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?

Blast from the past: “And Then One Night”

HGWorld-logoA while back, friend and fellow word pusher Jay Smith was the chaotic evil mastermind behind HG World, a full-cast audio drama depicting a zombie uprising and those who struggle to survive it. Jay wrote all of the scripts for nearly 30 episodes and an audio novel, and more than 70 people lent their voices in various capacities over the course of the series.

Back in 2010 or 2011, Jay posited the idea of a series of shorter episodes depicting characters and events away from the main storyline. Along with a few other folks, he invited me to submit story ideas for this “audio anthology” he was tentatively calling A Long Cold Lonely Winter. I pitched an idea about a Marine unit tasked with protecting a small group of VIPs, specifically a United States senator and his family. Originally meant to transport the senator and his entourage to a secure location, things go sideways and the Marines are forced to seek shelter at an abandoned National Guard armory post. They fortify their positions after being told to stay put and are preparing to hunker down for the winter, “And Then One Night, All Hell Broke Loose.”

At least, that’s how I wrote it. I submitted a script for my story, but didn’t hear much about it after that. For a variety of reasons, mostly work and life and other things of higher importance, the anthology idea was shelved while Jay focused his attention on other things. I was plenty busy writing all sorts of other stuff, so at some point this just sort of faded into the back of my memory.

Then, last week, he posted an announcement on Facebook that he was officially “retiring” HG World, and that’s when I received a cool little surprise: Somewhere along the line, Jay had cast the voices for my script, and he and his crew recorded it.

Wait. Whaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaat? How the hell did that happen? How the hell did that happen? Well, the “how” seems easy enough: Jay and his people did what Jay and his people did a lot: They just did it. Imagine my genuine, pleasant surprise.

Now, this is only the raw audio, meaning it’s not anywhere near being a polished episode of the sort Jay and Company put out time after time while working on HG World. So, for all I know there would’ve been edits and maybe even redos if we’d decided something else worked so far as the dialogue went. But, this is a neat little reminder of something fun I did for a friend a while back. Check it out:

HG World: A Long Cold Lonely Winter – “And Then One Night…”

Full Cast List:

Civilian #1 – Isaak Wells
Civilian #2 – Warren Blackie
Civilian #3 – J. Longshaw
Cpl Kirsten Beyer – Ginny Swann
1stLt Carrie Burroughs – S. Longshaw
Col. Michael Davison – David Sobkowiak
LCpl Becky Gaskill – Karen Kahler
LCpl Ricky Jackson – Stacy Dooks
Sgt William Leisner – Tanja Milojevic
GySgt Joshua Marshall – Brion Humphrey
Melissa – Melissa Morgan
Cpl Scott Pearson – Justin Grubbs
Robert Powell – Warren Blackie
Cpl Gary Taylor – Tom Kerin
Andy Waverly – Adam Boeing
Senator Charles Waverly – Lee Turner
Woman – Danielle McRrea

and Keith R.A. DeCandido as Todd Rage

Many thanks to Jay, the cast and crew, and everyone else who worked to put this together. I’m sorry to see HG World retire, but I fully understand having to let a favorite project rest when life’s other demands get in the way. Maybe Jay will find a way to revisit it, one of these days.

April writing wrap-up.

Attention, all personnel: 2019 is one third gone. Already.

What can I say about April? The biggest thing I can say about April is that there’s not a lot I can say about what I was doing during April. Was I busy? Oh, hell yes. I started writing a new novel, and also completed a smaller project. There was talk about future things, and let’s not forget our journey to Denver for the annual StarFest Convention. There are other things afoot, as well, and I’ll get to talking about them in due course (read, “When my overlords say it’s okay to chat about them.”).

Until then, here’s last month’s rundown:

Continue reading “April writing wrap-up.”

Talking about Available Light with Literary Treks!

AvailableLight-coverSo, I’m babbling again.

