Dream with Little Angels MMP

Cover shot of the mass market paperback edition of Dream with Little Angels

In May 2016, Kens­ing­ton will be releas­ing the mass mar­ket paper­back edi­tion of Dream with Lit­tle Angels. That’s a mon­th before the fourth book, Sticks and Stones will hit book­store shelves. At the back of the Dream paper­back, one will find the first three chap­ters of Sticks.

Excit­ing stuff!

For any­one who hasn’t yet read Dream or seen the book, here’s the back­side copy:

Michael Hiebert’s are­mark­able debut nov­el tells the riv­et­ing sto­ry of a small south­ern town haunt­ed by tragedy, one brave woman’s strug­gle to put a trou­bling mys­tery to rest—and its impact on the sen­si­tive boy who comes of age in the mid­st of it all…

You can find the rest of the plot sum­ma­ry all over this site 🙂 Just go hunt­ing and I’m sure you’ll stum­ble over it. The links on the right are a good place to start 🙂

Michael out.

Sticks & Stones — The Draft that Never Ends

sticks_and_stones (Small)

Some of you know about this. Oth­ers may not.

For the past year, I have been work­ing on the fourth Alv­in, Alaba­ma book, called STICKS AND STONES. in a way, it kind of resem­bles A THORN AMONG THE LILIES a bit. It’s about a seri­al killer called The Stick­man who was active fif­teen years before the sto­ry opens—before detec­tive Leah Teal was ever even a part of the Alv­in Police force.

Here’s a quick lit­tle syn­op­sis:

The case was head­ed up by Leah’s dad­dy, Joe Fowler, the then detec­tive of the Alv­in Police. Fowler became the pub­lic face of the entire Stick­man task­force and, as he did with all his cas­es, he took this one per­son­al­ly. After some time, it even got more per­son­al as The Stick­man kicked things up a notch.

The MO was strange but very con­sis­tent.

The nine vic­tims whose lives were tak­en by The Stick­man showed no pat­tern. Black and white, male and female, they were all between the ages of twen­ty-three and forty-five. Their bod­ies, all found around Alv­in between the years of 1973 and 1974, were always “pre­sent­ed” to the police a pecu­liar way. They were hogtied back­wards, so their chest and abdomen stuck out rather grue­some­ly and their ankles and wrists were all bound togeth­er behind them. Each one was shirt­less when dis­cov­ered. At the scene, the vic­tim was found with a wood­en stake dri­ven through his or her chest into the ground, or tree root, or what­ev­er worked. At the end of the stake was attached a piece of paper, and on that paper was a draw­ing of a stick­man in black, felt mark­er. In the cas­es where the vic­tims were wom­en, the stick­man had one line of hair on its head, end­ing at her ears with lit­tle tips, and two cir­cles drawn on the chest, denot­ing breasts.

But the stake wasn’t what killed them.

Each vic­tim dis­ap­peared any­where from a hand­ful of days to hours before their bod­ies turned up. Dur­ing that time foren­sics spec­u­lat­ed they were kept bound and shirt­less until The Stick­man killed them with a .38 Spe­cial round to the back of their skull. So the shot was what took their lives, not the stake. The vic­tims were dead before ever get­ting to the place their bod­ies turned up.

Fowler didn’t find evi­dence again­st Stork until after vic­tim nine&$8212;a year and a half after the first vic­tim was found. When Fowler had enough for a war­rant, police kicked his house. Stork wasn’t there, but they did find the mur­der weapon ver­i­fied by foren­sics from the two slugs the med­ical exam­in­er hap­pened to find lodged in the skulls of two vic­tims.

After his house was raid­ed Stork went into hid­ing.

A mon­th lat­er, based on an anony­mous tip, police were led to an aban­doned shot­gun shack where Har­ry Stork was holed up. He doesn’t give up and the sit­u­a­tion evolves into a Mex­i­can stand­off: Stork again­st Fowler. Stork wouldn’t drop his gun, so Fowler did the only thing he could do. He shot Stork. This par­tic­u­lar shot sparked some con­tro­ver­sy.

Claim­ing he was aim­ing for the man’s gun arm, Fowler said he must’ve over­com­pen­sat­ed slight­ly. Because, instead of hit­ting Stork’s arm, Fowler shot a round right into his heart, killing Har­ry Stork instant­ly. They’d only been thir­ty feet apart when it hap­pened.

Some peo­ple talked about Joe Fowler being a pret­ty damn good shot and won­dered where his inten­tions real­ly were. But, The Stick­man killings came to an end, so nobody took the issue any fur­ther. Joe Fowler became a hero. News­pa­pers all around the state had him on their cov­ers. He was The Man Who Saved Alv­in.

Except, Fowler nev­er let the case go. Some­thing about it nev­er gave him clo­sure. Even after leav­ing the force a few years lat­er to spend his remain­ing days at home with his fam­i­ly, that Stick­man case wouldn’t leave him alone.

