The shoes didn't fit. It was an omen.

Friday, September 21, 2012

The Be-otching Blurb

Yes. Folks. The writing of the blurb is the biggest Be-otch I’ve come across as a writer. Putting the novel together and making changes have been easy-peasy. But the blurb creation is making me feel like a total moron. And I thought techi-things could only make me feel that way, not anything-writing.

Here’s my initial blurb…well, one of the many firsts.

Eighteen year old Lila is a psychic/medium who’s been taught not to trust her own instincts. Her dead gram tries to warn her not to marry Max Butz, but her mother, argues, implying she’s delusional and that Max will take good care of her. Hours after the nuptials, Max shows his true colors and Lila escapes through a bathroom window in her wedding dress and the too-small secondhand shoes her mother bought. Following the advice of her dead gram she steals the groom’s car and discovers guns and drugs hidden in the trunk. Max and his creepy friends come after her. To survive she must learn to trust her intuition and the otherworldly help of her dead gram and a past love.

So I posted this in a group I belong to on Facebook.

This reads like a book report a comment read.

Well, I belong to a live critique group that has been guiding me…more like the blind leading the blind. While we’re all pretty good at editing and analyzing each other’s stories, we miss the mark on blurbs. Maybe this explains why one of my critters has been rejected after several agents and publishers have read her query letter. It’s a lot like a book report.

Anyway, I had more comments on my book report.

It should pull people in without giving away too much.

Read the back jackets of other novels.

Read movie advertisements.

Okay. So I did last weekend. I pulled books off my shelf and researched Amazon.

Watchers-Dean Koontz

On his 36th birthday, Travis Lornele hikes into the foothills of the Santa Ana Mountains. But his path is soon blocked by a bedraggled Golden Retriever, who will let him go no further into the dark woods.

That morning, Travis had been desperate to find some happiness in his lonely, seemingly cursed life. What he finds is a friend? A dog of alarming intelligence? and a threat that could only have come from the darkest corners of man’s imagination.

Risk of Infection-Tom Conrad

3 billion people were no longer seeing a glimpse of a cool Britannica façade, of Union Jack clad cheerleaders leaping from open top red buses, of athletes using traditional pork sausages as skipping ropes, and William Shakespeare impersonator doing the long jump. 3 billion people were concentrating on infection. Britain was infected!

Desperation-Stephen King

There’s a place along Interstate 50 that some call the loneliest place on Earth. It’s not a very nice place to live. It’s an even worse place to die. It’s known as Desperation, Nevada.

Final Hours- Norma Beishir

Could you live a lifetime in 24 hours? Jaimie Randall thought he had it all, until a close brush with death brought him face-to-face with the one thing that was missing from his life. Now facing his own morality once again, he has two choices. One chance to live, or one to set things right in his troubled life.  

After reading more than these, I wrote this:

Lila should have listened to her dead Gram’s advice the morning of her wedding, “Take off that dress and those shoes. And run.”  When she finally decides to listen, she gets caught up in a deadly run for her life. Will she survive the honeymoon?

So what do you all think. Yes? No? Tweak it more?

I’ll be loppity-lopping 1 to 9 today and 9 to 5 tomorrow. I’ll do my best to keep up with commenting back.

Hugs and chocolate,



  1. I might add one line to start it, set above the main text, and I think Norma suggested it:

    The shoes didn't fit. It was an omen.

    1. I knew it was missing something.

      Thank you, Sir Wills.

  2. I love it. Wasn't sure what the honeymoon line meant though - I assumed she didn't get married. Love the line William wrote above too.

    Blurb writing sucks. It's akin to writing hallmark cards, no?

  3. I like the new one, Shelly. You're a quick study!

  4. I like the new one as well; it's a big improvement. I get more of Lila's voice.

  5. It's easy for someone who has no preconceived notion of the plot to jump in with what will sound like criticism, but what is hopefully helpful.
    The examples you quoted were all super short. Are they the *complete* jacket/back cover descriptions? First line/paragraph?

    The tone of the book is not entirely clear to me - thriller? humorous? (Dead grans & runaway brides can be hilarious after all.) Would like a snippet of who or what is after her, if not why.

    ...So THEN I read your first draft. My suggestion? Combine the two. Less details than the original, more than the rewrite.

    Ex.: Every bride dreams her wedding will be memorable, but for eighteen-year-old Lila, ignoring her instincts - and her dead grandmother's warning from beyond the grave - her wedding night could be her last.
    When groom, Max, shows his true colors, Lila steals his car and bolts in (nothing more?) than her wedding dress and too-small shoes, (compliments of her over-controlling mother). Unfortunately, she's also got a car trunk full of guns & drugs Max and his creepy friends want back. To survive she must learn to trust her long-suppressed physic intuition and accept the help of a past love (who broke her heart?)

    Happy writing!

    1. Oh the book itself is a hybrid. Paranormal/comedy/thriller/action packed....

  6. I like William's idea. You are right. Short is better.

    If it is too long, most will not even bother reading. Their eyes will flinch just at the sight of all that prose.

    Just for an example:

    The gift shoes didn't fit. But then, they were secondhand ... just like Lila's whole life.

    The ghost of Lila's grandmother kept telling her she must live her own life. She must resist allowing her mother or Max, her husband of hours, to live it for her.

    Now, on the run from the killer she married, Lila must learn how to live for herself before she becomes a ghost.

    Stolen drugs, pursuing killers, and a frantic escape with only the ghost of a grandmother and the unsure help of an old flame to light the way.

    Can Lila salvage what remains of her life while she still has one?

  7. Wow, I love Roland's blurb but yours is awesome Shelly. I also think William has good input about the shoes being an omen. Awesome post. Thanks for the lesson, as I might need to do this one day.

  8. Look at the blurbs on some of the most successful novels. They tease the reader, they don't provide a synopsis.

    I'm glad everybody liked my tagline. Thanks for posting it, William.

    1. I liked it, too. And forgot to copy it from you. Thank you, Norma.

  9. I agree with William that Norma's tagline really ties it all together nicely! It sounds like a great story that has something for everybody in it! Sorry that this has been so frustrating, but I appreciate you sharing the process with us. Julie

  10. I like it but I'd get rid of 'When she finally' Take out the adverb/

  11. Oh man. I'm working on my own cover copy right now, too. And yes, it's driving me insane too!

    The new blurb is better, but still missing something.

    Let me see if I can take a stab at this (I kinda combined both your versions) ...

    The morning of her wedding, eighteen year old Lila hears her dead gram's voice: "Take off that dress and those shoes. And run.”

    But Lila's been conditioned by a controlling mother and obsessive fiance and she goes ahead with the ceremony--only to find herself escaping through a bathroom window, white gown and all.

    Lila finds herself in the middle of a drug war with no one to trust but the ghosts of loved ones.

    If her husband catches up to her, will she survive the honeymoon?

    Good luck!

    1. Ali,

      Thank you. It is tough. I just got my manuscript back and it needs the margins fixed. Yikes! So much left to do.

  12. I struggle with blurbs, but I think you're onto something, sounded great.


I'm dying to know what you think.