Write First, Clean Later

Wrongful Death: Update and Contest

Wrongful Death: Update and Contest

Wrongful DeathWrongful Death (Jackson #10) releases next week (Feb. 24). I know it seems like a long wait but it’s also hard to believe that I have ten books in this series. I feel like I just started writing it a few years ago. It’s been a great adventure.

Here’s the jacket copy:

On a chilly Oregon morning, a policeman is found slain near the homeless camp where he’d been passing out blankets the night before. When Detective Jackson is called to the scene, witnesses point to a pair of mentally ill street twins as the likely perpetrators.
As the case progresses and arrests are made, the homeless community revolts against the police, and the chaos pulls detectives away from their investigations. Tension mounts, and the evidence begins to link a series of sexual assaults to the death of the murdered officer. The task force is quickly faced with a dangerous decision: Should they risk the life of another young victim to catch the killer?

I hope you enjoy the story! In next month’s Mystery Scene magazine, I have an essay about the real homeless twins this story was based on and my work with the homeless in founding Housing Help. Please check it out.

And I’ll be in Portland next month for Crimelandia (Left Coast Crime) March 12-15, where I’ll be signing copies of Wrongful Death. It’s a great convention for mystery novel fans, and it’s not too late to register or buy day passes.

I’m also giving away two print copies of the book, so post a comment and enter to win.

AGENT DALLAS THRILLERS smallAnd I now have a boxed set of all three Agent Dallas books  for only $5.99. Available on Amazon, B&N/Nook, and iTunes.
Thanks for your loyal support!

The New Agent Dallas Is Here!

The New Agent Dallas Is Here!

The Trap medHello friends and readers!

Thanks for sticking with me, even though I don’t blog much anymore. But I’ve been more-focused on writing novels, and that’s working out well for all of us.

The Trap (Agent Dallas #3) is now available on Amazon in print and ebook formats. Next month, I’ll work with the same narrator who produced The Target to create the audio version of The Trap. So it’s coming too.

For now, I’m taking a break from Agent Dallas to write a standalone thriller, followed by Detective Jackson #11. After that, I’m not sure. I expect that eventually, I’ll write another Dallas story, but when she returns, she’ll likely be with the CIA, working on international assignments.

If you haven’t tried these stories, you might want to start with The Trigger, which is on sale as an ebook at Amazon for $.99 until the end of the month.

In the meantime, here’s the short tagline for The Trap. The early reviews are terrific. I hope you enjoy it.

A political activist is the lead suspect in the murder of a corrupt judge—can Agent Dallas infiltrate the secretive group in time to stop their dangerous plans?

Contest Winners (Great Names!)

You folks have outdone yourselves this time! Such great prison names. Confines, Claustrum, Guardian, Revisions. I loved them all. And if I were writing a futuristic thriller or satire, I could have used any of them. I was very tempted to use Lorna’s suggestion of Guardian, a company that wants to project the image of doing the country a favor and seeing itself in a positive light. But there are companies and products named Guardian, and I never want to malign any real people, places, or things.

So I chose the straightforward Corrections for a Safer America, CSA, because it felt the most realistic. Thank you, Angela Davis, for this submission!

Angela also submitted the very creative name Olga Krivitsky for the judge. It never occurred to me to make the judge a woman, but if I did, she’d be Olga. But the judge in this story is based on a real person who made the news, so I’m sticking with a male.

Of the other submissions for the judge’s name, there were three I liked so much, I couldn’t make up my mind: Winston Slaybaugh (from Sandy), Jedidiah or J.D. Bidwell  (from Jack Finch), and Ralph Bletzo (from Briana Stansberry). Slaybaugh, Bidwell, and Bletzo. They sound like a corrupt law firm.

I went back and forth so many times, I finally asked my husband to chose his favorite, and he liked them all too. We finally narrowed them down to Bidwell and Slaybaugh, then tossed a coin. So the judge will be J.D. Bidwell, who does anything but bid people well. Thank you, Jack!