He died of can­cer even­tu­al­ly, but not before putting his daugh­ter Leah on the Alv­in Police force.

The sto­ry opens fif­teen years lat­er and Leah Teal’s pa has been in the ground for ten of them. She is still detec­tive of Alv­in and a dis­turbing thing hap­pens.

After all the­se years a new body turns up on the bank of Lee­land Swamp in north­west­ern Alv­in. But it’s not just that there’s a dead body in her town that con­cerns Leah. It’s the way that body looks when police find her.

Shirt­less, and back­ward­ly hogtied, Abilene Williams is found staked to the moor on the edge of that swamp, and on that stake was attached a pic­ture of a female Stick­man. Cause of death is deter­mined to be a nine mil­lime­ter round to the back of the head before being brought to the swamp. The MO match­es the orig­i­nal Stick­man killings per­fect­ly. Only thing dif­fer­ent is the gun, but of course the orig­i­nal gun’s still in evi­dence.

It all sends chills through Leah just think­ing about it. She’d already lived the orig­i­nal Stick­man mur­ders vic­ar­i­ous­ly through her pa fif­teen years ago for the whole year and a half it took him to solve it.

Now it’s Leah’s turn to tack­le the Stick­man. Except it can’t be the real Stick­man. Her pa shot that one. He’s dead and the dead don’t come back.

Or do they?

The Stick­man case was her pa’s lega­cy. Some con­sid­er it the high point in his long career as a cop. Could it be that way back then some­how he’d shot the wrong guy? Leah doesn’t even con­sid­er that idea. She wouldn’t be able to deal with find­ing out her pa had been wrong.

So it’s up to Leah to uncov­er the truth and hope­ful­ly man­age to do so before this new Stick­man takes any more lives. Only trou­ble is, find­ing the truth may involve her destroy­ing the lega­cy of a man she respect­ed more than any oth­er she’s ever known in this world.

This book has been an ardu­ous strug­gle for me (but a work of love, of course). It is twice as thick as all the oth­er books have been. They’ve all fal­l­en between 85,000 and 100,000 words. As of yes­ter­day, STICKS crossed the 180,000 word mark. It’s sit­ting at 715 man­u­script pages and I still have an entire scene to fin­ish before I com­plete my third draft. And I have cut a lot. I don’t think there’s much left that can be tak­en out, so hope­ful­ly every­one likes long books. When I hit 115,000 words I asked my edi­tor if I should be con­cerned. His respon­se: “Go as big as you want.” I don’t think he expect­ed this. I don’t think I expect­ed this.

I wish I could explain why it’s so big. It’s got a huge, com­plex plot that real­ly has some nice pay­offs in the end. Many dra­mat­ic ques­tions are raised in the book that, once things start get­ting fig­ured out, they all fall into place like domi­noes dur­ing the res­o­lu­tion. Until then, the ques­tions all seem to con­tra­dict each oth­er.

I’ve got eight per­cent more of the book to get through before draft three is done. Draft four will be my pol­ish draft. I’ve nev­er been this much up again­st a dead­line. It’s scary.

I think it’s a solid book and quite pos­si­bly not just the best Alv­in book to date, but the best nov­el I’ve ever writ­ten. There’s some sur­pris­ing twists, and one that I don’t think any­body will see com­ing.

Any­way, that’s the end of my sta­tus update.

One more, sort of unre­lat­ed thing. Most of you have heard me go on about Sto­ry Bibles and how inde­spen­si­ble they are, espe­cial­ly when writ­ing a series. My bible con­tains all sorts of char­ac­ter infor­ma­tion and details, places in my mytho­log­i­cal town of Alv­in, along with their address­es, mul­ti­ple maps of the town, demo­graph­ics, lit­er­al­ly any­thing I make up for one of the books has to be record­ed so I stay con­sis­tent if I ref­er­ence it in future books. So far, every knew book has added to my town because I need­ed new places for things to hap­pen, and my pop­u­la­tion keeps grow­ing.

Any­way, until now, I’d used a very cave-man way of stor­ing this info. It’s writ­ten across mul­ti­ple doc­u­ments in a fold­er on my com­put­er called Alv­in Bible and I print them all out and have them in a binder that is near to burst­ing. Because I can’t quick­ly search or cross-ref­er­ence any­thing, using it is cum­ber­some.

So, to revamp my tech­nol­o­gy, I have begun set­ting up Alv­in­Wiki, a wiki that will have every­thing it that cur­rent­ly resides in my Bible. Well, here’s some good news if you’re a fan of my books. I’m going to make this wiki pub­licly acces­si­ble from my web­site so any­one can look at the infor­ma­tion. In fact, I will appre­ci­ate it if astute read­ers hap­pen to pick up on details facts or any­thing I may have missed while going through the books. Also, it would look nice if I had some­thing to place as a pic­ture for the major char­ac­ters (who will all have their own page). So if any of you fans are art­sy at all, pop me an email and may­be you can provide some art for it.

