July writing wrap-up.

So, July was here for a minute.

It was a busy month on multiple fronts. We had the second half of our neigborhood swim league which consumed the first three Wednesday evenings (and one final Saturday for championships). There were also volleyball practices and matches, music lessons, and another family excursion. I’m also still doing my volunteer thing at the National World War I Museum and Memorial, and now that we’re back from vacation I’m eyeing my August schedule with some anticipation, as there are some fun things happening this month.

Elsewhere, there were a couple of interviews and this year’s virtual edition of the annual Shore Leave convention. Here’s hoping we get to do that in person next summer.

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And of course there was the consulting and the writing. What happened in July?

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Talking Trek writing and other things with the Divine Treasury podcast!

So, hey! It’s been a minute since the last time I babbled incoherently on somebody’s podcast, and we all know I can’t go too long without falling into that particular sort of trap.

A couple of months ago, I sat down with Mike Bovia and Jamie Rogers, hosts of The Divine Treasury podcast, to talk about my lifelong affection for Star Trek and the collectibles I’ve acquired over the years. As I explained during that interview, my interests have always leaned toward the books (both fiction and non-fiction/references tomes), comics, and other forms of storytelling we’ve been given over the years. That might include computer games, roleplaying games, and so on.

As you might imagine, all of that certainly played a part in helping me along to where I am now, a writer of Star Trek stories of my own as well as someone who helps other Star Trek stories get from writers to readers.

Yeah, it’s quite a fun job, and all of that is what Mike and I talk about about on this follow-up installment of the podcast. We actually recorded this segment the same evening as the other interview, but it’s only now making its way to your ears through the wonder that is recorded media. Have a listen:

The Divine Treasury Podcast, Episode 18: “Paperback Writer, Part Deux”

Thanks again to Mike and Jamie for having me on the show!

Star Trek: Coda – Moments Asunder back cover description!

Was it really just yesterday that I finally was able to share the cover for Moments Asunder, the first book the epic Star Trek: Coda trilogy, on which I’ve been working with friends and fellow word pushers James Swallow and David Mack for pretty much two years, now?

Why, yes. Yes, indeed, it really was just yesterday, but for those who don’t feel like clicking the link up there, here’s the cover again because why not?

(Click to Biggie Size.)

For today, however, I now can add other treats, like this tasty morsel of back cover description:

STARFLEET’S FINEST
FACES A CHALLENGE UNLIKE ANY OTHER

TOMORROW IS DOOMED
Time is coming apart. Countless alternate and parallel realities are
under attack, weakening and collapsing from relentless onslaught. If left
unchecked, the universe faces an unstoppable descent toward entropy.

WANDERER, ORACLE, ALLY
Scarred and broken after decades spent tracking this escalating
temporal disaster while battling the nameless enemy responsible for it,
an old friend seeks assistance from Captain Jean-Luc Picard and the crew
of the Starship Enterprise. The apocalypse may originate from their
future, but might the cause lie in their past?

EVERYTHING THAT WILL BE
Identifying their adversary is but the first step toward defeating them, but
early triumphs come with dreadful costs. What will the price be to achieve
final victory, and how will that success be measured in futures as yet undefined?

MOMENTS ASUNDER

The book is due in stores on September 28th and is available for pre-order from all of the usual haunts in trade paperback and eBook editions, as well as a digital audiobook download version. Star Trek: Coda continues on October 26th with James Swallow’s Book II: The Ashes of Tomorrow, and the senses-shattering conclusion arrives on November 30th with David Mack’s Book III: Oblivion’s Gate.

Come, join in our reindeer games.

Star Trek: Coda – Moments Asunder cover!

Awwwwwwwwww Yissssssssss.

At long last, we have the cover for Moments Asunder, the first book of the forthcoming Star Trek: Coda trilogy on which I’ve been collaborating with friends and fellow wordsmiths James Swallow and David Mack. It’s been a long road these past two years – getting from there to here, as the song goes – but we’re finally nearing the end of our writing journey and preparing to unleash this epic and dare I say unprecedented adventure not just for Star Trek but indeed media tie-in writing in general.