This time it’s about my still minty fresh Star Trek: The Next Generation novel Available Light, and the thankless task of not only enduring my blatherings but also recording them for others to hear fell to the inimitable duo of Bruce Gibson and Dan Gunther, they of the Literary Treks podcast.

I always enjoy talking with Bruce and Dan. They’re longtime supporters of the Star Trek novel line, and the interviews they conduct are fun and even a little challenging, as some of the questions go beyond the usual sorts of topics we might cover while discussing this sort of thing. I also love that they always seem able to dial in on some of the subtler things I might try to sneak into one of my books when I think no one’s paying attention.

In the course of talking about Available Light, we also discuss the rather expansive “24th century continuity” the novels have built across multiple series and more books than I can count over the course of many years. It’s quite something, for whatever my opinion’s worth, and I’m rather proud to be a part of it. We also tease (Just a little!) about what might be next, particularly with the forthcoming Collateral Damage, David Mack‘s follow up to my book that’s due to hit bookstore shelves in October.

In the meantime, have a listen to our little chat:

Literary Treks #266: Bringing the Truth Out of the Shadows

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Thanks as always to Bruce and Dan for having me on. I’m sure we’ll do it again at some point! 🙂

StarFest bound!

Starfest2019

Thanks to the wonder that is scheduled posting here on the blog thing, by the time you read this my hetero life mate Kevin and I will be on our way to Denver for the annual StarFest Convention!

(Be sure to click on the link and check out the guest line-up. William Shatner. Nichelle Nichols. Ben Browder from Farscape! Rick Sternbach! Ken Foree from Dawn of the Dead! Peter Macon from The Orville! And many more!)

I’ve run out of fingers to keep an accurate count of this sort of thing, but I’m reminded that this will be our 17th consecutive year attending as guests of the con. Regular readers know that this show and Shore Leave are my two favorite conventions to attend, and the two I make every effort not to miss. Indeed, I make sure to lock in my availability for these shows before committing to anything else.

AvailableLight-coverWhat’ll we be up to this weekend? The usual sorts of convention shenanigans. We’ll have our tables in the vendor area, of course, and I’ll have with me minty fresh copies of Available Light and other titles, all ready for the autographing and such.

We’ll also be participating in programming, including the guest meet-n-greet on Friday night. We help out with the talent show and the big costume contest on Saturday evening, and we’ll be serving up another couple of Late Night Movie Action with Dayton and Kevin. On Friday it’s The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension as this cult classic celebrates its 35th anniversary in 2019. For Saturday, we’re presenting Once Upon A Deadpool (aka, “the PG-13 version of Deadpool 2“), which is actually a follow up to our screening of the first Deadpool flick at last year’s StarFest. It’s a whole sequel observance kind of thing, offered in the spirit of good old-fashioned family entertainment.

Beyond that? I’m sure we’ll find some kind of trouble to get into.

If you’re reading this and planning to attend the con, be sure to swing by and say hello!

GoneTrekkin

Happy 80th Birthday, Lee Majors!

The Six Million Dollar Man himself celebrates his 80th birthday today!

It’s been a bit since I saw him pop up anywhere. He looked great from the photos I saw from the set of Fuller House where he along with Bionic Woman Lindsay Wagner guest-starred last year. They both still look great, and I hope I have half his energy when I’m his age.

Also? I fervently maintain that Lee Majors has the manliest running stride in the history of running men. Fight me.

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Geek Fact: When I was a kid, I so wanted a jacket like the one in this pic.

Geek Fact 2: I kinda still do.

Happy Birthday, Mr. Majors!

Support these upcoming titles from eSpec Books!

Okay, I know. I’m a bit behind on my bloggery.

Work, the holiday weekend, work, and…let’s see….yeah, work, have seen to it that I’ve neglected this place for a while. I’ve never been one of those people who sees the need to blog every day, and only do so when something’s got me jazzed enough to tap out some words and add some cute pics and whatnot. However, then something like this comes along and I’m like, “Hey! Cool stuff to talk about!”

