Footprints In the Stars and other awesome eSpec Books…FUNDED!

Huzzah!

InHarmsWay-coverRemember back a few weeks, when I posted about friends Danielle Ackley-McPhail and Mike McPhail of eSpec Books and the epic crowdfunding campaign they launched to fund not one and not two but three – count ’em…THREE – brand new books? Well, I’m happy to say that thanks to the generosity of 109 awesome humans, $3,077 dollars was raised. That’s more than enough to back the publishing of all three books as well as unlock seven stretch goals Danielle and Mike laid down for the taking. Go check out what they did!

eSpec Books: In Harm’s Way (and two more books!) on Kickstarter

This means that in addition to the anthology In Harm’s Way edited by Mike, the campaign also will provide for backers Footprints In the Stars as edited by Danielle, and Devil Dancers, a collection of short fiction from author Robert E. Waters.

FootprintsInTheStarsWhile I’m happy for the entire campaign and the other two books, I’m particularly tickled with the backing of Footprints, as that’s the one to which Danielle invited me to submit a story. As I’ve mentioned before, the story idea I had way back when she first approached me ended up getting set aside as I was struck by another notion I wanted to pursue. The resulting story prompted me to jot down a bunch of notes for where I might next take things, to include going to town with an original science fiction novel concept. We shall see.

One thing at a time, though, right? For now, we celebrate the campaign’s success, and those of us with stories in any of the three books now turn to doing whatever Mike and Danielle need to help them get these titles put to bed and ready to publish. With luck, Footprints will make its debut at the Shore Leave convention in July.

Congrats, Danielle and Mike, and thanks for having me along for the ride!

IncrediBuilds: Buzz Lightyear

IB_Buzz_Book_Env_111318.inddToy Story

Build and color your own 3D Buzz Lightyear!

From space ranger to toy ranger, Buzz joins sheriff pal Woody as one of Andy’s best toy friends. Now fans can recreate Toy Story for themselves by building their own 3D wood model of the Star Command captain. In addition to a do-it-yourself, freestanding wood model, each set features a fun and informative hardcover book of facts, character images, and craft ideas that will help you reach to infinity, and beyond!

TS-IB-Buzz-RegularIncludes:

–Laser-cut, FSC®-certified wood sheet with easy-to-assemble pieces
–Step-by-step instructions
–Coloring and crafting ideas
–A Buzz Lightyear guidebook

Order the Deluxe hardcover edition!
Order the Regular edition (softcover)


This project, along with Buzz’s partner, Sheriff Woody, was another adventure with the IncrediBuilds team over at Insight Editions. For me, these were follow-ups to last year’s Star Trek original series U.S.S. Enterprise and its successor from Star Trek: The Next Generation. The book I wrote to accompany the model helps you revisit the events of the first three Toy Story movies from Buzz’s point of view, and even offers a few tantalizing bits about what you’ll see when Toy Story 4 makes its way to theaters in June.

And hey! The model that the book accompanies is pretty cool, you know.

Both the Buzz and Woody models are aimed at the 8+ age bracket. They’re really easy to put together and you can custom paint and/or decorate them any way you like. Cool, right?

IncrediBuilds: Sheriff Woody

TS-IB-Woody-DeluxeToy Story

Build and color your own 3D Woody model!

Brave, loyal, and kind to everyone, Woody is one of Andy’s favorite toys. He fearlessly leads the toys through many adventures and fun-filled hijinks—along with his best friend Buzz Lightyear, of course! Now fans can re-create their favorite Woody moments from the Toy Story films by building their own 3D wood model of the beloved character. In addition to a do-it-yourself, freestanding wood model, each set comes with a fun and TS-IB-Woody-Regularinformative booklet of character images and facts—including an early look at Toy Story 4as well as craft ideas to help bring your vision to life!

Includes:

–Laser-cut, FSC®-certified wood sheet with easy-to-assemble pieces
–Step-by-step instructions
–Coloring and crafting ideas
–A Woody guidebook

Order the Deluxe hardcover edition!
Order the Regular edition (softcover)


This project, along with its Buzz Lightyear companion, was a return to the IncrediBuilds side of the Insight Editions house after last year’s Star Trek original series U.S.S. Enterprise and its successor from Star Trek: The Next Generation. The book I wrote to accompany the model helps you revisit the events of the first three Toy Story movies from Woody’s point of view, and even offers a few tantalizing bits about what you’ll see when Toy Story 4 hits movie screens in June.

