First Page Critique – Cherry Bomb

Writers are advised to start their story with a bang. The Anonymous Brave Author of today’s first page took that advice to heart…literally! My comments appear at the end.

Cherry Bomb

             Vivienne Rook threw a cherry bomb off the backyard deck, aiming at her deceased husband. “Take that to the moon and back!”

A boom ricocheted off the dense wood that lined her sister’s house as the effigy’s crisp white shirt flailed. “Tsk, just got the arm,” Vivienne sniffled. She’d built “Win” out of a cotton mop and broomsticks, garbing him in his favorite outfit: khaki pants and a white dress shirt with a sports jacket. A charming dickhead in casual business attire.

She turned at the scrambling sound behind her. Clawing a quick getaway from the noise, Spot and Kitty, her sister’s pug and Maine Coon cat, had wedged themselves together in the pet door, their tails frantically waving as they tried to shimmy through the narrow entrance.



“Chickens.” Vivienne bent over and pushed the pug’s tan rear through the opening, allowing both animals to escape. She heard a bump and then a chair fall as they fled.

Back to work, Vivienne twisted together the fuses of two cherry bombs and set the pair on the railing, her therapeutic arsenal strung along like little missiles of pain.

“Should I get my own explosives or do you have enough for two?” her sister, Mirielin, called through the kitchen window. She was flanked by both animals who were standing on the kitchen counter scowling at Vivienne.

“I’ve got you covered,” Vivienne said. “Tell those animals to be less judgy.”

A few minutes later, the screen door creaked as Mirielin stepped onto the deck with a bottle of white wine and two glasses. “Scared us silly, Vivi. Did you break into the twin’s stash of homemade explosives?” Mirielin’s reading glasses were tucked into her updo, next to the chopstick that kept her red-gold hair in a messy bun.

“You betcha. Done at the shelter so soon?”

Mirielin’s sharp blue eyes took in the scene. “I just came home to feed the animals.”

Vivienne tried to sound tough, but her voice caught. “Look, I’ve got Win trapped in the lawn.”

Her sister’s mouth pursed into a sad knot that Vivienne had named the Woe-a-Widow look. It came over people’s faces when they struggled to comfort her over the unexpected death of her husband, and the revelations that followed.


In the first sentence, Anon follows Jim Bell’s excellent dictum: Act first, explain later.” And Vivienne definitely grabbed my attention. Why does a new widow want to blow up her husband’s effigy? Her unexpected reaction to tragedy makes her an interesting character.

Plus you inject a touch of ironic humor. That signals the genre may be a cozy with attitude. Readers admire gutsy characters who maintain a sense of humor in the face of adversity. I’m already on her side, rooting for her, even though I don’t yet know what the conflict is. You avoided the trap of a backstory information dump. Well done.

I didn’t spot any typos or grammar goofs in your submission. Congratulations on a good job of proofreading, the mark of a professional.

However, a few speed bumps stopped me.

The first question arose about the phrase: the dense wood that lined her sister’s house. Initially I wondered if “wood” should have read “woods.” Then the word “lined” confused me. Are you saying the house is in a wooded setting? Or are you trying to describe wood siding over the surface of the sister’s house? Clarify this small detail so it doesn’t sidetrack the reader with questions that are irrelevant to the story.

Because the rest of the page is error-free, I’m guessing “wood” wasn’t a typo, but rather an unclear sentence. Perhaps a better way to express it would be: A boom ricocheted off the dense woods that surrounded her sister’s house as the effigy’s crisp white shirt flailed.

“Garbing” was a distraction because it’s a peculiar verb. Suggest you simplify: She’d built “Win” out of a cotton mop and broomsticks, dressing him in his favorite outfit: khaki pants and a white dress shirt with a sports jacket. That’s a smoother way to say the same thing without using a word that could unnecessarily jar the reader out of the story.

A charming dickhead in casual business attire is a great line that reveals Vivienne’s humor, as well as her disappointment with her husband. Again, you’re pulling the reader into the story with more questions. Why is he a dickhead? What did he do to her?

