Monday, September 24, 2012

A Cure for the Condition

Author: Amy Croall
Genre: Historical Romance
How long it's been on sale: June 1, 2012
Current price: $4.99
Marketing: Blog tours, Twitter updates, Facebook Campaigns.
Total sold so far: 10 - 15
Link to book on Amazon: A Cure For The Condition

Product Description: 

When seventeen-year-old Catherine assumes the throne as Queen of Cannary following her mother’s murder, she is forced to punish the man she loves, but when she develops a serious heart disease, the only cure for her condition may be the truth.
“Romance, adventure, danger and passion—A Cure For The Condition is a terrific debut novel from an exciting new author. Readers will love Amy Croall.”
—Leigh Bridger, author of Soul Catcher.

First 300 Words:

A forlorn, soft piano melody enveloped her as the book lay at an awkward angle in her lap. As her eyes remained closed, absorbing the musician’s brilliant performance, she had no idea her step-brother was watching her.

“Ah, Princess Catherine – there you are!” he said, barging into the room as he had many times over the previous two years.

Princess Catherine inhaled before his gravelly voice could release her daydreams. Sitting straight on the stiff sofa in the parlor, she placed the book next to her.

“Yes, good afternoon, Malcolm,” she replied.

Malcolm supplied her with a half-smirk and proceeded to lean against the sofa at which she sat. Princess Catherine couldn’t help but experience an ever-so-slight tingle when she peered into his crystal blue eyes.

Although her step-brother’s nose was somewhat too large, his lips thin, and his face angular, Malcolm had a strong jaw, well-groomed silver hair, and a smile that could draw women from countries away. At times, his boyish half-smirk made it difficult for Princess Catherine to recall he was seven years her senior.

“I heard about your meeting with the suitor this afternoon, and I must say I am intrigued,” he said.

Catherine donned an immediate scowl. “Malcolm, is this going to be another instance such as when you barged into this room as I was learning that piano and tell me I am causing a ruckus, or will it be reminiscent of when I returned home wearing rouge and you mocked me endlessly?” she demanded.

Malcolm feigned ignorance, putting a hand to his heart. “Why, dear step-sister, I am saddened by your accusations! I merely wished to extend my… condolences that the meeting did not go as hoped.” He suppressed a half-hearted chuckle.

“Of course,” Catherine replied, clearing her throat. “I’ll have you know our feelings were requited.

Comments: I would not have guessed that this book was historical romance looking at the cover. I saw the castle and the forest, and thought "fantasy." I think that is a major problem. Now, the book is published through a publisher. I'm not sure the author has much say in the cover design, so I don't know how much my assessment will help. If I were in charge, I'd change the cover. Most historical romance covers have a woman and a man on the cover, in a pose that makes it obvious there's a love story in the book. That's what I would recommend.

I'm not sure why that title was chosen. It seems to focus more on the disease than the love story. I might think about a different title as well.

The price is also kind of high, but I don't know that the author has a say in that either. (It's not extraordinarily high, but it still is a deterrent for people trying out a new author.)

The description needs some work. Why would the girl assuming the throne force her to punish the man she loves? That part doesn't make any sense. I'm also not sure how the truth can cure a disease. The "when" formula works well, but only if it's a logical progression. The "When" part needs to lead to the "Must do" part, which leads us to the conflict of the story.

I'd cut the quote from the description too, it doesn't add anything about the story. It's pretty generic, and could be said about any book. It gives no information. When I read a description, I want information about the plot.

The first paragraph starts in omniscient point of view, which is very difficult to pull off successfully. I don't think it's working here, as it feels like the character herself making observations about things she can't see.

The writing isn't horrible, but I might try tightening up the first bit. Usually that's the hardest to write anyway. You've got to hook the reader, while introducing the main character and making the reader care about them.

My recommendation is to get a new cover, try reworking the blurb, and tightening up the beginning, and possibly looking at a different title.

What do you guys think?

Thursday, September 13, 2012

God Is Greater - Update

This is an update post. To find the original post, click here.
Author: Marc Brown
Genre: Religious/Spiritual
How long it's been on sale: 13 months
Current price: $8.49 (Paperback)
Marketing: Amazon, one book signing, given few copies to influencial local people, word of mouth, copies available in our antiques store.
Total sold so far: 250+
Link to book on Amazon: God Is Greater

Product Description:

God and religion are not one and the same. Religion is a man-made construct which frequently obscures a clear understanding of who God is and what He is like. B. Marc Brown, author of “God Is Greater” has been a Christian for over four decades, a licensed minister since the age of sixteen, and a biblical studies teacher for many years. Marc has developed a means of expounding upon the essence and character of the God of the Bible without sounding preachy, condescending, or judgmental. God is who God is – in spite of the religious practices of those who claim to follow Him. “God Is Greater” reveals elements of God’s true nature and provides insight into the powers and abilities of God. 

First 300 Words:

First things first, I am operating under the assumption God exists.  I am certainly not alone in this assumption, but there are some great minds who believe otherwise.  It takes faith to believe in a God you cannot see, touch, or feel.  In my opinion, however, it takes a great deal more faith to believe God does not exist.