But I’ll use the other two great names in the story somewhere. They’ll most likely be politicians, which seems appropriate. And because I like all three so much, I’ve decided to send the print book to Angela for CSA. Everyone else gets an ebook. I can send either The Trigger or The Target now, or put you on the list for The Trap when it’s released in December.

Thanks again, readers. I love your input.

October Update (& name contest)

October Update (& name contest)

Hello friends and readers! I haven’t blogged in ages, and I’m sorry. But I’ve been writing novels like a mad woman, so you have to forgive me. Here’s the update:

Jackson #10 is not only in production at Thomas & Mercer, it’s already available for pre-order! I wish I had a cover to show you, but the title is Wrongful Death and the release date is February 24.

More picnicI also want to thank everyone for their support of Deadly Bonds. The reviews have been terrific—a very rewarding experience for me. I loved writing the story and showing a new side to Jackson. His feelings for Benjie reflect my love for my granddaughter, the little sweetheart in my life.

Also my publisher has agreed to give away a ton of copies of Deadly Bonds at Bouchercon next month in the books bags. A first for me. The convention is in Long Beach this year—my side of the country—so of course I’ll be there. Please look me up if you attend.

trap_homeAfter taking some time off in August to bike ride—and my plot my next book—I’m now well into writing The Trap, the third book in the Agent Dallas series. This is the most challenging one yet, but I believe it’s also the most exciting. I hope you’ll think so too. If all goes well with the ending, rewrite, editing and formatting, I’ll be able to publish it in December as planned. The cover is already done, and I love the way it turned out.

What’s next you ask? I have a synopsis for Jackson #11, but I might write a standalone thriller first, just for a change of pace. Also, my publisher has marketing opportunities for standalones that the Jackson series isn’t eligible for, and I want to take advantage of them.

But rest assured, the Jackson books will keep coming. Probably the Dallas books too, but they’re so much work, that after this one, I need to take a break from them. (I wrote one last year and two this year!)

I’ve had a busy year, and it’s not over yet. We still have to sell our house and move. And I’ve also done a lot of planning for Left Coast Crime 2015, which takes place in Portland next March. I hope some of you will attend that convention as well. It will be fun!

And finally, I could use some help with a couple of names. For something different this time, I need a company name, a corporation that runs private prisons. I also need the name of a judge, a mean punitive SOB. Give me your best bad-guy monikers for both, and I’ll send you a free ebook of The Trap when it releases. And I have a print book of your choice for my favorite submission.

Happy October!

Who Is Agent Dallas?

Who Is Agent Dallas?
Welcome to the Character Blog Hop!

The best thing about crime fiction is the series protagonists you get to know in repeat stories. Today you’ll meet my Agent Dallas. On Friday, you’ll meet characters from Michael Sherer and Gail Carline. Next Monday, authors Tee Burrell and Terry Shames will introduce their characters. See the bios for all four great authors at the end of this Q&A.

What is the name of your character and where did she come from?

Her name is Jamie Dallas, but she goes by Dallas. She’s a fictional FBI agent who specializes in undercover work and infiltrating criminal groups. So she’s got a new undercover name in each book as well. I have fun with those, giving her initials such as F.B.I. and S.O.B. I created Dallas after talking with an FBI agent about the bureau’s use of an undercover agent to help arrest an eco-terrorist group. I had so much fun writing her small part in that story I knew she needed her own series.

When and where is the story set?

Dallas is a series character, and she travels to assignments in different locations. The first story, The Trigger, was set in an isolated community just outside of Redding, California. The second story, The Target, is set in San Diego. I’m plotting the third one now, and I think it’ll be set in Washington DC with some scenes in southern states.

target-cover-v2 medWhat should we know about him/her?

