Guns. Knives. Books.


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Gun Book Download Sale - Ends Today

Posted on October 31, 2014 at 9:55 AM Comments comments (0)

Heads up: We're having a sale of gun book downloads at my work (Gun Digest) that ends today. If you're at all interested in firearms and want to get into the nitty gritty on a topic, such as concealed carry or how snipers shoot, this is the one for you.

No coupon codes needed. Click here to go to and check it out.

What is an AR-15?

Posted on October 30, 2014 at 7:00 AM Comments comments (0)

What is an AR-15?

Image via Colt

I was enjoying a novel the other day until a character switched an AR-15 (pictured above) into fully automatic mode and started blasting away at bad guys. Thing is, AR-15s don’t have a full-auto mode. It’s time to clear the waters, because this is only one of the misconceptions.


AR-15s Are…


  • Semi-automatic rifles - Pull the trigger once and the rifle will shoot one time. There are no fire modes to switch in and out of, that’s all it does. Fully automatic is different from semi-automatic in that one pull of the trigger can equal multiple shots fired consecutively.
  • Both a model and a type - This seems tricky, but it’s not too confusing. Colt is the only company that can say it makes a genuine AR-15 (the model). However, other companies make AR-15 clones and put their own spin on them. In both cases, you could write AR-15 (or just AR) and still be accurate.
  • Customizable - AR-15s come ready to attach any number of accessories, which is part of the reason they’re popular.
  • Old - For as recent as AR-15s seem, Eugene Stoner actually designed the first one in the 1950s. The .223 caliber ammunition most often used in AR-15s (there are others) is also nothing new.


AR-15s Are Not…


  • Assault rifles - The “AR” stands for Armalite Rifle, not assault rifle. An assault rifle is capable of switching between different modes of fire, such as semi-automatic and fully automatic. The AR-15 can't do that, it's stuck in semi-auto mode.
  • Capable of using clips - The difference between clips and magazines is covered in a post here. AR-15s use magazines, not clips.



Why the Confusion? Blame the M16


The AR-15 shares a common lineage with the M16, the iconic U.S. military rifle in use since the 1960s. They both look similar, but appearances are often deceiving when it comes to firearms. The M16 can switch between modes of fire, from semi-auto to full-auto and back again. This is an M16 (image via Shutterstock).

 In the case of the book I was reading, this is where the author tripped up. The character’s firearm was called an AR-15, but functioned like an M16. The author in this case should’ve picked one and stuck with it, although the AR-15 is the more likely choice given the civilian character’s circumstance. M16s are hard to come by outside of the military.


If you enjoyed this article, please sign up for my free e-newsletter. Also check out my book, Weapons for Writers: A Practical Reference for Using Firearms and Knives in Fiction, when it hits next summer.

My Kindle Scout Campaign - First Impressions

Posted on October 29, 2014 at 1:20 AM Comments comments (0)

After one day of my mystery novel, The Invisible Hand, going live with a Kindle Scout campaign, a few things have become clear about Amazon’s latest publishing program.


The Good


* Titles are tagged with “New” or “Hot” inside Kindle Scout, helping readers decide what to look at for nominations. There’s a trending category, too.


* New additions and hot titles receive priority on the Kindle Scout homepage, helping with discoverability.


* Amazon doesn’t appear to be tinkering with the submissions all that much. I suppose this could be good or bad. A few typos slipped through on other submissions (bad), but my materials came out as clean as I submitted them (good). Authors are allowed to preview their campaign pages in advance to address any errors.


* Readers can nominate books using their normal Amazon account, which is convenient.


The Bad


* There’s no indication from Amazon on whether it will limit submissions. As of this writing, there are 28 titles in the Mystery/Thriller/Suspense genre, and around 61 total. Add in a few hundred more, and that’s a lot for readers (aka Scouts) to shift through.


* This feels like a soft launch. If Amazon is looking to make a splash and lure in readers, it's not trying too hard. The Facebook page for Kindle Scout has a whopping 34 Likes. The Kindle Scout Twitter handle sent out a total of one tweet as of this writing.


The Unknown


* Amazon doesn’t provide metrics to writers or readers on which titles are in first place, second place, etc. But it does seem to shelf titles according to some sort of logic. My novel, The Invisible Hand, made it into the “Hot” trending category after a pile of nominations from social media rolled in. Its position in that category changed throughout the day, so there must be an algorithm at work.


* Will this “American Idol” of e-books program pan out? Will we get a Carrie Underwood or a Lee DeWyze in the end? Who knows. But you can help me find out my nominating my novel.

P.S. Check out this rundown of Kindle Scout from a reader's perspective over at The Digital Reader.

P.P.S. My little Kindle Scout experiment was recently picked up by an Italian publishing website. I'm not sure what they're saying, but I'm sure it's [insert the Italian work for terrific here].

Thank You

Posted on October 28, 2014 at 6:40 PM Comments comments (0)

Thank you to everyone who nominated my crime novel, The Invisible Hand, on the first day of its Kindle Scout campaign. It jumped onto the Hot list right away and stayed there. We'll see what happens at the end of the 30-day campaign period, but the support offered today meant a lot to me. Thank you.


Kindle Scout - Your Help Needed

Posted on October 28, 2014 at 7:00 AM Comments comments (0)

Hey hey, it's Kindle Scout campaign time. I'm asking you to do three things for me:

  1. Go to the Kindle Scout campaign page for my crime novel, The Invisible Hand
  2. Sign up as a Kindle Scout reader if you haven't already (it's free, you just use your normal Amazon account)
  3. Nominate The Invisible Hand

By nominating my novel, you've giving me a shot at an Amazon publishing contract. If I wind up with one, you'll not only have helped make the day of this writer guy, you'll get the e-book on the house once it's published.

This campaign means a lot to me. I hope you'll click here to get started.

P.S. Let me know about your experience going through the nominating process, I'm curious. Leave me a comment below.