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Pay It Forward > Book Blurb Clinic

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message 1: by Dale (new)

Dale Lehman (dalelehman) | 1723 comments I don't have a lot of time for reading everyone's books, but one small way I might be able to pay it forward is by helping others with their book blurbs. My wife and I have run a small press since 2010 and have written back cover text for most of the books we publish (principally non-fiction, but some fiction). I like to think I've become fairly good at blurb writing, although I'm sure I have plenty to learn still.

I've seen a fair number of blurbs by indie authors that are--to be quite frank--painful. Some even contain grammatical errors. This is the kiss of death for a book. A book cover is all about marketing, and that includes the blurb. You have maybe three seconds to capture a reader's interest via your front cover, then maybe another fifteen seconds to build that interest through the back cover text. At that point readers either look inside or move on. If the back cover says, "This author is boring," or worse, "This author can't write," it's all over.

With that in mind, I'd be happy to try to help any group member with cover text (and others can jump in, too, since I certainly don't know it all!). Bear in mind that some days I may not be too quick to respond. But I'll do my best. Just post your current or proposed blurb and we'll see what we can do with it.


message 2: by Dale (new)

Dale Lehman (dalelehman) | 1723 comments P.S. Blurb writing is very similar to query writing, so this clinic can also help you with preparing a query to send to an agent or publisher, if you're thinking about going that route.


message 3: by Prakash (new)

Prakash Sharma (pvsharma) | 105 comments Thanks for your sincere efforts!


message 4: by P.D.R. (new)

P.D.R. Lindsay (pdrlindsay) | 84 comments Thank you, Dale. I'll take you up on this shortly. Actually I want to update my Tizzie blurb so here is what I have. It needs refreshing!
CURRENT BLURB
There's no slavery in the Yorkshire Dales, not in 1887, not ever. But loving families use artful schemes to enslave the innocent. Twenty nine year-old Tizzie is such an innocent. She has worked herself down to skin & bones as a dairymaid on the farm of her dear brother, Jack, his Scottish wife, Maggie, their three boys & one girl, Agnes. Expert at many things, though not in spotting conniving entrapment, Tizzie longs to see that young Agnes will not suffer her spinster fate. In trying to help Agnes find an education & avoid a life of drudgery in their male-dominated world, Tizzie begins to suspect & then uncover Jack & Maggie's treachery, & the family's plots to enslave & use up Agnes too. With only her wits to guide her, Tizzie tries to right years of wrongs & set Agnes free.


message 5: by Dale (new)

Dale Lehman (dalelehman) | 1723 comments Sure, I'll give it a go, but I have to run just now, so I'll get back to you by tomorrow on this. If I don't, remind me.


message 6: by Dale (new)

Dale Lehman (dalelehman) | 1723 comments Hi PDR,

Try something like this:

----------
Of course Tizzie wasn't a slave. Nobody kept slaves in the Yorkshire Dale. Not in 1887. Not ever. Besides, her dear brother Jack and his Scottish wife Maggie had given her home and hearth. Is it so much to ask that in return she serve them as dairymaid?

But by twenty nine years of age, Tizzie has been reduced to skin and bone. Worse, although Jack has the help of three strong sons, he has begun to steer his own daughter Agnes toward the same life of hopeless drudgery in which he has trapped his sister. Determined that Agnes not suffer her fate, Tizzie seeks to break Jack and Maggie's hold over her. But the hearts of those two conceal greater treachery than Tizzie could ever have imagined, and she has only her wits to combat them.
----------

This may or may not entirely fit your story. The basic idea is (as with all fiction) to quickly hook the reader, and then build the tension. But unlike a complete story, a blurb should leave the reader hanging when the tension is at its peak. That gets them to open the book and see what's inside.

By the by, I didn't work in the "male dominated" bit because it wasn't clear to me that that was really the point here. It probably plays into your story somehow, but to me the intriguing part is the conniving couple Jack and Maggie, which kind of suggests it's not all a male plot. However, you can include it somehow if you really want it.


message 7: by Alex (new)

Alex (alex_beecroft) | 9 comments Hi Dale! Are you still doing this, because I have a book out which is REALLY slow moving and I'm wondering if the problem is the blurb. Can you do anything with this?

BLURB
Targeted by the Faerie Queen, Ben Chaudhry reluctantly turns to Chris Gatrell and his eccentric Paranormal Defence Agency for help. But it's hard to keep anything out of the snatching hands of determined elves. Chris himself was abducted from his own time - shot down in WWII, and shot forward seventy years in time, stranded far from his wartime sweetheart Geoff and his Lancaster bomber crew.

In this epic fantasy, Ben finds himself a major player in a game of elven politics that may lead to the invasion of Britain. Chris has to convince the police he didn't just murder Ben and hide the body. Determined not to lose another sweetheart to the elves’ treachery, he presses the ghosts of his old crew back into action for a rescue attempt.

