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Deadly Dunes by E. Michael Helms - Book Tour + Giveaway

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Deadly Dunes (A Mac McClellan Mystery Book 3)


E. Michael Helms

Blog Tour
April 25 – March 8

Hours after hiring Mac McClellan to investigate the supposed suicide of her archaeologist brother, single-mom Jessie dies in a car accident. Jessie had just showed Mac artifacts and a copy of a map Jake found, items that indicate Hernando de Soto and his explorers might have camped on Five Mile Island during the winter of 1539-1540. Studying the map, Mac determines the site lies in the middle of a planned resort, The Dunes. Declaring the area an historic site could shut the project down. Suspicions aroused, he forges ahead, even though he no longer has a paying client.

Everywhere Mac turns, greed abounds, and no one he interviews seems innocent, even Jessie's closest friends the Deckers, who have adopted her teenage daughter. Ron Decker's construction company is building the Dunes, and he is heavily invested in its success. Then there is the oily son and ex-stripper wife of an old curmudgeon who won't sell the one lot the project still needs to acquire. Jake's estranged wife Laurel had plenty to gain from his death, and as Mac continues to dig, he begins to wonder if Jessie herself had more at stake than he was led to believe.

No one is happy about Mac's persistence, and someone is unhappy enough to crash his truck and frame him for yet another murder. But Mac isn't giving up, no matter what the cost.

Inside, the Golden Pole was about what I’d imagined. Loud music, mirrored walls, and flashy neon lights of gold, pink and red dominating the joint.  A circular stage stood in the center of the room, with three polished brass dancing poles. Individual stools circled the stage front, with dozens of small tables backing them up. There were two U-shaped bars, one on either side of the room. Wide-screen TVs hung on the wall behind both bars, along with monitors so customers could keep up with the center-stage action without having to turn around to gawk. The joint was about half full, not bad for a Thursday night. . . .

The two dancers abandoned their poles, gathered their tips, and disappeared backstage as the theme from 2001: A Space Odyssey began to blare from the sound system. “Ladies and gentlemen,” a deep voice sounding like a ring announcer bellowed above the music, “fresh from wildly successful engagements in Baltimore, Charlotte, and Atlanta’s finest adult venues, please give a big round of applause for our featured performer, the beautiful, the luscious, the sexy . . . Miss . . . Kami . . .  Kae!”

Whoops and hollers and shrill whistles bounced off the walls as a gold sequined curtain parted and none other than Hot Pink herself pranced around the stage, throwing kisses to the audience with both hands. She’d completed two circuits when the music changed from the theme to a saucy Latino song I’d never heard.

Kami kicked off the high heels, swung the long robe she’d been wearing in a circle over her head a few times, and tossed it to the back of the stage. She was down to a tight powder blue midriff blouse and white mini skirt. The skimpy outfit lit up under the house lights like it’d been dusted with silver glitter. The mostly male crowd roared its approval as Kami leapt into the spotlight, deftly grabbed the pole with both hands and went to work.

For the next ten minutes Kami made sweet love to the pole, keeping perfect time with the music, spiraling and sliding and grinding. That pole wouldn’t need polishing for a month. To the delight of the crowd she slowly shed one article of clothing and then another, teasing the most vocal guys gathered around the stage with money in-hand, until finally only a wisp of a G-string separated Kami from her birthday suit. She made repeated trips to the stage edge and back, so many bills bulging from the strings of her tiny bottoms that she was forced to make a pile of greenbacks on the stage floor.

Finally the music began to fade. Kami treated the audience to one more seductive thrust and grind, and then gathered her pile of cash and strutted off the stage to wild applause, hips bouncing like a Victoria’s Secret model. Reaching the gold curtains, she turned and blew a final kiss and disappeared.

Mac McClellan investigates a young archaeologist’s death whose recent discovery threatens to kill a planned multi-million dollar Florida waterfront resort.

Kami made sweet love to the pole, sliding, spiraling, grinding. It wouldn’t need polishing for a month.

She gathered the money and strutted offstage to wild applause, hips bouncing like a Victoria’s Secret Model.

Author Interview

Q. What inspired you to start writing?

A. The seed was planted “way back when.” As a kid I devoured the classics by Mark Twain, Robert Louis Stevenson, H.G. Wells, Daniel Defoe, Jules Verne, and others. I was also a huge fan of The Hardy Boys mysteries. I bought and read the first forty-something books in the series. I owe a lot to Leslie McFarlane who wrote most of the first twenty or so volumes. Of course Franklin W. Dixon (nom de plume) hogs all the credit!

Q. Do you have a favorite writing spot?

A. Yes, on my butt—just kidding! My wife and I live on a semi-private lake with 580 feet of waterfront. The lake wraps around our property near the main feeder creek. My desk sits in a corner between two windows where I have a view of the lake from both. Very nice, but it can be distracting at times.

Q. What’s the hardest part about being a writer?

A. Discipline. Like most writers nowadays, I use a computer. I stay connected to the internet, my excuse being that it’s so convenient for a quick spell check or having a handy source for research at my fingertips. The reality is, I often get distracted by checking email if I get “stuck” while writing, or just a quick game of Hearts to relax between scenes, etc. I should disconnect and concentrate on the word processor and reaching my day’s writing goal. Unfortunately, I haven’t reached that point yet. And I also don’t believe in writer’s block. I am, however, a firm believer in writer’s laziness.

