"The notion that such persons are gay of heart and carefree is curiously untrue. They lead, as a matter of fact, an existence of jumpiness and apprehension. They sit on the edge of the chair of Literature. In the house of Life they have the feeling that they have never taken off their overcoats."
- James Thurber, My Life and Hard Times

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Over at the distillery

There are things I need to be doing if I wasn't feeling so lazy, and there are things I'd like to be doing if I wasn't the least little bit vain. For example, if I wasn't so lazy, I'd be washing the dishes. If I wasn't so vain, I'd be at the local hangout, watching football with my hubby. (I'm not allowed to wear makeup until tomorrow, so I look a little ghostly.)

Instead, I'm working on the jacket copy, telling myself it's super-hard work that I really need to get finished. My previous post showed my rough draft, but even I knew that wasn't good enough. The back cover (also used as the description on Amazon) needs to sell the story to potential readers. It needs to be concise, have punch, tease a reader.

So I began to distill. Distill. Distill some more.

Take the first paragraph:

"Willie Adams is shopping for her first horse during a week-long show at the Los Angeles Equestrian Center. She’s a young widow who is ready to date again, in theory. In reality, the first time gorgeous Tyler Ransome smiles at her, she wants to run the opposite direction. He has a horse she might want to buy, but she finds herself clumsy and tongue-tied in his presence."

Do we need to know where this is taking place? No. She's shopping for a horse. Do we need to know she's a young widow? Yes. That's integral to the romance. Do we need all those words to describe Tyler's good looks and her reaction to them? No. Get out the scissors.

The second paragraph:

"Another horse trainer, Bobby Fermino, shows too much interest in her. Things get ugly fast, and she has to fight him off. When he turns up murdered, Willie is the most likely suspect. Enter Lucas Macy, an attractive detective with a lilting English accent. Willie is drawn to him sexually, but she's confused by his behavior. One minute he's warm and seductive, and the next he's cold and businesslike."

Do we need Bobby's occupation? No. The murder is important, so we need to keep that. How about the same amount of blah-blah-blah about Lucas and how she feels about him? Not so much.

The final paragraph should give the punch line. Does it?

"As Macy and his partner unravel the clues, Willie realizes she has two options. She can let the police do their job, or do her own sleuthing and hand them the real killer. She also has two choices: the handsome cowboy or sexy detective?"

This isn't bad, but still needs a trim. And the last sentence? No. Just no.

Once I had finished snipping and reworking, I added a tagline and ended up with something I liked better.

* * * * *

She was looking for a horse. What she found was romance. And danger.

Willie Adams is shopping for her first horse. She’s a young widow, struggling with idea of dating again. Trainer Tyler Ransome is single and has a horse she might want to buy. He’s also gorgeoustoo gorgeous for her.

Bobby Fermino is not as handsome, nor as pleasant. He attacks Willie, then ends up dead in her tack room, leaving her the most likely suspect.

Enter Detective Lucas Macy. Willie is drawn to him sexually, but is not looking for a purely physical relationship, especially with a man who thinks she is a killer.

She has two options, to let the police do their job, or do her own sleuthing and find the real murderer. Can she also release her heart from grief and be free to love again?
* * * * *
I'm not certain if this is the final version, but it's certainly better than the first draft. Is this a sufficient tease?

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