Sunday, December 2, 2012

Raw Vengeance

Author: Josh Handrich
Genre: Political Thriller
How long it's been on sale: Dec. 2011
Current price: $1.29
Marketing: Blog updated every 2-3 weeks, Facebook, Twitter, business cards, union website (over 2,000 pilots), Goodreads, was reviewed by Eric Swett at (the other three reviewers never responded to inquiries), I redid the blurb and cover.
Total sold so far: Approx. 50
Link to book on Amazon: Raw Vengeance (The Rich Fordham Series)

Product Description:

A reporter bent on making a name for himself...

A plot to kill a candidate running for President...

A teenage boy betrayed by his own mother and bullied by thugs...

Is it all worth the sacrifice?

Rookie Chicago television reporter, Rich Fordham, is determined to become a war correspondent. To do so, he must prove himself. When his coverage of a school shooting has racial and political implications, his decision to get involved could cost him his career and his life.

Set in 2001, the events of 9/11 have a profound impact on Rich.  He wants to make a name for himself and needs to be distinguishable from fierce competition. The only person that stands in his way is veteran reporter, Wayne Vale.

Chicago mayor Shantell Cogan is planning to run for President on the republican ticket. Her problem child, Tyler, is entering high school. He is confronted the first day of class because he is different--and later for being gay.
The story takes a provocative look at bullying, racism, homosexuality, and the media.

A Political Thriller.  A Novella

First 300 Words:

Sweltering, sticky, Guam-like heat and humidity—just another September heat wave in Chicago—made it impossible to get comfortable. During the bitter cold winter months of snow, ice, and wind, people tended to behave and tough it out. People helped each other. But when the heat rose, so did their tempers. During the summer of 2001, the violent crime rate had grown exponentially in the south side and showed no signs of abating. To Patrol Officer Wes Kines, that meant nothing good ever happened.

In the Chicago Police Department’s Sixty-Fourth Precinct, it wasn’t even Monday at noon, but the drab four-level building had filled with its usual offenders: A bleached-blond woman in her forties, dressed in a pink tube top and fish net stockings, put up a fuss over being charged with reckless driving and resisting arrest. A twenty-something white male sporting a Bulls jersey and an assortment of religious tattoos was led off in cuffs for beating his girlfriend unconscious. Most were repeat offenders.

A mix of detective and patrol officers tended to arrest warrants and jail bookings. Two officers were in a heated discussion about rumors circulating over the mayor’s proposed budget cuts.
Wes kept himself busy by filling out paperwork on a DUI arrest of a heavy-set sixty-year-old blonde with coffee-stained teeth and nappy hair who kept making coffee and donut jokes thinking they were clever and original. It was difficult to focus on work when his mind was preoccupied with the rumors.
After eighteen years on the force, Wes doubted the long-term sustainability of his career. His annual pay had already been slashed twenty-five percent. His 401K was almost worthless. His alimony and child support drained what little he had left after drinking. Every week he had to pull doubles and work weekends with no days off, and he was still unable to make ends meet.

Comments: The cover looks good to me, but it does not say political thriller. To me, it says it's a regular thriller. I'd look at some other political thrillers to get an idea of some symbols you can have on here that would indicate it's a political thriller. The White House, a flag, red white and blue, those kinds of things will tell the reader right away this is a political thriller. This is a must, if you are to draw in the right audience.

The description seems disjointed to me. A plot to kill a candidate running for President...yes, that says "Political Thriller" to me. A reporter that knows, and must stop it? Yes, political thriller. A teen that goes on a shooting spree in school? Wait, what? What does that have to do with the political thriller? And we've got 9/11, racism, bullying and gay bashing thrown in there too. This seems like quite the melting pots of storylines. And then we find out it's a novella. Really? Novellas are not just short novels. They have fewer characters, fewer plot lines, less intricate stories. This does not sound like a novella to me. It sounds like a mess. Sorry, but the description isn't working at all for me. And it makes me wonder if the whole novella needs to be revamped.

The beginning of the book only further confuses me, because we are now introduced to yet another character, one that isn't even in the description. I would assume the main character would be in the description, so this officer must not be a main character. Again, I'm confused as to how he fits in with the story of a political thriller, and how it all works into a novella length book.

My advice would be first to figure out if this story is a political thriller. It's looking like maybe that's not what this is. I would next find a cover that fits the story. Then I would rewrite the description, focusing on the main character and his or her struggles. If the story has major structure issues, I would go back to the drawing board and work through those before trying to sell it. Maybe join a critique group to see if the story itself needs to be reworked. As it looks to me, just with what has been presented here, it looks like the story itself needs a lot of work. But I would definitely get the opinion of a critique group that knows story structure and how to fix issues like this.

What do you guys think?


