Agents of Influence

AgentsOfInfluence-CoverStar Trek: The Original Series

For years, Starfleet Intelligence agents have carried out undercover assignments deep within the Klingon Empire. Surgically altered and rigorously trained in Klingon culture, they operate in plain sight and without any direct support, while collecting information and infiltrating the highest levels of imperial power. Their actions have given Starfleet valuable insight into the inner workings of Klingon government and its relentless military apparatus.

After three of Starfleet’s longest serving agents fear exposure, they initiate emergency extraction procedures. Their planned rendezvous with the U.S.S. Endeavour goes awry, threatening to reveal their activities and the damaging intelligence they’ve collected during their mission. Tasked by Starfleet to salvage the botched rescue attempt, Captain James T. Kirk and the crew of the Starship Enterprise must discover the truth behind a secret weapons experiment while avoiding an interstellar incident with the potential to ignite a new war between the Federation and one of its oldest adversaries.


Agents of Influence is my first Original Series novel since my 2016 collaboration with my bud Kevin, Purgatory’s Key. As I’ve recently said elsewhere, this era of Star Trek is my favorite, either while writing Kirk and the gang on the Enterprise or else other tales told in the same general time frame as we did with the Star Trek Vanguard and Star Trek: Seekers books. It’s always fun to return to this period, where Kirk and his crew are in their prime and out there exploring and seeking and boldly going.

It’s also worth mentioning that this is the 22nd Star Trek novel I’ve written and the eighteenth while working under the editorial guidance of Ed Schlesigner and/or Margaret Clark. For the better part of the past decade it’s been both of these folks. They tolerate my antics and my shenanigans and they keep calling me back to write more Star Trek, for which I am and will forever be grateful.

This is also my sixth Star Trek novel to receive an audiobook adaptation. As with the other five titles, this new book benefits from the vocal stylings of the wonderful Robert Petkoff. A self-professed Star Trek fan himself, Mr. Petkoff always brings enthusiasm and passion to these projects, and I simply love listening to him breathe life into my pithy little words.

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

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

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

Zlonk! Zok! Zowie!

Zlonk Zok Zowie-CoverThe Subterranean Blue Grotto Guide to Batman ’66 – Season One
edited by Jim Beard with Rich Handley

Another Bright, Sunny Day in Gotham City…Or is it?

The Riddler, the Penguin, the Joker, and Catwoman are all making their first fiendish forays to prey upon Gotham’s innocent citizens, but Batman and Robin, the famous Caped Crusaders, stand ready to Z-ZWAP! their diabolic schemes–all the time knowing full well that even more arch-criminals such as the Bookworm, King Tut, and False Face will follow!

Maybe you already know these stories and have thrilled to them since their debut during the inaugural 1966 season of the beloved Batman television series–but when eighteen energetic essayists all descend upon these episodes to evaluate them for enlightenment, suffice to say, citizen, you’ve never seen them like this before!

Join Jim Beard, creator and editor of Gotham City 14 Miles, as he bounds back to the Batcave with a few fearless friends to dig deep into Batman Season One’s seventeen episodes and the 1966 Batman feature film. With particular points-of-view and a worldly wealth of Bat-knowledge, these writers tackle themes, tones, and tropes beyond any previous Batman episode guides–Holy Hooks! They’ll ZLONK! ZOK! ZOWIE! your senses!

Featuring Special Guest Essayists: Jim Beard, Ed Catto, Joe Crowe, Keith DeCandido, Kevin Dilmore, Chuck Dixon, John S. Drew, Pat Evans, Chris Franklin, Bob Greenberger, Dan Greenfield, Rich Handley, Paul Kupperberg, Will Murray, Alan J. Porter, Mark B. Racop, Peter Sanderson, Steven Thompson, and Dayton Ward. Cover by Sean E. Ali.

Trade Paperback from Amazon.com
Kindle eBook from Amazon.com

Zlonk-IntArt-01


Find something “serious” to write about for a show that was never really intended to be taken all that seriously? Sure, Jim. No pressure.

The truth is that despite its over-the-top and in-your-face campy nature, the 1960s Batman series did have a few layers to it. Many of its episodes managed to slip a little bit of subtle messaging past viewers caught up in the on-screen craziness, usually in the form of some sly writing by the likes of Lorenzo Semple Jr., Ralph Ross, Charles Hoffman, and so many other writers who contributed scripts over the course of the show’s three seasons. Anything earth-shattering? Perhaps. Perhaps not. That sort of thing ultimately is for viewers and fans to decide, but maybe we can help a little.

Enter the Subterranean Grotto (not the Sub-Subterranean Grotto…that’s only for emergencies). Published by Crazy 8 Press, Zlonk! Zok! Zowie! is presented as an exploration of just what might be baked into the episodes of the show’s first season along with the 1966 Batman feature film based on the series. Kevin and teamed up to provide a look at the two-part story that features the return of the Clown Prince of Crime himself, “The Joker Goes to School” and “He Meets His Match, the Grisly Ghoul.” It’s all about how Batman’s arch nemesis involves himself in juvenile deliquency. Hey, slow day in Gotham, I guess.

