Book descriptions

I get lots of views to my book and short stories but people only seem to pull the trigger on the free ones. I thought I would put the descriptions that I currently have on Smashwords and see what you think about them…looking for advice on how to improve them and fill them with juicy hooks!

So here they are:

1. Book description

Is it post traumatic stress or paranormal terror?

It started one evening in a quiet neighborhood in Iowa with five year old Liam Randolf playing with his best friend in the backyard. Playing with matches. The evening ended with a horrible fire that burned up his friend, Rich Cooper, yet left him unharmed.

His family escapes the painful memories by moving to the east coast. But Liam’s disastrous memories manage to manifest themselves into an evil dragon that seems hell-bent on ruining his childhood by keeping him fearful of fires and its next attack.

As Liam ages, the dragon blocks a ghostly voice in the night from helping him find out the truth about the fire and the family that moved away right after the terrible tragedy happened.

After over a decade of fear, Liam, with the assistance of his only friend, Kenny, is compelled to prove his sanity and silence the whispers by setting off on a surreal journey back to the Midwest to confront the dragon that haunts him and find his childhood friend.

Along the way, this awkward young man learns about himself and builds the self-confidence to finally rise above his past. But will this newfound courage be enough to stop the dragon and save his life or will Kenny fall to the same fate as Rich did so many years ago?

2. Short story description:

This short story tells the bizarre tale of two brothers: one obsessed with gardening and one obsessed with saving him from the evil that has taken possession of the garden. As one brother chases the other into the garden, the garden comes to life to chase him back out and destroy him.

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7 thoughts on “Book descriptions

  1. OK, here comes a totally nitpicky breakdown of my impressions of this.

    Is it post traumatic stress or paranormal terror?

    Could you tweak this a bit to make it a more obvious contrast? I see PTS as a medical condition and paranormal terror as a book genre so my first response to the question was ‘huh?’

    It started one evening in a quiet neighborhood in Iowa with five year old Liam Randolf playing with his best friend in the backyard. Playing with matches. The evening ended with a horrible fire that burned up his friend, Rich Cooper, yet left him unharmed.

    I had a moment of disconnect with “burned up” and then “left unharmed.” To me, burned UP implies damage done. So again, a ‘huh?’ moment. Though once I got the point I really liked this para.

    His family escapes the painful memories by moving to the east coast. But Liam’s disastrous memories manage to manifest themselves into an evil dragon that seems hell-bent on ruining his childhood by keeping him fearful of fires and its next attack.

    Whose family? On the heels of talking about the friend who was burned, I thought that was who moved. Once you said “memories manifest themselves into an evil dragon” I’m gone. That sounds ridiculous. Not that the concept would when built up plausibly within a story. But that wording makes me roll my eyes. You don’t need to spell out all the how and why. Can you just bring up the dragon and leave it to the book to explain where it comes from?

    As Liam ages, the dragon blocks a ghostly voice in the night from helping him find out the truth about the fire and the family that moved away right after the terrible tragedy happened.

    Still riding the disbelief from the last para, so here it’s just getting worse. Again, explain less, tease more. We don’t need to know the dragon is blocking the voice. Just add it as another element of the story and all the connections can be made later. This will be tricky, because you don’t want to be throwing out a bunch of unconnected elements, but the too-explainy is running me off.

    After over a decade of fear, Liam, with the assistance of his only friend, Kenny, is compelled to prove his sanity and silence the whispers by setting off on a surreal journey back to the Midwest to confront the dragon that haunts him and find his childhood friend.

    Good.

    Along the way, this awkward young man learns about himself and builds the self-confidence to finally rise above his past. But will this newfound courage be enough to stop the dragon and save his life or will Kenny fall to the same fate as Rich did so many years ago?

    First sentence is so general as to be meaningless. Make the stakes here more specific to them and their particular challenges. Also, the “his” in “save his life” is unclear. Whose life?

    This short story tells the bizarre tale of two brothers: one obsessed with gardening and one obsessed with saving him from the evil that has taken possession of the garden. As one brother chases the other into the garden, the garden comes to life to chase him back out and destroy him.

    You say garden too many times here, it sets up an echo. Something like “one obsessed with the garden and the other with the evil lurking there.” The “chases another into the garden” bit touches on what I said above. Too specific. You explain too much with that sentence, enough that I might think I already know what happens so why bother reading the story.

    That help or drive you crazy? 😉

    Leah

    • New and (hopefully) improved

      1. Book
      Are the nightmares from living through a horrible fire merely hallucinations or a paranormal haunting?

      The fire started one evening in a quiet neighborhood in Iowa with five year old Liam Randolf playing with his best friend in the backyard. Playing with matches. The evening ended with a horrible fire that burned up his friend, Rich Cooper, yet left Liam unharmed.

      Liam’s parents escape the painful memories by moving the family to the east coast. But an evil dragon keeps appearing, hell-bent on ruining Liam’s childhood by keeping him fearful of fires and the next attack.

      As Liam ages, his troubles only grow.
      After over a decade of fear, Liam, with the assistance of his only friend, Kenny, is compelled to prove his sanity by setting off on a surreal journey back to the Midwest to confront the dragon that haunts him and to find out the truth of what really happened the night of the fire.

      Along the way, Liam learns about himself and builds the self-confidence to finally rise above his past. But will this newfound courage be enough to stop the dragon?
      2. Short Story
      Many people love to garden….but Frank Berret loved his vegetables too much. When his brother shows up at the house one afternoon to find out why Frank quit his job and never answers his phone, he is in no way prepared for the evil lurking in the rows- an evil that doesn’t want to share Frank with anyone.

  2. On the book description, you need to take it down by at least 50% on the word count. You need to find a tagline that reflects the core of the story, and not one that’s sounding like a docu-drama. It’s a blurb, to entice, not a plot synopsis.

    Sorta like…

    Never play with fire…

    Liam knew playing with matches was a bad thing, but it was so much fun. But it stopped being fun when his best friend burned to death, and everyone talked about how it was a miracle he was left unharmed. He didn’t see it that way, if only he could remember… if only he could stop having the nightmares about the dragon.

    If only the fires would stop happening.

    Scared to talk about the truth, he puts up with the therapy, and the psychologist and all the things his family do to make sure he’s normal as he grows up. But Liam isn’t so sure. The dragon is pretty big and pretty scary.

    When he’s finally old enough to do so, he goes back to the scene of the crime, to try and work out what happened that night, and who lit the flames?

    [Name of Book] is a coming of age story with a dark twist. [name genre/age range/audience]

    That’s the sort of thing you’re after – bare bones and tease. Not a synopsis. Obviously, I may not have got the storyline right, but you can see what I mean. Hope that helps. 🙂

  3. Erik,

    The new version is SO MUCH clearer. I’d suggest a few tweaks. “Burned up” sounds a bit strange now that the whole situation is more clear. Isn’t there a better word for that?

    Also, you may have gone a bit far in fixing the opening sentence. What about:

    Is it post traumatic stress or a paranormal haunting?

    When you get to “evil dragon keeps appearing” maybe specify that it’s to him and not to everyone. Right now it sounds like he’s appearing to the whole family.

    Cutting it down in word count would not hurt at all. Though I have to say, I’ve been reading a lot of book descriptions lately (as opposed to query letters) and many of them are longer than I’d have expected. So the length alone doesn’t worry me too much. Though anything you could cut would probably be a bonus.

    On the short story one, cut all the stuff about why the brother shows up. Or condense it to a meaningful word or short phrase. The first sentence is OK, and the idea and structure are right. But from looking at the rest of your writing, I can’t help but think you could do better than that.

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