June writing wrap-up.

BOOM! Just like that, 2019 is half over.

June continued the trend of the past few months, with a whole lot of stuff going on, writing-wise. Some of it I can talk about, but there’s a bunch more about which I’m not yet cleared to discuss. Such is life, I suppose. Once that happens, I’ll be free to share some insight into the busy yet oh-so-fun chaos that’s been my life for a bit.

The biggest thing on my plate at the moment is the current novel-in-progress, but various other smaller, faster-burn projects have come and gone or are still active, as well. Plans and schemes are in the works.

With more redactions than the Mueller Report, here’s the June rundown:

Continue reading “June writing wrap-up.”

Full cover reveal: Footprints in the Stars!

Whaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaat?

If you’ve been reading my (admittedly infrequent) updates the past couple of months or so, you know I was invited by editor Danielle Ackley-McPhail of eSpec Books to contribute a story to a brand-spankin’ new anthology she was editing, Footprints in the Stars.

According to Danielle, the book is “put to bed” and is now at the printers, which means we get to share stuff like the book’s full front and back cover. Behold, yo:

FootprintsInTheStars_fullcover

As the back cover copy states:

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

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

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

Footprints in the Stars


Sounds pretty cool, amirite? The book will contain all-new stories by the likes of Gordon Linzner, Ian Randal Strock, Robert Greenberger, Aaron Rosenberg, Danielle Ackley-McPhail, Jody Lynn Nye, Christopher L. Bennett, James Chambers, Keith R.A. DeCandido, Russ Colchamiro, Judi Fleming, and Bryan J.L. Glass.

Oh, and me.

When Danielle invited me to submit a story, she described in her original pitch, “all of the stories will revolve around the central theme of humanity discovering evidence that we are not alone in the universe.” She stressed that she wasn’t looking for “first contact stories,” so we had to dig a little deeper and come up with something else.

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

I guess we’ll see.

You can check out the full deetz about the anthology over at the eSpec Books blog. As for the book itself? It’s due to premiere at the upcoming Shore Leave convention the weekend of July 12-14, which is when I’ll be able to get my grubby paws on my very own copies. Awwwwwww, yeah.

Many thanks to Danielle and Mike McPhail and eSpec Books for inviting me along for the ride!

Writing about William Shatner at the Star Trek Original Series Set Tour!

My job is pretty cool, sometimes.

So, here’s what happened: My wife, bless her, schemed a family vacation trip for my birthday weekend. Where were we going? An epic train adventure from Kansas City all the way to picturesque Ticonderoga, New York, and the Star Trek Original Series Set Tour!

StarTrekSetTour-Logo

Now, those of you who read this blog with any regularity may recall I’d already visited the Tour once before, along with a slew of fellow Star Trek scribes back in 2017. This was by no means any sort of “been there, done that,” though, because not only had Tour creator and owner James Cawley made a bunch of updates since then, there was also this little business about them hosting none other than OG Captain Kirk himself, William Shatner!

It was the second of his special “Captain’s Inspection Tour” weekends, whereby Shatner conducted tours of the recreated Enterprise interiors while reminiscing about his time filming the original Star Trek series. He posed for autographs on the bridge, signed autographs, hosted a beer and pizza party (you read that right), and held a discussion at nearby Ticonderoga High School, interviewing the principal and couple of teachers and discussing the state and challenges of education.

DG-SetTour-001(Photo Credit: Dave Galanter)

Also on hand and conducting their own tours were Star Trek gurus Doug Drexler, Michael and Denise Okuda, and Daren R. Dochterman. Their knowledge of various “behind the scenes” aspects of the show’s production came to the fore here as they discussed how and why set designer Matt Jefferies made the choices he did, both for budget and storytelling reasons, and how the sets are both a product of the era in which they were created but also have an undeniable timeless quality we hardcore fans can’t get enough of.

Making the weekend even more fun for me and Michi was the fact our friends, fellow Trek novelist Dave Galanter and his lovely wife, Simantha, were also there, so we got to hang out a bit.

StarTrekSetTour-VIPbadgeAnyway, the good folks at StarTrek.com found out I was making my way to the Tour and reached out to me – while I was on the train, even – about possibly taking some photos and writing up a piece about the event for the website. I naturally obliged, and by the time I got there, the Tour staff was ready for me and made sure I had everything I needed to run around acting all important and whatnot while scoring some photos and jotting notes for my article. Talk about being allowed to run around without a leash or an adult to supervise. It was all I could do not to hide in the Jefferies tube and wait until everyone left for the day so I could just move in.

While most of the pictures I took sucked, Dave along with James Cawley and Michael Rizzo bailed me out. Their efforts yielded some fantastic candid shots that really showcased how much fun people – including Shatner himself – were having throughout the weekend.

