My shameless holiday shopping suggestions guide.

I’m a freelance writer, which means I’m obligated at irregular yet all-too frequent intervals to throw myself on the mercy of a discerning populace and make my case for convincing you to part with some of your hard-earned spondoolicks in exchange for one or more of my collections of scribblings.

On the best of occasions, this takes the form of me standing behind a proud display of my works, with tomes arrayed like little literary Stonehenges placed with Pythagorean precision while patrons browse the titles in search of something interesting. If the gods choose to smile upon me, I will trade many of these volumes for coin or notes, though there have been times when I departed the bazaar carrying the same burden with which I arrived.

Of course, thanks to Pandemic 2020, exactly every single one of my scheduled convention appearances were cancelled. I totally understand and support each of the con promoters and their decisions to act out of concern for public safety. Likewise, I sympathize with those same promoters along with the vendors and creators who exhibit at these shows, for they all lost huge chunks of revenue they obviously count on to earn a living. As for me, it’s entirely possible someone might well have bought a book from me at one of these shows, with the intention of presenting said book to a friend or relative as a gift. Birthday present? Perhaps, but this time of the year it might well be an offering for the looming holiday season.

With that in mind, I figure I’m not at all above pointing potential buyers to some of my titles that I think make fun gifts for that Star Trek fan on your shopping list. For the most part I’m steering away from my novels and focusing instead on those books with a better chance of appealing to the casual fan as well as the hardcore Trekkie.

First up? A pair of books to carry with you when you finally decide to blow off Vegas or Cancun and take a real vacation. Hop a transport to Vulcan or the Klingon homeworld, Qo’noS, and be sure to pack along a handy travel guide to your chosen destination. Hidden Universe Travel Guides – Star Trek: Vulcan will give you all the info you need to make your way around Earth’s oldest interstellar ally and one of the Federation’s founding members. Check out the planet that gave us Spock, Sarek, Tuvok, T’Pol, and Michael Burhnam. The book even comes packed with helpful hints in the event you find yourself taking part in a Vulcan marriage ceremony or even becoming the unwilling recipient of a dying Vulcan’s living spirit. This book wouldn’t be half as good as it turned out if not for the artistic stylings of Livio Ramondelli and Peter Markowski.

Vulcan too laid back or even Lebowski for your tastes? Kick your vacation up a notch with Hidden Universe Travel Guides – Star Trek: The Klingon Empire. In addition to giving you all the deets for visiting the homeworld, this guide also provides infobits about other planets within the Empire that are well worth a spot on your travel itinerary. Lots of tips from seasoned pros and welcoming locals, along with plenty of anecdotes from prominent Klingons as well insights into Klingon history and culture. Once again, my efforts are made all the better by the contributions of Livio and Peter, whose art graces nearly every page.

Looking for something to help someone get their craft on? A few ideas to appeal to that younger Trekkie who likes puzzles and models are the line of IncrediBuilds book-and-model sets. I’ve partnered with the IncrediBuilds team on five of these projects (so far?), including three Star Trek offerings: one each for the original U.S.S. Enterprise, the U.S.S. Enterprise NCC-1701-D from Star Trek: The Next Generation, and the Klingon Bird-of-Prey seen in several Star Trek feature films and television series. The models consist of a laser-cut wood sheet with pieces that don’t require glue or other adhesive, and are very easy to assemble. My contribution to each of these was a booklet of history and information about each vessel. Each was a fun way to write for a younger audience than I’m used to addressing.

Moving away from Star Trek, I also did two of these IncrediBuilds projects to coincide with the release of Toy Story 4 a couple of years ago, with models based on Buzz Lightyear and Sheriff Woody. As with the Trek sets, I provided a book for each model, this time telling different parts of the stories from the films as seen through each character’s eyes. Again, these respresented an opportunity to write for a younger audience, which I thoroughly enjoyed.

My most recent collaboration with Insight Editions is also something I had a total blast writing: Star Trek: Kirk Fu. That’s right…we’re talking about the definitive guide to fighting like the one and only James Tiberius Kirk, famed captain of the Starship Enterprise, accomplished brawler of Klingons, Romulans, giant space lizards and imaginary Western black hat types. Artist Christian Cornia provides all of the art, including big, beautiful full-color splash pages along with step-by-step diagrams for each move. Be sure to stretch well before undertaking any of the moves illustrated in this handbook. Or, you could heed the warning and don’t try any of this at home because it’s all made up, yo.

