Bucs Blog! 2018 Season, Week 7.

So, the Bucs lost agai……..wait. SAY WHAT???

Bucs 26 – Browns 23

That’s right! My Pewter Pirates snuck in a win before a home crowd in sunny Tampa on Sunday. Yeah, I’m lagging a bit with these the last couple of weeks. Blame it on the book deadline, which is looming as I write this.

It was one of those teeter-totter type games plagued by weirdness from different angles, from the Browns scoring a safety in the first quarter after stuffing the Bucs offense to a missed extra point and field goal by Tampa kicker Chandler Catanzaro. Throw in a couple of interceptions thrown by Bucs quarterback Jameis Winston and him getting sacked four times, and a couple of fumbles for flavor, and you start to wonder why the team didn’t just chuck the whole thing and adjourn to Hooters to watch the late games.

There were a few bright spots, though. Winston still threw for over 350 yards, and the Tampa rushing attack netted 115 yards and two running touchdowns. The defense held Cleveland quarterback Baker Mayfield to 186 passing yards (but two TDs) and indeed helped keep the game close, providing Winston and the offense opportunities to grab the win. Even special teams stepped up, recovering a fumble during a critical punt in overtime which set up the Bucs offense to seal the deal. The whole thing was capped by Catanzaro, who after his earlier misses was able to redeem himself with a 59-yard field goal (the longest in overtime) to give Tampa the win.

Yeah, it was sloppy, but I’ll take it.

The win brings the Bucs to 3-3 on the year, snapping a 3-game losing streak. They’re still two games behind New Orleans in the NFC South and just one behind Carolina. Both teams won on Sunday, as did Atlanta on Monday night, so things remain as knotted as ever in the division. Yep. Gonna be a wild ride.

Next up for Tampa? A road game to Cincinnati to take on the Bengals, who despite being first in their division are still stinging after getting thumped by the Chiefs on Sunday. They’ll be looking to get back on track with a home crowd to cheer them on, so this could be a fun one.

Bucs life, yo.

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Today is “National Day On Writing!”

Wait, isn’t that supposed to be every day? Did I get a different memo from everybody else? Hmph.

Launched ten years ago by the National Council of Teachers of English, the “National Day On Writing” seeks to increase awareness about writing and its critical connection to literacy in our everyday lives. As posted on the NCTE’s website devoted to this day:

“You see, people tend to think of writing in terms of pencil-and-paper assignments, but no matter who you are, writing is part of your life. It’s part of how you work, how you learn, how you remember, and how you communicate. It gives voice to who you are and enables you to give voice to the things that matter to you.”

My wife and I are very fortunate in that both our daughters seem to have taken an interest in writing, whether it’s keeping a personal journal or writing stories and other papers for school. They’re also big readers, so you can bet I’m knocking on every piece of wood within reach.

Instilling an appreciation of writing as a necessary skill to navigating life is essential. For kids, this means both in school and at home, and includes challenging perceptions that some writing is somehow “better” or “more valuable” than others.

When you consider how much “casual writing” we all do every day (texting, e-Mail, Tweeting, Facebook, blogs, notes to self or others, etc.), and how much of it is dismissed for one reason or another, it starts to put things into perspective. Learning to appreciate all of that along with more traditional or “accepted” forms of writing as having its place when it comes to developing strong writing skills is important. Connecting it to the ability to read and research and to think and convey one’s thoughts is vital, especially when it comes to teaching our kids the value of writing not just as something “writers do” but what we all do in order to better communicate with others and even ourselves.

For more information about the National Day On Writing initiative and its goals, along with resources such as writing tips and other references and how to get involved furthering the message, be sure to visit their website:

Why I Write.

Oh, and check out the #WhyIWrite hashtag on Twitter to read inspiring (and sometimes humorous) insights from various folks about….well, why they write. Example:

So, you know, that’s me. Your mileage may vary. Tell me why! 🙂

Write on.

It’s Jupiter 2 Launch Day!

October 16th, 1997:

“This is the beginning. This is the day. You are watching the unfolding of one of history’s greatest adventures–man’s colonization of space beyond the stars. The first of what may be as many as ten million families per year is setting out on its epic voyage into man’s newest frontier, deep space. Reaching out into other worlds from our desperately overcrowded planet, a series of deep thrust telescopic probes have conclusively established a planet orbiting the star Alpha Centauri as the only one within range of our technology able to furnish ideal conditions for human existence.

