Here’s what’s been on my Patreon from the 1st to the 31st of August:
$1/month and up: a review of Onward.
$2/month and up: 17 cat (and dog) pictures.
$5/month and up: a round-up review of Our Flag Means Death, Ms. Marvel, and Ted Lasso.
$7/month and up: excerpts from “Ticonderoga Beck and the Stalwart Squad,” “Another Dead Body on the Corner,” and Phoenix Precinct.
$10/month and up: vignettes in the worlds of Bram Gold and Dragon Precinct.
$20/month and up: first look at the first drafts of “Ticonderoga Beck and the Stalwart Squad,” Star Hoppers Book 6 Chapters 7-17, “Another Dead Body on the Corner,” and Phoenix Precinct‘s Prologue.
For September, there’s going to be a lot of Phoenix Precinct at the $7 and $20 tiers, as that’s my main focus for the month. Several TV shows are vying for my reviewing attention, including The Sandman, Animal Kingdom‘s final season, the new seasons of What We Do in the Shadows and The Brokenwood Mysteries, and more. Ditto for movies, though I’m leaning toward The Gray Man.
So what are you waiting for? THERE’S ALL THIS COOL STUFF! You should totally support me! I mean, for a mere twenty bucks, you can get at least two reviews a month, one vignette a month, a weekly excerpt from a work in progress, first looks at my first drafts, and a ton of pictures of adorable furballs! Such a deal!
It’s funny, I was watching this episode and really grooving on it, but when I wrote it up, I was having a hard time remembering why I liked it so much. I think part of it is how dreadful “Precious Cargo” was than anything, but also the script and direction were brisk and top-notch. I also have to admit that the episode sold me when Mayweather mentioned the need for a latrine in the catwalk. Trek’s aversion to even acknowledging that bathrooms exist is often fodder for humor (justifiably so), so this was a welcome reminder of one of the many difficulties of cramming everyone into an access walkway for a week.
It’s the third-season premier of Lower Decks! There’s ship-stealing, disobeying superiors, a weird alien encounter, trips to Sisko’s Creole Kitchen and Historic Bozeman, and a last-minute save. Plus bonus James Cromwell! My review of “Grounded.”
Mariner is, of course, stunned that the system worked, and who would’ve thought that? At which point her father reminds her that he told her that. After all, this is Star Trek, not The Office—we’re still in Gene Roddenberry’s utopian future, and even if it isn’t always as perfect as TNG-era Roddenberry thought it should be, it’s still a place where the Federation does the right thing more often than not. Freeman’s lawyers found proof that the evidence against the captain was faked and it turns out the Pakleds blew up their own planet and framed Freeman, hoping to get the Federation to relocate them to a better planet. It was, says Freeman, a Samaritan snare. (Sigh.) Freeman’s renegade actions were wholly unnecessary, and only undertaken because she refuses to trust anyone but herself.
I mean, it’s not mind-destroyingly bad like, say, “And the Children Shall Lead” or “Sub Rosa” or “Profit and Lace” or “Fair Haven,” it’s just kind of a bland kind of bad. Every moment is telegraphed a mile off, with no kind of charm or character stuff to ameliorate it. Tucker is a stereotypical dude, Kaitaama is a stereotypical arrogant aristocrat who grouses about the crude dude only to smooch him later. We’ve seen this a billion times before, from The Taming of the Shrew to “Elaan of Troyius,” and this is a particularly uninteresting example of the breed. Padma Lakshmi brings nothing of interest to the role, coming across as a third-rate France Nuyen or a sixth-rate Elizabeth Taylor. Connor Trinneer says all the lines he’s supposed to say in this, which is about the best you can say for him. His harmonica playing at the top of the episode is the only surprise in the episode, and since Trinneer’s so very obviously not really playing the harmonica, that isn’t even all that fun.
Audible has been releasing a whole bunch of Marvel prose stories — of which there have been a ton going back to the late 1960s, including a huge line that I edited from 1994-2000 — in audio form. My 2005 Spider-Man novel Down These Mean Streets and my two Spidey short stories in 1994’s The Ultimate Spider-Man and 1997’s Untold Tales of Spider-Man have already been released, and two more that don’t feature the web-head are now apparently out….
In 1998, I wrote “Playing it SAFE” for The Ultimate Hulk. This anthology — which covers the Hulk’s career from its earliest days to the present-day at the time I wrote it in the late 1990s — is read by Jeffrey Kafer. “Playing it SAFE” features the Hulk facing the U-Foes, aided by an organization we created for that 1994-2000 line, Strategic Action For Emergencies, or SAFE.
The second anthology we did in the series in 1995 was The Ultimate Silver Surfer, which has the unfortunate distinction of being the worst-selling book in the entire line we did. My boss, the late Byron Preiss, was a huge Surfer fan, and really pushed for this. Sigh. My story is called “Improper Procedure” and, typically for me, has the Surfer teaming up with the NYPD. The anthology is read by Andrew Eiden.
Amusingly, Kafer pronounced my last name right; Eiden did not.
