It's Indie Bookstore Day! Here's Why I Love Mine.

Copy of writer tribes indie bookstore.png

Happy Indie Bookstore Day! I hope you celebrate by visiting your local bookseller and finding your next great read. 

I originally posted this in 2016, but it still holds up. I'm so proud and pleased that Parnassus is an even bigger part of Nashville's literary community today.

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A few nights ago, I attended a signing at the wonderful Parnassus Books in Nashville.

The signing author was Ariel Lawhon, who was launching her brilliant story chronicling the doomed flight of the Hindenburg, FLIGHT OF DREAMS. As Ariel and I hugged and kissed hello, bookseller extraordinaire Bill Long-Innes smiled benevolently and asked, “Do you guys have a writer tribe? It seems like Nashville authors really make an effort to support one another. I wonder if any other cities have such a tight knit group?”

Ariel and I nodded.

Because we do have a tribe here in Nashville.

Our literary community, dubbed the Nashville Literati, is tight. There are cliques within it—young adult writers in the SCBWI, crime fiction in Sisters in Crime, romance writers in MCWR, literary authors big with Salon 615 and Humanities Tennessee and The Porch Writers’ Collective.

But when it comes to supporting another author, we cross genres like a boss.

We lunch together. We attend each other’s signings. We hang out in East Nashville at East Side Storytellin’. We pull together all our writing buddies when a writer friend comes to town. We even go on writing retreats together.

And now one constant we all have in common is our indie store, Parnassus.

I think the store’s staff has made it such a welcoming, open place for writers of all genres, of all stripes, that we can’t help but want to gather there.  

When our beloved former indie, Davis-Kidd, closed its doors in 2010 (and Parnassus didn’t yet exist), it suddenly became much harder to get everyone together. We have the annual Southern Festival of Books, which is always well-represented with local authors. We did lunches and cocktails, drove out to other counties to attend signings.

But not having an indie store that represented and celebrated all the writers in town was hard. A town without an indie store is a sad one indeed.

Davis-Kidd had a long history in this town. As a matter of fact, it was one of the reasons I was okay with moving here. When my then boyfriend (now husband) brought me to Nashville in 1993 to meet his parents, he drove me around, and our last stop was Davis-Kidd. “See?” he said. “This is the best bookstore in town. You’ll have plenty to read if we ever move here.”

(I’m not sure if I was more entranced by the idea of books—books!—or the fact that my boyfriend had just hinted strongly he wanted a long future with me.) 

Davis-Kidd was everything you could ask for in a bookstore: great staff, great events, a huge, diverse collection of titles. I attended my very first author signing there (John Connolly! My writing hero!). At that signing, I met a woman who became my other mother, who mentored me through years of writing, getting an agent, getting a deal. I did one of my first signings at David-Kidd. I hit my first bestseller list while I was launching my fourth book there. I attended Sisters in Crime meetings there. I wept with everyone else when it closed.

To have an indie in our midst again is incredible.

It’s been very fun to watch Parnassus take hold in our community, to see stories being made there. The Nashville Literati grows stronger day-by-day, with new writers coming up to join the established ones. And Parnassus is our hub. Several writers are booksellers there (And one co-owns it. You might have heard of her . . . her name is Ann.). This lends a verisimilitude unmatched anywhere else.

Yes, Nashville has a writer tribe, just as strong as Chicago, New York, and L.A.

And thanks to our favorite indie, we have a place to call our own, too.

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Sunday Smatterings

Sunday Smatterings 1.7.18

Hey, chickens! How you doing today? Thawing out, I hope? No more bomb cyclones raging in our backyards?

If you're a U.S. chicken, I don't need to tell you that it has been so cold lately. My fingers stay frozen if they aren't wrapped around a tea mug. The kitties can't go on the porch. Thankfully Nashville wasn't swept up in the bombogenesis, but my deepest sympathies to you if you were. Yeesh. Old Man Winter is sure a grumpy fellow sometimes.

This week I put in lots of edits and new words for TEAR ME APART. I'm at a point where I'm honing the story, upping the tension, making things tighter, discovering more dark and twisty corridors inside of my characters. This is the good stuff of storytelling, when I can start pulling all the threads together. It makes this writer very, very happy.

Anyway. Without further ado, I give you links.


Here's what happened on the Internets this week:
 

The simple structure to attaining your goals. Essential January reading, especially for those who want to keep their resolutions.
 

Jocko Willink on the power of discipline. We all know I'm a fan of Cal Newport's work, and I read his blog religiously. This article featuring former-Navy-Seal-turned-leadership-consultant Willink ran in December, but I thought it would be a perfect read as we ring in the new year. We're all looking for more freedom in our lives, and Willink uses a surprising tool to find his: discipline. 


How to use money to buy back your time. Creatives, take heed. Your time is so valuable. Where can YOU turn over your work to someone and buy back some creative time?
 

