Wednesday, September 18, 2013

L.J. Sellers - An Interview in the HBS Author's Spotlight

Today our blog puts the Spotlight on bestselling Author L.J. Sellers. She is the author of the Detective Jackson Mystery/Suspense Series. Also, she is an award-winning journalist.

Author Genre: Mystery, Thriller & Suspense- Police Procedurals

Website: L.J. Sellers - Author of provocative mysteries & thrillers
Author's Blog: L.J. Sellers
Twitter: @LJSellers
Goodreads: Check Out Goodreads
Facebook: Check Out Facebook
Pinterest: Check Out Pinterest

Author Description:
L.J. Sellers is an award-winning journalist and the author of the bestselling Detective Jackson mystery/thriller series: THE SEX CLUB, SECRETS TO DIE FOR, THRILLED TO DEATH, PASSIONS OF THE DEAD, DYING FOR JUSTICE, LIARS, CHEATERS & THIEVES and RULES OF CRIME. Her novels have been highly praised by Mystery Scene, Crimespree, and Spinetingler magazines, and the Detective Jackson series is the highest-rated crime fiction on Amazon. L.J. also has three standalone thrillers: THE BABY THIEF, THE GAUNTLET ASSASSIN, and THE LETHAL EFFECT. When not plotting murders, she enjoys performing standup comedy, cycling, social networking, and attending mystery conferences. She's also been known to jump out of airplanes.

SPOTLIGHT Questions and Answers with the Author

Let’s start with what’s next. Rumor has it that you have another book on the horizon called The Trigger. Can you tell us the timeline for its release and give us a little tease?

The Trigger features Agent Jamie Dallas, who I introduced in Crimes of Memory (Jackson #8) coming out October 15. The Trigger releases January 1, and I hope it will be the first book in a new series. I’m hosting a huge launch day contest with a trip to Left Coast Crime as the main prize.

As for the story, here’s the short blurb: Agent Dallas goes undercover in a prepper compound to find a missing woman and discovers its leaders have a plan to trigger a social meltdown—but can she stop it? For more detail and an excerpt, see my website,

You have a great following on twitter. How important have your social media relationships been? Do you see a carry over to your writing success?

I built my readership mostly by networking on social media and attending reader conferences. Amazon’s algorithm played a part too, but I started with one book and a blog (Write First, Clean Later) in late 2007. Readers are people, and I’ve met them one at a time—online, in bookstores, at conferences, and in grocery stores. I love connecting with people, and it has been a big part of my success. I’m lucky and grateful to be an extrovert.

Do you do book signings, interviews, speaking and personal appearances? If so, when and where is the next place where your readers can see you? Where can they keep up with your personal contacts online?

I do interviews with just about anyone who asks (like this one!), and I participate in two local book-selling events where I meet readers and sign books. I also attend at least two mystery-reader conventions a year and make myself as available to readers as I can. I keep a calendar of my public events on the right column of my blog, and I post about them on Facebook and Twitter.

You have great covers. They carry a theme and your brand with them. How does your book cover creation process work? Do you hand over the basic theme or do you have more of a hands-on approach? Do you get your readers involved in its development?

Thanks for saying that! I’ve worked directly on my covers, both as an indie author and as a Thomas & Mercer author. I like to think the bold single-image designs support my brand tag—author of provocative mysteries & thrillers. I do have a hands-on approach and spend hours searching for the image I want to use. For indie books, I send those to my graphic artist and give her some suggestions for cropping and placement. But she’s terrific and creative and knows that if she has a better idea that I want to see it. The Trigger cover was my idea, but Gwen came up with putting the explosion in the title, and it’s brilliant. So far, I haven’t involved my readers in the development of my covers—it’s too complicated as is. But I do involve them in coming up with characters’ names, and I have a big list of beta readers who give me plot feedback.

Several of your novels have been converted into audio books. What has been the impact on your regular sales? Has the audio books gained a new audience?

I just received author copies of a several more books that are now in audio. I honestly have no idea how well they sell. I’m sure it’s on my royalty statements, but I’m not obsessed with numbers. What I do like is making my stories available to as many readers in as many formats as possible.

What writer support groups do you belong to? Do they help with the writing, marketing and the publishing process?

