Free time travel short—new release!

This collaboration is so much fun I can’t wait to do it again!

Chess Desalls

Calla and Valcas are making an appearance in another author’s story world. Download a free copy of the time travel mashup, A Friend in Need, for Kindle and iBooks!

A Friend in Need time travel mashup coverA Friend in Need is a short story collaboration between three different YA authors who combine their talents to create an intersection in an apocalyptic world populated with characters from their respective novels. LX and Jane (from Lynam’s Time Will Tell series) time-crash into Tim Hemlin’s The Wastelanders. Their only hope of returning to their own world requires help from Bear, Caballito, and the time-witch. Enter Calla and Valcas, (time-travelers from Chess Desalls’ Call to Search Everywhen series,) who land in the wastelands while conducting a time-search of their own. Will the travelers be able to return, or are they stuck in the wastelands forever?

Les Lynam ~ Tim Hemlin ~ Chess Desalls

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On Writing Mysteries

I wrote this essay a lifetime ago, and after re-reading it, I think it passes the test of time. These writers helped mold the Neil Marshall mysteries, but their influence didn’t end there. It continues to this day.

Sadly Robert B. Parker’s pen is silenced . . . yet the genre lives on.

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ON WRITING MYSTERIES

In recent years, I’ve heard talk about the rise of standards in the mystery genre. I find this curious, to say the least.

Granted, there is plenty of good writing stocking bookshelves today, but there has always been good writing. (All one has to do is turn to the masters who toiled in crime fiction when crime fiction wasn’t cool.)

Well, I’ve done the trip down academic lane and smelled the roses of a well-respected creative writing program, and I am a mystery writer. If, at the end of my career, I’m judged half the writer Dashiell Hammett, Raymond Chandler, John D. MacDonald, and Ross Macdonald were, I’ll figure myself a success.

When beginning a new project, I often reread the first chapters of Hammett’s The Thin Man. It is all of two and a half pages, sparsely written, but it characterizes Nick and Nora Charles with deft humor. Consider the following exchange:

We found a table. Nora said, “She’s pretty.”
“If you like them like that.”
She grinned at me. “You got types?”
“Only you, darling—lanky brunettes with wicked jaws.”

Playful, minimalist, setting the tone of a wonderful novel. Great repartee like that could have been written expressly in their heyday for William Powell and Myrna Loy, who were, in fact, the screen incarnations of Nick and Nora.

Good writing is often enhanced by creative metaphors. Ross Macdonald, with his Lew Archer series, was a supreme metaphor maker. In The Underground Man, a character is described in the following way: “His hairy head seemed enormous and grotesque on his boy’s body, like a papier-mâché saint’s head on a stick.”

The prolific John D. MacDonald showed repeatedly how to weave a great plot, often beginning with a killer first line, as in Darker Than Amber: “We were about to give up and call it a night when somebody dropped the girl off the bridge.”

Rebel hero Travis McGee goes on to relate how he and his friend Meyer save a woman who has been bound, weighted, and dropped to face a watery death.

There is never a dull moment with MacDonald, including diatribes that range from the state of the automobile industry to race relations. It is perhaps MacDonald’s social commentary that places him as a heavyweight in the literary ring. For example, in Darker Than Amber, an African American housemaid states:

We’re after our share of the power structure of this civilization, Mr. McGee, because, when we get it, a crime will merit the same punishment whether the victim is black or white, and hoods will get the same share of municipal services, based on zoning, not color. And a good man will be thought a credit to the human race.

Not a strikingly new sentiment, but written by MacDonald in 1965 as civil rights legislation was in its infancy.

Raymond Chandler, my literary grandfather, once said, “The story of our time . . . is the marriage of an idealist to a gangster and how their home life and children turned out.” And he spent his writer’s life exploring the harsher side of human existence. In The Lady in the Lake, private investigator Philip Marlowe searches for the missing wife of a prominent executive. Chris Lavery has apparently been having an affair with her. However, Marlowe discovers . . .

