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Tuesday, 5 April 2016

NBTM & #GIVEAWAY - Jump Cut by Libby Fischer Hellmann





Chicago video producer, Ellie Foreman, has been absent from thriller author Libby Fischer Hellmann’s repertoire for almost a decade. Now she’s back...and soon entangled in a web of espionage, murder and suspicion that threatens to destroy what she holds most dear. Hired to produce a candyfloss profile of Chicago-based aviation giant, Delcroft, Ellie is dismayed when company VP Charlotte Hollander, the architect of a new anti-drone system for Delcroft, trashes the production and cancels the project. Ellie believes Hollander was spooked by shots of a specific man in the video footage. But when Ellie arranges to meet the man to find out why, he’s killed by a subway train before they can talk. In the confusion, she finds a seemingly abandoned pack of cigarettes with a flash drive inside that belonged to the now dead man.

Ellie has the drive’s contents decrypted, but before long she discovers she’s under surveillance. Suspecting Delcroft and the ambitious Hollander are behind it, she’s unconvinced when Hollander tells her the dead man was a Chinese spy. Ellie and her boyfriend Luke try to find answers, but they don’t realize how far into the dangerous echelons of hidden power they have ventured. When Ellie’s daughter is kidnapped and Charlotte Hollander disappears, it becomes terrifyingly clear that Ellie is in way over her head, and more lives are on the line, including her own.

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The sun winked off the frozen surface of Lake Michigan the next morning as I drove south to McCormick Place. During one of the most brutal Chicago winters in decades, the smudge of purple clouds tinged with pink and gold hinted that the fury of winter might—just might—have peaked. I parked in the overpriced lot, bought half a dozen cups of overpriced coffee, and carried them into the massive exhibit hall.

The crew was setting up lights and shades, and Mac was behind the camera framing shots. MacArthur J. Kendall III owns a production studio in Northbrook. He started out shooting sweet sixteens, bar mitzvahs, and weddings, but parlayed that into corporate videos. We’ve worked together for nearly twenty years, from the days of two-inch video, to one-inch, three-quarter, and now digital.

Mac’s name, salt-and-pepper hair, button-down shirts, and penny loafers scream WASP, but the nasty scar running down his left cheek saves him from total Episcopalian infamy. He tells people he was attacked by a Mexican drug lord and made me swear never to reveal it was from a car accident.

I went up to him. “What do you need me to do?”

“You have the shot list?”

I nodded and pulled it out of the canvas bag that doubles as my purse. We went over it. He gestured to the main area of the Delcroft booth, which featured a large projection screen with the company logo on both sides, and about twenty chairs arranged theater-style.

“What time’s the first presentation?”

Teresa Basso Gold, our client contact, had told us to be prepared for a series of short remarks by Delcroft executives touting the company’s latest innovations.

I checked my watch. Barely six thirty. “The doors don’t open until nine, and Teresa said not to expect anyone until ten. But you can get some establishing shots, if you want.”

“Sounds like a plan,” Mac said and strolled over to confer with the crew.

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Libby will be awarding $50 Amazon or B/N GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.

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Follow the tour and comment; the more you comment, the better your chances of winning. The tour dates can be found here

What do you do when you’re not writing?
Writing is a cruel mistress, and when you add promotion of one’s writing, it’s more than a 10 hour day. However, I try to work out at least every other day. I like to swim laps and JUST bought one of those underwater MP3 players so I can combine swimming with my other passion – reading. Or in this case, listening to audiobooks. Fingers crossed the gadget works for a LONG time. I also love Blues music, dancing, and watching films, either on Netflix and Amazon or at the theater. And I love to travel. This summer, if all goes well, I plan to go to the Amalfi Coast and Sicily.

Do you have a day job as well?
I used to write video scripts and I was a speech coach for executives in platform speaking, presentations, and media interviews. But I gave that up about 8 years ago, so you could either say I’m a full-time writer or partly retired.

What was your favourite book as a child?
Blueberries for Sal. I was only about 4 years old, but I’d make my mother check it out of the library every few weeks. It was a picture book about a little girl who goes blueberry picking with her mother and runs inito a bear with her cub. The best part was the sound of the blueberries hitting their tin pail… “Plink, plink, plink…”

What book do you wish you had written?
To Kill a Mockingbird… or Gone With The Wind. (sigh…)

Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
Writing. I could say enjoying the movies that have been made from my novels, but that would be a fantasy, I fear. Not reality.
How did you choose the genre you write in?
When I finally did decide to start writing, I knew it would be mysteries with a lot of suspense, ie thrillers. I was a voracious reader when I was younger, and it was the best feeling to HAVE to finish a book, even if I had to hide under the covers with a flashlight. I gravitated to mysteries after college and haven’t looked back. There’s another reason too. Mysteries have an inherent structure. For example, you’re supposed to have a body in the first 3 chapters… you’re supposed to misdirect your readers… you don’t reveal the culprit (usually) until the end. That structure and the tropes of the genre made me feel more comfortable when I decided to try one. I wasn’t starting from a blank slate, if you will.

