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!




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!





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


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.



Written by: Matt



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.



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.



Go From Zero To Game In Thirty Minutes Or Less!


At last! At long, long last my game is done! I’ve just uploaded the game and a supplement to 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.

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;



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.



Just Driving Thru…

Well, I’ve found another potential distribution site. It’s called DriveThruFiction and the web page is

It’s a subsidiary of another publishing company, , and in addition to a fiction publishing site it also has several gaming sites associated with it. By ‘gaming’ I mean pencil-and-dice roleplaying games, which I enjoy playing and running. I put A Pattern of Details there, free of course, and here’s the link:

It’s too soon to say anything for certain. My book just went live. I will say a few things. The PDF format they require is a bit odd compared to other sites but not terribly so. The navigation also has a learning curve but not a bad one. My overall impression so far is good. I’ll be uploading my other books soon and I’ll report back when that happens.

Dr. Kincaid has been quiet for a while so I’ll probably work in another “Writing About Writing” blog as I can. Right now I’m working on my own RPG system. I’ve also got one book in the Stone Blade series cooking and another in a spinoff from Double Bait. I’ll post news as it happens.

*puts on shades and revs engine*

Ciao for now;



Smashwords: The Honeymoon Is Over and Maybe the Marriage Too

Sad but true. I was excited when first I found Smashwords. They sold (I thought) multiple copies of “A Pattern of Details.” I was bedazzled. I had stars in my eyes. Sadly, like so many premature weddings, I fear divorce may be imminent.

Let me explain. I use OpenOffice for my writing and formatting. I have three publishing templates: CreateSpace, Smashwords and generic ebook. Each of these templates draws its material from the same source document(s). The source documents all have styles set for proper formatting. I’ve published six books without (many) problems. Each time I encountered a problem I adjusted my templates so that by book #5 (“Burning Crown” or Stone Blade #4) I had them perfected.

Or so I thought. I’ve been going back and re-publishing my books to “catch up” the “Other books by” section and Smashwords has suddenly started rejecting my files. The files from the SAME templates that didn’t generate any problems before. I guess I wouldn’t mind if they actually managed to SELL any of my books.

-sigh- I suppose I’ll keep using the site. Now, though, my initial enthusiasm has deteriorated into a marriage of convenience.



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;