Embracing Silly: Unpacking the Magic of the Barbie Movie

Embracing Silly: Unpacking the Magic of the Barbie Movie

I saw the Barbie movie a couple of weeks ago and was completely enchanted. I have never seen a movie that is so silly and so clever at the same time. (No spoilers ahead.)

The movie simultaneously embraced what people love about Barbie and what they hate about her. Barbie’s story is emotional. The stakes felt huge. They threw in emotional stories about mothers and daughters, finding your place in the world, and only having your identity through someone else’s love. There were dance numbers, beautiful clothes, and a CEO, who surprisingly, wasn’t evil. There was even a ghost! Everything but the kitchen sink was in this movie. But they made it work!

Here are some story takeaways from the Barbie movie.

1. If you’re going to be silly, be really silly. Be creatively silly without limits.

2. If you’re creating magical worlds, have very clear rules about how they work and stick to them. For example, there was one way in and out of Barbieland.

3. Silly can be emotional. There are lots of emotional stories that made you care about all the characters. I never thought the Barbie movie would make me cry.

4. If you’re going to have a message in your movie, instead of making it feel like homework, make it entertaining. Besides all the emotional stories, this movie was about what it means to be a woman in the modern world. A heavy topic that could have felt overly political and strident. Instead, the filmmakers got their point across while being entertaining, sweet, and funny.

5. Don’t let your storytelling stop at the page or in the theater. The marketers of the Barbie movie did some genius things that continued the story out in the real world. One, at every premier Margot Robbie wore a real outfit from Barbie’s wardrobe. (If Mattel needed another income stream, they would be selling those dresses.) Two, they have life-sized Barbie boxes in all the theaters, ready-made for selfies.

Let the Barbie movie inspire you to embrace the silly! What crazy thing can you build your next story around?

P.S. If you want to know more about Barbie’s history, the Netflix documentary The Toys That Made Us has a wonderful episode about the blonde bombshell.

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Embrace Your Genre: Lessons from Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny

Embrace Your Genre: Lessons from Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny

Over the weekend, I saw Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny. I went in with low expectations because the Indiana Jones movies have been, to put it politely, erratic in quality. It was amazing! A solid, entertaining, old-fashioned in a good way movie.

What made me so excited and nostalgic about The Dial of Destiny was the writers and director let Indy do what he does best, fight Nazis for a powerful historical artifact while he’s grappling with his own emotional journey. It’s full of callbacks to Raiders and The Last Crusade and yet stands on its own for viewers who have never seen those films. I left the theater jazzed and hopeful. Maybe the movie industry can recover. Maybe the old traditions that made movies so great are finally back. Go Indy!

No matter what genre you are working in, The Dial of Destiny is a great reminder to keep in mind your audience’s expectations. Give them what they want in an entertaining way. Hit your tropes. Give your protagonist a juicy emotional ark. And keep the pace humming and the cliff hangers coming. 

Take a look at your story. Are you hitting all the right beats? Are you using your genre to give the audience what they want? What classic films should you watch for inspiration?

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Adventures in Self Publishing: Lessons Learned From Self Publishing my First Book

Adventures in Self Publishing: Lessons Learned From Self Publishing my First Book

A deep dive into indie publishing and how I published my first book, The Pitch Master’s Top Tactics: Year One’s Best Tips.  If you are thinking about going the indie route, do it!

Indie Publishing Background

Self-publishing is not the stigma it once was. It is big business. Authors who publish their own books prefer to call it indie publishing. In the last 15 years, with the debut of the Kindle and other technological tools, indie publishing has exploded. In fact, it is now as big as one of the big five publishers.

E-books can be published with a click of a button. 

For physical books, unlike the past, as an indie author, you don’t have to pay huge sums of money to have your book published. There are print on-demand services that authors use to get their books into bookstores and libraries. When they have an event, they can order a bunch of books to sign and sell.

The biggest pro for going indie versus traditional is that an author has control over her copyright. This means she is the owner of her own intellectual property (IP) and can make money off it however she chooses. Consequently, indie authors can sell their books a multitude of ways, earn multiple streams of income, and get them into more readers’ hands.

