Writing Star Trek? You need Star Trek references.

So, hey, here’s something you might not have known: I write Star Trek stuff.

A casual look over my CV reminds me that I’ve written a lot of Star Trek stuff. An alarming amount, really. This might be an incurable disease, at this point.

Prior to conning people into actually paying me to write Star Trek, I was of course a huge fan. The first “reference” work I can remember buying was Franz Joseph’s Star Fleet Technical Manual, along with the set of blueprints for the Constitution-class starship he also created. In the mid 1970s, when there was precious little material aside from the original series reruns and the odd novel or comic book, a young, wide-eyed fan could pore over these publications, along with such books as The Making of Star Trek, David Gerrold’s The World of Star Trek and The Trouble With Tribbles, and Bjo Trimble’s Star Trek Concordance and get their Star Trek fix.

Then 1979 arrived, and with it Star Trek: The Motion Picture along with a slew of new merchandise including Stan and Fred Goldstein’s Star Trek: Spaceflight Chronology, lavishly illustrated by the one and only Rick Sternbach, and we were off to the races.


(I remember begging my mother way back when for the money to buy one of David Gerrold’s books, pictured up top. I don’t remember which one. Hell, it may have been both.)

The years kept passing, we got new Star Trek movies and eventually new spin-off television series, and with all of that came more books! Along with the novels, there were more and more reference works. Blueprints, technical manuals, behind-the-scenes books, episode guides…you name it, it was out there. Holy crap, they were everywhere, and yeah, I bought them.

I’ve long been fascinated by the making of the original series in particular. You’d think at this point, nearly fifty years after the show was cancelled, there’d be little if anything left for me to read or find. The subject’s been pretty well covered in a variety of publications, most of which sit on one of my many overstuffed bookshelves. And yet, later this summer a new book, Star Trek: Lost Scenes, is coming at us.

Of course I’ve already pre-ordered the thing. I mean, duh.

(Don’t worry if you don’t see it pictured anywhere in these photos. Chances are good that whatever title you’re thinking of, I have it. I just had to stop at some point before this became somewhat pathological.)

And then, in an admittedly unlikely sequence of events, I morphed from simply being a Star Trek fan to someone who gets to write about it every so often. Now, I had a justifiable (and, as it happens, tax-deductible) reason to continue acquiring such books. Imagine my wife’s happiness upon hearing this news!

(“At least he wasn’t buying heroin,” she says.)

Now, in the age of the internet, one might think that such references are all but obsolete, and in many cases one might be right. As a writer of Star Trek stuff, sites like Memory Alpha and Memory Beta are wonderful starting points when conducting any sort of Trek-related research. However, there are times when you need to dig deep…sometimes way, way deep, and the only way to do that is by pulling some dusty old tome off the shelf.

Of all the various references I’ve collected over the years, if I had to pick a single favorite, it’d have to be the Spaceflight Chronology. It came out at a time when I was always drooling over big, beautiful art books like Beyond Jupiter and other collections of Chesley Bonestell art, or the Terran Trade Authority art series. Man, I loved those books, and this one slotted right in with them, at least in my mind.

Though most of the “future history” it postulated has since been overwritten and superseded by later Star Trek productions (which later spawned its own “official” chronology book), Spaceflight Chronology is still a book I revisit every so often. I love to drop the occasional Easter egg from it into a story I’m writing, and many of the “historical anecdotes” it features make for great story fodder, themselves. So enamored are Kevin and I with this particular book that we even paid tribute to it several years ago in an issue of Star Trek Magazine, where we created several “update pages” for it. How’s that for nerdy?

But, I’m getting off the rails here, a bit.

Anyway….Star Trek reference books. Yeah, I have a bunch of them, but they’re for work, honey! Honest!

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My 20th anniversary as a “professional writer.”

So, it was on or about this day in 1998 – give or take a day here and there, depending on your book retailer of choice – that my first ever professional piece of fiction was published.

Those of you who’ve been following this program for any length of time know how this origin tale goes, but for those of you new to the scene, that story was “Reflections,” published in the first ever snw1Star Trek: Strange New Worlds anthology.

