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Covers, Blurbs, 1st Line, Query > Blurb Feedback - Contemporary Fiction - Please Help!

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message 1: by Susan (new)

Susan | 19 comments Thanks so much for reading and for any feedback you can offer to help me improve this blurb.



A millennial, fed-up with her father’s meddling, leaves a billion-dollar legacy for a Wyoming homestead.

At thirty-four, New York Heiress, Ellen Jasper has accepted that there’s no word in English for a mother who has lost her child. She remarried two years ago and is no longer a widow, but she can’t get over the loss of her infant son and husband on the same day.

The overbearing, Ed Jasper, won’t leave well enough alone. He gives his daughter an ultimatum that places her at an inevitable crossroads. Revisiting a past full of regrets, she finds an obscure newspaper, addressed to her father, offering opportunities to homestead in ‘wild and untamed’ Wyoming.

Ed Jasper tries everything to stop his daughter from going.

* * * *
Janet Corbett is ninety-three years old. Her husband, Charles, died in January, and her only child, Henry, died years ago. Her grandchildren expect her to retire into old age. But she’s not convinced they will uphold the legacy, left in her hands by Charles, deemed ‘Wall-Street’s Crazy Uncle’ by an affectionate newspaper following.

Adhering to Charles’ wishes, Janet divides the family ranch into parcels for homesteaders. She overcomes the obstacles of old age and unruly grandchildren, but the one thing Janet can’t stop is Ed Jasper’s vendetta over an ill-fated business venture.

* * * *
Ed Jasper’s obstinate disapproval, of his daughter’s half-baked homesteading dream, only pushes Ellen forward. She accepts the opportunity, thinking she’s doing it on her own. But her actions stir up a bitter feud between two families that won’t end without a reckoning.


OPEN WOUNDS (98k words) invites readers into a painstakingly woven plot, full of—multilayered characters, life threatening danger, budding romance, and intense family dynamics. From the beginning readers will wonder how these two women come together and how their story ends.


message 2: by Keith (new)

Keith Oxenrider (mitakeet) | 1166 comments Well, first of all, the supposed sweet spot for a blurb is 100-150 words and you're significantly past that.

The moment I read 'homesteading' I assumed it was historical fiction, yet you list it as contemporary. I suggest you shift things around if you keep the same format.

A big challenge with multi-POV stories is getting readers to commit to the character and story. It's certainly been done successfully, but I was recently doing a beta read and the POV shift kept happening just as I started to get interested in the particular character. You might argue that's by design, to entice the reader to read more, but after the second or third time it happened I was done.

In your blurb it can be very challenging to get enough words in for a single character for the reader to develop sympathy/interest. When you add multiple characters you may wind up watering it down to the point few will have their interest piqued.

An important thing to realize is most readers will only give your blurb 5-10 seconds to grab them. For me, the opening was nothing but confusion and I would have passed very quickly.

Perhaps others will weigh in with different advice, but this reads like a soap opera to me, and gives me historical vibes, which will probably result in turning away those interested in contemporary while disappointing those interested in historical.


message 3: by Susan (new)

Susan | 19 comments Thanks for your feedback, Keith,

I really appreciate it.

If I change the log line to the following does it help your initial concern about the historic versus modern?

A millennial, fed-up with her father’s meddling, leaves a billion-dollar legacy for a modern-day Wyoming homestead.


The story is sort of a soap opera, in terms of drama, though I hope, in the end, readers will think there's more depth to my character's motivations.


Here's another go at the blurb:

At thirty-four, New York Heiress, Ellen Jasper is stifled by her overbearing father and his billion-dollar legacy. She would walk away, if she wasn’t so afraid of making another mistake.

When Ed Jasper gives his daughter an ultimatum, it brings her to an inevitable crossroads.

She’s finally forced to acknowledge; she’s responsible for her own mess.

In her quest for self-reliance, Ellen reads about an opportunity to ‘homestead’ and wonders if it's a scam, or cult. She laughs off the idea of going to Wyoming, anywhere outside of Jackson Hole. She can’t even start a fire on her own.

Still, in her heart, she thinks simple living could be just the thing to help her find her way.

When Ed Jasper tries everything to stop his daughter from going, she sets her jaw. Maybe it's half-baked, but at least she’ll be doing it on her own.