No police cars stood in front of Lavery’s house, nobody hung on the sidewalk and when I pushed the front door open there was no smell of cigar or cigarette smoke inside. The sun had gone away from the windows and a fly buzzed softly over one of the liquor glasses. I went down to the end and hung over the railing that led downstairs. Nothing made sound except very faintly down below in the bathroom the quiet trickle of water dripping on a dead man’s shoulder.

The detail in this excerpt passes the jealousy test—i.e., I wish I’d written it. No smell of cigars or cigarettes; the buzz of a fly and the quiet trickle of water; the sight of a dead man’s shoulder—Chandler tapped three of the five senses. Furthermore, equally important is what isn’t in the scene: no police cars, no one on the sidewalk, no tobacco odor. It’s a seemingly simple passage leading into Chapter Twenty of an exceptional novel.

This is merely a collage of writers who have influenced me—a brief appreciation, if you will, of the leading practitioners of the hardboiled school. To my mind, you don’t get any better than Chandler, Hammett, MacDonald, and Macdonald. They attacked the darker side of life, turning it into light, and they entertained as they made cogent observations on the human condition. Today their work is reborn and reimagined by such writers as Robert B. Parker, Earl Emerson, and Sue Grafton. My own work is not as dark, not as hardboiled; but my pursuit for literary excellence is just as strong.

A Look at EM’s Words

As you may know, I am re-releasing the Neil Marshall mystery series that Ballantine marketed as cozy, culinary amateur sleuth mysteries. I ran across EM Kaplan and her husband JD last year on Twitter and we all hit it off. She joined in on some story hops and I was hooked on her quirky character, Josie Tucker, the food critique. With the release of my mysteries. I wanted to do an interview with some fellow mystery writers and immediately thought of EM Kaplan since hers books fall somewhat into a similar category as mine.

So, let’s get to know her  little better.

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  1. You describe yourself as a former wannabe spy, trombonist, toilet-cleaner, beginner ninja, and subversive marketer. Tell me about your writing process. How much of your former selves make their way into your writing?

“In a perfect world, I’d be using words like “heuristic,” “organic,” and “ecosystem” to describe the way I try to blend my real-world experiences into my fiction. Instead my writing process is more like absolute chaos, punctuated by brief interruptions of “CAN YOU HOLD MY BURRITO” and “THESE AREN’T MY SHORTS.” I don’t suffer from ADHD, but my life does. I have a 9-to-5 job and a family, and I teach a couple of classes at the local gym. I’d actually love to see what happens to my writing when I simplify some of that.”

  1. Your husband JD is a writer, and he’s produced some of your trailers, which are quite good I might add. As you know, Valerie also writes, and I’m frequently asking her if she knows how much I hate her (usually right after she’s handed back a manuscript bleeding with red ink). In all fairness, she makes my work stronger. What is it like for you living in a literary family? Where do you find commonalities? Dissonance?

“The biggest problem JD and I have as writers is that neither of us wants to keep a day job. We both need patrons. Or a grant. Or private funding. Because that lottery retirement plan hasn’t panned out yet, if you know what I mean.

“A few people have asked if JD and I are planning on writing a book together someday. I think we’re too different, too creatively strong-willed to make it work. Neither of us is confrontational, so it would probably turn into a battle of confused squints and furrowed eyebrows of disbelief.”

  1. Nearly all my books take place in or around Houston, where I’ve lived for thirty-five years. How much does the place or places where you live play into your books?

“Each of the main locations in the Josie Tucker books has been a place where I’ve lived. Arizona, California, Massachusetts—and even the next one, which will be near Austin, TX. I recently went back to Tucson for the first time in about twenty years. Holy nuts, that place has changed. While my memories are strong and vivid, that old saying about not being able to go home again is so, so true. In a weird way, I’ve fictionalized these places just as much as if I’d completely made them up.”

  1. You were an English major and a technical writer. I recently read one of your blogs dedicated to hating the word “moist” and some other interesting words as well. Besides those particular words, what literary topics bore or offend you?

