Archive for the characters Category

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

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.

Solving Crimes with Detective Jackson

Rules of Crime, Detective Jackson’s 7th novel, released this week. For those who haven’t met him yet, here’s a post in Jackson’s perspective.

Actor Hugh Jackman

“Detective Jackson, Eugene Police Department.” That’s how I introduce myself to witnesses and suspects, so that’s why this series is called the Detective Jackson series and not the Wade Jackson series. No one calls me Wade, except my girlfriend Kera, and she doesn’t do it often.

I wake up most mornings at 5:30, even on weekends if I’m working the first few days of a homicide, which often go round-the-clock. Most days, I’m home long enough to have breakfast with my daughter, Katie, then drive her to high school. I was a single parent even before I divorced, because my ex-wife is an alcoholic and not someone Katie can depend on.

And I’m a workaholic, so my daughter is rather self-sufficient. That’s my greatest struggle every day: How do I be a good father to the person I love most in the world and keep my hometown of Eugene, Oregon safe from violent offenders?

At the department, I check my emails and phone messages like any other public servant, but that after that my day gets interesting. My boss, a big gruff woman named Sergeant Lammers, often assigns me a new case or wants an update on the case I’m working. Those are the easy ones. More typically, I get called out to homicide scenes during a date with Kera or on a weekend spent building a trike with my daughter. Murder has no boundaries or patterns, but I seem to catch the toughest cases at the strangest times.

Whenever I get the call, I drop what I’m doing and get out to the crime scene. I like to arrive before the medical examiner does so I have chance to look at the body and the scene up close. On television, the detective often takes a long look around and announces something like “The intruder came in through the window, grabbed the trophy from the fireplace and conked the victim on the head.”

It’s never like that for me. I get cases where a young girl is found dead in a dumpster without a mark on her—and no leads or witnesses. Or a whole family has been assaulted and killed and the evidence is too messy to make sense of. In my last homicide case, a young veteran was found dead in his car with his throat slit.

Solving murders is often tedious work. Hours spent looking at phone or bank records and days spent tracking down family members, boyfriends, and co-workers to interview. The case often breaks because the killer, in desperation, commits another crime or makes a fatal mistake.

Actor Viggo Mortensen

Or often, it’s one of my task force members who sees the connections that lead us to the guilty party. Or a crime lab technician who discovers a key piece of forensic evidence. We’re all part of a team, and we’ve worked together for years. My detective partners are also my best friends, because they’re the only people I really trust. Chasing criminals will do that to you.

The case I’m working now (Rules of Crime) is personal—my ex-wife has been kidnapped, and the FBI is leading the task force. My partner, Detective Lara Evans, is investigating the assault of a young woman who was beaten and dumped at the hospital. Any minute now, we’ll compare notes and discover how these crimes are connected. I hope you’ll be there for the revelation.

And what do you think? Should Hugh Jackman play my part when I make it to the big screen? Or maybe Viggo Mortensen?

 

New Contest Winners

This contest had the most names ever submitted, making it harder than ever to pick a single favorite. I’m so glad I decided upfront to use as many of the names as I could and to send everyone an ebook.

Before I tell you the winner, I’d like to point out some of my favorites first. Prescott Sutton for the homeless guy. Priceless! I will use it, but I may also let him keep the “street” name I gave him. Read more

10 Steps to a Better Story

keyboard-smallI edit a lot of fiction, and I see a pattern of common problems in manuscripts from novice writers. The most important involve the bond between story and character. If you want an agent or editor to get past the first page, here’s 10 things to keep in mind.

1. Make your main character want something. Read more

Character Name Winners

Thanks everyone for suggesting such intriguing characters names for my futuristic thriller. My husband now has a crush on one of the winners because her suggestions are so creatively awesome! After much consideration, the winning selections are:
Male, bureaucrat: Sherman Dogg, submitted by Rose
Female paramedic: DeTerra Celeste Stibbins submitted by C. Lyncia Wright-Harris. Ms. Harris also submitted Adulan Dominic Masters, but Read more

Why I Love Eugene

Characters everywhere! You can run into the most interesting people just cruising around, but as newspaper writer, I get sent to interview them. It’s wonderful! One day last week, for example, I interviewed Omer and Dave Orian, red-afro-sporting Israeli brothers who operate Off the Waffle out of their home (and a cart near the UO). “Obsessed with waffles” is how Dave describes them and their business, which has a very loyal following. (You have to click through for the photos!) Read more

Characters We Love to Hate

Isn’t it odd that you can love and hate a character at the same time? Like House. I love it when he’s painfully honest with an idiot who needs a dose of reality. I hate it when he’s cruel to his boss and co-workers for no reason.

Then there’s Ari Gold from Entourage. He’s horrible to everyone except his favorite client (Vinnie Chase) and his own kids, but I still enjoy watching his character in action. I think it’s the Jeremy Piven factor. Read more

How Many Is Enough?

Recently two authors on the mystery listserv Dorothy L announced their publisher was dropping their series. Dozens of mystery readers/fans expressed dismay and disappointment. They wanted to know what they could do to help keep the series alive. They wanted to start a campaign! The outpouring of support for the first author inspired a small publisher on the list to step in and pick up the series. Read more

How to Create a Character Database

I recently set up a character database in Excel, and when I posted about it on Twitter/Facebook several people contacted me and asked “What’s a character database?” Sensing that this subject might be interesting to others, I decided to share the details. First, let me say that I’m not an Excel whiz kid, so trust me when I say that this file set up is really straightforward.

This type of database is especially useful if you write a series, and I finally set it up because I got tired of having to look back to see how I had described a character in a previous novel or to search endlessly for the name of a street. I started the file in a Word document, but that was too messy and didn’t allow nifty sorting features.

First, I established the column headers across the top. I’m still tweaking as I go, but for now I have:

  • First name
  • Last name
  • Category
  • Role/Function
  • Description
  • Car, address, phone
  • Other details
  • Book title 1 (The Sex Club)
  • Book title 2 (Secrets to Die For)
  • Book title 3 (Thrilled to Death)
  • Book title 4 (The Baby Thief)

Most of these headers are self-explanatory, but the Category column is where I assign the character’s level: 1=main character/recurring, 2=main character/specific to novel, 3=villain, 4=secondary character/recurring, 5=throwaway characters.

Next I listed the characters by row and inserted relevant information. I still have to go back into The Sex Club and find/input all the secondary characters, but with my new novel, I’m adding to the database every time I add important details to the manuscript. (For example, if my character dyes her hair, buys a speed boat, or adopts a pet monkey.)

What’s great about this file is that each column can be sorted individually. I separated out the first and last names so I could alphabetize/sort each list individually. So if I come up with the name Kirstin, I can quickly sort first names and check the middle of that column and see how many characters have first names that start with K. Yikes! Better come up with a different name.

The purpose of the book title columns is to be able to sort by title. I simply put an X in each column title that the character is present in. Then if I’m working in book 3, I can sort by that column and have all the book 3 characters come to the top of the spreadsheet, allowing me easy access to their information. And if I have one of those moments when I’m wondering, Was Officer Chang in my first story or just my second?— it’s easy to find out.

Important reminder: Even if you’re sorting by a single column, be sure to highlight all your data so the information for each row/character stays together. I hope you find this idea useful (and comprehensible). Feel free to ask questions and make suggestions. It’s not perfect by any means.

If you read my blog regularly, thank you. And, it would be great if signed on as a follower and/or linked to my blog from yours.

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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