Do you ever experience writer’s block?
Yes and when I do, I know it’s because I’m doing something that my characters or the plot doesn’t need… in other words, I’m going off on a tangent. I may not know what that tangent is or when it started but I know enough by now to recognize that something is not working. So… I stop for a while. It may be an hour, a day, or even a week. I do other things, like grocery shop, make the beds, laundry, and after a while I often figure out what I did wrong. If I can’t, I’ll call a writer friend and discuss it with them. That always does the trick.

Are you a planner or a pantser?
For some reason I don’t like the word “Pantser” but that’s what I am. I’d rather call it writing without a net. I used to outline before I was published. But the novels I outlined never were sold. I found out from a wonderful editor it was because I was writing the outline rather than the story, and I was getting in the way of my characters. They were behaving the way I wanted them to, rather than the way they might authentically behave if I left them to their own devices. This editor suggested I try writing “without a net.” I was reluctant to do that – and being a Type A, I argued with her.
“Of course I’m in control of my characters and story,” I said.
“No,” she said. “you’re really not.”
“What,” I said, “Am I somehow channeling them mystically like Shirley Maclaine?”
“Well,” the editor said, “Yes. Kind of.”
So I figured I’d give it a try. I had nothing to lose. Guess what? She was right. I learned quickly that all I had to do was create complex personalities and then let them loose on the world and each other. And add in conflict on every page. I now write backstories for my main characters, and that’s the extent of preparation I do. The very next novel I wrote was the 1st novel that was published. Thirteen novels later, I may have it down.

What does your protagonist think about you?
Great question! She tolerates me …J. Actually, I had a boss who used to say, all things being equal, she’d choose the candidate with whom she’d like to go out to lunch. I thought that was a terrific way to hire. (I worked for her for 10 years). So I would say that Ellie Foreman, my protagonist in JUMP CUT, would likely go out to lunch with me.

What has been the toughest criticism you’ve been given as an author?

Ha. There have been so many it’s hard to know where to begin. I’m in a writers’ group – have been for twenty years (They’ll take me out of there feet first). When I first started, I didn’t know what I didn’t know. In fact, I knew very little. For example, before I was published, I wrote three novels. None have seen the light of day, and they never will, because they weren’t ready. I had to learn the craft of fiction. To wit, in one of those novels, two male police officers were the protagonists. One of them walked into a house to question a witness, and the first thing he noticed were the curtains in the window.  “Um... no,” said my writing group. A solid, beefy cop would NOT notice curtains when he walked into a house. "You need to learn the difference between a man and a woman's point of view”, they said. Looking back, it seems obvious now. But at the time it felt like a revelation.

What has been the best compliment?
As for the best compliment – that also happened in my writers’ group. Two years after that, I finally discovered Ellie Foreman and brought in the first chapter of what would become AN EYE FOR MURDER. I read it out loud. Afterwards there was absolute silence. I was sure I'd done something wrong. This was it, I was thinking. They're going to kick me out. Instead, as I looked around, the woman who'd been hardest on me, said, "That was amazing. You found your voice." Her comment is still the most flattering thing anyone has ever said to me about my writing.

How important are the names in your book?
Very important. They need to sound right. I often use a website that’s a random name generator. It even asks how obscure you want the name to be. Unless I’m using names of people I know, which happens often.

Do you read your reviews? 

Do you respond to them, good or bad? 
If they’re good, I may say thank you, but if they’re bad, never.

What is your best marketing tip?
Before your book comes out, make an ARC (Advanced Reading Copy) available to potential customers, influencers, reviewers, bloggers so they can review it. It can be print or increasingly today, an ebook. I typically send out over 200 copies ahead of publication so that when the book is released, there are a lot of reviews already there. Hopefully, they’ll mostly be good ones.

