The Edge of Earth

I’m writing a script for a 50’s inspired science fiction short film, that me and some friends are going to hopefully start filming in January! Here’s the treatment that I wrote as a starting place before I get going on the script. I am beyond excited for this – this is how I used to feel about starting a new play. Lots of questions, lots of things to figure out, lots of uncertainty – this is only a starting point, so much to explore and develop before we film a thing.

Working Title: The Edge of Earth

Teenagers from Outer Space - 1959
Teenagers from Outer Space – 1959

A proper SCIENCE FICTION movie from this period must contain:

  • aliens masquerading as humans (cheap costume)
  • a preposterous monster
  • a professor or scientist who is sought for wisdom
  • THEMES – racism, overpopulation, ecology, etc.
  • unnecessary monologues about THEMES
  • unlikely but palatable science
  • sexually attractive but chaste love interest (Pure One)
  • paragons of society: Manhood, Authority, Faith, etc.
  • aliens encountering children, familiar societal locales and institutions
  • sense of dread
  • slow pace

Touchstones: The Day the Earth Stood Still, Teenagers from Outer Space, Forbidden Planet


Act One

A spacecraft crosses the emptiness of space, a figure sits in an strange cockpit filled with screens and light. The figure wears a helmet or flight mask, obscuring their features. A screen fills with strange symbols and we hear a strange voice speak in an alien language. The figure nods, then pushes a few buttons and descends to the planet below. Earth.

The figure emerges from the craft, holding an instrument. They take readings, then hook the instrument directly into their flight suit. The figure writhes as if in pain, then straightens – some change has occurred within the flight suit. The figure pulls free its helmet to reveal the long tresses of a human woman. The woman uses a reflective surface to inspect her face with curiosity, then turns back to her tasks. The craft is closed, but some extra care is taken with an odd section near the back. The woman rests her naked hand on it for a long moment before departing.

The woman walks down an empty road, stopping several times to inspect local flora and various street signs with equal curiosity. A few cars pass as she comes into town, but none stop or take any notice of the traveler and her strange clothing.

The woman approaches a shop of some sort, her face focused with concentration. An encounter with a customer or server reveals that the woman speaks English, though in a stilted and formal manner. The encounter is heading towards some uncomfortable or awkward crisis when a young woman named Natalie Marlowe intervenes. A few kind words, perhaps some money – the moment is smoothed over and Natalie takes the traveler by the hand and leads her outside the establishment.  The traveler seems touched by these gestures and through conversation reveals that her own name is Nora.  Natalie leaps to the conclusion that Nora is a foreign traveler in need of a guide and quickly volunteers, pulling her off deeper into town.

Meanwhile…two policemen/park rangers/authority figures discover Nora’s spacecraft. Their caution turns to terror as they trip some sort of proximity alarm, firing their weapons at the strange craft. The bullets hit the rear section of the craft, causing an immediate reaction of great violence. The two humans flee as something large and angry breaks free from the rear section of the craft. The last thing we see is a warning light flashing on the console of the craft.

Act Two

A light flashes from a device on the belt of Nora’s gear – but she has not noticed it, being completely wrapped up in exploring the town with Natalie. Natalie and Nora walk hand in hand, in a sequence of discovery – local customs, places of interest. Some flirtation occurs, initiated by Natalie, but it is chaste. Nora seems fascinated by all that she is shown, but not least of all by her new companion.

At last, the two take a break for short conversation where the subject turns to Nora’s home. She is evasive but does not directly lie. Natalie, with some trepidation, brings up the Polaris Sweetheart Dance. Nora is interested in this local custom and immediately accepts her companion’s invitation, but is confused by Natalie’s excitement at her acceptance. Some query of Natalie’s prompts the traveler to reach into her pack to show off something, which is when she discovers the flashing device warning of an attack on her craft. Abruptly Nora departs with little explanation, Natalie shouts directions to the dance after her – hoping that the two can meet back up later that evening.

Meanwhile… the two policemen burst into the local establishment that Nora visited earlier. They quickly commandeer the phone, informing the startled server that their own radio stopped working on the drive back to town. They begin to dial for Local Authority – when the line suddenly goes dead. Something large and angry bursts through the window – we only see the screaming faces of the policemen and other humans as they are destroyed.

Nora arrives back at her craft, breathless. She goes immediately to the shattered rear section and sees that SLAA has escaped. The sun is setting, Nora reaches into the cockpit and pulls free what we assume is a weapon. The lights and voices coming from the cockpit are insistent, but Nora ignores them. She says aloud ‘Natalie’ then holsters her weapon and heads out into the dark.

