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No Direction Home
by Elizabeth Burns

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Kindle Edition published 2017-05-20
Bestseller ranking: 81281

Product Description
Hunter Grayson flits from job to job, relationship to relationship, continent to continent until thetragic death of her parents brings her back to her childhood home.While trying to figure out how to move forward, she meets wild, fun Natalya Haven, who quickly becomes the sister she never had. But when Natalya moves in, their friendship unravels.
A second tragedy sends Hunter to a small town in New Mexico, a town out of her own past. For Hunter, that's more than a coincidence, that's fate. Natalya's family will fill the void in her life. Natalya's parents will become her parents. She and Natalya's brother will fall in love. But nothing is ever that simple....

Author Topic: Wolves, pleas, chomp on, gnaw, or worry this blurb  (Read 1316 times)  

Offline CynthiaClay

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Wolves, pleas, chomp on, gnaw, or worry this blurb
« on: May 09, 2017, 10:52:50 AM »
I am Princess Royal Burta, and I call out your challenger! bellowed Burta. I am no longer Princess Royal, and I must give up my title to a mere poet, a princess not trained in arms? Well the day will come, when I am heir to the throne, not her, and she will owe me deference, so thought Burta, dangerous she.

The gods frowned. "That lass is in for some disappointment because Princess Royal Tristab-airtas magic never fails."

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Offline Lee Sutherland

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Re: Wolves, pleas, chomp on, gnaw, or worry this blurb
« Reply #1 on: May 09, 2017, 11:00:00 AM »
If I'm being honest, this blurb tells me nothing about whatever the story is.  The syntax is also very confusing.

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Offline Laran Mithras

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Re: Wolves, pleas, chomp on, gnaw, or worry this blurb
« Reply #2 on: May 09, 2017, 11:20:52 AM »
Well, just taking what's there...

"I am Princess Royal Burta, and I call out your challenger!"

She was no longer Princess Royal - forced to give up her title to live as a mere poet. Was she not a princess trained in arms?

The day would come, when Burta was heir to the throne, not the other, and Princess Royal Tristab-airta would owe Burta deference.

The gods doubted. Princess Royal Tristab-airta's magic had never failed.

Offline CynthiaClay

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Re: Wolves, pleas, chomp on, gnaw, or worry this blurb
« Reply #3 on: May 09, 2017, 09:03:22 PM »
Well, just taking what's there...

"I am Princess Royal Burta, and I call out your challenger!"

She was no longer Princess Royal - forced to give up her title to live as a mere poet. Was she not a princess trained in arms?

The day would come, when Burta was heir to the throne, not the other, and Princess Royal Tristab-airta would owe Burta deference.

The gods doubted. Princess Royal Tristab-airta's magic had never failed.

Not to live as. To a mere poet. Burta is trained in arms, Trista is not; Trista is the mere poet.

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Offline Lummox JR

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Re: Wolves, pleas, chomp on, gnaw, or worry this blurb
« Reply #4 on: May 10, 2017, 12:31:24 AM »
That's... not a blurb at all. Not in any form. It's a very brief excerpt with no context whatsoever.
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Offline Flying Pizza Pie

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Re: Wolves, pleas, chomp on, gnaw, or worry this blurb
« Reply #5 on: May 10, 2017, 01:56:32 AM »
Yeah, I've got to be wolf here. Start all over and tell me what's in it for me if I read this book.


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Offline Sarah Shaw

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Re: Wolves, pleas, chomp on, gnaw, or worry this blurb
« Reply #6 on: May 10, 2017, 02:01:31 AM »
Yeah, I've got to be wolf here. Start all over and tell me what's in it for me if I read this book.

Or just tell me what's in it. I have no idea what the story is about from this. Two rival princesses- and? Who are they, what are the stakes, and what's the hook that is going to make us care what happens to them?

Offline Evenstar

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Re: Wolves, pleas, chomp on, gnaw, or worry this blurb
« Reply #7 on: May 10, 2017, 03:44:11 AM »
"I am Princess Royal Burta, and I call out your challenger!"

