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Author: LJ Sellers

7

The Trigger: And the Winners Are...

The Winner copyThe hardest thing about contests is that I want everyone to win! This one was especially fun though, because I’ve never given away a trip to a conference before, and readers were excited about the grand prize. If you don’t know the story about why, you can read it here, midpoint in the blog.

Before I announce the winners, a few details. Entries: 137 people entered the contest. Fewer than I expected, but it was New Year’s Day, and a lot of people simply weren’t online. (Or they were watching football!) Many more readers bought the book that day (yay!), but didn’t bother to send the receipt.

The process: I copied and pasted names/email addresses into a Word document as the emails came in. Then I printed those pages, cut the entries into strips, and folded them. I dug out my giant salad bowl—usually reserved for family gatherings—put all the entries into it, and stirred them up.

The first name I drew was for the grand prize trip to Left Coast Crime. The lucky winner: Theresa de Valence!

My initial thought was to be quite happy. I met Theresa online six years ago. She was one of my first readers and supported me when I was a self-published author with only one book on the market. And she stayed loyal, reading everything I wrote over the years. My next thought was to worry that it might look bad for her to win because I knew her. Then I had to laugh. Because I know—from Facebook, Twitter, conferences, or emails—half of the people who entered the contest.

The entriesThat’s what I love most about this career. It has brought so many great people into my life!
Thank you all for making this gig the world’s greatest job.

I also drew 10 more winners for gift certificates. I’ll contact each of you personally, but here are the recipients:

  • John Lovell
  • Amy Kincade
  • Rose Mercer
  • Shirley Wetzel
  • Kim Ellis
  • River Fairchild
  • Halley Marton
  • Barbara Petty
  • Tim Feely
  • Sara Stradley

Thanks again for all your support! And for sending such delightful emails that share your enthusiasm for my books. Check back to my blog soon. I’m hosting a naming contest for my next Dallas book, and you have a good chance get your own name into the story.

2

Best Wishes for a Great 2014

New Year startNew Year’s is my favorite holiday! I love a fresh start and a chance to establish new habits and set new goals. At this point in my life, I’ve kicked most of my bad habits (except Diet Dr. Pepper), so this year’s resolutions are more about what I want to start doing rather than what I need to stop.

My personal list is pretty short and simple: I plan to dance more, maybe even take lessons. I hope to take hand drum lessons too. I’ve had the drum for a couple of years and I want to learn how to really play it. And I want to get out and see more of my gorgeous state this summer, do some hiking.

As for writing and publishing, I’m feeling pretty ambitious for the year. I plan to write and publish two more Agent Dallas books, one of which I’m working on now. The first one releases on New Year’s day and I have a great giveaway planned. I also plan to write Detective Jackson #10 before the year’s over. So here’s the production schedule:

  • January 1: The Trigger (Agent Dallas #1) released
  • January-March: Write Agent Dallas #2
  • May: Publish Agent Dallas #2
  • May-July: Write Jackson #10
  • July 1: Deadly Bonds (Jackson #9) releases
  • September-October: Write Agent Dallas #3
  • December: Publish Agent Dallas #3
  • March 1: Detective Jackson #10 releases

 

At the end of this year, I’ll have 16 books written—10 Jackson stories, 3 Dallas stories, and 3 standalone thrillers. And the only one that won’t be published until 2015 is Jackson #10. It’s an ambitious schedule but doable. My personal life seems to have settled down a little, and Thomas & Mercer is handling the production and marketing of the Jackson series. What will be challenging is doing all the production and marketing for the Agent Dallas series, which I’m independently publishing. But after this first one, it should get easier.

I will also be moving sometime in the spring, and I’ll also be working on Left Coast Crime 2015 as the co-chair…so I’ll be plenty busy.

I really hope readers like the new series. Agent Dallas has been a lot of fun for me. As much as I love Jackson, it’s nice change of pace to write about someone who is less structured and less encumbered. In other words, Dallas is a little wild, and I’m enjoying her life vicariously. ☺

Happy reading! Happy New Year! Thanks for all your support

0

Paying It Forward with a Giveaway

happy new yearAfter decades of writing fiction, I’m finally a multi-published, full-time author. My first resolution this New Year is to express gratitude for that good fortune every day. So I’m launching my new book with a huge giveaway. (More details below.) But first I’m want to say thank you and express my appreciation.

