CFBA Tour – Elisha’s Bones

It’s the end of a busy week for this blog. It’s been a very “Bone”-ish week. First, I reviewed Ted Dekker’s latest, BoneMan’s Daughters. Then we had the blog tour for Blaggard’s Moon, in which the main character was facing having monsters eat his bones.

Let’s keep the theme going with the new book Elisha’s Bones by Don Hoesel. This is his first book, so how does a new author stack up in this calcified week.

Things I liked about the book:

I loved the globetrotting adventure. Don does a great job in painting the local scenery and using the landscape to amplify the prose. He states he’s traveled to some of the places, and researched others, and I can’t tell what locales are the research only ones.

Jack Hawthorne is an unlikely protaganist, not the type to go out charging to save the world. He’s a bit of a lazy “skate through life” type of guy (though some of this is explained by the story). He’s sarcastic, infusing things with a sense of humor. Still, his growth through his experience is palpable.

The suspense is kept ratcheted up, and you’re never certain who is good and who is bad. He has a good feel for pacing.

Things I am pondering:

The use of present tense, 1st person POV was quite intriguing. It provided for some real immediacy when dealing with what Jack was experiencing. The limitations of what Jack doesn’t know also adds to the story. Still, it took me some time to get used to reading it. See these posts for more thoughts on this.

The bottom half of the cover is very cool. The top half needs a little more work to make it as stylish as the top. The silhouette seems too cliche or something.

Things that could be better:

Some of the other characters weren’t fleshed out as well as they could have been. In particular, Esperanza is his companion through most of the book, yet at the end I wondered what she looked like and didn’t fully know her. Their relationship was always nebulous.

Some description (mostly of people) lacked, but that may partly be a function of the present tense, 1st person POV. It wouldn’t work for Jack to always stop and mentally describe each person he meets to himself in present time. I like a little more, but I don’t know that this form would really allow it.

Overall:

This is a very good first novel for Don. He had a strong voice throughout the book, and the action and suspense kept me turning pages until the very end. My negative comments I’m ocnfident will recede as he develops more as a writer. Keep them coming Don, I’m up for more.

If you would like to read the first chapter of Elisha’s Bones, go HERE

CFBA Tour – Elisha’s Bones

It’s the end of a busy week for this blog. It’s been a very “Bone”-ish week. First, I reviewed Ted Dekker’s latest, BoneMan’s Daughters. Then we had the blog tour for Blaggard’s Moon, in which the main character was facing having monsters eat his bones.

Let’s keep the theme going with the new book Elisha’s Bones by Don Hoesel. This is his first book, so how does a new author stack up in this calcified week.

Things I liked about the book:

I loved the globetrotting adventure. Don does a great job in painting the local scenery and using the landscape to amplify the prose. He states he’s traveled to some of the places, and researched others, and I can’t tell what locales are the research only ones.

Jack Hawthorne is an unlikely protaganist, not the type to go out charging to save the world. He’s a bit of a lazy “skate through life” type of guy (though some of this is explained by the story). He’s sarcastic, infusing things with a sense of humor. Still, his growth through his experience is palpable.

The suspense is kept ratcheted up, and you’re never certain who is good and who is bad. He has a good feel for pacing.

Things I am pondering:

The use of present tense, 1st person POV was quite intriguing. It provided for some real immediacy when dealing with what Jack was experiencing. The limitations of what Jack doesn’t know also adds to the story. Still, it took me some time to get used to reading it. See these posts for more thoughts on this.

The bottom half of the cover is very cool. The top half needs a little more work to make it as stylish as the top. The silhouette seems too cliche or something.

Things that could be better:

Some of the other characters weren’t fleshed out as well as they could have been. In particular, Esperanza is his companion through most of the book, yet at the end I wondered what she looked like and didn’t fully know her. Their relationship was always nebulous.

Some description (mostly of people) lacked, but that may partly be a function of the present tense, 1st person POV. It wouldn’t work for Jack to always stop and mentally describe each person he meets to himself in present time. I like a little more, but I don’t know that this form would really allow it.

Overall:

This is a very good first novel for Don. He had a strong voice throughout the book, and the action and suspense kept me turning pages until the very end. My negative comments I’m ocnfident will recede as he develops more as a writer. Keep them coming Don, I’m up for more.

If you would like to read the first chapter of Elisha’s Bones, go HERE

Tense Writing, Day 2

Yesterday I started talking about the book I’m currently reading, Elisha’s Bones. There were two comments from yesterday.

Robert- There is plenty of suspense and the reader is left hanging at the end of chapters a lot, but that wasn’t what I was looking for.

Mark- Ding, ding, we have a winner!

We get so used to patterns and techniques that we may not always notice a difference. It took me a few pages to realize why I was a little unsettled by Elisha – it was written in the present tense.

Think about it. Most fiction writing is done in the past tense. Other tenses come into play with conversations or other situations, but it is rare to see a book in a first person point of view (POV to all the writers out there) moving along in present tense. First person POV gives more intimacy to that character’s thoughts, but I’m finding in Elisha that using the present tense gives even more immediate reaction. The past tense gives the impression that the character is relating something that’s already happened back to the reader. Present tense puts the action right now, and offers up opportunity for surprises (like when the main character gets whapped in the nose).

