Dumpster Denouements

clutterThey say the journey starts with a single step.  Having spent the week tossing out 80% of my past journeys through life into two 30 cubic yard dumpsters, I’d say the road ahead will be made all the lighter.

I’m a collector.  Comic books, science fiction books, animation cels, artwork, boxes of photos, cook books, culinary equipment, clothing I should’ve thrown out years ago, old letters, Tshirts, video tapes, production books from the various TV/Film projects I’ve worked on, paper clips, scribblings, birthday cards, mother’s day cards, postcards, half-written notepads, and all the chachkas that go along with being a pop culture nerd.

That all changed this past week when we went back to Missouri to close up the house/farm since we’re selling and — I suspect — the buyers wouldn’t be interested in having their purchase include what really (to my surprise) turned out to be…

So. Much. Detritus.

We bought a home in Houston last year, but at the time we didn’t really have the ability to move everything down from the farm.  We kept putting off the inevitable until we finally landed a buyer.  The timing was less than perfect as I’ve been wrangling words with my new SG-1 novel while also nursing a seriously lousy gut that’s included a few doctor and hospital visits the past few weeks.  Still, it had to happen and while we dreaded the packing, we also knew that there was no way we would be able to fit 19+ years of STUFF into our new home.

With that decision made, we chose to be brutal: Throw out (or sell) anything that didn’t have real intrinsic value — be it personal or financial.   The results were surprisingly uplifting.  Having to throw out clutter didn’t just clear out our living space, it also brought clarity to what matters most in my life.

babycowsDon’t get me wrong.  As we dug through boxes and shelves, having to decide repeatedly what was important, it really brought home what mattered.  For instance, I found a massive box of old photos — going all the way back to my undergrad graduation from Boston University.  After tossing out any photos that were just landscapes or historical landmark shots (lets face it — there’s better photos available online if I ever want to look at another picture of Glastonbury Tor or the Eiffel Tower), I whittled down a few thousand photos to several hundred of family, friends, and tangible reminders of the extraordinary experiences I’ve had in my life.  (I’m also embarrassed to admit that I found a 25 year old savings bond in that box, bought for my daughter on the day she was born!).

I found several boxes of 30+ year old comic books.  Spiderman. Red Sonja. X-Men.  Don’t worry. I’m not that much of an idiot.  They’ve made it back to Houston to sell either online or at a store.

I also found some great art pieces that I’d stored away when I moved from Los Angeles to Missouri years ago.  The original concept background for the Heathcliff animation series that I produced.  Several 5′ long conceptuals from the early days of figuring out what Spiral Zone would look like (another series I produced).  There’s a slew of treasures like that, STUFF that definitely will find a place in my new home.  It’s sort of ironic how I threw out old stuff to make way for OLDER stuff.

The long and short of this past week’s experience is the realization that stuff collects dust, but memories live a lifetime.  So… instead of collecting a bunch of things that don’t necessarily bring back an experience, I’ve whittled my possessions down to the key moments in my life that I’m happy to bring with me as I step out into the journey of whatever comes next.  I’ve also come to the realization that maybe it’s time to go HAVE experiences instead.   Experiences take up no space in your homes and garages. They take up wonderful space in your heart and your mind with priceless memories.

Excuse me while I go unpack the old to mix with the new.  Then, onto whatever comes next.

Which means hunkering down and writing.  Yep, sometimes the best experiences a writer has are the words we put on the page and the journeys we put our characters through.

Houston Workshops and More Accolades for Epilogue


For the past few years, I’ve had the opportunity to run writing workshops at various conferences and conventions all around the U.S. Beginning this Wednesday, I’m ‘going native’ – Running a series of writing workshops on everything from Crafting the Compelling Novel to Rewrites and more.  I’ll be working in conjunction with an adult learning company here.  For more information, visit my page on Writing Workshops.