Q. Do you have a favorite genre? Why is that your favorite?

A. Since 1990 I’ve been published in several genres: memoir, a “literary” novel, historical fiction, and now, mystery. Before I began writing the Mac McClellan Mystery series, all my previous books dealt with war and its effects to one extent or another. Frankly, I was burned out on the subject. Remembering my love of The Hardy Boys, I decided to see if I could pull off a mystery. About that time, a line popped into my mind and refused to go away: The first cast of the day turned my dream vacation into a nightmare. (That sentence opens my first Mac McClellan Mystery, Deadly Catch.)

I decided that if I was going to try my hand at mystery writing I’d better read up on the subject. Quite honestly I’d read a very few if any mysteries since The Hardy Boys. So I began my homework by reading mystery novels by various writers and sub-genres. I even read (and enjoyed) several cozies. I liked the humor most have. It wasn’t long before I was hooked and mysteries became my favorite genre.

Q. What are some of your biggest pet peeves, writing or otherwise?

A. I’ll begin with writing. There’s an old adage that goes something like, “Everybody has a book in them.” Most people aren’t aware of the quote’s second part: “And in most cases that’s where it should stay.”

With the advent of easy and accessible self-publishing, it seems as if most of those “everybodies” have taken the first part of the adage to heart. Let me make this perfectly clear: I have absolutely nothing against self-publishing if it is approached and accomplished in a professional manner. There are hundreds of self-pubbed books today that will stand up to any produced by major publishers, both in the writing and the physical qualities of the books. However, for every quality self-published book, there are scores flooding the marketplace that are pure crapola. Some may have great covers and flawless construction, but the writing, quite frankly, sucks.

If you’re intent on becoming a published writer, please do your homework and pay your dues. Writing is hard work, and even good writers are continually striving to become better at their craft. A book filled with poor editing, typos, atrocious punctuation, stilted dialogue, and a hundred other faults I could list, does a disservice to all those who have labored long and hard to learn the craft and produce quality work.

Apart from writing, my pet peeves include left-lane cruisers not even driving the speed limit and who refuse to move into the outside lane. Also, people who block grocery aisles with their shopping carts. And people jabbering away on cell phones while driving (if you can call it driving). Worst of all, anyone who is idiotic enough to text while driving. They are inviting the Grim Reaper for both others and themselves. They are every bit as dangerous as drunk drivers, and should be put in the slammer and then forced to go to “I will not text while driving!” school. I could go on, but my blood pressure is telling me otherwise.

Q. If you could live in any world in any book, what would it be, and why?

A. St. Petersburg, Missouri, in The Adventures of Tom Sawyer. The little village where Tom ruled was patterned after Hannibal, where young Sam Clemens (aka Mark Twain) grew up. From reading and reveling in Tom’s and Huck’s adventures, I think I would’ve fit right in with their gang!

Q. Favorite author(s)?

A. Mark Twain, Franklin W. Dixon, Erich Maria Remarque, Sloan Wilson, Robert J. Ray, Raymond Chandler, Max Everhart, and topping my current list, Ross Macdonald.

Q. Do you have any advice for new authors?

A. Read copiously, especially in the genre(s) you wish to write. Study the masters of your genre, how they compose scene upon scene to move the plot forward. Dialogue is another all-important facet of good writing. And if you learn one thing, it is this: characterization trumps all! Make your characters real, alive, multi-dimensional, talented and flawed. Above all, put your characters “onstage” and have them act out each scene through action and dialogue. If it (action and/or dialogue) doesn’t reveal character or propel the plot forward, get rid of it! There is no room for our “little darlings,” no matter how precious they may seem. It is ALL FOR ONE, AND ONE FOR ALL! when writing effectively. Be brutal, brusque, and benefactor of your creation!  

E. Michael Helms grew up in Panama City, FL, on the beautiful coast of the Florida Panhandle. He played football and excelled in baseball as a catcher. Turning down a scholarship offer from the local Junior college, he joined the Marines after high school graduation. He served as a rifleman during some of the heaviest fighting of the Vietnam War until wounded three times in one day. Helms discounts it as "waking up on the wrong side of the foxhole."

His memoir of the war, The Proud Bastards, has been called “As powerful and compelling a battlefield memoir as any ever written ... a modern military classic,” and remains in print after 25 years.

The Private War of Corporal Henson, a semi-autobiographical fictional sequel to The Proud Bastards, was published in August 2014.

A long-time Civil War buff, he is also the author of the historical saga, Of Blood and Brothers.

Seeking a respite from writing about war, Helms decided to give mysteries a try. The first novel of his Mac McClellan Mystery series, Deadly Catch, was published in November 2013 and was named Library Journal's "Debut Mystery of the Month." The second Mac McClellan Mystery, Deadly Ruse, premiered in November 2014. It won the 2015 RONE Award for "Best Mystery." Deadly Dunes was published in March 2016 by Camel Press. Deadly Spirits is scheduled for release in January 2017.

With his wife, Karen, Helms now lives in the Upstate region of South Carolina in the shadow of the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains. He enjoys playing guitar, hiking, camping, fishing, canoeing, and is an avid birdwatcher. He continues to listen as Mac McClellan dictates his latest adventures in his mystery series.

Represented by Fred Tribuzzo, The Rudy agency.

For a chance to win a $25.00 Amazon Gift Card, click on the Rafflecopter link below!

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  1. Jasmine, thank you so much for taking part in the DEADLY DUNES tour and giveaway. I really appreciate it!


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