Wednesday, June 5, 2024


Please note: I am now writing, producing, and publishing as Wren Valentino.

Hello. Thank you for stopping by. I'm happy you're here.

My name is David-Matthew Barnes. I'm a writer and film producer. I write in multiple genres, primarily young adult, romance, thriller, and horror.

If you'd like to learn more about me and my life, the About section offers more details. 

If you're looking for something particular I've written, please visit the Library section. This is a comprehensive list of my published and produced titles. If it's available, it's listed there. 

All of my stage plays published by Blue Dasher Press can be produced royalty-free. There is never a cost to produce one of my scripts published by them. I believe theatre is for everyone. I invite you to visit their online digital store, where you can purchase printable PDF's of most of my stage plays at a pay-what-you-want rate. 

If you're an actor, I encourage you to check out the Monologues section, especially if you're looking for a contemporary audition piece. . 

I recommend checking out my Amazon Author Page. There you'll find a list of all of my titles available via Amazon (including lots of Kindle Unlimited titles to choose from).

I've been very fortunate to write eight screenplays that have been produced. As a film producer, I have helped bring fifty films to the screen including many independent films, horror movies, and international films. My IMDb page is a great resource for information about my film and television projects.

My novels are published by Blue Dasher Press and CayƩlle Publishing

My most recent book is the horror novel Dummy.

The Links page is a great list of writing resources, organizations I love and support, and links to the individual webpages of the members of my collective creative team. There, you will also find links to articles, reviews, interviews, podcasts, and radio shows related to my work.

Please send all professional inquiries via the contact form. A member of my creative team will be happy to help you. 

Again, thank you for being here. As always, thank you for your support!šŸ–¤

Please note: I am now writing, producing, and publishing as Wren Valentino.

Thursday, February 29, 2024

Monthly Update: February 2024

February has been a ROUGH month. No joke. No lie. R-O-U-G-H. Where I live in Sacramento, we experienced some really intense rain storms at the start of the month. We lost power for two days. No internet for almost a week. And my car was damaged beyond repair after I drove over debris on my way home from the hospital where my mother-in-law had been taken by ambulance (she's home and is doing much better - thank you for the kind thoughts and prayers). During (because of) this, I got terribly sick and was stuck in bed for a few days with a mean cold. With March on the near horizon, I can't help but feel optimistic that March will be better (at this point, it has to be). 

We're kicking off March with a much-needed weekend getaway to Newport Beach. We have tickets to see the very talented Crystal Lewis perform in a big band show at Campus Jax. For any Frozen Stars fans, Crystal's version of Cuan Grande es El is featured in the film and on the soundtrack. It's hard to believe but this will be my first time seeing Crystal perform live, after being a fan of hers for almost three decades.

Very excited to share with you the short horror film Marbles, written and directed by the very talented Robert Hamilton. This one is super spooky and includes onscreen violence. The cinematography is fantastic (high fives to Michael Patti). This creepy, terrifying film stars Audrey Venable, BJ Mezek, and R. David King. I'm a very proud Associate Producer (I'm in the closing credits - woo hoo!). They’ve been winning lots of awards at film festivals with this one. Enjoy! 

I was excited to attend an open conversation with acclaimed filmmaker Mira Nair. It was a wonderful and very inspiring afternoon. I'm a huge fan of her beautiful films. Thank you, Sundance!

Here’s the official poster for the upcoming horror film Grind, written and directed by the very talented Mark Cantu. Every time I see my name on a movie poster it feels very surreal in a cool pinch-me-I’m-dreaming kinda way. Thrilled to be a part of this awesome indie horror project as a producer. The film will be out next year!

My unproduced short horror film script Mary Go Round has been doing very well in screenwriting competitions at film festivals. It was nominated in the category of Best Screenplay for the Scream Queen Shockathon, nominated for Best Screenplay at Venice Shorts in Los Angeles, and nominated for Best Short Script at the Tokyo International Short Film Festival. Very grateful for this recognition of my work as a horror screenwriter. 

I’m incredibly proud of this remarkable man. Edward just finished the application process for a doctorate program. If accepted, he will start working towards earning a Doctor of Education (Ed.D.) degree in Educational Leadership this fall. SO proud of him!

