Blurb Clinic

Okay, a bunch of you requested blurb clinics. And I was innocently sipping my coffee when I looked up and saw a swarm of fingers pointed at me, including one from Sarah as she rapidly ran away. I get it, I get it. The other people on this group blog write actual, y’know, books, and then try to write a blurb once a book. I write blurbs, and only every now and then try to write a book. So, blurb clinic!

To start with, I’m going to repost the text from the last blurb clinic, with three added notes:

1. Readers like characters with agency. This means the characters go places and do things, they don’t just have life happen while they’re there. Blurbs must reflect this agency – they must show your character going and doing and plotting. The shorthand for this is “Don’t use passive voice”, because nothing kills agency faster (and adds length) than putting the action verb on something other than the character. But it’s not solely grammar. “Bob had survived the war, and was hiding on the sidelines as conspiracies rose in the court to entangle him” is very passive. “After surviving the war, Bob is hiding out as a mere florist in the court’s staff. But when he uncovers a new conspiracy…” that has agency.

2. The first person introduced is assumed to be the hero. “In the house of Rlyeh, Cthulu lies dreaming until Captain Carter disturbs him while searching for lost treasure!” If the readers don’t know Cthulu, that makes Cthulu sound like the protagonist, and possibly hero. “After finding lost civilizations on six continents, Captain Carter is close to solving his biggest mystery yet: the location of the lost temple of R’lyeh! But dread Cthulu lies inside, dreaming…” Makes Captain Carter the protagonist.

3. Lead with your protagonist. No matter how interesting your world, people won’t care until you give them a person to care about. This is one of the essential paradoxes of science fiction and fantasy: people are attracted to the genre for the setting, but they stay and come back for the characters.
“After two hundred years at war, the Empire of Man has come to a stalemate with the Scourge. Each side is deadlocked, seeking some advantage, and sending teams to scour dead worlds in search of lost tech left behind by the forerunners. Blah blah setup setup infodump….” is not how to start a blurb.

instead, try “Captain James Carter of the Go Lightly is scouring the ruins of dead races in search of any lost technology that could turn the tide of interstellar war. When he contracts the virus that killed an entire race, Command orders him to become a suicide bio-bomber! Will one man’s search for survival put all humanity’s star systems at risk?”

Links to prior blurb clinics:

https://madgeniusclub.com/2016/05/22/blurbs-ad-copy-and-cover-copy/
https://madgeniusclub.com/2016/01/10/blurbs-short-and-sweet/

Blurbs, Ad Copy, and Cover Copy: A blast from the past and present-day Blurb Clinic

First, let’s establish terms, because they’ve gotten muddled. “Blurb” used to mean a pull quote on the cover of a book. “This is the greatest thing since sliced bread! –Famous Author in Same Genre.” Pull quotes are a journalistic device of lifting selective quotations out of an interview, article, or review, and highlighting them to make the article or item being reviewed sound really juicy.

Now, “blurb” has become a term for the Ad Copy, or Cover Copy, which means the one to three paragraphs of “What’s it about?” on the back of the book, on the website under description, and right next to the cover thumbnail on promotional emails.

Sarah tackled this subject, under https://madgeniusclub.com/2016/05/18/going-indie-for-dummies-but-what-is-it-about/. And then she tackled me, and said I had to explain how I do the voodoo that I do so well.

Now, I personally feel that’s about like asking all y’all “how do you write stories?” There are a lot of guidelines, but no hard and fast rules beyond it must be truthful about the contents, and hook the reader’s attention.

Interestingly enough, those of you who have written poetry will be at an advantage here, because you’re familiar with making every syllable, much less every word, count.

Like haiku, there are length constraints. Some promotional emails are very specific about the character limit (letters and spaces) you may use. Other places, like Amazon, will let you ramble on and on, but they cut the “above the fold” that browsers see to only 3-4 lines.

I recommend that you try to keep your blurb to the promotional length, so that you don’t have to come up with a new one for every promotion you want to run. Functionally, this means you’ll want to keep it within 300 characters. This will also force you to write long, then cut it down to something short enough to be exciting, picking and choosing each word for best effect.

Now, what words do you write?
First, We’re going to go to the heart, the core of your story, and break it down.

1.) A Character
2.) wants something
3.) But something opposes them.
4.) The stakes if they fail are: —-

Note: This should all be information the reader will have by Chapter 3.

But, you say, I have three people, and this one wants this, and that one wants that, and this other wants… Yes, true, most stories have more than the protagonist and the antagonist. However, unless you’re doing an epic fantasy, there’s one (or at most two) central protagonists whose actions and choices drive the plot. As Harlan Ellison says: Who does the story hurt? That’s who it’s about.

Epic fantasy breaks this guideline, because it generally has three to five separate viewpoints and storylines, not necessarily going on at the same point in history. Thus, you’ll end up doing a one-sentence-per-storyline to keep it in the limit.

Returning to that list, sometimes you’ll also add:

5.) What is the first plot twist?

And, especially for SF/F stories:

6.) What are the 3-5 most important unique names involved? Use 3 of them.

(This is because people tend to tune out after 3-5 unfamiliar terms. So, if you start with “Xaarath Fthagn of Marakis Prime is a gleeple of the Tuurathi”… you’ve already lost a chunk of readers.)

Finally, the best piece of advice: when you think you have a good piece of ad copy, try reading it out loud, and then saying it like you’re answering the question “What’s it about?” at a party.

You’ll probably find yourself hesitating before words, dropping them, changing phrases, possibly even skipping and combining entire sentences. This is normal and good. Write down the spoken version, and it’ll be smoother on the reading as well as the delivery.

Now, on to examples. Riffing on Sarah’s post, these are all Cinderella variants. I warn you, they’re going to be rather rough, because composing a blurb usually takes me two to three days, and I need to get this done by Saturday night for the post to go up.

Fantasy:

Ella’s sheltered world died with her father, leaving her a refugee on her step-mother’s estates. Now exiled to kitchen servitude to hide the reminder of the unpopular and doomed marriage alliance, she must dodge her increasingly paranoid sisters and parlay old ties with the Fae to win back her rightful place in the palace. Unfortunately, every gift from the Fae comes with a cost, and midnight is coming all too soon…

Science Fiction:

It’s just a temp job, right?

Stranded on Chimera5 among the indentured servants, Ella and her shipmates must cater to the increasingly bizarre demands of the galactic upper class, while seeking a new captain, contracts, and alien allies to find a way back to the stars!

Romance – Science Fiction

Stranded on Chimera5 among the indentured servants, Ella must move among the galactic upper class while avoiding being fined . Getting back to the stars never seemed so far away, until a favor given freely to the local aliens is repayed in the oddest way. In the middle of a ball, Ella’s won not just the prince’s assistance, but his heart.