Still waiting for X-Men Legends (with my Changeling story “Diary of a False Man”) and Spider-Man: Venom’s Wrath (which was my first ever novel, written with Jose R. Nieto) to be audio-ized.
From 26-28 August — which is this coming weekend! — I will be one of the Guests of Honor at Bubonicon 53 in Albuquerque, New Mexico. I will be there alongside my fellow GoH Rae Carson, Toastmaster A. Lee Martinez, Guest Artist Chaz Kemp, Science Speaker Courtney Willis, PhD, as well as the following guests: Jeff Benham, Lou J. Berger, Craig A. Butler, Yvonne Coats, Stephen R. Donaldson, Sheila Finch, C.C. Finlay, Gordon Garb, Josh Gentry, Gail Gerstner-Miller, Loretta Hall, Reese Hogan, Betsy James, Darynda Jones, Carolyn Kay, Jeffe Kennedy, Jane Lindskold, Emily Mah, Christopher Marsh, George RR Martin (yes, really), Susan R. Matthews, Wil McCarthy, John Maddox Roberts, Joan S. Saberhagen, Jon Sanchez, Melinda M. Snodgrass, Jim Sorenson, Jeanne C. Stein, S.M. Stirling, David Lee Summers, John Sumrow, Lauren C. Teffeau, Ian Tregillis, Sarena Ulibarri, Robert E. Vardeman, Carrie Vaughn, Walter Jon Williams, and Connie Willis.
I will be doing panels and stuff, and also will have a table to sell stuff. (I assume said table is in the dealer room….) Here’s my schedule:
5-6pm: “It’s a Funny Story… Writing Humor,” w/Yvonne Coats, Darynda Jones, Emily Mah, and Connie Willis (Salon E)
6-6.30pm: opening ceremonies (Salon E)
11am-noon: “50 Minutes with Keith R.A. DeCandido” (Cimarron/Las Cruces)
2-3pm: “Anthologies Assemble! More than Ever Before,” w/C.C. Finlay, Joan S. Saberhagen, Jeanne C. Stein, and Sarena Ulibarri (Salon E)
4.25-5.35pm: mass autographing session (Salon A-E)
7-9.30pm: “Costume Contest” — I’ll be one of the judges, alongside Joan S. Saberhagen & Jeanne C. Stein (Salon A-E)
11am-12.30pm: “Co-Guests of Honor Presentation,” w/Rae Carson and A. Lee Martinez (Salon E)
3.30-4.30pm: “Once Upon a Time: The Modern Fairy Tale,” w/Chaz Kemp, A. Lee Martinez, Jeanne C. Stein, and Connie Willis (Salon E)
I will be back at Dragon Con over Labor Day weekend in Atlanta at the start of next month, and the programming folks have sent me my preliminary schedule.
I’m disappointed that DC won’t be requiring that all attendees be vaccinated — that should be SOP at every convention, and that it isn’t depresses the fuck out of me — but they are requiring that everyone be masked, which is acceptable.
Anyhow, this is a light schedule by my standards, as I “only” have 15 program items from the con, plus I’ll be putting in four autograph sessions at Bard’s Tower in the Vendor Hall.
Here’s where to find me. I will update this post once I get information like who else is on the panels with me……
EDITED TO ADD: The other panelists have been added, plus there’s an additional panel Saturday night at 10pm….
10-11am: “Batman and X-Men: Best Superhero Cartoons Ever,” w/Michael Bailey, Joe Crowe, and Michael Williams (American Sci-Fi Classics Track, virtual panel)
8.30-9.30pm: “Classic Sci-Fi Movie Novelizations: The Dramatic Readings,” w/Darin M. Bush, John Hudgens, ToniAnn Marini, and James Palmer (American Sci-Fi Classics Track, Marriott M103-M105)
This is a piece I wrote on my LiveJournal in April 2015. After I mentioned my Stargate SG-1 novel Kali’s Wrath on Twitter, Alana Dill asked me how I wound up “in a position to be paid essentially 4 writing fanfic.” I couldn’t answer that in a tweet, so I replied on my blog. I’m running it again seven years later, as it still applies…
First of all, there’s no good way to answer the question of how you break into writing, whether it’s writing tie-ins, writing mysteries, writing newspaper/web site articles, or whatever. There’s no “right” way to do it, there’s certainly not one way to do it. You ask any ten writers how they broke in, you’ll get a dozen answers.
However, in the interests of answering Alana’s question, here’s how I broke in: as an editor.
From September 1993 to May 1998 I was on the editorial staff at Byron Preiss Visual Publications and Byron Preiss Multimedia Company, and then I went freelance, continuing to work for Byron on and off between May 1998 and April 1999. One of the projects I worked on for Byron was a series of novels and short story anthologies featuring Marvel superheroes. The project kicked off in the fall of 1994 with a Spider-Man novel (The Venom Factor, first of an eventual trilogy by Diane Duane) and a Spider-Man anthology (The Ultimate Spider-Man, which predated Marvel’s “Ultimate” line by six years).
