WHAT THE HELL

Kevin Brennan Writes About What It's Like

Chime in on my description of Yesterday Road!

eBook cover

As I mentioned a couple of weeks ago, I’ve been trying to develop a good description of Yesterday Road for outlets like Amazon, B&N, and Smashwords. My instincts are telling me that these avenues might be a little different from the traditional jacket copy, which usually could go into a little bit of detail, given the space available (front and back flaps). Briefer is probably better for online sales, but I can’t seem to get this one into a more compact package. Help?

Here it is:

An elderly man finds himself alone and confused on the side of a country road in Northern California, eating wild blackberries straight from the vine. He doesn’t know how he got there or even who he is, but the one thing he’s sure of is that he must make his way to his daughter and reunite with her. “Vermont” rings a faint bell.

Jack Peckham’s journey home will soon become dependent on the kindness of strangers. Serendipity guides him through a daisy-chain of caretakers, leading him to Joe Easterday, a young man with Down syndrome, and then to Ida Pevely, a middle-aged waitress who takes reluctant responsibility for these two wayward travelers. For Jack, an inner compass seems to be guiding him to the pastoral land where he grew up, wherever it may be, while Ida, burdened with the kind of past she’d rather forget, faces the moral choice of helping him get home or turning him over to authorities once she delivers Joe to his parents in Denver. It’s going to be a tricky proposition, especially when she discovers that Jack is in possession of over a hundred thousand dollars in cash and does not know where his daughter could possibly be.

Ida’s unexpected departure from the strict routine of her life as a single mother exposes her to new layers of understanding about herself as she realizes that it is the whole of experience — pain and regret along with love and pleasure — that gives life its fullness. Jack, without any memory of the grief that must have accompanied his eighty-odd years, flounders in a world where he has no identity and no past.

Ida is torn between letting him continue his journey or ensuring that he’s safe, but Jack knows he will keep searching until he finds what he’s looking for. Both will discover that we tow our histories along with us as we make our way down Yesterday Road.

If you can spare a couple of minutes, use the comments to pop me some ideas. I know you don’t know the full story yet, but if anything seems gratuitous or overly detailed, let me know. Would you buy the book based on this?

16 comments on “Chime in on my description of Yesterday Road!

  1. Lynne
    June 20, 2013

    I really like the introduction, it’s interesting, intriguing and based on the intro, I would want to buy the book. This is just a thought…end the intro after the sentence, “…once she delivers Joe to his parents in Denver.” Perhaps the rest of the brief could go onto the back side of the e book cover?
    Just thinking, if the intro is too long, would it stop readers from reading on…?

    Exciting for you! Best wishes!

    • Kevin Brennan
      June 20, 2013

      Thanks, Lynne! I see your point about the intro, but I’m not sure I want to lose the “WTF” effect of that hundred grand. Think there’s another place it could be mentioned?

  2. 1WriteWay
    June 20, 2013

    I’m intrigued by the description and would be tempted to buy based on it. But I do wonder what’s happened to Joe. In the 2nd paragraph you have three characters, but in the last two, you only mention Ida and Jack. I think the very last paragraph could be dropped, but I would like something about Joe in that final paragraph. Hope this helps )

    • Kevin Brennan
      June 20, 2013

      Thank you, Marie. I was probably not wanting to put too many spoilers in, vis-a-vis Joe. Maybe the 4th paragraph could begin, “Once Joe is taken care of…” That’s ambiguous enough to keep the potential reader wondering how Joe is taken care of. What do you think?

      • 1WriteWay
        June 21, 2013

        I guess I was thinking that Joe was on a “journey” too and so I was surprised that you didn’t mention him in the last paragraphs. That is, I thought the novel was about three characters, but it’s really about two? Does that make sense? I’m not in a place where I can read your post right now or see other comments. I’ll check in again later 🙂

      • Kevin Brennan
        June 21, 2013

        Yes, Joe is on a journey, but he’s not a POV character like the other two, so that’s probably why I’m (subconsciously?) leaving him out of the last paragraph. And he’s a helper type, sort of Jack’s Yoda, in a weird way, so while the book is “about” three characters, Joe is not one who undergoes the usual change we expect in protagonists.

