December writing wrap-up.

So, 2022. That was a year, eh?

December picked up where November left off, with me and Kevin continuing to work on our “big unannounced project” (see below). That and the holidays commanded most of the month, along with the usual sorts of tasks associated with my consulting duties and other things. Once we get past the Big Thing in front of us – or at least hand it off for review and approvals – I’ll start zeroing in on the next short story I’m scheduled to write, and I still have some other things I’m hoping to tackle in the next couple of months.

But first, let’s put a cap on 2022 with the December rundown:

Continue reading “December writing wrap-up.”

Closing the door on 2022.

Well, at least 2022 was better than 2021, right?

I suppose it depends on where you land with various things. We celebrated successes, our own as well as those close to us. We enjoyed the company and love of family and friends. We endured heartache. We mourned.

Elsewhere, it seems people are starting to wake up to the fact that elections have consequences. We were warned, of course, but we wouldn’t pay attention. We were told to look three and four moves down the board and consider pesky things like Supreme Court nominees and gerrymandering and voting rights and women’s rights and civil rights. People seemed to wake up a little in response to some of the more egregious moves. Better late than never, I guess.

I try not to get too political in this space, but suffice it to say the midterms gave me only slight cause for hope as we – slowly – take steps to mitigate the damage that’s already been done. Here I am, with my fingers crossed that it’s a small but growing trend away from the insanity of the last several years and the utter chaos that certain segments of our elected leadership seem all to happy not just to egg on but indeed instigate or assist.

NOTE: If you’re reading this and taking issue with those previous paragraphs, I understand and respect it but I have absolutely no interest in discussing or debating it with you. I also respect that you might feel the desire or need to find the exit ramp from this little banal corner of the internet, and if that’s the case then I wish you well.

Still here? Cool.

Continue reading “Closing the door on 2022.”

Tuesday Trekkin’: Some new love for Star Trek Vanguard!

We’re careening toward the end of the year and while this is supposed to be something of a slow week (HAH!), I’m hoping I can try resuscitate this blog-type thing on some level during 2023. To that end, feel free to offer suggestions for things you might want to see more (or less) of around here.

Meanwhile, it’s Tuesday, which means it could possibly also be time for another installment of “Tuesday Trekkin’,” one of several irregularly recurring features you newcomers might find here. This one is really just a shoddy excuse for me to yammer on a bit about some nugget of Star Trek fandom. Most of the time, this means me babbling about some fondly remembered bit of goofy merchandise or collectible, anniversaries and “milestones” or important dates in franchise history, convention memories, or whatever else tickles my brain on any given day.

The “Tuesday Trekkin’” moniker is also a tip of the hat to Dan Davidson and Bill Smith, aka “The Hosts of the TrekGeeks Podcast.” Their fan group over on Facebook, Camp Khitomer, is devoted to all things Trek where all are welcome to join in their positive vibes and community. Sometimes, they also like to push a #TrekTuesday hashtag over there, inviting members to share updates, links, and/or pictures celebrating their fandom, so this feature is definitely offered in that same spirit.

I’d actually planned to do this one a couple of weeks ago for reasons which (hopefully) will become clear as I proceed, but December kind of got away from me with work, family stuff, the holidays, and so on, but here we are! Those of you who follow such things know that Harm’s Way, a new Star Trek novel penned by friend and fellow word pusher David Mack, was published back on back on December 13th. In addition to being an original series tale featuring Captain Kirk and the crew of the Starship Enterprise in their prime during their historic five-year mission, the new story also ties into one of my very favorite aspects of the Star Trek “expanded universe,” the Star Trek Vanguard novel series.

Continue reading “Tuesday Trekkin’: Some new love for Star Trek Vanguard!”

November writing-wrap-up.

And just like that, here we are in December, the last lap of 2022.

November was an active month, y’all. Kevin and I spent the bulk of that time marching toward a deadline on a project we’re doing together, which hasn’t yet been formally announced (see “details,” such as they are, below). A few other things also took up time here and there, and there’s also been some prep work for stories I’m planning to write in the next couple of months. I also have a few “Man, I’d love to write _____” ideas for which I scribbled hasty notes and then set aside to deal with the deadlines right in front of me.

Writer’s life, yo.