And hey! The model that the book accompanies is pretty cool, you know.

Both the Sheriff Woody and Buzz Lightyear models are aimed at the 8+ age bracket. They’re really easy to put together and you can custom paint and/or decorate them any way you like. Cool, right?

Tales of the Strange and Unusual: A very special anthology with a super cool origin story.

A few years ago during the annual StarFest Convention in Denver, Kevin and I found ourselves “neighbors” in the Author’s Alley area with Shelly Goodman Wright, a writer local to that area. Over the course of the weekend, the three of us got to chatting and sharing “war stories” as our writing backgrounds were rather dissimilar. After the con was over we stayed in touch thanks to the wonder that is social media and in the years since our first meeting, we always make sure to get neighboring tables at each successive StarFest and even participate in con programming when such opportunities present themselves.

TalesStrangeUnusual-CoverOne of the things we learned along the way was that Shelly is a creative writing teacher for the Writers of High Country, a group of high school-age kids who are working to learn the craft of writing fiction and poetry. With Shelly and other volunteers guiding the way, the students have just recently published their first collection of short stories and poetry, Tales of the Strange & Unusual.

Indeed, last weekend while the con was still in full swing, Shelly was preparing for the students’ first over book signing. To hear her describe it, it went down in much the same fashion as I’ve come to expect from such venues as the Shore Leave convention, where fans wielding copies of a favorite anthology are able to run a gauntlet of authors who have a story in that particular book and are therefore able to get multiple autographs in rapid succession.

It was very cool to listen to her stories of how hard the students worked, writing and polishing their stories and poetry in preparation for publication. All were excited at the prospect of taking this bold step, knowing it could be the first of many if they continued to bring the same drive and determination which had seen them travel this far.

As part of our conversation last weekend, I learned something I didn’t know before: As part of her writing instruction, Shelly had occasionally shared with her students various anecdotes, writing exercises, and other bits of so-called wisdom that she had taken from other writers, including me and Kevin. According to her, some of these tips, nuggets of advice and encouragement, and other insights into the craft (and business!) of writing for publication proved informative and even inspiring to the kids. That was nice to hear, though I admit I often have a rough time accepting such comments or similar praise.

Then Shelly presented me and Kevin with copies of the finished book, fresh off the presses and autographed by all of the students, who requested we receive them as gifts.

Right in the feels, y’all.

Although I managed to keep my game face in place while we were on the floor, I have to admit to being more than bit choked up. In my mind, I didn’t think I’d done anything unique or special while talking to Shelly, but to hear that a young writer found value in something I said and that it helped with their own writing is flattering, and even a little humbling as the first thing I think is, “What did I say?” followed by variations of “Was it stupid?” “Did I cuss?” and/or “Did it violate an NDA?” along with assorted other panicked responses. Only one chance to make a first impression, and all that, amirite?

Many thanks to Shelly and the Writers of High Country for including me and Kevin in their celebration of this wonderful achievement. Tales of the Strange & Unusual is published by Many Hands Publishing. Go and give it a look-see, whydontcha?

Support these upcoming titles from eSpec Books!

Okay, I know. I’m a bit behind on my bloggery.

Work, the holiday weekend, work, and…let’s see….yeah, work, have seen to it that I’ve neglected this place for a while. I’ve never been one of those people who sees the need to blog every day, and only do so when something’s got me jazzed enough to tap out some words and add some cute pics and whatnot. However, then something like this comes along and I’m like, “Hey! Cool stuff to talk about!”

Hey! We’ve got cool stuff to talk about.

FootprintsInTheStarsFriends Danielle Ackley-McPhail and Mike McPhail are the brain trust behind eSpec Books, an independent publisher that’s behind a whole bunch of cool novels and short story collections. It seems like most of the writers I know have worked with them at some point, and Danielle was kind enough to invite me to submit a story for a collection she’s putting together called Footprints In the Stars.

