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A Dirty Look Behind the Scenes

I’m doing one of the weirder parts of my job today. I’m trying to write a SUMMARY or teaser—essentially jacket copy—for a long short story. It’s 20K words, so it is almost a novella. I wrote it. It is called MY OWN MIRACULOUS. Look to the right—you will see all the places where you can pre-order it. Which you should do, oh my Best Beloveds, immediately, because you like my other work; you will like this. It is very, very MINE, and I am proud of it.

An e-novella is a COOL concept—$1.99 and 20K words, so people who are not my longtime readers and BBs can try my work with such small risk. At that price and length, less than two bucks and maybe two hours of reading? It’s like a test drive for those unfamiliar to see if my prose and thematic obsessions are their kinda thing. But no one who doesn’t already like my stuff is going to pre-order this novella. Not CURRENTLY.

If you follow a pre-order link, you will see the story has NO copy yet, telling folks what the story is about. There is only of a picture of an admittedly very fetching little birdy. People need the gist, or how can they know if they might be interested?

I’m getting weirded out, trying to fix that.

First, it’s weird to write jacket copy for a thing that will never have a jacket. MY OWN MIRACULOUS is strictly a digital download. It will be an e-original short and also a audio download (Yes, I am reading it, WOOOOO!), but there will be no physical copies of either version.

All digi, baby, and yet it has an…image? Not a cover because there is no physical object TO cover. And yet you can see “the cover” right here in this blog entry, existilly existing. Existing-ISH.

Brave new world.

Second, it is always SUPER weird to be writing copy for a thing I wrote. I did not write the copy for SOMEONE ELSE’S LOVE STORY. Mostly because, like many novelists, I SUCK at it. Only for my own work, though. I help friends with THEIR book summaries for queries and websites and their own jacket copy ALL THE TIME. It’s fun.

But I have a squeaky little protest mouse in my spleen who gets enraged when I try to write copy for MY work. “How can you say what our story is about in 200 words?” my protest mouse shrieks, snotting and heaving in a puffy outrage. “That story took us 4 months and 20 thousand words to write. WE SWEATED OUR BLOODS! OUT OF OUR EYES!”

I tell him, quite reasonably, that we just have to summarize the important bits and—-

“What do you mean just summarize the important bits? —-ALL THE BITS ARE IMPORTANT!”

You see how he is? *grin*

The narrator is one of the two narrators from SOMEONE ELSE’S LOVE STORY, and the story takes place just a couple of months before SELS begins. It was a REALLY neat thing to work on, because it had to be completely separate from SELS and also completely connected.

I wanted the story and the novel to be related in the same way gods in Alabama is related to Backseat Saints — two separate narratives, each self contained and whole, able to be read in either order, neither spoiling the other, but each able to compliment and set up its partner in interesting ways.

MY OWN MIRACULOUS will introduce you to some characters I love, characters I hope you will want to get to know better in the longer novel, but with NO cliff hanger ending. No “And, just as Shandi finally pulled the mask away and saw who it was, the gun went off with a bang, and a bullet hit …SOMEONE! BAH HA! AND NOW you have to buy the book! HA HA HA SUCKERRRRS!!!!”

MY OWN MIRACULOUS resolves within its (virtual) pages, and yet it DOES obliquely raise two larger questions that SELS answers. It was challenging, and also a HELLUVA LOT MORE FUN THAN TRYING TO WRITE COPY FOR IT.

How does one drown an Internal Protest Mouse while preserving one’s spleen? Are spleens vestigial, by chance? They SOUND vestigial.

Anyway, here is what I have so far. What do you think?

How is a girl remade into a mother? Shandi Pierce got pregnant when she was only seventeen years old; she’s twenty-one now, and she still doesn’t know the answer. When Natty was born, Shandi fell for him deeply, completely and instantly, (this is all correct I think, in terms of where to start and what info is needed, but feels clunky and needs re ordering or paring?) but as she sat at the table feeding her baby, her own mother was sliding eggs and bacon on her plate, feeding her. (I like this image. Even the Spleen Mouse likes it.)

She’s still living at her mom’s house and/but/even though… (something—Here I have to pick one of 90 vitally important things the angry spleen mouse thinks you need to know about Shandi to see how fierce and funny and sharp and interesting she is….) With added support from her father and her best friend Walcott’s whole family, she’s about to finish college and begin a grown-up career as an interior designer. Yet she’s still her mother’s junior partner in raising her own child.

When a chance encounter sparks a dangerous relationship with an obsessive stranger, (ADJECTIVES MUCH???? Mouse says all those adjectives are true, which, yes, but I think at least one of those fraught nouns needs time alone to not be modified.) Shandi’s structured (‘nother adjective!) life spirals out of control. With Natty deep in ever rising danger (Just, no. That is wretched verbiage! But the right idea—-There is a threat, it is real.) Shandi must reforge her soul into a new shape, (a mother shape? OR SOMETHING?) before SOMETHING REALLY BAD HAPPENS (and here I need to say a thing that is neither too vague nor too spoilery.)

