What do (some) writers and religious fundamentalists have in common?

Welcome back, John Lindermuth! Today is launch day for John’s latest, In Silence Sealed, and I’m thrilled that he’s celebrating here. Let me tell you, In Silence Sealed is quite a page turner!

And it’s John’s third visit to my blog. In September, 2016, he talked about Shares the Darkness. He returned in April, 2017 when he released Geronimo Must Die.

It’s all yours, John. Give us a glimpse of In Silence Sealed.

Some writers are like religious fundamentalists.

They read, or hear someone discuss a rule they’ve heard about, and it becomes gospel. It doesn’t have to come from Strunk and White’s The Elements of Style to start them red penciling whole paragraphs of a novel. Just mention “rule” and it immediately becomes scripture, part of a revised Talmud, and you couldn’t pay them to violate it.

They forget rules are intended to be guides and not a new version of the Quran. Rules are not absolute law. Generally there’s good reasoning behind them and it pays to abide by them. There are also times when they can and should be violated. And, if you should break one of these rules, you won’t have the Taliban pursuing you (though some critic may lambast you).

Elmore Leonard’s 10 Rules of Writing are observed with ritual devotion by some scriveners. I love Leonard’s work. I think he’s a great stylist and the rules are a sound selection. But, with little effort, I’m sure you can find many admirable writers who’ve broken some of these rules at one time or another. In fact, if you read a lot of Elmore’s stories (as I have) you’ll see even he occasionally drifts from the canon. This isn’t blasphemy. Leonard sometimes spoke with tongue in cheek and was aware of Somerset Maugham’s dictum: “There are three rules for writing a novel. Unfortunately, no one knows what they are.”

This matter of rules applies equally to those in law enforcement. One such unspoken rule poses a quandary for Stick’s friend Aaron Brubaker, Swatara Creek police chief, in my latest novel, In Silence Sealed, eighth in the Sticks Hetrick series.

Aaron’s daughter, Lydia, is the prime suspect when her new boyfriend Jason Russell is murdered. The rule in question prevents Aaron from being involved in the investigation, which is being conducted by State Police. Aaron’s frustration is only minimally relieved when State Police Sgt. Chris Runyan agrees to Hetrick’s assistance and permits Swatara Creek Cpl. Harry Minnich to help with forensics. Brubaker’s worries increase with discovery the pistol he’d insisted Lydia carry is missing and may be the murder weapon.

Lydia, daughter of Swatara Creek Police Chief Aaron Brubaker, is accused of murdering her boyfriend Jason Russell, handsome but feckless stepson of Clay Stoneroad, a famous writer who recently moved to a farm outside town.

Daniel “Sticks” Hetrick, now a county detective, is determined to prove Lydia’s innocence. His job is made more difficult when the weapon her father insisted she carry is found missing.

Mysteries surround the Stoneroad family. Vickie Walker, a strange young woman also recently arrived in town insists that Nan Calder, the writer’s secretary, is her sister, a claim Calder denies. Then Diana Wozniak, reporter for a sleazy tabloid, is the victim of a hit-and-run accident and police learn she attempted to blackmail the writer.

The sudden disappearance of Lydia and Vickie puts Hetrick and his friends in a desperate race against time to find them, unravel secrets and apprehend the real killer.

Hetrick pulled his pickup in beside the State Police cruiser, switched off the engine and swigged the last of his coffee. It wasn’t unusual for him to be called in for a serious crime in his territory but, gazing round, it surprised him the locals hadn’t arrived on the scene.

A young trooper stepped up as he exited the truck. “Detective Hetrick?”


“They’re waiting for you in the paddock behind the barn, sir,” he said, gesturing in the direction.

“Swatara Creek not here yet?”

The trooper gave him a perplexed look. “Uh, no, sir.”

Gravel crunching underfoot, Hetrick headed up the grade. He glanced toward the house and saw a light in a window at the rear in what he assumed must be the kitchen. A curl of smoke lifted from a chimney into a gray sky. There was a chill in the air and frost glistened in the faded grass of the yard. Hetrick drew up the collar of his coat.

Reaching the paddock he saw Doc Furman bent over a body on the ground. Sergeant Chris Runyan nodded and gave a quick two-finger salute as he noted Hetrick’s approach. Runyan was as tall as Sticks but with a heavier build. He wore the traditional PSP campaign hat with a black commando sweater over his gray uniform shirt and dark trousers.

“Morning, Sticks,” Runyan said, blue eyes in a ruddy face twinkling. “It’s been a while since we called you out of bed this early in the day,” he added with a grin. 

“What have we got?”

“Male, late twenties, early thirties,” Doc said, gazing up. “Gunshot wound to the temple.”

“Jason Russell,” Runyan added. He pointed toward the house. “Lived here with his mother, stepfather and the stepfather’s secretary.”

“I know who he is,” Hetrick said. “I’ve met Mr. Stoneroad. Who found the body?”“From what we’ve been told, the secretary. I haven’t finished my interviews. We’ll go in when the doctor is done here.”

“Has Aaron been notified? Unusual for his people to arrive later than us.”

Runyan shook his head. “Haven’t called him.”

Sticks gave him a puzzled look.

Intrigued? Like I said, In Silence Sealed is a page turner. Order your copy here. 

J.R. Lindermuth, a retired newspaper editor, lives and writes in a house built by a man who rode with Buffalo Bill Cody. He has published more than 16 novels and 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.

Webpage: http://www.jrlindermuth.net

Amazon author page: http://www.amazon.com/author/jrlindermuth

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Thanks, John!



What do (some) writers and religious fundamentalists have in common? — 6 Comments

  1. Congratulations on the new release, John! I’ll admit I sometimes make myself cringe when I break a “rule” of writing, but I’m usually glad I did. I think some rules come and go depending on the industry climate, too, just like fashion. For example, it’s currently a rule not to start a book with a dream or a flashback. That wasn’t always the case, and I’m sure there will come a time when it’s acceptable again. In the meantime, there are probably authors out there who can get away with it now and do so successfully.