Saturday, February 25, 2012

What About the Boy? A Father's Pledge to His Disabled Son

Author: Stephen Gallup
Genre: Memoir
How long it's been on sale: Sept 1, 2011
Current price: $7.99
Marketing: ARC campaign + provided copies to numerous bloggers who review books; blog + numerous guest posts on other blogs; twitter account & FB page; 14 radio interviews; 1 newspaper interview; publicist contacting newspapers, TV hosts and bookstores nationwide; most rewarding single effort was asking host of instapundit blog to post amazon link

Total sold so far: Approx. 300

Link to book on Amazon: What About the Boy? A Father's Pledge to His Disabled Son

Product Description:

Nobody knew what hurt little Joseph. Perhaps some toxin had invaded his mother's body before his birth. Perhaps it was the difficult birth itself. Or maybe the origin of his disabilities was genetic. Whatever the cause, something had gone terribly wrong — but no one was offering solutions or reasonable guidance.

He cried most of the time, and thrashed about as if in great pain. He wasn't learning how to crawl, talk, or interact normally. His parents sought medical help and were told at first not to worry so much. Later, the professionals recommended counseling to help the parents accept reality. Nothing could help their son, and the quality of their own lives was at risk.

Refusal to accept that advice launched an improbable journey that changed their lives forever.

What About the Boy? A Father's Pledge to His Disabled Son chronicles a family's rejection of hopelessness and their pursuit of a normal life.

First 300 Words:


“It sounds like a gallop,” the Labor and Delivery nurse joked, making a pun on our name.

Judy and I laughed. The fetal monitor strapped onto her belly amplified a signal that did sound like the hollow clatter of hooves. The concussions of that tiny heartbeat reverberated in the narrow room at San Diego’s Kaiser Foundation Hospital, making our baby’s presence real.

We were already calling him Joseph, although there’d been no prenatal tests that might have established the gender. Judy swore she just knew it was a boy. Besides, folk wisdom held that males had slower fetal heart rates, and 134 beats a minute was fairly slow. Still, either sex would be perfectly all right. Did we want a boy or a girl? For nine months our stock answer had been a resounding “You bet!”

“As long as the baby is healthy …” Everyone says that.

Judy’s labor proceeded slowly—or else the hands of our clock were spinning at an improbable rate. Surely that much time hadn’t passed! But the nurse who’d joked about our name had gone home. A new shift of doctors and nurses checked in with us periodically but gave most of their attention to our neighbors, some of whom were not coping well. One desperate voice in the next room kept insisting, “¡No puedo! ¡No puedo!” I can’t! I can’t!—its owner deaf to the urgent advice offered in two languages. Judy just concentrated on the breathing techniques that had been taught in our La Maze course, and, like all anxious dads-to-be, I tried to help by providing cups of crushed ice and deliberately panting through the contractions with her, face-to-face: “Hee! Hee!” A pause, and then a long, drawn-out “Hoooo.” Another pause and we repeated.

Gina's Comments:
Price: $7.99 for a memoir. Is that the print price? This might be high for an ebook.

Title: Heavy topic. Not everyone loves a difficult subject to face. The weight of the issue overshadows the possible (I'm guessing) positive message you may have in the book. Is this books goal to talk about the life of a parent with a disabled child? OR, is there a deeper message. Don't give up. We learned what a wonderful journey we've had. We feel so much joy and love. I don't know the story, but if that is your ultimate message, it may need to be conveyed in the title. Right now, it just sounds depressing to me. (and I just wrote a depressing book so if that's what it is, well, that's what it is and I totally get that.)

The cover: It has a childlike appears to be a young adult book by the cover. But the disabled son subtitle threw me a little. I am suspecting this book is written for an adult reader. The cover may be confusing readers.

The Description: My gut instinct tells me you're target market is narrow, unless you can somehow in your description of the book and in the title, tell us why this will appeal to everyone. Right now, I would think people who have gone through this type of situation or who are facing it now, will be your audience. Tell me, in your description, what this book will teach me. It's vague right now. I have to assume things it is the author's job to tell. Will this be an uplifting story? Do they achieve great happiness? Is there a light at the end of the tunnel for parents of disabled children? Broaden your audience here.

