A Man of Character (Matters of Love Book 1) by Margaret Locke (#Romance #BookReview)

A Man of CharacterA Man of Character by Margaret Locke
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I’ve read a few short (like, extremely short flash fiction) stories from this author and loved each and every one. I couldn’t wait to see her put out a novel, I just knew she’d rock it. And she did!! Her characters feel like real people, almost like she wrote them from personal experience but tweaked the details. (To my knowledge, A Man of Character is not based on a true story. 😀 )

The protagonist is a flawed “good girl” type, passionate about her work but seemingly prudish until you get to know her. Even then she stays within the realm of the good girl trope. If you’re like me and you enjoy reading books wherein the characters learn and grow and change, books that leave you with all the feels, you’ll like this one.

I’m always wary when I pick up a book with a series tag b/c some of them are chopped up novels sold in pieces at full prices, but Margaret Locke got it right. This book is one story that’s a part of a bigger world. It’s not a serial release (or a butchered book), it’s an actual series done right! I can not tell you how much I appreciate that. I got this book through KU, but it’s totally worth the typical $4.99-ish price you’d pay for an eBook.

The next book in this series is A Matter of Time. It follows the protagonist’s best friend after she … hmm, well. I don’t want to ruin this book by telling you what happens at the end. I will say this: the end of this book is solid, very satisfactory (thus the 5 star review) but will leave you wanting to read the next one asap. I hope she’s got more lined up. I love to read this author and look forward to many more books from her.

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Get your copy of A Man of Character at Amazon.

About Writing: Preferential Descriptors

Another one of Jess’ literary ramblings.

Preferential Descriptors

Definitions (from Dictionary.com):

preferential (adj.) of or relating to the nature of preference

descriptor (noun) a significant word or phrase used to categorize or describe …

Have you ever run across a situation that you needed to examine and explain, but couldn’t quite find the best words or phrases to do so? Yesterday, while editing, I ran into an issue that I hadn’t yet encountered or even heard about. The author described a scene, then used the word “ugly” to seal the deal. The problem was that the scene she described didn’t amount to ugly in my mind.

I went into great detail to explain why this was a problem. Put simply, that descriptor will not ring true for all readers. But that’s never good enough for me. I need to understand why, and to an extent that I can explain why. As an editor, I don’t make a recommendation I don’t fully understand and can’t discuss with the author. So here we go down the rabbit hole.

As writers, we know we can’t cater to every reader in the world. That’s why “target audience” is such a well-known term in the publishing industry. However, there are simple things we can do to avoid alienating the audience we have reached, those who already have our books in hand.

One tiny detail isn’t enough to kill a reader’s desire to continue reading. Probably. Maybe. Do we want to take the risk?

Aside from stating the scenery was ugly (telling, not showing), the preferential descriptor (I’m going to explain that in a minute) has the potential to read as an immediate contradiction. When that happens, the author loses a bit of the reader’s confidence. If you describe what, in my mind, is a beautiful scene, then tell me it’s ugly, I’m going to doubt your capability to convey what you see.

Don’t allow the reader a moment of doubt if you can possibly help it.

In this case, it can be helped. It’s a small thing, a very minor issue that has the potential to lose readers, especially if it’s done repeatedly. Like looking for modal auxiliary verbs and to be verbs and filter phrases, these descriptors used to convey an opinion of the author or character, especially in such a way as to cause doubt in the reader, need attention. We need to examine our work for weaknesses, and these words or phrases can be an issue. The problem is that there is no (that I know of) definitive rule for dealing with them, or even words or phrases used to easily identify them.

Until I learn otherwise, I’m going to call them preferential descriptors.

My definition:

preferential descriptor-a word or phrase used to describe something or someone with regard to the author’s or character’s opinion.

Examples:

The sky is beautiful.

In this sentence, the word beautiful is a preferential descriptor. Whether or not the sky is beautiful is debatable. The accuracy of this descriptor is a matter of opinion, of preference. Some readers would find a cloudless blue sky beautiful. Others would find a cloud-filled sky beautiful. Still others would see the beauty of a stormy sky.

The sky is blue.

The word blue is a decisive descriptor. Yes, I made that up, too. But you see my point, yes?

Both sentences are bland and “telly”, but the second remains the stronger sentence because the word used to describe the sky is specific. Beautiful is too vague. If we don’t know what the author or character thinks is beautiful, we can’t possibly know what the beautiful sky looks like. But we all know what a blue sky looks like.

How do we identify preferential descriptors and is it really worth the effort?

The process of spotting these words or phrases is tedious because you have to examine each descriptor in each sentence and ask yourself if it conveys the opinion of the author or POV character or if it’s a decisive description that can’t be argued. Is it worth the effort? Well, how important is it to you that your reader sees the same scene you wrote? Exactly.

The good news is that most of us have learned how to spot telling by now, so this isn’t an issue that comes up often. Just something to think about while editing.

Happy writing and editing,

~ Jess

 

Monster Hunter International by Larry Correia

Monster Hunter International (Monster Hunter International, #1)Monster Hunter International by Larry Correia

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I got this book during a free promo, found out about it from a friend’s RT. I’m glad I picked it up and will happily buy more of Mr. Correia’s books in the future.

It’s an action book, make no mistake, with a quick pace and lots of fight scenes. I love books like this that include a thread of romance. The author handled that aspect of the book as well as every other.

There is a lot of gun stuff in there. Owen’s a gun nut. Larry’s a gun nut. I know there’s a difference between a rifle and a shotgun, but I couldn’t tell you what makes them different. Even though I don’t know much about guns, the parts that were “tech” heavy worked to convey the character’s excitement. The emotional impact made it through intact. And the scenes were so well set out that, even though I didn’t understand much of the terminology, there was never a doubt in my mind what was going on. Each scene was crisp and clear. I encounter the same situation when reading good Sci. Fi. I may not understand the words, but with the proper amount of context, the meaning is conveyed.

And, of course, there are monsters galore. When I found out what Skippy and Gretchen were, and the role they play in MHI, I got this big grin on my face and I was like, “Yeah. Gonna be reading more from this guy.”

The first thing that really drew me in, though, was the character of Owen himself. He reminds me so much of my now deceased uncle. It’s just a small thing, and a personal thing that won’t resonate with everyone, but the character was very true to life based on what I know about the “Big Guy with Big Guns” stereotype. Owen has a special place in my heart.

Having said that, at a certain point toward the end (trying to avoid spoilers, bear with me), the author created a situation that made it very clear who my favorite supporting character was. It was Holly. The development of her character was the most interesting. She was the element of mystery, and the one I could identify the most with. Well, aside from the fact she was a stripper. ***SPOILER ALERT*** Holly was the one character it really, physically hurt me to see her die. ***SPOILER ALERT OVER***

All of the characters were very well drawn and distinct. This review is getting long, so I’ll cut it short here, I guess. There’s just so many good things I can say about MHI. Oh, and the twist on Earl Harbinger? OMG! I’m telling you, just read the book.

Get your copy of Monster Hunter International at Amazon.

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