Story Excerpts

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

The Pursuit of Tamsen Littlejohn: A Review

Tamsen Littlejohn meets with a wealthy plantation owner according to her stepfather's wishes, but when the man's values prove very different from her own and tragedy strikes, she runs. A strange man clad in Indian breechclout and leggings offers to take her deep into the moutains with him, promising to protect her. Can he be trusted? Tamsen takes a chance on Jesse Bird, seeing no other recourse.

I grabbed this one anticipating the exceptional prose and style I experienced while reading "Burning Sky", but in a faster-paced adventure story. I was slightly disapointed, and what I mean by "slightly" is, the author stayed true to the style and Voice she established with her first book, and the joke was on me, for reading it when I wanted a fast-paced action novel.

While there is plenty of adventure, suspenseful chases and escapes (all things I love in fiction), the author writes with an unhurried, lyrical style, varying the action in swells much like a classical music piece. Beautiful work, and I did become engrossed in the story later on, as the romance heats up and Tamsen's pursers catch up with her.

The author's vivid storytelling and exceptional detail brought the 18th century American Frontier to life, along with the fascinating history of a state that never came to be. The characters were amazingly complex and engaging, and I found myself more in love with secondary characters like Charlie Spencer and Cade--not because Tamsen and Jesse aren't striking, but because of the rich personality given to these supporting characters. I loved Tamsen and Jesse. Their romance had a depth and tangible quality I haven't seen often in fiction.

I struggled through the middle, mainly because a preacher's response to Tamsen and Jesse's dilemma came across as unbelievable, given his reputation as a man of of God and a culture that was just beginning to consider love as a basis for marriage. At the end, a mystery's resolution surprised me, but it also jolted, as a simple conversation seemed to cure an intense character of an obsession he'd harbored for months.

A favorite quote: "Jesse Bird was the steadiest of men, and if his face was disconcerting to her now, it was only because it was captivating. And hawk-wild beautiful."

You bet I'll be reading "The Wood's Edge", when it comes out, just not when I'm hankering for an action suspense novel. ;-) The author is a fantastic writer, and the 18th century is one of my favorite time periods. I would recommend "The Pursuit of Tamsen Littlejohn" to readers who enjoy lyrical writing and stories paced to savor, like the works of Laura Frantz.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Pressing On

I'm reading a total of seven books right now. Yep. Seven. And that's not including Jonathan Swift's "The Journal to Stella", which I read on occaision for research on 18th century speak. Why so many?

I keep starting a book, finding myself unable to connect with the story or characters, and so I pick up another. (And most of these books are well-written. "The Pursuit of Tamsen Littlejohn", "Mindspeak", "Behold the Dawn", "Out of the Storm".)

I'm betting that it's me and not the stories, so I read on. I'm probably ruining my enjoyment of perfectly entertaining stories, but what else can you do, other than press on through the mood fog? I am making time for prayer and God's Word, and really, what sustains me through this world-shaking realization (that the story of my heart may be too similar to another published CBA novel) is God's pleasure in the story I've written.

It may never see the light of publishing day, but knowing that it has glorified God and blessed Him, makes all the years and revisions worth it. He has already used it to bless the friends and critiquing buddies who've read it, so how can I complain? Can a writer ask for more?

I'm giving myself some time and space from FTSOOL, and I'm pouring my thoughts and effort into a fun manuscript. And it's helping. This one is definitely more marketable. Who knows? Maybe this will be the one that get's attention. :)