Blurb Thursday #2 (What’s hot and what’s not)

After talking up the blurb of A. Star’s Wish For Me (which I’ve also raved about here), today I’ll showcase the blurb of a dystopian, young adult novel that grabbed my attention.

Aftermath (After the Fall Dystopian series Book 1)

by Tom Lewis
Publication date: March 28, 2015
Purchase Link: Amazon
Genres: dystopian, yound adult

Official Synopsis

The end of the world came fast. Between the time the warning had sounded on the TV, till when 16-year-old Paige O’Connor awakened sometime later, civilization had been crushed.

The attacks had come by “them” – those things in the ships in the sky that had appeared suddenly, and without warning.

And as Paige would soon discover, the attacks had only been the beginning.

Aftermath is the first book in the new After the Fall dystopian action series, which follows a young girl’s struggle for survival in the wake of civilization’s collapse, and humanity’s domination by an alien race of beings.

My take

First off, the cover is spot on. From the cold color texture to the solid font, it’s an example of excellent dystopian branding. Also,

Image_1_Blurb_2

But,

Image_2_Blurb_2

Image_3_Blurb_2

The blurb is good, but I felt it’s lacking in some ways. Instead of giving an outline of the plot, what it more or less explains is the notion of “dystopia”: “The end of the world came fast”“civilization had been crushed”“humanity’s domination by an alien race” (which, apparently, are called “them” in the book).

As a reader, I’m left wondering: What makes this book different from all the young adult dystopian novels out there?

I have noticed that, when writing a synopsis, authors sometimes play up their genre more than the story. When the cover brands the book well, some key words are enough to brand the genre. The rest of the blurb should show the reader why this story stands out from the rest, and vague references such as “the attacks had only been the beginning” and “a young girl’s struggle for survival” are staple notions in a dystopian book (doesn’t everyone struggle for survival when aliens take over?)

I read some of the Goodreads reviews and saw that there’s much more to this book than meets the eye (blurb-wise) that, if added, would give a clearer identity to the plot.

If you’d like more info on this book, here’s the purchase link: Amazon

You can check out its Goodreads page as well.

f5f34-goodreads

What do you think of this blurb? Would it make you click its purchase link?

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Blurb Thursday #1 (What’s hot and what’s not)

A new blog category! As you probably know, I’ve been hosting for three book tour companies through my promo blog, MM Jaye presents. I get to read literally hundreds of blurbs each month, and some are strikingly good while others (in my opinion) don’t work too well.

So this is where I’ll present and talk about new blurbs, showcasing what’s hot (and what’s not) about them.

This week:

Wish for Me (The Djinn Order #1)

by A. Star

Publication Date: April 27, 2015
Genres: Fantasy, Romance, Steampunk

Official Synopsis

When the snarky Glory St. Pierre discovers the gold mechanical vase in her deceased grandmother’s basement, she has no idea that she has uncovered a priceless treasure: a genie lamp. With a real genie inside. A very sexy genie with a not-so-sexy grudge against the entire human race.

Irving Amir hates being called a genie. He’s a Djinn, and he is none too happy to be in the service of Glory, who is as intolerable, and beautiful, as humans come. Now he owes her his gratitude for freeing him and three wishes. Damn his luck.

But an arrow through the shoulder alerts Irving to the fact that he is being hunted, and after a truce dinner with Glory ends with them both almost being killed, hating each other goes right out the window.

As feelings change and love starts to develop, they must dig through the secrets and lies to find the truth…a truth neither of them will ever see coming.

WARNING: Not suitable for ages 18 and under. A significant source of bad language, sexy times, and dirty jokes. If you suffer from a lack of a sense of humor, take with plenty of wine. If the symptom persists, see a doctor.

My take

First off, the cover is beautiful. Mysterious and inviting. The winding mechanisms brand it as a steampunk novel, and while the romance aspect is not obvious, the title helps. My only objection is with the author’s name. In thumbnail size, it’s barely discernible.

As for the blurb? I loved it! In fact, I’ve picked it up for reviewing (through Xpresso Book Tours). Let’s break this down:

Blurb post 1

blurb2

Blurb3

blurb4As for the Warning at the end, I found it ingenious. Witty, no-nonsense, it proves this will be a fun read.

