Friday, March 30, 2012

A before/after of mine own: "Son in Sorrow"

Today's before/after is one of my own--the second book in my Intimate History series, Son in Sorrow. I don't have a blurb doctor I can turn to, so I turned to for feedback. Here's what we did together:

Two years ago, Prince Temmin risked everything when he took Supplicancy in the Lovers' Temple. His father opposed him, swearing it would fulfill a prophecy signalling the end of the monarchy. For his disobedience, Temmin is now estranged from his family.

He's beginning to wonder if he made the right choice. Temple life is filled with love both physical and spiritual. But exclusive, possessive love is forbidden and Temmin's love is the most forbidden of all: Allis, the human host of the goddess Neya. Temmin knows he must conquer his emotions or face the potentially deadly fury of the Lovers, but his own need and pride stand in his way.

Then a murder strikes at Temmin's very soul. He turns for help to the magic book of his ancestors, searching for answers to his desire for revenge, and for a woman he mustn't love.

Set in a Victorianesque world of magic, sexuality, political intrigue and military conquest, Son in Sorrow is the second book in the epic fantasy series An Intimate History of the Greater Kingdom.

Prince Temmin incurred his father's wrath when he took Supplicancy in the Lovers' Temple; his devotion to the Gods outweighed his father's rage. Now he faces a greater challenge: his forbidden love for Allis, the human host of the goddess Neya. If he doesn't conquer his emotions, he may bring the Lovers' deadly fury down on them both--but pride and desire stand in his way. When a murder rips his greatest support from him, Temmin turns to the magic book of his ancestors to find answers to his need both for revenge and for a woman he must not love.

All the while, enemies inside and outside the kingdom are plotting against the monarchy, and the gods prove once again they are no one's friends.

Set in a Victorianesque world of magic, sexuality, political intrigue and military conquest, Son in Sorrow is the second book in the epic fantasy series An Intimate History of the Greater Kingdom.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

New before/after: "Before the Daisies Grow"

Today's before/after is Micki Street's comic romance, "Before the Daisies Grow," which, by the way, is free today at Amazon! Here's what we did together.

Toss the bloomers, get a bikini wax and slip into a thong: life begins at sixty-ish.

Dotty, Wilma and Nora accept Lucas’s invitation to holiday on the island of Brazzina, but have no idea of the dangers they face. Unbeknown to them, he is a drug baron with an ulterior motive.

A chance meeting with Major Milestone, a yummy gentleman, has Dotty’s hormones doing the tango. Sadly for her, he has to rebuff her amorous advances when he learns their holiday plans coincide with his covert military operation on the island. As duty comes first, his priorities are to capture Lucas, crack his cartel and destroy the island’s poppy plantations. To achieve his mission, he has to secretly provide protection for the women. What he doesn’t reckon on is Dotty’s discovery of his protection and her launching a harebrained escape plan that turns his well ordered plans into a circus. When truth prevails, red-faced Dotty schemes how to woo Milestone for her ulterior motives: failing which, her high-speed vibrator will have to suffice.

Toss the bloomers, get a bikini wax and slip into a thong: life begins at sixty!

When sixty-something Dotty and her two friends accept an invitation to a holiday on a west African island, they have no idea their host Lucas is a drug lord using them as cover. Nor does Dotty have any idea that her new acquaintance, the delicious Major Ramsay Milestone, has an ulterior motive, too--he's there on a covert mission to break up Lucas's operation.

Covert or not, Dotty finds out and quickly gets her wires crossed. Even though the Major's making her hormones do the tango, she's convinced he's the bad guy. But in her harebrained attempts to "rescue" herself and her friends she makes things worse for everyone but Lucas. When she learns the truth she not only has to clean up her mess: she has to make it up to--and hopefully make out with--the Major, or be left alone with her trusty vibrator.

Need help with your blurb? I'm here for you!

Friday, March 16, 2012

New before/after: "Tritium Gambit"

Today's before/after is Erik Hyrkas's comic science fiction novel Tritium Gambit, the first in his series Max and Miranda. This was something of a toughie; depending on how you squint, it's either an "actioner" with lots of comedy, or a comedy with lots of action. We wanted to catch the one but not lose the other.

Here's what Erik says about going through the blurb process with me:

I couldn't have found anybody better to help me with a blurb for my book.  I spent dozens of hours of frustration on my own, and more hours consulting other writers, friends, and family, but without you, I couldn't have found the right blurb.
Thanks, Erik! It was fun working with you. Take a look at what Erik and I did together:

--Oh wait! You should know that Erik sent me forty--40!--different attempts at his blurb! I'll spare you the forty; this is the one he was using when he hired me:


The best agents examine their briefs before a harrowing mission. Max waits until his briefs need to be washed.