Strange New Worlds was what resulted from the first of what would end up being eleven (so far?) contests. Edited by veteran writer and editor Dean Wesley Smith along with John Ordover (at the time one of the Star Trek editors at Pocket Books) and Paula Block (at the time working for CBS Consumer Products), was a way for fans to do something cool: write a Star Trek story, have it published, get paid for it, and feel like they were contributing – even in some small way – to the ever-expanding universe of stories they loved so much.

Prior to the first contest’s announcement in 1997, I never had written anything with an eye toward professional publication. I wrote stories that were included in fanzines, or might still be buried somewhere in an online archive, but it wasn’t until a friend of mine, Deb Simpson, essentially dared me to submit a story to the contest. So, I took a story I’d written before, and reworked it. Then, I printed it, stuck it in an envelope, and mailed it to Pocket Books in New York, because that’s how you did this kind of thing back in those days. Once that was done, I went on with life, because I knew it would be months before any results were announced.

For the first year’s results, contest editor Dean Wesley Smith and Pocket Books Star Trek editor John Ordover revealed the winners in a chat room on America Online, back when America Online was a service to which you connected via your computer modem. Dean and John announced 18 names, and I punched the air when I saw “Dayton Ward, ‘Reflections’” pop up on the chat screen.

In the days to come, I’d receive my first-ever publishing contract in the mail. I’d get my story sent back to me with a few marks and notes intended to tighten up the thing. I still have the cover flat I received in the months before the book’s publication, and even the bound galleys of the entire book, printed up on 8.5″ x 11″ paper, landscape-style, in which we newbies got our first look at what our stories looked like in a “real book.”

Then, finally, the book started showing up in stores, and I just had to go see for myself. Though I still get a thrill from seeing a new title of mine on a store shelf, nothing has quite equaled that first time.

And of course, you know what happened after that.

Since then? What an odd, yet so very rewarding journey it’s been.

First among the many positives which have come in the wake of that first short story sale is my friendship with Kevin Dilmore. We likely never would’ve met if not for the way Fate saw fit to have him interviewing the first batch of SNW winners for the Star Trek Communicator magazine. Fate also had him decide to ask me to meet him for a beer after work so that he could conduct his interview in person because we lived within 45 minutes of each other. He could’ve just as easily eMailed the interview questions to me, as he did with the other 17 winners, and that might well have been that.

(Sometimes, I have to wonder if Kevin regrets that choice 😉 )

Anyway, Fate’s a funny lady, sometimes.

Along the way, I’ve made numerous friends, be they fans, other writers, artists, or other publishing professionals. I’ve enjoyed several very rewarding opportunities, and had more than a few “Holy shit! Did that really just happen?” moments bestowed upon me. It’s been tremendous fun — more than I likely deserve — and every day I do my best to remember and appreciate the good fortune that’s come my way.

Of course, most if not all of that good fortune can be credited to Dean, John, and Paula, who put me on this path. Then there are the people who came after them, expending time and even money to read the stories I’ve written since “Reflections.” Maybe that’s you, reader of this blog posting. To you, and all of the editors, publishers, and readers who at some point have taken a chance on me, I thank you.

Here’s to the next 20.

I think I might be addicted to writing journals.

My thinking on this started the other day, when I decided I had to have this, a ruled-paper journal published by Insight Editions and recreating the cover of the Handbook for the Recently Deceased as seen in the film Beetlejuice.

Yep. Had to have it.

I’m probably not going to actually write in it, you understand. That’d just be silly! Who does that?

(What? That’s the whole point of these things? Oh. Well, then.)

There are all kinds of writing journals out there, ranging from your ordinary, everyday, unexciting book of blank or ruled pages to those featuring writing prompts and other exercises that (supposedly) get the muse’s blood pumping when it’s acting like a whiny little shit. Then there are the ones aimed at kids, from your basic diary (complete with lock!) to stuff like Wreck This Journal, which I have to confess is a damned brilliant idea. My kids love those. I mean, where was this kind of thing when *I* was a kid?

