Category Archives: Blog

“INK” (short story) by J.J. Hensley is on Shotgun Honey

Writing “flash fiction” is a challenge, but I managed to put together a story in 700 words.  It’s called INK and it’s published at Shotgun Honey.  Here is the link:

http://shotgunhoney.com/fiction/ink-by-j-j-hensley/#more-6123

printing-press

J.J. Hensley is the author of RESOLVE, a Thriller Award finalist which is set against the backdrop of the Pittsburgh Marathon, Measure Twice, Chalk’s Outline, and other works. Hensley is a former police officer and former Special Agent with the U.S. Secret Service.

https://hensleybooks.wordpress.com
http://www.hensley-books.com
https://www.facebook.com/hensleybooks
https://www.goodreads.com/JJHensley
Twitter @JJHensleyauthor

Watch for my new book, BOLT ACTION REMEDY, in 2017!

AVAILABLE NOW!

image1Cyprus Keller wants a future.
Jackson Channing has a past.
Robert Chalk has a rifle and a mission.  Kill Cyprus Keller and anyone who gets in his way.

 

An addict is killing Pittsburgh city officials, but Homicide Detective Jackson Channing has his own addiction.

cropped-measure-twice-750-x-1200-jpeg.jpg

Also:

In the Pittsburgh Marathon, more than 18,000 people will participate. 4,500 people will attempt to cover the full 26.2 miles. Over 200 of the participants will quit, realizing it just wasn’t their day. More than 100 will get injured and require medical treatment. One man is going to be murdered.  When Dr. Cyprus Keller lines up to start the race, he knows a man is going to die for one simple reason. He’s going to kill him.

resolve-cover art CL (1)

Finalist – 2014 International Thriller Writers Awards – Best First Novel
Named one of the BEST BOOKS of 2013 by Suspense Magazine!
Top Ten Books of the Year – Authors on the Air

 And look for my short story FOUR DAYS FOREVER in the LEGACY anthology

 

RECORD SCRATCH – Coming in 2018

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ANNOUNCEMENT!

In addition to my novel BOLT ACTION REMEDY (Fall 2017), Down & Out Books has picked up my novel RECORD SCRATCH for 2018. Both books feature former Pittsburgh narcotics detective Trevor Galloway, who has special insights into the criminal mind and scores of enemies. Some of them real. Some… not so much.

J.J. Hensley is the author of RESOLVE, a Thriller Award finalist which is set against the backdrop of the Pittsburgh Marathon, Measure Twice, Chalk’s Outline, and other works. Hensley is a former police officer and former Special Agent with the U.S. Secret Service.

https://hensleybooks.wordpress.com
http://www.hensley-books.com
https://www.facebook.com/hensleybooks
https://www.goodreads.com/JJHensley
Twitter @JJHensleyauthor

Watch for my new book, BOLT ACTION REMEDY, in 2017!

AVAILABLE NOW!

image1Cyprus Keller wants a future.
Jackson Channing has a past.
Robert Chalk has a rifle and a mission.  Kill Cyprus Keller and anyone who gets in his way.

 

An addict is killing Pittsburgh city officials, but Homicide Detective Jackson Channing has his own addiction.

cropped-measure-twice-750-x-1200-jpeg.jpg

Also:

In the Pittsburgh Marathon, more than 18,000 people will participate. 4,500 people will attempt to cover the full 26.2 miles. Over 200 of the participants will quit, realizing it just wasn’t their day. More than 100 will get injured and require medical treatment. One man is going to be murdered.  When Dr. Cyprus Keller lines up to start the race, he knows a man is going to die for one simple reason. He’s going to kill him.

resolve-cover art CL (1)

Finalist – 2014 International Thriller Writers Awards – Best First Novel
Named one of the BEST BOOKS of 2013 by Suspense Magazine!
Top Ten Books of the Year – Authors on the Air

 And look for my short story FOUR DAYS FOREVER in the LEGACY anthology

Should Authors, Artists, and Musicians Be Political?

Like many of you, I’ve been struggling to process the results of the recent election.  The nation is divided, the political opinions polarized, and there is a contentious tone coming from all sides.  Throughout what seemed like an endless 2016 campaign, I took note of several high-profile writers and musicians who boldly conveyed their political views.  I say boldly simply because an author, artist, or musician risks alienating a portion of his or her fan base (and future fans) by opining on political matters.  This risk is tenfold for those of us who are significantly less popular than Stephen King or Beyoncé.  It has been my observation that this risk deterred many creative types from speaking out politically, and I think that is a shame.

