Sunday Smatterings

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Hello, chickens! I snuck away to Colorado this week to visit my parents and get a bunch of words done. There is nothing better than writing in the mountains. I am always über productive while I'm here. Maybe it's the thinner air. I miss darling husband and the minions, but I've also gotten to see my brother and nephews, and hopefully there will be a niece sighting as well. Golf, too. Gotta have some time on the links. 


Speaking of links... Here's the latest news and bookish goodness!

Here's what happened on the Internets this week: 

Apple Unveils New Book App. Go Apple Go! You all know by now that I am an agnostic book buyer, spreading the love across digital platforms, indie bookstores, and chains. Hope this new app will help Apple keep gaining ground! (And maybe they'll add support for audiobooks to the Apple Watch... just sayin')  

8 Crime Novels Of Women Starting Over - Crime Fiction as a Safe Space to Imagine Change. "Crime fiction is the perfect safe space for me to explore my own growth and transformation. The characters are often similar to myself, or a close friend, or my neighbor across the street, or a woman I used to work with. It allows me to envision what would happen if I, too, dared to change something major in my life—including the consequences of making those decisions—without having to actually change anything at all."


Digital Wellness for Grown Ups. As usual, Cal Newport speaks sense. I admit I use an app to help me turn off my internet (Freedom) but I also do have the strength of will to set down my phone and pick up a book. You do, too!


The 25 Best New Books to Put in Your Beach Bag This Summer. Fun list! I'm especially looking forward to Girls' Night Out, Give Me Your Hand, and When Life Gives You Lululemons... Assistant Leigh plans on reading The Kiss Quotient this weekend and has When Katie Met Cassidy and The Incendiaries on her radar.


A Peculiar Audacity. A good lesson: you are the steward of you career. Don’t let it happen to you; make it happen for you. When we creatives allow other teammates to make decisions for us, bad things can happen.


Here’s how the Queen uses her royal iPad. To watch foalings, natch.


12 Books That Could Be This Summer's 'Gone Girl'. I want them alllll!

And closer to home:

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Have you missed the most recent A WORD ON WORDS? Last week's interview with Anna Quindlen was joyous, exciting, moving, and smart. Exit West with Mohsin Hamid was an incredibly thought-provoking interview that I know you're going to love! 

That's all for now! Take a hike, eat some watermelon, and we'll talk again soon.


Friday Reads

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June is flying by and I hope it's included plenty of good books, whether in the comfort of your home, at the pool, or on a memorable vacation. 

What are you reading this weekend?

Sunday Smatterings

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Hello, chickens! Happy Father's Day to my daddy, and all the other awesome dads out there!

What a week we've had. Assistant Leigh and I have been cooking up lots of social media goodness, I made some decent strides on the Brit in the FBI book, and the secret project I've been working on over the weekends is almost ready to announce. And then there was the great spider invasion of 2018. 

I hate spiders. They're my kryptonite. And there is a size and situational threshold that I take very seriously. I know they do good, and if they're outside and not attacking me, they get left alone. But when they're the size of half dollars and perched in my foyer? Oh hells no.

It all started when husband said "Wow, this is a big spider. And you know it's big if I say it's big." Then, thwack! and "Babe, bring me a paper towel."

I, approaching with trepidation, arriving with the savior paper towel to see a monstrous THING on the floor... and tons of tiny dots surrounding it. And then they started to MOVE. Yes, it was a mom with her babies -- and yes, I know, but IN MY HOUSE!

Took a good ten minutes of smashing and thwacking to restore order. Husband, nonplussed, went to bed, and I was about to join him when Jameson started pouncing on something. Assuming it was more babies, I approached with a shoe, only to see a brown recluse. Um, no. Husband thundered down the stairs in response to my screams and dispatched the beast. Nightmare scenario for this arachnophobe. 

And five minutes ago, the cats were playing with something that turns out to be another, smaller recluse. So they're in the house, and there's more than one, and I am freaking out. I may work at a cafe today. I mean, really. 

So on that cheery note, on to the links... Here's the latest news and bookish goodness!

Here's what happened on the Internets this week:

Why It's Important To Work Hard. Hint: it’s not all about getting rich. Being fulfilled, knowing you've done your best, given it your all, is so satisfying.


Focus Starts With Self-Care and Unplugging. I love my Freedom app— and Leesa Renee Hall speaks a lot of truth about how to keep yourself focused, and why you should.


Speaking of focus and discipline, my coauthor Catherine Coulter expressed it perfectly this week:

“I was thinking about discipline and realized you really can't succeed without it. For example, writing, dancing, accounting, preaching, exercise -- anything you name -- you have to be disciplined and discipline means you must do the activity at the same time every single day (or let's get real and say 5 or 6 days a week -- I write 5 days a week and only on weekends when there's a deadline.) So if you want to have the chance to be great at your chosen metier OR if you want to have a fit healthy bod, then you must be disciplined and that means being scheduled. Never forget, you control the horizontal and the vertical, no one else.”


Soy Is Not A Health Food. Important piece by Randy Ellison. Full disclosure, the gentleman with the byline is my husband, and I have witnessed this firsthand. As a GF/celiac myself, I have to say soy and it's byproducts are our next true health crisis. 


