Monday, September 10, 2012

Mythical: Heart of Stone

Author: C.E. Martin
Genre: YA Fantasy (?)
How long it's been on sale: June 4, 2012
Current price: $.99
Marketing: I have been sending out review requests and participating in Author Interviews. I have a blog. I am participating in a number of author websites/forums, and have done the introduction of the book at several forums also.
Total sold so far: 6
Link to book on Amazon: Mythical: Heart of Stone

Product Description:

In a world of magic and monsters, where the superheroes have all retired, the United States depends on the men and women of Detachment 1039 to protect America from the paranormal. Unfortunately, the Detachment’s entire squad of Stone Soldiers, and their leader, have been killed.

Colonel Mark Kenslir wakes up in the Arizona desert, his mortal wounds healed, but with no memory of who killed him. With the help of the teens who found him, Kenslir eventually remembers his last mission: stop a shapeshifter that has been ripping out and consuming the hearts of victims.

Without any weapons, without any support, Kenslir sets out to avenge his men and stop the shapeshifter.

First 300 Words:

Somewhere in the Arizona desert, miles from any road or water, there was a boat.

This boat was charred and cracked, melted, burned- a black blight on the pristine sands, the ash from the fire that had consumed it spreading out to form a black circle, thirty feet in diameter. The boat sat in silence, undiscovered, for days.

Until a group of motorcycle riders stumbled across it.

Five riders, racing through the desert, weaving in and out, jumping slight rises. Ahead of the riders, the desert sands stretched out for miles for their enjoyment. Behind them, the riders left behind not only their camp, but twelve years of education. This was their summer vacation, before they would all go out into the world, to college, to jobs, to begin their new lives.

The leader of the pack, Carlos, topped a rise at full speed. Beneath his helmet he grinned, wondering if any of the others would catch him.

Carlos suddenly lost his grin. He let off the throttle and slammed on his brakes. A great black spot lay in the desert ahead of him. Charred remnants of something large.

Behind Carlos, the other riders approached. They all saw the same great stain on the desert and slid to a stop beside their friend.

Carlos looked around at his friends. None of them were doing anything more than looking at the burnt remains down the slope from them. He would have to be the first.

Carlos nodded to his friends then took off for the wreckage.

The bikers rolled cautiously down the slope toward the burnt wreckage. As they got closer they could make out the shape of whatever it had been. It looked vaguely boat-like and it had been consumed in a great fire.

The bikers stopped a dozen feet from the edge of the burnt wreckage.

Comments: I like the cover. It looks well designed. It does give me more of a high fantasy vibe, but I don't know how detrimental that is. It makes me think of rings and quests, elves and kingdoms. That might be a problem. Also, usually young adult novels have a young person on the cover, so it shows the target age. This does seem to be geared toward an "older" audience. However, I do like the cover and if the book were selling I wouldn't think of changing it at all. Since it's not selling, I might get more opinions on the first impression of the cover. Show it to strangers and ask what they think the book is about. That first impression is very important, and if you're giving the wrong impression, I'd try to fix it.

The description needs work, but I don't think it's horrible. Don't start with the Don LaFontaine cliche, "In a world..." I also don't like the contradiction. All the stone soldiers have been killed. But one wakes up. If he's killed, he wouldn't be waking up. That's confusing. I'd get some help to tighten this up.

I think the writing needs to be tightened up also. For instance, the beginning of the book doesn't have any emotion to it. I'm not in anyone's point of view, so I'm not seeing the charred boat from anyone's perspective. It's omniscient point of view, which frankly, is difficult to write well and out of date enough to put most readers off to the book. I would suggest joining a critique group, or finding a content editor with experience editing genre fiction.

What do you guys think?


  1. I got fantasy out of the cover, but not YA. Also, the stone fist throws me off since the title is Mythical Heart of Stone. If the dragon were curled around a stone heart, that would match the title better.

    If they were all killed, why does one wake up? That needs to be clarified.

    I like the opening as far as the scene goes. The writing seems to be choppy which I think comes more from chopped up paragraphs than anything else.

    Good premise. The book has potential, but the writing needs to be tighter.

  2. It is important that a cover not only be attractive (that one is) but also be right for the genre. This one doesn't even seem to hint at the genre, really. I'd seriously consider re-doing it. I suspect it's hurting.

    The description could use a little tweaking but I don't think it's bad enough to seriously hender sales. However, the opening of the novel--the very distant, emotionless, omnipotent point of view may well be doing serious harm to sales. A lot of people won't go past that when they read the sample.