Even now the family chosen for this incredible journey into space is preparing to take their final pre lift off physical tests. The Robinson family was selected from more than two million volunteers for its unique balance of scientific achievement, emotional stability, and pioneer resourcefulness. They will spend the next five and a half years of their voyage frozen in a state of suspended animation which will terminate automatically as the spacecraft enters the atmosphere of the new planet.”

Lost In Space, “The Reluctant Stowaway”

jupiter2-missionpatch

Bucs Blog! 2018 Season, Week 6.

So, the bye week didn’t seem to do much good, huh?

Falcons 34 – Bucs 29

Sure, this is a day or so late, but what’s the diff? It’s not like they snuck back and won when I wasn’t looking, amirite?

Anyway….

The first start of the year for quarterback Jameis Winston following his 3-game suspension to start the season and an extra week to prepare for a game against a struggling division rival. An opportunity to arrest a 2-game skid and maybe shore up their standing in said division. This meal had all the ingredients to be pretty tasty.

Somebody forgot to heat the oven.

The recipe probably didn’t call for Atlanta to score touchdowns on their first three possessions, and likely didn’t factor in Tampa missing the extra point following their only score of the first quarter. Though Winston threw for nearly 400 yards and four touchdowns on the day, he also got picked twice, and the offensive line let the Falcons D get to him for two sacks.

Speaking of defense, the Bucs definitely have a problem on this side of the ball. They’ve given up 30 or more points in four of the first five games this season. That coupled with the offense’s inconsistency spells trouble. They were able to contain Atlanta’s run game for the most part, but with Falcons QB Matt Ryan throwing the ball all over the place it ended up being a largely unappreciated endeavor.

And despite everything, you have to hand it to Winston, who almost…almost….engineered a last-second victory. It all came down to the final play of the game, with the Bucs resorting to a few desperate laterals that…you know…never work 99.99999999999% of the time and falling a mere two yards short of the go-ahead score as time expired. It’s the very definition of a heartbreaking loss.

The loss, Tampa’s third in a row, drops them to 2-3 on the year and hanging by their fingernails to keep from falling into the NFC South Division basement. That spot’s occupied by the Falcons, who improved to 2-4. Despite being on their bye week, New Orleans holds onto the top spot at 4-1, and Carolina lost so they’re now at 3-2. Yep, that’s the NFC South: pretty tight, standings-wise. If they hold true to form, everybody in that division will be fighting it out tooth and nail for the rest of the season.

Next up for the Bucs? They host the sputtering Cleveland Browns, and they’ll do it with a new defensive coordinator: linebackers coach Mark Duffner, who gets the promotion following Mike Smith being fired following Sunday’s loss. Duffner’s been a DC before, having performed those duties for the Cincinnati Bengals. Of course, it’s been a while (2002), so here’s hoping he doesn’t waste too much time shaking off the rust before this weekend’s game.

Bucs life, yo.

“Oh, man,” they say. “He’s talking again,” they say.

Yep. Babbling. Again.

Actually, I babbled back in July, but the results of said babbling have only been just recently been made available. The incident occurred at this past summer’s Shore Leave convention, held as it is each year in Hunt Valley, Maryland and at which I was one of many writer guests in attendance.

Why the Baltimore County Public Library saw fit to lavish extra attention on me remains a mystery, but I’m certainly appreciative for the opportunity to talk about my life as a professional word pusher, and in particular the very specific kind of madness that is required to do something like writing within the ever-expanding Star Trek universe.

It’s a short interview, but we managed to cover quite a bit of ground within the five minutes or so that is this bad boy’s running time. We talk about the “rules” and challenges of writing in an established universe like Star Trek as opposed to something I might make up from scratch, the “levels” of freedom we enjoy when writing for the established screen characters versus characters we’ve created, my transition from part-time to full-time writer, and even my views on “writer’s block” and “the writer’s muse.”

We also talk a bit about the con and the panel programming it offers, including workshops offered for beginning writers, and my advice for “new” writers. Not to spoil anything, but my advice pretty much boils down to “write.” Oh, and read and go live a life so you have something to inform your writing.

