Things People Say to, or Ask of an Author

Writer3

Being a writer is cool, I am not going to kid you.  It pays crap, but it can be emotionally and mentally rewarding.  For me, it is a form of therapy. Perhaps some of it is atonement for something I did in a previous life; it’s hard to say. I love it because when I am writing, my life is more in balance.  It provides me a way to be more human.  I have met some of the most interesting and colorful people being a writer.

There are some downsides to being an author though.  People say things to authors that they would never say to people in other professions.  They make “requests” (demands) of us that are sometimes unreasonable; and other times, bat-shit crazy. When I think I have heard them all, someone hits me with something new and frustrating.

As a proviso, you have to bear in mind, I write true crime, science fiction, military history, business leadership, humor, and other genres.  So I get questions about a wide range of topics.

For my fellow writers out there, I am sure you can appreciate the wry humor here.  Feel free to share.

Can you give me a copy of your latest book?  (Or the more irritating, “Where can I download a free copy of your book as a PDF?”)  By and large this question comes up the most.  While it sounds mercenary on my part, I don’t write books to give them away.  Even my mom purchases a Kindle copy when a new book comes out.  This would be like me walking to your house and saying, “Hey, can I have one of your kitchen chairs?”  Asking me where you can steal/bootleg a copy of my book, well, there’s a special kind of douchbag hell for you.  I actually had one guy argue with me that he was a fan, but couldn’t afford to purchase a book…as if I was the bad person in that conversation.  Don’t ask for freebies.  This response also applies to someone asking for a copy of a book that I wrote two decades ago…yes, people send me these kinds of queries as well.  If all else fails, go to your local library and do an interlibrary loan if they don’t have my stuff on the shelves.

Eighteen years ago, in book X, you wrote something I disagreed with.  Why did you do that? I am tempted to respond to this query with, “I did it for this very moment, when I ruined your reading experience.”  In fairness, I write books I would like to read. At the same time, I don’t pander to play off of what readers want.  If you didn’t like it, I’m sorry.  It wasn’t personal.  Whatever I wrote I did so with purpose.

You true crime authors just make money off of other people’s misery.  I have heard this one several times, ironically from some people holding a copy of our book asking for an autograph. People that say this are often attempting to impose their uninformed self-determined moral authority on my work, and I don’t take that lightly.  Allow me to refute this with the following points.  First, the illusion that all authors get rich from books is a speculative fantasy.  Given the number of hours at nights, on weekends, on days off, etc., that are expended to write a book, sometimes over the course of years, what little compensation I make is often less than the minimum wage. This is a hobby I have where I get to tell stories – not a get rich quick scheme.  Some of those stories I tell are heroic, others are tragic.  All take massive amounts of time and effort.  Second, I believe I deserve to be paid for the work I put into a book, regardless of the topic.  I have to pay for research trips and materials, copying, supplies, postage, legal expenses and a myriad of other out of pocket costs to write any non-fiction book.  Just getting a set of court or police documents can run hundreds of dollars.  This is all paid out of pocket before I write one single word.  What money I make on a true crime book sometimes doesn’t even make a dent in those costs for years.  Third, the entire genre of true crime are about crimes and victims.  Under your logic, no such books could be written.  I do not appreciate your attempt at censorship.  Fourth, my books on cold cases generate new and often actionable tips and leads for law enforcement.  Before you pass judgment on me, let me ask, what have you done to try and solve a cold case in your community?  That’s what I thought.  Fifth, I almost always (where possible) offer family members of victims an opportunity to be a part of the writing process so that their stories can be told too.  My books are not just about the dead, but about the living.  So you would deny such people a voice?  Sixth, I write historical biographies as well.  So why is it okay to write about events and people in history but not about crimes, which are part of history?  Crimes often define us as a people.  Look at the Kennedy assassination, or the OJ Simpson trial – these are crimes that often reflect our culture and shatter our beliefs.  Finally, and foremost, if you don’t like true crime books and feel that the authors are opportunists feasting on the dead, why are you purchasing and reading them in the first place?  Whew!  Time for a deep breath.

I have a great idea for a book.  Why don’t we do it together?  I’ll give you the ideas and you do the writing.  Um, this is all about me doing all of the work and you getting half of the credit and royalties.  Seriously?  If you want to write a book, then write a book. This may shock you but most serious authors are not sitting around waiting for ideas.  I have far more ideas than I will ever have time in a lifetime to write.

Can you read my manuscript?  Many years ago I got sucked into reading manuscripts.  First, it takes a lot of time…time I don’t have.  Second, don’t ask if you don’t want honest feedback.  I learned that most would-be writers, don’t want that.  They desire compliments.  Third, I had someone once accuse me of stealing their idea, from a manuscript I never read.  Lesson learned – I will NOT read your draft material.

Can I have the name of your agent?  No. I don’t use my agent any more but I also don’t refer total strangers to him or anyone else for that matter.

