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

 

Conflict Makes the World Go Around

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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 … Continue reading

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