I mentioned yesterday that we are creatures of habit. It took a few chapters to fully get comfortable reading this book. Sometimes I think it creates some awkward sentence structure, or isn’t fully true to how life works. When the POV character gets hit in the nose, he has a couple of thoughts before the impact. I don’t think we’d really be cognizant of all that was happening before such an impact.

Overall, I’m really enjoying this book. The different tense is comfortable now, and the writer is doing a good job of using it to his advantage. It was hard yesterday to write my one paragraph in present tense, so I can’t imagine writing a whole book that way!

For another example of risk-taking in Christian fiction, I can also recommend Travis Thrasher’s novel Blinded. It doesn’t involve tense, but POV. He writes it totally in second person POV (“You saw the beautiful blonde approach the table. You manage to not lose the contents of your drink as your hand shakes.”) This is generally considered a huge no-no, but according to novelist Brandilyn Collins, he pulls it off. I haven’t read it yet, but it is on my list of “when I get caught up enough I’m going to get it” books.

It’s great to see different tactics that pay off. I hope people don’t stumble over different techniques, because so far Elisha is a winner. I’ll have more on it in the blog tour for it in April.

Tense Writing, Day 2

Yesterday I started talking about the book I’m currently reading, Elisha’s Bones. There were two comments from yesterday.

Robert- There is plenty of suspense and the reader is left hanging at the end of chapters a lot, but that wasn’t what I was looking for.

Mark- Ding, ding, we have a winner!

We get so used to patterns and techniques that we may not always notice a difference. It took me a few pages to realize why I was a little unsettled by Elisha – it was written in the present tense.

Think about it. Most fiction writing is done in the past tense. Other tenses come into play with conversations or other situations, but it is rare to see a book in a first person point of view (POV to all the writers out there) moving along in present tense. First person POV gives more intimacy to that character’s thoughts, but I’m finding in Elisha that using the present tense gives even more immediate reaction. The past tense gives the impression that the character is relating something that’s already happened back to the reader. Present tense puts the action right now, and offers up opportunity for surprises (like when the main character gets whapped in the nose).

I mentioned yesterday that we are creatures of habit. It took a few chapters to fully get comfortable reading this book. Sometimes I think it creates some awkward sentence structure, or isn’t fully true to how life works. When the POV character gets hit in the nose, he has a couple of thoughts before the impact. I don’t think we’d really be cognizant of all that was happening before such an impact.

Overall, I’m really enjoying this book. The different tense is comfortable now, and the writer is doing a good job of using it to his advantage. It was hard yesterday to write my one paragraph in present tense, so I can’t imagine writing a whole book that way!

For another example of risk-taking in Christian fiction, I can also recommend Travis Thrasher’s novel Blinded. It doesn’t involve tense, but POV. He writes it totally in second person POV (“You saw the beautiful blonde approach the table. You manage to not lose the contents of your drink as your hand shakes.”) This is generally considered a huge no-no, but according to novelist Brandilyn Collins, he pulls it off. I haven’t read it yet, but it is on my list of “when I get caught up enough I’m going to get it” books.

It’s great to see different tactics that pay off. I hope people don’t stumble over different techniques, because so far Elisha is a winner. I’ll have more on it in the blog tour for it in April.

Tense Writing

We are creatures of habit.

This comes as no surprise. We like what we like, and we’re not always willing to be flexible or try something different (eating something green won’t kill you Mark!). Sometimes it is subtle.

I started reading a book for an upcoming blog tour, Elisha’s Bones by Don Hoesel. I was drawn in by the archeological mystery a la Indiana Jones, but there was something disconcerting, but I couldn’t put my finger on it initially.

I read further. The bumpy bus ride jars my hand, but the shaking book isn’t confusing me. There is something in the way the book is written. My seat partner snorts and turns the other way, allowing me to dive back into the intriguing story.

I’ve just left a clue on what was different about this book. I was going to write a post just explaining it, but I think it will be interesting to see if someone can figure out the difference by what I just wrote. Check back tomorrow for the answer…

Tense Writing

We are creatures of habit.

This comes as no surprise. We like what we like, and we’re not always willing to be flexible or try something different (eating something green won’t kill you Mark!). Sometimes it is subtle.

I started reading a book for an upcoming blog tour, Elisha’s Bones by Don Hoesel. I was drawn in by the archeological mystery a la Indiana Jones, but there was something disconcerting, but I couldn’t put my finger on it initially.

I read further. The bumpy bus ride jars my hand, but the shaking book isn’t confusing me. There is something in the way the book is written. My seat partner snorts and turns the other way, allowing me to dive back into the intriguing story.

I’ve just left a clue on what was different about this book. I was going to write a post just explaining it, but I think it will be interesting to see if someone can figure out the difference by what I just wrote. Check back tomorrow for the answer…