Hey! We’ve got cool stuff to talk about.

FootprintsInTheStarsFriends Danielle Ackley-McPhail and Mike McPhail are the brain trust behind eSpec Books, an independent publisher that’s behind a whole bunch of cool novels and short story collections. It seems like most of the writers I know have worked with them at some point, and Danielle was kind enough to invite me to submit a story for a collection she’s putting together called Footprints In the Stars.

But wait! Before we talk about whatever it is I’m laboring to create for her, we need to talk about the crowdsourcing effort to fund this anthology along with one Mike himself is shepherding, In Harm’s Way, the eighth edition of eSpec’s anthology series Defending the Future, as well as a single-author short story collection, Devil Dancers by Robert E. Waters.

A three-book crowdfunding campaign? If that sounds pretty ambitious to you, you’re not wrong. The basic idea is to fund In Harm’s Way first, and any monies pledged beyond that needed to realize the first book will go toward Footprints In the Stars and Devil Dancers. As of today, the fundraising effort is more than halfway to the initial goal, and the campaign is active until May 19th on Kickstarter. Check it out:

eSpec Books: Defending the Future – In Harm’s Way

InHarmsWay

As for how I’m mixed up in this, as I said Danielle invited me to write a story for the second of the three books, Footprints In the Stars. Here’s the funny thing: the story I’m working to finish is not at all the one I started when I first took up the challenge of submitting to this anthology. Somewhere along the line, I got an idea for a new story that I ended up liking way, waaaaaaaaaaay better than the one I was writing. So, I tabled the first story and turned toward the new, shiny thing. If I do it right, this has the potential to serve as a springboard for something bigger I’ve got in mind. You know…for down the road during another gap of my supposed free time.

(I’ll wait here until everyone stops laughing.)

Anyway, that’s the plan…assuming I don’t screw it up, of course. We’ll see how it goes.

For now? Run and check out the newest eSpec Books Kickstarter and if anything there tickles your fancy, I hope you’ll consider becoming a backer. A lot of my friends and fellow word pushers are contributing to these projects, but none of them can happen without the support of people like you!

The first AVAILABLE LIGHT interview!

So, yeah. I’m babbling again. It happens, every so often.

AvailableLight-coverThe last time writer Paul Semel caught up with me, it was back in early 2018 for an interview about my Star Trek: Discovery novel, Drastic Measures. With the release of Available Light earlier in this week, Paul found me again for a fresh set of questions about the book as well as its development, collaborating with my editors and other Star Trek novel writers like my occasional partner in literary mischief, David Mack, and a few other lines of inquiry designed to keep me on my toes. 🙂

Paul has published my latest yammering responses to his questions, and the complete interview is now available for your perusal. Check it out:

PaulSemel.com: Exclusive Interview – Star Trek: The Next Generation – Available Light Author Dayton Ward

Thanks very much to Paul for the invitation to chat!

2019 Scribe Award Nominees announced!

iamtwThe International Association of Media Tie-In Writers (IAMTW) has announced their nominees for this year’s Scribe Awards. Among the nominees are several people I’m proud to call friends and colleagues, or just sources of inspiration and admiration. Some of the names listed are people whose work I’ve been reading for years. Read on for the official announcement and complete list of nominees!

Continue reading “2019 Scribe Award Nominees announced!”

April 9th, 1959: The Mercury Seven.

Ladies and gentlemen: Today we are introducing to you and to the world these seven men who have been selected to begin training for orbital space flight.

These men, the nation’s Project Mercury astronauts, are here after a long and perhaps unprecedented series of evaluations which told our medical consultants and scientists of their superb adaptability to their coming flight.”

April 9th, 1959 – 60 years ago today: America officially gets into the space race with Project Mercury.

Mercury7

(L-R: Scott Carpenter, Gordon Cooper, John Glenn, Gus Grissom,
Wally Schirra, Alan Shepard, Deke Slayton)

They were to be America’s first guides to the stars. The right stuff, indeed.