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!

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?

Blast from the past: “And Then One Night”

HGWorld-logoA while back, friend and fellow word pusher Jay Smith was the chaotic evil mastermind behind HG World, a full-cast audio drama depicting a zombie uprising and those who struggle to survive it. Jay wrote all of the scripts for nearly 30 episodes and an audio novel, and more than 70 people lent their voices in various capacities over the course of the series.

Back in 2010 or 2011, Jay posited the idea of a series of shorter episodes depicting characters and events away from the main storyline. Along with a few other folks, he invited me to submit story ideas for this “audio anthology” he was tentatively calling A Long Cold Lonely Winter. I pitched an idea about a Marine unit tasked with protecting a small group of VIPs, specifically a United States senator and his family. Originally meant to transport the senator and his entourage to a secure location, things go sideways and the Marines are forced to seek shelter at an abandoned National Guard armory post. They fortify their positions after being told to stay put and are preparing to hunker down for the winter, “And Then One Night, All Hell Broke Loose.”

At least, that’s how I wrote it. I submitted a script for my story, but didn’t hear much about it after that. For a variety of reasons, mostly work and life and other things of higher importance, the anthology idea was shelved while Jay focused his attention on other things. I was plenty busy writing all sorts of other stuff, so at some point this just sort of faded into the back of my memory.

Then, last week, he posted an announcement on Facebook that he was officially “retiring” HG World, and that’s when I received a cool little surprise: Somewhere along the line, Jay had cast the voices for my script, and he and his crew recorded it.

Wait. Whaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaat? How the hell did that happen? How the hell did that happen? Well, the “how” seems easy enough: Jay and his people did what Jay and his people did a lot: They just did it. Imagine my genuine, pleasant surprise.

Now, this is only the raw audio, meaning it’s not anywhere near being a polished episode of the sort Jay and Company put out time after time while working on HG World. So, for all I know there would’ve been edits and maybe even redos if we’d decided something else worked so far as the dialogue went. But, this is a neat little reminder of something fun I did for a friend a while back. Check it out:

HG World: A Long Cold Lonely Winter – “And Then One Night…”

Full Cast List:

Civilian #1 – Isaak Wells
Civilian #2 – Warren Blackie
Civilian #3 – J. Longshaw
Cpl Kirsten Beyer – Ginny Swann
1stLt Carrie Burroughs – S. Longshaw
Col. Michael Davison – David Sobkowiak
LCpl Becky Gaskill – Karen Kahler
LCpl Ricky Jackson – Stacy Dooks
Sgt William Leisner – Tanja Milojevic
GySgt Joshua Marshall – Brion Humphrey
Melissa – Melissa Morgan
Cpl Scott Pearson – Justin Grubbs
Robert Powell – Warren Blackie
Cpl Gary Taylor – Tom Kerin
Andy Waverly – Adam Boeing
Senator Charles Waverly – Lee Turner
Woman – Danielle McRrea

and Keith R.A. DeCandido as Todd Rage

Many thanks to Jay, the cast and crew, and everyone else who worked to put this together. I’m sorry to see HG World retire, but I fully understand having to let a favorite project rest when life’s other demands get in the way. Maybe Jay will find a way to revisit it, one of these days.

Talking about Available Light with Literary Treks!

AvailableLight-coverSo, I’m babbling again.

This time it’s about my still minty fresh Star Trek: The Next Generation novel Available Light, and the thankless task of not only enduring my blatherings but also recording them for others to hear fell to the inimitable duo of Bruce Gibson and Dan Gunther, they of the Literary Treks podcast.

I always enjoy talking with Bruce and Dan. They’re longtime supporters of the Star Trek novel line, and the interviews they conduct are fun and even a little challenging, as some of the questions go beyond the usual sorts of topics we might cover while discussing this sort of thing. I also love that they always seem able to dial in on some of the subtler things I might try to sneak into one of my books when I think no one’s paying attention.

In the course of talking about Available Light, we also discuss the rather expansive “24th century continuity” the novels have built across multiple series and more books than I can count over the course of many years. It’s quite something, for whatever my opinion’s worth, and I’m rather proud to be a part of it. We also tease (Just a little!) about what might be next, particularly with the forthcoming Collateral Damage, David Mack‘s follow up to my book that’s due to hit bookstore shelves in October.

In the meantime, have a listen to our little chat:

Literary Treks #266: Bringing the Truth Out of the Shadows

LitTreks266

Thanks as always to Bruce and Dan for having me on. I’m sure we’ll do it again at some point! 🙂

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!

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

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!

My 2019 convention calendar begins to take shape.

Previously, on the Fog of Ward:

Yeah, yeah. I know. I’ve been neglecting this space in recent days, but the honest answer for that is I just didn’t have anything to say that I felt was worth polluting the blogosphere over.

However, as we head into the last turn of the track that is 2018, I’m starting to look ahead to the new year with respect to the work I hope to be doing and projects that excite me. Part of that is figuring out which conventions I’ll attend in my role as “Guy Who Writes Things.”

On that front, a couple of events are pretty much locked in as they are every year. First, there’s the Starfest Convention held annually in Denver. Kevin and I make a point never to miss this one, and 2019 will mark our 16th consecutive appearance as guests of the show. This year it’s set for the weekend of April 26-28, and of course Kevin and I are already keen to start that drive west.

