Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Those Influencers

Writers on Facebook have recently been posting lists of the 15 authors who most influenced them.

Frankly, I think their number is too few. We're influenced by everything we read. We absorb all these influences, accepting some, rejecting others, until they coalesce into our peculiar style.

Robert Louis Stevenson suggests, "When you read a book or passage that pleases you, sit down at once and try to ape that quality which most pleases you."

No, Herkimer, that doesn't mean you should write like the writers you admire. I can write a pastiche of Hemingway. But I'm not Hemingway. You pick up bits and pieces of technique from other writers, then you make them yours.

Okay. You want to know who I'd put on my list of fifteen. I'm sure there were many more, but here's my list (in no particular order):

1.Edgar Allen Poe
2.Jack London
3.Emily Bronte
4.John Fowles
5.Washington Irving
6.Somerset Maugham
7.John Cheever
8.John Steinbeck
9.John Dickson Carr
10.Arthur Conan Doyle
11.Ernest Hemingway
12.Robert Louis Stevenson
13.Vladimir Nabokov
14.Ruth Rendell

15.Elmore Leonard

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Birding Seed For Novel Idea

"When you have seen one ant, one bird, one tree, you have not seen them all." E. O. Wilson

It's estimated only one-fifth of U.S. citizens engage in the interesting and beneficial (both economical and environmentally) pursuit. Still that's a lot of people for an avocation once regarded as the domain of spinsters and eccentric old men.

Birding has been around since the late 18th century (see Gilbert White and others) and the term bird watching was first used in 1891.

I admit I'm not a list keeper or as dedicated/erudite as some. A nephew of Roger Tory Peterson was my biology teacher in high school and he inspired me to an early interest in this and all things nature. I've continued to enjoy observing, seeing and hearing birds. I've read my Peterson, White, Teale, Sibley and others.

Among my favorites (though not in order and not divulging reasons) are the cardinal, flicker, ruffed grouse, whip-poor-will and crow.

My interest in this avocation was the seed idea for Shares The Darkness, seventh in my Sticks Hetrick crime series, to be published Sept. 16 by Torrid Books, a subsidiary of Whiskey Creek Press/Start Publishing. My character Officer Flora Vastine insisted on playing the lead this time, and I allowed her to have her way. I'm rather pleased with the results.

Here's the blurb for the book:

Jan Kepler and Swatara Creek Police Officer Flora Vastine were neighbors and schoolmates, but never close.
When Jan, a school teacher, avid birder and niece of a fellow officer, goes missing and is found dead in a nearby tract of woods Flora finds herself thrust into the middle of an examination of the other woman's life, as she searches for clues.
As usual, the police have more than one crime to deal with. There’s illegal timbering and a series of vehicle thefts taking up their time. And there are other issues to deal with. Flora is concerned there’s some shakiness in her relationship with Cpl. Harry Minnich who seems to be making a lot of secretive phone calls.
Still Flora maintains focus on the murder. Despite evidence implicating other suspects, the odd behavior of another former classmate rouses Flora’s suspicion. Flora’s probing opens personal wounds as she observes the cost of obsessive love and tracks down the killer.
Sales outlets:
And major book sellers everywhere.