Except I'm no longer Princess Royal, they want me to give up my title to a princess not even trained in arms, a mere poet. But I have a right to challenge her, and the day will come when I am heir to the throne. My people need me, they need a warrior, now more than ever.

The Gods frowned to each other at my words, they didn't believe I could beat her. Trista's magic had never failed, but I had to try or stand back and see my land ravaged by ...(?)

Offline Laran Mithras

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Re: Wolves, pleas, chomp on, gnaw, or worry this blurb
« Reply #8 on: May 10, 2017, 06:50:57 AM »
Not to live as. To a mere poet. Burta is trained in arms, Trista is not; Trista is the mere poet.

Gotcha. Thought Burta was being demoted.

Offline Cal Lumney

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Re: Wolves, pleas, chomp on, gnaw, or worry this blurb
« Reply #9 on: May 10, 2017, 08:34:47 AM »
One matter the next rewrite of the blurb might focus on is how this challenge might further her goal of becoming Princess Royal again. Or the stakes she faces if she loses.

Offline Lummox JR

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Re: Wolves, pleas, chomp on, gnaw, or worry this blurb
« Reply #10 on: May 10, 2017, 12:51:10 PM »
I'm gonna lay down some general principles that should give you a starting point. Right now you have nothing at all, so you need to start somewhere.

1) No excerpts. Never ever ever. (On a printed back cover a brief excerpt might be fine, but in the blurb itself, no.)
2) Pick a format. Using 2 or 3 short paragraphs (1 can be done but it's harder), where each one has a theme--e.g. character for the first, conflict for the second, or maybe character-conflict-conflict or character-character-conflict or setting-character-conflict--spell out what the story is about. Conflict should always play in the blurb somewhere, without exception, even if it's weaving in and out of character-centric pararaphs.
3) The blurb lives around the transition from act 1 to act 2. That is its "now", but it is temporally very loose. Avoid a sense of temporal flow (words like "soon" and "then" cause flow) and where it does happen, hide it as best you can in the segues between paragraphs.
4) Don't talk to the reader. Describe the story instead; give them a window to peek in.
5) No seriously, NEVER talk to the reader. About half a dozen of the very worst things you can do in blurbs fall under that heading.
6) No clichs. Do not use the dreaded "when" especially when paired with "must", and do not ask a question (see also rules 4 and 5).
7) Avoid sentence fragments where at all possible, and never use single-sentence "stinger" paragraphs. They don't work here; even if the narrative flow works that way the flow of the blurb is a different animal.
8) If you use a tagline, it must be short, punchy, and strong. Don't use one if nothing jumps out at you as meeting those criteria, because only a great tagline is better than none at all.
9) A fact line at the end stands apart and does not count toward paragraphs. Keep it short and sweet, pertaining only to the book's place in a series and/or any content warnings or word count. No reader-talk like talking about how it will make them feel or "This book is about" or comparing it to something else, or any awful crap like that. See also rules 4, 5, and 4 again.
10) Bonus rule for sequel blurbs: Open with some baseline context so the prospective reader isn't completely confused, but no need to go overboard.
11) Don't listen to a certain person who inevitably shows up to tell you all of the above are meaningless because if bestsellers do awful stuff it must be good; many strong sellers succeed in spite of bad blurbs, not because of them.

More in-depth discussion on blurbs is available at the link in my signature.
« Last Edit: May 10, 2017, 12:52:56 PM by Lummox JR »
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Offline CynthiaClay

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Re: Wolves, pleas, chomp on, gnaw, or worry this blurb
« Reply #11 on: May 10, 2017, 01:23:06 PM »
Yeah, I've got to be wolf here. Start all over and tell me what's in it for me if I read this book.

This is a very interesting comment. Can you point me in the direction of blurbs that tell readers what's in it for them as examples?

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Offline CynthiaClay

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Re: Wolves, pleas, chomp on, gnaw, or worry this blurb
« Reply #12 on: May 10, 2017, 01:33:27 PM »
2) Pick a format. Using 2 or 3 short paragraphs (1 can be done but it's harder), where each one has a theme--e.g. character for the first, conflict for the second, or maybe character-conflict-conflict or character-character-conflict or setting-character-conflict--spell out what the story is about. Conflict should always play in the blurb somewhere, without exception, even if it's weaving in and out of character-centric pararaphs.