I hope February has been a blessing for you. 

Onward and upward.


Thursday, January 25, 2024

Monthly Update: January 2024

Hello and Happy New Year! I hope 2024 is treating you well. 

I've hit the ground running this year.

I've partnered with a wonderful organization in Sacramento (where I live) called Futures Explored Film Studio. They will be producing a collection of my one-act plays under the collective title Some of Us Are Brave. I'm excited to be directing the show. The cast is wonderful and the production team is stellar. Included in the lineup (each piece will be presented at each performance) are my plays Hot Rates to Omaha (world premiere), Number 76, Before Harmony Sleeps with Jeff, and I Bet She Has a Party to Go To (world premiere). If you're in the area and would like to see the show, tickets are available here. The show opens February 2. Some of Us Are Brave was featured in an article published in Broadway World

I was very sad to hear of the recent passing of singer Mary Weiss. Known worldwide as the lead singer of the 1960's girl group The Shangri-La's (my favorite girl group), her vocals have been featured on many iconic songs including Leader of the Pack and Remember (Walking in the Sand). To say she will be missed is an understatement. I have loved this group for many years. I'm working on a screenplay about the impact of their music. More on this soon!

Huge thanks to The Review Geek for including my horror novel Dummy on their list of 10 Books That Should Be Adapted. The article was published this month and because of it there's a lot of interest in adapting the book into a film. I hope to have more details to share soon. 

Regarding my health: it’s been a long few months. At my last physical my doctor was a concerned about a lab result. 15 (yes fifteen) tests later (I’m a human pin cushion) and I finally had surgery earlier this month, which was scary but a success. I was on bed rest for two days (not an easy thing for me to do). These were my two at-home nurses. I was in great hands. My family (chosen and biological) have been wonderful and supportive. God is good.

Earlier this month we got to have a lovely brunch/lunch at Estelle Bakery & PĆ¢tisserie. Such a beautiful place. Good times (and pastries) were had.

I can't let the month end without paying tribute to an extraordinary man and his forever legacy: Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. His influence on my life has been tremendous. In closing, I am sharing a poem of mine with you titled Subway Stations, Atlanta. It was originally published in The Dreamers Anthology by Beautiful Cadaver Project Pittsburgh

There's a reference in the poem to the song Dreams Come True (Stand Up and Take It) by the band Lone Justice (Maria McKee). 

I hope January has been a blessing for you. 

Onward and upward.


Subway Stations, Atlanta
by David-Matthew Barnes 

Here, luggage bangs against the legs
of travelers like orphaned children, starved
for a destination. Unknown, Georgia meets 
many with fast-tracked trains. Silver cars steal 
strangers, natives, flight attendants upon arrival, 
takes and feeds them to jutted glass teeth. They grin 
in the hazy distance. Northbound,
we rattle to the city we call ATL, others
call their arrival spot, Hotlanta, home.
In the far corner of the blue terminal, red 
digital numbers pulse and glow: the next time
another one will leave, lift off.

The centrifugal center of all things
tourist. Cameras, digital and pocket,
click and flash at CNN, where Nancy
Grace hangs above the crowd. Fish
bubble and squeak behind glass. Hawks
shoot and dribble down courts. Falcons
swoop across the dome, another sweet
victory. Olympic torches touch the hot
summer sky, frozen against the sky-
rocket’s Southern glare. The faithful
convene for motivation, gospel, paradise
at the world center, west of the sinful city.

Dreams come true. Stand up and take it. So
sings a muse named Maria. Like Martin,
she knows heartache, ghosts like the citizens
of Oakland Cemetery. We are still haunted
by memories, damaged and sweet. Heat
boils down the boulevards of Grant, 
Decatur. On the corners, the edges 
of the broken sidewalk still scream.
You will hear babies cry, mothers crashing
against their attempts to make a life
better than the one their mothers had. 
Hope fuels this train that slides, glides,
cuts the jazzy air, piercing the heart.

Monday, July 17, 2023

I Am a Storyteller

I am a storyteller.

I have been a storyteller since I was 7. 

I published my first short story when I was 15. 

