Author Ellis Nelson writes as one who knows of being in the land of snows, of being with the Himalayas, Sherpas, Monks, Lamas, and hence the beginning of an amazing life changing experience for Blake McCormack, Ellis Nelson’s main character in this fascinating novel. I came upon this amazing story by chance and did not even read the book description. The title alone was compelling to me. The story begins with the angst of a young 17-year-old boy, Blake, who is angry at his parents. Blake is forced by his physician father to accompany him to the Himalayas to help at the base camp at Mount Everest, but here the story takes a life changing turn for Blake and then the real story begins. Into the Land of Snows takes the reader into a world so different, so beautifully challenging in its vision of life that the reader is drawn-in completely. So strong is the vision presented in this book it may even change the being within you. I came away from this reading experience with a heightened sense of being. It has been almost two years since reading Into the Land of Snows and I still remember it vividly. I think this beautifully written adventure, with all its perils, is not to be missed.
A beautifully woven Tapestry of historical milieu by author, S. Woffington
The “Unveiling” is a beautifully written story that at its essence is a tapestry rich with intrigue, historical milieu, and wonderful characterizations. Each paragraph imbues a literary quality to every detail. Sara, the protagonist, carries the story forward in her impetuous youth in search of self. What that means in a society that allows her no freedom to examine her true needs and wants is the crux this novel explores. It is up to Sara and her parental family to choose or not the ways of the heart over an unyielding desire of societal tradition; a societal religious conviction that is meant to honor God and family. The Unveiling is a compelling story that is more than a story; it is real, heartfelt, and is true of every human spirit that chooses to dream and make those dreams come true.
Word Painting – The Fine Art of Writing Descriptively by Rebecca McClanahan (an excerpt from Writer’s Digest, January 2015) Here are four secrets to keep in mind as you breathe life into your characters through description.
- Description that relies solely on physical attributes too often turns into what Janet Burroway calls the “all-points bulletin.”
It reads something like this: “My father is a tall, middle-aged man of average build. He has green eyes and brown hair and usually wears khakis and oxford shirts.”
This description is so mundane, it barely qualifies as an “all-points bulletin.” Can you imagine the police searching for this suspect? No identifying marks, no scars or tattoos, nothing to distinguish him. He appears as a cardboard cutout rather than as a living, breathing character. Yes, the details are accurate, but they don’t call forth vivid images. We can barely make out this character’s form; how can we be expected to remember him?
When we describe a character, factual information alone is not sufficient, no matter how accurate it might be. The details must appeal to our senses. Phrases that merely label (like tall, middle-aged, and average) bring no clear image to our minds. Since most people form their first impression of someone through visual clues, it makes sense to describe our characters using visual images. Green eyes is a beginning, but it doesn’t go far enough. Are they pale green or dark green? Even a simple adjective can strengthen a detail. If the adjective also suggests a metaphor—forest green, pea green, or emerald green—the reader not only begins to make associations (positive or negative) but also visualizes in her mind’s eye the vehicle of the metaphor—forest trees, peas, or glittering gems.
- The problem with intensifying an image only by adjectives is that adjectives encourage cliché.
It’s hard to think of adjective descriptors that haven’t been overused: bulging or ropy muscles, clean-cut good looks, frizzy hair. If you use an adjective to describe a physical attribute, make sure that the phrase is not only accurate and sensory but also fresh. In her short story “Flowering Judas,” Katherine Anne Porter describes Braggioni’s singing voice as a “furry, mournful voice” that takes the high notes “in a prolonged painful squeal.” Often the easiest way to avoid an adjective-based cliché is to free the phrase entirely from its adjective modifier. For example, rather than describing her eyes merely as “hazel,” Emily Dickinson remarked that they were “the color of the sherry the guests leave in the glasses.”
- Strengthen physical descriptions by making details more specific.
