Lisa Jordan first wowed readers in October 2011 when her debut novel, Lakeside Reunion, was released by Love Inspired. This book went on to win the 2012 ACFW Carol Award for Short Contemporary. I was privileged to be seated at Lisa’s table during the Awards Banquet and was one of the first to congratulate her.
Ever since I embarked on my writing journey, I read books differently than I used to. Sure, I fall in love with the characters and enjoy their stories, but I delve deeper these days. I admire an author’s voice and attempt to figure out what makes it so compelling. I study the techniques the author uses. I note the author’s way with words. I’ve decided to share my findings from time to time in my new Author Artistry posts.
I’ve had Lakeside Reunion on my TBR shelf for some time and was happy to finally have time to savor this moving story. The characters stole my heart from the start. Both Lindsey and Stephen are grieving. Having been torn apart by the results of a past mistake, they have many obstacles to overcome.
The story is rich, the pacing great, and the emotion deep. That alone would make the book a winner, but I kept my eyes open as I read, noting what Lisa did to add to the richness. I’m highlighting six of Lisa’s many areas of mastery, using examples from Lakeside Reunion.
Lindsey scanned the room, searching for Granddad’s steel-gray crew cut or Grandma’s cotton-colored curls. (p. 19)
In one sentence, the reader forms a picture of Lindsey’s grandparents, but it goes deeper than that. The fact that her grandfather wears a crew cut shows how traditional he is. “Cotton-colored curls” is a delight for two reasons. Not only do I see the color, but I also get the impression that her hair is fine and soft, like cotton balls. The alliteration is a bonus.
. . .Lindsey’s thoughts swirled like a shaken snow globe. (p. 25)
This simile made me smile. I can totally relate to that feeling, even though I’ve never thought to describe it that way.
Ty’s laughter seeped through Stephen’s heart like shellac over wood, filling in every gouge and crevice of his heart. ( p. 45)
I love it when authors create similes that are specific to a certain character. In this scene, Stephen has been working in his woodshop, so the reference to shellac is especially meaningful for him. Lisa goes on to use metaphor, comparing the gouges and crevices of Stephen’s heart to those in wood and adding such depth and emotion to the sentence.
Letters floated inside Lindsey’s head like a bowl of alphabet soup. She couldn’t piece them together to form coherent words, let alone sentences. (p. 75)
The writer in me loved this.
Rich Sensory Detail
“Granddad!” She wrapped her arms around his waist and rested her head against his chest. The softness of his red-and-black checked flannel shirt caressed her cheek. The faint odor of cow manure and hay settled in the threads of the fabric, whisking Lindsey back to a place where problems were solved with hugs, homemade oatmeal cookies and long walks along the creek. (p. 22)
I love the way Lisa uses sensory details to take Lindsey back in time, allowing Lisa to share some of the backstory without slowing the pacing or telling the reader how idyllic Lindsey’s childhood was.
His voice was as smooth and rich as dark roast. (p. 76)
Lindsey just offered Stephen a cup of coffee, so this simile is well placed. The use of the simile is also a great way to work in sensory details that go beyond sights, sounds, and smells. A reader can feel how deeply hearing Stephen’s voice is affecting Lindsey.
Lightening flashed, fingering the ground with charged tentacles. (p. 52)
Lisa gave lightening characteristics of a living thing. Often the characteristics given are those of a person, but in this case, Lisa went beyond that, giving lightening the characteristics of a sea creature.
The nubby fabric of the cushioned chair embossed the backs of her legs. (p. 34)
Once again, I can totally picture the imprint left on Lindsey’s legs. The use of the word “embossed” imprinted this image on my mind. It also showed me how we can put to use “write what you know.” I happen to know Lisa is a crafty lady who makes cards and does scrapbooking. Since I’ve embraced those hobbies as well, I love how she grabbed the word embossed from them, a technique we rubber stampers and scrapbookers are familiar with.
“It’s tough, son, I’m sure, but you need to understand seeing you was as much of a shock to her as it was for you. That gal will be around for a while. She won’t up and leave her man in a lurch.”
Stephen frowned. “I doubt she’ll be friending me on Facebook anytime soon.” (p. 47)
Stephen’s witty comeback says so much. I love how Lisa used modern technology to add punch. Can’t you just hear someone saying that?
Just Plain Fun
She crossed the room and shook hands with Granddad, Grandma and Lindsey. “Rachel Warren, attending physician.” (p. 24)
Lisa is a member of My Book Therapy, a mentoring group founded by Susan May Warren and Rachel Hauck. I like how Lisa paid tribute to them, giving portions of their names to the doctor caring for Lindsey’s mother.
I was so impressed by Lisa’s writing that I could have cited many more examples. While I loved Lakeside Reunion, what I loved even more was discovering how talented she is. If I see Lisa Jordan’s name on a book’s cover, I’ll know the book is going to be a great read.
If you read Lakeside Reunion, are there good examples you could add?
Which of the techniques above do you most enjoy seeing in a story?