But wait! Before we talk about whatever it is I’m laboring to create for her, we need to talk about the crowdsourcing effort to fund this anthology along with one Mike himself is shepherding, In Harm’s Way, the eighth edition of eSpec’s anthology series Defending the Future, as well as a single-author short story collection, Devil Dancers by Robert E. Waters.

A three-book crowdfunding campaign? If that sounds pretty ambitious to you, you’re not wrong. The basic idea is to fund In Harm’s Way first, and any monies pledged beyond that needed to realize the first book will go toward Footprints In the Stars and Devil Dancers. As of today, the fundraising effort is more than halfway to the initial goal, and the campaign is active until May 19th on Kickstarter. Check it out:

eSpec Books: Defending the Future – In Harm’s Way

InHarmsWay

As for how I’m mixed up in this, as I said Danielle invited me to write a story for the second of the three books, Footprints In the Stars. Here’s the funny thing: the story I’m working to finish is not at all the one I started when I first took up the challenge of submitting to this anthology. Somewhere along the line, I got an idea for a new story that I ended up liking way, waaaaaaaaaaay better than the one I was writing. So, I tabled the first story and turned toward the new, shiny thing. If I do it right, this has the potential to serve as a springboard for something bigger I’ve got in mind. You know…for down the road during another gap of my supposed free time.

(I’ll wait here until everyone stops laughing.)

Anyway, that’s the plan…assuming I don’t screw it up, of course. We’ll see how it goes.

For now? Run and check out the newest eSpec Books Kickstarter and if anything there tickles your fancy, I hope you’ll consider becoming a backer. A lot of my friends and fellow word pushers are contributing to these projects, but none of them can happen without the support of people like you!

Available Light

AvailableLight-coverStar 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…


Welcome back to the 24th century! It’s been a long road, getting from there–

“SHUT UP, DAYTON!”

:: ahem ::

Sorry.

After an extended hiatus thanks to forces beyond the control of mere mortals, Simon & Schuster is ramping up its publication of Star Trek novels, continuing an effort they’ve shepherded since 1979 and the release of their novelization of Star Trek: The Motion Picture. Since then and even with the occasional bump in the road, S&S through imprints such as Pocket Books, Wallaby Books, and now Gallery Books has continued to publish Star Trek novels, short story collections, and a broad spectrum of reference books and other cool things.

I’ve been privileged to contribute to that effort for what is fast approaching 20 years, either working solo or in partnership with my bud and frequent co-writer, Kevin Dilmore, and often collaborating with other writers and editors to varying degrees depending on the needs of a particular project. Available Light is my 21st Star Trek novel and 26th novel overall, with about half of those written with Kevin. Then there are the novellas, short stories, magazine articles, and funky things like the Vulcan and Klingon Empire travel guides. Yes, Star Trek has been pretty good to me these past two decades and in some ways, I feel in some ways like I’m really just getting warmed up. I think I may be able to keep doing this for a while longer.

Anyway…..

So, for those wondering, Available Light picks up the ongoing Star Trek: The Next Generation post-film/novel-focused narrative a bunch of us have been spinning for a good number of years now. More specifically, it picks up the action after we left you hanging back in the summer of 2017 with David Mack‘s Section 31: Control and my own Hearts and Minds. Dave dropped a big bomb right into the middle of our breakfast table with Control, and the effects will quickly start to become apparent first with this book, and then Collateral Damage, Dave’s own ST:TNG novel coming later this year.

And, we’ve had conversations about what happens after that. Mwuah-ah-ah.

Available Light is now available at bookstores everywhere, in trade paperback, e-Book, and both digital and CD audiobook editions. If you’re still one of those folks who loves going to an actual store for your reading material, I humbly suggest patronizing your local independent bookseller. If that sort of thing isn’t feasible for whatever reason, then of course we have other options:

Simon & Schuster
Amazon.com
Barnes & Noble
Books-A-Million
IndieBound

In addition to providing a permanent home for links to find and order the book, this blog entry also will serve as our book’s “official” Q&A thread. Those of you who want to chat about the book, feel free to post your questions/etc. to the comments section. For those of you who’ve found this page and perhaps not yet read the book, BEWARE SPOILERS ARE POSSIBLE FROM THIS POINT FORWARD.

