|Posted by Liz Strange on August 31, 2012 at 9:25 AM|
The Jackson Series’ Great Comeback
Dying for Justice, the fifth book in the Detective Jackson series, is now the top-rated crime fiction on Amazon—but I almost abandoned this novel before I wrote it.
In early 2010, when I plotted the story, I had to decided to give up the series because it was floundering under a small publisher. I thought if I could launch a new series with a new character and new publisher, I might be able to save my career. So I mapped out a plot in which Detective Evans, one of Jackson’s sidekicks, was the lead character with Jackson as a strong secondary character—hoping my readers would come along with the new series.
Then everything changed. My husband and I were laid off our jobs (again!), e-books started to take off, and I re-envisioned my novelist career. I set this story aside to rewrite two standalone thrillers and publish them on Kindle, then to regain the rights to my other Jackson novels and self-publish them as well. That took six months.
In October, my series became a bestseller on Kindle and readers were asking for more Jackson novels. At that point, I was ready to start writing again. After reading through my outline for the Evans-based story, I decided I really liked the plot and would go ahead and write it, giving the two detectives equal POV roles.
Dying for Justice went on to become my readers’ favorite and my highest-rated story. It also launched the Evans character who later took a starring role in The Gauntlet Assassin. So here’s an excerpt to the Jackson story that almost didn’t make it to publication, but I’m so glad it did.
Sunday, September 5, 8:05 a.m.
Gina opened her eyes, taking in the white blanket and blue-scrub nurse. Her first thought was: This is a hospital. Her second thought was: Someone tried to kill me. She wanted to speak but her throat was dry. “Water, please,” she managed to say, sounding weak and scratchy.
The nurse jumped, eyes popping open in surprise. She fumbled in her pocket for a cell phone and ran from the room. Gina wanted to call after her but she had no strength. She’d been half-awake off and on for what seemed like weeks, but this was the first time someone was in the room when she had the clarity and strength to speak. How long had she been in the hospital?
The nurse returned after a few minutes with more medical people—a woman in a white doctor’s coat and a man in a suit. The nurse offered Gina some water, and the woman in white said, “I’m Dr. Ellison. Do you know where you are?”
“Not exactly.” The doctor smiled gently.
A wave of apprehension rolled over Gina.
“This is a long-term care facility.”
Dread seeped into her fragile bones. “How long have I been here?”
The doctor hesitated. “Two years.”
Two years? Gina closed her eyes. No. This was just another strange dream. She’d had a lot of unpleasant dreams lately.
“Gina, stay with us.”
The voice sounded real. The blanket between her fingers felt soft, textured, and real. The feeding tube in her belly ached with real pain. Gina opened her eyes again. “Two years?” She remembered being forty-four. That would make her forty-six now.
“I know this is difficult to process, but the important thing is that you survived. And now you’re awake.” The doctor kept smiling.
A terrifying memory flooded Gina’s senses, making her heart pound. The masked man had been in her dreams sometimes, but this was different. Gina practiced the words in her head first, then struggled to say, “He tried to kill me.”
The group at her beside registered a collective look of surprise, followed by disbelief. Again, the doctor was the first to speak. “Your file says you took an overdose of Valium and Demerol. Do you remember that?”
“No.” Gina shook her head. Her brain felt fuzzy, as if she were about to drift off, but she desperately wanted to say something. “I was attacked.”
The medical people looked at each other, puzzled. The man in the suit said, “There’s no record of that in your file.”
The nurse gently touched Gina’s arm. “Would you like me to call the police?”
Gina would have laughed but she didn’t have the energy. Two years had passed and the bastard would likely get away with it. Was anything left of her life out there? Despair washed over her and she fought back tears. “Yes. Call the cops.”
“I’ll do it now.” The nurse left the room.
The man in the suit followed, saying, “Let’s keep this low-key.”
Gina fought to stay awake. She’d been asleep for so long. Yet a wave of fog rolled over her and she drifted. Before she went under again, a small piece of her life before this room bubbled to the surface. She’d been compiling evidence against her soon-to-be-ex-husband. What had happened to her notebook?
L.J. Sellers writes the bestselling Detective Jackson mystery/thriller series as well as provocative standalone thrillers. Her novels have been highly praised by Mystery Scene, Crimespree, and RT Reviews, and the Jackson books are Kindle bestsellers as well as top-ranked novels. L.J. is also an award-winning journalist who earned the Grand Neal in trade magazines. When not plotting crime stories, she enjoys performing standup comedy, cycling, social networking, and attending mystery conferences.