Wait…you just read all of that and you still want to see it? Fine. Cool. Here you go:

It was a fun interview, and I’m grateful to Carl Birkmeyer and the BCPL for giving me a few minutes to talk turkey. All of you reading this, be sure to support your local public library!

Happy 30th anniversary to War of the Worlds….the TV series?

In 1953, Earth experienced a war of the worlds. Common bacteria stopped the aliens, but it didn’t kill them. Instead, the aliens lapsed into a state of deep hibernation. Now the aliens have been resurrected, more terrifying than before. In 1953, the aliens started taking over the world; today, they’re taking over our bodies….”

The War of the Worlds, H.G. Wells’ classic 19th century novel of Earth’s invasion by aliens from Mars, remains one of the most influential works of science fiction literature. It’s been adapted numerous times and has spawned several sequels, prequels, and re-imaginings over the course of the 120+ years since its original publication. The 1953 film adaptation of The War of the Worlds remains one of the more popular and fondly remembered interpretations of Wells’ seminal work.

The film’s producer, the legendary George Pal, had attempted to launch a television sequel to the movie back in the early 1970s. That effort stalled early in its development, and the idea was not revisited until the late 1980s. Paramount Pictures’ television arm, at the time enjoying much success in the relatively new first-run TV syndication arena with Star Trek: The Next Generation, decided to try expanding its offerings and a new interpretation of The War of the Worlds was greenlit.

Continue reading “Happy 30th anniversary to War of the Worlds….the TV series?”

September writing wrap-up.

A couple of days late, but I’m still here!

And hey…how the hell did it get to be October already? Somebody explain that to me in small words I can easily digest. Preferably with a vodka chaser.

I can see the light at the end of the tunnel with the current novel project, which is due later this month. After that? I’m planning a coma. Already got new sheets picked out, and everything.

A couple of other, smaller things managed to work their way onto my radar here and there, but otherwise it’s mostly been the novel. Here’s the September rundown:

Continue reading “September writing wrap-up.”

Bucs Blog! 2018 Season, Week 4.

Well, that could’ve gone better.

Bears 48 – Bucs 10

One of the concerns I mentioned back at Week 1 was Tampa’s pass defense. Despite putting up impressive scores in their first two games, the Bucs still let opposing quarterbacks throw seemingly at will, racking up yards and points. Something had to give, and as it happened it was Tampa’s offense.

Granted, longtime Tampa fans know that “The Bucs have an awesome offense!” is not something typically uttered…like…ever. Whenever people have spoken in glowing terms about Tampa the 40+ years of the team’s existence usually revolves around its defense. From Lee Roy Selmon and the “Orange Crush” of the 1970s the days of Warren Sapp and the unit which ultimately helped push the Bucs to their first-ever Super Bowl win in 2002, defense has often been one of the team’s strengths.

Ehhhhhhhhhhhhhhh, not so much, today.

Mitchell Trubisky did a fine job marching the Chicago Bears offense up and down Soldier Field today, collecting 38 points just in the first half. Trubisky would end up throwing six touchdowns and 350+ yards while completing 19 of 26 passes and – of equal importance – no interceptions. The Bears running attack was solid if not earthshattering, pulling down 130+ yards on 31 rushing attempts spread across six ball carriers (including Trubisky, who scampered for a couple).

Meanwhile, the Bucs had a bit of day. It’s obvious the Bears watched game film from Tampa’s Monday night game against the Steelers, dialing in on the best ways to harass Bucs quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick. The Bears D harassed and confounded Fitz all through the first half, sacking him twice and picking him off once. Fitz completed 9 of 18 passes for 126 yards but no scores before halftime, after which Bucs head coach decided it was time to reinsert Jameis Winston into the mix.

Winston’s return to the Tampa offense wasn’t much to write home about, as he also was sacked twice and threw two interceptions on his way to completing 16 of 20 passes for 145 yards and a TD pass. Of course, by the time the third quarter started, the game was already well out of reach so I don’t know that I’d call this a fair test of Winston’s capabilities coming off his 3-game suspension.

Indeed, it’s certainly not fair to place everything on either quarterback’s shoulders, as there’s plenty of woe to spread around. The Bucs running attack? Abysmal. Defense? Well, you saw the score, and the yardage, and so on. Yeah, Coach Koetter’s got some stuff to work on over the next couple of weeks.