The 1st 300:
AFTER I read the first 2 lines again and again and again...I finally looked back to see the author's name. Until then I didn't get the pun on the name. I kept their name Kadung? That might be just me.
Well. For some reason I had to re-read it a lot. Maybe it was that first couple of sentences that put me out of step somehow. BUT, after re-reading yet another time, I think the writing is just fine. Did it grab me? No. Why? Tougher question. Maybe because I've had babies and reading about childbirth bores me. Everything in the 1st 300 was pretty mundane and usual stuff for parents having a baby. We all hope for a certain sex, we all say we'll be thrilled with whatever we get as long as it's healthy. Still, the writing is good. The beginning seems a reasonable place to start. By the end of the 300 I realize something isn't right and it's taking too long. I would suspect, by the end of the 1st chapter or even 500 words, we'll have a sense of something being wrong.

I would have to say I think you might want to play with the book description in the way I suggested above. I know it's hard to change cover and title. I'm not sure those are your biggest issue anyway.

My last thought is, 300 isn't that bad of sales numbers since September. Not in my book anyway. Hang in there.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Oh What a Lucky Man

Author: Andrew H. Black
Genre: General Adult Fiction
How long it's been on sale: Late August 2011
Current price: $.99
Marketing: Email, Facebook, Twitter, Author website
Total sold so far: 14
Link to book on Amazon: Oh What A Lucky Man

Product Description:

Raymond McClure is without a doubt a lucky man. But the jury is out on whether he has found himself with an abundance of good luck or bad luck. A power failure throws Ray into a tailspin that ultimately costs him his job. That same day he buys a lottery ticket, and that evening finds out he is the sole winner of a $216 Million jackpot. Unfortunately he has misplaced the ticket. With time on his hands, Ray volunteers at an elementary school and an eight-year-old Japanese girl helps to quickly turn his life around. Join Raymond McClure on this roller coaster ride through joy and misfortune, incarceration and celebration, love and hate, loss and treasure.

First 300 Words:

Wednesday, November 2


Raymond McClure is without a doubt a lucky man.  How his luck should be qualified as good or bad is not so cut and dried.  The track that one’s life takes is a mystery seen only in retrospect, while the future is hidden from view.  Is our life story already written from beginning to end the day we take our first breath, or are we granted free will, capable of changing the course of events? Does one decision bend our lives in one direction and another decision coax our lives back on yet another course?  Is it true that a butterfly flapping its wings on one side of the world can cause a typhoon on the other side of the world? Can a simple common occurrence like a power outage or the seemingly innocuous choice of clock radio have an irreversible impact on the course of one’s life?  Or are we destined to live the life we are dealt no matter what we do?

Ray McClure awoke with a start.  His bedroom seemed a little brighter than it normally was on weekday mornings.  His bedside clock was silently blinking 3:18 in big blue numbers.  3:18. 3:18. 3:18. It flashed like some sort of malfunctioning robot in need of a swift kick in the reboot button.  He slid his watch from the nightstand and tried to focus on the face.  It was already 8:24.

“Shit!”  Ray tossed the covers aside and bolted from the warm but solitary confines of his queen-sized bed.  Wind and heavy rain buffeted the side of the house as he dug through his dresser for clean boxers and socks.  The power must have gone out during the night.  His digital clock was now insistently proclaiming 3:19...

Vicki's Comments: I like the cover. I would suggest changing the font. But the image on the cover is striking, and I think it catches the eye, so I probably would stick with the image.

The description could use some tweaking. Usually when people say "lucky man" they mean good luck. I'm not sure it's working to say he's lucky, and then go on to say but we're not sure if it's good luck or bad luck. I might find a different way to describe what's going on. I'm also not hooked on the description of the events he faces. A power outage isn't too compelling. Him losing his job is good, I just think it's buried under unnecessary details. I might get some help with the blurb.

I'm not a fan of the first paragraph. When I start a book, I like to jump into a scene. I feel like I'm reading the description all over again, and then some existential thoughts that don't grab me and bring me into the story at all. I would cut the first paragraph and start with the story. Beginning with a character waking up is not recommended. Google "How not to start a novel" and many of the lists you'll find will include "waking up." However, it's better than the deep existential thoughts.

I'm guessing if you change the font, make the book look more professional with a cleaner, simpler font, and tweak the description, you'll get more sales. What do you guys think?

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Inherit the Throne

Steve DeWinter
How long it's been on sale: April 5, 2011
Current price: $2.99
Marketing: 2 Kindle Nation Daily E-Book of the Day promotions (July 4th / November 25th); 1 E-Reader News Today Promotion (September 14th); 2 Month Blog Tour in June and July with Pump Up Your Book; Facebook; Twitter; Google+
Total sold so far: 780
Link to book on Amazon:Inherit The Throne (Melissa Stone)

Product Description:

40% Off the list price of $4.99 for a Limited Time!

Written under the inspiration of James Patterson, Tom Clancy and Lee Child.

