was an interesting mix, to say the least. Thanks to supply chain and other issues affecting the publishing industry, a couple of titles I’d originally thought might be published this year ended up being pushed to 2023, to go with the stuff I worked on that’s already scheduled for the coming year. My one major publication for 2022 was Jurassic World: The Official Cookbook, co-written with food stylist Elena P. Craig and published by Insight Editions. Hopefully some foodies or would-be home chefs received a copy for Christmas…assuming they didn’t rush right out when it was published back in April.

Stuff coming in 2023? That includes Somewhere to Belong, my upcoming Star Trek: Discovery novel which is presently scheduled for publication on May 30th. Kevin and I have also been busy on the short story front, with a new tale slated to appear in the science fiction anthology High Noon on Proxima B when it hits stores on February 7th. Later in the year (exact pub date TBD), another new story will be featured in Unioverse: Stories of the Reconvergence, a shared-world setting to which we were surprised and thrilled to be invited to participate. Both of these stories represent characters and setups Kevin and I created and for which we’ve already discussed future tales.

Speaking of working in other “universes,” Kevin and I have also been working to finish a larger project for a licensed property that’s new to us. We’re not yet able to talk about the particulars, but rest assured we’ll be babbling about it as soon as we’re given the green light. Even as we’re in what we believe to be the home stretch for this book, we’ve already been asked by the editors about contributing another one to this “series.” As with everything, I guess we’ll see what we see!

Meanwhile, I still have a short story to write for Double Trouble: Two-Fisted Team-Ups, a new anthology being produced by the International Association of Media Tie-In Writers and helmed by those masters of editorial mischief Jonathan Maberry and Keith R.A. DeCandido. They’ve since assembled a pretty impressive roster of authors, and we’ve all taken on the challenge of creating new stories featuring Public Domain comics and literature heroes of yesteryear as well as a few larger-than-life figures from actual history. This one promises to be a lot of fun. More on this as things move forward!

Even as I work on these things, I’m also considering what might be “The Next Thing,” and I certainly have a few throughts about that. Of course, if someone rattles my cage and asks me to do something else, that’d be pretty cool, too.

“Hey, Dayton,” I can hear someone calling. “Do you think this might be the year you get some decent sleep?”

They told me you were the funny one.

Lay it on me.

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