Empty Space: A Kickstarter project by Michael Jan Friedman.

Well, lookie what we have here.

My buddy Mike Friedman is at it again. First off, the dude has a list of publishing credits about a mile long, encompassing novels, short stories, comics, and TV. He’s been around the block a few times. About once every year or so, he undertakes a somewhat bold quest of bringing to life some writing project without the benefit of a publisher. In recent years, he’s turned to crowdfunding to help him amass the money necessary to bring these plans to fruition. He tends to set modest fundraising goals with these things, and in every case (four, so far), he’s hit his mark and delivered on everything promised.

He’s also one of the genuinely good, decent guys in this whole writing business thing, and I really am helpless to resist him when he pulls something like this.

This time, though, Mike’s stepping up his game. Instead of prose novels or short story collections, he’s swinging for the fences and trying to bring to life a new graphic novel: Empty Space.

What’s it all about? Well, I should probably let Mike tell you:


I’ve described Empty Space as a cross between Star Trek and Lost, but it’s really more than that. It’s a twisty, turny, sometimes unsettling narrative set against the limitless backdrop of the stars, with the sort of bizarre alien species and against-all-odds derring-do that’s always characterized the best space adventure–along with a heaping dollop of the macabre.

This is the kind of tale I’ve wanted to tell for a long time. In fact, it’s a dream project for a guy who fell in love with comics and science fiction at the age of six and never stopped loving them.

It’s also a chance for me to give back to you–the readers who’ve been following me for decades–the best, most intriguing, and most entertaining work I can possibly come up with. If at any time in your immersion in Empty Space you think you know where the story is going…I humbly invite you to think again.


Okay. I’m in.

Empty Space is intended to be a 128-page graphic novel, filled to overflowing with juicy art and page-turning story shenanigans. There’s also a boatload of cool perks for those choosing to back the project. As I write this, I’ve already become a backer, because hey! It’s Mike.

For the complete rundown on Empty Space and all the delicious stuff waiting for those who opt in, run on over to Kickstarter and check out the project’s page:

Empty Space by Museworthy, Inc.

emptyspace

Good luck, Mike! I hope you make it, and not just because I want my own copy of this to hold in my grubby little paws.

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Time Lords and the Truce: Doctor Who at the National World War I Museum!

wwimuseum-entranceThose of you who follow my irregularly recurring blatherings here or on Facebook might recall that I volunteer here and there at the National World War I Museum and Memorial here in Kansas City. It’s one of those things I decided to do last year as part of my “Dayton, Chapter 2” bit upon hitting my 50th birthday.

In addition to possessing what has been called the world’s most comprehensive collection of artifacts from the First World War, the museum is also home to a number of, exhibits, events, and activities designed to heed its mission statement of “remembering, interpreting and understanding the Great War and its enduring impact on the global community.”

I’m really rather proud to be associated with it, even in this small way.

I also like that the museum continues to try new and different things in its ongoing quest to further engage the community. Sometimes that means thinking a bit outside the box, or mixing a bit of entertainment with our history. The museum has its own auditorium which plays host to concerts, lectures and symposiums, films, and other performances with some connection to the war. All Quiet on the Western Front, Doctor Zhivago, Paths of Glory, and other films set during the war have screened at the museum.

However, this is the first time I can recall something like this happening there:

timelords-wwi

Awwwwww, yeah. From the museum’s website:


Thursday, Feb. 15, 6:30 p.m.

The 1914 Christmas Truce is cleverly intertwined with Doctor Who – but we don’t want to give spoilers. Come with your favorite companion and discover new WWI facts and how clever that madman in the blue box can be with a viewing of the last episode in the 2017 season.


So, here I am, a student of the war and a fan of the Doctor. What to do, what to do?

I know! Ima gonna hafta go to this thing.

Those of you living in the Kansas City area (or willing to haul buns to this part of the country) who might also be fans of the Doctor while also having a free evening on Thursday, February 15th at 6pm, should think about heading to the museum to check out this special screening of “Twice Upon A Time,” the last episode to star Peter Capaldi as the 12th Doctor, and featuring the introduction of Jodie Whittaker as Doctor #13.

As the website says, the event is free. All you have to do is RSVP at the event’s page (click on “Free with RSVP”).

Maybe I’ll see you there!

ReWard: The 7 Phases of Almost Any Writing Project.