If your interest is piqued, here is its purchase link: Amazon

You can also add it on Goodreads.

f5f34-goodreads

What’s your take on this blurb? Does it do what it’s supposed to do?

Calling All Critiques: Final Wrap-Up

The first Calling All Critiques event was a success!

On behalf of all the bloggers, I want to thank all entrants and participants for taking time out of your busy schedules to take part. We hope you enjoyed it and perhaps learned something along the way. Got any suggestions on how to make the next event a success? Leave them in the comments!

Third Week Visiting Winner

The third week’s visiting winner who either commented or followed one of the participating bloggers on Twitter is:

Simon Clark

You’ll receive an email soon. You have until Thursday to respond with further information for us to send you your prize. If we don’t hear from you by then, a runner-up will be chosen.

One more shout out to the bloggers!

Don’t forget to give some thanks to all our participating blogs and bloggers:

Again, thank you!

Calling All Critiques: Third week wrap-up

Thank you to everyone who has participated so far in Calling All Critiques, whether you were a submitting author or a critiquer or just stopped by the blogs to see what was going on.

I’d like to personally thank S.L. Saboviec for all the work she’s put in to send us post templates that saved us precious time and for her amazing coordination.

Second Week Visiting Winner

The second week’s visiting winner who either commented or followed one of the participating bloggers on Twitter is:

Alan Saxon

Alan, you should have received an email already. You have until Saturday to respond with further information for us to send you your prize. If we don’t hear from you by then, a runner-up will be chosen.

Query Letter / Book Blurb Random Winner

As a thank you to all the authors who submitted their work to be critiqued, we’ve randomly chosen one lucky winner who has a choice of the following prizes:

The query letter / book blurb week’s winner is:

Entrant #6
M.W.

M., look for an email in your inbox later today. You have until Sunday to respond as to which of the three prizes you want. If we don’t hear from you by then, a runner-up will be chosen. Once you choose your prize, we will provide you and the blogger with each other’s contact information to coordinate timing.

Final Wrap-Up Next Week

The final week’s Rafflecopter random giveaway of two eBooks and a $10 Amazon gift certificate ends on Sunday at midnight, so give some feedback on one of the earlier posts and maybe win some prizes. Check out this week’s entries here and here:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

One more shout out to the bloggers!

Don’t forget to give some thanks to all our participating blogs and bloggers:

See you again on Monday for the final wrap-up!

Calling All Critiques: Query Letter Entry #6

Thank you, M.W., for submitting your query letter! I hope that the comments you receive will help you get tons of positive responses!

Critiques are welcome from anyone and everyone. Just remember our rules: Be nice. Be constructive. Be specific. Be polite. In this case, we would appreciate comments from writers who have gone through the process, or at least have looked into the art of writing a successful query letter. If you’re not familiar with how query letters work, you can still comment on the blurb!

For anyone just joining us, check out a previous post about the this week’s event.

If you comment with your critique, please feel free to enter this week’s Rafflecopter giveaway. One lucky person will win a $10 Amazon gift card, an eCopy of It Ain’t Easy Being Jazzy by Quanie Miller, and an eCopy of Guarding Angel by S. L. Saboviec.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Entry #6

Name: M.W.
Website:http://mywritingcorner.webs.com/
Title: The Chess Club
Genre: YA

Entry

Dear…

I am currently seeking an agent for my first novel, THE CHESS CLUB. A YA mystery novel, which is about 70,000 words. The idea for this book derived from my interest in chess and a love of the Nancy Drew stories. I wanted to write a feisty, intelligent, female character for today’s young adult audience, as well as include humour, eccentricity and Skittles. The story follows the anti-social Penelope Featherstonehaugh (pronounced Fanshaw) as she starts a chess club without realising just how much that will change her life.

Penelope is forced to come up with an after-school club and she chooses the Chess Club, hoping nobody plays chess any more. Her solitary world is instantly invaded by four quirky characters who drag her out of her comfort zone, whether she likes it or not. Things are made worse when their chess pieces go missing, as well as objects from other after-school clubs. The headmaster asks Penelope for help and the Chess Club members rally around, eager to dive into an adventure. In the meantime Penelope’s attention is divided between her alcoholic mother and robberies committed in town. Though she is armed with her intelligence and sarcasm, she doesn’t realise how close to danger she truly is.

