Daily Tao ☯ 7.25.17

OK, I’ve been terrible about the Daily Tao. You get in a habit, then you get out of the habit, and boom — no blogs for a week.

But here I am. 

And there were words today.

They happened late. They happened unexpectedly. And there were a lot of them. I don’t know what, exactly, broke the drought, but 2700 in 2 hours later, I could have cried in relief.

A week of no writing freaks me out. A day here, a day there, eh, that’s the nature of the beast. But a week of staring at the page means something is wrong. Oddly, while there's usually a simple reason for this--the story is going in the wrong direction--that wasn't the case. The story is fine. The characters are fine. The setting and timing - all fine.

It was just me. 

So many changes in the house, so many boxes and bags and worry and selections and phone calls and email (much more of that than I'm used to, too), planning for birthdays and vacations and conferences and tours, editing secret projects, dealing with a kitten who got into some chicken, to which she’s allergic, and vet visits for steroids and antihistamines, shows to prep for, family and friends and gym visits, and, and, and…

I think there’s just been too much noise around.

And I have to forgive myself for that. Because, sometimes, despite your best efforts, life happens. It happens around you, in you, and to you.

So. Chicken stew on the stove, a non-itchy kitten, boxes broken down and in my trunk, paintings hung, laundry finished. 

And words, written.

I feel like I can finally breathe again.

Sweet dreams!

Sunday Smatterings

Sunday Smatterings 7.23.17

Hey, y'all! How's tricks? The Ellison house is trying to stay cool during the heat wave, and thankfully that's more possible now that our air-conditioner is fixed...er...completely replaced. Yes, our 30-year-old unit took one look at the heatwave and said, no, nope, no way and quit. Oh, the joys of Tennessee summertime... 

Got a bit of writing done on the new Brit in the FBI book, though not as much as I wanted. But like I said, hitting a rough patch at this stage of the book, a quarter of the way through, is normal for me. Sometimes you just have to buckle down and write through it anyway. It's not fun, by any stretch, but as a professional, sitting down and doing the work is something I have to do. The end result will be worth it, and I think you're all going to love this book. Plus I get to go on vacation soon, a proper one, something I haven't done in a couple of years. That's a nice light at the end of the tunnel.

Anyway. It's been a while since we've had a Sunday Smatterings, so without further ado...


Here's what happened on the Internets this week:

BLAME, the stunning new thriller from Jeff Abbott. Y'all, do yourselves a favor and pick up a copy of my buddy Jeff Abbott's latest novel, BLAME. It's a five-star read!

10 Writing Rules You Can (and Should) Break. Amen. What makes your writing yours is how you break the rules.

Revered and Feared in the Book Review. "A good murder novel, she once wrote, can be 'a portal to a wider world.' Here she is literally at home among them, windows into alternate realities as familiar and vital to her as they can be strange and sinister to others."

Should You Make Your Book Available for Pre-Order? I, along with 13 other authors, weigh in.

The Handmaid's Tale: How to Soundtrack a TV Show Set in Silence. If you haven't seen the TV adaptation of Margaret Atwood's THE HANDMAID'S TALE, trust me when I say the soundtrack of the show is sheer brilliance. I enjoyed this peek into the creative minds behind it.

Emma Watson Interviews Margaret Atwood on "The Handmaid's Tale." Speaking of tapping creative minds, Hermione Granger interviewed the author herself. The meeting of these two smart, savvy women is so enjoyable!

The Golden Age of Bailing. "Technology makes it all so easy. You just pull out your phone and bailing on a rendezvous is as easy as canceling an Uber driver.... But we should probably make bailing harder."


And closer to home:

This week, not only did we receive a wonderful starred PW review (!), I announced dates and locations for the LIE TO ME tour! I'm heading to some new places on tour this time. Am I going to be near you? If not, never fear: I have a LiveSigning planned on September 21! What's a LiveSigning, you ask? It'll be a live streaming video where I'll sign books on camera, talk about LIE TO ME, and answer your burning questions—just like a regular bookstore signing. And guess what? You can get yourself an autographed book and submit a question before the livecast! Want to learn more? Details here.

New J.T. story: THE ENDARKENING. Have you read my latest short story? It's the perfect ebook read for a plane ride or a day at the beach. Especially if you're into sexy Scottish Highlanders...

JUDAS KISS is only $0.99 until tomorrow! If you've never read Taylor's 3rd book, now's your chance to get the ebook for a bargain.


That's it from me! Y'all enjoy a lazy summer day or two, binge-watch something good, be safe in the heat, and we'll talk again soon.

xo,
J.T.

Daily Tao ☯ 7.20.17

Inexplicably grumpy today. You know how that is — nothing’s wrong, but you’re still meh. Wrote some, went to the gym, ate a lovely spinach salad, planned out the next week in the bullet journal. Wrote some more, but nothing was clicking. Finally gave up and right now I’m watching Barnwood Builders. They’re rebuilding cabins in Gatlinburg, resurrecting homes from the ashes of the 2016 fires. 

I am in the mood to chuck it all and buy a cabin in the woods somewhere, go totally off grid. A tempting thought, but what’s the real emotion behind it?

Usually, wanting to disappear into the fabric of the world means I’ve hit one of my three turning points of a novel. And sure enough, when I checked, the word count says I’ve just passed the quarter of the way spot, and I almost always, always get malaise about the book at this point. It’s part of my process. It’s a bloody annoying part of my process. And I get stubborn about things. The ideas and outline say to go one way, and my gut is telling me to go elsewhere. It’s frustrating as all get out.