But Geoff isn't dead at all - he's been on ice in Elfland all this time. Now he has a dragon and he’s not afraid to use it. If only he could be entirely sure which of the elf queens is the real enemy—the one whose army is poised to take back planet Earth for elf-kind.

In the cataclysmic battle to come, more than one lover—human and elf alike—may forced to make the ultimate sacrifice.

Thanks so much for the offer! You could be a lifesaver :)


message 8: by Faith (last edited Nov 24, 2017 07:45AM) (new)

Faith Jones (havingfaith) Alex wrote: "problem is the blurb. Can you do anything with this?"

It’s the same old story, isn’t it? There you are, trundling through the evening sky in your Lancaster bomber when reality’s torn apart and you’re abducted by elves. Typical. They’ll be invading Britain next, the cheeky blighters.

In Ben’s hour of need, for the cataclysmic battle to come and in the ardent hope that his mate Geoff won’t come back from Elfland and start testing his dragon on people, our hero turns to the only group eccentric and unemployed enough to answer the call: Chris Gatrell and his Paranormal Defence Agency.

They're brave, they're keen, they laugh at fear, they don't speak Elvish and they bring their own sandwiches. They're also the only offer he'll ever get...


message 9: by Alex (new)

Alex (alex_beecroft) | 9 comments Faith wrote: "Alex wrote: "problem is the blurb. Can you do anything with this?"

It’s the same old story, isn’t it? There you are, trundling through the evening sky in your Lancaster bomber when reality’s torn ..."


LOL! That is actually superb. You're a genius! I would certainly buy it with a blurb like that. How do you get so good?

Thank you so much, and so fast too!


message 10: by Carole (new)

Carole P. Roman | 4600 comments Mod
Faith wrote: "Alex wrote: "problem is the blurb. Can you do anything with this?"

It’s the same old story, isn’t it? There you are, trundling through the evening sky in your Lancaster bomber when reality’s torn ..."

You are brilliant- Faith!!


message 11: by Faith (new)

Faith Jones (havingfaith) Thanks Carole. If I could keep up with your generosity and productivity though, I might eventually amount to something.


message 12: by Alex (new)

Alex (alex_beecroft) | 9 comments Faith wrote: "Alex wrote: "How did you get..."

I suppose it's because I read a couple of novels a week and also listen to other people's ideas. I've started this year as a professional copy editor and am also t..."


The pedigree is impressive but the skills are more so :) Are you on twitter at all? That's where I tend to go for keeping in touch purposes.

I'm now debating whether to be cheeky and ask you to take a look at my blurb for Lioness of Cygnus Five, since I see you're sci-fi enthusiast. Would that be possible too? And is there anything I can do for you in return?


message 13: by Faith (new)

Faith Jones (havingfaith) Alex wrote: "blurb for Lioness of Cygnus Five..."

Yes, of course. Just paste it into a message and I'll take a look this weekend. I can't think of anything I need and I'm not on Twitter but will do my best anyway.


message 14: by C.C. (new)

C.C. Bolick (ccbolick) | 66 comments Faith wrote: "Alex wrote: "problem is the blurb. Can you do anything with this?"

It’s the same old story, isn’t it? There you are, trundling through the evening sky in your Lancaster bomber when reality’s torn ..."


Faith - this is great!


message 15: by Dale (last edited Nov 24, 2017 06:21PM) (new)

Dale Lehman (dalelehman) | 1723 comments Alex wrote: "Hi Dale! Are you still doing this, because I have a book out which is REALLY slow moving and I'm wondering if the problem is the blurb. Can you do anything with this?

Hi Alex! Yes, I'm still willing to do this, but Faith beat me to it and did a better job of it than I could have. One thing, though: I found the second paragraph a bit hard to read. It may be because I've spent the day traveling and the evening surrounded by grandchildren with far more energy than myself. However, I think that paragraph might need a bit of tweaking. Maybe something like:

"As if conventional war wasn't enough, Ben now confronts a few other minor concerns. Like, will his mate Geoff return from Elfland astride a fire-breathing dragon? And can mere firepower hope to defeat a hoard of pointy eared invaders? Our hero knows of only one group eccentric and unemployed enough to answer the call: Chris Gatrell and his Paranormal Defence Agency."


message 16: by Alex (new)

Alex (alex_beecroft) | 9 comments Thanks so much, Dale! It's really kind of you to help, and I agree that the second paragraph needed a tweak or two. I'll probably end up with an amalgam of the two suggestions, so I'm really grateful to you for taking the trouble. Thanks again!


message 17: by Matt (new)

Matt Cowper | 56 comments I like Dale's and Faith's contributions. I'm still, however, going to nitpick.

"They're brave, they're keen, they laugh at fear, they don't speak Elvish and they bring their own sandwiches. They're also the only offer he'll ever get..."

