The Blurb

Never underestimate the power of the blurb.

The blurb is that short description you find on the back of a book. You’ll also see a version of it in the brief description provided on Amazon and other retailers that sell the book. Although it’s easy to overlook, the blurb is a powerful arsenal in marketing your book. The blurb goes hand in hand with the cover design. The cover is the lure that will initially catch the reader’s eye. A good blurb will hook the reader by giving the reader a taste of what the book is about and entice the reader to buy it. The blurb should provide a gist of the main plot, main character(s), and the stakes/complications involved. The trick though is not giving the whole plot away. Although you don’t want the blurb to be too vague you don’t want to spoil the plot. It’s like watching a movie trailer that gives away the whole storyline  in 2 minutes. If you were to do something similar in the back blurb, what incentive would the reader have to read it if they already know what is going to happen in the end?

Writing a Great Blurb

While rewriting my blurb I found it helpful to gather feedback from others and look at other examples of blurbs. An effective way to get people to care about the story is to evoke an emotional response from the reader. This can be achieved by using the right words that stir strong emotions that the reader can identify with. Another point is to include the major conflict the character must overcome to reach their goal or quest. The higher the stakes, the more interesting things get which will further heighten the reader’s anticipation of finding out how the conflict will be resolved. Here are some helpful tips I picked up from Michael Sullivan, an established writer, in an article he wrote about blurb writing here. I will briefly outline the main tips about writing good blurbs but I highly suggest reading his post especially the concept of using a headline for your blurb.

  • Keep it short and snappy. Brevity is key. Keeping it to one paragraph is preferable.
  • Think of your blurb as an advertisement. Throw in a teaser, (eg. raise a question) that will intrigue the reader and urge them to want to find out what happens next.
  • Examine other blurbs from stories you like and figure out what makes them successful and apply some of the techniques they use.
The blurb for Before the Legend

The blurb for Before the Legend

Above is the revised back cover for Before the Legend with the blurb. Although I’m no expert at blurb writing, here is my latest attempt.

It’s every child’s nightmare. In the next three days he’s about to relive it. Will he defy this dream?

On the quiet island, amidst the looming Roman Empire, Troy, the youngest son of the King has always known his little world to be safe and happy. But one nightmare gives him a disturbing glimpse of losing his parents forever. He wakes up only to realize he may have lost something else_ his parent’s love and affection. Left with more questions than answers, Troy must figure out the new questions that the event has triggered. But in three days, an earth shattering event rocks the island, separating him and his brothers from their parents. If Troy doesn’t find his parents in time, his worst nightmare is about to come true. But if he does, will he be prepared for what he’s about to discover?

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In the example above, I introduced the main character and the setting which fits with my genre (Historical fiction). I provided the main gist of the plot and threw in the complication (the earthquake) and left the reader an interest-arousing question. So what do you think? Although blurb writing has never been easy it doesn’t have to be so daunting after all.

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Update: As a heads up check out the newest chapter for Chasing Blue you can check out this link.

Cover Reveal!

The wait is almost over. Here is the new proposed book cover for my debut book, “Before the Legend,” a fresh alternative look on history seen the through the eyes of a young precocious boy living in the backdrop of one of the greatest civilizations known to rule. Expect a cover change to the e-Book and print versions across major retailers as early as July. What do you think about the new cover?

Cover Reveal!

Which comes first: Book or Movie?

As I alluded to in an earlier post, 2014  is the year of YA books being adapted into the big screen such as the latest one to hit theaters, “The Fault in our Stars,” a tear-jerker romance by John Green. Specifically, I noticed dystopian YA novels being made into movies, such as Divergent which was  released earlier this year and more to come such as the Maze Runner, The Giver, and Catching Fire: Part 1. I’ll admit I’m excited to see most of them, yet considering they’re all based on books, I contemplated picking up the book and reading it. However with my tendency to become passionate about books I really love I wondered if it was wise if I should read them before the movie.

Is it Wiser to Read the Books First?

With that said I decided to raise the following question to some friends. Which is better to do first: read the book or watch the movie? What do you think was the common response? Well you might have guessed it but most said to read the book first because it contains more details and are generally better than the actual movie. I can’t argue with those sentiments considering it’s 99% true. There is more time for the book to divulge valuable (or not so valuable) details that help setup the plot or enlighten us on a character’s thinking.