With freedom in her grasp, she must choose between the stars, or love…

Thriller:

Time is ticking away…

Caught between a malevolent murderer and an enigmatic conspiracy, Ella must find out who killed her father. All signs point toward something happening at the palace ball, and the prince may be the author of the conspiracies – or it’s next victim!

A few notes – if you’re going to have more than four lines of test, break it up into multiple paragraphs. When viewed on a small screen (kindle fire, iPad, phone…), even a normal-looking paragraph becomes a wall-o-text.

Taglines- sure, knock yourself out.

I’m at work today, but I’ll be checking in. What are your blurbs?

(And if you want to read something pretty nifty, Holly Chism has modern gods working together to stop Loki after he lost the last of his sanity! https://www.amazon.com/Godshead-Holly-Chism-ebook/dp/B00AGI1AGY/ )

119 Comments

Filed under FYNBOSSPRESS, MARKETING, PROMOTION, Uncategorized, WRITING: PUBLISHING

119 responses to “Blurb Clinic

  1. “In the house of Rlyeh, Cthulu lies dreaming until Captain Carter disturbs him while searching for lost treasure!” …that makes Cthulu sound like the protagonist, and possibly hero.

    But THIS is the book I wish to read!! 😀

  2. Here’s mine: BAD DOG

    When contact is lost with an Army Special Forces Detachment searching for alien pillars under a mountain in Afghanistan. The Marine Corps First Combat Armored Suit Reconnaissance Company, aboard the amphibious assault ship Hornet are sent to recover them. But the Marines are destroyed when a nuclear bomb is detonated.
    For Sergeant Tachikoma her death turns into a nightmare when she wakes up back aboard Hornet to find herself reliving the same day all over again. Losing the people you are closest to is bad enough, but to keep losing them again and again is torture.
    So now she must find a way to stop the Chinese forces from setting off the nuke. To do this she will have to become the baddest, bad ass version of herself to come up with a way to stop the bomb from going off, and get on with the rest of her life.
    How hard can it be?
    In the Corps, they say the only easy day is yesterday, but today is literally yesterday. Given that yesterday she got blown up by a nuke, this makes today harder than a very hard thing.

    And I can see it need revising… sigh.

    • Dagoodfellow

      Just a suggestion.
      Sergeant Tachikoma died when Chinese forces nuked the Marine Corps First Armored Suit Recon company. Not the best way to start her day. The good news is she gets a do-over.

      Waking up back aboard the assault ship Hornet, reliving the nightmare all over again, can she save her troops and beat the bomb. At least she knows what went wrong last time. How hard can it be?

      • Dorothy Grant

        I like it 🙂 I’ll riff on this:

        For Sergeant Tachikoma, every day is her last day.

        When Chinese nuke went off, it killed her entire Marine Corps First Armored Suit Recon company… and then she woke up in a time loop, repeating that fateful day again. And again.

        Now she has two goals: find out what went wrong, and stop the bomb!

        • Yep, looks like the way to go. Cheers.

        • Terry Sanders

          Small riff on the riff:

          For Sergeant Tachikoma, every day is her last day.

          When the nuke went off, her power armor could not save her. She died with her company–and woke up in her bunk the same morning. And died again. And woke up again.

          In the Corps, they say the only easy day is yesterday, but today is literally yesterday. And unless she can prevent that nuke from going off, she’ll never see tomorrow.

    • Terry Sanders

      The real challenge will be distinguishing it from LIVE, DIE, REPEAT,

      • Draven

        Which was neat but would have been better without Tom.

      • Yeah, that. I wrote this book before the film and studiously avoided the light novel until after seeing the film.

        My hero drives into battle in a what is effectively a Hulk Buster suit.

        More to the point she ain’t Tom Cruise, and contrary to what you might believe, it’s not a time travel story: it’s a holographic multi-verse setting.

        Still, giant stompy walking tanks.

        • And thank you all so very much for the feedback. Now, once more with feeling:

          For Sergeant Tachikoma this is her last day.

          Yesterday the Chinese set off a nuke that kills her and all the members of the Corps First Armored Suit Recon company she was with. She wakes up in her bunk to find herself repeating the day all over again.

          In the Corps, they say the only easy day is yesterday. But for Sergeant Tachikoma, today *is* yesterday. And always will be. Forever, unless she can keep that nuke from going off, she’ll never see another tomorrow again.

          • For Sergeant Tachikoma this is her last day alive. Again.

            Ever since the Chinese set off a nuke that killed her and the rest of the Corps First Armored Suit Recon company, she wakes up to the same morning, and dying in the same atomic blast.

            This time, she’s determined to find a way to stop the bomb, and to live free or die forever!

            • That’s good, I see what you did there. Thank you.

            • Xenophon

              May I suggest a small edit?
              “Ever since the Chinese set off a nuke that killed her and the rest of the Corps First Armored Suit Recon company, she wakes up to the same morning, and dies in the same atomic blast.” (dying => dies)

  3. paladin3001

    Cecil survived the civil war, yet he was broken as a prisoner by the infamous Captain Broad. Now seeking solace in his music and engines, he’s searching for something that even he doubts exists. In a small town in view of the Rockies things start happening and Broad comes striding back into his life. Will people believe him? Or will he have to reach down and relearn how to stand?

    • Dorothy Grant

      What things start happening?

      • paladin3001

        Hmmm, see what you mean, so from “happening” let me flesh it out a bit more…
        In a small town in the shadow of the rockies his idyllic travels come to an end with a bang. A steam carriage that needs repairing, a town full of suspicous people, and a returning nightmare made flesh in the person of Captain Broad. Will the town folk believe him or are they too bedazzled by a supposed gold mine that Broad is working? It’s time to let the past go and step up to be the man he once was.

        • Dorothy Grant

          Quick question – is this steampunk? If so, you might want something like…

          Cecil (Lastname) is roaming the wild west, ekeing out a living with his Steam Carriage’s ability to transport further and faster than mere horses. But when he breaks down in a small gold mining town, he finds worse dangers than scarce parts and drunken brawls!

          Captain Broad, a cruel tyrant who terrified prisoners of war and guards alike in the late War Between The States, is posing as a gold miner and clearly up to something more nefarious…

          Cecil must face down his demons and face down Captain Broad, or (stakes of Broad’s plot succeeding)!

  4. BobtheRegisterredFool

    I always enjoy your posts on this. The blurbcentric perspective seems to help me plot stories, and figure out how to set and meet reader expectations. This one has helped me realize that a particular project is in many ways an epic fantasy.

    *checks outlines*

    Jack has cleared the deathtrap VRMMORPG, but his girlfriend is comatose.

