where the writers are
The Survey Says -- Plus win a free book

Thanks to all who took the time to express their votes and opinions about the possible excerpts to use in conjunction with my next Five Star release, Where Danger Hides. And please read to the end of this post -- there's a contest and a free book as the prize. Now for the survey results:

In first place, with 47.5% of the votes, Excerpt #1
In second place, with 18% of the votes, Excerpt #3
In third place, with 16.4% of the votes, Excerpt #4
In fourth place, with 14.8% of the votes, Excerpt #2
And, "none" had a 3.3% share.

I also very much appreciate that more than half of the people who selected an excerpt also gave reasons for their choices, or ranked the excerpts in order of their personal preference.

And, as expected, I suppose, there were lots of reasons given for the individual choices. Some liked a hint of mystery, others liked voice, others mentioned piquing their curiosity. Some said they liked the image the excerpt created, some said they got a good picture of the characters.

I think this whole adventure relates to writing in general. Fifty people can read a book and have fifty different opinions—or at the very least, fifty different reasons for their opinions. Remember all that assigned reading in school. Not everyone liked every book, despite the fact they were all "great books" (or else the schools wouldn't have them on the curriculum). I do recall one of my English teachers not liking Dickens, so our class read Huckleberry Finn while everyone else had to read Silas Marner. To this day, I haven't read Silas Marner, nor have I felt deprived. Then again, I haven't read a lot of "must read" books, but that's another subject.

Back to the excerpt: The bottom line is that my editor and the publisher have the final say. There were some concerns that excerpt #1 might turn off readers because of the male-male reference. I hadn't really thought if it, since it's clear from the beginning that the two guys are definitely straight, but one never knows what will turn a reader off, and if the excerpt is the main way to get them to take the next step, and maybe consider the book for purchase, shutting down options isn't the way to go. Kind of like the posts I did on curb appeal and landscaping when we were selling our house. You've got to get the buyers inside. So if the editor thinks the publisher and readers will be uncomfortable with the gay reference, it'll have to go. (This is the publisher who also didn't permit the use of "penis" in their romance line.)

Choosing an excerpt, however isn't as troublesome for me as coming up with marketing copy. I've already written the book, so it's a matter of cutting out a snippet. But having to come up with that brilliant blurb copy—that's scary. That's well outside of what I, as an author, feels comfortable doing. We have to do this all the time when we write query letters—compress the essence of the book into a one-paragraph hook.

Bigger publishing houses usually have marketing departments who do jacket flap copy, blurbs, and excerpts. But for those of us who are saddled with the project, it's frightening. After all, if it sucks, there's no one to blame but yourself.

These are the instructions:

Front Cover Flap
General synopsis of book, including description of type of book. Should not give away all the details, just give the reader a flavor of the book, including some reasons why the reader will enjoy the book. No more than 300 words. Example (give general who, what, where and when with description—i.e., fast-paced historical thriller, campy contemporary romance, poignant love story, romantic suspense which will keep the readers turning the pages, etc.)

When I try to write hype, it feels forced. And I still have trouble telling people they're going to love my book. Yes, I'm proud of it. Yes, I think it's a good read. But I guess those days in high school with assigned reading still haunt me. I can't bring myself to tell everyone they're going to love my book…because what if they don't? Will they ever believe anything else I say?

So – what do you think?

Where do you turn when Uncle Sam can't help you? To Blackthorne, Incorporated, of course. Behind the public façade of a high-end private investigation company lies a band of elite covert operatives.

Dalton (just Dalton—nobody dares call him by his given name), is one of Blackthorne's elite. A charming Texan, he prides himself on blending in, and there's no one he can't scam. But his obsession with putting a Colombian drug lord out of the picture threatens to endanger his life and the lives of his team. When Dalton nearly blows a simple undercover assignment at a fundraising gala, it convinces his boss to tether him with an assignment that will keep him stateside.

Street-smart Miri Chambers wants nothing more than to help everyone at the Galloway House shelter find a new and productive life. Dalton's supposed to be helping her find residents who have disappeared without a trace, but he doesn't take her seriously. Can she trust him to do the job? When things escalate into a genuine combat zone, can she trust him with her life? And her heart?

Where Danger Hides is a California based action filled romance. As Dalton and Miri travel from San Francisco to a tiny border town, the simple search for missing people leads them into unexpected dangers that will keep readers turning pages.

Please leave a comment at Terry's Place, even if it's just to say hello. One commenter will win a copy of When Danger Calls, the first Blackthorne, Inc. book. Pass the word—if I get enough comments, maybe I'll give away more than one copy. Contest runs through Friday – I'll announce the winner on Saturday.