Back cover copy and pre-order links for Available Light!

Those of you who weren’t around here back on Wednesday may have missed the announcement that Pocket Books has officially renewed its license to publish Star Trek novels, and the first of the books covered by that new agreement will start hitting shelves in early 2019.

Una McCormack is our lead-off hitter, and her Sylvia Tilly-focused Star Trek: Discovery novel The Way to the Stars will be out in January. Next up will be Greg Cox and his Original Series novel The Antares Maelstrom, out in March.

Then, there’s me, comin’ at ya in April with Available Light, in which I pick up Captain Picard and the rest of the Star Trek: The Next Generation gang from where I left things last summer with my previous TNG novel, Hearts and Minds.

In the wake of the announcement, now I can offer you Available Light‘s official, actual back cover copy, as well as a few pre-order links…because I know you’ll want to get on this as soon as possible, amirite?

Anyway, here we go:

Continue reading “Back cover copy and pre-order links for Available Light!”

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Why, yes…I am indeed writing another Star Trek novel.

It’s been talked about, rumored about, and teased for lo these many moons.

It’s been a long road, getting from there to…..sorry. Accidental Star Trek: Enterprise reference. :: ahem ::

Anyway, at long last, Pocket Books, in the form of editor Ed Schlesinger who is spending this week out in Las Vegas for the ginormous Star Trek convention currently taking place there, announced yesterday that Pocket’s license to publish Star Trek novels was officially renewed, and also introduced the first three books which will lead off the 2019 line-up:

First up? The wonderful Una McCormack is back, this time to bring us an all-new Star Trek: Discovery tale:

The Way to the Stars, January:  Despite being an inexperienced Starfleet cadet, Sylvia Tilly became essential to the U.S.S. Discovery finding its way back home from the Mirror Universe. But how did she find that courage? From where did she get that steel? Who nurtured that spark of brilliance? The Way to the Stars recounts for fans everywhere the untold story of Tilly’s past.

It’s not easy being sixteen, especially when everyone expects great things from Tilly. It’s even harder when her mother and father are Federation luminaries, not to mention pressing her to attend one of the best schools that the Federation has to offer. Tilly wants to achieve great things — even though she hasn’t quite worked out how to do that or what it is she wants to do. But this year, everything will change for Tilly, as she about to embark upon the adventure of a lifetime — an adventure that will take her ever closer to the stars…

Longtime Trek prose veteran Greg Cox is next at bat, with another Star Trek: The Original Series tale:

The Antares Maelstrom, March: Baldur-3 is an obscure planet just beyond the outer fringes of Federation space, until a group of struggling colonists discover vast quantities of the energy source pergium beneath the planet’s surface. An old-fashioned “gold rush” is now underway—a chaotic situation, as neighboring planets and space stations are vastly ill-equipped to deal with the flood of vessels and aliens competing to get to the planet in time to stake their claims. Although Baldur-3 isn’t technically under Federation jurisdiction, Captain James T. Kirk and the crew of the Enterprise are soon diverted to deal with the crisis . . . one which lies on the other side of the dangerous area of space known as the Antares Maelstrom.

Next? Why, that’d be Yours Truly, returning to the realm of Star Trek: The Next Generation and all the craziness you may have read about at the end of David Mack’s novel Control, and my own TNG tale from last year, Hearts and Minds:

Available Light, April: As fallout from the exposure of the “Control” AI security program and the unchecked crimes of Section 31 spans the entire Alpha Quadrant and ultimately reaches the halls of Starfleet Command, the admiralty must decide what the consequences will be for their own… including Captain Jean-Luc Picard, who helped bring down a Federation president and violated the principles of his oath. Meanwhile, deep in the unexplored section of space known as the Odyssean Pass, Picard and the Enterprise crew must put aside personal feelings on the matter and distant political concerns as they investigate the mystery a centuries-old massive spacecraft adrift in the void and under attack from marauders looking to claim the ship for themselves—and armed with weapons that are evenly matched with Starfleet’s finest…

(As you can see, I’m already rather busy with mine.)

