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Hello, Transcriber…exposed!

St. Martin’s Press has released details about Hannah Morrissey’s debut novel, including the cover for the compelling new crime thriller.

Hello, Transcriber features a police transcriber who goes beyond her daily duties to help solve a harrowing case. A teaser posted at criminalelement.com reveals more about the plot:

“Every night, while the street lamps shed the only light on Wisconsin’s most crime-ridden city, police transcriber Hazel Greenlee listens as detectives divulge Black Harbor’s gruesome secrets. As an aspiring writer, Hazel believes that writing a novel could be her only ticket out of this frozen hellscape.

“And then her neighbor confesses to hiding the body of an overdose victim in a dumpster.

“The suspicious death is linked to Candy Man, a notorious drug dealer. Now Hazel has a first-row seat to the investigation and becomes captivated by the lead detective, Nikolai Kole. Intrigued by the prospects of gathering eyewitness intel for her book, Hazel joins Kole in exploring Black Harbor’s darkest side.

“As the investigation unfolds, Hazel will learn just how far she’ll go for a good story–even if it means destroying her marriage and luring the killer to her as she plunges deeper into the city she’s desperate to claw her way out of.”

Hello, Transcriber will be available in paperback and e-book editions on Nov. 30, 2021, courtesy of Minotaur Books, an imprint of St. Martin’s Press and premier publisher in the bestselling category of crime fiction.

Morrissey joined the Allied Authors in 2019. She is currently working on her follow-up novel, Widowmaker,which also takes place in the apocryphal city of Black Harbor.


Remembering Tom Ramirez

By David Michael Williams

“Who’s the writer?”

Those were the first words he spoke to me. My newlywed wife, Stephanie, and I were having a rummage sale in the summer of 2005, and a man old enough to be my grandfather asked the question while holding up the outdated copy of Writer’s Market we’d hoped to sell for a quarter.

We quickly learned a few things about Tom Ramirez:

  • He was a local author with more than a hundred paperbacks to his name (and pen names).
  • He was a former journalist, even as I was getting my feet wet at the local newspaper.
  • He and his wife, Fern, had grown up here in Fond du Lac, Wisconsin, and lived in nearby St. Peter.

At some point in the conversation, we exchanged contact information, and it wasn’t long before the Ramirezes invited Steph—whom Tom quickly dubbed “Steffers”—and I to dinner at their beautiful home. Somehow Fern was even friendlier than Tom. In addition to learning more about their fascinating lives and sharing a bit about our own backgrounds, we were taught how to play Mexican Train.

Thomas P. Ramirez

A month or so later, we had them over for dinner at our place.

Early on, I shared some of my writing with Tom, and while he was the furthest thing to a fantasy fan, he must have seen some promise in my work because he invited Steph and I to accompany him and Fern to an Allied Authors meeting in the Milwaukee area. We eagerly took them up on the offer.

I remember feeling like a fish out of water—or maybe a better metaphor would be a goldfish swimming among monolithic ocean dwellers. We were so young, and here we were in the company of published authors and writers who had accomplished so much!

It was a lot to aspire to, but Tom was about as down-to-earth as a man could get. A child of the Great Depression, he had a knack for telling it like it is, praise and criticism alike, which made his feedback on my fiction tough but fair. Meanwhile, Fern was the perfect counterbalance, always ready with a cache of compliments due to her passion for reading.

Steph and I often carpooled with the Ramirezes for these monthly Allied Authors meetings. In the beginning, she and I worried we’d run out of things to talk about with the elderly couple. That never happened. Not even close.

Was it because Tom and Fern were so young at heart? Were Steph and I old souls? Or was the truth, perhaps, somewhere in the middle?

Whatever the case, the trips to and from Milwaukee never devolved into awkward silence. Indeed, the rides were always at least as fun as the meetings themselves, despite the half-century difference in our ages.

