Sunday, September 18, 2011

A Love Rekindled

Author: Myne Whitman
Genre: Multicultural romance
How long it's been on sale: March 2011
Current price: $2.99
Marketing: Facebook and Twitter as well as reviews and Goodreads giveaways
Total sold so far: 55
Link to book on Amazon: A Love Rekindled

Product Description: 

Efe returns to Nigeria after years in the United States, dreaming of a happy, independent life. However, her nights become plagued by nightmares of Kevwe Mukoro, her ex-fiancĂ©. Long hours at work and drinking in nightclubs only provide temporary relief, and when she encounters another Mukoro, she knows it’s a matter of time before Kevwe is back in her life. Sparks fly when they finally meet again, but desire is no match for bitter memories of heartbreak. All these years, Efe believed she was rejected; now Kevwe claims he’d never stopped loving her. Stuck at a crossroads, Kevwe prefers to look to the future, with them together. Efe does not want to lose him, yet she needs the traumatic events of the past resolved before she can give in to rekindled love.

First 300 Words:

She hated walking this road so late, but she couldn’t avoid it after reading at the library. Empty tables lined the roadside, and behind one of them, a stone-bound ring of embers, dying remnants of the suya mallam’s fire. Kerosene lamps and candles flickered in the darkness, filling the air with smoke.

Efe coughed, praying she would not meet secret cult members who were reputed to use this route on their way from their haunts. Someone appeared ahead and she slowed, mouth drawn tight, and fists clutching her chest. A little yelp escaped her when the person turned to face her.

She heaved a sigh of relief at the flashing white teeth and walked towards him with a smile of recognition.


She stopped in a moment, clenched hands wiping her eyes when, instead of moving closer to him, he drifted further and further away. Sounds of revelry disturbed the silence of the night and Efe walked faster, heart pounding and sweat dripping from her nose.

More shadows melted out of the side of the road, coming towards her. The figures chanted gutturally, and when they raised their hands, something metal glinted in the light from the fire. Menace filled the air thicker than smoke and Efe ran forward, screaming Kevwe’s name.

He couldn’t leave her here, he was supposed to love and protect her forever…

“Kevwe no…” Efe groaned, as her head tossed from side to side. “Don’t leave me...”

The alarm on the bedside table buzzed, and she jerked awake. It took another moment to lift eyelids swollen from tears. She was under the blankets, but the cold tremors from the nightmare still racked her. Efe dragged herself out of bed, feeling like her head was stuffed with hot rocks. This was the third time in as many days she’d had a Kevwe nightmare. 

Vicki's Comments: I like the cover, although I have a couple of nit picks. I'm not sure why it fades to blue on the left side. There doesn't seem to be a reason for it, so it attracts my attention and makes me wonder why it's there. I also can't read the small type at the top. I like the title, although it does seem a bit too close to the top of the blue bar. I wish I could read the author's name better, I might suggest a different font for that.

The people on the book look like Americans to me. That's probably a stupid statement, I'm sure people in Nigeria wear jeans and polo shirts sometimes, it's just not what I think of when I picture Nigeria. In fact I did a google search for Nigerian photos and only saw one polo shirt. The trees also look more Midwestern America to me. I don't know if this effects sales at all, I just wanted to throw that out there so you know what I thought of at first glance.

The blurb is good but I think it could be better. I like that it's a typical romance story where two people who broke up find each other again. The 'encountering another Mukoro' sentence is kind of strange. Maybe explain why she's forced together with her ex again. Just encountering a family member doesn't explain it.

This story starts with a dream. If you google, "How not to start a novel," just about every list you will find will tell you not to start with a dream. Now, if you're writing a novel that takes place in a dream or dream walking is the focus of the book, I can see where that might work. But this dream isn't particularly scarey. It doesn't pull me in and make me want to read more. I would start the novel at a different point and if you *have* to show a dream or two in the book move it to a different spot. And if you don't have to show the dream, I would cut them altogether.

I think the beginning of the novel is mainly what is holding this book back. Maybe get some other opinions on it, though. I did find a few places where the prose could be tightened up.

What do you guys think?


  1. Can't read the author's name or the text at the top. The photo says happy go lucky romance.

    From the first 300 words, I'm getting romantic suspense especially when you talk about secret cult members. Does that play into why Kevwe and Efe broke up? Did Efe leave Nigeria to get away from her heartbreak? Why does she assume she'll have a happy, independent life? I think the blurb needs a bit more clarity.

  2. I thought the cover was okay. It didn't grab me, but I'm not really a romance reader at all unless there's dragons or aliens or something in the mix. I don't feel like it evokes the content of the book (from what I can tell), and looks a bit too much like a generic stock image you'd find in a department store photo frame. It's certainly not bad, but another image might work better.

    The blurb threw me a bit with "her nights become plagued by nightmares of Kevwe Mukoro." Why is she having nightmares? I honestly thought I'd missed something.

    If it were me, and keeping in mind that I know little to nothing about the romance market, I would drop "and when she encounters another Mukoro, she knows it’s a matter of time before Kevwe is back in her life." and pick it back up at "Sparks fly ..."

