It’s William Shatner’s birthday, everybody!

Today we’re celebrating the 87th birthday of the Man himself. Captain Kirk, T.J. Hooker, Rescue 911 Guy, Denny Crane, Priceline Negotiator, and CAPTAIN JAMES TIBERIUS BY GOD KIRK.

:: ahem. ::

The one and only William Shatner: 87 years old, and still running circles around people half his age. I’ll have what he’s having.


Happy Birthday, sir. May you enjoy many more.


The Write Music.

starwars_lpI’m fairly certain that anybody who’s followed my antics for any length of time knows that I have a thing for film and television music. The very first album I remember buying with my own money was in 1977, and it was the original 2-record edition of John Williams’ score for Star Wars.

A few more would follow in that album’s footsteps: Superman: The Movie, Star Trek: The Motion Picture, Alien, The Empire Strikes Back, Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, and so on. As I grew older and had more money to spend, my selection of titles expanded, and to this day such music accounts for a sizable percentage of my rather eclectic collection.

Later, when I started writing, and particularly with my writing an awful lot of Star Trek fiction (you may have heard me mention that, once or twice), I discovered that I really liked having film and TV music playing in the background as I worked. Then I started playing particular scores (or portions thereof) to help get me in the groove for writing certain stories or scenes. For writing Star Trek? Music from one of the television series or films is always in the rotation, but I also try to mix it up.

Lots of action? Star Wars, Star Trek, Black Hawk Down, Superman, Rambo: First Blood, Part II, Gladiator, Pirates of the Caribbean, Raiders of the Lost Ark, and so on just to name a few.

Quieter, moodier, and/or more contemplative scenes? The American President, The Shawshank Redemption, Jurassic Park, Alien, Outland, and so on.

(Oh, and don’t forget that individual pieces from any of these and so many others can work for end of the spectrum I’m describing, and everything in between.)

When I started buying these things, the formats of the era – LP vinyl albums, cassette tapes, and even :: gasp :: 8-track tapes – limited the amount of music which could be included on these commercial albums and still make them profitable for their publishers. Even when CDs began showing up, the average running time of these albums didn’t seem to increase to any real degree. It was a common thing to buy the album for a newly released movie, and discover that it doesn’t include one or two of what you realize are your favorite cues from the film itself.

STTMP-SoundtrackCoverThen, somebody somewhere got the amazing idea that selling expanded or complete scores for films which may only have received a truncated music release was something worth doing. Whoever that person is, they are a national treasure. They should be canonized, and their face carved into Mount Rushmore. Because of this admittedly niche market, I’ve been able to acquire complete scores for each of the Star Wars films, the entire original Star Trek series, Alien and Aliens, Outland, Rambo, Predator, and…of course…each of the Star Trek films, including an effort over 30 years in the making: Jerry Goldsmith’s wondrous complete score for Star Trek: The Motion Picture.

Scores from the past few years that I’ve enjoyed adding to my stack include Interstellar, The Martian, John Wick, Captain America: The First Avenger, Mad Max: Fury Road, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, The Shape of Water, and the three most recent Star Trek films just to name several examples off the top of my head.

(Yes, I’m sure I didn’t list one that you think I should have included. Just pretend it’s there. I’ve got too many of these things to make a comprehensive list. 😀 )

Film and TV music helps me set the mood for writing, but I also just enjoy listening to this type of music just because. Hearing the composer’s work without it being drowned out or pushed aside by dialogue, sound effects, and other noise is an experience all its own. There are times you realize you’re truly hearing some of this music for the first time, and you realize that – as often as not – a mediocre film might possess a truly first-rate, all but unappreciated score.

Anybody got some favorites they want to share?

Hear me yammering on the Mission Log Podcast!

Tired of me and interviews yet? No? Well, let’s test those limits, shall we?

Last night, I was a guest on a live edition of the Mission Log Podcast. Hosts Ken Ray and John Champion have been doing a bang-up job as they proceed on their years-long mission to examine, discuss, and debate each episode of the ever evolving Star Trek saga. They’ve already gone through the entire run of the original series, its animated offspring, and The Next Generation. Deep Space Nine is in the queue, and they also did a weekly after show following each new episode of Star Trek: Discovery.

However, every once in a while, they shift gears and talk about other things, or to other people. Enter: Me.