My friendship with Tom stretched across 15 years—through the birth of both my children, a couple of career changes, and the publication of my first novels. When it came time for him to self-publish his memoirs, I passed along to my mentor what I had gleaned from my own experiences, assisting him with proofing, layout, the back-cover blurb, and the publishing itself. In some ways, it seemed like a role-reversal, but, really, it was just one good friend helping another.

Up until Tom’s death, we were talking about the possibility of publishing a novel he’d been working on for the past few years, a horror novel that was outside his wheelhouse but of which he was quite proud. I was proud, too—not only because he was writing well into his 90s, but because he wasn’t afraid to tackle something new and unfamiliar.

A recurring theme in a life both long and lush.

If Tom Ramirez hadn’t shown up at our rummage sale, I doubt I would have crossed paths with the Allied Authors, let alone joined the group. My own writing journey would have suffered for that as well as the absence of his stalwart encouragement. Aside from Steph, he was my staunchest supporter, always predicting I had what it took to make it.

“Who’s the writer?”

I am—and I’m a much better one for having known you, Tom. Moreover, you made my life richer beyond the page. I’m blessed to have known you and Fern and to have played some small part in the incredible story that was your life.

Enjoy your epilogue, old friend.

Thomas P. Ramirez passed away on December 18, 2020 at the age of 94. The former teacher, reporter, and author of more than 150 novels and 250 short stories joined the Allied Authors of Wisconsin in 1955. His most recent book was That Wonderful Mexican Band, a memoir about growing up a poor member of a minority group in Fond du Lac during the Great Depression, which was published in 2017.


How to Survive a Fantasy Adventure: Teen Edition

Wizards and wannabes star in new novel geared toward gamers

Fans of fantasy roleplaying games (RPGs) can learn what not to do when exploring a new world, thanks to David Michael Williams’ latest novel.

The Lost Tale of Sir Larpsalot features a handful of would-be heroes who find themselves woefully unprepared for the adventure they always hoped for.

Front cover of The Lost Tale of Sir Larpsalot“It’s what’s called a portal fantasy,” Williams said. “Five Midwestern teens are pulled into another world by a sorceress who confuses them for actual champions. They have to complete her perilous quest in order to get back home.”

“In some ways, it’s every gamer’s dream come true and nightmare rolled into one,” he added.

The Wisconsin author describes his new novel as Galaxy Quest meets Dungeons & Dragons. The characters are all live-action roleplaying gamers—aka LARPers—and include Sir Larpsalot, the party leader; musical storyteller Elvish Presley; Brutus the Bullheaded, a surly minotaur; know-it-all Master Prospero; and Tom Foolery, the team’s not-so-stealthy sneak.

While the coming-of-age tale is classified as YA fiction, the book was written to appeal to fantasy aficionados both young and old as well as anyone who enjoys fun-filled, action-heavy adventures—such as teen gamers who aren’t typically drawn to reading.

Unlike Williams’ earlier sword-and-sorcery novels, which all took place in the magical world of Altaerra, The Lost Tale of Sir Larpsalot straddles the real world, the fictional setting that the LARPers invented for their game and a brand-new realm filled with creatures they have never encountered, not even in their imaginations.

“The teens have to decide which fantasy clichés can help them overcome obstacles and which could get them killed,” Williams said. “Every chapter starts with a snippet of gaming slang, which somehow fits into the next segment of their crazy quest.”

“This book is my tongue-in-cheek love letter to the fantasy RPGs I grew up playing and continue playing to this day,” he said.

One Million Words, Williams’ indie publishing company, published The Lost Tale of Sir Larpsalot on Oct. 1. The paperback and e-book are available at Amazon.com. He plans to narrate and produce the audiobook edition in 2021.

Williams is also the author of four other fantasy novels, including Magic’s Daughter, which was released in paperback, e-book, and audiobook editions earlier this year, as well as The Soul Sleep Cycle, a dreampunk series that explores life, death and eternity. He joined the Allied Authors of Wisconsin in 2005.