The results of my efforts are now available for your reading pleasure, and you can check out just by clicking on the linky-type thing I’ve included right here:

StarTrek.com: William Shatner Returns to the Star Trek Set Tour

JC-SetTour-004(Photo Credit: Michael Rizzo)

Many, many thanks to James Cawley, Marybeth Ritkouski, and the entire Star Trek Original Series Set Tour staff for being such fabulous hosts. The weekend was too much fun, and I can’t wait to get back up to see you all.

StarTrekTour-ParkingSign

We’re going back to Neosho to talk writing and stuff!

Some of you may recall that Kevin and I traveled from KC down to Neosho, Missouri earlier in the year to participate as guests to the first ever ArtCon. Sponsored by the Neosho Arts Council, this comic and pop culture convention featured several comics and art guests, along with Kevin and myself. For a first con, it was pretty well attended and the people hosting it and working as volunteers were on point all day. They treated us very well and invited us to come back at some point.

Then, they doubled down on that last bit a month or so ago, by asking Kevin and me if we’d be up for a return visit not for a con, but instead to “talk shop.”

Neosho-AuthorTalk

“That’s great, Dayton,” I can hear some of you saying. “Um, whatcha gonna talk about for an hour or so?”

Good question!

In addition to talking about the challenges and fun to be had while writing in our chosen realms, it’s also been suggested that, with the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 mission looming on our calendars, maybe Kevin and I could also devote a bit of time to talking about the symbiotic relationship that NASA and science fiction in general and Star Trek in particular have enjoyed over the years. As we’ve both been able to talk with various folks who actually work at NASA (including, he says totally without shame, a couple of actual astronauts who’ve “been up there”) and even discussed this very thing, we can definitely speak a bit to this topic.

Our little author talk will be held at the Neosho Chamber of Commerce at 2pm on Saturday, June 22nd. Once we’re done, we’ll have a table set up where we’ll be happy to sign books (and maybe even sell a few).

Thanks very much to Sarah Serio and the Neosho Arts Council for inviting us back to hang with them for a bit!

May writing wrap-up.

Dear 2019: Slow the hell down, whydontcha.

May. A lot like April, in that there’s a great deal taking place in my little writing world about which I can say precious little. Work continues apace on a new novel. A short story is awaiting edits. Another thing is awaiting “the writing” once I have further instructions and marching orders. Revisions to another thing were finished and delivered. Other things were discussed, plotted, and schemed. Many plates are spinning and games are afoot, yo.

Wanna see (at least those parts I can show you)? Here’s the May rundown:

Continue reading “May writing wrap-up.”

Talking about Available Light with the Trek Geeks!

Having failed to learn their lesson the last couple of times I was on their show, hosts Dan Davidson and Bill Smith of the Trek Geeks Podcast invited me back for another sitdown chit-chat.

Suckers.TrekGeeks-Banner

Of course I kid. I’ve known Dan and Bill for a couple of years now thanks to the wonder that is social media along with a few chance encounters at the annual big-assed Star Trek convention in Las Vegas. They do a stellar job representing Trek fandom in the best possible way by bringing people together to celebrate that which we all love so dearly. They do this through their “Camp KhitomerStar Trek fan group on Facebook as well the array of podcasts they host or support through the Trek Geeks website.

They’re good eggs, that Dan and Bill.

This time, they invite me back to talk about Available Light, my recently released Star Trek: The Next Generation novel. We dig in a bit about how the book came to be, not just as its own thing but also how it picks up and runs with story threads that have been weaving in and out of the “expanded universe” continuity Star Trek novels have been building for well over 15 years at this point.

This is particularly relevant here, as Available Light not only takes the baton from David Mack’s Star Trek: Section 31 novel Control from 2017, but like that book also reaches all the way back to events Dave chronicled in A Time to Kill and A Time to Heal from the 2004 Star Trek: A Time to… mini-series. Plus, I get to set the stage for Dave and his upcoming novel Collateral Damage, which will be out in October. So, yeah, we talk some about how it works when collaborating with other writers to keep things consistent, how to keep readers new to the novels from feeling overwhelmed, and all sorts of other neato things.

Yes, we even delve a bit into my favorite ever Star Trek word, “canon.”

(Spoilers: Grr. Argh.)

Have a listen, whydontcha?

Trek Geeks #179: Available Light

TG179

Many thanks to Dan and Bill for having me on again. It’s always a blast hanging out with you two. Maybe we can do it again soon!

Footprints In the Stars and other awesome eSpec Books…FUNDED!

Huzzah!