Houston’s been a great place to meet engineers, scientists, astronomers… You get the point.  It’ll be great to meet and work with some right-brainers for a change.


epilogue2015Believe it or not, Epilogue is now an official selectee for TWO more festivals – both out of the U.S.A. It’s incredible that this series — which went into production nearly three years ago — is still going strong.

Vancouver Web Festival – March 6th through the 8th.
The Sabana University International Audio-Visual Festival in Bogota, Columbia – March 12th

Fantastically crazy, but thinking back on how hard everyone worked, and how much heart & soul was poured into this little time travel web series (including by yours truly), it’s not a big surprise.  It’s amazing what happens when you shut out the world around you and focus on what you love to do — whether it be writing, filmmaking, writing computer code, or heck — making a loaf of bread!


A New SG-1 Book – Once More Unto the Breach!

hammondannounceThanks to MGM and Fandemonium, I’ve been given the green light to write what I hope to be the first of many SG-1 novels set post-series — a sort of “Hammond Chronicles” involving the team’s past and current members as well as the USS George Hammond.  “The Enemy of My Enemy” takes place right after the events of the Stargate Universe pilot, “Air,” — events that in Colonel Samantha Carter’s mind have marred her new command of the Hammond.  Determined to uncover the mole responsible for disclosing Icarus Base’s location, Sam and Homeworld Command are soon faced with bigger threats from enemies both old and new.

As well as reuniting with presumed lost friends.

The whole gaggle of characters play a role in Enemy including Jack O’Neill, Daniel Jackson, Teal’c, Cam Mitchell, Vala, Landry, as well as Siler (of course!), Bra’tac, Walter, Col. Dixon (a personal favorite), and the Hammond crew.

On the Jack/Sam front… Without giving anything away, let me share a bit of my motive for a key subplot in Enemy: I’m a fan of the Stargate Atlantis Legacy books, too, but I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that it frustrated me that these two much loved characters were ‘out’ as a couple in that book series, but we’ve never seen how that came to be.

Suffice it to say, SG-1: The Enemy of My Enemy intends to explore what happened.  It’ll require a delicate hand, but thanks to my editor, Sally Malcolm, and MGM, I’ve been given a “God Speed” for the journey.  Trust me, it’s going to be a bumpy ride for everyone.  Otherwise, where would be the fun?

And I promise — Story first, always. There’s a boatload of twists and turns that should keep fans of every ilk happy. That’s what I love so very much about this franchise.  The opportunities to explore character and story are endless.

First draft is due April 30th, but I’m gunning to finish earlier.  With any hope, the novel will be out by late summer or early fall. If all goes well, additional “Hammond Chronicles” books will be greenlit including a slew of stories I’ve co-developed with Keith DeCandido and David Read.


Perceptions: On Short Stories, Stargates, and Grief on the Page

Available at AmazonToday’s the official eBook release for the Stargate SG-1/Atlantis anthology, FAR HORIZONS – Volume One of the Travelers’ Tales.  Fandemonium, the official Stargate Novel Publishers, will be releasing the print edition on November 6th (you can order it here).

If you’re a Stargate fan (and come on! Who isn’t?), you’ll find a compilation of tales ranging from Teal’c’s first day/night on Earth to a closer look at the Pegasus Galaxy’s Wraith. It’s a healthy mix of adventure along with some quieter reflective moments.

And of course, a little bit of humor thrown in to warm the soul because Stargate’s pretty good at reminding the reader/fan of what matters most.

I contributed a short story that’s been on my mind for a long time: An exploration of how SG-1 pulled themselves together and moved forward after Dr. Janet Fraiser’s death. “Perceptions” takes place shortly after the events of season seven’s “Heroes” and “Resurrection” and before “Lost City.”  It’s the team’s first off-world mission after Fraiser’s memorial/funeral and while SG-1 must overcome Anubis’s super soldiers to get home, they find themselves individually and collectively dealing with the inevitable grief of loosing a significant influence in their lives.