He wakes up this morning hungry for bacon and eggs. Instead, he’s served an aromatic pile of opportunity. The prestigious record he set this year might be the culprit: he's lost the most partners to intergalactic predators. His new partner, Miranda, is considering a career change, which may help her live longer.

Sometimes your greatest enemy isn't the forty foot alien chewing your arm, but you have to start somewhere.

Intergalactic Secret Service Agent Maximus Anderson is a trouble magnet. Oh, he's fine, but every single one of his former partners is either dead, disabled, or permanently stinks of Krylian boar spray.

Fresh-out-of-the-Academy Agent Miranda Smith thinks she's hot stuff, but she's already lost her first partner and is headed toward trouble magnet territory herself.

Now, in hopes the two nuisances will kill each other off, the ISS has paired Max and Miranda up to investigate possible alien activity in a galactic backwater called Minnesota. Something seems to be lunching on the locals, and that something may have hotwired a military spaceship with enough firepower to level a city.

The closer Max and Miranda get to solving the mystery, the harder it becomes to resist their pesky romantic attraction—and stay off the menu themselves. Max will tell you, it's tough to crack a case with a giant alien chewing on your arm.

Tritium Gambit is the first in the comic science fiction series Max and Miranda.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

New before/after: "The Emerald City"

Today's before/after is J.A. Beard's "The Emerald City," an urban fantasy story set in Seattle and loosely based on "The Wizard of Oz."

In this loose re-imagining of the Wizard of Oz, Kansas teen Gail Dorjee has tried to escape from the pain of her parents' death by retreating into a hard shell of anger and sarcasm.

When her aunt and uncle ship her off to an elite Seattle boarding school, Osland Academy, she spends her first day making enemies, including the school's most powerful clique, the Winged, and their leader, the ruthless Diana.

Social war and the school's uptight teachers are only mild annoyances. Mysterious phone outages, bizarre behavioral blocks, and strange incidents suggest Osland is focused on something much more sinister than education.

Now Gail has to survive at Osland with a pretty pathetic assortment of potential allies: her airhead roommate, a cowardly victim of the Winged, and maybe, just maybe, Diana's cold but handsome boyfriend, Nick.

When her parents die, teenager Gail Dorjee retreats into an angry, sarcastic shell. She hopes it will ease her pain, but all it gets her is a one-way trip from Kansas to a Seattle boarding school, the elite Osland Academy.

As soon as she arrives, Gail clashes with Diana, the leader of the school's most powerful clique. The Winged make Gail's life hell until she finds allies: her airhead roommate; a cowardly fellow victim of the Winged; and, bit by bit, Diana's boyfriend--the seemingly heartless Nick.

Gail soon has bigger problems than Diana. One of her teachers hates her. Glasses shatter and fountains erupt around her. She can't swear no matter how hard she tries. An unseen force is keeping her on campus. And worst of all, she uncovers a plot that will give one person a precious gift at the cost of thousands of lives. Now Gail and her friends must stop the plot--not just to save lives, but to win a brain, the nerve, a heart and a home in this modern urban fantasy take on "The Wonderful Wizard of Oz."

Monday, March 12, 2012

Spoiler Syndrome

I see it almost every day at A writer's looking for help with a blurb, but it's impossible to give. Why? I have no idea what the story's about. Blurb after blurb reads something like:

This guy [but I can't tell you his name] does something amazing [but I can't tell you what it is or what it does] that may change the world [but I can't tell you how]. Someone [but I can't tell you who] wants to do something else with the something amazing [but I can't tell you what that is]. It's a rollercoaster ride of suspense!

The only suspense is what the hell the book is about. Trust me, no one will buy that book to discover if it really is a rollercoaster of suspense. You haven't built interest with all the hanging questions in that blurb; you've deflected it.

"Yes," says the writer, "but I'm afraid to give too much of the story away." If this is what you're struggling with, friend, you have Spoiler Syndrome.

Studies have actually shown that getting spoiled doesn't ruin the enjoyment of the reader/viewer. Not that you should reveal the entire plot in your blurb, but don't hesitate to give people the essentials. In fact, you must give people more information than not.

A great rule Edward W. Robertson put forth at, partially paraphrased:
Any details in the first half of the book are fair game. If something unexpected happens in the first half, that's not a twist. That's a hook.
One way to break through Spoiler Syndrome: Write a draft of the blurb giving EVERYTHING away. All of it. Then pare it back until you have the basics of what the book is about.

Succumbing to Spoiler Syndrome will leave you with a mushy blurb, a blurb that gives no indication of what makes your story different or even what it's about. Look your blurb over and see if you need to give away more, not less.

More blurb-writing tips here.