Tuesday, June 19, 2012

The Boots of Saint Felicity

Author: Jean Cross
Genre: Young Adult/Adventure
How long it's been on sale: Jan 2012
Current price: $5.99


Featured on Indie Saturday blog on Ramdomise Me website. Joined and contributed to Kindle for Kids website, featured there also. Accepted for review by Luminence emagazine.  But so far has not appeared. Trying to get reviews on other sites. Part of anthology being organised by Kindle Boards author (Mike Ware), sent in a short story.  Bios and book extracts from contributing authors, also being published in anthology. Investigating how to get on Irish libraries ebook system as have agreement for a public reading if my book is available on system. Set up a website which is presented as the official website of my characters.

Total sold so far: 2

Link to book on Amazon: The Boots of Saint Felicity

Product Description: 

The Boots of Saint Felicity

The book is set in Splickety Village, a quirky hamlet where almost everybody gets along with almost everybody else. The story opens as the inhabitants prepare for the Important Person From Far Away Festival which is but three days away. Committees abound and everyone is busy. Jam is made, menus are planned and the streets are adorned. But amidst the bustle and hurry a sinister threat stirs. The owner of the bookshop, Hugh DeGrew, disappears following the penultimate meeting of The Committee To Organise Everything For The Important Person From Far Away Festival. Familia Frondbottom, genteel proprietor of the hotel becomes concerned about the odd behaviour of her friend, Eloueese Turtlewine, who surprises almost everyone on her committee by casting doubt on the authenticity of revered local relics, the Boots of Saint Felicity.

Drawn to their own mystery are flying teenagers Bernie and Joxey Brownfeather who abandon the preparations when they find a photograph of their dead mother in the office of the bookshop. Their mother perished in a rock fall during an archaeological expedition in the local mountain five years previously. The pair team up with archaeologist Charlie Milkeypockets who possesses a great knowledge of legends and antiquated texts and whose father died in the same incident as the Brownfeathers’ mother. The trio embark on a dangerous path of discovery as the forces of a sinister foe spill over the valley.

As the struggle evolves, it emerges that not all of the villagers are who they seemed to be. Secrets are shared. Secrets born deep in the mountain, beneath the lowest of the low caves a long, long time ago. When the real threat comes into focus it becomes clear, to some, that this enemy is old, powerful and cunning and that this battle has been fought before.

Feisty pensioners, resourceful villagers and flying teenagers pit themselves against malevolent adversaries as the indifferent vagaries of fate visit murder, deceit and loss on a people unaware of their true history.

First 300 Words:

Three Days to Go

Eloueese Turtlewine stood in her kitchen and gazed out of the window.  It was a Tuesday morning.  Eloueese Turtlewine often gazed out of a window, preferably her kitchen window, when she was thinking.  She had just finished her breakfast.  She had cleared and washed and dried and put away her dishes and her folded tea towel lay over the rim of her dry sink.  She felt warm and full and ready to turn to the practical matters of the day.  Then she noticed something odd.  A small piece of paper was wafting slowly, carelessly, most certainly, into her back garden.  She stood quite still and watched it brush her cornflowers, rise, fall and run along the tip of the grass, rise again and settle finally on the straw she had arranged to protect her strawberries.  The small piece of paper blended so well with the yellowy coloured straw that she would not have been able to tell it was there had she not witnessed the last stages of its journey to that spot.  But she knew it was there and because she knew it was there, it would have to be removed.  It was typical, she mused, that this type of thing would happen on a Tuesday.  In her experience Tuesdays always brought trouble. Sometimes the trouble was small. Sometimes the trouble was big.

This proclivity for trouble was only one of the reasons why Eloueese Turtlewine did not like Tuesdays. In her view, Tuesday was a terrible waste of time.  The very notion of it vexed her.  In fact she was apt to deny that the day existed.  She often started the period in question just as she had started this one, by sitting up in bed and proclaiming,

“There’s no such thing as Tuesday.”

Comments: I was really surprised when this book came up and it said Young Adult Adventure as the genre. I've seen this book cover around a lot over on Kindleboards. Never would I have ever guessed that this was a YA Adventure book. The shoes, and the way the artwork is done, makes me think of literary fiction. The title makes me think it's religious. I never would have guessed YA.