Escape for a spell with new novel Magic’s Daughter

Coming-of-age fantasy conjures up family conflict, intrigue, romance

Readers can return to the magical, medieval realm of Altaerra in David Michael Williams’ recently released seventh novel.

Magic's Daughter coverMagic’s Daughter, currently available in paperback and Kindle editions, tells the story of Selena Nelesti, a young aristocrat torn between her family’s expectations and her own ambition to become something more—someone who shapes the very world.

“Selena wants nothing to do with her noble name,” Williams said. “She seeks out forbidden knowledge as a means of escape, but whether magic will be the key to her freedom or the path to another prison remains to be seen.”

Rounding out the cast of characters are members of Selena’s family, including her manipulative mother, increasingly distant father, and beloved but ailing grandmother as well as a stable boy who provides a perspective from outside the castle, a combative priest, and a wizard who will change Selena’s life in ways both seen and unseen.

Magic’s Daughter takes place in Williams’ proprietary world of Altaerra, which also served as the setting for The Renegade Chronicles, a sword-and-sorcery fantasy trilogy published in 2016.

“The Renegade Chronicles introduced readers to Altaerra, and Magic’s Daughter expands on that groundwork, exploring new geography and diving deeper into how the magic of that world works,” the Wisconsin author said.

“But you don’t have to have read The Renegade Chronicles to appreciate Magic’s Daughter. It is a separate, self-contained story,” he added.

Williams’ indie publishing company, One Million Words, published Magic’s Daughter on April 14. Both the paperback and e-book editions are available at Amazon.com. He plans to release an audiobook version later in 2020.

In addition to Magic’s Daughter and The Renegade Chronicles, Williams is the author of The Soul Sleep Cycle, a dreampunk series that explores life, death and eternity. He joined the Allied Authors of Wisconsin in 2005.


A sequel is born: Children of the Saviour

Friday the 13th brought nothing but good luck for a certain member of Allied Authors.

Christopher Whitmore published his second novel, Children of The Saviour, on Sept. 13, 2019. The book is a sequel to 2017’s Saviour, a post-apocalyptic fantasy adventure.

The back-cover blurb captures where Children of The Saviour picks up and hints at new territory ahead:

“A year after the events of SAVIOUR, Miracle Ashe returns home to find her sister and friends entangled in a perilous skein of intrigue: a glorious angel, wrapped in tendrils of living flame has unexpectedly arrived in the city. He proclaims that he is the son and heir of The Saviour himself.

“Miracle isn’t convinced.

“Her journey to discover the truth behind this angel of fire reunites her with old friends and ends up introducing her to astonishing, forgotten corners of the world. However, enemies familiar and new await her, both at home and across the sea.”

Whitmore’s published works combine complex religious themes, thrilling action, and a generous measure of comedy to keep readers turning pages and craving the next installment in the series. The Fond du Lac native joined Allied Authors of Wisconsin in 2017, shortly after the release of his debut novel.

Both Saviour and Children of The Saviour are available in paperback and as e-books on Amazon.com.


Soul Sleep Cycle comes to mind-bending conclusion

David Michael Williams’ psychological rollercoaster of a book series reached terminal velocity when If Dreams Can Die launched earlier this month.

If Dreams Can Die book coverThe 360-page paperback or e-book depicts the final confrontation between a death-defying cult and the CIA-sanctioned dream drifters determined to protect the collective unconscious. If Dreams Can Die reveals important information about Annette Young, a mysterious figure from the first two books and the alleged villain of the series.

“Annette has devoted her life as well as her afterlife to reconnecting with her departed family, even if it means destroying the dreamscape,” Williams said. “Although she has committed reprehensible crimes for her cause, she still sees herself as a hero.”

If Dreams Can Die ties together the intertwining storylines of If Souls Can Sleep and If Sin Dwells Deep, both published in 2018.

“Characters who were enemies in the first two novels must join forces to stop Annette,” Williams said. “But how do you defeat someone who is already dead?”

As with its predecessors, If Dreams Can Die contains elements of several literary genres, including science fiction, fantasy, paranormal and suspense. The Soul Sleep Cycle could also be categorized as dreampunk, a subgenre that raises the question “What is real?”