Anyway, before I plunge headlong into December, here’s what went down last month:

Continue reading “November writing-wrap-up.”

October writing wrap-up.

November! Where the hell did you come from?

We’re just totally into that downhill slide of 2022, aren’t we?

It’s was a busy October. Deadlines looming, that sort of thing. Lots of things read, reviewed, discussed, and/or commented on for the consulting gig. Other things written, and discussions about what’s next, writing-wise – on both the consulting and freelance fronts – have occurred. Ideas for new stories are percolating, with notes hastily jotted and stored for future reference. I have to get past the current projects and their deadlines, you know.

Wanna see what’s what? Here’s the October rundown:

Continue reading “October writing wrap-up.”

NaNoWriMo: Upon us once again!

Hey.

It’s November.

Didn’t we just do this a year or so ago?

That’s right, kids: It’s the month many a writer circles on their calendar, often with some form of the question, “Do I or Don’t I?”

What are we yammering about? November, of course, is National Novel Writing Month, a 30-day odyssey of word pushing, key stabbing, stress inducing, existence questioning fun in which writer hopefuls block out most if not all distractions with the singular goal of racking up 50,000 (or more!) words toward the writing of a novel.

To be honest, I’ve had a mixed bag of success with this thing. That said, I still tend to be a cheerleader for the program because I do believe it has merit, particularly for the beginning writer. Figuring out how to hit a daily writing quota regardless of other commitments, demands, or distractions just during this one month period is a great learning aid as well as a valuable peek into the real world of a working writer. Even if you don’t hit that magical 50,000-word mark, embrace the opportunity here and all it can teach you.

On a few occasions over the years, I’ve written pieces for my blog and other venues where I’ve been asked to dispense “wisdom” to those attempting NaNoWriMo for the first time. Every writer’s mileage varies when it comes to their individual process and finding time to write in and around other commitments. With that in mind, I’ve always tried to keep my advice general enough so it can be applied no matter the specific situation. In that same spirit, I offer a few nuggets of hopefully helpful advice:

Manage your pace. You’ve got so many words to write, and so many days to write ‘em. Don’t over-think this. Figure out a words-per-day rate, and shoot for that. Take this in chunks, rather than concentrating on the 50k mark. It’ll start adding up pretty quickly. 50,000 divided by 30 days is 1,667 words a day. Sounds like a lot, right?

Now, break that down further. 250 words an hour is a figure I like to use, because that’s an old school measure for a page—give or take a dozen words or so—when you’re using Courier 12-pt font and double-spacing your manuscript. 250 words an hour isn’t a terribly stress-inducing pace, and doing that for seven hours gets you your daily quota and some extra padding, and you can do it in easy to manage chunks that you spread throughout the day. You know, one or two before work, one at lunch, one after work, and the rest in the evening. If you need or want to adjust that number up or down or how you spread it across the day, knock yourself out. The point is to find a pace that works for you on a consistent basis, but doesn’t stress you out while you’re trying to hit it.

Don’t kill yourself. Quit for the day if you hit your quota. If, on the other hand, you get froggy and write way beyond that, then give yourself a break the next day. If you miss a day, then work a bit harder over a few days to get back on pace, rather than trying to gain it all back in one chunk. Or, just recalculate a new per-day rate to absorb the words from the missed day. Again: Chunks. Pace. Consistency. Repeat.

Write now. Edit later. Your goal is to keep pushing forward, every day, all the way to the finish line, and you can’t do that if you keep going back over the stuff you already wrote. We all have an inner editor, wanting us to revise that paragraph or page we just finished, or who keeps telling us that chapter we wrote yesterday needs a rewrite. Ignore that skeevy bastard. This exercise isn’t about having a perfect, polished, ready to rock manuscript at the end of November. That’s what December’s for. So, tell that inner editor to sit down and shut his suck hole until the writing part is over.

My personal take on NaNoWriMo is that it’s a mechanism for instilling some structure and discipline into your writing routine and finding a way to integrate it with all the other demands on your life. As with anything else, it can be as useful or useless as the effort you put into it. This sort of thing’s not for everybody, so if you give it an honest try and discover it’s not for you, then screw it. Find a method that better suits you.

For those choosing to accept the challenge of National Novel Writing Month, I wish you the best of luck!

Kevin and I are heading into the Unioverse!