The drawing on the cover looks too serious for this book. I would get rid of the shoes altogether and put one of the main characters on the front. The book description gives me a quirky-humorous feeling. This is what the cover should do too. (Think Lemony Snicket, but geared toward teenagers.) I'm also not fond of the font used. I would probably hire a graphic designer to re-work the cover.

The description is way too long, and when you look at it on the book's page there are no breaks in between the paragraphs so it ends up being a wall of text. I'd say at least half the description should be cut. I would start with the main character, which should be one of the teenagers if this is a YA book. Give the description from their perspective. Short and sweet. I would get other author's help with cutting it down and making it snappy and creating a good hook.

I found the beginning of the book humorous, but it didn't grab me and not let go. I might read on, though, if the description had hooked me. The writing itself was good, in my opinion. I just didn't find much going on at the beginning, and I prefer the main character doing something at the beginning of a book. Standing at the window looking out at a piece of paper falling isn't very interesting to me. However, the humorous style was good and I might read on to see if more happened. Also, the book is YA, but this doesn't start with a young adult as the main character. I'm now wondering if the book is not a YA book, and the author has some genre confusion.

In my opinion, I would first figure out the genre. This will define what direction the cover and description takes. I would suggest a more professional cover, and I would tighten up the description.

What do you guys think?


  1. The cover is amateurish, the description has grammar errors, the formatting is one giant wall of text, and the start plods along like it's got cement shoes on.

    Not much else to say, really.

  2. I assumed from the cover that the book was inspirational (religious) and also probably a re-issue of something written in the '50s. I would not have read any of the text to learn more.

    IMO, the description is too long, too complicated, and too...introductory?...(not quite sure what word I'm looking for) to pull me in as a reader. I always assume that the writing style of the blurb is going to be similar to the writing style of the book. The opening words "the book is" imply to me that the writing will do a lot of telling. It's a very flat way to open a blurb.

    The first words have a very old-fashioned flavor, like the Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle books almost. I think it might be tough to find the audience for that style of writing these days. I guess I'd start with the cover and trying to find a cover that better represents the feel of the book.

  3. I agree with Vicki on all fronts.

    I've seen the cover many, many times and thought it was religious fiction, maybe an Inn of the Sixth Happiness sort of thing. Never in my wildest dreams would I have guessed YA/Adventure from the cover or the title.

    The description is far too long and trying to do far too much. If the story is about the teenagers, lead with that. Although, I'm not sure what's meant by "flying". Can they actually fly? I would say the description doesn't need to be halfed, but tenthed. Seriously. I'm not at all clear what the book is really about right now, other than quirky.

    The 300. I agree with Vicki here too. I would suggest starting with the second to last paragraph: The Proclivity... The first para isn't bad, but it's long and doesn't grab me. There's intrigue and fun in the rest.

    Hope this helps.

    1. It helps a lot Monique. The kids can actually fly. I really value what you said.

  4. Cover art looks like the handiwork of an elementary school kid. The font is atrocious. Regardless of how much thought might have been put into the cover design, if the end result is sloppy then I tend to assume it reflects sloppy content.

    As for the blurb, were it any longer it would need its own ISBN. And repeating the character's full name? Did the author need to bump her word count?

    1. Pale Rambler, I'll take on what you said. About using the characters full names I did it throughout the book to maintain a distance. I left it to the characters themselves to be on first name terms. The word count is 196,000.


    2. Wow, 200k is much too long for a middle grade/young adult fantasy. Harry Potter book one was about 77k. Deathly Hallows was almost 200k but by then she'd earned the loyalty of millions.

  5. I agree, it gives the appearance of being a religious book. And the cover doesn't inspire taking a closer look. Unless you're a very good artist, it might not be a great idea to attempt to draw your own cover.

    1. Thank you Anonymous, I am getting the picture about the cover.

  6. The title says Christian fiction, the cover says kid's book.

    I looked at the length of that blurb and just couldn't go any further. It gave me no interest whatsoever in reading the book.

    1. Thanks Margaret, I will definitely shorten that blurb.

  7. In addition to what has been said above and I agree with, I also think that this should be MG and not YA. The writing has a narrative, talking-down tone that you might find in MG.

    Books that transcend genres notwithstanding (think Harry Potter), there is a very clear difference in tone and subject matter between MG and YA.

  8. The book sounds adorable and cozy. It definitely has an old-fashioned narrator style to it, and I find that charming. It may be better as a middle-grade novel than YA. While some may find too much writing, quantity-wise, I don't mind a little more as long as it's good quality, as this is.