Thinking on it, my flirtation with “writing journals” of one sort of another likely goes back to my military days, where we used these green “log books” to write down just about anything and everything. In the days before “day planners” and fancy calendars from places like Franklin Covey (which are so ridiculous that my company literally sent us to an actual class on how to “properly” use one. Not even kidding.), there was the log book.

These green weenies were the lifeblood of a young Marine of your acquaintance. My whole life was in an ever-growing collection of these little bastards. Everything from phone numbers to notes from meetings and orders from officers to software installation and hardware configuration procedures to hand-drawn diagrams for making our own printer cables and whatnot. Hey, this was before the internet, where we had to figure out all of that crazy shit for ourselves.

Anyway, it was inevitable that I’d start using the things to jot down stories and whatever. Even way back then, I was a budding writer wannabe. I still have a couple of the log books containing those oh-so very awful stories and whatever. A recent stint working on a government contract brought me back into the world of these things, which are still around and still kicking ass and taking names.

Now, as a writer and despite living in the Electronic Age, I still do a lot of scribbling, idea-spinning, and general dabbling via pen and paper. However, I’ve never really been one for needing to be seen with a fancy writing journal. Instead, I’m happy with such stalwart helpers as your general purpose legal pad, spiral notebook, or the champion of low-cost journaling: the Composition book.

I buy these things a half dozen at a time, and there’s always one in my backpack or messenger bag. They’re perfect for working out story ideas and other short-burn type writing, but I’ve been known to write entire scenes or chapters in them, depending on the situation. When I travel on vacation, I’m usually loathe to take a laptop with me, so a couple of Composition books are handy if the writing itch strikes.

However, I’m certainly not immune to the siren’s call of a fancy writer’s journal. It’s happened, and upon reflection it’s happened more times than I care to admit. After all, somebody has to be buying those “moleskin” journals that make you look all erudite and hipster when sitting at the bookstore cafe pretending to write while you’re really just reading Facebook or Twitter, or writing pithy blog posts like this one in order to avoid actual, productive writing, right? Not just me?

Then there are the journals that make me laugh when I see them in the store. Like the aforementioned Handbook for the Recently Deceased, other treasures have been encountered at various bookstores, demanding that I take them home with me. For example:

These are so me, right?

Of course, I can’t be a writer of Star Trek stuff without Star Trek being represented:

And finally, not because they’re actually useful as writing journals, but rather just because they look cool sitting on the desk:

I think this might really be a sickness.

But, when it’s all said and done, my trusty Composition book remains my weapon of choice. They’re inexpensive, I don’t care if they get damaged, and they’re just the “right” size for spewing words out of a pen onto paper.

What say you? If you are the sort to write longhand for any length of time, do you have a personal preference or favorite, or dependable standby that’s always there when you need it? Fess up, writer types!

“Assignment: Earth” at 50.

Though we celebrated the 50th anniversary of the original Star Trek series premiere back in September 2016, it’s been fun to recognize various favorite episodes as they each reach their own respective golden milestone. Landmark installments like “Arena,” “The City on the Edge of Forever,” and “The Doomsday Machine” have all gotten a bit of love as they turned 50, but it’s also fun to recognize those episodes which might not often show up on various “Best of” lists while still being personal favorites.

For me, “Assignment: Earth” is one such episode.

Continue reading ““Assignment: Earth” at 50.”

Looking back at my 2017.

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

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

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

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

2017-cover-gallery

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Okay, 2018: Bring it on.

“Do you accept guest posts?”

Those of you who follow my Facebook updates may have seen me post something pithy last weekend.

“Um, Dayton? Wanna be a little more specific there, bro?”

Sure. Here’s what I’m talking about, posted this past Saturday:


Dear Unsolicited Wannabe Guest Blog Provider of Crap Having Nothing At All To Do With My Site,

I’ve spent a number of years cultivating a readership whose support and loyalty far surpasses its size. I’m rather protective of them. Kindly fuck off and get your own.

Signed,
Me


“Wow, Dayton,” I can hear some of you saying. “That’s pretty damned harsh.”

