It’s William Shatner’s birthday, everybody!

Today we’re celebrating the 87th birthday of the Man himself. Captain Kirk, T.J. Hooker, Rescue 911 Guy, Denny Crane, Priceline Negotiator, and CAPTAIN JAMES TIBERIUS BY GOD KIRK.

:: ahem. ::

The one and only William Shatner: 87 years old, and still running circles around people half his age. I’ll have what he’s having.

insp_captkirk

Happy Birthday, sir. May you enjoy many more.

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The Write Music.

starwars_lpI’m fairly certain that anybody who’s followed my antics for any length of time knows that I have a thing for film and television music. The very first album I remember buying with my own money was in 1977, and it was the original 2-record edition of John Williams’ score for Star Wars.

A few more would follow in that album’s footsteps: Superman: The Movie, Star Trek: The Motion Picture, Alien, The Empire Strikes Back, Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, and so on. As I grew older and had more money to spend, my selection of titles expanded, and to this day such music accounts for a sizable percentage of my rather eclectic collection.

Later, when I started writing, and particularly with my writing an awful lot of Star Trek fiction (you may have heard me mention that, once or twice), I discovered that I really liked having film and TV music playing in the background as I worked. Then I started playing particular scores (or portions thereof) to help get me in the groove for writing certain stories or scenes. For writing Star Trek? Music from one of the television series or films is always in the rotation, but I also try to mix it up.

Lots of action? Star Wars, Star Trek, Black Hawk Down, Superman, Rambo: First Blood, Part II, Gladiator, Pirates of the Caribbean, Raiders of the Lost Ark, and so on just to name a few.

Quieter, moodier, and/or more contemplative scenes? The American President, The Shawshank Redemption, Jurassic Park, Alien, Outland, and so on.

(Oh, and don’t forget that individual pieces from any of these and so many others can work for end of the spectrum I’m describing, and everything in between.)

When I started buying these things, the formats of the era – LP vinyl albums, cassette tapes, and even :: gasp :: 8-track tapes – limited the amount of music which could be included on these commercial albums and still make them profitable for their publishers. Even when CDs began showing up, the average running time of these albums didn’t seem to increase to any real degree. It was a common thing to buy the album for a newly released movie, and discover that it doesn’t include one or two of what you realize are your favorite cues from the film itself.

STTMP-SoundtrackCoverThen, somebody somewhere got the amazing idea that selling expanded or complete scores for films which may only have received a truncated music release was something worth doing. Whoever that person is, they are a national treasure. They should be canonized, and their face carved into Mount Rushmore. Because of this admittedly niche market, I’ve been able to acquire complete scores for each of the Star Wars films, the entire original Star Trek series, Alien and Aliens, Outland, Rambo, Predator, and…of course…each of the Star Trek films, including an effort over 30 years in the making: Jerry Goldsmith’s wondrous complete score for Star Trek: The Motion Picture.

Scores from the past few years that I’ve enjoyed adding to my stack include Interstellar, The Martian, John Wick, Captain America: The First Avenger, Mad Max: Fury Road, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, The Shape of Water, and the three most recent Star Trek films just to name several examples off the top of my head.

(Yes, I’m sure I didn’t list one that you think I should have included. Just pretend it’s there. I’ve got too many of these things to make a comprehensive list. 😀 )

Film and TV music helps me set the mood for writing, but I also just enjoy listening to this type of music just because. Hearing the composer’s work without it being drowned out or pushed aside by dialogue, sound effects, and other noise is an experience all its own. There are times you realize you’re truly hearing some of this music for the first time, and you realize that – as often as not – a mediocre film might possess a truly first-rate, all but unappreciated score.

Anybody got some favorites they want to share?

Drastic Measures: The hold-it-in-your-hands audiobook!

Let’s all pause and celebrate the glory of physical media!

Thanks to the good folks at Simon & Schuster Audio, I now have in my hot little hands the cool, old-school CD edition audiobook for my newest novel, Drastic Measures. Behold the shelf-crowding goodness:

IMG_3332

Yes, the newest Star Trek audiobooks are being offered commercially as digital downloads from places like Audible, iTunes, etc. The CD editions are being manufactured for special sales situations such as libraries and the like. So, you won’t be able to find physical media versions of these for sale anywhere.

Sorry.

Now, it’s important to note that I’m by no means a media snob. I rather like having movies, music, and whatnot available in digital format. Loading up my laptop, tablet, or phone before I head out on a trip is the way to go. I still prefer reading physical books to e-Books, though….that one’s going to be a long time changing.

Oh, and Blu-rays. Particularly Star Trek Blu-rays. Those are hanging around for a while, too. I’ll probably be buried with all that stuff.

As for the rest of it? I absolutely agree with the convenience digital media offers, but….BUT….it looks like shit sitting on a brag shelf, whereas this looks totally pimp, amirite?

