Perfect Phrases

Part of what I enjoy so much about reading is finding new descriptions and phrases that writers coin. I always tell myself to write them down as I read them, but I never do. Still, some stick with me and are then forever stuck in my mind as a way of thinking about or describing something.

The color of blood at midnight: Jacqueline Carey used this phrase to describe the color of red so dark, it’s nearly black. It’s always sounded beautiful to me.

Dusk, when the world goes soft around the edges: I believe that Sarah Dessen used this in one of her books and that’s where I remember it from, but honestly I’m not entirely sure. It may be from somewhere entirely different. Still, it seems like a perfect description to me of what dusk feels like on certain days.

A thing can be true and not true: This, I believe, is used in Charles de Lint’s stories quite often. As his tales are urban-fantasy, it feels extremely fitting.

These are just a few that I can remember off the top of my head. There have been, at the very least, a few dozen more phrases that I’ve read and loved – but I didn’t write them down, so I’ll just have to reread my books to discover them again!

Anyone else have any favorite phrases that they’ve found in books?

McS’s Feet

It was one of the last really warm days of autumn. You know the kind of day I’m talking about. It’s the day right after you start to notice that the leaves have really all turned into wonderful shades of red and orange. It’s the day right after you start to move all your heavier clothing to the front of your closet and the top of your drawers. It’s the day that takes you, and everyone else, by surprise and makes the atmosphere seem happier for no reason except that the wind is blowing warm and soft and the sun is shining and the birds are singing.

Only it wasn’t day anymore. It was evening, now, the wind still blowing warm across the young faces wandering around the not-very-well lit paths. The sweet notes of a guitar strumming were emerging from one window while a heavy bass note could be heard through the walls of a building across the way. The smell of marijuana was thick in the air as it almost always was, while still seeming to be entirely smokeless. The leaves rustled in the dark tops of the trees, and now and then one or two would flutter down to the ground, hitting a shoulder or arm on the way.

Through the partial darkness, McS walked in bare feet. She walked along the gravel paths serenely, back arched just a bit – maybe naturally, or maybe because of many years of dancing. Her blond hair was cut short, with just a swoop of bangs across her forehead signaling that she was style-conscious. Other than that, she defied convention. Her face was unadorned by makeup, her clothing was simple and usable, but she carried herself with such confidence that your eyes couldn’t help gazing at her with a sort of awe.

One of her toes bore a ring, but other than that, her feet were completely bare. She wasn’t afraid of glass or stones or twigs to come in her way. She didn’t even glance at the ground as she made her easy, charmingly swaggering way back home; her shorts and tank top clung to her, showing off her muscles and her curves, while never seeming tacky, flashy or exhibitionist.

Her feet were bare as she walked, and she knew – just knew – that she could walk around the entire earth if she were to put her mind, body, will and heart into it.

Letter to the Author

I am a great and loyal fan of many writers: Neil Gaiman, Terry Pratchett, Tamora Pierce, Jacqueline Carey, Kate Elliot, Libba Bray, Sarah Dessen… the list goes on and on. These are authors who are living and writing and creating today. These are authors whose books I can look forward to, whose careers I can actively follow (what with the wonders of the online community these days). I treat these people with as much reverence as I treat my favorite bands – more so, perhaps, because their fame is often less materially rewarding and their renown is limited to the community who enjoy their particular genre; meaning my respect for them and awe of them grows because of the difficulties they face in pursuing their chosen careers.

I’ve met Neil Gaiman. He was a darling, and managed not to seem the least bit bored during the two signings of his in which I participated. He is an incredible public speaker. He is extremely popular, though, and I have never felt the urge to write to him. So, also, with many other of the authors I love.

I wrote to Jacqueline Carey though. I wrote of my passion for her books and my admiration for both her literary style and her imagination, for her beautifully-wrought characters and her intricate plots. She wrote back. She really did. It was a while after I had written, but she did write back.

Which is why, I suppose, I’ve been struggling for days with trying to find the perfect wording for a second letter – this time to Tamora Pierce. I grew up on her books – I own every single one of them, and there are many, believe me. The smell of the pages of those well-thumbed novels of hers bring back memories from countless instances, and I’ve read and reread her books endlessly. I hope that once I find the words to write to her properly, she’ll respond. I shouldn’t expect it, but I can’t help but hope.

It’s overwhelming, sometimes, to love and admire people with such creative minds and incredible determination. But it’s often inspiring too.