Sunday Smatterings

Smatterings - September 23.jpg

Hello, friends!

Our first true Autumn banner, just in time for the Equinox/Mabon. The balance of these days, of these moments—equal light, equal dark—very much appeals to me, a light person who writes dark material. I do my Autumn decorating at this time, and the house gets a good once over. Throws get shaken and moved around, pillows get plumped, closets are organized, my office is decluttered, perhaps a new rug or chair will move in. I will definitely reset my mantel. For me, it’s both an energy boost and a little feng shui, all rolled into a deep clean. It’s also perfect timing for moving into a new book!

What? A new book? Well, the kittens need to eat, so yes, despite my plans to take a couple of months off, I’m going to indulge in some plotting and research and see if anything comes of it. No promises, no pressure. I’ve already bought my first research book: The Discovery of Middle Earth: Mapping the Lost World of the Celts, a recommendation from my friend Signe Pike (THE LOST QUEEN is next up for me…) Something about her description of it sparked an idea, so we’ll see what happens.

Now, this is very important. You want to be here tomorrow morning, bright and early, because I have some very exciting news to share about a secret project that I know you’re going to love. How’s that for a tease?

Time for the latest and greatest links!


Here's what happened on the Internets this week: 

How To Read More Than One Book At A Time, According To People Who Do It. Or do like I do - a book upstairs, a book downstairs, a book on audio... It can be discordant sometimes, but often, I do read multiple books at once.

When Abandoning Your Novel Makes Sense. “I could have kept going, dumped a subplot or two, and wrestled it into a novel that checked all the boxes. But I couldn’t un-think that light bulb realization. Worse, it led to another nugget of truth: I didn’t hate the story, but I didn’t love it. And I wanted to be in love.” This is a great piece by my friend Barbara Claypole White. It’s hard, but sometimes necessary.

It’s no mystery why fans, authors gathered for Bouchercon in St. Petersburg. AN ALL-AROUND FABULOUS CONFERENCE! I had so much fun I immediately signed up for next year. Halloween, in Dallas, and the conference’s 50th anniversary? I’m in.

Soundtrack Album for Sky’s ‘A Discovery of Witches’ to Be Released. Le sigh....How many books will I write to this??? I am a huge fan of movie and TV soundtracks for writing ambiance — instrumentals, only, please.

J.K. Rowling Surprises Scottish Couple By Photobombing Their Wedding. So precious! I loved everything about this photo — also, KILTS!

The English Country House Mystery - 7 Suspenseful Tales Set in Foreboding, Majestic Houses. Hmm… wonder what other research I might be doing….

10 Famous Authors and Their Cats. A holiday gift for my minions, for sure! This made me grin. We writers do love our kittens! (And our puppies — don’t worry, I am an equal opportunity animal snuggler.)

Lisa Unger talks about how to write a novel. Y’all, this was exactly what I needed to hear. A great talk by a master writer!


And closer to home:

TEAR ME APART has been included in some great recommendation lists lately!

Southern Festival Of Books, the next book tour stop, just announced their schedule! I’ll be speaking at 10 am on October 13 here in Nashville. Come see me! If you haven’t been to this literary festival before, you really should. It’s one of the best around.


Deal Alert!

Barnes & Noble included LIE TO ME in their Buy Two, Get The Third Free Favorite Paperbacks deal! Check out the full list of participating paperbacks here and get your copy today.


Let’s get social!

One of the joys of being a writer is connecting with readers and friends. It’s been a big summer, with lots of new additions.

Namely: just hit 4000 followers on Instagram! Thank you so much to everyone following me over there. It’s such a fun space to be in! Happy, bookish, and lots of love. Perfect for browsing. If you’re not following me already, I’m @thrillerchick.

Also, Twitter is humming along with lots of new folks, links and conversations. Stop by sometime!

And if you haven’t joined my private Facebook group J.T. Ellison’s Literati yet, what are you waiting for? There’s all kinds of bookish fun and there may or may not be an exclusive announcement happening there today!


That's all for now! Watch the blog for exciting news tomorrow, rake some leaves, and we’ll talk again soon.

peace and hugs,
J.T.

Sunday Smatterings

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Hello, friends!

I‘M HOME! It was so good to sleep in our own bed last night, with our kittens tucked into our arms. Well, my arms. Jameson was so relieved to see me she velcroed herself to my side, and Jordan, after an hour of ignoring me, slept in my arms all night. Today, I’m jumping right back into the revisions of THE LAST SECOND (which I just noticed is up for preorder…) It feels so good to be creating again. There is laundry to be done, books to unpack (I had to buy a suitcase and bring them home instead of shipping, which was egregiously expensive) the house to tidy, but right now, all I’m worrying about is editing! There’s time for all that later.

