Archive for the series character 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

Standalone Vs. Series Fiction

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

Sandra Parshall, who happens to be a terrific blogger, posted yesterday about standalone suspense fiction and how she likes it better than crime fiction series, but that few authors are writing it. I’m not sure that’s technically true. Many of us are writing it, but often, one of two things happen. Either the standalone doesn’t sell as well as our series books, or it’s so popular that readers want more, and it ends up launching a new series. Which is what happened with The Sex Club, the first book featuring Detective Jackson.

There are exceptions of course. Gillian Flynn writes popular standalone thrillers and grows her readership with each one. And some series writers have expanded their readerships by writing standalone thrillers (Laura LippmanHarlan Coben). That’s what I hope to do with my new thriller.

Yet, I love the character, and I know I’ll bring her back for more stories. Her setup as an FBI agent who specializes in undercover work is perfect for a series that has a lot of flexibility.

I introduced Agent Dallas in Jackson #8, Crimes of Memory (which will release Oct. 15!). I had so much fun writing her part that I knew she needed her own story. And I had an idea that I really wanted to write about and she was perfect for it. My beta readers loved the story, and I’m still waiting to see if my publisher does too.

More important though will be if readers like it. Especially new readers. I know some of my Jackson fans will pass, just because it’s not a Jackson story. But I hope enough new readers will be interested in the novel to justify the five months I put into researching and writing it.

Here’s a quick description: Agent Dallas goes undercover to find a missing woman who is likely being held captive in an isolated prepper community. What she finds is a lot more terrifying.

Readers: Do you read the standalones of your favorite series authors?

Writers: Do you write series, standalones or both? And what is your experience?



Detectives Around the World

babyshark1In April, about 30 bloggers will each host a detective, and readers will learn about cops, agents, and PIs from all corners of the earth. My blog will feature Kristin Van Dijk, aka Baby Shark, a fascinating and kickass young woman. The series is written by the talented and charming Robert Fate who has lived a most interesting life. 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.

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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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