L.J. Sellers is an award-winning journalist, editor, and occasional standup 
comic, based in Eugene, Oregon. She is currently writing a second Detective
Jackson story, Secrets to Die For. When she¹s not plotting murders, Sellers
enjoys hiking or cycling through Oregon¹s beautiful Willamette


A Day in the Life of an Aspiring

L.J. Sellers

9:42 am: As I write page 162, I
realize that an entire investigative thread in my new novel is not quite
logical. And there’s no way to massage it or spin it. So I go back to the
beginning and try to pick out and rewrite every reference to this line of
inquiry. Did I get them all? Or did I leave a little silver of foreign material
that will pop up and irritate readers? Now I have doubts about other plot
threads. So I decide to print out all 162 pages and read through them before
continuing to write the story. How many trees have I killed in my career as a
writer and editor? 

12:29 am: Another writer posts on
my Facebook page, “Congrats on the review in Mystery Scene. ‘A thrilling, eye-opening read.’” I am excited. I
haven’t seen this review, and it will make a great blurb. I search Mystery Scene’s webpage, but I can’t
find the review and I don’t have a copy of the magazine. So everyone in mystery
world knows what this review says, except me. And, of course, I worry that the
one line I know about may be the only positive thing the reviewer said. 

3:10 pm: After months of waiting,
my beta reader sends an e-mail with her feedback on the first 50 pages of my
new story, Secrets to Die For. After
commenting, “This is a very worthy story, a page-turner with great potential,” she says, “Try to
SHOW rather than TELL.” Aaaghhhhh! I
like to think that I live by this ubiquitous writing rule. But now I wonder: Do
I even know what I’m doing? 

6:17 pm: After months of waiting, the
book trailer for my recently published novel, The Sex Club, arrives via e-mail. I excitedly click open the file,
ready to be thrilled and amazed. But no, the trailer is weird and confusing.
The girl in the last scene is at least 20, dark-haired, and kind of heavy. She
doesn’t  even look dead. The victim in my novel is 14 and blond and thin and very
dead. I show the trailer to my husband. He hates almost everything about it and
cannot stop talking about how much he dislikes it. I am crushed. I spent the
last of my promotional money on the trailer, and I counted on it selling a few
books. Now I have to compose an e-mail that diplomatically says, “Start over.”
It takes an hour that I don’t have. 

9:05 pm: I receive an e-mail from a
mystery book club leader named Ruth Greiner, who apparently does have a copy of
the Mystery Scene review and says
she’ll never read The Sex Club no
matter how great all the reviews are. She does not say why, and she does not
have to. Just seeing her name horrified me. The antagonist in The Sex Club is a very nasty woman and
her name is Ruth Greiner. How was I to know? Now I have to write an e-mail that
explains how I chose the name—Ruth is Biblical and strong, Greiner is the name
of a street in my old neighborhood. I also try to carefully expresses my
concern for her feelings, but without admitting any liability. I offer to send
her a free copy of my next novel, then feel lame about it. 

10:16: Yet another fun-filled e-mails arrives. This one is from a local author
whom I met at a book fair and exchanged novels with. He says he’s quite sure
he’ll find a publisher for his new novel and wants to know if I’ll read his
book and write a blub for the front cover. This is the first time anyone has
asked me for a blurb, and I’d like to be excited. I’m flattered that he thinks
I have any clout. But I didn’t get past the first page of his other novel
(which started with a rectal search by a large German woman), and this one, he
says, is much more sexually explicit. How did get so lucky? Oh yea, I wrote a
novel called The Sex Club, so he must
think I’m a sex fiend. (It’s a mystery/thriller, really!) So far, his e-mail is
just sitting there, unanswered. But tomorrow is another day, and I’m a creative
person. I’ll think of something.

So…tell us about YOUR day!




  1. Wilfred Bereswill

    Great blog, L.J.

    It’s maybe some insight as to what might be on the horizon.

    “…which started with a rectal search by a large German woman…”

    Could have been worse.

    which started with a rectal search OF a large German woman

  2. Alexandra Sokoloff

    So great to have you here, LJ. Oh, MAN, can I relate…

    My day yesterday, as many here on Murderati know, was a hellish nightmare of dealing with the book networking site Shelfari, which grabbed my entire AOL address book by default when I joined and proceeded to spam everyone I know with “invitations” – some people got TEN at a time.

    After e mailing every single contact address I could find on Shelfari and getting zero response except for an e mail back from the Tech discussion loop saying “It won’t stop” – I finally called the press number listed on the contact page and left a message threatening legal action if someone didn’t contact me back. That worked fast enough and they SAY they have stopped the invites manually.

    There’s nothing ANYWHERE on the site that gives that instruction as an option.

