ArtCon after action report!

This past weekend, Kevin and I ventured from Kansas City down to Neosho, Missouri to participate in the first ever ArtCon.

Hosted by the Neosho Arts Council and sponsored by a number of local businesses, the con was the first of its kind for the area. Kevin and I were honored to be among the con’s inaugural “featured guests” alongside comics gurus Jeremy Haun, Megan Levens, and Ande Parks. All of us have ties to the region, which made this even more fun.

Expectations for this initial wading into the waters of pop culture fandom were modest, but I’m happy to report that fans coming to partake of the action ended up blowing the doors off the Neosho Civic Center. Fans of all ages came – and kept coming – all day long. I talked with enough people that I ended up with my usual “con hoarse voice” after just the one day, rather than the usual two, and Kevin and I managed to push quite a few books along the way.

And there were food trucks. Brisket. Food trucks and brisket. Oh, my…..

Related – Joplin Globe: Neosho ArtCon Draws Local Fans

It was a great day all around, and I offer my sincere thanks to Sarah Serio and the Neosho Arts Council for inviting us to join them in the fun. Maybe we can do it again some time!

L-R: Me, Kevin Dilmore, Ande Parks, Megan Levens, Jeremy Haun
photo credit: Sarah Serio

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Kevin and I are at ArtCon today!

Thanks to the wonder that is scheduled posting, by the time this goes live Kevin and I will already be on the road and heading south from Kansas City, on our way to picturesque Neosho, Missouri and the Neosho Art Council’s first-ever ArtCon!

As indicated above, this is a new venture for Neosho, but they seem to be attracting some attention from the local media outlets. In addition to Kevin and myself, comics aces Megan Levens, Jeremy Haun, and Ande Parks will also be on hand. All of us have ties to the Kansas-Missouri region, which is what the ArtCon folks were looking for when they started inviting guests.

(For those who might be wondering, Kansas City and the surrounding area is home to a veritable plethora of creators, from prose to comics to art and sculpture and other crafting goodness, cosplay and re-enactors, and the performing arts. We’ve got some game here, yo. Shit! Games! Game peeps call this place home, too.)

FunFact #1: When I was still in the Corps, we would travel to Camp Crowder, the National Guard base located there (it was somewhat larger than it is these days), for our annually required “infantry skills” training shenanigans. This will be my first return visit to the area since 1996 or so.

FunFact #2: Camp Crowder served as the inspiration for “Camp Growding,” a National Guard base located pretty much where the real Camp Crowder sits/sat, for the opening encounters and skirmishes featured in The Last World War.

Anyway….

We’ll be at the Neosho Civic Center from 11am to 7pm. Kevin and I will have a selection of books and such for sale, so if you’re in the area, come see us!

Your Moment of TrekZen*.

Today we celebrate the incredible prescience of Star Trek merchandising, which anticipated this very scenario nearly 35 years in advance. Remember this scene from the 2009 Star Trek film?

Or maybe it was by only 20 years or so, if we include the deleted scene from Star Trek Generations depicting Captain Kirk doing some orbital skydiving:

Now, if we could just get those groovy helmets officially on screen at some point….

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

Tied Up With Tie-Ins: The Six Million Dollar Man and The Bionic Woman!

A while back, I mentioned that I might be doing an irregularly-recurring feature here in the blogspace, in which I’ll revisit favorite movie and TV tie-in books. As I mentioned in that introductory post, I’ll probably avoid talking about Star Trek novels and such to a large degree, as they already get a lot of attention in these parts (occupational hazard, you know).

This means I’ve got more room for other books and series, from childhood favorites to newer offerings. The former category is likely to get more play early on because the tie-in books of my youth filled a void that nowadays is largely addressed by the easy access to favorite TV shows and movies which did not exist in those days. With that in mind, I knew from the jump that I’d likely start with one of two other fondly remembered “franchises,” and after a coin toss I decided to go with the novelized adventures of Steve Austin, astronaut; a man barely alive and how they rebuilt him and made him better stronger, faster, etc.

For those who don’t know, the television series The Six Million Dollar Man began life as a 1973 TV movie which was broadly adapted from the author Martin Caidin’s novel Cyborg, which was published the previous year. The movie hits most of the wickets laid out in the book, but Steve Austin – the test pilot who suffers ghastly injuries during a flight accident and later “rebuilt” using cybernetic components – is presented as a rather more likable character than his prose counterpart. For this first TV outing, there are also a few changes to Austin’s abilities and the depictions of his bionics, many of which would be tweaked by the time the television series came along.

Continue reading “Tied Up With Tie-Ins: The Six Million Dollar Man and The Bionic Woman!”

January writing wrap-up.

