Parallel Silver Linings

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

We discovered water in our bathroom wall recently, and the damage was extensive. My initial reactions were to first blame myself: How could I let this happen? Next, to be stressed about the time and cost of the repair.

Fortunately, my hairdresser (love this woman!) reminded me that insurance pays for things like this. The transition will be inconvenient and annoying, but in the end, the bathroom will be essentially remodeled for about the price of the deductible. A nice outcome.

I’m trying to keep that in mind as I go through a similar situation in my writing career. With my latest book, a standalone thriller, my editor wants me to make a major plot change, one that I disagree with. My initial reactions were the same as they were for the water problem—a sense of failure, then stress about a negative outcome.

But the more I think about it, the more I realize this could turn well. My beta readers (including a professional) love the story the way it is, and I’m not inclined to cut a plot element that ratchets up the tension on a global level. So, as much as I love publishing with Thomas & Mercer, I’m going indie with this one.

Even though I call it a standalone, the book features Agent Dallas—introduced in Crimes of Memory (Jackson #8)—and will launch a new series. Although publishing with Amazon has been great for my career, it’s not a bad idea to diversify and keep some control of my work.

Additionally, I’ll be able to bring the book to market sooner on my own, and I’ll earn a higher royalty. So this could turn out like the bathroom situation—more benefits than drawbacks.

In the meantime, I have to get my head back into indie mode and start thinking about marketing again. This transition will also be a lot of work and at times frustrating, but ideas are coming to me, and I think my wonderful readers will support me.

What do you think? Am I crazy for sticking with the story instead of the publisher? If you’re one of my readers, will you try the new book?

Housing Help Foundation

Young Family Moving Into New HomeThe right to housing is a social-justice issue I’ve been concerned with most of my life. Years ago, I promised myself that someday I would make a difference for people who needed help with housing. Today is that day. My new nonprofit foundation, Housing Help, is up and running.

After seeing some family members struggle to save enough money to pay the first/last/deposit required to move into even a cheap apartment, I realized that was a critical need here in Lane County. So that’s what Housing Help will do: Write checks to rental companies/landlords so that homeless families can move out of their cars (or friend’s garage) and into a space of their own. We will also help people facing eviction because of a temporary crisis, so they can stay in their homes. (More specific information is on our website.)

Housing Help may accomplish more than that someday, but our scope for now is limited, because we want to be successful in that single endeavor. Some wonderful friends have joined my board of directors, and we’re committed to helping at least one family a month. I’ll be contributing significantly to the foundation, but I have no plans, as yet, to link book sales to my donations. I may run special promotions to raise money for the charity, but I think it’s best to keep them separate.

A local charity, St. Vincent de Paul, already does some of this type of charity, but they have limited resources and strict policies. Also, I wanted to offer donors concerned with housing the option of making a contribution to a nonreligious charity. We won’t discriminate or require our recipients to adhere to any religious principles. But we are networking with St. Vincent’s, and if they have to turn away worthy recipients, they’ll refer them to our charity.

Now when you see the Housing Help logo on my website and Facebook pages, you’ll know what it means. I hope it inspires you to make a donation, or do something even bigger/better in your own community.