I started Transmute a little over a year ago. It’s been a long ride to get it to the final point, but I’m pleased to announce it’s now available. If you’re looking for an amazing ride, this is your book. It’s got a new god trying to come to grips with his role, an engine who can make dreams real, a Valkyrie, and some seriously bad guys gunning for them.
It also has the best food you can find in a bowling alley anywhere.
All he wants is a dinner date with his girlfriend, but there are jerks everywhere. As if Steven doesn’t already have enough problems dealing with the Dreaming Lands actively rebelling against his rule, the freshly minted God of Dreams has to learn how to be a god, deal with overzealous followers, and generally get his head in the game. To make things worse, a powerful enemy has set its sights on Steven and Jessica, and the entire world could be at stake. New god. New powers. New problems. At least he’s still got friends.
Show me an author that claims to enjoy writing book blurbs and I’ll show you a liar. There’s a fundamental difference between writing a book with 70k+ words and writing a blurb that needs to clock in at a few hundred. And you know what makes things even worse? You’re not even supposed to use “In a world…” to start off the blurb? How are you supposed to hook a reader without using “In a world…”?
Madness, I tells ya. Madness.
I’ve written a couple posts on writing blurbs in the past, but now I’m staring down the barrel of needing to write one for Transmute and decided it’s probably time to give my skills a little brush up. Just like in Kenpo where we regularly practice punching and kicking, it never hurts to shore up the basic skills of writing.
The first thing to think about is what a blurb is supposed to do. In its simplest form, a blurb is the second mechanism for getting a reader’s attention. The first mechanism is the cover. If your cover blows, no one will even take a look at the blurb. The third thing potential readers will look at is the preview – although this is optional. Of course, the final bit of attracting a reader is those precious first few lines of the book that set up the story.
I’ll hit on covers in another post and it’s really up to the author to make the book good and hook the reader with the first lines. Since I’ve got Transmute’s cover done and the first chapter kicks all kinds of mad ass, I’m going to focus on the blurb.
To start off, a few rules for writing your blurb, taken from various places on the Interwebs (see the notes at the bottom if you want to read the original posts).
Use a formula
Figure out how best to link to your genre
Show the conflict
Pick the best kinds of words to use. (I have the best words, trust me)
Most of the don’ts are pretty obvious and easy to follow pointers. The dos, likewise, are fairly straightforward. One thing to note is the word choice by genre. A romance blurb isn’t going to hook many readers if it emphasizes the action in the story. Unless it’s that kind of action. You know what I’m talking about. Likewise, a blurb for an action/adventure story probably won’t focus on the interpersonal relationships between the main characters. The choice of word use can have a huge impact on that. Action words like explosive, rapid, terrifying, exhilirating don’t look as good on romance blurbs unless you’re using a phrase like “She experienced rapid-fire, explosive orgasms.” And even that doesn’t sound too good. Choose words that fit the story and the genre. A book about The Cure, for instance, could use words like morose, ennui, and soul-crushing.
That leaves us with implementing a formula and using it as well as possible.
Start it all out by looking at the book and applying it to the formula. Formulaic writing is bad. Formulaic blurbs are good. A reader expects a certain amount of information in the blurb and if they don’t get it your book gets ignored.
A book blurb should consist of four things: a setting, a problem, a twist, and something that establishes the mood. Depending on the book, the setting might be a single place or a multitude of places, but it should refer to the place that the action starts. For instance, in Transmute, Steven suddenly finds himself in the middle of nowhere overlooking a small farm where every animal has been slaughtered and a woman is buried up to her neck in the sand.
The problem is the component that shifts the narrative from normal into the events of the story. It’s the part that kick starts the story and it doesn’t have to be complex. In the setting sentence above, the problem is hinted at; namely Steven suddenly finds himself somewhere else. It’s a bit worse for poor Steven, though. He’s a god now, and gods aren’t supposed to have to do anything they don’t want to do, but the rules of the universe seem stacked against him.
To make matters worse, as he tries to figure out how he got transported and why, an old enemy makes a fresh appearance. The twist isn’t so much how he got transported, but why and to what end. That’s the meat of the story.
The final thing to consider in writing a blurb is to give the reader a sense of the mood of the story. Does it have action and adventure? Is it a romance? Are there Nazis and giant snakes? Is it funny or deadly serious?
Transmute follows on to Henchmen and Arise, both of which have plenty of jaw-dropping action and witty dialogue, and is written in the same style. Most books have good guys and bad guys, but Henchmen started out with the bad guys and Arise added the worse guys. Transmute gives the bad guys a worse enemy than they imagined and sets up for the final exciting book in the series.
That’s the formula and a basic summation of the plot to Transmute. The rest of the do list needs to be kept firmly in mind while writing the blurb and the don’t definitely need to be avoided. So, here’s a first crack:
Steven and Jessica find themselves outside small farm in the middle of nowhere. One moment they were sharing dinner, the next they’re surrounded by dead animals and staring at a woman buried up to her neck in the sand. Steven’s a god now and gods aren’t supposed to get teleported all over creation against their will, let alone get called out to save damsels in distress.
As if he doesn’t already have enough problems dealing with the Dreaming Lands actively rebelling against his rule, now the freshly minted God of Dreams has to learn how to be a god, deal with overzealous followers, and generally get his head in the game. To make things worse, a powerful enemy has set its sights on Steven and Jessica and the entire world could be at stake.