    His search for answers takes him to the magical underground and the alien battle royale he never knew existed. But will the serial dismemberer hurt his loved ones, or will he stop them with his new powers and friends?

    • Dorothy Grant

      Bob, if it’s an epic fantasy, you may end up with a blurb that’s more like an anthology – where the hook for each character and their storyline is only one sentence long. Or, if you’re Brandon Sanderson, they expand it to give evry plotline its own blurb…

      Expected by his enemies to die the miserable death of a military slave, Kaladin survived to be given command of the royal bodyguards, a controversial first for a low-status “darkeyes.” Now he must protect the king and Dalinar from every common peril as well as the distinctly uncommon threat of the Assassin, all while secretly struggling to master remarkable new powers that are somehow linked to his honorspren, Syl.

      The Assassin, Szeth, is active again, murdering rulers all over the world of Roshar, using his baffling powers to thwart every bodyguard and elude all pursuers. Among his prime targets is Highprince Dalinar, widely considered the power behind the Alethi throne. His leading role in the war would seem reason enough, but the Assassin’s master has much deeper motives.

      Brilliant but troubled Shallan strives along a parallel path. Despite being broken in ways she refuses to acknowledge, she bears a terrible burden: to somehow prevent the return of the legendary Voidbringers and the civilization-ending Desolation that will follow. The secrets she needs can be found at the Shattered Plains, but just arriving there proves more difficult than she could have imagined.

      Meanwhile, at the heart of the Shattered Plains, the Parshendi are making an epochal decision. Hard pressed by years of Alethi attacks, their numbers ever shrinking, they are convinced by their war leader, Eshonai, to risk everything on a desperate gamble with the very supernatural forces they once fled. The possible consequences for Parshendi and humans alike, indeed, for Roshar itself, are as dangerous as they are incalculable.

    • Dorothy Grant

      How would you change this?

      After clearing the impossible Deathtrap, Jack finds his girlfriend still comatose and trapped inside in the game. To free her, he’ll have to dive back in, and search for answers scattered from the magical underground to the previously uncharted alien battle royale.

      It’ll take all the powers, friends, and luck he’s got to save her, but never count an epic gamer out!

      • BobtheRegisterredFool

        This blurb wasn’t for the ‘epic fantasy’ thing, which is legally impossible to market without filing off the serial numbers. (I’m not sure I can even write it, much less file it down.)

        The blurb is for a story that takes place in the ‘real world’, which is stranger than he’d ever been aware of. Throwing in game stuff is perhaps a bad mix, but I haven’t replaced it in the back story yet. The girlfriend isn’t trapped in the game, but there is a doctor talking about a persistent vegetative coma.

        Hmm.

        After clearing the impossible deathtrap game, Jack finds his girlfriend comatose with no prospect of recovery.

        To find a cure, he’ll have to search places he’s never known, like the magical underground and the secret alien battle royale.

        But will his new powers and friends be in time to save the day before the serial dismemberer gets to his loved ones?

        • Dorothy Grant

          I’m going to recommend cutting out the “serial dismemberer”, unless it’s a major driver of your plot – because right now your blurb feels like you tacked thriller/horror right onto the end of an action/adventure blurb.

          If it’s an action/adventure, then you want to focus on saving the girlfriend by finding the cure. If it’s thriller/horror, then you need to introduce this serial killer in the first line, right after Jack, and make it jack vs. serial killer with girlfriend’s life in the balance, or Jack being drawn into horrible places to try to fight the serial killer for his girlfriend’s life.

          Also, unless the serial dismemberer leaves victims alive purposefully, in a blurb, “serial dismemberer” is clunky on the rhythm and doesn’t scan well, while “serial killer” is a very familiar phrase that can evoke the proper denotation and connotations immediately.

          Also, when is this serial dismembered introduced? As a rule of thumb, blurbs do not reveal what’s going on past chapter 3, because you’re trying to hook the reader into the book, not to describe the plot of the book.

          • A dismemberer runs a body chop.

          • BobtheRegisterredFool

            Point. I’ve been debating myself since on what exactly I’m trying to do with it.

            I think I’m probably going to need to foreshadow the serial killer early, like maybe chapter three or earlier, but not have them driving the plot until late in the book.

            Thanks.

  5. Whenever I try to get into this to improve it by these metrics before submission, the toddler gets loudly in my face. I’ll just give what I’ve managed to mock up so far. Thank you for the clinic

    MICHAEL WOULD GIVE HIS LIFE FOR THE ASTORIAN PROMISE. And it seems like now is the time. Everyone knows that the cult leader’s health has been failing, and that the willing sacrifice of a virgin is one of the only things that can turn back death.

    Unfortunately, Asteros has got a much harder job for this cloistered virgin than merely dying.

    Now, posing as a substitute librarian at the local high school, Michael must do the unthinkinable: Find a virgin and, in an act of mutual love, make her pregnant with the Perfect Sacrifice, one fit to extend his master’s life forever.

    Michael’s always been willing to do anything for his cult. But with love, faith, and paternity all in the balance… will even he have the devotion necessary to go through with it?

    • Dorothy Grant

      This doesn’t quite work, but it’s my one-cup-coffee-first-effort. What do you think?

      Michael expected to die, sacrificed to save his leaders’ health. Instead, he has a far harder mission! Cut off from the comfort and routines of his cult, he’s posing as a substitute librarian and searching for another virgin to fall in love with and get pregnant.

      His cult leader needs a perfect baby to gain immortality – but all Michael’s brainwashing is unraveling in the face of love, faith, and paternity.

      Now, he must choose between everything he was raised to hold as true, and the life and love he’s found!

      • Focuses more on the important things, which is good. I need to work high school back in, since that’s the only place to really warn “adult+teenager squick ahead.”

        This hits the high points pretty well. I’m thinking the not quite working is my fault–the focus we have and I’ve given I’d a hypothetical baby… but the person in front of out face would be the one we’re using/betraying/loving. Hm.

        “His cult leader needs a baby to get immortality–but after getting to actually know Tess, whose juvenile delinquency hides a lonely vulnerability he finds all too familiar…” blech, no.

        (This just gets sillier the more I think about it. “SHE’S a juvenile offender whose bad attitude and violent demeanor hides a bruised heart in need of basic human affection. HE’S a thirty-year-old deadpan magician who would so literally anything for the approval of the con artist he’s convinced himself is God. Together, they run away from their broken home lives and try to keep the forces of darkness from stealing their baby!” Jeez.)

        Thank you a lot for your help! You have pointed me a number of things to emphasize/deemphasize from the original. 🙂

        • Dorothy Grant

          Is this fantasy or contemporary romance? By which I mean, is the immortality a real possibility / magic a real thing, or is this just what he’s been brainwashed to believe?

