Thursday, January 31, 2008

New Harlequin Romance Has Me Written All Over It -- Literally

Look What the Postman Brought In

Recently, I got the book I'd been waiting for in the mail from It represents perhaps the oddest thing I've ever written: the back cover blurb for a Harlequin Intrigue romance.

I'd practically forgotten about it, until I was going through emails and found my anxious notes to my editor at Harlequin.

You ask what inspired a "serious" journalist who's contributed to business magazines and major newspapers to write a romance blurb? I saw an ad that they were looking for people to contribute blurbs. And that it paid, of course.

I had to write a sample blurb when I was trying out for the gig. I didn't necessarily need the sample books they sent me, as I had bought an entire boxful at a garage sale years earlier, determined that I could write at least as well as the people in the box.

But it turns out -- there's an art to it. They give you a sheet with a list of things to emphasize -- or not. That sort of thing.

So let me tantalize you with the "back cover blurb" I wrote for Six Gun Investigation by Mallory Kane. (see Mallory's website, or check out her blogs at

Zane McKinney had come home to Justice, Texas, to solve a murder -NOT to fall in love. Investigative reporter Anna Wallace had arrived in Justice to find her long-lost sister murdered ... and herself a prime suspect. Thanks to Texas Ranger Zane McKinney, though, her name was quickly cleared. But then long-buried secrets began to unravel and Anna's own life was threatened.

Now, don't miss the suspense as carried out in the ellipsis -- I think that's what dot-dot-dot means, in addition to being part of the signal for SOS, which for some reason makes sense here. Zane had a personal stake in discovering the murderer's real identity. Torn between honor and guilty shame, he was immediately drawn to the woman targeted as the next murder victim. A woman who could hold the key to the truth if she'd let down her guard before she took the answers to her grave ... I'm particularly fond of the "torn between honor and guilty shame" part. Very poetic. That was my idea.

Did It Work?
Okay, so now you want to buy the book, right? My job is done here. No? Okay, open the book and read on and see if that don't melt your butter ... This tidbit from the inside -- is not the tidbit I picked out, but more salacious, perhaps. I thought the idea was to pick out the most literary prose. You be the judge.
"How am I supposed to conduct my investigation when I have to spend all my time worrying about you?" His face was mere inches from hers, his blue eyes smoky and intense. "You don't-" she started, but her voice was swallowed up by the pounding of her heart. "You don't have to worry about me." He touched her bruised neck with a surprisingly gentle fingertip. My observation at this point is -- Ouch. Step away from the bruised neck -- ouch. Quit that.

"Look at this. Of course I have to worry. If something happened to you, I'd-" see the artistry of the half-finished sentences -- just like in the soap operas, where people stop talking so as to leave things unsaid and create more misunderstandings. It helps make the story three times as long. Try this with your husband or the clerk at Wal-Mart. It's fun. Anna raised her head, meeting his gaze. His eyes lingered on her lips as his fingers slid around the back of her neck. She melted inside, overwhelmed by his gentle touch, his quiet, caring words, the naked yearning in his eyes. More naked yearning -- please, not tonight. I have a bruised neck. Reality tried to break the spell his tenderness had cast. Not him, her brain scolded. Not Texas Ranger Zane McKinney. She had every reason to hate him and no reason at all to trust him. She pulled away from his hypnotic touch. "I'd better get back to my room." You think?? "You're not going anywhere. I can't trust you out of my sight, so you're sleeping here." Oh, right, it's the old "it's safer if you sleep at my place" line, the relational equivalent of oceanfront property in Arizona. Whew. Talk about a cliffhanger! Wonder what will happen next ...

I will also tell you that even though the guy in the book acts like no man you or I have ever met, and if a woman were to meet one who was that intuitive and sweet and sincere, that might take all the fun out of it, the heroine overlooked all when he launched his hours-long line of moves that left her in
"a boneless heap"
on his chest. Oh dear. Now, what was that age-old debate between wordsmiths? Oh yes -- now, if she were a chicken, would she be "boned" or "deboned"?
And Zane, also known as the hunk on the cover, looks like no North Texas man I've seen. For what it's (Fort) Worth. Maybe Kevin Costner meets Dennis Quaid in a young Schwarzenegger's bod?

Anyway, I will include a link to this wonderful book-- okay, so it's not War and Peace or even The Devil Wears Prada (which were both overrated if you ask me) -- in case you have an overwhelming -- perhaps even a naked -- desire to read it. My son pronounced it full of smut, in the way that only a 15-year-old can, so take that under advisement. The book is hardly a bodice-ripper, I should say. And of course, I didn't tell him that that's the very thing some folks enjoy in a little escapist reading in Romanceland ... (notice the ellipse.)

Perhaps the oddest thing is that in the process of reading the book I found a major continuity gaffe and sent dire warnings of this rip in the very fabric of the book -- and they either ignored my warnings or had already printed the inside of the book, because it got left in! Ha! See if you can spot the slip when you read it. Hint: it has to do with the secret the corpse holds that no one knows yet -- and the minister spilling it at the funeral. Before no one knows. And no one notices.

Get your own copy of Harlequin Intrigue's Six-Gun Investigation here:

Want to know what Six-Gun Investigation author Mallory Kane thinks of this blog? Read her response here:

Here's some advice from eZine's Mayra Calvani on writing book blurbs for your own or someone else's masterpiece:

or check out Agent Kristin's amusing and informative take on book blurbs at Pub Rants:

-- J. Louise Larson


mallory said...

Hi! I'm intrigued (no pun intended) by your comments on SIX-GUN INVESTIGATION, which happens to be my book. I'm Mallory Kane, the author of the book.

What incredible fun, to meet the back-cover-blurb author for Six-Gun! Seriously!

May I post a link from my MySpace page to your blog?

Thanks for writing my cover blurb, and thanks for the comments on my book.

FWIW I don't get a lot of sayso in the final product either. They send me edits, I do the edits or STET them, and then they go from there. Sometimes my STETS stay in, even though I've requested that they be changed.

I hope I run into you again. That was a very cool BCB for Six=Gun.

Mallory Kane

mustreadlist said...

Mallory, thanks for posting. Delightful to "meet" you and I'm so glad you got in touch.

I really enjoyed working on the blurb for Six-Gun Investigation -- I read your whole manuscript, and while it definitely cut down on what I made per minute on the project, it was fun.

Your website and blog look great. Good job of promoting your work, and congratulations on your writing career!

- J. Louise Larson