I'd cut the second sentence. In Faith's previous paragraph, she wrote "the only group eccentric and unemployed enough to answer the call," so it's clear they're lovable losers who'll take any job. Saying it again is redundant.

Also, "brave" and "laugh at fear" are close to being synonymous.

More also: if this group is brave and keen, why don't they have more jobs? "Eccentric and unemployed" makes them sound like also-rans, but then they're described as capable.

I guess Alex will have to inform us of the true nature of the agency.

I like the part about not speaking Elvish and bringing their own sandwiches. It needs another witty line to cap it off, but I can't think of a winner right now. I'm too focused on the sammiches; I've got in mind something like, "The sandwiches are banned in forty-two realms after the 'minotaur diarrhea' incident, but beggars can't be choosers."

Dale's: "As if conventional war wasn't enough, Ben now confronts a few other minor concerns. Like, will his mate Geoff return from Elfland astride a fire-breathing dragon? And can mere firepower hope to defeat a hoard of pointy eared invaders? Our hero knows of only one group eccentric and unemployed enough to answer the call: Chris Gatrell and his Paranormal Defence Agency."

"Minor concerns" - love the understatement.

The first-word "like" doesn't work for me. "Like, I went to the mall, and like, there was this pretty dress, and I was like..." That's what it brings to mind.

I don't want to get too involved, because I've reread the original blurb several times, and I'm still perplexed. Who's the protagonist? Ben? Then what's that about Chris worrying about being framed for his murder? Who's the antagonist? There's an elf queen and a faerie queen, and an old lover who now has a dragon...and there's time travel, and ghosts...it has a lot going on, and the ideas sound dazzling, but I feel like I've been tossed into a magical whirlwind.


message 18: by Alex (new)

Alex (alex_beecroft) | 9 comments Matt wrote: "I like Dale's and Faith's contributions. I'm still, however, going to nitpick.

"They're brave, they're keen, they laugh at fear, they don't speak Elvish and they bring their own sandwiches. They'r..."


Hi Matt! Thanks for having a look at this. I think your perplexity goes to show that the original blurb was really not very good at all. That's important data for me in itself - I was trying so hard to be clear about everything!

The trouble is that it's a very complicated plot, and there are three protagonists, one of whom was kidnapped by fairies in WWII and is still in Elfland (Geoff), one of whom was kidnapped for a short time but then sent back to earth in the 90s (Chris), and one of whom is kidnapped during the book, despite having employed Chris to prevent it (Ben).

Chris's paranormal defence agency are indeed a group of lovable eccentrics. One has a day job as a vicar, one is retired and a birdwatcher-cum-ghost photographer, and one is still in school and provides technical and website support. There is a slight Wallace and Gromit vibe to the agency which the line about sandwiches really captures.

Ben is kidnapped by the fairies half way through the book, which leads to him disappearing from our world - which leads to a murder investigation with Chris as the chief suspect.

Geoff is Chris's wartime sweetheart. Chris believed that he had died during the kidnapping incident (which involved the Lancaster bomber they were both in being shot down by elves.) Ben is his current love interest. So there is some considerable awkwardness when Ben gets to Elfland and finds that Geoff is still alive.

Meanwhile there are also two elvish Queens who are battling for control of Elfland, one of whom wants to re-conquer our world and one of whom doesn't.

This is why I had so much trouble with the blurb! There is so much going on, and so much of it needs knowledge of all the rest of it to make sense.


message 19: by Anya (last edited Nov 26, 2017 12:15PM) (new)

Anya Kysel (anyakysel) | 26 comments Hello Alex, your creativity is overflowing! :) I read that you mentioned your story (or did you mean the drafting process?) seemed to be moving at a slower pace than you'd like, though. That lead me to wonder if this might be partly due to having too many ideas for one story.

I realize that may sound contradictory, but I guess you can imagine it as one person trying to prepare nine hundred dishes for a thanksgiving dinner for, say, a family of four. Very ambitious and lovely, but I'm afraid his guests may not be able to digest all in time. The chef himself may also be feeling stressed out by the workload all the while and cooked slower than his usual abilities could.

I wonder if you might consider splitting this story into a trilogy - or even a saga. For example, have one book that focuses on the Elfland and its two elvish Queens' battle for the throne. Then, in a next book, switch the point of view to Geoff, Chris, or Ben and their life adventures up until a turning point to the next book. In the final book, weave the two worlds together and have all these characters meeting up with one another. By then, you can just write about what each character is doing at the moment without having to stray away from the main plot to explain backstories, characters' ambitions/goals, world history etc.

Also, I believe it's difficult for a story to be clear to readers if it has multiple "protagonists". I believe that a good story could, instead, have multiple "characters" that each reader may decide for himself/herself which one is the protagonist. I understand that a writer may feel all characters to be important and honour all as protagonists, but right now, that love for your characters seems to be confusing even you, the writer, and causing an unbiased decision on where/what you'd place emphasis on in your story.