Maybe somebody on your list likes role-playing games and Modiphius has you covered with Star Trek Adventures, fully-realized RPG set in the realm of the final frontier. I mean, sure…they DO have games based on a variety of premises, but right now we’re talking about Star Trek, all right? After helping game editor Jim Johnson and fellow writer Scott Pearson develop the game’s “living campaign” playtest storyline, I also managed to make some minor contributions to the game’s Core Rulebook. Then, last year I provided material that was included in 2020’s Klingon Core Rulebook, which basically has everything you need to play Star Trek Adventures pretty much exclusively from the perspective of Klingon characters. All sorts of other goodies are over there in the Modiphius shop, just waiting to help you make your STA experience a bold one.

Earlier this year, my best friend and occasional writing partner Kevin Dilmore and I got to do something we’d not done in a couple of years: Write fiction together. We’ve actually done it twice this year, with two more on the way.

As for the two that are available now? First, it was a return to the realm of Pangaea. Created by friend and fellow writer Michael Jan Friedman from Crazy 8 Press, this “shared world” setting resulted in three anthologies of short stories, and Kevin and I contributed to all three volumes. First was 2015’s Pangaea, followed in 2016 by Pangaea Book II: The Rise of Dominjaron and finally this year’s Pangaea Book III: Redemption. It’s always a gas when we get to work with Mike and others from the Crazy 8 stable.

Another fun project to which we were invited to contribute and which was published this year was It Came From the Multiplex: 80s Midnight Chillers. An unabashed celebrations of 1980s horror movies, this was Kevin’s and my first collaboration with the gang at Hex Publishers.

We had so much fun with this story that we decided the setting – the Vogue, an old-school single screen theater in the center of a small nondescript town in Anytown, USA – could more than lend itself to other tales told within those troubled walls. So, it’s entirely possible that may be something we do for goofs one of these days.

Okay, I’ve resisted this long, so sure…I need to promote my most recent novel release. It’s a Star Trek original series novel, Agents of Influence, and rather than push the trade paperback too hard (I’ve been doing that all year), instead I’m going to remind folks that there’s also an audiobook version out there.

Like many of the current cropy of Star Trek audiobooks, this one is read by Robert Petkoff, and he does his usual awesome job bringing to life not just Captain Kirk and the Enterprise crew but also all the other characters I managed to stuff into this book. Stick this in your ears, sit back, and enjoy the ride.

All right. I suppose that’s enough shameless promotion for one day.

IncrediBuilds: Klingon Bird-of-Prey

IncrediBuilds-BoPStar Trek

Get ready to boldly go where no one has gone before with this exciting Klingon wood model set. The 32-page softcover book is packed with information on the Bird-of-Prey warship, from its basic capabilities to its pivotal role in the Star Trek universe. Complete with stunning imagery and behind-the-scenes content, this book and model set is a must-have for any Trek fan. The wood model is easy to assemble and forms a dynamic, displayable 3D version of the Klingon Bird-of-Prey that fans will love.

Includes:
– Laser-cut, FSC®-certified wood sheet with easy-to-assemble pieces
– Step-by-step instructions
– Coloring and crafting ideas
– A Klingon Bird-of-Prey book

Skill Level: Intermediate

Order it directly from Insight Editions’ IncrediBuilds website!


Like the previous Star Trek and Toy Story IncrediBuilds projects I’ve worked on for Insight Editions, this is a departure from the sort of things I usually write, but still a lot of fun. The book I write to go with each model is aimed at the younger audience (10+ in this instance). Most of the material is offered from “inside the box” as though providing something of an historical record about the ship, while the last few pages talk about how the BoP was created for its use in the Star Trek films as well as how the design as evolved over the course of the subsequent television series up to and including Star Trek: Discovery.

As for the model? For my money, this may be my favorite one so far. They really did a nice job translating the ship’s design into the IncrediBuilds mold, and the instructions include options for painting and customizing yours once you build it. No tape or glue required!

