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Posts Tagged ‘blurbs’

Blurbs

Okay, so I took a little break from the first draft of BECOME: TO CATCH THE LIGHTNING

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to work on the blurb for THE SHAMAN’S CURSE.

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Here’s the old blurb:

Vatar risked his life to try to save his friend–and failed. Now he has an implacable enemy in the vengeful shaman, who blames Vatar for the death of his only son. In his isolation, Vatar finds some comfort in daydreams. He knows the strange girl he sometimes imagines is just that–a dream. She’d better be.

Because, if she’s real things could get even worse for Vatar. The accepted magic of Vatar’s plains tribe wouldn’t enable him to see or communicate with a girl he doesn’t even know–or know where to find. That would be more like the magic passed down in certain, closely-guarded bloodlines among the ruling class of the coastal cities. And that’s bad. Very bad.

Unlike their own, Vatar’s people think the city magic is evil. If the shaman ever found out, it could be the weapon he needs to destroy Vatar. And yet, finding a way to accept the other side of his heritage may be the only way Vatar can ultimately defeat his enemy.

The two kinds of magic have always been separate. Until now.
 

It focuses a little too much on the girl. Not that she’s unimportant–far from it. But, it doesn’t exactly communicate that this is the first book in an epic fantasy series.

Here’s the new one:

The two kinds of magic have always been totally separate. Until now.

Vatar risked his life to try to save his friend–and failed. Now he has an implacable enemy in the shaman, who blames Vatar for the death of his only son. He’s forced to flee his home, at least until the shaman’s thirst for revenge cools.

Taking shelter with his mother’s people in one of the coastal cities, Vatar learns more than he bargained for. He agreed to learn to work iron and steel, but he never suspected to find a magical heritage as well.

And that’s a problem. A huge problem. Because unlike their own Spirit magic, his people regard the city magic as the work of Evil Spirits. If the shaman ever found out about this, it could be the weapon he needs to destroy Vatar.

And yet, finding a way to accept the other side of his heritage may be the only way Vatar can ultimately defeat his enemy and win more than his freedom.

I’m sure this one is still far from perfect. But it hopefully does a better job of communicating what kind of story this is.

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Become: Brothers is now available for pre-order at only $0.99. Release date May 12.

Brothers

Two half-brothers born a day apart.

First born, Gaian is the son of the king and a goddess. His more-than-human strength seems a poor exchange for the support of a flesh-and-blood mother as he struggles to be worthy of Becoming a god himself. Or just struggles to rise above the machinations of the queen.

A single day younger, Benar is the son of the king and queen. Like his mother, he refuses to believe the story of Gaian’s birth. He struggles to fulfill his mother’s wishes by proving himself to be his father’s true heir. But frustration and guile prove to be poor weapons against Gaian’s unnatural strength.

Until a coming-of-age trial forces them either to cooperate—and become brothers in truth—or else one of them may not survive the trial.

Inspired the legend of Hercules.

Now, back to Become: To Catch the Lightning.

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(See how those covers go together. 🙂 )

 

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So, the last few days have been spent on that formatting issue that’s supposed to help with that page-flip glitch. And not much else. Sometimes, things just work the first time you try. More often, they don’t. Especially when they involve learning a couple a new software applications.

Despite a couple of online sets of instructions, it wasn’t nearly as straightforward as depicted–and it hadn’t looked that simple to start with. But . . . a former boss once observed that, with me, he needed to watch where he aimed. Because once I get my teeth into a task, I will rarely quit until I’ve succeeded. And, finally, last night, I did.

THE SHAMAN’S CURSE has been reformatted, though there’s one (relatively small) thing I may still need to go back and fix.

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The upside, aside from hopefully fixing that glitch, is that the formatting of the ebook should actually be improved.

So, one down, sixteen to go (counting boxed sets and short fiction). But, from here, it should be easier. I hope. I just . . . don’t really feel motivated to start on that list again today. Maybe a day of rest from that battle is warranted.

