Friday, October 21, 2011

Before/After: "Spanking the Teacher"

Today's before-and-after is the first erotica blurb I've doctored (cue the "let's play doctor" jokes now, let's just get it over with). It's for Spanking the Teacher (NSFW) by Lane Masters. Lane won a contest at, and here's what we came up with. Because this is NSFW, I'm putting a break in. (No naughty words, but definitely some naughty concepts.)

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Before/After: "My Name Is Joe"

Today's blurb before-and-after is for Stefan Bourque's contemporary fiction novel "My Name Is Joe," and this time it didn't work out quite the way the author and his marketer/wife Holly wanted it. Sometimes that happens.

I'm sharing it (with permission) even though it looks like they're not going to use what I gave them. And that's okay--it's your book, folks. My way may not be the right way for you, or may be a way that you think still needs serious tweaking. Holly says, "You helped us see our title in a different light. ... You did bring a perspective that we hadn't been looking at before, and sometimes that is just what is needed."

I try to make the client 100% happy with what we come up with, but sometimes it doesn't work out. I'm not offended, nor are they wrong; it's their book, and they know it best. Here's what I came up with.


In what has been called a masterpiece of emotion, Stefan Bourque's "My Name Is Joe" has been celebrated by readers around the world as an inspiring tale and a reminder of the great capacity for human kindness.

Joe, a quiet and introspective loner has discovered he will soon cease to exist due to an aggressive, incurable cancer. Lonesome in his final days and after long contemplation he decides to do something that he has never thought to do before--Joe decides to reach out to his fellow man in an effort to teach others the valuable lesson he is learning before it is too late.

With a single act of kindness Joe inadvertently pulls toward him a young, single mother who carries her own deep-seated guilt for the death of her mother.

Can these two wayward souls find the redemption that they each so desperately need before time and death separate them? This is a tale of compassion, redemption and the deliverance that can only be achieved through the courage and love that human beings possess but too infrequently share.


Joe is dying. An aggressive cancer is killing him, and he's avoided personal entanglements so successfully that he's dying alone. He now realizes the life he built was all online, right down to the virtual pink slip for his work-at-home job. And all around him he sees his neighbors doing exactly the same. Even the children have stopped playing in the streets, ignoring the world around them for the anonymous safety of online games and virtual contact.

Rebecca is living, but barely. Guilt over the death of her mother is hollowing her out inside, and she struggles to mother her own young son alone.

Joe decides to start connecting with his neighbors and to help them connect with one another. When he and Rebecca meet, they both come to see that his dying may mean salvation for both of them--if they can muster the courage to trust one another.

Want me to help with your blurb? I can do that.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Before and After: "Fezariu's Epiphany"

David Brown came to me looking for help with the blurb for the first novel in his interconnected-but-standalone series, "The Elencheran Chronicles." This is what he has to say about working with me:

"People seemed to like 'Fezariu's Epiphany' when they read it but getting them to read it was proving difficult to say the least.  I knew my blurb was weak but I didn't realise how much stronger it could be until I contacted Mei.

"Mei impressed me so much: she was thorough, asked lots of questions and it was clear she wanted to get to grips with the story before finalising a blurb.  The outcome was a much more enticing blurb that sells the book in a way the previous one couldn't.

"I wouldn't hesitate to contact Mei again if I was having blurb problems. This isn't blurb medicine - it's blurb magic!"

Gosh, thanks, David! I dunno if it's magic, but I'm glad I could help.

Here are the before(s)-and-after--David sent me two different blurb attempts.

Before #1:
The White Oak, Clarendon's oldest brothel, lured and destroyed men by the thousands. Fezariu was different. He had never been drawn by the White Oak's vices but the brothel had still ruined him when he was just a boy.

Salvation came in the form of the Merelax Mercenaries - Elenchera's most prestigious hired hands. They gave Fezariu the chance to escape from his past. Immersed in the world of dangerous assignments in the colonies Fezariu longed to forget everything about his childhood but only in facing the past would he ever be free of it.

Before #2:
Suffering a betrayal as a young boy, Fezariu turns his back on his family. Convinced their way of life will help him leave his past behind, he joins the Merelax Mercenaries. In a quest to prove himself and survive his dangerous assignments in the Colonies, he's forced to forge new alliances but works hard to distance himself emotionally. Despite his determined focus to move on his thoughts are drawn back to Clarendon where the White Oak, an infamous brothel, holds the secret to his past and the childhood friend he abandoned still remains.