I’m a member of many groups: Sisters in Crime, Mystery Writers of America, International Thriller Writers, and the International Association of Crime Writers. I join mostly to connect with other authors and to stay involved in the crime fiction community. We don’t have any local chapters in Eugene, and I don’t have a critique group, so I participate online and at conferences. ITW offers some promotional opportunities, but other than that, I’m pretty much on my own (as all writers are) for the publishing process. I have a core group of freelancers—editor, ebook formatter, website guy, and graphic designer—who I contract with for services and value highly. But the promotion, I do own my own and/or pay for, with the exception of a nonformal group of thriller writers who help each other on launch days with tweets and Facebook posts.

Has the advent of ebooks changed anything in your writing, your marketing and the relationship with your readers and fans?

Ebooks changed everything! Until I put my books on Kindle, my readership was growing at a snail’s pace, and I spent more money promoting than I earned. Once readers could buy digital versions of my Jackson stories at a reasonable price, they were willing to try them. And they loved them. I started getting good reviews online and good word of mouth and quickly was able to earn a living. My life changed in a huge way for the better. What has changed with readers is that now I have them! And they know where to find me.

What has been your experience in giving your books away free? Have you been involved in any other type of giveaways and how did that work out? What was your main goal in doing this? Did you run into any obstacles?

I’ve been giving away books from the beginning, even when all I had on the market was a single paperback. I sent boxes of paperbacks to give away at conference and I did “buy one get one free” at book-selling events. I’ve also given away thousands of ebooks (and some print)—on Goodreads, LibraryThing, NetGalley, and Amazon. Giving away product samples is a good business practice for almost any industry, and it’s certainly worked well for me. My goal was simply to get readers to try my work. Many of them come back and buy other books.

You have a great blog. You do a great job keeping readers informed, marketing your books and providing useful information to other writers. What is your primary goal? And where in the world do you find the time to create great novels, take care of the social media and maintain your blog?

Thanks! My blogging goals have changed over the years. I started it just to establish an online presence and connect with potential readers. Many of my first followers were other writers, and I shared what I knew and learned about writing, editing, and marketing. Now with my group blog, Crime Fiction Collective, my goal is to be interesting to readers. With my personal blog on my website, my goal is to keep my readers informed about what’s going on with me personally.

What is your method of getting reviews for your novels? Do you seek professional reviews or do you rely on your reading audience to supply them?

I do both. In the past, I’ve sent hundreds of emails to bloggers and reviewers asking if they’d like to consider my novels. With every new book, I send out print and ebook review copies to a core list of about 30 reviewers who have read and praised my work. On my blog and in the back of my ebooks, I encourage readers to post reviews…if they enjoy my stories. And more recently, my books have been posted on NetGalley to reach a wider reviewing audience.

Author's Book List
The Baby Thief
As a thirty-two-year-old, single restaurant manager, Jenna McClure is all too aware of her ticking biological clock. Elizabeth Demauer, a fertility clinic doctor, helps her patients bear children—a joy she can never share. But these two women have more in common than just a yearning for motherhood. When they cross paths, Elizabeth sees not only the sister she never knew existed but the once-in-a-lifetime chance to realize her deepest desire…by any means necessary.

Together with her lover—a rogue physician and charismatic cult leader—Elizabeth masterminds the ultimate theft. But their carefully laid plans could be derailed by Eric Troutman, the heroic reporter who’s fallen in love with Jenna and will stop at nothing to solve her sudden disappearance. And the more his relentless investigation tightens the noose around Elizabeth and David, the more their “victimless crime” threatens to become anything but.

Order the Book From: Amazon - Barnes and Noble
The Lethal Effect
Previously Available as The Suicide Effect

Sula Moreno knows too much. Working in public relations at Prolabs Pharmaceutical, it’s her job to put a positive—and profitable—spin on the company’s products. That includes the exciting new antidepressant Nexapra, the linchpin in a corporate merger that will save the faltering Prolabs from going under. But when Sula discovers the shocking truth about a lethal flaw in the drug, there’s no good way to spin the potential death of millions of consumers.

Karl Rudker, the company’s ruthless CEO, disagrees. To safeguard Prolabs’s bottom line—and his own place at the top—he’ll do whatever’s necessary to keep the facts about Nexapra’s dangerous side effects secret, even if it means putting an end to more than just Sula’s job. And when the only other person who can expose Rudker ends up murdered, Sula knows her boss is playing for keeps. But she also knows taking on her psychopathic superior is the only way to stop a fatal drug from flooding the market…and unleashing a wave of death.