Yeah, I guess it is, but here’s the thing: Sure, the message is rather blunt, but the sentiment behind it is genuine, particularly when we’re talking about the sort of e-mail I get on this topic. For example:


Hello There!

I was conducting content research on [something not at all to do with anything I post about here] and I chanced upon your site daytonward.wordpress.com. I must appreciate that the content of your website is par excellence and exceptionally useful.

I am [redacted], an avid blogger for XX years, with special interests in [again, nothing at all to do with anything you’ll generally read about here]. Today I am a self-taught expert in the subject and over the years, have consistently contributed articles and blogs to top [topic specific] sites. My efforts have been well recognized and accepted in the [again, nothing to do with me] industry.

At this juncture, I am looking forward to attaching myself as a guest blogger to your site by contributing an article in your blogs/site. Rest assured that, this article will be highly informative and educative. While I am not looking at any monetary benefits, instead we could consider the possibility mentioning my site/resource once within the article.

Do let me know if this sounds good and works for you – I can provide you some of my previous work samples or I can initiate writing an article for daytonward.wordpress.com right away.

Looking forward to hearing from you.

[name redacted]

Sounds pretty cool, right?

implied-facepalm

Now, I have no reason to doubt this person is in fact all they say they are. That’s not really the issue. For me, it’s the rather bold assertion that my audience is somehow available to anyone I invite aboard to hock their wares.

I don’t know how other bloggers feel, but that sort of thing actually kinda sorta pisses me off.

This isn’t the first time I’ve received this sort of mailing, and while I did not respond to this latest solicitation in similar fashion, it still irked me. The simple fact is that people like this aren’t making these requests out of the goodness of their hearts. Of course not.

They’re hoping to promote some product or service, and they want to latch on to the readers of other sites and blogs to do it. They’re aiming to literally take over someone else’s platform to drive web traffic for their own gain, which I consider to be something of a dick move. And even though it wouldn’t have made a difference in these cases, they wanted to do it for free.

Well, fuck that.

I meant what I said up there. Some of you have been following my antics for years…in some cases the better part of two decades. You’ve been here as my so-called writing career has grown. You’ve bought my books, or read them via your library or because you received them as gifts. You’ve taken the time to tell me what you did and didn’t like about them, and you’ve told other people to give them a try.

All of that means a lot to me; more than I can say. The very idea of squandering any of that goodwill, even long enough to let some stranger try to throw you a sales pitch, doesn’t sit very well with me.

Now, that’s not to say I’m opposed to the idea of guest posting altogether. If a friend or professional colleague approached me about hosting a guest blog for them, I’d at least consider it. In those cases, it’s a safe bet that the other person and I have shared interests, or write similar types of stories, or whatever. It could even be another writer with whom I’m not acquainted but who’s trying to conduct a “blog tour” while promoting a book I think you might like. In these scenarios, I’d expect the other person do actually do their homework before approaching me, and be relatively confident that their proposed guest post would actually be of interest to you. Given those considerations, I’d at least entertain the idea and see where it goes. If that’s you, then drop me a line, and let’s talk.

But random people selling random stuff? No way.

Now, quit reading this and go buy all my stuff, all right? 😉

Today is “National Read A Book Day!”

I think every day should be this, but apparently someone somewhere felt the need to call out today, September 6th, as the officially recognized, annually recurring “National Read A Book Day.”

(For those wondering, today is also “National Coffee Ice Cream Day,” but the people who like that shit are savages, so enough about them.)

Anyway, the book thing is a good idea. In the spirit of the day, and my fervent desire to spend it reading pretty much anything other the manuscript on which I’m currently working, I offer up a list of books which have stuck with me over the years for one reason or another. It’s a list that includes favorites dating back to childhood, along with more recent titles that I’ve enjoyed or just hit the perfect spot or note when I needed a break from the crazy routine that is my daily life. This isn’t meant to be an inclusive list, so don’t worry that I “forgot” one of your personal favorites. Anyway, check it out:

18893076_10155414358483270_747114380365486877_nCyborg – Martin Caidin
A Man On the Moon – Andrew Chaikin
The Hunt for Red October – Tom Clancy
Ready Player One
– Ernest Cline
Sunglasses After Dark – Nancy A. Collins
Vertical Run – Joseph R. Garber
The Firm – John Grisham
The Forever War – Joe Haldeman
Starship Troopers – Robert A. Heinlein
A Night to Remember – Walter Lord
I Am Legend – Richard Matheson
The Things They Carried – Tim O’Brien
Old Man’s War – John Scalzi
Homicide: A Year On the Killing Streets – David Simon
One Day In the Life of Ivan Denisovich – Alexander Solzhenitsyn
Martians Abroad – Carrie Vaughn
The Martian – Andy Weir
The War of the Worlds – H.G. Wells
The Making of Star Trek – Stephen E. Whitfield and Gene Roddenberry
The Right Stuff – Tom Wolfe

Feel free to offer up suggestions or favorites in the comments. Go!

Yes, this thing still works.

Blog-On-Off

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(Insert joke about my being doomed here.)

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

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

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

It’s nice to be busy.

evil-dayton

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

Is this thing on? An overdue update!

Previously, on The Fog of Ward:

test-pattern

Yes, things have been quiet around here, lately. Sorry about that. My last couple of weeks were dominated by finishing up the manuscript for what will be my 25th novel, if the publishing gods are kind.

What can I tell you about the new book?

Um…..it’s about 97,000 words, give or take, and that’s exactly all I can tell you about it at this point. Hopefully I’ll be able to spill at least a few juicy deets soon, but until then, as Sid Hudgens might put it in L.A. Confidential, everything’s “Off the record, on the QT, and very hushhush.”

So….oh, well. 🙂

With that manuscript delivered, my attention will soon be turning to my next novel, for which an outline has been with my editor the past few weeks. I’m anxious to get started on this one because it promises to be tremendous fun. What’s it about?

Um…..it’s going to be about 50,000 words, give or take, and that’s exactly all I can tell you about it at this point. Hopefully I’ll be able to spill at least a few juicy deets soon, but until then, as Sid Hudgens might put it in L.A. Confidential, everything’s “Off the record, on the QT, and very hushhush.”

No, that’s not a temporal loop. Just the state of my writing life, at the moment.

What’s that? What can I talk about? I suppose I can give an update on things that are “Coming Soon!”

hearts-and-minds-coverFirst up, my Star Trek: The Next Generation novel Hearts and Minds is already starting to pop up in stores, ahead of its “official” publication date of next Tuesday, May 30th. It’s both a (largely) standalone TNG tale for Captain Picard and his merry band aboard the Enterprise-E as well as a loose sequel to my earlier novels From History’s Shadow and Elusive Salvation.

(You’ve all read both of those, right?)

Elsewhere, I was also happy earlier this week to find out the core rulebook and a few other tasty accessories have been finalized and approved for Star Trek Adventures, the new tabletop role-playing game coming at ya later this summer from the good folks at Modiphius. Accosta-bridge-1_origrding to the gang putting the game together, the option to pre-order these items will be available in a few weeks, and the stuff will begin shipping in late August to be in stores by September. Those of you who visit this space know I  helped contribute a storyline to drive the game’s initial, “living campaign playtest,” and that “startup” story as well as some scenarios for gaming in that setting are being packaged into the book. I also contributed some other “sidebar” material, but I have no idea what form that stuff will take. I’m as excited to see the finished book as everyone else. 🙂

predator-antho-coverCurrently, I’m tending to a few items on my “To Do List” this week, before I head out with the family for a quick vacation and then come back to get started on the new book. Chief among those To Do Items are reviewing and making any needed fixes to the copyedited manuscript for my short story “Recon,” which will be included in a forthcoming anthology, Predator: If It Bleeds edited by Bryan Thomas Schmidt and published by Titan Books.

Also, I’m turning some attention and a few brain cells to the outline for an original science fiction novel concept, that I’m hoping to pitch to publishers this summer. It’s been lying dormant for a long while, owing to my focus being elsewhere, but my goal is to have the outline completed by the end of June. Keep those fingers crossed!