When are you going to be in city X to do a book signing?  I think some folks have the illusion that writers travel the country, randomly wandering into bookstores and setting up book signings.  Usually I am very selective about where I do events and they are tired to subject matter I wrote about in the book.  Also, I tend to do events for the six months or so after the book comes out.  It is very hard to get a store to do a signing on a book you wrote a decade ago. If I am coming to your town, I will be posting on this blog – so follow it.

Why don’t you write more X type of books?  They are your only really good ones.  A compliment and insult at the same time. I write books based on what I feel like writing.  Sometimes that is fiction, sometimes that is non-fiction.  I don’t do a poll of readers and take their advice.  What is life without whimsy?  And for the record, I think all of my books are the “really good ones,” at the time they come out. Well, except that one I wrote in 1997…

I want to be a full-time writer – so how hard is it?  I have no idea.  I am a part-time author.  The reason is that it is very hard to make a living being an author.  I need a full time job to help pay for my habit/hobby. I admire people who make a living writing, but I’m not the person to ask about that.

How do you become a New York Times bestseller?  I appreciate you acknowledge that my daughter and I did write a NYT bestseller.  Having said that, we didn’t set out to get on the list – it just happened.  If it was easy enough to simply recite, everyone would do it.  Luck, fate, and a good subject seem to be the keys.

Can I just buy a book from you?  Then can you autograph it and send it to me? (I don’t have time to go to the bookstore or use Amazon.com).   This may shock you, but I don’t have boxes of my books here in my bunker/office.  Further, I don’t want to get into the book reseller business.  I have a process on my web site where you can send me a book and return postage, I will sign it, and send it back to you.  I have been stuck paying $7.00 postage on a book that I make $2.38 in royalties far too many times in the past.  Lesson learned.

Can you give me a copy of your research files?  I had a guy once ask, then demand, that I provide him a case file I paid $300 + to obtain.  I initially agreed, but realized that all of my notes were on the pages and it would take far too much time to redact those.  Then he got mad as hell that I wouldn’t make him a free copy of 500+ pages and take hours to blacken out my notes. I will try to help others with specific requests, but if you want access to my entire archives on a case – the answer is a resounding “no.”  Go file a FOIA on your own to get the material.

How much do you make on a book?  I’ll tell you if you tell me your salary annually.  First off, it is a rude question, and one I get quite often.  For some reason people feel it is okay to ask authors about this.  It’s personal and professional.  Don’t ask.  Simply assume that it is far too little and you’ll be pretty close to reality.

Why don’t you put this book on TV or in a movie? While I appreciate the compliment, I don’t have that kind of influence…not yet anyway. Production companies and the networks decide what goes on the air, not the authors.  If I did, TV and film would be far better.

Your characters/books suck. I get this from time to time. Look, it’s simple. If you don’t like my work, don’t read it. Telling me you hate a character is pointless, because I won’t change it in a future edition.  Funny side story – I had someone do this once with a non-fiction book’s subject/character.  Seriously.  It was one of those rare moments were I didn’t have a snarky comment to come back with.

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Your book doesn’t fit the canon in the BattleTech universe. This one pops up from time to time.  Let me say this, my books DO fit the BattleTech canon.  They are checked specifically for that.  I wrote a lot of that canon. If they book didn’t past canon, it would have been sent back for a rewrite.  Deal with it…Clan Wolverine exists and it went down exactly as I described.  You people…grr…

Have you considered donating the profits from you book to cause X?  No.  It is amazing that some people emerge to ask you to give your money to their cause in such a manner. Per my previous response, there’s not a lot of profit to be found.

Why did you only write two books last year?  Some years I write more, some less.  I don’t do this full time, so it is a boatload of work to crank through a book.  Also, just because I have finished a book, that doesn’t mean it will come out that year.  I have a completed trilogy that is ready to rock, we’re just waiting for the right time.   

I want you to do me as a character in your next novel.  No. Don’t ask.  I have a BattleTech novel coming out this year where I pulled down the names of some fans, mostly at random from Facebook groups, and included them in the book as either people, places, or something else.  I thought it was a fun gesture, a nod to the fans, a chance for them to be part of the canon of the universe.  Then a few bad people ruined it.  “I want you to use my MechWarrior’s name, and he pilots an Awesome – make sure you include that.  His units is the Whitehall Banshees – make sure you include that.  Here’s his hair color and descriptions of his tattoo…”  Ugh.  Yes, a few fans took a nice gesture and decided to do make it all about them.  I did not include them, but I am VERY selective now about such efforts in the future.  Don’t ask and certainly don’t demand I do this for you.

Can I call you to talk about a novel you wrote years ago?  I will do this, but my schedule is pretty tight.  Also, just keep in mind I have written 60 books-ish, so keeping track of every minuscule detail or character is challenging.  I recommend you send me your questions via email.

