Looking back at my 2017.

It’d be easy to allow my last blog posting of 2017 to wallow in the same sort of snark and smartassery that I employed as a defense mechanism pretty much every day while reading the news this past year. Instead, I’m going to end things on a high note.

IMG_2454So far as personal milestones go, I turned 50 this year. Rather than dwell on the sorts of things that seem to characterize the typical “mid-life crisis,” I’d already made the decision well ahead of my birthday to embrace full-on my half-century mark. I’ve told people that I had much more fun during my 40s than I did my 30s, due in no small part to family and friends as well as the rather odd way that I’ve managed to carve out something resembling a living. I don’t expect that to change just because my odometer turned over. I don’t feel 50, people tell me I don’t look 50, and I sure as hell don’t act 50, so screw it.

Speaking of the family, Michi and the girls are all happy and healthy. Addy turned 11 while Erin turned 9. I know it sounds cliché, but of everything I’ve accomplished in life to this point, being a decent husband and dad are the things in which I take the most pride. I’ll probably always be a work in progress on both of those fronts, but I have plenty of reasons to keep at it. 🙂

So far as writing, it was a bit of an odd year. Remember all those things I talked about writing during 2016? Well, they all showed up during 2017:

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Two Star Trek: The Next Generation novels – as well as my second “travel guide,” this time focusing on The Klingon Empire, dominated my Star Trek publications during the year, along with mine and Kevin’s first-ever comic collaboration from 2016 appearing in the Star Trek: Waypoint mini-series paperback collection. 2017 also brought with it my first professional forays into the realms of Planet of the Apes and Predator. Both of those were fun and scratched specific fanboy writing itches, and I’m hoping to revisit both universes, one of these days. Elsewhere on the planet of apes, I contributed my second essay to the gang at Sequart, for their collection Bright Eyes, Ape City: Examining the Planet of the Apes Mythos, edited by friends Rich Handley and Joseph Berenato.

Also, and after a lot of planning and waiting, I teamed up with colleagues David Lee Summers, Carol Hightshoe, Jennifer Brozek, and Bryan Thomas Schmidt and we worked with Kevin J. Anderson’s WordFire Press to publish Maximum Velocity: The Best of Full-Throttle Space Tales.

DrasticMeasures-CoverAs for my writing during 2017, the project with the highest profile is probably Drastic Measures, my Star Trek: Discovery novel which was announced with a bit of fanfare at the big Star Trek convention in Las Vegas back in August. I actually knew as far back as the 2016 con that I’d be writing the book, but the secrecy ninjas from CBS have kept a tight lid on announcing such things until the appropriate time.

Going back even farther, I’d been talking at fairly regular intervals with my dear friend, Kirsten Beyer, who’s been in the Discovery writer’s room from the very beginning. I had a ringside seat as the show gestated and came together over a period of more than eighteen months, so yeah…I’m kind of biased. It was an interesting experience, trying to write a tie-in for a show that literally was being developed at the same time, and Kirsten played a big part in my being able to pull that off. Drastic Measures is due to be published on February 6th, 2018.

As for my other writing during 2017, I’m actually surprised at closing out the year without being able to announce or talk much about any of it because several of these things have not yet been formally announced by their respective publishers.

Two of those projects were completed and are scheduled to be published this coming summer. A project for another client was completed, but it’s looking increasingly as though it will never see the light of day. I was paid in full for my work, but the point of writing for publication is that your writing is…you know…published, so that people can experience it and (hopefully) enjoy it. At last report, there’s a slight glimmer of hope that the project will go forward, but the issues standing in its way are way above me and affect a number of people, and I feel more sorry for them than the fate of my little contribution.

Another tie-in project for which I signed a contract and have written an outline has been stalled somewhere between my client and the licensor, and I honestly have no idea when it might get the green light to move forward. I’ve been waiting months to hear some news, but my book is an admittedly very small fish in a very large pond. Such is the life of a freelancer. It’s still possible I might get some updates and be able to get writing, and maybe see this published either late in 2018 or early 2019.

What else do I have going? For those of you who may have missed it, back in November I accepted an offer to write full-time in an office setting. It’s both an interesting change of pace (and scenery!) and a nice counter to my fiction writing. My first month at the new gig has been educational and rewarding, as I’ve written two articles of my own and have three more in various stages of development, provided feedback on various pieces written by my teammates, and I’m currently editing an article submitted over the transom for our review. Over the next couple of weeks, I’ll be working with that piece’s authors to ready it for publication. So far, so good. 🙂

On the freelance front, I have contracts with two other clients that are now in an “active” status so far as my writing schedule. I have a manuscript due to one client on February 22nd, with a planned publication date in early 2019. I’m also due to start plotting with the other client after the holiday so we can see about getting on with that writing. A project for another client is still hanging in a low orbit, and I’m hoping to start working on an outline early in the new year.