Meanwhile, I’m going to also get back to revisions on BECOME: BROTHERS. As well as working on cover art for it. Oh, and a blurb. (Just like writing queries–not my favorite part of this process, but necessary. Without a good blurb, the whole page-flip battle will be useless.)

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So, last time, after blogging about changing one of the categories and many of the keywords for DAUGHTER OF THE DISGRACED KING, I promised to discuss changes to the blurb.

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Here’s the original blurb:

Keep your head down. Don’t draw attention. Above all, don’t make yourself a target. Those are the rules seventeen-year-old Ailsa lives by. It’s just part of being the daughter of the disgraced ex-king and living too close to his more-than-slightly paranoid successor.

Ailsa isn’t the only one affected by the new king’s insecurities. The mages backed her father. Now the new king’s repressive policies drive the mages out of the kingdom–and with them the magic that her desert country desperately needs to survive. Ailsa sets out to study magic so she can help keep Far Terra green.

Her plans are nearly upset when her oldest friend, Crown Prince Savyon, proposes. Marrying him would mean giving up her magic. Her family history proves that the barons will never accept a mage as queen. A year of training won’t make her a mage—unless she has insanely powerful magic. And there’s been no sign of that. But at least she’ll know what she’d be giving up before she makes a decision.

A magic-tinted kiss from Jathan, her cheerfully annoying study partner, makes her question what she really feels for Savyon. She and Jathan could do great things together–except that he never wants to go near the desert.

Are magic and love forever mutually exclusive for Ailsa?

See how that basically reinforces the romance, rather than the fantasy elements? It doesn’t sound like much else is going on, does it?

Here’s the new one:

Keep your head down. Don’t draw attention. Above all, don’t make yourself a target. Those are the rules seventeen-year-old Ailsa lives by. It’s just part of being the daughter of the disgraced ex-king and living too close to his more-than-slightly paranoid successor.

The new king’s insecurities and repressive policies drive most of the mages out of the kingdom–and with them the magic that her desert country urgently needs to survive.

Desperate, Ailsa sets out to study magic so she can help keep Far Terra green. But it’s not as easy as just learning to use her own magic. She’s going to need allies. She’s going to need the very kind of political power that is forbidden to mages.

She must decide if she can trust her heart—and Far Terra’s future—to the childhood friend who is also the new king’s heir. Or she could choose to team up with the fascinating and cheerfully annoying fellow student of magic who, it turns out, has even higher political connections to the emperor himself.

It may take all three of them to bring Far Terra back from the brink.

I tightened up the second paragraph and basically refocused everything from there on to be more about the problem of saving Far Terra, rather than the romance, which really is more the subplot. Though I left in a hint that it’s there. I still may make a change to that last line, though.

After making these changes, I ran another one-day free promotion for this book. Ill-timed. It had only been two weeks since the first one. The first time, I gave away 135 copies. Last week, only 12. Nevertheless, this time it’s placement in Amazon’s ranking did improve and so far, while, like all of them, it’s sliding backward slowly, it is still better placed than it was.

So, I guess that’s an object lesson about the importance of the blurb. We all hate writing them, but we do need to get it right.

Next time, after I’ve assessed all I’ve learned through this experiment, I’ll lay out my personal plan going forward.

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Still working on the blurb for BEYOND THE PROPHECY.

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Here’s what I have so far–on the third try. Still not there, yet.

Being one of a handful graced—or cursed—with both kinds of magic places Vatar at the center of turmoil. In more ways than one.

As power shifts in his adopted city, Vatar must choose. Support the traditional rulers for the sake of stability, even though their rule is based on a lie. Or reveal that lie and help those who would create a new order. Only Vatar, with ties to both sides, is in a position to decide which is best.

But that choice will have to wait while he tries to find a way to deal with enemies gathering on the border. Foes that could mean disaster for both his city and the plains-dwelling tribe who raised him. Only magic can provide a reliable defense. Magic the plains people fear more than any enemy.

But when he’s captured by one of those enemies, Vatar will have to prove his boast that it’s impossible to imprison anyone who can do what he can—or die.

Now, if I can just find a way to work in some of the unique aspects of the world without driving the word count up.