          Because if the immortality is real, then you might play up the protecting his love from the cult… but if it’s modern day/modern time not urban fantasy, then you can completely de-emphasize the baby and focus on the couple.

          Oh, and while I would never, ever suggest anyone rewrite to my suggestion, if this is a contemporary romance, if you can shift her age to 18 / turning 18 during story, even with it being high school, you’d avoid a bit of squick and put it squarely in New Adult romance genre.

          • Magic is real, our guy is pretty good at it. (Blood magic. But he has an unlimited supply of virgin’s blood.) leader doesn’t have any power of his own, but hitched his cart to demons… who need paid, hence all the sacrificing.

            It would be a good idea, and work way better with… what I ended up writing, rather than what I thought I was. (I thought I was doing a deconstruction of the Naru/Nephrite side plot in Sailor Moon was, and how do you think this is romantic!?! They… wound up actually liking each other.) But, ergh, my first big exciting point involves an Amber Alert. (Punching the principal and leaving with a legal adult would still get attention, but probably not “face on every television in the tricounty area.”)

            …so I think I might have to keep the squick. Even acknowledging that it puts it (even with all fade-to-black) in really… um. Squick territory

            • Holly

              Start her at seventeen, have her turn eighteen before any romance is acted on-can be just a couple days.
              Also it becomes a lot less icky if you can chop a decade off his age. Any reason he can’t be twenty, or, hm, twenty-one (three sevens) instead of thirty (three tens)?

              • Yeah, that’s definitely more an artifact of when I was dialing the squick to eleven on purpose, I might be able to fiddle more with that. (Probably still post-college age, though.) Yes.. thanks for the suggestion, I had forgotten that angle.

                • Dorothy Grant

                  That, and I can believe a clueless brainwashed college-age guy a lot more easily than a clueless 30-year-old. Not that there aren’t clueless 30 year olds, but it’s a much, much higher bar to suspend disbelief.

          • MICHAEL WAS SUPPOSED TO DIE. As a virgin in a blood cult, it was kind of his job. But now they want even more from him…

            The mission is simple: Find another virgin, make her fall in love, and have a baby with her–a baby whose perfect sacrifice will power And when he meets Tess–a teenaged delinquent whose violent outbursts poorly mask an abiding loneliness–simple might also be easy.

            But while Michael’s compass has always pointed to the Astorian Promise, that was before he found someone to care about… or who cared about him. When his duty calls him to make a sacrificial child, can even he be devoted enough to go through with it?

  6. This is the blurb for my latest book, and I see I’ve violated Guideline no. 3. Hmmm.

    On the planet Nwwwlf, in the lost colony of First Landing, the original settlers carved out one sylvan valley, a lone outpost where humans flourish. But their bright hopes and best intentions devolved over centuries into a rude replica of medieval feudalism.

    Gilead Tan, who had been held captive for centuries in his sleeping cell, survived treachery and pain to free a small group of sleepers. But he and his friends now face the perils of life outside First Landing’s sanctuary–without their powered armor, their tools and technology, or anything else they need save for a few chickens.

    Gilead must establish a safehold for his crew, but the alien environment does not welcome them and petty bickering threatens their meager resources. He hopes that a trace of smoke – spotted above a distant ridge – beckons them to a better place.

    It doesn’t.

    • Dorothy Grant

      What do you think of this?

      After breaking other cryo-sleepers out of their cells and escaping the First Landing’s brutal grip, Gilead Tan and his crew are searching for a new place to make their home. Their resources are only what they could carry on their backs, and a few chickens, so they’re searching for other survivors.

      When they find another human settlement, though, they realize their challenges have just begun!

    • sabrinachase

      Another general rule for blurbs is to make them easy to digest, grammatically. This means minimal complex clauses, indirect references, etc. If you *have* to have them, put them toward the end of the blurb where you can assume the reader is pulled in sufficiently to be willing to do a little more work for the payoff.

      Your first line has four comma-delimited clauses. It is also all setting, so no emotional latch for the reader. Start with the person with the problem–Gilead wakes up late. Why is this a problem? Because he’s been in cryosleep. Why is he in cryosleep? Because he and the others are setting up a new human colony on a distant planet. (N.B. make clear your lost colony is a *planetary* colony, otherwise you’ll have people expecting Roanoke et al. Also it sets up the clue for SF.) Why did he wake up late? Because Bad People didn’t want him interfering. (And so on.)

      The other thing to do is when you set out your character in a setting with a problem, the problem does not have to be the *plot* problem. Just something they, and by extension the reader (hopefully) care about enough to take action for. Pride and Prejudice famously starts with the big problem being getting Mr. Bennett to visit Mr. Bingley, but that is NOT the central plot problem :D.

  7. Minutegirls
    Massive space battles! Hand-to-hand combat! Politics! Hot babes with guns!

    Minutegirls… Nice young women who just want some good clean fun with power armor, plenty of high explosives, and a few cute Minuteboys.

    It’s 2174. From the hills of American Manchuria to the depths of Outer Space, America’s Girl Militia battles Franco-German treachery to shield the American Stellar Republic.

    The One World
    Goddard is a world trapped in its non-technological present by brilliant social engineering. Orphaned Amanda Kirasdotr rescues a space traveler, flies on his starship, and wants a starship of her own. That’s challenging when the hottest ship on Goddard boasts three masts and a full set of sails. But Amanda has a plan. First she must overcome storms, pirates, poverty and assassins of the mysterious Order of the Bell.

    • Dorothy Grant

      On Minutegirls, I like the phrasing – it’s extremely pulpy, promising action and a lot of fun! The one thing it’s missing, from my perspective, is that it’s all worldbuilding: there’s no specific character to follow or root for.

      The One World

      After Amanda Kirasdotr rescues a space traveler and gets a taste of the galaxy beyond Goddard, she’s determined to get a starship of her own! Unfortunately, the hottest ship on low-tech Goddard boasts three masts and a full set of sails. To gain the stars, Amanda will tackle storms, pirates, poverty and even the assassins of the mysterious Order of the Bell.

      (tag line here.)

  8. callan

    This one for Felice and the Demon(YA, fantasy) is probably too long, but I think it follows the structure and signals its genre and tone:

    Bernicia. A kingdom where humans and the demonic draghul get along. Mostly.

    A scholarship to the finest school in the country leaves 16-yr-old Felice Beck in a bind. The king wants to send her to the royal academy to become one of his overworked and underpaid magistrates. Felice, on the other hand, wants to stay home, make cheese, and take care of her vague, widowed mother. But when the king commands, you obey. Especially when the king is a demon.

