Sunday Smatterings

Smatterings - December 16.png

Hello, my friends! Are you braced for the next two weeks of holiday joy? I’ve mailed all but two out of town gifts, and then I’m done. Which is good, because I have this silly thing… oh yeah, the deadline!

Which brings me to exciting news: we have a title for the book! Pretty much the moment I publicly admitted we were struggling, we landed upon one (thanks to my brilliant editor) that we could all agree on. So the September 2019 standalone is…

>>>>>>>>>> GOOD GIRLS LIE <<<<<<<<<<

I’m very excited about this book. The setting is one I’ve always wanted to dive into, an elite private boarding school for girls in the Blue Ridge mountains of Virginia. You may recall that I, too, attended an all girl’s college in Virginia (Randolph-Macon Woman’s College) and I’m having a blast recalling, then deconstructing and embellishing, certain events. As soon as I have some official copy to share, I will.

Happily, I’ve gotten out of the dreaded first 25,000 words, and the book is rollicking along. (The first 100 pages is always like pulling fossils from rocks for me.) I’m going to do my best not to lose touch with it over the holiday. Which means sneaking off into corners every day for at least an hour to write, or edit, or otherwise touch the story. It’s a great trick for you writers out there — if you touch your manuscript every day, you’ll have an easier job of getting to the finish line.

My new office is done, too! Except for redoing the pictures on the wall, which is going to take a little shuffling, all the shelves are in, the desk is here, the rugs are in place, the chair is perched… I’m telling you, it’s starting to feel like a very creative spot. I caught myself the other day just standing in the door soaking up the ambiance. THAT is a good thing.

I have 5,000 words left to make my annual goal, and I’m in the midst of 3 books, trying to hit that elusive 100 before year’s end. I’ve started compiling the data for my annual review, and it’s always so much fun to look back and see what I planned, and what I actually accomplished. Fingers crossed!

Now, let’s take a look at the latest links!


Here's what happened on the Internets this week: 

16 Libraries That Look Like Hogwarts IRL. Now I’ve been in the Bodelian at Oxford, which is the actual library they used to shoot the movies, but these aren’t so bad…

Elizabeth Khuri Chandler Tells the Origin Story of Goodreads. I found this fascinating, and proof of the strength of word of mouth.

This Strategy Makes Procrastination Impossible. “When I look back at all the times I’ve procrastinated, it was always related to getting overwhelmed. When you haven’t even started something, the end result seems a million miles away.”

Holiday gift ideas: Books by Tennessee authors. How wonderful to see TEAR ME APART on this list! Thanks so much to Serenity of Humanities Tennessee!

Help The Book Report Network Expand. Great organization! I’ve been a fan for a long time, and Carol and team are a fantastic resource for news, interviews, reviews, and everything else you might need. The newsletters are great, too!

The Christmas Book Flood: Iceland’s Literature-Loving Holiday Tradition. Love, love, love. 

These Novels Prove That Women Make Fascinating Fictional Killers, Too. I’ve spent a career looking at evil in all its guises, female and male, and female villain is my bag, totally.

25 Literary Tea Gifts and Accessories for the Bookish Tea Lovers in Your Life. Because we all need more tea and tea gifts, yes?


What I’m Reading:

It’s very fitting that this author’s middle name is Sly, because that’s the perfect description of SORORITY. A series of conjoined vignettes, it tells the story of a sorority from the inside out, the good, the bad, and the ugly – and wow is there a lot of ugly. The writing though – it is perfect, sparse, descriptive, incredible. I haven’t been this excited about a debut author’s possibilities since SWEETBITTER. I’ll be watching for Crane’s work in the years ahead. 


That’s it for now. Sneak a holiday card into a stranger’s mailbox, make a snow angel if you have any snow to work with, light a stick of nag champa and blissfully chill out, and I’ll see you next week!

peace and hugs,
J.T.

Sunday Smatterings

Smatterings - December 9.png

Hello, friends! It’s that time again, to set aside an hour, pour a steaming mug of tea or coffee, and do some Sunday reading and contemplation. One of my goals for 2019 is to take Sundays to read the articles I’ve “clipped” during the week, pieces that look interesting but I don’t have time to read immediately. I use Instapaper, and I will be the first to admit my reading list has grown a forest of saplings in my absence. I spend a lot of my holiday time culling lists, organizing files (mental and physical) and otherwise doing year-end tidying up. My plan is always to move into 2019 with a clean slate. Instapaper is first on the list to prune back.

