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Thursday, September 8, 2011

Blood of the Dragon


Author: Samantha Warren
Genre: Fantasy
How long it's been on sale: 4 Months
Current price: $3.99
Marketing: Giveaways on blog & Goodreads, Twitter, Facebook, Passive Promotion (posting on forums, etc), Bookmarks, Blog
Total sold so far: 15
Link to book on Amazon: Blood of the Dragon

Product Description:

Conquered and enslaved, the dragons of Layr live in fear. Their allies are banished, declared outlaws and forced out of human society. Lana, daughter of dragon keepers, is discontented with her mundane existence at the hatchery and the sometimes violent treatment of the dragons in her care. The birth of a rare dragon, descendant of the long-defeated dragon king, will force her to step outside herself and become the hatchling's protector. With the help of her best friend Bolgor, Bellithana the Gypsy, and a Hidden named Prigol, the group seeks to bring an end to the tyranny that has reigned for more than three centuries. Can Lana and her friends bring freedom to the oppressed land? Or will the wicked Princess Slyvania destroy not only Lana's hard won maturity, but the lives of both her and her new friends as well? 

First 300 Words:

The dirt and sand along the riverbank glistened darkly in the fading light. The water held a sickly red tinge as the battle waned. Victims of the slaughter lay strewn across the blood-soaked field. Screams of pain and fear echoed through the darkening sky. An enormous red beast struggled feebly, his left wing crushed beneath his massive weight. Aron, leader of the human army, strode haughtily up to the creature and propped a plated boot on its neck.


"Sigurd, king of the dragons." The words shot from the man's mouth like venom. "How does it feel to know you have failed? All your worthless struggles, your pathetic attempts at retaining your freedom; all for naught. You're pathetic."


At that, Aron spat in the fallen king's face. Sigurd paid no attention to the man. His one remaining eye was focused on a scene across the field. He lowed hauntingly as he watched his beloved Silene being shackled, forever imprisoned by the wretched conquerors. His trusted friend and captain, Roland, lay torn at her side. Sigurd knew the man would not have allowed such an atrocity to happen had he a breath left. As it was, Silene took out half a dozen of Aron's soldiers before she was subdued, spewing their remains across her captors.


The fallen king tore his gaze from his mate and surveyed the carnage. They had fought valiantly, man and beast alike, side by side. Now they lay dying together on the field of defeat. Aron had the greater force; Sigurd knew that more than a year ago. But he would not give up. He would not surrender his people to slavery at the hands of such a tyrant. He built his army, recruiting any dragon or human who would come to his aide. He even appealed to the Hidden. But it wasn't enough.

Vicki's Comments: The cover doesn't grab me. I think it's because the whole thing is pretty much the same color which all blends together. The picture isn't gripping or interesting. I'd rather see an actual dragon or an egg that was a different color than the background. I would look for a different graphic, and I probably would chose a different font.

I think the description can be tweaked a bit. I'm not a big fan of questions at the end of a blurb. If you write the blurb well enough, the reader should be able for form their own questions. I'd cut the questions at the end, and I would also cut the first two sentences and start with "Lana..." so we get right into the character and her problem.

The first 300 words didn't do it for me. My opinion only, but I didn't like the point of view shifting. I would start in the dragon's point of view and stick with it through the whole first section. I also felt that some of the prose could be tightened up. For example, 'strode haughtily' is repetitive. The word strode tells the reader how he's walking, you don't need to weaken it by using the adverb.

I do like the idea of a story being told (at least in part) from a dragon's point of view. A lot of fantasy that I read have dragons, but they're usually just destructive. I like the way these are portrayed here. With a bit of tweaking I think this can be successful. I'm guessing the main reason it's not selling is the cover.

What do you guys think?

13 comments:

  1. I'm with Vicki. The basic trinity isn't working in your favor.

    Start with an eye catching cover, fix the fonts. Italics don't work if all the words are in italics. Drop "by" ... beef up the text.

    Blurb needs punching up. Less back story, more story.

    The sample isn't working in your favor either. You use the word "pathetic" twice in the same speech...consecutive sentences. Go thru there and throw out every single -ly adverb. If the text isn't flowing, fix the verbs. (She's right about "strode haughtily")

    Vicki pointed out the POV shift is also a problem.

    JMO. YMMV.

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  2. Agree on the cover. I had to guess that was a dragon's egg.

    At the end of your 300 words you said, "come to his aide." Should be "aid." If there are many more mistakes like this in the sample, it could be holding you back.

    The first sentence had that "it was a dark and stormy night" feel.

    If you want to show the dragons in a good light from the beginning, stick to what the dragon king sees and feels.

    I know. Adverbs are pernicious weeds. But sometimes you need them. There are different ways of striding. Haughtily, quickly, confidently, purposefully, arrogantly. If you don't want to use an adverb, the sentence needs to be turned around.

    He strode up to the dragon king with the proud and haughty demeanor of a conqueror.

    I don't know if that's better, but it gets rid of the adverb and says what you want it to say.

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  3. I agree with all of you. Cover made me think of a Faberge! And I wasn't comfortable with the POV shift. I kept wondering who 'The King' was, and then I realized it was the dragon.

    Artemis

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  4. I may be atypical, but a cover is never what keeps me from buying a book. The title and the graphic conveyed "fantasy" to me, so if fantasy is what I was looking for, I'd move on to reading the sample.