13-year-old Fezariu thought his mother died when he was little, but when his beloved stepfather dies the boy discovers she is alive and well--and working at the most famous brothel in all of Elenchera. When she cruelly rejects him it's more than he can bear, and he runs away to join a band of ruthless soldiers for hire. The Merelax Mercenaries will fight for anyone who can pay them, no matter the justice of the cause.

Fezariu grows up among the soldiers and becomes one of them. He thinks his time with the mercenaries has hardened him. But a campaign in his old home town pushes him too far, and he discovers what really happened to his mother. Maybe there are some things money shouldn't buy...and maybe it's time Fezariu took his revenge.

Want me to help with your blurb? I can do that.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Before and After: "Five Dances with Death"

This is one of the free reworkings I did at Kindleboards, this time for Austin Briggs and his book "Five Dances with Death." I'm really glad I got to work on this blurb because Austin's book is quite good (I bought it and am reading it now). Here's what he has to say about working with me:

"MeiLin's re-writing of my blurb has been fantastic. While others criticized my original version, she simply offered me a revised text. This is a dramatic improvement, and the new blurb has been praised by quite a few people. It's elegant and to the point. Looking forward to seeing the increased sales!"

Thanks Austin! I hope you get 'em, because you deserve 'em.

Here's Austin's original blurb:

Death is never far for Angry Wasp.

His daughter lost to slavers, his wife immersed in powerful sorcery and his nation embroiled in Montezuma’s bitter war and under threat of encroaching Spanish invasion, Angry Wasp faces the battle of a lifetime.

To regain his family, save his nation from extinction and protect his very soul from dangers far more perilous than he dares admit, there is only one possible solution: a dance with Death, to the haunting melody of hope and loss.

Power, tragedy, and betrayal weave a desperate song of reckless gambles to gain salvation, with every battle drawing Wasp deeper into life-threatening events and crucial choices. One wrong decision... and he loses it all.

When the music ceases and the dead are counted, will Angry Wasp hold the key to his daughter's freedom? Or will he have led his proud nation to its ultimate collapse...

This is my reworking, which Austin decided to use pretty much verbatim:

In the days before the Conquistadors, Angry Wasp is fighting to keep his family and his small Aztec nation alive. Slavers have kidnapped his daughter. His wife has turned to powerful sorcery. His people have challenged Montezuma’s dominance and now face extinction. The Spaniards have begun their march inland. Now Wasp must rely on his military prowess, wit and even dark magic to regain his family and protect the independence of his nation, as he begins a desperate journey that will forever change the fate of the Aztec people.

Want me to help with your blurb? I can do that.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Before and After: "The Far Kingdom (Volumes of the Silver Leaf I)"

Say hello to E.W. Saloka, my first client and author of The Far Kingdom (Volumes of the Silver Leaf I). Here's what she had to say about the experience:

"I really like the way you crafted our blurb by asking those basic questions. It made us get to the nuts and bolts of our book and not over think it so much. (I think most writers probably do this and without realizing and  confuse their prospective reader.) You put a different spin on the description and made it sound quite epic. Showing us the 'before' errors was like a light bulb moment,  all I can say is I see it now. Thanks ever so much, Mei."

Thank you, E.W. :) So here are the before-and-afters.


It's quite a shock to 15 year old Zachary Wellington when he learns that his father, who had been missing for several years was in a far off land when he was murdered.. Soon he and his grandfather find themselves whisked away one winter night to unlock the secrets to his mysterious disappearance. Their journey truly begins when the meet the kind and generous wizard Faazen at Castle Dragmar.. Dangers then unfold for the pair as they become the unwitting targets of the Ice Wizard Rianor, who appears to have an evil agenda of his own. However exciting adventure beckons as Zach finds himself swept up, riding the wind in the Dragon Masters Championship. Meet intelligent dragons, endearing creatures and unlikely champions who challenge themselves,unleashing their inner warrior and finding the hero that lies within. Find courage, honor, and something worth fighting for. Come live the magic that is Brandiss-Dor.


Fifteen-year-old Zach Wellington has lived with his grandfather Thomas since his archaeologist father disappeared years before. Now his dad has turned up dead. A letter in his pocket says he was trapped all these years in a parallel world where magic is real--hard for Zach to believe, until a winged horse appears out of nowhere and whisks both Wellingtons away to Brandiss-Dor, the land where Zach's father died.

Zach wants to discover who murdered his father. Instead, he's pulled into a tug of war between wizards over a powerful medallion that will decide the fate of two worlds: Brandiss-Dor, and our own.