Every once in a while, my little blog here strives to be something more than a platform for the shameless whoring of myself and my various scribblings. There are the infrequent reminiscences and ruminations about favorite books, films, or TV shows. On rare occasions, I might see fit to delve into a current events topic. Rarer still are those entries where I try to offer meaningful writing advice, or at least a pithy anecdote gleaned from my time in “the trenches” of writing for a so-called living.

This is one of those pieces.

A couple of years ago, while faced with a deadline to have a post ready for the Novel Spaces writing blog along with being caught up in the grips of a Writing Project That Would Not Die, I came up with a list of things that seem able to confront any writing project regardless of size or scope.

The result made for a handy Novel Spaces column, and now seems like a nice thing throw into this space as a “ReWard” piece, in a desperate bid to make this site look like it’s generating fresh content on a more or less regular schedule.

So, from January 2016, I offer the following:

Continue reading “ReWard: The 7 Phases of Almost Any Writing Project.”

A tease from the Book Fairy: Drastic Measures!

The book fairy paid me a little visit today. This time, it was just a brief pit stop….long enough only to offer a tasty morsel of good things to come.

What am I babbling about, you ask? Behold, yo:

DSC2-cover

Yep! The package contained two brand-spankin’ new, fresh off the press and awash in that new car smell copies of Drastic Measures, my upcoming Star Trek: Discovery novel that’s due to hit stores on or about Tuesday, February 6th.

Don’t they look pretty? Wait….what’s it about? I’m so happy you asked:


It is 2246, ten years prior to the “Battle at the Binary Stars,” and an aggressive contagion is ravaging the food supplies of the remote Federation colony Tarsus IV and the eight thousand people who call it home. Distress signals have been sent, but any meaningful assistance is weeks away. Lieutenant Commander Gabriel Lorca and a small team assigned to a Starfleet monitoring outpost are caught up in the escalating crisis, and bear witness as the colony’s governor, Adrian Kodos, employs an unimaginable solution in order to prevent mass starvation.

While awaiting transfer to her next assignment, Commander Philippa Georgiou is tasked with leading to Tarsus IV a small, hastily assembled group of first responders. It’s hoped this advance party can help stabilize the situation until more aid arrives, but Georgiou and her team discover that they‘re too late—Governor Kodos has already implemented his heinous strategy for extending the colony’s besieged food stores and safeguarding the community’s long-term survival.

In the midst of their rescue mission, Georgiou and Lorca must now hunt for the architect of this horrific tragedy and the man whom history will one day brand “Kodos the Executioner.”


Drastic Measures is the second Discovery novel, following after David Mack‘s Desperate Hours, which was released back on September 26th. Those of you dialed into such things likely know that James Swallow has been announced as the author of a third book in this fledgling series. Fear Itself is due out in June, and will focus on Saru during his time aboard the U.S.S. Shenzhou under the command of Captain Philippa Georgiou.

Meanwhile, you’ve got mine and Dave’s books to tide you over until then.

Of course, the addition of a new tome to the shelf means I can play a new round of Trek Book Timeline Trolling…..

trekbooks2

Thadayton-at-workt should set some fan eyebrows to twitching.

Tee hee hee…….

Happy Birthday, Gene Coon.

Today would’ve marked the 94th birthday of writer, producer, and novelist Gene L. Coon.

Serving as a Marine during World War II and the Korean War, Coon would later channel his experiences into a pair of novels, Meanwhile, Back at the Front, and The Short End. Both are books you might shelve next to such irreverent tomes as Richard Hooker’s MASH, Dean Koontz’s Hanging On (written before he was *Dean Koontz*) and even Joseph Heller’s Catch-22.

Eventually making his way to Hollywood, Coon wrote scripts for a number of popular shows of the 1950s and 1960s such as Dragnet, Maverick, Bonanza, Have Gun, Will Travel, The Wild Wild West, and Wagon Train, and is also acknowledged for pitching the idea for what would become The Munsters. In the early 1970s, he wrote for shows like Kung Fu and The Streets of San Francisco, and produced the Robert Wagner series It Takes a Thief.

Somewhere in the middle of all of that, between 1966 and 1968, Coon was also one of the creative forces behind the original Star Trek.

