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New Novel Alert: Her Psychic Powers are Fake, but the Missing Girl She Needs to Find is Real

Posted on March 28, 2015 at 7:15 AM Comments comments (0)

It's release day for my new novel, Glass Eye: Confessions of a Fake Psychic Detective. You'll find this yarn of mystery available at all the major e-book retailers, from Amazon and Barnes & Noble to Apple and Kobo. Here's the synopsis:

Her psychic powers are fake, but the missing girl she needs to find is real.

Zandra is a renowned "psychic" who knows her abilities come from her wits, not anything supernatural. Her skills are put to the ultimate test when the police turn to Zandra after the search for a missing girl goes cold. But there's a catch. The girl's wealthy father was the prime suspect in the unsolved murder of Zandra's husband years ago.

Can Zandra put aside her grudge for the sake of a missing child? Or is this the perfect opportunity for revenge?

I'm hoping this novel becomes the first in a series. There's certainly plenty of inspiration for it. Part of Zandra's character is based on a "real" psychic from Stevens Point, Wisconsin, where I used to live. This person apparently slept with clients' wallets to bring them financial luck. Of course, those wallets didn't always make it back to their owners. This took place during the height of the recession, so this psychic's victims were probably desperate as all hell. To the surprise of no one, this psychic eventually skipped town.

With Glass Eye, I wanted to explore what would happen if the police tapped such a "psychic" to help with a high-profile case. How long could the scam go on? And could the same skills that make someone a great "psychic," like being able to notice little details, also be applied toward clever detective work? The idea percolated in my head for years before I finally pulled the trigger on the novel.

Zandra isn't as evil as that Stevens Point psychic, but she's no saint, either. Part of the fun of writing Glass Eye is the way she slips between hero and villain. That back and forth is what makes her one of the most fleshed out characters I've ever written.

I hope you'll pick up a copy of Glass Eye. The e-book on sale now for $2.99, which is less than the average palm reading. Go for it, slice.

Should Characters Use Sugar to Heal Gun/Knife Wounds?

Posted on March 24, 2015 at 7:00 AM Comments comments (0)

TLDR: Using sugar is old school, but it can be effective for minor injuries. Modern characters would likely use a commercial coagulent and antibiotics.

That same Facebook conversation I mentioned in the post about "digging out the bullet" also brought up the topic of sugar. A trick from back in the day involved packing a wound with sugar. Apparently, this came up in the movie Shooter, where an injured character dumped sugar into a wound. (I only have the gist of what happened, I haven't actually seen Shooter.)

As it turns out, packing granulated sugar (the white stuff, not brown sugar) over a wound can keep the injury dry, helping to decrease healing time. It's the same concept behind Band-Aid bandages with the absorbant pad under the adhesive. Sugar can also help coagulate blood to stop bleeding. 

However, the sugar trick is some seriously old school ditch medicine, and works best on minor injuries. For a more serious wound, applying pressure is the better bet to stop the bleeding, not dumping in a handful of sugar, followed by legit antibiotics. Stopping the bleeding is always step one with injuries, as Dr. James Hubbard, MD, writes in my favorite ditch medicine book, the Living Ready Pocket Manual: First Aid. (Disclaimer: we publish this at my work, so I'm biased, but I still reference this thing a ton.)

If a character is in a modern setting with access to a First Aid kit, chances are good he/she would use a coagulating sponge, pad or powder. QuikClot is one of the most popular on the civilian market, although I believe the technology started out in the military. It stops the bleeding in a snap. For $17 on Amazon, it might not be a bad idea to keep some around the house. 

P.S. If you're short on sugar, research shows honey is another option to help with healing times.

With thanks to writer bud Laura Roberts for the conversation. All images via Amazon.

Have you pre-ordered my new crime novel, Glass Eye, yet? It's about a renowned psychic who knows her "powers" are a scam, but has to find a missing girl. You can pick it up for $1.99 for a limited time while it's on pre-order.

On Writing Guns - Should Characters "Dig Out" Bullet Injuries?