The next bump that stopped me was:

Clawing a quick getaway from the noise, Spot and Kitty, her sister’s pug and Maine Coon cat, had wedged themselves together in the pet door, their tails frantically waving as they tried to shimmy through the narrow entrance.




This is a funny visual but when using comedy, timing is everything, and this timing is off. Make this paragraph snappier by removing extraneous words that lessen the impact of the humor.

For instance, readers don’t need to know the pets’ names yet. Delay that information for a moment, as shown in the rewrite below. The sounds of meow and woof aren’t dialogue and don’t need to be enclosed in quotes. Otherwise the reader might think the story is about talking animals.

“Chickens” is meant to be an insult to the pets, but instead made me wonder if there were additional critters, like fowl, in the scene. These small stumbling blocks distracted me for a second.

An alternative rewrite:

Clawing a quick getaway from the explosion, her sister’s pug and Maine Coon cat had wedged themselves together in the pet door, tails frantically waving as they tried to shimmy through the narrow entrance. Mirielin would be pissed that Vivienne had upset Spot and Kitty. Vivienne bent to push the pug’s rear end through the pet door, breaking the furry logjam. From inside the house, she heard more scuffling, then the bang of a kitchen chair hitting the tile floor. “Cowards,” she muttered.

Another great line is: Her therapeutic arsenal strung along like little missiles of pain. It offers insight into Vivienne, showing her conflicted feelings about Win’s death. You found a fresh way to describe grief, expressing a lot of meaning with only a few well-chosen words.

Next distracting bump:

“Should I get my own explosives or do you have enough for two?” her sister, Mirielin, called through the kitchen window. She was flanked by both animals who were standing on the kitchen counter scowling at Vivienne.

Not bad, but could be smoother. How about:

Her sister’s voice came through the open window. “Should I get my own explosives or do you have enough for two?” Mirielin stood at the kitchen counter, flanked by Spot and Kitty who were scowling at Vivienne.

One key to great description is to choose specific details. You’ve done an excellent job showing Mirielin: Mirielin’s reading glasses were tucked into her updo, next to the chopstick that kept her red-gold hair in a messy bun. The reader not only sees her, but gets a glimpse of her personality. You neatly slip in the information about her family (twins) and that she volunteers at a shelter, all without slowing the action. Mirielin’s dialogue appears lighthearted on the surface but hints at her underlying concern with her sister’s odd behavior. Even the use of the nickname “Vivi” tells the reader about their relationship.

You wrap up the first page with a brilliant paragraph:

Her sister’s mouth pursed into a sad knot that Vivienne had named the Woe-a-Widow look. It came over people’s faces when they struggled to comfort her over about the unexpected death of her husband, and the revelations that followed.

You’ve gracefully shown the reader a lot of relevant story information. We know about Vivienne’s inner conflict, as well as what she must deal with in her outside world. At this point, I’m intrigued enough with the characters and actions that I would definitely turn the page to find out why Win’s death was unexpected and what revelations she’s referring to, as well as how Vivienne handles her challenge.

You start with action, give brief but effective snapshots of characters, and hint at a conflict that promises to grow. Just a little polishing will turn this into a terrific first page. Well done, Brave Author!


TKZers, any thoughts or suggestions for our Brave Author? Would you turn the page?


Debbie Burke’s thriller Instrument of the Devil recently became an Amazon Bestseller in Women’s Adventure. 


First Page Critique: I Wish I Had Her Job



Greetings, fellow travelers! Welcome to the latest installment of First Page Critiques.

Our brave writer has submitted the opening to “I Wish I Had Her Job” for your comment. Read closely. There’s a lot going on here.

I wish I had your job…

Alone at last! Loretta thought. I’m home! I’ve finished dinner. Now I can relax.

Today as always at Demon Investigators, there’d been too much to do, not enough time, too much criticism, and never enough pay.