Thus, my suggestion is to either pare down on the secondary plots, or flesh them out selectively into main plots for a book series. Hope this helps! :)

*P.S. I went back to re-read your line. Just to clarify, is your book already published, and that you were meaning to say its sale was going slow? Or are you still editing the manuscript, along with its blurb? If it's the former case, then feel free to ignore my idea of a trilogy etc! :)*


message 20: by Alex (new)

Alex (alex_beecroft) | 9 comments Anya wrote: "Hello Alex, your creativity is overflowing! :) I read that you mentioned your story (or did you mean the drafting process?) seemed to be moving at a slower pace than you'd like, though. That lead m..."

*G* Thanks so much for your comments Anya :) But yes, I'm afraid the novel is already published. Samhain Publishing originally did split it into two parts, but I think that was more for economic than for story purposes. Since they went out of business, I've got the rights back and have self-published it myself.

I decided to put it out in one volume as being split into two left book one ending on a massive cliffhanger which readers didn't like, and it also played havoc with the pacing. But Amazon has treated the single volume as if it's an entirely different book, and therefore it has no reviews and is selling badly.

It was always meant to be one of those long door-stopper novels that the Fantasy genre is famous for, and it's about 140K words long, so there's room for all that plot :)

I have to admit to not knowing what the difference is between a protagonist and a main character, but I figure that if A Song of Ice and Fire, or The Lord of the Rings can have multiple protagonists, so can I!


message 21: by Matt (new)

Matt Cowper | 56 comments Alex wrote: "Matt wrote: "I like Dale's and Faith's contributions. I'm still, however, going to nitpick.

"They're brave, they're keen, they laugh at fear, they don't speak Elvish and they bring their own sandw..."


OK, I have a SLIGHTLY better understanding of what's going on. :)

I like the "one blurb paragraph per protagonist" technique. Obviously that would be impossible with a series like "Game of Thrones," but for three protags it works fine. By detailing each character separately (basically; there will be overlap, since they're connected), I think you can anchor the reader and not overwhelm them.

You've sort of done that in message 19. If you could bookend your character descriptions with punchy paragraphs about how exciting your book is, I think the whole thing would be eye-grabbing.


message 22: by Alex (new)

Alex (alex_beecroft) | 9 comments Matt wrote: OK, I have a SLIGHTLY better understanding of what's going on. :)

Thanks, Matt! Yes, I've got some Editorial Reviews which I can put on there, and an idea or two for books in the same kind of "Small town folk end up in the middle of a supernatural war" genre, so I shall just get over my phobia of blowing my own trumpet and add those. Then even if the book page still isn't great, it should be better than it is at present :)


message 23: by Anya (last edited Nov 27, 2017 08:45AM) (new)

Anya Kysel (anyakysel) | 26 comments Ahh, okay. Sorry, I don't really understand how self-publishing via Amazon works, but might it be possible to remove that one neglected volume, upload the two books separately, then have respective recommendation link to the next/previous book under each to get the whole 140k story? It sounded as though what the readers didn't like was feeling cheated at the cliffhanger (which they might be mistaking as the final ending of your story, not realizing there was another book to move it along), rather than at the blurb or story premise etc?

Regarding the usage of the terms "protagonist" and "character", I wonder if this quoted phrase from https://www.npr.org/2016/04/16/474396... might help me to explain my understanding: "George R.R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire, features a sprawling cast of characters jostling for power. There are so many, in fact, that just who is the protagonist is a source of debate among GoT fans."

This is another link to an example of websites that have influenced my conceptual understanding of the two terms: https://www.advancedfictionwriting.co...

That said, these are just term definitions. As long as you have something to tell, you have a story. The Elfland and Paranormal Defence Agency sound really interesting! Hope the reviews and sale of your books go up soon!


message 24: by Dale (new)

Dale Lehman (dalelehman) | 1723 comments Alex wrote: "Thanks so much, Dale! It's really kind of you to help, and I agree that the second paragraph needed a tweak or two. I'll probably end up with an amalgam of the two suggestions, so I'm really gratef..."

You're quite welcome. I think a lot of us initially make the mistake of trying to explain the whole book in the blurb. That doesn't work. For one thing, most books are complex (although some more so than others). So we have to reduce the story to two basic things: a strong hook, and a snappy summary of the key complications. It's sort of like writing the beginning and middle of a very short story. (But not the end!) If we do that well enough and leave the reader hanging, they'll feel compelled to actually open the book and start reading.


message 25: by Alex (new)

Alex (alex_beecroft) | 9 comments Anya wrote: "Ahh, okay. Sorry, I don't really understand how self-publishing via Amazon works, but might it be possible to remove that one neglected volume, upload the two books separately, then have respective..."