Someone murdered my mother/father/brother/sister.  You need to write a book on that.  First, I am sorry for your loss.  Second, if you have specifics about the case, I’d be happy to glance at them.  Third, please keep in mind, that while ever murder is a tragedy, it does not mean that every murder is book-worthy.  There are very specific things that I look at when I consider a project for a book.  While your loss is staggering, there might not be something there that sparks enough intrigue for a true crime book.   

I have a book club.  Can you fly in and attend one of our meetings?  I appreciate the fact you think I am living a Bruce Wayne or Tony Stark lifestyle and have the money to fly to Pigsknuckle, Arkansas for a book club.  I have, however done book clubs on conference calls and via Skype.  It is all a matter of scheduling.   

I got to the end of the book and you didn’t tell me who did it.  What’s with that? When I write about cold cases…you’re right.  That’s because an arrest hasn’t been made.  My co-author and I are always pretty up-front in the book and say that the case remains unsolved.  If we had solved the case, you would have heard about it on the news.

(At a book lecture)  Why didn’t you bring a box of books to sell? When I do a lecture on a book, I am there to talk about the subject. I don’t want to cheapen the event by selling stuff.  If you want the book, pick it up on Amazon or at a local book store.  I don’t drive around with boxes of books in the back of my truck.  Also dealing with credit cards and personal checks has proven problematic over the years.  Lugging a box of books around just seems cheesy to me.

My father served in (insert war here).  You should interview him for a book.  I sincerely appreciate his service to our country.  Individual soldier memoirs are hard to write or sell because unless they witnessed something extraordinary, they can be dull. I do encourage you to get him to contribute to any number of a veteran memory projects out there, including the Library of Congress, which would be happy to capture his experiences.

Writer2

I encourage my fellow authors to add in their own experiences in the comments…

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Episode 4 – The Stockwell Strangler (Part 2)

Part II of a fascinating case.

The True Crime Enthusiast

https://www.podbean.com/media/share/pb-bwq2p-7836e9

Join The True Crime Enthusiast as this week on the podcast we conclude the disturbing case of The Stockwell Strangler – the evil killer who caused fear and carnage to the elderly throughout South London over the hot summer of 1986…

Facebook – The True Crime Enthusiast

Facebook Discussion Group – The True Crime Enthusiast Podcast Discussion Group

Instagram – truecrimeenthusiast

Twitter – @tc_enthusiast

 

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RPG Humor – Famous Last Words

tpk

I remember seeing some lists out there years ago, so I thought a fresh perspective might be in order.  This applies to a wide range of role playing games (with an emphasis on fantasy games) and is provided solely to give you a chuckle.  I didn’t cheat and look at the old lists out there, so any similarities are coincidental.

He’s got to be out of offensive spells at this point.  Let’s rush him!

He’s probably only got a few more hit points.

No, I’m not familiar with a polymorph spell.  What does it do to me?

They will never expect us to come at them from this angle.

We can survive in a vacuum long enough to pull it off.

They’ll never see us coming.

That dragon is bluffing.

Don’t worry – we’re well out of range of their (fireballs, catapults, arrows, trebuchet, ballista, machineguns, BattleMechs, lightning bolts, spears, lasers, missiles, etc.)

We have them right where we want them.

Ignore them, it’s a diversionary attack.

Gas?  No problem – we’ll just hold our breath as we fight.

The only thing these guys understand is brute force.

If we run fast enough through the fire it should minimize the damage.

Let’s pile all of the ammo crates in one spot, real close to our position.

Liches are not nearly as tough as you might think.

If we rush them, they can’t possibly hit all of us.

I don’t know what this wand does, but we’re about to find out!

I thought you said it was just a bunch of farmers in this village?

Freeze.  If we don’t make a sound or move, they’ll go right on by us.

We’ve got to win…we’re the good guys.

Don’t worry, it can’t get any worse than this.

What do you mean, “That’s no moon…?”

I’m only a little bit on fire…

Why yes, I give that lever a good hard yank.

(To the enemy) I dare you to use that wand again!

He’s not so tough now…wait…what do you mean he stands up and starts grinning?

We’ve taken out all of their heavy hitters.

He’s just a tiny dragon.

I disbelieve!

What do you mean it’s no longer in my backpack?  Where did it go?

Those are just statues – not everything is a golem.

We’ll let them have the first shot, just to show them what badasses we are.

For the record, they started it…

I’m out of arrows…I didn’t know you were keeping track.

I moon them Braveheart-style.

I get a running start and jump the pit/gap/chasm.

I wonder what this rope is attached to?  (Tug)

I spit in Zeus’ face to show him I’m not afraid.

We have them surrounded – so why are they laughing?

As long as they don’t have a magic user, we should be safe here.

It’s storming?  I move under the tall tree for shelter.

You’ll never take us alive!