There’s been some talk about doing additional Star Trek IncrediBuilds projects. Assuming I’m involved with any of those, I’ll be sure to share all the juicy details as I’m able.

More Star Trek IncrediBuilds action. This time: the Klingons!

Regular followers of this space know I’ve been writing various things and bits for Insight Editions for the past few years. It started with the Vulcan and Klingon Travel Guides before I was asked about writing for another of their imprints, IncrediBuilds. My mission: write “guidebooks” to go with special, eco-friendly wood model kits they were creating for the 10+ age bracket. I started with books for the original U.S.S. Enterprise and its counterpart from Star Trek: The Next Generation. These were followed with a deviation to another licensed property, Toy Story, for which I wrote the books to go with models of Sheriff Woody and Buzz Lightyear. Both of these were fun because I got to go for an audience that was slightly younger even than that for which the Star Trek kits were intended.

Oh, and it’s possible you may have heard about my coming Kirk Fu book.

Another project I did for Insight/IncrediBuilds last year and which is getting set for release is a return to the Star Trek realm, and this time we’re doing the Klingon Bird- of-Prey!

IncrediBuilds-BoP(Click to Biggie Size)

As with all IncrediBuilds kits, this little guy is designed to be assembled without the need for glue or tape or anything else holding it together. Even though it’s meant for slightly smaller hands, the model has a few itsty-bitsy parts, and the guidebook also includes tips on painting and customizing the model. Once you put it all together and maybe slap some paint on it? For my money this may be the best of their three Star Trek offerings to date.

KlingonBOP-IncrediBuild Model(Click this pic and you’ll get a nifty pre-order link!)

As for the book I wrote, I cover a general history and lineage of this ship class, notable Klingons who’ve commanded such vessels, and battles and other encounters which have involved Birds-of-Prey. There’s even a section about the “H.M.S. Bounty,” the ship captured by Admiral Kirk and his crew in Star Trek III: The Search for Spock and used so extensively in Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home. Finally, I step out of the box a bit for an overview of the ship’s design for the films and how it was used in later movies and TV series episodes, as well as how it inspired designs seen in the prequel series Star Trek: Enterprise and Star Trek: Discovery.

As with my previous IncrediBuilds collaborations, I had a lot of fun writing this one, thanks in no small part to my editor at Insight, Holly Fisher, with whom I’ve worked on all of these to date and who’s been awesome from the jump. It’s always fun to delve into a bit of Star Trek lore and present it in a way younger readers might enjoy. There are already plans afoot for more of these book/model kits, and I’m obviusly hoping Insight will see fit to bring me back for more IncrediBuilds action.

In the meantime, the Star Trek: Klingon Bird-Of-Prey IncrediBuilds kit will be released on or about March 23, and you can pre-order your very own copy (or six) by clicking on this little linky-type thing right here.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’ll be over here putting one of these together. For the children, you understand.

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?

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!”

IncrediBuilds: U.S.S. Enterprise NCC-1701-D

IB_ST_TNG_Kit_Pkg_022118.inddStar Trek: The Next Generation

Get ready to boldly go where no one has gone before with this exciting Star Trek: The Next Generation wood model set. The 32-page softcover book is packed with information on the U.S.S. Enterprise NCC-1701-D, from its basic capabilities to its pivotal role in the Star Trek universe. Complete with stunning imagery and behind‑the‑scenes content, this book and model set is a must-have for any Star Trek fan. The wood model is easy to assemble and snaps together to form a dynamic, displayable 3D version of the Enterprise that fans will love.

Includes:
– Laser-cut, FSC®-certified wood sheet with easy-to-assemble pieces
– Step-by-step instructions
– Coloring and crafting ideas
– A U.S.S. Enterprise NCC-1701-D book

Skill Level: Advanced

Order directly from Insight Editions’ IncrediBuilds website!


This project, along with its original Star Trek series counterpart, was something of a departure for me, writing-wise. The book accompanying this nifty little model presents a bit of an overview of the Galaxy-class starships, with obvious emphasis on the Enterprise and its noteworthy adventures as chronicled on Star Trek: The Next Generation. That portion of the book is presented “inside the box,” as though the missions of the Enterprise really happened.

