And so We Bid a Fond Farewell

Saying goodby is always tough. On behalf of Kait I’d like to express our thanks to each of you for making Motive Means Opportunity a success during its brief existence. Over the course of a year we’ve gathered over 2500 followers. Not bad at all, in my humble opinion. Alas, nothing on this mortal plane lasts forever. Kait and I are both behind on deadlines for our respective publishers. My work-in-progress beckons (as does my editor!). It’s been a good ride, but the old gray mare (meant as non-gender specific) is winded, sore, and tired. In short this humble blog has become too much for us to handle and still give our writing the time and respect it deserves.

But wait–nothing is forever–who said that? fond-farewell-1Maybe circumstances will, in the not-too-distant future, allow us to reopen MMO after deadlines and rest and a hundred other things right now beyond our control work themselves out. And so, instead of goodbye we wish you all a very fond Farewell!

 

E. Michael (Michael, Mike, Mikey, or Hey You!) Helms writes the Mac McClellan Mystery series for Camel Press (among other assorted stuff). Born in Georgia, raised in the Florida panhandle, he currently resides with his wife in the Upstate region of South Carolina in the foothills of the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains.

You can find him at his Amazon author page here: https://www.amazon.com/E.-Michael-Helms/e/B001K90FSM/

e-michael-helms-headshotAnd his website: http://www.emichaelhelms.com/

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DOGMA FOR WRITERS: Unleash the Author in You, by Sue Owens Wright

Gustav Flaubert said, “A writer’s life is a dog’s life, but it’s the only life worth living.”  If you write about dogs, as I do, this statement is especially true. My books feature a canine companion or two, including my latest stand-alone novel, “The Secret of Bramble Hill.” I don’t know whether Monsieur Flaubert had dogs of his own. If so, he must have known that they have much to teach us about the writing life if we observe their behavior. In my experience, there’s no breed better suited to be a writer’s role model than the persistent, determined basset hound, which is as French as Flaubert. 

thesecretofbramblehillI’ve been owned by eight bassets, which inspired me to create the long-eared sleuths in my Beanie and Cruiser Mystery Series for dog lovers (book #5, “Ears for Murder” will be released in 2017 from Black Opal Books). Knowing these dogs as well as I do, I have come to understand that in order to lead the pack in pursuit of success in the literary field, a writer must emulate many of the same traits that make a scent hound so good at tracking hares in the field.

 I have observed basset behavior within drool-slinging range for many years and have become well versed in the history of the breed. During that time I have also come to understand that they are the perfect barketype for the writer’s life.

As comical as these dogs may look, with their sausage bodies, stubby, crooked legs and Dumbo ears, they also possess the same inner qualities every serious writer must develop or nurture in the pursuit of publication: tenacity, stubbornness, unflappable focus, and persistence. It’s not so much a matter of talent—although, it’s certainly a bonus—that helps a writer succeed, but the daily practice of those same dogged traits of the basset that will unleash the author and set him firmly on the trail to success.

I’d like to share with you what I have learned from my dogs about how to achieve success in a writing career. Here are some tricks they’ve taught me that can be applied to the writer’s life. I hope you’ll find them as useful as I have.

