Conflict Makes the World Go Around

Today’s guest is J. R. Lindermuth, a retired newspaper editor and the author of 14 novels, including six in his Sticks Hetrick crime series. He currently serves as librarian of his county historical society, where he assists patrons with genealogy and research.  He lives and writes in a house built by a man who rode with Buffalo Bill Cody. Lindermuth’s  latest novel is The Tithing Herd, a classic Western.  He will give a digital copy to one of those who leaves a comment.  I’ve read the book.  I suggest you leave a comment.

All of us are defined by our desires. What we want, as well as what we need to sustain our lives. What a person is willing to do to achieve these desires creates conflict, both within ourselves and with others.

These conflicts–big and small–make the world go around. That is, our personal world–how we navigate in our personal lives as well as in our interactions with other people.

Conflict, therefore, is a necessity in any work of fiction if we want readers to accept the “reality” of our characters. Kurt Vonnegut suggested writers make their characters want something on every page. These desires, no matter how small or seemingly unimportant, reveal the nature of the character.

Such little revelations may not be important to the overall plot, but they give even minor characters a hint of humanity, something the reader can relate to and help stimulate interest in your people. Still, they shouldn’t be mediocre. Some psychological crisis or a secret which could relate to the plot would be better than Charley J. worrying will he have enough cash left this week to paint his porch.

Lester Dent, the prolific pulp writer and creator of Doc Savage, suggested introducing the hero and swatting him with a fistful of trouble right at the start and keeping it up throughout the story. That’s certainly conflict and guaranteed to keep the pot a-boiling, essential in a pulp story. But sometimes it’s better to spread the conflict between all the major characters and sort out the problems between them as happens in real life. We’re all individuals, but relationships with others are important to our overall welfare. Action is important to move a story, but it doesn’t always have to involve gunfights or car chases to be interesting.

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In my latest novel The Tithing Herd, Lute Donnelly is a former lawman obsessed with the idea of vengeance against the outlaws who murdered his brother. Lute is diverted first from his goal by compassion for Tom Baskin, a youth duped by the outlaws and falsely accused of rustling. Helping Tom enables Lute to regain a semblance of his true nature. He’s diverted once more when Serene McCullough, the woman he loves, begs his help in moving the herd cash-strapped Mormons have gathered to pay their church tithe. When the outlaws kidnap Serene and hold her ransom for the cattle Lute’s desire for vengeance is supplanted by desperation to rescue her.

Each of the other major characters in this story also have desires driving them to act as they do. Granted, most of those desires are of less significance than that of my protagonist, but they are essential to the action of the story and to their relationship with Donnelly.

The Tithing Herd is available from Sundown Press http://www.sundownpress.com/, the publisher; on Amazon, Barnes & Noble and other major booksellers.

For more about the author and his books visit http://www.jrlindermuth.net

And remember to leave a comment – even a short one – for a chance to receive a free copy of this classical western.

 

 

Fiction Needs Facts!

Today’s guest is a retired newspaper editor, J. R. Lindermuth.  He lives and writes in a house built by a man who rode with Buffalo Bill Cody. He has published 16 novels, including six in his Sticks Hetrick crime series, plus a non-fiction regional history. His short stories and articles have been published in a variety of magazines. He is a member of International Thriller Writers and is a past vice president of the Short Mystery Fiction Society. He currently serves as librarian of his county historical society, where he assists patrons with genealogy and research

If you write fiction, you have to pay attention to facts.

That may sound like a contradiction, but it isn’t meant to. Fiction offers a simulation of reality and if you wrongly portray something your reader knows as ‘fact’ you may be called out on it.

Suppose you’re writing a story set in Arizona in the 1870s (as I did with Geronimo Must Die). You can rely on imagination and create a world to suit your purpose. That’s called fantasy and, if your reader is informed that’s the intent, it’ll probably be accepted without question.

On the other hand, if you want your reader to believe the story is set in this place and time, it becomes important to express things as they actually were. You can twist things a little to suit your purpose (that’s called fiction), so long as your reader is willing to accept them. For instance, your reader will accept your character riding a horse or mule but may frown if you seat them on a dragon (that would be fantasy).