Thanks Anya! Yes, I could easily take down the single volume, but I wrote the book as a single story - it's not meant to be packaged in two halves. I personally know that I would much rather read it as one volume than have to buy and switch between two.

It would be different if I'd planned it as two volumes in the first place, but I didn't - and as I say, it mucks with the pacing, not so much with the first volume, but definitely of the second, having it split.

If anything, I'm thinking maybe what I should do is to take down the two halves and just leave the one complete volume up. That would certainly cut down on confusion! Thanks :)


message 26: by Alex (new)

Alex (alex_beecroft) | 9 comments Dale wrote: "Alex wrote: "Thanks so much, Dale! It's really kind of you to help, and I agree that the second paragraph needed a tweak or two. I'll probably end up with an amalgam of the two suggestions, so I'm ..."

*G* Yes, I'm just coming to the conclusion that blurb writing is not like very short synopsis writing. Which is a valuable lesson learned in itself. Thanks!


message 27: by Dale (new)

Dale Lehman (dalelehman) | 1723 comments Alex wrote: "*G* Yes, I'm just coming to the conclusion that blurb writing is not like very short synopsis writing. Which is a valuable lesson learned in itself. Thanks!"

You're quite welcome. And yes, they are very different things. Book covers are all about marketing. You have a few second to grab attention with the front cover and get the prospective reader to look at the blurb. Then you have maybe fifteen or twenty seconds to hook them with the blurb and get them to open the book. Then you have a page or two to hook them with the story itself and get them to buy the book. It's not easy rigging up three hooks with a lot of bait. ;-)


message 28: by Dale (new)

Dale Lehman (dalelehman) | 1723 comments So now that I've helped with a couple of blurbs, I can't seem to get my own right. :-P Here's what I have for my forthcoming novel, Ice on the Bay (Howard County Mystery #3). It seems a bit short and sketchy to me, but let's see what you folks think:

In the dead of winter, Detective Lieutenant Rick Peller's neighbor asks him to look into a old missing persons case. He doubts anything will come of it, but soon details emerge linking the disappearance of a saintly young veterinary technician with the burning of a wealthy executive's home and the murder of an unscrupulous career criminal. With the most likely arsonist sitting in prison and the dead man's address book overflowing with enemies, Peller and his colleagues delve into the past to link cold cases with cold-blooded crimes, while behind them all lurks a killer with a heart as frozen as the ice-shrouded Chesapeake.

Thank you.


message 29: by Anya (new)

Anya Kysel (anyakysel) | 26 comments My editing attempt would be as follows:

In the dead of winter in Chesapeake, Detective Lieutenant Rick Peller's nights are kept up by photos of missing persons. Something's not right. The veterinary technician should've been too young, too clean, to be a target of the cult (just as an example). The wealthy executive's home had burnt down too easily. And (name), that unscrupulous career criminal (I don't exactly understand this job description :P), why was he made silenced suddenly after all these years? And by who? Delving into the cold-blooded past, Peller and his colleagues must find the link to all these forgotten cases, before the killer finds them and makes them part of it. Winter is coming.

Okay, scratch that last sentence. :)

Just a few notes, I feel "...Rick Peller's neighbor asks him to look into a old missing persons case. He doubts anything will come of it, but soon details emerge..." and "With the most likely arsonist sitting in prison and the dead man's address book overflowing with enemies..." are giving away the plot points in the story. For example, now I know they will catch at least an arsonist suspect, and also have an address book as a key clue in the story, before I begin to read about Rick Peller receiving his mission from his neighbor - which I now won't believe a word of him believing how the case would be boring and trivial. That would be a loss of opportunity to establish empathy with the protagonist in the starting scenes, I think. I would have liked to be surprised, together, with him, as we discover there is more to the case that we've initially shrugged off, together.

Also, pardon my confusion, but I wonder if you could find a way to write the blurb in a way that clearly separates the career criminal's murder case with the missing people's cases. The murdered man was murdered; his body found, not missing, but introducing his case suddenly after 2 missing cases (I presume the wealthy executive was missing too, not found and declared burnt?) seems to misidentify them as all being related to missing persons.

Hope this makes sense! :)


message 30: by Matt (new)

Matt Cowper | 56 comments @Anya: "For example, now I know they will catch at least an arsonist suspect...."

Not necessarily. Dale's blurb suggested to me that the arsonist suspect was already in prison.

"That would be a loss of opportunity to establish empathy with the protagonist in the starting scenes, I think. I would have liked to be surprised, together, with him, as we discover there is more to the case that we've initially shrugged off, together."

I disagree. Most readers expect a "nothing" case will turn into something sinister and convoluted. There wouldn't be much point in writing a book where the cases are mundane and easily-solved. I think any attempt at hiding the story's overall arc would be self-defeating.