I’ve known John for several years now, and have run into Ken at the odd convention here and there. We’ve talked about having me on the show at various points, and the planets all seemed to align this time around. And so it was that ventured into Mission Log’s virtual lair via the wonder that is the internet. What did we talk about? Well, as the show’s capsule description put it, we talked about writing, Star Trek, and writing Star Trek.

Go figure.

Discovery was a decent part of the conversation of course, but we also drifted into such topics as the what is and isn’t “Star Trek canon” and why some people insist on making a big deal out of this distinction, and what types of Star Trek stories I like to write and watch (or read!). We also fielded questions from the audience, which to me is always fun.

Though the show was a live broadcast, the playback is available at the Mission Log website:

Mission Log Podcast: Say Hello to Dayton Ward!

Many thanks to Ken and John for having me on the show, and to all of the audience members who participated in the accompanying line chat and/or sent in questions. It was a fun conversation, and I’d definitely be up for a return visit at some point.




Apparently, I always wanted to write Star Trek stories.

Oh, sure. Seems like a no-brainer, now.

But, what if I told you that the idea of writing Star Trek stories was something I had to work my way into, oh-so slooooooooooooooooowly?

Don’t get me wrong: the idea of making up adventures for Captain Kirk and his merry band of enterprising voyagers (see what I did there?) goes all the way back to my awkward, scrawny, geeky 1970s childhood. If my friends and I weren’t pretending to be the Enterprise crew at our local playground (or the crew from Moonbase Alpha. That was actually a thing, for a short while, then chances were good I was playing with Star Trek action figures. Many a day during my childhood was spent spinning my very own little Star Trek yarns with little 8″ inch versions of Kirk and company, along with that hilariously wacky Enterprise bridge set from Mego. You know the one:


Awwwwwwwwww, yeah.

Oh, and when I say “Many a day during my childhood,” I also mean “Yesterday.”

Moving on.

As for actually writing any kind of Star Trek story, I recall dabbling here and there with the notion as a teenager. This was at a point when the original cast was on the silver screen, a few years before the premiere of Star Trek: The Next Generation. Nothing serious ever came from those haphazard scribbling sessions….certainly nothing I kept for posterity.

Skip ahead to the fall of 1987: TNG has only recently premiered, and I’m checking out a Star Trek convention in Anaheim (I was stationed at Camp Pendleton during this period). How early were we into the new show’s run? We got to see the first season episode “The Last Outpost” a week ahead of its broadcast. Anyway, I’m wandering the dealers room when I spy a copy of this:

Trek-TNG-WritersGuide(Click to enlarge)

Now, I wasn’t completely unfamiliar to the idea of a “writers guide” for Star Trek. I remembered reading something about it/them, perhaps in my dog-eared copy of Stephen Whitfield’s The Making of Star Trek, or David Gerrold’s The Trouble With Tribbles or maybe even an issue of Starlog. I certainly never expected to actually see one, but BOOM! Atop a dealer’s table sat just this very thing, albeit for the still new car-smelling Star Trek: The Next Generation. So, sure, I ponied up the $10 or whatever it was (that’s a pic of my copy, up there).

And it’s not as though I suddenly had delusions of grandeur and writing for the new show. I mean, TV was written by writers, after all. At best, I was an annoyingly well-informed nerd when it came to Star Trek trivia, which included reading the novels which were by now a regular component of Pocket Books’ publication schedule. On the other hand, the idea of writing some kind of Star Trek story had taken root, though it’d be a while before I actually tried doing anything about it.

Skip ahead several more years, to the far off wonders that awaited us in the 21st century! I’m now writing Star Trek fiction on a semi-regular basis for that same Pocket Books, and there have been three more Trek TV series since TNG came and went. That original TNG series writers/directors guide has gotten some company:

trek-writersguides(Click to enlarge this, too.)

Even now, several more years, a handful of movies, and one additional TV series later, I still don’t have any aspirations of writing Star Trek for the screen. But, as a writer of the novels and a fan of Star Trek in general, it’s neat to see how the writers for the different series approached their task. Of particular interest to me when I picked it up was the writers guide for the original series, as somewhere along my “fan journey” I’d become very enamored with reading about the actual production of the show, and so I’m always grabbing anything and everything I can get my hands on with respect to this topic.

Why am I babbling about this stuff today? It’s really Michael Okuda’s fault. Over on his Facebook page, he posted a link to something posted last year, which made me remember these docs which have been in my files for years:

TrekDocs Artifacts: TNG S3 Writers’ Technical Manual


Upon seeing that, I knew I wasn’t going to be happy until I dug out all of my writers guides….if for nothing else than to make sure I still had the damned things.

