Into the Dreaming Imaginative Fiction from Author, Reviewer, and Writing Coach Christine Amsden

Tag Archives: Mystery

Finish the Story Grand Opening Special: FREE First Chapter Edit

This week is the Grand Opening of Finish the Story.

I’ll be working alongside Claire Ashgrove and Dennis Young, two fantastic fellow authors/editors, to offer a greater variety of services than I could on my own. We are a full-service editing company, which means we strive to help you prepare for publication no matter where you are in the process. We include services such as book fixing, for books that need a little doctoring before they’re ready for editing, and formatting, for authors who are ready to publish. Our package rates bundle services to keep the costs down, and give you access to more than one editor through the different phases of editing to ensure that your finished product is as error-free as possible.

All genres of fiction welcome! Non-fiction and memoirs welcome!

Give us a try! Now through the end of March, send us your first chapter (up to 5,000 words) and get a FREE, no-obligation developmental-style edit.

Learn more at Finish the Story

Free Ebook Today Only!!!

It’s Read an Ebook Week, and that means free books! Twilight Times is offering Cassie Scot: ParaNormal Detective, the first book in the Cassie Scot Quartet, completely free for one day only! No catch! Just click the link to the file type you need …

Download Cassie Scot in .mobi (kindle friendly) format

Download Cassie Scot in .epub format

Open Cassie Scot in .pdf format

If you like the book, don’t forget to check out the other books in the series …

 

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Book Review: Blind Faith

Blind Faith (Sin Brothers, #3)This series just doesn’t quit! I can’t remember the last time I got so hooked. I can’t even say that the books are super unique … to tell you the truth, I saw almost every twist coming. But I didn’t care because I so enjoyed the ride. This book was like chocolate … you just want to eat it up. And sure, there’s Creme Brulee and sometimes that’s good too, but for pure comfort, you can’t beat chocolate.

That’s what this series is for me…chocolate. Really good quality chocolate.

Nate and Audrey’s story was just as good as the first two. The four brothers are still in danger, there’s a chip that’s going to explode in a couple of weeks and they’re youngest brother is missing. I cannot wait for the final book in this series! I almost cried when I saw it wouldn’t come out until march!

I highly recommend.

Holiday Parade: The Case of the Dispatched Detective

Today I’m featuring another great gift idea by author Stephanie Osborn, fellow Twilight Times author.

This is not your father’s Sherlock Holmes…

The Case of the Displaced Detective: The Arrival is a science fiction mystery in which brilliant hyperspatial physicist, Dr. Skye Chadwick, discovers there are alternate realities, often populated by those we consider only literary characters. Her pet research, Project: Tesseract, hidden deep under Schriever AFB, finds Continuum 114, where Sherlock Holmes was to have died along with Moriarty at the Reichenbach Falls. In a Knee-jerk reaction, Skye rescues Holmes, who inadvertently flies through the wormhole to our universe, while his enemy plunges to his death. Unable to go back without causing devastating continuum collapse, Holmes must stay in our world and adapt. Meanwhile, the Schriever AFB Dept of Security discovers a spy ring working to dig out the details of – and possibly sabotage – Project: Tesseract. Can Chadwick help Holmes come up to speed in modern investigative techniques in time to stop the spies? Will Holmes be able to thrive in our modern world? Is Chadwick now Holmes’ new “Watson” – or more? And what happens next?


“…This is a really bad time for me to leave console at the moment, hon.”

Caitlin shot her a hard, annoyed look.

“You can’t be considering it,” she said flatly. “All hell is breaking loose here. I don’t care if the President needed you five minutes ago! You have to stay here!”

“Chill, Cait,” Skye tossed an aside to her friend, phone held absently to the side of her face with her shoulder as she tried to read the scribbled note Timelines handed her, around annotating her clipboard. “I’ve got more to do than I can shake a stick at now. I’m…what?” she said, staring at the note. “Software! Check the focus subroutine! Make sure it’s initiating at the correct point in the program! The last thing we need now is a software glitch causing a delay in timing. If that’s happening, no wonder the induction element’s hosed! Hardware, make sure the circuit’s clear! Holmes, I’m sorry, I can’t make it right now. I don’t have time to catch my breath down here.”