So, it seems Kevin and I are at it again.

In my monthly “writing wrap-up” posts, I’ve been hinting about a couple of projects I — or Kevin and I — have been working on during these past several months. With NDAs in place and timing being everything so far as effectively rolling out announcements for new projects, we’ve had to wait (im)patiently for the respective Powers That Be to greenlight promotion efforts. One of those things Kevin and I have been working on together has been described in this space over the past few months thusly:

Unidentified Shared Universe Project – As mentioned in a previous blog post, Kevin and I received an invitation to participate in this effort. The editorial team loved our ideas and after incorporating the few notes they had for us, we got the go ahead to start writing our short story. We delivered our our manuscript on October 1st and we’re presently awaiting editorial feedback. We’re also standing by for an official announcement about the project and our involvement. Hopefully soon!”

So, what’s this for? I’m so glad you asked.

What is “the Unioverse?” The short version is it’s a new science fiction game setting being developed by a team of seriously top-shelf creators. They’re laying the groundwork for a truly massive setting which will allow stories to be experienced not just in a gaming space but across multiple media platforms.

And rather than just keeping it all to themselves, not only are they recruiting established creator talent from the realms of gaming, comics, novels, and film, but they also have plans to open things up to new voices and creators looking to get their foot in the door within those arenas. That alone is its own topic that could keep us talking for hours and rather than me stealing all their thunder, I’d really rather direct you to the Unioverse website to get a full deep dive on what they’ve accomplished so far as well as what they’re planning.

Which brings us to this:

BusinessWire.com: Hex Publishers to Expand the Unioverse with Tie-In Anthology and Comic Book Series

Josh Viola and Hex Publishers, with whom Kevin and I previously worked for the anthology It Came from the Multiplex: 80s Midnight Chillers back in 2020, have been tapped to shepherd this new collection of short tales set in the ever-expanding Unioverse. I don’t know what possessed Josh to invite us to join in this new venture, but I’m grateful as it’s been an absolute blast getting to know this knew universe. Sorry. Unioverse!

Ours is just one of 27 Stories of the Reconvergence, which brings together writers representing various corners of genre fiction. This includes friends and colleagues Mario Acevedo, Kevin J. Anderson, and Tim Waggoner as well as Jane Yolen and Alvaro Zinos-Amaro, both of whom I’m fortunate to know thanks to mutual friendships within the writing community. Meanwhile, I’ve read and enjoyed the writings of several other participants, and I’m as excited as anyone else to be introduced to those word-pushers who are new to me. It’s a pretty impressive line-up, so here’s hoping Kevin and I manage to pull our weight accordingly.

As I write this, Kevin and I are awaiting feedback from editor and his co-editor, Angie Hoddap, both of whom bring their own rather impressive street cred to the fray. Stories from the Reconvergence is currently slated for publication in the summer of 2023. More details as they’re made known, but for now you can read the read the official press release with all of the details by clicking on this linky-type thing right here.

And while we’re all waiting for the book to wind its way through the production life cycle, if this sounds like something you want to get in, either as a player of the forthcoming game or as a possible future contributor in some manner, be sure to check out any or all of the following:

Twitter | Unioverse Blog | Discord | Hex Publishers Antho Page
Hex Publishers Comics Page | Facebook | YouTube

Many thanks to Josh, Angie, and the rest of the Unioverse team for inviting us to play in their swank new sandbox!

New Star Trek: Discovery novel coming May 2023…from me!

FINALLY, IT CAN BE TOLD.

For a while now, those of you who read my little toy-filled corner of the internet have been reading about an “Untitled tie-in novel” that’s one of my current works-in-progress. Indeed, my monthly writing wrap-up posts usually had something annoyingly vague like this to say about the book:

There have been some rumors and such about what this is, but I can’t really say much as nothing’s been formally confirmed or announced. I can say that the placeholder title I’ve seen bandied about is not accurate. It’s what they stuck into my contract at the time, before I’d even written an outline. Suffice it to say there’s a different title on the pages I’m looking at right now.”

Then there were the mysterious listings on Simon & Schuster’s website, which offered little in the way of actual info, because a delay in publication (see below) meant they weren’t yet ready to share any details about the book until the time was right. For example, curious knowledge seekers checking out the latest happenings in Star Trek publishing land might’ve come across a listing with a cover image like the one shown here.