Act Three

The young people of town gather for the Polaris Dance, none suspecting that SLAA lurks in the shadows nearby. The creature picks off a few dance-goers in gruesome fashion, but remains unseen by the audience. The creature seems to hesitate as Natalie arrives, dropped off by her father, Professor Marlowe. He bores his daughter with tales of his research into the vast unknown reaches of space, but she is far too excited at the prospect of seeing Nora again to pay much attention. She kisses her father goodbye, and he grouches and pulls out a newspaper to read as he waits to pick up his daughter when the dance ends.

Natalie waits outside the dance for quite some time – but finally growing cold she enters alone. The SLAA follows.

The dance is wild and exciting, happy faces, movement. Natalie shakes free of her sadness and finds some friends nearby that she greets, and begins to dance. An overlong sequence of young people dancing and the SLAA growing closer.

At last ,the SLAA reveals itself to screams of terror from the gathered dancers. The SLAA is a monstrosity, terrible to behold – but pieces of it seem to drop away as it advances. It’s target seems to be Natalie, who stumbles and falls in the center of the dance floor. The SLAA closes on her, seeming unsure. At last, Nora appears heroically brandishing her strange weapon – putting herself between the SLAA and Natalie. The terrified townsfolk look on in transfixed horror at this standoff, soon joined by Professor Marlowe – brought in by the screams.

More and more of the SLAA falls away, revealing a figure that is a dark mirror to Nora. Nora explains tersely to Natalie that her race learned long ago that to prosper and grow they would need to remove and exile the dark parts of themselves, but they could never completely break the link. She and the SLAA are one being, and she is complicit in all of its crimes. She believed that she could keep it contained, but knows now that it is too dangerous a beast to inflict on the primitive Earth.

The SLAA howls in anger and grief, but is held back by Nora’s weapon. Nora bids farewell to Natalie with a kiss. Then at last, she activates her weapon destroying the SLAA — but at the same time destroying herself.

Natalie weeps, surrounded by the ashes of the traveler. Her father comes forth to comfort her and offers what consolation he may.

“If such wonders can exist out there among the stars, beyond the edge of the earth — who knows what greater wonders await us? If such a being can walk among us, one who seems to have all but mastered the darkness within – perhaps they too have mastered death?” – Professor Marlowe

Natalie weeps on and ashes blow across the dance floor.


Self-Publishing Strategy Guide I

[This is a work in progress, to be updated and amended as curious folk ask questions that I haven’t answered here.  Let me know what questions you have or clarifications needed in the comments below.]

So, you can now buy my book on Amazon — in Kindle and Paperback format. Just like a ‘real’ book! Or rather, just like a traditionally published novel. My book is sitting on the same virtual shelf as books published by Tor, Daw, and Random House. It’s a cool feeling. Maybe if I’d published five years ago I would be bothered by the fact that Spell/Sword will never appear on a shelf at a physical bookstore — but with paper going the way of the utahraptor or dodo it doesn’t bother me in the slightest.

So how did I get here? A lot of research, a lot of trial and error — there’s a lot of navigation and study required when you’re piloting the ship all on your own. When I first got started I spent a lot of time reading other author’s posts on publishing and found them tremendously informative.

Joe Peacock’s The Absolute No-Bulls**t Guide To Writing, Publishing And Selling A Book was incredibly helpful and motivating. I strongly recommend you take some time and give it a read — it’s straightforward, concise and utilitarian. It de-mystifies the entire process, which was invaluable for me at the beginning. I’m going to try to not go over the same ground here, but focus more on my specific experiences with CreateSpace and Kindle Direct Publishing.  I’ve begun to think of Joe as the Older Brother to the Internet — can be an overbearing prick, and he’ll kick over your GI Joes — but he always has your best interest at heart.

This guide is going to be part step-by-step How To — and partly me pontificating about my  rationale for making the decisions I did. I hope it’s reasonably helpful.

Level One: Write a Book. [Grasslands]

In whatever manner you prefer. It took me about nine months to bang out the rough draft in between day job,18a nerd pursuits, other creative endeavors and various life calamities. I’ve only done this once, so I’m in no position to offer advice on how you get this step done. Just some paltry bullet-points.

  • Write.
  • Self-imposed deadlines were invaluable to me.
  • Write.

Now that I’ve gone through the entire process, I CAN say that this is the most fun part. Remember that and enjoy it.

Level Two: Edit a Book. [Ice Cavern]

Frozen_cave_by_CORinAZONeTo the greatest level that your pocketbook and Friend’s List will permit. I employed over 20 Alpha Draft and Beta Draft readers to catch all my bonehead grammar mistakes and weak narrative. I know that this can never truly equal a professional copy editor — but I am completely confident that I’m extremely close. I have some serious heavy hitters in my rolodex: college professors, Shakespearean scholars, creative writing savants, genre nerds, gnomes. Depending on how my finances fare, I may consider going the pro route next time around. I can’t stress enough how important this step is.

