Username:

Password:

Fargot Password? / Help

Author: LJ Sellers

1

New Contest Name Winners

Thanks everyone for participating. I had as many email entrants as comment submissions. I always get such creative suggestions! And I tuck all of them away for future use. And even those I don’t use for the specific characters I mentioned, I’ll try to work into the book anyway. There are always witnesses and relatives that need names.

Three readers submitted variations of Ben: Benjamin and Bennie for the little boy, and Ben for the football player, so I’m on board. I’m using Benji for the little one. So Gina, Peg, and Brenda all win a book.

The skater boy next door had many great  suggestions. I liked Luke, Noah and Skitter. Especially Skitter. But as a kid I had a cat named Skitter and it kept popping into my head. But the name Dylan, even though it’s not a personal favorite, seemed right for the character, so Charlene wins a book too.

Two people also suggested Logan, one for the football player and one for the young mother, and it’s a personal favorite of mine. So the football player is Logan, thanks to Dani, and John gets a book too for submitting Logan for the mother (as well as many other great names).

I was glad so many of you submitted names for the mother, even though I barely mentioned her. She was the hardest choice, because her name will get used the most. I loved the suggestion Catalina, but decided it had too many syllables for readers’ comfort. But two people suggested Amanda, so I’m going with the consensus. So Marvine wins a book too. Gina, who also suggested it, is already a winner (with Ben).

In fact, anyone who participated can have an early ebook copy of the Trigger. Just let me know if you want an epub or mobi (Kindle) file. Specific winners mentioned should also email me and let me know if they want an ebook of Crimes of Memory or a print book of The Trigger.

Thanks again! It’s always fun.

6

Name a Character—Win A Book

I’m going gangbusters on my new Jackson novel (#9), but I keep getting stuck trying to decide names. So I often throw something in—so I can keep writing—and tell myself I’ll think of the right name later.

Well, 20,000 words in, it’s time to settle on some names. And readers are always so helpful, I’m asking everyone to pitch in again. I’ll make it worth your while, of course, by giving away a print copy of Crimes of Memory, Jackson #8 to my favorite submission, or if you prefer, an ebook when it’s released on Oct. 15. I also have print and ebook ARCs of The Trigger, a standalone thriller coming out January 1 for other entries I like. Winners get to chose their prize.

In this new (nameless) story, Jackson investigates the death of a young woman who works as a caregiver but has a shadowy existence and no connections to anyone. I need a name for her and her three-year-old son, who becomes quite attached to Jackson.

My first thought for the boy was Cory, but I already have too many K sounds in Jackson’s personal world (Katie and Kera). So I switched his name to Milo, which I really like, but sadly, I decided the name is too much like Micah (Kera’s grandson). I try not to confuse readers. So I’m looking for something sweet—for the boy, that is. (I’m personally trying to give up sugar…again.)

In addition, one of the suspects is a fourteen-year-old who lives next door, a skater who claims to hate guns and violence, yet has a collection of knives He needs a more compelling name than Josh, the placeholder I’m using.

And being one of my complex mysteries, there’s a second victim, a star UO football player, a quarterback with emotional baggage that I really can’t reveal. So I need three young male names of varying ages.

Feel free to submit for all, or just one…if it seems perfect. You can leave a comment or email me with your submissions. Thanks for participating.

4

It's Good to Be an Amazon Author

Last weekend I was in Seattle for a conference hosted by Thomas & Mercer that may be the first of its kind. Amazon paid for everything, including meals, leisure activities, and a schwag bag with a Paper White Kindle. (Nice suprise!)

But what was unique was the purpose: to simply say thank you to its authors. It wasn’t a reader convention to build sales, and it wasn’t a writing workshop to develop its authors. The event was simply a gathering of T&M authors so we could meet the Amazon team and socialize with each other. But more important, I heard over and over that the company appreciated me.

