The Next Big Thing Blog Hop

For the past several months, this meme has been circulating amongst my writer friends, where they get to talk about their upcoming and in-progress projects. Last week, my friend Dayton Ward tagged me, so now, my Next Big Thing:

1) What’s the title of your forthcoming book?
Star Trek: The Shocks of Adversity

2) Where did the idea come from for the book?
The idea for this book came in a bit of a roundabout way: while Voyager was still on the air and I was occasionally pitching to them, I came up with the idea of a multi-episode arc in which Janeway and Company, needing to cross a large expanse of occupied space, struck up a partnership with the local government to help them deal with some of their hostiles in return for the right of passage. Janeway initially agrees, but over the course of several weeks, realizes these are not especially nice people. This idea obviously went nowhere, but when the opportunity to do an Original Series story came along, I dug this seed of an idea out of my files, broke it down, tossed out the extra pieces, applied duct tape, and rebuilt it into the story it is today.

3) What genre does your book fall under?
Science fiction. Space opera.

4) Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie version?
William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, DeForest Kelley, et.al., circa 1968. (If you're under age 30 and insist on casting Chris Pine, etc., I guess I can't stop you.) As for the guest performers... I normally prefer to let the reader do their own mental casting, but as these actors would be under significant alien makeup, I'll go ahead and cast Nathan Fillion as Commander Laspas, Dennis Franz as Second Commander Satrav, and Ileana Douglas as Chief N'Mi.

5) What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
When the Enterprise is attacked and takes heavy damage in a remote and unknown region of space, Kirk accepts the help of a friendly local alien power, but eventually comes to realize they may not be quite as friendly as he first thought.

6) Is your book self-published, published by an independent publisher, or represented by an agency?
The book will be published by Pocket Books in May of this year.

7) How long did it take to write the first draft of your manuscript?
Approximately four months.

8) What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
I'd compare it to some of the classic old-school Star Trek novels of the late 1970s and 1980s, or rather, to late second season TOS.

9) Who or what inspired you to write this book?
The editors at Pocket Books came to me last spring asking if I would like to write a new Star Trek novel -- in particular, one set during the original five year mission of the original series. Also, they also offered to pay me, which was a huge inspiration.

10) What else about your book might pique a reader’s interest?
The novel also contains numerous Easter eggs relating to another long-time favorite TV series of mine, and I intend to give those readers who find them fabulous prizes, or very hearty congratulations, whichever is easier.

For the next round of this meme, I'm going to tag my friends Sandra McDonald and Vicki Profitt. Have at it!

Reading and Writing and Not Reading

As I was reviewing my year-end "books read" list last month, I determined that, in the period from late August to early November during which I was writing my Trek novel and racing my deadline, I was doing almost no recreational reading. I won't claim that I felt withdrawal pains in that period, but I did very much miss pleasure reading, and it felt really, really good when I finally did allow myself to just sit and relax with someone else's novel.

This gets me wondering... what am I doing wrong? Because I know that there are many other writers out there who are also voracious readers, and who don't seem to have any trouble turning out a couple of novels or a slew of shorter stories each a year while also reading and writing book reviews and blurbs, and in some cases, also holding down day jobs, having healthy social lives (whatever THAT is), and/or raising children. Am I just that horrible at time management? Or did I just psych myself out worrying about my deadline (which I still missed by 10 days), and end up compounding the stress I was feeling by refusing to take the time to read a chapter a day of something else?
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Looks at Books, 2012

As is my long-running New Year's tradition (so long running, that I actually come back to LiveJournal to do it!) here is my annual record of reading for the year just past.

In 2012, I read only 36 books, in large part because I had put recreational reading aside while at work on my own writing... a choice that either caused or exacerbated perceived unpleasantness of the writing process. Coincidentally or not, this year also saw the lowest number of Star Trek books read -- 5 total, not including John Scalzi's Redshirts.

2012 was also my first full year owning a dedicated ebook reader, and 23 of my 36 books were read on that device. Of the 13 books I read in physical form, 6 were purchased as used books, 1 was borrowed from the library, 2 had been purchased new before buying the Nook, meaning 4 were purchased as new, physical books. This makes me a little bit sad.

As he has for the previous 6 years, Ed McBain is my most-read author of the year, and I am now up to 1972 in the adventures of the 87th Precinct. John Scalzi was second with 3 titles, and 6 others followed with 2 titles apiece.

Other stats:
- 2 of the 36 were short story collections (including ReDeus: Divine Tales, to which I had contributed),
- 3 were non-fiction titles,
- 1 was a non-Trek media tie-in (Warehouse 13: A Touch of Fever),
- 15 were part of continuing series,
- 3 of the non-series titles were by new authors

As my favorite reads of the year, I am going to chose:
- After the Golden Age, by Carrie Vaughn - the story of the unpowered daughter of two superheroes, and her complicated relationship with them and their arch-nemesis.
- Cadaver in Chief, by Steve Hockensmith, a political satire that asks, if a presidental candidate were turned to a zombie during the campaign, would anyone notice?
- Hardly Knew Her, by Laura Lippman, a collection of short stories which show off the wide range of talent of one of my current favorite crime writers.

And, to ring in the new year, I have started Star Trek: Voyager: Children of the Storm by Kirsten Beyer. And have plenty more queued up and waiting after that...
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Looks at Books, 2011

Welcome to the Seventh Annual BLOG Looks at Books Year in Review!