“I set out to write something I’d never read before, something unique and admittedly experimental,” the Wisconsin author said.

Williams’ indie publishing company, One Million Words, published If Dreams Can Die on May 21. Both the paperback and e-book will be available at Amazon.com.

In addition to The Soul Sleep Cycle, Williams is the author of The Renegade Chronicles, a sword-and-sorcery fantasy trilogy comprised of Rebels and Fools, Heroes and Liars, and Martyrs and Monsters. He is a 1999 graduate of UW-Fond du Lac and a 2001 graduate of UW-Milwaukee, where he studied creative writing. He joined the Allied Authors of Wisconsin in 2005.

Learn more about the author and his fiction at david-michael-williams.com.


AAW members to present at UntitledTown

Three Allied Authors of Wisconsin spec-fic writers will share their experiences and expertise at an upcoming book festival.

Mark J. Engels, Christopher Whitmore and David Michael Williams will participate in panels and a workshop at UntitledTown, an annual literary event that promotes all aspects of book culture. The festival will be held April 25 to 28 throughout downtown Green Bay, Wis.

Most of the events, including readings, book signings and presentations, are free and open to the public. Here are the events featuring AAW members:

Fantasy & Sci-fi World-Building Workshop

Williams will lead a workshop that focuses on the essential elements for creating a fully realized world and offer tips for successfully integrating those details into one’s story.

  • 4 – 5:30 p.m. Friday, April 26, in Think Tank C of the Brown County Library (Central Branch), 515 Pine St.

Writing & Publishing Sci-fi / Paranormal / Fantasy Fiction

Engels, Whitmore and Williams — along with three other Wisconsin authors — will share their trials, passion for the craft, the horrors of publishing and more during this panel.

  • 12 – 1 p.m. Saturday, April 27, in the Waterford Room of St. Brendan’s Inn, 234 S. Washington St.

Writing Mysteries & Thrillers

At this panel, Engels and a handful of other Wisconsin writers will talk about the craft of writing in the mystery and thriller genres.

  • 4 – 5 p.m. Saturday, April 27, in Breakout Room 5A of the KI Convention Center, 333 Main St.

For more details about the festival, including the full schedule of events, visit https://2019.untitledtown.org.

 


Soul Sleep sequel takes dreamscape to new depths

Williams’ genre-bending book series returns this month

Paperback cover of If Sin Dwells DeepEven good girls have secrets…

If Sin Dwells Deep, the second installment in David Michael Williams’ speculative fiction series, tells the story of Allison, a straight-laced woman who transforms into a rebellious goddess when she dreams.

“Allison is living a double life,” the Fond du Lac author said. “She thinks having a fling in the dreamscape is harmless fun until a sadistic predator learns her true identity and she must deal with the real-world consequences.”

The 380-page paperback and e-book delves deeper into the hidden world of dream drifters, people who possess the power to invade the minds of others. If Sin Dwells Deep also sheds light on the war between gifted government agents and those who would use their abilities to corrupt life, death and the afterlife—a conflict only hinted at in the first book.

As with its predecessor, If Souls Can Sleep, the new novel contains elements of science fiction, fantasy, suspense, metafiction and more.

“It’s a wonderfully weird mashup,” Williams said. “I took a risk by doing something different. Given the positive reception of the first book, I’m thrilled to report that readers apparently appreciate the strangeness.”

Although If Sin Dwells Deep is the second book in The Soul Sleep Cycle, it is not a typical sequel.

“Book Two is a parallel novel, which means the plot runs concurrently with that of Book One. It’s another side of the story. The two books are interconnected yet independent,” Williams said.

“Which means readers can enjoy If Sin Dwells Deep without having read If Souls Can Sleep,” he added.

Williams’ indie publishing company, One Million Words, will publish If Sin Dwells Deep in paperback on Oct. 2. The e-book is currently available through the Kindle Store.