I’m grateful for the friends and fans who beta reader and proofread my work, giving me great feedback. I know how much time it takes and how little extra time we all have. Thank you!

I’m grateful for all my readers, especially those who came on board early and supported me when I was new, self-published author with only one paperback called The Sex Club.

I’m grateful for my graphic artist (Gwen Roads) my copyeditor (Jodie Renner), my content editor (Kevin Smith), and the industry’s best formatter (Hitch@Booknook.biz). If you’re getting ready to self-publish, contact her!

In that light, I’m going to pay forward a trip to Left Coast Crime 2015. Last March at LCC, a friend approached me about chairing Left Coast Crime in Oregon in 2015, and I agreed. It’s going to be a fantastic conference, but it’s also only a two-hour drive to Portland for me. So I don’t have to buy a plane ticket next year. And as co-chair, I don’t pay registration or hotel costs either. (Trust me, I’ll earn every dime of those perks!)

The Trigger_medSo I decided to take all those expenses that I won’t incur and sponsor the trip for one of my readers. I’m holding a contest, and everyone who buys a copy of The Triggeron launch day, January 1—and emails the receipt to ( lj@ljsellers.com) will be entered to win at trip to Left Coast Crime 2015. The drawing will be random, but it would be fun if a long-time loyal reader I haven’t met yet and who hasn’t been to LCC wins this thing.

In addition, as a thank-you to readers, I’m giving away 10 Amazon gift certificates for $50 each! So you have a good chance of winning something, well, compared to the lottery, anyway.

More important: The Trigger ebook is on special right now for $.99, another thank-you to loyal readers who’ve been paying a little more for my Jackson books since T&M started publishing them. The print book of The Trigger is also set up with Kindle Match, so if you buy the print book now, you’ll get the ebook free. You can buy an ebook on launch day for $.99 and gift it to someone.

And what is The Trigger? It’s the first novel in a new series featuring Agent Dallas. I introduced her in Crimes of Memory, and readers say she stole the show. She certainly stole my heart. I had so much fun writing her role as an undercover specialist that I knew she needed her own series.

You can check out the book and contest here. (Early readers have given the story 5 stars.)

Again, thank you to everyone who’s read my work and posted reviews. And if you like The Trigger, post one more for me. I’m going indie with this series, so I need all the help I can get.

Happy New Year!
1

Preventing Homelessness

People get into the spirit of giving this time of year, and I love to see it. For my charitable foundation Housing Help, it has been a special blessing.

Recently, a local philanthropist & consultant contacted me and asked if I wanted to discuss my foundation and take advantage of his experience. I was thrilled! All of my previous efforts to network with local groups had been meet with silence. And, other than calling St. Vincent de Paul, I had no idea how to find and screen families in need.

My new mentor put me in touch with Shelter Care, and few days later, Housing Help assisted a single father of two school-age kids, living in Springfield, who needed help with December rent so he wouldn’t lose his new apartment. It was a great feeling to finally accomplish what I’d set out to do years ago when I visualized this foundation.

I posted online about it, and several friends, both online and local, made contributions to the foundation. Thank you! I matched those donations, and we were able to help a second household. Two Eugene single mothers, with a combined three children, had received an eviction notice from their landlord—for no cause. They’d scraped together what they could but had still come up short of the $1300+ needed for first month’s rent plus a security deposit on a new place—which they felt lucky to find and quality for.

Housing Help provided the other half of the move-in costs, and the two families—which had nowhere to go—will have a new home, rather than live in their cars.

This is such a critical service!

I thank everyone who’s donated to this foundation, and I hope you’ll make it a habit. My original goal was to help one family a month. But I want to do more. So I’m aiming for two a month all next year. The list of families in this situation is endless, and not just in Lane County. Millions of people are one paycheck, or one unexpected expense, away from homelessness.