  3. Andra Watkins
    June 20, 2013

    I’m taking you at your word that you want feedback. Please don’t shoot me if you really do not.

    1. Start the synopsis with Jack Peckham, not an elderly man.
    2. The second paragraph is too long. Cut some of those details in the middle and make them more concise. Jack is lost. People are helping him. Ida is conflicted about what to do with him.
    3. Do not ever use the phrase ‘seems to be.’

    I love the premise of the story, and of course, I will buy the book. I really love the cover art. It is lovely and draws the eye.

    • Kevin Brennan
      June 20, 2013

      I never ask for feedback if I don’t really want it! I ask for compliments… 😉 But thank you for those points, all very helpful. I’ll definitely work on that 2nd graph.

      Glad you like the cover art too — I might just need a designer to help with the lettering, which some have told me is too slight and static.

  4. kvetchingforkicks
    June 20, 2013

    I think it could be as easy as trimming the fat:

    An elderly man finds himself alone and confused on the side of a country road in Northern California, eating wild blackberries straight from the vine. He doesn’t know how he got there or even who he is, but the one thing he’s sure of is that he must make his way to his daughter and reunite with her. “Vermont” rings a faint bell.

    Jack Peckham’s journey home will soon become dependent on the kindness of strangers. Serendipity guides him through a daisy-chain of caretakers, leading him to Joe Easterday, a young man with Down syndrome, and then to Ida Pevely, a middle-aged waitress who takes reluctant responsibility for these two wayward travelers. For Jack, an inner compass seems to be guiding him to the pastoral land where he grew up, wherever it may be, while Ida, burdened with the kind of past she’d rather forget, faces the moral choice of helping him get home or turning him over to authorities once she delivers Joe to his parents in Denver.

    Ida is torn between letting him continue his journey or ensuring that he’s safe, but Jack knows he will keep searching until he finds what he’s looking for. Both will discover that we tow our histories along with us as we make our way down Yesterday Road.

    • Kevin Brennan
      June 20, 2013

      Thanks for this, kvetcher. Coupled with some of the other comments, this is a big improvement, and I love that it all fits into three tidy paragraphs. I wish I could figure out a way to let the comic tone of the book show through, but I’m afraid that’d make the synopsis read a little cheesy. Whataya think?

      • kvetchingforkicks
        June 21, 2013

        Whenever I read a book cover that sounds like it is aiming to be funny, I don’t want to read the book for some reason. I think the comic bits in the book will pop out and pleasantly surprise the reader. There are so many tender and emotional parts in your book, and it sounds like that is what is paramount in your synopsis so far… which I like. It is about the journey. I think that is most important. But that’s just my perspective…

      • Kevin Brennan
        June 21, 2013

        I agree with that, about the “aiming to be funny.” You’ll see words like “uproarious” and “wacky” and wonder how there can be any meat on those bones…

  5. margaretjeanlangstaff
    June 20, 2013

    IMHO? Needs more zip, drama, suspense. I’ve written TONS of catalog and jacket copy for publishers. Don’t describe too much, Kev; instead tease, sell, promise something that is appealing and intriguing. What is the reader’s takeaway from your book? What other books/authors are sort of comparable? There are plenty of examples out there on Amazon of good sales page/product information for you to peruse. Here you’ve give a PLOT synopsis, not a marketing pitch. Readers want and need to be convinced that your book is worth buying for some reason (enlightening, entertaining, educational etc)

    • Kevin Brennan
      June 21, 2013

      Well, as usual you’ve given me a poop-load to think about! I’ll do some homework over the weekend and see what I can come up with. This version doesn’t strike me so much as a plot synopsis, though (since I know the plot), as a kind of scaffold of the story. My interpretation of your comment is that the tone is too soft, and that’s something I’ve always had to work on.

      One thing I love about blogging is the ability to ask for and receive feedback on this kind of stuff. And every bit of it is helpful and revealing.

      Thanks, as always…

  6. margaretjeanlangstaff
    June 20, 2013

    PS look for my invoice 😉 haha

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