Yeah, blurbs are hard.

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I Broke It

Don’t worry. I’ve fixed it again.

What I broke was the end of THE VOICE OF PROPHECY. You see, one of my critique partners had what sounded like a really good idea. I tried it. It didn’t work.

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If you’ve seen the blurb:

When the two kinds of magic combine in one person, unexpected things happen.
Sensing the presence of lions is one thing. Any member of the Lion Clan could do that. When Vatar sees the hunt through the eyes of one of the big cats—well, that’s something else altogether. And that’s only the beginning of the unusual manifestations of his magic.

When a mysterious voice only he can hear volunteers ancient wisdom, Vatar knows he’s in trouble. After enduring an Ordeal to prove he isn’t haunted by an Evil Spirit, Vatar thinks he may be possessed after all. Or losing his mind. Or cursed.

He must hide his Talent from his magic-fearing people or face consequences that don’t bear thinking about. But he has to control it in order to keep it secret. And now he’s not sure he can. It’s enough to make him want to give up on magic altogether.

But he’s going to need all his wits—and all the magic he can muster—to defeat those who want to use him and his unique abilities for their own ends.

You know that the main conflict of this story is The Voice. What is it? What can it actually do? And what does it want? Those questions aren’t answered until the very end of the book, though hopefully there’ve been enough clues sprinkled in that the reader knows the answer before my characters overcome their blind spots and preconceptions to figure it out.

The change sounded like a great idea, mostly because it was what the source of The Voice would actually do. But I read through it again yesterday. In the execution it just falls flat. It’s not supposed to be the climax, but I don’t want it to be completely anti-climactic either.

This is where having those online backups helps. I can get back what I had before that change. I won’t be going back completely to the original version. I like some of the things that I added. And I intend to cut some of what was there in the original version. It’ll end up better.

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First, let me say that the release of THE VOICE OF PROPHECY is still scheduled for December 15th.

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Second, I know I said that I was targeting November 17th for the pre-order. That may not happen for a couple of reasons.

  1. I’m still assessing what information I can gather about Amazon’s pre-order system. I notice that people who generally know a lot more about how these things work than I do have chosen shorter pre-order periods. There’s a reason for this. (Maybe more than one.) It has to do with the way Amazon helps with the discoverability of some books. This was a huge factor for me with THE SHAMAN’S CURSE, and I don’t want to screw it up with this one.????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????The thing is, Amazon has several lists. One of them–the Hot New Releases–is only available for thirty days. As far as I can tell, that could expire before the book is ever released if I start the pre-order to early. I’m not sure about that, though. I may have to contact Amazon for a final answer. It wasn’t in their FAQs.
  2. The second reason is more practical. Before I can expect anyone to order it, I need to have a good blurb. And, like everything to do with a sequel, that’s harder than it was for the first book. Trying to balance enough information, potentially for people who didn’t read THE SHAMAN’S CURSE, with an enticing peek at this story. Well, let’s just say I may not have that by the 17th. I’m leaning toward this:

When the two kinds of magic combine, unexpected things happen.

Vatar overcame his tribe’s superstitions to accept his own magic. That doesn’t mean he’s prepared to tell them about it. He’d rather keep that secret forever. Especially when unprecedented things start to happen that even the experts in magic can’t explain.

Even more when a mysterious voice only he can hear starts volunteering information Vatar can’t possible know.

After enduring an Ordeal to prove he wasn’t possessed by an Evil Spirit, Vatar now thinks he may be after all. Or losing his mind. Or cursed. It’s enough to make him want to give up on magic altogether.

But he’s going to need all his wits—and all the magic he can muster—to defeat those who want to use him and his magic for their own ends.

But that’s not right yet. For one thing, the word “magic” is used five times in as many paragraphs. For another, it lacks enough specifics to grab a new reader. And third, some of hte references are probably confusing for someone who hasn’t read the first book.

Oh, and I also have to whip a couple of chapters from the first draft of Book 3 (probably to be titled BEYOND THE PROPHECY) into shape to include as an excerpt.

Yeah, nobody said this part was going to be easy.

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