    I agree with Vicki that starting with a dream isn't the best choice. Dreams are entirely internal and don't really move the story forward. If the dream information is important I would work it into the scene that follows her waking up. Maybe she speaks with a friend or family member and they talk about her having "that dream" again.

    I don't really have any problems with the writing, other than not being a reader of the genre.

    I hope this is of some help.

  3. I agree with much of what Vicki has already said, especially opening with a dream. Even opening with her waking from a dream is better.

    As for the blurb, yeah, I'm not getting a clear sense of what's going on. I had a dash at editing it, but I have too many questions: Did she know Kevwe in the US or in Nigeria? If Nigeria and she didn't want to see him again, why did she move back, especially to a city where she was likely to encounter him? Why did they break up in the first place--womanizing? A misunderstanding? Abandonment? And a note on the name: If this is for sale to an American audience, give us her last name too. Efe is not a common name. But then I always like getting both names in a blurb.

    Margaret brings up a good point: What do the cultists have to do with the story? Just local detail? They're emphasized too much right off the top of the book if that's all.

    I'm not getting a clear enough picture of what's at stake.

  4. I find the cover too generic. A novel set in Nigeria is fairly unusual and exotic, so it would be nice if the cover showed some exoticism. I agree with the comments that the blurb is confusing. I also agree on losing the dream or, if it is absolutely necessary, putting it somewhere else. Start with your main character doing something, hopefully something that involves at least a little tension.

  5. I'm not a romance reader, but I notice two things:
    1. The cover photo looks more like an advertisement for Cialis than the cover of a romance novel. The scene portrays a situation where all the mystery is gone and all the problems are solved.

    2. A slight nit with the blurb: ". . . when she encounters another Mukoro . . ." The phrase, "another Mukoro," makes me wonder if Mukoro is some sort of title or something.

    I hope this helps.

  6. I find the cover very ordinary and agree with J.R on making it look a bit more exotic and Paul about it being too lacking in tension.

    The blurb is also quite ordinary and a little confusing. I actually like the dream start because I usually read fantasy not straight romance and the dream has a fantastical quality that catches my interest, but for a straight romance market, probably not the best way to start.

  7. The beginning read more like a horror/thriller novel with talk of secret cults. I've not read a lot of romance novels, but if people only read the beginning they might get the totally wrong impression about what the book's about. Also, using a dream as the intro seems like a cop out and it induces a groan in me I'm afraid (that was also a horror staple at one time, which also makes me feel the intro reads more like a horror novel).

  8. There are a lot of incompatible things in the book that may be hurting sales. The cover, blurb, and opening just don't work together.

    Cover: The heroine lived in the US for years but has now repatriated back to Nigeria. The cover looks like any American couple taking a walk in a park.

    Having traveled around the world, including many poor countries I know from experience that many people when they have more money dress like Americans do, so I can believe the cover, but most people won't. Most people will expect a couple in Nigeria to be dressed somewhat exotic or off from what Americans dress like. This photo could be used in any Sunday store insert.

    Blurb: Pretty good. I would ditch the 'other mukuro' line and also break the blurb up so it doesn't all run as a single big paragraph. It'll read easier broken up.

    Opening: You have several problems. The dream has to go. VL is correct. If you have to have a dream then put it in and then cut it out. They are difficult to make work. Take the info in you dream and work it in naturally with other parts of the story where things actually happen.

    The only time a dream works in a story is when relevant action is taking place inside the dream. Off the top of my head I can only think of two stories where that has happened: the Nightmare on Elm Street series and Rick Riodan's Kane Chronicles.

    Dreams just doesn't usually work the way an author thinks they will and should usually be cut.

    The second problem with the opening is the mention of a cult. The cover and blurb promise a contemporary romance in a foreign setting but in the second paragraph you've thrown in a possible paranormal/occult element. Anyone who downloads the sample at this point is probably turned off and deleting it without a purchase.

    If the cult is a big part of the story then it should be hinted at in the blurb or cover so people get warning that this is not a straight contemporary romance. If the cult is minor or not important story element then it shouldn't be mentioned at all in the opening or even the first quarter of the book.

  9. I want to thank each of the commenters for their feedback.

    To be honest, I love the cover and it went through focus group before I decided on it among others. It also compares favorably with other romance covers. Contemporary people in Nigerian cities do wear polos and while this is a stock photo of African Americans, I believe it is a good representation. There is actually a scene in the book that matches it.

    That said, I will chat with the customer support of Createspace to see about the author name and the review on top, as well as maybe the title.

    On the dream opening, many other readers who've sent email have also commented on how it threw them off, as well as the back story that follows it, so I'll definitely be doing some edits.

    I will also work on the blurb, and the comments here have given me a few questions to answer.

    Thanks again, and especially to you Victorine for this opportunity.


  10. It's hard to visualize the imagery. "Someone appeared ahead and she slowed, mouth drawn tight, and fists clutching her chest." I don't know what emotional state corresponds to fists clutching a chest. What's more, a fist cannot by definition clutch. Clutch means holding onto tight. A fist is a balled up hand. This is only one example. I hope this doesn't seem dispiriting. I am only trying to help. If you want to discuss this further, contact me. I'd be happy to offer what I can.

  11. Thank you JP for your comments.

    Foe all, I have redone the blurb as suggested and you can download the sample for the new beginning. Thanks!


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