I have a BA in English Language and Culture from the University of Utrecht and recently received my MA in Creative Writing from the University of Kent. I have had one of my short stories published in the University of Utrecht student magazine Phoenix.

I have added a synopsis to this email. I chose to approach you because you have a broad taste when it comes to fiction, just like me. A partial or full manuscript is available upon request. I look forward to hearing from you. Thank you for your time and consideration.

Sincerely,

My Critique

I feel awkward commenting on your letter when you hold a BA in English, and I’m not even a native speaker. But one thing I have faith in is my instinct, so I’ll offer my bit, and hopefully you’ll find it constructive.

I felt that the language you used throughout the letter was more of the conversational type when you need “tight” original language that will brand you as a good writer. For example, the second sentence is not full (no main verb). My suggestion for your opening:

I am currently seeking representation for my first novel, THE CHESS CLUB, a 70,000-word YA mystery novel.

I’m not sure that the two sentences where you talk about what inspired you to write the book and your intentions regarding the heroine would be of interest to the agent. If your inspiration was highly original e.g. an Andean trek inspired you to write a wilderness thriller, I’d say include it, but an interest in chess and Nancy Drew isn’t that exceptional. Also your intention to portray a feisty heroine does not guarantee that you’ve succeeded, but what if you present her character’s attributes through a behaviour rather than tell us (show not tell)? My suggestion:

Penelope Featherstonehaugh (pronounced Fanshaw) is a ??-year-old high school student who likes people as long as they keep their distance. When she is assigned the foundation of an after-school club, she goes for a chess club, assuming she would be its sole member. But her solitary world is instantly invaded by (names) who, in no time at all, drag her out of her comfort zone.” (The phrase “whether she likes it or not” is redundant; nobody likes being dragged out of their comfort zone.)

The rest of your blurb is somewhat fragmented. You say “things are made worse” when objects go missing, but then we learn that Penelope has an alcoholic mother, which makes the missing objects sound trivial. Then there is mention of robberies and danger but how does that connect to the chess club? My suggestion (but I’m speculating here, as I don’t have all the facts):

“Having to deal with an alcoholic mother and a wave of robberies that sends ripples through the town, Penelope needs a tougher armour than intelligence and wit.”

As for attaching a synopsis, make sure you do it only when the submission requirements specify it.

I wish you the best of luck with your endeavours, and, once again, thank you for participating in our event.

 

 

Calling All Critiques: Query Letter Entry #5

Welcome to our Query Letter/Blurb critique week, and thank you, Peggy Rothschild, for submitting your query letter! I hope that the comments you receive will help you nail the task!

Critiques are welcome from anyone and everyone. Just remember our rules: Be nice. Be constructive. Be specific. Be polite. In this case, we would appreciate comments from writers who have gone through the process, or at least have looked into the art of writing a successful query letter. If you’re not familiar with how query letters work, you can still comment on the blurb!

For anyone just joining us, check out a previous post about the this week’s event.

If you comment with your critique, please feel free to enter this week’s Rafflecopter giveaway. One lucky person will win a $10 Amazon gift card, an eCopy of It Ain’t Easy Being Jazzy by Quanie Miller, and an eCopy of Guarding Angel by S. L. Saboviec.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Entry #5

Name: Peggy Rothschild
Website:www.peggyrothschild.com
Title: Erasing Ramona
Genre: Adult, Thriller

Entry

Dear Fabulous Agent:

Twenty-seven-year-old Miranda Burgess wants to stop running from her past. She hasn’t been back to Mill Valley since the day she awoke inside a strange house and discovered six dead bodies, including that of her boyfriend, Billy. With no idea who committed the murders, Miranda ran, winding up in L.A. where she changed her name and made a fresh start. Ten years later, her father’s death draws her home, even though the journey may jeopardize her freedom.

The day after the funeral, a strange man tries to force her into a van. Miranda manages to escape, but from what her would-be abductor says, she suspects the attempt is linked to the long ago murders known as the Orwell Massacre. Her new identity compromised, Miranda refuses to start over again. Going to the police isn’t an option either. She begins investigating the killings, hoping to spark some memory from that blacked-out night. But, old newspaper stories only get her so far. To dig deeper, Miranda will need to return to the risk-taking and law-breaking that once ruled her life.