I remember going to rock concerts in the late 80s and early 90s and hearing bands rail against various political happenings.  It was done without thought to alienating any fans, but rather to express whatever message the performers thought to be important.  Similarly, it seems writers were more willing to be political and less concerned with the possible blowback from the opinions expressed.  I went to several concerts this year and, for the most part, the bands were silent regarding politics.  As part of the writing community, there were certainly many who were vocal, but I got the sense that many authors were hesitant to discuss political views.  So, what changed?

Social media has changed everything.  Whereas a musician or writer in the 80s or 90s might express a strong political opinion, the reach of that individual’s opinion might be limited to the audience on hand and the viewpoint would have a somewhat limited echo.  Today, if a small press author tells a tiny book club that they believe Candidate X is a bigot, then word of this believe may spread to the Internet and even find its way into online book reviews.

For example, a book called Unloaded was published this year.  The anthology consists of a collection of stories that support gun control and the proceeds of the sales go towards a nonprofit that combats gun violence.  When first released, the book was immediately met with several one star reviews on Amazon although it was clear the reviewers had not read the book.  Rather, the negative responses were simply due to the anti-gun viewpoints in the stories and to the association with the nonprofit.  Occurrences like these can persuade those whose works are in the public eye to hold back politically and remain silent on social issues.  Are those who remain silent correct?  Do writers, artists, and musicians have a responsibility to speak up?

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I don’ t know.

But, I do know this.  This country has just entered into uncharted territory.  For the first time, the U.S. political and social landscape has been completely reshaped by social media, fake news stories, and policy proposals that defy simple tests of logic – yet have gained traction.  While I certainly understand the discontent that has led us to this point, I do not – and will not – accept racism, sexism, homophobia, or xenophobia.  If that refusal costs me a few readers, then so be it.  History has provided us with a blueprint for times like these.

If those of us with a voice do not speak out now, we may not be able to do so later.

Note:  The next election is not in 2020.  It’s in 2018.  Vote!

 

Feel free to comment below! 

J.J. Hensley is the author of RESOLVE, a Thriller Award finalist which is set against the backdrop of the Pittsburgh Marathon, Measure Twice, Chalk’s Outline, and other works. Hensley is a former police officer and former Special Agent with the U.S. Secret Service.

https://hensleybooks.wordpress.com
http://www.hensley-books.com
https://www.facebook.com/hensleybooks
https://www.goodreads.com/JJHensley
Twitter @JJHensleyauthor

Watch for my new book, BOLT ACTION REMEDY, in 2017!

AVAILABLE NOW!

image1Cyprus Keller wants a future.
Jackson Channing has a past.
Robert Chalk has a rifle and a mission.  Kill Cyprus Keller and anyone who gets in his way.

 

An addict is killing Pittsburgh city officials, but Homicide Detective Jackson Channing has his own addiction.

cropped-measure-twice-750-x-1200-jpeg.jpg

Also:

In the Pittsburgh Marathon, more than 18,000 people will participate. 4,500 people will attempt to cover the full 26.2 miles. Over 200 of the participants will quit, realizing it just wasn’t their day. More than 100 will get injured and require medical treatment. One man is going to be murdered.  When Dr. Cyprus Keller lines up to start the race, he knows a man is going to die for one simple reason. He’s going to kill him.

resolve-cover art CL (1)

Finalist – 2014 International Thriller Writers Awards – Best First Novel
Named one of the BEST BOOKS of 2013 by Suspense Magazine!
Top Ten Books of the Year – Authors on the Air

 And look for my short story FOUR DAYS FOREVER in the LEGACY anthology

Interview with Jon McGowan: The Challenges of Media Tie-In Books and Stories

On The Thrill Begins:

Media Tie-In Books & Stories: Knowing is Half the Battle

 

Worst Presidential Election Ever? Well, Maybe Not

The 2016 Presidential election has defied logic.  Throughout the campaign we’ve had stories regarding lost or deleted emails of a sensitive or classified nature.  A fake university.  Questions regarding speaking fees paid by financial companies.  Non-disclosed tax returns.  Scandalous recordings.  The labeling of opposition followers as “deplorable”.  Accusations of sexual assault.  The discovery of shocking audio recordings.  And a blizzard of information (some of it false) spread around regarding positions on the 2nd Amendment, immigration, race, policing, and ties to the Russian government.  So, obviously 2016 has been the worst election ever.  And I almost forgot to mention the accusation of pimping out an American girl to a Russian Czar.