When one considers every society from the jungles of Africa, to the rain forests of South America, to the ancient Mayans of Central America, has sought after an entity to worship, it is difficult to believe such an Entity does not exist.  From a globally historical perspective, it would appear the knowledge of a greater entity and the desire to seek Him out is written into the DNA of every human being.

When one further considers we have never witnessed the creation of something (anything) from absolute nothing, it is even more difficult to believe a Being with far greater capabilities than those which we possess does not exist.

There are certainly those who believe science will eventually reveal all.  If someone has become so convinced that science has all the answers or will have all the answers, I seriously doubt I can change his/her mind.  But for the rest of us, please keep in mind scientific research continues precisely because science has not yet obtained all the answers – nor will it – ever.

Science has indeed availed mankind to incredible advances in the areas of pharmaceutical products, synthetic fabrications, quantum physics, and many other life-enhancing developments.  But for all the advances, there remain countless areas in which advances continue to be sought.  If you believe science will and can reveal all, you have chosen to put your faith in the genius and ingenuity of men and women. 

Comments: This is the first update I've done. At first I thought maybe putting the same book up would be tiresome to readers, but after looking at the changes I felt like this would be a fun thing for readers to see, so I'm putting it up.

I'm thrilled to say there have been some great improvements with this book. I love the new cover. It's fresh, modern looking, and I can read the title. It's a huge improvement from the last one. I'm not sure what the hourglass in the sky means, but I'm so thrilled that the new cover looks modern I don't even care about it. Very nice.

The new description is also an improvement. I'm so glad to know what background the author has, and what kind of God I might be reading about in this book. It really will help potential buyers to know the author is a minister, and the book is based on the teachings of the bible.

The one thing I felt could be improved is the put downs to religion. If the author is a minister, isn't he affiliated with a religion? To say that religion "is a man-made construct which frequently obscures a clear understanding of who God is and what He is like" would be off-putting to people who belong to a religion, and who believe they have a clear understanding of God. And later, the author says, "in spite of the religious practices of those who claim to follow Him." Wow. The author is implying that people who follow religious practices do not really follow God. I would think about revising that. It's not a good idea to offend the target audience.

The beginning of the book is much improved, IMHO. Before, there were some inflammatory statements. Those have been removed, and the beginning reads very smooth to me. Sure, the author is putting down science to an extent, but I don't think it's inflammatory. A large majority of those who will pick up this book will be those who already believe in God, and who have the same thoughts about science. Personally, I don't believe that science and the belief in God are antithetical. But I do know some people who believe this, and I don't find the author's words offensive.

Overall, I think the presentation of this book has improved greatly. Great job to the author. What do you guys think?

Monday, September 10, 2012

Mythical: Heart of Stone

Author: C.E. Martin
Genre: YA Fantasy (?)
How long it's been on sale: June 4, 2012
Current price: $.99
Marketing: I have been sending out review requests and participating in Author Interviews. I have a blog. I am participating in a number of author websites/forums, and have done the introduction of the book at several forums also.
Total sold so far: 6
Link to book on Amazon: Mythical: Heart of Stone

Product Description:

In a world of magic and monsters, where the superheroes have all retired, the United States depends on the men and women of Detachment 1039 to protect America from the paranormal. Unfortunately, the Detachment’s entire squad of Stone Soldiers, and their leader, have been killed.

Colonel Mark Kenslir wakes up in the Arizona desert, his mortal wounds healed, but with no memory of who killed him. With the help of the teens who found him, Kenslir eventually remembers his last mission: stop a shapeshifter that has been ripping out and consuming the hearts of victims.

Without any weapons, without any support, Kenslir sets out to avenge his men and stop the shapeshifter.

First 300 Words:

Somewhere in the Arizona desert, miles from any road or water, there was a boat.

This boat was charred and cracked, melted, burned- a black blight on the pristine sands, the ash from the fire that had consumed it spreading out to form a black circle, thirty feet in diameter. The boat sat in silence, undiscovered, for days.

Until a group of motorcycle riders stumbled across it.

Five riders, racing through the desert, weaving in and out, jumping slight rises. Ahead of the riders, the desert sands stretched out for miles for their enjoyment. Behind them, the riders left behind not only their camp, but twelve years of education. This was their summer vacation, before they would all go out into the world, to college, to jobs, to begin their new lives.

The leader of the pack, Carlos, topped a rise at full speed. Beneath his helmet he grinned, wondering if any of the others would catch him.

Carlos suddenly lost his grin. He let off the throttle and slammed on his brakes. A great black spot lay in the desert ahead of him. Charred remnants of something large.

Behind Carlos, the other riders approached. They all saw the same great stain on the desert and slid to a stop beside their friend.

Carlos looked around at his friends. None of them were doing anything more than looking at the burnt remains down the slope from them. He would have to be the first.

Carlos nodded to his friends then took off for the wreckage.

The bikers rolled cautiously down the slope toward the burnt wreckage. As they got closer they could make out the shape of whatever it had been. It looked vaguely boat-like and it had been consumed in a great fire.

The bikers stopped a dozen feet from the edge of the burnt wreckage.