This is process, down and dirty. I will get there EVENTUALLY, but mightn’t it be fun to help me go faster? (Said Tom Sawyer, holding out a bucket and some whitewash…) Any thoughts on what parts are good and working for you and what would make the terrible parts less terrible are welcome here at Angry Spleen Mouse Central.

21 comments to A Dirty Look Behind the Scenes

  • I suck at writing teasers. Suck. Suck. Suck.

    I am excited to read this. And the new novel. I’m in the throes of revision over here, so my house is a disaster and my husband is a saint.

  • JenniferG

    I can’t help with the summary, but this is a story I want to read! (I already pre-ordered it for my Nook). I agree with Spleen Mouse: I love the image of Shandi feeding her child as her mother feeds her. In that one sentence I am right there in that kitchen eating eggs and bacon with them.

  • PS I had a few dollars of Amazon gift money. Yay! Pre-ordered. Can’t wait to read.

  • Karen

    I played with it and came up with a revision that I will never, ever share lest your spleen mouse or BBs come to my house armed and angry.
    Looking forward to reading it!

  • Aw do not be shy! The amount of ego I have tied up in my jacket copy skills is verrrra low. Obviously, for me to hurl this out there. Also, if you have the shies, just e mail to me instead of posting it… myfirstname at joshilyn jackson dot cee oh emmmmm

  • Mine has just been sent to your e-mail. . .am glad to come over here and see that you suggested such since I feel a bit presumptuous in throwing anything literary your way. I know, however, that YOU are REAL people. If you can’t ask your Best Beloved’s for help, who can you ask? 🙂

  • Karen

    I sent mine, too. You’re going to have so much help!

  • I had $1.93 left on a gift card in my Nook account – DONE and DONE. Pre-ordered. Now for that blurb… This is so not perfect, but it might at least spark a few ideas for you?

    How is a girl forged into a mother? Shandi Pierce became a teenage mother three years ago, and she still doesn’t know the answer. When Natty was born, Shandi fell for him deeply, completely and instantly, but as she sat at the table feeding her baby, her own mother was sliding eggs and bacon on her plate, feeding her.

    Now an adult, she’s still living at her mom’s house, and/but/even though… (Spleen Mouse selection). With the support of her parents and her best friend Walcott’s family, she’s about to finish college and begin a grown-up career as an interior designer. Yet she’s still her mother’s junior partner in raising her own child.

    When a chance encounter sparks a dangerous relationship with a stranger, Shandi’s life spirals out of control. With perilous waters rising up around her and Natty, Shandi must reshape her soul to save them before she loses everything.

  • Try writing it from Shandi’s POV?

  • Save some precious lines and drop “With added support…” etc. Inessential to the “jacket”. Also too we get the “junior partner with Mom” part from the “still living with Mom” part.

    Begin the plot tease with something like “[Just as] [S]he’s about to finish college [when] a chance encounter…” what does it do? How ’bout “threatens to derail/undo/destroy/gang agley all her hard won/best laid…” etc. Do we need to know here that she wants to be an interior designer? Maybe. Or maybe “She’s 21 now and has just got a new job as an i.d.”?

    “Reforge her soul” doesn’t really do anything for mine. But it might for some others.

    Just throwing that out there… I’m like you, I love doing this for other writers’ (even tho’ I haven’t read it, no less) but can’t stand doing it for my own stuff.

    Best,
    Jim H. (in Decatur)

  • I’m going to be brave and post my version here.

    When Natty was born, Shandi fell for him deeply, completely and instantly, but as she sat at the table feeding her baby, her own mother was sliding eggs and bacon on her plate, feeding her. How, she wondered, is a girl remade into a mother? Three years later she’s still living at her mom’s house and/even though… (something). With added support from her father and her best friend Walcott’s whole family, she’s about to finish college and begin a grown-up career, but she’s still her mother’s junior partner in raising her own child.

    When a chance encounter sparks a dangerous relationship, Shandi’s structured life spirals out of control. With Natty in ever rising danger, Shandi must find her own mother-shape.

  • And now I need to go make waffles to get over the terror of editing the words of my favorite author. Lots of maple syrup. And real butter.

  • Jessica (the celt)

    Are you still having the Virtual Tour/Book Signing for SELS? I want to order it, but I want to wait for that. (I jumped into the novella, though! I can’t wait until it appears!)

    This might be longish, but how about…

    Pregnant at 17, Shandi Pierce was just a girl, not ready to be made into a mother. Now 21, she still believes she doesn’t have the answers for herself or her son. When Natty was born, she was shaped into the form of a mother and immediately loved her son wholly and instantly, yet here she sat at her own mother’s table, feeding Natty while her mother slid eggs with a side of bacon onto the plate in front of her to nourish her. Shandi now needs to complete the form of mother to protect Natty from the danger threatening to overtake him — and threatening to take him from her just as she’s ready to step into the role already created for her.

    (If you wanted to send the novella to me early, so I could write better copy, I wouldn’t say no. ;~) )

  • Wendy R.