    I’ve gotten a lot of similar horror stories from other writers in the last few days – not just about Shelfari, but Twitter, Quetchup and, too.

    After dealing with that and all the crazy fallout for the first seven hours of my day, I finally got back to my book which is due in seconds. I was still so angry I couldn’t focus, but then I remembered that line I love from FAME – “Ooooooh, I am SO ANGRY. I must remember this feeling and use it in my acting.”

    I actually had a good writing day, but six hours of writing and SEVEN hours of dealing with predatory internet marketers? Something is wrong with this picture.

    I’m still exhausted this morning.

    I think I will be blogging about it all on Saturday.

  3. Pari Noskin Taichert

    L.J.,Great to have you here at Murderati.

    X,How awful! I’m so sorry you had to deal with those marketers; I’ve heard some really bad things about some of these “networking sites.”

    As to my days, there too damn confusing and unpredicatable — and would take an hour just to put down here (my life is punctuated with children’s needs on top of my own writing . .. )

    But, L.J., your story about Ruth reminded me of a non-encounter with Judy Chicago. I found out about two months ago that she’s furious with me. This info came via a radio interviewer who mentioned me to her and got the response, “I’ll never read her book, not ever!”

    You see, she lives in Belen, NM, and the book I wrote that takes place there also features a famous visual artist. However, Judy Chicago absolutely was NOT the inspiration or the model for the story. Not a whit.


  4. JT Ellison

    Hi LJ — Welcome to Murderati!

    As you can see., you’ve tapped into something we rarely talk about — the few negatives that come along with the wonderful world of being a writer. I think I’ve lucked out, no one who’s read the book has yelled at me. Yet.

    It’s astounding, as always, how much of our time seems to go into non-writing endeavors. When someone figures that part out, will you please post it? I know I keep saying I don’t want to do anything on the computer but write, but the computer is my office, and since this is a business, office things must be dealt with. Saps all the creative energy, I tell you. I’d like to designate a business only day so I can stop worrying about the balance.

    And great job, X! I bet they won’t forget yesterday soon.

  5. ljsellers

    One of my friends on Facebook has posted about taking “electronic fasts.” She claims to get creative boosts and to be re-energized by unplugging from the Internet (and phone?) for 24 hours. I think I’ll try it.

  6. Stacey Cochran

    Hey Alex, I thought it was sort’a weird when I got like four “requests” from you to join Shelfari.

    I was thinking “Man, she’s really excited about this Shelfari thing.”

    Now, I understand.

    Oh and regarding my day… today’s started with a fucking woodpecker literally drilling a hole in the wood siding outside my bedroom window.

    Sounded like a goddamn jack-hammer at 6:35 AM.

    Anybody got a shotgun I can borrow?

  7. JDRhoades

    I’m curious. If these people vow “never to read the book, ever” how do they “know” it’s about them?

    Yooou’re so vaaaain….

    And give ’em hell, Alex!

    Actually, all my Shelfari invites from you (four or five, I think) got shuffled right into the spam filter so I didn’t even notice until you pointed it out.

    “One of my friends on Facebook has posted about taking “electronic fasts.”


  8. Elaine Flinn

    Loved your post, L.J. Ahh…the day in the life of a writer? When I have a day like that – I remember what a NYT writer friend told me when I started out – ‘be careful what you wish for’. 🙂

  9. toni mcgee causey

    I’ve been lucky so far that no one has recognized themselves in Bobbie Faye, and that the names haven’t drawn ire from someone similarly named. That may be in part because no one wants to admit that they think the crazy people in the book may be enough like them for them to be recognizable. (And the other part? I think people sort of like the idea of being larger than life, as long as they’re not the bad guy.) (But some people even like that.)

  10. jeanne Ketterer

    I’m eh about Facebook right now. It’s fun and a good marketing tool, I guess, but right now I just can’t afford another time sink. And all those add on features make me dizzy. So I don’t know how long I’ll be on it. (Although I will admit it was very useful when I asked Dave White if an old hangout was still open. Amazed it is.) When you leave, is your account totally deleted?

    My writing day today? As of 2:19 pm? Typed in file name to be saved. Walked outside for the mail. Walked around the house. And now trying very hard to stay seated for 40 minutes.

    Jeanneeasily distracted today

  11. Fran

    L.J., good to see you here. If any of you have managed to miss her book, ohmygoodness it’s good! Scary in a horribly real-world way, and it still makes me think.

    I always wondered how authors would handle the wierdness of using a name that turns out to be a real person. Who takes it personally, because, of course, they would.

    And you have my sympathy about the blurb. We got a manuscript from a local author who hoped we would read it and pass it along to someone with Influence. None of us could get past the first two pages. It’s a tough situation.


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