Dark Places

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It’s dangerous outside the League. The path to a sensitive data leak leads Micah Stone and his team from glamorous parties with movie stars to the sleaziest town in the sleaziest part of space: the Kensie Free Systems. Micah and his team are abducted and must face assassins, gangsters and solicitors to rescue them. The assassins are not human and they fight as part of a sport known as BloodRing.

Book eight in the Stone Blade series. Micah and his team go from glitz and glamour to one of the scuzziest places they’ve ever been. Their mission starts out tracking leaked League military intelligence and ends up with them facing an army of assassins… and worse.

This is by far the darkest book in the series so far. When a petty group of lightweight solicitors and their slimy minions take Micah to a dark place, he shows just how nasty he can be. Then they up the ante. They mess with his friends. All the demons Micah has fought up until now surface and he vents them through his anger as he does what needs to be done.

In other news, I’m stuck on the next two Stone Blade stories so I’ve decided to take a hiatus. I’m currently working on a (planned) four-book fantasy series. Don’t worry, though. There’s still a lot of action in the League and outside it. Dr. Kincaid never runs out of things to say and I’m also still active on the open-source Java front. This is just a little vacation for me.

-matt

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Against the Stasis Quo

Whew! My hyperlink comm is finally back online and Dr. Kincaid has quite a few things to say. As always (Sorry, couldn’t resist that one, Dr. K.) He had this to say about stasis and why it is not a good idea.

“I’ve received a few questions about stasis pods and why travelers in the League don’t use them more often. Most of them read something like ‘If stasis is such an easy option, why not just freeze yourself and travel that way.’

“My first response to this is ‘Phase down! Stasis is NOT an easy option.’ Despite what you may have seen in the movies – do you even have League movies there? – Stasis is never as simple as ‘climb into the pod, push a button and done.’ Stasis, or physio-neural stasis induction, is a very complicated and dangerous procedure. It is also fraught with misconception thanks to Arn Ironhand and his ‘Lethal Max’ character.

“The basic process, commonly called ‘freezing,’ is cellular entropic damping. Most people lose awareness early in the induction process but the few who didn’t describe the feeling differently. They all say they felt no temperature. They were not hot, warm, cool, cold or even comfortable. It was, they say, the total absence of temperature. Healer’s Guild researchers theorize that, for these people, consciousness lasted a few seconds past the damping of their cerebral impulses.

“That’s what stasis is. It literally shuts down 99.999% of all electrical activity in your body. Yes, that is 0.001% away from death and that’s what makes it so dangerous. The human body is designed to be active, even when you’re asleep, and non-activity is an unnatural state. It is also not possible without proper preparation. The biggest part of this is the pre-stasis drug. By now those of you who have seen any of the Kace Karson, Patrol Ranger episodes are seeing him shouting ‘Green jolt. Now!’ That’s one of them, it’s the best-known and it is the most dangerous of them all.

“Administering a prestasis drug is tricky and it has to be exactly right. It slows neural activity and prompts the internal organs to shut down. In order to have a good freeze, the organs and every cell within them must achieve a certain level of saturation. The spiky part is ensuring that the first cells affected don’t over-saturate before the last cells reach minimum. If that happens you probably won’t survive the freeze. If you activate the field early, the cells that don’t saturate properly die.

“The best way to enter freeze is to spend at least twelve hours building up cellular saturation levels. That’s best done under sedation and with nothing in your stomach. Once saturation is optimal, the field is activated and cellular activity in your body gradually stops.

“If you have a good freeze, the battle is halfway won. The only obstacle left is proper revival. This is called decanting and it’s a lot more accurate than ‘freezing.’ The first order of business is flushing the prestasis drug. They are designed for that and massive doses of the flushing agents don’t have any harmful effects but there is one minor problem. In stasis, your cardiovascular system is shut down. That means you don’t have a working heart to circulate the medicine. That means it has to be done externally and that’s never a sure thing.

“Once the prestasis agent is gone, or at least below 5% saturation, the physical body can be revived. That process has to be competed within about a hundred and thirty seconds or you may suffer irreparable brain damage. The good news there is that our medics are all ruddy good at decanting and revival. Survey and Guild medics are certified in it.

“So. The next time someone says ‘Just pop them in stasis,’ look them in the eye and say ‘You first. I think I’ll wait.’ You’ll be a lot safer that way.”

F. R. Kincaid, PhD, ArG

If you’re interested in the universe about which Dr. Kincaid speaks, you can read all about it in A Pattern of Details and the Stone Blade series:
http://moldyripegrape.wix.com/newstarstradeleague
http://amazon.com/author/jamescoxjr
https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/JamesMattCox

I also have a few things to say on my own so I’ll try to be more blog-faithful than I have these past few months. Book sales are still down, I haven’t yet sold my screenplay and I also have Java projects and an RPG system to maintain but I’ll do my best.

Ciao;

-matt

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Enter If You Dare!

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Any time, any game, any system!

Deep within the wilderness, atop a butte of ancient stone lies the Maze of Aeoklidias. There it has lain since before the Great Storm, though none who live now know of its purpose then. Whether ravaged by the Storm or purpose-built by some mad wizard, The Maze stands yet today.

Welcome to the Maze of Aeoklidias, a centuries-ancient magical construction of unknown origin and purpose. What is known is that brave and hardy adventurers have faced the Maze and found treasure beyond mere gold and gems. Be warned, however. More enter the Maze than leave it. Are you up to the challenge?