Since then I’ve written a total of 102 novels, short stories, screenplays, and stage plays and 157 poems. 

I have 42 projects currently planned over the next five years (half of these are already in development).

I have had some form of a day job since I was 13, most of which were full time positions for the last three decades. 

I have earned two college degrees, including a masters, both while working up to three jobs. 

I have also been an arts educator for 18 years. 

I do not make a living as a storyteller. 

I do not make enough money as a storyteller to support myself and my family. 

I am a storyteller. 

I am constantly struggling to find ways to fit storytelling into my schedule, my life, my day - sometimes only in 15 minute sessions/marathons. Sometimes late at night. And often early in the morning. 

The strikes that are happening right now in the entertainment industry are addressing the value that storytellers bring to our collective culture. 

I often wonder how much storytellers are valued. 

Is there still a place for us in this crowded, loud room where the books seem to keep disappearing? Or getting burned. 

Does anyone want stories anymore? 

The truth?

I am a storyteller. 

I can only shout so loud. 

For many of us, storytelling is not only the very thing we love most to do, it is also a gift bestowed upon us that compels us to use our imaginations to bring truth to light, give spoken words to characters you can relate to, and speak to the things that are difficult for most to say. 

I am a storyteller because I believe there is immense power in the written and spoken word. Because I want to tell the stories I needed to read and see when I was a young person. Because I believe art and culture are supposed to challenge us, change us, comfort us, and ultimately define us.

I am a storyteller.

David-Matthew Barnes

Friday, April 14, 2023

Update: April 14, 2023

The word of the week is busy. Not busy in a pretentious I'm so important way. But legitimately busy. While I don't mind bursts of busy, I'm ready for a breather. We have a few weekend getaways planned in the upcoming months and I can't wait. 

Lots happening in the creative part of my life. I'm serving as a producer on many upcoming films, including several horror movies and some international films. It's a strange but exciting new venture for me, as I never really thought of myself as a producer before. But this is a good fit for me, so I'm going with it. 

I'm also writing new poetry, working on a few screenplays, and line editing the new edition of my young adult novel Fifty Yards and Holding, which we're hoping to release this fall. 

My baseball-themed gay romance novel Pitchout will be released in paperback and eBook on June 6th. I can't wait to share this story with you. It was a lot of fun to write, including the many hours spent researching American minor league baseball. You can pre-order the novel here. 

I was recently a guest on The Jacked Up Review Show. You can listen to the interview here. 

I got to attend a sneak preview of the new movie Dungeons and Dragons: Honor Among Thieves. It's a fantastic film. The cast is terrific. It's action-packed and hilarious. I highly recommend it. 

My musical artist of the week is Charlotte Cardin. I recently discovered her music and it's wonderful. She's a very talented songwriter. I am in awe of her lyrics. Check out the video for her song Meaningless

Until next time...

Onward and upward.

"Without ambition one starts nothing. Without work one finishes nothing. The prize will not be sent to you. You have to win it." - Ralph Waldo Emerson

Wednesday, February 22, 2023


The phone call came late at night. I answered, concerned. A friend of mine was reaching out about a stray cat who was in "pretty bad shape and really needs a home." I quizzed my friend for more details only to discover that the injured cat was female, Siamese, declawed, and scared. She’d been found almost unconscious, in someone’s backyard. Without hesitation I said, "Bring her to me." It wasn't until a week later that I met my new cat. She'd spent the last seven days being nursed back to stable health by a kind vet.  

Upon the moment we made eye contact, the connection was instant. Within a few minutes of being in her new home, she found her way into my arms and fell asleep for hours. The next morning, my friend called to check on her and asked, "What did you name her?"  

I looked down into her beautiful blue eyes and said impulsively, "Her name is Flower."  

"Flower?" my friend repeated. "That's a strange name for a cat."  

"No," I said. "It's perfect for her. She's a little damaged, but she's adorable. All she needs is a little love." 