George Washington had it easy by comparison.

George Washington had it easy by comparison.

Wait… what?

Oh, that’s right.  The pimping scandal was in 1828.  The truth of the matter is that Presidential elections in the U.S. have nearly always been sprinkled with deceit, flat-out lies, disparagement, and dirty tricks.  With twenty-four hour news cycles, the rise of biased media outlets, and the proliferation of social media, it may seem like elections are worse than ever.  But, here are some examples that suggest the run for the big office has never been rosy.

1800 – Thomas Jefferson vs. Aaron Burr

It was a tie.  Of all things, it was a tie.  At the time, states could pretty much hold their elections anytime between April and October and then, to drag this one out even more, the resulting tie stretched the campaign out another seven weeks.  A conclusion was finally achieved when Jefferson won through a vote in the House.  The best part was that the 12th Amendment did not yet exist, so Jefferson then had to work with Burr who had automatically become the Vice-President.  That must have been awkward.  Of course, Burr went on to shoot and kill Alexander Hamilton and planned on raising his own army in order to invade Mexico, so if Burr gave Jefferson an occasional cold looks then Thomas still got off fairly easy.  Jefferson did try to get Burr convicted of treason, but Burr was a slippery sucker.

1828 – Andrew Jackson vs. John Quincy Adams

These two were NOT cozy.  Jackson had suffered a controversial defeat to Adams in 1824 and the old soldier had not taken it well.  By the time the rematch occurred four years later, Adams was being accused of pimping out a girl and Jackson’s wife had been publicly labeled as a bigamist since she had married Jackson before her divorce was final.  Rachel Jackson died right after Jackson’s victory in the election and Jackson blamed Adams and the negative publicity for her demise.

1860 – Abraham Lincoln vs. John Breckinridge

For over a decade, the issue of slavery had been polarizing the nation.   Breckinridge’s Southern Democratic party couldn’t even get out of their own convention before 51 Southern Dems walked out.  Lincoln wasn’t even the front-runner at the Republican Convention, but the other candidates managed to piss-off various factions within the party and Lincoln was viewed as a highly articulate moderate (largely due to the debates against Stephen Douglas in 1858).

Not likely said: "Check out her sex tape!"

Not likely said: “Check out her sex tape!”

Of course, Lincoln went on to win the nomination and ultimately the election.  You might say the result was continuous since seven states declared their succession from the Union before Lincoln was even inaugurated.

1876 – Rutherford B. Hayes vs. Samuel J. Tilden

This one came down to 20 contested electoral votes in four different states, including Florida.  Why is it always Florida?  Anyway, a compromise was reached in which the Democratic candidate Tilden (who had polled better than Hayes leading up to the voting) would acquiesce if the Republicans agreed to withdraw Federal troops from the South, ending Reconstruction.  Although this election is rarely discussed these days, consider this:  It was the first time a candidate won more than half the popular vote but lost due to electoral votes.  Also, it resulted in military forces being withdrawn from a huge portion of the U.S.  And this part should make us feel ashamed.  The voter turnout was over 81% of eligible voters.  81%.

 

So, is the Presidential election of 2016 really the worst?  I’m not so sure.  Andrew Jackson didn’t have access to CNN reporters.  Breckinridge had no access to a private jet he could use to zip around the nation and badmouth Lincoln.  And THANK GOODNESS Aaron Burr didn’t have a Twitter account.  Seriously… that dude was crazy.

Has this election been pleasant?  No.  Has it been scary?  You betcha (apologies to Sarah Palin).  Have we hit rock bottom?  It may be a matter of historical perspective.

Remember "hanging chads"? I miss hanging chads. It was a simpler time.

Remember “hanging chads”? I miss hanging chads. It was a simpler time.

Feel free to comment below!  (but bashing of either of the current candidates will probably be deleted)

J.J. Hensley is the author of RESOLVE, a Thriller Award finalist which is set against the backdrop of the Pittsburgh Marathon, Measure Twice, Chalk’s Outline, and other works. Hensley is a former police officer and former Special Agent with the U.S. Secret Service.

https://hensleybooks.wordpress.com
http://www.hensley-books.com
https://www.facebook.com/hensleybooks
https://www.goodreads.com/JJHensley
Twitter @JJHensleyauthor

Watch for my new book, BOLT ACTION REMEDY, in 2017!

AVAILABLE NOW!

image1Cyprus Keller wants a future.
Jackson Channing has a past.
Robert Chalk has a rifle and a mission.  Kill Cyprus Keller and anyone who gets in his way.

