DL Fowler's Blog

In Memoriam: Hank Searls 

Posted in Favorite Books, Hank Searls, Inspiration, Intimacy, Show Don't Tell, Sounding by DLFowler on May 14, 2017

I recently learned that one of my favorite authors, Hank Searls, passed away at 94 years old, on February 17, 2017. He was a gifted and prolific writer. You might recall Jaws 2.

I had the privilege of meeting Hank several years ago, and we spent a good hour or more talking about writing.  One of my all-time favorite novels is Sounding, Hank’s story about an aging sperm whale. It has been called the best whale novel since Moby Dick.

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Character in Characters

The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Those words define what we mean by character. They are words that remind us of  the difference between a leader and a con-man. For writers like me, these words are a guide to crafting characters who inspire readers through stories. Characters with character are more important today, than ever before.

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Lincoln Scholarship – an evolution

Writing about Lincoln is tricky, in part because today’s author must reconcile three distinct periods of Lincoln scholarship that take different slants on who he was and what he believed.

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Vampire Hunter – Abraham Lincoln?

So it’s time for me to weigh in on the latest commercialization of our revered 16th President – I believe that Seth Grahame-Smith is an absolute …

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Strange Addictions & Habits–Do They All Have to Have Meaning?

Posted in Bloggers, Characters, Inside a Writer's Head, Kristen Lamb, Psychology, Show Don't Tell by DLFowler on April 29, 2011

Strange Addictions & Habits–Do They All Have to Have Meaning?.

Kristen is one of my favorite bloggers. And the comments on this one are great, too.

What’s Special About Female Protagonists?

I was recently asked the following question in an interview on PaperBackSwap’s blog.  You can read the entire interview here.

In your new novel, Lincoln’s Diary, the protagonist is a female. Was it difficult for you as a man to write a book from a woman’s perspective?

Not really.

As a writer I like to show my characters’ emotions by describing how their feelings play out on their faces, in their gestures and through their actions. Women make my job easy because they tend to be quite aware of their emotions and telegraph their feelings through facial expressions, body language and movement.

Men aren’t nearly as versed as women when it comes to understanding their own emotions. As a result, they find it harder to express themselves not just verbally, but through their bodies, generally.  And when they do understand what they’re feeling, their instinct is to mask it. That makes it hard to follow the writers’ rule, “Show, don’t tell.”

That said, a main character in my next novel is a man who has focused his whole life on keeping his emotions a closely guarded secret.

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Lincoln Trivia Question #1

As I travel the country in coming months, promoting my new book, Lincoln’s Diary – a novel, I’ll be engaging readers with some tidbits about the real Abraham Lincoln. Focusing on some thngs they never told us in school. There will even be prizes for people who invest in some research to answer the trivia questions on my website.

So here’s some help on your research, one of the questions – and the answer:

What was the name of the boy who saved Lincoln from drowning in Knob Creek when he was just 7 years old?

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I Believe In …

By the way, the opposite of belief isn’t logic, it’s disbelief.   Reasoning is what we do to fortify our beliefs. 

A friend of mine (we’ll call  him John because that’s his real name, and since I know so many people named John no one will know who I’m talking about) – anyway, he told me “Human beings are not rational, we’re rationalizers.”

While I was doing research for my novel, Lincoln’s Diary, I discovered that Abe Lincoln was great at rationalizing. My favorite example was his reply to the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court who complained the Emancipation Proclamation was unconstitutional. Lincoln replied that it  certainly was constitutional since, as commander-in-chief, he had the constitutional authority to appropriate enemy property to advance the war effort. But if slaves weren’t property, the Proclamation didn’t do anything, so it didn’t violate the Constitution. 

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Another Excerpt from Lincoln’s Diary – a novel

Posted in Kindle, Lincoln's Diary, My Books, Nook, Show Don't Tell, Writing by DLFowler on February 21, 2011

Sarah took steady breaths as she walked down Cordova, a wide, lighted street lined with trees, bungalows, box houses and low-rise apartment buildings.  Interior lights filtered out of several windows, meaning at least a few people were still up. They’d be able to hear her screams if she got into deep trouble. Her pace slowed and her heart pumped faster as she remembered stories about people getting mugged in broad daylight, surrounded by diffident bystanders. So there was no guarantee anyone would help her. She scanned the shadows for anything that didn’t belong.

At the Chester Avenue intersection, her heart went into overdrive. It was a narrow lane with no streetlights.  The trees that bordered both sidewalks arched toward the middle of the street, creating the illusion of a vortex that led into another world. All she needed was for the black-cloaked Lincoln aficionados to pop out of the darkness and start chasing her.

A short distance past the tennis courts she craned her neck and peeked between rows of shrubs that framed the opening of a path into the park. She could hear her heart pounding inside her chest as she stepped back, calculating her approach.  Out of the corner of her eye she noticed a second path veering off just a few yards further down the sidewalk. She took slow, deep breaths and edged her way in its direction.  No more than five yards down that path she could see the bench she was told to look for. It was in plain sight, even in the darkness.  She clutched her bag close to her side and hesitated. Was her stalker close enough that he, too, could hear her heart thumping?

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Be Practical … not

Posted in Emotions, Inside a Writer's Head, My Books, Writing by DLFowler on February 19, 2011

Be practical. Okay, but being impractical is often the most practical thing we can do. 

Let me explain.  I love to write. I love to talk about my writing. I love to hear other people talk about my writing. But writing for a living is impractical.

For thirty years I did the practical thing – or so I thought. Everything I did seemed hard. I procrastinated a lot. I was easily disappointed and discouraged when things didn’t go well. I’m hard pressed to point to anything I did in my non-writing career that I’d do over again. I always tried to do my best, though often I didn’t do things as well as I probably could have done them. What was I doing? Mostly business and finance type stuff. Always in demand. Pretty much recession-proof. However for me, it was the impractical thing.

Here’s what’s practical – and never let anyone snow you into thinking otherwise.  Do what makes your blood flow hotter than lava.

Doing what you love is practical.  Why? You’ll become better at it than anything else you try to do. You’ll do it without hesitation. You won’t want to go to bed at night, because you can’t have fun while you’re sleeping. And you’ll bounce out of bed before the world’s ready for you, because you’ve waited long enough already. You’ll never realize you’re working. People will love being around you, even if they do have to listen to you go on and on about whatever it is you’re doing.

And best of all you won’t worry about money, because however much or little you make will be just fine, thank you. Money doesn’t make you happy. Doing what you love makes you happy.  Here’s the proof – money stresses you out, but doing what you enjoy makes a smile break out across your face. If you’re doing what you love, the money thing works itself out, one way or another.

Oh, what’s the best way to do that thing you do? The way you do it.