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Leap-Ahead Marathon Day 1 — What Story Are You Working On? (Share your blurb!)

Monday, February 1, 2016

Leap Ahead Marathon LogoObviously, this isn’t the first time we’ve done a marathon on this blog. But as I mentioned yesterday, I’d like for us to make this one more about being committed to writing every day rather than trying to hit specific word-count goals. Not that word-count goals are a bad thing . . . it’s just that they put a lot of pressure on us, and for the most part, it’s easier to quit once we miss that first goal.

In the FirstDraft60 series, the first thirty days were focused on pre-planning a novel. That’s how I wrote the majority of my eleven published manuscripts—because I had to. I was on such a time restriction with them—and I had to write fairly detailed synopses in order to get those contracts—that I had to have the major plot points already figured out before I started writing so that I wouldn’t find myself written into a corner or deciding twenty-five thousand words in that the premise just didn’t work or that there really was no plot or that I just didn’t like the characters as much as I thought I would (the reason I’ve set aside the contemporary I was working on last fall—the one “starring” Brandon Routh).

So with this current manuscript, set in 1805 and once again focused on characters in and associated with the British Royal Navy, I’m back in familiar territory without feeling like I’m having to resurrect something I’ve already done. I also have a built-in timeline with actual historical events to build my plot around. And this time, I came up with the conflict between the hero and heroine first—before I really even knew who each one was beyond that conflict. But other than that, I’m trying not to overthink this one. I’m trying to see if I can go back to being the seat-of-the-pants writer that I was before grad school and publication—the person who loved writing for the sake of writing and not because it was a contractual obligation.

That being said, one of the first things I did when I started to solidify this idea to see if I even wanted to write it was to write a blurb (i.e., a brief pitch) for it . . . limited by the number of characters that Pinterest would allow me to post as the description for my board there where I’m collecting all of the images, templates, and research links for the story (turned out to be 86 words). And because this story is a little more seat-of-the-pants, the blurb is subject to change. But here it is:

TSD Blurb-Kit

If you plan to work on only one project during this month and don’t already have a blurb for it, today’s the day to write it . . . and to share it with us! Here are some tips to get you started:

The One-Paragraph Marketing Blurb
This is some of the most fun “synopsis” writing you will ever do . . . because this is practice for hooking people on your story idea in one paragraph or less. Basically, you’re practicing writing back-cover copy in this exercise.

  • Explain your story in four or five sentences.
  • What is the main plot of the story?
  • What is the major conflict in the story?
  • Who are the characters (no more than three, preferably one or two) who are the stakeholders in the plot?
  • What is the hook/question you can end with to make people want to know more? (Doesn’t have to actually be phrased as a question.)
  • Study back-cover copy of your favorite books.
  • Read the marketing copy on Amazon or author or publisher websites.

The James Scott Bell Formula for the one-paragraph blurb:
Start with three sentences

    1. [Name] is a [description] who wants/is struggling with [goal].
    2. But when [something happens], [Name] has to [change direction].
    3. Now, [Name] must [go do something] or else [something bad will happen].

Expand it with one or two more sentences to make it even more compelling (and to give a hint at where/when it’s set).

Your blurb should be between 75–200 words, with around 100–150 being an optimum length for one-sheets and proposals and websites and back-cover copy.

      Sample Blurb using the JSB Formula:
      Luke Skywalker is a farmboy who wants to escape his life of drudgery by enrolling in the Imperial Academy. Before he can, one of his uncle’s new androids begins to malfunction and then runs away, so Luke must go after him or face his uncle’s wrath. But when Luke locates the rogue droid and hears a distress call from a beautiful princess, he finds himself embroiled in a war that could spell doom for the entire galaxy.

What’s Your Blurb?

  1. Monday, February 1, 2016 7:24 pm

    I rarely write my blurbs before I’m done with at least the first draft…but I can go with this…

    Jonathan William Langley-Cranston IV has dated models, actresses, a future princess, an actual princess, even a future queen, and still hasn’t found the woman for him. Until one night, after he found a lost dog in the woods near his house, he rescues a beautiful woman and her little girl from floodwaters.

    Kenzie Ann LASTNAME and her little girl have had better days. Flooding has left them homeless and dependent on the kindness of strangers. Specifically, the handsome stranger from the only family closer to American royalty than the Kennedys.

    Jonathan gladly shares his large home with Kenzie and her daughter, who has taken quite a shine to the five pound Shorkie who now calls the Langley-Cranston house home. When his grandmother shows up and decides to play matchmaker, they…

    something or other. That’s all I got so far ;). It needs work. But there ya go :D.


  2. Monday, February 1, 2016 8:43 pm

    Way back in the ancient times when I was freelancing and writing marketing cover for publishers, I used to copywrite the marketing copy for novels—primarily for Barbour.

    These are all the things in the “copy pack”/worksheet Barbour wanted for each trade book they published—I did it for them so often that they had me do it for one of my own books (A CASE FOR LOVE):

    3–12 word headline:
    • Love is the toughest case this lawyer’s ever faced.

