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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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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Beaumont and Blades

I don’t recall the year, but I do recall that I was late for lunch. Now I’m never late for anything. It goes against my grain. I’m the early bird, the creature of habit. But I was late and forced to go with the flow.

At the encouragement of some friends, I was attending my first writer’s conference. Of all places, it was in Beaumont, Texas. Not to slight Beaumont. I like the town. It has history. Think Spindletop. But I’d always figure when I went to a writer’s conference it’d be in New York, San Francisco, or maybe even Paris. After all, I was the product of a respected university writer’s program. Beaumont? Again, go with the flow.

I wandered into the banquet room that the Holiday Inn was using as a chow hall and found all the seats were taken and the staff was quickly setting up another table. Since I still worked for a high end caterer back then, I almost jumped in and helped them pop the legs of that folding round table into place, cover it with a white linen cloth, and slap down the appropriate flatware, plates, and glasses.

When I took my seat I found myself next to a dapper man, and we engaged in a delightful conversation. The details now escape me, but at one point he asked if I was a writer. I described a truly dreadful literary novel I was working on, though of course I didn’t believe it to be dreadful in my young innocence. I must have sold it well because he told me he was an editor at Ballantine and he would love to give it a read. His name was Joe Blades, and I would soon learn that he had a slew of writers at that division of Random House. Needless to say, I sent the manuscript and, bless his heart, he let me down gently in his rejection of it. However, he also told me to keep him in mind in the future.

Fast-forward a few years and my first Neil Marshall mystery fell into place. I took Joe at his word and sent him the manuscript. Then one Saturday morning while I was fixing a leaky faucet in the kitchen sink, the phone rang. It was Joe wondering if I would consider writing a prequel to the book I’d sent him and he’d make it a two-book deal.

I ended up publishing five mysteries in that series with Ballantine. Joe Blades and I worked closely together on each one of them. In Beaumont, Texas that sunny fall day it really was the beginning of a beautiful friendship. Wish it had lasted longer, but that’s another story. As I prepare the Neil Marshall mysteries for republication, I’ve been thinking a lot about Joe. Those books changed my life, and for that I’ll be forever grateful. Funny how things can happen when you least expect it, and in unlikely places.

Sadly, the Beaumont writer’s conference is gone. But there are still buckets full of them out there, and I’m not talking virtual ones on social media.

And you never know. You might just find a New York editor at one. My advice? Be late for lunch.

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