  1. Both the description and the beginning of the book confused me. In both cases, the author seems to be trying too hard (sharing too much) from the smaller, seasonal details to things readers might not really care about.

    I understand that it's after 9/11, but why should I, as a reader, care abut how warm the summer was? There is a lot of purple prose in there that should get cut.

    I need to be honest, I stopped reading after the second paragraph. Nothing in those two paragraphs was interesting enough for me to keep going.

    It looks like we start with backstory. That said, I think the author needs to reconsider the beginning. Throw us right into the action and cut out all the fat.

    The plot you seem to have planned based on the book blurb is much too long for a novella, unless you're going to do something like Disney and just give us a glimpse of every plot point.

    I can know for sure, of course, but it does feel like it needs a lot of work.

    Read through it. Read it aloud. After every sentence, ask yourself 'is this important to the plot?' If you answer no, then cut it and go from there.

  2. Political thrillers aren't my thing, so I'm not really sure what elements are supposed to go into one. Reading this from the eyes of a person who is ignorant/new to political thrillers, I agree about the points made. As I read the excerpt, I got confused. I thought this book was about a television reporter named Rich. But instead, I am immediately introduced to a character that wasn't even mentioned in the blurb. The first chapter needs to feature the main character (or at least, mention him) so we're not confused.

  3. I agree that you have way too many characters and way too much going on in your blurb. You don't have to tell the reader everything -- you just want to give them enough to entice them into reading more. The book sounds really confusing from the blurb.

    I also agree that a critique group or some critical beta readers or a professional development editor (not a copy editor or proofreader, but an editor who will help with story) would be a good idea. Your first 500 words are the most important words in the book (second most important are the last 500). The weather, followed by a bored cop thinking about his 401K, is not a compelling way to start.

    I hope this is helpful not just rude, but I actually would not read past your first paragraph. Weather is a boring way to open a story, and the "crime rises in the summer heat wave" is such a cliche. I might not even make it past the first line, because of "heat" being used twice. Word repetition is one of the easy identifiers of a book that's not been edited, and these days, I've gotten much warier about wasting my time. It's not that the word repetition alone is significant, but unedited books are also likely to have plot holes, character inconsistencies, and other sloppy elements that will frustrate me instead of being a satisfying reading experience.

    That said, you put together good sentences and your use of imagery is strong. You should persevere. Good luck!

  4. I've seen this cover before. Have you been featured on this blog previously?

    Cover: very thriller-ish. A bit generic, but I don't think that this is holding you back.

    Blurb: Very, very, very disjointed. We have three people who don't seem to have any common thread to join them into a coherent story. We have all of the issues of modern life tossed in. Actually, from the blurb I get the feeling that this is a short story collection of three different stories about three different characters about completely different issues. And it's a novella?

    Toss out and start over. The blurb needs to give us sense of a coherent story, and a character (one, not three).

    Sample: Continues in the same vein as the blurb. We're introduced to yet another character. The entire sample is told in a very stand-offish, impersonal, narrating kind of way. I agree with Victorine. This needs a lot of focusing and reworking.

    From what's presented here, I don't think the book has a good handle on plot or POV.

  5. From the title, I got thriller, but I didn't get that feeling from the cover. I didn't get political thriller from either the cover or the blurb.

    Too much going on in the blurb and then when I got to the first 300, there was even more going on and whatever action there was, didn't seem to relate to the blurb.

    I agree with everyone else that there are too many plots for a novella. I can't see that all those plot lines will be resolved in the short form.

    Before reworking the cover and the blurb, I would think about the story and what's important to it.

  6. Funny thing - I've seen this cover before (in thumbnail) and I always thought it was a submarine. Now I can see that it's a city.

    I agree with the other comments. From the blurb, it seems that 'Rich' is the main character, yet the book starts out with 'Wes' who is never mentioned in the blurb.

    The first 300 words do nothing for me. It seems very distant, like some narrator is standing off to the side and telling us about 'Wes'.

  7. The beginning--you're telling me about the weather. You have to suck people in fast if you want them to keep reading. Even dramatic weather won't do that. People having a conflict about the weather (for example) will.

  8. I like the cover. My first impression was suspense/crime novel. I'm not sure if that is political thriller or not, but the cover wouldn't prevent me from picking up the book if suspense/crime was my preference.

    The product description has a lot of redundancies and is a bit unfocused. Might want to consider streamlining the information. Maybe focus on just one character. Also the thought, "Not another 9/11 book" crossed my mind.

    First 300 words. The first sentence was a bit of a turn off for me. It's put together in a way that makes me have to reread it. I probably wouldn't read past the second paragraph though. It's too busy. This person doing that; that person doing this. None of it's relevant to the story. It doesn't really pull me in.

    I also wonder why Wes isn't mentioned in the description.


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.