Monday, February 6, 2012

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.


  1. Cover - It looks like a modern-day crime thriller to me. It does not say science fiction or fantasy to me at all. I also dislike the floating eye.

    Blurb - Your description is entirely about the villain Maxwell. Is Kiki the heroine? If so, tell us about who she is and what she does instead of what the villain does. Make the heroine sound proactive and in control so I'll want to read a book about her.

    Also, you start out with genetically enhanced soldiers, which says "science fiction" to me. But at the end you mention "magic" and "kingdom" out of nowhere, which says "fantasy" to me, making me thoroughly confused about the genre.

    Opening text - You have a sentence about her clothes and the weather, and then a sentence about troop movements with meaningless name dumps. It's totally disjointed.

    Why would the temperature suit her mood due to where someone's troops are relative to someone's border? I don't know who she is or what side she's on in this conflict, so I don't understand any of this.

    And then there are children fighting about toys, at length. I'm not given a central character or idea to focus on to draw me into the story.

    And the ending is confusing to me - the man's eyes in the newspaper photo look "too black", and this signals to Kiki that something "weird" is going on involving secret experiments? It feels like random images and ideas are just flying out of nowhere.

    I think the writing here needs much more focus, building on one idea at a time to lead the reader into the story.

    Best of luck!

  2. COVER: It says sexy girl shoots peeping tom in city at night. Judging by the PD, that’s not what you meant to suggest.

    PD: I think the product description for a book like this should contain two things: the premise of the book and the tension in the plot—i.e., some genre details and what’s at stake for the main character. You can skip the premise in literary fiction or in a thriller because we can take the world for granted. But not SF/fantasy. And you’ve got nothing about the premise: you’re talking about somewhere else at some other time as if we had the foggiest idea about the peace and the “Royal General” you’re going on about. Bottom line: it’s downright discombobulating.

    All you have to do is say “Princess Kiki [...] has ruled [whatever] for/with/because/since....” and then maybe another relevant bit about this world is divided, blah, blah. Then move on to the tension with the bit about two threats. Then “General Pat [cut the peace stuff] wants to rule the world,” etc. Maybe then people will have a better idea about the book.

    You should also just stick to the relevant bits and cut all the subordinate clauses with distracting pieces of information that will cause people to lose track of narrative thread. Here’s a quick list of things that don’t matter: “Royal, Patrick, only pursuing peace, but his plan depends entirely on, known world, near-, even though he's her uncle.” Other minor things don’t help either, like “magic users,” which means what?

    300: It’s rough. The biggest structural problem is the interruption by the kids. How can we take this impending invasion seriously when even Kiki’s being distracted by something as inconsequential as her brother’s accidental destruction of his sister’s drawing? Imagine the writers of Downfall inserting a fight over pizza toppings into the scenes in Hitler’s bunker: “I tell you there can be no anchovies on an Aryan pizza! Forgive me Mein Fuhrer, but I must insist on this tastiest of delicacies! That topping is an Allied plot!”

  3. I'll just echo what others have said and add one question.

    If the enemy is only 50 miles away, what is Kiki doing to protect her family besides fanning herself with her tank top (not easy to do since they are usually tight) and reading the newspaper?


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