Where to Sell Your Book

As an e-book:

  • Amazon
  • Nook (Barnes & Noble)
  • Kobo (Their biggest market is Canada. Their ereaders sell in Walmart.)
  • Apple books
  • Google books
  • On your own website (Direct Sales)

As a physical book (hardback and paperback):

  • Amazon offers a print on-demand service called KDP print, which means someone can go on Amazon and choose the hardback or paperback version of your book.
  • A service called Ingram Spark is a catalog that bookstores and libraries order from.
  • Other print on demand services (see below)
  • Other online bookstores including Bookshop.org and Books A Million
  • On your own website (Direct Sales)

As an audio book:`

  • There are services like Find a Way Voices that will distribute your audio book.
  • New artificial intelligence (AI) tools make it easy and cost-effective to produce an audio book or you can narrate it yourself.
  • On your own website (Direct Sales)

Low Startup Cost

Indie publishing your book has a low startup cost. The biggest expenses are your editor and cover designer. Other expenses can include formatting software, website hosting, and a website designer.

A Step by Step of Publishing My First Book – The Pitch Master’s Top Tactics: Year One’s Best Tips

My Attitude

I viewed publishing a compilation of my first year’s newsletters as a low risk learning experience. This book is for my subscribers and myself. It was all about going through the process for the first time with the goal of publishing more books in the future and helping my clients publish theirs. I would learn how things work so the process could be more efficient, visible, and profitable next time. Thinking in this way made publishing exciting and fun, even when things were confusing.

My Writing Method

I write my newsletters in Word using dictation. I print them and hand edit them. Then I make corrections, edit on the screen, print, and hand edit again. I usually go through 5 versions before the newsletter is final. Then I run it through ProWritingAid* to check typos, grammar, and punctuation. I have the links I’m going to use in the newsletter at the bottom of the Word document. 

After I have posted the newsletter in ConvertKit* (my email marketing system) and on my blog, I copy and paste the finished article into Scrivener*. Scrivener is a word processing program originally designed for fiction writers, but nonfiction writers and screenwriters use it too. It’s especially helpful for fiction writers who don’t write in order because you can move around your scenes and chapters.

I have a Scrivener document, which is called a project, for each year of newsletters. Within that document, I have folders with the different subjects like mindset and creativity. I file each newsletter by subject. Scrivener has a notes function attached to each document. This is where I put the links that I used. 

My book in Scrivener

I write in Word first because unfortunately Scrivener does not have a dictation function. 

Rewriting for the Book

My first step in turning a year’s worth of newsletters into a book was to look at the Scrivener project and see where I had filed pieces and the order they were in. I moved some newsletters from one subject to another and rearranged them.

I did minor rewriting, mainly taking out calls to action. My intention was the newsletters read and flowed like a book. I also made sure the format was the same in every piece.

When you want to print a project in Scrivener, it’s called compiling and you have several format options. I chose Word.  I went through the Word manuscript and checked the formatting again. Then I added the pictures for each chapter heading. 

Easiest Route

Self-publishing is a big world and topic. There is more than one thing way to do things. Because this whole experience was an exploration, I decided to go the easiest route. I didn’t think it made sense for me to learn how to work with each store because they all do things differently. It would take time to learn how to upload my book manually to all the stores. 

So I went with Draft2Digital*. It’s a wonderful indie publishing service run for writers by writers. If you work with them, they will format and upload your ebook for free to all the sites, including many libraries. Authors earn money when people check out their book. As payment, they take 10% of your sales. To me, this is a very fair deal.

It’s not complicated to use. You can literally upload and publish your book with a few clicks. And now they offer print on demand books as well.

To Publish Your Book You Need:

  1. Manuscript in MS Word (This is specifically for Draft2Digital).
  2. Manuscript formatted as an ebook and a traditional book. 
  3. Book Cover
  4. Book Blurb
  5. Author Bio
  6. Headshot
  7. ISBN

Formatting Your Book

When you are preparing to self-publish, you have to turn your document into a publishable file. For ebooks it’s called an ePub and for print books it’s a print file. There are a bunch of formatting tools available to authors. For example, Scrivener can turn your project into an ePub. There are free formatting options, including Draft2Digital and Reedsy. Most authors use more sophisticated and expensive formatting software. Vellum is a favorite, but it only works on Macs. For PCs, the program that is comparable to Vellum is called Atticus.  For this project I went the easiest way with Draft2Digital, but for my next one I will try something different.   