Worry not, true believers. You know my reference library runs wide and deep.

Of course, these guides were created with a very specific purpose: assisting both staff and hopeful freelance episode writers with to make sure their stories remained consistent with the aesthetic and sensibilities created for each of the series. For outsiders, they offer a peek behind the curtain, though I’ve found the original series references to be particularly helpful when it comes to putting myself in the “mood” to write a new story for Captain Kirk and his crew.

And sure, we’ve even created the odd “writers bible” for some of the novel lines, as well. Keith DeCandido and David Mack deserve special shout-outs, as they drafted guides for writers of, respectively, the Star Trek: Starfleet Corps of Engineers series and Star Trek Vanguard. Though I never had need to print out my copy of the SCE bible (it, or the “23rd century version” I did up for me and Kevin to use), I did so for Vanguard, and indeed I still have my copy along with the tech specs and such, all stored in a 3-ring binder:

Trek-VanguardBible(Yes, you can enlarge this one, as well.)

What can I say? Trek dork, remember?

So, thanks very much to TrekCore and Mike Okuda for spurring this little field trip down Memory Lane.

Changes to our Planet Comicon appearance plans.

So, hey!

Kevin and I were originally slated to appear as guests this coming weekend at Planet Comicon, the ginormous pop culture convention held each year at Kansas City’s Bartle Hall convention center.

Kevin was going to be there all three days, though the bulk of his Friday is committed to working at Hallmark’s PopMinded booth. I have to work that day, but we both had tables in the exhibitor area for the entire weekend, at which I’d planned to spend the bulk of Saturday and Sunday.

Circumstances have seen to it that neither Kevin nor I will be there on Saturday. With his prior commitment on Friday and our effective absence for two of the show’s three days, we felt it only proper to contact the con folks and give up our assigned table spaces. Our understanding is that there’s a waiting list, and we hope we’ve provided sufficient time to let those spaces go to other creators looking to show off their wares.

As of now, our plan is to be there Sunday, as we’d both previously agreed to appear with fellow writers Jeni Frontera and Jason Arnett on a writing panel at 11:30am that day. Though we won’t have assigned table space that day, we’re still happy to sign books/etc. for anyone who wants to find us. If that means sitting at one of the tables outside a panel room for a bit, I’m game for that, and I’ll even be schlepping along copies of Drastic Measures for those who may be interested. If you’re planning to be there on Sunday, hit me or Kevin up on Twitter, and we’ll find a way to connect.

We’re truly sorry for the late change of plans, and we’re grateful to the gang at Planet Comicon for being so understanding. We remain huge supporters of the show and those who work so hard to bring it to life each year, and it’s our sincere hope that we can be back as guests for 2019.

Time Lords and the Truce: Doctor Who at the National World War I Museum!

wwimuseum-entranceThose of you who follow my irregularly recurring blatherings here or on Facebook might recall that I volunteer here and there at the National World War I Museum and Memorial here in Kansas City. It’s one of those things I decided to do last year as part of my “Dayton, Chapter 2” bit upon hitting my 50th birthday.

In addition to possessing what has been called the world’s most comprehensive collection of artifacts from the First World War, the museum is also home to a number of, exhibits, events, and activities designed to heed its mission statement of “remembering, interpreting and understanding the Great War and its enduring impact on the global community.”

I’m really rather proud to be associated with it, even in this small way.

I also like that the museum continues to try new and different things in its ongoing quest to further engage the community. Sometimes that means thinking a bit outside the box, or mixing a bit of entertainment with our history. The museum has its own auditorium which plays host to concerts, lectures and symposiums, films, and other performances with some connection to the war. All Quiet on the Western Front, Doctor Zhivago, Paths of Glory, and other films set during the war have screened at the museum.

However, this is the first time I can recall something like this happening there:


Awwwwww, yeah. From the museum’s website:

Thursday, Feb. 15, 6:30 p.m.

The 1914 Christmas Truce is cleverly intertwined with Doctor Who – but we don’t want to give spoilers. Come with your favorite companion and discover new WWI facts and how clever that madman in the blue box can be with a viewing of the last episode in the 2017 season.

So, here I am, a student of the war and a fan of the Doctor. What to do, what to do?

I know! Ima gonna hafta go to this thing.