The December newsletter came out this week (if you didn’t see it, please check your Spam or promotions/updates tab.) In it, I do a bit of year-end contemplation, and I am always so touched by the responses I receive to these ruminantions, how readers are always willing to say hey, I got your back. It’s something so very important for our society to look at right now — finding those connections, new ways to love, new ways to communicate. This is what the season is about for me: kindness, love, charity. Stepping away from your own problems for a moment to consider the needs of someone who has less than you, who might be suffering quietly, who might be lonely. We’re all in this together. Be the light.

Now, let’s take a look at the latest happenings!


Here's what happened on the Internets this week: 

The Lady Hero’s Journey. Spit tea on my keyboard, I was giggling so hard…

Lee Child: How to write – and get revenge. Tons of great advice here. True confession: most of my career has been spent asking myself—what would Lee do? It steers me right.

A lovely list of things to make you happy. Because we all need a little extra happiness, don’t we?

Rockin’ Around the Book Tree: A Roundup of Festive Ideas for Decorating with Books. Do you decorate with books? So many cool ideas…

This Company Has 'Office Kittens' And Here's What They Do All Day. Make sure you watch the video! I think we could all stand to engage a few new furry interns, yes?

4 Steps to Starting Your Novel. Sage advice from the brilliant Signe Pike. THE LOST QUEEN is a really fabulous novel, too.

Hard Knock Life: What Are the Turtles Telling Me? “It’s just that assigning meaning to events is so satisfying. I want themes, threads, a plot that proceeds toward resolution. I want people to learn their lessons and change their ways.” Great piece from Mary Laura Philpott, who’s hitting her stride as an essayist, to all of our benefit.

20 Years of The Strand Magazine. Crime fiction's best is celebrating! The Strand has been a staple of my career for over a decade, and is always full of brilliance. I remember my debut year when a couple of Killer Year mates were named to their best of list, and we all celebrated! I was blown away to be included this year. Check this out!

Beautiful Wooden Bookshelf Inserts by Japanese Artist Monde. These are absolutely incredible!

The Competitive Book Sorters Who Spread Knowledge Around New York. How’s this for an interesting story….


And closer to home:

One of my favorite accomplishments this year — turning people who don't care for anthologies, like A Soccer Mom’s Book Blog, into lovers of A THOUSAND DOORS.

The Real Book Spy included TEAR ME APART in his Best Thrillers of 2018 list!


What I’m Reading:

A heads up – you’re going to see THE WINTERS on my Best of 2018 list soon. It is sheer and utter perfection. A modern retelling of REBECCA, with incredible writing, character development, and a modern edge. I loved it, and you will too.

Would love to see some of your 2018 favorites in the comments!!!


That’s it for now. Bring your neighbor their paper, or take in their packages if you know they won’t be home for a while (sadly, thieves abound this time of year, filching packages off front porches), buy some fresh marshmallows for a mug of hot chocolate, try smiling at someone you don’t know, and I’ll see you next week!

peace and hugs,
J.T.

Sunday Smatterings

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Happy December! We’re barreling into the end of the year, aren’t we. The holidays sometimes feel like a freight train is bearing down on me, but this year, I’m feeling quite mellow. I have a lot of writing to do, so I’m taking it very easy on the decorating, not having any parties at the house, and saying no to the things that don’t serve me. I’ve streamlined so much of my process — the cards are here and ready to go into the envelopes, and that’s usually the weird big boogeyman that hangs over the month for me. I’ve done most of my shopping. I’m thinking about an alternative tree this year, but so many have been cut and need a home, I’m sure there’s a Charlie Brown tree out there waiting for us. (Plus, the minions LOVE to lay in the fur tree skirt…. yeah, OK, decision made. Real tree it is…) I’m even considering (quite seriously) a 6 week internet sabbatical while I try to get this draft finished. I’ve lost a couple of writing days to title brainstorms (have one for the next book, which is always a good thing, but this one is eluding us) so I need the quiet time.

My desk should arrive today, too! I bought (the cats) a rug to go under it, and I love the way it’s all coming together. The floor model chair I brought home is being replaced by a new one today, too. I’m starting to feel exceptionally creative in the new space, which is exactly what it was designed to do. If all goes well, I will post some photos of the finished product next week.

I’m still listening to Stephen King’s ON WRITING, and I’m telling you, if you haven’t read or listened, and you’re even mildly interested in being a writer, you really should. One of my favorite tips: who are you writing for? Choose that person, and write for them and them alone.

Oh, and one last holiday note: If you’re able, would you look at the angel trees available in your area — and don’t forget the animal shelters? This is also a great time of year for clearing out the closets, and the shelters can always use old towels for the kitties and puppies, and that coat you haven’t worn in three years would make someone in need a great gift. Just sayin’.

Be the light, friends. That’s what the spirit of the season is all about.

On to the links!


