Friday, November 11, 2011

Katheryn's Secret

Author: Linda Hall
Genre: Mystery, Suspense, Inspirational
How long it's been on sale: 7/4/2011
Current price: $2.99
Marketing: Facebok, Twitter, Web Page, Kindle Forums
Total sold so far: 49
Link to book on Amazon: Katheryn's Secret (Coast of Maine Series)

Product Description:

This novel interweaves elements of mystery and suspense with a message of hope. The novel brings healing to those wounded by legalism in the church. Mystery writer Sharon Colebrook finds herself the unexpected recipient of her deceased Aunt Katie's papers, and hopes to learn about a murder Katie had hinted at years before. But as Sharon and her husband Jeff begin to investigate, the carefully kept facade of her strict religious family begins to crumble. Secrets, long buried, begin to surface, and only God's grace can put this family back together again. 

First 300 Words:

The flashlight dimmed. I looked down at it in surprise. Didn't I just put new batteries in? I cursed out loud a couple of times and then rammed the thing against the cement wall. Hard. All I succeeded in doing was cracking the plastic casing. The quality and quantity of light did not change, but remained a dull trickle of pale yellow. I muttered to myself and kept picking my way down the basement steps. When I reached the bottom I held onto the wall with my left hand and used the pinpoint of light to look around. This is where she said she'd be, that mysterious middle-of-the-night caller who had awakened me from a sound, albeit short, sleep a little more than half an hour ago. "Underneath the barn," she had said.

"Underneath the barn?" I didn't know barns had an underneath."

"Just take the steps down at the side of the building. I'll be waiting."

I poked through bits of straw and hay and dried manure and wondered if this whole thing were a practical joke concocted for my birthday. Except my birthday was seven months ago. Well, the joke was on me. Here I was up to my sneakers in manure with a weak flashlight, looking for what? I shook my head realizing that I should have had it examined long ago.

The weird middle-of-the-night muffled voice had talked about life and death and how I was the only one on the face of the earth who could help. Yeah, I bet you say that to all the girls.

But there was something about that whispery voice, something familiar when she woke me with,
"Summer? Summer Whitney? I need to see you."

I'm naturally curious. That's what makes me a good private investigator. I knew I'd never sleep anyway, not after a call like that, so I got up.

Vicki's Comments: The cover could use some work. I think the photo of the ocean isn't working. I don't know why, but sunsets, skies and oceans just don't do it for me as book cover images. There's probably a reason. Maybe because it doesn't show a clear genre? I don't know. However, I do think a new cover would greatly improve the sales of this book. I'd also change the font. I would look at other books in the Mystery/Suspense/Inspirational genre and see what fonts they use. (That's not's research.)

I would cut the first two sentences of the book description. The first sentence doesn't say anything about the plot. People read descriptions to get the plot of the novel. The second sentence is subjective. The novel might not bring healing to someone. The third sentence is where the description actually starts. The rest is actually not bad for a description. It's a little vague, what secrets come forth? I'd like to know if the book is dealing with an unwed mother in the family, or an ancestor who robbed a bank. Depending on what the secrets are, it could change the story dramatically. Be more direct with your description.

I liked the beginning of the book. It hooked me. I'd keep reading to find out what happens. I don't think the issues with this book are in the prose. I would change the cover, maybe pay a graphic designer, and get some help polishing up the blurb. This book has potential.

What do you guys think?


  1. I agree with Vicki, the over needs work. Might be ok with a font upgrade. That heavy block sans serif isn't working for you. Image might be better served with something less generic. Might work with a "negative fade" where half the image is positive, the other half is negative with a fade-over transition down the middle. That would let you play a little bit with the fonts the same way.

    The blurb is not working either. When I read a blurb I wanna know what the story is about. There's also no sense of what the conflict is. The facade is crumbling .. ok .. do we need a lil patchin' plaster here? or are there serious issues at stake.

    As for the story? Maybe. Typo in the first line of dialog will earn you much scorn from those looking to slam indies.

    T'were me? I'd start the call and not with a description of the call. What's at stake? Why did it matter? How come you didn't hang up? Telling me about the call adds a whole layer of disassociation when you should be trying to get out from between the reader and the story.

    I get first person, but "you" answered the phone didn't you? You were there. You heard it. It had to be something special to get you up and moving in the middle of the night with a flash light that doesn't work but you lost the hook when you started telling the story after the phone call ended.