Order the Book From: Amazon - Barnes and Noble
The Gauntlet Assassin
Just over a decade into our future, America is a stricken country where jobs are scarce, health care is a luxury for the wealthy, and hope rides on the annual Gauntlet games—a punishing physical and mental competition where the victor brings not only pride but an economic windfall back to his or her home state.

In the 2023 games, former police detective turned paramedic Lara Evans represents Oregon. But the contest’s notorious obstacles and cutthroat rivalry may be the least of her challenges. After saving a government bureaucrat’s life—and literally dodging a bullet—she finds herself in the crosshairs of a relentless hit man. And when another Gauntlet contestant is murdered, a stroke of bad luck puts Lara on the wrong end of damning evidence.

Still, the games must go on. And with the country, the law, and a killer watching her every move, Lara must use all her strength and savvy to beat the odds, claim the prize, and win back her life in the most dangerous game of all.

Order the Book From: Amazon - Barnes and Noble
Rules of Crime - A Detective Jackson Mystery
When a call from his daughter, Katie, interrupts his much-needed vacation, Detective Wade Jackson knows it’s bad news. As Katie tearfully announces that her mom—Jackson’s ex-wife, Renee—is missing, Jackson suspects alcoholic Renee has climbed back inside the bottle that destroyed their marriage. But the truth is far worse: kidnappers have snatched Renee and are demanding ransom from her wealthy fiancé.

The very same night, someone dumps a savagely beaten University of Oregon coed on the doorstep of the ER. Jackson’s protégé, Detective Lara Evans, must identify the unconscious victim, then track down the assailant with no leads to go on…except the whispered rumor of a secret sorority.

Meanwhile, Eugene’s new FBI liaison, Agent Carla River, takes charge of Renee’s high-tech ransom operation while Jackson comforts his distressed daughter and retraces the steps of the mother she holds dear. But as the rescue takes a deadly twist and the suspects seem willing to let Renee die rather than crack under interrogation, Jackson worries that Katie will never forgive him if her mother is lost forever.

Order the Book From: Amazon - Barnes and Noble
Liars, Cheaters, & Thieves - A Detective Jackson Mystery
Outside a local bar, a man is drugged and slashed to death with a scalpel. Inside a local bank, a woman suffers a fatal heart attack after learning her life savings have been plundered.

The crimes are as different as the night and day they occur. The vicious murder is a case for Eugene’s Violent Crimes Division, but the more Detective Wade Jackson and his homicide team probe into the death of Rafel Mazari—an Iraq War veteran with disturbing secrets—the more it appears that one crime’s victim may be the other’s perpetrator.

While there’s damning evidence that Mazari died at the hands of his cheating wife, a phantom internet veterans’ charity—the same one that wiped out the heart attack victim’s bank account—keeps cropping up at every turn of Jackson’s investigation. And when Mazari’s best friend turns up murdered in identical fashion, Jackson suspects a motive that’s deeper, darker, and more devastating than broken vows and love turned lethal.

Order the Book From: Amazon - Barnes and Noble
Passions of the Dead - A Detective Jackson Mystery
The scene is a bloodbath: Jared and Carla Walker lie brutally bludgeoned and stabbed to death, along with their young son, while their teenage daughter barely clings to life. Detective Wade Jackson’s boss believes a gang of carjackers has graduated to home invasion…and homicide. But there are other suspects in the mix: a bitter brother-in-law convinced the Walkers ripped him off big-time, a young heroin addict in forbidden love with the Walker’s daughter, and the shady former employer who was being blackmailed by Jared Walker.

Still, with only inconclusive forensic evidence and a sole survivor who can’t remember anything, Jackson and his team are getting nowhere fast. And so is Jackson’s personal life—as he duels over money with his alcoholic ex, struggles to raise his teenage daughter, and fights to keep his high-pressure job from destroying his new romance. Add the looming specter of departmental downsizing, and things couldn’t possibly get worse. At least until the only living witness to the massacre vanishes—along with the shocking truth buried in her mind—and the killer follows in hot pursuit.