GeneCoonWorking alongside series creator Gene Roddenberry as well as producers Herb Solow and Bob Justman and writer Dorothy Fontana, Coon was one of the show’s great influential forces. In addition to being a prolific writer who could turn out scripts in machine-like fashion, he’s also credited with introducing concepts to the series such as the Klingons and the Federation’s Prime Directive, the genetically enhanced Khan Noonien Singh, and warp drive pioneer Zefram Cochrane to name some prominent examples, which continue to inform and guide Star Trek storytelling to this day. Some of my favorite Trek scripts, like “Space Seed,” “A Taste of Armageddon,” “The Devil In the Dark,” and (of course!) “Arena” sprang from Gene Coon’s typewriter. Hell, I even have a soft spot for “Spock’s Brain.”

After Star Trek, he would partner again with Roddenberry as a co-writer for the TV film The Questor Tapes, and also was a co-writer for another Roddenberry concept that never went to series, Genesis II.

Coon died in 1973, never getting the chance to see what became of the show he helped shape and nurture. It’s unfortunate that his contributions seem to get overlooked except for the show’s most devoted fans, because there can be no denying the impact he had not just on the original series, but in the massive entertainment franchise Star Trek eventually became.

December writing wrap-up.

all-the-wordsSo, that 2017 was a bit of a dumpster fire, huh?

Yeah.

It was a bit of an odd year for me, as well. The rather volatile nature of freelance writing in general and writing for licensed properties in particular saw that much of my 2017 was cloaked in “secrecy” as I worked on various projects…most of which still have yet to be formally announced. A couple are (mostly) completed, one hangs in limbo, and another? Well….we’ll get to that.

In related news, much of my December writing efforts were directed toward the full-time position I started at the tail end of November. That’s right, I’m having to “re-learn” the art of balancing my freelance writing with a “regular” job. I’m in the process of easing back into the thick of things, and I expect I’ll be firing on all thrusters again here, fairly soon.

In the meantime? Let’s take a peek at my December rundown:

Continue reading “December writing wrap-up.”

Looking back at my 2017.

It’d be easy to allow my last blog posting of 2017 to wallow in the same sort of snark and smartassery that I employed as a defense mechanism pretty much every day while reading the news this past year. Instead, I’m going to end things on a high note.

IMG_2454So far as personal milestones go, I turned 50 this year. Rather than dwell on the sorts of things that seem to characterize the typical “mid-life crisis,” I’d already made the decision well ahead of my birthday to embrace full-on my half-century mark. I’ve told people that I had much more fun during my 40s than I did my 30s, due in no small part to family and friends as well as the rather odd way that I’ve managed to carve out something resembling a living. I don’t expect that to change just because my odometer turned over. I don’t feel 50, people tell me I don’t look 50, and I sure as hell don’t act 50, so screw it.

Speaking of the family, Michi and the girls are all happy and healthy. Addy turned 11 while Erin turned 9. I know it sounds cliché, but of everything I’ve accomplished in life to this point, being a decent husband and dad are the things in which I take the most pride. I’ll probably always be a work in progress on both of those fronts, but I have plenty of reasons to keep at it. 🙂

So far as writing, it was a bit of an odd year. Remember all those things I talked about writing during 2016? Well, they all showed up during 2017:

2017-cover-gallery

 

Two Star Trek: The Next Generation novels – as well as my second “travel guide,” this time focusing on The Klingon Empire, dominated my Star Trek publications during the year, along with mine and Kevin’s first-ever comic collaboration from 2016 appearing in the Star Trek: Waypoint mini-series paperback collection. 2017 also brought with it my first professional forays into the realms of Planet of the Apes and Predator. Both of those were fun and scratched specific fanboy writing itches, and I’m hoping to revisit both universes, one of these days. Elsewhere on the planet of apes, I contributed my second essay to the gang at Sequart, for their collection Bright Eyes, Ape City: Examining the Planet of the Apes Mythos, edited by friends Rich Handley and Joseph Berenato.

Also, and after a lot of planning and waiting, I teamed up with colleagues David Lee Summers, Carol Hightshoe, Jennifer Brozek, and Bryan Thomas Schmidt and we worked with Kevin J. Anderson’s WordFire Press to publish Maximum Velocity: The Best of Full-Throttle Space Tales.

DrasticMeasures-CoverAs for my writing during 2017, the project with the highest profile is probably Drastic Measures, my Star Trek: Discovery novel which was announced with a bit of fanfare at the big Star Trek convention in Las Vegas back in August. I actually knew as far back as the 2016 con that I’d be writing the book, but the secrecy ninjas from CBS have kept a tight lid on announcing such things until the appropriate time.