Comments: I like the cover. It looks well designed. It does give me more of a high fantasy vibe, but I don't know how detrimental that is. It makes me think of rings and quests, elves and kingdoms. That might be a problem. Also, usually young adult novels have a young person on the cover, so it shows the target age. This does seem to be geared toward an "older" audience. However, I do like the cover and if the book were selling I wouldn't think of changing it at all. Since it's not selling, I might get more opinions on the first impression of the cover. Show it to strangers and ask what they think the book is about. That first impression is very important, and if you're giving the wrong impression, I'd try to fix it.

The description needs work, but I don't think it's horrible. Don't start with the Don LaFontaine cliche, "In a world..." I also don't like the contradiction. All the stone soldiers have been killed. But one wakes up. If he's killed, he wouldn't be waking up. That's confusing. I'd get some help to tighten this up.

I think the writing needs to be tightened up also. For instance, the beginning of the book doesn't have any emotion to it. I'm not in anyone's point of view, so I'm not seeing the charred boat from anyone's perspective. It's omniscient point of view, which frankly, is difficult to write well and out of date enough to put most readers off to the book. I would suggest joining a critique group, or finding a content editor with experience editing genre fiction.

What do you guys think?

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Take Back Tomorrow

Author: Richard Levesque
Genre: Science Fiction
How long it's been on sale: Jan 2012
Current price: $2.99
Marketing: Started a Facebook author page, had a launch party at work, submitted to Amazon independent novel award competition, set up Amazon author page, submitted to several indie book review blogs.
Total sold so far: About 50
Link to book on Amazon: Take Back Tomorrow

Product Description:

Eddie Royce thinks he's got things all figured out. He's managed to cheat the system and gotten himself published in the sci fi pulps by "borrowing" plots from Shakespeare. He doesn’t mind being a cheat and a plagiarist as long as no one finds out. But then he meets Chester Blackwood, the most famous science fiction writer of the 1930s, and discovers that Blackwood has a secret much bigger than Eddie's. Worse, the unscrupulous publisher they both work for has caught the scent of their deceptions and is threatening to make their lives difficult. When Blackwood disappears, Eddie is caught up in the mystery. With the help of Blackwood's beautiful daughter Roxanne (who has secrets of her own), he tries to piece together the puzzle, but soon he discovers more secrets hidden in the Hollywood Hills, secrets that seem to open doors into the past and the future. When the hack science fiction writer finds himself in a situation more fantastic than any pulp plot he could have imagined, he has to make a choice: sell out to the Hollywood elites who want the secret behind Blackwood’s success, or save himself and Roxanne from the sins of her father even if it means defying the laws of the universe.

First 300 Words:

Eddie Royce sat in Whistler’s office on the sixth floor of the Meteor building and waited patiently for the editor to look up from the galleys he studied, a smoldering cigar held between his thick lips and a look of quiet disgust on his face as he read. The muffled clack and ding of a typewriter made its way into the office from somewhere beyond Whistler’s closed door, and Eddie tried hard not to let it distract him. He sat in one of the mismatched chairs that faced Whistler’s enormous, scarred desk and thumbed nervously through the March 1940 issue of Stupendous, silently going over the pitch he had been formulating for days and hoping Whistler would not notice his anxiety. The magazine had hit the newsstands only three days ago, and Eddie had already read it cover to cover, focusing most of his scrutiny on one story—“Dark Hearts of Mars” by Edward Royce. It was his second publication in Stupendous, his second publication anywhere, really, but he already had two more stories and a serial accepted. After finally seeing his name in print following months of trying and failing, he had quickly come to believe in his success as a writer in spite of what he knew to be true—that he was at best unoriginal and at worst a plagiarist.

As with every issue of Stupendous, the cover of the magazine in Eddie’s hands was a work of art that no doubt accounted for a large portion of sales each month. The covers were always sensational, and this one featured a beautiful female space explorer watching in exaggerated alarm as her space ship exploded in the background, apparently leaving her stranded as she floated in space, her skin tight suit accentuating her curvaceous figure.

Comments: The cover isn't a bad concept, but the execution needs work, in my opinion. The title is hard to read, and the cartoonish people make the book look middle grade. I'm also not a fan of the black surrounding the picture. I think the cover would need some tweaks in order to appeal to the target audience.

The description could be better. There are some extra things that could be cut. It's very important to make each word count with a description. The first sentence isn't needed. I'd rather it start like: Eddie Royce has managed to cheat the system...

There are also a lot of "secrets" mentioned in the blurb. Too many vague references makes for a poor description. The readers need to know what they are buying. Spell out the time travel. (You elude to it, but you never come out and say it.) Spell out some of the other secrets, or don't mention them at all. The time travel is a strong hook. People who read time travel books really love them. Give them what they love. Don't hide it in the blurb.

The beginning of the book is pretty good. There are some superfluous words that could be cut, but overall it's not a bad beginning. I do hope something happens soon, though, because at this point nothing is going on and I would soon get bored without some action or conflict.

I think this book has great potential. I think the blurb is holding this book back. Some tweaks to the cover would help as well. It needs to look professional. I think if those two issues are addressed, the book would do much better.

What do you guys think?