During her search for answers, Miranda discovers old friends have become enemies and new enemies potential allies. Only after unmasking the killer is Miranda able to envision a future that is no longer bound by the past.

A thriller, ERASING RAMONA (70,000 words) delves into a flawed central character’s growth as she triumphs over her personal history while facing down an outside adversary.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

Sincerely,

My Critique

First of all, the title is fantastic! Great branding and the -RA- alliteration is a plus. Also, the story is enticing. It has the makings of a great thriller. Now, as query letters go, my main concern is that this one does not contain a paragraph about yourself. What are your writing credentials? If this is your first manuscript, is it a stand-alone, will there be a sequel? Also, have you set up an author platform? Could your academic or professional background support your writing in this genre? It’s important that the agent get an idea about who you are as well. This paragraph should be added after the blurb.

I suggest you open your letter with the last paragraph which is a wonderful introduction presenting the title, the genre and the word count. Then follow with the blurb.

My suggestions about the blurb: omit the boyfriend’s name. He’s been dead for ten years, so why mention him? Also, I’d like to know why Miranda felt she had to flee the crime scene; was she afraid she would be a suspect? If this is the case, maybe you should start the second sentence with something like: “Having lived on the fringes of the law for most of her teens, Miranda panicked and ran, winding up in L.A….” Also, the second paragraph starts with very specific details that could be condensed. My suggestion:

Ten years later, her father’s funeral draws her home, but after an attempted abduction, which turns out to be linked to the long ago murders now known as the Orwell Massacre, Miranda realizes that she’s in mortal danger. Not willing to start over again and ruling out turning to the police, she begins investigating the killings, hoping to spark some memory from that blacked-out night. But, old newspaper stories only get her so far. To dig deeper, Miranda will need to return to the risk-taking and law-breaking that once ruled her life.

In fact, that would be a great way to end your blurb. I feel that your third paragraph does not offer much. The friends turned enemies twist is not highly original as is the conclusion that Miranda will have to unmask the killer to have a future—-that is stating the obvious. In my opinion this paragraph could be omitted.

A little shifting around, the addition of a short paragraph about yourself, and you’ve got a query letter with great prospects!

 

 

Calling All Critiques: Submit your Query Letter or Book Blurb now!

The last week of our cross-blog critique event is here! Starting now, Calling All Critiques is accepting entries for your query letter or book blurb.

How to Enter

Submit your entry to Critiques@Saboviec.com. Cut and paste the following template into your email and fill it in.

Your name/pseudonym:
Your website (optional):
Title:

Genre (include audience, such as YA/Adult, and category):
Entry:

We’ve not assigned a limit to number of words in your entry.

Acceptance of entries closes on Monday, June 9, at 8 p.m. EDT.

More Details

Questions? Check out some of the earlier blog posts or leave a comment below:

After You Submit…

After you submit, check out all the participating blogs and bloggers:

Thanks for being part of Calling All Critiques!

Breathe! (Friday Fictioneers #3)

This flash fiction Friday event is both fun and a great writing exercise. A picture prompt, a 100-word story that links dozens of awesome writer bloggers! Thank you, Rochelle Wishoff-Fields!

Here’s my third attempt entitled “Breathe!

PHOTO PROMPT Copyright – Douglas M. MacIlroy

 

BREATHE!

99 words

“No!” Mary’s cry sliced the silence of the cabin like a sharp blade.

The smeared spoon, the lighter on the table, Amy’s body slouched on the chair, the tablet idle on her lap.

Amy’s eyes cracked open. Mary braced herself for the vacant, red look of a daughter gone. It had been five years. No!

Amy stretched like a cat. “Jeez, I guess I snoozed. There was a power cut, so I heated the soup on the gas cooker.” She gave her mother a sheepish smile. “I’m a slob.”

Mary shuddered, as relief exploded in her. “Any soup left?”

__________________________

When I saw this picture, impulsively I zoomed in to discern any actual drug paraphernalia. It just took me there, hence the story.

