Use Your Sense(s)

Today’s guest blogger is John Lindermuth, author of sixteen novels, including eight in the Sticks Hetrick series.  John is a retired newspaper editor who now serves as librarian for the county historical society, assisting patrons with genealogy and research. He is a member of the International Thriller Writers and past vice-president of the Short Mystery Fiction Society.  Today, he talks about using the five senses to engage the reader.  And he previews The Battered Body, featuring Sylvester Tilghman, one of his most popular characters.

Are you using your senses?

We all perceive the world around us by the use of our senses–sight, sound, touch, smell and taste.

Utilizing these senses in your writing can convey the reader into the world you’ve created and make the journey into this place more convincing and memorable. But it’s important to go beyond a mere description. Make it “real” by calling on your memories/experiences and expand on it with the help of metaphor and simile. Be creative.

As E. L. Doctorow, one of my favorite writers, put it, “Good writing is supposed to evoke sensation in the reader–not the fact that it is raining, but the feeling of being rained upon.”

Opinion about the ranking of the senses varies. Most of us would probably rank sight and sound first. But Rudyard Kipling, for one, gave precedence to one less often considered. “Smells,” he wrote, “are surer than sights or sounds to make your heart-strings crack.” Kipling contended odor lingers longer in our memory than things we see or hear.

There’s a writing cliche about “a dark and stormy night” and we’re all familiar with the rule about not starting a story with weather. Yet, weather is an important feature in all of our lives. Everyone can relate to it and, used properly, weather can add to setting and mood in your story.

Weather has an important role in The Bartered Body, my latest mystery. A blizzard of epic proportion actually did occur in the eastern United States on the dates mentioned in the story. I hope I’ve employed my senses so readers will relate to Syl and Cyrus as they trudge through drifts and battle the biting wind while attempting to solve the mysteries facing them in this adventure.

Please leave a comment and tell us how you use the senses in a novel.  Or which is your favorite?  Do you ever think about using the sense of smell?  Thanks.

Here’s a blurb for The Bartered Body:

The Bartered Body by [Lindermuth, J R]

Why would thieves steal the body of a dead woman?

That’s the most challenging question yet to be faced by Sylvester Tilghman, the third of his family to serve as sheriff of Arahpot, Jordan County, Pennsylvania, in the waning days of the 19th century.

And it’s not just any body but that of Mrs. Arbuckle, Nathan Zimmerman’s late mother-in-law. Zimmerman is burgess of Arahpot and Tilghman’s boss, which puts more than a little pressure on the sheriff to solve the crime in a hurry.

Syl’s investigation is complicated by the arrival in town of a former flame who threatens his relationship with his sweetheart Lydia Longlow; clashes with his old enemy, former burgess McLean Ruppenthal; a string of armed robberies, and a record snowstorm that shuts down train traffic, cuts off telegraph service and freezes cattle in the fields.

It will take all of Syl’s skills and the help of his deputy and friends to untangle the various threads and bring the criminals to justice.

Buy links: https://www.sunburypressstore.com/The-Bartered-Body-9781620067567.htm

https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/books/1128291698?ean=9781620067567

Please leave us your thoughts on the use of the senses in a book.  Thanks.  jim

 

A Slippery Slope

Political Dirty Trick

For some time, I had been contemplating writing a story about a basically good person who is convinced to step over the line. Once over that line, the slope gets slippery. And it only gets slipperier as he or she moves.

I had intended to name the book, The Slippery Slope.

After watching national politics, I thought I might write a story about a political dirty trick. Please note, I was not, and am still not, taking sides. There were questionable activities on all sides. I had, and have, no political agenda in any of my writing. But authors need a background for the stories, and a real one works well if you are not writing fantasy.

Asking the important question for writers (What if?),  what if something went terribly wrong? There was an unexpected outcome.

Eventually, these two ideas came together to form the basis for Political Dirty Trick.

A woman who is a very law-abiding citizen gets talked into participating in a political dirty trick, or a podirt as they call it in the book. And then something goes wrong. She has crossed the line with this podirt. She is on the slippery slope. And it is so much more difficult to hold your ground, your normal behavior, when on a slippery slope.