    I found the opening chapter to be enjoyable, and I would have loved a book like this as a kid.

    My recommendations:

    - Whole new cover, by someone who does really cute, precious drawings. Maybe a new title, maybe not.

    - New blurb that isn't so modest; have a look at a new book or two, middle-grade, from a big publisher and emulate the style. (That's what I've done to try to make mine better ... not sure if it's working, but I keep trying!)

    - Remove everything from the front of the book before chapter 1: acknowledgements/author note. If you absolutely must, you can put that stuff at the back, but at the front is not drawing in the right kind of people. A book experience is between the reader and the author and the story, so I don't talk about other people in my book notes, for it is like speaking of former lovers with a new one. :-) (humor!)

    Hang in there, Jean, and good for you to put yourself up for this kind of help!

  9. Dalya, thank you. I am so glad you enjoyed the first chapter. At this point I am convinced about changing the cover and the blurb and the title. I think you may also be right about moving the front matter to the back.

    Thanks for the encouragement too. I found the process scary but I am very glad I did it and feel I now have a direction in which to proceed. All the best to you too.

  10. Hm. Keeping all the other comments in mind...

    Your exposure could be problematic. I, too, have seen this cover a lot (and I remember it) but I'm not your market. Getting that cover in front of me -- or any of the KBers -- isn't really going to help sales much unless it's somebody who buys books for their children. I don't. My kids both have their own kindles and buy their own books. I may be an outlier in this dataset but I think it's coming.

    Think about ways to get the book in front of kids and you might have more success.

  11. Agree with other comments about the cover and blurb so won't repeat that. The main problem I found though was with the sample page. The writing here needs work. The main characters full name is used three times, twice in the first two sentences, which gives it a very amateurish feeling. I'd tighten up this opening as it's very slow and doesn't sound like YA or even MG, it sounds like a very old fashioned way of writing likely to appeal to an older audience.

    1. I suppose I do have an old fashioned style. I will work on the opening for sure. Thanks.

  12. Honestly, that is one of the worst blurbs I've ever run into. Sorry, that was an honest reaction although you've probably already figured out it has a problem. TOTAL re-do on the blurb.

    I didn't hate the cover as much as some, but I also don't think it does you any favors. I don't think it would appeal to your target and it doesn't show the genre at all.

    I suspect you might need to simply get rid of the opening. That is true of a lot of novels. Authors take a while to reach their stride but are too attached to the opening to get rid of it. Often, if you just drop the first chapter, you do yourself a favor. The writing itself is rather charming.

    1. Yep, I got it about the blurb all right. You may well be correct about getting rid of the current opening. Thank you.

  13. I too thought it was a religious book, but when I started reading, I found it charming too. 196000 is really long for YA, though. What if you made a series?

    After having read part of the sample, I can see that you have an interesting world there, but there's quite a bit of what they call infodump in the first part, such as the details about all the schools and saints. I like that SF is a practical saint, but the rest is too much at that point in the story. I'd expect the description of a school with a character who's getting ready to go there, but the other paras about the other schools aren't directly related to Bernie. Spread out the revelations and don't give us everything about everybody and the village in the first chapter.

    Often there's too much description of the chars doing mundane things. We don't need to know that the first char walked across the kitchen and opened the door... and then bent down and considered the paper...and then walked back and then sat down and then opened the drawer and then wrote a note. Looking at the strawberries perhaps suggests that the char is easily distracted, so that's ok. The details with Bernie are a bit different because they illuminate the world of flying and her personality. The others don't.

    Let me reiterate that I *really* liked the chars and the world. I think this could work really well if you polished it more. The components are all there!

    The formatting was also annoying. Not all the paragraphs and dialogue were consistently indented in the sample I downloaded. Some paras were also extraordinarily long, which leads to more wall-of-text problems.

  14. The cover doesn't work for me. The legs are cut off and this looks strange. I'd get rid of the legs entirely and just leave the shoes, which actually look pretty good. The product description is a deal breaker. "A perfect town"??? If it's perfect, there's no problem, therefore nothing to read. It should begin "Trouble is brewing in" the town. The hook is AWFUL. It puts me to sleep. The author needs to read up on designing hooks. This is a dog all the way around, and the author has a lot of work to do.


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.