So the decision should be easy then; just read the book first. The problem is once I read the book (and if it’s a book I really like), I have heightened expectations and preconceived ideas of how things are supposed to be. And when the movie alters the details or goes left field altogether I’m more likely to become more critical and pick out the discrepancies versus passively enjoying the movie for what it is. Most of these books being adapted I have not read, so when others say “That didn’t happen in the book,” it wouldn’t matter to me. For instance with Hunger Games, I remember hearing several people make similar comments about certain scenes that were added or didn’t happen in the movie. When I watched the movie myself I really enjoyed the movie and fell in love with the resilient and feisty main character, Katniss Everdeen. It was only till recently that I read the book, which I had a greater appreciation for and was not disappointed one bit! However I wonder: would I have enjoyed the movie as much if I read the book first?

It’s hard to say for certain because even though I did notice some things were left out including some characters, I still like the movie regardless. Which worries me is the book I have read already that is coming to the theater: The Giver. When I watched the first trailer, I felt slightly disappointed. Thankfully though the newest trailer looks like it will be faithful about the whole B&W to color concept from the book (much to my delight). Yet I can tell they changed a lot of things from the book. My thoughts mirror another blogger’s take on The Giver, because I too would need to detach my emotional attachment with the book in order for me to enjoy this movie.

What are your views? Is it better to read the book or watch the movie first? Are there examples where the movie adaption was as good as the book? I’d like to weigh in more thoughts on this topic.

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To receive exclusive first look at the official Book cover for “Before the Legend” you can sign up here! Also you can check out the top link “Before the Legend” to check out the cover reveal for the front cover. Also “Chasing Blue” has a new chapter up called: Time’s Up. Enjoy.

Help Me Choose a Cover!

While I’m not busy typing away the last chapters of Chasing Blue, I’m working on getting a new book cover for my published book, Before the Legend. As promised, here are some concept covers I’ve been working on as of late. After getting positive feedback on the layout with the boy in the bottom of the arch window from an acquaintance of mine (who mind you does illustrating and graphic design for a living), I thought the choice was obvious and all I needed was just some fine-tuning to make it pop more, hence the last three covers that favor each other. Unlike the first time when I selected my current cover, I wanted to get others involved with the making of my book cover and gather valuable feedback on whether the book cover was eye-catching and if it was conveying what I wanted to the reader. Although I loved my first book cover, a cover redo was needed for 2 main reasons.

1. Title change: I dropped the subtitle “The Prologue” and the old cover still retains that.

2. Although I liked my old cover, I felt it was a little too abstract for my target audience and I feel this created a disconnect between my book and the readers (readers of historical fiction/Alternative and middle grade readers alike).

This time around I decided to get some constructive feedback from readers and experienced writers in the Industry Insider Club on Wattpad. Boy was I in for a wake up call! Most people did not like the cover. The common consensus was that the boy appeared “out of place.” This was largely due to the lighting between the boy and the foreground (which is subtle yet was made aware of), as well as the scale of the boy’s head in relation to the rest of the picture.  In the gallery below you can see some of the major changes made in the design process.

 

Despite my editing attempts on the 4th one, it was clear by some users that the boy had to go. One user who seemed to understand my motivation behind the book and how the young boy pictured the protagonist which the story revolved around offered some very valuable suggestions. If I wanted to focus on the boy I would have to change the layout. Another alternative was to capture a scene in the story within the constrains of the arch. She has definitely given me the framework to go off, but the hard part is going back to the drawing board, changing what I want to capture and finding the right pictures to convey that new image.

Now I see why most writers don’t get involved in this process and go straight for the cover designer! It’s definitely a whole lot easier! Having just a “good” book cover isn’t enough anymore. I have to make it pop. I need it to communicate what the story is about. I need it to connect with readers. Before I go down the route of hiring someone to do it for me (I’d have to do some hard persuading to get my acquaintance to do it for me, although he helped pick out the pictures, I am willing to give it another go. What do you think about the covers I’ve come up with so far? I would love to hear your feedback on them? Does the design work? If not what direction should I go with?