What is your least favourite part of the writing or publishing process?
Writing. I’m part of the school that hate to write but loves having written. Every morning when I sit down to write, my stomach clenches. I’m sure readers are going to figure out what a fraud I am and that I can’t write at all. In addition, if I manage to get past that fear, I’m pretty hard on myself. I may write a sentence or even a paragraph, then decide it’s okay, but it doesn’t “sing…” acceptable. But not great. I’ll make myself go back over it several times until I am able to “elevate” the prose into something that’s better than average. That’s probably why I’m such a slow writer. I have perfected the ability to procrastinate… to do anything BUT write. And when I do, I take forever with each passage. It’s very rare that I go back over my work and say, “Hey, that wasn’t so bad…” Even when it’s already published.  Example: I had an audio produced for Jump Cut. Which meant I had to listen to every chapter to proof it. By the end, I was nearly crying… I had used at least four phrases at least TWENTY times each! (I won’t tell you what they are). I went BACK over the manuscript and was able to strike half of them out. The good news is that my publisher agreed to change the written text and the ebook before publication on March 1. The audio was corrected as well. (Big sigh of relief.)

Quick Fire

1. Light or dark chocolate -- Dark
2. Favourite colour -- Green
3. Dogs or cats -- Both
4. Tea or coffee -- Coffee
5. Light side or dark side – Dark. Definitely
6. Morning, noon or night? -- Morning
7. Black and white or colour? -- Color
8. Drawings or paintings? -- Photographs
9. Dresses or skirts? -- Dresses
10. Books or movies? -- Both
11. Pepsi or Coke? -- Coke
12. Chinese or Italian? -- Italian
13. Early bird or night owl? – Early bird
14. Chocolate or vanilla? -- Vanilla
15. Introvert or extrovert? -- Both
16. Hugs or kisses? -- Depends
17. Hunting or fishing? -- Hunting
18. Winter or summer? -- Summer
19. Spring or fall? -- Fall
20. Rural or urban?-- Urban
21. PC or Mac? -- Mac
22. Tan or pale?-- Tan
23. Cake or pie? -- Cake
24. Ice cream or yogurt? – Ice Cream
25. Ketchup or mustard? -- Ketchup
26. Sweet pickles or dill pickles? -- Dill
27. Comedy or mystery? -- Mystery
28. Boots or sandals? -- Both
29. Silver or gold? -- Both
30. Jazz or classical? -- Both
31. Dancing or singing?-- Dancing
32. Checkers or chess?-- Checkers
33. Board games or video games? – Board games
34. Wine or beer? -- Wine
35. Freckles or dimples? -- Dimples
36. Honey mustard or BBQ sauce? -- BBQ
37. Body weight exercises or lifting weights? -- Both
38. Baseball or basketball? -- Basketball
39. Crossword puzzles or sudokus? -- Crossword
40. Facial hair or clean shaven? – Clean shaven
41. Crushed ice or cubed ice? -- Crushed
42. Skiing or snowboarding? -- Snowboarding
43. Smile or game face? – Game face
44. Bracelet or necklace? Bracelet
45. Fruit or vegetables? -- Vegetables
46. Sausage or bacon? -- Bacon
47. Scrambled or fried? -- Fried
48. Tattoos or piercings? -- Piercings
49. Antique or brand new? – Brand new
50. Dress up or dress down? – Dress down
51. Cowboys or aliens? – Aliens
52. Pancakes or waffles? -- Pancakes
53. Bond or Bourne? -- Bourne
54. Sci-Fi or fantasy? – Sci-Fi
55. Numbers or letters? -- Numbers
56. Star Wars or Star Trek? – Star Wars
57. Fair or theme park? – Theme park
58. Money or fame? -- Money
59. Washing dishes or doing laundry?-- Dishes
60. Snakes or sharks? -- Sharks
61. Orange juice or apple juice?-- Orange
62. Sunrise or sunset? -- Sunset
63. Slacker or over-achiever? – Over achiever
64. Pen or pencil? -- Pen
65. Peanut butter or jelly?-- Jelly
66. Grammys or Oscars? -- Oscars
67. Detailed or abstract? -- Detailed
68. Multiple choice questions or essay questions?—Multiple choice
69. Adventurous or cautious? -- Cautious
70. Saver or spender? -- Spender
71. Glasses or contacts? -- Contacts
72. Laptop or desktop? -- Desktop
73. Classic or modern? -- Modern
74. Personal chef or personal fitness trainer? – Fitness trainer
75. Internet or cell phone? -- Both
76. Call or text? -- Call
77. Curly hair or straight hair? -- Straight
78. Shower in the morning or shower in the evening? -- Morning
79. Spicy or mild? -- Spicy
80. Marvel or DC? -- DC
81. Paying a mortgage or paying rent? -- Mortgage
82. Sky dive or bungee jump? -- NEITHER
83. Oreos or Chips Ahoy? -- Oreos
84. Jelly or pudding? -- Pudding
85. Truth or dare? -- Dare
86. Roller coaster or Ferris wheel? Ferris Wheel
87. Leather or denim? -- Denim
88. Stripes or solids? – Solids
89. Bagels or muffins? -- Bagels
90. Whole wheat or white?—Whole wheat
91. Beads or pearls? -- Pearls
92. Hardwood or carpet? -- Carpet
93. Bright colours or neutral tones? – Bright colors
94. Be older than you are or younger than you are? -- Younger
95. Raisins or nuts? -- Nuts
96. Picnic or nice restaurant? – Nice restaurant
97. Black leather or brown leather?-- Black
98. Long hair or short hair? – Short
99. “Ready, aim, fire” or “Ready, fire, aim”? The First
100. Fiction or non-fiction? -- Both
101. Smoking or non-smoking? – Non Smoking
102. Think before you talk or talk before you think? – Talk before thinking
103. Asking questions or answering questions? -- Both