I bitch-slap the head of the Thieves Guild, just to get my point across.

We don’t have time to make the light speed calculations — punch it!

I wonder what that whooshing sound is?

I take off my armor to intimidate them and show them I am not afraid.

I kill our hostage – that should prove we were serious.

No, I didn’t take off my armor before I jumped in…why?

I never would have set it on fire if I’d known that was the only exit!

The dragon’s asleep?  This is going to be a cake walk.

What do you mean ‘that’s the controls to the airlock?’

Owlbear?  That sounds more cuddly than dangerous.  How tough could that be?

I drink all of the unmarked potion – what happens?

It’s just fog guys.

Don’t waste your time burning those trolls – we need to see what is in their den.

What do you mean I don’t see the pin on the grenade?

I’m not going to waste time checking for traps.

We can relax, this room is secure.

(To the DM)  Blah, blah, blah.  Skip the flavor text and start rolling some dice.  Daddy needs the EP’s…

I look that Medusa right in the eye and I tell her…

Who was watching the horses?  Where is he?  Where are they?

I thought you were keeping the map so we could find our way out!

No problem – I’m invisible.

It’s probably a bad time to remind you that I was against this idea.

That has to be an illusion.

(To the DM) No, I’m not familiar with Greek Fire.  Why?

What do you mean he shrugs off my 18 points of damage and winks at me?

When you say the cave floor is moist and squishy, what exactly do you mean?

The only way I can miss is if I roll a one.

Watch out for that crossfire!

They’re not fooling me with that diversion.  We stand our ground here.

Guys, this probably is a good time to point out that we apparently are standing on a pentagram.

Kevlar stops everything – right?

For this plan to work, I need a volunteer to act as bait…

(To the DM)  Did you say thirty orcs?  I thought you said thirteen.

Where’s that guy we just killed?

I smash the dragon’s eggs.  How does that leather-winged bitch react to that?

I make a run between the giant’s legs.

When you say I detect a trap everywhere…what do you mean by ‘everywhere?’

What kind of a sick bastard fills a pit with acid?

Why are you handing me a blank character sheet?  You haven’t even rolled for the damage yet.

Of course I’m reading the scroll out loud.

What do you mean my sword is missing?

Split up – they can’t possibly follow all of us.

I swear to God I didn’t know those things could fly like that.

I just start randomly pushing buttons – does anything happen?

Why do you want to know if I have swimming as a skill?

Liche?  No problem, I can turn the undead.

Quick mix all of the potions together and drink them.  It’s do or die time!

Did their captain just yell, “Leave no one alive?”

I’ve got a 17 charisma, so I naturally put the moves on the princess…

I saw this once in a Roadrunner cartoon…we can do this…

There’s five of us and one of him…this should be easy.

How was I supposed to know she was married/intended as a virgin sacrifice/possessed by a demon?

I wonder why they are all chanting?

We run across the rope suspension bridge to get away.

Don’t worry, we’re safe here in this keep.

We can do this, I saw this scene in (Insert movie or TV show)

We torch the forest/town/tavern/castle – that should get their attention.

I climb into the catapult and give the signal…

What do you mean fireball’s expand?

This is usually the part where they break and run…but this time they’re not.  Hmm…

You’re darned right I refuse to bow down to the king.  I didn’t get to fifth level by being a wuss.

If we don’t move, they’ll never spot us.

I’m hearing his voice inside my head?  That can’t be good.

Yes I AM trying to jump wearing full armor.  Why are you looking so puzzled?

I don’t know if the spell needs components.  Is that important?

(After ten minutes to hacking through the door) Do we surprise them?

What do you mean I am out of ammunition?

I quickly dive out of the window…wait…what floor were we on again?

I told you that it was a waste of money to pay for maintenance on the ship.

I run across the flowing lava really fast so I don’t sink in.

Why yes, I am holding the torch while I prepare the oil flasks to throw them.  Why?

I start the auto-destruct sequence to bluff him into standing down.

What do you mean you need a shit-load of D20’s for the damage?

I’m low on hit points, I’ll take the rear guard.  There’s no way they will hit us from there.

We’ll be safe in that cave/up those trees/in that house/etc…

Of course we have a campfire going, why?

Don’t worry, if these guys were any good they wouldn’t be city guards.

It’s just a ballista…it’s probably like being hit with an arrow.

(To the DM)  Why are you checking the starvation tables?

Yes, of course we are still tied to each other in case one of us falls off the cliff…why do you ask?

I don’t have to take that kind of backtalk from a wizard.

I yell to the angry mob and tell them to bite me.

You didn’t just kill the pilot did you?

It’s almost as if they are acting as bait for us.

(About the DM) When I said, “what else could he throw at us,” I didn’t mean it as some sort of challenge.

That bright light in the sky is getting bigger and brighter?  Hmm…

Slow down, what plane of Hell did we open a portal to again?