Spring Fever

flowers in bloom

Image by South Haven Memorial Library

Spring. Although it’s arrival has been slow to come in Wisconsin it is here. Often associated with renewal, it’s a fitting time to plan new things for my story series. In addition to wrapping up my final story, Chasing Blue, I’m also in the process of designing a new book cover for Before the Legend, so stay tuned for the next post where I reveal for the first time the concept covers. But that’s not all that’s new.

I was pleasantly surprised to hear my author interview with Michael was finally posted on his blog “The Cult of Me.” It couldn’t have come at the right time when fresh buzz of my free run has long dissipated. Although he is a busy man, I’m gracious for the opportunity to be featured on his blog for readers to learn more about me as a writer. In the interview I got a chance to candidly answer some of his questions such as what inspired me to write, who in the past would I love to spend a day with, and the challenges that comes with writing. To find out my responses you can click the hyperlinked text above to view the full interview.

In the meantime I recently uploaded a new chapter to Chasing Blue “Spring Fever.” Synopsis: Troy rejoins the crew but not before paying his final respects to a fallen friend. Things couldn’t seem more bleak for the crew as the dark clouds seem to loom over them in the weeks to come. Everyone is itching for the sun to come out the storm clouds as they near Crete but Troy is going to get more than he bargained for!

Important Updates Coming

As promised from my last post, I want to inform readers and followers alike regarding the new changes  affecting my two stories: Before the Legend and Chasing Blue- The Final Saga.

Before the Legend

  • Title Change!- For those that haven’t already seen my announcement on my Facebook Page, my debut book: Before the Legend’s subtitle has been officially dropped for both the print and eBook version. Instead of being listed as: Before the Legend- The Prologue the title now just stands as Before the Legend. Why the change? Originally when writing this book I intended this to be a prologue (prequel may be a more fitting term) to the series, considering the first book I wrote for the series was in fact Roman Identity. However Before the Legend is more than just a prologue and is really a small story in itself with a beginning, middle, and end. After some comments I received on a forum post, I realized I don’t want to give the impression to new readers that this book is nothing more than an “info dump.” Hence after much consideration, a title change was needed. The change is already reflected on retailers such as Amazon, Kobo, B&N, and Smashwords and will trickle across to other retailers as well.
  • New Book Cover!- Since I just dropped the subtitle the cover used for the book will also need an update. This gives me the excuse to flirt with new cover designs which I hope will attract new readers to the book. I hope to work with an acquaintance of mines who works as a graphic designer for a living and has worked with multiple clients in the past to help come up with a new concept. Stay tuned in the weeks to come for new concept covers. For the first look at new cover designs and new updates for Before the Legend and Chasing Blue you can sign up here!

Chasing Blue

  • The newest chapter is out for the fourth and final book to the series. Troy teams up with old characters as they travel to the port city but new members are joining the crew and they plan to shake things up! Read on in “Ides of March.”

Snippet from new chapter…

“Troy, they are getting the cargo ready so I think it might be time to start boarding…” Hyros’ voice trailed. Instantly his eyes darted to Maximus and a band of men who were heading to the boat. “Wait a moment,” he said, walking towards the entry of the boat. “Are these lads lost or something? I believe you have the wrong boat,” Hyros said, sticking his chewing stick between his teeth.

I watched as Maximus stepped foot on the ramp. Hyros met him midway on the incline, blocking his entry. But Maximus kept on walking closer to Hyros.

“I believe you have the wrong boat, sir,” Hyros said, crunching down on his stick.

“Is this boat set to depart before the sun strikes the western skies?” Maximus asked.

“If the winds are favorable, then yes,” Hyros answered.

“Then this is the right boat, sir,” Maximus replied staring at him. Hyros scrunched his brows. Then he looked back at me as I stood on leveled ground looking up at the two of them.

“Since when were you authorized to set foot on this boat?” Hyros mumbled, letting out a snort.

“Since I paid my fare,” he said pointing to a distinguished young man talking to some other crew members. It was Jason! I had no idea he was returning again.

“Oh, no,” Hyros said, shaking his head. He removed his chewing stick. “You cannot possibly be serious,” he said, his tone turning solemn. “I am not letting you or your men get on this boat. Theseus grants me a weighty task in overseeing things and I am not buying your words. Now please just step aside because these kind men behind you would like to bring the foodstuff,” Hyros said pointing to two men carrying heavy sacks filled with grain.