Dallas is perfectly suited to her role as an undercover agent. She lived out of a backpack as a child, constantly on the move from one family member to the next, so she likes to travel. She’s an adrenaline junkie, so the high-risk nature of her work is exciting and addicting for her. Plus, as a kid, her aunt enrolled her in acting lessons, which she loved. In addition, she was kept busy with tennis lessons and chess club and language studies, so Dallas has a whole arsenal of personal talents that help her blend into various groups.

What is the main conflict? What messes up her life?

Dallas’ main issue is an inability to form a long-term relationship. She has deep-rooted trust and abandonment issues that make her want to run if a guy gets serious about her. More important, she loves her job, so she won’t let a relationship interfere with it.

What is the personal goal of the character?

Dallas wants to be the best field agent she can, with a goal of being trusted to work high-level, international assignments.

Is there a working title for this novel, and can we read more about it?

The working title for the third book in the series is The Trap, but it’s not far enough long to share any of the story yet. But you can read more about Agent Dallas on my blog, and you can read reviews of the first two books on Amazon and Goodreads.

When can we expect the book to be published?

The Trap will most likely come out in late December. Before that, Deadly Bonds, the ninth book in my Detective Jackson series, will release in late August.

 

Posting on Friday:

Gayle Carline is regular contributor to Riding Magazine. In March 2005, she began writing a humor column for her local newspaper, the Placentia News-Times, entertaining readers with stories of her life with Dale and their son, Marcus. In 2009, she published her first mystery novel, Freezer Burn, featuring housecleaner-turned-detective Peri Minneopa. She has now published seven books, three Peri Minneopa Mysteries, two humor books, and two books featuring her favorite hobby – horses.

In her spare time, Gayle likes to sit down with friends and laugh over a glass of wine. And maybe plot a little murder and mayhem. She’ll continue to write columns and mysteries as long as there are stories to tell.

http://gaylecarline.com/
http://www.facebook.com/AuthorGayleCarline
http://www.twitter.com/GayleCarline
http://www.amazon.com/Gayle-Carline/e/B002C7FHZW

Michael W. Sherer is the author of Night Tide and soon-to-be-released Night Drop. The first book in the Seattle-based Blake Sanders series, Night Blind, was nominated for an ITW Thriller Award in 2013. His other books include the award-winning Emerson Ward mystery series, the stand-alone suspense novel, Island Life, and the Tess Barrett YA thriller series. He and his family now reside in the Seattle area.

Please visit him at www.michaelwsherer.com or you can follow him on Facebook at www.facebook.com/thrillerauthor and on Twitter @MysteryNovelist. http://www.michaelwsherer.com

Posting next Monday:

Teresa Burrell has dedicated her life to helping children and their families, as a schoolteacher for twelve years and then as a lawyer. She focused her solo practice in juvenile court where she worked primarily with abused minors. She also received several awards from the San Diego Volunteer Lawyer Program for her countless hours of pro bono work with children and families.

Burrell writes legal suspense mysteries incorporating many of her experiences. Her “Advocate Series” consists of five books starting with The Advocate to the most recent, The Advocate’s Ex Parte. She can be found online at www.teresaburrell.com, http://www.facebook.com/theadvocateseries

Hello Readers! (and giveaway)

Sorry I’ve been out of touch with blogging, but I’ve stepped up my novel-writing schedule. I finished Jackson #10 (Yay!), and it’s now in the editing phase, with a release date of early March.

Deadly Bonds medAnd, as odd as this sounds, I keep forgetting that Deadly Bonds (Jackson #9) hasn’t released yet. It feels like I wrote the story ages ago! But my author copies arrived today, so release day is coming soon—August 26th!

I’m starting to get great reviews from NetGalley readers, so I’m excited to for readers to see this one. In fact, I’m giving away a couple copies today to my favorite commenters.  I’m also giving away 7 copies at Goodreads, and there’s still time to enter.