    What the king forgets is that you can send a girl to school, but you can’t keep her there. Felice arrives at the academy with the intent of being sent home in disgrace. But her plan is knocked sideways from the moment she attracts the attention of a fellow student, a draghul with too much curiosity for his own good . . . and a strange deafness to the word “no”. His relentless pursuit threatens to expose not just her plan to escape a career as a magistrate, but one of her deepest secrets. She has to work fast to get expelled before her world is turned upside-down and the people she loves the most are hurt.

    • kali

      Sorry, used the wrong username.

      • Dorothy Grant

        No worries 🙂 I have pulled it out of moderation, brushed it off, and given it my best initial shot. 🙂

    • Dorothy Grant

      Is a draghul a demon? How would you change this?

      16-year-old Felice Beck has been given a scholarship to the royal academy she’d do anything to turn down, but it’s straight from the crown! If she can’t refuse the king, she can get sent home in disgrace, and she has every intention of getting kicked out!

      Felice’s plan goes awry from the moment she attracts the attention of a fellow student, a draghul with too much curiosity for his own good . . . and a strange deafness to the word “no”. His relentless pursuit threatens to expose not just her plan to escape a career as a magistrate, but one of her deepest secrets. Now she’ll have to work fast to get expelled before the people she loves the most are hurt!

      • callan

        That’s definitely tighter, and it’s better without the tag line–the problem with YA fantasy, though, is that a lot of its readers don’t read traditional fantasy. So I want to signal clearly that it’s not a genre romance or something I call “prom dress fantasy” 🙂

        • Dorothy Grant

          This is where I give you a big toothy grin (that hopefully hides the way my brain is still waiting for the coffee that isn’t there to kick in), and say “I know nothing about your story but what you tell me, so I can only give you a rough suggestion. Your best bet is to go search for five or six books that are in your genre and you like, especially if they’re popular, and see what they did with their blurbs that you want to throw into yours!”

          (Yes, I know it’s 12:30. I also usually work swings and am working a morning shift, so this is me pre-coffee, and trying to fake human, cheery, and brainz.)

          But YA is a weakness of mine; I don’t read it much. You obviously do and like it better than I do, so you’ll be more attuned to what to give the readers.

          Um?

          16-year-old Felice Beck wants to be in trouble! She’s received a scholarship to the royal academy she’d do anything to turn down, but it’s straight from the demon crown! While she can’t refuse the king and live, she can still get sent home in disgrace…

          Felice’s plan goes awry from the moment she attracts the attention of a fellow student, a draghul with too much curiosity for his own good . . . and a strange deafness to the word “no”. His relentless pursuit threatens to expose not just her plan to escape a career as a magistrate, but one of her deepest secrets. Now she’ll have to work fast to get expelled before the people she loves the most are hurt!

          • Maybe start by cutting “… a fellow student, a draghul …” down to “… a draghul in her class …” or “… her draghul classmate Steve …” to eliminate the comma speedbump.

  9. Thanks for the help on this one- When California declares independence, their dreams of socialist diversity become nightmares for many from the high Sierras to the Central Valley. Follow the lives of those who must decide whether to stand their ground, or flee!

    In San Diego, the commander of Seal Group One finds his hands tied by red tape, even as protestors storm the base and attack dependents.
    In Los Angeles, an airline mechanic must beg, borrow, or bribe to get his family on the plane out before the last flight out.
    Elsewhere, a couple seeks out the new underground railroad after being forced to confess to crimes they didn’t commit.
    In the new state of Jefferson, farmers must defend themselves against carpetbaggers and border raiders.
    And in the high Sierras, a woman must make the decision to walk out alone…

    Featuring all-new stories set after Calexit:

    • Dorothy Grant

      A collection of all-original stories set after Calexit by JL Curtis, LawDog, LB Johnson, Alma Boykin, Tom Rogneby, and more!

      “and more” or is shorthand for 2 things: either it’s running out of space (or in this case, with my no-coffee-yet-still-at-work brain, out of memory), or it’s a divide between names that the publisher believes have star power and serious draw, and the ones with smaller fanbases.

      Unless the cover designer puts someone else on the cover just to balance the text, leaving a smaller author going “What am I doing on the anthology cover with Larry Correia? Eeeeeep!”

      So when you’re looking at your anthology list, given you’ve got a bunch or great indie authors who mostly don’t have huge fanbases (other than LawDog), you have the option of cutting it down to handful of 3-5 names just to make it look like a standard anthology cover & blurb, or expanding it so everyone’s small fanbase sees their name, and every author gets the limelight.

    • Draven

      Does it include the scene with the Army Corps of Engineers blowing the water and power lines immediately after their independence goes into effect?

  10. Oh, I’ve avoided doing new blurbs for much too long . . .

    Wolfgang was a nice kid—even though he wasn’t human.

    By the end of the 21st century, ambitious parents could have perfect children. Repair genetic defects, add cosmetic improvements, make their children smarter, taller, stronger . . .

    All the fixes, all the improvements had to be tested . . . on some animal. And with so many mammals having so many genes in common, it was not hard to create the prefect lab animal, just keeping the percent of actual human derived genes to under the legal ten percent limit.

    As New Genes, inc begins buying up all the other genetic engineering companies, Wolfgang and his fellow test kids find themselves in deep trouble . . . And looking for ways to escape.

    • Dorothy Grant

      When the line between dream child and laboratory animal is only one change in the law…

      16 year old Wolfgang Oldham ran when New Genes, Inc. declared him and dozens of other kids no longer human and demanded their parents return them for a grim future as lab test animals. Captured by the government he was raised to trust, he’s now banding together with all the other “gods” and looking for a way to escape where no one will ever find them!

  11. István Eszterházy’s war enters its third year. Hunger and defeat sap the will of the Habsburg Empire to fight just as the depths of England’s treachery become clear. Estván struggles to lead House Sárkány’s men, women, and True-Dragons through famine, riot, and war. But war poisons even the Powers, the creatures of the land, and even the crowns of Austria, Hungary, and Bohemia might not hold enough strength to save the empire and István when rebels and Powers both attack.

    [WWI alt-history. Probably too short and terse for new-to-the-series readers.]

    • Dorothy Grant

      Wow, way to make me start pinching the bridge of my nose and going “When did WWI start according to which side?”

      In 19XX, war has swept the entire world, along with famine and riot tearing countries apart tearing countries from within and without.

      István Eszterházy is now the header of Austria’s House Sárkány, struggling to lead its men, women, and True-dragons alike through the shifting tides of fortune. Even as the Empire is staggered by England’s treachery and hunger and defeat stalk the streets, the Powers beneath the land grow poisoned and maddened.

