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.

Winners & Rules of Crime Excerpt

Thanks again for all who participated in the contest. It’s so fun seeing the creative names everyone comes up with, and I look forward to finding a spot for most of them in this new story.

Here are some of my favorites that I’ll use (but didn’t win for complex reasons): Adam Greene for the eco-terrorist. But the book has more than one such bad guy, so I’ll definitely work him in. And I loved Thistle Caruthers, but my FBI agent is a woman, so he’ll have to be a witness or suspect. Charlotte Fitzroy is a great name, and so is Preston Walker, but I’ve used that first and last name in recent stories.

And Fiona Beatrix Ingram for the FBI agent? Awesome! Thanks, Dani. My character will probably use it as her alias. We’ll see what my editor thinks and how the story progresses.

For now, I’ve picked Russell Crowder for the main eco-terrorist (aggressive tone!), and Jamie Barnes (easy for readers) for the young female FBI agent. But I used Jamie in Secrets to Die For so my editor might veto it. I’ll try to contact everyone individually, but if you don’t hear from me, please contact me and let me know which ebook you want in in which format.

And because I can’t wait, I’m posting an excerpt of the first chapter of Rules of Crime, which will be released in late February.

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Saturday, January 7, 4:35 p.m.

Renee Jackson slipped out of the AA meeting a little early. She felt queasy and didn’t want to talk to anyone after it adjourned. She shouldn’t have come. The secret drinking had been going on for weeks and the meetings weren’t helping. It was time to check herself into rehab, but she couldn’t bear the thought of her daughter knowing she’d relapsed again.

Renee zipped her jacket against the cold, shuddering at the gray sky that seemed to swoop down and smother her. Christ, it was getting dark already.

Could she get away with one more shot of vodka without Ivan or anyone noticing? Probably. She kept a thermos in her car, along with a bottle of mouthwash. Her ex-husband Wade, the detective, would know as soon as she spent five minutes with him. So far she’d managed to avoid him.

She waited for the traffic to pass, then trotted across the street to her car, pumps clicking on the asphalt. She’d parked in the alley next to the vegan restaurant, not wanting anyone to see her Acura RDX near the Jesco building. Not that anyone she knew would be in the Whitaker neighborhood. If Eugene, Oregon had a slum, this would be it.

As she entered the alley, two men stepped out from behind a large dumpster. Renee took in the details in a quick painful breath. Baggy jeans, heavy jackets, and tattooed necks. Gang members.

Her heart skipped a beat. Could she make it to her car, get in, and lock the door? Or should she turn and run? She froze, paralyzed with fear. Too late to dash to her car. Renee spun and started back toward the Jesco building. She wanted to run but was afraid to, feeling like she had a predatory animal behind her that would only be excited by the chase.

Then she saw Dave, the meeting leader, hurrying across the street toward her. Thank god. A car barreled past just as he stepped onto the sidewalk.

“Renee, I wanted to talk.” He smiled but his tone was serious as he reached for her arm.

She glanced over her shoulder. The gang members turned and headed back down the alley. Had they ever been a threat? Was the alcohol making her paranoid already? It usually took years.

“I’m sorry, Dave, but I don’t have time. That’s why I left early.”

“I know you’re drinking, Renee. Can I do anything to help?”

It took every ounce of self-control she had not to burst into tears. God, she hated herself. “I’ve got it under control. Thanks, though.”

She spun and trotted to her car, unlocking it with her clicker. Guilt made the sick feeling in her gut worse. Dave was a good guy, but she wasn’t ready to talk about her drinking. Her fiancé, Ivan, was a casual drinker and she knew she had to make an impossible choice. Renee started the car and backed toward the street. In the growing darkness, she heard the rumble of an engine. Was it the thugs’ car? She peered down the alley, framed by thick shrubs on one side and the backside of the restaurant on the other. Headlights came on.

Renee glanced back at Blair Boulevard, saw no traffic, and gunned her car into the street. Out of the corner of her eye, she saw Dave head into the Jesco building. He glanced back at the revved sound of her car and Renee looked away. She raced to the first stoplight and grabbed the thermos of Vodka from under her car seat. After a quick sip, she shoved the metal container back. Her chest warmed and her panic subsided.

An engine rumbled behind her. Definitely not a new-model car. The same sound she’d heard in the alley. She glanced in her rearview mirror. A red low-rider, idled behind her. The driver wore a heavy dark jacket and had a shaved head. Why were they following her?

Renee jumped on the green light and sped through the intersection. To go home, she needed to turn right, cross downtown, and head south. She’d moved in with Ivan a month ago, giving up her apartment by the park to live in his plush, oversized home in the foothills. She wasn’t ready to face him, but had no idea where she was headed. Was she ready to quit drinking? Damn! How had she let herself get into this mode again? Would the cycle ever stop?

Instinctively, she drove toward the university area.