Later in the year is Shore Leave, the other con I try to never miss. This year it’s the weekend of July 12-14, which means it’s once again right in the thick of things so far as competing for space on Kevin’s work schedule with Comic-Con International and the big Star Trek con in Las Vegas. This means I’ll likely be attending this one stag again.

Closer to home, Planet Comicon is celebrating its 20th anniversary with what is shaping up to be their biggest and best show yet. It’s going on the weekend of March 29-31, and they’ve graciously invited Kevin and me to come join the party.

New for this year is a smaller show that’s popped up on our radar: the Neosho Art Council’s first-ever ArtCon, will take place on Saturday, February 9th and spend the day celebrating all the coolness and awesomesauce that is pop culture. Several creators from the region have been invited to attend, including Kevin and moi. Readers with sharp, long memories may think Neosho rings a bell, that’s because a significant chunk of The Last World War takes place there. How ’bout them apples?

Meanwhile, Kevin’s work at Hallmark sees to it that he attends several shows I likely won’t get to, such as the aforementioned Comic-Con and Vegas Trek con as well as New York Comic Con. Circumstances may see to it that I end up at a couple of these, and I’ve also been invited to attend a couple of new shows later in the year. More on those as details firm up.

As is always the case, you can keep tabs on our con schedule by visiting my Appearances page. Stay tuned for more updates!

Headless and Other Improbable Excitations of The Muse, a Kickstarter project by Michael Jan Friedman.

My pal Mike Friedman is up to something, again.

For those who don’t know, Mike is a salty author. He’s got a list of publishing credits about a mile long, including novels, short stories, comics, and TV, so yeah…he’s been around the block a few times.

About once a year or so, he gets a wild hair…uh…someplace, and decides it’s time to undertake the challenge of bringing to life some kind of writing project without the benefit of a traditional path to publication. In recent years, he’s turned to crowdfunding to help him acquire the money necessary to bring these plans to fruition. His typical mode of operation is to set modest fundraising goals in order to cover the expense of bringing the project to life, and in every case (five, so far), he’s hit his mark and delivered on everything promised.

He’s also one of the genuinely good, decent guys in this whole writing business thing. He’s been a friend and supporter from the first time I met him 15-odd years ago at my first Shore Leave convention appearance, and he’s on a very, very short list of people to whom I can never say “No,” such as when he asks a favor like promoting his latest project.

What’s he got brewing this time? Another collection of short stories and a followup to his earlier collection of short fiction, Cabal and Other Unlikely Invocations of The Muse. Having apparently not learned his lesson when it came to considering the virtue of a shorter title (the other book did fine, regardless), Mike’s new anthology of more of his own short tales is to be called Headless and Other Improbable Excitations of The Muse.

(I can already hear that book’s spine bending under the weight).

What’s it all about? Well, I’ve learned it’s best to just let Mike tell you:


Headless has all the kinds of stories I’ve become known for in books, in comics, and on TV–fantasy, science fiction, and superhero yarns. And as I said of Cabal, my first short-fiction collection, I really like the work I’m doing in these stories. I’m PROUD of it.

SO WHAT’S IN THIS BOOK ANYWAY?

* In Headless, the title story, a crewman aboard a starship does his best to carry out his duties without a critical portion of his anatomy.

* In Cold Case, a private investigator tries to find the killer of a most unusual victim–the son of a winter deity–as we revisit The City of A Thousand Gods.

* In The Company of Failed Beings, a teen-aged superhero searches for a cure to a bizarre malady that keeps him from using his powers.

* In Anteater, Doughnut, Casino, we travel to a diner beyond time to see the forces of good and evil compete for the ultimate prize. 

* In Connections, a woman with remarkable intellectual powers finally appears to have met her match.

* In The Garvin Street Ghost, a man returns to his old neighborhood to resurrect the best part of his past.

* In Geocachers, a sister and brother find themselves taking the long–very long–way home.

* In The Spirit of Lost Women, a businessman in provincial Mexico must bargain with a devil to get his wife back.


Sounds cool, amirite?

For the complete rundown on Headless and Other Improbable Excitations of The Muse and all the delicious rewards and stuff waiting for those  who boldly choose to opt in, run on over to Kickstarter and check out the project’s page:

Headless and Other Improbable Excitations of The Muse
by Michael Jan Friedman

Headless-Cover-Cropped

Good luck, Mike!

It’s been a while, so let’s do an “Ask Dayton” thing.

I’m busying myself with a couple of different writing projects, so I’m barricading myself in my office today. Still, that allows a bit of time here and there for these sorts of shenanigans.

So, here’s the deal: Ask me anything, if you’re so inclined, and I’ll do my best to provide a brief yet thoughtful answer. If I’m unable to accomplish this seemingly straightforward feat, I’ll instead craft a wiseass comment, tailored and customized especially for you! It’s sort of like an “AMA” over on Reddit, but without the requirement of me needing to gargle with a bottle of Purell once it’s all said and done.

Asker’s choice, so far as the topic goes. We can talk about writing, pop culture bullshit, deep thoughtful musings on the duality of man and the blurred line between good and evil, how science has finally proven to all those whiny shits that using two spaces after a period isn’t the global calamity they think it is, why KISS Meets the Phantom of the Park deserves to be reimagined with Steel Panther, or how we so desperately need a Star Trek musical episode or film, whatever.

I reserve the right not to answer anything I deem too personal or inappropriate for this particular venue, but this is a rule I’ve only rarely had to invoke. Still, it never hurts to make such things clear up front.

Okey-dokey, then. Who’s got a question?

horshack