Today, on top of everything else, her manager James Manetti got a call from the Global Center of Anti-Demonic Operations. They said that they had lost track of most of the Potential Vampire Stakers. Over the past two months, they’d all just disappeared, from wherever they were in the world. No one had any idea where they were.

I have no idea, Loretta thought, what they expect Jimmy to do about it. He promised them that we’d all look into it, and see what we (meaning me) could come up with.

After he hung up, she’d asked Jimmy, “If the Global Center of Operations can’t find them, what do they expect from us?”

He’d shrugged and said, “Who knows?”

There’d also been another annoying call from the Feds; routinely asking again if we’d heard anything about the whereabouts of Sylvia Demarco.   Sylvia, the former Vampire Staker, who’d been convicted of armed robbery and murder, had disappeared from her prison cell about a year ago.  The Feds had no idea where she was.  Nobody who worked at Demon Investigators, her former place of employment, had any idea where she was either.

This evening, 23 year old Loretta Carolton sat alone on the sofa in the living room of her apartment. She’d finished her dinner of canned ravioli that she’d heated in a microwaveable container in the microwave oven, and was now sipping from a half full glass of red wine.

The trim figured woman, with expensively coiffured black hair, remained dressed in the stylish white outfit that she’d worn to work that day. She’d turned on the TV and sat watching CNN.

I’m having wine with Wolf Blitzer again. She thought, I’ve got to get a life!

After the News, she switched to the Demonic Entertainment Network on Channel 666. That was recommended viewing for demon fighters, like herself and everyone else who worked for Demon Investigations. Tonight, something she saw might give her a clue as to the whereabouts of the missing Potential Stakers.

She now sat watching this week’s episode of that Network’s highly rated Travel Series: “Bloodthirsty Traveler”. The show was a documentary. Everything she was about to see actually occurred.


Brave writer, I can tell from this small sample that you’ve got a fully imagined world for us to enter. And I get a picture of Loretta as a positive, yet overworked Demon Investigator. These are real plusses, but let’s explore some changes that could help convince the reader that the story you’re telling is compelling and interesting.

In medias res. This is a narrative concept that puts the reader in the story’s action from the very first scene. You’re telling a story about a demon investigator, so show us immediately how dangerous and interesting that life might be. It’s okay to give your character genuine rest and reflection time, but we don’t need to see her at home, recalling her day right off the bat. Put us in her day, wrapping up a case, or even returning home to find a demon in her rose bushes that she has to deal with before she can have her glass of wine.

Thoughts. As it stands, we are only bystanders for Loretta’s thoughts as she tells us what happened that day. The old standard advice to “show” rather than “tell,” is still sound.

Many folks will tell you it’s wrong to open with dialogue. Personally, I do it all the time, though opinions differ. If you open with any kind of dialogue–especially internal–make sure it grabs us. You can also lose the she thoughts by simply writing internal dialogue in italics.


Where in the world are you, Sylvia? Where does a rogue Vampire Staker hide? 

Loretta Carolton poured herself another glass of Burgundy, and returned to the chair in front of her laptop. The bowl of canned ravioli she’d heated up two minutes after she’d walked through the front door sat beside her, the sickly-sweet sauce congealing into an unappealing mess. She no longer had an appetite. Sylvia DeMarco was loose, and she had to find her before she killed again.

Note: Save your few allowed exclamation points for action dialogue. Even at our most anxious, we don’t really think in exclamation points.

Keep the action in an easy-to-follow order. You have so much information here that’s filtered through Loretta, that you’ll want us to understand it. Lay out the events for yourself, line by line, in chronological order, to take a look at all you’re trying to convey on the first page. Then pare down to one solid event that motivates her to get to work, and illustrate that fully.

There are two flashbacks that occur within moments of the beginning. You do a great job with the writing in the flashbacks, but they act to slow down the story.

Point of view. This excerpt is written primarily in limited 3rd person. We see nearly everything through Loretta’s eyes, and so we will get no additional information that she doesn’t get or have.