It’s one thing to be granted such wide latitude for Star Trek novels and comics to go boldly in all sorts of directions over lo these many years while there was little to no “new” Star Trek appearing on television or movie screens. But it’s something else entirely for those same publishing ventures, once Star Trek “woke up” and started producing new TV episodes (and, if rumors are true, more movies) to be given the chance to “re-align” themselves in what we consider rather grand fashion to better conform with those new stories in this ever-expanding universe. On behalf of Jim and Dave, I offer my sincere thanks and appreciation to our editors at Gallery Books and the good folks at ViacomCBS Consumer Products for affording us this rather unique opportunity.

(Here’s hoping we don’t screw it up.)

Okay, enough of that, because I know you’re here to see the cover, a creation of acclaimed and award-winning science fiction artist Stefan Martiniere. Check this out:

Cover for Star Trek: Coda Book I
Moments Asunder
(Click to Biggie Size)

As some folks have asked and others have suspected, this image is designed to work in concert with what will grace the covers for Books II and III, forming a triptych that’s gonna melt your brain. So, you’ve got that going for you…which is nice.

Moments Asunder is due in stores on September 28th and is available for pre-order from all of the usual haunts in trade paperback and eBook editions, as well as a digital audio download version which as of this writing I’m fairly certain will be read by frequent Star Trek audiobook narrator and all-around cool guy Robert Petkoff.

And in case this bit of trivia has somehow escaped you to this point, Star Trek: Coda continues on October 26th with James Swallow’s Book II: The Ashes of Tomorrow, and the senses-shattering conclusion arrives on November 30th with David Mack’s Book III: Oblivion’s Gate.

As always and if you are at all able to do so, I hope you’ll consider purchasing your copies through your favorite independent bookseller. You can find one close to you by utilizing the “Indie Bookstore Finder” feature of IndieBound.com. This includes features for supporting your favorite indie bookseller even if you opt to buy eBook or digital audiobook editions of new titles.

Welp. There you have it. All that’s left to do at this point is wait for September 28th, and awaaaaaaaaaaay we go!

June writing wrap-up.

BOOM! 2021, halfway done.

Not really sure where all the time’s going, but at least things have been busy and fun the past month or so. The kids are out of school and deep into summer vacation mode. Swim meets, volleyball camps, music and art stuff, and so on. We took our first family vacation in over a year back in May, and later this month we’re heading out again. Somewhere in and around all of that, there’s work, the odd interview, and even a (virtual) convention. Shore Leave 41.5 will be held this coming Saturday and Sunday, July 10th and 11th, and I’ll be participating in a handful of discussion panels over the course of both days. Stay tuned for official schedules and stuff as all of that is finalized.

Oh, and the writing. There was a bit of that going on in June, too.

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2021 Scribe Awards announced!

Last evening, the International Association of Media Tie-in Writers (IAMTW), in the form of the organization’s president, the inimitable Jonathan Maberry hosting via video conference, announced this year’s crop of Scribe Award winners. These awards celebrate excellence in the field of writing licensed works that tie into other media such as television, movies, gaming, or comic books. They include original works set in established universes, and adaptations of stories that have appeared in these other formats, and which include every genre from mainstream police procedurals to science fiction, fantasy, horror, romance just to name a few of the heavier hitters.

The list of nominees and winners includes several people I’m proud to call friends and colleagues, so without further ado:

(Winner in each category boldly listed!)

Audio Drama
Doctor Who: The Enemy of My Enemy by Tracey Ann Baines
Doctor Who: Out of Time by Matt Fitton (tie)
Torchwood: Tropical Beach Sounds and Other Relaxing Seascapes #4 by Tim Foley (tie)
Torchwood: Save Our Souls by Scott Handcock
Doctor Who: He Kills Me, He Kills Me Not by Carrie Thompson

General and Adapted Novel
Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker  by Rae Carson
Masquerade for Murder by Max Allan Collins
Mindgame by David J. Howe
Watch Dogs Legion: Day Zero by James Swallow & Josh Reynolds

Graphic Novel
Blade Runner 2019 by Michael Green and Mike Johnson
Doctor Who: Two Doctors by Jody Houser
Star Wars: Darth Vader Volume 1 – Dark Heart of the Sith by Greg Pak
Horizon Zero Dawn by Ann Tool
Life is Strange by Emma Vieceli