Those of you living in the Kansas City area (or willing to haul buns to this part of the country) who might also be fans of the Doctor while also having a free evening on Thursday, February 15th at 6pm, should think about heading to the museum to check out this special screening of “Twice Upon A Time,” the last episode to star Peter Capaldi as the 12th Doctor, and featuring the introduction of Jodie Whittaker as Doctor #13.

As the website says, the event is free. All you have to do is RSVP at the event’s page (click on “Free with RSVP”).

Maybe I’ll see you there!

Happy Birthday, Gene Coon.

Today would’ve marked the 94th birthday of writer, producer, and novelist Gene L. Coon.

Serving as a Marine during World War II and the Korean War, Coon would later channel his experiences into a pair of novels, Meanwhile, Back at the Front, and The Short End. Both are books you might shelve next to such irreverent tomes as Richard Hooker’s MASH, Dean Koontz’s Hanging On (written before he was *Dean Koontz*) and even Joseph Heller’s Catch-22.

Eventually making his way to Hollywood, Coon wrote scripts for a number of popular shows of the 1950s and 1960s such as Dragnet, Maverick, Bonanza, Have Gun, Will Travel, The Wild Wild West, and Wagon Train, and is also acknowledged for pitching the idea for what would become The Munsters. In the early 1970s, he wrote for shows like Kung Fu and The Streets of San Francisco, and produced the Robert Wagner series It Takes a Thief.

Somewhere in the middle of all of that, between 1966 and 1968, Coon was also one of the creative forces behind the original Star Trek.

GeneCoonWorking alongside series creator Gene Roddenberry as well as producers Herb Solow and Bob Justman and writer Dorothy Fontana, Coon was one of the show’s great influential forces. In addition to being a prolific writer who could turn out scripts in machine-like fashion, he’s also credited with introducing concepts to the series such as the Klingons and the Federation’s Prime Directive, the genetically enhanced Khan Noonien Singh, and warp drive pioneer Zefram Cochrane to name some prominent examples, which continue to inform and guide Star Trek storytelling to this day. Some of my favorite Trek scripts, like “Space Seed,” “A Taste of Armageddon,” “The Devil In the Dark,” and (of course!) “Arena” sprang from Gene Coon’s typewriter. Hell, I even have a soft spot for “Spock’s Brain.”

After Star Trek, he would partner again with Roddenberry as a co-writer for the TV film The Questor Tapes, and also was a co-writer for another Roddenberry concept that never went to series, Genesis II.

Coon died in 1973, never getting the chance to see what became of the show he helped shape and nurture. It’s unfortunate that his contributions seem to get overlooked except for the show’s most devoted fans, because there can be no denying the impact he had not just on the original series, but in the massive entertainment franchise Star Trek eventually became.

Happy 95th Birthday, Stan Lee!

Wishing a Happy 95th Birthday to the Generalissimo himself, Stan Lee!

He’s been at the epicenter of comics for more than seventy years. I still have my copy of How to Draw Comics the Marvel Way, which I purchased when I was a teenager with thoughts of one day drawing comics of my own. Despite reality asserting itself, that hasn’t dampened my love of the medium, and a lot of that is thanks to this man right here.

95, and he’s still running like a cheetah shotgunning Red Bull. I hope I have half his energy when I’m his age.

Wait. I want half his energy now.

The happiest of birthdays to you, sir.


They told me to “Go Trek Yourself,” so I did!

DrasticMeasures-CoverHey! I’m babbling again.

This time, it’s with hosts J.K. Woodward and Darrell Taylor and their podcast Go Trek Yourself. Though the focus of the show is Star Trek: Discovery, with the show taking its winter break J.K. and Darrell are expanding their horizons a bit an reaching out to talk to other people with peripheral connections to the series. In their last episode, they interviewed my occasional partner in literary mischief, David Mack, and talked about his Discovery novel Desperate Hours.

Next up? Moi.

During this extended episode (which is a kind way of saying, “That Ward guy just. Won’t. Shut. Up.”), J.K. and Darrell ask me about my own forthcoming Disco novel, Drastic Measures, as well as my writing partnership with Kevin and our various collaborations. It’s a rollicking hour+plus of Trekkie goodness, including gushing on my part as I’m a big fan of J.K.’s comics artwork.

So, if you’ve got 75 or 80 minutes to kill, go and stick this in your ears:

Go Trek Yourself Episode 25: Dayton Ward

Many thanks to J.K. and Darrell for having me on to yammer for a bit. We’ve talked about a return engagement at some point, so I guess we’ll see what we see!