Writing About Books: A Pattern of Details.

Grrr… I just had my first encounter with windoze 8 today. I hate it! Every time a new version comes out I think “There’s no way m$ can screw things up any worse. Every time they prove me wrong. So, to alleviate my frustration, I decided to blog about something I always enjoy. My own books! This is also semi-related to my “Writing on Writing” series and I plan to do more hand-in-hand articles. Interspersed, of course, with Java/MathTools news and missives from Dr. Kincaid, never fear!

———-

As do most of my books, A Pattern of Details began with a character. The main character of that book is, for lack of a more accurate word, a nerd. A geek. A stereotypical geek. Technician Morris Taylor is the absolute master of his craft. He is a proud member of the Technical Guild and totally devoted to what he does. He is also limited in his ability to interact socially with others. As is the case with so many, he tends to apply his analytic skills to his own perceived social lacks but, without positive experience, he finds no ‘optimal solution vector.’

The story begins with Morris ending his day too early to quit but too late to start another assignment. After an evening out with his best friend (also aTech) he receives an assignment outside the League teaching a class in the Halcyon Region. I can say from personal experience this is a traumatic event and Morris sees it as such. The Tech Guild motto, however, is “Will do!” so Morris accepts the assignment.

What follows is a series of similarly traumatic events wherein Morris is forced to interact with people on a closer and more frequent basis, some of whom are VERY attractive women (the most terrifying creatures of all to a shy, introverted male geek!). Being who he is, Morris manages to acclimate himself to the teaching routine and even enjoy it. Then, just when his life has settled into a predictable routine, chaos rears its ugly head.

The entire League team is recalled and, along with one of the Halcyon teachers and three grad students, sent on a mission well outside League and Halcyon space. Their assignment: conduct primary exploration and build a base for follow-up investigation of a just-discovered Imperium advanced base abandoned for thousands of years!

As the voyage progresses Morris and the investigation team begin experiencing accidents. The first is quite serious but none of the rest are, at least at first. As the severity slowly escalates Morris realizes there is a traitor among them! It then falls on his shoulders to discover this saboteur and keep the rest of them alive, all without telling anyone! The journey culminates with a live-or-die encounter in which Morris discovers that he’s not just dealing with a saboteur but a well-trained assassin!

I wrote the original to this story back in the 80’s and revised it mid-90’s. “The League” was a nebulous place, roughly corresponding to “The Good Guys” and the Halcyon Autonomous Region was, again nebulously, “A Place Away From Home.” Then, after multiple query-letter rejections, I elected to go the indie author route for publishing my books. I wasn’t sure how it would work and I didn’t want to potentially mess up my nascent series (Stone Blade, of which I’d already written the first story and several more), so I decided to re-re-rewrite APoD and retrofit it into the new League, about which I now knew a lot more.

Interestingly, A Pattern of Details fit its back- and forward-linking eminently well. It takes place somewhere between book 1 of the series (Stone Blade) and book 3 (The Radical Factor). I mention that because it represents a very important “Ah-HAA!” moment for me as an author. The fact that the stories meshed so well together, despite one having been written, originally, some thirty years ago (Dang! I’m OLD!), convinced me that I was meant to be an author.

Without a doubt, the thing I like best about APoD is its exploration of character motivation and perception of other characters. We see the universe, and hence the story, through Morris’ eyes and experience. He himself doesn’t realize just how much he’s grown until the end, when he has to look back and see it. It was also a chance to try my hand at subtle direction and misdirection, and my friends who read the book tell me I succeeded. I’ll take that as a compliment since they’re good enough friends to say “Hey, that’s crap!” if that’s what they think.

If you’re still reading, and interested, A Pattern of Details is available as a FREE DOWNLOAD in the format of your choice from Smashwords. (Shameless self-promotion!!) Of course my other books are also available, just not for free!

I hope you enjoyed this. More to come soon;

-matt
http://moldyripegrape.wix.com/newstarstradeleague
http://amazon.com/author/jamescoxjr
https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/JamesMattCox

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