For the latter, we had the cover done before any of the stories even came in (it was kind of a rush project), which featured Spider-Man and four of his foes. We had stories featuring three of those four foes, but we did not have a Venom story. I should explain that the process for every media tie-in work is as follows: the writer comes up with a story first, and that story outline has to be approved by both the editor at the publishing company who has the rights to the property and (more importantly) by the people who own the property, in this case Marvel Comics. The person at Marvel doing the approving was an assistant editor in the Spider-Man office, and he rejected six different Venom proposals that we sent in by six different authors. It’s now past the eleventh hour, and we need a Venom story because a) the character’s on the cover and b) Venom was by far Spidey’s most popular villain in 1994. In desperation, we ask the editor in question what he wanted to see in a Venom story. He gave us a sentence.
Now for this project, I started out as the assistant, working for John Gregory Betancourt (guru of Wildside Press, among other things). John left Byron in late 1994, and I took over the project solo, but he and I worked together on those first two books. At this stage, it’s too late to even hire another writer, and I offer to write the Venom story. I do a draft in two days, give it to John, he takes it, rewrites it from the ground up, gives it back to me, I rewrite it from the ground up, we both take a final look at it, and the end result is “An Evening in the Bronx with Venom,” and that’s how I broke into writing media tie-in writing.
Being an editor also helped me with my other early sales, mostly because the job put me in touch with people in a position to hire me to write stuff. Besides doing other work for the Marvel line (which was always edited by another of Byron’s editors on staff, either Steven A. Roman, Ken Grobe, or Howard Zimmerman), my talks with the upstart company Wizards of the Coast about possibly hiring some of their artists (which never actually came to fruition) led to me pitching a story to a Magic: The Gathering anthology, my hiring Andrew Lane to write a few short stories (including one for The Ultimate X-Men) led to me pitching a Doctor Who story to him that wound up in Decalog 3: Consequences, and so on.
(My favorite was Greg Cox calling me because he couldn’t find Dean Wesley Smith’s phone number and he wanted to hire Dean to write a movie novelization. But Dean was working on a novel for me at the time and I knew he wouldn’t be able to fit it in his schedule, so I offered myself in Dean’s stead. Dean forgave me when I finally told him later on, as he really couldn’t have fit it in his schedule. In any case, that was how I wound up novelizing the FOX TV movie Gargantua in 1998 under the pseudonym “K. Robert Andreassi.”)
That should answer Alana’s question — except it doesn’t, really, because what she asked was how I got to be paid for writing essentially fanfic.
And I’ve never ever been paid for writing fanfic, and neither has anyone else, because fanfic by definition is unpaid.
I’ve been down this road before, and I stand by what I said on the subject eight years ago. I’m not writing fanfic, I’m writing media tie-in fiction. That doesn’t make what I do better, necessarily, but there is a difference between the two, which is why they have different names. *wry grin*
Fanfic, besides being nonremunerative, is also completely freeform and not beholden to anyone — including the readership. If a fanfic is read by four people or four thousand, it’s of little consequence to the writer and doesn’t necessarily have any impact on whether or not the writer continues to write. If a tie-in isn’t purchased by enough people to make a profit for the publisher, more tie-ins won’t happen.
Fanfic can take any shape or form — drabble, vignette, scene, eight-million-word novel, whatever — while tie-ins are in a proscribed format — novel, novella, short story. Fanfic doesn’t have any kind of oversight by the owners of the intellectual property while tie-ins must have every step of the process approved by the IP owner. Fanfic also doesn’t have any kind of editorial oversight required, where tie-ins are professionally edited (this doesn’t mean that there aren’t excellent beta-readers of fanfic and this doesn’t mean that there aren’t tie-ins that are poorly edited, but the general principle remains the same that professional editing is better than not having that, for the same reason why when my toilet breaks I call a plumber rather than try to fix it myself). Tie-ins have to appeal to a mass audience of viewers of the show (not, I hasten to add hardcore fans of the show, as if you just appeal to the hardcore fanbase, you don’t have enough people to support a mass-market book), while fanfic only really has to appeal to the person writing it, and if other people like it, awesome!
And fanfic is illegal, for all that most IP holders turn a blind eye to it (especially as long as no money is changing hands at any point), tie-ins are legally licensed.
None of the above is meant to show that fanfic is superior to tie-ins or vice versa, merely elaborating the many differences between them.
Kali’s Wrath is not fanfic. MGM has to approve it (they made copious notes on the outline), Sally Malcolm at Fandemonium Books has to like it, and the readership has to buy it and like it. Oh, and I have a contract that says that Fandemonium will pay me a certain amount of money once MGM approves the final manuscript.
Oddly, the thing that annoyed me most was the name Cyrus Ramsey. Hoshi Sato is from Japan. She was teaching in Argentina when we first met her. Yet her subconscious comes up with an aggressively white-guy name for this person who had a transporter accident. Mostly because this script was by Rick Berman and Brannon Braga, the co-creators and by far the most prolific writers on this show, and if Enterprise has shown us nothing else, it’s that their world is mostly populated by white guys.