 

An addict is killing Pittsburgh city officials, but Homicide Detective Jackson Channing has his own addiction.

cropped-measure-twice-750-x-1200-jpeg.jpg

Also:

In the Pittsburgh Marathon, more than 18,000 people will participate. 4,500 people will attempt to cover the full 26.2 miles. Over 200 of the participants will quit, realizing it just wasn’t their day. More than 100 will get injured and require medical treatment. One man is going to be murdered.  When Dr. Cyprus Keller lines up to start the race, he knows a man is going to die for one simple reason. He’s going to kill him.

resolve-cover art CL (1)

Finalist – 2014 International Thriller Writers Awards – Best First Novel
Named one of the BEST BOOKS of 2013 by Suspense Magazine!
Top Ten Books of the Year – Authors on the Air

 And look for my short story FOUR DAYS FOREVER in the LEGACY anthology

 

On The Thrill Begins: Know Your Region – Pittsburgh

Fellow Pittsburgh-area author Thomas Sweterlitsch joins me on the International Thriller Writers’ page, The Thrill Begins, to discuss why Pittsburgh is a hotspot for writers and artists.

skyline photo

Photo courtesy of Dave DiCello

Hot furnaces, molten steel, and suffocating smog. Pittsburgh is none of that these days. In fact, you may not realize it, but you’ve already visited the new Pittsburgh. You saw Batman tear through the streets in The Dark Knight Rises. You watched Tom Cruise star in Jack Reacher, kicking ass through multiple Pittsburgh neighborhoods. Russell Crowe attempted a jailbreak in The Next Three Days. And let’s not forget Seth Rogen and Elizabeth Banks in Zack and Miri Make a Porno. Actually, let’s really try to forget that last one. Please.

Pittsburgh has a booming film industry and is increasingly popular in the book world. With a growing list of talented authors, writers from the Steel City are found on countless bestseller and award lists. Two of us, Tom Sweterlitsch and myself, took a few moments to explore a special place where bridges are abundant and restaurants put fries on top of your salad.

Continue the article here:  http://thrillbegins.com/2016/09/22/meet-your-region-pittsburgh/

J.J. Hensley is the author of RESOLVE, which is set against the backdrop of the Pittsburgh Marathon, Measure Twice, Chalk’s Outline, and other works. Hensley is a former police officer and former Special Agent with the U.S. Secret Service.

https://hensleybooks.wordpress.com
http://www.hensley-books.com
https://www.facebook.com/hensleybooks
https://www.goodreads.com/JJHensley
Twitter @JJHensleyauthor

Watch for my new book, BOLT ACTION REMEDY, in 2017!

AVAILABLE NOW!

image1Cyprus Keller wants a future.
Jackson Channing has a past.
Robert Chalk has a rifle and a mission.  Kill Cyprus Keller and anyone who gets in his way.

 

An addict is killing Pittsburgh city officials, but Homicide Detective Jackson Channing has his own addiction.

cropped-measure-twice-750-x-1200-jpeg.jpg

Also:

In the Pittsburgh Marathon, more than 18,000 people will participate. 4,500 people will attempt to cover the full 26.2 miles. Over 200 of the participants will quit, realizing it just wasn’t their day. More than 100 will get injured and require medical treatment. One man is going to be murdered.  When Dr. Cyprus Keller lines up to start the race, he knows a man is going to die for one simple reason. He’s going to kill him.

resolve-cover art CL (1)

Finalist – 2014 International Thriller Writers Awards – Best First Novel
Named one of the BEST BOOKS of 2013 by Suspense Magazine!
Top Ten Books of the Year – Authors on the Air

 And look for my short story FOUR DAYS FOREVER in the LEGACY anthology

 

 

Book Cover Design for Dummies… or Just Me

Did you ever wonder how book covers are selected? I had no idea until I became a published novelist and I assumed authors had a great amount of input in to the way his or her creation would look. When one views the covers of my first three novels, it seems obvious there was an intentional effort to create a “branding” of sort since I’ve had two publishers yet each of the covers are black and red. Yep. Deliberate. Intentional. Part of a master plan.

Or not.

Many people think the author is the person who chooses the cover design, but that is usually not the case with traditionally published works. In the case of my first novel, Resolve, I had received an email from the publisher letting me know it was time for the cover art selection. I thought, “Great! I’ve got so many ideas!” I replied to the publisher letting them know that my incredibly artistic mind (I did pull down a solid C in my eighth grade Art class) was ready to go. The publisher politely responded with a thanks, but we’ve got this message. I was shocked. I was deflated. However, I was determined to have my creative genius play a role in this vital process.