Thanks for this great outline of what to do!

Your other points had me laughing! Especially the last one because they are all so true and I have seen so many blurbs having those flaws!


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Offline Lummox JR

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Re: Wolves, pleas, chomp on, gnaw, or worry this blurb
« Reply #13 on: May 10, 2017, 01:51:47 PM »
Can you point me in the direction of blurbs that tell readers what's in it for them as examples?

All blurbs do that.

A good blurb is like a window into a diorama freeze frame of the story. It gives you a quick idea of who the main character is (or maybe a couple of them), what they want, what's standing in their way, and what's at stake if they fail. Quick fictitious example:

Bob married his high school sweetheart Eva and now has a perfectly ordinary life as a middle manager in Indianapolis. They've talked about having children, but for the past few months Eva has been acting unnerved, even frightened of something she won't talk about. Not knowing her to keep secrets and desperate to help any way he can, Bob begins to pry--only to discover that his wife is not, and never was, human.

Realizing Eva is from another planet is nothing next to learning the danger she's in. Her family sent her to Earth fifteen years ago to escape a genocidal war of succession, but now as the only survivor of a royal line she has a bounty on her head that any assassin would cross the galaxy to collect. The attempts on her life have already started, and they won't stop until Eva or her distant enemy is dead. Bob may not have toxic claws or advanced technology, but he has a woman he still loves and a vow to stick with her for better or worse. It's time to make good on that promise, even if he has to wage interplanetary war to do it.


That's your basic character-conflict formula. Bob is introduced with a little back story and a segue into the story's main conflict. It's actually two conflicts, because he has the shock that he married an alien coupled with the fact that she's in grave danger. The conflict paragraph brings up the danger properly and outlines the stakes. Namely, in order to save his marriage this everyday ordinary human has to cross the stars to take out a well-financed alien threat in a universe he knows absolutely nothing about.
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Offline Quincy

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Re: Wolves, pleas, chomp on, gnaw, or worry this blurb
« Reply #14 on: May 10, 2017, 02:00:18 PM »
I think people need a better idea what's happening and why so they feel interested in the conflict.  For example:

Stripped of her title as Princess Royal, Burta was forced to cede her position to the untrained poet Trista (because of an arcane law?  because she lost at combat?  because she picked a forbidden flower?)  Now forced to make her own way in the world, Burta vows to regain her standing as heir to the throne (in order to save her people from an enemy?  in order to save her family from Trista?  in order to save her true love?) by (saving a prince?  killing a dragon?  defeating Trista in a duel?)  Defying the authority of the gods themselves, (and accompanied by her beloved sidekick?  by her loyal subjects?  by petty criminals who provided her succor?), Burta challenges Trista (to a duel?  to a song competition?  to a sack race?) to regain her rightful place in the kingdom.

Obviously I have no idea what actually happens in the book so I threw in random placeholders, but I think it gives an idea of the type of information readers might want to see in a blurb...

Offline CynthiaClay

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Re: Wolves, pleas, chomp on, gnaw, or worry this blurb
« Reply #15 on: May 10, 2017, 02:27:17 PM »
All blurbs do that.

A good blurb is like a window into a diorama freeze frame of the story. It gives you a quick idea of who the main character is (or maybe a couple of them), what they want, what's standing in their way, and what's at stake if they fail. Quick fictitious example:

Bob married his high school sweetheart Eva and now has a perfectly ordinary life as a middle manager in Indianapolis...

Oh, a summary!

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Offline RRodriguez

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Re: Wolves, pleas, chomp on, gnaw, or worry this blurb
« Reply #16 on: May 10, 2017, 02:31:38 PM »
Oh, a summary!

It's a little more complicated than a summary. Why don't you try reading a few blurbs from popular fantasy books to see how those authors went about it?
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Offline Alix Adale

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Re: Wolves, pleas, chomp on, gnaw, or worry this blurb
« Reply #17 on: May 10, 2017, 02:43:06 PM »
I'm gonna lay down some general principles that should give you a starting point. Right now you have nothing at all, so you need to start somewhere...
That was a great post. My only quibble would be...