    Argh, I so feel your pain! I think I pretty much suck at the query-style synopsis (my own or others). I really like the image of Shandi’s mother feeding the baby, as it implies a sort of usurping without stating it outright. The 3rd paragraph is a bit more vague, the nouns less descriptive…though this is probably necessary to hint at the story to come without giving too much away. “spiral out of control” is probably just a stand-in phrase, a bit overused. There’s probably something a little more specific that could go there–an example of one way her life is getting away from her, perhaps?

    Anyway, my two cents 🙂 Sounds intriguing!

  • Will it be available on Kobo/Indiebound? I so want to read it, but that’s the only way I can. *sigh*

  • Rompompom

    I am bad at this, so bad at this. However, here’s an insufficiently caffeinated effort…
    How is a girl remade into a mother?
    Shandi Pierce got pregnant when she was only seventeen years old; she’s twenty-one now, and she still doesn’t know the answer. When Natty was born, Shandi instantly loved him more fiercely than she thought possible, but as she sat at the table feeding her baby, her own mother was sliding eggs and bacon on her plate, feeding her. Yes, she’s still living at her mom’s house and is a junior partner in raising her own child.

    Shandi is all kinds of [insert spleen-mouse prescribed descriptors here];
    with added support from her father and her best friend Walcott’s whole family, she’s about to finish college and begin a grown-up career as an interior designer.

    However, until she and Natty find a way out from under her mother’s solicitude (and out of her home), Shandi knows she’ll still feel like second-fiddle mom.

    When a chance encounter sparks a dangerous relationship with a stalker (2-in-one?), Shandi’s carefully compartmentalized (IDK, I’m guessing here?) life spirals out of control. With Natty now in danger, Shandi realizes that the time to reforge her soul into a new shape is running perilously short. It’s no longer enough to be Natty’s mom on paper, it’s time to prove that she will do anything to keep him safe.

    (Yeah, I lost the “before” part…toldya I’m not good at this….also am totes guessing at MANY things. Anyway, have pre-ordered and am now sulking at October being far away….)

  • 1. I would (and will) read a book with the summary that YOU wrote, and also the summary that Jen the Goddess revised! Love them both. Now, to completely embarrass myself….

    At 24 years old in a very digital world (and I’m in the field of education!), I DO NOT KNOW HOW TO GET A BOOK IF IT IS NOT A BOOK! I don’t own a Kindle or Nook or Ipad or any fancy device except my laptop, GucciMac (yes, I consider my laptop fancy, and yes, he has a name and gender). SO. My embarrassing question is… if I pre-order this, can I download/read it on my computer? I feel like the answer might be very obvious since it’s available through ITunes and I have ITunes on here, but PLEASE SOMEONE HELP BRING ME INTO THE 21ST CENTURY! (Also, I refuse to do a rewritten summary of your summary because I have shamed myself enough for one day!) Thanks yall!

  • Jan

    Preordered it, of course.

    You’ve got more skilled help than I can provide, but in case this helps with ideas on how you might cut, this is the bare-bones skeleton as I see it. It lacks your/Shandi’s voice and personality, but IMHO we need to get to Natty’s peril sooner.

    How is a girl made into a mother? Shandi’s been wrestling with that question for four years since giving birth and falling deeply, completely and instantly in love with her son, Natty. Now 21 and about to enter design school, she’s determined to do her best by him. If that means co-parenting with her mother, who’s a little too competent at times, he’s worth it.

    But a chance encounter sparks a dangerous relationship with an obsessive stranger. Soon Shandi’s structured life is in tatters. As the threat draws ever closer to Natty, Shandi must learn how to harness her fierce love and protect her small family before it’s too late. (I’m imagining the idea is this stranger defeats the adults surrounding her or separates her from their support, so she must step into full-fledged motherhood before she’s ready.)

  • Linda J

    I am glad you will be doing the audio. I don’t have a tablet, only an audio account so lots of times I feel left out because of the lack of audio versions. That is with other authors of course. I’m even happier that YOU will be doing the audio reading.

    I see why spleen mouse is having issues. I’m not at all an authoress so best of luck with the copy. That being said of course I’m eager as all get out to get BOTH the audiobooks!!

  • Wendy

    I’m sure I’m missing it, but how do I get the audiobook for My Own Miraculous? Do I just wait until October?

  • Okay, first… exciting! E-novella, out sooner than the novel, and a project. I could send a fuller version, and may if inspiration strikes, but this is the kind of thing that I always have to do as a screenwriter. Everyone wants a summary, and sometimes they want different versions, 100 words, one page, two pages. I think sometimes a noun can do the job of an adjective — like, do you need both dangerous AND stalker? A stalker is by definition dangerous. So just say that a chance encounter sparks a relationship with a stalker. I also think you could probably lose the word “structured” and just say that her life spirals out of control, because that phrase implies that it was at least somewhat IN control, before.

    There’s something about “remade into a mother” that, I agree, doesn’t feel quite right. I thought at first “become a mother,” but then it seems like the answer is “Duh, sex” and you don’t want people having a “duh sex” internal dialogue when they read your summary. Presumably.

    I really love the image of the eggs sliding around on the plate, and I’m so intrigued by the connection between these and SELS. I am off to (a) pre-order and (b) bed, in that order.