Flower became very attached very quickly. She didn't want to leave my side. She wanted to be next to me constantly. I became worried that she was suffering separation anxiety when we were apart. I took Flower to my vet for a checkup and to get some advice. There, the vet shared with me just how bad Flower had been treated. She had burn scars on all four paws, her tail had been broken twice, and some of her teeth had been knocked out. I was overwhelmed with emotion, angered by the cruelty my sweet cat had endured but sad that, most likely, Flower had not yet known the love of a human.  

"This is why she's so attached to you," the vet explained. "Many Siamese bond with one human in their lifetime and for them, the bond is quite intense. Given that you rescued her and are taking care of her, she might be afraid of losing you." The vet gave me some techniques to try and lessen Flower's anxiety, most of which worked over time. 

Before Flower and I found each other, I had allowed my life to become pretty hectic, putting work above everything else and never really taking the time to stop long enough to enjoy the world around me. It seemed impossible for me to be present in the moment. Yet, I soon found myself anxious to get home and sit with Flower on the sofa. No longer was busyness appealing. I wanted to spend time with my cat who wanted to spend time with me.  

Thinking about the horrible experiences Flower went through before she was mine and her renewed willingness to trust and love, I couldn’t help but be impressed and inspired by her resilience for life. A survivor in the truest sense of the word, I wondered if Flower had somehow forgiven those who caused her so much pain.  

I soon realized how affectionate Flower was. She loved to cuddle, rub noses, and insisted on being kissed on the top of her head, whenever the need struck her. I discovered what food and treats she preferred, what toys she loved, and the quirky traits that made her unique. In other words, Flower and I became best friends.  

Now, a year later, Flower has taught me the importance of slowing down and taking the time to enjoy every moment. No longer am I rushing from place to place, completing endless tasks, or speed walking through life. Instead, I’m enjoying quiet moments with my beautiful Siamese Flower, who has taught me the importance of stillness and love. 

David-Matthew Barnes

Update: Sadly, Flower passed away on January 28, 2022. She is greatly missed.

This essay originally appeared in Chicken Soup for the Soul: Life Lessons from the Cat: 101 Tales of Family, Friendship and Fun (Simon & Schuster, May 14, 2019; edited by Amy Newmark)

Wednesday, February 15, 2023

Update: February 15, 2023

This might sound like a strange topic (especially since I’m writing and posting this on Valentine’s Day), but let’s talk about rejection. As a writer, my work is rejected constantly. In fact, this week I received four rejections in forty-five minutes. I’ve become so accustomed to my work being rejected that I no longer call it rejection. Instead, I call it selection. Sometimes my work is selected and other times it’s not. It’s all very subjective. It’s all about the person who is reading and selecting my work. What I know to be true is this: my work is not for everyone. And that’s okay. I’m sharing this because the focus is often on the successes. While I love celebrating those with you, it’s fair to say there were and are many rejections - I mean, selections - in between. And I learn from both. About myself and who I am (and want to be) as a writer. They’re both good for the soul. 

Today, my young adult supernatural romance novel Wonder Land is being set free into the world, where I hope it finds many readers who love this story as much as I loved writing it. I hope you get a chance to read it or share the book with a young reader in your life. Many years of hard work went into writing it. 

I’ve been fighting off a cold, so I’ve had more downtime than usual. Because of this I got to watch many wonderful films this week including the mind-blowing Everything Everywhere All at Once, the creepy horror film Ma starring the always-brilliant Octavia Spencer, the Disney classic Sleeping Beauty, the classic comedy The Palm Beach Story starring Claudette Colbert (one of my favorite actresses), the quirky and funny Cate Blanchett film Where’d You Go, Bernadette?, and I re-watched one of my childhood favorites, Superman, starring Christopher Reeve and Margot Kidder. 

My music artist of the week is Jane Jensen. I first discovered Jane’s music when I was the host of a college radio show in Chicago. Her debut album Comic Book Whore had just been released and I fell in love with it (and her) on my first listen. Her second album, Burner, features one of my all-time favorite tunes called Fast Girl U.S.A.  It’s an awesome track. I’ve always dreamed of directing a music video for it. It’s a very cinematic song. I hope you get a chance to check out Jane’s fantastic music. 

Until next week…

Onward and upward. 

“I spin worlds where we could be together. I dream you. For me, imagination and desire are very close.”
- Jeanette Winterson