Be careful to adhere to this single POV. There are a couple places where you use the word “we.” This is okay if it’s in her thoughts, as in the first instance. But here’s the second: “There’d also been another annoying call from the Feds; routinely asking again if we’d heard anything about the whereabouts of Sylvia Demarco.” You’ve slipped into first person with that “we’d.” With third person, it would be “they’d.”

“This evening, 23 year old Loretta Carolton sat alone on the sofa in the living room of her apartment. She’d finished her dinner of canned ravioli that she’d heated in a microwaveable container in the microwave oven, and was now sipping from a half full glass of red wine.

The trim figured woman, with expensively coiffured black hair, remained dressed in the stylish white outfit that she’d worn to work that day. She’d turned on the TV and sat watching CNN.

I’m having wine with Wolf Blitzer again. She thought, I’ve got to get a life!” [Again, you can use italics and drop the “She thought.”]

I’m wondering why, dear writer, you would have the above section in the middle of the first couple pages. It works as an introduction, which is odd that given that we already have some sense of her. If you’re going to go the contemplative route, this is a better start than what you have now (minus the “This evening”).

Forecasting. It seems evident to me that Loretta will see something useful on “Bloodthirsty Traveler.” If not, you can lose much of the explanation about the show/network. Also, “documentary” already implies that the story is true. No need to reiterate.

In all, I think this is a fun, interesting story. Good job, brave writer!

Zoners: What did I miss? What are your thoughts?



Better Book Descriptions in 3 Easy Steps


Let’s be honest. Writing a book description isn’t fun. It’s grueling, mind-numbing work that I detest with every inch of my being. Mastering the art of back cover copy-writing is an important skill. Therefore, I’m always on the lookout for tips.

Saturday, I sat through yet another webinar on the topic, and a formula emerged, a formula that finally resonated with me (after 11 books, it’s about time). So, I figured I’d share my discovery with you, my beloved TKZers, in the hopes that it’ll work for you, as well.

I should preface this post with, do as I say, not as I do. After my Ah-ha! Moment, I now need to rewrite all my descriptions. Oy. I’d prefer a bullet to the brain.

A 3-Step Formula

Back cover copy follows a simple three-step formula, but we do have wiggle room to experiment. With readers’ short attention spans these days, the advice is to keep the entire description to roughly 150-200 words. If your description runs 25 words longer than the desired range, I wouldn’t sweat it too much.

Step 1: Headline/Hook

To find our hook we need to look at the main conflict of our story. We want readers to identify with said conflict, so don’t shy away from the emotional impact it causes the hero. Don’t dwell on it, either. Every word counts.

The following books sit on Amazon’s Top 10 Bestsellers List in Psychological Thrillers, and each description employs this exact formula. These authors worked hard on their hooks, and it shows.

What would it take to make you intervene? I Am Watching You by Teresa Driscoll 

It begins with a phone call. It ends with a missing child. Guilty by Laura Elliot

When family secrets are unearthed, a woman’s past can become a dangerous place to hide… Twist of Faith by Ellen J. Green

Every time Gwen closed her eyes, she saw him in her nightmares. Now her eyes are open, and he’s not going away. Killman Creek by Rachel Caine

They were all there the day your sister went missing. Who is lying? Who is next? The Reunion by Samantha Hayes

She’s a daughter he didn’t know he had. Until she calls him… from death row. 30 Days of Justis by John Ellsworth

What if you discovered your husband was a serial killer? Tell Me I’m Wrong by Adam Croft

Side note: Adam Croft is a master at hooking readers. This next book he wrote after he created the hook. What a doozy, too!

Could you murder your wife to save your daughter? Her Last Tomorrow by Adam Croft

Wow. Right? If that hook doesn’t grab fans of the genre, nothing will.

Step 2: Short Synopsis

The synopsis also follows a micro-formula…

  1. Introduce the protagonist by showing what defines their role in the story.
  2. What is that character up against?
  3. What’s standing in their way?
  4. Transition paragraph or as Kris called it in a 2014 post, “The Big But.”
  5. End with a cliffhanger.

