Thursday, September 15, 2011

Anchored to the Flesh

Author: Lee Laughead
Genre: Fantasy
How long it's been on sale: Beginning of July
Current price: $2.99
Marketing: Posted on Amazon Kindle forums, Google+, Facebook, Twitter, Livejournal, Something Awful forums. Bought an ad on Facebook.
Total sold so far: 4
Link to book on Amazon: Anchored to the Flesh (Silas Series)

Product Description:

In the style of Glen Cook and Joe Abercrombie comes Iowa resident Lee Laughead's first novel, a bloody, gritty romp through a corrupt world.

Silas is a wizard who travels from world to world searching for an artifact that will enable him to speak to his dead wife. When he and his friends Bottle and Kellikek find a good lead from the diviner Hargold Omenstop in the city of Sareb Forest Market, Silas is mistaken for the killer of the very man he sought.

"Anchored to the Flesh" is the story of Silas, bound to an oath of pacifism yet craving revenge, chasing after answers to the twin mysteries of the real killer and the fate of the only woman he ever loved. A gritty novel filled with frequent action, "Anchored" nonetheless explores Silas's psyche as he struggles to maintain his morality in a rotten world.

The first book in a planned trilogy. 

First 300 Words:

Sustenega set the man on fire.

It was his own fault. He didn’t give Sustenega the information he needed, even though he gave himself away by twitching and sweating when asked where the diviner Hargold Omenstop was. He knew Omenstop lived in this city; it was just a matter of narrowing it down. Maybe, he thought, asking random peasants on the streets about an obviously infamous sorcerer was not the best way to locate him. But what else could he do? Every time he went to a tavern or inn for information, he ended up fighting someone, then fighting everyone, then burning the place down. He could break down some noble’s door and sweat him for information. Rich people usually had a higher opinion of themselves than the poor, and therefore would be more likely to give up Omenstop’s location to save his skin.

Sustenega looked disdainfully at the farmer he just set aflame. He had long since died, crumbled to the cobblestone street, mercifully not setting anything else on fire. He was so used to being feared and reviled that he didn’t even notice the crowds of merchants and shoppers that had panicked and fled the area after he attacked the poor peasant until he lifted up his head and glanced around. He walked to an empty fruit stall and helped himself to some red-and-orange fruit he didn’t recognize. He stuck a few in his pocket. And they were the only things in his pocket, because Sustenega saw no need to carry around mostly useless tools or weapons that could just be used against him anyway.

Sustenega heard the clamping of horse hoofs on the ground, coming toward him speedily. No need, he thought to himself, to stick around, kill a few town guards.

Vicki's Comments: The cover is well designed, however it looks sexual to me, especially coupled with the title. I'm not sure that's the look you're going for. Since this book is fantasy, I would look at some other fantasy books that are similar to yours and try to design a cover that has the same look. Since you mention Glen Cook and Joe Abercrombie in your description, I would start there. See if you can't get a cover to look like the same style, as their covers do seem to be similar.

This leads me into my next point. I find it off-putting when an author compares themselves to other well known authors. It's one thing if your readers make that comparison, but I feel as if an author should not do this. Let the description pull the reader in. I'd cut the first paragraph.

The next paragraph is confusing to me, possibly because of all the words I'm not familiar with. I probably would take out some of the names. For instance, you don't have to name the city.

I don't think it's a good idea to say it's the first book in a 'planned' trilogy. To me, this says the author is not actively writing the next book. I would take out the 'planned' part and just say, "Book 1 of the Such-and-Such Trilogy."

When I read the beginning of the novel I feel like trimming some of the words. I would suggest a critique group to help get rid of some of the superfluous words. There also were some editing issues. After running this through a critique group I would hire an editor. I like how it starts with a bang. Setting fire to someone definitely gets my attention. I think with a bit of tightening up, this book could do quite well.

What do you guys think?


  1. Vicki nailed it. I agree with every point from the cover/title to the prose. I think you can lose the city name and tighten the blurb. I was confused a little too. Silas is trying to find his dead wife, but then he's looking for a man. Is that the diviner? It's a little confusing. Also, what's the hook. It needs something else. What are the consequences of the mistaken identity? What is his journey now?

    The opening scene is good, but it needs a little more oomph! I know that can be hard when your character is a bit emotionless. But you can do it!

    Best of luck with the book.

  2. What Vicki said. :)

    The cover almost has a horror feel. I didn't get a fantasy vibe at all--not good for that target audience. Vicki's suggestions on the blurb are spot on. The excerpt is the best part--it's got some strong points. But if no one's getting far enough to see a sample, that won't help, of course.

  3. My comment got lost. Urrrgghhh.

    The cover said murder mystery to me. Dead body in the field. It also looks hand drawn and has too many hard edges to be a fantasy.