    In media res is good, but you wanna make sure there's res to be in media of.


  2. First off, let me say I love the voice in the first 300 words, Linda. Excellent job.

    I too, feel the photo doesn't fit the book. a murder mystery, it's too soothing. Maybe the ocean could be used as a background, but if this is a murder mystery, it needs more meat to it. Give it a punch. And I admit, the first thing I looked at was the author name...I was struck by its placement and how big and bold it way. Overpowers the title. I'd switch this emphasis.

    I also agree with Vicki about the first two sentences in the description. Confusing and doesn't seem to add anything to the plot, rather detracts. I'd pick the book up with the last part of the description, but not from the first couple of sentences.

    As I said, I love the voice in the excerpt. Write your description in this voice and it'll be a winner! Great job.
    C.K. Volnek

  3. The ocean image does say "inspirational," but if it's also a mystery and suspense there might be a better image.

    Hate the font, I think it looks unprofessional.

  4. Great assessment Vicki. I agree. The prose it good. The cover needs some love. I like your suggestions for the books description. This is an awesome service you provide.

  5. The cover is definitely not a grabber. The B&W gives it an air of mystery and the ocean suggests inspirational, but the reader needs to get a clear idea of the genre. The reader isn't going to analyze the cover like we do.

    I didn't understand the first two sentences of the blurb. When I got to the third sentence, I thought the author was talking about herself. Eliminating those two sentences will make a difference.

    I wasn't so sure about the opening, but at least it didn't turn me off. I think I would read a little further.

  6. I agree about cutting the first two sentences of the blurb. They may be accurate, but they're better suited to a review of the book than the blurb. Feels a bit like you're telling me I'll be inspired by the book. Which I may be, but the disobedient part of me doesn't like to be told. :-)

    The rest of the blurb is great, IMHO.

    The font on the cover is simple and restrained, so I give ample credit that it's not all swirly and weird, but it could use a little "zazzing up." It wouldn't hurt to select an attractive books in the same genre, by a not-famous author, and replicate the proportions. Not copying the cover per se, but using similar proportions. I don't mind the ocean photo, but IMHO, us not-yet-famous authors should have big titles and small names.

  7. I agree with the most of the group.

    Cover - Photo is the wrong genre, doesn't say mystery to me. And I think a better font can be found.

    Description - I also dislike the sentences about "this novel". I want to know about the hero and the plot in a description.

    Opening - I'm mildly interested in what she's doing, but I find all the commentary about the phone call disruptive, like a series of tiny flashbacks. I would start with the phone call itself, rather than this description of it.

  8. I agree with most of what's already been suggested here. I do agree with starting the story with the phone call as it would rack up the tension. Cover could be more mysterious. This looks like a good book.

  9. The cover is generic; I'm afraid it looks like a standard template from a POD publisher. I had no idea it was a mystery. I strongly suggest hiring a pro.

    Cut the first two lines from the blurb and it's not bad at all.

    There are a couple of small tweaks *I* would make to the opening, but they're personal quibbles that have nothing to do with anything. :) All in all, fix the cover and clip the blurb and this book should do well. Good luck!

  10. Thanks for all the good advice.

  11. I am not sure if this is allowed, but, do you like this cover better? 20T3.jpg

  12. Sure, you can post a new cover for comments. The link, however, isn't working. Can you try again? Thanks!

  13. Yes, the cover seems quite dull, unfortunately. To me, this appears to be the cover of a book about meditation.

    One thing I noticed about your blurb is that it attempts to give the moral or lesson of the story instead of building interest in the plot.

    I've had this same problem myself, and I think this is a big turnoff for potential readers. As a reader, I want to know more about the action and not what I'm supposed to learn from reading the book. The books I'm drawn to are the ones with tightly-written blurbs that make me eager to know what happens next.

    Good luck :)

  14. The cover is very generic and seems to be a scene of tranquility, not a murder mystery. Also in the blurb it says "a novel of mystery and suspense" which is redundant. Technically, it's a mystery (and it goes without saying that there will be suspense in it).

    I was a bit turned off by the MC (no pun intended) when she curses and bashes the flashlight against the wall because the batteries go out. Seems a bit extreme. (Unless it's the murderer, then yes, "unbalanced" is the detail you are going for.)

    Good luck!


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