Hey. We’ve slogged 1/12th of the way through 2019, already.

The hell is that about?

So, January was something of a blur, wasn’t it? It was for me, but I can’t tell if that’s due to being busy or just getting old and time starting to whiz by faster and faster as I enter the HOV lane heading for a burial plot.

For now, I’ll stick with the former.

A couple of the month’s slices were devoted to Available Light, my upcoming Star Trek: The Next Generation novel. We’re pretty much done with this one, now, and other things are moving in to occupy my attention. See below.

As for other things I keep hinting at? We took a couple of big steps closer to what should prove to be “a major change” so far as my day-to-day existence. I’ve been itching to talk about this for moooooooooooonnnnnnnths and the anticipation is driving me to fits of mischief heretofore unseen. Heretofore, I’m telling you. We’re so close I can taste it, and I’m wavering between not wanting to jinx it and screaming from the rooftops. So far, “not wanting to jinx it” is winning. So far.

More on that soon, hopefully.

In the meantime, my daily antics as a lowly writer of freelance fare continues merrily on, and on that note? Here’s the January rundown:

Continue reading “January writing wrap-up.”

February 1, 2003: Columbia.

Sixteen years ago this morning, the Space Shuttle Columbia, returning to Earth after a successful 16-day mission, broke apart during re-entry and disintegrated, killing its seven-member crew.

I spent the rest of that afternoon and the ensuing days watching the news coverage as new information came to light, and possible explanations and causes for the disaster began to emerge. To this day, it’s hard to believe that something so seemingly simple as a few damaged heat tiles could wreak such unchecked destruction.

On the other hand, the tragedy served to reinforce the harsh reality of the incredible dangers inherent in manned space flight, and that nothing about it is “simple” or “routine.” I did and still believe that our exploration of space is a worthy and necessary endeavor, and I hope that the sacrifices made by men and women such as Columbia‘s crew always will be heeded when taking our next small steps and giant leaps.

Generations from now, when the reach of human civilization is extended throughout the solar system, people will still come to this place to learn about and pay their respects to our heroic Columbia astronauts. They will look at the astronauts’ memorial and then they will turn their gaze to the skies, their hearts filled with gratitude for these seven brave explorers who helped blaze our trail to the stars.

– Sean O’Keefe, NASA Administrator, Arlington National Cemetery, February 2nd, 2004.

 (l-r, blue shirts): David Brown, William McCool, Michael Anderson.
(l-r, red shirts): Kalpana Chawla, Rick D. Husband, Laurel Blair Salton Clark, Ilan Ramon

 

Available Light *AND* Hearts and Minds: Comin’ at ya soon as old-school CD audiobooks!

Sherman, set the Wayback Machine.

Doc Brown, punch in the destination date.

Doctor, do whatever weirdness it is you do with that TARDIS thing.

Guardian, show me the history of the planet Earth.

Etc.

We’re heading back to the grand old days of physical media!

In late 2005, while Kevin and I were still writing Purgatory’s Key, our book in the Legacies trilogy celebrating Star Trek‘s 50th anniversary, our editor hit us with the news that all three novels would be receiving audiobook adaptations. Star Trek audiobooks had been a thing from the late 1980s to the early 2000s. They were all but extinct after that, with only the novelizations of 2009’s Star Trek reboot film and its first sequel, 2013’s Star Trek Into Darkness, getting the audio treatment. The Legacies trilogy marked a new attempt at taking a bite out of the growing market and popularity of audiobooks, particularly those delivered digitally to smartphones, tablets, and so on.

Sales of these new Trek audios apparently were strong enough that Simon & Schuster decided to further the experiment, and most of the Star Trek novels released after the Legacies books featured audio adaptations, all released as digital downloads. That streak continues now that S&S is ramping back up to speed with publishing new Star Trek books but there’s now a new wrinkle: in addition to the digital download version, the audiobooks are being made available in CD format through an arrangement with Blackstone Audio.

The first of these was James Swallow’s Star Trek: Discovery novel Fear Itself, released last summer along with the trade paperback, eBook, and digital audiobook editions. Two other Discovery novels, David Mack’s Desperate Hours and Una McCormack’s The Way to the Stars, also have CD audiobook editions, as will John Jackson Miller’s forthcoming The Enterprise War.

I have no idea what happened to Drastic Measures, which has its own digital audio version, as well. Maybe it’s just far enough out on Blackstone’s schedule that it’s not listed yet. That’s okay, though, as a check of their site shows not one but two titles from Yours Truly coming down the pike.

First up? Available Light, with the CD audio edition releasing the same day as the trade paperback, eBook, and digital audiobook versions. As I write this, I haven’t yet heard who will be handling the narrating duties, but I suspect it will be frequent contributor Robert Petkoff lending his smooth, silky sounds to the production.