  3. At first glance I liked everything other than the word "paranormal" (which brings up rather lame associations for me, although I know its "popular" these days). Going back over things more carefully, here's what I noticed:

    The title doesn't really do anything for me, it strikes me as sort of generic. While I like the cover, the title letters could be slightly brighter to stand out more. My eyes went to the red, so I'll admit that I initially missed that the hand was stone. I agree about not using "In a world" to start the blurb, and the contradiction (died, or just suffered mysteriously-healed mortal wounds) is a problem.

    Here's a quick -- and possibly inaccurate -- re-write of the first paragraph of the blurb: "The superheroes have all retired. Now, the United States depends on the men and women of Detachment 1039 to protect America from monsters and magic. Unfortunately, all of the Detachment's squad of Stone Soldiers have been killed and their leader is missing and presumed dead."

    Good luck with this, it looks interesting and I'll mention it to others. Keep your eye open for offline marketing opportunities, and keep plugging away at all of your marketing. As they say, it's a marathon, not a sprint.

  4. I like the cover. I think the font could use a little work though to make the entire cover stand out a bit. And I might do away with the black name bar and try a different effect. Other than, I'm for the cover. The book looks a bit high fantasy, which isn't my thing, but if I were into high fantasy, I could see myself investigating a little further.

    The description doesn't sound YA Fantasy to me. It sounds like an adult fantasy with kids participating. When I think of YA, I have a YA protagonist in mind. Other than that, I think the description works. This may be just a personal thing for me… I'm not fond of the world "Unfortunately." It always makes me think the reader can't decide for themselves how they should feel about the event, so the author has to tell them. The cover also does't match the description. I get this impression this book is more of a futuristic/alternate dimension urban fantasy. I think the cover should reflect that.

    As it is, you might be drawing in the high fantasy crowd. After reading the description, they move on because it's not high fantasy. The flip side, folks into futuristic, alternate realties, or urban fantasies won't stop for a look, because it looks like a high fantasy book.

    I'm not digging the first 300 words. I'd likely stop by the time I got to the second paragraph, if I didn't stop at the first sentence. It's a bit on the bland side. The story itself seems like it has potential, but the presentation doesn't grab me. All the details are there, but it's a bit dry and lacking in subtlety.

  5. Thank you for the comments. I have abandoned trying to market this as YA. I patterned it after pulps, so I'm now trying to appeal to the New Pulp crowd. In retrospect, a lot of the pulps, even though I love them, weren't very well written- concept carried them, not writing style. So maybe basing my style on the pulps wasn't such a great idea.

    Thank you for the feedback, I'll keep checking back on this.

  6. I agree that the cover needs some tweaking, but should be fine as-is. The market is the switch that might produce. Tighten up the blurb a bit. It is tempting to put sweeping generalities and hyperbole in the blurb.

    What I think you need to focus on, though Kenslir. Start there, focus on the motivations: avenge death/save humanity from the shapeshifter. The lonely quest is fine, it is like Daredevil/Wolverine/Conan/Rambo/Dirk Pitt/Jason Bourne who often found that working alone allowed them an edge and cut down on the collateral damage. Maybe tell WHY he has no help. Is he an outcast? Is he so vengeful that he turns down help, not wanting to lose another team? Is he just so focused, help isn't sought?

    Anyway, I think you have diamond in the rough here. Good luck.

  7. I like the cover.

    I think the focus market is wrong. This is not YA. Recently-published YA is STRONGLY character-focused. This is distant, and none of the characters seem to be the appropriate age. YA gets marketed to high school tudents, but is mostly read by later-primary school. You're talking to kids here, none of whom will be within a whiff of gettng their drivers' licence. Have a look at what these kids are reading. This does not fit in that category. Know your market. I suggest simply re-labelling it.

    The sample is distant. There is no POV character. If Carlos is the POV, he can't kow what the others are thinking. IMO you need to re-write this from a personal perspective. That's not a matter of simply cutting a few sentences. It's a huge job.

    That said, I do think there are a number of ideas (a bit disjointed in the blurb) that are interesting.

  8. Start with Carlos cresting a hill and spotting the boat. Begin with action, 3rd person limited, and make sure Carlos is the teen protag who is flawed but likable/sympathetic - if this is meant as a YA book. IMO.

  9. UPDATE: Changed the cover (, the price, and the blurb. Now trying to market it as Horror, Action, Fantasy.

    No changes yet. Still smoldering, with two sequels, in a distant, cobweb-filled corner of the internet.


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