I’m also getting beta reader feedback for Jackson #10, so I occasionally get mixed up about which story is under discussion. I also recently posted the first chapter of the new book on a Facebook page, and the first person who read the excerpt said it was a mild spoiler for Deadly Bonds. Oops! Again, I’d forgotten that readers haven’t had access to it yet. I’ll be glad when it’s finally out there!

The good news is that the beta reader feedback on Jackson #10 is terrific, so I’m getting excited for everyone to read the new story too.

In between Jackson stories, I wrote The Target, Agent Dallas #2. That series is indie published so the book  is already on the market and selling well. But if you’ve read it and liked it, please leave me a good review on Amazon. The story features Agent Dallas and Agent River, so some male readers were put off by too many women, and another reader called it a “lifestyle” story, and I suspect he didn’t care for River and her transgendered status. So I need you to help offset those negative reviews, if you have a minute.

Up next is Dallas #3. I’m in the plotting stage, but I hope to have the story completed and published before the end of the year. That was the goal I set last summer—by the end of 2014 to have written two more Jackson books (for a total of ten) and two more Dallas novels (to make a three-book set).

I think I’m going to pull it off. The only thing that could be a setback is having to sell our house, pack, and move. But the new house, and the lovely view of the Cascades should inspire me to make up the writing time.

Don’t forget to leave a comment to enter to win a print copy of Deadly Bonds.

New Name Winners!

Thank you, everyone, for participating! I love your enthusiasm for this. After 15 novels that require about 50 names each—if you throw in all the witnesses, family members, and casual mentions—I really appreciate your help with this. On my own, I end up thumbing through the phone book, the only reason I keep one around, but getting your input is definitely more fun.

But choosing winners is always a tough call. Debra, I love the name Octavious, and I will use it in this story. Probably not for a name that appears over and over, because it’s three syllables, but I’ll find just the minor character for it.

The suggestions for the twins were all good, but in the end I liked Stephanie’s suggestion of Henry and Jacob Lowe. My only concern is that some readers may think I’ve taken the name association too far by calling homeless men Lowe (low), so I may keep Harvick, but I’ll use Henry and Jacob. And in case you’re wondering, the characters are based on real people here in Eugene.

Such great name suggestions for the young activist. Jane, I loved the name Kara Walsh, but Jackson’s girlfriend is Kera, so it’s too close. Darn! Otherwise, Eden, Sydney, and Caprice were my favorites, and I finally had to ask my husband to pick one because I couldn’t make up my mind. He liked Sydney Willow, so congratulations to Susan!

The police officer is most important, so it was the hardest decision. Especially since most of his fellow officers refer to him by his last name, but Detective Schakowski (who’s his cousin) refers to him by his first name. So both names have to be just right. I liked Chet Harris (from John), and Pete McCaughey (from Risa), and Brent Scully (from Ann).

But after much consideration, I went with Daniel Thompson. It’s strong, yet friendly, and Schak, who grew up with him, calls him Danny. Congratulations to Steve, who submitted by email.

I’ll try to contact everyone about their free ebook, but if you don’t hear from me, please send me an email so I can get a copy of The Target to you. If you’ve already read it and liked it, please leave me a review on  Amazon. And if you’ve read it, I can put on a list for a free ebook of my next Dallas thriller instead.

Thanks again for playing!

One More Time for Character Names

Believe or not, I’m writing my tenth Jackson story! I’m getting excited about this one. The action is intense, the emotions run high, and the body count is a little freaky. But right now the manuscript is full of places where I’ve typed XXX, instead of a name. Because I didn’t want to slow down the flow of the scene to come up with the right moniker.

So once again I’m asking for your help. Even the names you submit that I don’t chose for the main characters, I’ll try to use for the many small-part characters—as I always have. I’m sure many of you have seen your own names in my books, along with your other suggestions.

First up, I have homeless male twins in their mid-thirties, who end up as suspects. Their temporary names are Dustin and Josh Harvick but I think we can do better, at least on the first names. I’d like to avoid names that are too similar (ie., Zeke and Zack), because readers might get confused.