For more stories and totally different takes on this prompt click on the linky:

Calling All Critiques: Second Week Wrap-Up

Thank you to everyone who has participated so far in Calling All Critiques, whether you were a submitting author or a critiquer or just stopped by the blogs to see what was going on. The second week’s Rafflecopter random giveaway of two eBooks and a $10 Amazon gift certificate ends on Sunday at midnight, so give some feedback on one of the earlier posts and maybe win some prizes:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

First Week Visiting Winner

The first week’s visiting winner who either commented or followed one of the participating bloggers on Twitter is:

Entry #49
Elliot W.

Elliot, you should have received an email yesterday. You have until Thursday to respond with further information for us to send you your prize. If we don’t hear from you by then, a runner-up will be chosen.

Cover Art Random Winner

As a thank you to all the authors who submitted their work to be critiqued, we’ve randomly chosen one lucky winner who has a choice of the following prizes:

This week’s winner is:

Entrant #9
Bob Cradock

Bob, look for an email in your inbox later today. You have until Friday to respond as to which of the three prizes you want. If we don’t hear from you by then, a runner-up will be chosen. Once you choose your prize, we will provide you and the blogger with each other’s contact information to coordinate timing.

Next Week: Query Letter or Book Blurb Critique

Starting Saturday, June 7, 2014, at 6 a.m. Eastern and ending Monday, June 9, 2014, at 8 p.m. Eastern, submit your query letter or book blurb to Critiques@Saboviec.com. Cut and paste the following template into your email and fill it in.

The name you want to be known by:
Your website (optional):
Title:

Genre (include audience, such as YA/Adult, and category):
Entry:

We’re not imposing a word limit for this critique; however, you already know that too long isn’t going to get you an agent or interest in your novel, right?

This week’s deadline: Monday, June 9, 2014, at 8 p.m.

Your entry will be assigned a number in the order in which it is received. Our cutoff is 30 entries. Entries 1-6 will be posted on our blogs Monday morning, entries 7-12 will be posted on our blogs Tuesday morning, etc.

Your email will be kept confidential. What you submit is what will be posted, so double- and triple-check your spelling and grammar. (We may correct crazy formatting errors as a result of email quirks, but still, make sure it’s clean before you press send.) You may resubmit an entry, but it goes to the end of the queue: if you submit it past the 30-entry cutoff, you’ll have lost your spot.

All 30 accepted entrants will be entered into the prize drawing, and the winner will be chosen by their assigned number through Random.org.

As always, if you don’t want both positive and negative feedback, please don’t enter. This event is for us to help one another grow as authors and maybe to make some friends in the process.

Some fine print: Entries that don’t include the above information will be discarded. At our sole discretion, we may also discard other posts for reasons such as offensive/distasteful material. Erotica may be confined only to certain blogs, and we may put an adult content warning on it.

If You Enter, Please …

Critique other entrants. The sky’s the limit on how many other entries you critique, but we ask that you at least provide feedback to two other participants.

Also, when you receive feedback on your entry, be gracious if you decide to respond. We would highly suggest not responding except for perhaps a “thank you,” but you’re going to do what you’re going to do, aren’t you? Don’t be defensive or explanatory; these critiques are for you to improve your writing. Take what you want and leave the rest behind.

And If You Critique, Please …

Be nice. Be constructive. Be specific. Be polite.

Mean-spirited or spam posts will be deleted. General “I love everything about it and I think you’re the next J.K. Rowling, ZOMG!” obviously-written-about-your-best-friend comments won’t be deleted, but that’s tacky. Don’t be tacky.

Join us for more fun next week!

While you wait, check out all the participating blogs and bloggers:

We look forward to seeing you back here soon.

Any questions? Leave them in the comments!

Calling All Critiques: Cover Art Entry #1

Welcome to our Cover Art critique week!

Critiques are welcome from anyone and everyone. Just remember our rules: Be nice. Be constructive. Be specific. Be polite.

For anyone just joining us, check out a previous post about the Cover Art critique event.

If you comment with your critique, please feel free to enter this week’s Rafflecopter giveaway. One lucky person will win a $10 Amazon gift card, an eCopy of It Ain’t Easy Being Jazzy by Quanie Miller, and an eCopy of Guarding Angel by S. L. Saboviec.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Entry #1: For the Love of Temperance

Entry by: Ichabod Temperance
Title: For The Love of Temperance
Genre: Steampunk/Paranormal

There’s More to Critique!

After leaving your comment here, please head over to the other awesome blogger hosts to check out the other entries and offer your feedback: