A DEEPER DARKNESS has a new look!

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A DEEPER DARKNESS has a new ebook cover, and I absolutely LOVE it. I think this is the first time the cover really evokes the story perfectly. Since many of you are new to me, and don't know the story behind my Samantha Owens series, I thought I'd share her inception with you.

WARNING: If you haven't read the Taylor series, there's a major spoiler ahead, so you may want to avoid this one. 


Adapted from original post in 2012

Several months ago, my team and I made a decision to let Taylor take a long vacation, and focus on a new lead character, Dr. Samantha Owens. Sam is Taylor's best friend, and Nashville's head medical examiner. She features prominently in all the books, but she hasn't had her own tale, not yet.

Suffice it to say, starting a new series was scary for me. After seven (eight, including FIELD OF GRAVES, which wasn't yet published) books with the same lead character, I was in a groove. I knew how every character would react. It was simply a matter of creating a dynamic plot and a cool villain to confront them with.

But Sam had been knocking on the doors and windows of my Muse’s hamlet, begging to strut her stuff on the page. When at long last I relented, and decided to spin off her character, changes needed to happen.

To do the new series justice, it needed to be different. To start – a new setting. I settled on Washington, D.C., my former home of many years. And Sam needed to be unmarried, and unencumbered by children. I debated long and hard. Divorce? Custody arrangements? Multiple scenarios, but they all kept her tied to Nashville. There was only one choice.

Her husband and children had to die.

I fought against this reality for weeks. I couldn’t do that to her. And there are rules in writing. You can’t kill animals, and you can’t kill children. Except you can. And I did. The question became not if they died, but how. Car accident? Been done. Plane crash? Been done.

And then it hit me. The flood.

Nashville was stricken with a flood of biblical proportion in 2010. As it happens, A DEEPER DARKNESS released on the second anniversary of that fateful weekend, that moment in time where we lost so much. Synchronicity at its finest. I was able to both honor those hurt and killed in the real flood and give Samantha a chance to recover with everyone else. Recover we did. It hasn’t been easy, but we’re back on our feet.

Another challenge was finding the right tone, the right mood, to express Samantha’s loss without suffocating the reader in her grief. I needed to get in her head, and live there, trying to understand how hard it must be to lose a husband, and to lose her twins. How, and if, that sadness could be overcome.

I used a lot of music to guide me, mostly the mournful, melancholy cover of “Hurt” by Johnny Cash. (It's on the A DEEPER DARKNESS playlist.) The song makes me weep, and the video tears a hole in my heart. Imagining the loss of my own husband, how frightened and alone I would feel, helped me mine Sam’s grief.

With grief comes hope. With hope comes possibility. They say what doesn’t kill us makes us stronger, and for a young, dynamic, intelligent widow, simply surviving her loss makes her invincible. Samantha stares into the abyss, acknowledges its presence, and somehow, some way, pulls herself back from the brink. And is rewarded for her strength. Yes, she's overwhelmed with OCD that manifests in excess hand-washing. Yes, she won't autopsy drownings. Yes, she runs away from her pain, starting a new life. But there are seeds of hope scattered throughout her story. Seeds of possibility.

Ironically, without realizing it, I was unwittingly writing my own story. My husband and I struggled with infertility for a decade. Multiple pregnancies resulted in multiple miscarriages. IUIs and IVF didn’t solve the issue. Over and over, I lost my own children.

I thought I was fine. Normal. Nominal. That I’d dealt with my own grief, my own loss. But it wasn’t until I read A DEEPER DARKNESS in galley form that I realized I’d used the book as therapy. All of Sam’s losses mirror my own. Her strength, her hope, her will to continue on gave me the strength to do the same.

A DEEPER DARKNESS isn’t a sad book. Samantha Owens is all of us: our hopes and fears, our determination and our weakness. For the first time in my writing career, I’ve put bits of myself on the page. And that’s possibly the most terrifying thing of all.

Download the eBook



Whew! So now you know where my girl comes from. To celebrate our new look, I'm giving away one ebook. Enter on the Rafflecopter!

Dark and Twisted Reads

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A new book compilation hit the streets today! DARK AND TWISTED READS is three novels in a single book, featuring ALL THE PRETTY GIRLS, by yours truly, A PERFECT EVIL by Alex Kava, and BONE COLD by Erica Spindler.

How. Cool. Is. That?

Alex and Erica and I are good friends, and we’ve done some work together (see SLICES OF NIGHT and STORM SEASON for our original short stories compilations). This time, MIRA is putting out the novels, together in a fabulous thematically-linked bundle. (There might be a few missing hands and fingers throughout the narratives… just sayin’.)

This is a perfect grouping of books. If you’ve read me, but not Erica or Alex, you’re in for a major treat. Why do I say this?