“I don’t actually hate the word “moist,” but a lot of people do. I used to have synesthesia—it’s a bit different for everyone, but, I used to see words as colors. Like the word “thought” is the color brown for me. The number two is blue. The tendency mostly faded over time. Maybe it was a memorization technique when I was little—but I don’t hate words because they’re tools for building things. I do, however, avoid talking about politics, which is tough this year. Everything else is fair game.”

  1. We met on Twitter, and two of your posts are about Twitter (“Freaky Tweets” had me falling on the floor laughing). You have a delightfully dry and quirky sense of humor. It also seems to flow naturally, which is a rare gift. How does humor play into your work? Do you ever find yourself holding back because it’s just not the right time for a quip?

“I don’t intentionally set out to be funny, but I do like making people laugh. It’s kind of a weird distinction. I don’t want to make people roll on the floor in a Robin Williams frenetic way, but I do, like a dinner party hostess, want to see everyone having a good time. Noshing on the cheeseball appetizers, so to speak.”

  1. You also did a very insightful blog on marketing. I hate marketing, but you have a great handle on it. What is your favorite marketing tool? The most effective? And what do you just plain hate?

“I seriously have no idea what I’m doing. No. Idea. I mean, I listen to advice from other people who seem to have a handle on it, but I make mistakes like other people. The thing that works the best in my favor is actually my desk job. Because I’m sitting at work all day long, I can have my other computer next to me so I can see what’s going on and monitor my accounts and promo attempts. Any time devoted to marketing is time taken away from writing, though, so it’s a balancing act. It’s so easy to do too much of one or the other.

“Facebook is the easiest for me to use. I had to create an account for my day job a few years ago, so I’ve been on it a while. My newsletter has been the most effective method of communicating with readers so far.”

  1. Finally, a big congratulation is in order. You just released the 3rd book in your Josie Tucker Mysteries, which you describe as “un-cozy and un-culinary.” I love that characterization and it’s what first drew me to your work. (In part because I thought you were the opposite of me, but now I’m not so sure. . . .) What prompted you to describe a food critic and amateur sleuth as un-cozy and un-culinary?

“Thanks! Yes, Dead Man on Campus is the 3rd Josie Tucker book. Between the mysteries, I wrote two books of an epic fantasy trilogy called Unmasked and Unbroken. Some of my readers who have read both my fantasy and mystery books have been surprised at the contrast—completely different writing styles although I think some humor sneaks through the fantasy in places.

“I call the Josie books un-culinary and un-cozy because those are real categories in bookstore mystery shelves—well, culinary and cozy are. If you’re not familiar with them, culinary mysteries involve food, cooking, restaurants, or bakeries. While Josie is a food critic, her testy stomach often keeps her from eating. She has a love/hate relationship with food sometimes. Cozy mysteries are more like the old Miss Marple Agatha Christie stories—no sex, no gore, no violence. They’re more focused on the puzzle and the clues of the whodunit. Josie Tucker mysteries—especially The Bride Wore Dead—are a bit grittier than those. Not a lot, but enough to straddle the line, I think.”

I like it EM! I think I’ll categorize my books as un-cozy and semi-culinary, too! Thank you very much for taking the time to chat with me!

Since Dim Sum, Dead Sum is on sale-only .99 until October 2nd-let’s look at her awesome trailer—Just click on the image:

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Click on any of the images to see the Josie Tucker Mysteries on Amazon ~

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Or buy all three in one great package:

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Keep abreast of all of EM’s promotions, sales and new releases by checking out her newsletter

Connect with EM on social media on her Website/blog, Facebook, TwitterAmazon, Goodreads, and by Email.

Return of the PI

 

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In my late twenties I had an idea for a story about a Houston private investigator.  I’d always been intrigued by PI’s and noir writing and wanted to toss my hat into the ring.  Thus C. J. McDaniels was born and in the very first sentence of the very first page I ever wrote about him he was, in typical PI fashion, shot.  Fortunately, he survived.