* Conflict should always play in the blurb somewhere

...could be its own rule.
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Offline Lummox JR

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Re: Wolves, pleas, chomp on, gnaw, or worry this blurb
« Reply #18 on: May 10, 2017, 11:47:10 PM »
Oh, a summary!

Not exactly. A blurb and a synopsis are two very different animals. A synopsis has temporal flow; it's a distillation of the story in brief. A blurb on the other hand just gives you the broad strokes of what's going on at a certain point, how we got there, and why the conflict matters to the characters. The blurb has that "now", where act 1 is nearing the end and act 2 is warming up. (It overlaps both of those spots, but I'd say its "center" is near the end of act 1.)

Think of a blurb as an action shot, like a still photo or a model that gives you the idea of something happening, things that have happened, and things that are about to happen, but not sequentially. A synopsis is almost like a storyboard, whereas a blurb is more like a single image mashing together the most relevant bits of multiple storyboard frames. Because it's more like a still image, things like the color palette (i.e., the emotional tone, as conveyed via power words) and composition matter a heck of a lot more. You're compressing four dimensions into three.
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Offline Lummox JR

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Re: Wolves, pleas, chomp on, gnaw, or worry this blurb
« Reply #20 on: May 11, 2017, 09:28:43 AM »
See also rule 11.
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Offline CynthiaClay

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Re: Wolves, pleas, chomp on, gnaw, or worry this blurb
« Reply #21 on: May 11, 2017, 11:00:26 AM »
Thanks so much for all or your comments.  :D

Here's another try:

Tristab-airta, is Princess Royal of Allsongs, but Burta was a Princess Royal until her mother abdicated her throne and came to Allsongs, her husbands natal land. Burta is training in arms while Tristab-airta is merely training is magic. Further, Tristab-airta is flawed and so can never contend for the throne, any throne. But Burta wants to contend, and she will make sure she wins, and then Tristab-airta will be in liege to her, Burta. Until then, Burta will pretend to be friends with Tristab-airta.
The impoverished realm of Allsongs, a haven for the magically talented poets, is beset within and without by enemies. A con artist is convincing the simple-folk to distrust the poets and their magic. Another king drives wild boars into the Allsong's forest to kill the forest folk. Yet another king sets pirates upon the poppy ships, the medicine cargo the only export Allsongs has of value. And yet another enemy king sends an assassin to Allsongs to kill the royal children. The assassin grabs Burta first, but Tristab-airta turns Burta invisible, enabling Burta to fight free. Even this does not end Burtas enmity for Tristab-airta. Burta sees it merely as a debt to be paid. The enemy king bides his time for another chance to have Burta killed.

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Offline CynthiaClay

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Re: Wolves, pleas, chomp on, gnaw, or worry this blurb
« Reply #22 on: May 11, 2017, 11:29:30 AM »
My advice is to consider the advice of recognized industry experts. Here's a representative sample.

You really put in quite a bit of work to help me. Thank you so much!

And everyone, your detailed pointers are really appreciated.

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Offline Jack Krenneck

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Re: Wolves, pleas, chomp on, gnaw, or worry this blurb
« Reply #23 on: May 11, 2017, 02:32:59 PM »
Thanks so much for all or your comments.  :D

Here's another try:

Tristab-airta, is Princess Royal of Allsongs, but Burta was a Princess Royal until her mother abdicated her throne and came to Allsongs, her husbands natal land. Burta is training in arms while Tristab-airta is merely training is magic. Further, Tristab-airta is flawed and so can never contend for the throne, any throne. But Burta wants to contend, and she will make sure she wins, and then Tristab-airta will be in liege to her, Burta. Until then, Burta will pretend to be friends with Tristab-airta.
The impoverished realm of Allsongs, a haven for the magically talented poets, is beset within and without by enemies. A con artist is convincing the simple-folk to distrust the poets and their magic. Another king drives wild boars into the Allsong's forest to kill the forest folk. Yet another king sets pirates upon the poppy ships, the medicine cargo the only export Allsongs has of value. And yet another enemy king sends an assassin to Allsongs to kill the royal children. The assassin grabs Burta first, but Tristab-airta turns Burta invisible, enabling Burta to fight free. Even this does not end Burtas enmity for Tristab-airta. Burta sees it merely as a debt to be paid. The enemy king bides his time for another chance to have Burta killed.