In keeping with this theme of unexpected things, as I neared completion of the book, I discovered that an author I know was also completing a book and she had titled it, “A Slippery Slope.”  She assured me she would have no problem if I named my book the same.  But after some thought, I decided I would not do that. Rooting around for a title, I eventually came up with Political Dirty Trick.

It is set in Texas politics because all of my Crystal Moore suspense books are set in east Texas. Even when Crystal goes into the jungles of Mexico to rescue two young girls held captive (A Silver Medallion), much of the book takes place in east Texas. I doubt any political dirty tricks are ever employed in Texas politics. But, this is fiction, so I can take those liberties.

Political Dirty Trick will be released May 14, 2018. It is a nice suspense book with no basis in truth. But I believe you will enjoy the colorful characters, the suspense of keeping Crystal alive, and discovering what a dramatic affect this podirt had on a number of lives and an election.

Political Dirty Trick is on NetGalley, a site where readers can get a copy of the book with the expectation they will leave a review on Amazon and/or GoodReads.  NetGalley expects you to be a blogger, librarian, teacher, or what they call a “professional reader.”  That is, someone who will report on books to their readers. If you are interested, here is the link:  https://www.netgalley.com/widget/137928/redeem/f7beb8ab2448a2ffc3585a6b6b346f1fe652d229ebee86c662ca849d1a568266

The Kindle edition of Political Dirty Trick can be pre-ordered now on Amazon at: https://amzn.to/2pIHMqs

Cover decision this week – between:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Please comment on the covers, what you like and do not like.  And, feel free to leave a comment on the danger of stepping on a slippery slope.

 

Make Flawed Characters Likable

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Today’s guest is Kristin Neva, an author and blogger who writes small-town fiction set on Upper Michigan’s Keweenaw Peninsula. Kristin’s first book, Heavy, co-authored with her husband, Todd, journeys through the first year after Todd’s ALS diagnosis as the Nevas … Continue reading

The 10-day Writing Challenge

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Today, Leeann Betts issues a challenge.  She writes contemporary suspense, while her real-life persona, Donna Schlachter, pens historical suspense. She has released five titles in her cozy mystery series, By the Numbers. In addition, Leeann has written a devotional for … Continue reading

Mixing History with A Fiction Novel

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Elaine Faber is a member of Sisters in Crime, Inspire Christian Writers, and Cat Writers Association. She lives in Northern California with her husband and three housecats. She volunteers at the American Cancer Society Discovery Shop in Elk Grove, CA. … Continue reading

The Hard Work of Telling the Truth:

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D.R. Ransdell is a writer and musician. She spent five years in Mexico teaching English and learning folk songs. Now, she plays with a mariachi group and writes a murder mystery series about mariachi bandleader Andy Veracruz. She also teaches writing at … Continue reading

Should She Risk All?

An Interview with Crystal Moore, the heroine in A Silver Medallion

JIM: Well, let’s just jump right into it. Why on earth did you decide to go to Mexico when you knew how ruthless Jose Rodriquez de Allende was? First, are you an adventurer, a thrill seeker?

CRYSTAL: You didn’t waste any time getting to that. To answer your question, no I am not a thrill seeker, or an adventurer. The most dangerous thing I’ve ever done was say “No” to a man who had never heard that word. As to why I went, that’s a question I’ve heard a lot- sometimes even from myself. Do you want the long answer or the short answer?

JIM: Let’s start with the short.Cover - A Silver Medallion

CRYSTAL: Because of the threat to kill her two little girls if she tried to escape, or even told anybody of her situation, Lucita would never escape. She would spend her entire life a slave. But, if I could rescue her two children from Jose, she would be happy to try to escape.

JIM: But Jose was a powerful and vengeful man.

CRYSTAL: Now we’re into the long answer. First, I was naive. I wasn’t prepared for just how evil the man was. And living in a society where one can depend on the police to help, I naturally thought I’d have some good local or state police help. That turned out to be foolish on my part.