* * *


Holmes listened closely, not only to Skye’s direct comments, but also to her asides and commands, and to what he could hear of the remarks made to her. He covered the mouthpiece with his hand and informed Jones and Smith.

“It appears matters are not going well in the Chamber.” He punched the speaker button on the phone so the other men could hear. Then he returned his attention to the sounds coming from the phone. “Skye, what is happening?”

* * *


Skye watched as her teammates fought with the recalcitrant apparatus. One of the Hardware console members, Chad Swann by name and a longstanding friend of Skye’s, moved into the center of the room to check the circuitry of the monoliths. Skye grabbed her clipboard, flipping to the malfunction shutdown checklist, where she scanned the list, trying to determine the seriousness of their
situation.

Vaguely she heard Holmes’ query, but didn’t have time to devote to it. Still, she managed to find two spare brain cells to rub together, and replied abstractedly, “We’re having a malfunction in the induction element system. We can’t keep it focused…”

“Skye, we need you to make a call! Shut down, or put it in a holding pattern and troubleshoot?” Caitlin interrupted. Skye juggled phone and clipboard, trying to assess the checklist for priority red malfunction modes.

“Holmes, I’ve gotta go,” she said into the phone. “I need to figure out how serious this is—”

“DR. CHADWICK! We’ve got a GRAVITON SPIKE!” Sequencing shouted.

* * *


Smith and Jones watched as Holmes’ expression grew more and more grave as he listened to the sounds on the other end of the line. They heard Skye’s attempt to break the conversation, and Holmes was about to answer in the affirmative when they overheard the exclamation from Sequencing.

Holmes paled as they heard Skye shout, “Chad!! Get out of there! NO! EMERGENCY SHUTDO—”

The line went dead.

Instantly the entire building shuddered hard enough to knock books off shelves and send Skye’s chalk tumbling from its rack on the blackboard, smashing into dusty white shards on the tile. The three men grabbed for heavy furniture to avoid being flung to the floor.

* * *


When the quake subsided, the three men sat staring at each other, shaken. Holmes felt almost lightheaded, his grey eyes wide.

“What happened?” Jones demanded. “Did that earthquake have anything to do with Project: Tesser—”

“Emergency shutdown,” Holmes snapped out, leaping to his feet. “Graviton spike.” He didn’t fully understand the significance of the graviton spike, but from his reading of Skye’s quantum mechanics text, which perforce contained a significant amount of particle physics, he knew what a graviton was, and strongly suspected it was connected to the quake. “I am going down to the Chamber,” he declared in a tone brooking no argument. “The two of you may come, or stay.”

* * *


“Is your authorization in?” Jones turned to Smith.

“Your duty officer entered it into the system when I arrived this morning,” Smith observed.

“Good. We’re coming, Holmes,” Jones declared.

But Holmes was already out the door and down the hall, headed for the elevators at a dead run.

Jones and Smith sprinted behind.

~~~

The Case of the Displaced Detective: The Arrival is available in print and ebook (all formats), and the first four books of the series have been released in a collected ebook edition, The Case of the Displaced Detective Omnibus. Book 5, A Case of Spontaneous Combustion, is a 2014 new release. All of them are suitable for gift-giving!

99 Cent Sale!

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PLUS …

Every book in the Cassie Scot series will be discounted through the end of November!

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Read the First Chapters Here

Cassie Scot: ParaNormal Detective (Book 1)

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Cassie Scot is the ungifted daughter of powerful sorcerers, born between worlds but belonging to neither. At 21, all she wants is to find a place for herself, but earning a living as a private investigator in the shadow of her family’s reputation isn’t easy. When she is pulled into a paranormal investigation, and tempted by a powerful and handsome sorcerer, she will have to decide where she truly belongs.

  • *Winner of the 2013 Global Ebook Award for Fantasy
  • *Finalist in the 2014 Next Generation Indie Awards

Buy now in print, ebook, or audio…

Secrets and Lies (Cassie Scot #2)

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 Cassie Scot, still stinging from her parents’ betrayal, wants out of the magical world. But it isn’t letting her go. Her family is falling apart and despite everything, it looks like she may be the only one who can save them.

To complicate matters, Cassie owes Evan her life, making it difficult for her to deny him anything he really wants. And he wants her. Sparks fly when they team up to find two girls missing from summer camp, but long-buried secrets may ruin their hopes for happiness. Sequel to Cassie Scot: ParaNormal Detective.

  • Winner of the 2014 Global Ebook Award for Fantasy

Buy now in print, ebook, or audio…

Mind Games (Cassie Scot #3)

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Beware your heart and soul…

Evan broke Cassie’s heart two months ago, and she still doesn’t know why. She throws herself into family, friends and her new job at the sheriff’s department, but nothing helps. The only thing that finally allows her heal and move on is the love of a new man, mind mage Matthew Blair. Cassie finds him…irresistible.

Matthew may also be the only one who can help keep the non-magical residents of Eagle Rock from going crazy over the murder of a beloved pastor’s wife. It looks like a sorcerer is to blame, but while Cassie tries to figure out who, others take matters into their own hands. With tensions running so hot, a single spark might set Eagle Rock ablaze. Book 3 in the Cassie Scot series.

  • *Winner of the 2014 Global Ebook Award for Fantasy

Buy now (Print, Ebook, Audiobook)

 Stolen Dreams (Cassie Scot #4) 

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Edward Scot and Victor Blackwood have despised one another for nearly a quarter of a century, but now their simmering hatred is about to erupt.

When Cassie Scot returns home from her sojourn in Pennsylvania, she finds that her family has taken a hostage. Desperate to end the fighting before someone dies, Cassie seeks help from local seer Abigail Hastings, Evan Blackwood’s grandmother. But Abigail has seen her own death, and when it comes at the hand of Cassie’s father, Victor Blackwood kills Edward Scot.

But things may not be precisely as they appear.

Evan persuades Cassie to help him learn the truth, teaming them up once again in their darkest hour. New revelations about Evan and his family make it difficult for Cassie to cling to a shield of anger, but can Evan and Cassie stop a feud that has taken on a life of its own? Conclusion to the Cassie Scot series.

Buy Now in Ebook and Audiobook

Trade Paperback: November 15, 2014

Praise for the Series:

“When sorcerers call the shots, what’s a girl without powers to do? Get ready for a ripper of a murder mystery full of romance and intrigue, where magic potions bubble, passions spark and vampires are definitely not your friend Cassie Scot: ParaNormal Detective grabs you by the heart and won’t let go until the very last page. Well written, immersive and unputdownable. This is urban fantasy at its best. More please!” — Kim Falconer, bestselling author of The Spell of Rosette, Quantum Enchantment Series

“Amsden continues the story of the only mundane member of a supernaturally-gifted family in this middling sequel to Cassie Scot: ParaNormal Detective. Cassie, stubborn and proud, is bravely trying to live on her own after her family disowns her. Struggling to make ends meet, she accepts a case involving a pair of magical girls who disappeared from summer camp. With the aid of the handsome Evan Blackwood, to whom Cassie is attracted despite her family’s disapproval and her own better judgment, she follows the trail of the missing girls. What she finds is a dark side of the magical world, and the hidden depths of her family’s past force her to reconsider long-held assumptions. The growing complexity of Cassie’s world makes this an entertaining installment, focusing as much on the will-they, won’t-they romantic chemistry between Cassie and Evan as on the primary mystery. An inconclusive ending is clearly intended to feed into the next volume.” — Publisher’s Weekly 

About the Author

Author_2013Christine Amsden has been writing fantasy and science fiction for as long as she can remember. She loves to write and it is her dream that others will be inspired by this love and by her stories. Speculative fiction is fun, magical, and imaginative but great speculative fiction is about real people defining themselves through extraordinary situations. Christine writes primarily about people and relationships, and it is in this way that she strives to make science fiction and fantasy meaningful for 
everyone.

At the age of 16, Christine was diagnosed with Stargardt’s Disease, a condition that effects the retina and causes a loss of central vision. She is now legally blind, but has not let this slow her down or get in the way of her dreams. In addition to writing, Christine teaches workshops on writing at Savvy Authors. She also does some freelance editing work. Christine currently lives in the Kansas City area with her husband, Austin, who has been her biggest fan and the key to her success. They have two beautiful children.

Social Media Links:



Book Review: Leopard’s Prey

Leopard's Prey by Christine FeehanRenny is a New Orleans cop (and a leopard shape shifter) hunting a serial killer who murders in a strange, ritualistic manner. Meanwhile, he falls hard for a rock star turned jazz singer who is just emerging as a leopard and has no idea who or what she is.

There was a lot to like about this story. For one thing, it was satisfyingly steamy romance with all the wildness of a shape shifter story and all that implies — inner animals, mating, etc. The characters were reasonably well developed, though I have a sense that I might have understood Renny better had I read the prequels first. I’m still not sure I understand his past, or his problem with saying the three magic words, just from reading this story. The book was fast-paced, difficult to put down, and very engaging.

But this wild ride didn’t end very well, and I knew it wouldn’t from pretty early on. I had the identity of the serial killer pegged from the moment we met him and nothing swayed me from that certain knowledge for a second. I complained recently about books in which there are absolutely no clues present, making the ultimate revelation is stupid and arbitrary. I said I would prefer the other extreme if I had to choose between the two and I stick by it. Even knowing who it was, I did enjoy the wild ride, especially sine the book was as much romance as mystery. Still, in a perfect world the mystery is somewhere in between obvious and unguessable. 🙂

I also realized early on that the romantic tension would be a quest for the three magic words. Honestly, there’s not a lot left when you establish two characters as soulmates from a previous life who have just recognized one another in their current incarnation thanks to the instincts of the beasts within. It’s kind of cool at first, and very steamy, but not great for sustained romantic tension.

All in all I would read more books by this author and I recommend this book to people who enjoy steamy shifter romance.

Rating: 3.5/5

Title: Leopard’s Prey

Author: Christine Feehan

ISBN: 0515151556

Published May 2013

The Implicit Promise of Genre

Have you ever read a book or a story in which, halfway through, there’s suddenly a ghost? There you are, reading what you think is a perfectly ordinary, mainstream suspense, mystery, or romance, when suddenly Boo! Out pops a random spirit. You may think this is far-fetched, but I’ve seen it in books written by bestselling authors. And far from the ghosts frightening me, they typically make me cast a book down in disgust.

I love fantasy. You know I love fantasy. I’ve spent the past few years of my life immersed in the genre as I wrote Cassie Scot and her sequels. But loving fantasy does not mean I want to see it everywhere. I want to read a fantasy if, and only if, the implicit promise of the book involves magic or the paranormal.

What’s an implicit promise, you ask? Well, an implicit promise is the promise an author makes during the setup of a story, in which we are given to understand more or less what the story is about. Hero stumbles over dead body, gets accused of the crime, and has to figure out who did it so he won’t go to jail — mystery! Lonely young woman meets handsome young man and sparks (figuratively) fly — romance!  Queen of the fae comes to strike a bargain with our protagonists — fantasy!

Yes, that is a rather pat description. No, I don’t expect everyone’s creativity to fit neatly into a box. Maybe in that mystery a ghost killed the guy. I’m not telling you that if you don’t show us something paranormal in chapter one, you can’t go there, but if you do, it has to be with that implicit promise in mind. Normal guy. Normal world. Normal mystery. You have to give us clues. You have to foreshadow. You have to tell the story in such a way that when the ghost does appear, we may or may not be expecting it, but we can think, “Ohhhh! Now I see where you were going when he kept finding all his stuff had been moved around in an apparently locked room.”

