If you are interested in blogging or want to promote your book, please contact E. B. Davis at writerswhokill@gmail.com.

October Interviews
10/2 Debra H. Goldstein, Two Bites To Many
10/10 Connie Berry, A Legacy of Murder
10/17 Lida Sideris, Double Murder or Nothing
10/23 Toni L. P. Kelner writing as Leigh Perry, The Skeleton Stuffs A Stocking
10/30 Jennifer David Hesse, Autumn Alibi

Saturday Guest Bloggers:
10/5 Ang Pompano
10/12 Eyes of Texas Anthology Writers
10/19 Neil Plakcy

WWK Bloggers: 10/26 Kait Carson


Congratulations to our writers for the following publications:

Lyrical Press will publish Kaye George's Vintage Sweets mystery series. The first book, Revenge Is Sweet, will be released in March. Look for the interview here on 3/11.

Shari Randall will be writing again for St. Martin's, perhaps under a pseudonym. We look forward to reading Shari's Ice Cream Shop Mystery series debuting next year. Congratulations, Shari!

Susan Van Kirk's A Death At Tippett Pond was released on June 15th. Read E. B. Davis's interview with Susan.

KM Rockwood's "Frozen Daiquiris" appears in The Best Laid Plans: 21 Stories of Mystery & Suspense, edited by Judy Penz Sheluk. The anthology was released on June 18th.

Fishy Business anthology authors include KM Rockwood, Debra Goldstein, and James M. Jackson. This volume was edited by Linda Rodriguez.

Please read Margaret S. Hamilton and Debra Goldstein's short stories (don't ask about their modus operandi) in a new anthology, Cooked To Death Vol. IV: Cold Cut Files.

Warren Bull's Abraham Lincoln: Seldom Told Stories was released. It is available at: GoRead: https://www.goread.com/book/abraham-lincoln-seldom-told-stories or at Amazon: https://tinyurl.com/ydaklx8p

Grace Topping's mystery, Staging is Murder was released April 30.


Sunday, September 2, 2012

How Do You Use Light?

Moonlight seen from the deck

As I write this blog, a mild breeze shivers the leaves of the trees between our house and the lake and causes the evening light to dance on the water. Most of the leaves are still green, and the light shines from slightly north of west. In three weeks the leaves will be yellows, oranges, reds and browns; the sunset will appear due west. It was just such a day fifteen years ago we first walked the land we now call home.

Early Autumn
In her interviews fellow blogger E. B. asks as a bonus question, “Beach or mountains?” My answer would be first “yes” and then “no.” In my fantasies as a young adult, I dreamed of retiring to three homes. One in high mountains to avoid summer’s heat; a second on a remote northern lake for spring and fall; the third on an ocean beach for winter.

As financial reality (and the impracticality of taking care of multiple residences by one who thinks home repairs are much closer to death by hanging on the scale of punishments than to a day in a jail) I only own one of those dreams. I could have chosen any of the three, but I picked the remote northern lake.

I think it is because of the light.

Mountain retreats or oceanfront property provide the opportunity for horizon-length vistas. One could probably find such a long view in the big sky country of Montana for less cost, but that never appealed to me. In time, I learned that while long views can inspire me, I want to live day-to-day in a world of varied light. Shadows of the natural world are as important to me as the light itself.

In uniform light, a picture, or the world itself, lacks depth. A character in a novel illuminated only with flood lamp details is featureless, washed out, uninteresting. Only in the shadows can you see the wrinkles from years of squinting or over-tanning skin into leather.

Reflected Sunset
We have a dock from which we can watch the lake without the interference of tree trunks, branches and leaves. Guests often use it, but I rarely do other than for swimming. One of our neighbors has gone so far as to cut down almost all his trees to provide a “pristine” view of the lake. I find myself choosing the partially occluded view from the house deck in preference to the unobstructed view from the dock. I can watch waves through the gaps between trees; see a duck swim by and wait for it to appear in the next opening. From my perch I observe birds flitting from tree to tree. I catch the shadow of an eagle flying overhead.