JIM: Okay. I understand part of it. But this was such a risky business, I know you had other reasons. Come on, tell us.

CRYSTAL: I guess the biggest one came from my own life. My parents were killed in a car accident when I was seven. It was such a difficult time for me, for a long time. But, nothing could be done about that. They were gone, dead. No one could help me. Of course, I had loving grandparents who took me in and gave me a secure, loving home. Still, it was very difficult. Twenty years later, I could still feel the pain. Now, I’m not saying anything against my grandparents. They were the best. Grand Dad has passed, but Nana and I are still really close. She’s my best friend. I love her a lot, and she thinks I’m pretty special.

But these two little girls didn’t have grandparents. They were virtual slaves themselves, living under a brutal man. They had no one to look after them, to try to give them a happy childhood. Yet, there was something that could be done to help them. Rescue them from Jose.

Of course, there was another powerful reason. Once I talked with the mother, had pictures of the girls, I couldn’t sleep. I would have nightmares about their treatment. I became a prisoner of their large brown eyes. I swear, I would wake up thinking I heard them crying. If I wanted to have a normal life again, I had to, at least, try to rescue them.

JIM: I’m beginning to understand why you went. But did you really think you would succeed? I mean, this was a powerful man, with many henchmen, in a foreign country.

iguana 5SCRYSTAL: You understand the dangers. Well, actually, I didn’t until I met Juan Grande. He made the dangers quite clear to me. But, you fix your mind on what you want to achieve. You don’t think about failure. You say, whatever the worse case is, I will figure out a way to make it through.

JIM: Okay. You’ve convinced me. You should have gone. But one last question. Did anyone else think you should go? Maybe Lucita.

CRYSTAL: No. No one. Nana, who can face down the devil, said I shouldn’t go. Brandi, as brash as they come, said it was a dumb idea. And Mark, a former bull rider, didn’t want me to go. Even Lucita had her doubts. She feared if I tried and failed, her children might suffer the consequences. Her fears almost stopped me.

JIM: That’s all we have time for today, I’m afraid. Another time, I want to know how your boyfriend took the news you were off to fight the devil himself. But we’ll need more time for that. Thanks for being so open and honest in your answers. I look forward to reading the full account in A Silver Medallion.

Readers, what do you think?  Should she have gone into Mexico?  Leave a comment and tell us whether you think she should have gone.  Thanks.  You can get all the details in A Silver Medallion, on Amazon at:

Kindle: http://amzn.to/1WxoEaF

Paperback:     http://amzn.to/28LIdWs

A Silver Medallion is a gripping, action-packed adventure from talented author James Callan.  Crystal Moore is a tough and savvy heroine …

 New York Times Bestselling Author Bobbi Smith

 

James Callan’s A Silver Medallion is a fine blend of colorful characters, action, suspense, and serious.  Crystal Moore and her grandmother, Eula, are a great team as they take on modern-day slavery and academic fraud in this nonstop novel.  Check it out!

 Bill Crider, best-selling author of the Sheriff Dan Rhodes series

 This book by Mr. Callan kept me hooked from the very beginning. Drawing a plot that seemed to leap from the headlines, he writes with a page turning intensity that will leave the reader satisfied. Crystal Moore is a heroine you can fall in love with. A woman willing to stand by her convictions of right and wrong, even if it means putting herself in danger, to accomplish her goal of righting the wrongs in the world.

Amazon Customer – Abookanight

Once I began reading it, putting it down became the challenge.

Amazon Review – Mary Turner

Cats Give Way to WWII

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Today’s guest is Elaine Faber, the California writer who generally has a cat as the chief sleuth.  She departs from that to bring us a story centered around World War II in her latest novel, Mrs. Odboddy – Hometown Patriot. (Of … Continue reading

Postmark from the Past

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Today, I’m interviewing Vickie Phelps, a woman who has published over 200 articles in both regional and national magazines.  She has also published five gift books with Barbour Publishing and is the co-author with Jo Huddleston of How to Write … Continue reading