Now, it’s worth noting that these are just the three books out of the chute. Rest assured more will be announced as deemed appropriate by The Powers That Be.

As for these three, expect more information as we get closer to the weekend, including pre-order links and actual/updated back cover copy descriptions, which are supposed to be fed out to the various book retailers/catalogs/etc. over the next couple of days.

So, for those of you who’ve been patiently waiting for news on this front along with those of you who…you know, haven’t…I for one appreciate you hanging in there with us as we all careened down this rather bumpy road to get to this point. Bring on 2019!

Your Moment of TrekZen*.

Because sooner or later, if you keep rilin’ them and tryin’ to keep them caged up rather than allowing them to roam free, they’re gonna get mighty pissed.

I only just today learned that this is actually a licensed T-shirt design. You can obtain it from places as varied as Walmart, Amazon.com, and various other online T-shirt retailers. I think the design is hilarious, though I confess I tend toward darker colors for my shirts of choice.

What this does do for me, however, is make me want to write a series of scary yet kid-friendly Star Trek tales based on various original series episodes.

Hmmmm…….

(* = inspired by the “Your Moment of Zen” segments from The Daily Show)

Omega Directive podcast interview, and they’re talking about us over at Literary Treks!

It’s been a busy week, so I’m a bit behind on feeding the Blog Beast. That included all but forgetting that a new interview with me has been posted. Then I felt my ears burning as people who’ve interviewed me in the past were talking about me again, and I guess they figured I wouldn’t find out?

Please. I’m a writer with a fragile ego. I cringe whenever my name is said aloud.

First up? Local Kansas City fan Steve Atwell has launched a podcast, The Omega Directive, which he describes as a place for “Casual discussions & in-depth interviews about Star Trek. We’ll chat with writers, artists, actors, directors, & fans who’ve contributed to the franchise – canon & non, over its 50 year run. We’ll also talk about its cultural impact, & examine the elements within that make it tick.”

For his third episode, Steve reached out to me, and among the various topics of discussion was my book from last year, Hidden Universe Travel Guides – Star Trek: The Klingon Empire. The conversation bounces around a bit, of course, from how I got into writing to being a Star Trek fan and even a trip down Memory Lane and my time in the military. Steve even finds a way to bring up a goofy story I wrote, about four guys sitting in a movie theater waiting for Star Trek V to start. Yeah…we bounced around a bit.

If you’re needing something to stick in your ears during a work commute or while you toil in the yard, feel free to have a listen:

The Omega Directive: Trek Travel Take 1

Meanwhile, elsewhere in the digital space, Literary Treks hosts Bruce Gibson and Dan Gunther have devoted a recent episode of their podcast to mine and Kevin’s first novel-length collaboration, A Time To Sow, the third in the 9-book Star Trek: A Time To… series published by Pocket Books during 2004. Talk about your blasts from the past? It’s actually been a long time since I gave any serious thoughts to this series, let alone this book and its companion, A Time To Harvest, so it was nice to hear about it from someone who just recently read it. Have a listen to Bruce and Dan’s conversation about the book:

Literary Treks Episode #235: Make it Sow!

Many thanks to Steve to for having me on his show, and to Bruce and Dan for their continued coverage of the ever-expanding Star Trek literary universe.

“Ten for Ward” #19 at StarTrek.com: 10 Star Trek Books That’d Make Good Movies

Once again, the good people over at StarTrek.com have taken leave of their senses and allowed me to sully their website with my inane babbling. For the first time in quite a while, I’ve saddled up for another edition of my irregularly recurring series for them, “Ten for Ward.”

For those of you who are recent additions to our merry band, it goes like this:  Every once in a while, I’m invited to provide a list of ten favorite (and hopefully interesting) Trek-related whatevers based on…well…whatever I can come up with at the time my editor reminds me of my blood debt to him and asks for a new column.

For this latest installment, I took to my Facebook page a while back and posed a question to my followers there: What Star Trek novel do you think would make a good movie? In the interests of modesty and (:: snicker ::) “professionalism,” I added as a condition of the survey that none of my own books could be suggested. The other limitation was that the suggestion had to be a standalone novel; no mini-series, trilogies, etc. As for the final twist? The person making the suggestion needed to keep in mind that their title of choice would be fodder for adaptation as a script for Chris Pine and the rest of the nu-Enterprise cast.