Porch late afternoon
As leaves lose their battle to gravity and drop from branch to ground, the woods open up. At the same time, the sun is lower in the sky and trees cast longer shadows. Jan claims this view as her favorite time of year for light, but only, I think, because autumn is now approaching. If asked in early spring she would exalt over the woods seen in new light and the variety of greens the woods use to cloak themselves in leaf-wear.

Maybe I have chosen the wooded lakeshore because bright light hurts my eyes. Maybe I am fooling myself with my preference for subtlety and the shadow side of things. I don’t think so; I suspect the desire to understand the impact of shadow explains why I write mysteries.

 ~ Jim


Jacqueline Seewald said...

I love your photos! They are the kind I paint landscapes from. But I think views like yours inspire good writing as well.


Jacqueline Seewald

James Montgomery Jackson said...


How fortunate you are to be able to translate what you see into paintings. I tried oil painting once and had sufficient layers by the time I was finished that my painted mountains did indeed cast shadows!

I'm stuck with using words to try to capture what I see and feel.

~ Jim

Gloria Alden said...

Beautiful pictures, Jim. Like you I like trees that create shadows. If I had a cabin on a lake, I'd prefer viewing it through trees, too. I love sunny days on my morning walks in my woods because of the dappled sunlight and shadows.

Carolyn Hart once said in an interview at Malice that she didn't like mountains or trees and much preferred the wide open spaces of Okalhoma where she lives.
I couldn't understand it then and still can't now, but we're all different in what we like.

E. B. Davis said...

I think light has always inspired artists. When I look at paintings, I notice how the painter captured light. I've noticed how I react to light in nature, and I agree, it is inspiring. When the earth is dark and the sky, light-- a unique blend where the clouds block light from shining down, but above the sun shines--seems indicative of reality.

The light in the Outer Banks inspires me. On days when the ocean is clear, light reflects from the shoals under the water surrounding the islands illuminating the sky in such an intensity that you feel as though you are seeing truth, heaven and God. It's a beautiful sight.

James Montgomery Jackson said...


I'm sure part of what we appreciate is based on where we grew up. I once met someone from the northern plains who felt closed in and uncomfortable when in the woods.


One of the wonderful aspects of long-distance vistas is being able to see cloud banks, weather fronts, the blackening sky as a storm approaches.

My favorite office during my work career was the 25th story of an office building in Cincinnati that looked down the Ohio River valley, which funneled storms between the hills.

~ Jim

Kaye George said...

Jim, this struck me <,I'm sure part of what we appreciate is based on where we grew up. I once met someone from the northern plains who felt closed in and uncomfortable when in the woods.>>

There's a certain time in the fall, in Texas, when the slant of the light on the grass is the same as it is in full summer in the Midwest, where I grew up. I always get so homesick when I see it.

James Montgomery Jackson said...


Landscape and the light that goes with it are so important to our sense of place.

I remember my grandmother saying that each year when returning from wintering in Florida upon reaching the rolling hills of the Finger Lakes region of New York State, she would always grow a bit weepy and recite to herself the first verse of the 121st Psalm: "I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence commeth my help."

God may have played a role in her thinking, but I'm pretty sure in this case she was mostly referring to her comfort in returning to home geography.

~ Jim

Linda Rodriguez said...

Jim, beautiful photos of a gorgeous place! No wonder you're so enamored of it.

I love mountains and love the beach, love the desert and love the woods. For happy living, though, I need rivers and creeks, trees, and rolling hills--or the seemingly barren prairie of the Flint Hills of Kansas. I know folks drive past them, thinking they're barren but they have a subtle beauty that I love. I live in KC among rivers, lots of trees, and rolling hills--and a couple of hours from the Flint Hills--so I'm well-situated.