      When the spirits of the land attack each other, and rebels plot to destroy his House, István must fight not just for his own survival, but for his entire family!

      • Yep, it was too short. All agreed (and actually still agree, wonder of wonders, mirabile dictu) on 1914. The book picks up in 1916.

        The rebels are after the Habsburg Emperor (after 1918 head of the Habsburg Commonwealth), not the Houses per se. I’ll make that much clearer, thanks.

  12. Holly

    Hmm. This is, I’m very much afraid, more in the epic fantasy line. (I didn’t mean to commit epic fantasy! Honest!)

    Denarion Dragonborn, grieving the tutor who raised him after the usurper killed his family, makes one mistake: he looks for comfort in his family’s ancestral church, bringing himself to the usurper’s spymaster’s attention. Not wanting to be a puppet, and with no way to hold his father’s throne, he flees for his life and freedom.
    Alyan, heiress of Duchy Westvale, and daughter of a princess, raised to rule, is old enough to marry, but her grandfather won’t let her be used to legitimize the usurper’s rule. She has to avoid those who would compromise her or kidnap her while politics forbids her return home.
    Ethan of Northmount, sixth son, an atheist in a society that puts his proper place in the church, made his own place as spymaster for the usurper. Ethan knows the usurper is a liar, sonless, and civil war is just one misstep away, when he sees a youngster claiming to be a knight who cannot possibly be, unless one of the princes survived the slaughter.
    But there are rumors of returned dragons seen in the far north . . .

    Denarion, Alyan, and Ethan are the three POVs.
    So the interesting thing to me, as the one writing this, is that the dragons see the world in black and white. Mercy and forgiveness are incomprehensible. But they never have a POV character, and they don’t enter as individuals rather than rumor until later in the tale. So I guess not blurb material?

    • I would focus on the dueling plots of the Dragonborn heir and the atheist-cleric spymaster, with two or three terse sentences setting up their clash, and then throw in “But they hadn’t calculated on the heiress of Westvale. Or on the dragons.”

      • Draven

        And I would try to find a word for Dragonborn that isn’t Dragonborn lest ye rouse the sleeping dragon in Bethesda.

        • SheSellsSeashells

          To avoid rousing the sleeping studio, I suggest Dove-kin. They’re pacifists. Really!

          /flees

          • Holly

            Yeah, I’ll worry about that later. Pretty sure I started working on this before that got published, but I haven’t got lawyer size pockets.
            I’m not sure, having some (not enough) training on copyright that they’d have ground to act or any interest in acting. Since I quit that series in disgust and boredom back when it was just books, I expect there’s about a zero percent market overlap. And as slow as I’m going, they’ll be in reruns before I’m satisfied. (Life keeps getting me sidetracked.)

    • Dorothy Grant

      (Number) years ago, Denarion Dragonborn escaped the slaughter of his family when an usurper seized the throne of (Kingdom). When he visits his ancestral church, one untimely mistake sets him running with the new king’s spymaster and forces after him.

      Alyan, heiress to the Duchy of Westvale in exile, is trying to stay one step ahead of the new king herself. She’s now old enough to be the perfect pawn for the sonless usurper king to claim legitimacy for the throne. No matter where she goes, she’s dodging spies and kidnappers after a fortune…

      Ethan Northmount, the new king’s spymaster, is a man at war with the gods and with himself. The only thing worse than his master is the chaos and destruction of civil war that threatens to tear his kingdom apart. When he finds a prince has escaped, it presents a terrible choice, that may yet demand more than he has to give…

      And to the north, the dragons are stirring…

      • Holly

        Thank you! Hmm, the title of the guy holding the throne is Lord Protector. (Calling himself King would get Alyan’s branch of the family and allies revolting.) So would substituting Lord Protector for new king be too confusing without any explanation?

        Also only one God. *grin* Sets up nicely for a Holy War in the sequel (wretched characters) over “dragons: demons or not?”

  13. Nothing after the third chapter, huh? The existing blurb for my romantic suspense novel was hinting at stuff way past that . . .
    Well, I’ll work on rewriting it and throw it up here once I’m done. Having trouble avoiding over-explaining and/or finding a good synonym for “sinister.” *groans*

    • Dorothy Grant

      Hey, throw it up now before reworking, and I’ll try to get back and give you a reworking. Then, when you do your own, you can grab whatever works for you, and leave whatever doesn’t 🙂

    • Dorothy Grant

      The main reason for nothing after he third chapter is because one of the common mis-steps for blurbs is to write a blurb that could be distilled to “This happens. And then this happens. And then this happens. And then this happens.”

      If you can string your sentences of the blurb together with “And then…” between them, you have a plot summary, not a blurb.

      Not all books follow this, especially if they have an ice monster prologue, or epic fantasy with their multiple POV’s, but in general, rule of thumb, by Chapter 3 the reader should know who the protagonist(s) & first antagonists are, what they want, and what the first major plot twist is, and what the stakes are.

  14. aacid14

    I assume that you don’t want to get clever typically. For instance with the war vet florist above, use passive voice for surviving war as he was merely dragged thru it while going active for being florist and uncovering say espionage or similar.

    Basically try and use voice to try and show where he took agency, the archetype here being the reluctant/unwilling warrior in my mind. My gut says bad idea but it isn’t certain.

    • I certainly don’t get clever when I’m dragged out under the dawning day star and working a morning shift… but you can!

      More seriously, the important point is to catch the reader’s attention and interest them. Cleverness is all very well and good, as long as it’s bent toward the goal of attracting the readers. Cleverness for cleverness’ sake is bad, because it doesn’t attract the readers. If using voice that way works well, use it. If it doesn’t, don’t. Listen to your gut!

      My point, and I’m sorry if I was unclear, is that the rule of thumb “don’t use passive voice” is simple, easy, and wrong: it means “Don’t have events acting upon a passive character, especially not in your blurb. Throwing in a little passive voice here and there, especially if it helps keep the blurb short and punch yet very readable, is just fine!”

  15. (“All the Little Hedgehogs,” a short story in the Grissom timeline, but on the Soviet side of the Iron Curtain)

    The Lower Volga Special Bio-Research Laboratory is one of the Soviet Union’s most closely guarded secrets. Yona Feldberg didn’t even know it existed until the day Academician Voronsky arrived at the Suvorov School and took him away from the austere life of a military cadet.

    Here Yona learned why he, the son of a KGB labor camp commandant, should have been placed in a school to train the Soviet Army’s future officers: he is a clone of one of the Red Army officers murdered in the Great Terror. However, his extraordinary talent for genetics makes him more valuable as the Academician’s personal student, learning the technology of gene splicing alongside the Academician’s adopted son.