There were panels on Saturday, which were open to the public and attended by some local writers, but they were mostly about T&M authors sharing their publishing expertise and getting to know each other. The program started with a great panel about writing for television and movies with Lee Goldberg, Marcus Sakey, Greg Widen, and Johnny Shaw competing to tell the funniest stories. A hard act to follow!

But we did our best on the branding panel that came next with me, Barry Eisler, and Max Collins. That was another unique feature: more men than women. Most reader conventions I’ve attended are predominately female. But Saturday night, I had dinner with eight male authors (and Larry Kirshbaum, the president of Amazon Publishing). I’m sure other women writers had similar experiences of being outnumbered. Overall, Amazon made a great effort to ensure that we all met new people. I chatted with so many authors, it would be weird to name them all here.

Friday was the best day though. After a presentation at Amazon headquarters, we had lunch on the Argosy, then embarked on a cruise of Lake Washington. A beautiful day with perfect 75 degree weather. I got to hang out with J Carson Black, an online buddy I’d never met in person, as well as good friends Andrew Kaufman and Michelle Scott.

Then Friday night we had dinner at the Chihuly Garden and Glass, which had the most stunning display of blown glass I’ve ever seen. The meal itself was in a room made entirely of glass with a hanging glass sculpture running the length. A very special evening that I’m glad I dressed up for.

As an author, this weekend was the first time I ever felt like I was “somebody.” Yet that’s just ego, and it doesn’t really matter. What’s most important is what signing with T&M did for my career this year—introduce me to more readers than I ever dreamed of.

2

The Trigger: An Agent Dallas Thriller

I’ve had a title for my new thriller for months—The Trigger. But I started considering those powerful one-word thriller titles: Stolen, Missing, Inferno, Bombshell, Shiver, Dust (seriously, a new Patricia Cornwall), and I thought maybe I should title it just Trigger.

We developed a cover, and the single-word title looked great. I asked people in my house what they thought, and everyone said, “Yeah, I like Trigger better.” But it bothered me. Whenever I would talk about the story, I would stumble over the title. It started to sound funny.

Then my editor questioned the new title and said it made her think of a name, like the horse. So I knew it wasn’t right. Especially for people who might only see the title in text (sans cover) and be confused by it.

So I’m back to The Trigger, which works well with the story. If you’re interested, here’s the back cover copy:

Agent Jamie Dallas loves undercover assignments that get her out of the Phoenix Bureau. But when a woman and her baby disappear from an isolated community of preppers in Northern California, she knows the risk of infiltrating the armed group is dangerously high.

Inside the compound, she discovers that the brothers who founded Destiny are scheming something far more devious than kidnapping or murder. Meanwhile, her local FBI contact, Agent McCullen, is pulled from her team and assigned to investigate the murder of a woman with phony ID, found at the bottom of a motel pool.

Soon Dallas finds herself in deeper trouble than she’s ever encountered—with no way to reach her contacts. Can she break free of the brothers’ grip and stop their bizarre end-of-world plans? Will Agent McCullen identify the killer in time to help?

The Trigger is a gripping story that highlights our greatest fear—how a hacker and a fanatic with grandiose ideas can threaten civilization as we know it.

The book is scheduled for release January 1, and I have a great contest planned with a huge prize—a trip to Left Coast Crime. Get more details here.

If you’re interested in an early copy of The Trigger (ebook and some print) and are willing to be on my street team to help launch it, please email me. ARCs will be ready in about a month.

So what do you think of the title? The cover? Story concept?

3

Considering a Collaboration

Janet Evanovich and Lee Goldberg, J.T. Ellison and Catherine Coulter, JA Konrath and each of his writer friends—everywhere you look, authors are teaming up.

The trend seems more prevalent than ever, and I suspect it’s because authors are operating more independently now and because they have to work so hard to reach new readers. Collaborating with another writer brings a whole new readership to each partner, at least for that story or series, and hopefully with spillover to other works.