The vampire turns into a cloud of mist…so we won, right?

I told you it would be easy…look, they’re running away.

How many spears are incoming?

Avalanche, smavalanche…

The crew abandoned ship?  How hard could it be to sail a vessel in a storm?

He’s just a little Beholder.

I cross the rope tightrope-style.

How many vampires coffins are in the room with us?

Everybody try and hide!

The only way to get his respect is to insult his wife.

Sure, I agree to a battle of wits with him.

Which colored flare do I use to call off the in-bound air strike?

We leap off the cliff and aim for the lake.  Wait…how deep is that water?

We’re safe.  You’d have to be a ninja or a monk to climb those walls to get to us.

I’m telling you, that dragon has breathed its last blast of fire.

I’m calling in an artillery strike – danger-close!

Wait…how many giants did you say were running at us?

It’s just an earthquake.

Damn right I’m going to mock that stupid bard.

This is a hell of a time to be getting a physics lesson.

That’s not how you desecrate a temple — THIS is how you desecrate temple…

I think we lost them.

(To the DM)  What do you mean there’s no point in me rolling for initiative?

Screw the druid…torch the forest.

I stick my head above the battlement walls to see if they are still there.

I discrete their temple…that should get their attention.

They’ve walked right into our trap.

I’m sure we’re out of the blast radius.

Did he really just yell, “Release the Kraken!”?

I’m counting on it swallowing me whole so I can gut it from the inside…

I know I’m blinded – I’m casting the spell in the direction of his voice.

Everybody spread out, it will force them to divide their fire.

Yes I did just refer to the Drow queen as a ‘Hot Black Chick’…why?

So shaman can cast spells?

Stop wasting time in looking up its stats and let’s just get on killing this thing.

Why is that goblin hoard laughing at us?

I’ve worded this wish so well there’s no way the DM can screw with us…

So that’s why they call it the Prison of Souls…

I’m pretty sure we aren’t all in its cone of fire.

I’m taking it off, armor just slows me down.

(To the DM)  When you say ‘tornado,’ what exactly do you mean?

(After five days of desert travel)  Look, and oasis….we’re gonna make it!

Who cares what the impact is – I’m changing alignment right here and right now.

Give me a hand prying open that coffin.

Mindflayers sure don’t look very tough.

We will never surrender!  You’ll have to kill us first.

What do you mean there’s a duration on that spell?

No one brought flint and steel?

Which walls are moving?

I really wish I’d bought a copy of the Monster Manual.

(To the DM) Of course I’ve seen the movie Alien.  Why do you ask…ut oh…

Alright, I sit down to barter with that Devil.

Before you throw the switch, what is the percentage chance that the noose/rope will break?

I don’t care what’s carved on the floor, everybody into the room.

What do you mean he’s kicking that grenade back at me?

Yes I’m putting the moves on the barkeep’s daughter.

Then I say, “Are all the city guards as stupid or ugly as you?”

I can’t believe that none of us bought rope.

I can’t parry a lightning bolt?  Are you sure?

It’s never too late to beg for forgiveness.

(To the DM) There’s a chart for explosive decompression?  Why are you asking for it?

Dive into the sewer, we’ll be safe there.

These guys only respect you when you respond forcefully.

How close is that star?

Why are our scouts running back towards us?

When you said the Thieves Guild was coming after us, I didn’t think you meant the whole guild.

When you said the ship lost power, you didn’t mean the whole ship, did you?

When you say the room is getting hot – how hot is that?

This isn’t the time to get all Paladinny on me – kill her.

Why do you want to borrow my copy of the Dungeon’s Master’s Guide?

If Butch and Sundance can make it – I’m sure we can.

Was that a “morpal” blade he’s swinging at me?  Oh crap…

They’ve stopped chasing us, we’re in the clear.

What do you mean I didn’t damage him with a roll of a 20?

When you say “transporter malfunction,” what exactly do you mean?

I’m beginning to think someone switched that road sign back there…

I have not begun to die!

Our line of retreat is blocked by what?

I ignore the radiation warning alarm and enter the room.

So that’s why they call them blink dogs…

Don’t listen to him, he’s just a bard.

I’m sure the “Rapids of Death” is just a name the locals use to scare travelers.

The joke’s on him – I cast featherfall.  No, it’s not slotted, why is that important?

That’s got to be the last charge on his wand/staff…

A demon – no problem – magic missile.

Who cares if they have the high ground?

These guys aren’t beating us – they’re tenderizing us.

Everybody into the portable hole!

I switch to my old trusty bronze sword.

I break the wizards staff over my knee.

I don’t need a physics lesson – just tell me how much damage do I take after a 300 foot fall into the river?

What do you mean I hear the sound of wheels?  They can’t have any siege equipment…

Don’t worry about him…he’s dead.

Why are you rolling that many dice for initiative?

