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Thursday, July 28, 2011

FOR EVERY ACTION There Are Consequences


Author: Gail M Baugniet
Genre: Mystery
How long it's been on sale: 3 months
Current price: $2.99
Marketing: Daily/Weekly Mentions on Twitter, Facebook, and personal blog; one library appearance; hand out business cards;
Total sold so far: 12
Link to book on Amazon: FOR EVERY ACTION There Are Consequences

Product Description:

Pepper Bibeau's insurance investigations for a Wisconsin-based company sometimes involve a murder, but she never thought she would cause one.

Days before the 1968 Democratic Convention, Pepper arrives in Chicago to settle questionable medical claims for an elusive doctor. Her assignment also includes a background check on a life insurance beneficiary who admits to stabbing his wife.

When a close friend is killed, and Pepper is hospitalized after an unprovoked attack, a homicide detective decides someone wants to put a stop to her investigations. For her safety, he suggests she return to Wisconsin, but Pepper is determined to learn why her insurance investigation has stirred up a tragic chain of events. What she discovers are the devastating consequences of one person's greed that she must expose before someone stops her, permanently.

**Book printed in 12-font size for easy reading**

First 300 Words:

Friday, August 2, 1968 Wisconsin
 
Our office coordinator handed me the life insurance claim at noon on Friday. Then she leaned against my desk and popped the cover on a jar of Li Hing Mui dried mango, helping herself to a couple of slices while I skimmed the file.
 
The coroner’s report of the death scene described numerous knife wounds inflicted on the female and copious amounts of blood sprayed across a bathroom mirror. The fine hairs on my neck bristled as I imagined the victim watching her attacker approach. Had the woman seen the knife arch over her shoulder before she felt the first impact? Or had fortune allowed her to lose consciousness without ever realizing the horror of her imminent death?
 
I looked up and gave Liz a squint-eyed stare for dropping the case on me this late in the week. She brushed Li Hing Mui powder off her hands and flashed me a raised-palms “don’t shoot the messenger” sign.
 
“Sorry, Pepper. You know Mr. Sullivan always has the last word.” She picked up a business card that had fallen to the floor and set it on my desk. As she exited my office, she fingered the dried maile lei draped over the doorframe.
 
The maile lei and the mango were souvenirs from my twenty-sixth birthday party last December. I’d celebrated in Hawaii with family who resided on the Big Island near the small town of Hawi. The occasion remained bittersweet in my memory. I’d resigned my army nurse corps commission in October and had flown straight to the Islands. My mother had returned several months earlier. She died quietly within weeks of my arrival. My son, Nate, continued to live there with relatives.
 
I glanced back at the life insurance file on my desk and canceled any

Vicki's Comments: Looking at the cover, there are a lot of good things going for it. A lot of mystery/suspense/thriller books have city landscapes on them. I also like the blood. It's not your usual book cover design, but I don't know that it's hurting the book. I think it's well designed and I don't think I would change it right away. Now, if you get a lot of people saying they didn't think it was a mystery, or the cover wasn't attractive to them, maybe think about changing it. But my gut tells me it's a good cover.

The description could use a little tweaking, but honestly I like it too. I think it ends stronger than it starts, though. I think some of the details that are in the beginning can be cut down to the important stuff. Maybe start with something like: When insurance investigator Pepper Bibeau is sent to Chicago to examine questionable medical claims, she finds out the hard way someone wants to put a stop to her inquiry.

In reading the first 300 words, I'm getting the feeling that this novel will have a lot of details included that might not be very important. Is it necessary that we know it's noon on Friday? We can tell it's late in the week when she gives Liz the squint-eyed stare. I'd cut the noon on Friday. Is it important that she's eating Li Hing Mui dried mango? It seems like it's forced. I also don't like the back story that comes out so soon in the beginning. I don't know the character yet, so I really don't care that she had celebrated her twenty-sixth birthday in Hawii. And that paragraph seemed all over the place starting with the birthday, going on to the army nurse corps, and then her mother's death, and ending with her son living with relatives.

Since this is the beginning of the book, it needs to hook the reader right away. I think there's a great premise to this book, and I like the style of the writing. I think the beginning can be stronger, maybe with the help of a critique group. Once there's a strong hook I think this novel can really take off.

My only other suggestion would be to submit the book to book bloggers, and become active over at Kindleboards.com if you're not already.

What do you guys think?

11 comments:

  1. If it were me, I'd skip the whole buildup thing. She's an insurance investigator which means she's going to get an assignment. Not a big deal and as Vicki points out we don't need to know and probably won't care about all that family stuff, or not at first until we get to know the character.

    How about starting where she actually starts the investigation? Authors have to watch "throat clearing", in other words doing some squirming while they get comfortable in the story. It should be cut when one does it. *smile*

    I like the cover. It does say mystery to me. I think the blurb could be tightened a bit, but it isn't bad. The problem seems to me that it may be that opening.