Before too long Ellen will learn, there was a compelling reason her father wanted to stop her from going to Wyoming. His unscrupulous business deals have deep and tangled roots. Ellen will be forced to face consequences she never knew were coming.


message 4: by Willow (new)

Willow Rousseau (wilrous) | 3 comments I read the second blurb. I admit to being outside of this genre too but the blurb sounds too vague.

"She’s finally forced to acknowledge; she’s responsible for her own mess. "

What trouble is she in and how is she responsible? It's hard to understand why she needs to make this move and deal with this homestead. Or why the father needs to stop her.

It alludes to some sort of danger waiting for her out there because of her father but I'm not really invested in why she needs to go to Wyoming to begin with.

I hope this helps in some way.


message 5: by Keith (new)

Keith Oxenrider (mitakeet) | 1166 comments I guess a question I have is why she can't simply purchase land herself. While there's no longer any 'homesteading' in the US (even Alaska), there's certainly plenty of inexpensive land for sale (like 160 acres in Wyoming for $40K, what I just found after a minute's search; indeed, searching nation-wide for a few more minutes, I found 636 acres in Texas for under $100K). If she's somehow involved in a 'billion-dollar' legacy, it sure seems like she could find enough money to get away from it all, if that's what she desired.

I totally get the itch to be self sufficient, my wife and I bought raw land and build a house on it doing 90% of the work ourselves, but I invested years learning how to do such things and hired experts where necessary. Your Ellen sounds rather flighty the way your blurb is written, particularly since it acknowledges that she lacks the skills. Perhaps the desire to 'get away from it all' is a catalyst to turning away from her legacy, which triggers the rest of the action, but that's not how I feel the blurb is written.

Basically, anything that happens in the first 2/3 of your novel is fair game for the blurb. So if the "... compelling reason her father wanted to stop her from going to Wyoming" and "... consequences she never knew were coming" happen before the last third, go ahead and let us know. You have to balance mystery. Too much and people aren't hooked enough to want to read more. Don't reveal the ending, of course.

All that being said, I like that your latest version focuses on Ellen and her estranged relationship with her father. But I agree with Willow that "responsible for her own mess" is too vague. I feel like you're getting closer. Well, less far away ;-)


message 6: by J.R. (last edited Jan 08, 2020 06:20PM) (new)

J.R. Alcyone | 223 comments I took a stab at your blurb, based on what I could glean of the story. This is ~ 147 words.

--

As she enters her mid-thirties, New York heiress Ellen Jasper would like nothing more than to break from her father and his stifling billion-dollar legacy. But riddled with grief over the loss of her first husband and child, Ellen is too paralyzed to act.

That is until her domineering father delivers an ultimatum.

Two-thousand miles away in Wyoming, Jane Corbett, newly widowed and desperate to hold onto her family’s legacy, has just divided her ranch into homesteading parcels. When Ellen stumbles on an ad for one of the parcels, she is convinced learning to live simply is exactly what she needs—and not even her father’s vehement objections will overcome her resolve to head to Wyoming.

But what Ellen doesn’t know is a nasty grudge smolders between the Corbett and Jasper families. And when Ellen inadvertently awakens that feud, she will find herself facing a reckoning.

--

I like the term "reckoning." It has a western feel, and it brings to mind without you having to reveal too much that Ellen is going to have to face past misdeeds (whether her own or her family's) and be called to account for her past.


message 7: by Susan (new)

Susan | 19 comments J.R. wrote: "I took a stab at your blurb, based on what I could glean of the story. This is ~ 147 words.

--

As she enters her mid-thirties, New York heiress Ellen Jasper would like nothing more than to break ..."


That really helps! Thank you!


message 8: by Susan (new)

Susan | 19 comments Keith wrote: "I guess a question I have is why she can't simply purchase land herself. While there's no longer any 'homesteading' in the US (even Alaska), there's certainly plenty of inexpensive land for sale (l..."

Thanks Keith!

My character doesn't have the confidence of a person who would go out completely on her own. She wouldn't even know where to start. The homestead program in the novel appeals to her because it seems wild but also safe. In her mind, why would someone accept her for their program if they thought she was sure to fail?
I'm going to continue working on the blurb to try and capture her state of mind so that the program and her motivation to participate make more sense.


message 9: by Keith (new)

Keith Oxenrider (mitakeet) | 1166 comments For me, JR's blurb attempt seems to work very well.


message 10: by Susan (new)

Susan | 19 comments Thanks! I like it too!


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