If you do decide you want to do that, know it’s tough, and some people still won’t like it because they’ll feel cheated out of their implicit promise.

But most of all, magic isn’t a solution to every problem. That’s not what it is in true fantasy and it DEFINITELY shouldn’t be what it is in stories that are supposedly (and initially) set in the real world.

Secrets and Lies Review Blitz Highlights

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Here are the highlights from yesterdays amazing review-day blitz with Innovative Online Tours!

 Books, Books, and More Books “OMG!  I reviewed the first book in this series (here) and loved it, but this one was SO much better.”

T B R Wow where do I begin? I feel awe at Cassie’s deductive abilities and strength and bravery but My heart breaks for her as well. “

Pure Jonel  Amsden does a great job of introducing new and unique concepts as part of the story’s action rather than as a separate narrative. She keeps you guessing and on your toes throughout with her imaginatively suspenseful storyline. By mixing relationship drama with a murder investigation and a few other twists en route Amsden creates a masterpiece that you won’t be able to put down.”

The Insane Ramblings of a Crazed Writer  “There are so many layers to the story, Christine has done a fabulous job at ensuring that she has kept everything straight and not overly confusing.”

Love, Laughter, and Friendship  “This series just keeps getting better and better.  I can’t wait to see how book #3 will turn out.  Bring it, Ms. Amsden.  :)”

 Pink Fluffy Hearts ” I can’t wait for the next book to come out. Seriously. I need it right now, please. ”

Lissette E Manning “Another great addition to this series! ”

My Kindle Fever “Christine Amsden draws me in every time with her talent and command of the quill or should I say Keyboard.  I would love to see this series turned into a television series.  I can so see this on the CW! “

Cassie Scot: Swimming in Reviews!

 

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Wow, I’m overwhelmed! I just finished up a review tour for my Cassie Scot AUDIOBOOK and the responses have been amazing.

 

Lissette E. Manning — “I must say that this book is a must-read.”

Sapphyna’s Book Reviews — “Cassie Scot: ParaNormal Detective is straight up one of the absolute best mystery books I’ve read. ”

Love, Laughter, and Friendship — “Ooooo, Pink loved this book….I can’t wait to read more of Cassie and Evan.  Just wondering how long I have to wait.  *pout*”

Little Miss Drama Queen — “The story was so great, it’s an adventure very much worth getting swept up in. It’s so fun and a great addition to the paranormal genre.”

Books R Us — ” I have always enjoy Audiobooks and the narrator Melissa did a fantastic job. she was able to change her voice to fit the different characters in the book. I was immediately sucked into the storyline and I stayed up way past my bedtime to listen to the story….The book was well written, entertaining and I cannot wait to read (or listen to) the Next book in the series.”

Brroke Blog — “Cassie Scot: Paranormal Detective by Christine Amsden is a book that I’ve read and enjoyed before. I was quite excited to have the chance to review the audio version of the book. I felt like the narrator did a really nice job with the story. It seemed to fit the way that I had felt it would sound. This is a fun story to listen to!”

Pink Fluffy Hearts — “When I was first sent “Cassie Scot: ParaNormal Detective” by Christine Amsden to review, I was excited. I’ve read detective series in the past that focused on the world of the supernatural, and I was eager for more. Thankfully, I can say that Amsden did not disappoint, and I enjoyed the first book in her detective series.”

Wall to Wall Books — “This is the first book I have read by Christine and I do think I would read another.”

Literal Hottie Naughty Book Reviews — “This is a really fantastic story, think cozy mystery meets urban fantasy. Really awesome from beginning to end!!!”

TBR — “The story is very well written and the narrator does a wonderful job with pace and inflection. I really felt like Cassie was telling me her story and not like I was being read to.I have completely fallen in love with Cassie and Evan, sorry Braden.”

 

I want to thank all these reviewers once again for their wonderful, thoughtful, and insightful reviews!

What is Young Adult Fiction? (And Why Cassie Scot Isn’t)

CassieScot_medFor someone who doesn’t consider herself to be a young adult fiction writer, I have spent a lot of time in recent months thinking about what young adult means and how to define it as a genre. The reason is simple: Quite a few of my readers are calling Cassie Scot YA. Even my publisher has been classifying the series that way, making me wonder if I should just give in to the pressure and go with the label. I might have done so, except not everyone agrees, and in fact at least one reviewer knocked a star off of her rating because she felt the book was being misclassified as young adult. I couldn’t agree with her more. And she’s not alone, either. Whether people are saying it’s just plain misclassified, or has broad adult appeal, or is really new adult, the one thing I’m sure about is that there’s no consensus.