"The Far Kingdom" is the first volume of the new epic fantasy series "Volumes of the Silver Leaf."

Want me to help with your blurb? I can do that.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Top Blurb No-Nos

Struggling with your blurb? Who isn't! Sometimes all you need is to go through and prune out the "blurb no-no's." Here are some of mine, in no particular order.

Fintoozler Syndrome*
Fantasy writers especially have trouble with Fintoozler Syndrome; it's when you have so many weird words in your blurb that no one has any idea what you're talking about. Made-up example:

When the Wizards of Z'mesdhal find the Slati'shfiker of Gromaldi, young Fergalush Hornshub is thrust into a desperate race to save the land of Dhariq'ween.

(Oh yeah, extra points for lots of apostrophes.) Here's a cleaned-up version of the above that tells the reader all s/he needs to know--and no more:

When a group of evil wizards finds a powerful stone, young Fergalush Hornshub must race against time to save his people.

Yeah, I know, it's not a great story, but I'm not writing a book here, I'm writing a blurb. ;)

Non-fantasy writers can also fall into this trap by throwing too many names and/or places at the reader all at once. Keep it simple. If we need to know a character's American, for example, we don't need to know what city s/he's from unless that's absolutely critical for understanding what the story's about.

*"Fintoozler" is a word the guys at Mystery Science Theater 3000 used to use whenever they were throwing in a Dr Seuss reference. The More You Know.

Show Stoppers
These are words that will stop your blurb stone dead in its tracks. "However" and "unfortunately" are the big offenders. Never use them. "But" usually suffices. Read your blurb out loud; the Show Stoppers will pop out at you like whoa. No, I mean literally. Whoa.

Dependent Clauses
These almost fall under Show Stoppers. They stop your blurb dead in its tracks, all right, but they're a special kind of evil all their own. Don't get me wrong. I like a dependent clause as much as the next writer--sparingly and in its place. Blurbs are rarely that place. Made-up example:

Fergalush Hornshub, who works as a carpenter in the land of Dhariq'ween, which is under attack, is scared.

Nope. Try:

Carpenter Fergalush Hornshub is scared. His homeland is under attack.

Big Man Movie Voice
Any phrase the Big Man Movie Voice would say does not belong in your blurb. Examples:

In a world where wizards are evil...

Little did did Fergalush know...!

Fergalush's whole world is about to change!

Don't do that.

...which is my cute way of saying, don't use exclamation points in your blurb. Ever.

Speling Airs
Misspelled words in your blurb strangle your book sale in its cradle, and spell check is not enough. If the word is supposed to be "plane" and you write "plain," spell check will not pick it up. At the least have a good-spelling friend take a look for typos and misspellings.

Shorter is better, but don't go too short. Tell the reader what s/he needs to know, but don't get into back story or too much detail.

Tour Guide Voice
Don't list out your book's attributes like you're holding a mic in your hand, pointing to celebrity homes from an open air bus. The reader wants to make up his own mind about your book. Examples:

You'll meet plucky Fergalush Hornshub, the mysterious archer Alberor But'tquetok and the beautiful but angry thief Krathanoalogya Smith.

Come be enchanted by the fantastical land of Dhariq'ween!

It's a non-stop laugh riot!

Put down the mic, get off the bus.

In a world where these are some of the worst offenders... 
I reserve the right to add to this list later! :)

What are the big no-no's you've noticed?

Bad Blurb? I Can Help

You've written your opus. It's fabulous! Your editor says it's great, your beta readers rave, everyone loves it.

And you can't write a blurb for it to save your life.

Don't feel bad! Blurb-writing is one of the suckiest parts of being an independent. It's really hard to write blurbs for yourself. (Ask me how I know.)

That's why I'm here. I can help.

What I can do for you:
  • Make your blurb better.
  • Give you feedback to help make your next blurb better even without me.
What I can't do for you:
  • Edit your book. Contact my buddy Annetta "Netta the Eddita" Ribken. She'll do a bang-up job for you.
  • Read your book and come up with a blurb from scratch. You have to give me your best run at a blurb. There are blurb writers who will do that for you, but I guarantee they cost way more than I do.
  • Guarantee better book sales. If I could guarantee that, I'd be a rich woman right now.
I would like to feature the before-and-after blurbs for your book on this site if you'll let me, along with a link to your book on Amazon, of course!

I charge $25 per blurb.  Click the "buy now" button to get started.

By hiring me, you agree that you do not expect any additional traffic or sales as a result of my work. In return, I agree that you own the words we work on together.