Going back even farther, I’d been talking at fairly regular intervals with my dear friend, Kirsten Beyer, who’s been in the Discovery writer’s room from the very beginning. I had a ringside seat as the show gestated and came together over a period of more than eighteen months, so yeah…I’m kind of biased. It was an interesting experience, trying to write a tie-in for a show that literally was being developed at the same time, and Kirsten played a big part in my being able to pull that off. Drastic Measures is due to be published on February 6th, 2018.

As for my other writing during 2017, I’m actually surprised at closing out the year without being able to announce or talk much about any of it because several of these things have not yet been formally announced by their respective publishers.

Two of those projects were completed and are scheduled to be published this coming summer. A project for another client was completed, but it’s looking increasingly as though it will never see the light of day. I was paid in full for my work, but the point of writing for publication is that your writing is…you know…published, so that people can experience it and (hopefully) enjoy it. At last report, there’s a slight glimmer of hope that the project will go forward, but the issues standing in its way are way above me and affect a number of people, and I feel more sorry for them than the fate of my little contribution.

Another tie-in project for which I signed a contract and have written an outline has been stalled somewhere between my client and the licensor, and I honestly have no idea when it might get the green light to move forward. I’ve been waiting months to hear some news, but my book is an admittedly very small fish in a very large pond. Such is the life of a freelancer. It’s still possible I might get some updates and be able to get writing, and maybe see this published either late in 2018 or early 2019.

What else do I have going? For those of you who may have missed it, back in November I accepted an offer to write full-time in an office setting. It’s both an interesting change of pace (and scenery!) and a nice counter to my fiction writing. My first month at the new gig has been educational and rewarding, as I’ve written two articles of my own and have three more in various stages of development, provided feedback on various pieces written by my teammates, and I’m currently editing an article submitted over the transom for our review. Over the next couple of weeks, I’ll be working with that piece’s authors to ready it for publication. So far, so good. 🙂

On the freelance front, I have contracts with two other clients that are now in an “active” status so far as my writing schedule. I have a manuscript due to one client on February 22nd, with a planned publication date in early 2019. I’m also due to start plotting with the other client after the holiday so we can see about getting on with that writing. A project for another client is still hanging in a low orbit, and I’m hoping to start working on an outline early in the new year.

One of the most frequent questions I get is whether I’ll be writing more Star Trek novels for Pocket Books. At present, I’m not under contract with them for anything beyond the upcoming Drastic Measures. Simon & Schuster is, at last report, finalizing their new licensing agreement CBS, and once that’s done I hope Pocket will see fit to contact me.

As I said last year and repeat as often as I can, I’m grateful to my clients who continue to employ me, my readers who continue to support me, and my family and friends who are in my corner even when I’m working often insane hours to meet a deadline. Kevin naturally gets his own shout-out because Kevin! I literally could not do what I get to do without all of you, and hey! If you’re an editor or publisher reading this, I’m still a freelancer, ever on the prowl for more work. 😀

Okay, 2018: Bring it on.

Happy 95th Birthday, Stan Lee!

Wishing a Happy 95th Birthday to the Generalissimo himself, Stan Lee!

He’s been at the epicenter of comics for more than seventy years. I still have my copy of How to Draw Comics the Marvel Way, which I purchased when I was a teenager with thoughts of one day drawing comics of my own. Despite reality asserting itself, that hasn’t dampened my love of the medium, and a lot of that is thanks to this man right here.

95, and he’s still running like a cheetah shotgunning Red Bull. I hope I have half his energy when I’m his age.

Wait. I want half his energy now.

The happiest of birthdays to you, sir.

Excelsior!

Another scam targeting writers? An update!

best-story-award-
This could’ve been yours…if the price was right. $14.95, as it happens.

So, last night I spent a little time talking about something I along with…conservatively speaking….forty or fifty bazillion people on the internet took to be some kind of possible scam, which if true had apparently set its sights on the oh-so lucrative pastime of trying to separate inexperienced or maybe even desperate writers from their money.

(Would you like to know more? See “Another scam targeting writers?“)

When a fair number of those aforementioned forty or fifty bazillion people–most if not all of them some form of writer just trying to make their way pushing words through this crazy messed up world–took to their blogs or Facebook or Twitter or other venues to report, dissect, condemn, and generally mock the very same email I described in last night’s post, things quickly devolved to the point of absurdity, culminating in what can charitably be described as a dumpster fire shit show train wreck very poor attempt to “set the record straight.”