Praise for Steve DeWinter's debut thriller Inherit The Throne

"...a quick, fun read that comes across as equal parts Jack Bauer (TV’s 24), Charlie Castillo (W.E.B. Griffin), and Mitch Rapp (Vince Flynn). There’s even a bit of Jack Ryan (Tom Clancy) in there...this is a book that would make for a perfect popcorn blockbuster..."
--Bibrary Bookslut

"In the latest action packed suspense fiction, Inherit The Throne by Steve DeWinter, we get to see Melissa Stone become the newest Jason Bourne...5 out of 5 stars and it falls in line for those of you that love books by James Patterson."
--Reviews from the Heart

", fun, enjoyable read that was comprised of non-stop action on pretty much every page, and a slew of characters that kept the action interesting and somewhat suspenseful...a few surprises that caught me off guard, and a delightful new heroine..."
--Curling Up By The Fire

"...the action just didn't stop!...If you like to read thrillers, then I would recommend this one! I am looking forward to reading more books by Steve DeWinter!"
--Black Diamond's Book Reviews

"...a page-turning, thrilling read. With explosive action on just about every page, we are catapulted into a novel brimming with suspense."
--Lost For Words

"I had heard all the good hype about it being a great novel, and I must confess, that I whole heartedly agree with that assessment! He totally ROCKS!"
--Reviews By Molly

Living under a new identity in the tiny Northwestern tourist town at the base of Mount Hood, Melissa thought she had finally escaped her past. That is until an assassin tries to kill her and forces her back into a treacherous shadow world she vowed never to return.

That same night an unmanned robotic SUV slams into the limousine of the Vice President of the United States and detonates with several hundred pounds of explosives. Melissa soon discovers that the attack on the Vice President and the attempt on her own life are related.

Time is running out to find out who wants her dead and why she alone holds the key to saving the President of the United States.

This is the Standard Edition. If you would like extra content such as deleted chapters and a sneek preview of the second Melissa Stone book, then you will want the Enhanced Edition. Either click the + sign next to Kindle Edition in the format section above, or search for "Inherit The Throne Enhanced". On Sale for $4.99 for a limited time!

First 300 Words:

Melissa Stone sat down on the crate from this morning’s egg delivery to rest for only a moment. Her shift was over in fifteen minutes, and she planned to go home and soak her feet for at least an hour or more. Working the job of a small motel restaurant and lounge server at the base of Mt. Hood in Government Camp, Oregon, did not help.

Melissa was only thirty years old, but she had been living her third life for nearly three years now. Three lifetimes worth of stress seemed to age her more quickly than she would have liked. Outwardly, she looked as young as her chronological age, but during these long weekday shifts, she felt every past injury that her body had endured.

The neon sign outside the motel laid claim to a restaurant on site, but in all honesty, it was nothing more than a glorified lounge with tables set up on the old dance floor that had seen better days. They provided a good view of the tiny stage that hosted Karaoke on Friday and Saturday nights.

Tonight was a typically quiet Thursday night that only brought motel residents in who were tired from their hike around Mt. Hood. Every night they dragged themselves into the restaurant section of the lounge exhausted and chatty about what they had just accomplished during the day. Melissa never received a complaint about the grease-stained menus. The hikers were always too hungry to notice and happily ordered food that was both good tasting and bad for them at the same time.

Tonight there were only two occupied tables, and Melissa was glad to have the hiking family at her table. The single man sat alone and had only ordered coffee. He held the menu up in front of him the entire time, but had continued to wave Julie, the only other server on duty, off for the past twenty minutes. Melissa would not have wanted to stay late because “Mr. Undecided” could not make a simple decision.

Sabrina's Comments:
What follows are my suggestions and first impressions. Yes, it's nit-picky. I get to focus on less than 1,000 words while you had a whole novel to edit. :) You are the author so no matter what I say, you get to decide how to present your book.

OK, to the nitty-gritty . . .

The cover: I notice that you have a different cover for your paperback. The paperback cover screams political thriller while the cover above looks like a vigilante type theme. I don't get the message that she's linked to politics at all. The flag on her butt says hippie to me. It's kind of an insult to the flag because you sit on it . . . does that message tie into your book? I don't equate hippies with protecting the president but maybe I live a sheltered life.

If I were searching for a political thriller, I would scan past your eBook thumbnail but I might stop on your paperback cover.

The blurb: Holy filler-words, Batman! I'm not a fan of books where it lists a sale price, then tons of reviews then finally gets to what the story is about at the bottom. I'm a click junkie like millions of other people. Catch me now or I wander away.