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  2. Hi, my first post here. I enjoyed reading your sample and hope my comments are helpful. Good luck to you.

    If this was my cover, I would do more work on it. (1) The letters in the title and your name are too small. In a thumbnail they would be almost impossible to read. I would make the letters a LOT bigger, leave them where they are, but float them over the images. (2) There's too much white space. I would make everything bigger -- bigger cityscape almost to the top of the cover, bigger title floating over the image, take the blood down so it covered more of the white space, and your name a lot bigger on the bottom.

    Your writing seems good, but I can see two things you could work on: (1) The beginning starts with explanations. The scene would have more impact if you dropped us in the middle instead of telling us about it. I would rework the first sentence so it had more punch. (2) The sample doesn't give me a sense about Pepper's personality. I need to care about her or be interested in her enough to want to find out what happens to her.

    Again, your writing seems good and I wish you well.

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  3. If I were writing this, Id have her actually in the investigation, as J.R.Tomlin suggests. You need action, or at least movement or tension, right at the opening.
    Supervisor giving an assignment on Friday & helping herself to goodies on your desk is annoying, but not Thrilling.
    Fill in the background after we are into the story, wanting to find out what really happened.

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  4. I actually like most of what I see. I wouldn't change the graphics on the cover, although I agree that the text could be hard/impossible to read in a thumbnail, and I would at least "bold" it. I like the text slanting down style-wise but it's just hard enough to read to potentially slow someone down, so bolding it could help that too. The only other thing I can think of, which really isn't something I could see affecting sales, was that I found the mango and lei details to be too much detail. Other than that, the first 300 words is enough to interest me in continuing reading, although (as others have said) you might catch even more readers if you go straight to some action and then reflect on this moment later (if needed). Mystery isn't my preferred genre but I do enjoy a good mystery from time to time, so this will go on my TBR list.

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  5. I like the basic cover design in terms of the image. But I'm not wild about the typography.

    I have read "FOR EVERY ACTION" okay, but "there are consequences" is hard to make out at all.

    The author's name also isn't very legible.

    I think the title isn't necessarily a "grabber," either.

    "For Every Action There are Consequences" is kind of ho-hum. A bit cliche, generic. Like something your parent might tell you when you're getting chewed out for acting like a five-year-old idiot... even when you're five years old, LOL.

    I think a punchier title might be an aid to you.

    The blurb doesn't help me; I'm not sure there's enough distance from the 1968 Dem Convention to make it an appealing backdrop for a novel, even though there are times that's been attempted already.

    And I'm not sure, from the blurb, why it's there, really. The summary doesn't tie the '68 DemCon to the plot of the story, making it necessary that it happened then and there. So it just comes off as random information.

    But yeah, both the title and the blurb need a shot of adrenaline and excitement.

    Hard for me to suggest a better title without knowing the novel, though. Same goes for the blurb; without knowing the novel, I hesitate to say, "Write it like this..."

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  6. Gail is having trouble leaving a comment, so she asked that I tell you all thank you. She really appreciates all of the comments and suggestions. And a special thank you to Stuart for putting her book in your TBR pile! :)

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  7. Keeping in line with JR Tomlin's comments, a lot of authors engage in "throat-clearing", or writing a lot of preliminary stuff in the first chapter in order to get themselves into the story. Unfortunately, however, it often takes the reader out of the story.

    I do it all the time, but I always go back and eliminate that stuff once the first draft is finished. In fact, before I submitted my first published novel, I lopped off the entire first chapter, transforming chapter two into chapter one.

    If the info-dump at the end of the sample is an indication of what lies ahead, Gail might want to consider major work with the chainsaw.

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  8. I like the cover, but don't like the title. It's too long. ALso the blurb feels too long too and not intriguing enough--but maybe that's just because I thought it was too wordy.

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  9. I like the cover but it is kind of hard to read the lettering over the blood. A professional designer could improve the contrast and still keep the cover feel.

    The blurb could be a bit stronger as well as the opening.

    Hitting up book bloggers and maybe trying a .99 sale could help too.

    Also, this is just me, but I never specify a font or size to anything I write. As long as the author doesn't specify a font or size then a nook or kindle owner can set their own preferences on their own device. It's actually more helpful to readers to do it that way.

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  10. The cover is quite good--the graphics echo the title. As others have said, a bigger bolder font would make it easier to read.

    The blurb did its job of capturing my interest, although you almost lost me a couple of times in wandering transitions. The opener also needs some tightening--the info dump graf could go and you could work in those details later with more drama. You've got a good setup and good writing that gets slightly bogged down in all the wandering. Just needs some tightening.

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  11. I like it all and plan to buy it.....I feel that like most of us authors who aren't well healed, the publicity is truly missing. Without TV time, a major star picking it up for a movie, Oprah recommending it....we are left in the mist of the morass of all authors out here. Now that I have had a "taste" of it I want to finish the dinner...thanks.

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