There are two methods. One is called empathy. The other is research.

Empathy is vicariously experiencing the emotion, thought or action of another person. This is a useful tool for a writer in many circumstances. However it has its limits. Some characteristics are timeless. But you live in the 21st century and attitudes today differ to a certain degree from those of the 19th century. How can you know what’s true today was also true then?

The answer is through research. You don’t have a time machine, but we do have a good substitute to give us some idea of what life was like in those days. Reading biographies, histories and fiction of the period provides some insight. These sources were important to me in accurately depicting the Apache and life on the San Carlos reservation. An even better choice for general historical fiction is newspapers of the period. Newspapers reflect the character of the times in which they’re created–they show us what was important to people, what they did with their time, their morals, their prejudices. Everything you need to create a believable character of the period.

These newspapers are available in collections at historical societies, in many libraries and even on line. Librarians are good at telling us where to find newspapers to suit our needs. Reading them is fun and sure to stimulate your imagination.

Here’s a blurb for Geronimo Must Die:

Geronimo and rascally half-breed Indian scout Mickey Free have never been friends.

Yet, Mickey has already saved Geronimo’s life twice (without acknowledgement) and is the only one who can keep the great Apache leader out of the sniper’s sights now. The sniper has already murdered several tribal leaders and Mickey believes it’s all a plot to prompt a great runaway from the hated San Carlos reservation.

Mickey’s efforts are stymied by Al Sieber, head of scouts, and John Clum, reservation agent, as well as suspicion of other Indians. Adding to his problems, Mickey is in love with a girl whose name he keeps forgetting to ask and who may be allied to the plot.

Only perseverance, risk to his life and, eventually, Geronimo’s help will enable Mickey to resolve this dangerous situation.

Lindermuth’s  latest novel, Geronimo Must Die, a classic Western, was released on March 28 by Sundown Press.

 https://www.amazon.com/Geronimo-Must-Die-J-Lindermuth-ebook/dp/B06XFZJG5H/ref=la_B002BLJIQ8_1_20?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1490444850&sr=1-20&refinements=p_82%3AB002BLJIQ8

 

 

Cowboys Saved Her Career

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Today’s guest is Shannon Taylor Vannatter, a stay-at-home mom and a pastor’s wife.  She also happens to be a traditionally published,  award-winning author with series books in more than one genre.  She says it took her nine years to get … Continue reading

Imagination, not invention

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Today’s guest is John Lindermuth, a retired newspaper editor, and the author of 14 novels, including six in his Sticks Hetrick crime series. He currently serves as librarian of his county historical society, where he assists patrons with genealogy and research. … Continue reading

An Amazing Writer – You Won’t be Disappointed

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This week, we have an extraordinary visitor, Dr. Judy Alter. She was director of a university press for many years, has written dozens of books, both fiction and non-fiction, and achieved high recognition with the Western Writers of America.  Because of … Continue reading

Jory Sherman – He Paints Pictures with Words

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Today, we continue the interview with Jory Sherman.  If you didn’t read the first part, you should.  It’s right below this post.  Start with it and then continue with this one.  It’s worth your time. Jim:  Okay. Last week, you … Continue reading

Jory Sherman – A National Treasure

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Today, we are especially honored to have Jory Sherman visiting The Author’s Blog.  Jory has been called a national treasure by Loren Estleman, a rather impressive author himself.   One of the amazing things is that Jory has achieved success in virtually every … Continue reading

Multi-Award Winner Dusty Richards

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We’re back visiting with Dusty Richards, an author with 120 books published and almost as many awards.  If you missed the first half of this interview, you can find it immediately below this part.  I recommend you scroll down and … Continue reading

Dusty Richards – A Major Force in Western Writing

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Today, we “start” an interview with Dusty Richards.  I say start because this author is too big, his books too well received, his awards too numerous to be able to cover him in one blog.  To give you an example … Continue reading