(Besides, if something happens that prevents me from accessing my digital library — you know, like an alien invasion unleashing a global EMP or something — it’s nice to fall back on the older storage. Just sayin’.)

If I’m lucky, my wife will let me have this back in a couple of weeks, after she’s done listening to it. Cross your fingers.

Talking Drastic Measures on Literary Treks!

“ZOMG! Another interview? Will he ever stop? Do we need to schedule an intervention?”

These are just the questions coming from my wife, so I can only imagine what the public at large might be thinking.

However, until I’m sedated and taken away for a long rest, I’m going to keep answering questions and such whenever they’re put to me in a semi-sorta formal interview-like atmosphere, as I did last week when I “sat down” for a chit-chat with Dan Gunther and Bruce Gibson, they of the mighty Literary Treks podcast.

Just like the title says, we did indeed discuss Drastic Measures, my recently released Star Trek: Discovery novel. I’ve talked with Dan and Bruce on multiple occasions as we discussed previous books of mine, so we’re able to get right to the meat of things and spend most of the interview talking about the book and the process of developing it while marching in step with the show’s writers and producers as they worked to bring Discovery to the screen.

As I’ve mentioned in other interviews and elsewhere, writing Drastic Measures was unlike any of the other Star Trek novels I’ve done, owing to the fact that it was the first time I was working on a book based on a show in active production. So, the demands and expectations were (naturally and understandably) somewhat different. It made for an interesting and rewarding experience, being able to collaborate with Kirsten Beyer and other members of the Discovery writing staff.

The results of my conversation with Dan and Bruce are now available for your listening pleasure over at the Literary Treks website. Check it out:

Literary Treks Episode #222: The Ward Rule

Thanks very much to Dan and Bruce for  having me on once again. It’s always fun talking to them, and the show has long been a big supporter of the entire Star Trek publishing effort. Something tells me I’ll likely cross paths with these guys again at some point in the not too distant future.

 

Hear me yammering on the Mission Log Podcast!

Tired of me and interviews yet? No? Well, let’s test those limits, shall we?

Last night, I was a guest on a live edition of the Mission Log Podcast. Hosts Ken Ray and John Champion have been doing a bang-up job as they proceed on their years-long mission to examine, discuss, and debate each episode of the ever evolving Star Trek saga. They’ve already gone through the entire run of the original series, its animated offspring, and The Next Generation. Deep Space Nine is in the queue, and they also did a weekly after show following each new episode of Star Trek: Discovery.

However, every once in a while, they shift gears and talk about other things, or to other people. Enter: Me.

Whoops.

I’ve known John for several years now, and have run into Ken at the odd convention here and there. We’ve talked about having me on the show at various points and the planets all seemed to align this time around, and so it was that I ventured into Mission Log’s virtual lair via the wonder that is the internet. What did we talk about? Well, as the show’s capsule description put it, we talked about writing, Star Trek, and writing Star Trek.

Go figure.

Discovery was a decent part of the conversation of course, but we also drifted into such topics as the what is and isn’t “Star Trek canon” and why some people insist on making a big deal out of this distinction, and what types of Star Trek stories I like to write and watch (or read!). We also fielded questions from the audience, which to me is always fun.

Though the show was a live broadcast, the playback is available at the Mission Log website:

Mission Log Podcast: Say Hello to Dayton Ward!

Many thanks to Ken and John for having me on the show, and to all of the audience members who participated in the accompanying line chat and/or sent in questions. It was a fun conversation, and I’d definitely be up for a return visit at some point.

 

 

 

February writing wrap-up.

mad-writer

Two months in, and 2018 is already starting to irritate me.

I mean, I guess there’s something to that old adage about time starting to fly right by, the older you get. I blinked, and we’re already at March? The hell is that about? I’m afraid of hitting the snooze button tomorrow morning and waking up in August, or some shit.

Anyway……

Yep, there was some writerly shenanigans afoot at Ward Manor during February. As with January, I’ve continued to spend a good bit of my waking hours writing for the day job, but there was still time to push ahead on a couple of fronts.

“But, Dayton,” I can hear someone saying, “can you finally announce anything?”

Yeah. No.

Check out the rundown for February:

Continue reading “February writing wrap-up.”

Get the entire STAR TREK VANGUARD series as Kindle e-Books for a steal!

“The first rule of Vanguard is that you do not talk about Vanguard.”
— Admiral Heihachiro Nogura, 2269

Okay, okay. Fine. Let’s talk about Vanguard.

VanguardCoverArt_2560x1600

Specifically let’s talk about Star Trek Vanguard, the “literary spin-off” series of novels conceived by former Pocket Books editor (and current Tor Books wizard) Marco Palmieri and David Mack, way back in 2004. Marco and Dave gave birth to this super-cool series intended to run in parallel to the adventures of Captain Kirk and the Enterprise during its five-year mission as (mostly) chronicled in the original Star Trek series.

