Friday, October 29, 2010

Defining Success with Guest Blogger John Lindermuth

Win a copy of Being Someone Else and discuss success with author John Lindermuth today at the Book Boost.

Here's what he had to say...

Everyone wants to succeed.

It’s human nature. Everyone loves a winner and no one wants to fail.

Like other creative people, it’s in the nature of writers to crave recognition. And money certainly complements other forms of recognition. A few people in our own generation have become very wealthy as a result of their fiction. Many more supplement meager earnings from fiction with a day job.

And that’s been the case historically. Recognition for many, many writers didn’t come until long after their deaths. Now surely all of us would prefer to have some of that acclaim and money while we’re around to enjoy it. Realistically, we have to abide with the facts.

Many of those we envision as great barely made a living from their writing. Poe had little recognition and lived in poverty most of his life. Joyce? He also died in financial straits. F. Scott Fitzgerald, now considered one of America’s leading writers, didn’t make much money from The Great Gatsby or Tender is the Night, which are now considered his best novels. Katherine Anne Porter, a major voice in 20th century American literature, supported herself with journalism and hack writing. Yet they were committed to writing and stuck with it.

James Lee Burke’s wonderful The Lost Get Back Boogie garnered more than 100 rejections before it was finally published and went on to be nominated for a Pulitzer Prize.

Few of us write fiction because we expect to get rich. We don’t write because of lack of ability to do something else. We write because we want to—and that doesn’t demean it to the limit of a hobby. Not that there’s anything wrong with hobbies. But a hobby is something we do primarily for entertainment; a diversion from the trials and cares of every day life. Anyone who tries it will soon learn writing fiction is not always entertaining. It’s hard work and anything but a diversion.

The thing is, if you’re going to write, you must be prepared for rejection and failure. You must also be prepared to learn from every one of those failures. As Alexander Smith so aptly put it,
“In the wide arena of the world, failure and success are not accidents as we so frequently suppose, but the strictest justice. If you do your fair day’s work, you are certain to get your fair day’s wage—in praise or pudding, whichever happens to suit your taste.”

And, as Elizabeth George points out in Write Away, “Lots of people want to have written; they don’t want to write. To reach that end (publication), you have to be willing just to set it aside, knowing that it may never happen at all but not much caring because it’s the writing that matters to you; it’s the mystery and magic of putting words on paper that are truly important.”

A Note from the Book Boost: Very well said, John. Sometimes while struggling to reach our publication goals, it becomes easy to forget that we read because we choose to but we write because it chooses us. Thanks for joining us today and please tell us more about your book!


Some people believe violence is foreign to our nature. Dan ‘Sticks’ Hetrick, retired chief and consultant to the Swatara Creek police department, knows better. We put a lid on our natural tendency to violence when we started living in groups, devising moral codes to hold it in check and allow us to live in harmony with others. But, deep down in the Id, there is always that tendency to violence.

When an out-of-state reporter is found murdered in the restroom of a disreputable bar the tendency to violence spirals in the rural Pennsylvania community, and the investigative trail keeps bringing Hetrick and his team back to the family of a wealthy doctor who has come back to his hometown in retirement.

Hetrick and his protégé Officer Flora Vastine are joined by an old friend from his State Police days as they unravel old secrets and mysteries in a tale with as many shocking twists as a country road.


The best thing about a double shift was that it eventually ended. Tired as she was, Flora Vastine found solace in that thought. She loved her job but this had been a tough week and Flora was grateful, realizing tomorrow she would be off duty. She’d been on cruiser patrol Friday night and now, well into Saturday morning, Flora was ready to head home and get to bed. Fortunately her night had been boringly uneventful.

Earlier she’d been a bit jealous the call for the DOA at Vinnie’s Bar had gone to Fred and not her. Now the thought that her fellow officer might still be at the crime site while she was at the end of her shift was cause for something akin to pleasure.

Flora stifled a yawn and rolled down the cruiser window. Though there were still a few gray patches of snow in the field opposite, the air wafting in through the opening felt warm, even muggy. She recalled seeing a robin yesterday morning while on her run and remembered there was a misty green haze of buds about to pop on the trees. Spring was definitely in the air.

Tomorrow she and Harry would spend time together for the first time in weeks. He’d promised a surprise.
Flora had a suspicion. Her birthday was approaching and Harry and her father had been closeted in secret conversations several times in recent weeks. Were they planning a party? She hoped not. That was for kids.

But a surprise gift would be…

The whine of a motor interrupted her thoughts. Motorcycle. Not loud enough for a Harley. Maybe a Yamaha or Suzuki. Her brother Ed used to have a Suzuki. It made that same pinging sound as it accelerated. She saw it then. The driver hunched low over the bars, veered off the street, cut diagonally across the field behind her and disappeared into a stand of trees. There was a trail back there; narrow but wide enough for a bike. She hoped he knew where he was going. Bad to take a spill in those woods late like this when few people would be available to help if you were hurt.

Flora switched on the ignition and put her vehicle in gear.

