Thursday, March 26, 2020

Book Review: "Body Beats To Build On" by April Gardner

If you love the Emotion Thesaurus, you’ve got to add Body Beats To Build On alongside it in your writers’ tool chest. I just finished another round of rewrites on my work-in-progress. This time, I kept Body Beats beside me, and what a difference it made, as I was sweeping through the work looking for ways to tighten and heighten the emotional impact of the story.

Where the Emotion Thesaurus gives boat loads of ideas on ways our bodies react inwardly and outwardly to different emotions, Body Beats To Build On takes those actions and turns them into short, vivid descriptors, based upon different body parts and systems. Here are a few examples just based upon a few negative responses with the eyes:

*his sight was peppery
*the thrust of his gaze
*muscle twitched beneath his eye
*wielded her most cutting glare
*poison-tipped glare…

and these are only the beginning. (I really appreciated the section on the internal body systems, such as heart and veins.)

Body Beats addresses movement, frame and posture, skin, breathing, appendages, nose, ears, throat, non-facial expressions, and more. There’s even bonus material on Dialogue Tags.

I used the Kindle version of the book, which was very easy to jump around in. Sometimes using e-books as reference tools is difficult, but not Body Beats. It’s a little, straight-forward book, and I highly recommend it for every striving or established author.

Monday, March 2, 2020

Book Review: An Uncommon Woman by Laura Frantz

What praise can I give Laura Frantz’s An Uncommon Woman that hasn’t been given? She has written with beauty and precision the kind of story that absolutely grips me in this frontier tale. I was thoroughly swept away into a world of danger, humanity, and romance. 

Frantz’s characters, especially that of Tessa, the story’s heroine, shine through with the sort of vivid personality all writers want to capture, but not all do. When I met Tessa, it wasn’t long before I realized that the cover artist had rendered her perfectly. See that expression on her face? Know that when you read this book, you'll envision her just like that.

You'll clearly imagine other characters like Tessa’s aunt, “a fearsome wrinkle of a woman”, her brave and sometimes impetuous brothers, her long-lost and unusual childhood friend, and of course the hero Clay, called “Ghost Eyes” by the natives, because “his blue eye, it sees heaven. His brown eye, earth.”

I was also pleased with the creative yet accurate way that Ms. Frantz rendered some actual historical characters in the story, especially the volatile Simon Girty, someone with whom most modern readers are probably not very familiar. His presence immediately set me on edge. (If you know much of Simon Girty, it'll do the same to you.)

The peril of the times and the situations settlers faced in that over-mountain wilderness enthralls me. I can’t imagine their level of endurance. Ms. Frantz portrays such with beauty and truth, and she doesn’t shy away from harsh realities. An Uncommon Woman was an uncommon book, provoking in turns happiness, sadness, and content. This may have become my favorite of Laura's books, hearkening back to the likes of The Frontiersman’s Daughter and A Moonbow Night.