Archive for the The Sex Club Category

Putting Sex Back in the Series

After all the trouble of taking Sex out of the Jackson series, I’m about to put it back. Some of you may be thinking, It’s about time. But those of you who know the series, know that I was talking about The Sex Club, the first book to feature Detective Wade Jackson.

Late last year, I pulled it as the lead Jackson story and moved it into my standalone thriller category, mostly for political reasons (see blog). The book features a Planned Parenthood nurse and crazy anti-abortionist (protagonist and antagonist, respectively), and I made the change so the first book in the series would be more palatable to all readers.

I worried that some readers would simply be turned off by the title. Many other readers bought the book for the title. Either way, at this point Amazon Publishing/Thomas & Mercer owns the rights, and they plan to market it as part of the series. By the time their version comes out in January with all the other Jackson books—including the new one, Rules of Crime—I’ll have modified my website, bio, and book listings to match up with Amazon’s marketing.

Once again, The Sex Club will be the first title many readers see when they visit my website or see a list of my books. I have mixed feelings about this. I love the story, and I’m proud to be its author. But it’s the only title I have that doesn’t really reflect the crime-fiction genre that I write in. Hopefully readers will look beyond that book and see that I’m really about crime, violence, and death. 🙂

When my kids were growing up, I used to say I’d rather they watched sex scenes in movies than violence, but that’s another subject.

For the record, I could have objected to the strategy to market The Sex Club as a Jackson story. Amazon is very concerned with my input and involves me in all decisions. But I trust them to know what they’re doing. And I’ve felt guilty about moving the book since I made the change.

The Sex Club is different from the others. I wrote it as a standalone with two main characters, one a nurse and the other a homicide detective. So it’s little different from my other police procedurals. But I knew I might bring Jackson back. And for readers who like to start at the beginning of a character’s development, it’s only fair they know about the first book. (Which I’ve tried to do anyway by including phrases like “featuring Detective Jackson” in my marketing text.)

So Sex is back. And it’s a good thing. 🙂

 

Strange Email From Amazon

Sorry, but I need to vent a little. An recent email from Amazon had this to say:

During a quality assurance review of your title, we have found the following issue(s): Typos have been found in your book. For example:

  • “blond hair off” should be “blonde hair off”
  • “teen-agers thought” should be “teenagers thought”

Please look for the same kind of errors throughout and make the necessary corrections to the title before republishing it.

Seriously? Of all the millions of books out there—many of which have never been edited—they find fault with blond instead of blonde? And teen-agers instead of teenagers?

First, editing styles and word-use changes over time. Second, who gives a crap? These are not errors, not compared to some of the stuff I’ve found in my other books. And when I think about some of the manuscripts I evaluated for iUniverse that are now selling on Amazon through KDP, I shudder at the bad grammar, incoherent sentence structure, and lack of punctuation.

So I have to wonder: Why The Sex Club? A book written by a seasoned journalist and edited by a professional? Did some readers complain because they didn’t like the title and content? And did that complaint trigger a “quality assurance review”? Is Amazon just going through the motions to make the complainers happy? For those of you not familiar with my work, the book is a PG mystery.

The upside is that Amazon didn’t necessarily require me to do anything. The email says “before republishing it.” Since I don’t plan to republish it, I think I’m okay to let it go.

But it’s kind of annoying, and it makes me wonder what the heck is going on. I think Amazon is right to conduct quality reviews, and I think it should refuse to publish some of the crap that it does. But its email to me makes no sense at all.

Anyone else had this experience?

Re-Brand Without the Sex

In this rapidly changing industry, writers must adapt on a near-daily basis and continuously search for new ways to reach new readers. In that mode, I’ve decided to re-brand my Detective Jackson series by listing Secrets to Die For as the first book and creating a new cover for it. The old cover was never meant to be the final product, but that’s another subject. Read more

New Level, New Possibilities

workshopI taught my first workshop on Sunday at the Willamette Writers Conference in Portland. And actually got paid. My first paid gig as a speaker! It’s a small thing, yet I feel like I’ve hit a new level as a writer. How it will translate into future success remains to be seen. I got terrific feedback on the workshop, titled Your First Draft Doesn’t Have to Suck and based on blogs I’ve posted Read more

A Publisher, an Agent, and a New Novel

I recently completed my third Jackson story—working title, Thrilled to Death. Most of my early readers think it’s the best Jackson story yet. We’ll see. The first person I sent it to was an editor at Berkley who asked to see in January while I was still writing it. She read the first two stories, The Sex Club and Secrets to Die For, and loved both. But she didn’t think she could sell the edgy, controversial themes to her sales reps. So she reluctantly passed, but said, “Please send me the next Jackson story and anything else you write.”

It feels pretty amazing and exciting to have this direct connection to a publisher. But I keep hearing that I still need an agent. The more I think about it, the more sense it makes. I need someone to read, understand, and represent my entire body of work, including my standalone thriller, The Baby Thief, which features Jackson as a minor character. I also would love to sell my work in other countries. (Wouldn’t we all?)

So I wrote a query and e-mailed it to an agent in the Trident Media Group. She responded the next day, asking to see all three Jackson manuscripts. I like her already, because she’s interested in the series from the beginning and wants to see the body of work. She also has extensive foreign rights experience. This could be great.

But I’m not holding my breath. I’ve signed with great agents and had one call me and say, “I’ll have an offer for you next week,” then have it fall though. I’m not counting on Berkley either. She’s turned me down twice. So the queries will keep going out.

I feel like I have a new momentum though that’s different this time. Once the next book comes out in September, I’ll feel like I actually have a little street cred too. I can’t wait for that. Come on Echelon Press!

