Wanted: Beret and Cheap Sunglasses

“It’s Hollywood, dah-leenk.”

I am turning to the dark side. Maybe. I don’t know. Perhaps I’m just a masochist. I’ve decided to convert one of my books into a screenplay. As of now I know nothing about them but I’ve downloaded formatting guides and, more importantly, examples. If anyone out there in blogland has some extra luck please send it my way. Advice and encouragement also appreciated.

I’ll post updates here as my project progresses. Or doesn’t. May the force be with me.

-matt

Advertisements
Standard

Writing About Writing: Knock Knock

Who’s there? That’s up to you. This post concerns aliens in your science-fiction universe. Do they exist? If so, what are they like?

Many people don’t consider a story true science fiction unless it has aliens. My universe does not, as yet, have any non-human inhabitants. Nor do I plan to. Why, you ask? Because they’re not needed.

Before you include aliens, ask yourself what purpose they fill in your universe. Not from their point of view but from yours. In his classic Foundation Trilogy, Asimov had no aliens. They were not needed. Arguably, the Mule and the members of the Second Foundation might be considered alien but were not. Asimov did not need aliens to convey anything. Humans were alien enough for him.

In a similar vein, Herbert’s Guild Navigators, Bene Tleilax and even Bene Gesserit (Dune) might be considered alien but again, they were essentially human. In both of these cases the authors found sufficient alien-ness within humanity and didn’t need green-eyed monsters.

Now let’s shift gears. Star Trek would not have been Star Trek without its plethora of alien races. In this case, though, each alien race was carefully realized to emphasize both its uniqueness and its similarity to humanity. These beings both emphasized the fact that they were alien and they focused sharply some aspect in the mirror humanity holds up to itself.

Star Wars. Ahhh, Star Wars. More aliens than would fit into a Mos Eisley cantina. Most of them had very human aspects. The story, however, emphasized some of the most basic human conflicts and desires. The plethora of aliens served to demonstrate that some things – the struggle for freedom from tyranny – transcend such trivial things as the body’s exterior configuration.

Finally, consider Brin’s Uplift books. In these stories the aliens are ubiquitous throughout the universe and humanity is an endangered species. Some of the aliens are friends, some are enemies and others just don’t care. In this case the aliens define the struggle while humanity, with only unconventional unpredictability as its weapon, manages to succeed by the thinnest of margins.

Aliens can be fun, messengers, mirrors, obstacles or simply there. As with all things, the role they fill in your universe is up to you.

-matt

Standard

Trouble In Paradise-Not

BoI_Cover_Half

Illegal drugs are bad and worse when they lead to death. More so when it happens to a young couple in the Lost Angels sector on their graduation night. That tragedy embroils Micah and his team in an under-the-garble mission where they find corruption at the highest levels not of one government but two. Failure threatens the existence of Intelligence itself and success may land Micah in prison.

WHEW! And again I say Whew! I don’t know why (actually I do) but this book has been a monster to get ready. But it is finally DONE. Now maybe I’ll be able to get back to blogging more than once in a blue moon. Ah well, enough blathering.

The League always has trouble with drug smuggling on its border with the Metazan Republic. Now the problem is even worse. The niece of the Lost Angels Sector’s Governance Board Chairperson died from a new ‘import’ the night of her graduation. Lost Angels and its sector senator really don’t like League Intelligence and are quick to capitalize on this chance to shut them down. Totally and permanently. Micah and his team must now delicately trace the connections that will lead them to the cause of the tragedy and, somehow, prevent it from happening again.

Ultimately they find massive, high-level corruption not only in one government but TWO. What’s more, they’re not allowed to touch one of them. As if that’s not enough, their investigation leads them afoul of the Patrol Rangers, the most elite law-enforcement unit within the League. Now Micah must convince the Rangers not to put him in jail, all the while battling his newly-resurrected personal demons come back to haunt him.

One of the main reasons I haven’t been blogging is that I’m still trying to get my RPG printed in paperback. Man. NOT easy. But, at least now I have one less thing to worry about. So, I should be back soon with more cool posts. I hope!

Ciao;

-matt

Standard

Go From Zero To Game In Thirty Minutes Or Less!

DungeonCrawlUnlimited_QUARTER

At last! At long, long last my game is done! I’ve just uploaded the game and a supplement to DriveThroRPG.com. I did a free pre-release forms booklet containing character sheets, maps and excerpts from the core rules, but now IT IS DONE!