  1. Pick up the Scent—Every writer begins with the same question: What shall I write? A basset ranges in the field, searching for the scent of game. Then suddenly he picks up a hot scent and it’s tally-ho! The joy is no less great for a writer who has found the thing she loves to write about.
  2. Stay on Track—Dogged determination is key to success in the field or on the page. A basset hound is stubborn, tenacious, and persistent. The only difference between a published writer and an unpublished one is that the unpublished one gave up too soon.
  3. Follow Where the Path Leads You—Heed the signs and stay true to your goal. Like a hound, the writer may also stray off the path now and then and be distracted by any number of things, but if you keep your goal in mind, you’ll get back on track.
  4. Find your Voice—Every dog has a different bark: the mailman bark; the all paws on deck, there’s a prowler bark; the neighbor’s cat on the fence bark; the squirrel in the tree bark. Similarly, each writer has a distinctive voice. Writing, writing, and more writing will help the writer discover that voice.
  5. Use your Ears (and all your senses)—Dogs have a keen sense of hearing. Writers have good ears, too. They are always listening, eavesdropping. Like dogs, they use all their senses to experience the big, wonderful world around them.
  6. Slow and Steady Wins the Race—Have you ever tried to hurry a basset hound? The same is true of writing. There are no shortcuts. You have to do the work and take time to edit and improve your writing.
  7. Enjoy the Journey—A basset hound knows how to enjoy life. He eats, he chases cats and squirrels, plays with other dogs, follows his nose, naps. He naps a lot. He constantly conserves his energy and recharges his batteries. So should you. All work and no play make for dull, uninspired writing.
  8. Leave Your Mark Along the Way—When I walk my dogs around the neighborhood, they leave pee-mails for other dogs that say, “Hey I was here! Writers write partly because we want to leave something behind that says we were here. We’re still reading the words of writers who are now dust, but as long as we read their words, they never die. Do some good where you can. Mentor other writers. Teach.
  9. Hang with the Pack—Bassets work best in packs. So do writers. Writing can be a very lonely profession. Be with other writers, read other writers’ work, learn from other writers, and you can’t help but become a better writer.
  10. Bark up the Right Tree—A scent hound doesn’t waste time following a trail that will not lead him to his quarry. A writer must not waste time and energy sending out material incorrectly to the wrong markets.
  11. Take the Bite out of Rejection—If a dog gets rejected or pushed aside because his master can’t give him what he wants right then, he doesn’t give up. He doesn’t sulk or whine but comes back and tries again and again. With persistence, he eventually gets his reward.  

     12. Share the Rewards of the Hunt—At the end of a successful hunt, the hunter        always rewards his hounds. When you finally attain your literary goal and enjoy the fruits of your labors, give something back to show your gratitude. Be gracious. Share your reward with others. And reward yourself for a job well done.

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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERASue Owens Wright is an award-winning author of fiction and nonfiction. She is an eleven-time finalist for the Maxwell, awarded annually by the Dog Writers Association of America (DWAA) to the best writer on the subject of dogs. She has twice won the Maxwell Award and earned special recognition from the Humane Society of the United States for her writing. She writes the acclaimed Beanie and Cruiser Mystery Series, including Howling Bloody Murder, Sirius About Murder, Embarking On Murder and Braced For Murder, which is recommended on the American Kennel Club’s list of Best Dog Books.

Her nonfiction books include What’s Your Dog’s IQ?, 150 Activities for Bored Dogs, and People’s Guide to Pets. She has been published in numerous magazines, including Dog Fancy, Mystery Scene, AKC GAZETTE, Fido Friendly, The Bark, and Animal Fair. Her work also appears in several anthologies, including PEN Oakland’s “Fightin’ Words,” along with Norman Mailer and other literary notables. Her newest novel is The Secret of Bramble Hill.

Website URL: http://www.sueowenswright.com

Blog URL: http://dogearedbooks.blogspot.com/

Facebook URL: https://www.facebook.com/sue.o.wright

The Secret of Bramble Hill buy link:

https://www.amazon.com/Secret-Bramble-Hill-Owens-Wright/dp/1626945861/ref=sr_1_fkmr0_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1485128293&sr=8-1-fkmr0&keywords=the+secret+of+bramble+hill+weight

E. Michael Helms’ Author Interview With LYRICAL PENS’ Cj Petterson

LYRICAL PENS Spotlights author E. Michael Helms!

Cj Sez: Lyrical Pens’ guest today is Mystery Thriller Week author E. Michael Helms, who writes the popular Mac McClellan mystery series. The latest in the series from Coffeetown/Camel Press is the brand-new DEADLY SPIRITS (#4), which launched on Jan 15, 2017. (Congratulations, Michael.)