These two women, these amazing authors, influenced me so heavily when I was learning how to write thrillers. They are both heroes of mine—wonderful examples of women thriller authors who’ve never shied away from the darkness. They both tear back the veil on police and FBI investigations, unafraid, and unflinching, in their subject matter. They both taught me so much about storytelling, I will forever be in their debt.

That not so many years removed from when I was reading them to learn how it’s done, I get to call them my friends, and have a book out with them? That is both a joy and a privilege. 

Grab this one… it’s a bargain!

Sunday Smatterings

Smatterings - July 15

Welcome to another hot summer Sunday, friends! I come to you from the air-conditioned cool of my office, where I am suffering from that most ridiculous of problems, a desk chair that continues to sliiiiiiiiide from its proper position down to a shortie chair. It's disconcerting, to say the least, to start tall, keyboard and elbows in proper position, and by the end of the sentence, I am reaching up to the desktop to type. Comical, but annoying. The cats think it's great fun, though, and have been on this ride for the past half hour. Putting darling husband to work on it when he gets home.

There have been many, many words this week. It's so funny, at the beginning of a book, a 500 word day feels like an accomplishment. Toward the end, anything less that 2000 feels like slacking, and my word counts are often in the 3-5k range. There has also been a LOT of walking, yoga, and – cue the celebratory trumpets 🎺 – the laundry was folded, I unpacked from my Colorado trip, and I even cooked once. The self-care routine I spoke of in the July newsletter really is helping. (What? You don't get the newsletter? Egads! Sign up here, STAT!) I'm listening to A DISCOVERY OF WITCHES right now. I'm hurrying through my words so I can reward myself with a walk and a listen. Getting healthy, burning off stress, and immersing in a fabulous story–that is self care at its finest.

Enough from me, you're here for the links. Off we go, here's the latest news and bookish goodness!

Here's what happened on the Internets this week: 

Inside Gillian Flynn's Dark and Rage-Filled Empire. "It’s frighteningly easy for me to slip into the darkness; it’s crawling back out that’s trickier. I’m an empath, so I can get into most people’s brain space. I think most writers are. You grow up feeling like an outsider, and grow up trying to figure people out and what makes them tick." (Yes, we are. And paranoid alarmists, and conspiracy theorists of the worst sort. Comes with the territory.)


The Chinese Buddhist Billionaire Who Wants to Fix Your Brain. This is a fascinating long read. Do we need better testing to determine psychiatric disorders in order to secure better, more effective treatment? Absolutely. 


There Should Be No Internet for One Weekend Per Month. What if? I'm seriously considering this. I do go hours without on the weekend, but not the whole two days. Hmm...


Exciting news: Are you familiar with the The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society? It's coming our way August 10 thanks to Netflix! You still have time to read the book if you haven't already. I love a good epistolary novel, and this is one of my favorites.


11 Books that should be made into movies ASAP. This is a great list and not just because TEAR ME APART got a nice mention!


Against Chill.  Excellent—Chill is jumping the shark. We need less chill. More chilling, but less apathy.

And closer to home:


I am beside myself with joy over this starred review for TEAR ME APART from Publishers Weekly. 

The Real Book Spy shared a stunner review as well!

I'm really so happy TMA is being well received. I hope you love it, too! Would you like to read an excerpt? 

That's all for now! Drink some cool, tart lemonade, take a dip in the pool, make a donation to an animal rescue (I like this one) and I'll see you next week.

peace and hugs,

Sunday Smatterings

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Hi there, chickens! How was your 4th of July? Or your Canada Day? Ours was wonderful, though ridiculously hot. I felt like I was standing inside a wet washcloth the whole night. But the fireworks were great, as was the company. 

It's been an excellent writing week as well. So many words, so many fun scenes written. Plus my hydrangea put out its first bloom, and my garden is about to give over about a hundred Romas, and my basil is knee-high, so it's nearing time to start making fresh marinara sauce. Here's the recipe, it's dead simple and delicious. Any suggestions for the best way to freeze sauce, I'm open. I normally use plastic, but want to can some, too...

On to the latest news and bookish goodness!

Here's what happened on the Internets this week: 

8 Literary Gardens to Escape to This Summer. Yes, please. There is nothing better than a beautiful garden.

Bill Clinton and James Patterson on Crime Fiction. Super cool interview from Abby at Crime By The Book with two guys you might have heard of... As a co-writer, I found their process fascinating.

How a Bottle Makes Its Way Onto a Wine List. Fascinating process! I'm always excited when the wine lists change at my favorite restaurants, always interesting in how they choose their wines. This gave a lot of insight into the other end of the process. 

Library tourism. What a wonderful idea! If you're ever in Nashville, be sure to stop by the downtown library. It's breathtaking and the Civil Rights Room is a must-see.

