A DEEPER DARKNESS — on sale for $1.99

A DEEPER DARKNESS, the first book in my Sam Owens series, is on sale for $1.99! We’re not sure how long this sale will last so get a copy while you can.

About the book:

As a medical examiner, Samantha Owens knows her job is to make a certain sense of death with crisp methodology and precision instruments. 

But the day the Tennessee floods took her husband and children, the light vanished from Sam's life. She has been pulled into a suffocating grief no amount of workaholic ardor can penetrate—until she receives a peculiar call from Washington, D.C.

On the other end of the line is an old boyfriend's mother, asking Sam to do a second autopsy on her son. Eddie Donovan is officially the victim of a vicious carjacking, but under Sam's sharp eye the forensics tell a darker story. The ex-Ranger was murdered, though not for his car.

Forced to confront the burning memories and feelings about yet another loved one killed brutally, Sam loses herself in the mystery contained within Donovan's old notes. It leads her to the untouchable Xander, a soldier off-grid since his return from Afghanistan, and then to a series of brutal crimes stretching from that harsh mountainous war zone to this nation's capital. The tale told between the lines makes it clear that nobody's hands are clean, and that making sense of murder sometimes means putting yourself in the crosshairs of death.

Download the eBook

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Sunday Smatterings

Smatterings - July 22.jpg

A voluminous Sunday hello! Yes, I'm in a very good mood. Much is happening in JT land–most of which can't be discussed just yet–but soon, chickens, soon. Most importantly, there are words. So many words. All week, they've chased me about the house until I capture them and commit them to the page. THE LAST SECOND is growing by the day, stampeding toward the mid-August deadline. Wish me luck it all keeps up!

Since it's July, it's time for assessing goals. I've done a brief check through my 2018 plans and so far, I'm right on track. I did make a major adjustment to my book reading plans. I'd hoped for 80, as I've done in years past, but since I've already read 58 and am in the middle of 59 and 60, I felt safe revising my estimate up to 100. If I can write two books and read 100, I call it a successful year. Adding in audiobooks did exactly what I hoped: Upped my totals. I can listen to a book while walking, doing chores, and also read a book at night and over breakfast. Wow, am I immersed in story! The best way to be–reading has always been an escape for me.

Interested in what I've been reading, and what's to come soon? Come on by Goodreads and take a gander. Yes, I do have 945 books on my TBR. Yes, I own 90% of them. Yes, I have a LOT of bookshelves and a couple of devices to handle them all. Am I a happy girl? YES!

I've just realized we're only 5 weeks from the launch of TEAR ME APART, so some brief housekeeping: Tour will be less concentrated this year since the book's release date changed. We're updating the Events page as we get confirmed dates. For you Nashvillians, I do hope you'll join me August 29th at Parnassus for the official launch. More to come!

Without further adieu, let's take a look at the latest and greatest book world buzz!


Here's what happened on the Internets this week: 

25 Breakthrough Books of 2018 (So Far.) I have SO MANY of these on my TBR...Children of Blood & Bone, The Kiss Quotient, The Hazel Wood... Someone send me Hermione's time turner, would you?

 

The State of the Thriller: A Roundtable - International Thriller Writer Nominees Weigh In On The Genre. Some great stuff in here... and many congratulations to the winners of the Thriller awards this past weekend. I was so sorry to miss Thrillerfest this year. Never again!

 

'Colette' Trailer: Keira Knightley Fights for Literary Ownership in Feminist Period Drama. Well, this movie about French Nobel Prize-nominated author Sidonie-Gabrielle Colette looks incredible! I adore Kiera Knightley, but I also love seeing the women behind the men. 

 

Cry, Heart, But Never Break: A Remarkable Illustrated Meditation On Loss And Life. A lovely treatise on our greatest fear. I want to recommend this to anyone suffering right now.

 

What I Learned from Spending My 20s Working in the White House. "I spent so much of my twenties fearing I was falling behind. Yes, I ended up at the White House, but even at the epicenter of power, I was not remotely close to chasing my own dream of writing. Except that I was, I just didn’t realize that the writing I did in the morning and in the margins of my job would be what landed me right in the middle of my biggest dream."