Original Novel – Speculative
Marvel’s TheAvengers: The Extinction Key by Greg Keyes
Firefly: The Ghost Machine by James Lovegrove
Star Trek (Kelvin Timeline): More Beautiful Than Death by David Mack
Star Trek: Discovery – Die Standing  by John Jackson Miller
Star Trek: The Original Series – Agents of Influence by Dayton Ward

Short Story
Overwatch: “Stone by Stone” by Christie Golden (tie)
Warhammer 40,000: “A View from Olympus” by Gareth Hanrahan
KeyForge: “Useful Parasites” by M. K. Hutchins (tie)
KeyForge: “Extermination Examination” by Robbie MacNiven 
Wraith: The Oblivion: “Scritch, Scratch” by Monica Valentinelli

Young Adult/Middle Grade
The Unexplainable Disappearance of Mars Patel by Sheela Chari
Minecraft Dungeons: The Rise of the Archer-Illager by Matt Forbeck
Marvel’s Xavier Institute: Liberty and Justice for All by Carrie Harris
Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker by Michael Kogge
Clue: In the Study With the Wrench by Diana Peterfreund

CONGRATULATIONS TO THE WINNERS!

Also, Max Allan Collins was named as this year’s winner of the IAMTW’s Faust Award, adding him to the roster of impressive writers elevated to “Grandmaster” status within our little corner of the writing realm. Max along with fellow writer Lee Goldberg founded the IAMTW out of a desire to elevate the visibility of this often misunderstood genre of publishing, and he exemplies everything it means to be a contributor to this genre not just as a writer and editor but also a mentor to other writers of every stripe.

And finally, Jonathan presented Deborah Stevenson with the first-ever IAMTW Service Award. For whatever the heck my opinion’s worth, I can think of no individual more deserving of such recognition. Her contributions to the IAMTW cannot be overstated, and she’s just an awesome lady, to boot. Congrats, Deb!

It was an honor to be nominated again this year, and to stand next to friends and colleagues in what is an extremely competitive category year after year. It drives me to work ever harder, and for that I can never sufficiently thank my comrades for continuing to provide that inspiration.

The writer’s life and the “Freelance Dance.”

I’m often asked – either in interviews or by folks just starting out as writers and still learning “the ropes” – how I’m able to balance so many work-related tasks with personal and family time and other obligations and not go insane…or, at least no more insane than I already am. A flavor of this question came up in an interview I’m in the process of answering.

To be honest, for me it’s an ongoing process, and finding that “sweet spot” can sometimes be difficult.

By its very nature, a freelance career of any sort means that typical work schedules are usually out the window. You can apply a sort of structure, but deadlines are deadlines and sometimes they’re at odds with each other despite your best efforts. Then there’s the rest of your life, which rears its head in frequent and myriad ways. Some of that’s predictable – kid activities, appointments, house and lawn chores, etc – but then there are sick kids, sick spouse, car problems, appliance problems, etc. All of this means that as often as not, you’re working long, weird hours well after friends have reached out and wondered where the hell you are because it’s cocktail time!

Star Trek work means Star Trek cocktails, and you’re damned right I wish I’d thought of writing this.

(And I do loves me my cocktail time, you know.)

Two key traits any successful freelancer simply must cultivate are flexibility and adaptability. You need to be ready to deal with schedule changes, last-minute meetings or other requests, stressed out clients, and any number of other things…often all on the same day. “Roll with the punches,” as they say, while resisting the often and near overwhelming urge to punch back.

There’s another key aspect of navigating this existence that I admit I struggle with: making sure I find ways to counter all of the above with time for me. This includes family time, time with friends, time spent doing fun things away from my desk, my laptop, my email, and my phone. Yes, this may well include friends and cocktails.

The Big Reason for this is that I honestly enjoy what I do. It is in many respects a literal “dream job” and I want to do it well. Further, I want to keep doing it…at least so long as my brain and fingers continue to work. There’s also the element of uncertainty that comes with being a freelancer and not always knowing where the next job is coming from (aka “the Freelance Dance”). So, I’m almost always on the hunt for The Next Thing, and what happens? I sometimes get too caught up in the rush of it all and end up working stupid hours.