Headlamps flashed through the trees and she heard the approach of another vehicle. Fast, too. Too fast, even if it was late and no other traffic on the road. There were some dangerous curves on this stretch.

The vehicle flew past, tires whomping in ruts, kicking up a cloud of dust and flinging stones. Flora pulled out in pursuit. She turned on her overheads and hit the siren once in warning. High-speed chases were against department policy. Flora hoped the driver would heed her warning.

And he did.

Squealing its brakes and throwing up another veil of dust, the car fish-tailed to a halt at the bottom of the grade. The driver revved the engine but didn’t move again as she pulled in behind him. The moon was bright enough overhead she could clearly make out a red Mazda Miata convertible. Late model. Maybe a 2006.

Nice ride. Fast on the take off and plenty of speed. What did the ads say? Zoom, zoom. Right. Maybe it was a good thing the driver pulled over. She wasn’t sure her cruiser had the stuff to catch it if he hadn’t.

Flora took her Mag-lite and got out, approaching the driver’s side cautiously. She could see the driver watching her in the side mirror. He turned his face up and smiled as Flora stepped up beside him. “What’s the trouble, sweet-thing?”

Flora felt her face go hot with the remark. Some people just didn’t respect the uniform. “License and registration, sir,” she snapped.

“Sure. What’s the problem?”

“You were speeding, sir.”

He grinned as Flora shone the light in his face and across the interior. Mid to late-thirties, tanned—at this time of year—blond, tousled hair a bit on the long side. His green eyes sparkled in the light. “Yeah. Guess I was going a bit fast. But there’s nobody else out and I know this road like the back of my hand.”

“I’ll need to see your license and…”

“Sure, sure.” He reached a hand to the glove box and pulled out the documents.

Flora took them to the rear of the vehicle, held the light up and scanned them. Philip Donahue, Turkey Hollow Road. She didn’t know the driver but the road wasn’t far from here.

“Everything okay, sweetie?” Donahue called.

Burning, Flora stalked up to his side. “Sir, have you been drinking?”

“Okay. I confess. I had a couple beers. Can I go now if I promise to take it slower. I just want to get home to bed.”

“Would you step out of the car, please.”

With a sibilant sigh, Donahue opened the door and slid out. He was taller than her, athletic looking. “You wanna do the Breathalyzer?”

She was half inclined to put him through the whole routine. Instead, she said, “Let’s just see if you can walk a straight line.”

He gave her a smile and took off, walking fast, one foot in front of the other. He turned and came back again.

“Shall I touch my nose with my forefinger now?” he asked.

Flora was forced to grin. “I see you’ve been through this before.”

“A few times.”

“You realize I’m gonna have to give you a speeding ticket.” She could have went for a DUI but she was tired and that inclined her to leniency.

He shrugged. “Write away, my dear. Only don’t take too long, okay? I just want to get this tired ol’ body home to bed.”

She wrote out the ticket, gave him his copy and documents. “Go on home, sir, but take it a little more cautiously.”

Donahue glanced at the ticket, gave her a salute and started to get back in the Mazda. Then he swiveled round to face her. “Does Officer Vastine have a first name?”

Flora scowled. “Just go home, Mr. Donahue.”

He nodded and got in the car. “Okay, pretty Officer Vastine. See you around.” He put the Mazda in gear and pulled out, spraying dirt and pebbles which clattered against Flora’s cruiser.

Want More John?

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Margot Kinberg said...

John - You are so right! The best fiction comes from people who write because they need to write - because something inside them drives them to. At least, that's why I write. Of course the money, fame and so on would be nice. But if writing is really inside a person, she or he will write, even if it's never published. And if that kind of person keeps writing, it will be.

Pauline Holyoak said...

Great info. John. You are a wonderful word weaver....

margaret blake said...

John you are so right,writing must be a compulsion, as you say it's not always a pleasure, it's sometime a great pain! You also have to be able to take the knocks, get up and come out punching again.

I so enjoyed this blog, John, but there's nothing new in that 'cos I love all your blogs. Good luck with the book.

obxwriter said...

John: As I've said before, I write to please myself, and if someone else likes my work, that's a bonus--and helps with the royalty checks, too.

For anyone who has yet to read Being Someone Else, or any other book by J. R. Lindermuth, I highly recommend his work (see my reviews of his work on Amazon, Gather, etal.) Best of success with this new release.

Douglas Quinn
Author of the Webb Sawyer Mysteries, etal.

Lucy said...

Hi John,

Thanks for the giveaway!
Please enter me.

At what age did you decide to become a writer?

Kathleen said...

Great advice John. I second your comments. We write because the story and the characters in our heads won't go away.

jrlindermuth said...

Lucy, I think I was making up stories to amuse myself long before I ever considered myself a writer. Conscious efforts in that direction, though, began in high school. As I said, it's been a long road.

Margaret Tanner said...

Great blog John. You raised some terrific points. I think writing is an addiction,we do because we just can't not do it.



Elaine Cantrell said...

Great points, John. If I wrote only for the money I would have quit long ago. You don't have to enter me in your contest. I just bought your book. I loved the excerpt and can't wait to read it.