One of the most frequent questions I get is whether I’ll be writing more Star Trek novels for Pocket Books. At present, I’m not under contract with them for anything beyond the upcoming Drastic Measures. Simon & Schuster is, at last report, finalizing their new licensing agreement CBS, and once that’s done I hope Pocket will see fit to contact me.

As I said last year and repeat as often as I can, I’m grateful to my clients who continue to employ me, my readers who continue to support me, and my family and friends who are in my corner even when I’m working often insane hours to meet a deadline. Kevin naturally gets his own shout-out because Kevin! I literally could not do what I get to do without all of you, and hey! If you’re an editor or publisher reading this, I’m still a freelancer, ever on the prowl for more work. 😀

Okay, 2018: Bring it on.

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The things you find.

Yesterday, I was helping my wife do a few things as she continues preparing for an estate sale at her mother’s place. We removed a few things from the house to bring here, and sorted through some papers and other items.

For those who don’t know, my mother-in-law was Japanese, and most of the reading material she kept in her home was published in her native language. During my tour on Okinawa back in the 1980s, I made a rather pitiful attempt to learn Japanese – both spoken and written – and failed spectacularly on both fronts. Along the way, I purchased a few pop culture/film/TV books and magazines from local merchants, thinking that a familiarity with the original source material would aid in my learning. So, yeah, among other things, there are one or two Japanese Star Trek books in my library, including a translation of Vonda McIntyre’s novelization of Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home from 1986.

At some point after returning home and marrying Michi, I showed her mother some of the books I’d brought back with me, and she asked to borrow them. Over time, I forgot about them, but yesterday as I was perusing her shelves, I stumbled across a few titles which stuck out like sore thumbs from the rest of her very much not science fiction or TV/film book collection:

Indy-JapaneseBooks

Yep, those are indeed Japanese translations of the novelizations for Raiders of the Lost Ark, Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, and Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. Along with several other books of this sort – many of which I ended up giving away here and there over the years, these were purchased at local bookshops near my base on Okinawa between July 1988 and July 1989. Despite my horrific attempts to learn the language, I still got a kick out of having them on the shelf, alongside or in proximity to their English-language counterparts.

(In hindsight, I don’t think my mother-in-law was impressed with my attempts to understand her language by reading…for example…a Japanese novelization of Robocop. 😀 )

Anyway, I’ll soon be returning these to my own bookshelves, and no….I still won’t be able to read them.

Yes, this thing still works.

Blog-On-Off

I figure (read: “desperately hope”) there’s at least a couple of you out there wondering where I’ve been or what I’ve been doing the last week or so.

The answer is that I’ve been bussssssssssssssssssssy. There are several things in the hopper at the moment, almost all of which fall into the category of “Things I Can’t Really Talk About…At Least Not Yet.”

I was motoring along at a somewhat leisurely pace for a bit there, enjoying the first few weeks of my kids’ summer vacation, but then several things kicked into gear in rapid succession. On the home front, both kids are attending “summer learning” programs at school. Unlike “summer school” from back in my day, which you attended because your dumb ass flunked a class during the regular school year, this is a completely different kind of thing. For one, the kids volunteer to go, and the classes they attend are fun. Oldest daughter is taking a computer animation class, while youngest is doing one about animal sciences. How cool are those? So, it’s like summer/day camp, but I don’t have to pay for it because it’s offered by the school system (which I kinda sorta already pay for, anyway). Of course, the classes are at two different schools with different start/release times, so I’m running around town in the morning and afternoon doing my best Uber driver impression.

The kids are also on the neighborhood swim team again, this year. This requires them to be at practice a few times a week, and then there’s the weekly swim meets against other neighborhood teams every Wednesday evening throughout June and part of July. The Wednesdays are a 4-5 hour commitment, plus we parents volunteer to help with various things that need doing during the evening. I usually serve as one of the lane timers, for example, with my little stopwatch and clipboard, while Michi helps up front with registration, entering stats, or serving as a runner. When we started this last year I didn’t think I’d enjoy any of it, but it’s been a lot of fun, due in no small part to friends who also have daughters in the program, and with whom we hang during all of this.

(Note: It’s possible that an adult beverage or two may be present at these events. YMMV.)