Let’s go back to our examples to see if this micro-formula has merit. The red-bracketed numbers correspond to steps 1-5.

Synopsis of Her Last Tomorrow by Adam Croft

Nick and Tasha are a couple held together by their five-year-old daughter [1]. Until one ordinary morning, when Ellie vanishes amid the chaos of the school run [2].

Nick knows she can’t have gone far on her own, which can mean only one thing: she’s not on her own. Who would take his daughter, and why? With no motive and no leads, Nick is thrown into a tailspin of suspicion and guilt. Like Tasha, he doesn’t know what to think, or whom to trust… [3]

But then someone starts doing the thinking for him. Confronted with an impossible choice, Nick will have to make a decision, and both options will leave him with blood on his hands. But perhaps that’s to be expected. [4]

After all, Nick’s not quite as blameless as he seems. [5]

I Am Watching You by Teresa Driscoll

When Ella Longfield overhears two attractive young men flirting with teenage girls on a train, she thinks nothing of it—until she realises they are fresh out of prison and her maternal instinct is put on high alert.[1] But just as she’s decided to call for help, something stops her. The next day, she wakes up to the news that one of the girls—beautiful, green-eyed Anna Ballard—has disappeared. [2]

A year later, Anna is still missing. Ella is wracked with guilt over what she failed to do, and she’s not the only one who can’t forget. Someone is sending her threatening letters—letters that make her fear for her life. [3]

Then an anniversary appeal reveals that Anna’s friends and family might have something to hide. Anna’s best friend, Sarah, hasn’t been telling the whole truth about what really happened that night—and her parents have been keeping secrets of their own. [4]

Someone knows where Anna is—and they’re not telling. But they are watching Ella. [5]

Synopsis of Guilty by Laura Elliot

On a warm summer’s morning, thirteen-year-old school girl Constance Lawson is reported missing. [2]

A few days later, Constance’s uncle, Karl Lawson, suddenly finds himself swept up in a media frenzy created by journalist Amanda Bowe implying that he is the prime suspect. [1]

Six years later … [4]

Karl’s life is in ruins. His marriage is over, his family destroyed. But the woman who took everything away from him is thriving. With a successful career, husband and a gorgeous baby boy, Amanda’s world is complete. Until the day she receives a phone call and in a heartbeat, she is plunged into every mother’s worst nightmare. [3]

* * *

Even though Guilty played with the order, the description works. The formula still holds. Hence why I mentioned the wiggle room at the beginning of this post. *grin* Also note: some authors put their characters’ names and/or important details in bold, and the words catch the reader’s eye.

Step 3: Selling Paragraph

The selling paragraph answers two variations of the same question that readers ask themselves:

It sounds good, but how do I know it’s for me?

Sounds good, but will I like it?

There’s two ways we can go here, by showing similar books — if you enjoyed X, you will love Y — or by simply mentioning the genre.

A psychological thriller that keeps you guessing till the last chilling page.

If you like heart-hammering suspense, this book is for you!

A third option is to use clips of reader reviews or blurbs from authors in your genre.

CLEAVED by Sue Coletta



How far would you go to save your child?

CLICK HERE to look inside CLEAVED.





Over to you, TKZers. Do you use this formula for your book descriptions? If not, are you tempted to try it? Any tips of your own to share?


What is Your Unique Selling Proposition?

by James Scott Bell

Steven Wright (Wikimedia Commons)

If I had to name my favorite comedian, the one I’d most like to see in concert, it would be Steven Wright.

Because he’s a true original, not your typical “Hey, what’s the deal with airline peanuts?” standup guy. He has a hangdog look and deadpan delivery. He specializes in one- or two-liners that are language-bending riffs that twist reality into an existential pretzel. He says things like:

I used to work in a fire hydrant factory. You couldn’t park anywhere near the place.

I stayed up all night playing poker with tarot cards. I got a full house and four people died.

I went to a restaurant that says they serve breakfast at any time. So I ordered French Toast during the Renaissance.

