Sunday Smatterings

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Buongiorno, and happy Sunday! I’ve finally both gotten over my jet lag and shaken the infernal beast of a cold I caught whilst in Italy, so I’m a bit more bright-eyed and bushy-tailed today than I have been in a couple of weeks. There’s really nothing worse than getting sick on a big trip. The whole family was laid low, though, so we definitely had a tank team mentality.

It has been a week of highs and lows. I have some good news that I can’t share just yet, but will very soon. I found out my meniscus is torn and I have an MRI scheduled to see if surgery is necessary. GOOD GIRLS LIE got some serious love from Publishers Marketplace (see links below.) And on the other end of the spectrum, my parents returned home to find their house had been broken into, the car and several other major items stolen. And there was everything in between, just a strange, bouncing-around week emotionally. I literally went from fist-pumping to tears in the same conversation. Maybe it’s the change of season. Maybe it’s the insanity permeating parts of our nation. Maybe it’s just menopause. I don’t know. But I feel your suffering, world. I really do. In my knee, and in my heart.

In brighter news, I crossed the 100,000 work mark for the year. I’d set a goal of 200,000 for 2019, and this has me comfortably on pace.

And… I’ve been seeing the ads for the MasterClass for months now, and I’ve always been interested, though I’ve resisted, for some unfathomable reason. I’ve wanted to see the James Patterson, Neil Gaiman, and Margaret Atwood ones for a while now, but when Annie Leibovitz popped up, it felt fortuitous, as I’ve been using her as the basis for a character in my new novel.  So we signed up for a year’s access, and immediately set about watching... Malcolm Gladwell. As you do.

(Remember, DH is a non-fiction writer, so this was a fitting start for us both.)

I’ve come away from this first Masterclass with a number of takeaways. 

  1. I’m adding Malcolm Gladwell to any future dinner party invitation list. The man is brilliant, erudite, and hysterical.

  2. Listening to brilliant people talk about their work, their passion, is incredibly inspiring. 

  3. “Is there an analogous story to the one you think you’re writing about?” 

This last is a quote from Gladwell that stuck with me, because it’s the perfect way to approach building new fiction. I interviewed Harlan Coben for AWOW a few weeks ago, and he said he had several ideas for RUN AWAY that he wanted to get into the book. (I won’t list them, for fear of spoilers.) They were disparate on the surface, but in the context of the story, made for a rollicking adventure. I was reminded of this immediately when I heard Gladwell’s question.

A great story—a great thriller, especially—relies on the reversal of fortune that catapults the story in new and unusual ways. When you’re thinking about your story, your characters, think about the analogous situation. What’s happening in the story next door, so to speak, and how can you bridge the gap between them.

It’s a great way to conceptualize your story reversals, your characters’ challenges.

And so. With that, let’s check out the links, (which are deep and varied this week, so grab a cuppa before you dive in!)


Here's what happened on the Internets this week:

GOOD GIRLS LIE is featured in the Fall/Winter Buzz Books from Publishers Marketplace ahead of its galley release at BEA. So. Freaking. Cool! And (hint, hint) you can read the first few chapters if you download the sampler, plus see samples of 45 other books. Incredible, right?

Why narrating an audiobook is a LOT harder than you think. "The very best audiobook narrators don’t just read a novel – they perform it." I firmly believe an audiobook is made by the narrator. Tell me some of your favorites in the comments!

Peach and Prosciutto Crostini with Whipped Honey Ricotta. A - Yum. B - If you're not reading Edit Nashville, a new magazine for our town with a great backstory, you should be.

I very much enjoyed chatting with the fine folks at Freedom, the makers of my #1 Productivity App, to discuss creativity in the age of distraction. It’s a cool company and a truly life-changing app.

You Can Book a Fancy Version of Hagrid’s Hut for the Ultimate Harry Potter Vacation. How cool is this?! Quite the upgrade for Hagrid.

How a Canadian Chain Is Reinventing Book Selling.  “It may seem strange for a bookstore chain to be developing and selling artisanal soup bowls and organic cotton baby onesies. But Indigo’s approach seems not only novel but crucial to its success and longevity.” I LOVE Indigo. One of my favorite stops in Toronto.

Emilia Clarke has lost her Spanx. And…I die…

'Here is a story! Story it is': how fairytales are told in other tongues. Language is fascinating! 

Hannah Mary McKinnon (THE NEIGHBORS) invites some of the best and brightest female crime fiction authors to discuss why, exactly, they kill.



Modern Mrs. Darcy’s Annual Summer Reading Guide is here!!! What a great guide, year after year. A true labor of love for the written word.


My lovely cohost Mary Laura interviewed Tim Johnston in this week’s episode of A WORD ON WORDS, and it has the creepiest ending to any show we’ve ever taped.


What I’m Reading:

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Leigh Bardugo is one of my favorites, and the Grisha trilogy is hands down one of the best fantasy trilogies out there. RUIN AND RISING has such an incredible conclusion. It's masterful how she has pulled the story together, pulled all the characters together, and kept true to the characters and setting. It's just a magnificent body of work. If you haven't read it yet, you should. If you have read Leigh, tell me what to read next because I'm going to be in a reading slump forever. Or at least until I sit down with KING OF SCARS.

What are you reading?


Enough from me. Leave out a snack for your neighborhood kitty, crack open a bottle of champagne (hey, we all need champagne sometimes), give someone who needs it a hug, viral or otherwise, and I’ll see you next week!

peace and hugs,
J.T.