This along with what was essentially “template data” is what fed out to the various book retailer sites. Meanwhile, I didn’t say much, instead waiting for the publisher and Paramount to approve the public release of any promo info about the book, which is my cue to start yammering about it.

So, yammer I shall!

As of today, I can officially announce that my next novel will be Somewhere to Belong, a Star Trek: Discovery novel set between the show’s third and fourth seasons. What’s it about, you ask? Well, allow me:

Captain Michael Burnham and the crew of the USS Discovery are finding that each day is a critical adjustment to their new lives and new missions in an Alpha Quadrant more than nine hundred years in the future. It’s here that Discovery is reconnecting with various worlds where the cataclysmic event known as “the Burn” has decimated Starfleet and, with it, the United Federation of Planets. There’s been precious little time for the crew to truly come to terms with their present reality, as their devotion to duty hides the emotional stress that could impact their effectiveness, and even threaten themselves or others.

After a successful journey to yet another planet cut off from the Federation, Discovery picks up a distress signal located in a nearby star system—a plea that harbors roots from their past lives in the 23rd century, and which may now lead to an entirely new crisis, plunging them all into mortal danger….

And there you go.

I actually delivered the manuscript back in April, but supply chain issues affecting the availability of paper and thereby forcing printer scheduling issues saw to it this book – originally slated for release in late 2022, was instead pushed into next year. Naturally, this affected the timetable of various things baked into the book’s development life cycle, including everything from when it was sent to a copyeditor to when I received galley (typeset) pages to when a cover might be commissioned. Also impacted by the rescheduling was the timeframe when I could actually announce and begin soft-promoting the thing. As it happens, today’s the day!

When I was asked to write the book and while talking with my editor as well as friend Kirsten Beyer, as my story ideas started to take shape I realized I wanted to spend at least some time with the characters in the aftermath of the Season Three events. Basically, Discovery and its crew arrived in the 32nd century and hit the ground running, with almost no time to acclimate to their new “home” let alone contemplate their place in it.

Star Trek: Discovery season four key art. This won’t be the cover, even though I think it fits the book’s overall theme very well. Stay tuned for that!

Once I learned there would be a time gap between those events and the start of Season Four, I started thinking about the crew’s reactions to the decision they made to jump with Michael Burnham to the future. How are they adjusting? Are they adjusting? Anybody having second thoughts, regrets, wondering if they made a terrible mistake or they simply feel homesick? Plus, there were a few interesting threads left dangling at the end of Season Three that lent themselves to playing in this space.

Along with this, I also just wanted to put these characters through something closer to a “traditional” Star Trek adventure. No crazy galactic crises or threats of war, but instead maybe a first contact situation and a chance to see how Burnham and her people can adapt to the way things like this are handled in the here and now of the year 3189 vs. 2258. Unlike Drastic Measures, which I wrote as a prequel set ten years before the events of Discovery‘s first season, here I was writing within a more strict set of parameters. As this story is set in that narrow gap between seasons, I had to work within the constraints that implies, but hey! Welcome to writing tie-in fiction for a show that is currently in active production. 🙂

As I write this, the book is scheduled for publication on Tuesday, May 23, 2023 and is currently up for pre-order from all the usual places. It’ll be available as a trade paperback and an eBook, as well as an unabridged audiobook. I encourage folks to patronize and support their local independent booksellers if at all possible, but if that’s not an option you can also find links here: Star Trek: Discovery – Somewhere to Belong.

Let’s fly, y’all!

The semi-sorta late September writing wrap-up.

We’re here, y’all. October. The last quarter mile of 2022.

Actually, it’s been here for a bit already. That’s how fast things seem to be moving, these days. Yeah, I’m a bit tardy getting this update posted, and it’s been a minute since my last posting in this space, but I promise it was with good reason.

September was a pretty busy month on several fronts. Things going this way, things going that way, and so on. The log I keep for my consulting work shows lots of stuff read, reviewed, discussed, and commented on. Other things written, and discussions had about other things I can be doing. Because…well, it seems like there’s always something that could use doing.

It was also a busy month on the home writing front. Things moving this way, things moving that way, things in motion, dogs and cats living together, mass hysteria, and so on. Check it out:

Continue reading “The semi-sorta late September writing wrap-up.”