When you upload your manuscript to Draft2Digital, they give you formatting options. First, you pick a genre. There are two or three layout options within each genre.

When you hit the format button, the program formats your book immediately and you see it on the screen. Amazing! Read through it carefully because the formatting isn’t always perfect. I noticed a couple of places where my book had done some funky stuff.

I guessed the problem was somewhere in my Word document. I went through the complete manuscript in Word looking for anything that could be throwing off the Draft2Digital program. I went back into Word and hit the paragraph symbol which shows formatting. I could see places where the font was wrong and there were strange indentations.

I uploaded the manuscript again. This time, it formatted beautifully. Yay!

The Art of the Book Cover

The old adage don’t judge a book by its cover doesn’t fly in publishing. Your cover is the biggest asset you have for marketing. A bad cover on a good book can tank sales and a great cover on a mediocre book can explode sales. There is quite a bit of science that goes into cover design that I will not get into here. 

Briefly, cover design, including images and fonts, is genre specific. You can’t use a thriller font on a cozy mystery. It won’t attract the right readers and your book won’t make money.

Professional cover designers understand all the moving pieces that make a brilliant cover. A cover designer is one place you should budget to spend money.

All that being said, because I was going the easiest route, I decided to design my own cover. As luck would have it, Nick Stephenson debuted a design your book cover with AI course, which I bought. He teaches you how to design genre specific images in Midjourney, including most importantly the aspect ratio to use.

As part of the course materials, he includes fonts and prompts for all the genres. For me, the font information was worth the price of the class because I didn’t have to spend my time looking at a bunch of business books and figuring out the fonts that were most common. I didn’t use Midjourney because I found a perfect image in Canva. Canva has a book cover template, which I used along with the fonts I learned about from Nick. Draft2Digital asked for slightly different dimensions, so I just went back into Canva and resized it.

The Book Blurb

I am very comfortable pitching fictional stories using my Cocktail Pitch method. But I wasn’t sure the best way to talk about this book, which is a collection of essays. I had already used ChatGPT to help me name a few of my workshops with wonderful results so I used to it help my write my blurb.  Many authors are using ChatGBT for their blurbs.  I encourage you to try it.

I told ChatGPT (I’m using the paid version 4) about me and the book and I asked it to write a book blurb. I asked for two versions, which I then mixed, matched, and rewrote to get the final version. 

Whether you’re an aspiring creative professional or a seasoned veteran, The Pitch Master’s Top Tactics offers invaluable guidance. From unlocking your full creative potential to pitching your ideas like a pro, this book provides you with the tools and strategies you need to stand out from the crowd.

The author draws from her own experiences and industry insights to offer practical advice on how to navigate the challenges of creative careers. Packed with actionable tips, inspiring anecdotes, and real-world examples, The Pitch Master’s Top Tactics is the ultimate guide to unleashing your creativity and achieving your career goals.

Author Bio & Headshot

I already had a bio and a headshot.  Photographs aren’t required. But I suggest using one when you’re given the opportunity. It helps people connect with you and your work if they know what you look like. With Draft2Digital you upload your bio once, and they put it in all of your books. If you make a change, it automatically updates.

The Last Bit: Money & Choosing the Stores

  1. Finally, you decide how much you want to charge. When you put in prices, the software helpfully shows you your royalty.
  2. Set up the bank account you want to be paid into.
  3. Fill out your tax information.
  4. Check the stores where you want Draft2Digital to distribute your book. I checked everything. Besides the bookstores, they deliver to library programs.

It took about 24 hours for my book to show up in all the stores. Every time it was uploaded to a new store, I got an e-mail from Draft2Digital which was exciting. And super exciting to click on the site and see that my book was there!