For those not clued into the series, I encourage you to click on the link in the previous paragraph, which will give you a complete rundown. Go on, do it. I’ll wait.

Back already? Cool.

TL;DR? Vanguard was by-god awesome, to write and to read. I’ll always be grateful to Marco and Dave for choosing to include me and Kevin in what is, to this day, one of the absolute best times I had writing Star Trek, and one of the accomplishments of which I’m most proud.

So, now that we’ve got that out of the way, let’s get to the reason I’ve gathered you here today. For the month of March, Pocket Books is running a special promotion whereby interested parties can score the entire Star Trek Vanguard saga in Amazon’s Kindle format, with each title priced to go at just 99 cents apiece.

99. Cents. Apiece.

Those of you who’ve elected not to read this series just yet, for reasons surpassing understanding, are now largely out of excuses. I mean, look…I’m even laying out the links for you, and everything:

Harbinger
Summon the Thunder
Reap the Whirlwind
Open Secrets
Precipice
Declassified
What Judgments Come
Storming Heaven
In Tempest’s Wake

Who loves ya, huh?

The current deal is valid for the entire month of March, so you’ve got that long to add all of this amazing Vanguardian goodness to your e-Book library. Enjoy!

Whaddaya know? It’s another DRASTIC MEASURES interview!

Consider this your first official warning that there is yet another new interview with me, floating in the aether and ready to assault your ears.

This time, I “sit down” with William Conlin and Marty Allee, hosts of the Reading Trek podcast, to discuss….wait for it….Drastic Measures, by still somewhat minty fresh Star Trek: Discovery novel.

William and Marty, joined by big Disco fan Heather Barker, spent the better part of not one but two episodes of this new program discussing the book. Incredibly, after putting themselves through that ordeal, they still wanted to talk to me. Go figure.

What did we end up with? A 40-45 minute chat about the book and its development along with a few forays into other aspects of my writing journey. Yes, you read that right: I’m totally calling this shit a “journey” from now on. Sounds cooler than “career,” right?

Don’t stop believin’, yo.

Anyway, those of you interested in hearing their 2-part review discussion about the book and/or the conversation with me are encouraged to check out both episodes at the Reading Trek website:

Episode 003: Kodos the Remorseful
Episode 004: Hate is Conquered by Love (including interview with me)

Many thanks to William, Marty, and Heather for their thoughtful discussion about the book, and for inviting me to talk with them for a bit. Maybe we can do it again, one of these days!

 

Stick this in your ears! Predator: If It Bleeds….the audiobook!

Even though it’s apparently been available as an mp3 CD for a short while, today is the “official” release date for the audio edition of Predator: If It Bleeds, the anthology of all-original tales featuring everyone’s favorite intergalactic hunters and general ugly muthas, as edited by Bryan Thomas Schmidt.

Produced by Blackstone Audio, this unabridged adaptation of the anthology (which was published in trade paperback format last October) features all sixteen stories, and each tale has been given its own narrator!

(story author in parentheses)

Introduction (Bryan) – Tom Taylorson
Devil Dogs (Tim Lebbon) – Nicol Zanzarella
Stonewall’s Last Stand (Jeremy Robinson) – Tom Taylorson
Rematch (Steve Perry) – Traber Burns
May Blood Pave My Way Home (Weston Ochse) – Bradford Hastings
Storm Blood (Peter J. Wacks and David Boop) – Bahni Turpin
Last Report from the KSS Psychopomp (Jennifer Brozek) – Emily Sutton-Smith
Skeld’s Keep (S.D. Perry) – Ulf Bjorklund
Indigenous Species (Kevin J. Anderson) – James Patrick Cronin
Blood and Sand (Mira Grant) – Andre Eiden
Tin Warrior (John Shirley) – Scott Brick
Three Sparks (Larry Correia) – Feodor Chin
The Pilot (Andrew Mayne) – John Pruden
Buffalo Jump (Wendy N. Wagner) – Mark Bramhall
Drug War (Bryan Thomas Schmidt and Holly Roberds) – Dan John Miller
Recon (me) – Peter Berkrot
Gameworld (Jonathan Maberry) – John McLain

That’s some kind of lineup, authors and voice actors alike, amirite?

Predator: If It Bleeds is available in both mp3 CD and digital audio download formats, in addition to the aforementioned trade paperback.

Amazon.com
Barnes & Noble.com
Books-A-Million

Go on, you know you want to. I mean, if it bleeds, you can hear it…or, something.

 

 

Apparently, I always wanted to write Star Trek stories.

Oh, sure. Seems like a no-brainer, now.