“Let us pass,” Maximus said in a quiet but stern tone.

“Sorry I cannot,” Hyros said crossing his arms against his chest. “Now please step aside. Those men look like they are about to drop their sacks.” Maximus tried to push past Hyros, only for him to block his movements. They were merely inches from each other.

“Please do not test me. I am not in the mood you two,” Hyros warned. As quickly as it happened Sergius reached for his sheath.

“I am not in the mood either to play!” Sergius snarled, whipping his knife out at Hyros throat. Hyros took a step back…

 

My Review on The Giver trailer

Dystopian storylines sees to be catching fire (pun intended) as dystopian young adult novels are coming to life on the big screen this year. For many that are keeping up with the new Giver movie you may have seen the newest trailer. But already the 1st official trailer is already getting mixed reviews and understandably so. As a big fan of the book myself, I was excited to learn that a new trailer was finally being released. However like many others who were fans of the book I could not help but feel let down. Although I intended to write this post sooner considering I first wrote about my reaction to who was playing Jonas in an earlier post. I now have time to collect myself I hope to present my initial reactions to The Giver trailer in a more objective fashion. Besides the obvious aging up of the characters here were my initial reactions below of some of the changes…

1. What happened to the black and white world?

That was my first reaction as I watched the trailer, which mind you, was all in color. For those that read the book, Jonas’ world is devoid of color with only the sporadic glimpses of color that Jonas is able to see. It’s only later in the story when he meets The Giver, that he gradually can see fully in color. To me it felt like a slap in the face that such an important aspect of the book was being ignored. With color you had choices, something Jonas’ world deemed to be unwise even dangerous. The lack of freedom to allow people to make their own choices was a main theme of the story. If the movie is all in color, mention of Jonas being able to see a rainbow would lose all significance.

2. This is not what I imagined Jonas’ world to be.

The beauty about Lowry’s work is the simplicity. When I read the book I got the impression that Jonas lived in a small close-knit community with some touches of modern technology but mostly living a very simple, ascetic lifestyle. Watching the trailer, I get more of an overt futuristic feel to the movie from the sleek modern interior of Jonas’ home, to the end of the trailer (not sure why they needed to add a spaceship?) Although the book does take place in the future, I am worried that the movie is aping past futuristic/dystopian movies that recently came out.

3. That didn’t happen in the book.

There were several things that I noticed just from the trailer that the movie plans to alter so I’m not even going to take the time to address all of them. Obviously when books are adapted to movies you can’t expect the filmmaker to copy it word to word. Things are bound to be altered or omitted. At the same time you don’t want to change too many things in the story otherwise you might as well as call it a derivative work.

Reality Check

Although I can’t speak for everybody, I personally worry that the movie is trying to emulate other futuristic/dystopian movies (eg. Hunger Games), at the expense of losing its originality and what made the story so compelling in the first place. After I had my little rant, I realized that this is just the trailer and only one at that. Regarding the trailer being in color, they want to make the movie more “marketable” to people who may not be familiar with the book (even though they run the risk of alienating fans in the process). Thankfully, according to one source, The Giver movie will still be shown in Black and white (Thank God someone listened to my request). While I wasn’t blown away, from an objective standpoint the trailer gives the average viewer a gist of what the story is all about without giving too much of the plot away and is visually appealing. Considering the book is filled with introspection this movie looks to ramp up the action to make it more appealing to the mainstream audience. While I am skeptical about some of the actors/actresses selected to play the characters, I am pleased that Jeff Bridges and Meryl Streep play their respective roles. The trailer piques my curiosity as to how the movie will play with the concept of “stirrings” considering the characters are older. (you’ll have to read the book to know what I mean by stirrings) Despite my initial disappointments, I’m not writing-off the movie anytime soon. My only hope is that the movie does the book justice. What are your thoughts on The Giver trailer or the movie in general? Despite obvious changes to the book do you still plan to see it? I would love to hear your thoughts.

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Stay tuned for my upcoming post where I dish on some important changes for my debut book, Before the Legend. In the meantime check out an emotional chapter to Chasing Blue called “Two-Face.”