Paperback Books

Yet another great thing about Draft2Digital is they help you publish paperback books.

With the click of a button, I chose to publish a paperback. They magically reformat the ePub into a printable version.

Just like before, you choose your genre and formatting. And you get a sneak preview of how it’s going to look. They also take the cover, the book blurb, and your author bio that you uploaded previously and turn it into a book cover. Pretty cool!

You can choose to publish your book immediately, but I wanted to have a proof copy to check before I sent it to be published. I ordered an author’s proof which is $30, and it came in a week. 

It looked wonderful, so I ordered a few more for my family and friends. 

When you publish through Draft2Digital, they make your book available to libraries and bookstores. There are other ways to publish print on demand books that I am going to explore in the future, when I am selling books directly on my website.

Draft2Digital also submits the paperback to online bookstores. Unfortunately, Amazon is still pending. But the paperback is on Barnes and Noble

Here are a few articles about the many print on demand services:


An International Standard Book Number, or ISBN, is a 13-digit code used as a unique identifier for books. An ISBN is assigned to each edition of a book, helping publishers, bookstores, and libraries keep track of their stock and sales. Draft2Digital gives you free ISBNs when you publish through them. You will need an ISBN when you apply for a copyright.  

Selling through ConvertKit

My e-mail marketing service ConvertKit offers ways for people to sell products directly to their e-mail list. You can sell your e-books as PDFs, which can be read on e-readers. Even though my book is now available on all the major retailers, I still wanted to sell it directly. That way I keep the entire sale. If you want to support your favorite authors, buy directly from their websites. 

The most common way authors deliver their books directly to their readers is through a company called Bookfunnel. Bookfunnel delivers ePub books to customers’ inboxes. When I have more books, I will use Bookfunnel. But for now, using ConvertKit is inexpensive and easy. I have a sales page where people can buy the book.

I had to add a couple of things to the PDF for ConvertKit – my cover and a table of contents. (Draft2Digital autogenerates a table of contents.)

Copywriting Your Book

An author needs a copyright to protect their original work from being copied or used without their permission. It also allows them to make money from their work by selling or licensing it. Copyright lasts for the life of the author plus 70 years after their death (in the United States.)

To get a copyright, you apply online with the Copyright Office. The website looks like it hasn’t been updated since 1995. It is unwieldy with lots of steps. Apparently, it is optimized for the Firefox web browser, so if you have any trouble, use that. I have always used Chrome, and it’s been fine.

To Get a Copyright You Will Need

  1. A Manuscript to Upload
  2. A ISBN
  3. A credit card for the $65 payment

The first time you copyright something, you will have to make an account. 

How to Apply for a Copyright

  1. Go to https://copyright.gov/registration/
  2. Click the blue box which says log into the copyright office electronic registration system.
  3. Next Screen: On the left-hand side there is a login box. Click create your account and then log in. 
  4. On the left, under Register a Work click on the  blue standard work.
  5. On the next screen, on the left, is a list of the screens you will fill in. Hit continue on the right to move from screen to screen. If you need to go back, click the category on the list on the left you want to return to.
  6. Type of work – literary work
  7. Titles – the title of your book
  8. Publication – The date you published your book. It can be today’s date.
  9. Authors – Your name or your pen name 
  10. Claimants – Your name. The claimant owns the copyright. 
  11. Limitations of Claim – skip
  12. Rights & Permissions – You agree you own the rights and permissions to the work.
  13. Correspondent – You. Who people will contact if they want to get permission to use your work.
  14. Mail Certificate – the address where the copyright office will mail the copyright certificate.      
  15. Special Handling – This is an extra payment to expedite processing. You don’t need this. Your work is covered the minute you register it. 
  16. Certification – You sign your application electronically.
  17. Review Submission – Check that your information is correct. 
  18. Pay – This seems counterintuitive; you have to pay before you upload your book.
  19. Upload your manuscript

It can take up to 8 weeks for you to receive your certificate from the copyright office. They are still running at COVID lockdown slow pace. Don’t worry; your work is protected legally the minute you register it.

