DL Fowler's Blog

Exploring Lincoln’s Psychology

Posted in Lincoln, Lincoln Raw, Lincoln's Diary, Lincoln's Psychology, Psychopaths, PTSD, Themes by DLFowler on July 23, 2014

Was Lincoln the most successful white-collar psychopath in American history? His psychology suggests he suffered from personality “disorders” that are common to red-collar psychopaths (violent criminals.) But in his case, those same traits likely enabled his greatest contributions to American society.
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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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SYWS – Do Your Own Homework

Posted in Inside a Writer's Head, Psychology, Research, SYWS by DLFowler on November 13, 2011

Here’s the difference between an argument and a discussion – in the latter all participants did their own homework. Arguments turn into yelling matches because at least one person is defending a position they don’t fully understand, something unsupported by facts and rooted in emotion. 

I think (I call this speculation, but if I get too vested before I research the notion, I’ve got good fodder for an argument) the problem became pervasive with the invention of objective questions – multiple choice, fill in the blank, true/false. From there it evolved to don’t explain the problem, just give me the answer. 

At one point we got all our opinions from the liberal media. Today both sides get brainwashed (thank you ‘fair & balanced plus talk radio for evening the playing field in a game where everyone still loses.) Hey, if a talking head can mold my brain, why do I have to put out the effort to think?

So the risk in arguing is that everyone could be wrong. But in a discussion there’s value added by each contribution.

So the next time some one wants to think for you, just say no (okay, ‘no thank you’ if your mother’s tuned in.) After all, that simplistic slogan won the war on drugs, right. 

Earmarks of a Psychopath

One of my characters in Ripples is a psychopath. A retired CEO from a major financial services company.  (more…)

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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Lincoln Trivia #20

Posted in Lincoln, Lincoln Trivia, Lincoln's Diary, My Books, PTSD, Research by DLFowler on March 7, 2011

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:

Which former US Presidents did Lincoln most dislike? (Dislike is putting it mildly.)

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No Idea How This Wound Up On My Blog

Posted in Characters, Inside a Writer's Head, Plots, Plots, Psychology, Writing by DLFowler on February 25, 2011

Here’s what we love in a good story – a protagonist we care about (it doesn’t hurt if we fall in love with that person) and an antagonist we want to see the world get even with.  Hmm … it sounds like the way we like our politics.

 I saw a comment recently to the effect that dictators (I think the reference was to the Saudi royal family) hold on to power with generous social programs. Who bites the hand that feeds them?  The commenter made a veiled reference to American politicians as well.

But here’s the real deal. Despots throughout history have seized and maintained power by employing the same emotions that help people like me sell novels. As human beings we love to hate demons and save victims.  Write a book that does both and it will sell (of course you have to get the word out, which isn’t easy.)  Demonize the other guy in politics and people will follow you even when they’re hungry, as long as you get the word out and you’re a sympathetic victim or you can find an embraceable poster child.

The nice thing about  being a novelist is that your plot doesn’t have to be so believable if you can pull off the love/hate thing well enough. Your plot can be sort of like … well, real life. And readers will suspend belief long enough to follow your characters on whatever journey you have in mind for them.

Oh, I forgot. Life is stranger than fiction. If your story is too much like real life,  people won’t  believe it.  They’ll go back to thinking politicians buy power with generous social programs, and what they said about their adversaries was, well, it had to be the truth. Right?

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.