InHarmsWay-coverRemember back a few weeks, when I posted about friends Danielle Ackley-McPhail and Mike McPhail of eSpec Books and the epic crowdfunding campaign they launched to fund not one and not two but three – count ’em…THREE – brand new books? Well, I’m happy to say that thanks to the generosity of 109 awesome humans, $3,077 dollars was raised. That’s more than enough to back the publishing of all three books as well as unlock seven stretch goals Danielle and Mike laid down for the taking. Go check out what they did!

eSpec Books: In Harm’s Way (and two more books!) on Kickstarter

This means that in addition to the anthology In Harm’s Way edited by Mike, the campaign also will provide for backers Footprints In the Stars as edited by Danielle, and Devil Dancers, a collection of short fiction from author Robert E. Waters.

FootprintsInTheStarsWhile I’m happy for the entire campaign and the other two books, I’m particularly tickled with the backing of Footprints, as that’s the one to which Danielle invited me to submit a story. As I’ve mentioned before, the story idea I had way back when she first approached me ended up getting set aside as I was struck by another notion I wanted to pursue. The resulting story prompted me to jot down a bunch of notes for where I might next take things, to include going to town with an original science fiction novel concept. We shall see.

One thing at a time, though, right? For now, we celebrate the campaign’s success, and those of us with stories in any of the three books now turn to doing whatever Mike and Danielle need to help them get these titles put to bed and ready to publish. With luck, Footprints will make its debut at the Shore Leave convention in July.

Congrats, Danielle and Mike, and thanks for having me along for the ride!

Eaglemoss I.S.S. Enterprise NCC-1701-D, with words by me!

Though most of my writing is found in novels or short stories, I occasionally get the opportunity to step outside my wheelhouse and try something new. First it was magazine articles (often working with Kevin) and website content or essays about various pop culture topics (ditto). Then came really fun projects like the Vulcan and Klingon travel guides and IncrediBuilds kits, and we certainly can’t forget things like our first comic collaboration. And hey, there are even a few things still in the hopper that I can’t yet talk about.

Eaglemoss-ISSenterprise-DBut here’s one I can talk about because it’s out in the wild and I even have one in my hot little hands!

Back in February, I was contacted by Ben Robinson, supreme overseer of everything Star Trek and various other things over at Eaglemoss, a UK-based purveyor of models and other collectibles representing various popular franchises. He and his team were prepping a new entry for their Star Trek Official Starships Collection and asked if I was available for some fast-turnaround work providing material for the magazine that was to accompany the model.

For those who are wondering what the heck I’m talking about, when you order one of these slick little jobs from Eaglemoss, each highly-detailed model comes with a companion magazine with all sorts of information and a few short articles about the ship the model represents, interviews with or articles about its designers, and so on. If you’re into the ship/tech side of Star Trek, these are fun additions to your collection.

MirrorEnterprise-01For this latest entry, Ben and the gang were tackling something a bit different: a ship seen not on movie or TV screens, but instead the pages of a comic! After Captain Kirk and his crew encountered the “Mirror Universe” in the “Mirror, Mirror” episode of the original Star Trek series way back in 1967, it wasn’t until 1994 that the premise was revisited on screen, in the form of the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine episode “Crossover” from the show’s second season. Hardcore fans know DS9 would revisit the Mirror Universe several times, and sequel series Star Trek: Enterprise and Star Trek: Discovery would have their own kinds of fun there, as well.

MirrorEnterprise-02However, numerous comics, novels, and games have also explored this aspect of the Star Trek mythos in various ways. For example, the I.S.S. Enterprise NCC-1701-D as pictured here was introduced in Mirror Broken, a Star Trek: The Next Generation miniseries from IDW Publishing and focusing on the “Mirror Universe” versions of Captain Jean-Luc Picard and other TNG characters.

As for me? Ben asked if I could come up with a 3,000 to 3,500-word essay highlighting the different times Star Trek has visited the Mirror Universe in the pages of a novel or comic. So, to my bookshelves and archives I went! While the internet is always a nice way to help dial in when conducting research, I still enjoy pulling references from my library so I can paw through them while writing. All of that came to the fore as I wrote in rather rapid fashion the requested essay.

What didn’t I know until I received my copy of the model and its magazine? The article I wrote wasn’t just a feature of the magazine; instead, it was pretty much the whole thing. Ben and editor John Ainsworth took my pithy words and dressed them up all nice and pretty with loads of awesome cover art to accompany the text. For the comics we also get a few choice panels from some of the more memorable “4-color adventures.” As with the model itself, the magazine turned out really nice, if I do say so myself.

Apparently, subscribers to the Official Starships Collection don’t automatically get sent this one as their next offering. Instead, the I.S.S. Enterprise-D is a “shop exclusive.” Of course, those without subscriptions can also buy one if they want. Example? Such a person could just click on this linky-type thing right here:

Star Trek: The Official Starships Collection – I.S.S. Enterprise NCC-1701-D

When it comes to the books and comics and other “expanded universe” media, I’ve always enjoyed pulling together this sort of material and presenting to a part of the Star Trek fan base who might not be familiar with these corners of the franchise. Who knows? Maybe somebody buying this model will read the essay and decide they need to check out a novel or comic or three. I’d be all right with that.