Marketing Your Book

Since this first book is a compilation of newsletters aimed at my subscribers, I do not plan on doing much marketing. Here is what I did:

  • I talked about the book in my newsletter. I gave it away for free to my subscribers for a month.
  • My sales page:
    • I have a link in my newsletter.I have the link in my e-mail signature.
    • I have a link in my link in bio for Instagram.
  • Social Media
    • I announced my newsletter birthday and the book as part of this celebration.
    • I posted an unboxing video of my author’s proof.
    • I posted a video of me putting the book in my neighborhood little library.
    • I posted this article.
  • Books2Read
    • Draft2Digital offers another free tool. Books2Read gives you a universal book link, which gives readers a link to every store where your book is for sale. It’s an amazing sales tool!  This is mine for The Pitch Master’s Top Tactics.

There are lots of great tools out there to help authors market their books. Here are a few of them:

  • Build your email list so you can talk to readers directly. I use ConvertKit.
  • BookBub and Written Word Media send emails to readers every day recommending books. Authors can pay to have their books featured.
  • BookBrush helps turn your book covers into cool social media images.
  • Facebook and Amazon ads
  • Guesting on Podcasts


Joanna Penn’s podcast The Creative Penn covers all aspects of self-publishing – writing craft, marketing, AI. She has courses and books.

Mark Dawson has two courses, Ads for Authors and the Author Launchpad, a podcast, and an annual conference the Self-Publishing Show Live in London.

20 Books to 50K is a Facebook group and annual conference in Las Vegas and a couple of conferences in Europe. The philosophy is that if you have 20 books for sale, you can make $50K or more a year. 

Alliance of Independent Authors is a group that advocates for self-published authors. They also have a podcast, AskAlli.

Wish I’d Known Then podcast with two indie authors interviewing indie authors about craft and marketing. 

Reedsy has vetted cover designers and editors and a blog about all things writing and publishing.

Nick Stephenson has courses on how to grow your author career, market, and sell more books.

**I am an affiliate of ConvertKit, Scrivener, ProWritingAid, and Draft2Digital, which means I get a small commission at no extra cost to you.  I only recommend things I use in my own business.**

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LitRPG:  Level Up with a New Genre

LitRPG: Level Up with a New Genre

One of my favorite things about story is that it is always the same and yet always changing. There are new genres evolving all the time. Recently I found out about a young genre called LitRPG.

LitRPG 101

As some of you might know, RPG stands for role-playing game. RPG games are video and tabletop games like Dungeons and Dragons.  This genre is part fantasy, part science fiction, and all video game mechanics. It’s like your favorite game jumped out of the screen and into your bookshelf.  These books have characters in a game-like world, where they level up, earn experience points, and complete quests.  

The first LitRPG book was published in Russia in 2010, but the genre really took off in the English-speaking world around 2014. Since then, LitRPG has become a staple of the self-publishing scene, with hundreds of new titles released each year.

Reading is a Game!

Just like in video games, the sense of progression in LitRPG is designed to be addictive as you watch your characters grow and develop over time.  Characters start out weak and inexperienced.  As they gain levels and experience points, they become stronger and more capable. By incorporating video game mechanics into the story, authors create a world that feels like a game.

Balancing Story, World Building, and Gaming

One of the challenges of writing LitRPG is balancing the game mechanics with the story. If the mechanics are too complex or too prominent, they can overwhelm the story. On the other hand, if the mechanics are too simple, they will annoy the reader.

Writers must create a world that feels like a real game, but also has enough depth and complexity to support a compelling story. It’s not enough to simply describe a bunch of game mechanics and call it a day. The world needs to feel alive and dynamic, with a sense of history and culture.


LitRPG is a unique and compelling genre that combines the best elements of video games, role-playing games, and traditional storytelling. It is fascinating to see one form of storytelling influence another.

Grab a book and get ready to level up!

For more insight into LitRPG, check out  this interview  with bestselling author Dakota Krout.

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Star Trek’s Enduring Popularity

Star Trek’s Enduring Popularity

Happy First Contact Day! In the Star Trek story universe, on April 5, 2063, Vulcans and humans made first contact near the town of Bozeman, Montana, following the successful test of Earth scientist Zefram Cochrane’s first warp-capable starship.