To put it in perspective, I wrote the draft in 9 months. I edited for 13 months. Thirteen long, grueling months of Not-Fun.

It sucks. It’s boring. It’s frustrating.

Do it.

Level Three: Prepare to Publish a Book [Fire Volcano]

I used two services for publishing my book.

CreateSpace for the paperback.

Kindle Direct Publishing for the digital version.


Paper Version — I did a fair amount of research onto several online presses. The other main one I considered was They are really great if you want to order in bulk and warehouse the product yourself. They have tons of paper and trim options – soft cover and hard back. But that’s a pretty big if – especially when you’re in my position. A total unknown pushing some wacky genre fiction. As much as I would love to have a hard cover of my book, it just didn’t make sense to lay out the startup money for something that was going to sit stacked in  my breakfast nook.

I slowly shifted my thinking towards CreateSpace as they print on demand, and sell directly through Amazon.

Artist - Hugo-H2P
Artist – Hugo-H2P

You establish the cost of your book through the size, page count, etc. — then you set the list price at whatever you want.  Anything above cost is your profit. [Pro Tip]: The cost of your book increases if its sold through Amazon, instead of bought directly through CreateSpace. This wasn’t an issue for me, as I really wanted the legitimacy of an Amazon storefront, but it may be something to take into account if you have your own webstore.

Finally, the website was easy to navigate,  except for a few minor snags — I’ll talk more about that later.

Kindle Version – Or rather – Why not on Nook, Kobo, Smashwords, etc. etc.?

One reason: the Kindle Lending Library. It makes my book free to the thousands and thousands of Amazon Prime members. At this phase it is far more important that people read my book than people buy my book.

I know there’s a lot of discussion about Amazon’s draconian domination of the e-book Wild West — but from my perspective it’s hard to argue with that kind of market share. The Kindle is the dominant e-reader on the market, and anyone with a smartphone or tablet can read just as easily using their free app.

Level Four: CreateSpace [ Sky Platforms]


Okay. You’ve got the book all edited and shiny, now it’s time to set everything up with CreateSpace for the paperback. The site is very user-friendly if you are reasonably proficient with the internet and simple online interfaces. I’m a giant dork so I had little trouble, only occasionally having to use the forums, Help section, and one quick phone call to Customer Service. It leads you step by step through the process.

1. Birth Certificate – Name of your book, author name, synopsis, all that sort of thing. Pretty self-explanatory.

2. Print Specifications – Selecting the size of your book, whether or not you have color images to print inside, etc. I didn’t have any interior artwork for Spell/Sword so I selected Black and White printing — and the smallest book size, because my novel isn’t particularly long. I’m sure there’s a lot of reasons for all the different sizes, but I didn’t put much thought into it. I like the size my book is, end of story. Take that reasons.

3. ISBN Number – This is a little complicated. And once you decide your book is locked to that number [oversimplification, I know] so give this some serious thought and research.

  • CreateSpace owned ISBN: Free! But…it sets the publisher of your book as CreateSpace, and limits your distribution options later. There is a little bit of a stigma to services like CreateSpace and Lulu, and if in the very remote chance that you want to sell your book to a traditional publisher later you can’t just move your ISBN, you’d have to make a whole new edition with a new ISBN number.
  • CreateSpace licensed ISBN: $10.00. Same problems as above, but frees up most of your distribution options.
  • Personal ISBN purchased through CreateSpace: $100.00. But you personally own the ISBN number for your book, and can set the publisher of record. My book is published by me under the name Lodestar — which is the small business I’ll be setting up to handle my paltry revenue.  It also means that I can move my book to any other printing service, or use another service concurrently with CreateSpace whenever I need. I’m also thinking about having it tattooed on me somewhere.
  • Personal ISBN purchased directly: I…didn’t do much research on this. You can get it cheaper buying it yourself, then inputting it into CreateSpace . But it meant using another site, and another process so I just went ahead and bought my personal ISBN through CreateSpace. To me, the convenience was worth whatever markup they have.

4. Cover – Now, CreateSpace does offer a free cover generator as well as professional design services. I used neither. Don’t be a chump and use the free cover generator — it’s fine if you only want your mom to read the book. I’m sure the professional services they offer are fine, but I’d much rather give the artists that I know personally my money.