This busy author graciously stopped by for a few minutes and answered some questions for us. Let’s get right to it…

Lyrical Pens: Where did you get the inspiration for your Mac McClellan series?

hardy-boys-1E. Michael Helms: My previous books had all dealt with war, mostly drawn from my own experiences. It was draining and I knew I needed a change. I grew up reading and loving the Hardy Boys books, and had recently renewed my interest in mysteries. One day I thought: Why not try my hand at writing a mystery? It took off from there.

LP: What kind of research did you have to do to make the character authentic?

EMH: In order to get inside my protagonist’s head and know what made him tick, I knew I would have to closely identify with him. Having served in combat as a U.S. Marine during the Vietnam War, I decided that Mac McClellan would be a recently retired Marine with extensive combat service in Iraq. With that connection, we “clicked” right away. I grew up in the Florida panhandle on the beautiful beaches of the Gulf of Mexico. Knowing the area, its history, culture, and people, made the setting of the series a logical choice.

LP: Tell us a bit about Mac. Any part of him resemble you?

EMH: Mac and I share a lot in common; athletics, our military backgrounds, morals, likes and dislikes, sense of humor, and loyalty to others. A handshake should be as binding as a signed contract. Physically, we have similar traits. Mac’s a couple inches taller and a few pounds lighter, but when I was his age we were pretty darn close. We can both be pushed, but only so far. But we are both cuddly teddy bears in the right arms. <<Smile>>!

LP: What are your protagonist’s strengths and flaws?

semper-fi-1EMH: First and foremost, Mac lives by the code of the Marine Corps motto:
Semper Fidelis—Always Faithful. His word is his bond. Loyalty and trust are everything to him. He can be your greatest friend, or your worst enemy. He’s kind and gentle, yet isn’t afraid to get down and dirty if the situation calls for it. He fancies himself a “Southern gentleman,” and has an eye for the ladies. Yet he’s trustworthy, so his girlfriend Kate Bell has nothing to worry about. He can be impulsive and sometimes his mouth jumps ahead of his mind. Mac has a tendency to drink too much, and though he doesn’t yet realize it, it’s his way of coping with PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder). When he takes on a case he’s tenacious in searching out the truth. He also has a short fuse and has come close to “losing it” at times when push comes to shove. If you prove yourself a friend, Mac will always have your back. He’d rather die in place than desert or betray a friend.

LP: Are you a plotter or a pantser? Or like me, a pathfinder? (I have an idea of where I’m going but kind of bounce off the walls getting there.)

EMH: I’m definitely a pantser. I come up with an idea for a book, an opening scene, and usually have an ending in mind. But when I sit down to write, the characters take over. I know to some that’s hard to believe, but it’s what works for me. I’ve tried outlining, but the results have been dismal. I’m a very unorganized person. The characters must be free to “do their thing.” I’ll jot down ideas when they come to me, and I keep a calendar of the daily action of the storyline from beginning to end. That helps, but it’s usually after the fact. But it does enable me to see where I’ve been, and the ideas (almost always character-inspired) show me where I’m going.

LP: Keeping your daily action storyline is a neat way to move right into a synopsis. Great idea. How do you determine that all-important first sentence of your novels? And how often does it change before you’re ready to send it off?

firstsentencecartoonEMH: I believe the opening is very important, although I don’t hold hard and fast that it has to be the very first sentence of the book. As long as you grab the reader’s attention and hold her/him with anticipation for the first two or three pages, you’ll be okay. Boring narrative won’t cut it. A writer has to hook the reader through lively dialogue or narrative that causes her/him to read on. Ideally, that can be accomplished with a “wowing” first sentence. But as long as you can hold the reader for a couple of pages and then drop the hammer, that’s fine. I strive for a strong opening before I move on with the story. It might take several days of trial and error, but until I get it “right” I don’t advance the plot.

LP: What do you consider the most important element of any story?