I do agree that the blurb stuffs a lot of crimes into a short amount of space.


message 31: by Dale (last edited Dec 15, 2017 07:38AM) (new)

Dale Lehman (dalelehman) | 1723 comments Thanks, Anya, for the detailed comments. It's always a bit tricky to ask for advice when nobody has read the story yet. ;-) Let me explain a bit. I don't think I have any spoilers here. These are just the key elements that get worked out in the story.

I have three main characters, Detective Lieutenant Rick Peller and his underlings Detective Sergeants Corina Montufar and Eric Dumas.

Peller's neighbor asks him to look into a two-year-old missing persons case, the disappearance of a young veterinary technician whose grandmother goes to the neighbor's church.

While Peller is doing that, Montufar is investigating an arson that looks very much like two others that took place the previous year. But the culprit in those cases was apprehended and is now in prison. The family that owned the house in the new arson was fairly wealthy (as was the case with the previous arsons). None of them were home when it happened, so none of them were harmed.

At the same time, the first murder of the year in Howard County occurs. Dumas investigates that one. He almost immediately learns from the deceased's girlfriend that the victim kept an address book filled with contact info for his accomplices in various criminal ventures. He regularly cheated many of these people out of some of their earnings. Thus, the address book could be a long list of people who wanted him dead.

As the three investigations proceed, details emerge that suggest there might be connections between them.

Subplots (which may not go into the blurb):

(1) Montufar's father is dying

(2) A romance between Montufar and Dumas (established in the previous book, True Death, is blossoming.

(3) Dumas is struggling to keep his long history of rejection from messing up his relationship with Montufar.

(4) Montufar is emerging from a long spiritual drought as she returns to the Catholic Church (her childhood religion).

(5) A colleague introduces Peller to a divorced woman in the hopes that they will hit it off. Peller isn't particularly interested--or so he tells himself. (As revealed in the previous two books, he lost his wife in a hit-and-run four and a half years earlier, and he still "talks" with her inside his head.) But he finds he can't blow her off completely, so enters into a somewhat reluctant friendship with her.

You are now armed with more information than you wanted. ;-)


message 32: by Anya (new)

Anya Kysel (anyakysel) | 26 comments In the dead of winter in Chesapeake, Detective Lieutenant Rick Peller's sleepless nights are haunted by the last photo of (name), a young veterinary technician who has gone missing for two cold years. Meanwhile, his colleague Detective Sergeant Corina Montufar is faring better - having chased down and caught the arsonist responsible for burning down three mansions. No one was hurt when the big houses came down.

The good news ends there.

Bloodied by the first murder of the year, Howard County suffocates under a shroud of fear and distrust. Together with his colleagues, Peller must delve into the cold-blooded past that unravels a link between these three cases. All the while, the killer watches them.

Hope this helps!


message 33: by Dale (new)

Dale Lehman (dalelehman) | 1723 comments Thanks again. It does indeed give me some possibilities to mull over.


message 34: by Dale (new)

Dale Lehman (dalelehman) | 1723 comments Matt wrote: "Dale's blurb suggested to me that the arsonist suspect was already in prison."

That was the intention, although possibly it won't be clear to all readers as I originally phrased it.


message 35: by Dale (new)

Dale Lehman (dalelehman) | 1723 comments Okay, I have a new version. Let's see what does for you all:

The forecast: Record cold. The crimes: Colder still.

Case #1: By all accounts, veterinary technician Jayvon Fletcher might have been a saint: honest, friendly, hard working, without an an enemy in the world. While working late Christmas Eve two years ago he vanished, leaving behind only a broken window and smears of blood on the wooden steps out back. Now Detective Lieutenant Rick Peller takes a fresh look at the case, doubting he can shed new light on the young man's fate. The trail has grown too cold.

Case #2: Detective Sergeant Corina Montufar puzzles over details of an arson that destroyed a wealthy businessman's mansion. The incident looks familiar. Two other mansions had burned the previous year in exactly the same way. But the arsonist had been caught and already sat in prison when this new crime occurred. Could this be a copycat, or is the real culprit still at large?

Case #3: It's only Mid-January, and already Dectective Sergeant Eric Dumas is staring at Howard County's first murder victim of the year. Michio Tamai specialized in crime and kept an address book overflowing with accomplices. But even his friends were his victims. Not one of them is sorry he's dead. And any one of them could be his murderer.

In the dead of the most frigid Chesapeake winter in decades, a cold case collides with new cold-blooded crimes, while somewhere out there a killer with blood as icy as the waters of the bay watches and waits.


message 36: by Anya (new)

Anya Kysel (anyakysel) | 26 comments This may be my jet lag speaking, but I feel this latest blurb - although clear - is too long to be on the back cover of a book. :) I might go with something that runs along like this:

The forecast: Record cold.
The crimes: Colder still.

Case #1: Young and friendly. A hardworking veterinary technician. No possible enemies. Gone missing one night two years ago. Broken window and smears of blood.