The Double Trouble anthology Kickstarter is LIVE!

Last week, you may have read from me or one of the other contributing writers or even an interested fan about Double Trouble: An Anthology of Two-Fisted Team Ups. Edited by Jonathan Maberry and Keith R.A. DeCandido and presented by the International Association of Media Tie-In Writers (IAMTW), Double Trouble will be a collection of all-new stories featuring heroes of yesteryear who’ve entered the Public Domain along with a few colorful personalities from the annals of actual history!

“Everybody loves a team-up!

Batman and Superman. Alien and Predator. Zatoichi and Yojimbo. The Six Million Dollar Man and the Bionic Woman. Carol Danvers and Kamala Khan. Hercules and Xena. Gilgamesh and Enkidu. Iron Man and Captain America. 

The popular-culture storytelling landscape is filled with team-ups. Now, the International Association of Media Tie-in Writers (IAMTW) presents a new anthology that takes a whole bunch of classic characters and pairs them up! (In some cases, triples them up…)

Want to see Miguel de Cervantes’s Don Quixote paired with William Shakespeare’s Prospero? Dracula in a story with Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde and John Henry? Jane Austen’s Lydia Bennet meeting John Polidori’s Lord Ruthven? The immortal Ayesha coming across the goddess Egungun-oya? Abraham Van Helsing encountering the Medusa and Athena?” 

Awwww yeah.

So, sound interesting? Want to see these and a bunch of other cool matchups?

As mentioned in my previous post, we’ve launched a Kickstarter campaign in the hopes of gathering the modest funds necessary to support the costs of assembling the book, which will feature this roster of wily word pushers and the characters they plan to bring together for all sorts of chaos and mayhem:

Marion of Sherwood meets Annie Oakley by Rigel Ailur
Captain Nemo meets Frankenstein’s monster by Kevin J. Anderson
Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde meet Dracula and John Henry by Derek Tyler Attico
Gulliver meets Sacajawea and Ernest Shackleton by Diana Botsford
Ace Harlem meets the Conjure-Man by Maurice Broaddus
Van Helsing meets Athena and the Medusa by Jennifer Brody
The Brain That Wouldn’t Die must survive the Night of the Living Dead by Greg Cox
Lord Ruthven meets Lydia Bennet by Delilah S. Dawson
Ayesha, a.k.a. She Who Must Be Obeyed, meets Egungun-oya by Keith R.A. DeCandido
Flaxman Low meets Mezzanotte by Nancy Holder & Alan Philipson
Prospero meets Don Quixote de la Mancha by David Mack
Dan Fowler meets Stinger Seave by James Reasoner
Bastet and Fenrir meet Quetzalcoatl by Ben H Rome
Dr. Moreau meets Audrey II by Scott Sigler
Captain Battle meets Blackout by Dayton Ward (Hey! That’s me!)

This is just what you get if the campaign makes its original fundraising goal. Stretch goals brings with them the chance to include stories by:

Jane Trent, Science Sleuth and Fantamah and Fury by Debbie Smith Daughetee
Tang Sanzang, a.k.a. Tripitaka, and Emperor Taizong by David A McIntee
Moon Man and The Man in Black by James A. Moore

If any of this sounds at all interesting an cool to you, then head over to Kickstarter and check out the project’s Kickstarter page. There, you’ll get the full low-down on what we’re doing as well as all the sweet perks available to enthusiastic backers.

On that subject, I’m throwing into the backer perk pot a new, yet-to-be-named collection of short fiction I’ve written over the years, including pieces previously available to very limited audiences. For example, “Texas Pride: A Tale of the Last World War” is a story I wrote years ago for the long defunct Amazon Shorts publishing program. Other than being offered as a perk for another Kickstarter campaign a few years ago, the story has lain dormant in my archives, wondering why I don’t get off my butt and leverage it along with other vagrant tales to maybe earn me the odd coin or two. My intention here is to make this new collection an exclusive “early release” for Double Trouble backers, and then offer it up to a wider audience in a year or so.

We’re gonna make some Double Trouble and want you to come along for the ride with us. Whaddaya say?

DOUBLE TROUBLE: AN ANTHOLOGY OF TWO-FISTED TEAM-UPS – Kickstarter Now Live!