EMH: Strong, believable characters. If you can succeed in making the reader identify with and care about your characters, good and bad, you’ve got ’em hooked. And there is no “cardboard” allowed, except for book covers. It’s vital that your main characters are well-rounded, with good and bad traits. No one wants a “goody-two shoes.” Even secondary characters should have appeal, whether positive or negative. If a character is worthy of a name, that character had better be fleshed out at least minimally. Ideally, stereotypical and one-dimensional characters have no place in good writing.

LP: Everyone’s road to publication is different—traditional, indie, a bit of both. Take us down yours.

proud-bastards-hc-1EMH: My combat experiences during the Vietnam War had a profound impact on my becoming a writer, although it was a long, drawn-out journey. I returned home wounded in body and mind. For several years I lived in a “fog” of sorts due to PTSD, although I wasn’t aware of it at the time. Someone finally steered me to group counseling and it was a tremendous help. One of our assignments was to begin a journal of our wartime experiences. Mine began to take the form of a book. I had done some freelance writing for various magazines, and sent a couple of chapters as standalones to an editor who had published my work in “Vietnam Combat” magazine. He liked what I sent, but told me to wait and send the entire manuscript when completed. I didn’t know it at the time, but he also moonlighted as a literary agent for a few clients. I sent the manuscript to him and he made a quick sale to a New York publisher. The Proud Bastards became my first published book; I’m pleased to report it’s still in print after twenty-six years (currently with Simon & Schuster/Pocket). So far all my books have been traditionally published, but I’m not averse to trying the self-publishing route, not at all, as long as it’s done professionally.

LP: Marketing a book takes an enormous amount of an author’s time and energy. What kind of marketing plan works for you?

book-review-clipart-best-ggsghy-clipartEMH: In this day and age, that’s almost an understatement. Unless you’re a “name” author or celebrity, a writer has to bust her/his butt getting the word out. While most reputable mid-sized or small publishers will send review copies to the “big” reviewers (Publishers Weekly, Library Journal, Kirkus, etc.), it’s mainly up to the author to contact book blogs and other review venues. Like most authors, I depend mainly on social media to promote my work. I’ve worked hard to compile a list of trustworthy reviewers who will give their honest opinion on any book that comes their way. No sugar-coating allowed. I’ve also attended book conventions in the past. Those can also be good opportunities to garner attention, but social media remains at the top of my marketing list.

LP: In the midst of all this scrambling to market Deadly Spirits, are you working on anything new?

EMH: I’m currently working on my fifth Mac McClellan Mystery, Deadly Verse. It is tentatively scheduled for a November 2017 release. In addition, I’ve also been working on a series of short stories featuring “Dinger, P.I.” Dinger is a private eye who saw extensive combat experience during World War Two with the Marines. After the war he found himself in Las Vegas and set up shop. My publisher has expressed interest in a novella-sized collection of the stories. Someday I hope to give Dinger his own full-length novel, and possibly a series.

LP: Where can readers find out about you and your events online?

Website: www.emichaelhelms.com
Amazon author page: http://amzn.to/2jgoaoc
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/EMichaelHelms/
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/183472.E_Michael_Helms
Twitter: https://twitter.com/emichaelhelms

e-michael-helms-headshotA native of Georgia, Michael Helms grew up in Panama City, FL, home of “The World’s Most Beautiful Beaches.” His tour of duty with the U.S. Marine Corps during the Vietnam War led to his first book, The Proud Bastards: One Marine’s Journey from Parris Island through the Hell of Vietnam. He has since written novels in various genres, and currently writes the Mac McClellan Mystery series for Coffeetown/Camel Press. With his wife Karen, Helms now resides in the Upstate region of South Carolina in the shadows of the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains. He enjoys fishing, camping, bird watching, and playing guitar. He continues to be harassed by Mac, Kate, and other recurring characters in his mystery series.

cj Sez: Michael provided Lyrical Pens with a great book cover blurb, but you can read that when you buy the book. I think the 5-star review that follows is the perfect invitation into the world of private investigator Mac McClellan:

Deadly Spirits is a haunting mystery with an ingenious plot, vivid setting and memorable characters, chief among them the incomparable Mac McClellan, who is easily one of my favorite PIs out there. This latest installment will satisfy fans of the series while sending newcomers scrambling to catch up. If you like Robert Crais and Harlan Coben, you’ll surely dig Deadly Spirits. I know I did. Highly recommended.”
–Max Everhart, author of the Eli Sharpe Mystery series; SHAMUS Award finalist, Split to Splinters

marilyn-johnsoncj Sez: Thanks, Michael, for stopping by. I have to say Mac McClellan sounds like a character I’d like to meet in real life. At five books into the series, I think you have a winner. Best wishes for great successes with your writing.