So, I asked the publisher what kinds of cover designs they were considering. They reluctantly told me they were going to select from five drafts they had on hand. I asked if I could see the drafts. They reluctantly sent me the drafts. None of the drafts were close to what I had envisioned, and being a first-time author with no track record, I decided it was wise to let them know I wasn’t thrilled with any of the selections. They didn’t care. Ever determined to have my voice heard, I decided to tell them that IF they were going to insist on going with one of the drafts, then the obvious choice for a book set in Pittsburgh was the one with the black cover and gold font.

Have you seen the cover for Resolve?

Not black and gold.

Not black and gold.

Now, it turns out the publisher was a lot smarter than me. Covers with red font and graphics stand out in the sea of novels, especially in the e-reader world in which we often only glance at a thumbnail image on a screen. The cover I would have gone with would have been lost in the myriad of images we scroll through on a home computer or Kindle. Lesson learned.

My next book, Measure Twice, was picked up by a different publisher as part of a two-book deal. When that publisher sent me an email letting me know it was time for the cover art selection, I decided to prove I had grown as an author and remained silent. I politely responded that I’m sure they had some great ideas and would come up with a great design. To my great surprise, the publisher immediately responded that they would love my input into the design.

I was ecstatic.

I was elated.

I ran to my wife (my creative partner-in-crime fiction) and said, “The publisher wants our ideas for the cover of Measure Twice! They actually want our input!”

My wife replied, “Do we have any ideas?”

I stood with my mouth agape. After a few seconds I said, “No! I didn’t think they would want any!”

My wife and I (okay, mostly my wife) came up with an idea for the design and I quickly sent it off to the publisher. It wasn’t until two or three days later I realized that in my email to the publisher, I had failed to mention my preferred color schemes. This one could be in black and gold. I sent another email to the publisher, pointing out the omission.

The publisher responded with, “No worries. The cover designer took a look at your first book and knew you must like the black and red scheme. So, here is what she came up with. We’re going with this.”

Also not black and gold. But my wife came up with the awesome ruler/knife combo.

Also not black and gold. But my wife came up with the awesome ruler/knife combo.

Of course.

By the time my third novel, Chalk’s Outline, was set for publication, people were associated the colors black and red with my books. Needless to say, I suggested we stick with black and red and here is where we ended up.

Chalk's Outline cover. White flag of surrender not pictured.

Chalk’s Outline cover. White flag of surrender not pictured.

I don’t know what my future book covers will look like (now I actually love the black and red), but I’ve chosen to take the only speak when spoken to approach, as there are many people smarter than me in the book industry and it seems things have a way of working themselves out. That being said, if the cover of my next mystery contains a bare-chested, muscular man, with flowing locks of hair… I’m probably going to deviate from my silent approach.

Feel free to comment below.

J.J. Hensley is the author of RESOLVE, which is set against the backdrop of the Pittsburgh Marathon, Measure Twice, Chalk’s Outline, and other works. Hensley is a former police officer and former Special Agent with the U.S. Secret Service.

https://hensleybooks.wordpress.com
http://www.hensley-books.com
https://www.facebook.com/hensleybooks
https://www.goodreads.com/JJHensley
Twitter @JJHensleyauthor

Watch for my new book, BOLT ACTION REMEDY, in 2017!

AVAILABLE NOW!

image1Cyprus Keller wants a future.
Jackson Channing has a past.
Robert Chalk has a rifle and a mission.  Kill Cyprus Keller and anyone who gets in his way.

 

An addict is killing Pittsburgh city officials, but Homicide Detective Jackson Channing has his own addiction.

cropped-measure-twice-750-x-1200-jpeg.jpg

Also:

In the Pittsburgh Marathon, more than 18,000 people will participate. 4,500 people will attempt to cover the full 26.2 miles. Over 200 of the participants will quit, realizing it just wasn’t their day. More than 100 will get injured and require medical treatment. One man is going to be murdered.  When Dr. Cyprus Keller lines up to start the race, he knows a man is going to die for one simple reason. He’s going to kill him.

resolve-cover art CL (1)

Finalist – 2014 International Thriller Writers Awards – Best First Novel
Named one of the BEST BOOKS of 2013 by Suspense Magazine!
Top Ten Books of the Year – Authors on the Air

 And look for my short story FOUR DAYS FOREVER in the LEGACY anthology