Tied Up With Tie-Ins: Planet of the Apes!

Yep, it’s time for another walk down Nostalgia Lane that you didn’t ask for and probably don’t need. Since that’s the running theme of this entire blog thing of mine, we can at least agree I’m consistent.

Back at the beginning of the year, I decided that I would offer up an irregularly-recurring feature that I’d use to revisit favorite movie and TV tie-in books. After taking a fond look back at novels based on The Six Million Dollar Man and The Bionic Woman and knowing that I wanted to avoid talking too much about Star Trek novels (at least right away), it seems obvious to me that the next old-timey series deserving of some love is Planet of the Apes!

As is true of Star Trek and the “Bionic shows,” Planet of the Apes was another series (of movies and television shows, in this case) that I came to love very early on. Though I never saw any of the original five films in theaters, I did watch both of the subsequent television series as best I could during their original broadcasts in 1974-75. Just as I was learning about books based on the other two franchises around this time, so too did I discover the same was true of Apes.

First I found a copy of Pierre Boulle‘s original 1963 novel at the library, after which I found a paperback of Jerry Pournelle’s novelization of Escape from the Planet of the Apes occupying space on a department store book rack. Unlike the Star Trek novels and episode adaptations which seemed to be everywhere, tracking down the books tying into the other Apes films would prove to be much more challenging.

PotA-OriginalNovelCover1

(Left: the cover that seemed to dominate re-issues of the original novel throughout the 1970s and into the early 80s. Right: The cover on the edition I own.)

Continue reading “Tied Up With Tie-Ins: Planet of the Apes!”

More IncrediBuilds action from me and Insight Editions. This time? Toy Story!

To IncrediBuilds…and beyond!

Some of you likely know that last year, Insight Editions released the first two Star Trek entries in their ever-expanding series of IncrediBuilds book-and-model sets. I had the very fun job of writing companion books for their models of the U.S.S. Enterprise from the original Star Trek series as well as its Star Trek: The Next Generation counterpart.

What, exactly, are IncrediBuilds? Well, according to their own website:

“The IncrediBuilds collection features do-it-yourself, customizable, freestanding models that are sure to delight fans of all ages. Each model is made of Earth-friendly, FSC®-certified wood, and all products include step-by-step directions and coloring and crafting ideas. No glue or tools necessary. Informative and interactive, both kids and adults can use these projects to explore their creativity and create unique, displayable art.”

IncrediBuilds projects cover subjects from a variety of categories, including famous buildings from around the world, animals, and several licensed properties including Disney, Marvel, DC Comics, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Harry Potter, Star Wars, Star Trek, video game franchises, and so on.

Among the various things I worked on last year were the books to go with two more IncrediBuilds models. This time I visited the world of Toy Story, and just in time for the fourth film in that series which will hit theater screens in June. Even though I pretty much finished my part of the process last summer or so, it’s only now, with the new film bearing down on us, that new merchandise is being announced. Being Disney, you know that means all kinds of cool new stuff including these new kits, and Insight Editions decided that there were no better ambassadors than Sheriff Woody and Buzz Lightyear! The IncrediBuilds site lists a “Regular” and “Deluxe” edition for each kit, with the main difference being the book I wrote, which is offered in softcover and hardcover editions, respectively.

(Click on each image to get the product info from the IncrediBuilds site.)

Intended for kids 8 years old and up (including grown-ups who remain kids at heart), the wood models are easily assembled, and the book I wrote for each character and containing their “back story” also features pages devoted to instructions along with a painting and crafting guide.

As things currently stand, all four kits will be in stores beginning Tuesday, May 6th, giving you plenty of time to build them, paint them, stick them on your dashboard or hang them from your rearview mirror before Toy Story 4 opens on June 21st.

As with the Star Trek IncrediBuilds projects, these were a lot of fun to do. Will I do more? Well, I’m always hopeful….so be sure to buy a dozen or more of each kit, and then tell all your friends to do the same.

“Reach for the sky!”

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!”

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?