Thursday, September 11, 2008

Tess Gerritsen, The Keepsake - Billie A Williams, Ancient Secrets

Tess Gerritsen – Keepsake; Billie Williams – Ancient Secrets
UnPuzzling The Past

What is it about our historical past that draws us in and holds us as we explore it especially the things we hold most dear—KEEPSAKES (released September 8) from that life we need to explore. In my book ANCIENT SECRETS (released September 1) I explore a necklace belonging to an African deity—the goddess Ebony. It is a keepsake. It has traveled from one owner to another all over the world, a troubled path after it was stolen from the goddess years before. Its powers are supernatural.
Tess Gerritsen’s riveting new book, The Keepsake, explores a supposed similar archeological treasure. You can feel the desert heat enveloping your body so you nearly are crushed by its intensity. You blink your eyes in the glare of the sun while the sandpaper-like grit of the desert sands scrap against your skin.
Ms. Gerritsen’s language puts you there. Her skill with phrase and image keep you there as she cranks up the heat, notches up the suspense. At the end of her first chapter, if a mosquito landed on your arm or someone’s footfalls echoed in your hall, you would bolt in terror at their presence. That is how a great writer hooks and drags you into a story.
My own story circles the wagons before the impending attack. I slide in with tourist-like curiosity. Emulating someone like Ms. G, excuse me , Tess will take some practice.
I can call her Tess now. She is real. I have an autographed bookmark from her and even more importantly a personal note. It’s a small sticky note like a post it™ note but it’s way larger then life to me because it is a hand written note —to me!
It made me remember that contact, human connection is why we research our past and cling to those KEEPSAKES and ANCIENT SECRETS we bring with us to the present.

The Keepsake by Tess Gerritsen – ISBN 978-0-345-49762-8
Ancient Secrets by Billie A Williams ISBN 978-1-599705-396-9

First Lines:
Tess Gerritsen “He is coming for me.”
Billie Williams “It looked like she had been sitting on the park bench we had bought for her birthday last summer.”

How it comes together: using setting
TG: “No longer am I standing in the desert gazing at a sky smeared by sunset the color of bruises.”
BW: “The cold, bright corridors of the hospital where shoes squeaked on the too polished, disinfected floors made you wince, shhhhh, the silence hissed like a librarian in his mind.”

Using Sound/weather
TG: “The wind moaned like a woman when it swept down the Wadi.”
BW: “She must have stood up and let them fall. She left them lay like wasted time, just there. No breeze to stir them, march them away, dance them off to some happier place.” (speaking of sheets of paper)

Using smells
TG: “I sniff the air, as recognizable as the scent of hot sand and savory spices and the sweat of a hundred working men toiling in the sun.”
BW:” “Live Mother,” he said as they shut her in the orange and white van that smelled of disinfectant. Had the last patient they transported died, he wondered at the smell.”

Using emotions – fear/apprehension
TG: “I lie on damp sheets, heart battering itself against my chest. I am afraid to get out of bed—afraid not to.”
BW: “Something about them as he touched them though, struck him with unanticipated grief. When he lifted the black stone, it was as though some invisible electric impulse traveled from his finger tips up his arm and to his heart. His heart ached with sorrow. Years worth of sadness flooded over him, washing him in blackest despair, creating nearly unbearable heart wrenching sorrow. He dropped the black stone he held back into the red velvet lined coffin it had come from as though it burned his fingers instead of his heart.”

I am struck by how few words she needs to make her point, ratcheting up her tension and bring the reader to her. My way is meandering and wordy. I see and I understand why we study other writers with a writer’s mind. They teach us by example – showing instead of telling.


JanetElaineSmith said...

I have been anxiously awaiting your Ancient Secrets. Now I have another book to add to my wannareads. Thanks for the tip.

Kim Richards said...

Hi Billie! Hi Tess! I love the way the first lines and all were posted. Very cool! Good luck with the books. They sound awesome.

Word Crafter said...

Thanks to both Janet and Kim I appreciate your kind words - and yes Kim when you compare your own writing line by line with a highly successful writer you begin to see where you need to strengthen your writing - really helps.
Thanks for your comments.

Anonymous said...

Best wishes to you both with your new books - I gotta dd them to my TBR list now. Sheesh, when does it ever end? LOL Nice post, Billie!

Marvin D Wilson
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