 

The Ultimate List of Books to Read While Traveling. LOVE posts that give a good book to read in a foreign setting. Anytime I travel, I immerse myself in books about the area. I especially love reading Regency-era London books, then trying to imagine the city without all the steel and noise. 

 

What Is a Southern Writer, Anyway? Another thought-provoking piece by Margaret Renkl!


And closer to home:

A DEEPER DARKNESS, the first book in my Samantha Owens series, has a new ebook cover, and I absolutely LOVE it. This is the first time the cover really evokes the story perfectly. If you don't know the story behind my Samantha Owens series, you might enjoy reading this post about how it came to be. 

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Dark And Twisted Reads boxset.jpg

DARK AND TWISTED READS, a new book compilation, is three novels in a single book that also came out this week. It features ALL THE PRETTY GIRLS, by yours truly, A PERFECT EVIL by Alex Kava, and BONE COLD by Erica Spindler. This is a perfect grouping of books. If you’ve read me, but not Erica or Alex, you’re in for a major treat!

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SOTN audio.jpg

STORIES OF THE NIGHT is now available on audio! 

*A writer finds a cave keeping a dark secret for nearly a century.

*A ghost in a Scottish castle seeks blood on a wedding day.

*A student abroad loses herself in a dreamy art dealer and his dark painting.

*An undercover cop searches for the lover who’s haunted him for years.

These four stories reveal what happens when we allow ourselves to step toward the darkness—only to discover we are alone, with no escape.


And did you see Goodreads has another TEAR ME APART giveaway? 25 people will get Advance Reader Copies. Good luck!


That's all for now! Follow your favorite author on social media, cut some hydrangea for your counter, and give a favorite book a re-read. See you next week!

peace and hugs,
J.T.

A DEEPER DARKNESS has a new look!

A Deeper Darkness repackage.jpg

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

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______

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!

A DEEPER DARKNESS Releases in Australia

A DEEPER DARKNESS goes down under with a kick ass cover and a great contest.

Thank you all for being so patient with the release!

ENTER NOW to WIN 1 of 5 Harlequin bestseller packs

As a medical examiner, Samantha Owens knows her job is to make a certain sense of death with crisp methodology and precision instruments. But when the Tennessee floods took her husband and children, the light vanished from Sam's life. She has been pulled into a suffocating grief no amount of workaholic ardour can penetrate — until she receives a peculiar call from Washington…

On the other end of the line is an old boyfriend's mother asking Sam to do a second autopsy on her son. Eddie Donovan is officially the victim of a vicious carjacking, but under Sam's sharp eye, the forensics tell a darker story. The ex-Ranger was murdered...though not for his car.

Forced to confront the burning memories and feelings about yet another loved one killed brutally, Sam loses herself in the mystery contained within Donovan's old notes. It leads her to the untouchable Xander — a soldier off-grid since his return from Afghanistan — and then to a series of brutal crimes stretching from that harsh mountainous war zone to the nation's capital.

The tale told between the lines makes it clear that nobody's hands are clean, and that making sense of murder sometimes means putting yourself in the crosshairs of death.

When Life Imitates Art

I’m in Anaheim this week for RWA. I am blessed to have been nominated for a Rita® in Romantic Suspense, which is overwhelmingly exciting, but also bittersweet on a certain level, because the book that’s nominated, WHERE ALL THE DEAD LIE, is the last in my Taylor Jackson series for a while. Several months ago, my team and I made a decision to let Taylor take a long vacation, and focus on a new character, Dr. Samantha Owens.

Suffice it to say, starting a new series was scary for me. After seven books with the same lead character, I was in a groove. I knew how everyone 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 challenges 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. 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.

Ironically, without realizing it, I was writing the story of my past few years. My husband and I have struggled with infertility for half a decade. Multiple pregnancies resulted in multiple miscarriages. IUIs and IVF didn’t work. 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 DARKNESSin galley form that I realized I’d used the book as therapy. All of Sam’s losses mirrors 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 myself on the page. And that’s possibly the most terrifying thing of all.