Presented here, without any edits or changes to formatting, is the *second* email I and most of those forty or fifty bazillion people received from this group:

Continue reading “Another scam targeting writers? An update!”

Another scam targeting writers?

Well, maybe “scam” is too harsh a word.

“Shady,” I can hear one of you saying. “What about ‘Shady,’ Dayton?”

Yeah, we’ll go with “Shady.” For the moment, anyway.

So, I get this email over the holiday weekend:


best-story-award-Dear Dayton,

I hope you’re having a Merry Christmas! My name is [redacted], I’m from the NY Literary Magazine.

Congratulations! You have been nominated for the “Best Story Award”.

Visit this page to submit your entry: [link removed]

Submission period ENDS on December 31st, 2017.

Happy Holidays!

The NY Literary Magazine

PS: You can now add to your bio and credentials that you are a Best Story Award 2017 Nominee.

The NY Literary Magazine is a distinguished print and digital magazine.

“The prestige of such literary awards is immense for an author…awards drive up sales” – The NY Times

“Can do wonders for your writing career… one of the best ways to get your writing noticed!” – Writer’s Digest


Holy dogshit, Private Joker! I’m a winner! They like me! They really like me, don’t they?

Wait. Hold on a minute. Let’s unpack this a bit.

Congratulations! You have been nominated for the “Best Story Award”.

Um…’scuse me? Hello? There seems to be something missing here. Hang on…it’ll come to me. Just give me a sec to think about it. Oh. Right!

The email didn’t list which story of mine had been “nominated,” or offer any hints that they meant “novel” or “short story” when they said “story.” This would seem to be a an important nugget of information at this juncture, don’t you think? I mean, *I* kinda sorta thought it might have a bearing on the direction of the conversation, and so on and so forth, but what the hell do *I* know?

Strike one.

Visit this page to submit your entry: [link removed]

Being the suspicious curious sort, I opted to click the link and see where it took me. Sure enough, I found myself at the oh-fish-eeee-al website of the NY Literary Magazine. What was waiting for me? The chance to submit a story to one of several categories they’ve identified. There are “only” 200 such “submissions” accepted each month, in each category, so I really needed to ACT NOW IF I WANT TO CLAIM MY SPOT.

Oh, and did I mention there’s a submission fee?

$14.95 a throw. Boom.

Now, there are some legit literary contests and journals that charge modest reading fees – a few bucks or so – to help offset the actual costs of running such competitions. However, assuming these folks get their 200 entrants for each category every month, and there are (at least) eleven categories, that’s a tidy little haul–almost $33,000–every 30 days or so, just for “reading fees.”

Oh, and that $14.95? It was the super dooper special Christmas discount price.

Strike two.

Then, just for giggles, I Googled those quotes listed in the email, like that one from The New York Times. You know, this one:

“The prestige of such literary awards is immense for an author…awards drive up sales.”

I’m happy to report that the quote is legitimate…..albeit from 1992 and pertaining to a completely different thing. So far as I can tell, the NY Literary Magazine‘s available online “archives” stretch all the way back to July 2016, so you know…hmmm…..

Strike three.

With all that said, I can’t come right and tell you conclusively that this is a scam. At best, it looks shady as fuck, and my Spidey sense was tingling the whole time. I therefore opted not to submit any story (duh), and I don’t think I’ll be adding “Best Story Award 2017 Nominee” to my CV.

Oh, and just to tie all of this up in a nice, neat bow, I saw on Facebook and Twitter that a whole lot of people got hit with this same email, which…if you think about it…would seem to sorta dilute the whole “exclusive” nature of the thing. Of course the email’s originators got roasted on those platforms and elsewhere. Meanwhile, a check of the “magazine’s” website now reveals this new message:

Due to technical issues, we are suspending further contest entries till we can resolve them, once our technical support is back to work from their holidays. Apologies, please email our support via our website contact form if you wish to be notified when entries are functional again.

Oh, those pesky “technical issues.” It always amazes me how they’re able to crop up at the most convenient worst possible times. Dang, y’all.

Strike four. Because I’m not the biggest baseball fan, that’s why.

So, if you got one of these emails or something like it from someone else and are understandably suspicious curious, my advice is to avoid this sort of thing with the same determination and zeal you’d exhibit if a horde of fire ants was bearing down on you and trying their damnedest to plant their flag on your taint.

But, I happen to like my taint unsullied by opportunistic fire ants. YMMV.
Write on, boys and girls.