    The sample is the make-or-break for me and a potential purchase. It is the only thing that counts. Glowing reviews don't count. Scathing reviews don't count. I buy based on the sample.

    And, sadly, this sample doesn't do it for me. The adverbs, as others have already mentioned. The first four sentences have the same rhythm and structure. The wording feels tired, clich├ęd. It is fantasy trope 101.

    I don't mean to be unduly harsh! I just know how much I appreciate honest feedback on my stories. I hope you can use mine fruitfully...work a little on your craft, and this could become a story I'd definitely want to buy.

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  5. Huh. That's the exact opposite feedback I get most of the time (aside from the blurb, which I've been struggling with). I usually get positive comments on the cover and prologue. I'll have to look closer at both to see what I can tweak.

    As for the blurb, I seem to have a hard time getting input on what works and what doesn't. People say they don't like it, but no one wants to tell me why. If you guys would be so kind, what do you think of the below? I tried to simplify it a bit, as well as taking Victorine's suggestions into account.

    Lana is discontented with her mundane existence at the egg hatchery and the sometimes violent treatment of the dragon-slaves in her care. The birth of the long-defeated dragon king's son will force her to step outside herself and become the hatchling's protector. With the help of her best friend, a Gypsy, and a Hidden, the group seeks to bring an end to the tyranny that has reigned for more than three centuries. But Princess Slyvania, the cruelest monarch since the conquering human ruler, will not give up her kingdom easily.

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  6. The cover made me think of an Easter egg, and I think if it's a fantasy book I'd prefer to see an actual dragon of some description on the cover.

    I'm afraid the writing didn't really grab me, and I felt it needed to be written in a more active style - the first few sentences seemed rather rote, almost mechanical in style.

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  7. The cover looks amateurish to me, fairly or not. I think it's the typography, but I'm definitely not an expert there.

    The blurb I found confusing, which isn't good. I would have clicked away before getting to the end.

    The sample...I would hook up with an editor or betas, or the other things people usually do. The adverbs and the repetition really do weaken the writing. And the POV shift here is a problem, not because it's a shift in POV -- I actually have no problem with this in theory -- but because it's not done very well, and so it's confusing. You need to transition. The times when I've seen this work, either there's a transition, or there's a very strong authorial voice, so that it's not, overall, like close 3rd, and instead there's a very clear sense that there is a someone behind the words, telling the story. Neither is the case here.

    The thing is, and I have no idea if this is what's going on, but it reads like you didn't use a clear transition because you weren't aware that you were shifting POV while in close third. That doesn't bode well. I think POV is a potent tool, but it's got to be used deliberately.

    More importantly, it's confusing, and I'd have stopped reading.

    Genevieve

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  8. I really, really meant to qualify with the usual IMOs and YMMVs. I have been trying to get better about that, I just always think they're implied. No excuse, I know...

    Genevieve

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  9. I'm probably not the best one to comment on this since I'm not big on fantasy. There are only a few fantasy books that I like so I won't comment on the writing or anything. Just general impressions. For me, I have a problem with the age group of the story. I can't tell whether it's gonna be MG, YA, or adult. For me that matters as I don't know what to expect when I start to read. I also don't know who I would buy the book for if it were a gift.

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  10. I think part of what we need to know in the blurb is why Lana is forced to step outside herself and become the hatchling's protector. We know he's the descendant of the old dragon king, but why does Lana want to protect him? There's no hook here. You don't have to spell it out if it's a spoiler, but you need something more to grab our interest.

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  11. It can be hard to get useful (and honest) feedback on your writing, family and friends are pretty much out unless they happen to be writers too, and then you must be very clear you want the brutal unvarnished truth and are prepared to deal with it when you get it.

    I agree with what everyone else has said about the opening. While the cover looks a bit like it's suffered from some bad resizing (a bit fuzzy/blurry in spots) it wouldn't stop me from trying the sample if the description sounded interesting. I would never make it as far as the sample though because of this:

    "discontented with her mundane existence at the hatchery and the sometimes violent treatment of the dragons in her care."

    This makes me feel like someone's just pasted some cliched old fantasy tropes on the sermon their trying to sell me.

    The preachy aspect is the biggest problem, but I don't think telling the audience your main character's life is boring is necessarily where you want to start from either. I would actually play down Lana in the description, do something more like this:

    Conquered and enslaved, the dragons of Layr live in fear. Their allies are banished, declared outlaws and forced out of human society. When a rare dragon, descendant of the long-defeated dragon king, is born, Lana, a keeper in the dragon hatchery finds herself forced into becoming the hatchling's protector. With the help of her best friend Bolgor, Bellithana the Gypsy, and a Hidden named Prigol, the group confronts a tyranny that has reigned for more than three centuries.

    That's just a quick rework with no real knowledge of your story, and I'm probably not your target audience, so take it for what it's worth, but it works better for me. YMMV.

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  12. At the risk of being cliched, maybe the cover should be a picture of the main character riding a dragon.

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  13. I would suggest beginning with your most interesting line - "Screams of pain and fear echoed through the darkening sky." Why start with the boring description?

    I liked the description and didn't mind the cover (lol...I'm always the minority opinion when it comes to covers, though. My advice on that is not the best!)

    ReplyDelete

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