Youngest daughter had a Taekwondo promotion this past Saturday. It was a midterm promotion for her, and she now has about half of the midterm stars she needs before she can even be considered for testing to earn her Third Degree black belt. She’s taking the rest of the summer off to enjoy swim team and the rest of her vacation before school starts back up, and  then she’ll get back to it. Oldest daughter, also a Second Degree, is taking a hiatus of her own. 

Work wise, things are maintaining pace in the “busy” lane but threatening to swerve into “insane.” As I write this, I have three…count them, three… projects all with deadlines in the next 45-60 days. One was something I was already scheduled to start working on after finishing the previous novel manuscript, and the other two came largely out of nowhere. Both are things I really, really want to do, and each has the potential to lead to more work in their respective realms, so hell yeah I signed on. By themselves, none of them is something that would be in danger of missing its respective deadline, and in truth all are of a size that I can manage together with proper time management and discipline.

(Insert joke about my being doomed here.)

What are these new things? Well, as you may have already guessed, all of them fall under the aforementioned “Things I Can’t Really Talk About…At Least Not Yet” category. Stay tuned for details as I’m given the green light to start blabbing.

Oh, and that novel manuscript I mentioned in passing a few paragraphs ago? The one I turned in on May 22nd? Yeah, I’ve heard back from my editor and the licensor and there will be some rework involved. Nothing too demanding (at least, the way I see it), but requiring more time than I’m able to give it at this precise moment. Thankfully, all parties are sympathetic to my plight, and I’m doing whatever I can to shuffle things around on my calendar so that I can return my updated manuscript sooner rather than later. Luckily, we have a bit of maneuvering room, here, but that doesn’t mean I want this thing to linger any longer than absolutely necessary. Oh, what’s it about? Again, “Things I Can’t Really Talk About…At Least Not Yet.” Sorry. 🙂

As for things I can talk about? Let’s see….today, I’m wrapping up a piece for Modiphius, to be used as part of the communications stream between game developers and players for their upcoming Star Trek Adventures role playing game. Once that’s done, I’m putting the final polish on a guest blog piece that will run in conjunction with the soon-to-be released Hidden Universe Travel Guides – Star Trek: The Klingon Empire from Insight Editions. Like the book itself, I’m writing this piece to be “in character” as though submitted by the same people who write the guides. We’ll see if anyone else thinks I’m as clever or funny as I apparently think I am. Once these are out of the way, I’ll be getting started in earnest on the Three Big Things.

It’s nice to be busy.

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So, enough about me. What’s up with you?

Vacation’s over.

Yep. Just like that.

back-to-work

So, it’s been pretty quiet around here, the past week or so, and with good reason. With the kids out of school this past week for Spring Break, we decided to take a road trip. To make it even more fun, we partnered up with another family, with whom we’ve become great friends since moving into Ward Manor 2.0 thanks to their daughters and ours going to school together and our living a couple of streets apart (easy walking distance via the lake in our little neighborhood). They’re just the kind of folks with whom I’d want to undertake a little road tip adventuring, which for me is saying something, since many of you know I’m usually rather content to hate most of my fellow humans to one degree or another. See? I’m meeting new people and trying new things! There may just be a slim ray of hope for me, after all.

Continue reading “Vacation’s over.”

Looking back at my 2016.

What a year.

It’s definitely been something of a ride. Dominated by the protracted and ever-stupefying election cycle and its culmination with Biff Tannen’s ascendance to the presidency, 2016 on so many fronts just feels like a year that took five years to endure. A constant stream of memes have popped up on social media to describe individual feelings about the year, and I couldn’t resist offering one of my own:

toht01

Yeah, that about sums it up.

What’s that? You want me to elaborate? Fine. Read on.

Continue reading “Looking back at my 2016.”

Shore Leave, vacation, and getting back to it.

Previously, on The Fog of Ward:

Is this thing on? :: blows dust ::

So, it’s been a week or so since the last update, owing to last weekend’s Shore Leave convention and ensuing vacation with the family. It was a busy week, despite being billed as “restful,” but if you don’t come back from vacation a little bit tired, you did something wrong, amirite?

Continue reading “Shore Leave, vacation, and getting back to it.”

Thanks, everybody!

Now that the day is winding down and I’m trying to have a go at getting back to work in the hopes of logging some forward progress on the writing front, I wanted to take a couple of minutes and offer my sincere thanks and appreciation to everyone who sent birthday wishes my way today.

They were EVERYWHERE, people.

