Tag Archives: Publishing

Stylists vs. Storytellers

16 Sep

Books lie to you. All the time. Whether it’s the title or the cover picture or the description… all of its designed to get you to buy the book. This is accepted. But if you want a fun story about dogs and what you get is a literary experiment… oh, buddy…

This particular post is brought to you by the book The Plague Dogs by Richard Adams. He died four years ago at 96, so he had a good life and a good writing career, so I don’t want to blast an author I liked… a book of his… a LOT… but what the *#&$ you were thinking?!

I won’t even give Mr. Adams crap about keep writing about animals again because… hey, if that’s your thing, go for it. What I’m upset about is that this is supposed to be a story about dogs, right? It’s actually a) a travelogue of the Lake District in England, b) practicing how to write characters with the Geordie accent, and c) a jeremiad on the beauty of nature and the evils of man.

What… the… #*$&?! I remember picking this up as a 16-year-old (after reading Watership Down for the third time) and never getting past the Preface. I happened to find this book in a pile of forgotten books and decided to give it a try. No wonder it was sitting there! Even now, I had trouble getting past the first chapter. But I finished it because I wanted to see what happened to the dogs. I should have guessed; deus ex machina. Although I was a little amused to see the “god” in this case verbally criticizing the author.

Interestingly enough, a similar disappointment happened to my wife. She doesn’t read novels (mostly), but when she picked up a non-fiction book called “Judaism Online: Confronting spirituality on the internet,” you’d expect this to be a book about… well, online Jewish websites, the nature of discourse, dealing with anti-semitism. No. It’s the transcript of an email conversation between the two authors, one a recent convert, the other a Jewish scholar.

Really? This was published in 1998 – some press actually thought THIS was a good idea? Seventeen different publishers didn’t like my masterpiece, but they thought this was a good idea?! Maybe that’s why they came up with this deceptive cover, because they realized after saying yes that, “Oh, how do we polish this turd?”

That’s why I stopped submitting manuscripts; because publishers know their audience. They know that an unknown author with an original story is going to get zero interest. I’ve even written inspirational romance, but because it was set in an overseas school, it wasn’t going to speak to their Christian housewife audience. Occasionally, my brother-in-law gets me to write short stories for anthologies, but nowadays, I figure I’ll stick with my own press and pimp out my stories.

Speaking of which, pick up my latest book, Defending Our Sacred Honor! This time, the cover doesn’t lie to you! 😀

However, here’s your chance to tell me – have you ever been burned by a book? Add your book to the parade of shame below in the comments!

Mad at the Mad Mage

1 Jul

Published adventures can be wonderful things – they give the DM great ideas, and make the whole gaming experience a treat. Most of the time, traditional DM’s use bits of what they read and then use it in their own homegrown campaigns.

I am not like most dungeon masters.

First off, I’m lazy I run a weekly D&D campaign at my local gaming shop on Roll20, and up until this whole pandemic, we offered D&D Adventurers League. For those of you unfamiliar, it allows players to take their same characters from one game to the next, without having to have the same weekly schedule, and allows DM’s the opportunity to pull in new players without having to go through the arduous process of finding them. After a year and a half, I have a solid group of six players who come every week. Some have left, some have joined, but solidly six… which is amazing.

So my son buys Dungeon of the Mad Mage and tries it out… but after running it with his players, gives up after one session. But it is the ultimate dungeon crawl – 20 levels of dungeons, massive monster lists, great challenges – I had to try this out!

Yes, it is beautifully written, amazing art, and great scenarios. There’s just one major flaw… it has no plot! To be fair, it has several plot ideas, but these are pretty flimsy and they will last for several levels, and then you’re stuck. Travelling between the levels is fun the first time, but then dull as hell going back, because you have to then return to Waterdeep (Level 0) to collect on the mission. So my players finish the first, then third, then the fifth mission, but then I have just start making up goals.

To be fair to WotC, their more recent adventure books have been great, but man, has it been difficult to make the campaign fun for my players. We should wrap it up pretty soon… then I’ve gotta figure out what to do next. Do you think I can convince my D&D Diehards to play Albedo? How do you handle a campaign that doesn’t seem to be going anywhere? Write your comments below!

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