There’s also a young female activist, who is a crusader for the rights of the homeless. I’ve called her Willow, because that fits Eugene, but it may not be strong enough for her. Give me your best suggestions, and we’ll see.

And the story opens with a male, 40-something police officer, a really good guy, whose name I’ve changed three times already. So it’s time to throw that one to my creative readers and see what you come up with.

I’ll give free ebooks of The Target (Agent Dallas #2) to everyone who participates, and a couple of printed copies to the grand winners.

Thanks for your input, as always!

The Target Launches!

target-cover-v2Finally, the new agent Dallas book is available. I’m excited about this one, and I hope everyone enjoys reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it. The print and ebook versions are available now from Amazon, and the audiobook is in production and will release next month. You can also order the book through local bookstores via Ingram.

Here’s the short blurb:
A ruthless corporate war leaves a trail of dead bodies and endangers millions more—can Agent Dallas stop the carnage?

First published review:
“With her latest Agent Dallas outing, Ms. Sellers has once again hit it out of the park.”—Bookbitch.com

Opening paragraph:
Jamie Dallas sat in the open doorway of the plane, resisting the urge to grip the sides. The wind roared like a freight train as she glanced down at the earth ten thousand feet below. A dark shape plummeted under her, about twenty yards behind the plane. She could catch him, but she had to go now. Fear, queasiness, and excitement rolled up into her throat. She crossed her arms and leaned forward, letting herself fall into space.

Order it here.
Thanks for your support!

Should Online Reviews Stay Anoymous?

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

Reviews are always a hot topic for authors and readers, but this new legal development could fundamentally change online reviews.

A business owner has sued for the right to see the names of anonymous online reviewers. The owner believes a rash of suddenly negative reviews came from competitors, because he can’t match their complaints and timing to his service records. The reviews hurt his business, and he sued them for defamation, demanding that Yelp turn over their identities. Yelp has refused, claiming first amendment protection. The Virginia state supreme court will decide the case this month.

I’m rooting for the business owner. A good friend lost half her business after one bad posting on Ripoff Report, in which the reviewer used a phony name and made false claims—after she gave him his money back.  As an author, I’m never going to sue any reviewers, but wouldn’t it be nice if they couldn’t hide behind fake internet names?

I expect readers to disagree, and I understand why anonymity seems important. Because I know so many writers personally, I don’t feel comfortable reviewing most books. But I also never use a made-up persona either. For anything. I stand by my words.

Consumer reviews have become very powerful in influencing buying decisions, subverting the power that marketers once had. Overall, I believe this is a good thing for all of us.

Yet, both authors and readers have abused the ability to post anonymous reviews. Some authors have used it to promote their own work and to trash their competitors. Readers have used it to complain about a book’s price with one-star reviews, and some just spew negativity and hatred wherever they go.

For me, the issue is opinion versus false claims. When someone reads a book and honestly hates it, they have a right to say so. But so many reviews, particularly of products and services, go beyond opinion and make false claims. Don’t those authors or small businesses have a right to counter those claims? Doesn’t the reviewer have an obligation to support those claims—if challenged?

I’m hoping the court decides that Yelp needs to turn over the reviewers’ identity. If it does, a precedent will be set, and more and more businesses will demand that negative/false reviewers produce documentation. That should lead to more and more transparency in online reviews—as the trolls realize they could be identified and held accountable.

What do you think? Does the first amendment guarantee our right to anonymous free speech or just free speech?

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I thoroughly enjoyed this novel. The characters were compelling, the procedural work was dead-on, and the story was enthralling. Definitely recommended.”
~Michelle Gagnon, author of Boneyard
The author expertly intertwines multiple story lines, presents readers with fully realized characters that readers will feel they know, and keeps the action and suspense levels high. That’s a lot to expect from an author but L. J. Sellers delivers.” ~OverMyDeadBody
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