This year, I managed to complete 46 books in total, an increase over the 39 read the previous year. This number includes 12 Star Trek tie-ins (the highest this number has been since writing my last ST fiction), 1 non-Trek media tie-in title, 17 titles in continuing literary series, 3 short-story collections, and 2 non-fiction titles.

2011 is also the year I broke down and purchased a dedicated ebook reader. In the three months I have owned my Nook, I used it to read 10 titles -- 5 of which were published as ebooks without the option of a physical book. And in that period, I also continued to read paperbound books (3).

For the sixth year running, Ed McBain was my most-read author, as I finished another 4 titles in my survey of the complete 87th Precinct series. Following Ed were Keith DeCandido (kradical), Steven Hochensmith and Dayton Ward (daytonward) at 3 titles each, and three more authors tied at 3rd with 2. I also read books by 8 new-to-me authors.

And as my favorite read of the year, I chose The Astounding, the Amazing, and the Unknown by Paul Malmont, a novel about Robert Heinlein, Isaac Asimov and L. Sprague deCamp during their time at the Philadelphia Naval Yard during WWII, attempting to find a secret superweapon invented by Nikola Tesla.

How about you? Read any good books lately?
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Snark GOOD! The Wayback Review of FRANKENSTEIN

Happy Halloween!! It's been a while since my last Wayback Movie Review (and even longer since the one before that), so I thought I would celebrate All Hallow's Eve by snarking on a classic of horror genre. Thanks to all who voted in my poll earlier this month. Of the five candidates, one film was the runaway winner, with twice as many votes as its nearest contender (i.e. 2 votes versus 1). In celebration of its 80th anniversary, we present Universal's 1931 film, Frankenstein.

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Wayback Movie Review - Monster Chiller Horror Theater Edition

So, I'm considering doing another Wayback Movie Review, this time of a classic horror flick for Halloween this year. I've ID'ed a few candidates which are celebrating milestone anniversaries this year, so I thought I'd throw it out to the few LiveJournal dead-enders who still read this to see what you-all think. The contenders are:

Dracula, 80 years old this year
Frankenstein, also 80 years old
The Evil Dead, celebrating its 30th anniversary
The Silence of the Lambs, 20 years old
The Addams Family, likewise marking two decades

Which Film Should I Review?

Evil Dead
The Silence of the Lambs
The Addams Family
Wait, what about (additional title in comments)?

Story Sale!

For those who didn't see my post on Facebook: My short story "A Faithful Companion" has been accepted for publication in the 2012 anthology "A Quiet Shelter There," edited by Gerri Leen. If you've ever wondered what became of Adam and Eve's dog after they left the Garden -- or even if you never knew Adam and Eve had a dog -- this is a story you want to read! Book proceeds will go to the Friends of Homeless Animals shelter in Northern Virginia.
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Wayback Movie Review: LOGAN'S RUN

This week marks a very important anniversary in SF film history. It was thirty-five years ago, on June 23, 1976, that MGM released the film Logan's Run.

Thirty-five years. You realize what that means? That's right, it means this film somehow escaped its deserved fate on its thirtieth anniversary, and has been living on borrowed time for the past half-decade. Well, the time has come to address this oversight, and to finally subject it to the bright, snarky red flashing spotlight it deserves. Last Day begins, and so does the Wayback Retro Review of Logan's Run!

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My 25th Writing Anniversary

Twenty-five years ago, on April 2, 1986, a new series debuted on ICB-TV 13, Ithaca College's student-run television station. The series was called ANTHOLOGY, and that's what it was: an anthology of short films created by students in the college's cinema department, as well as original scripts written and produced for the series. And the first such script, chosen to launch the series, was a story called "God's Game," written by a young IC freshman named William Leisner.

Not only was this my first piece of writing ever seen by a wider audience (though it is rather questionable how wide an audience our ten-hours-a-week cable channel actually had). It was also the first piece of writing I had ever intended for an audience outside of myself, and perhaps a few family members or close friends. And the fact that people outside of that comfortable circle were so complimentary of this effort convinced me to try it again, and see if this was just a fluke. It wasn't -- a year later, my second script kicked off the show's second season. Subsequent efforts were not snapped up in such rapid-fire fashion, but by then, there was no going back.

I was a writer.

Working on ANTHOLOGY was the highlight of my college career, and the people who I worked with on that show, like Cory Conley, Sandra McDonald, Diana Brodie, and John Barrile, continue to be friends. And as I write this, I realize that if not for that experience, I would not feel so guilty for writing this nostalgic blather as a way of procrastinating work on my novel in progress.
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World Book Day Meme

The book I am reading: Must the Maiden Die by Miriam Grace Monfredo. One of a series of historical mysteries set in western New York in the mid 1800s. Ms. Monfredo was a frequent guest of honor during my bookseller days back home, and I'd read the first few books of this series back then.

The book I am writing: A Western/fantasy/alternate history tale in which the story of the westward expansion takes a very different turn when a hero emerges on the side of the Plains Indians.

The book I love most: Would it be narcissistic to say "my own"? Yeah, of course it would be. The next one that comes to mind is The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald, which was the one and only high school English assignment that I actually enjoyed reading.

The last book I received as a gift: I rarely ask for books as gifts, since I buy anything and everything I want. Two Christmases ago, though, I did hold off on purchasing Stephen King's Just After Sunset so that I did have something to put on my wish list.

The last book I gave as a gift: Cat, a preschooler book for my niece, Audrey.

The nearest book on my desk: Merriam-Webster's Dictionary.