Sunday, July 29, 2012

Echo of Silence

Author: Crystal D. Budy
Genre: Mystery
How long it's been on sale: Jan 2012
Current price: $2.99
Marketing: FB, Twitter, GoodReads, blog, website, Squidoo, featured on Hercules Editing and Consulting blog, reviewed on Manic Readers, featured on Best Indie Writers
Total sold so far: 20
Link to book on Amazon: Echo of Silence (North Coast Mystery #1)

Product Description:

Special Agent Rob Karlton is brilliant, dedicated, and tries hard at whatever he does. He's also stubborn, sarcastic, and spends much of his time pissing a lot of people off. A tragic past has left him bitter and contemptuous toward women and life in general and his attitude doesn't rub well with a lot of people. One of those people is his new boss, Lilah Matthews. Rob is horrified that his new boss is a woman and makes no bones about expressing that opinion. Lilah has no problem taking none of his crap and giving his attitude back to him tenfold.
When 13-year-old Cassie Phelps gets swiped off the street on her way to school by men in ski masks, Rob is placed on the task force to help find her. When he discovers that Cassie and her parents didn't exist before 2004, he's dead-set determined to find out the story behind it. What he uncovers goes much deeper than anything he could have ever imagined.
This book contains strong language, violence, and adult content that is not acceptable for anyone under the age of 17.

First 300 Words:

Thump. Thump. Thump. The sound echoed in my ear, vibrating through my skull, until I felt like my brain was going to dribble out of my ears. Cracking open an eye, I observed the world around me. Drab off-white walls, burglar bars on the windows…this was definitely not my apartment.

The heavy feeling in my head and the cotton in my mouth reminded me of the liquor I had consumed the previous night before the memories began to flood back. Note to self: stop drinking so much.

My stomach lurched as I swung my feet off onto the hardwood floor. The pounding in my head increased as I stood. The early morning light began to seep through the dirty blinds, and I winced, turning away. And that’s when my eyes fell upon the woman stretched out in a bed the size of King Tut’s tomb. And try as I might, I couldn’t for the life of me think of what her name was.

My name is Rob Karlton. And I’m really just an average guy. An average guy who drinks too much and enjoys casual sex – quite often, might I add – but that is beside the point, now isn’t it?

I scoured the room in search of my clothes. The bedroom was a mess of scattered clothing and bed sheets. The woman was either a terrible housekeeper, or we’d had some serious play last night.

My jeans were turned inside out, one pant leg sticking out from under the bed. I discovered my t-shirt hanging off the closet doorknob, and God only knows where my socks were.

Another two minutes of searching and I decided screw the socks. I jammed my feet into my sneakers. As I did a quick check in the mirror to make sure I didn’t have any embarrassing lipstick marks anywhere — hey, it’s happened to us all at least once, — a small moan escaped from the bed.

“Come back,” the woman purred. “We should try it once sober. Make sure it’s still as good.”

Comments: I want to like the cover, I really do. I love the colors, I love the font, and I think it's well designed. The only problem is I can't figure out anything about the story from the cover. I see some kind of weird object on the grass, but it's so small I had to click the "Look Inside" feature to see the cover larger to figure out it was a shoe. Ah, one shoe left behind. LOVE that. But I can't see it. And in thumbnail it's going to be impossible. My suggestion? That one shoe is brilliant on the cover. Focus on that. Make that the whole cover. Really express that one left behind shoe. Ditch the city and the park bench. Focus on the shoe. That communicates something to the reader. It gives us a solid genre, and makes us want to know more.

I'll be honest, the first paragraph of the description put me to sleep. The one shoe on the cover promised me the book was about someone who was kidnapped or missing. The first paragraph didn't say anything about a missing person. If I were wanting a book to read, I would move on before getting to paragraph two. I'd cut the whole thing.

The second paragraph starts out strong. The only thing I would add would be a short description of Rob, since I suggested cutting the first para. Maybe: When 13-year-old Cassie Phelps gets swiped off the street on her way to school by men in ski masks, Special Agent Rob Karlton is placed on the task force to help find her.

The second sentence is good. I would leave it. The third sentence is too vague. "What he uncovers goes much deeper than anything he could have ever imagined." This tells me nothing, and isn't intriguing. It's repelling. I want to know what kind of story I'm in for. Does he uncover a drug ring? A psycho with frozen heads in his freezer? Teens being sold as slaves? I can't tell from your description, so I'm not sure I want to read it. Please don't be vague. You don't have to detail the entire plot, just give us an idea of what we are in for.

The beginning of the book doesn't do it for me. I would get more opinions about it, but for me it didn't work. I didn't like when the character introduced himself. That totally took me out of the story. I also have no idea why it started with thump thump thump. What does that even mean? His heart beat? Someone banging in the apartment above? I can't tell and it's not good.

I would suggest redoing the description and focusing on the shoe on the cover. I would get more eyes on the book to make sure the little kinks are worked out. Maybe some beta readers or a critique group. What do you guys think?


  1. This sentence specifically really throws me off: Lilah has no problem taking none of his crap and giving his attitude back to him tenfold.
    I agree with Victorine, reword some of this description.
    But I love this cover! Make that shoe just slightly larger and you'll be right on target!

  2. The cover's neither great nor bad. I don't know, but I'd love to see other options, including one with a human in it. Humans usually help.

    The first three sentences of the description are a turn-off for me. The guy sounds exactly like every guy in one of these sorts of books or movies. The case itself is more interesting.

    "Cassie Phelps, thirteen, is kidnapped on her way to school. Special Agent Rob Karlton, a sarcastic but brilliant detective, is on the task force to help find the girl. He's stunned to discover that Cassie and her parents didn't seem to exist until recently. To figure out who took Cassie, he must first reveal who she is."

    etcetera etcetera

  3. I like the cover. Yeah, maybe change something so the genre comes through a bit more, but I think the cover is the least of your problems. It's fine.