(To the DM) I call foul.  That’s not in the Monster Manual.

They’re immune to fire?  Are you sure?

Bob – why are your eyes glowing?  Bob??

Wow…that was easier than I thought it would be.

Why is our scout running back to us so fast?

Set the self-destruct for a twenty-second count down.  That should be plenty of time.

I have a two for driving skill – why?

Hey guys, I think we’re standing in some sort of oil.

Yes I do remember being bit by that wolf…why bring it up now?

The ring can only be used once a day?

We can make it – I saw this on Survivor once.

On the count of three…one…two…

Finally, a safe place to camp.

That noise in the bush is probably just another rabbit.

I can’t be dehydrated…my character has been drinking regularly from his wineskin.

No my sword isn’t magical or silvered — is that important?

Death Stare – that’s a real thing?

Weapons lock?  Who’s locking onto–

What do you mean they can see in the dark?

I’m not wasting power on the cloaking device.

When you say giant snake – how big is giant?

I don’t care if he is standing in the same pool as the rest of our party – I fire lightning bolt!

Fine, leave us!  We don’t need your cleric anyway.

He gets how many attacks per round?

Who drank the last of the healing potion?

I taunt them, their mothers, and their sisters.

Is that incoming artillery barrage ours or the enemies?

Don’t bother me with the details.

Hey, why are our hirelings running?

You guys will back me up…right?

That abandoned mine should give us cover.

None of our spells or magic weapons work?  That’s impossible.

Who cares what my character smells?  Tell me something important.

Does anybody have any silver weapons?

Summoning that fire elemental may have made things worse.

The joke’s on you…I took my armor off to fight this rust monster!

Everyone run through the portal!

Ramming speed!

My ribs are now poking through my back?  That doesn’t sound good.

So he pulled the battle axe out of his chest and licked the blood off of it?  That can’t be a good sign.

What do you mean, I don’t detect that statue moving?

I’m tying the bag of gold onto my belt so I don’t lose them while swimming the river.

Boy, you kill one High Priest and the whole temple takes it the wrong way.

We’ve been fighting for an hour.  Maybe I can convince them to negotiate now.

I stand before the charging cavalry like Jon Snow and draw my sword.

If the dwarf thief says he’s disarmed all of the traps, then he’s disarmed all the traps.

Yes I’m concerned, that giant just sprinkled me with seasoning salt!

I’m not pulling the ripcord until the last possible second.

Quick, dive into this old lava vent!

It’s just a tiny hole (in a spacesuit, in a vacuum).

Did he just say he was calculating the in-flight velocity and splash radius of a fully armored dwarf?

They get how many attacks per turn?

Wait – did he just say that the mountain moved?

There was only one hag here a minute ago.

The joke’s on them.  It’s going to take a lot more than that to knock down that castle wall.

Sure it’s a 200 foot plummet but I’ll survive – I’m wearing armor.

I don’t have time to confirm the coordinates of that air strike.

You suck as a dungeon master…

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Review of Patriots Day

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I can’t say this is a spoiler-free review.  The bombing of the Boston Marathon was just three years ago, though it seems like more time has passed.  This movie proves how fallible human memory is. There were so many things about those few fear filled days that I had forgotten about.

This movie is a powerful docudrama starring Mark Wahlberg, J. K. Simmons, Kevin Bacon, and John Goodman.  There’s no glitzy Hollywood intro – from the start you are immersed in the prelude to the race.  The story is told from many perspectives, most of those through the eyes of the law enforcement officers involved with tracking down and capturing and killing the terrorists.

It is gripping and compelling.  No matter what you remember about the incidents tied to this horrific crime, you are sucked into the character stories.  It is a tense ride for the viewer, one where your emotions are torn and tugged at by the performances of the actors.

There were times I cried, times I wanted to cheer, and times I cringed and averted my eyes. The images of gore and ghastly human damage from the bombing are necessary, but still cringe-worthy.  Mark Wahlberg’s performance is top-notch, as is Kevin Bacon’s.  You are sucked into the story from the start and you cannot afford a bio-break during the movie, the pacing is so rigid.

I loved this movie, plain and simple.  It is one of the better film adaptions of historical events that I ‘ve seen since Sully.  You come away wiping away tears and remembering those hours where we were all Boston Strong – when we all stood behind law enforcement.  I know that doesn’t fit the current narrative that the media shoves down our throats; that police are racist murderers.  This film flies right in the face of that kind of story and does so with class, grace, and with honor.

I honestly can’t believe that this movie isn’t getting more press. Trust me, it is well worth your time to go see it.

No matter what you think you remember about those painful hours, I highly recommend this film.  Five out of five stars.

#PatriotsDay

Book Review: Indefensible: The Missing Truth about Steven Avery, Teresa Halbach, and Making a Murderer by Michael Griesbach

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I was seduced into reading this book, not because I had watched the Netflix Documentary (if that’s what it can be called) but by the hope to cut through some of the hype and get to facts.  Michael Griesbach’s book does that – though it takes a long road to get there.