 Libby Fischer Hellmann left a career in broadcast news in Washington, DC and moved to Chicago 35 years ago, where she, naturally, began to write gritty crime fiction. Twelve novels and twenty short stories later, she claims they’ll take her out of the Windy City feet first. She has been nominated for many awards in the mystery and crime writing community and has even won a few. *

With the addition of Jump Cut in 2016, her novels include the now five-volume Ellie Foreman series, which she describes as a cross between “Desperate Housewives” and “24;” the hard-boiled 4-volume Georgia Davis PI series, and three stand-alone historical thrillers that Libby calls her “Revolution Trilogy.” Her latest release, The Incidental Spy, is a historical novella set during the early years of the Manhattan Project at the U of Chicago. Her short stories have been published in a dozen anthologies, the Saturday Evening Post, and Ed Gorman’s “25 Criminally Good Short Stories” collection.

* She has been a finalist twice for the Anthony, twice for Foreword Magazines Book of the Year, the Agatha, the Shamus, the Daphne and has won the Lovey multiple times.

Early reviews for "Jump Cut":

"Exceptional... As Hellman’s convincing, conflicted characters face impossible choices, the tension is real and memorable."
Publishers Weekly, starred review

"Hellmann's writing sparkles...plenty of suspense in this richly detailed thriller, but Hellmann’s characteristic wit and warmth are evident, too."

"From spies to drones and hackers, Jump Cut is a heart-stopping tale of corporate espionage that will have you snapping on your seatbelt. The tangled web of international intrigue is riveting. Hellmann is a renowned master of suspense, and her great talent shows in the story’s many rich characters, the beautifully honed paragraphs, and the sweep of her provocative story. A keeper!"
Gayle Lynds, New York Times best-selling author of The Assassins

"With spooks, spies, sudden death and double-crosses, Jump Cut hits all the right notes for a top-notch action thriller. Once again Ellie Foreman is a thoroughly likeable real-world heroine, fiercely protective of those she loves, thrown in at the deep end and swimming for her life. Don’t miss it!"
Zoë Sharp, author of the Charlie Fox series and The Blood Whisperer

"Welcome back Ellie Foreman! Jump Cut rockets to a stunning but thrilling climax… Another winner from the standout Chicago novelist Libby Hellmann."
Paul Levine, author of Bum Rap

"After a long hiatus, Hellmann returns to her Chicago-based sleuth with a chilling tale that may be all too close to the truth."
Kirkus Reviews

Author of Compulsively Readable Thrillers



Tour Organised By: 

Goddess Fish Promotions


  1. Thank you for the chance to win :)

  2. If you could live anywhere, where would it be?

  3. Hi, Mai T. I'd live in Cyprus or Italy (Amalfi Coast), but I'd keep an apartment in Chicago and a cottage on a lake in Wisconsin. Hope that answers your question.

    Thanks Merissa, Amy, Angie, Debbie, and Helen for hosting me today! I'll be around and will check in.

  4. Thanks, Becky. I had a good time writing it. Surprising, since I usually hate writing (but love having written).

  5. Thanks for sharing the excerpt and the interview, I enjoyed reading them both :)

  6. Thanks, Victoria. It's been a pleasure to be featured here today.

  7. I agree 100% with answer #82!



  9. Thank you for this interesting interview!

  10. I am really enjoying following this tour, thank you for all the great blog posts and excerpts!

  11. I believe the content matter here is rattling magnificent. I genuinely enjoyed reading this article. Thank you! office furniture ft lauderdale

  12. Thank you, James! Glad you liked it...