This is actually an important lesson, should you be interested. Many writers peel away from a story at this point, especially new writers. The excitement of beginning makes way for the slow drudge of the middle acts—and trust me, the writing of middle acts is always a drudge—and suddenly, the shiny, fun concept you’ve been working on tarnishes.

The professional writer recognizes this for what it is. Resistance. For me, it always comes at the 25K mark. The book is just beginning to show its personality, becoming its own entity instead of what I’d originally imagined, and I, writer extraordinaire, want to run for the hills. How could I have thought this idea had merit? How could I think this storyline would work? 

This is the time to buckle down and power through. At 30k, things will smooth out. I know this. I’ve done this a few times before. Doesn’t mean it ever gets easier. And there are more all is lost moments ahead. 50K, 75K, both are always problems spots for me. Plus, I feel the grains of deadline sand slipping inexorably away.

And yet, somehow, someway, I’ll find the thread again. I always do.

Methinks I need a vacation — a real one, with a beach and umbrella drinks and books galore. But I haven’t earned it yet, so back to the keyboard I go. I have a show to tape in the morning, and then it’s plug away and find the thread that’s currently eluding me. I will figure this out by the weekend. I will!

Sweet dreams!

Daily Tao 7.18.17 and Tour News!

Quick shout out tonight — we are prepping for what’s termed “styling day” which, if you watch any home design shows, is the day they move all the furniture and hang all the art and make a nest look like a showcase. We are super excited, and hopefully by this time tomorrow my living room and master bedroom will look more elegant and chic! Pics to come, natch!

Managed to write some, which is miraculous considering the chaos right now, and Amy and I had our first staff meeting post-vacay. I was very proud we only ran over by 30 minutes. I'm telling you, we are seriously efficient chicks, especially when the To-Do list is 2 hours long.

Some more fun news—the LIE TO ME Tour is set! Catherine has a 250 mile rule, if you’re within 250 miles you have to show up for her events. I won’t enforce that, but it would be lovely to see you on the road. I'm so excited about these dates! We'll have all the final deets in the next couple of weeks, but I wanted to put these visits on your radar now.

LIE TO ME tour


September will be here before you know it... #lietomeiscoming

Sweet dreams, chickens!

Daily Tao ☯ 7.17.17

And… we’re back! Did you have a fabulous couple of weeks? We did. Amy had a blast on her travels, I got a ton of writing done, and now we’re back to regularly scheduled programming, albeit it with a bit of fantastic news to kick off the week:

LIE TO ME received a Starred Publisher’s Weekly review today!

★ Publishers Weekly

Successful authors Ethan and Sutton Montclair, the married couple at the heart of this exceptional domestic thriller from bestseller Ellison (No One Knows), lead a relatively quiet life in Franklin, Tenn., where they each work on their respective books. Then Ethan wakes up one morning to discover a note from Sutton telling him that she needs some time away and doesn’t want him looking for her. Distraught, Ethan contacts Sutton’s mother and her friends, yet all of them claim not to know where she is. When Ethan finally decides to get the police involved in searching for Sutton, he falls under suspicion. Witnesses claim that Ethan physically abused Sutton and was even responsible for the death of their infant son. Might Ethan, emotionally devastated as he appears, be a psychopathic killer? Ellison keeps the suspense high with chapters from the point of view of someone very evil. The person responsible for Sutton’s disappearance remains a mystery right up to the surprising finale. This standalone may be Ellison’s best work to date.

I cried. Of course I cried. A — it’s an incredible review. B — sometimes, you don’t believe what the people around you are saying, and you need affirmation from an anonymous stranger. Isn’t that how art works?

The hardest part for me is always when the book is no longer mine, and it’s gone out into the world to belong to others. You hope and pray it stands up straight, showers daily, puts on fresh underwear in case there’s an accident, comports itself with compassion and grace, doesn’t get drunk and fall down and skin its knee, but you never know what’s going to happen.

So I was incredibly excited when I saw the review. And then I opened my laptop and wrote, because the only way to deal with good news is to remember the way the good news came about, which is hard work. But all day, I kept looking at that star with a secret smile. I put myself out there with this one. It's the book of my heart, and to have this recognition means everything to me. 

Later, we celebrated as we do, with GF pizza and excellent champagne, and the last episodes of House of Cards and The Handmaid’s Tale. All in all, it was a perfect day. 

So all is right in my world at the moment. 

Now, I have a favor. There’s an incredible book about to make its debut in the world tomorrow. It’s called BLAME, and it’s by a good friend of mine, Jeff Abbott. I would have been sharing this news with you regardless, but I’m banging the drum a bit harder than usual because the Abbotts lost their house to a terrible fire last week, and the only thing I can do to help is spread the word. Supporting an artist in his time of need is the most worthy cause. You can get BLAME everywhere fine books are sold. Jeff's signing at Book People tomorrow night, so you can even get one personalized and shipped. Click here for more info!

Here’s what I had to say about it -- I give it 5 Stars!

“BLAME is a masterful suspense novel, full of dread, lies, and deceptions. Abbott is one of our finest writers, and BLAME takes his talents to new levels. Sinister and twisting, this is hands-down the best book you’ll read — and re-read — this year. Absolutely top-notch.”

Have a fabulous evening, chickens! It's good to be back.