I wonder if they’ll still be watching Star Trek movies and TV shows in 2063? That question isn’t as crazy as it sounds. The Star Trek franchise is 57 years old, spans 2 centuries and includes 12 TV shows and 13 movies with more to come.

We talk a lot about  why stories matter . As creators we all aspire  to create something that resonates  so deeply with audiences that it becomes not just part of pop culture, but part of culture.

Star Trek has boldly gone where no franchise has gone before, inspiring generations of fans and leaving an indelible mark on society and culture. Star Trek is not just a science-fiction franchise; it is a cultural phenomenon. From the iconic phrase “Live long and prosper” to the optimistic vision of a future where humanity has overcome its differences and is exploring the stars, Star Trek continues to inspire and entertain.

What makes Star Trek so special and why has it managed to endure for so long?

Optimism is Powerful

Star Trek’s message of hope and optimism for the future resonates with audiences.  The show portrays a future where humanity has overcome poverty, war, and disease. In a world where the future can often seem uncertain, Star Trek offers a vision of hope and optimism, reminding us of the potential of humanity.

A Place for Everyone

The original Star Trek series, which aired from 1966 to 1969, made history with its cast, featuring both a black woman, Lieutenant Uhura (Nichelle Nichols), and an Asian American, Lieutenant Sulu (George Takai). Since then, diversity has remained a cornerstone of the franchise, with each subsequent starship crew featuring a multicultural cast. Additionally, the portrayal of women in the Star Trek universe is notable for the powerful roles they play, from starship captains to security officers and scientists.

the cast of the original Star Trek on the bridge of the Enterprise
the cast of the original Star Trek on the bridge of the Enterprise

Strong Stories & Themes

Star Trek is known for exploring complex ethical and philosophical themes. The show often raises difficult questions about the nature of humanity, the role of technology in our lives, and the limits of our knowledge. The complex ethical and philosophical themes in Star Trek provide a rich backdrop for compelling storylines and well-developed characters.

Additionally, Star Trek has tackled important social and political issues throughout its history, often through allegory and metaphor. From the portrayal of the Cold War in the original series to the exploration of terrorism and torture in Deep Space Nine, Star Trek has never shied away from tackling difficult issues.

The cast of Star Trek: Next Generation
The cast of Star Trek: Next Generation

Scientists & Star Trek

Star Trek’s emphasis on science and exploration has helped to inspire a new generation of scientists and engineers. From the communicators that inspired the invention of the mobile phone to the tricorders that inspired the development of medical diagnostic tools, Star Trek has been a catalyst for real-world innovations. Even NASA has been influenced by the franchise, with many astronauts and engineers admitting that Star Trek got them interested in space travel.  The documentary How William Shatner Changed the World features scientists and astronauts directly attributing their careers to the show. 

Star Trek in Pop Culture

Star Trek has also influenced popular culture, with references and homages appearing in everything from movies and TV shows to and books.  Here are a few examples of Star Trek in pop culture.


In Galaxy Quest (1999), a group of actors who starred on a Star Trek-like TV show are mistaken for real space adventurers and recruited by aliens to help fight an evil villain.

Galaxy Quest


The Orville – The show is a homage to Star Trek with a comedy twist.

Futurama – In one episode, the Planet Express crew travels to a forbidden planet inhabited by the original Star Trek cast.

The Big Bang Theory – The entire show is an homage to geek culture, with frequent references to Star Trek throughout its run. One episode features the gang dressing up as Star Trek characters for a convention.


  • Ready Player One by Ernest Cline – Is a love letter to pop culture, including multiple references to Star Trek.
  • Redshirts by John Scalzi – Parodies the Star Trek trope of security officers always being the first to die on away missions.

Wrap Up

In conclusion, Star Trek has endured for over 57 years because it has always been more than just a sci-fi show, inspiring generations of fans and influencing our culture. As the franchise continues to evolve and inspire new fans, it remains a shining example of the power of storytelling to shape our world. Live long and prosper!