I feel good and a little bit giddy. Creating a brand-new RPG system is a lot of work and it’s all in the little details gamers take for granted when they warm up their dice and sit down to slay some dragons. It is definitely a labor of love, though, and I’m proud of my work. And tired from it.

For those of you not familiar with paper-and-dice RPGs, they’re GREAT! The players sit down at a table with snacks, paper, pencils and dice. The Game Master then sets the scenes for the evening’s adventure. Each player has a character within the game universe and he or she decides what that character will do in any given situation. Heroic actions, or attempts, are resolved by rolling dice and, with luck and resolve, the players’ characters emerge victorious.

http://www.drivethrurpg.com/browse/pub/8643/James-Matt-Cox

That’s the link to Dungeon Crawl Unlimited. If you’re interested in gaming, download the pre-release Extra Forms Book. It contains excerpts from the core rules along with a complete adventure. And it’s FREE! -whew-

Okay. If y’all will excuse me now, I’m going to pay the Bulging Barrel a visit, slam down some ale and go hunting for adventure in the Silken Forest. I hear it’s full of monsters this time of year.

Fare thee well;

-matt

Standard

MathTools Update: What Are The Odds?

I’m down to the polish on my gaming system so I decided to take a break… and work on MathTools. It never fails. Just when I think I’ve covered all the math tools necessary, I think up a new one. The MathProbTools class is designed to help prepare probability and counting problems. It contains a little bit of equipment within itself but its true power comes from the four other tools written into it.

“Urns and marbles (or stones)” is one of the first non-replacement probability illustrations in any math class. It has roots stretching back to ancient Greece and no probability package would be complete without it. The Urn class (program) can have any number of any color marbles added to it. Any number can be drawn (without replacement). The class has multiple counting methods so any type of draw-without-replacement problem can be modeled.

Dice are also used in teaching probability. The Dice class allows a very flexible definition of what a die is and how to roll it. The dice used here can have any number of sides, more than one can be rolled as an atomic event and the final result can be modified and clamped.

Playing cards. Ahh… what probability or statistics class would be complete without a deck of cards? The Card and Deck classes provide a way to generate LOTS of card-based probability questions. There are methods to manipulate by color, suit, rank, and whether or not the card is a face card. A single ‘deck’ can actually have multiple individual (52-card) decks shuffled together and the formatting methods are absolutely incredible!

Throwing darts. This is useful for Monte Carlo-style problems. The Dartboard class allows the construction of a virtual dartboard of whatever complexity is necessary. Two or more scoring areas (rings) are defined, each with whatever attributes and properties are required. The formatting method used here is several orders of magnitude more flexible than any of the others.

As you can tell, I am VERY proud of my work. If you’re interested:

http://sourceforge.net/projects/mattsmathtools/

As with the other tools, this one is completely scriptable.

Book-wise, sales are still dismal. I’m looking for the magic marketing genie but until she appears I’ll just keep on keeping on. Once I get my game system uploaded (SOON!) I’ll be back to writing and re-writing again. I’ve decided to rewrite Stone Blade #7, but then it’s new writing.

I’m considering a YA spinoff from Double Bait. I don’t know if it qualifies as YA, but if it doesn’t then I just won’t call it that. The second series will come and, from the background I know so far, it should be pretty darn good.

Well, enough blathering for now. I’ll be back soon, Dr. Kincaid will have something to say and I HAVE NOT FORGOTTEN my “Writing About Writing” posts. More of them coming, too.

Ciao;

-matt

Standard

Drive Thru, Thru, Thru…

I just uploaded Lethal Max to DriveThruFiction. That’s all of them so far. No sales yet but lots of views, some of them within five minutes of my uploading them. Still working furiously on my game system. That’s a monster AND an iceberg! I get one thing done and that leads to a dozen things I need to do in addition! Whew!

In other news my books are still selling slowly. I’m not giving up on it but sheesh! It’s ruddy discouraging.

-matt

Standard

Some Assembly Required

Make that “Some Maintenance Required.” I just spent most of the evening (and part of the morning) updating my ‘one-click’ OpenOffice templates. After I got them into production I feature-crept myself and added some new stuff to later versions. After my discovery of DriveThruFiction I went ahead and developed a new template, which gave me a really good reason to go back, retrofit and upgrade my previous templates. It was a chore and a half and I hope NOT to do this again soon.

As far as DriveThru goes, A Pattern of Details went live so we’ll see what happens next. I went ahead and uploaded Stone Blade and, with the templates, I have my other five ready to go.

I’ve also passed the halfway point on developing my game so it may not be long before I upolad it too. As soon as I know I’ll post.

Ciao;

-matt

Standard