Anyway, as I said up top, this is an evolving process, filled with experimentation and refinement, successes and failures, lessons learned and wisdom applied. Your mileage may vary; what works for me or another freelancer might not work for you, but don’t be too hard on yourself if you face similar challenges. Sooner or later, you’ll find your rhythm.

Then somebody will change the song – usually to something that sucks – and you have to start over.

That’s the “Freelance Dance.” 🤟😎

Did you know June is “Audiobook Month?”

“Audio Book Vectors” graphic created by Vecteezy.

I mean, I didn’t. Not until this weekend, I mean. But, I’m told such things by – for example – the good folks at the Audiobook Publishers Association, and who am I to argue with them? After all, they’re advocates for the various entities who publish audio editions of the books we want to read but for which we maybe don’t always have time to settle back with a paperback (or eBook, if that’s your thing).

Me, personally? I’ve been listening to audiobooks for decades, going back to versions offered on cassette tapes – sometimes unabridged but more often savagely edited to fit on two (or perhaps even one…ONE!) 90-minute cassette. The advent of CDs seemed to allow for an expansion of titles and the ability to offer unabridged versions, but even then a complete audiobook adapation could still run into a dozen or more CDs. Now with digital downloads and physical media storage no longer being a primary consideration, unabridged audiobooks are all the rage.

For me, audiobooks fantastic for long road trips, but I’m just as liable to have one in my car’s player (or on my phone) so I can listen to one in chunks whenever I’m driving around town. I also use an app on my phone that lets me check out audiobooks from my public library system and download the file(s) for a set time to my device. These are great whenever I’m taking my walks around the lakes in our neighborhood.

Listening to audiobooks is just one more weapon I can deploy in my seemingly neverending quest to conquer my ever-growing “To Be Read” pile. They’ve even helped me discover authors. The first time I “read” a book by Nelson DeMille, for example, was listening to the audiobook version of his novel The General’s Daughter. The reading on that early 1990s cassette edition was performed by actor Ken Howard, who for my money was bang-on perfect giving voice to the book’s first-person narrator, Army criminal investigator Paul Brenner. Howard returned to read DeMille’s sequel to the novel, Up Country, and again I thought he nailed Brenner perfectly, the same way noted audiobook reader Scott Brick has become The Voice for one of DeMille’s other popular characters, Detective John Corey, who stars in a series of novels involving him first as a police officer and later a member of a joint terrorism task force.

Other times, an audiobook is a means to revisit a novel I’ve already read but want to experience it in an a different manner than simply picking up the print edition. This has been the case for more titles and authors than I can easily list here, but some examples are Tom Clancy (The Hunt for Red October), Clive Cussler (Raise the Titanic, Vixen 03), Joseph R. Garber (Vertical Run), Andy Weir (The Martian, Artemis), and Ernest Cline (Ready Player One) to name just a handful.

Non-Fiction is in the mix, too. Motivated as I was by the previous presidential administration, I found myself listening to audio adaptations of Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein’s All the President’s Men as well as Woodward’s Fear. Other recent listens include Erik Larson’s Dead Wake, about the last voyage of the Lusitania, Chris Nashaway’s Caddyshack: The Making of A Hollywood Cinderella Story, and even Kevin Smith’s Tough Sh*t.

And yes, there are more than a few Star Trek audiobooks I’ve stuck in my ears. Occupational hazard, you know, but it also provides me with a nice little segue, as audiobooks have served as yet another intersection point between my reading hobby as well as my professional world. The first such audiobooks came out in in the late 1980s and continued with new releases into the early 2000s, focusing primarily on adaptations of hardcover Star Trek novels as well as the novelizations of the four movies featuring the Star Trek: The Next Generation cast. They went into limbo for a few years before experiencing a brief resurgence with audio versions of the novelizations for the first two “reboot” films, 2009’s Star Trek and Star Trek Into Darkness from 2013.

As part of Simon & Schuster’s celebration of Star Trek‘s 50th anniversary in 2016, the publisher tapped writers Greg Cox and David Mack along with Kevin Dilmore and myself to write the Star Trek: Legacies trilogy. As icing on the cake, we were informed that these books would be adapted as audiobooks, perhaps kickstarting a renewed interest in adapting various Star Trek novels for the format.