So now I’m working on a fourth Jackson story, Passions of the Dead: The outline is complete, and I have a thousand words on the page. I’m trying a slightly new structure, and I’m excited to write this story.

Here’s the first paragraph:
Jolie’s first hint that today would be worse than most was missing the homeless vet on the corner of 7th and Washington. She always handed a dollar out the window to the old guy with no teeth as she approached the intersection on her way to work. Sometimes when the light was green, it was tricky, because the person behind her got impatient and honked. But Jolie didn’t care. Giving away the dollar had become a talisman that she hoped would keep more shitty things from happening to her.

Does it make you want to keep reading?

Status Update

I started a job last week at the Register Guard, our local paper. I’m writing features for the special sections (supplements to the paper with titles like Home & Garden and Tastings). It’s 19 hours a week with no benefits, but I am truly grateful to have a steady source of income. And so far, I like it a lot.

I hit 52,000 words on my third Detective Jackson story today and am on track to finish the first draft by mid-March as planned. I’m excited about how this story is turning out; it’s richer and more complex than I first imagined it to be.

The Sex Club will soon be available as an e-book from Echelon Press. I’m excited to make this story available to a much broader range of readers.

I entered one of my novels, The Baby Thief, into the Amazon Breakthrough Novel contest. I rarely enter contests, but decided there wasn’t any reason not to. There’s no fee, and it’s an upload submission so there’s no mailing costs either. What the heck?

What’s your status? Share your news!

Podcasting with NetDrag

My podcasting venture has begun. I had a conversation last weekend with Ken Lewis, who is the police chief of Rogue River, Oregon; the author of the mystery/suspense novel, Little Blue Whales; and the host of NetDrag, a podcast featuring crime writers. It was a great conversation (although I sound like I have a little marble under my tongue) and those who have listened said they loved it.

We talked about mystery conferences, Oregon writers, THE SEX CLUB, and the difficulties of finding a publisher if your story has young victims or deals with controversial issues. Ken gave my detective an 8 (out of 10) for believability, and that’s high praise coming from a police officer. He also said my story/mystery stumped him and that he felt Detective Jackson’s bafflement and anguish every step of the way.

Check it out here: NetDrag

I was a little nervous about being recorded, but the conversation was so relaxed and enjoyable, I soon forgot about that. For the mechanics of it, we both called in to a service that he’s subscribed to that records the conversations and allows him to make minor edits.

My next step is to do my own podcasting by recording the first chapter of THE SEX CLUB and making it available. I have everything in place but the time.

New Day, New Goals

Last January, I set two main goals for the year: 1) establish a freelance fiction editing business and 2) write and sell a second Detective Jackson novel. With the help of a layoff from my job, I sort of accomplished the first. And yesterday, I signed with Echelon Press to publish Secrets to Die For next September, so I can happily check off the second goal.

And I did it with two months to spare, so now I can write like crazy on the third Jackson story during November, also known as National Novel Writing Month. I don’t expect to finish the novel in 30 days, but if I have 30,000 words down by December, I’ll be very happy. (And yes, technically it’s a new goal.)

I’ve also come to accept the idea that the publishing industry is moving—slowly—away from paper products. In fact, I bought a Kindle the other day (I still have a credit card!), something I never thought I would do. (It hasn’t arrived, so I can’t report on it yet, but I will eventually.) So now I’m thinking seriously about nonpaper media, with ideas such as 1) creating an audio version (podiobook) of The Sex Club, 2) creating a downloadable e-book of a story I wrote years ago and never tried to sell, and 3) podcasting the first chapter of several of my stories. All viable projects—all time consuming. But I have two months to spare this year, so why not branch out?

Everything You Always Wanted to Know About The Sex Club

This morning I participated in my first discussion with a mystery book club, the Rocky Mountain Readers of Colorado Springs. It was great fun, and would only have been better if I could have met these delightful women in person. I’ll recap our discussion of THE SEX CLUB here:

How did you come to write this story?
My stories always reflect issues, events, or cultural changes that are currently on my mind. In this case, there were several. First, years ago there was the news of a large group of middle school students spreading syphilis among themselves and engaging in orgies. This rather shocked me, and I’m not easily shocked. Then our own government starting spending taxpayers’ money to teach abstinence-only sex education. Which seemed like such a bad idea. Then there’s my own personal belief that trying to suppress sex among teenagers (or any group) will almost always backfire. And, in general, I had noticed a rise in violence among teenage girls. I kept thinking about these events/issues and wondering if they were connected or how I could connect them to create a compelling story.

Why did you pick THE SEX CLUB as a title?
This subject has generated more discussion than anything else about the book. As I was writing the story, which I had yet to name, Kera at one point referred to the group of sexually active girls as “the sex club.” And I had one of those moments and thought “That’s it. That the right name.” My husband had doubts, but I didn’t listen to him. (Rarely do.) I admit, the marketer in me thought the name would grab readers’ attention. But as it turns out, some mystery readers are not crazy about the name, and the women in this group said they were embarrassed about asking for the book in the library and bookstore. But they all loved it, anyway.

Who did the orange panties belong to?
I love it when readers pay attention to all the little details and want to know how every piece of the evidence plays into the story. So I’m careful not to leave loose ends. But in reality, that sometimes happens in police work, and some questions are never answered. But I won’t provide an explanation here, because some of you (actually, millions of you) haven’t read the book yet.

Was the mayor telling the truth?
This would be a major spoiler for the uninitiated, and I purposely left this ambiguous in the story so readers could decide for themselves. Cleary, it made no difference in terms of his punitive consequences, and this is often how our judicial system works.

In the next story, do Kera and Jackson get to have sex?
You will simply have to read the next Detective Jackson story, SECRETS TO DIE FOR, to find out. (But keep in mind the name of my last novel.)

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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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