Visit Cj Petterson at her blog: http://www.lyricalpens.com/

Review Madness! by E. Michael Helms

My latest Mac McClellan Mystery (#4) was launched January 15 by Camel Press (as most of you followers of MMO already know). With this book, I dared to do things a little differently than I’ve done with the previous books in the series. Namely, I purposely didn’t seek out as many pre-pub reviews as I’ve done for the previous three books. Results? I’m so glad you asked! 

Although Deadly Spirits is (in my honest, humble opinion) the most complex and interesting mystery thus far in the series, it has garnered the LEAST  reviews (so far) of all previous books thus far in its brief release history. I probably sent under 50% ARCs to reviewers than I’ve done in the past. The results speak for themselves.

The few reviews I’ve received from reviewers (fellow writers & review blogs) have been very encouraging. To whit:

Deadly Spirits is a haunting mystery with an ingenious plot, vivid setting and memorable characters, chief among them the incomparable Mac McClellan, who is easily one of my favorite PIs out there. This latest installment will satisfy fans of the series while sending newcomers scrambling to catch up. If you like Robert Crais and Harlan Coben, you’ll surely dig Deadly Spirits. I know I did. Highly recommended.”

–Max Everhart, author of the Eli Sharpe Mystery series; SHAMUS Award finalist, Split to Splinters

“I loved everything about Deadly Spirits by E Michael Helms. He has included a lot of extras besides the mystery… a critter to fall in love with, a dash of the psychotic and a pinch of the paranormal…a recipe for success. I love Mac and this is my favorite adventure … so far. Michael has brought him a long way, making him more complex in his simplicity. I can hardly wait for more!”

–Sherry @ http://www.fundinmental.com/

All the above to say this: is busting your butt (all authors out there in publishing land, excepting those few “big name” authors), and taking so much very valuable time away from your writing, worth the results? However meager or worthwhile they might be?

proud bastards
Military memoir

My answer, truthfully, is no. It pains me to say it. I’ve worked my proverbial ass off promoting my books. My first book was published over 26 years ago by a “big” publisher, and remains in print today. I still receive royalty checks twice a year; and they are much more than I ever dreamed about when I first sold the manuscript through my first agent. (Note: I’ve never done anything to promote the book, beyond local book fairs, signings, etc.) Yes, the monetary amount has diminished in the past couple of years, but it’s been a GREAT run!

of blood brothers
Historical fiction

However, to bring things into perspective: I spent a decade researching and writing a historical saga about a real family/events during the Civil War/Reconstruction era. I consider it the best work I’ve ever written. However, it was a total flop when published. I’ve since received all rights back for the work, and my agent is shopping it around. Perhaps it’s the dumbing down of our school system that’s the culprit. Or, maybe my self-vaunted work sucks–who knows for sure?

Which brings me back to my original premise (which I probably failed to bring to the forefront of this missive): is it worth all the time, effort, and expense for authors to present their work to the (very limited) public? Are thirty reviews at Amazon worth more than ten or fifteen? Does it really matter one way or another? Inquiring minds want to know.