The Star Trek: Legacies trilogy, published from July to September, 2016

By all accounts, sales of the Legacies audiobooks – now offered primarily as unabridged digital downloads and with each book narrated by actor Robert Petkoff – were very strong, prompting Simon & Schuster to keep the party going with audiobook adaptations of other Star Trek novels in the production pipeline. To date, nearly every Star Trek novel published after the Legacies books has received the audio treatment, including the five I’ve written since Kevin and I teamed up for Purgatory’s Key. Though I haven’t seen an official announcement, I suspect this will also be the case for the Star Trek: Coda trilogy coming later this year, for which I wrote the first book, Moments Asunder.

(Yes, this it the part where I go into shameless marketing mode.)

Star Trek: Legacies – Purgatory’s Key
Star Trek: The Next Generation – Headlong Flight
Star Trek: The Next Generation – Hearts and Minds
Star Trek: Discovery – Drastic Measures
Star Trek: The Next Generation – Available Light
Star Trek: The Original Series – Agents of Influence

In addition to these, Mr. Petkoff lent his voice to most of the new offerings to date, actress January LaVoy has also offered her own considerable talents for a few titles, and author Kirsten Beyer narrated the audio version of her most recent Star Trek: Voyager novel, To Lose the Earth.

While there don’t seem to be any plans to dig into Simon & Schuster’s rather massive backlist and adapt older Star Trek novels for audio, I was very pleased back in 2019 when they opted to republish Gene Roddenberry’s novelization of Star Trek: The Motion Picture to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the book’s publication but also their publishing of Star Trek books dating back to 1979. For the first time, the book received an unabridged audio adaptation (read by Mr. Petkoff), which for me provided an easy means of revisiting the novel…something I’d not done in many, many years and which I’d been planning to do that year in observance of the anniversary. It was quite the treat to “relive the story” in this manner.

Away from Star Trek, I’ve been fortunate to have a few other tales of mine ported to audiobook format. First, there was my short story “Day to Day,” my contribution to one of my very favorite projects in recent years, 2113: Stories Inspired By the Music of Rush. Edited by Kevin J. Anderson and John McFetridge, all of the anthology’s stories is read by actor Paul Boehmer, whose commanding voice breathes vivid life into each of the tales. It was a privilege to be invited to write for the anthology in the first place, but to have it given such a wonderful audio adaptation was quite the bonus.

Then came the audio version of the Predator anthology If It Bleeds, edited by Bryan Thomas Schmidt. Included among the collection’s 16 stories is my tale “Recon.” This time around, Editor Bryan and publisher Titan Books saw to it each story received its own narrator; an impressive feat of logistics and cat herding if I’ve ever heard one. For “Recon,” I benefitted from the vouce talents of actor Peter Berkrot. The strategy of recruiting an entire cast to narrate the book looks to have been pretty smart, as the audiobook edition of If It Bleeds ended up winning the 2018 Best Narration – Short Story Anthology award from the Society of Voice Arts and Sciences. How ’bout them apples?

So, yeah…audiobooks are pretty dang cool.

Trying to compile a list of favorites or even a roster of candidates for anyone looking to try a few (more) of their own would keep us here all day. Suffice it to say there’s something out there for anyone looking to put some storytelling between their ears. But, don’t let that or me stop you from offering your favorites down in the comments.

Happy listening, and “Happy Audiobook Month!”

Announcing the 2021 Scribe Awards and…hey! Whaddayaknow?

The International Association of Media Tie-In Writers (IAMTW) recognizes the wide range of authors who work on media tie-ins. Often overlooked, these writers craft exciting tales using beloved characters and settings of franchises including the likes of Mike Hammer, Firefly, Murder She Wrote, James Bond, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Star Wars, Doctor Who, and Star Trek. These stories can be original adventures, or adaptations of movies or television episodes. They include all genres and a wide range of lengths and formats.