I’m still finding them attached to this or that. E-Mail. Twitter. Facebook messages. Facebook status updates. Other people’s Facebook status updates. Smoke writing in the skies. The Jumbotron at Kauffman Stadium. Carved into the Moon with Superman’s heat vision.

(Okay, those last few might just be in my head.)

According to my best estimates, I received something in the neighborhood of 1,771,561 birthday greetings. That’s assuming one message with an average response rate of ten comments, producing a new generation of birthday wishes every twelve hours.

Give or take a couple dozen or so.

Seriously, I’m still finding the things, and doing my best to answer each one. Why? Because you all rock so very hard, that’s why.

Kevin and Michi even plotted a bit, this year, which resulted in Kevin bearing some incredibly geeky giftery. Check this out:

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All still in the boxes. The youngest of these things is 36 years old. Not too shabby. The girls are already eyeballing them, though, and wondering if Jaime Sommers will fit in their Disney Princesses castle.

Hrm.

And to respond to all those who hoped I actually got to enjoy my birthday, that indeed was the case. It was a quiet day, for the most part, highlighted by lunch with my ladies and Kevin at a favorite restaurant. I’m not big on huge celebrations, so this was a  mighty fine day, by my standards.

Thanks for being a part of it. 🙂

We be Rushin’…..

Thanks to today’s mail delivery, it’s official: On July 9th, Michi and I will be taking the girls to their first real rock concert:

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Michi and I have been going to Rush concerts since 1990’s Presto tour. We haven’t missed a tour since then, and we’ve even managed a twofer on occasion with a given tour.

Once the kids came along and they started hearing Rush music in the car or at home and taking a liking to it (Addy used to sing “Red Barchetta” at bedtime), we knew that their first “real” concert had to be with Geddy, Alex, and Neil or else would would forever consider ourselves failures as proper parents.

Yes, there’s already been the odd Disney-related thing here and there, but once I heard rumblings about them wanting to go to a One Direction concert this summer, I started getting nervous. At that point, Rush had not announced plans for a tour to celebrate their 40th anniversary; something similar to what they’d done ten years ago when the Big 3-0 rolled around.

(Yes, Michi and I were there. See above.)

Thankfully, the boys must’ve heard about my plight, for they came through and announced not only a 40th anniversary tour, but with a date here in KC that gets them in here ahead of the 1D guys.

(:: insert sigh of relief here ::)

They also announced that this perhaps also will be the last large-scale tour they’ll do. Yes, time is beginning to catch up with the Trinity, and they’re starting to think that maybe they want to dial it back a bit. If that’s true, then I’m doubly happy the kids will get to see them live because let’s face it….this band puts on a hell of a show.

Okay, boys. Bring it on.

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Happy Birthday, Mom!

A few years ago, I wrote this for my mother’s birthday. When I went to do something similar the following year, I realized that I’d used up all of the funniest bits and cute little anecdotes the first time around. So, I decided to make this part of an “annual tribute” to be reposted every year in honor of She Who Gave Birth To Me, in recognition of the number redacted anniversary of her own grand entrance into this crazy little field trip we call “Life.”

So, here we go:

Here’s to you, Mom, for dressing the wounds I sustained after tying a bath towel around my neck and leaping from the top of the stairs because I saw Superman do it on TV.

Here’s to you, Mom, for fueling at a very early age my interests in books and reading for the sheer pleasure to be found if you just let the written word guide the way; it’s a gift I’ve treasured every day of my life.

Here’s to you, Mom, for blaming Dad instead of me when, as we were trying to move a new sofa-bed into the house, the bed came out of its mounting and knocked an antique pitcher and bowl off a nearby table, destroying it on impact.

Here’s to you, Mom, for teaching me that the things in life worth having are not easy to obtain, but that the rewards of perseverance are immeasurable.

Here’s to you, Mom, for not disowning me when, at the age of 16, I backed my truck too close to the side of the house and ripped off the power box, without even the courtesy of dying by electrocution in the process.

Here’s to you, Mom, for taking the woman who one day would become my wife, and treating her from the first minute like a second daughter.

Here’s to you, Mom, for taking that same woman aside, and teaching her very early on how not to put up with my bullshit.

Here’s to you, Mom, for being there when our children were born, doing everything you could to ease our transition into the incredible next chapters of our lives.

Here’s to you, Mom, for putting into motion from that first day your master plan to spoil your grandchildren and relish in the mischief they now pull on us, as justifiable retribution for the hell – however infrequent yet unforgettable it might’ve been – that my sister and I raised as kids.

Here’s to you, Mom, on your birthday. I hope you enjoy it, and many more.