My weekend at SIBA (the Southern Independent Booksellers Association) was terrific. I met so many incredible booksellers and librarians, and made so many new authors friends! I also spent time with some of my awesome publicity team and sales folks. Add in real quality face time (and steaks and wine) with some of my dearest friends who I don’t get to see enough, and it was a truly wonderful experience. I hope to go back again very soon.

There is such a sisterhood in fiction now. I saw it firsthand at Bouchercon, and again at SIBA. I feel so lifted up right now, so loved, and so excited for the future of our industry. We all rise together when we help each other. It’s the theme of the year, and I’m honored to be a small part of it. Our brothers in fiction are wonderful, but book sisters are something special.

Of course, we had several folks who had to miss the event because of Hurricane Florence. I’m watching the flooding with my heart in my throat, knowing just how difficult and scary this is. Since I can’t help physically, I’ve been making donations to the local humane associations. There is a mass exodus of animals and anything helps for our four-legged friends in need — money, food, blankets, fresh water. (The same goes for our two-legged pals, too.) My deepest thoughts and prayers go out to all who are affected.

On that somber note, let's take a look at the latest and greatest links!


Here's what happened on the Internets this week: 

Neil Gaiman and Chris Riddell on why we need libraries – an essay in pictures. This is fantastic! I grew up on library fare and am lucky to count some librarians as my dearest friends. Without my childhood librarians, I wouldn’t be the writer and reader I am today.

 

Serena Williams and the Game That Can’t Be Won (Yet). A terrible situation and a wonderful piece. Rules are rules, but respect is respect. I wish we could find a balance that rewards passion and still conforms to the rules.

 

8 Quick Classics for Busy Adults. How many have you read? I love the satisfaction of finishing a book, so these shorter reads will help you meet your goals and edify your mind! (Editor’s note: When I reread this sentence, it said shower reads, not shorter reads. Shower books are clearly an untapped market.)

 

I Joyfully Decluttered These 5 Things to Boost Happiness. Lovely, thoughtful, helpful piece. The moment I finish this revision, into my closet I go. I can’t wait to clear some space. It makes jumping into the next book so much easier. But this is about much more than a physical decluttering. An emotional one as well. Check it out!

 

Interview With Book Passage Founder Elaine Petrocelli. Great piece. I always love going to Book Passage. But something special happened the last time I was there. I attended their mystery conference last year and found myself. I know that sounds strange, but I stood up to someone who I felt was denigrating me and my work, and in turn the work of all female mystery writers, and from that moment on, I’ve been working very hard both publicly and behind the scenes to make sure it NEVER happens again, to any of us. Again with the respect thing, right?

 

Best natural red lipsticks in green beauty. We all need a great red! It breeds confidence. A red lip speaks louder than words. So if you’re shy, try it. Put on your red lip, a pair of black sunglasses, and take a trip to the grocery or post office. You will see yourself in a new light.

 

50 Best Movies You've Never Seen. Some good stuff here. I’ve seen several of these, which is saying something, as I am not the most esoteric movie-goer.

 

Urban Fantasy Noir - 7 Urban Fantasy Crime Novels With Dark Sensibilities. There’s a reason I included this link. I love this kind of work, and am getting more and more into it!

 

Mississippi homecoming queen boots game-winning extra point. Doing it right, sister. Doing it right.


And closer to home:

TEAR ME APART was BookBub Editor’s Pick for Psychological Thrillers this week! It also got nice reviews in Washington Post and The Oklahoman

I loved this review from Gare Indeed Reads and I got a kick out of his casting ideas on Instagram

The next book tour stop is Southern Festival Of Books here in Nashville October 12-14. Can’t wait!

 

Get TEAR ME APART

AMAZON 
LIBRARY HARDCOVER 
BARNES & NOBLE 
TARGET 
BOOKS-A-MILLION 
INDIEBOUND 
INDIGO

Get a Signed Copy

VJ BOOKS
PARNASSUS BOOKS
MURDER BY THE BOOK

Download the eBook

KINDLE
NOOK 
iBOOKS 
KOBO 
GOOGLE PLAY

Get the Audiobook

HARPER AUDIO 
AUDIBLE 
BARNES & NOBLE 
LIBRO.FM 
TARGET 
iTUNES

________

Also, BookClubbish is giving away a copy of TEAR ME APART, WHEN THE LIGHTS GO OUT, A WILLING MURDER, and UNDER MY SKIN! Enter the giveaway here.

