Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Wishful Thinking

Author: K. Crumley
Genre: Contemporary Fantasy/Urban Fantasy
How long it's been on sale: 2 years
Current price: $1.99
Marketing: Blog tour, paid banner ads, book trailer, bookbuzzr, twitter, facebook, #samplesunday, goodreads, shelfari, blogging
Total sold so far: 37
Link to book on Amazon: Wishful Thinking (Daughters of Oberia, Book I)

Product Description:

One stormy night Maevis Etherwood came home and found her husband in bed with another woman...
What exactly transpired afterward remained a mystery, even to Maevis herself.

The Detectives investigating the scene are stumped by the lack of any forensic evidence....
But what the two men remain oblivious to is the fact that she is a faerie, losing control of her powers in this non-magical realm due to fatal illness.

Could Maevis really have killed the man she loved with magic? Or is there a far more treacherous power at work?

An image flashed through her mind of the night in question. It was like a nightmare that she had woken up from, and only had the faintest images crossed her mind of that horrid evening. Of finding the man she loved and trusted in bed with another—in her bed. She remembered flying, wings unfurled…she remembered her belongings and a few of his flying across the room, like a tornado blowing through their home. The look of horror on that girl's face as she screamed “She has wings!” as if Maevis was a monster. It only made the faerie more hurt, angrier…Then Maevis’ mind went blank. She cannot remember a thing after that, except for waking up and hearing her sisters call her name, Fiona shrieking…
They were dead.
He was dead.

First 300 Words:

Maevis stumbled, and then grasped the barre with pale trembling hands. She felt feverish and weak as she was warming up in the studio for the evening performance. She fought back the feelings of grogginess, willed away the haziness that filled her eyelids. The show must go on. Right at that moment, the artistic director entered the room. “Perfect timing,” She said with a smirk. She already knew what he was about to say. Miguel was starting to sound like a parrot, repeating the same old lines.

“Easy old girl,” he said. “Don’t you think that’s a sign that you should retire?”

“Not yet.” Maevis replied, “I’ll know when that day comes. But, believe me, it’s a ways off yet.”

“Every dancer’s career has its expiration date.” He said, “Even yours Miss Margot Fonteyn-of-Youth.”

Maevis snickered at his weak attempt at humor. “Miguel, If I fall on my buttocks in the middle of the stage tonight then I’ll—”

“You’ll what dear?” He said, in a condescending tone. “Finally, step aside and allow one of the new upcoming ballerinas to have the spotlight?”

“You have ulterior motives,” She said as she gained a bit of strength. “Look Tara, Bridgette or whatever young girl you’re romancing this week will have her time in the spotlight soon enough.”

Miguel’s mouth dropped open, eyes grew wide. He put his hands on his hips. “Ahem!”

“Besides, this is opening night!” She protested, “You can’t have some understudy just step into the principal role tonight! I’ve been rehearsing the role of Giselle for months now. I’ve worked hard for this!”

“Maybe a little too hard…” He countered, “You are what now? Thirty-five?”

“Thirty-two!” She said; and tried to conceal feeling insulted.

Comments: The cover definitely does not give me an urban fantasy feeling. The cover suggests to me that the book is light and fun. If this is not the case, I would change the image and coloring. I'm not in love with the stripes on top and bottom. I might play around with taking those off. I also would change the font. The wings look tacked onto a photo of a ballerina. They do not look professional to me. Even some graphic artists have trouble making something like this look real. I would try to find a cover designer that can do this book justice.

The description could use some tweaking, in my opinion. Starting with a stormy night makes me think of Snoopy writing on his typewriter. "It was a dark and stormy night." That actually comes from a real book, by the way. Paul Clifford. If you google "Purple Prose" you will find a Wiki article that talks about it. There now is a contest named after the author, Edward Bulwer-Lytton, for people to come up with the first sentences to the 'worst of all possible novels.' I would take the stormy night out, and try to cut any other instances of purple prose if you find them.

Personally, I'm not a fan of questions in book descriptions. Most of the time the questions are obvious. "Will John succeed in finding the love of his life?" (Well, of course he will. The book would suck if he didn't.) "Will little Jimmy escape from the kidnappers?" (He will escape. The book would suck if he didn't.) "Could Maevis really have killed the man she loved with magic? Or is there a far more treacherous power at work?" (I think we all know the answer to these questions, so why even ask them?)

Here's the deal. If you take the questions out and turn them into statements, instead of the reader already knowing the answer, you create a sense of the reader wanting to know how the protagonist accomplishes these things. Example: Will little Jimmy escape from the kidnappers? - Let's turn this into a statement. "Jimmy must find a way to escape from his kidnappers before time runs out." This statement makes me want to take this journey with him. He must escape. We know he does, but the how is what is important. That is why we read books and why we must turn the page to find out. In almost every book we read, we already know what will happen in the end. The hero will save the heroine. Harry will defeat Voldemort. Bella won't die. The journey is what is important.

I would also take the excerpt out of the description. I dislike excerpts in descriptions, but maybe that's just a personal thing. See what others say.

The beginning of the book needs a lot of editing. There are capitalized words that should be lower case, there are commas that should be periods, and periods that should be commas. I would suggest hiring an editor, and before you do I would get sample edits from at least 5 different editors to compare them.

The actual text - the scene - isn't grabbing me. It's a woman past her prime wanting to dance, and her health isn't the best. Her instructor is telling her to quit. I don't know the woman, so this isn't particularly moving to me. I'm also reading some 'telling' in here. I think a critique group would help tighten this prose up. I would suggest joining a critique group and seeing if there's a better place to start the story. I think her finding her husband in bed with another woman would be a good place.