A quick glance in the rearview mirror told her the low-rider was still back there, but not directly behind her anymore. She gave a little sigh of relief. They were just going in the same direction. It happened all the time.

She kept driving, not knowing where, not making conscious decisions. Ten minutes later, she parked a half block from Serenity Lane, an in-patient rehab center for drugs and alcohol that was tucked into a quiet residential area near the campus. The site of the building made her cringe. Renee reached for the thermos and took a long slow belt of vodka. She’d never make it through the door this sober. Grabbing her phone from the seat, she started to text Katie, but couldn’t do it. Not yet. She’d call her daughter later, after she checked in.

Renee clutched her purse and stepped from the car. Would three times be the charm? Would this be her last in-patient stay? Fortunately, she ran her own publicity business now and didn’t have to explain to her boss why she needed a month off. One foot in front of the other, she forced herself to start down the sidewalk, toward the building with the glass door she knew so well.

The low-rider was suddenly there, only five feet away on the street. In the twilight, she felt, as much as saw, two guys burst from the car. Renee screamed and started to run. Her heel snapped and she stumbled. From behind, a thick hand slammed over her mouth and yanked sideways. Another pair of arms wrapped around her torso and dragged her into the back of the car.

In six seconds, she’d disappeared off the sidewalk. Had anyone witnessed it? A student bicycling to class?

The car raced forward, away from the rehab building and student housing. Renee struggled but the alcohol made her weak and the man shoved her to the floor. Strong, thick fingers dug into her flesh and quickly bound her hands and mouth with duct tape. She kicked wildly, panic driving her. She connected with a shin, and the man backhanded her across the face, a stinging blow. She choked on her cry and hot tears filled her eyes.

A knife was suddenly in his hand and her heart missed a beat. She screamed into the duct tape but only made a gurgling sound. The man cut her purse strap from her shoulder, then rummaged through her pockets until he found her cell phone. He shoved her last little hope into his jacket pocket and taped her ankles together. Oh god, what did they want with her? Panic exploded in painful shards in her lungs and she couldn’t think straight.

A few minutes later, the car star stopped in an alley between two buildings. The sun had nearly set and Renee had no idea where she was. The men dragged her from the floor of the back seat and shoved her into the trunk. They slammed down the lid and left her alone in the small dark space, trussed like an animal on its way to slaughter.

Heart pounding, all she could think was: I wish I’d finished the thermos.

 

New Name Contest…FBI Mystery/Thriller

After taking some time in August to ride my bike, work in my yard, and hang out with my granddaughter, I’m busy writing my eighth Detective Jackson novel. It seems a little unreal, like only a few years ago, I was writing Thrilled to Death, the third story, and wondering if the series would ever have enough readers to make it financially worthwhile. But I love writing these stories, so it’s been emotionally rewarding all along, and I’m very grateful for the readers who support me.

And I love getting readers involved in the creativity, even if only to provide many of the names I’ll use. So here’s another chance to get a name of your choice into my next  Jackson story.

For this one, I need the name of an eco-terrorist, a man dedicated to environmental issues, but misguided about how to accomplish his goals. And I need a name for a young female FBI agent who goes undercover to stop him.

What does all this have to do with Jackson? You’ll see! As usual, I’m writing a complex story with multiple crimes and multiple points of view. And I’m trying to give readers something new in every story, so I’m branching out and including broader investigations and more action.

The book I just finished, Rules of Crime, which you helped me find great names for, will be released in late February. It features Jackson, Lara Evans, and Agent Carla River, and some of my beta readers say it’s my best work yet. I hope so! (I hope to have a cover soon too.)

I plan to have this new story submitted to my editor by the end of the year, so hopefully, Amazon will release it mid-2013, a few months after Rules of Crime.

Everyone who submits a name wins a free ebook of their choice, and the people who submit the winning names for my characters win an ebook of their choice AND a print copy of The Baby Thief…if they want it.

As always, I’ll try to use many of the names submitted in other roles: witnesses, family members, etc. Thanks for participating! I can’t wait to see what you have for me this time.

Nickname Winner: Roadie

Thanks to everyone who submitted nicknames. It was interesting to see the final collection. Each one was different from the those on the short list I’d created in my first effort, so I was happy to see the variation.

Sells and Win were great confidence boosters, and Smitty and Ziggy were both fun. I liked Mac and Micky a lot too, but I worried that they had both been used too often before in other detective series. A special thanks to Eileen and Brenda, who both submitted seven entries, and to Teri, who submitted ten. I would have never come up with all these on my own. And I’ve also made a list of all the great last names for future use.

Teri also submitted the one I finally chose as my  favorite: Roadie. It has a nice two-syllable sound and lots of subtle implications. So congratulations to Teri! I’ll put your print book in the mail Monday. Everyone who participated, or even left a comment, gets a free ebook. I’ll try to  track you all down and ask your preferences, but if you don’t hear from me, please click this link and email me. Let me know which ebook you want and which format: Kindle (mobi) or epub.