There have been many one-liner comedians, like Henny Youngman (“A doctor gave a man six months to live. The man couldn’t pay his bill, so he gave him another six months.”) and Rodney Dangerfield (“My psychiatrist told me I was crazy and I told him I wanted a second opinion. He said, Okay, you’re ugly, too.”), but Steven Wright has carved out a unique niche and loyal following.

He knows his unique selling proposition (USP). He probably wouldn’t use that term, which comes from the world of marketing. But the concept is the same.

In brief, the USP is that special something that sets your product apart from the competition. It’s a market differentiation strategy. And it’s necessary because we have markets stuffed with similar products vying for attention.

There were several delivery services available when Federal Express came along. What did FedEx offer that was different? Overnight delivery. It became the center of all their advertising: “When it absolutely, positively has to be there overnight.”

In the 1990s a fellow named Bezos thought this internet thingy was going to be important someday. He also knew people liked reading. What if he could create a way for readers to browse for books online, order the ones they wanted, and have them delivered right to their door?

Amazon went live in 1995. In 1999, Barron’s Magazine wrote a cover story called “Amazon.Bomb” predicting the company couldn’t possibly sustain itself.

I wonder whatever happened to Amazon? I’ll have to look it up.

The point is, Jeff Bezos is a true visionary, and the first thing a visionary does is develop a USP.

You should too, writer. What is it you bring to the table that a reader can’t just as easily get from some other scribe?

Part of this calculus is voice. But beyond that, it’s what you care about most in your writing. What do you want readers to feel, to know, to awaken to? What themes do you find yourself gripped by?

Write out a mission statement. A mission statement is a one- or two-line encapsulation of what you do, why you do it, and why the market should take notice. For example, here’s Amazon’s current version: “To be Earth’s most customer-centric company, where customers can find and discover anything they might want to buy online, and endeavors to offer its customers the lowest possible prices.”

What’s yours?

Now take USP to each book you write. Look at your plot and characters and ask, How can I do something different? Even a little difference can make … a difference.

When I started thinking about my series character Mike Romeo, I knew I wanted him to be a “down these mean streets” character. We’ve had a lot of those. So I asked myself how I could set him apart. After considering several options, I landed on one of my own special interests, philosophy. I made Mike a genius kid who went to Yale at age fourteen and received specialized training in both the Eastern and Western intellectual traditions—before circumstances sent him on the off-the-grid trajectory. He’s still a seeker of wisdom, but wrapped inside a fighter’s skin. He will try to reason with you, but if you insist on being mean will employ more gladiatorial methods of persuasion. That was enough to get me excited about launching the series.

Another area where authors can strike rich veins of uniqueness is the supporting cast. Don’t ever write “throw away” secondary or minor characters! Use them to add spice to the plot. This is one of the things that makes Janet Evanvoich’s Stephanie Plum series so popular. For my Ty Buchanan legal thriller series I concocted a cast that includes a basketball playing nun (who is not shy about using her elbows), and a former college professor who went nuts for awhile and now runs a coffee house and raises butterflies for funeral ceremonies.

In short, friends, you are the CEO of a company trying to compete in a crowded market. The company is you. Your product is books. So do what all successful companies do—develop that USP. Set yourself apart. Strive to become an original.

Like Mr. Steven Wright:

I’m traveling today, so may not be able to drop by much. Talk amongst yourselves:

  1. Do you have a unique spin as an author?
  2. How is your WIP a little different than what’s been done before?
  3. What authors do you admire who bring a unique quality to their work?

Reader Friday: Which Creature Represents Your Writing?

Photo purchased from Shutterstock

Pick the animal or creature that best conveys your writing strength. Is it a spider weaving a mysterious, complex web? A wild Mustang thundering across the Great Plains, free of constraints? A jungle cat hidden in the tall grass at the edge of the Serengeti, stalking its story prey?

