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Archived Workshop No New Posts > The dreaded blurb - help! (Urban/dark fantasy - third book in series)

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message 1: by Melanie (new)

Melanie Tomlin | 52 comments Once again I need some help refining a blurb. Why is it that blurbs are so hard to write? They are the bane of my existence! I would rather do a presentation in front of a large audience ... and that's saying something, given I'm an introvert.

Angel's Messiah is the third book in the Angel Series. They are urban/dark fantasy books, and continue the story of my protagonist, Helena, who is essentially a hybrid immortal — part earth-bound angel, part vampire.

I don't want to give too much away, but there is so much happening that I now feel the blurb may be a bit disjointed. Should I remove the 'Danizriel' paragraph? Okay, enough with the pre-blurb chit-chat, and on with the show ...


Helena is pregnant, and it's playing havoc with her unique abilities. Vampire blood makes her physically ill, one minute she's visible the next she's not, and she's suffering from blackouts.

During one of her blackouts a pack of werewolves find her and, at Satan's request, sends her back to hell.

Danizriel — a heavenly angel and Helena's husband — hears her call for help, yet he cannot set foot in Satan's domain. He asks Drake, an ancient vampire, and Helena's one-time lover, to rescue her.

The onset of labour sees Helena miraculously transported to biblical Eden, where Regina Malakh is finally born. Regina — Gina for short — is here to bring a message to the world, and to do so, she must live among the mortals ... though not everyone is happy to hear her message.

When things go wrong in the mortal world, Helena is consumed by a rage that doesn't bode well for the believers.

Someone's got to pay!

Many thanks in advance for your help!


message 2: by Melanie (new)

Melanie Tomlin | 52 comments The only sound in here is crickets chirping ... must be a long weekend up north and everyone's celebrating.


message 3: by Elmer (new)

Elmer Seward (elmerseward) | 1 comments Melanie, I'm not a fantasy fan and I also struggle with the "dreaded blurb." As such, I would take my suggestions with a grain of salt. I like your opening paragraph and I like the closing - "When things go wrong . . ." For the three paragraphs in between, i would probably give less detail and say something like, "Captive, Helena is carried on a journey into hell. Danizriel, powerless to help her, must turn to her former lover, Drake, as her only hope for salvation." Then maybe something like, "Helena is magically transported to biblical Eden during labour. Her newborn daughter, Gina, has been sent to deliver a message to the mortal world." So basically, I would leave out the details about how she gets to hell and the details of Gina's name. The readers will get those in the book. I'm not suggesting you use my language (because it still needs work). Just trying to give you an idea of how I might approach it. I hope this helps.


message 4: by Owen (new)

Owen O'Neill (owen_r_oneill) | 1509 comments Blurbs are so hard to write because we are authors, and don't tend to be ad writers.

My gut feel -- for what that's worth -- is that there's more info being presented here than really needed to grab the reader. As this is the 3rd book in the series, I suspect many prospective readers with know the characters and explanations for who Danizriel and (possibly) Drake aren't needed.

I am a bit confused about vampire blood making Helena ill? Is that something reader of the previous books would understand? I'm not sure if she drinking vampire blood, or it's her blood that's the problem?

I also got a bit lost about what happened with Drake's having to rescue her. Did he, or did going into labor "fix" things? (What was the nature of the "miracle"?) Is the message her child to carry somehow related to this?

Finally, I unclear on where Helena is while her daughter is in the mortal world (stuck in Eden for some reason?) and what's up with her husband, now that she's not in Hell.

Overall, you outline what appears to be a fairly complex and interesting story, but I'm not getting a firm sense of what the main conflict is. It seems to be Helena's daughter and her message, then there's the werewolves, Satan (wanting her back), vampire who is her Ex, and her husband? Maybe starting with the main conflict as the hook would be beneficial and then focusing just the details that support it?

I'm not confident I'm on the right track here, but I hope some of this is useful.


message 5: by K.C. (new)

K.C. Herbel (k_c_herbel) | 118 comments Melanie,
I agree with what Elmer and Own have said. It's a classic case of TMI, not enough "intrigue".
I would say something like:
(1st P) "... The vampire blood of her child is killing her."
(2nd P) "When she finds herself dragged back to Hell, who can rescue her? Can Danizriel, her angel-husband? What about her former lover, the ancient vampire, Drake?" (BTW, is Drake the father?)
(3rd P) "Helena knows that the child within her womb is a prophet(ess) with a message to the world. Even her birth is heralded by signs and wonders. But will her birth bring bright promises for mankind or doom? And what of the believers?" (I don't think it's important at this time to name the child. Your readers/fans want to know about Helena and will want to learn about the child as they read, even her name. I say make them curious.)
(4th P) "When things go wrong in the mortal world (Can you be more specific without giving away too much? Is she betrayed? Is her child rejected? In this instance a little detail might help hook us in. "...things go wrong..." sound like someone got her coffee order wrong.) "Helena is consumed by a rage that doesn't bode well for the believers." (Again, perhaps something more specific than "consumed by a rage". Does she threaten something? Will she destroy mankind? the world?)
(last line) "Someone's got to pay!" (Even "the believers"? Not being familiar with your story, what believers? Who/what do they believe? Helena? God? That the moon landings were faked?...I assume your readers know what this means, but for the rest of us, a hint might be good.) Back to "Someone's got to pay!" It maybe a little passive. Perhaps it could be improved by making Helena the actor: "(And) Helena will make them pay!" "Helena will make everyone wish they hadn't been born!" (too cliché) "Helena won't stop until every (fill in the blank) is dead/sorry/bleeding/writhing in pain/on their way to Hell." "Helena will send them all to Hell."
Just spice it up a little for us. Make sure that (if we don't go to the counter with your book) as we put the book back on the shelf and walk down the isle that we're thinking about what she'll do and to whom.


message 6: by Melanie (new)

Melanie Tomlin | 52 comments Many thanks Elmer, Owen and K.C. for your helpful feedback!