Writing blurbs is hard. Very hard. I write mine before I write the book so that I have the time to modify and refine.

I think in this version of your blurb you ran with the summary idea. As a result, it's trying to cover too much ground and too many plot points. I would work on refining to simplify. Hone in on the really important stuff. Or, another way of putting it, use less names, less plot points and more emotion.

Hope that helps!

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Re: Wolves, pleas, chomp on, gnaw, or worry this blurb
« Reply #24 on: May 11, 2017, 02:38:55 PM »
Okay, we have a starting point to work with, so I'll dig out the red pen. First impression is that there are way too many repetitions of names in here.

Tristab-airta, (1) is Princess Royal of Allsongs, but Burta was a Princess Royal until her mother abdicated her throne and came to Allsongs, her husband's (2) natal (3) land. Burta is training (4) in arms while Tristab-airta is (5) merely training is magic. Further, Tristab-airta is flawed (6) and so can never contend for the throne, any throne. But Burta wants to contend, and she will make sure she wins, and then Tristab-airta will be in liege to her, Burta. (7) Until then, Burta will pretend (8) to be friends with Tristab-airta.

The impoverished realm of Allsongs, a haven for the magically talented poets, is beset within and without by enemies. A con artist is convincing the simple-folk to distrust the poets and their magic. Another king drives wild boars into the Allsong's forest to kill the forest folk. Yet another king sets pirates upon the poppy ships, the medicine cargo the only export Allsongs has of value. And yet another enemy king sends an assassin to Allsongs to kill the royal children. (9) The assassin grabs Burta first, but Tristab-airta turns Burta invisible (10), enabling Burta to fight free. (11) Even this does not end Burta's enmity for Tristab-airta. Burta sees it merely as a debt to be paid. The enemy king bides his time for another chance to have Burta killed. (12)(13)

1) This comma doesn't belong here.
2) "her" is a little confusing at this point because three women have been mentioned in this sentence.
3) Not the best word choice; "native" would be better.
4) "Trains" vs. "is training" would be better here.
5) "
6) Flawed in what way? What does this mean?
7) This sentence doesn't flow with the blurb at all. It has a kind of sequential rhythm (temporal flow is no good), it's partly redundant, and it ends badly.
8) Present tense, not future.
9) Lots of good info on the threats, but I think all of this should be condensed down.
10) "turns Burta invisible" reads very, very weakly.
11) More temporal flow going on here, with story beats galore.
12) All of this comes off as more story beats, but I think a lot of it can be reworked in a way that's blurb-friendly.
13) There's no hook at the end. Namely, you need to convey some notion of what Burta and/or her Tristab-airta need, and what's at stake (besides the aforementioned assassination attempts) if they fail.

I can offer a partial rewrite suggestion, but because I'm in the dark as to the direction the story is going, I can only guess wildly at a potential hook.

Burta was a Princess Royal until her mother abdicated for love and came to Allsongs, a haven for magically talented poets. In this new land she is subservient to Princess Royal Tristab-airta, who weaves magic and words effortlessly, but since childhood Burta has learned the ways of combat. Physical flaws prevent Tristab-airta from contending for any throne--but Burta still can, and means to reclaim the station that was her birthright.

Allsongs is impoverished and beset by foreign kings that attack its people, ruin its exports, and hire con men to turn the simple-folk against the poets. Now one of those kings has decided to send assassins after the kingdom's royal children. Their shared danger forces the princesses to work together in defense, yet only deepens Burta's envy and desire to take control. Before she can claim the throne she has to survive, which means trusting the one person she resents most. And Tristab-airta, unwilling to accept that she can never be a queen, has an agenda of her own.


Like I said, some major guessing in there. Mainly what I did was a lot of tightening up and changing proper names to pronouns wherever feasible.
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