Here's what happened on the Internets this week: 

Is It Time for Us to Rethink How We Give Gifts? A fitting start, yes? I’m doing more with less these days, for sure. I will never give up gifts entirely, because there’s nothing I like more than surprising people with something I’ve thought long and hard about, but I’m doing a lot more homemade, or locally bought, or charitable. We all have so much, it makes me happy to share.

8 Tips For Overcoming 'Reader's Block.' Great tips! There’s really nothing worse than a reading slump.

How to Create a Writing Routine That Lasts. I feel like I have links to these kinds of links — how to build habits — a lot. Perhaps that’s because I’m constantly searching for the best way to do things. This has some good ideas.

Cozying Up Your Reading Space for Winter. Bring on the cozy! 

Everything We Know About the New 'Rebecca' Movie on Netflix. You all know how much I love this story, and its many iterations— I can’t wait to see this! Also, if you haven’t read THE WINTERS yet, put it on your list. It’s fantastic.

Mercury Retrograde Winter 2018 Is Happening During Uranus & Neptune Retrograde, Too. No wonder I’ve been feeling so rebellious!

What’s Inside Ina Garten’s Pantry? If you’ve ever wondered about Ina’s favorite brand of salt or chocolate, you’re in luck! I watched an episode this week in which she made herbed cheese dip (herbed fromage blanc, to be exact) and I am trying it STAT.

The First Step — try to hit the barn. “For whatever reason when it comes to our goals, we let the fear of missing or the fear of imperfection keep us from the starting line. We take ourselves out of the race before the gun goes off.” Superb piece. Simply superb.

How was the scoring system in American football devised? In case you, like me, were wondering why football scoring is so wildly divergent from the rest of organized pro sports and your significant other didn't have an answer ( a rare occurrence, I swear it.)

6 best yoga apps. Fabulous roundup, from Yoga With Adriene (my personal favorite) to FitStar Yoga to Down Dog…


And closer to home:

It’s been a really nice year for reviews! A THOUSAND DOORS received a starred review from Publishers Weekly this week! We all put so much work into it and to have it honored thusly in the trades is the pinnacle of a wonderful year’s work. I’ll be flying high for a while! To have it come on the heels of the incredible review for TEAR ME APART — trust me when I say I was so shocked, and so grateful, for both cool moments this year.

You can get your copies from the buttons…


What I’m Reading:

NINE PERFECT STRANGERS is a fantastic book and it’s relaunching one of the greatest book clubs to grace the online world: She Reads. You should definitely check them out and join the conversation! I was lucky enough to see Liane Moriarty in person a few weeks back and she was simply magnificent - so self-deprecatingly funny.

And since we’re talking about books, can I invite you to follow me on Bookbub? This is one of the best ways to keep on top of new releases, deals, and other treats.


Look at this giveaway from BookSweeps! Not only can you enter to win a copy of LIE TO ME, you’ll also be eligible to win 30+ thrillers and an e-reader. It doesn’t get much better than this!


Lisa Unger is running an incredible giveaway in honor of Giving Tuesday! Make a donation and you could win books from some of the biggest, most acclaimed authors in the world, including me, Stephen King, Harlan Coben, Karin Slaughter, Mary Higgins Clark, Alafair Burke, Sara Blaedel, Kate White, Mary Kubica, Gregg Hurwitz, Sarah Weinman, Carol Goodman, Hank Phillippi Ryan, Ace Atkins, Jo Nesbo, C.J. Tudor, Jeff Abbott, Heather Gudenkauf, Lori Roy, Cara Black, Chris Bohjalian, Christina Alger, Bryan Reardon, K.J. Howe, and more!


I’ll see you next week!

peace and hugs,
J.T.

Sunday Smatterings

Smatterings - November 25.jpg

Blessed Sunday to ye!

Well, we’re officially easing into December this week. I know many author friends who’ve wisely wrapped their writing year and are taking December to enjoy family, friends, and the holidays… I am not one of them. I don’t have a Christmas deadline this year, for which I am extremely grateful, but I do have a book due at the end of February, so these last 5 weeks will be apportioned — 5 days a week to writing, 2 days a week to the holidays. I already have my cards, have done a bunch of the shopping, and we’ll snag a tree sometime this week. My decorating is relatively minimal, I can do it in a couple of hours, so I don't stress about it too much. It’s more switching out the relatively minimal fall decor for the minimal Christmas decor, rather than going mad with everything. I had a big party last year so I finally bought organizers to make it super simple — this goes on the mantel, this goes on the dining room table, and this goes on the coffee table — done. And then I can get back to work and enjoy the fruits of my gentle labor.

In the weeks to come before the end of the year, I also get to start thinking about my annual review, which I generally do over my Christmas break. 2018 was my Year of Change, and I do believe I’ve lived up to that challenge. I can’t wait to revisit all my goals and see how I did.