What are YOUR thoughts about it, as a reader, writer, or both? I would truly relish hearing YOUR viewpoint!

e-michael-helms-headshotMichael Helms is the author of several novels, and one non-fiction work, The Proud Bastard, a memoir of the author’s service in Vietnam as a combat Marine. He currently writes the Mac McClellan Mystery series, published by Camel Press. Visit him at his website:

http://www.emichaelhelms.com

or at his Amazon author page: https://www.amazon.com/E.-Michael-Helms/e/B001K90FSM/ref=sr_tc_2_0?qid=1446520523&sr=1-2-ent

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Murderer I Knew, by Ellen Behrens

 I once knew a man who ended up being a murderer. He took a hammer to his sickly, elderly mother’s head because she refused to give him money. After he killed her he went to the nearest bar, ordered a drink, and confessed.

auto-shopThis was not one of those, “He was such a nice, quiet neighbor” situations. He was a creep by all measures, but no one in my hometown suspected a murderous heart beat within him.

Clyde, Ohio, was then, and is still, a farming and manufacturing community. When my first car needed an oil change, my father suggested that — rather than drive to the dealership in the next town — I should take it two blocks over to the local garage, the one on the backside of the courthouse. He explained how small towns work: everybody shops at the local grocery, gets their hair cut at the place on the corner, picks up prescriptions at the Rexall Drug on Main Street.

So when my clothes needed dry cleaning, I went to Joe’s Cleaners. Joe Maltese was a short, red-haired Sicilian (a Gambino, on his mother’s side) who, when I was younger, drove a sports car, showed off expensive pointy-toed boots, and made the hair on the back of my father’s neck stand up. Joe was married to his high school sweetheart Gloria; both were classmates of my mother.

Gloria was as mousy as Joe was a braggart. In the 1970s she was past fifty yet she wore her hair in the same style from her high school years (think: June Allison in “White Christmas”) – smooth, pale brown hair rolled under just past her shoulders.

Joe and Gloria had two sons, Mike and younger Steve, a year ahead of me in school. The Malteses lived in a relatively new house, and the two sons got everything they wanted. The boys, especially Steve (who knew he fell farther into the range girls called “cute” than his older brother Mike did), lived lives that teetered on the knife-thin edge between enticing and dangerous. We were fascinated and repelled by them, sort of like ogling a car wreck.

clyde_porchI remember one occasion, probably among a few, when the Maltese family visited our house. The adults sat in the small kitchen, drinking coffee, discussing local politics (Joe no doubt having the last word) while we kids surrounded a table in the living room, playing Monopoly. The Maltese boys cheated. We were appalled and politely tried to give them an out, a way to recover their error without embarrassment, but they snickered and pressed on, sure they had the upper hand.

Eventually, I left that small town for college and other places, returning years later during one particulary tricky life transition. I took a pleated silk skirt to Joe’s Cleaners where Steve managed to press out all the pleats, only claim there was no fixing it. Who was I to argue? Then he asked me out. “I’ve always liked smart women,” he said. He’d outgrown cute and was, at this point in his thirties, a skinny, slimy creep who’d been accused of making advances on minors, plying them with alcohol and pot. And I was smart enough to turn him down without upsetting him, take my skirt to a cleaner who knew how to properly take care of it, and put the incident out of my mind…

bloody-hammer..until years later when my mother called to tell me Steve had murdered Gloria. Joe had died less than a year before, older son Mike had taken on the bulk of the business, and Steve glided from family handout to jail time and back.

Somewhere along the way, all those years of giving flipped on Joe and Gloria. Steve, especially, felt entitled. Eventually, on that fateful day, Gloria either had enough of his taking or didn’t have enough to give, and that sent Steve over the cliff, hammer in hand.

He pleaded guilty to murder, got fifteen to life and was denied parole in 2014. He’s not eligible again until 2021, when he’ll be 65 years old. Until then – to the end of his days, I hope – he’ll sit behind bars where, ironically, he’ll continue to live off others’ hard-earned money.