As a true crime author I carefully watched the chatter/buzz about the Making of a Murderer documentary.  What I took note of was the gross omissions that many claimed the producers made.  In fairness, I’ve only seen snippets of the documentary myself.  I wanted to know the truth about the crime without having to binge-watch the documentary.  I wanted the truth.

Mr. Griesbach gets us there.  The first few chapters tell us why he wrote the book and his role in the prosecutor’s office.  It was okay, but dragged.  I found myself chomping at the bit to get to the details of the crime.

When I finally got there, I got the book I purchased…it delivered.  I have seen some professional debunking in true crime before, (Gerald Posner’s JFK book Case Closed as well as Vince Bugliosi’s Reclaiming History).  This book isn’t on par with those epics, but does a stalwart job of tearing apart the documentary with the skill that only a professional prosecutor could.

The author did a masterful job of picking apart even the background story of Mr. Avery as presented in the films.  The entire incident of the cat being set on fire, which I found online, was presented in almost a “boys having fun,” manner when in reality, it was pure, vicious animal cruelty.

I’m not getting into his guilt or innocence and the book does a good job of not laying that framework – only dismantling of the “evidence” presented in the documentary.

With a slow start – I give this book four out of five stars.  My only words of caution: I think you’ll enjoy it more if you have watched the documentary.

To the Gellesian Fields – Part 2

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Galinndan…

We set out from WhiteRock with 15 silver pieces each in our pockets courtesy of the coffers of the good citizens. I guess that is what they consider our lives worth.  I did take careful note of where my friends put their silver.  Some of that was force of habit.  The rest is me watching in case I have to take an “unapproved loan” at some point. What the party doesn’t know won’t hurt them.

We tried to convince the livery owner to loan us his two horses, but he was not interested in loaning them – only selling them.  I could have stolen them – I am a Guild Thief by trade, but common sense comes into play.  Guild Rule #12:  You don’t rob your own roost.

We set out for the Gellesian Fields with two of us riding ponies and the others on foot.  I’d been to the Fields in my youth, we all had.  Fathers take their sons there as a rite of passage, to tell the tales of the glorious battles fought there.  I wasn’t that impressed when I made the journey.  I was not a fighter nor did I want to be one.  I preferred to make my money the old-fashioned way, taking it from the rich.

Our second night on the road there were some noises off to the west.  With the rolling hills they were hard to make out, so I woke the others to join me.   Bor couldn’t see in the black of night so Althalus tried to summon an illusionary torch for him to carry.  I like to think his heart is in the right place.  It was, of course, pure folly, a classic Althalus stunt.  There are times I wonder if that warlock does things like that just to make me laugh or is he serious?

We never did find out what the sounds were coming from.  In the end we opted to depart.  This suited me just fine – as I have said many times, I am not a fighter.  I’m in this for the money (after the Guild takes its 20%).  Guild Rule #1:  The Guild always gets its cut – even from the dead.

Midday on the third day on the road north, we came across eight copper coins, two of which were stained with dried blood.  They were on the road and off to the east.  Copper coins, hardly worth picking them up from my perspective.  We moved out and by evening found the remains of some human-like creatures, flayed, in a heap at the bottom of a small valley.  The stink of decaying flesh made my eyes water.  Flies swarmed around the remains in sickening gray

clouds.  Whatever had happened to these wretched souls had happened days earlier.  To me, it looked as if they had been flayed – not just murdered.  I was all for checking the bodies, (Guild Rule #46  The dead have no use for gold,) but night was coming and the thought was that we would come back in the morning. No one was keen on being down with the dead when night came.

Our plan was changed on the fifth watch – my watch.  It began with voices on the night breeze.  I couldn’t make out what they said, but they were murmurs in the darkness, barely discernible as language.  Then came the reflections of light coming from where the rotting carcass’s lay.

I woke up Theren and the others and he and I agreed to scout out the source of the sounds.  We crept forward in the tall cool grass, wet with dew.  I reached the crest of the hill and slowly lifted my head for a better view.  I came up face-to-face with a goblin.  “Ahh-reee!” it squealed, stabbing at my arm with its dagger.  My armor deflected it, my bladder released a bit, and the battle was on.

I’ve never face goblins before.  They were spry, nimble, angry little buggers.  Arrows filled the air along with javelins, mostly aimed at Theren and me.  I got hit twice – enough to convince me to start to fall back and to bleed profusely (I didn’t really have to be convinced of that part).  As I thinned my blood supply, Theren turned and had a gob-javelin sticking out of his left shoulder, still in the fight.  Poor Bor, he rushed to the crest, pulled out his throwing ax, let it fly – only to have it skid in the sod right at one of the goblin’s feet.  Althalus conjured his accursed eldritch blast on two of the creatures, making one’s head explode in a sickening red-green mist.  Arius’s enchanted blade lit with eerie holy fire and he set one of the creatures ablaze with his magic.  Five of the creatures fell before the others fled into the night.  We toyed with the idea of pursuit – but it seemed foolish.  I don’t know much about goblins, but I feared they might be luring us back to a larger camp.