The answers provided included several titles I’d expect to make such a list, along with a few surprises and not-so common picks from among those who read these books. From there, along with some of my own suggestions, I fashioned the final list of ten. It wasn’t an easy task, given the multitude of suggestions as well as the quality of various novels and…yes…a healthy dose of nostalgia on my part as I considered several of the older titles.

For the whole list, check out my full article:

Ten for Ward #19: 10 Star Trek Books That’d Make Good Movies

I obviously didn’t set out to create anything resembling a “definitive list,” so feel free to offer up your own suggestions in the comments, either here or at the main article.

You can also check out all of my “Ten for Ward” columns just by clicking on this logo-ish looking thing right here:

My schedule for Shore Leave 40!

shore-leave-logoDue to the wonder that is scheduled blog entries, by the time this goes live I’ll be winging my way from Kansas City to Baltimore, heading for the annual Shore Leave convention!

With a couple of exceptions due to bad timing, I’ve been attending this con for fifteen years. It is up there with our annual jaunt to Denver for StarFest so far as my favorite cons go. In addition to being a fan-friendly show run by a dedicated group of volunteers rather than some corporate entity, it’s also one of the few places where you can swing a dead Mugato and hit about a dozen Star Trek writers of every sort. Indeed, Shore Leave represents one of the few times I get to see many of my colleagues who call the East Coast (mostly New York. Go figure) home.

Shore Leave celebrates its 40th year of fan-generated shenanigans by bringing in none other than the O.G. Captain Kirk, himself, Mr. William Shatner to headline the whole smash. Joining him are Ming-Na Wen, Shawn Ashmore, Allison Scagliotti, Peter Williams, Peter Kelamis, Aron Eisenberg, and Chase Masterson. There also are a veritable boatload of writer and science guests. Check out the con’s Guests Page for all the gory details!

And what will I be doing this weekend? Well, according to the con’s official schedule, you can find me at the following events and panel discussions:

Friday, July 6th

To Tweet or Not to Tweet – 8pm-9pm – Salon E
Social media is a vital aspect of marketing, but not all of it is good. Our panelists will discuss the ins and outs of when, where, and how to engage…or put the phone down! Moderated by Jenifer Rosenberg, with fellow panelists Amy Imhoff, Valerie Mikles, and Richard C. White.

Meet the Pros – 10pm-Midnight – Hunt/Valley Foyer
The con’s annual mass author autographing event! Bring your books and whatever else you might want signed by any of the convention’s author guests. If all goes to plan, I’ll be holding a raffle at my signing table where you’ll have a chance to win one of several different Star Trek titles published by Insight Editions, including my Vulcan and Klingon travel guides and the brand-spankin’ new U.S.S. Enterprise IncrediBuilds kits (original and NextGen flavors)!

Saturday, July 7th

What Is Star Trek? – 9am-10am – Belmont Room
What are the essential elements necessary to tell a Star Trek story and what part do values play? Moderated by John Coffren, and with fellow panelists Jim Johnson, David Mack, Amy Imhoff, and Dave Galanter.

SciFi from the Parent’s Eye – 11am-Noon – Salon E
We all love SF/F, but how do we pass the torch to our children in an age appropriate way so that they can enjoy–or even love–a genre that we’re so passionate about? Moderated by Russ Colchamiro, and with fellow panelists Jenifer Rosenberg, and with fellow panelists Joseph F. Berenato and Kathleen David.

Star Trek: Discovery – Prime Timeline or Not Possible? – 3pm-4pm – Chase Room
Is setting Star Trek: Discovery in the Prime Timeline even possible? (Narrator: “Yes.”) Can they pull it off, believably, or will it require a suspension of disbelief in the audience to make it work? (Narrator: “Also, yes.”) Moderated by Joshua Palmatier, and with fellow panelists Howie Weinstein, Amy Imhoff, Lorraine Anderson, and Dave Galanter.