Photo purchased from Shutterstock


Radish Fiction – A New Income Source for Writers? Plus, Changes to Amazon Kindle Worlds

Jordan Dane

I heard some disappointing news from Amazon Kindle Worlds (KW) yesterday. They are changing the program and not offering a bonus to help defray production cost. The money wasn’t much. It was $500 and went down to $250, but that money took care of the cover design and formatting. It wasn’t considered an “advance.’

Amazon is keep the program the same (including promised bonuses) for any approved launches already set up for the rest of 2018. They are working with the host authors on who is signed up as a writer, etc.

The host authors who have kindle worlds are continuing with their host duties, but in 2019, Amazon will not be involved in scheduling the releases (the host authors would do that). Nothing much will change for the host authors. They will have the same revenue sharing and agreements in place. It’s too soon to tell whether the lack of bonus money will lessen the enthusiasm for authors to sign up. Initial discussions are mixed, but I would imagine Amazon’s gamble will pay off, that many authors will still see a benefit in a group launch and the host authors organizing things. They will probably like getting their work exposed to a larger reader base shared by the other authors and the host writer.

Amazon never did much promo for the launches, but the fact that they have and maintain the platform is a benefit that would be hard to replicate. Amazon is banking on authors not caring if they get the bonus and hope they get to retain the same enthusiasm for writing stories but pay nothing for the copyright retention.

But Amazon KW does nothing with those copyrights. The fact that KW doesn’t take advantage of subrights like audio, film, or foreign rights makes me have second thoughts about continuing with them. For many of the worlds, authors retain rights to their original characters (but not all worlds do this, so read the fine print). If the author has a unique setting that hasn’t already been established in another series from that author (before it’s crossed over with the host author’s world), then Amazon could get copyrights to that setting. Another drawback at present is that Amazon Kindle World does not have a worldwide distribution. It’s something they want to achieve, but KW is only a division of Amazon and does not share the same distribution channels.


But after reading about the changes to Amazon Kindle Worlds, authors were talking about another new start up company that has found a niche in serialized fiction. Have you heard of ? Radish is a new app for serialized fiction, geared for the mobile generation to bring novels to smart phones. It’s open to a global market (really big in eastern Asia (Korea and China) where the enthusiasm started) and Radish can be used as a different source of income or to create buzz for an upcoming book that hasn’t gotten published yet.

Could this replace Netgalley? The expense to place an ARC on Netgalley is pricey, even if an author joins a group or service to help defray the cost. Radish wouldn’t specifically earn an author early reviews, but the writer would score money for fiction sold. Netgalley doesn’t do that.

Plus there apparently isn’t any copyrights sold. Although I haven’t seen a confirmation of this, I believe the author retains copyright and is only making their content available for sale.

Here’s what Publishers Weekly had to write about Radish – Click HERE

Radish is recruiting authors who have written for Canada’s WattPad and Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing or other similar type opportunities.The idea is to write serialized shorter fiction with cliffhangers to hook a readership. Generally this is 2,000 word chapters of original short genre fiction with cliffhangers that hook the reader to keep reading and keep buying.

So with the changes to Amazon Kindle Worlds, writing that is similar to, Radish could be a good opportunity to find a different income source with fewer hassles. Authors are paid in “micropayments” with authors receiving a range of $3,000-13,000/month, similar to how game platforms work.

Radish has an impressive list of investors and plans to hire editors, developers, and designers. They have about 700 writers creating serialized fiction for 300,000 readers.

The initial genre that has been big with Radish is YA romance, science fiction and fantasy. It’s geared for a younger audience that is comfortable reading off smartphones, but I would imagine there is room for growth into other genres. Radish is also looking for traditionally published authors who want to bring original content to them.

Authors must submit to write for Radish and there is a review team to screen applicants. HERE is the link to get started and fill out the application. Read the various press releases on their site. You’ll get more insight into what they are doing.

So what Amazon Kindle World takes away, Radish delivers something new that could be very exciting.


1.) What other out of the box outlets have you seen for authors to bring original content?

2.) Are you a smart phone reader? Do you see potential in what Radish is offering?