    But privileges can be revoked, as Yona discovers when he runs afoul of the local guardians of propriety. Now he will get a different kind of education, in the darker secrets of the Soviet cloning program.

    • This is still clunky – how would you fix it?

      Yona Feldberg, son of a mere KGB commandment, was just another military cadet yesterday. Today, he is finding that his talent for genetics drafted him into one of the most closely-held secrets of the Soviet Union: The Lower Volga Special Bio-Research Laboratory.

      Here, he takes his places as assistant and student among the most priviledged scientists in the USSR, learning the secrets of life itself. But his own past holds secrets tied to research files, and priviliedges granted can also be revoked…

      • I’ve been thinking about it all day, and I think my biggest reservation about it is the “yesterday, today” element. I know it’s meant to be understood as a figure of speech, but I’m thinking at least some people are going to think think that it is literally Yona’s first day at the Lower Volga Special Bio-Research Laboratory, when he’s actually been there for some time, and get the impression it’s a “first day at the new job” story.

        Maybe this:

        Yona Feldberg, son of a KGB officer, was striving to be a good military cadet when he was summoned to one of the Soviet Union’s deepest secrets: the Lower Volga Special Bio-Research Laboratory. Tutored by some of the finest scientists of the USSR, he is now learning the secrets of life itself.

        However, his own past hides secrets that go back to his country’s darkest days. He is about to discover that privileges can also be revoked…

        (I’m not entirely happy with “was striving to be a good military cadet,” but I’m trying to give the sense of someone who’s hard-working and takes a positive attitude. Yeah, I know, rare in the USSR, but it seems to be important in having a sympathetic character, especially a young one who is still under adult authority).

        • How important is the son of a KGB officer? I say this because that first sentence is working hard to establish two things about him and an action. Maybe:

          Yona Feldberg wants to rise within the Soviet Union’s military, unlike his KGB father. But his life takes an abrupt turn to science when he is elevated to one of the Soviet Union’s deepest secrets: the Lower Volga Special Bio-Research Laboratory. Now tutored by some of the finest scientists of the USSR, he is now learning the secrets of life itself.

          But those aren’t the only secrets the laboratory hides, and Yona finds out his own past is tied into a sinister experiment…

  16. In Minutegirls, the heroine and friends spend almost the entire book being wrong about who the major opposition is. Most of them are still wrong at the end of the book.

  17. J.F. Posthumus

    I know I’m late to the game, but I could use some serious help with our blurb (I co-write with my husband).
    So, here it is and any help is always greatly appreciated:

    LADY OF DEATH (urban fantasy):

    Hell is coming and it’s bigger than a handbasket.

    When an amulet capable of allowing anyone with even a hint of magical talent to summon any deity is stolen, the High Council of the magical world sends their consigliere to hire Catherine Woulfe to recover it before it can be used.

    The appearance of a corpse in the building her office is located, complete with the body being in possession of a photograph that had been in her office, points towards Catherine’s former boyfriend. When the ex-beau is stripped of all his magic after being found guilty of giving mundane humans dragon’s blood, Catherine has to look elsewhere for the guilty party. Worse yet, a grimoire that is a companion piece to the amulet has also been stolen.

    Using information gleamed from some local cemetery ghosts, Catherine tracks down the fae and manages to rescue her, but neither the book nor the grimoire are to be found. The amulet can’t be found through magical means and time is running out. If Catherine doesn’t find the amulet before it’s used, her only hope is to be able to defeat the deity summoned. But can she, even with the help of the Consigliere, hope to defeat a deity?

    • Is Catherine a detective? A PI? Is this lighthearted or noir?

      Catherine Woulf’s usual cases run to lost spouses or stolen charms, but the latest bit of missing jewelry is out of this world!

      When the High Council asked her to find a missing necklace, they mentioned that the wearer could use it to summon any and every deity out there. They didn’t mention it wasn’t the only artifact missing, or that it had already been used…

      Catherine hasn’t quit a case yet, and even as the corpses start to pile up, she’ll find the thief – though summoned heavens should bar the way!

  18. This is what I’ve got for the current project I’m doing final edits in:
    Two different crises have been averted, but there are more on the horizon. However, there is a bit of breathing space before the next crisis looms, and the gods are taking advantage of that.

    That doesn’t mean love and life is any less confusing for immortals than it is for normal humans, especially not when ancient curses and ancient crimes are involved.

    Follows The Godshead, and Highway to Tartarus.

    • For each story, assume that your readers have never read or seen any of your other books. (Because this may well be the first tale of yours they’ve ever seen.) So for each story, you need to introduce the players by name, and the world, and the stakes.

      Even after their worshippers have faded from memory, the gods are still around. These days, they’re likely be found holding up a corner of the Godshead Tavern.


      okay, you’re gonna have to give me more than “love, life, ancient curses and ancient crimes” to construct the rest of the blurb. Who wants what, and what’s in the way?

      • Poseidon wants Artemis to lift Medusa’s curse so they can resume relations, Chronos wants another chance to be whole and get to know his kids (and get reacquainted with his wife), Hephaestus wants to date Loki’s widow (and vice-versa), and Ares falls head over heels for a mortal half his size who manages to kick his ass not once but twice. Loki’s son is trying to rebuild his life (and his credit) after a short marriage to Pandora, and Iris wants to help. Among others.

      • Long after their worshipers are forgotten, the gods are still holding up a corner of the bar at the Godshead Tavern. Some have learned since their stories became myths, some never did, and some are still finding old curses coming back to haunt…

        Poseidon wants Artemis to lift Medusa’s curse so they (who is they? Posiden and Medusa?) can resume relations, while Chronos seeks another chance to be whole and get to know his kids.

        Meanwhile, Ares falls head over heels for a mortal half his size who manages to kick his ass not once but twice, and Loki’s son is trying to rebuild his life (and his credit) after a short marriage to Pandora…

  19. OK, here it is, as reworked (I didn’t see your message about not waiting until just now), and taking us only to the middle of Chapter 3.

    The genre is Romantic Suspense— actually, Christian Romantic Suspense— and In a World— I mean, a Webpage— where pretty much everyone is dealing with the fates of kingdoms and worlds, the stakes here don’t seem very high.

    Maybe what I want to know most is whether the potential reader can perceive what my FMC has to gain and lose in what I have here, without my having to spell every last bit of it out.

    Here goes:
    Title: The Single Eye

    Sandy Beichten has set her sights on practicing architecture to the glory of God. Now, as friend and sole assistant to brilliant young architect Eric Baumann, she’s in the perfect position to live out that call.

    If only she hadn’t fallen in love with him, too. For Eric is dead-set against Christianity and against marriage itself, and his focus is on architecture alone. A rich new client promising to make all his professional dreams come true is just what he’s been waiting for— but Sandy recognizes the offer as a Faustian bargain that will result in disaster for them both.