    3–12 word marketing bullet 1: A Delightful Contemporary Romance
    3–12 word marketing bullet 2: Humor, Romance, and Inspiration
    3–12 word marketing bullet 3: Book Three in the Delightful Brides of Bonneterre Contemporary Romance Series

    100-word front-list catalog copy:
    Return to Bonneterre, Louisiana, for the delightful conclusion to the Brides of Bonneterre series. TV social-scene reporter Alaine Delacroix’s parents are about to lose their home and business to the giant corporation owned by the powerful Guidry family. When her only option comes down to asking the Guidrys’ oldest son to help her fight for what’s right, can she bring herself to trust the handsome, disarmingly charming lawyer? And will Forbes Guidry be able to make a case for love before losing his job and family? Can both trust that God will present a solution before it’s too late?

    50-100 word consumer ad copy
    • TV society reporter Alaine Delacroix feels like David facing Goliath when she takes on the biggest corporation in town to keep them from putting her parents’ garden center out of business. Lawyer Forbes Guidry wants nothing more than to stand up for the endangered local-business owners—but it will mean risking his job and crossing his powerful parents. Can Alaine and Forbes make A Case for Love?

    • Lawyer Forbes Guidry is faced with a dilemma: the woman’s he’s in love with wants him to help her sue his own parents’ corporation to try to save her family’s small businesses. TV social-scene reporter Alaine Delacroix isn’t sure she fully trusts the disarmingly handsome and charming lawyer, but she can’t deny she’s falling for him. Can Alaine and Forbes stand on faith and work together to make A Case for Love?

    • TV society reporter Alaine Delacroix could become a story on her own show when she falls in love with Bonneterre’s Bachelor of the Year, lawyer Forbes Guidry. But when she discovers his parents’ corporation is trying to force her parents’ flower shop and nursery out of business, can she trust Forbes to help her make things right when it means risking his job and standing up to his powerful family?

    20-word author bio
    Kaye Dacus has a master’s in creative writing and is president of Middle Tennessee Christian Writers in Nashville.

    50-word author bio
    Kaye Dacus holds a Master of Arts in Writing Popular Fiction from Seton Hill University and is a former Vice President and long-time member of American Christian Fiction Writers. A Louisiana native, she now calls Nashville, Tennessee, home. To learn more about Kaye, visit her online at

    3–12 word alternate headline
    • Can a lawyer face losing everything to make A Case for Love?
    • Two families torn apart by a lawsuit; two hearts joined together by love.

    50-word recent release copy
    • Lawyer Forbes Guidry just landed the biggest case of his career—but if he takes it, it means suing his parents’ corporation. Turning it down means losing the woman he loves. Can he make A Case for Love before time runs out?

    • Bachelor of the Year Forbes Guidry gave up on relationships years ago. Can sultry TV reporter Alaine Delacroix and a lawsuit that could change both of their lives make this lawyer take another chance on love?

    • It could be the biggest news story Bonneterre has ever seen—and only TV society reporter Alaine Delacroix has the inside scoop. But going public could break more than the news—it could break her heart.

    25-word consumer ad copy
    • The law’s on his side, but his family isn’t. Can this modern-day Romeo help his Juliet before tragedy strikes?

    • Breaking the biggest story this city’s ever seen could cost a TV reporter her job, her family, and the man she loves.

    • Get ready for the biggest legal tangle Bonneterre’s ever seen—when a charming lawyer and a promotion-minded TV reporter meet their match in a case that pits family against family.

    • Falling in love with your lawyer isn’t all bad. . .unless he’s the son of the people you’re suing.

    • Welcome back to Bonneterre, Louisiana, where lawyer Forbes Guidry is about to meet his match in a case that will teach him he can’t control everything. . . especially love.

    • Will a TV reporter eager for promotion chase a career-making story if it means losing the man she loves?

    25-word backlist copy
    • With family animosity against them, this modern-day Romeo and Juliet must make A Case for Love for their romance to stand a chance.

    • This lawyer is used to things going his way. . .until he meets a beautiful TV reporter with a case that could tear both of their families apart.

    • A lawyer and a TV reporter must work together to stop the next great family feud.

    150 to 175-word back-cover copy:
    Welcome back to Bonneterre, Louisiana, for the delightful conclusion to the Brides of Bonneterre series.
    The Alaine Delacroix that all of Bonneterre knows is the carefully polished image she puts forth every day on her noontime news-magazine program. When her parents’ home and small business is threatened by the biggest corporation in town, Alaine is forced to choose between her image and fighting for the life her family has built.
    Lawyer Forbes Guidry is used to making things go his way. But when he’s asked to take on a pro bono case for a colleague, he’ll learn that he can’t control everything—including his feelings for his new client: Alaine Delacroix.
    Alaine’s only option to help her family is hiring Forbes, but can she bring herself to trust the handsome, disarmingly charming lawyer? And will Forbes Guidry be able to make a case for love before losing his job and family? Can both trust that God will present a solution before it’s too late?


  3. Monday, February 1, 2016 11:28 pm

    So I only had a chance to write for 30 minutes tonight, but I got almost 600 words written—and it’s put me in a good place for my Tuesday night writing sprint tomorrow!


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