It probably needs a bit more tweaking, but I think I'm getting there, with your help.

Helena is pregnant, and it's playing havoc with her unique abilities. Her usual diet of vampire makes her physically ill, one minute she's visible the next she's not, and she's suffering from blackouts.

When she regains consciousness from a blackout, to find herself in hell, Helena knows she and the baby are in serious trouble. Unable to transport herself away, she calls to Danizriel for help … but he cannot set foot in Satan’s domain.

The onset of labour sees them miraculously transported to biblical Eden, where the baby born. Helena learns that her newborn daughter has been sent to deliver a message to the mortal world, on a journey she must make on her own. She is afraid for her daughter … the last time someone was sent with a message, it didn't end well.

When things go horribly wrong in the mortal world, Helena is consumed by a mother’s rage. She won’t stop until all those who incited the hatred against her daughter are dead.


message 7: by Pam (new)

Pam Baddeley | 153 comments Just wondering if it's too much info to have it that she is miraculously transported out of hell because it makes it sound as if half the peril is solved without a problem, which dilutes the tension.

I think the general advice with blurbs is keep them fairly short and don't give away too much of the plot otherwise people think why should they bother to read the book?


message 8: by G.T. (new)

G.T. Trickle (goodreadscomgttrickle) | 31 comments Not a fantasy writer but this is the way I'd approach a back cover blurb. I once read (somewhere) that back cover blurbs should be less than 500 words. Don't know the WC on the below but it can be tweaked to tighten it even more.

Helena, part earth-bound angel, part vampire, faces extremely challenges as an hybrid immortal. Her body's response to pregnancy is altering her ability to function and her unique abilities suffer dramatically. Blackouts occur and during one she's transported to a place where she and her unborn baby are in grave, unspeakable danger. She summons her unique powers to escape but they are rendered useless by the force of Satan's domain. She cries out through space and time to Danizriel, her beloved angel-partner, for help but he's blocked from access to Satan's most forbidden place.

Afraid, alone and with no hope of rescue, Helena struggles with the onset of labor. As the pain increases and birth is fast approaching, a rare and unforeseen intervention occurs. Helena is transported to biblical Eden. There she delivers a daughter, a daughter who is meant to bear a message to the moral world. But first, (insert daughter's name) must take a perilous journey. No one can help her. She must do it alone in a world where opposing beliefs can lead to death.

The mortal world rejects and assaults (insert daughter's name) with brutal hatred. Helena is consumed by a mother's protective yet lethal rage. She vows to seek out all who seek to harm and silence her daughter. She will bring death to each and every one. Who will they be? How many will die? Will (insert daughter's name) succeed in delivering the message? Will it be heard or drowned out by hordes of non believers? Who will prevail?


message 9: by K.C. (new)

K.C. Herbel (k_c_herbel) | 118 comments Melanie,
I see some definite improvement. It's starting to come in more clearly now. Still some missing words and "her usual diet of vampire ..." sounds like she eats vampires. Is that what you intended?
Since you don't explain why the biblical Eden is important, why mention it?
I definitely like the last bit more than before. I also think the transition between the 1st and 2nd paragraphs is an improvement. And I like the allusion in the last of paragraph 3.
Nice job. Keep after it and I'm sure it will be terrific.


message 10: by Christa (new)

Christa Ludlow | 1 comments Hi Melanie

I agree your second version is better, however both KC's and yours lose some tension by dwelling on the first part of the story, then telling us that she escapes. Why have the section dealing with the difficulties of the birth in such detail when it seems the main part of the story is the fate of her daughter?

I would position the blurb around her daughter and the dangers facing her, just touching on what Helena had to endure in order to have a child.


message 11: by Melanie (new)

Melanie Tomlin | 52 comments Thanks again for all the good feedback and suggestions.

In reality Helena's daughter (Gina) isn't in the book for very long (1/3 or thereabouts), which is why I haven't focused too much on the actual happenings in the mortal world. (Most of it is actually good.) That said, here's my latest attempt. I also try to cover off her rescue from hell (again), as I don't want to give the impression that baby is born there. I hope I'm not taking a backwards step!


Helena is pregnant, and it's playing havoc with her unique abilities. Her usual diet of vampire blood makes her physically ill, one minute she's visible the next she's not, and she's suffering from blackouts.

When she regains consciousness from a blackout, to find herself in hell, Helena knows she and the baby are in serious trouble. Unable to transport herself away, she calls to Danizriel for help ... but he cannot set foot in Satan's domain.

A perilous rescue by an unlikely source sees the onset of premature labour. Helena learns that her newborn daughter has been sent to deliver a message to the mortal world, on a journey she must make on her own. She is afraid for Gina, her daughter ... the last time someone was sent with a message, it didn't end well.

Gina tries to make a difference in a world full of prejudice and anger, but when things go horribly wrong, Helena is consumed by a mother's rage. She won't stop until all those who incited the hatred against her daughter are dead.


message 12: by K.C. (new)

K.C. Herbel (k_c_herbel) | 118 comments Pretty good, but the last seems a little wordy. (I know you're "finished"...)
Just one thing, Hell is a place and should be capitalized.
>:-)>


message 13: by Melanie (new)

Melanie Tomlin | 52 comments K.C., thanks for picking up on Hell ... I was so busy focusing on the content that I missed it :-)

I'm feeling reasonably confident now, though I will review that last paragraph as you suggest.


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