    To turn down this commission could spell the end of their struggling firm. And that’s exactly what Sandy must convince Eric to do.

    • How would you fix this?

      Sandy Beichten has always dreamed of designing architecture to proclaim the glory of God in steel, wood, and stone. As an assistant to Eric, the brilliant head of (architectural firm), she has her chance to see her creations come to life.

      Eric Baumann has lived and breathed architecture all his life, and with Sandy by his side, his small firm has just landed the perfect client with a bankroll big enough to truly make his mark on the skyline. If he believed in God, he’d have called it the answer to his prayers.

      But things that seem to be too good to be true never are. When Sandy spots the devil in the details, she wants out.Eric must choose between losing the contract – or losing her!

      • Thanks . . . That holds together beautifully . . . but that comes off a little too cheerful for how the story develops. Here’s what I had before I did anything to it:

        For what would you be willing to sell your soul? For what are you willing to die?

        Since childhood Sandy Beichten has set her sights on practicing architecture to the glory of God. Now, as right-hand woman to brilliant young architect Eric Baumann, she’s in the perfect position to live out that call.

        If only she hadn’t fallen in love with him too. For Eric, handsome, dedicated, and kind, would be her image of the ideal husband— if he weren’t dead-set against Christianity and against marriage itself. Eric’s focus is on capital-A Architecture alone, and Sandy fears he’d make a deal with the devil if it would fulfill his visions and dreams.

        He proves her wrong when he turns down what appears to be the commission of a lifetime. But the sinister would-be client refuses to take no for an answer, and before he is done, he will force Sandy and Eric to make a Faustian choice that will pit what they love most on earth against their lives, their humanity, and their very souls.

        • It’s Romantic Suspense, right? In romantic suspense, the focus and final paragraph needs to be on the relationship – because the romance is primary over the suspense. This is a good blurb for suspense with a subplot of romance, but that’s a different genre.

          • Hmmm. So what would that genre be called?

            My final paragraph definitely is about the relationship, but the relationship is integrally tied up with the outworking of the suspense plot.

            Ultimately, the novel is about the first line of the original blurb— about moral choices and their consequences.

            Thanks for bringing all this up, since I have to brand my book right to attract the right readers and not anger the wrong ones.

            • okay, basic genre advice: is your book about how two people meet, and then despite all the dangers and difficulties and miscommunications, manage to get together and form a solid relationship? Or is it about two people caught in a diabolical plot with a client who promises dreams and fulfills nightmares, and how they survive and overcome the threat?

              The first is romantic suspense, the second is suspense/thriller. Suspense can have a romantic subplot, or not, but it’s not the main focus of the book. Romance can have a suspense plot, but the main focus is on whether or not and how the couple manages to overcome differences and get together / stay together.

              This is a thriller/suspense:

              After the devastating loss of her husband in Iraq, Morgan Dane returns to Scarlet Falls, seeking the comfort of her hometown. Now, surrounded by family, she’s finally found peace and a promising career opportunity—until her babysitter is killed and her neighbor asks her to defend his son, Nick, who stands accused of the murder.

              Tessa was the ultimate girl next door, and the community is outraged by her death. But Morgan has known Nick for years and can’t believe he’s guilty, despite the damning evidence stacked against him. She asks her friend Lance Kruger, an ex-cop turned private eye, for help. Taking on the town, the police, and a zealous DA, Morgan and Lance plunge into the investigation, determined to find the real killer. But as they uncover secrets that rock the community, they become targets for the madman hiding in plain sight.

              This is romantic suspense:

              A routine mission…

              Sean Taggart is hunting a deadly terrorist, and his only lead is the lovely Grace Hawthorne. She’s the executive assistant for an employment agency Sean suspects is a front for illegal activities. To get the truth, he is going to have to get very close to Grace, a task he is all too eager to undertake when he discovers her deliciously submissive nature.

              …turns into a dangerous seduction.

              Soon, Grace Hawthorne is living a double life. By day, she is the widowed mother of two college-aged sons. By night, she submits to Sean’s every dark desire. She’s living out her wildest fantasies of pleasure—intimate acts of trust she’s only read about. As passion engulfs her, a murderer strikes, and Grace learns that Sean has a deeply hidden agenda. Will Sean choose his mission and break her heart or be the Master of her dreams?

  20. Mary

    It is an honor to serve the king as a firemaster, as Jan well knows.

    Even when it means leving the lands where firemasters are known and common, and traveling to where they are feared and hated, bringing with her the foundling she is raising, to fight a strange manifestation of fire.

  21. Mary

    An enchantment has broken time in the city. It passes slowly for some, swiftly for others, so that a man might die of old age while another spends an hour. And sometimes it shifts all about.

    Annalise does not care. Her father is the king’s prisoner, and she has a legend in her hand: the mysterious key that will free the innocent.

    But using it finds that her father is guilty, and that other men are innocent, and puts her on the wrong side of the king. And she finds she has entangled herself in more magics, and worse treachery, than she had ever dreamed of.

  22. mrsizer

    Kate didn’t ask to be a telepath, she was built that way, accidentally.

    As the unintended consequences of genetic engineering are felt around the world, Kate and her brother struggle to create a sanctuary for telepaths fleeing governments, corporations, and pogroms.

    Can normals and telepaths coexist? Is anyone safe when there are no secrets?

    I don’t like “pogroms”. “angry mobs” perhaps? The comma in the first sentence should be a semi-colon, but that seems odd in a blurb. Full period, perhaps? I’d like some time-frame reference. It happens in about 2060.

    Totally unrelated: I’ve _finally_ figured out the middle of the book! The big question was: How does the sanctuary survive the Ruby Ridge moment? Answer: It doesn’t – you flee (after a lot of people die).

  23. Thanks for this, Dorothy. I’m going to work on it this week. I’ll post my blurb when its blurby enough.

  24. Been dealing with a minor catastrophe the past few days. Will try to get something up later.

  25. This has been an excellent thread.

  26. RUN! An action thriller

    Zeb Carter is vacationing in the Idaho wilderness when Sara Ashland crashes into him.

    She is fifteen, terrified, and is fleeing for her life.

    Namir has killed her father. He and his men are hunting her.

    Zeb recognizes the name immediately. Namir is the most wanted terrorist in the world.

    Before he can question her further, the terrorists attack his camp.

    He escapes with her, leaving his possessions behind.

    No weapons. No cell phones. Just him between the girl and twenty vicious killers.

    Staying put isn’t an option. They will die.

    Fighting back isn’t an option either. They will be killed.

    They can run.

    And they still might die.