Thank you, MMO, for letting me share my story about knowing a murderer. Have you ever known a murderer? Maybe a kidnapper? I’d love to hear the story!

ellenbehrenscoversYuma Baby, Ellen Behrens’ second Rollin RV Mystery, is now available in print and ebook formats. She’s been writing fiction since she could hold a fat pencil in her six year-old fingers, and is the author of three novels, a short story collection, and a nonfiction book. She learned as much about writing by being a fiction editor for a literary magazine as she has from writing itself, and is the recipient of an Ohio Arts Council Fellowship. She blogs about writing at ellenbooks.com and about her travels with her husband as a full-time RVer at http://bobandellen.wordpress.com. And she loves getting email at ellenbehr[at]aol[dot]com.

yb_bio-1Details about her books and information on ordering can be found at http://www.ellenbooks.com or http://bobandellen.wordpress.com

Blowin’ My Horn! (Or, It’s all about Me!)

 

It’s been a doozy of a week so far. Deadly Spirits, the fourth book in my Mac blast-off-1McClellan Mystery series, has successfully rocketed skyward from Camel Press’ launch pad. The early reviews have been positive. My publisher is excited about the sales prospects, and my dog still loves me. I’ve even generously given myself a little pat on the back.

 

But please note there is no bragging allowed here, although one world-renowned athlete hadbragging-2 this to say on the subject:

 

And another once uttered these inspiring words:bragging-3

 

Are exuberance and/or excitement too closely related to the “B” word? I think not. Hey, isn’t a writer allowed to make a little noise in celebration after months of hard work finally pay off and the fruits of his/her labor materialize into a real, live book? Yes, books are alive; no one will ever convince me otherwise. Have you never felt the heartbeat between the covers as you hold a book in your hands? Of course you have. If you haven’t, you are not a reader. Enough said.

cashMy agent called this morning with some heartening news that added more sugar to sweeten the week: a fat royalty check is on its way from the sales of my previous Mac mystery, Deadly Dunes. (Oh, be still my heart!) I know, I know, it’s only money. But wait, it’s more than that. It’s redemption! People are actually buying my books out there in Readerland. True, most writers would write if they never made a dime. Writers write! We must, it’s what we do. It’s in our blood. It’s either write, or explode. I’d also wager that writers would rather get paid for bleeding at the keyboard then to bleed for free. Through the years I’ve made money with my writing. Barring a miracle I’ll never get rich from my work, but knowing my “babies” are being cuddled and appreciated by others in this cold, cruel world means a lot to me. My ultimate dream is that someday, somewhere, a future reader will dust off a yellowing copy of one of my books, read it, and say: “Hey, this is good stuff. Never heard of the guy, but this is really good stuff!”

blowing-my-horn-1

Now that’s something to blow your horn about!

 

