Archive for January, 2023


My newest Star Trek Adventures product is out, and it’s free!

Star Trek Adventures Mission Briefs: Ancient Civilizations

The Galaxy is ancient beyond easy comprehension – on the order of a million times older than Human civilization. Uncounted civilizations have risen and fallen before the dawn of recorded history of any Federation world. While most of their remains have long since vanished, many have left ruins or artifacts that endure to the present. Other ancient societies live on, wielding technologies or mental abilities vastly beyond our own, though not always in a form recognizable to us. The discovery of these ancient civilizations, or their remains, offers immense potential for advancing Federation knowledge, but comes with great peril as well.

This packet presents ten detailed mission briefs you can modify for use as adventures in your Star Trek Adventures campaigns set during the original series or any other era of play with minor modifications. Each mission brief is designed to stand alone, though several are presented with a loose connecting story arc that may be used or disregarded at the gamemaster’s discretion. They may be added to an existing campaign with minor modifications.

These Mission Briefs are a different type of campaign, short, one-page summaries that gamemasters can flesh out on their own. If you’ve bought my previous few STA adventures, you’ve seen Mission Briefs appended to them as suggested followups. Ancient Civilizations is a set of ten such briefs.

Even though the briefs are, well, brief, this was one of my most challenging STA assignments, because I had to come up with ten different adventure ideas, and ideas have always been the hardest part for me. I discuss my creative process on the Modiphius Blog:

You can download Mission Briefs: Ancient Civilizations for free at:

An active week

This has turned out to be a busier week than I expected. After posting my new Troubleshooter story “Legacy Hero” on my Patreon, I figured I was free and clear to begin writing Arachne’s Legacy (whose similar title is coincidental, and indeed I only just noticed it). After I finished rereading Arachne’s Crime and Arachne’s Exile, I created the manuscript file on Monday evening… though I didn’t really add anything new until Tuesday morning, since the prologue is the short story “Comfort Zones,” which I wrote as a bonus for the duology’s Kickstarter (and reprinted on Patreon) but always intended to be the prologue of Book 3, before I knew it would be included in The Arachne Omnibus. Its inclusion will be redundant for people who have the omnibus, but necessary for those who bought the two books individually.

Anyway, on Monday night, I got an e-mail informing me that a story I wrote and submitted at the end of last year had been accepted! It’s my first sale of a “flash” story, i.e. less than 1500 words, and I’ll say more about it later. It hardly pays anything, but that’s less of a concern for me now than it was a month ago. Right now, the important thing for me is that it’s a chance to get exposure in a new market, an established magazine that will hopefully bring me some new readers.

Then on Tuesday, I got a reply about a couple of pitches I submitted to another new market, telling me they’ve been forwarded for the approval process. Nothing’s been given the go-ahead yet, but it’s a step forward.

And on Tuesday afternoon, I got something I’ve been waiting to see for a while now: the galley pages for my upcoming Analog story “Aleyara’s Descent,” which I sold nearly half a year ago. Assuming the headers and footers are accurate, the story will appear in the May/June 2023 issue of Analog, which means it should probably come out in April or thereabouts. I really feel this is a special one, and I can’t wait for people to see it at last.

So since I’ve been working on the galleys, I wasn’t able to make any progress on Arachne’s Legacy today. But I’m still figuring out how to write the next scene, reintroducing one set of the main characters and their situation. Beginnings are often the hardest parts to crack. I plan to do another proofreading pass through the “Aleyara” galleys tomorrow, and hopefully letting the book simmer for another day will help me figure it out.

Assuming, of course, that even more business doesn’t crop up in the days ahead…

New Troubleshooter fiction now on Patreon: “Legacy Hero”

Last year was a slow period for my Patreon Original Fiction tier, but I’ve been preparing some new material that will let me keep it more active over the months ahead, and hopefully bring in some new subscribers or bring back some old ones.

First up, it’s a brand new Troubleshooter story, “Legacy Hero” – a sequel to “Conventional Powers” from the Sept/Oct 2019 issue of Analog, reprinted on Patreon back in 2020. While my previous Troubleshooter stories on Patreon have been character vignettes peripheral to or expanding on parts of Only Superhuman, “Legacy Hero” is the full-fledged next installment in the Troubleshooter series, a nearly 10,000-word novelette focusing on Ekundayo DeMarais, the new Troubleshooter Corps recruit and Emerald Blair’s love interest from “Conventional Powers,” on Ekundayo’s first official Troubleshooter mission, with Emry tagging along as the Watson to her Holmes.