We had a good ride for a short time, but around the millennium, after having grown a little weary of the other, we parted ways.  Frankly, I never thought I’d write another story in the series.  Time has a funny way of changing perspective, though, and the invitation to reissue the Neil Marshall Mysteries has reawakened me to C. J., Neil, and Linda’s world, and I realized their story is not finished.

We got the rights back from Ballantine and just re-released the first two in June. If Wishes Were Horses and A Whisper of Rage. People in Glass Houses is available for pre-order until September 5 when it officially goes on sale as well. We are releasing A Catered Christmas in November and the fifth in the series, Dead Man’s Broth in early 2017.

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So now all these years later they’re back.  And in more ways than one.  A new Neil Marshall-C. J. McDaniels story, Dead Men Don’t Pay, tumbled from mind to fingertips as if I was taking dictation.  You can read this story by signing up for my Online Newsletter.

Not only that, the spark to pen another novel has caught fire.  But more on that later . . .

I hope you enjoy reading these mysteries as much I enjoyed writing them.  It was a homecoming for me, albeit a tad bloody one.

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Indie Pride

I’ve been involved in the Indie Author scene for over two years now. During that time I’ve met some wonderful people and talented writers. To celebrate Indie Pride Day I’d like to highlight three of those fine authors—K.K. Allen, Chess Desalls, and C.L. Schneider—three sirens of words who will draw you deep into the shores of their worlds. Read them. You’ll love them as much as I do!

K.K. Allen

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K.K. Allen is the author of Contemporary Fantasy and New Adult Romance stories. She loves manatees, learned to swim for the mere purpose of pretending she was a mermaid, and adores the beach so much she promises to one day live on one (in a tent if she has to) in Hawaii and serve shaved ice on the side of the road.

 

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In the Summer Solstice trilogy, is a  realistic story that incorporats supernatural elements in a unique way, to entertain readers with a bit of suspense, a progressive romance, and an exciting new mythology.

 

On Indie Pride Day the Summer Solstice series (The Summer Solstice Enchanted, The Equinox, and The Descendants) is now available as a complete trilogy—a great deal at only 6.99!

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Her upcoming New Adult Romance UP IN THE TREEHOUSE, IS SET TO RELEASE ON JULY 19, 2016.

 

 

 

Aren’t these great teasers?

Her short story, Soaring, is available for FREE on Amazon

Buy KK’s book’s HERE

You can connect with K.K. on her website, Facebook, Twitter and say hello to her via email

Join K.K. Allen’s Newsletter List for New release & other book news, Giveaways & Event updates, Exclusive Cover Reveals and Sneak Peeks and Other exciting info!

Chess Desalls

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Chess Desalls is the author of the YA time travel series, The Call to Search Everywhen. She’s a longtime reader of fantasy and sci-fi novels, particularly classics and young adult fiction. Her nonfiction writing has led to academic and industry publications. She’s also a contributing editor for her local writing club’s monthly newsletter. The California Writers Club, South Bay branch, has awarded two of Chess’ stories first place for best short fiction. When she’s not reading or writing, she enjoys traveling and trying to stay in tune on her flute.

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A YA fantasy filled with metafiction and other literary twistiness. Read Calla and Valcas’ full story in this collection of the first three books in The Call to Search Everywhen! More than 600 pages of YA time travel adventure inside the pages of the following full-length novels: TRAVEL GLASSES (Book 1), INSIGHT KINDLING (Book 2), and TIME FOR THE LOST (Book 3)— only $5.99 for the set.

 

Buy the set on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Apple, Amazon UK, Apple UK, Goodreads

Chess has several FREE stories available for free through Amazon and on her website

Connect with Chess on her WebsiteFacebook, Twitter, Instagram and her  Blog

Sign up for Chess’s Newsletter to to get special announcements, new release info, and a free frabble e-card! What is a Frabble? Find out when you confirm your subscription.