I counted. You have 5 sentences out of 23 that actually tell us what's IN the book. Reviews are great but there's a reason that Amazon puts them below the product description. If the reader is interested in what the book is about then they'll read the reviews. I don't think they would bug me as much if they were below the description of the book in your product description. Before it bothers me.

Also, I get trying to tie your name into the big names but it feels canned here. Your reviews already compare you to a big name or two so let your fans compare you and otherwise let the book speak for itself.

Listing the sale price twice feels car salesman-ish to me. Yup, you'll get this baby for this price no where else! By the way, this is the introductory price so you better grab it fast. Did I mention that we can't get anymore for 3 months . . . Once, at the end might not bug me so much but first thing, where I'm trying to figure out what the heck I'm looking at? As a buyer I would have immediately moved on to the next book -especially seeing it twice.

The actual description is solid except for the second sentence. ". . . forces her back into a treacherous shadow world she vowed never to return." If I were saying it out loud, I'd want to say "never return to". That's bad grammar so I understand why you left it off. Try something like " forces her back into a treacherous shadow world to which she vowed never to return."

I would start looking at your reviews AFTER I read the actual product description. The problem is that it's lost in everything else.

The first 300: You lost my attention in the first paragraph. Why is it important that she's on an egg crate? You also have a sentence that doesn't quite fit finishing the paragraph. " Working the job of a small motel restaurant and lounge server at the base of Mt. Hood in Government Camp, Oregon, did not help." Did not help what? I know that you're talking about her planning to soak her feet in the sentence before but you haven't told us that her feet hurt yet! More importantly, you haven't shown us that her feet hurt.

Melissa Stone sat on a crate from one of that morning's deliveries. She slipped off one of her shoes and rubbed a blister forming under the ball of her foot. After fifteen minutes of rest, she slipped her shoe back on her foot and walked to the sink in the kitchen of the small motel restaurant and bar at the base of Mt. Hood in Government Camp, Oregon. As she washed her hands, she dreamed about soaking her feet at home after her shift ended.

Do you see the difference? Almost anyone can relate to a blister on their foot. I feel the pain with Melissa as I read because I've endured them. I can remember what it felt like. Those kinds of sensory cues suck me in as a reader.

Now that I'm studying the second paragraph, how about you have her rub the arch of her foot where she broke it in one of her past identities? I like that you bring in that she has battle scars but it's feeling like an info dump.

You're setting the scene in the third paragraph but I'd rather see it than have you tell it to me. She could take an order from a patron sitting at the bar from a small menu that boasted little more than beer and appetizers, have a lone regular lift his glass and shake it at her indicating he wants a drink from a four-top near the karaoke machine that is silent except for the weekends. the reader would get the same message but it wouldn't be as info dump-ish.

In the fourth paragraph, again, you have the opportunity to show us the hikers tromping in, picking up the greasy menus and ordering delicious sounding food that would cancel out the healthy advantages of their hike.

At the fifth paragraph, I'm finally getting interested. I can see the lone guy waving off the other waitress and I like the nick-name Melissa gives him. As a former waitress, I can completely relate to that!

End Analysis: I think you have a lot to work with here. The cover is eye-catching but I'm not sure it's sending the message you want. The description would be effective if it were more accessible and for the most part is sound. The first 300 has a lot of telling instead of showing but by the fifth paragraph I'm starting to get curious. Since I know there's an assassin coming after her, I wonder if it's the guy at the table. You have to leave a comment and tell me if I'm right. (And no cheating and telling me I have to read the book to find out!) :)

Good luck with your publishing adventure! Putting together a book is a big project. I wish you all the luck as you move forward.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Mad Gods

Author: Athanasios 
Genre: Horror/Occult 
How long it's been on sale: Since March 2011 
Current price: $2.99 
Marketing: I've given Mad Gods to be reviewed on a number of review blogs. It has been featured on a few but most are still keeping it on their TBR pile. I've also done many blog interviews and am part of various facebook groups including Indie Writers Unite!, Indie Writers International, Kindle Mojo, 4 Stars and Up, Paranormal & Dark Fantasy Writers & Readers. I've also been on Twitter and have garnered 462 followers from hashtags such as horror/occult/supernatural/lucifer/new world order/antichrist/prophecy/paranormal/satan/dark fantasy/apocrypha 
Total sold so far: 50 
Link to book on Amazon: Mad Gods - Revelation: Cancelled ? (Predatory Ethics) 

Product Description:A child with the darkest destiny is wanted dead or alive by Satanists, the Catholic Church and the Dark Nobility. Kostadino must save him or let the world turn into hell on earth. What I liked about Mad Gods was that the author started the reader out on a journey right from the onset of the book--the plot was well written, easy to understand, and thought provoking. Cheryl Bradshaw Mad Gods takes its reader on a spellbinding journey that spans different continents and time periods. The author seamlessly weaves an intricate plot that connects an array of fascinating characters that propel the momentum of this wonderfully ambitious narrative. Aman S. Anand  

First 300 Words:

- Monaxia -

TIME: May 29th, 1960, Istanbul, TurkeyIstanbul bled history, conjuring images of ages past.