In my earlier “all-points bulletin” example, the description of the father’s hair might be improved with a detail such as “a military buzz-cut, prickly to the touch” or “the aging hippie’s last chance—a long ponytail striated with gray.” Either of these descriptions would paint a stronger picture than the bland phrase brown hair. In the same way, his oxford shirt could become “a white oxford button-down that he’d steam-pleated just minutes before” or “the same style of baby blue oxford he’d worn since prep school, rolled carelessly at the elbows.” These descriptions not only bring forth images, they also suggest the background and the personality of the father.
- Select physical details carefully, choosing only those that create the strongest, most revealing impression.
One well-chosen physical trait, item of clothing, or idiosyncratic mannerism can reveal character more effectively than a dozen random images. This applies to characters in nonfiction as well as fiction. When I write about my grandmother, I usually focus on her strong, jutting chin—not only because it was her most dominant feature but also because it suggests her stubbornness and determination. When I write about Uncle Leland, I describe the wandering eye that gave him a perpetually distracted look, as if only his body was present. His spirit, it seemed, had already left on some journey he’d glimpsed peripherally, a place the rest of us were unable to see. As you describe real-life characters, zero in on distinguishing characteristics that reveal personality: gnarled, arthritic hands always busy at some task; a habit of covering her mouth each time a giggle rises up; a lopsided swagger as he makes his way to the horse barn; the scent of coconut suntan oil, cigarettes, and leather each time she sashays past your chair.
Lilly Rayne Nightingale has a date with Lucifer but she doesn’t know it. She is somehow unique in the world and that uniqueness may change the balance between good and evil, angels and demons. Someone is trying to eliminate her from the world. Lilly, totally oblivious to the powers of good and evil surrounding her, is like any other 18 teen year old looking for acceptance and love. Fate has always been one step ahead of her as her best friend Will manages to save her from several near fatal “incidences”.
However, Will broke her heart after their one and only first kiss. Years later when Lilly and her best friend Tara go off to college, Lilly meets the devastatingly handsome and intriguing Brand Cole. With conflicting forces of good and evil surrounding her, will she allow herself to open her heart once more to a new found love, Brand Cole and will she be able survive the destructive forces wanting her death.
- J. West’s story is enigmatic as it touches on universal themes that harbor in the hearts of all of us. Is there an unknowable heavenly battle raging amongst us, between the forces of good and evil playing out in our daily lives?
- Is there really “free will” in the world considering the mind-bending influences that prey upon us from birth until death?
- In the end will good (as subjective as that concept is) win over the forces of evil (depending on that subjective concept as well)?
*Comments and discussion welcomed.
I am reblogging this post for good reason. I am reading books, lately, that don’t seem to have cogent descriptions and left me wondering: what’s it all about?
How interesting and telling are most book descriptions? Most are not at all. Maybe there should be professional book description writers. Reading a book description should not be a word puzzle to try and figure it out. It can be daunting to write your own book description, especially if one is so subjective, the premise can be lost entirely. It is better to have a Beta Reader or a Reviewer with a successful blog write a book description, if the author is having problems pinning down a short description that actually describes. On WordPress, there are many experienced and talented reviewers and beta readers.
Here is a book description that does not describe the content of said novel : Fresh Eggs – a novel by Rob Levandoski.
“Calvin Cassowary is ready to do whatever it takes to keep Cassowary Farm in the family for one more generation. Hatching a scheme to specialize in chickens, soon he’s got a million hens laying eggs for Gallinipper Foods, b…ut he’s getting deeper and deeper into debt. To make matters worse, his chicken-loving daughter Rhea starts growing feathers. Filled with as many tears and chuckles, Rob Levandoski’s Fresh Eggs is a provocative father/daughter tale guaranteed to make you ponder the realities of modern farming and think twice the next time someone asks, “white or dark meat?”
What we know about this book: All we know so far is that raising and selling chickens will get you into debt and chicken farm daughters tend to grow feathers. So far, so what. Who sheds tears and why is the owner chuckling? After all, I can’t think of anything worse things than to have a child grow feathers. Pondering the realities of modern farming?