That’s right – “Legacy Hero” is a murder mystery, in keeping with its new protagonist’s role as a detective. When the newest Troubleshooter inherits the legacy identity of Lodestar from the Corps’s director, she also inherits the one cold case that the original Lodestar, Sol System’s greatest detective, never managed to solve: a brazen murder committed by one of three men who shared a common, impenetrable costumed identity as brutal enforcers for a police state, and who have closed ranks for six years to conceal the real killer. Can Lodestar and the Green Blaze find the one clue that will finally crack their sinister shell game?

“Legacy Hero” is available to Patreon subscribers at $10/month, and both the story and its annotations are be available at the $12 Behind the Scenes tier. And I’ll have more new Troubleshooter content over the year ahead!

A fresh start

I’m beginning 2023 in a much better place than I’ve been in for a while, though it’s for a regrettable reason. My late Uncle Clarence, who passed away in early 2021, was surprisingly generous to me in his will, so thanks to him — and to the diligent efforts of my cousins, the executors — I’ve finally been able to pay off the entirety of the crippling credit card debt I’ve been burdened with for more than five years now.

I fell into debt in 2017 when multiple sources of expected writing income were all simultaneously delayed far longer than anticipated. I kept being assured that one or the other would pay off soon, so I didn’t make alternate plans; and I didn’t realize how steep the monthly interest on the debt was getting, so I thought I had more time to spare than I did. Since then, the interest has been so steep that it’s cancelled out any gains I’ve been able to make, so I’ve spent the past five years basically running in place, managing to survive from gig to gig but never making enough at one time to pay down the debt to a significant degree. My GraphicAudio work over the past couple of years helped me gain some ground at last, but that’s on pause at the moment, and Star Trek prose fiction has been reduced to a handful of books a year, so I’m not sure when I might get further work from them. So I was afraid I might backslide again if I didn’t find some new gig to tide me over, and I wasn’t having much luck with that.

So I’m deeply thankful that this inheritance came when it did. I can now afford to wait until things pick up again with contract work — and more importantly, I can use the time to finally focus on some long-delayed original writing. I’m getting ready to begin the manuscript for Arachne’s Legacy, the sequel to Arachne’s Crime and Arachne’s Exile, which I’ve been meaning to get to for more than two years now but never found time for. I’ve already been working on some new Troubleshooter material in recent months, with an eye toward serializing it on my Patreon before compiling it for print, so hopefully I’ll have time to continue that as well. (Just wait, though — now that I want free time to work on my own stuff, I half-expect someone to offer me a contract assignment with a tight deadline any day now.)

It’s also a relief to be able to ease some of the austerity measures I’ve been living under for so long. Already this week, I’ve indulged myself in some better, more varied foods from the grocery store, and it’s been so refreshing to get to do that. (Although one of my current favorite foods is one I discovered while searching for the cheapest foods available: canned refried beans. They’re fantastic on a faux chili dog with chopped onions, dijon mustard, and grated cheddar.) I also have the option now to buy some stuff I need, like new shoes and shirts, a new vacuum cleaner, a new laptop, maybe even a modern TV.

Although my priority at this point is to try to build up some real savings for the future, since after spending five years teetering on the brink, I’d really like to avoid going broke again if I can. With no more interest or late fees, my monthly spending will be considerably less, so hopefully I can finally start making more per year than I spend. (Being broke is really expensive.) If I can save enough, it will give me more of a cushion to tide me over through slow times. And hopefully that will give me more freedom to devote time to expanding my catalog of original work and building a larger audience.

Moreover, being broke has exacerbated my tendency toward depression, and it’s often been a struggle to motivate myself to write. I’m hoping that being in a more comfortable place financially will make it psychologically easier to be more productive. Of course, depression is not that simple or predictable, but removing a major stressor (at least for the time being) certainly can’t hurt, and being able to afford getting some new things and varying my environment more could help. (Though it’d be easier if the pandemic weren’t still around. I’m still not willing to go to the movie theater or any crowded indoor place if I can avoid it.)

Although I want to reiterate how grateful I am to my readers. You’ve provided invaluable assistance in keeping me afloat over the past few years through your donations, autographed book purchases, Patreon subscriptions, and Kickstarter support for my eSpec publications. I’ll do my best to continue repaying your generosity by producing cool stuff for you to read and listen to.

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