To motivate others to get involved, I’m offering an incentive: Anyone who donates $5 a month all next year, for a total of $60, will get a free book from me with every new release next year. And I plan to publish four! Two are already written and scheduled.

Find out more about the foundation at its website, where you can donate through PayPay (or credit card). A mailing address is listed as well. Or contact me with any questions.

Thank you! And Happy Holidays!

5

Why I Don't Watch Breaking Bad

For years, I’ve been seeing the tweets and Facebook posts and media reviews about how great Breaking Bad is. Some call it the best writing on TV or the best TV show ever. Occasionally the posts are a little freaky, like this one: “So finally watched last night’s #BreakingBad, and I’m going to spend the rest of the day curled in a little ball while twitching.”

I’ve never seen the show and I never will. The protagonist makes methamphetamine in his garage, and I assume he sells it as well. Regardless of how well the show is written or acted, this is not my kind of protagonist.

My niece is a meth addict. She’s 31, homeless, toothless, and skinny as a rail. She has abandoned her child, whom I now have part-time parental responsibility for. A nine-year-old with worries no kid should ever have.

Meth addiction ruined my niece’s life, and I don’t know if she’ll ever recover. I don’t know how long she’ll even live. Meth kills brain cells and makes people permanently less intelligent. It changes people’s personalities, making them short-tempered, angry and often violent.

Seeing my niece—who spent a good chunk of her childhood in my home—the way she is breaks my heart. I have no idea how to help her. I’m reminded of all this today as I prepare for Thanksgiving and accept that she probably won’t be at the table again this year.

For me, people who make and sell meth are not protagonists. They are not entertaining, even when they’re portrayed as the bad guys. I don’t watch movies or read books about drug cartels either.

For the record, I don’t believe that drug dealers are technically criminals either. I don’t believe in sending people to prison for getting high or for helping other willing adults get high. But still, meth cooks are evil, greedy, selfish bastards. Glorifying them is a sad excuse for entertainment.

I’m not judging anyone who watches or enjoys the show. And I’m sure I’ll get a certain amount of flak for posting this. But I felt compelled to finally say it. I’m glad the show is over, and I no longer have to see all the posts about how great it is.

Meth sucks.

0

Amazon's New Programs for Readers, Writers, & Bookstores

The always-innovative Amazon has several new programs, with each tailored to make either readers, writers, or bookstores happy. Yes, I said bookstores, so read on.

For Writers
Gayle mentioned this program yesterday, but it’s worth looking at again. Kindle Countdown Deals allows authors to discount their books to as low as $.99 for a set period of time, but pays a full 70% royalty, even at that price. (Normally a $.99 book earns only a 35% royalty). With the higher royalty, more authors will offer books at the low price, so it’s good for readers too.

Amazon also features those discounted books on a special webpage so readers can find them and know how long the discounted price will continue. It’ll be interesting to see what kind of effect the promotions have on future sales. Note: The program is only available to books that have been in the Select program for 30 days.

For Bookstores

Another new program called Amazon Source allows indie bookstores to profit from the cultural shift toward e-reading. Here are the basic options for bookstores:

  • Sell any Kindle device at a 6% margin (or less, should a store decide to discount), any Kindle accessory at a 35% margin and get 10% of all subsequent ebook sales on sold devices.
  •  Sell any Kindle device at a 9% margin (or less with discounting), any Kindle accessory at a 35% margin and get no part of ebook sales.

I’m hoping bookstores will get on board, increase their profitability, and lose some of their hostility toward Amazon.

For Readers
Amazon also has two new programs designed for readers. Kindle Matchbook launched a month ago and allows publishers and authors to offer readers a discounted (or free) ebook version when readers buy the print book. Readers have been asking for this all along, and it’s a great idea, even if overdue. Those who participate will build reader loyalty.

A fourth new program for readers and writers is launching in December, but I’m sworn to secrecy so you’ll just have to wait for the details.

What do you think? Will the Source program lure bookstores to participate? Writers: Have you participated in any of these yet?

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.

5

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?

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