To recognize the accomplishments of the unsung authors in this particular field, the IAMTW sponsors the annual Scribe Awards. This year’s awards have six categories to highlight excellence in Novels: Adapted and Original–General, Original–Speculative, Short Stories, Audio Dramas, Young Adult/Middle Grade works, and Graphic Novels:

Audio Drama
Doctor Who: The Enemy of My Enemy by Tracey Ann Baines
Doctor Who: Out of Time by Matt Fitton
Torchwood: Tropical Beach Sounds and Other Relaxing Seascapes #4 by Tim Foley
Torchwood: Save Our Souls by Scott Handcock
Doctor Who: He Kills Me, He Kills Me Not by Carrie Thompson

General and Adapted Novel
Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker  by Rae Carson
Masquerade for Murder by Max Allan Collins
Mindgame by David J. Howe
Watch Dogs Legion: Day Zero by James Swallow & Josh Reynolds

Graphic Novel
Blade Runner 2019 by Michael Green and Mike Johnson
Doctor Who: Two Doctors by Jody Houser
Star Wars: Darth Vader Volume 1 – Dark Heart of the Sith by Greg Pak
Horizon Zero Dawn by Ann Tool
Life is Strange by Emma Vieceli

Original Novel – Speculative
Marvel’s TheAvengers: The Extinction Key by Greg Keyes
Firefly: The Ghost Machine by James Lovegrove
Star Trek (Kelvin Timeline): More Beautiful Than Death by David Mack
Star Trek: Discovery – Die Standing  by John Jackson Miller
Star Trek: The Original Series – Agents of Influence by Dayton Ward

Short Story
Overwatch: “Stone by Stone” by Christie Golden
Warhammer 40,000: “A View from Olympus” by Gareth Hanrahan
KeyForge: “Useful Parasites” by M. K. Hutchins
KeyForge: “Extermination Examination” by Robbie MacNiven 
Wraith: The Oblivion: “Scritch, Scratch” by Monica Valentinelli

Young Adult/Middle Grade
The Unexplainable Disappearance of Mars Patel by Sheela Chari
Minecraft Dungeons: The Rise of the Archer-Illager by Matt Forbeck
Marvel’s Xavier Institute: Liberty and Justice for All by Carrie Harris
Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker by Michael Kogge
Clue: In the Study With the Wrench by Diana Peterfreund

Congratulations to all the nominees!

IAMTW President Jonathan Maberry will announce the winners on Friday July 2 at 4pm Pacific time via Facebook Live on the organization’s group page at https://www.facebook.com/groups/42410867659.

Congratulations also to the IAMTW’s 2021 Faust Award Recipient, this year’s Grandmaster: Max Allan Collins!


As the saying goes, “It’s an honor just to be nominated,” but make no mistake: I am truly thrilled to be nominated for Agents of Influence. As a lifelong fan of the original Star Trek series, it’s always a treat for me to get to write a new story featuring Captain Kirk and his merry band. That this one was strong enough for the judges to include in their list of nominations is – in point of fact – a genuine honor as well as a point of supreme personal satisfaction for me.

However, I’m also keenly aware that the “Original Novel – Speculative” category of the Scribe Awards features a strong list of nominees. That’s pretty much been the case every single year since the Scribes were founded. The other categories are no cakewalk, either, but there’s just something about this particular grouping always seems like it carries an extra level of intensity. I’m both proud and petrified to be listed alongside people I consider friends and colleagues. No matter who wins, I’ll be applauding their success. Meanwhile, other friends and fellow word pushers have recieved nominations in the other categories, and I’ll be cheering them on, as well.

Now we just have to wait for July 2nd, when Jonathan Maberry announces the winners!

May writing wrap-up.

And just like that, school’s out for summer. June’s here, y’all!

May was a bit of a blur, thanks to the usual work stuff but also a much needed vacation for Clan Ward. Youngest daughter had a volleyball tournament out of state, so we took advantage of the opportunity to sneak off under the radar and go do some fun outdoorsy stuff. All of that’s done now, and now we’re settling in for summer stuff. Both of the kids are taking (willingly!) summer classes, there’s more volleyball and also summer swim league, music lessons, and other stuff to keep folks busy.

Me? I’m thinking I’m doing some more writing in and around the consulting stuff, of course.

But we march ever farther into June, here’s a look at what I managed to accomplish – writing-wise – during May:

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