I WAS ANASTASIA by Ariel Lawhon - a Winter 2018 Okra Pick. I had the pleasure of reading this beauty early. Fans of historical fiction: y'all need to run to your bookstore in March when this hits shelves. Such a great story!


Greta Gerwig and Saoirse Ronan on How They Found the Voice of "Lady Bird." 2018 is going to be a powerful year for women in entertainment, both in front of and behind the camera. Long overdue!


Triple-Acting Diabetes Drug Reverses Memory Loss in Alzheimer's Disease Mouse Models. This is huge, y'all! An accidental find, and a promising start.


How Americans of both political parties can come together to support the Iranian people. When I joined Twitter, we turned our avatars green in support of the Iranian people. It’s time for another bold statement. #freedom


And closer to home:


My 2017 Annual Review. 2017 was one of my most exciting, crazy, thought-provoking, and frustrating years ever. At the beginning of the year, I predicted I'd more create consistency and contentment through staying home more. How well did I do? You be the judge.


Sunday Reads: YEAR ONE by Nora Roberts. This apocalyptic read is quite a departure from Nora's usual fare...


Also, an important thing I must tell you before I go:

 

Saturday nights tights. #myhusbandisagenius #crazycatlady

A post shared by J.T. Ellison 📚🤓 (@thrillerchick) on

 

They make sexy tights with kittens on them. You're welcome.


That's it from me! Y'all stay warm, make a snow angel or two, and we'll talk again soon.

xo,
J.T.

DEAD ENDS: Stories from the Gothic South is on sale today!

For years, I’ve been telling people (new writers, especially) that while everything is derivative—there are only seven plots, after all—what makes their story distinctive is voice. The treatment a writer gives their novel or short story will always be unique unto them: their voice, their experiences, their vocabulary, their writing style, all will converge to make even the most tried-and-true plot trope unique.

Said more simply, if you give thirteen writers a photo and ask them to write a story, you’ll get thirteen completely different stories.

I’ve seen this happen when I teach. I like to use visual aids to help the writers in my classes, to give them a jumping-off point. A kick start. I think it’s a fun, stress-free way of starting a story. I show them a man, a woman, a setting. Something, anything, so they don’t have to conjure up a tale from total scratch.

I’ve been using this example for so long, and so often, that when I came across this photo in an article I was reading, I knew I had the perfect opportunity. 

 
The House that inspired DEAD ENDS
 

I immediately wondered: What was his story? What was this place he stood before? What was the house to him?

With this evocative photo in hand, I approached my publisher and posited an idea: Let’s create an anthology of stories based on the house in the photo. I mean, why not put my money where my mouth is, right? I handpicked a group of writers whom I thought would do a great job at showcasing (and proving) my theory—that no two writers will approach the page the same way. We had only two requirements for them: that the house appear in the story in some way, and the theme of the story was Southern Gothic.

These talented writers did exactly what I thought they’d do—they created wildly diverse stories about, in, and mentioning the house that are in turns chilling, haunting, and downright scary. From writers going mad to demons inhabiting young girls; ancient caves to ancestral feuds; gardens of stone angels to evils seen and unseen—the stories you’re about to read cover the gamut of the best themes of Southern Gothic fiction.

They clearly had so much fun with it that I had to join in.

And so, I give you DEAD ENDS. My brilliant friends and I have cooked up thirteen original, never-before-published spooky tales for you to enjoy this Halloween season. I hope you enjoy reading them as much as we did writing them. But be sure to lock the doors and windows first... you never know what the road ahead might bring.

 

Get the ebook: $3.99

Get the Paperback: $13.99

Get the Hardcover: $24.99

Look at this picture. Tell me what you see…

The American South is rife with stories of a haunted past—especially its houses. In this eclectic and impressive collection, thirteen novelists were asked to build their tales around the photo of a dilapidated mansion. They were given two requirements—the house must appear in the story, and it should be a Southern Gothic tale. And they delivered.

From childish demons to a mad novelist, from the Mississippi delta to the Appalachians, this collection from emerging voices and New York Timesbestselling authors explores what happens when secrets that lie beneath the dust are disturbed—and our worst nightmares begin. 

Darkness lurks behind every corner, especially dead ends.


Contributors Include:

  1. Jeff Abbott
  2. David Bell
  3. Laura Benedict
  4. Patti Callahan Henry
  5. Dana Chamblee Carpenter
  6. Paige Crutcher
  7. Helen Ellis
  8. J.T. Ellison
  9. Ariel Lawhon
  10. Lisa Morton
  11. Bryon Quertermous
  12. Amanda Stevens
  13. Dave White

Sunday Smatterings

Sunday Smatterings 9.17.17

Hey, y'all. How's tricks? Yours truly is back in Nashville for the first time in a long while. I loved, loved, loved meeting so many of you out on the road. But this introvert is overjoyed to be back with her hubby, her cats, and pots of tea within arm's reach. It's the little things, you know.