Star Trek Canon

TV Shows

Star Trek: The Original Series (1966-1969) – This is the original Star Trek series that introduced us to Captain James T. Kirk and his crew as they explored the galaxy on board the USS Enterprise.

Star Trek: The Animated Series (1973-1974) – This animated series followed the adventures of the original USS Enterprise crew, but with shorter episode lengths and a more family-friendly tone. (Captain James Kirk)

Star Trek: The Next Generation (1987-1994) – Set 100 years after the original series, this show followed Captain Jean-Luc Picard and his crew aboard the USS Enterprise-D as they explored the galaxy and encountered new alien races.

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine (1993-1999) – This show took place on a space station called Deep Space Nine, which was located near a stable wormhole that provided a gateway to the distant Gamma Quadrant. Commander Benjamin Sisko (Avery Brooks)

Star Trek: Voyager (1995-2001) – This series followed the crew of the USS Voyager, who were stranded in the Delta Quadrant of the galaxy after being transported there by a powerful alien. Captain Kathryn Janeway (Kate Mulgrew)

Star Trek: Enterprise (2001-2005) – This series was a prequel to the original series, taking place a century before Kirk’s time and following the crew of the first starship Enterprise as they explored space and encountered new alien races. Captain Jonathan Archer (Scott Bakula)

Star Trek: Discovery (2017-present) – This series is set 10 years before the original series and follows the crew of the USS Discovery as they explore the galaxy and encounter new threats.  Captain Gabriel Lorca (Jason Isaacs), Captain Christopher Pike (Anson Mount), Captain Saru (Doug Jones)

Star Trek: Picard (2020-present) – This series follows the retired Admiral Jean-Luc Picard as he embarks on a new mission that leads him back to some familiar faces from his past.

Star Trek: Lower Decks (2020-present) – This animated series takes a comedic look at the support crew serving on one of Starfleet’s least important ships, the USS Cerritos.  Captain Carol Freeman (Dawnn Lewis)

Star Trek: Short Treks (2018-present) – These are a series of short standalone episodes that explore different aspects of the Star Trek universe, including new characters and fan-favorite ones.

Star Trek: Prodigy (2021-present) – This animated series follows a group of teenagers who steal a starship and embark on a thrilling adventure across the galaxy, aimed at a younger audience.  Captain Kathryn Janeway (Kate Mulgrew)

Star Trek:  Strange New Worlds (2022-present) – Set 10 years before the original series it follows Captain Christopher Pike (Anson Mount) and his crew on the U.S.S. Enterprise. 

Movies: Original Cast

Star Trek: The Motion Picture (1979) – When an alien cloud of immense size and power threatens Earth, the crew of the USS Enterprise must intercept it before it reaches the planet.

Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (1982) – Captain Kirk and his crew face off against a genetically enhanced villain named Khan, who seeks revenge for an old grudge.

Star Trek III: The Search for Spock (1984) – After the death of Spock in the previous film, the Enterprise crew sets out on a quest to bring him back to life.

Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home (1986) – The Enterprise crew travels back in time to 1980s San Francisco to save humpback whales, which are the only beings who can communicate with an alien probe that threatens Earth.

Star Trek V: The Final Frontier (1989) – Captain Kirk and his crew embark on a dangerous mission to find a mythical planet that is said to be the gateway to the center of the galaxy.

Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country (1991) – The crew of the Enterprise is sent to negotiate peace with the Klingon Empire, but they become embroiled in a conspiracy to sabotage the peace process.

Movies: Next Generation Cast

Star Trek: Generations (1994) – Captain Jean-Luc Picard and the crew of the Enterprise-D team up with Captain Kirk to stop a madman from destroying an entire star system.

Star Trek: First Contact (1996) – The crew of the Enterprise-E travels back in time to prevent the Borg from interfering with humanity’s first contact with an alien race.

Star Trek: Insurrection (1998) – Captain Picard and the crew of the Enterprise-E discover a conspiracy by a group of alien colonists who are using a powerful technology to prolong their lives

Star Trek: Nemesis (2002) – Captain Picard and the Enterprise-E crew encounter a clone of Picard, who has been raised by the Romulans and is determined to destroy the Federation.