________

This is the last week to enter to win a copy of my novel WHERE ALL THE DEAD LIE, along with 15+ fantastic Paranormal Mysteries & Thrillers from an amazing collection of authors, PLUS a brand new eReader- along with a collection of FREE reads just for entering! Enter the giveaway here


That's all for now! Watch a football game, rake some of those falling leaves, send blessings to our friends in the Carolinas, and we’ll talk again soon.

peace and hugs,
J.T.

Sunday Smatterings

Smatterings - September 9.jpg

Hello, friends!

I have just left Bouchercon 2018, and I already want to go back. It was a lovely weekend, full of deep connections, new friends, and lots of strategy sessions with my team. Nothing beats a face-to-face. I was also able to hang out with so many cool people. I don't even want to try and name everyone, but there are lots of pictures online. I'll try to post a few myself now that things are calming down. But major love to some of my buddies for taking such good care of and entertaining this VERY exhausted writer: Laura Benedict, Randi and Boyd Morrison, Eileen and Bob Hutton, Molly McCaffrey and David Bell, Karen Lonsdale, Emily Carpenter, Kimberly Belle, Wendy Heard, Hannah McKinnon, Rebecca Drake, Carla Neggers. Rick Mofina, Heather Graham and Dennis Pozzessere, John Gilstrap, Reavis Wortham, Sherrie Saint, Nicole Brebner, Margaret Marbury, Shara Alexander, and the FANTASTIC crew at the Birchwood Inn, you held me up all weekend long. Thank you. 

The bulk of the tour is nearly done, only SIBA this week, and then I've diving back into the revisions for THE LAST SECOND with Catherine. And then... nope. Not telling just yet. But keep your eyes peeled. News coming soon!

But you're here for the links. On we go to the latest and greatest...


Here's what happened on the Internets this week: 

'Harry Potter': The story behind those gorgeous new anniversary covers. They are beautiful! I keep seeing them and will break down and buy myself a set soon...

 

A Study Of NYT's "By The Book" Shows That Male Authors Are More Likely To Recommend Other Men.  I find this very interesting. Yes, men read men, women read women, never the twain shall meet -- except...... I've always had a lot of male readers, and I have been so blessed by the male writers who have guided my career, blurbed my books, shared with their readers as well as the female writers who've done the same. Empirical evidence being what it is, yes, we can all do better. But I hate to paint everyone with the same brush. Crime fiction writers are incredibly diverse in their reading habits, and I've never felt marginalized by them. 

 

No One is Thinking About You, So Stop Giving a F@*k. "You should not let the opinions of individuals who do not have a vested interest in you be the reason for your inaction. They don’t truly care about your success, so why should you care about what they think?" Amen. Amen. Amen.

 

Hugo awards: women clean up as NK Jemisin wins best novel again. Stunningly wonderful books — this is awesome! My dad is a HUGE fan of this series

 

What Do They Want from Us? On the Return of Big Bookstore Chains. "For book lovers, a new chapter is just starting to unfold." Hey, we all need more bookstores. I'd like one on every corner, please. 

 

'The Little Stranger' novelist Sarah Waters talks haunted houses and awkward heterosexuality.  Looking forward to seeing this on the screen, too!


And closer to home:

TEAR ME APART has really been connecting with readers. I'd hoped and prayed it would, and I have been so incredibly touched by the wonderful reviews and emails I've been getting. Thank you all!

International Thriller Writers did a wonderful feature of TEAR ME APART in The Big Thrill. It was so much fun to sit and think about all the facets of this story.

And, just in time for the holidays.... (Sorry, I had to) signed copies are available from VJ Books, Parnassus Books, and Murder By The Book.

 

Get the Book

AMAZON 
LIBRARY HARDCOVER 
BARNES & NOBLE 
TARGET 
BOOKS-A-MILLION 
INDIEBOUND 
INDIGO

Download the eBook

KINDLE
NOOK 
iBOOKS 
KOBO 
GOOGLE PLAY

Get the Audiobook

HARPER AUDIO 
AUDIBLE 
BARNES & NOBLE 
LIBRO.FM 
TARGET 
iTUNES

 

And as I mentioned, I'll be with independent booksellers at Southern Independent Bookseller Association 2018. I am so looking forward to connecting with everyone! You can find all of my remaining book tour events here

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Finally, have you read my novel WHERE ALL THE DEAD LIE? Booksweeps is giving it away, along with 15+ fantastic Paranormal Mysteries & Thrillers from an amazing collection of authors, PLUS a brand new eReader- along with a collection of FREE reads just for entering! Enter the giveaway here


Wow, can you believe summer is nearly gone? Enjoy the nip in the air at night, start a new notebook for the school year, and we'll talk again soon.

peace and hugs,
J.T.