To celebrate the release of If Sin Dwells Deep, Williams will sell and sign copies of the book from 5 to 9 p.m. on Nov. 2 at Gallery & Frame Shop, 94 S. Main St., Fond du Lac, as part of Fond du Lac Gallery Night.

The third installment in The Soul Sleep Cycle, If Dreams Can Die, is slated for publication in spring 2019.

In addition to The Soul Sleep Cycle, Williams is the author of The Renegade Chronicles, a fantasy trilogy comprised of Rebels and Fools, Heroes and Liars, and Martyrs and Monsters. He joined the Allied Authors of Wisconsin in 2005 and the Wisconsin Writers Association in 2018.

Learn more about the author and his fiction at david-michael-williams.com.


Allied Authors say a sad farewell to Fern Ramirez

The Allied Authors of Wisconsin lost a longtime member and close friend on July 19, 2018, when Fern Ramirez passed away at age 91.

A onetime teacher, Fern married Tom Ramirez in 1947. The two joined AAW in 1956 after being invited to a meeting by the late Beverly Butler Olson, a childhood playmate. Fern valued being a part of AAW and counted it as a privilege to have known Larry Sternig, Ann Powers Schwartz and Harry Schwartz, Don Emerson, Aubrey Young and many others during her rich tenure.

An avid, attentive reader, Fern always provided constructive feedback on members’ manuscripts.

“In the group, Fern’s comments were eagerly sought, well thought out and highly beneficial. Fortunately, her discerning eye, attention to detail and sharp wit were always tempered by a kind, gentle heart,” Jack Byrne recalled.

“An extraordinary lady, Fern was loved, and she shall be missed.”

Fern also went above and beyond with her assistance, including proofing one AAW member’s trilogy.

“Dear friend, fellow Allied Author, proofreader — Fern was all of these things and more to me,” David Michael Williams reflected. “While she will be greatly missed, I know she is now in a place where there is no pain or suffering — indeed, only joy — and look forward to reuniting with her again when my time comes.”

Fern’s various teaching positions ranged from first grade through high school and also included leading classes at a women’s correction facility. Her writing consists of short news articles and op-ed pieces. She also wrote a series of Sunday school stories with lesson plans and tinkered with a children’s novel, Bay’s Story.


Book-themed bike rack memorializes Ramirez’s memoir

Photo provided by the Fond du Lac Public Library

A longtime member of the Allied Authors was recently honored with an engraving on an unconventional monument.

Thomas P. Ramirez is one of six Wisconsin writers whose name appears on a new bicycle rack outside of the Fond du Lac Public Library. He is featured for his memoir, That Wonderful Mexican Band, published in 2017.

The book-themed rack was introduced as part of recent improvements to the library. When two standard bike racks had to be removed to accommodate a driveway redesign, library staff elected to replace them with a unique option that celebrates Fond du Lac writers from across the years and from a variety of genres.

The following works are represented on the rack (with abbreviated titles to fit the space):

  • Foot of the Lake: An Early History of Fond du Lac, Wisconsin by Cindy Barden
  • Seventeenth Summer by Maureen Daly
  • Fond du Lac: A Gift of the Glacier by Michael Mentzer
  • Book cover of "That Wonderful Mexican Band"That Wonderful Mexican Band: A Memoir of The Great Depression by Thomas P. Ramirez
  • Extraordinary People: Understanding Savant Syndrome by Darold Treffert
  • Secrets of the Ledge: Pictorial Report of Archaeological Findings on the Niagara Escarpment in Fond du Lac County, Wisconsin by Dwight Weiser

The inclusion of That Wonderful Band is appropriate not only because the memoir so vividly captures Fond du Lac during The Great Depression, but because Ramirez specifically cites the Fond du Lac Public Library as one of his favorite childhood destinations.

Ramirez, 92, is also the author of 150 paperbacks and dozens of published short stories—including three popular Phoenix Force novels in the 1980s—making him among the state’s most prolific authors. He joined the Allied Authors in 1955.

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