I never thought I could work that closely with someone. I don’t even have a writing group because it feels too collaborative. Of course, I count on my beta readers (and editor) for feedback, but that’s after I’ve nailed down the main story.

But I was approached recently by a friend about doing a collaboration, and I surprised myself by being receptive to the idea. Now that I have an FBI agent with her own series, a collaboration that brings Agent Dallas together with another established protag seems like a productive idea.

The other author has a kickass male FBI character and large readership of men, so the project could bring male readers into my Jackson series or, more likely, the series I’ve started with Agent Dallas.

We’re already brainstorming a plot, and I’d love to tell you who the other author is. But I worry that it might not pan out. We each have our own series we’re committed to, and we each have family responsibilities that may take precedence over a secondary writing project. But I want to do this and I hope we can make it work.

Ever since I decided to self-publish my newest story (with Agent Dallas), I’ve been getting my head back into indie mode and the marketing creativity it requires. It’s work, but it’s also fun and challenging, and this collaboration seems like a good way to expand my comfort zone and my readership.

What do you think? Have you collaborated with another author? Do you read books that are collaborations? Am I crazy?

5

Parallel Silver Linings

by L.J. Sellers, author of provocative mysteries & thrillers

We discovered water in our bathroom wall recently, and the damage was extensive. My initial reactions were to first blame myself: How could I let this happen? Next, to be stressed about the time and cost of the repair.

Fortunately, my hairdresser (love this woman!) reminded me that insurance pays for things like this. The transition will be inconvenient and annoying, but in the end, the bathroom will be essentially remodeled for about the price of the deductible. A nice outcome.

I’m trying to keep that in mind as I go through a similar situation in my writing career. With my latest book, a standalone thriller, my editor wants me to make a major plot change, one that I disagree with. My initial reactions were the same as they were for the water problem—a sense of failure, then stress about a negative outcome.

But the more I think about it, the more I realize this could turn well. My beta readers (including a professional) love the story the way it is, and I’m not inclined to cut a plot element that ratchets up the tension on a global level. So, as much as I love publishing with Thomas & Mercer, I’m going indie with this one.

Even though I call it a standalone, the book features Agent Dallas—introduced in Crimes of Memory (Jackson #8)—and will launch a new series. Although publishing with Amazon has been great for my career, it’s not a bad idea to diversify and keep some control of my work.

Additionally, I’ll be able to bring the book to market sooner on my own, and I’ll earn a higher royalty. So this could turn out like the bathroom situation—more benefits than drawbacks.

In the meantime, I have to get my head back into indie mode and start thinking about marketing again. This transition will also be a lot of work and at times frustrating, but ideas are coming to me, and I think my wonderful readers will support me.

What do you think? Am I crazy for sticking with the story instead of the publisher? If you’re one of my readers, will you try the new book?

1

Housing Help Foundation

Young Family Moving Into New HomeThe right to housing is a social-justice issue I’ve been concerned with most of my life. Years ago, I promised myself that someday I would make a difference for people who needed help with housing. Today is that day. My new nonprofit foundation, Housing Help, is up and running.

After seeing some family members struggle to save enough money to pay the first/last/deposit required to move into even a cheap apartment, I realized that was a critical need here in Lane County. So that’s what Housing Help will do: Write checks to rental companies/landlords so that homeless families can move out of their cars (or friend’s garage) and into a space of their own. We will also help people facing eviction because of a temporary crisis, so they can stay in their homes. (More specific information is on our website.)

Housing Help may accomplish more than that someday, but our scope for now is limited, because we want to be successful in that single endeavor. Some wonderful friends have joined my board of directors, and we’re committed to helping at least one family a month. I’ll be contributing significantly to the foundation, but I have no plans, as yet, to link book sales to my donations. I may run special promotions to raise money for the charity, but I think it’s best to keep them separate.