Order the Book From: Amazon - Barnes and Noble
Thrilled to Death - A Detective Jackson Mystery
Detective Wade Jackson, of Eugene Oregon’s Violent Crimes Division, has more than a professional interest in the disappearance of Danette Blake. In addition to being the mother of an infant, the missing young woman is also the widowed daughter-in-law of Kera Kollmorgan—the woman Jackson loves. But the politics surrounding the mysterious death of Courtney Durham, a notorious party girl with rich, powerful parents, trumps Jackson’s personal concern.

While all signs indicate Danette has fled the pressures of single motherhood, it appears Courtney’s reputation for walking on the wild side led to her homicide. But without evidence of foul play, Jackson may be probing “crimes” that never happened. As headquarters turns up the heat, he follows a trail of twists and turns to a secretive psychiatrist, a sleazy strip-club owner, a benevolent organization for needy mothers, and a bizarre service for edgy thrill-seekers. The deeper he descends into Courtney’s wanton world, the more suspects, motives, and disturbing facts he uncovers. And though it’s hardly the first time a case has led Jackson into dark territory, he winds up face-to-face with the last person he expects.

Order the Book From: Amazon - Barnes and Noble
The Sex Club - A Detective Jackson Mystery
As a nurse and youth counselor at Eugene, Oregon’s Planned Parenthood clinic, Kera Kollmorgan has endured her share of harassment from fanatical abortion foes. But it only strengthens her resolve. Then a bomb blast rips through the clinic and, soon after, a teenage girl Kera recently treated is found naked and murdered in a dumpster. Kera fears the bitter abortion war in her small community has reached a terrifying new level.

The sexualized killing of Jessie Davenport hits close to home for Detective Wade Jackson. Raising his teenage daughter alone, he understands better than anyone the predatory world that threatens young women. But he never expects his grim investigation will lead to a teenage Bible-study club, the dark underside of high school life, and even the halls of political power. Now he must confront two shockingly different suspects with nothing in common—except a taste for sex and violence.

As Jackson’s manhunt intensifies, Kera becomes a marked woman, stalked by a crazed crusader. And when the fates of the detective and nurse intersect, a world of righteous rage, sexual secrecy, and chilling obsession threatens to blow them apart.

Order the Book From: Amazon - Barnes and Noble
Dying for Justice - A Detective Jackson Mystery
Ten years ago, Hector Vargas confessed to the cold-blooded murder of Detective Wade Jackson’s parents. Now, facing his own death, Vargas has reached out from prison to declare his innocence. Armed with the shocking new truth that dirty cops railroaded Vargas, Jackson must revisit the painful past to get justice for his parents—and jail the ruthless killer.

Meanwhile, Gina Stahl awakens from a two-year coma with a chilling message on her lips: He tried to kill me. Now Detective Lara Evans must probe the young woman’s desperate claim that her near death was not failed suicide, but attempted murder.

As their investigations intersect, Jackson tangles with his estranged brother, hunts a loan shark turned philanthropist, and confronts his parents’ long-buried secrets, while Evans contends with a relentless reporter, shadows a fellow cop with a dangerous reputation, and struggles with her feelings for Jackson. But the more dark revelations they make, the deadlier the resistance they face from a killer terrified of losing everything…and willing to stop at nothing.

Order the Book From: Amazon - Barnes and Noble
Secrets to Die For - A Detective Jackson Mystery
When young social worker Raina Hughes arrives at a ramshackle trailer outside of town, she’s on a mission to protect a small boy from abusive parents. But when Detective Wade Jackson arrives at the same location hours later, his mission is far grimmer: investigating Raina’s murder.

The victim’s vicious death is a shocking event for laid-back Eugene, Oregon—and even more chilling when one of Jackson’s fellow officers suspects an elusive rapist whose appetite is turning murderous. Jackson thinks he’s got a tight case against the meth-head dad who menaced Raina, but the evidence seems to leave his suspect in the clear—and a homicidal sex offender still on the loose. What Jackson fears is that his new love affair with nurse Kera Kollmorgan may be knocking him off his game. And what he never expects is to find an ally in savvy reporter Sophie Speranza, who may have stumbled on the killer’s shocking motive. But even as Jackson and Sophie team up to tighten the noose, their quarry zeroes in on his next victim—ready to take his twisted game to the next level.

Order the Book From: Amazon
Author Recommended by: HBSystems Publications
Publisher of ebooks, writing industry blogger and the sponsor of the following blogs:
HBS eBook Author’s Corner
HBS Mystery Reader’s Circle

Check out the index of other Spotlight authors. Spotlight Index.

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