    Definitely take out the first paragraph of the blurb. If the reader doesn't agree with you, you're in trouble.

    If this book is about Silas, why does it start with Sustenega? If he's the killer, then maybe you need to say that in the blurb. Does Silas come on the scene right after your 300 words?

    It's a good premise, though.

  4. Hard to argue with the pros from Dover here.

    Cover, wrong genre and in thumbnail almost impossible to make out. I like the font use, even tho author name is smallish. The graphic is killing you, I think.

    Blurb - yeah - "gritty" twice? Drop that whole paragraph because it's just setting you up to fail. You don't want to be Glen Cook. You want to be the guy Glen Cook wants to be. Let him come to you. :D

    First 300? I got lost in the second sentence.

    "It was his own fault." I had to think too hard to realize that "it" was the setting afire and the "his" referred to the crispy critter rather than whoever the heck you're talking about who's not the main character anyway so WTF?

    Third sentence didn't help. "He didn’t give Sustenega the information he needed, even though he gave himself away by twitching and sweating when asked where the diviner Hargold Omenstop was." Who he? Which he? Which he twitched? And again with the guy we don't expect because he's not in the blurb that brought us to the sample in the first place.

    I think you've got a great story here somewhere. Start telling it in the blurb. The sample should reel them in, and when they get to the "buy now" link at the end of the sample, the only possible response must be "click."

  5. I really can't add anything to Vicki's analysis. It's spot on. I'd edit the blurb (I like doing that) but I think you need to work on tightening the writing and the cover more urgently. Consider getting an editor. Even working with one just once helps considerably. If you can't afford one, find a critique group. Good luck!

  6. Thank you for selecting my book. As for the cover, it was not my intention to imply anything sexual; I consider my book to be violent pulp for teenagers, and there is very little sexual content within it.

    I name-dropped a few famous authors in my blurb specifically because I am unknown. I didn't know that was a faux pas. I do agree, however, that the blurb is awkward-sounding and I need to rework it.

    Thank you again for your input. It's hard to disagree with your commentary. I will do everything I can to improve my book.

  7. To buck the trend a bit, I like the cover, and I also like the first 300 words.

    I do think that you should rework your blurb a bit, however. I think you've got a case of telling not showing there. Saying a book is gritty is simply not quite as cool as showing me how it's gritty.

    Further, I think you're burying your best stuff in the last paragraph. I'd start out with something more like:

    The only woman Silas ever loved is dead, and he's obsessed with finding the man who killed her. Silas searches for an artifact that will allow him to talk to his dead wife. Perhaps she can give him the answers he desperately seeks, and help take his revenge. But when Silas is mistaken for the killer he seeks, he must... (fill in the stakes here.)

    Correct me if I'm wrong, but that's the story it seems as though your blurb is saying this book is. Put your story first, props if you can weave in some important details showing how this world is corrupt and immoral, and leave the adjectives describing what your story is like to the reviewers. :)

    Best of luck. It sounds interesting.

  8. The cover very definitely does not say fantasy. That's the first problem. And even for a fantasy reader like me, the beginning is way too heavy on complicated names. My eyes crossed! Yeah, the blurb needs work too.

    I sympathize. I'm struggling with getting sales on my fantasies in spite of generally good reviews. I think that genre may just be extraordinarily competitive or something because my historical novels sell much better. Just a general observation.

    Anyway, try tweaking all those and then I advise a lot of patience. :)

  9. I'm with those who don't like the wouldn't prevent me from buying your book; however, it wouldn't draw my attention.

    The blurb mentions two authors whom I've never heard of, so that wasn't very helpful to me.

    As for the first 300 words, I liked the first sentence, but then I got confused about who 'he' was in the next paragraph. Was 'he' Sustenega (I didn't think he was, and yet I wasn't sure) or someone else? Also, there seemed to be a lot of information dumped into the first few paragraphs.

    Personally, I'd consider deleting the first three paragraphs and beginning with, "Sustenega looked disdainfully at the farmer he just set aflame." I really love the tension in that sentence, and it would definitely make me want to read on.

    Now, after having said all of that, let me now say that of all the books on this blog, I like yours the best so far :) I'm really intrigued! Good luck!

  10. Do teenagers buy ebooks, or do their parents buy them for them? I don't know, I'm actually asking.

    Secondly, are teenagers familiar with Glen Cook and Joe Abercrombie? Or would it be better to say "unlike Harry Potter..."? Again, I'm just asking.

    Having 'Flesh' in big letters makes it seem to me like it's going to be sexually-oriented.

    I think the kind of teenage boy who would like this story would probably like a more over-the-top cover. Something more like the artwork for 4th edition Dungeons & Dragons: spikes, cleavage, muscles, huge swords, things on fire.


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