The loss drops Tampa to 2-2 and third place in the NFC South behind division rivals New Orleans, who’s on a 3-game winning streak after losing the season opener to Tampa, and the Carolina Panthers, who didn’t have to do anything today as they’re on their bye week.  A last-minute touchdown throw helped Cincinnati win against Atlanta, dropping the Falcons to 1-3.

Next up? The Bucs are on their own bye during Week 5, and back in action two weeks from today against the aforementioned Falcons. That’ll be a crucial division game that Tampa should really consider winning. Just sayin’.

Bucs life, yo.

Here’s the cover for Available Light, my upcoming Star Trek: The Next Generation novel!

I had to wait for StarTrek.com to do their big reveal, but now that they’ve done so (click on this link to go and see) free to show it here. Thanks to the artistic stylings of Doug Drexler and Ali Ries, I now have a cover for Available Light, my latest Star Trek: The Next Generation novel which is comin’ at ya in April 2019.

Behold, yo:

(Click to Biggie Size)

What’s it all about? Well I’m glad you asked:

The past comes back to haunt Captain Jean-Luc Picard in this brand new thriller set in the universe of Star Trek: The Next Generation.

Section 31, the covert organization which has operated without accountability in the shadows for more than two centuries, has been exposed. Throughout the Federation, the rogue group’s agents and leaders are being taken into custody as the sheer scope of its misdeeds comes to light. Now Starfleet Command must decide the consequences for numerous officers caught up in the scandal—including Admirals William Ross, Edward Jellico, Alynna Nechayev, and Captain Jean-Luc Picard who, along with many others, are implicated in the forced removal of a Federation president.

Meanwhile, deep in the distant, unexplored region of space known as the Odyssean Pass, Picard and the crew of the Starship Enterprise must put aside personal feelings and political concerns as they investigate a massive mysterious spacecraft. Adrift for centuries in the void, the ship is vital to the survival of an endangered civilization which has spent generations searching for a world to sustain what remains of its people. Complicating matters is a band of marauders who have their own designs on the ancient ship, with only the Enterprise standing in their way….


While his collaborations with Ali adorn a few of my more recent offerings, Doug has been providing covers for a number of Star Trek novels for quite some time, now. I’ve definitely benefitted from the voodoo that he (and/or he and Ali) do so well. A couple of my all-time Star Trek novel covers just happen to be for books I wrote or co-wrote::

  

Available Light is due for publication on Tuesday, April 9, 2019 in trade paperback, e-Book, and (I’m guessing) audiobook formats. Pre-order links are already live, so feel free to get a jump on your holiday shopping:

The book’s official landing page at Simon & Schuster
Trade Paperback or Kindle eBook from Amazon.com
Trade Paperback or Nook eBook from Barnes & Noble
Kobo eBook from Kobo.com

Meanwhile, I’ll just be over here. You know…trying to finish writing the thing…..

Happy Birthday, Star Trek: The Next Generation!

Tonight…the 24th Century begins…..”

That’s what greeted those of us lounging in front of our televisions 31 years ago tonight, when legendary radio and TV personality and ABC broadcaster Ernie Anderson introduced us to “Staaaaaaaaaar Trek: The Next Generation” with a 90-second teaser just before the premiere of the series first episode, “Encounter at Farpoint.”

Seems like…well, it sure as hell doesn’t seem like 31 years ago that’s for sure.

I’ve told this story before, but on September 28th, 1987, I watched Star Trek: The Next Generation‘s premiere in the TV room of my barracks at Camp Pendleton. The room was stuffed with Marines, and maybe it was because of the beer, but we all stayed to watch the whole thing.

While we didn’t hate it, it was obvious that this show would go through a growth period as the folks behind and in front of the camera tweaked and pulled at this or that. Still, it was new Star Trek, by golly,  and little did we know at the time what that would come to mean.

Now here we are, 31 years after the series premiere and 16 years since the last time he did so, and Patrick Stewart is preparing to return to the role of Jean-Luc Picard. It’s a helluva fun time to be a Star Trek fan.

And while we’re waiting to see what comes of that? Maybe I’ll run “Farpoint” later tonight. Happy 31st Birthday, Star Trek: The Next Generation.

Go. Go see what’s out there.

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