Case #2: Two mansions burnt down. Arsonist caught and jailed. Out there, another mansion burnt down. Same methods used.

Case #3: A new year. A new murder. Nobody mourns. The only clue left is a bulky address book of accomplices.

In the dead of the most frigid Chesapeake winter in decades, a cold case collides with new cold-blooded crimes. As Detective Lieutenant Rick Peller and his colleagues set off on a hunt for answers, the killer with blood as icy as the bay's waters watches and waits.


message 37: by Dale (new)

Dale Lehman (dalelehman) | 1723 comments It is a bit long, but it fits on the cover with room to spare. ;-) My wife did edit it down a bit. It's length now is shorter than mine but longer than yours. I'll try to post it later, once get it from computer A to computer B...


message 38: by Faith (last edited Dec 19, 2017 06:19AM) (new)

Faith Jones (havingfaith) They say there’s a record cold this winter, but the crimes are colder still. As the ice cracks on a barrel back in the yard, memory retreats through years to the shattered glass and tale of blood we found when poor Jayvon went missing. The wind blows cold, carrion cold and unyielding to another run at the same old questions. Rick Peller is interfering now, a Detective Lieutenant with breath to waste on melting old ice in this frost-ridden landscape. Dig for grass, Rick. Then dig for dirt and sing out if you find it.

Meanwhile, the snow is still falling. Detective Sergeant Corina Montufar knows she has a clear cut case of arson. A third businessman’s mansion has been smoked, in a style that's an identikit match to the others, but how can that be when the culprit’s up there holding a prison mop? It’s a brow-twister.

Spring seems way off and already Detective Sergeant Eric Dumas is staring at Howard County's first murder victim this year. In a case of too many clues, Michio Tamai’s address book overflows with criminal accomplices. It’s poignant to leave the world when nobody’s sorry you’re dead but the law doesn’t dwell on popularity and will track the killer.

Frigid and cruel, in these three stories Chesapeake winter reaches out for the uncaring dead, the clammy and cold cases. As the eyes of justice scan the thickening waters locked in the bay, the mirror of nature distorts contrary. Can you see it? No, but it’s there. In the drifts out beyond the point something watches the watcher, waiting.


message 39: by Faith (new)

Faith Jones (havingfaith) ... which is even longer. Ooops.


message 40: by Dale (new)

Dale Lehman (dalelehman) | 1723 comments Faith wrote: "... which is even longer. Ooops."

But you do have an interesting style! Thank you for the input.


message 41: by Anna (new)

Anna Faversham (annafaversham) | 1128 comments Ah... I could have put my Book Blurb plea for help here. Sorry, I missed it. If a mod wants to move me, that's fine. I'm under Help.


message 42: by Dale (last edited Jan 07, 2020 06:50AM) (new)

Dale Lehman (dalelehman) | 1723 comments Here is a tentative blurb for Space Operatic. Bear in mind this is a humorous science fiction novel, so the blurb needs a bit of humor (which I hope this version does!). Let me know what you think or if you have suggestions for improvements. Thanks!
-----
Roberto Maccarone has taken his company, Space Operatic, to the fringes of the solar system in pursuit of artistic acclaim. But in the cold dark of the Oort Territories where the culture scene is lower than that found in most petri dishes, Lady Luck plays hard-to-get. Maccarone’s theater blows up, a power-mad businessman tricks him into spying on a gang of malcontent miners, and a horde of ruthless mercenaries descend, guns blazing. Really, now, how hard can it be to stage a performance?

Some say a curse has followed the company ever since that incident on Titan, but Maccarone will never lose faith, especially since the most fabulous theater in the solar system lies just next door, cosmically speaking. If only he could play that theater, Maccarone’s success would be assured! But the keys are held in the icy grip of the local Culture Minister, and nothing–not Maccarone, not obscene amounts of money, not even that guy who juggles flaming kabobs while singing an ancient song about how great America was–can pry them loose. Will it be fame for Maccarone and his troupe? Or unemployment in Beelzebub’s outhouse?


message 43: by Dale (last edited Mar 13, 2020 08:30AM) (new)

Dale Lehman (dalelehman) | 1723 comments I've revised my blurb. Here's the latest version. Please let me know what you think. All suggestions appreciated!:
-----
Eternal fame or eternal shame?

Hopeless optimist Roberto Maccarone has staked his fortunes on a bold move: he's brought grand opera to the Oort Territories, where there isn't enough culture to fill a petri dish. But it's a tough sell here in the cold dark of the next to last circle of hell, and soon Maccarone is up to his mephistophelean eyebrows in corporate greed, rebellious miners, bloodthirsty mercenaries, outrageous lies, intense loathing, inane conversations, and more unintended consequences than you can shake a baton at. Really, how hard can it be to stage a performance?