Sunday Smatterings

Smatterings - September 2.jpg

Hello, friends! TEAR ME APART released this week, and it was such a joy to meet up with so many of you on the road! Next up for me is Bouchercon, which I'm so looking forward to. Many friends to see, panels to give, and readers to meet.

I have to say... We had a brilliant time in England.

London was fabulous -- London is always fabulous. Harry Potter and the Cursed Child was wonderful as well. I even indulged and went shopping on Broad Street and Savile Row. I am now in possession of some serious grown-up lady clothes, which are all timeless, a new goal of mine. We also spent a fun evening at the 100 Club, a punk/jazz/blues spot. A wide variety of shows, n'est pas?

And can I mention the food? Dear Lord, the food! With my allergies I was worried, but the Brits have it all figured out. They were incredibly kind and attentive to the parameters we set, and I was so touched.

I have to say, the gluten free scones in Cambridge were among my favorites, but we ate incredibly well the entire trip and didn't get sick once. We had a tour of Cambridge from the back of a '58 Bentley, a lovely punt and managed to beat the rain, too.

I've always had a soft spot for Oxford, since I visited 30 years ago (!) and it held up to my remembrances well. Spent a lot of time in the Bodelian Library and New College, have some great shots of Christ Church. It was fun to turn around and see Hogwarts over my shoulder! 

All in all, it was a fantastic trip. And I returned home to find my book baby waiting for me in stores, capping the week perfectly. Had a blast at Parnassus and Murder by the Book, too. 

Check out my Instagram for lots of photos and stories. 

Enough about me, let's look at the latest and greatest links!


Here's what happened on the Internets this week: 

Rushing Ahead. A great review of one of this year’s highly anticipated novels from the brilliant Lisa Patton. RUSH is a fabulous read with a timely message, and beautifully written to boot. Go get it!

What Growing Up “Poor” Taught Me About Minimalism. Such a fabulous message. People matter. Things do not. In light of my past two weeks, I would also add experiences matter... 

Quo Vadis products available at Barnes and Noble stores. Exciting news! I am a huge lover of all things Exaclair and Quo Vadis! Best paper out there.

Lessons Learned From Luggage Lost. What a fabulous message. I thought I'd packed perfectly for my trip and turns out, I was wrong. I now have a much better sense of what I want to bring overseas with me. Simply excellent.

14 "First-in-Series" Thrillers Featuring Strong Female Leads. Happy to see A DEEPER DARKNESS included here. What a great list!

When Self-Care Turns into Self-Sabotage. Great advice here! Life adjustments are more important than hot baths, at times. Though never underestimate what 30 minutes of quiet reflective time can do for your soul. 

Stop the Stuff Stream. "Once you’ve decluttered, deowned and donated a large amount of stuff, your home will feel lighter and more enjoyable.The real trick is keeping your home that way. Stuff tends to creep in whether we want it to or not. The best way to protect a peaceful, decuttered home is to stop the stuff stream."

Incredible discovery of cave girl whose parents were different species. So cool! I loved my AWOW talk with Claire Cameron, whose novel predicates on this concept, so was excited to see this update.

 

I Reached A Minimalist Plateau & This Advice Got Me Through It. I love this idea! 


And closer to home:

I’ve been so moved by the kind reviews and amazing photos of TEAR ME APART! People are really connecting with this story and I’m so grateful. I was worried about how this book would be perceived, but I needn't have. So far, all the commentary has been very positive and caring. It's hard to lay bare your soul. I'm thrilled so many people are joining me on the journey.

You can read the inspiration behind the story here.

And if you haven't gotten your copy, it's not too late to help those first week sales!