Medieval Christian sculptures and mosaics stood among electric streetlights and movie posters. Kostadino Paleologos walked its streets seeing the past amidst the modern hustle and bustle and felt grief, called monaxia - a longing for home and the familiar, which deepened in Istanbul. Everywhere, he saw faded glory, and turned Istanbul to Kostadinoupoli. Greeks to Byzantines.

Every year, he returned to the city on May 29th. It was a duty, which had been handed down through generations of this family with brown eyes, monaxia and brown hair. They were successors to Athens, Sparta, Macedonia and Rome. Pericles, Leonidas, Alexander and Caesars, from Julius to Constantine, evolved into Byzantine’s Emperor. He was Christ’s Caesar and ruled by divine decree, undreamt of by later pretenders. France’s Louis and Napoleon, England’s Henry and Charles, paled in comparison to Justinian and the First Constantine the Great. They were history. They were gone in every way, but in memory. Nothing remained as it was. No amount of prayer, hope or monaxia could change that.

Kosta knew this and came to Istanbul, because there were souls, still clinging to the history of their memories. Just as people prayed to God, Greeks felt monaxia and souls roamed Kostadinoupoli. To them, it was still 1453, and they fought desperately to keep their city. These unfortunate souls were unable to leave. They wandered and died in their memory. Over and over, they suffered lesser pain, than the total agony of death. They were terrified to face this absolute split from life. They were unable to accept the fact that they lived in history, because giving into its finality would utterly destroy them.

They were right. It was total destruction they feared - death.

Gina's Comments:
The cover: I don't think the book isn't selling because of the cover. It's quite shocking! My opinion is it's a great picture, great title, awesome lettering. It's a win in my opinion!
Sounds like your doing all the right things marketing. $2.99 might be a consideration. So many books out there to choose from and I know, even I take a chance on an Indie for 99 cents but $ would really have to speak to me. I know, I'm cheap. I'm guessing I'm not the only one.
I'm guessing content is an issue. Satan, Kostadino, hmmmm. Certain people will be attracted to this. Not everyone.
I'm confused with using reviews for the product description. This doesn't tell me what the book is. I want you, the author, to tell me what the book is about.
I'm not a fan of strange names. Kostadino is hard to connect with and you telling me a word, Monoxia, and then having to explain it...kind of puts me off. So many names are being thrown at me in the 1st 300. I have to keep re-reading this. This is a big history lesson dump before I'm invested in the character. I think it would be advantageous to allow me to see where I am and know who I'm reading about before I have to digest a history lesson.
After reading the 1st 300, I have no interest in going on. It's too heavy and I'm just not sure where it's going. You clearly have a very in-depth understanding of this world and Kosta's mission...and I believe he's there to collect souls? Old souls who long for home? Maybe I've missed the mark with that. Anyway, the concept is awesome. I wish I could say I liked the way you're going to present it, but so far the flavor of it is that you're trying way to hard. Relax. Let the story come through and not be hindered by the style you're attempting. This is very wordy prose to say the least. My opinion, for whatever it's worth, is that for sure, your book description and 1st 300 are what is preventing sales. If your entire book reads like the 1st may just need to accept that you will only appeal to a small audience of readers who love a puzzle and complex story lines which force them to study each word for meaning. They're out there I'm guessing. I'm not one of them, though.

Thin Hope

Naomi Hook/Holly Hook
Genre:Fantasy/Science Fiction/Thriller
How long it's been on sale: November 18, 2011
Current price: $.99
Marketing: Advertised on author blog and Bargain eBooks blog (which I run), Librarything giveaway, submitted to two dozen book blogs (only 2 interested in reviewing it so far), advertised in B & N forums, Facebook, etc. Cannot yet advertise on many sites due to not having enough reviews to qualify.
Total sold so far: 3 on Amazon, 2 on B &N
Link to book on Amazon:Thin Hope

Product Description:

Princess Kiki Endicott faces two threats from one man. Royal General Patrick Maxwell says he's only pursuing peace, but his plan depends entirely on making himself the genetically enhanced, superhuman ruler of the known world. He wants Kiki to join him in near-immortality and become his wife--even though he's her uncle. In his desire for her, Maxwell tries to kill her lover Damon Stanza. Maxwell ends up in prison instead, and Damon takes his place as Royal General.