The Kids Are Writing School Shooting Fiction. "There, on a site usually dedicated to painting innocent fantasies about being Harry Styles’s girlfriend, teens and preteens are living through a culture so dominated by guns that fears of their schools going on lockdown and fantasies of martyring themselves to save their friends have seeped into the stories they tell."


Work It: Prioritizing Your Life. I absolutely LOVE this conversation about boundaries and saying no. My default answer for the rest of the year is NO.


17 F*cks You Should Finally Stop Giving When You're A Grown And Mature Person. A-f*cking-men.


My Number One Productivity Tip. Simple but great advice. When I worked I used to do this -- when I travel I always do this. One less important decision to make. What’s yours?


An Eater’s Guide to Nashville. There are a lot of inside jokes in Nashville, but one is about the restaurant scene. People ask what is our favorite or the best restaurant in town, and we all look around and shrug, say well, I don't know, I never go downtown. (Downtown Nashville is a pain to reach for a casual night out, traffic, crowds, tourists, make it really difficult.) So if you're coming to town, here's a list!

And closer to home:


Enter to win a copy of LIE TO ME, plus more than 45 crime fiction thrillers! That's not enough? BookSweeps is giving away an ereader too. We're in such good company here. Good luck! 

And the June newsletter went our Thursday night, with a fun recipe and other goodies. If you don't have it, check your spam filters, and if you want it, you can sign up here.

That's all for now! Run through a sprinkler, drink some lemonade and watch the fireflies, and we'll talk again soon.


1 Comment

J.T. Ellison

New York Times bestselling author J.T. Ellison writes dark psychological thrillers starring Nashville Homicide Lt. Taylor Jackson and medical examiner Dr. Samantha Owens, and pens the Nicholas Drummond series with #1 New York Times bestselling author Catherine Coulter. Cohost of the premier literary television show, A Word on Words, Ellison lives in Nashville with her husband and twin kittens.

For more insight into her wicked imagination, join J.T.’s email list at, or follow her online at or on Twitter @thrillerchick.

Friday Reads

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Happy Friday, y'all! It's time once again to chat about what we're reading. 

What are you reading this weekend?

How an Author Chooses What to Write Next


I’ve been in a strange sort of limbo for the past few years. My last 4 solo books were planned and written a couple of years prior to release. NO ONE KNOWS was five years in the making, LIE TO ME was started back in 2014. FIELD OF GRAVES I obviously wrote ten years ago, as it was my first, and the new novel, TEAR ME APART, was originally conceptualized in 2011, replanned in 2016, and brought to life during a brief writing stint last year. 

Add in a Catherine book every year since 2012, and the long-standing Sam book to follow up WHAT LIES BEHIND (which is still sitting in its Scrivener file with 15,000 words written), it’s been a long while since I’ve had to develop and plan for a new novel. 

(Yes, I do plan to finish the Sam book, and yes, Taylor is in it. I swear to you, it will happen, and soon.)

I thought for the longest time I would write a standalone or two then dive back into my franchise series, but I’m finding the standalone world quite seductive. There are pros and cons to series and standalone writing — mainly, the challenge with a standalone is developing an entire world construct and wrapping all the threads versus the series in which your world is already built and it becomes a bit like paint by numbers, plugging in new plots to people who are already established. One is not better than the other; in my mind, they’re both fun.

But since I’m writing a big international series with Catherine, it’s been easier to write standalones on my own. I have another series idea. And another series idea. And a few more book ideas based on previous characters who’ve appeared in novels and short stories. All of these have been in the idea file for years, though. 

Full circle back to what’s possibly next: 

I was watching International House Hunters this morning, and the family was moving to Surrey, England, so the husband could teach at a private all-girls school. The building was so charming, with its Gothic spires and red brick front, my latent brain starting churning. 

I like the idea of doing something totally new, fresh, different. Something I plotted recently… Perhaps…

A boarding school. Dark. Gothic. Nasty. I kinda like the sound of that.

I’ve ALWAYS wanted to write a boarding school novel. I went to an all women’s college that required the students (except Prime Time—older/married students coming back to school) to live on campus. We lived behind the “Red Brick Wall” and our buildings were attached by covered trestle bridges, so we could literally move from dorm room to class room to dining hall without ever going outside. The school was haunted, as all good boarding schools must be. We even had a staircase painted blood red, because legend had it a girl died in the stairwell and they couldn’t get her blood out of the concrete, so they painted it to match.


The moment the show was over, I opened my Day One app, titled a Story Idea entry (this is how I file ideas and things that don’t have titles), and pulled a plot out of thin air that actually might have promise. It will take a lot of work, but I may have a line on my next book. And in the subsequent days, bits and pieces are floating toward me out of the ether. It's cray cray.

Interestingly, the last time I had a "gut feeling" about a novel like this, I felt compelled to write a haunted house book set in Scotland, and I ended up with WHERE ALL THE DEAD LIE... 

So… since this is getting to be an actual possibility, a little help please? What’s your favorite boarding school novel?