Next up? We’re backstepping a bit to 2017’s Hearts and Minds, which had a digital audiobook release narrated by Mr. Petkoff. Somebody somewhere at Blackstone things it’s a nifty idea to dig into Pocket’s catalog a bit. Of course, it’s a more attractive proposition when dealing with audiobooks which have already received a digital audio release. The CD edition will be available on May 14th.

I can only hope this effort on Blackstone’s part yields positive results and sparks the idea of going even farther into Pocket’s Star Trek backlist, and perhaps even commission new audio versions for novels which never enjoyed an audio adaptation the first time around. That would be something, wouldn’t it? I may have to start saving money up for that, just in case, because I’ve got a list of Star Trek novels as long as my arm that I’d like to see receive such a treatment.

Until then? We’ve got all sorts of new Star Trek audiobook goodness to stick in our ears, don’t we?

Another (short) interview.

Over the past couple of years, I’ve been interviewed a few times by Darren Perdue, who writes and maintains the blog Ninetoes Loves Books. I’m guessing you can figure out what he likes to write about. I’ve been the focus of his “5 Questions” exercise on not one but two occasions where Darren poses – wait for it – five questions to various authors, and he also interviewed me a year or so ago when my Star Trek: Discovery novel Drastic Measures was hitting shelves.

A couple of weeks ago, Darren asked me if I was up for another interrogation round of questions and I was happy to oblige. This time around, he asks me about my “secret origin story” to becoming a writer, which novel of mine was the most fun to write, and whether I might like to take a crack at writing something based on a video game or Star Wars.

(What do you think?)

So, if you’ve got a few minutes to kill, feel free to wander over to Darren’s blog and check out the new interview:

Anyway, for those interested in seeing my answers to Darren’s “5 Questions” feature, you can mosey on over and check them out here:

Ninetoes Loves Books: More Questions With Dayton Ward

Thanks again to Darren for inviting me into his space to take up a few electrons!

booklove

Where never lark or even eagle flew.

73 seconds after launch on a particularly cold Florida morning 33 years ago today, the Space Shuttle Challenger exploded, killing astronauts Dick Scobee, Michael Smith, Judith Resnik, Ellison Onizuka, Ron McNair, Greg Jarvis, and Christa McAuliffe.

On March 21st, 1987, a permanent marker paying tribute to the crew was placed at Arlington National Cemetery. The marker’s face features likenesses of the crew and the following dedication:

In Grateful
and Loving Tribute
To the Brave Crew
of the United States
Space Shuttle Challenger
28 January 1986

Inscribed on the back of the marker is this poem:

High Flight

Oh, I have slipped the surly bonds of earth
and danced the skies on laughter silvered wings,
sunward I’ve climbed, and joined the tumbling mirth
of sun split clouds – and done a hundred things
you have not dreamed of
wheeled and soared and swung
high in the sunlit silence hov’ring there.
I’ve chased the shouting wind along and flung
my eager craft through footless halls of air.
Up, up the long delirious, burning blue
I’ve topped the windswept heights with easy grace
where never lark or even eagle flew
and while with silent, lifting mind I’ve trod
the high untrespassed sanctity of space
put out my hand, and touched the face of God.

– John Gillepie Magee, Jr.

challenger-crew

L-R: Ellison S. Onizuka, Michael J. Smith, Sharon Christa McAuliffe, Francis R. Scobee, Gregory B. Jarvis, Ronald E. McNair, Judith A. Resnik

God speed to the crew of Apollo 1.

Each year, January 27th marks the beginning of a somber week of remembrance for NASA.

On the evening of this date in 1967 while conducting a routine test of their spacecraft’s power systems, astronauts Virgil I. “Gus” Grissom, Edward H. White, and Roger B. Chafee were killed when a fire broke out inside the Apollo 1 capsule.

Grissom had been with NASA almost from the beginning, flying missions for both the Mercury and Gemini programs, and White also was a Gemini veteran. The Apollo 1 flight was to be Chaffee’s first space mission.

Their sacrifice, though tragic, ultimately played a monumental role in NASA’s effort toward bettering the machines which soon would fly to the Moon, and ensuring the safety of the men who would take them there.

apollo1-crew

(L-R: Astronauts Gus Grissom, Ed White, Roger Chaffee)

 IN MEMORY
OF
THOSE WHO MADE THE ULTIMATE SACRIFICE
SO OTHERS COULD REACH THE STARS

AD ASTRA PER ASPERA
(A ROUGH ROAD LEADS TO THE STARS)

GOD SPEED TO THE CREW
OF
APOLLO 1