C. L. Schneider

C. L. Schneider

Born in a small Kansas town on the Missouri river, C. L. Schneider grew up in a house of avid readers and overflowing bookshelves. Her first full-length novel took shape in high school, on an old typewriter in her parent’s living room. Currently residing in New York’s Hudson Valley Region with her husband and two sons, she spends her days torturing characters, overdosing on coffee, and waiting for the zombie apocalypse. C. L. Schneider writes epic and urban fantasy for adults, as well as the occasional sci-fi or post-apocalyptic story.  Her trilogy, The Crown of Stones, is an adult epic fantasy that follows the trails of Ian Troy, a man born with an addiction to magic.

In celebration, of Indie Pride Day all three books in The Crown of Stones Trilogy will be on Kindle Countdown for .99—for ONE DAY ONLY!

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Follow the story of Ian Troy’s adventures, as he unlocks the mysteries of The Crown of Stones all the way through the ruin of his past to the final installment where he discovers the secrets of the ancient Shinree and the fate of all Mirra’kelan.

13459624_1301012826580042_1473907317_nJourney into a dark world of magic, addiction, obsession, war, deception, love, and loss—nearly 1500 pages of adult epic fantasy—for less than a cup of coffee!

To purchase The Crown of Stones in paperback and Kindle, visit C. L. Schneider’s Amazon Author page.

Connect with C. L.  on Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads, and Google+. She loves to talk about books, zombies, coffee, the ups and downs of writing, or whatever random topic pops into your head.

Visit her Website where you can follow her journey as a self-published author on her blog, “Heading Down The Yellow Brick Road.”

Subscribe to C. L, Schneider’s Newsletter for periodic updates on blog posts,  upcoming appearances, sales, book reviews, excerpts, announcements, and teasers.

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It’s A Mystery!

What’s the mystery?

Why The Neil Marshall Mysteries of course!

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It’s my 20th year anniversary in publishing this month and a marvelous press out of New Orleans has picked up the entire series to re-release them. Beginning with the first two books.

Come help me celebrate on June 25th here in your comfy clothes and enjoy the virtual cheer and party hearty!

We’re here to have fun and celebrate. Valerie, my wife, will start the day off at 9:00am CST. We’re getting a surprise visit during that hour from my new publisher and I’m posting at 1:00 PM CST for a Q & A and to share some fun facts, and we plan on ending it at 9:00 pm with a BANG.

Three giveaways!

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This is our All-Star Author lineup:

Please note that ALL times are for CST…that’s Texas time folks!

9:00 — Opening ceremony and introduction
10:00 — Les Lynam
11:00 — Barabra Chioffi
12:00 — C.A. Hoaks
12:30 — Terry West
1:00 –Tim Hemlin
2:00 — Ann Swann
3:00 — K.K. Allen
4:00 — Jenny Burke
5:00 –Alex Carey
6:00 — Lizabeth Scott
6:30 — Lili Mahoney
7:00 — James Reid
8:00 — Chess Desalls
9:00 — Closing ceremony and giveaway announcements!

 

For the Red Hot Summer Giveaway, click on the image below:

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A living series talk:- Author: Tim Hemlin

Last month I was interviewed by Kaur Inderjit. It was so well done and well received, I’d like to repost it here.

A living series talk - Know your Authors.

It’s a special treat to get to know yet another success stories today here on A living series talk..Today we are fortunate to know more about our guest who is a Writer, Marathoner, Teacher, Councelor. 
His passion for the environment sparked him to write.
He is represented by Kimberley Cameron of Kimberley Cameron & Associates Literary Agency.
In addition to The Wastelanders Series, he also published the Neil Marshall series of culinary mysteries set in Houston, Texas. These include If Wishes Were Horses, A Whisper of Rage (nominated for a Shamus Award), People in Glass Houses, A Catered Christmas (the one he most enjoyed writing), and Dead Man’s Broth. He has also has various short works of fiction, most prominently published in Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine.
It’s time to talk to  one of the most talented and successful author of the time -Tim Hemlin.
Hi Tim, thank you for agreeing…

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