Click here to read the opening pages for “Perceptions”

While Daniel’s death received the time and attention it deserved in Meridian and the subsequent episode, Revelations,  Janet’s death was never explored past the fantastic two-part episode in which she died: “Heroes.” Sure, there was the Ripple Effect episode in season 9 where an alternative universe Janet made an appearance. That was fun, but I always felt that bringing her back sort of cheapened the emotional cost of her loss. (I tend to feel this way about Carson on Stargate Atlantis, too).

Hence the reason why I wanted to share with readers MY PERCEPTION of how Jack O’Neill, Sam Carter, Daniel Jackson, and Teal’c would have faced grief — especially when the need to do so was forced upon them.  While most short stories tend to be only from one POV, in my mind SG-1 is a singular POV. Each character is a voice in a collective chorus.  Each voice needed to be heard.

Perceptions does just that — with each character focusing on one stage in the first four stages of the classic five-stage grief cycle and coming together for the final stage:


The timing was a bit unusual when I wrote this tale. I was recovering from a ruptured cervical disk, hadn’t been able to use my hand for several months, and while I was getting back sensation — and hence could type the thing up — my specialist made it clear that I would probably never get back full use of my hand.  So… A bit of grief was already bubbling to the surface (grief over losing a healthier, hardier version of myself) when the world decided to split open.  In the manner of a few days — all while working on this short — a former student of mine took her own life and then Robin Williams followed soon after. I was stunned.  Those who knew the student were, too.

Everyone knew Robin Williams. The world collectively lived in a stunned and saddened state for days.

Grief is as individual a thing as snowflakes.  No two people go through it in exactly the same manner, but there are certain milestones in the journey.  Having dealt with loss of both a personal and public nature, I’ve come to realize that the journey is just as important as that end phase of acceptance and while we never truly ‘get over’ our personal losses, we can learn to relish and value each day if for no other sake than to celebrate the lives of those we lost.

One last note for the SG-1 fans: Haven’t you ever wondered why Lost City starts out with a bet between Sam and Jack over a crossword puzzle?  If you read Perceptions, you’ll find out why.

Thanks to my critique partners Jen Brooks and Rhonda Mason, to Laura Gerling, and to JL Gribble for their feedback and editorial support.

And, as always, to Fandemonium’s editor-in-chief and guiding light: Sally Malcolm.


Whether you’re a fan of STARGATE SG-1 or STARGATE ATLANTIS, there’s something for everyone in our first anthology of Travelers’ Tales, with ten short stories from ten fantastic Stargate authors:

  • Jo GrahamCo-author of the STARGATE ATLANTIS Legacy series, co-author of STARGATE SG-1: Moebius Squared, author of STARGATE ATLANTIS: Death Game
  • Melissa Scott – Co-author of the STARGATE ATLANTIS Legacy series, co-author of STARGATE SG-1: Moebius Squared, author of STARGATE SG-1: Ouroboros
  • Peter J. Evans – Author of STARGATE SG-1: Oceans of Dust, STARGATE ATLANTIS: Angelus
  • Amy Griswold – Co-author of the STARGATE ATLANTIS Legacy series, author ofSTARGATE SG-1: Heart’s Desire
  • Keith R.A. DeCandido – Author of an upcoming Stargate novel
  • Suzanne Wood – Author of STARGATE SG-1: The Barque of Heaven
  • Diana Dru Botsford – Author of STARGATE SG-1: Four Dragons, STARGATE SG-1: The Drift
  • Geonn Cannon – Author of STARGATE SG-1: Two Roads
  • Sabine C. Bauer – Author of STARGATE SG-1: Trial by Fire, STARGATE SG-1: Survival of the Fittest, STARGATE SG-1: Transitions, STARGATE ATLANTIS: Mirror Mirror
  • Sally Malcolm – Commissioning editor at Fandemonium Books and author ofSTARGATE SG-1: A Matter of Honor and the sequel STARGATE SG-1: The Cost of Honor, co-author of STARGATE SG-1: Hostile Ground, STARGATE ATLANTIS: Rising