Now Maxwell has escaped and is marching on Kiki's city with a horde of genetically altered soldiers and magic users. It's going to take everything Kiki and Damon have to defeat Maxwell before he takes the kingdom--and Kiki herself.

**Contains moderate language, some sexual content, and intense violence at times.**

First 300 Words:

Kiki fanned herself with her tank top as the temperature in the study climbed another few degrees. It suited her mood. Once again, Delainia’s forces had moved closer to the Keilaran border, and this time, their army was situated only fifty miles to the south of where she was sitting. Darren Storm wasn't reacting well to the trade ban her father, King Morris, had imposed on Delainia last month.

In the next room, her twin brother and sister, Ryan and Riley, argued over something. Their muffled voices floated through the walls and the tall bookshelves. Ryan had probably used one of Riley’s drawings for target practice by accident again. The last one, a nice drawing of the royal garden, now sported a big bullet hole right in the middle, thanks to the palace guards fetching him an easel instead of a cardboard bulls-eye. The yelling only served to up Kiki's tension more as she gripped the corner of the newspaper and fingered it with a sweaty hand.

Fifty miles. Fifty miles away from her family. Fifty miles from her boyfriend, Damon, and her. Kiki's desert eagles felt heavy in their holsters as the headline of the Keilaran Chronicle started to blur on the table in front of her. Possible War Looming, Delainian Forces on the Move. A photograph of the Delainian president, Darren Storm, stared out at her from below the text. He walked along the hallway of some lab, judging from the clinical hallways and the white coat he wore around his suit. Beside him stood his wife, Gracie, in an identical lab jacket. Both stared out at the camera with eyes that seemed blacker than normal somehow, Darren's from behind his glasses. Kiki wasn't surprised. Anything weird seemed possible in her neighboring country since their secret human experiments had started.

Sabrina's Comments:
I see a lot of potential for Thin Hope. It seems like a good premise that would be engaging. I would execute things differently. What follows are my suggestions and first impressions. Yes, it's nit-picky. I get to focus on less than 1,000 words while you had a whole novel to edit. :)

You are the author so no matter what I say, you get to decide how to present your book. OK, to the nitty-gritty . . .

The cover: It doesn't say fantasy/science fiction to me. I can see thriller since the gal is holding a gun. I can't think of a good reason to fade her into the city scape. If the model represents the main character, she should be solid. Fading her makes odd light patterns on her skin and clothes. The floating eye in the sky doesn't strike me as pertinent or well-placed. The iris color isn't so striking that it catches my eye. It is simply a floating orb that takes my attention from the main character who is faded out. I looked at the thumbnail of your book. The eye looks okay there but the main character is fuzzy. You can't tell she's holding a gun. All in all, I strongly recommend taking another look at your cover.

The blurb: You say there's two threats from one man but you don't spell out what those threats are. I caught that one threat is he's trying to marry her but he's her uncle but if the second threat you're talking about is the army invading, that is delineated as a later time so it doesn't feel like part of the two threats. I shouldn't have to put any analytical power into figuring out what you mean.

I suggest you use the "when" formula. When the main character must to avoid When Royal General Patrick Maxwell attempts to genetically modify himself and take his niece, Princess Kiki Endicott for his wife, Kiki and her lover, Damon Stanza, foil his plans. Stripped of his title and cast into prison, Patrick Maxwell continues plotting. After breaking out of prison . . .

I like that you have a disclaimer about content. I think that trend is a positive one. My friends always ask me for suggestions on books that either don't have gore or sex or swear words. Knowing up front is a service many readers appreciate.

The First 300: Tanks tops don't seem very princess-y. Maybe it's part of your world building. I notice that you have a lot of vague words in the first 300. A few: tell me exactly how many degrees. I know a few generally represents 3 but I'm not sure where you're starting from so adding three degrees doesn't mean much. If the temperature rose from 80 to 83 I might fan myself but I don't consider that unnaturally hot. If it rose from 100 to 103, we're talking a different story. If the character is hot, I want to feel the sweat dripping down my back and I sit in the room with the protagonist in my mind. You're scene building here and there needs to be a lot more clues as to what I'm seeing, hearing and feeling. Tell me about the study. Is it like an English study with dark woods or is it modern with sleek metal furniture? These clues will give me insights into the society. Right now I'm guessing which you do NOT want as an author.

Why do I care about Delainia's forces? More importantly, why does Kiki care? Is she worried about an attack? What would that do to her society? I'm apathetic to her plight at the moment. Who is Darren Storm? Why should I care about him?