What do you guys think?


  1. The story sounds interesting. The only that might not be grabbing the readers is the cover. With a new eye-catching cover, I bet this book would sell really well.

    I'd recommend: or

    Good luck!
    Megan ~

    1. Thanks :) That is actually the second cover I had...and now that I think of it, it was a little more suitable for this one. Maybe all it needed was tweaked, rather than an overhaul. :)

  2. I agree about the cover. I suggest browsing the urban fantasy section and looking at other covers. If you want it to sell well, it has to look like it belongs in the category.

    1. Thanks, Vivi. Wow, it's so great to get all this cover-related feedback. Seems the more feedback you get over the same thing, you realize where your biggest problem lies :)

  3. (1) The cover looks homemade, not professional. Also the image looks to me like a young girl, not an adult. The tone is very light. It does not convey that this is an urban fantasy novel about married people and murder.

    (2) The description reads like a murder mystery, and doesn't mention fantasy elements until the end.

    (3) The main character's name is Maevis. To me, this sounds like an 80-year-old grandmother. It's just an uncommon name. And the opening text makes her sound like an elderly woman as well, approaching retirement? "Old girl"?

    So all together, you have a fun, youthful cover with a dark and gritty description about an elderly-sounding heroine. (To me, maybe not to everyone.)

    So this is a very confusing package. I'm not sure of the genre or the tone or the intended audience.

    1. I hadn't seen it that way. Thanks. I chose the name because it means Faerie queen. But I understand your point of view...and may just consider shortening it to Maeve. Thanks.

  4. I too agree the cover doesn't convey the story. In smaller scale, it looks like a young ballerina-want-to-be story. To fit the mood (from what I've gathered from the blurb and short excerpt) this cover should be kind of dark and moody. There is murder and mayhem, despite the fantasy of the faerie. The blurb is very enticing but I would never have picked the book up because of the cover image. Give the story some meat with a great cover!
    Good luck.
    C.K. Volnek

    1. Thanks Charlie! My original cover was more dark and moody. Maybe I just need to tweak it.

  5. Others have mentioned the cover. I agree.

    What no one has mentioned yet is that the description doesn't make sense.

    In line one, the husband is in bed with another woman. OK, I can imagine an angry character, but then how do we get from that to detectives? There is a huge leap of logic, assuming that the reader will fill in gaps where the blurb says "what transpired afterward". Apart from the fact that is this really dry language that does not make me feel that the book will be written in an engaging style, it doesn't tell me anything.

    If Maevis (agree about that it is a name for an 80yo woman) has murdered her husband, she would know, so I'm deducing that Maevis is not the POV character, or that the author is playing hide-and-seek with the POV--where the POV character knows something because she was there, but isn't telling the readers (which is something I really hate in books).

    Else, Maevis isn't the POV, but then who is?

    Either the blurb is going to have to mention what the result was of whatever required detectives to turn up, or it has to say more about who did what, and why on earth even a detective is needed. OK, I get a hint at the very end of the blurb, but it's in the wrong place, because if I was browsing, I would stop reading at the second line of the blurb.

    Not a fan of excerpts in the blurb.

    The sample is full of punctuation errors.

    1. Patty, I thank you for pointing all of this out. I can see how my blurb would be confusing, and throw people off. I also see how it is too bland, and a reader would assume that the book might be dull/confusing/bland.

  6. Vicki,
    Funny thing is that originally I had planned to start the story with her finding her husband in bed with his mistress. A critique partner told me to change it. LOL

    I see now I should have stuck with the story beginning at its most interesting part. I see that my blurb wasn't doing my book any justice either, and appreciate all your feedback. :)


  7. Is there a reason the pronouns "He" and "She" are capitalized after each quote?


    “Perfect timing,” She said with a smirk.


    “Perfect timing,” she said with a smirk.

    ? Or am I wrong?

    I can understand the reader becoming privy to information via dialog. I use it a lot. But sometimes hinting at motives through glimpses of actions speak louder than dialog. For example, if Miguel walked Tara out of the studio and gave her a playful tap on the rear, or a lingering look...and THEN went over to insult Maevis (not too subtly either...asking a woman her age is like giving her a loaded gun and begging to be shot! And this is coming from a guy!!).

    Anyway, subtly sometimes works better, never underestimate the reader...unless it's with red herrings, then I say mislead away with overt stuff. Say, for instance calling her an old girl was his way of flirting with her, and they have this nasty back and forth banter and then he lands a kiss on her forehead and tells her to break a leg...then the dialog becomes believable. Here...I'm sorry, it just doesn't do it for me. It's not real.

    Exposition is fine, but as the art director, wouldn't he know that she has been rehearsing for two months? And on opening night, even if she is warming up her "old" bones in the early afternoon for an evening would make sense to question her age for an audition, is all.

    Vicki turned me on to Critique Circle (THANKS VICKI!!)...I highly recommend it. The people there are excellent and have razor sharp critical eyes that can really show you weaknesses. I liked the story, and the premise, btw. The protagonist is in a tough bind.

  8. I'm glad you like the story, and the premise Jkelly! :)

    I decided to scrap the first scene as per Vicki's request, and instead include italicized quotes from it, as she is driving home in the rain. These quotes are going through her mind.

    I usually submit to crit group, but it takes FOREVER for one chapter to get through the cue let alone a whole novella. So I started going the "crit partner" route instead. But I think the more input I receive, the better. I'd prefer more than one crit partner and really good beta readers. :)

  9. Good pointers. Definitely didn't think about the question issue along the lines you discussed when I wrote the blurb for my last book.


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