The layout of the cover is extremely important as CreateSpace needs it to match exactly with the specifications for the cover — most importantly the spine which is a function of page total. There were lots of numbers and jargon, my designer knew what they meant and put it all together for me. I’ve noticed that many self-publishers take the DIY part of this route a little too much to heart. I recognized that I knew virtually nothing about layout and graphic design and paid a skilled friend to handle it, same goes for the actual cover design.

Cover Design/Layout:
Cover Design/Layout:

5. Setting up the Template – Okay, this part was a little convoluted.

You need to have your book laid out on a PDF to upload to CreateSpace for review. When I first started playing around, I just exported a PDF from my Google Drive and uploaded it to see what it would look like.

It was a hot mess.

My mother is a graphic designer and printer, so I have a vague understanding of margins — but clearly not enough for these purposes.

Luckily, CreateSpace offers Word document templates. It took some grunt work copy and pasting each part of my book, chapter by chapter into the template — but it ensures that the printed page comes out correctly. Also, print is set with a ‘justified’ margin as a default. I had to go through several times to find all the places where the spacing was weird and correct.

Review the template again and again … then five more times. You’ll never catch everything, but you have to put in the sweat equity to get as close to flawless as possible.

Once the template is complete, you save it as a PDF, then you’re ready for upload.

6. File Review with CreateSpace

Once the files are uploaded, you’ll be able to view the book page by page online.

You can’t directly adjust anything at this step. Anything you want to change, you have to go back to your template — make the change — then upload a new PDF.

Spell/Sword doesn’t have any interior images — so I’m no help there.

7. Proofing

Once you submit everything for review [Interior and Cover], CreateSpace takes 24 Hours to review and make your book ready for proofing.

You have two options here:

  • Paper Proof: This is what you want to get the first time around. An actual, honest to god copy of your book. You get it, you hold it in your hand. You get to go through it with a colorful marker, hunting for every typo and spacing issue that you missed on the template. It’s truly a wonderful moment. [You do have to purchase your proof, it’s the established cost of your book plus shipping. ]
  • Online Proof: It’s identical to the Interior Reviewer you used earlier. 

If you need to make changes after reviewing your proof, you have to back to the template and resubmit it all again, and wait 24 Hours again. For Spell/Sword I got the paper proof first, then after making all the corrections I felt confident that the Online Proof was sufficient.

PRO TIP: Even after your book is published you can ALWAYS make corrections and go through the process again — it will just mean that your book is not available for sale while it’s being reviewed and proofed again.

8.  Final Thoughts/ Issues

After you approve your proof, your book becomes available for sale within 24 Hours. In my case it was up on CreateSpace itself within an hour — than on Amazon later that night.  The site was very helpful guiding you through the rest, deciding on distribution channels, etc. I freely admit I kind of glazed my eyes and picked the standard options.

Now, some grousing!

  • Shipping through CreateSpace is a little stupidly expensive — especially when you’re an Amazon Prime member, used to getting 2 day shipping for free.  I understand that it probably has something to do with preventing you from purchasing too freely through them instead of Amazon, their parent company — but still! Spell/Sword is 8.99 on Amazon — if I want to buy someone a copy and send it to them, it’s actually cheaper and quicker to buy through Amazon then get copies at cost through CreateSpace.
  • Friends have ordered copies through Amazon, and they arrive in a standard Amazon box – but the books are completely loose. None have been damaged so far, but it made me raise an eyebrow.

Royalties: I actually haven’t been published long enough to get my first check — I’ll update this when I have more experience.

Level Five: Kindle Direct Publishing [Ghost Carnival]

Almost as an afterthought, CreateSpace guides you into the warm clutches of KDP.  They export all of your information about the book, the interior, and the cover all in one go. All of the info and cover exported fine — but I quickly discovered that the layout for the print version looked crazy weird on the Kindle.

I actually found an easy workaround – I directly uploaded my CreateSpace Word document to KDP, and it looked fine. I’ve experienced a fair amount of paranoia, because the Kindle comes in so many sizes [including native apps on iPad and PC] that making sure that there were zero formatting issues.  I’ve read the book on my 3rd gen Kindle and it reads just fine at various sizes, and none of my E-Readers have complained YET. YET.

When you start obsessively searching your book on Amazon [not that I did, that would be silly] you may notice that the Kindle and Paperback versions initially have different pages — just give Amazon 48 hours, they automatically group them together. I also noticed that initially when searching my book titile, it came up fifth — but after a few days of sales, it populated first. Admittedly I picked a weird ass name for the book — that slash in Spell/Sword plays hell with some search algorithms.


Yowza! This thing got involved . I think I’ll keep this going as I plunge further and further into Self-Publishing RPG. Let me know if you have any questions in the comments below!

Future Topics

  • Marketing
  • Begging
  • Winning the Internet
  • Deceit
  • Tomfoolery