Whiplash! Now we're talking about the brother and sister. I have no visual of the siblings. How old are they? A three-year-old squabble would sound different than a 10 or 15 year-old argument. How far apart in age are the siblings? Is it a vocal argument or are they getting physical? Again, I don't know enough about them to care that they are squabbling. Give me more details to help me care. Maybe they are secondary characters but if they are important enough to have in the first 300 words, they are important enough to introduce properly if only through Kiki's feelings and maybe some of their dialogue seeping through the bookshelves.

Jerking back now, she's 50 miles away. . . from her family? Her siblings are in the next room. I understand why you mention her guns. I'm assuming you are building Kiki as a gun toting tough woman. Mentioning they are heavy while she's reading a paper feels forced. It's like you were thinking hmmm, I need to put in here that she has guns so I'll put it . . . here! I'd like to see you tie into the heat again. It was important enough for the first paragraph so reinforce it here. Kiki squirmed as a bead of sweat trickled underneath her thick leather holsters. The combination of the heat and the weight of the twin Desert Eagles in the holsters chafed her skin and caused her to dream of a cool bath. Or something to give us a peek into what she's feeling. (Don't say holsters twice like I did. Grab your handy thesaurus and mix up the words.)

Studying the picture of Darren Storm and his wife is a good way to introduce those characters. When I read it the first time, I thought she had moving pictures like in Harry Potter. Is this the effect you were shooting for? I don't know enough about the society to know how magical or scientifically advanced they are.

Showing instead of telling is a challenging talent to develop. In your first couple pages, your job is to immerse your reader in the scene with all five senses. What does he/she hear, smell, taste, see and feel? What time of the day is it? What are her surroundings? These clues will suck me in and force me to read more.

End Analysis. Good luck with your publishing adventure! Putting together a book is a big project. I wish you all the luck as you move forward.

Saturday, February 4, 2012


Author: Liam O'Shiel
Genre: Speculative fiction
How long it's been on sale: 2 months
Current price: $1.99
Marketing: Banner ads on Facebook, Irish Times, Bookreads; Clarion Review; Giveaways on Bookreads and Librarythings; excerpt posted on Kindleboards; sent off numerous additional review copies (Kirkus, Booklist, etc.); complete book website at; author page on Amazon.
Total sold so far: 3 print, one Kindle
Link to book on Amazon: Eirelan (Saga of the Latter-Day Celts)

Product Description:

The great cities of the past have crumbled to Earth. Square-rigged warships sail the seas. Battles are fought swords and longbows and catapults. Yet culture and civilization abound: towns and villages, pubs and fairs, music and poetry, history and philosophy, are all about. It is the 999th year of the Province of the Twenty Clans, founded on the shores of Lough Ennell in Ireland in 2954 A.D. In this millennial year, the Province and its Gaelic-speaking allies are threatened with extinction by an ice age overspreading Europe and by determined, powerful enemies on land and sea. This is a story of a noble people fighting for the right to live and enjoy the beauty of the world as they see it. Book I of the Saga of the Latter-Day Celts. 

First 300 Words:

(Eirelan is a 270,000 word novel. The preface is a poem by a main character; each chapter begins with an epigraph. Below you see the poem, chapter 1 epigraph, and 270 words of the first chapter of fifty.)


Strike me, ye winds of a frightful black night,
Bend, all ye boughs till your limbs touch the Earth.
Rain in great torrents, blind my pale eyes,
I fear not the rage of the storm.
Thunder, ye waves of the sea on the shore,
Crack, ye hard stones and fall into the foam.
Bolts of fierce lightning, strike where ye will,
I stand on the edge of the cliff.
Howl on, ye wolves of the forest together,
Rend the night’s calm with your heart-chilling song.
Shriek, ye great owl, and hunt as you will,
I stride through the deep woods alone.
Touch me, sweet dawn with your rain-scented mist,
Call to me, larks and ye sea-hunting birds.
Zephyr of morning, caress my fair hair,
I rejoice to be part of it all.

Liadan Conmaicne Laigain
Province Year 962

Epigraph, Chapter 1:

On the shores of Lough Ennell, toward early evening on the winter solstice, in the old calendar year 2954 A.D., the Twenty Clans gathered, not all of the people to be sure, but the leaders and elders and scholars and the ordinary folk who farmed and fished and made things with their skilled hands. As the sun set over the lake, a solemn song was sung while twenty great stones were set in a circle, one for each clan. This circle of stones was ever after venerated as marking the time and place of our joining together, to live as we wished to live, speaking the ancient tongue of the Celts, and forsaking forever after the machines which had brought mankind low and torn the beautiful earth asunder. On that day near a thousand years ago at Lough Ennell, we became the Province of the Twenty Clans.