Get the Book

AMAZON 
LIBRARY HARDCOVER 
BARNES & NOBLE 
TARGET 
BOOKS-A-MILLION 
INDIEBOUND 
INDIGO

Download the eBook

KINDLE
NOOK 
iBOOKS 
KOBO 
GOOGLE PLAY

Get the Audiobook

HARPER AUDIO 
AUDIBLE 
BARNES & NOBLE 
TARGET 
iTUNES

A few reviews you can check out to get a different perspective:

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@sixminutesforme, @book.happy, @kourtneysbookshelf.jpg

My hometown bookstore Parnassus Books hosted my launch party! We had a wonderful time despite the fact I'd only been back in town two hours...

Then I headed to Murder By The Book in Houston, where I got to meet some seriously amazing Bookstagrammers, and a longtime Facebook Friend.

You can find all of my remaining book tour events here.


That's all for now! Have a wonderful rest of the Labor Day weekend, read some great books, take a long walk without your headphones, and we'll talk again soon.

peace and hugs,
J.T.

The Why Behind TEAR ME APART

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God bless National Geographic.

I have had a subscription for decades. I used to keep all the old magazines until it became an issue (stacks and stacks and stacks - all donated, finally), so I switched to the digital version. I always knew I’d find an idea in one of them that would give me the key to a really cool book. 

Enter the July 2016 issue. I was reading it on a plane, and I read a story and felt that incredible tingle all over when I see something I want to incorporate into a book. It was about a new forensic technology called phenotyping. The uses are endless — with a DNA sample, forensic analysts can generate facial features of a suspect. Eye color. Hair color. Ancestry.

I got excited by the possibilities of this new technology. To start, think of the people accused of a crime who are wrongly convicted. Phenotyping will cut down on these cases, for sure. Nothing is infallible, but it’s a cool leap forward. And there’s also a program that can take the DNA and build a 3-D face out of it. Not admissible in court…yet. We’re about to enter the brave new world of criminology, for sure.

When I read the story, I knew immediately I wanted to have a character use these skills to solve a crime. 

But what crime? How about DNA from the crime scene of a missing, day-old baby? Cool, but… What if that baby was now 17 years old and famous? OK, now we’re getting somewhere. You see how this works. This is my process. What if? How about…? Hmmm…..?

I took this concept, married it to the idea I’d been carrying around with me for years about a woman who makes the ultimate sacrifice—her life—for her family, and boom—I had the beginnings of a story. 

In TEAR ME APART's first draft, the book was narrated by a dead woman in heaven. It was very cool, but it wasn’t right. Then I was challenged by one of those Facebook memes where you’re supposed to post the first seven lines of your work in progress (WIP). I took a look, and felt like my first seven lines weren’t shareable. I don’t like to discuss the WIP as it’s being created—you give away the magic when you do that, in my mind. So I cheated. I wrote something totally unrelated to my real opening. (Hey, don’t judge. People pay me to make things up for a living… 😉)

This is what I wrote, tossed off, really, just to satisfy the guilt of a meme:

I remember the day she arrived so clearly. What quirk of fate led her to me? I wondered about this for years. If only I had stepped right instead of left at the corner, or taken the stairs instead of the elevator at the hospital, perhaps ordered chicken instead of steak for my last meal with my father before his death, the principles of chaos—the butterfly effect—would have altered the course of my life enough that she wouldn’t have appeared. But I did step right, and I took the elevator, and I had the steak, and she did appear, and I will never recover from her. 

I posted it, and walked away. When I logged in again, there were a few comments from people who really liked it and wanted to see where the story went.

And I started to think. Who is she? Where DID this story go? Maybe this WAS the real opening of the book. It was a totally new voice, an undiscovered character. I knew one thing. It was a woman speaking. 

And suddenly, there it was. A new frame. A new setting. A new situation. A whole new story.

Magic. The sort of mental razzle-dazzle our creative brains do when we let them.

I love chaos theory; it’s the basis for a number of my stories. With my new frame in place, my new voice, the book… became. Without the meme challenge, would I have found my way into this story? I don’t know. But I am so grateful I did. (Thanks to fellow writers Bryon Quertermous, Allison Brennan, and Brian Tracey who all tagged me. Smooch!)

One last thing about TEAR ME APART: please read the Author’s Note. I was compelled to discuss some pretty dark, scary topics in this book, specifically depression, self-harm, and suicide. All have deeply affected my family, and I hope and pray we can have more open discussions about mental illness, remove the stigmas, and help ourselves, our family, and our friends live a better, happy, joyful, hopeful life. 

I leave you with the symbol of that movement, the humble semi-colon. Look it up. You won’t be sorry.



For every book, I create a soundtrack. This one is dark and evocative. I absolutely love it and hope you do too.