This was my first time working with Eaglemoss, and I enjoyed working with them. I don’t know if I’ll get to do it again, but I’d certainly be up for it if the planets align in favorable fashion. Until then, many thanks to Ben and John for the opportunity!

IncrediBuilds: Sheriff Woody

TS-IB-Woody-DeluxeToy Story

Build and color your own 3D Woody model!

Brave, loyal, and kind to everyone, Woody is one of Andy’s favorite toys. He fearlessly leads the toys through many adventures and fun-filled hijinks—along with his best friend Buzz Lightyear, of course! Now fans can re-create their favorite Woody moments from the Toy Story films by building their own 3D wood model of the beloved character. In addition to a do-it-yourself, freestanding wood model, each set comes with a fun and TS-IB-Woody-Regularinformative booklet of character images and facts—including an early look at Toy Story 4as well as craft ideas to help bring your vision to life!

Includes:

–Laser-cut, FSC®-certified wood sheet with easy-to-assemble pieces
–Step-by-step instructions
–Coloring and crafting ideas
–A Woody guidebook

Order the Deluxe hardcover edition!
Order the Regular edition (softcover)


This project, along with its Buzz Lightyear companion, was a return to the IncrediBuilds side of the Insight Editions house after last year’s Star Trek original series U.S.S. Enterprise and its successor from Star Trek: The Next Generation. The book I wrote to accompany the model helps you revisit the events of the first three Toy Story movies from Woody’s point of view, and even offers a few tantalizing bits about what you’ll see when Toy Story 4 hits movie screens in June.

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

Both the Sheriff Woody and Buzz Lightyear models are aimed at the 8+ age bracket. They’re really easy to put together and you can custom paint and/or decorate them any way you like. Cool, right?

Tales of the Strange and Unusual: A very special anthology with a super cool origin story.

A few years ago during the annual StarFest Convention in Denver, Kevin and I found ourselves “neighbors” in the Author’s Alley area with Shelly Goodman Wright, a writer local to that area. Over the course of the weekend, the three of us got to chatting and sharing “war stories” as our writing backgrounds were rather dissimilar. After the con was over we stayed in touch thanks to the wonder that is social media and in the years since our first meeting, we always make sure to get neighboring tables at each successive StarFest and even participate in con programming when such opportunities present themselves.

TalesStrangeUnusual-CoverOne of the things we learned along the way was that Shelly is a creative writing teacher for the Writers of High Country, a group of high school-age kids who are working to learn the craft of writing fiction and poetry. With Shelly and other volunteers guiding the way, the students have just recently published their first collection of short stories and poetry, Tales of the Strange & Unusual.

Indeed, last weekend while the con was still in full swing, Shelly was preparing for the students’ first over book signing. To hear her describe it, it went down in much the same fashion as I’ve come to expect from such venues as the Shore Leave convention, where fans wielding copies of a favorite anthology are able to run a gauntlet of authors who have a story in that particular book and are therefore able to get multiple autographs in rapid succession.

It was very cool to listen to her stories of how hard the students worked, writing and polishing their stories and poetry in preparation for publication. All were excited at the prospect of taking this bold step, knowing it could be the first of many if they continued to bring the same drive and determination which had seen them travel this far.

As part of our conversation last weekend, I learned something I didn’t know before: As part of her writing instruction, Shelly had occasionally shared with her students various anecdotes, writing exercises, and other bits of so-called wisdom that she had taken from other writers, including me and Kevin. According to her, some of these tips, nuggets of advice and encouragement, and other insights into the craft (and business!) of writing for publication proved informative and even inspiring to the kids. That was nice to hear, though I admit I often have a rough time accepting such comments or similar praise.

Then Shelly presented me and Kevin with copies of the finished book, fresh off the presses and autographed by all of the students, who requested we receive them as gifts.

Right in the feels, y’all.

Although I managed to keep my game face in place while we were on the floor, I have to admit to being more than bit choked up. In my mind, I didn’t think I’d done anything unique or special while talking to Shelly, but to hear that a young writer found value in something I said and that it helped with their own writing is flattering, and even a little humbling as the first thing I think is, “What did I say?” followed by variations of “Was it stupid?” “Did I cuss?” and/or “Did it violate an NDA?” along with assorted other panicked responses. Only one chance to make a first impression, and all that, amirite?

Many thanks to Shelly and the Writers of High Country for including me and Kevin in their celebration of this wonderful achievement. Tales of the Strange & Unusual is published by Many Hands Publishing. Go and give it a look-see, whydontcha?