Movies: Reboot

Star Trek (2009) – The movie is a reboot of the original Star Trek franchise and features a new cast portraying the original characters. The movie follows James T. Kirk (Chris Pine) and his crew as they embark on their first mission aboard the USS Enterprise.

Star Trek Into Darkness (2013) – Captain Kirk and the crew of the Enterprise are tasked with stopping a terrorist named John Harrison (Benedict Cumberbatch), who is a former Starfleet officer with a personal vendetta against the Federation.

Star Trek Beyond (2016) – The Enterprise crew is stranded on a hostile planet after their ship is destroyed by a ruthless alien named Krall.


Trekkies (1997) – Explores the Star Trek fan culture, featuring interviews with passionate fans who dress up in costumes, attend conventions, and live their lives inspired by the Star Trek universe.

Trekkies 2 (2004) – Takes a deeper look into the Star Trek fandom, exploring new aspects of the culture and featuring interviews with celebrities who are also fans of the franchise.

How William Shatner Changed the World (2005) – Explores the impact of Star Trek on science and technology, featuring interviews with scientists and inventors who were inspired by the show.

The Captains (2011) – Directed by William Shatner interviewing all of the Star Trek captains.

For the Love of Spock (2016) – Directed by Adam Nimoy, Leonard Nimoy’s son, this documentary explores the life and legacy of the beloved Star Trek character, featuring interviews with cast members and fans.  In an episode of The Big Bang Theory, Sheldon was interviewed. 

The Toys That Made Us (2018) – Netflix documentary about the history of iconic toys has an episode about Star Trek toys.  

If I left anything out, please comment below!

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Content is King: Fly Your Freak Flag & Write Your Passion

Content is King: Fly Your Freak Flag & Write Your Passion

I am rewatching Community on Netflix.  I watched it when it originally aired on NBC, but watching several episodes back-to-back is a whole new experience.  As I’m watching, I keep thinking I can’t believe this was on broadcast television! Because it’s weird, really weird.

Ostensibly about a seven member study group at Greendale Community College, the show’s heart is a love of pop culture.   Almost every episode is an homage to a specific show or genre and it’s pretty genius, especially to a story geek like me. But it is not mainstream.

the cast of the TV show Community
The cast of Community

Community’s mere existence, let alone the fact that it lasted five seasons on NBC, before a final season on Yahoo television, is remarkable. The show is still so popular that last year there was a  bidding war  over the rights to make a movie.

Content is King

Community’s ongoing popularity is testament to the world we live in now where content is king. Gone are the days when you had to create something that appealed to everyone. No matter what kind of storytelling or subject matter you are into, if you create it your people will find you. Whatever kind of weird and wacky ideas you have bouncing around in your head, there’s an audience out there waiting to gobble it up.

So fly your freak flag! Create the kind of content you want to watch and read. From sourdough bread to railroads to alien romance there is literally something out there for everyone. This range of storytelling is good news for creators and audiences. It’s good news for people like me that are interested in a bunch of random things. It’s good news for people that are really interested in one thing.

Everything is Cool

Judging people by the kinds of stories they’re into is an attitude of the past. The Big Bang Theory, a sitcom about geeks into science fiction and comic books, was a huge hit that was on for 12 years. Things that were once considered niche like Doctor Who and zombies have gone mainstream. Romance readers, once looked down on, invented Book Tok, talking about their favorite books on Tik Tok, propelling romance sales into the stratosphere. Creators are inspired by their favorite things, whether they are considered cool or not. A big mystery buff, writer-director Rian Johnson created modern versions of his favorites, Agatha Christie’s Poirot (Knives Out) and Columbo (Poker Face).

Don’t be afraid to go against the grain and create content that is truly one-of-a-kind. Whether you’re into creating hilarious sketches, heartwarming stories, or hair-raising horror, there’s an audience out there just waiting to lap it up. So, let your creativity run wild and create content that will make your audience laugh, cry, or scream (in a good way, of course).

Don’t worry if what you want to write about doesn’t seem to in anywhere. Fly your freak flag and stand out. Comment below and let me know some things that you are really excited about creating.

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