Volumes examining the second and third seasons are already in the planning stages. If you’re a fan of Adam West’s Batman (and really…who isn’t), you should give this new tome a look. To the bookstore*, citizens!

Zlonk-IntArt-03

* Yes, I know that as I write this, visiting a bookstore “just because” is not really an option due to the current state of affairs, but you still have online resources to help you during these trying times until some semblance of sanity is restored!

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.

Star Trek: Kirk Fu Manual

star-trek-kirk-fu-manual-coverAs captain of the legendary U.S.S. Enterprise, James T. Kirk engaged in his share of fisticuffs, besting opponents with a slick combination of moves and guile that remains unmatched. Is there anyone you’d rather have watching your back as you take on Klingons, alien gladiators, genetically engineered supermen, and even the occasional giant walking reptile?

Kirk Fu is a series of unarmed combat techniques developed by one of Starfleet’s most celebrated starship captains over several years of exploring deep space. A blend of various fighting styles, Kirk Fu incorporates elements of several Earth-based martial arts forms as well as cruder methods employed in bars and back alleys on planets throughout the galaxy. It is as unorthodox in practice as it is unbelievable to behold. Including excerpts from Kirk’s own notes and personal logs, Star Trek: Kirk Fu Manual is the perfect training guide for surviving the depths of space. With proper training and practice, every Starfleet cadet can become one with Kirk Fu.

Continue reading “Star Trek: Kirk Fu Manual”

Footprints in the Stars

FootprintsInTheStarsBeyond the Cradle

To follow in the footsteps of those who have gone before, first we must find them.

Dreaded hope settles over mankind as we stare into the heavens, looking for a sign we are not alone. Fearing we will find it, puzzled when we don’t.

Among the stars or in our own backyard, lose yourself in the wonder of these tales as we humbly posit mankind’s reaction to the awesome certainty that ‘they’ are out there…or at least, they were…

Footprints in the Stars

With stories by Gordon Linzner, Ian Randal Strock, Robert Greenberger, Dayton Ward, Aaron Rosenberg, Danielle Ackley-McPhail, Jody Lynn Nye, Christopher L. Bennett, James Chambers, Keith R.A. DeCandido, Russ Colchamiro, Judi Fleming, and Bryan J.L. Glass

Trade Paperback or Kindle e-Book from Amazon.com
Trade Paperback or Nook e-Book from Barnes & Noble
Trade Paperback from Books-A-Million


When eSpec Books editor Danielle Ackley-McPhail invited me to participate in this new collection, she described thusly: “…all of the stories will revolve around the central theme of humanity discovering evidence that we are not alone in the universe.” She stressed that she wasn’t looking for “first contact stories,” so we were going to have to dig a little deeper and come up with something else.

When I started on what I thought was going to be my story, I had what I thought was an interesting premise. Then, as time passed and I started playing around with writing it, an idea for a completely different story began to take shape. Before I knew it, I realized this newer idea that ended up calling “Lost and Found” was something I wanted to dig in on, not just for this story but perhaps setting things up for a novel at some point. To her credit, Danielle did not, in point of fact, beat me with a tire iron when I changed lanes on her, and instead welcomed not just my idea but also the possibility of me exploring this notion further with eSpec.

I guess we’ll see.

As for the original idea I had? Well, I realized as I was writing that it was too much for a short story and I wanted to do more with it, as well. So, who knows? Maybe I’ll end up with two long-form projects out of this. Are the two entities separate or related? To be honest, I haven’t decided just yet. I guess we’ll have to see about that, too.

Huh.

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?

Available Light

AvailableLight-coverStar Trek: The Next Generation

Section 31, the covert organization which has operated without accountability in the shadows for more than two centuries, has been exposed. Throughout the Federation, the rogue group’s agents and leaders are being taken into custody as the sheer scope of its misdeeds comes to light. Now Starfleet Command must decide the consequences for numerous officers caught up in the scandal—including Admirals William Ross, Edward Jellico, Alynna Nechayev, and Captain Jean-Luc Picard who, along with many others, are implicated in the forced removal of a Federation president.

Meanwhile, deep in the distant, unexplored region of space known as the Odyssean Pass, Picard and the crew of the Starship Enterprise must put aside personal feelings and political concerns as they investigate a massive mysterious spacecraft. Adrift for centuries in the void, the ship is vital to the survival of an endangered civilization which has spent generations searching for a world to sustain what remains of its people. Complicating matters is a band of marauders who have their own designs on the ancient ship, with only the Enterprise standing in their way…


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

“SHUT UP, DAYTON!”

:: ahem ::

Sorry.

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

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

Anyway…..

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

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

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

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

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

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!