The next day we awoke to find one of our ponies, Pedro, was gone.  The goblin footprints near his cut reins was as infuriating as the fact it happened on my watch.  Mine!  I am the expert in stealthy movements – and one of those creatures got the best of me.  I hate to think about what they might do with that pony – or what they could have done to us. I found solace in the Guild Rules, #210 Revenge is a right that can be delivered at the most inconvenient time.   That goblin would pay – just not that night.

Theren and Althalus checked out the dead both from our battle and those bodies left there.  The only thing out of the ordinary was the goblins…they were a rough cloth tunic with the letter “L” on it, far too ornate for goblins.  Was this a sign of their tribe or something else?  Was I the only one that wondered what goblins were doing in this region?  The road to the Fields was safe when I was a child.  This was not safe – not at all.  What were goblins doing this far south?

Some Raw Campaign Humor…Stronger Together’s Hillarious Amazon Review Debacle

There’s a small story behind this that a lot of authors know about, but, to your shock and dismay (yes I’m being snarky) the mainstream media has ignored.  That is Hillary Clinton and Tim Kaine’s book review debacle.  It is, in my opinion, a scandal well worth noting and I’m happy to break the story.

Hillary and Tim (aw, who are we kidding, some kids on their staff) wrote Stronger Together.  What they were clearly targeting was the same kick that President Obama got from his book, The Audacity of Hope.   What they hadn’t counted on was the change in the political climate.  People out there are angry, frustrated, deplorable, and, as it turns out, pretty damned funny.  In that kind of environment, releasing a book like this was a risky decision – one I am glad they made.

People bought the book and posted reviews…hilarious (pun intended) reviews.  Brutal, vicious, biting, twisted, funny reviews.  Here’s a sample:

“I was going to read this book … I really was. But just as I got started, I found myself under sniper fire, passed out, and fell and hit my head. After that I got double vision and had to wear glasses that were so damn thick I couldn’t even see to read. As if that wasn’t enough, I then had an allergic reaction to something and started coughing so hard I spit out what looked like a couple of lizard’s eyeballs, my limbs locked up, and I passed out and fell down again, waking up only to find out I had been diagnosed with pneumonia 2 days earlier. Somehow I managed to power through it all, but it’s a good thing I was able to make a small fortune on this random small trade in the commodities market (cattle futures or some such thing) and then, miracle of all miracles, a few banks offered me a few million to just talk to their employees for a few minutes – and all that really helped out because I swear I was dead broke and couldn’t figure out how I was gonna come up with the 6 bucks to pay for this book, let alone pay the $1,500 for my health insurance this month. I still want to read it, but, honestly, what difference at this point does it make? I hear it sucks anyway.”

Thousands of these kinds of reviews are posted for this book.  I read them during my whopping 10 minute lunch, amazed that the late night talk shows or TV news channels hadn’t latched onto reading them…then again, that didn’t fit their political agenda.  When you give a frustrated people a public place to vent, they take advantage of it.

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One of the actual reviews…complete with the picture

The real story, and you will see it in some of the posts (there are hundreds of pages of them) is that Amazon.com deleted hundreds of the reviews.  This is amazing.  As an author, I can’t get a review deleted from a legitimate purchase if my life counted on it.  Even stupid ones like, “I have this one star because I downloaded the wrong book,” sticks because that was Amazon’s “policy.”  But, in the dark of night, (probably on Bezo’s private server), they deleted the more vicious reviews by the hundreds.  Yes, I know there’s some real irony in doing mass digital deletions of reviews of Hillary’s book but apparently Amazon didn’t see that.  Worse, they thought that the trolls of the net would simply let that pass.  Silly Amazon…

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Those of us that are authors were pissed off (regardless of our political party) – and rightfully so.  If anything it was another log on the growing bonfire of how business and the media were being far from impartial.  Amazon caught a lot of flak, which they rightfully deserved, and restored many of the reviews.  Still, the damage was done.

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I haven’t read the book – and won’t.  I’m not going to post a review about it because I would be expressing my personal agenda and that’s my own business.  I do encourage all of you to read the reviews and chuckle.  Make sure you scroll down and click “See all XXXX reviews” to broaden your entertainment options.

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I know some Clinton supporter is bound to get a twisted thong out of all of this.  I’m not raking her book or her policies.  I’m simply offering some lighthearted fun compliments of the internet.  You’re fu*king welcome.

With this election season, we could all use a good laugh!  Please share this link with your friends!