Write First, Clean Later

First Name or Last?

This question comes up dozens of times while I’m writing a novel. Almost every character is given two names (and sometimes a nickname), but what you do you call them most consistently? First name or last? Does their gender and/or role in the story dictate which treatment they get?

I’m reading a John Sandford novel now (one of my favorites!), and I noticed patterns that made me wonder how authors make these choices. Read more

Email Newsletter Services

I did some research yesterday into the top five providers of email newsletter/contact services. They all offer design and list management tools, a sign-up function for your website, and usually a free trial. The pricing doesn’t vary much, but there are important differences in services. Three offer a pay-as-you-go option for people like me with small lists who plan to use the service infrequently, and only two offer RSS services. Here’s a brief guide: Read more

Promotion Timeline

My internal promotional plan for each release is organized by timetable because that’s the only way I can get it all done and stay on schedule. For a late September release (Secrets to Die For), it looks like this (which includes some things my publisher will do).

June
1. Plan blog tour (make list of blogs to visit, map out content) Read more

How to Write a Marketing Plan

A friend recently asked for advice in developing a marketing plan—to submit to a major retailer. Some smaller presses now also expect authors to submit a marketing plan. I’m no expert, but I have developed several marketing plans, and I’m creating a new one for the September release of Secrets to Die For. So I decided to share what I know.

Actually, I have two type of promotional plans: one to send to publishers Read more

Platform Pitfalls

The buzzword in promotion is platform. Agents and editors want their authors to have a brand, a tagline, an expertise that sets them apart from everybody else. For nonfiction writers, this concept is fairly straightforward. If I’m writing a book about training cats to line dance, then I must establish myself as an expert cat trainer—by blogging, giving talks to cat therapy groups, and writing articles for publications focused on all things feline. But how does a fiction author establish a platform/brand?

Read more

Making Time for Real Life

Each day I struggle between these conflicting ideas: “Get more done; be more productive” and “Life is short; make sure you enjoy it.” After spending most of the weekend brainstorming ways to carve out more time for writing and promoting (read less news, spend less time cooking/eating, less time on e-mails), I decided to be balanced and make a list of things I  want to do for pleasure—then to carve out time for them as well. Here’s my short-term wish list: Read more

Character Naming Contest

In the course of writing a novel, you have to come up with at least 15 names, possibly as many as 40, depending on the genre. Police procedurals (my current genre), with lots of suspects and neighbors to interview require an endless stream of names. For minor characters, I often go with whatever pops into my mind. Sometimes, it works out and sometimes not so much. Read more

Personal Versus Promotional

I’m not having as much fun online as I used to. When I first got serious about social networking, I had a core group of people that I interacted with very regularly on Facebook and Twitter. It was personal and it was fun. I made a lot of real friends. When I met some of these people at Bouchercon, it was as if I already knew them. Read more

Life of a Cop

I interviewed Sergeant Kathy Flynn who supervises the violent crimes detectives in the Eugene Police department. The first interview was interrupted by a homicide scene. (Scroll down for that story!) But I went back later and heard some interesting stories, so I thought  I would share.

Eugene only averages two or three homicides a year, but that doesn’t make the job of the police any less dangerous. Read more

What Is Good Writing?

There’s been quite a discussion lately on a mystery list serv about good and bad writing — sparked by a discussion about Dan Brown, the mega-selling author who no one has ever called a good writer and some have said a lot worse about. Everyone seem to agree that bad writing is easy to define:

  • writing that calls attention to itself
  • awkward phrasing Read more

Five-Time Readers Favorite Award Winner!

LATEST REVIEWS

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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