Because I’m still active­ly third draft­ing it will be a while before the wiki con­tains enough info to both­er with putting it live. Oh, and anoth­er thing it will con­tain will be mul­ti­ple maps of the town that allow you to zoom in for a more detailed view. Not quite like Google maps, but I’ll see what I can do.

That about wraps it up for this post. Nice to be back in the sad­dle. Feel like I haven’t blogged for years.

Michael Out.

A Thorn Among the Lilies

Now Released!

Thorn Cover_400pxhighThe third book in the Alv­in mys­tery series is now avail­able at book stores (online or in real life) every­where!

So far, we’ve had one major review of the book. Publisher’s Week­ly says it’s “Engag­ing… Read­ers will keep guess­ing who­dunit until the end.”

A Thorn Among the Lilies is the most excit­ing title in the series to date. Fans of Abe, Dewey, Leah, and Car­ry won’t want to miss this one.

From the back cov­er: “Detec­tive Leah Teal is privy to most of the secrets in her home­town of Alv­in, but there are always sur­pris­es to be had. Like the day she agrees to take her daugh­ter, Car­o­line, to see a psy­chic for a read­ing. The psy­chic hones in on Leah instead, hint­ing at a string of grue­some killings and insist­ing that Leah inter­ve­nes to pre­vent more deaths.

When you go look­ing for trou­ble, you nev­er know how much you’ll find. Sure enough, the psychic’s scant clues lead Leah to a cold case from six years ago. A young wom­an was found shot to death in near­by woods, her eye­lids sewn shut and her arms bru­tal­ly bro­ken. As Leah digs deep­er into old files from neigh­bor­ing towns, a sec­ond unsolved case sur­faces with the same gris­ly pat­tern, then a third. While her shrewd young son, Abe, observes from the side­li­nes, Leah races to pre­vent anoth­er hor­ri­fic mur­der, unaware of just how deep the roots of evill can go.

Taut, sus­pense­ful, and rich in South­ern atmos­phere, A Thorn Among the Lilies is a mes­mer­iz­ing nov­el of loss and vengeance, and the lengths some will go to out of loy­al­ty and love.

In Michael Hiebert’s haunt­ing and pow­er­ful nov­el, a long-ago tragedy echoes through small-town Alaba­ma as one wom­an tries to track down a seri­al killer.”

With the release of A Thorn Among the Lilies, Kens­ing­ton will be drop­ping the price of the e-book ver­sions of Close to the Bro­ken Heart­ed and Dream with Lit­tle Angels to $13.50 and $12.99, respec­tive­ly.

Close to the Broken Hearted

Close to the Broken Hearted 500

The long-awaited sequel to Dream with Little Angels was released last year to very good reviews. Close to the Broken Hearted takes readers back to Alvin to spend more time with Abe, Dewey, and Leah as they find themselves in a whole lot of new trouble.

From the inside cover flap: "In this riveting new novel from Michael Hiebert, a killer's release is the catalyst for shocking revelations in a small Southern town. . ."

“A third person voice that not only invites but warmly welcomes readers into the small town of Alvin…Hiebert does a masterful job at building suspense.”
–Publishers Weekly

Dream with Little Angels

And then, of course, there was the book that kicked the series off. Dream with Little Angels started it all...

“There’s something mesmerizing about Hiebert’s storytelling voice, low-pitched and lightly musical.”
– The New York Times Book Review

“Manages to soar as a moving achievement. . . In Hiebert’s sure hands, psychological insight and restrained lyricism combine to create a coming-of-age tale as devastating as it is indelible.”
– Publishers Weekly, STARRED REVIEW

“Gorgeous prose and some thoughtful characterizations, with attention given to theme and setting. . . Michael Hiebert’s debut delivers. . . a breathless, will-they-get-there-in-time affair, with a heartbreaking resolution. Hiebert’s skill at character and storytelling should take him a long way.”
– Mystery Scene

Dream with Little Angels Cover

“This book captured me from page one. It's honest, it's raw, and it's one of the best books I've read in a long, long while."
– Lisa Jackson, New York Times bestselling author

“Hiebert has an authentic Southern voice and his protagonist is as engaging as Harper Lee's Scout. A masterful coming-of-age gem.
– Deborah Crombie, New York Times bestselling author

“A trip to the dark side of a town much like Mayberry, filled with that elusive quality of childhood and the aura of safety that often settles, unjustifiably, over rural small towns in the South."
– Carolyn Haines, 2010 Recipient of the Harper Lee Award for Alabama’s Distinguished Writers

You can find more reviews of this and all my work by visiting here.