Oh! I read my first Agatha Christie this week. Abby at Crime by the Book said ENDLESS NIGHT was her favorite, so I gave it a try. I’ll tell you, it freaked me out so badly. I don’t know what it was about it, but it took me all week to read, because I normally read for an hour before bed and I found myself putting it down after a few pages because I knew it was going to give me nightmares. I both hate and love books that touch me like that, but I’ll admit, I wasn’t expecting ENDLESS NIGHT to wig me out so badly. I even figured it out 3/4 of the way in and it STILL unnerved me. I moved directly on to JANE DOE by Victoria Helen Stone and feel much more comfortable. Both stories of sociopaths, but the modern versus the gothic makes a huge different for me.

To balance all this, I’m listening to Stephen King’s ON WRITING. I’ve read the book a few times, but there’s something special about hearing him tell his own story. It’s magnificent, and touching. I’m going to listen to Twyla Tharp’s THE CREATIVE HABIT next. I only have 5 weeks left and I’m a few books short of my 100 books this year goal!

I’ve kept you long enough. On to the links!


Here's what happened on the Internets this week: 

Business Musings: Positive, Pleasing, and Optimistic. “Being positive is a decision.” It truly is. When you decide to look ahead instead of behind, when you decide to do what’s right for you, not for everyone around you, when you shed the guilt and fear and everything else holding you back, you will find great contentment. I swear it.

Big Little Lies Author Takes Intrigue to the Spa in New Novel. I was lucky enough to see Liane Moriarty in person a few weeks back and she was simply magnificent - so self-deprecatingly funny. She Reads picked Nine Perfect Strangers for their book club selection so definitely join in on the conversation there.

17 Things I Do Every Day To Totally Eliminate Stress. I wish I could say I do all 17 of these… but I do try…

What We Owe to Wilkie Collins' The Woman In White. Oh, the gothic novel. My favorite to write, and to read. PBS has a new show of this great book, too.

Out of the Classroom and Into the World: 70-Plus Places to Publish Teenage Writing and Art.  Start them early, start them young, and help them flourish. You will have happier kids who grow into happier adults!

26 Lazy Girl Hairstyling Hacks. So many great ideas! I’m a big fan of the messy bun… but options are everything.

'Why Buddhism Is True' Explores Links Between Evolutionary Biology And Meditation.  Since this whole post has been about finding happiness, this is a wonderful read.

New podcast alert! Helen Ellis stars in Southern Lady Code, and friends, it is simply glorious. Bonus points for subscribing to What Should I Read Next with Anne Bogel, too.


And closer to home:

I’ve been exceedingly grateful for how y’all have stuck with me through the craziness that has been the 2018 release schedule. the original books, the reprints, the sales — I know this space has been overwhelming of late, and I admit, I am thrilled to have all this draw to a close so we can get back to normal things. Like my favorite instagram of the week:


We ran a fun Match The Song To The Life contest and the answers have been added to the post. Go see if you guessed correctly and the listen to the book’s soundtrack while you’re there!


This deal is still going on! Book two in the Taylor Jackson series, 14, is only $2.99. It’s aptly placed in the series, too, because it is my second darkest book! (I think COLD ROOM is the darkest of them all, but you tell me…)

Synopsis:

Ten victims, each with pale skin and long dark hair. All have been slashed across the throat, the same red lipstick smeared across their lips.In the mid-1980s the Snow White Killer terrorized the streets of Nashville, Tennessee. Then suddenly the murders stopped. A letter from the killer to the police stated that his work was done.

Now four more bodies are found, marked with his fatal signature. The residents of Nashville fear a madman has returned, decades later, to finish his sick fairy tale. Homicide Lieutenant Taylor Jackson believes the killings are the work of a copycat killer who's even more terrifying. For this monster is meticulously honing his craft as he mimics famous serial murders...proving that the past is not to be forgotten.


That's all for now! Buy a little present for a four-legged or two winged friend, take a few nice deep breaths, don’t feel at all guilty if you don’t feel like putting anything holiday-themed together just yet, and I’ll see you next week!

peace and hugs,
J.T.

A THOUSAND DOORS Contest - Match The Song To The Life

I always have a soundtrack for my books, and A THOUSAND DOORS is no different… except this one was compiled en masse, with each author offering their own song to match their story. Can you match the song to the life? Leave a comment with your answers and if you get it right, you’ll be eligible for a fabulous mystery prize. (Contest closed!)

Answers:

1) H; 2) C; 3) D; 4) E; 5) O; 6) K; 7) P; 8) B; 9) L; 10) N; 11) J; 12) M; 13) I; 14) F; 15) G; 16) A

Listen to the soundtrack