A local charity, St. Vincent de Paul, already does some of this type of charity, but they have limited resources and strict policies. Also, I wanted to offer donors concerned with housing the option of making a contribution to a nonreligious charity. We won’t discriminate or require our recipients to adhere to any religious principles. But we are networking with St. Vincent’s, and if they have to turn away worthy recipients, they’ll refer them to our charity.

Now when you see the Housing Help logo on my website and Facebook pages, you’ll know what it means. I hope it inspires you to make a donation, or do something even bigger/better in your own community.

3

Standalone Vs. Series Fiction

by L.J. Sellers, author of provocative mysteries & thrillers

Sandra Parshall, who happens to be a terrific blogger, posted yesterday about standalone suspense fiction and how she likes it better than crime fiction series, but that few authors are writing it. I’m not sure that’s technically true. Many of us are writing it, but often, one of two things happen. Either the standalone doesn’t sell as well as our series books, or it’s so popular that readers want more, and it ends up launching a new series. Which is what happened with The Sex Club, the first book featuring Detective Jackson.

There are exceptions of course. Gillian Flynn writes popular standalone thrillers and grows her readership with each one. And some series writers have expanded their readerships by writing standalone thrillers (Laura LippmanHarlan Coben). That’s what I hope to do with my new thriller.

Yet, I love the character, and I know I’ll bring her back for more stories. Her setup as an FBI agent who specializes in undercover work is perfect for a series that has a lot of flexibility.

I introduced Agent Dallas in Jackson #8, Crimes of Memory (which will release Oct. 15!). I had so much fun writing her part that I knew she needed her own story. And I had an idea that I really wanted to write about and she was perfect for it. My beta readers loved the story, and I’m still waiting to see if my publisher does too.

More important though will be if readers like it. Especially new readers. I know some of my Jackson fans will pass, just because it’s not a Jackson story. But I hope enough new readers will be interested in the novel to justify the five months I put into researching and writing it.

Here’s a quick description: Agent Dallas goes undercover to find a missing woman who is likely being held captive in an isolated prepper community. What she finds is a lot more terrifying.

Readers: Do you read the standalones of your favorite series authors?

Writers: Do you write series, standalones or both? And what is your experience?



6

Crimes of Memory (Coming Soon!)

Screen Shot 2013-05-06 at 8.19.10 PMI got some very good news recently. Crimes of Memory (Jackson #8) will be released October 15 instead of next February. Woohoo! I’m working on copyedits now, the cover is almost done, and I expect to see it listed for preorder on Amazon soon.

I don’t have official back cover copy, but here’s my rough version.

After a leave of absence, Detective Jackson is assigned to investigate the homicide of a man found near a storage unit. Another homeless man is on the scene, his face covered in blood.

In another part of town, a group of eco-terrorists set off a firebomb at a bottled water factory, drawing investigators from the FBI, the ATF, and the Eugene Police Department—who fear another attack is eminent.

Without a full taskforce, Jackson must work the homicide round the clock, and his troubled daughter takes the opportunity to run away. Distracted with worry, Jackson seeks to bring justice for a man who robbed a bank, and in doing so, discovers a shocking connection between the murder and the eco-terrorist crimes.

2

New Contest Winners!

Thanks, everyone, for participating! And for making several suggestions each.

Yyonne, I love all your hacker nicknames: Zero Byte, Reaper, Troller. How fun. In fact, I’m going with Greg “Reaper” Rafferty. So you’re the first winner.

And Betsy, as soon as I saw the name Grace, I knew it was perfect for the engineer character. I may use Lopez as her last name too. If not, something very similar. Thank you! Let me know which book you want.

Melinda, I really appreciate your faithful support of my writing and my blog. And I love the name Caleb McCullen for the male FBI agent. So you’re the third winner. I suspect you’ve read all my Jackson books, but I have three standalone thrillers to choose from.

Thanks again, loyal readers! Click here to email me.

WP Like Button Plugin by Free WordPress Templates