For the rest of the book, I took a step back and offer a brief history of the Enterprise‘s design for the series by Andrew Probert, the building and use of different filming miniatures, and even how they filmed the crash sequence that marks the end of the Enterprise-D’s service in Star Trek Generations.

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

Given that the IncrediBuilds kits are aimed at the 10+ age bracket, this along with the original series Enterprise was a fun way for me to bring a bit of Star Trek to a younger audience. If these first two kits do well, there may be others. I guess we’ll see!

IncrediBuilds: U.S.S. Enterprise NCC-1701

Incredibuilds-1701-coverStar Trek

Get ready to boldly go where no one has gone before with this exciting Star Trek wood model set. The deluxe 32-page book is packed with information on the U.S.S. Enterprise, from its basic capabilities to its pivotal role in the Star Trek universe. Complete with stunning imagery and behind-the-scenes content, this book and model set is a must have for any Star Trek fan. The wood model is easy to assemble and snaps together to form a dynamic, displayable 3D version of the Enterprise that fans will love.

Includes:
– Laser-cut, FSC®-certified wood sheet with easy-to-assemble pieces
– Step-by-step instructions
– Coloring and crafting ideas
– A U.S.S. Enterprise book

Skill Level: Advanced

Order it directly from Insight Editions’ IncrediBuilds website!


This project, along with its Star Trek: The Next Generation counterpart, was something of a departure for me, writing-wise. The book accompanying this nifty little model presents a bit of an overview of the Constitution-class starships, with obvious emphasis on the Enterprise and its noteworthy adventures as chronicled on the original Star Trek series. That portion of the book is presented “inside the box,” as though the missions of the Enterprise really happened.

(Wait. They’re not?)

For the rest of the book, I took a step back and offer a brief history of the Enterprise‘s design for the series by Matt Jefferies, the building and use of the 11-foot filming model, and even its display (and recent restoration) at the National Air and Space Museum.

And hey! The model is pretty cool, you know.

Given that the IncrediBuilds kits are aimed at the 10+ age bracket, this was a fun way for me to bring a bit of Star Trek to a younger audience. If these first two kits do well, there may be others. I guess we’ll see!

More presents from the Book Fairy!

What’s this? New books with that new book smell? Awwwwwwwwwww, yeah.

The good folks at Insight Editions sent me a present yesterday, in the form of author copies of my two latest publications: a pair of IncrediBuilds wood model kits, each with their own book as scribbled by me! Check it out, y’all:

(Click to biggie size.)

Aimed at a younger audience, the models are designed for easy assembly and require no glue, tape, or anything else. Everything fits together all nice and snug. I’ve not yet built either of these, but my kids and I have experimented with a couple of the Star Wars IncrediBuilds offerings. These things are kinda fun. 🙂

I was first able to talk about these back at the end of March, when Insight and StarTrek.com made the official announcement. Each book is 32 pages, stuffed to overflowing with various facts, stats, and little anecdotes about the ships as portrayed on TV and film, along with a few behind the scenes nuggets.

Both model/book sets are due in stores on or about on Tuesday, June 12th. I’m pretty happy with how these came out, and we’ve had conversations about potential future entries in this series. Stay tuned for more info as details develop!

Pre-order links for my Star Trek IncrediBuilds book/model sets!

Hey!

Remember last weekend when I finally was able to announce two of the mystery projects with which I’m currently involved? It was nice to come in from the darkness, albeit briefly, and talk about the pair of Star Trek-themed IncrediBuilds projects I’ve been working on for Insight Editions. Both book/model sets are due for publication on Tuesday, June 12th, and now we have pre-order links…well, sorta.

incredibuilds-trek-covers

Because I know you want to buy copies for you and all of your friends:

Star Trek: The Original Series – U.S.S. Enterprise
Amazon.com
Barnes & Noble
Books-A-Million

Star Trek: The Next Generation – U.S.S. Enterprise
Amazon.com
Barnes and Noble
Books-A-Million

The TNG Enterprise set seems to be having some issues to sort out so far as its “availability.” Amazon is showing its pub date as May 2030, and B&N doesn’t even have it listed. Only Books-A-Million seems to have its act together. As things get sorted out, I’ll be sure to post updates, because I know you all want to get a jump on your holiday shopping.