Thanks again! Happy Summer!

 

Birthday Mystery/Thriller Giveway

It’s my birthday, which means it’s time for a book giveaway. I should be reflecting on what this particular milestone means, but I’m too busy. I have a rewrite to finish and a baby granddaughter coming over later. And I’ve had lots of birthdays. This one is only special because I’m finally in a place in my life that feels about perfect.

First up, I’ll give away a print copy of my latest Detective Jackson book, Liars, Cheaters & Thieves to the person who gives me the best nickname name based on a last name. For example, my husband’s name is Steve Hutchison and his friends all call him Hutch. And I need the name to be gender neutral. This is for a character in my next series, and I’m excited to see what you come up with.

I also still need good Amazon reviews for Dying for Justice. The book is now #8 on Amazon’s top-rated crime fiction list, a separate list from the bestsellers, and it’s based on customers’ ratings alone. If I can get into one of the top three spots, Amazon will feature Dying for Justice on all its crime fiction pages—which would be huge for its sales.

So if you’ve read the book and liked it, please leave even a brief review and be sure to click the star-rating system. Anyone who does or who comments here about my name contest gets a free e-book of their choice. Be sure to email me to let me know which one you’d like and which format Kindle (mobi) or epub.

Thanks for all your wonderful support! Without, I wouldn’t be in this perfect place.

Character Name Favorites

It’s always so much fun seeing the contest names! Readers submit such a wide variety of names, and they’re so much more creative and adventurous than what I would have come up with on my own. Skia Mulvaney, Heidi Lapeer, Hubie Spikes, Joy Worldly, and Saburo were some of the most original. Others were just plain fun—Ray Sweets, Dottie Crocker, Bonnie Bleacher, Jim Zucker, and M.O. Perkins to name a few.

Without these naming contests, I would likely stick to the Eugene yellow pages as a source and end up with all “safe” names. Although my hometown is very accepting of all kinds of cultures and lifestyles, it’s not much of a melting pot. So it’s great to get a variety of names/characters and plug them into the story.

Thanks, everyone, for participating. I’ll use as many of your suggestions as I can! Overall, though, my favorite name was Daniel Talbot, submitted by Alexandra Lundgren, whose last name I’ll also use in the story. A second favorite name was Jordan Rivers.

I’m sill undecided about the female FBI agent, but some of my favorite suggestions were Nadia Hart, Grace Kizina, and Jordan Rivers. I may mix, match, and modify. Do you like Jordan Kinzia? Or Nadia Lundgren?

I’ll try to contact everyone about their free ebook, but if you don’t hear from me it’s because I couldn’t find you, so email me.

Thanks again for participating.

New Story, Names Needed

Believe or not, I’m already writing a new Jackson story, and I’m very excited about this one. I even have a working title, but it’s is too early too share. I have an interview set up with an FBI agent, and I’m considering add a new character…who my spin off into her own series someday. (We’ll see how I feel in May.)

But what I need right now from my faithful readers is your participation again. I need names and lots of them. In my past two novels, I included dozens of the names you suggested, so I hope you’ve had a chance to pick up the books and see your contributions. One reader contacted me with so much excitement (!!!!) about her name being in Liars, Cheaters & Thieves, I could hear her squealing across the county.

Many of the names I need will be witnesses, neighbors, and victim’s family members, so they don’t need any special connotations. Just reader friendly.

But one suspect in particular is a white, upperclass male who lost a lot of money in the recession and is very angry about it. Another suspect is a young Hispanic gang member with a lot to prove to his peers.

And of course, I need a name for my female FBI agent…who may be with me for a while. (So this is important, and I reserve the right to change at the last minute.)

Everyone who participates gets a free ebook of their choice, and I’ll also pick one or two favorites, who will receive a print book of their choice, or of my latest Jackson book: Liars, Cheaters & Thieves.

It’s fun for everyone if you leave your suggestions in the comments, but please also email me with your choice of ebook and file type (mobi or epub).

Thanks again for you help in the past, now let’s see what you’ve got!

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

Name Those Characters Contest

I spent an hour looking through the phone book for names, then realized I hadn’t held my usual “Name That Character” contest for this book. I’m writing a new Jackson story with the working title Liars, Cheaters, & Thieves, and I need lots of names. Suspects, victims, and witnesses.

I don’t want to give too much away, but the story involves three men, friends since high school. I’ve settled on the main character’s name, Read more

Kill or Be Killed: Book & Name Giveaway

We’ve all thought about killing someone…at least for a second or two, and crime fiction novelists like myself get to act that out in novels. Now it’s your turn. I’m giving away the opportunity to name the murder victim in the futuristic thriller I’m writing. (You expected someone  to die, didn’t you?)

Read more