Posted on March 23, 2015 at 7:00 AM Comments comments (0)

Photo via Wikimedia



Not having been shot by a gun (thankfully), I’m a little naive in the department of gunshot injuries. However, a Facebook conversation the other day brought up the topic of characters treating gunshot wounds. Books, movies and TV shows will often depict a character “digging out the bullet” before wrapping up the wound.


This makes for great thematics, but I always doubted the practicality of digging out the bullet first. It turns out I’m right (self-high five), according to one of my favorite sources for ditch medicine, the Living Ready Pocket Manual: First Aid (disclaimer: we publish this at my work, and you should go buy it right now).


The author, Dr. James Hubbard, MD, recommends forgetting about the bullet until the wounded person (or character, in this case) can get to a hospital for proper assessment and treatment. Instead, focus on stopping the bleeding (apply pressure/coagulant), treating the wounded for shock (keep warm with blankets) and monitoring symptoms for relaying to a real doctor.


Hubbard has this to say about “digging out the bullet” ahead of real medical treatment:


In most circumstances, you don’t want to remove an implanted bullet. It’s almost impossible to find, and it may actually be corking up a big blood vessel.

Thousands of military members live with shrapnel in their bodies every day. Unless there’s initial infection from the wound itself, the body adapts to most metal without much serious problem.

The exact thing happened to Dick Moonlight, novelist Vincent Zandri's PI character. A shard of bullet left over from a botched suicide attempt remained in the titular character's head, causing him to black out at inconvenient moments. It's suggested the doctors can't remove the shard without killing him. Moonlight may be a work of fiction, but that's pretty close to reality.


If you enjoyed this post, remember to sign up for my free e-newsletter. You’ll also want to pre-order my book from Writer’s Digest about writing guns and knives in fiction. And if you’re wishing there were one more way to give me your money, you can pre-order my new crime novel, Glass Eye, here.

An E-Book Cover Designer Doing It Right

Posted on March 2, 2015 at 6:45 AM Comments comments (0)

Paper and Sage Design Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you Paper & Sage, which I consider to be the best e-book cover designing service I've encountered. I liked it so much that I put down my own money to get a cover created. I can't reveal the cover just quite yet (it's for a secret project), but you can take my word that the final product was up to snuff. The cover wouldn't look out of place next to anything you'd find in a bookstore.

When I went hunting for e-book cover designers, I found most sites fall into one of two categories. Either they offered inexpensive pre-made covers that looked just as cheap, or they offered a full service designer way out of my regular-person-living-in-the-real-world budget.

Paper & Sage is a little different. You choose from pre-made covers at a reasonable price, then hand the reins over to a designer who will make tweaks according to your specifications (colors, verbiage, fonts). If you need several big changes, Paper & Sage offers a custom package for a higher price.

This arrangement means you can get the benefits of a one-on-one designer experience at the cost of a pre-made cover service. Even better, once a cover is sold, it won't be offered again.

Paper & Sage didn't prod me to write this review. I did it on my own because the people doing things right deserve to be recognized. And Paper & Sage is definitely worth your dollars.

Click here to visit Paper & Sage.

On Writing Guns - How Loud is a Silencer?

Posted on February 24, 2015 at 7:50 AM Comments comments (2)

Building on this post debunking pillows used as silencers, here's a handy chart detailing the noise levels of silenced (aka "suppressed") firearms. This is excerpted from an infographic from Silencerco.

The takeaway: silencers/suppressors aren't as convenient as fiction would like to think. Get creative in those stealthy scenes. What other ways are there to be silent but deadly? (er, wait...)

If you're having a hard time reading that chart, here's the breakdown (in decibels).


  • Library whisper - 30 db
  • Emergency vehicle siren - 115 db
  • Silenced .22 rifle - 116 db
  • Thunder - 120 db
  • Silenced 9mm pistol - 125 db
  • Dish breaking - 129 db
  • Jackhammer - 130 db
  • Silenced .223 rifle - 134 db
  • Silenced 12 gauge shotgun - 137 db
  • Jet taking off - 150 db
  • Non-silenced 12 gauge shotgun - 160 db
  • Non-silenced .223 rifle - 165 db

Pre-order my book, Weapons for Writers, here from Amazon