 

~~~BIG GIVEAWAY for DEADLY SPIRITS!~~~

Sisters Laura Thomas (FUONLYKNEW-Laura’s Ramblins & Reviews), and Sherry Fundin (fundinmental—as eye see it) are hosting a TAG TEAM Review & Giveaway for Deadly Spirits at their respective blogs.

deadly_spiritsPrizes include a $25 Amazon gift card; 2 print copies of Deadly Spirits, and 4 ebooks. Contest runs from January 16-30. Very easy to enter—simply visit their blogs and answer an easy question in the comment section. Here are the URLs:

http://bit.ly/2j1iePQ  and  http://bit.ly/2jrS2B4

Please take advantage of this opportunity and enter at both blogs. And be sure to tweet, email, re-post, and spread the word far and wide. I sure will appreciate it! Thanks, and good luck to all!

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e-michael-helms-headshotI was born in Georgia way back in the last century, but grew up and lived most of my life on the Gulf Coast of the Florida panhandle in Panama City (beautiful beaches, girls galore–ah, the memories!). In 2004 my wife and I moved to the Upstate region of South Carolina in the shadows of the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains, a land of stunning vistas and numerous waterfalls. I enjoy playing guitar, fishing, camping, and bird watching. Mac, Kate, and other recurring characters continue to bug me until I sit down and write their stories as they dictate.

Visit my website: http://www.emichaelhelms.com/

And my Amazon author page: http://amzn.to/2eGkrSp

Find me on Twitter: https://twitter.com/emichaelhelms

And at Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/183472.E_Michael_Helms

Some of My Favorite Opening Lines in Mystery/Crime Novels

pulling out hair

Whether readers or writers, we all know the importance of that opening line. It should grab our attention and compel us to read on. Recently I was sitting at my desk struggling over the first line of a new short story I’m working on. I must’ve spent an hour writing and deleting, writing and changing, moving this phrase here, that word over there, ad nauseam. Finally I gave up, pushed my chair away from the desk. I felt like pulling out what hair I have left. It was then I noticed the five stacks of mystery/crime novels piled high to the left and right of my workspace. The lightbulb came on. I grabbed several books from a stack and began reading the first lines of each. After a couple of hours I got back to work and in a matter of minutes I had the opening line I’d struggled so hard to get. And thus was born this humble post of opening lines. Enjoy!

 

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I never knew her in life.

–James Ellroy, The Black Dahlia

 

It was one hell of a night to throw away a baby.

–Julia Spencer-Fleming, In the Bleak Midwinter

 

Maybe it was the goddamned suit. Tailor-made Italian silk, as light and flimsy as shed snakeskin.

–James Crumley, Bordersnakes

 

When I finally caught up with Abraham Trahearne, he was drinking beer with an alcoholic bulldog named Fireball Roberts in a ramshackle joint just outside of Sonoma, California, drinking the heart right out of a fine spring afternoon.

–James Crumley, The Last Good Kiss

 

The bullets lay in a precise rank on the kitchen table, their brass casings dully reflecting sudden-death-finishthe light from the whaler’s lamp hanging in gimbals overhead: thirty-aught-six extra-velocity bullets, hand loaded and carefully crimped, deadly accurate over a range of more than a thousand yards.

–Tucker Halleran, Sudden Death Finish 

 

Even in the dim light of the bar, I could see the bruises.

–Jaden Terrell, Racing the Devil

 

I was in a deep sleep, alone aboard my houseboat, alone in the half-acre of my bed, alone in a sweaty dream of chase, fear, and monstrous predators.

–John D. MacDonald, The Dreadful Lemon Sky                                                       John D. MacDonald

We were about to give up and call it a night when somebody dropped the girl off the bridge.

–John D. MacDonald, Darker than Amber

 

The ambulance is still miles away when Dana awakens to the near dark of evening.

–Susan Crawford, The Pocket Wife

 

The headline made me sit down when I read it, that and the picture next to it and the article that spilled out over two columns underneath.

–Richard Aleas, Little Girl Lost

 

Duke Pachinko lay propped against the wall, a dripping red sponge where his face used to be.

–L.A. Morse, The Old Dick                                                      

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I slept rather badly the first few nights after Amanda’s murder.

–Richard Vine, Soho Sins

 

The guy was dead as hell. He lay on the floor in his pajamas with his brains scattered all over the rug and my gun in his hand.

–Mickey Spillane, Vengeance is Mine!

 

At fifteen minutes past two o’clock that afternoon, Mildred Crest’s world collapsed about her in a wreckage which left her so completely dazed that her mind became numb and her reasoning faculties simply failed to function.

–Erle Stanley Gardner, The Case of the Footloose Doll

 

Winter came like an antichrist with a bomb.     mcbain-1

–Ed McBain, The Pusher

 

When the phone rang, Parker was in the garage, killing a man.

–Richard Stark, Firebreak

 

I was standing on my head in the middle of my office when the door opened and the best looking woman I’d seen in three weeks walked in.

–Robert Crais, Stalking the Angel                              

 

There you have it, a list of some of my favorite opening lines from mystery and crime novels. What are some of yours? We’d sure love to have you share, so share!  🙂

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E. Michael Helms is the author of the Mac McClellan Mystery series, as well as other books ine-michael-helms-headshot other genres. He lives in the Upstate region of South Carolina in the shadows of the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains. He’s currently being harassed by Mac, Kate Bell, and other recurring characters who keep harping at him to finish his work-in-progress, Deadly Verse. Visit his website at: http://www.emichaelhelms.com/