I don’t want to disagree with anyone, most especially my loyal fans. Every reader is entitled to his or her opinion and of course, I hope a lot of people love this series. I even see where they’re coming from.

But as the author of this series, I think my opinion should count too, and here it is: Cassie Scot is an ADULT fantasy series. Oh sure, I could call it new adult because it is. I’ll discuss the relatively recent “new adult” label in a bit, but the most important thing is that it is NOT a young adult series.

Does this mean that teens shouldn’t read it? Of course not! Teenagers can read books written for adults. (I did!) One of the mistakes I made in my early thinking of the classification issue was in trying to decide whether or not this book is appropriate for teenagers. Well, one, that’s not my call and two, who cares? Adult doesn’t mean NC-17 any more than young adult means PG. The YA label isn’t about standards of morality or appropriateness. I’ve read adult books without so much as a hint of violence, language or sex, and YA books with all three!

I suppose you could say that I’ve spent a lot of time determining what YA isn’t – it isn’t about the age of the main character (although this can be a factor), it isn’t about the age of the intended audience (although aga, it can be a factor), it isn’t about a simple, accessible writing style (which is common in both YA and adult genre fiction), and it isn’t about a light-hearted tone. (Anyone read The Hunger Games?)

Young adult is innocence, and sometimes the loss thereof. It’s about self-discovery in its most basic form. Who am I? What am I? What do I want? What is the meaning of life? These questions follow us well past the teenage years, but there is a qualitative difference in the way they plague us during the awakening years, that time between childhood and adulthood when we truly first start to ask them.

When I read YA (it’s not my go-to genre but I do), I look for a quality I like to call “genuine teen sensibility.” Genuine teen sensibility captures what it’s like to be a teenager, making the story feel particularly relevant to teenagers. But at the same time, this element sparks a memory in us adults, reminding us of what it was like, and therein making the story accessible to a wider spectrum of readers. The fact that more YA fiction has this quality nowadays is probably a big part of why the genre is becoming more accessible to adults.

Twenty-one-year-old Cassie doesn’t feel like she fits into a world of magic because she has none of her own. She’s uncertain about who she is and what she should be, a lot like a character in a YA story. But this isn’t a new dynamic for her. She making forays, taking chances, and has already tried and failed a few times. By chapter one of the first book she’s already tried working for the sheriff’s department, decided that wasn’t going to work, then opened a private investigator business (another lousy idea that’s not going to work out for her, but she doesn’t know it yet). She’s had a boyfriend for three years, and is trying to decide if she’s in love with him. She’s not discovering love for the first time, she’s trying to refine the definition (and in fact, this is a theme that continues throughout the series).

In short, Cassie is an adult – a new one, but an adult. She’s not dealing with first crushes or what she wants to be when she grows up. She’s trying to be what she wants to be when she grows up. Those of us who have been through our twenties have figured out that the process isn’t as smooth as we thought it would be in our teens!

I chose Cassie’s age very carefully and based on a number of factors. On a superficial level, her being 21 should automatically keep her out of the YA group, where it is far more advisable to go with a hero/heroine a year or two older than your target age group. But I didn’t make her 21 to keep this from being YA, I did that because when I thought about how old I was when I started to really figure out who I was, it wasn’t the teens. It was the 20s. I started asking the questions in the teens, but I didn’t even know how to go about finding the answers back then.

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Young adult fiction should take us back to the days when we were first asking the hard questions in life, and our first fumbled attempts to answer them.

New adult is a relatively recent genre that acts as sort of a bridge between YA and adult, but the more I learn about this genre the more I think that like YA, it has distinct themes and purposes of its own. And like YA, if it captures the heart of what it’s like to be a new adult, then it can have far broader appeal than the 18-23 age range. I shudder to think that those are the only people who might read this! Especially since I wrote it, at first largely for myself, in my early 30s. 🙂

If I didn’t convince you then that’s okay. I hope you still enjoy the books, whoever you are and however old you are. But know that I am writing these books about an adult character learning to become an adult, rather than about a young adult learning not to be a child.