Seanlaoch Osraige, Historian of the Province

Chapter 1
October 8, Province Year 999

The Harvest Fair at Wicklow was by no means the largest in the Province, yet no other fair east or west surpassed the joy of its music, the riot of its colors, the variety of its foods and ales, and the artistry of its crafts. Today the fair had been blessed with a balmy early autumn day of gentle sun and cool breeze from the sea.

People came from as far as Ballycanew to the south and Athy to the west, in creaking, thick-axled farm wagons drawn by snorting teams, bearing fathers and mothers and infants on the buckboard and the older children crowded in amid tubs of grain, strings of cured sausages, wheels of aged cheese, crocks overtopped with fresh butter, kegs of strong ale, boxes of potatoes and tomatoes and carrots, cartons of herbs for curing and herbs for cooking, and every other item large and small that might be bartered or sold for Province coin.

In smaller wagons or on horseback came the vendors of fine metalwork, jewelry, pottery, glassware, clothing for every purpose, shoes, caps, hats, tools, cookware, wood carvings, paintings, wall coverings, carpets, weapons, and armor. Musicians, drama troupes, storytellers, mystics, bards and singers had been working the rolling fields since dawn, their cups and baskets filling fast with coin. The innocent laughter of children mingled with shouts of greeting, the banter of bartering, guffaws at a joke, the sweet lilt of a fine soprano lifted in song. Clans scattered over the land gathered to exchange the news of births and deaths and weddings and seamy tales of family intrigue, jealousy and secret grudges.

Vicki's Comments: When I look at this cover, I like the overall design, but I don't get any sense of genre from it. The ocean could mean this is a nautical book, but there's no boat or person to look at. I like the Celtic symbol, but it makes me think the book is historical. I think the cover isn't helping draw readers who like futuristic stories. I would try to get a different cover design, one that tells the reader at a glance that this book is set in the future. Is this book dystopian? Maybe look at other dystopian books and try to get that kind of a look. Most of them have futuristic type styles, which can tell the reader right away this is not a historical novel.

I don't usually pick at titles, but I'm not sure the title of this book is helping it any. The title makes me think of High Fantasy, set in the past. This is compounded by the cover, in my opinion. I don't think these things are drawing in the right audience. I hate suggesting a title change, but I think I'm going to at least suggest you look at this as an option.

There's a big problem with the description. There are no characters in the description. Who is this book about? What are their struggles? What obstacles do they overcome? I don't usually want to read a book unless I know what the main character's name is, and why they are someone I'm going to want to spend hours of my time with. The main obstacle is not getting people to part with their $1.99. It's convincing people they want to commit a large portion of time to read this book. In my opinion the description needs to start with the main character, what event starts the book in motion, and what conflict keeps me glued to the novel until the end.

I normally cut the beginning to be 300 words when an author sends me more, but this time I kept it all in. I felt it was important for people to be able to critique the entire beginning, because at 300 words we haven't even gotten to the prose yet. Now, you have to realize that I'm not a huge poetry lover. When I saw the poem at the beginning, and read that each chapter starts with one, I wasn't horribly enthusiastic about it. Some other people might really like it. If people like me were the target audience, though, I would suggest cutting the poetry. The poetry could be put at the end or on the website for extra material that fans would like.

I'm confused about each chapter starting with an epigraph. Isn't that just back story that would be better coming out as the story progresses? I would suggest cutting the epigraphs too, and giving the reader the information as they read.

The beginning of the novel started way to slow for me. And the beginning seemed like a bunch of lists. First we get a list of the things that Wicklow surpassed in other provinces. Then there's a list of the things that were crowded in the back of the wagons. Then there's a list of the things the vendors were selling. And then there's a list of the kinds of people who were found on the street. And then there's a list of the noises that mingled with the laughter of the children. And finally there's a list of the things the people were chattering about.

Now, I'm not saying everything about the book is bad. I did actually grab a sample so I could read more of the prose. In my opinion, the prose is well written. I just felt like taking a large pair of scissors and trimming out a bunch of the beginning. I want to get to know the main character first, and then learn about the setting in little bits as the scene progresses.

This novel is 270,000 words. Wow. I can't help but think that two thirds of this could be cut. (Granted, I haven't read the whole thing, but judging from the beginning, I'm guessing the whole book needs a nice trim.) I would recommend seeking a content editor or finding some really good beta readers who can help you slim down the novel. I would also get a more futuristic cover and work on the blurb.

What do you guys think?