Valentine and the Lotus Circle – $1.99 Ebook Available Now!

Love made him vulnerable…once.

The Phoenix Agency hires a mysterious woman psychic from the ancient and mythical Lotus Circle to break down the mental barriers of Braxton Valentine—a black ops Psi agent with a death wish and a hunger for revenge.


Hollow Point Bullets & Other Stuff

By John Gilstrap

I have just returned from my annual sojourn to Las Vegas and the SHOT Show, so I thought I’d turn away from the craft of writing in this post, and back to some tactical topics. Throw in the bullet-bait Brother Bell inserted into his always-excellent post last Sunday, and I feel driven to talk about bullet stuff this week.

First, on the issue of being thrown back by bullet strikes, consider this: Newton’s Third Law of Motion dictates that every action has an equal and opposite reaction. If the energy of a bullet strike is enough to throw the bad guy back five feet, then the shooter would fly back a similar distance. When it comes to handguns, the shooter feels more linear force in recoil than the target feels on impact. And remember, once a round leaves the muzzle, it is constantly slowing down. And falling.

Because bullets travel as fast as they do, on impact, they exert all of their damage over the course of a millisecond.  In through-and-through wounds, victims often don’t know for a few seconds that they’ve been shot.  Bullet dynamics being what they are, I have shot empty Styrofoam cups through-and-through with pretty hot rounds, and watched the cups never move.  When a bullet passes through tissue, the ballistic damage it causes actually manifests behind the moving projectile, not at its point.  (The link goes to a video where there’s no blood, so it’s safe for mealtime viewing.)

Brother Bell, I will take exception to your left-hand-shooter speed bump.  Most shooters I know make it a point to train with their weak hand, specifically planning for the event when their strong hand is immobilized.

Bullets are specifically designed to inflict ballistic damage to tissue as it passes through its intended target.  Handguns are intended for close range, and rifles are designed for longer ranges. (A SEAL buddy of mine maintains that the only good use for a pistol is to fight your way to your rifle.)  As a rule, additional range means additional ballistic energy, and a concomitant increase in ballistic damage on impact.

Here’s a video showing a 9 millimeter pistol bullet being fired into ballistic gelatin.  For those who can’t watch the footage, it shows a standard round-nosed bullet passing all the way through the gelatin block with little of its energy expended along the way.  Bottom line: it would suck to be the guy standing behind the guy who got shot, because you’d get shot, too.

This over-penetration issue is specifically why most (all?) police agencies have moved to hollow point ammo. The definition is simple and self-explanatory.  A hollow point bullet is one that has, well, a hollow point. It is different than “full metal jacket” (FMJ) ammo, which is also called ball ammo. It’s been around for a lot longer than I have, and it comes in pretty much any caliber you can think of.  Old farts who haven’t kept up with technology will tell you that hollow points cannot be fired from semi-automatic pistols, but they’re wrong. HP bullets used to be a problem because of issues with the feed ramps in old pistols, but that problem was solved a long time ago.

In the pictures, note the lines around the circumference of the the tip. When a hollow point bullet impacts a target, its “petals” bloom, causing the the projectile to tumble and lose most of its energy. The wound channel is significantly enlarged in the process. Within the gun industry, and among knowledgeable people, hollow points are also call “personal defense” rounds (as opposed to range ammunition) because they are the preferred choice in a gunfight–but probably not for the reasons you think.

This video shows a 9 millimeter HP round hitting ballistic gelatin.

There are a couple of take-aways from the video. First, HP bullets do leave a significantly larger permanent wound channel than that which is left by ball ammo. But second, and more importantly, the bullet stays inside its intended target.  Even if there were to be over-penetration, the vast majority of the energy would be dissipated before the bullet could hit a second, unintended target.  That said, if your characters are anticipating the need to shoot through car doors or windows, HP would not be their first choice.  Yes, HP bullets will penetrate both, but that loss of energy could be a factor.

Next time, we’ll talk about what every police drama gets wrong when it comes to storming the bad guy’s house.

All questions are welcome.

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