    The blurb does an extremely good job at making me hate this character. Seriously, is there any career-focused smart man out there who's younger than 40 who has this sort of attitude to women? Seriously?

    Basically, the guy's a loser and I can't see anything in the first paragraph of the blurb that makes me remotely want to spend a whole book with him. I think you need a redeeming feature in the second sentence.

    I find the writing in the sample over-wrought, over-written and laborious.

    Sentences such as this: The heavy feeling in my head and the cotton in my mouth reminded me of the liquor I had consumed the previous night before the memories began to flood back.

    Seeing we're in first person, the narrative should be reflecting the character's personality and his manner of speech. Does he talk like this? Does anyone even talk like this?

  4. Nothing here is bad. And let me just say I don't like critiquing another writer's work. It's your baby, your creation. I teach Creative Writing, however, so I feel I can throw some bits in. Remember, I didn't read your book, and I am only critiquing your 'selling materials'.

    Much of what you have here is cliche. From the description of the book to the character and the first 300 words, much of it sounds like something that's been written before. The character's drinking has been done to death (not trying to be harsh) and it feels as if this is being done on purpose, that you're trying to write this way as opposed to what might come naturally. It reads like you are trying to sound like what's out there, what impressed you, or what you think will sell. Rarely does selling happen when you try to write to sell in fiction. You find your voice and then, if you're lucky, people like the new style and it sells and enters into the canon, so to speak.

    In your description, sentences like these weaken the overall effect: "What he uncovers goes much deeper than anything he could have ever imagined." That really sounds like the writer is trying to hide the big 'wow' effect in the plot, or doesn't know how to put this into words. It's as bad as writing something like, "He didn't know what to say." That means the writer didn't know, or at least that's how it is interpreted.

    I'll download the sample of your book. I don't doubt it's good. I just think in trying to 'sell' your book in the description and first 300, that you pandered to an audience you think is your group of buyers instead of writing on instinct. Best of luck.

  5. I agree on the cover issue. Love the cover, but it doesn't say a whole lot about the book. Maybe remove (or minimize) the park bench and enhance the shoe.

    The blurb is too long. I think the first line in the second paragraph should be the opening line. Combine that with the brilliant and talented Special Agent Rob Karlton being assigned to the job by the detestable Lilah Matthews. Then give us a small piece about Rob and Lilah, their love-hate, hate-hate, or whatever relationship they have and how they discover the deep dark secret.

    Beta readers are good. If you want a blurb pro, you might ask Rachelle Ayala. She's the best at breaking down and revamping blurbs! She's honest and to the point. You should do a promo if you haven't. She has a magnificent list of promo sites. Here is the website:

    www dot rachelleayala dot com

    Good Luck!


  6. I'm going to agree with pattyjansen about the narrator. Your blurb sets him up as a serious jerk. I wouldn't be interested in spending any time with him at all, certainly not as much as would be required to read a book. I'd tone that down quite a bit, and put more focus on the mystery.

  7. I'll be blunt as usual. I hate the blurb or at least the first part of it. If I were browsing Amazon, I would never get past that to see that the second paragraph gets interesting. On top of a frankly boring cover, I suspect they are killing sales.

    And while I have no problem with a character having casual sex or getting to blotto they don't remember the night before, it might not be a great introduction to the character. You might want to interest me in him first. And what is with the "Thump thump thump" that is then never mentioned again? The "I just woke up" opening is generally considered too cliche to be used in modern stories and I suggest taking that seriously. Unless this actually has some connection to the story (which I suspect it doesn't) I suggest cutting it entirely and get to something that DOES have something to do with the story.

    I suggest fixing the problems before you even consider doing any promotion.

  8. The cover definitely says mystery to me, and I picked that up before I saw the word "mystery" down at the bottom. However, it doesn't grab me. I think it needs more focus.

    The blurb isn't bad, but too many of the sentences are awkwardly worded. The info it gives me is fine, but it needs to be cleaned up.

    The bitter loner who can't relate to a female superior is too much of a cliche and I see a romance coming between these two from a mile off. I could be wrong, but that's the way it seems to me.

    The first 300 carries on this cliche to the nth degree. This isn't necessarily a bad thing if this is a hard-boiled, noir-type mystery. If it is, I think that needs to be emphasized in the blurb. It could also be indicated in the cover. B&W only goes so far. The cover should be grittier to indicate a noir mystery.

  9. I like the cover, but until Victorine pointed out the missing shoe, it didn't scream mystery. The shoe is a fab idea and needs to be more noticeable. I don't like the first part of the blurb - it's boring, to be blunt. If it started at "When 13 year-old Cassie Phelps gets swiped off her feet....." it would be far more interesting - a real hook. I DO like the first 300 words (with the exception of the intro to Rob, which just does not fit here). I'd read more.....

  10. I agree that something about the cover doesn't do it for me. I say kill the city and the park bench and put a empty road in the background, leave the grass and the shoe (bigger) on the side....? Just a suggestion. The problem I had with reading the blurb is that I felt that I've read/seen this story a million and one times before. It needs to be more dramatic and mysterious to make me want to read this particular title. The intro was fine and made me want to read more. I'd start the blurb out more like:

    It's hard to be found if you never really existed, but that's exactly the task that has been thrust into special agent Rob Karlton's lap. Just as stubborn and sarcastic as he is brilliant and dedicated, Rob must figure out why there is no record of missing 13 year-old Cassie Phelps and her parents before 2004.

    (so on and so forth)

    I don't think the mention of his boss or tragic past is necessary in the blurb. It's been done too many times before....and pushes readers away... Let them discover it while reading the novel.


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