Contemplating suicide, Marine turns to yoga. A wonderful story. I've read about Justin before, and if I'm ever not in the mood to get on my mat, I try to remember just how much it helps. 

Jonathan Franzen Is Fine With All of It. There is some very fine writing advice in this piece from both interviewer and interviewee. Keep your head down and do your work. You alone control your words.

Responding to Messages Immediately Is Hurting You in the Long Run. "Your cell phone number doesn't guarantee immediate access to you. Remember that." I am the worst about responding quickly–mostly because if I'm in front of my computer and an email or text comes in that I can deal with right away, I like to do it. But it's not necessary... and that's something I keep reminding myself, especially on the weekend.

Introvert or Extrovert? Here's How to Boost Your Productivity. I love this. I'm adapting a few of these practices to my work day, and it's working really well. Mostly, slowing down. I'm an anxious introvert, always worried I've said the wrong thing, and I'm finding if I just take a breath, I can forge ahead and not worry so much.

In a slightly related vein, if you're on Twitter, may I suggest you follow @tinycarebot? It's always perfectly timed with lovely self-care tidbits, and as we all know, self-care is vital to a happy, healthy life.

And closer to home:

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If you’ve been waiting for a price reduction to grab LIE TO ME, now’s your chance! My latest standalone is on sale for $3.99.

And...Goodreads has another giveaway for Advanced Reader Copies of TEAR ME APART! While you're over there, be sure to add the book to your Want To Read shelf.

And one last thing... the July newsletter is going out next week with something very special inside. If you're not on the list and want to be, click here to join the fun!

That's all for now! Talk a long walk around a lake, pick some flowers, give your best friend a call, and I'll see you next week!


Sunday Smatterings

Smatterings - July 1, 2018

Hi there, chickens! It's hard to believe July is here. Where is this summer going? (She says, with a mild panic in her tone...)

I had a wonderful retreat last week, but it's always good to be home, getting back in the groove. It's been a busy week of writing, writing, writing, and reading, reading, reading. Have I mentioned lately that I love my job? I just wish there were 28 hours in the day. As a matter of fact, I've set my alarm for an hour earlier than normal to try and take advantage of the extra quiet time in the morning. Not a 5 am riser, but I'm working on getting up earlier. It's hard when you're a natural night owl.


Oh, and a super fun event this week, my friend Jeremy Finley launched his debut novel at Parnassus, and I was there to give him a boost. It was a lot of fun, and if you haven't grabbed THE DARKEST TIME OF NIGHT yet, do. It's worth it.

Also, we've started planning for our next season of A WORD ON WORDS! I'm telling you, this show, these people, has changed me in so many ways, all for the better. The fear I used to feel about being on camera is kaput now, and I'm in love with the interview process. Plus, my producer Linda, my cohost Mary Laura, and the folks at NPT, and our guests are just too much fun.

So, that's it from my neck of the woods. Let's see what's happening in the real world. Here's the latest news and bookish goodness!

Here's what happened on the Internets this week: 

'A Discovery of Witches' TV series trailer breathes life into the Deborah Harkness trilogy. This is one of my all-time favorite series and now I need to go reread the books - happy sigh. Deb Harkness is incredible! You need to read A DISCOVERY OF WITCHES if you haven't already, and come see her on tour. She'll be in Nashville in September!


Amy Adams Goes Dark: 'Sharp Objects' and a Female Antihero for a Troubled Time. More fabulous insights into my favorite book from Gillian Flynn. I can't wait to watch this show, July 8 can't come soon enough.


Jerry Seinfeld’s Closed Door. Cal Newport draws out a good lesson from Seinfeld about convenience versus value. This was very much a you have permission to retreat to your writer cave and get your work done kind of post.


Is Megan Abbott Hollywood's next big novelist? I hope so! I loved her 2016 novel YOU WILL KNOW ME and I'm looking forward to the release of GIVE ME YOUR HAND July 17. She was also a recent guest on A WORD ON WORDS, and I loved our conversation. It's no surprise she's rocking it right now. 


How to Practice Meditation Anytime, Anywhere. "The biggest takeaway for me is that life is busy, so you have to take your meditation opportunities where you find them, and Mindfulness lets us do exactly that." All the this, people. Especially in light of our current climate, a mental escape is good for the soul.


Is This the Biggest Book Cover Trend of The Year? "2018 is the year of the all-caps typography." Have you noticed this trend? I admit, they're good looking covers...

And closer to home:

This was my office view in Colorado earlier this week! My writing retreat was a great success. I managed to write 8500 words, played some golf, slept a ton, and got to hang out with my family. It was a very restorative week.

Also restorative: I bought this ridiculously adorable summer cardigan on sale from Madewell. Yes, it's pink! I've been gravitating toward this color lately and, for whatever reason, it's good for my soul.

That's all for now! Watch a parade, marvel over fireworks, and have a wonderful 4th of July!