The Maze of Aeoklidias is an adventure supplement written for the Dungeon Crawl Unlimited RPG system but usable in any other. The basic map contains sixteen simple elements, any of which can be combined and recombined for completely new adventures.

http://www.drivethrurpg.com/product/178466/Dungeon-Crawl-Unlimited-The-Maze-of-Aeoklidias

This is a FREE download at DriveThruRPG. It was a lot of fun to write and I look forward to hearing about the evil things all the GMs out there do to their hapless players with it. It is primarily a puzzle adventure, repeatable many times, but with ample opportunity for combat if the players (or GM!) desire it.

Book sales are still flat so I’m working on another DCU adventure for now. This one is starting to look like a months-long campaign (at least) so I’ll probably sell it. Nothing happened with my screenplay, yet, but I’m still looking in that arena too.

So long for now and don’t tarry long at the Rusty Hinge.

-matt

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Writing About Writing: Tools of the Trade

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“At last it is done!” I don’t remember what character in what movie said that but it was both passionate and tinged with madness, which is a bit how I feel right now.

Open Source Tools for Independent Authors is a short, FREE book on how to use free and freely-available open-source software to take your book from idea to published, complete with cover if you want it printed on paper.

The star of the show is OpenOffice (in whatever flavor) but the co-stars are only half a pica behind it. I detail how to use named styles, linked sections and templates to generate specifically-formatted files for the different publishing sites and services from one single source. This cuts down on editing mistakes and repeated content. The templates pull content from the content file, ‘other books’ lists from a single file and book-specific content from a book data file.

Plus there’s more! The GIMP and Scribus are featured on making covers and, in the case of the former, how to do very basic image manipulation and screen captures.

The supporting cast includes Artha and Golden Dict for looking up words and synonyms, Calibre for ebook formatting and Trelby for writing scripts and screenplays.

There are lots of illustrations and, I hope, clear-to-understand instructions on how to use these most excellent software packages. They, and the book, are FREE.

http://www.drivethrufiction.com/product/175197/Open-Source-Tools-for-Independent-Authors

This is the only place it’s available for now because I want to keep it in its original (PDF) format. If you’re an independent author and you don’t have a ten-thousand-dollar budget, check it out.

-matt

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Screenplayed: The First Submission

First step into a bigger world. I just submitted my screenplay for A Pattern of Details to Amazon Studios. Not sure where it will lead but I’ve got my fingers crossed. Once again APoD is my exploratory instrument into a new world. Perhaps I should rename it Matt’s Mysterious Probe Into the Unknown. Nah, maybe not.

Next question. Will Stone Blade et. al. ever be turned into screenplays? At this point I don’t know. Paring down APoD was ROUGH. Once again, I’ve gained appreciation and sympathy for “The book was SO much better than the movie.” Next time that happens to you, be gentle. It ain’t easy.

In other news, I’m continuing new writing on the next Stone Blade series book. In this one we gain insight into Vera Kidwell and why she is who she is. Including her real first name. Hint: it’s not ‘Vera.’ Yeah. Surprised me too.

One thing about getting back into new writing. I thought it would be harder to switch from ‘screenplay mode’ back into ‘author mode’ but it wasn’t. That means I’m more talented than I knew or I’m just not meant to write screenplays. Whatever the reason, I’m looking forward to this story. For anyone following the series, it has (will have) a somewhat sad ending tempered with a MAJOR change in one of the characters’ lives.

Of course I still have at least one book to rewrite and publish before this one comes out. Maybe more. Cruel? Perhaps. Apologetic about it? HA!

-matt

 

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Screenplayed. Whew!

Whew! And again I say whew! It is DONE. I’ve completed my screenplay based on A Pattern of Details and (I think) it’s ready to go. Maybe. I haven’t submitted it to Amazon yet, I have some questions that need answering, but that is my plan. I’m happy with the book-publishing services they provide so that’s what I’ll probably do.

I put my new writing on hold for this so I’ll probably see what I can do in that arena whilst I’m waiting. Dr. Kincaid has been bugging me about it so I need to pay some attention, I suppose.

I’m also considering a new supplement for my RPG system. It will be a full treatment of the game world along with new maps and plenty of adventures.

Well, that’s it for now. Merry post-Christmas and Happy New Year!

-matt

 

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Screenplaying

Okay. First report on my screenplay. I found a wonderful piece of software to help me along my path:

Trelby: http://www.trelby.org/

I was concerned about the format but now I’m not. This is an open-source (of course, of course) package specifically designed to write screenplays and such things. According to some professionals I’ve read it’s lightweight but, of course, I’m not (yet) a professional.

Trelby’s learning curve so far is approximately zero. I’ve used the TAB key. It switches between ‘action’ elements and ‘dialog’ elements. Starting an action element with ext. or int. automatically creates a scene element. Cool. The ONLY change I had to make was switching the paper from ‘A5’ to ‘Letter.’ The ultimate result may suck but at least it will be formatted properly.

Speaking of content, now I understand “… great movie but it wasn’t anything like the book.”

I decided to use “A Pattern of Details” for my first foray into screenwriting. My raw version is about 250 single-spaced letter-size pages. The basic rule for screenplays is 100 to 120 pages and they require a LOT more whitespace: both between elements and for margins.That means I have to cut out approximately two-thirds of my story (or more!) to make it fit into a good screenplay.

So the next time you’re comparing a book to a movie, keep this in mind. Sheesh!

I’m trying my best to capture the “feel” of the book, and I’m doing that, but I’m also still wrestling with what makes a good screenplay vs. what makes a good book. I’m slowly learning to write in present tense but I have a sinking feeling my action elements may need drastic trimming and revision.

Ah well. Such is life. Screenwriting isn’t as hard as I thought it would be but it may turn out to be more difficult than I ever imagined. More coming.

FADE OUT.

ROLL CREDITS

Written by: Matt

 

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