But, what if I told you that the idea of writing Star Trek stories was something I had to work my way into, oh-so slooooooooooooooooowly?

Don’t get me wrong: the idea of making up adventures for Captain Kirk and his merry band of enterprising voyagers (see what I did there?) goes all the way back to my awkward, scrawny, geeky 1970s childhood. If my friends and I weren’t pretending to be the Enterprise crew at our local playground (or the crew from Moonbase Alpha. That was actually a thing, for a short while), then chances were good I was playing with Star Trek action figures. Many a day during my childhood was spent spinning my very own little Star Trek yarns with little 8″ inch versions of Kirk and company, along with that hilariously wacky Enterprise bridge set from Mego. You know the one:

megoactionfiguresinset

Awwwwwwwwww, yeah.

Oh, and when I say “Many a day during my childhood,” I also mean “Yesterday.”

Moving on.

As for actually writing any kind of Star Trek story, I recall dabbling here and there with the notion as a teenager. This was at a point when the original cast was on the silver screen, a few years before the premiere of Star Trek: The Next Generation. Nothing serious ever came from those haphazard scribbling sessions….certainly nothing I kept for posterity.

Skip ahead to the fall of 1987: TNG has only recently premiered, and I’m checking out a Star Trek convention in Anaheim (I was stationed at Camp Pendleton during this period). How early were we into the new show’s run? We got to see the first season episode “The Last Outpost” a week ahead of its broadcast. Anyway, I’m wandering the dealers room when I spy a copy of this:

Trek-TNG-WritersGuide(Click to enlarge)

Now, I wasn’t completely unfamiliar to the idea of a “writers guide” for Star Trek. I remembered reading something about it/them, perhaps in my dog-eared copy of Stephen Whitfield’s The Making of Star Trek, or David Gerrold’s The Trouble With Tribbles or maybe even an issue of Starlog. I certainly never expected to actually see one, but BOOM! Atop a dealer’s table sat just this very thing, albeit for the still new car-smelling Star Trek: The Next Generation. So, sure, I ponied up the $10 or whatever it was (that’s a pic of my copy, up there).

And it’s not as though I suddenly had delusions of grandeur and writing for the new show. I mean, TV was written by writers, after all. At best, I was an annoyingly well-informed nerd when it came to Star Trek trivia, which included reading the novels that were by now a regular component of Pocket Books’ publication schedule. On the other hand, the idea of writing some kind of Star Trek story had taken root, even if it’d be a while before I actually tried doing anything about it.

Skip ahead several more years, to the far off wonders that awaited us in the 21st century! I’m now writing Star Trek fiction on a semi-regular basis for that same Pocket Books, and there have been three more Trek TV series since TNG came and went. That original TNG series writers/directors guide has gotten some company:

trek-writersguides(Click to enlarge this, too.)

Even now – several more years, a handful of movies, and one additional TV series later – I still don’t have any real aspirations of writing Star Trek for the screen. But, as a writer of the novels and a fan of Star Trek in general, it’s neat to see how the writers for the different series approached their task. Of particular interest to me when I picked it up was the writers guide for the original series, as somewhere along my “fan journey” I’d become very enamored with reading about the actual production of the show, and so I’m always grabbing anything and everything I can get my hands on with respect to this topic.

Why am I babbling about this stuff today? It’s really Michael Okuda’s fault. Over on his Facebook page, he posted a link to something TrekCore.com posted last year, making me remember these docs which have been in my files for years:

TrekDocs Artifacts: TNG S3 Writers’ Technical Manual

Whaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaat?

Upon seeing that, I knew I wasn’t going to be happy until I dug out all of my writers guides….if for no other reason than to make sure I still had the damned things.

Worry not, true believers. You know my reference library runs wide and deep.

Of course, these guides were created with a very specific purpose: assisting both staff and hopeful freelance episode writers to make sure their stories remained consistent with the aesthetic and sensibilities created for each of the series. For outsiders, they offer a peek behind the curtain, though I’ve found the original series references to be particularly helpful when it comes to putting myself in the “mood” to write a new story for Captain Kirk and his crew.

And sure, we’ve even created the odd “writers bible” for some of the novel lines, as well. Keith DeCandido and David Mack deserve special shout-outs, as they drafted guides for writers of, respectively, the Star Trek: Starfleet Corps of Engineers series and Star Trek Vanguard. Though I never had need to print out my copy of the SCE bible (it, or the “23rd century version” I did up for me and Kevin to use), I did so for Vanguard, and indeed I still have my copy along with the tech specs and such, all stored in a 3-ring binder:

Trek-VanguardBible(Yes, you can enlarge this one, as well.)

What can I say? Trek dork, remember?

So, thanks very much to TrekCore and Mike Okuda for spurring this little field trip down Memory Lane.