An epic tale full of jaw-dropping action, powerful magic, and a cast of memorable misfits, Transmute will take you from New Mexico to the Dreaming Lands and back again. With a quick stop in the best bowling alley eatery in the world.
The first cut of Transmute – the 3rd book in the Henchmen series – is almost done. I guess I’m kind of unique in that my revisions and edits usually add more text, most people remove words when they edit. I add them. This is probably because I have this nasty habit of writing all over the place. I get bored with one section and move to another one, then I find the stuff I did in the new section needs some more explanation in earlier sections. So, it’s sitting at about 70k and will likely tip the scales at 80k before it’s finally done.
Coming to the end of a book is never exactly easy. When I finished Henchmen, I kind of wandered around for a while wondering what to do with myself and where my adventurous friends got off to. Turns out they were still there, lurking in my subconscious like a bunch of muggers.
To tell the truth, I didn’t exactly have any further plans for Eve and the gang when I was done with Henchmen. Spoiler alert: they won. Of course, I couldn’t let that go and knew there had to be something else going on. That something else turned into Arise and it was in Arise that I finally introduced the main enemy of the series. Transmute leaves the gang in a bad space and the final book will ultimately end the saga. I still haven’t decided how it will end, but the pieces are finally in place for that last book to go a bunch of different directions.
There will also be one last Saxton story before Transmute hits. The Saxton stories give us a look at the bad guy of Henchmen and Arise and how he comes to grips with the world. They also add hints about the main antagonist of Transmute and whatever follows it, so if you haven’t read them, give ’em a shot. At the very least a lot of stuff gets blowed up real good and there are a couple awesome car chases.
All that said, I’ve never been big on cover reveals, so here’s the tentative cover for Transmute. If that image of Eve looking like a bad ass doesn’t get you interested, you might want to check your pulse and make sure you’re still alive.
But wait! There’s more! Here’s a couple other ideas I’d been experimenting with, but ultimately discarded.
Hey, One Million Moms! Since you like to ban things I figured I’d drop the price on Arise so you can get a copy to delete for less money. That’s right, Arise is only 99¢ today! For those of you who just like to read books, boy have I got a story for you! Gods, guns, guts, glory; this book has it all!
Steven was having a pretty good time for a guy who helped release a captured god. He had a nice place in Colorado, a pretty girl sent him a picture of herself in a bikini, and he had neighbors that left him alone. Everything was looking pretty good until he woke up to find two people in his house that were planning on killing him; one was an old coworker and the other was an old boss.
It seems that releasing the God of Dreams was caused some ripples in places best left alone and Eve’s atonement was to kill Steven for his part in the transgression. Wilford wanted to kill Steven because that’s just how Wilford is. They all soon find themselves trapped between a runaway God of Dreams bent on expanding his domain and the personification of Fear. If one doesn’t get them, the other will.
The only solution is to get the gang back together again and find something that can stop at least one, but preferably both gods before the world comes crashing down around them. They’ve got more help this time, though; Wilford is tentatively on their side and a mysterious Native American gentleman has offered some assistance, but just how trustworthy the new allies are remains to be seen.
There’s also one more wrinkle for Steven to sort out: The God of Dreams wants his girl.
From a shootout in Tijuana to a strange base in Dulce, New Mexico, Steven has his hands full just trying to stay ahead of the god that wants him dead, the girl he’s finding himself more and more smitten with, and new allies that may or may not be up to any good.
One Million Moms, those fun folks that hate pretty much everything, are running a petition to get Fox’s Lucifer stopped. Their problem with the show stems from the fact that Lucifer (which is based on a comic of the same name) in the show is the actual, factual Lucifer who has decided to step out of Hell and into L.A. True to his amazing powers, Lucifer can actually tell the difference between the two places. In L.A., Lucifer helps the police punish criminals. Among other things, One Million Moms takes offense at the idea that the Lucifer in the show is portrayed as something other than a unholy terror and abomination in the eyes of God. They also oppose scenes of violence, scantily clad women (this is L.A., remember), and any kind of fun in general.
One Million Moms appears to have some funding because anything they want to get rid of gets pretty well known pretty quickly. Of course, most of the people that see their protests realize that what’s being protested actually looks interesting and thus ratings go up.
So, with that in mind, I’d like to offer a list of reasons One Million Moms should look into protesting Henchmen and Arise. To make things easier for them, I’ve prepared a bulleted list of things they would probably be averse to.
An End Time vision that tracks more closely to the Norse version of the end of the world
A man becomes defeats a God
Kissing between unmarried people
More treatment of a homosexual couple as just regular folks
So, One Million Moms, if you’re looking for something you can really get yourself wrapped around the axle about, why not ban Henchmen and Arise before their moral turpitude infects anyone? There’s probably even some other stuff in my books that’s really, really bad, so I beg of you, One Million Moms, start an international campaign to ban my books. Spare no expense.
Okay, so it should probably be titled re-re-re-re-redesign, at least in the case of Henchmen, but I decided to redo the covers for both Henchmen and Arise. I liked the old covers, but they weren’t really catching anyone’s eye and didn’t really give you much of an indication of what the books were actually like. So, with the help of the fine folks in the Indie Review Exchange Group on Facebook, I rebuilt both covers. They’re not updated on Amazon yet, but I’ll get them up there pretty soon.