One thing alone can save Maccarone and his company: the most fabulous theater in the solar system slumbers nearby, mysteriously shuttered without having once been used. But the keys are held in the icy grip of the local Culture Minister, and nothing–not Maccarone, not obscene amounts of money, not even that guy who juggles flaming kabobs while singing an ancient song about how great America was–can pry them loose. Will it be fame for Maccarone and his troupe? Or unemployment in Beelzebub’s outhouse?


message 44: by Eugenia (new)

Eugenia Chu | 11 comments Hi! If any of you have time, I would love to hear what you think of my blurb and how to improve it:

Brandon and his cousins are on a trip to visit their grandparents in Beijing, China! While bonding with family, practicing Chinese, touring historic sites and feasting on local dishes, Brandon thinks he sees a tiny panda. However, every time he gets close, the panda disappears! Is Brandon imagining this small creature, or is it real? Will Brandon find out before he has to fly back home? This multicultural, multigenerational chapter book includes some Mandarin Chinese (Simplified) with Pinyin pronunciation, adding layers for those learning or interested in the Chinese language and culture.

Thanks so much!


message 45: by Anna (new)

Anna Faversham (annafaversham) | 1128 comments I think you should start a new paragraph at 'This multicultural...'

Does it need the word 'chapter'? Not being a children's writer I cannot see if that is necessary, if it isn't, I'd cut it out.

Do you need to give an indication of the age it is suitable for? This may not be necessary as the subject matter and your explanation indicate it is for quite young children.

No exclamation mark is needed after China (well not in a blurb).

The questions are a good way to pique interest.

Looks good - pandas are always cute and a disappearing one grabs interest.


message 46: by Eugenia (new)

Eugenia Chu | 11 comments Anna Faversham wrote: "I think you should start a new paragraph at 'This multicultural...'

Does it need the word 'chapter'? Not being a children's writer I cannot see if that is necessary, if it isn't, I'd cut it out.

..."


Thank you, Anna! I've made your changes. I think "chapter" is helpful bc it distinguishes this book from picture books and indicates a more advanced reading level. Thanks again!


message 47: by Dale (new)

Dale Lehman (dalelehman) | 1723 comments Okay, my turn again. Here's my proposed blurb for my forthcoming short story collection, The Realm of Tiny Giants. Any and all comments and suggestions appreciated!

-----
Tales of mirth, imagination, and mayhem.

Nothing is quite what it seems in this realm. Partners cross each other, intentionally or otherwise. Late-night visitors appear from nowhere and linger long after they’re gone. Mountain lakes, forests, and caves harbor secrets best not revealed. And every day, curious encounters change lives.

In this eclectic gathering of thirty-one short tales, including award-winning flash fiction and longer stories, you’ll encounter crimes gone wrong, one-way journeys to other worlds, and ordinary people entangled with extraordinary circumstance. Some will chill you, some will get you thinking, and some will have you laughing out loud.

Because in The Realm of Tiny Giants, something unexpected is always just around the bend.


message 48: by Nat (new)

Nat Kennedy | 153 comments Hello, I have a book blurb too I'm working on and would love some input!

It is for a MM fantasy with romantic subplot.

..............

A broken mage, a penitent vampire, can they put aside the horrors of the past to save each other?

Ten years into Nicodemus Green's quest to end an evil sorcerer bent on Godhood, he stumbles on his former Academy instructor in the Austrian mountains. The strict and pious Byron Domitius has shut himself away in an isolated manor, wasting away. Alone and starving, he hates the twisted, damned creature he has become.

A prophecy calls for Nick and Byron to bond by blood to finally bring an end to the sorcerer's evil plans. As the two learn to see beyond their past, Nick finds himself desiring more from his old instructor than just his magic. But are these emotions real, or do they come from the heat of their bond?


message 49: by Dale (last edited Jun 29, 2021 06:05AM) (new)

Dale Lehman (dalelehman) | 1723 comments It's structurally sound. It just needs a few edits, methinks.

For the first paragraph, I think you could make it just:

A broken mage. A penitent vampire.

But if you want to keep the rest of it, that's okay. Just make it a separate sentence:

A broken mage. A penitent vampire. Can they put aside...?

Or maybe "move beyond" instead of "put aside."

In the body, there are two instances of "ending" the sorcerer/sorcerer's plans. One of them should be chanced to something else. I'd suggest changing the first to:

Ten years into Nicodemus Green's quest to [stop|destroy] an evil sorcerer bent on Godhood...

"shut himself away" could be "secluded himself" or "cloistered himself." (Basically, look for the most compact way of saying things. This generally results in more active sentences and stronger verbs.)

The only other comment I have is that I've heard quests have become tiresome, at least among some readers. It may be worth exploring synonyms. Maybe "struggle"?


message 50: by Carole (new)

Carole P. Roman | 4600 comments Mod
Totally agree with Dale.


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