There are a few other things percolating, but at present they’re all rather amorphous, so I’m not going to jinx any of them by talking too much.

So, that’s what’s up with me. ‘sup with you?

 

Pondering AbeBooks’ “Most Searched for Out-of-Print Books of 2016” list.

Because it’s the sort of weird thing I do, from time to time.

I’m a frequent shopper/user of the AbeBooks.com portal, forever using it to hunt for books I’m wanting to add to my library. It’s a great resource for finding affordable copies of older and out of print books, like old tie-in novels or entries in the various pulp fiction/men’s adventure series for which I confess to having a nerdy fondness.

As a consequence of my book fetish, I’m on their mailing list and therefore get their various newsletters and other odd articles. The latest of these newsletters brought with it a link to an interesting article:

AbeBooks.com: Most Searched For Out-of-Print Books of 2016

Prompted by an apparent surge in interest for Michael Crichton’s 1973 book Westworld – which presented his screenplay for the film released that same year – thanks to last year’s HBO series based on the premise, AbeBooks compiled a list of the 30 out-of-print books that apparently were the biggest targets of would-be book buyers. Crichton’s Westworld topped the resulting list, which is an eclectic mix of non-fiction and fiction across several genres and topics.

I’m not going to put the whole list here (go read the article. It’s good!), but a few of the hunted titles amused or intrigued me for different reasons. For example:

#2: Sex by Madonna, 1992 – I remember the uproar that accompanied this book’s publication. It caused a lot of pearl clutching in the little Georgia city were I was living at the time, and the Waldenbooks at the mall (THE mall. The only mall.) kept their copies behind the counter. This was a town where you couldn’t even buy a Playboy at the bookstore, at least back then. I’ve thumbed through a copy, but I never felt any real urge to add it to my library. Even when it comes to smut, I guess I’m still pretty demanding.

#5: Encyclopedia of Pierced Quilt Patterns by Barbara Brackman, 1993. I’ve got nuthin.

#8: Fast Times at Ridgemont High by Cameron Crowe, 1981. This book is, of course, the basis for 1982 film. We’ve all seen the movie (“All right, Hamilton!”), and I’ve read the excerpts that are included in a 1981 issue of Playboy, but the book itself is one that’s eluded me for decades. It seems like an obvious candidate for republication, but so far no luck, and copies can go for a couple of hundred bucks on the secondary market. C’mon, Cameron! Help us out, here.

#19: Portrait of A Killer: Jack the Ripper – Case Closed by Patricia Cornwell, 2002. I had a copy of this book, and somewhere along the line it got itself purged from my library. Shit!

#24: Lost Moon: The Perilous Voyage of Apollo 13 by James Lovell and Jeffrey Kluger, 1994. The firsthand account of the fateful lunar flight, as told by the mission commander himself. I was surprised to find this one listed as OOP, but I guess that’s the way it goes, sometimes. The book was re-issued in 1995 with the title Apollo 13 as a tie-in to the Ron Howard film. Of course I have a copy, but it’s the original edition.

#25: The Making of Star Trek by Stephen E. Whitfield and Gene Roddenberry, 1968. Pretty much what the title indicates. This tome was written while the original series was in production, and offers a detailed behind the scenes look at how it all came together. One of my very favorite Star Trek books, it was reprinted about a million times over the years, and I’ve had a copy since childhood. Now I have (at least) four different versions, but it’s only in the last couple of years that I finally acquired a mint first edition.

oop-books

Though none of my out-of-print titles made the Top 30 (go figure), the rest of the list is as interestingly varied as the ones I cherry-picked here. You’ll find things like The Essential Woodworker, Stephen King’s novel Rage, a couple of sports biographies, and the novelization of the 1978 film Halloween. There are also links to lists from previous years. I checked the 2015 list, for example, and noted that several of the titles from the 2016 edition appear to be perennial favorites. I also saw that Martin Caidin’s Cyborg (basis for TV’s The Six Million Dollar Man) held the #25 spot in 2015. Heh.

Anyway, definitely go and check out the entire article.

Oh, and if you have a copy of Fast Times, call me.