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.

 

What Role does Location Play?

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Today’s post is from Leeann Betts. She writes contemporary suspense, while her real-life persona, Donna Schlachter, pens historical suspense. She has released six titles in her cozy mystery series, By the Numbers, with Petty Cash releasing in December. Here, she talks … Continue reading

Helping a Stranger

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I received this from an Austrailian author, Kitty Boyes.  I don’t often post these, but I thought this raised a question sufficiently interesting that I would put it up.  I would love to hear if any of you have experienced … Continue reading

Bloom Where You Are Planted

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Our guest today is Lynn Hobbs. She is an award-winning authorof inspirational Christian fiction and biographies.  Each book in her first series, Running Forward, a powerful faith and family saga, won first place for Religious fiction in the Texas Association … Continue reading

The Cairo Puzzle

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Today’s guest is Laurence O’Bryan.  He’s an Irish writer who has achieved some notoriety with his “puzzle” novels.  Today, he talks about his fifth in the series, The Cairo Puzzle.  I visited the Great Pyramid of Giza in February, 2017. … Continue reading

An Inrewrview with Eula Moore

Today I’m interviewing Eula Moore, the grandmother of Crystal Moore, heroine of A Ton of Gold and A Silver Medallion. Hello, Eula. How are you today?

EULA: I’m upright, and I’m talking, so I guess I’m doing pretty good.

JIM: Tell me about The Park, since it seems to play a big part in Crystal’s adventures.

EULA: The Park, that’s where I live, is where Crystal grew up. Her parents were both killed in a freak auto accident when Crystal was a little tyke. So she came to live with us at The Park. It’s 320- acres in the piney woods of east Texas. Dan and I bought it when we was first married. That was might near sixty years ago. Couldn’t afford it. But you know kids. We got it and made it work. It’s a beautiful places with a great lake, good fishing, nice hills, and lots a trees. Very peaceful. We named it The Park right after we move on it. Anyways, Crystal roamed around The Park from the time she was seven until she went off to college at S.M.U. and then Stanford. Course, now she lives in Dallas. Too much traffic and noise there for me.

JIM: You mentioned Dan. That’s Crystal’s granddad?

EULA: Was. He went to meet his maker a dozen years ago. My first and only true love. And a great Dad and Granddad for Crystal.

JIM: That must have been about the time Crystal left for S.M.U..

EULA: Right. S.M.U. and then rode off to Californi. Entered some kind a Ph.D. program or other.

JIM: Did she earn her doctorate?

EULA: Nope. Something happened just before she was to finish. Don’t know what, and she never would say. Didn’t want to talk about it. Never did. But, she thought she was just a few months from ending and she ups and leaves and comes home. Moped around The Park for months. Finally got a job at that info retrieval company where she works now. That has perked her up. She getting back to her old self.

JIM: This past year, she went down to Mexico to rescue some young girls. What did you think about that? I mean, she doesn’t seem like the adventure-seeking type to me.

EULA: She ain’t. And I thought it was a dumb thing to do. Could a got herself killed. But she’s got a soft spot for things that can’t help themselves. So, off she went.

JIM: Didn’t you try to stop her?

EULA: She a grown woman. And she’s got a strong head and, except for that fool thing, a good head on her shoulders. I told her it was a dumb idea. But she thought those kids would never be free unless she did something.

JIM: And she did rescue the girls and reunite them with their mother.

EULA: Yes sir. She did. Course then she had two crooks trying to kill here. Good thing she had her old Nana to help her take care of them skunks.

JIM: I’d love to hear the details of how you two captured two assassins.

EULA: And I’d love to tell you. But not today. I got a game of Mexican Train waiting for me. Don’t want to keep my friends waiting. You come on back another day and I’ll tell you how I captured those two bums. Well, actually it was Crystal and me. But right now, I gotta go. Bye.

JIM: And folks, she just took off. I never had an interview end so abruptly. We’ll get back with her on another day. Knowing what I’m finding out about Eula, I’m sure it will be an interesting story. That’s all for today.