Heinlein’s Five Rules of Publishing – 4pm-5pm – Salon E
Robert Heinlein wrote five basic rules of writing that are easy to remember but hard to actually carry out. A discussion of said rules and their application. Moderated by Laura Ware, with fellow panelists Phil Giunta, Jim Johnson, and Lorraine Anderson.

Author Meet-n-Greet – 6pm-8pm – Frankie & Vinnie’s
Round-robin ‘speed-dating’ style allowing you to get to know our author guests and ask them questions about the industry. This is also an awesome “second chance” for fans who can’t make Friday night’s Meet the Pros party! Moderated by Valerie Mikles, with fellow author guests Heather E. Hutsell, Hildy Silverman, Jim Johnson, TJ Perkins, Keith R. A. DeCandido, Mary Fan, Aaron Rosenberg, Mary Louise Davie, Dave Galanter, Andrew Hiller, Michael Jan Friedman, Marco Palmieri, David Harten Watson, Phil Giunta, Roberta Rogow, Richard C. White, Susan Olesen, and Stephen Kozeniewski.

Sunday, July 8th

For reasons I don’t quite understand, the scheduling goddesses have seen fit to give me Sunday to enjoy the con! I’ll be taking advantage of the day to maybe check in on some other interesting panels, check out the vendors room, and hopefully spend some time chatting with people I don’t get to see nearly often enough.

In and around all of the scheduled activities going on all weekend, it’s a safe bet you’ll find me doing much of what I just described, along with sitting down for at least two interviews I know about. And after each day’s obligations are met? Be sure to find most if not all of us in the hotel bar. It’s pretty much a law, at this point.

Here’s hoping I see you there!

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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 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 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!

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.

Hey! It’s Captain Picard Day!

Today, June 16th, is “Captain Picard Day.” What, you didn’t know this? Shame on you.

That’s right, today we pause to recognize the life and accomplishments of Jean-Luc Picard: captain extraordinaire, explorer, diplomat, tea connoisseur, and 24th century renaissance man.

So, you know…make it so, and all that.


Of course, all he wants is to sit in the sun and read his book. Alone. Afterward? He really hasn’t thought that far ahead.

Klingon Travel Guide wins PubWest Gold Medal!

Whaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaat?

Look, by any reasonable measure, I’ve had a pretty good week. The highlights included Michi’s birthday and both kids doing awesome at the second meet of this year’s neighborhood swim league. On the work front, I have two new releases on store shelves, I was able to announce a new writing project, and just yesterday I was offered yet another one. What more do I need to make the week end on a high note?

BAM.

PubWest 2018 Book Design Awards!

What are we talking about? According to their website, “PubWest is a vibrant, dynamic trade association of small- and medium-sized book publishers, printers, editors, proofreaders, graphic designers, binderies, and related editorial and service companies. Established in 1977 as the Rocky Mountain Book Publishers Association, PubWest is now dedicated to helping member book publishers succeed and has grown to include members in 31 states and 4 countries.”

As for their annual awards, which have been a thing for over 40 years, they “recognize industry innovators, those who have influenced publishing in the West, exemplary book design and production, and extraordinary service to PubWest and its membership.”

Sounds pretty cool, right?

Unbeknownst to me, the good folks at Insight Editions submitted Hidden Universe Travel Guides – Star Trek: The Klingon Empire for this year’s award consideration. Specifically, it was submitted for the award program’s  “Guide and Travel Book” category.

I’m not even kidding.

And wouldn’t you know the book took the Gold Medal in this category? How insanely cool is that?

Now, what this means is that the artistic and design talents of everyone involved in the book – Elaine Quo, Alix Nicholaeff, Chrissy Kwasnik, Ashley Quackenbush, Livio Ramondelli, Peter Markowski, and my editor, Chris Prince – are all as kick-ass awesome as this very slick tome they helped create. This award recognizes their efforts in turning my pages of pithy descriptions and other blah blah blah text into an amazing book.

Take a bow, everyone. Each and every one of you deserves it, along with who knows how many people working behind the scenes that I’ve never had the chance to meet or thank for their hard work.