Fun news: If you didn't get to see me on tour, join me for my LiveSigning this Thursday night at 7:00 pm CT! Details are below. Bonus – you don't even have to leave your couch to attend. 🎉🎉🎉

Now it's back to work for me, conjuring new adventures for Nicholas and Mike. Things are going to be quiet on this front while I whip our new book into shape. But don't worry, I'm not disappearing for long. I'll see many of you at Bouchercon mid-October! 

And without further ado...


Here's what happened on the Internets this week:

11 Literary Destinations Every Book-Lover Should Visit in the Fall. Autumn is just around the corner, and it's the best time of year to be a book geek! Here's where you should go on a literary road trip.
 

What I've Been Reading Lately: The New and the Notable. Great book finder Anne Bogel dishes on the five books she's been loving lately. Stock those TBR piles, y'all!
 

The Crazy Story Behind the First Book Published in the (Future) United States. An escape from England, an indentured servant with a mysterious past, and an untimely death while crossing the Atlantic—it sounds like a juicy plot, doesn't it?
 

The not-so-easy Weasley quiz. They aren't kidding. How many did you get? My score was deemed "Weason-able." #WeasleyIsOurKing
 

THE ABANDONED HEART by Laura Benedict is out in paperback! My bestie writes Southern Gothic fiction, and it is superb. Check out the last of her Bliss House trilogy, now at a killer bargain price.
 

Best Books of the Month: September Edition. Speaking of good books, check out these favorites from suspense authors Liz Fenton & Lisa Steinke (word on the street is there's a giveaway attached to this post...).
 

U.S. Postal Service unveils series of stamps honoring children's book "The Snowy Day." Just in time for the holidays! 
 

16 New Thriller Books Coming Out This Fall. So many book roundups hit the feeds this time of year, and for good reason: fall is a treasure trove for us book lovers. BookBub gives us even more books for our TBR piles.
 

A Big Ol' Interview about LIE TO ME with Book Reporter. This was a fun one—lots of great questions!


And closer to home:

 
 

Did I not visit your city for the LIE TO ME tour? Worry not, chicken: at my LiveSigning (with special guest, historical novelist and my dear friend Ariel Lawhon!), you can get a signed book AND ask me questions – all from your own couch!

Click here to get your signed copy. ➤ https://livesigning.com/jt

 
 
 

Pre-Order DEAD ENDS: Stories from the Gothic South, edited by ME! Look at this lineup. Look at it. Y'all, this anthology is packed with creepy goodness from emerging voices and NYT bestsellers, and will arrive just in time for Halloween reading. 

It's. So. Good. Order your copy today! It's in hardcover, paperback, and ebook.

 
 
 

John Grisham tried to write a book without lawyers in it. And he (almost) succeeded.

His latest, CAMINO ISLAND, is a fascinating look into the world of stolen rare books, and he takes us along for the ride.

I have been sitting on this interview for months, desperate to tell you about it, and I'm so excited to finally share it with you! Mr. Grisham was a gracious, insightful, and disarmingly funny guest. I was thrilled to sit down with him for this week’s episode of A WORD ON WORDS. #keepreading


That's it from me! Enjoy some lovely autumn weather, bake some brownies for the neighbors, buy a pumpkin or two, and we'll talk again soon.

xo,
J.T.


P.S. I'm thinking of you, my Texas and Florida chickens. 

Sunday Smatterings

Sunday Smatterings 9.10.17

Hello, lovelies. How are you? While it's been a wild ride this week, I have to admit I've been following Irma reports quite closely. Many friends and loved ones in the storm's path, so while I'm still on tour today, my heart is with you, beloved Florida. Y'all stay strong and safe. ❤️

LIE TO ME touring has made me quite the road warrior—it's been so much fun seeing so many of you in person, and saying hi to new faces. Today I'm in the Bay Area, teaching at the Book Passage Mystery Conference. I prefer to think of it as corrupting the young writers of America, but YMMV...

I'm off to Seattle tonight, signing tomorrow at the wonderful Seattle Mystery Bookshop, then off to my Colorado stomping grounds, where I'll be talking with the brilliant Chris Goff at Tattered Cover – Aspen Grove on Tuesday night. Then a little break. Whew!

Without further ado...


Here's what happened on the Internets this week:


The Best Places to See Fall Foliage in the United States. It's the most wonderful time of the year! 🍂 Even more fun: Sutton and Ethan Montclair's Franklin, TN, is on the list. 
 

The Greatest Goths in Literary History. I've always been a little punk rock and enjoyed the darker side of things—heck, I'm even putting out a Southern Gothic collection later this month! Here's to the darker writers who came before us.
 

White Shoes After Labor Day: Can You Do It? What say you, dear reader? Can you do it? Full disclosure, I have never owned a pair of white shoes (see punk rocker, above), so I'm doubly fascinated.
 

Book Review: The Perfect Pencil. Y'all know how much I love a good pencil. That is why the nerd in me wants to read this book.
 

Ian McEwan's Enchanted Garden. Excuse me while I pick up my jaw from the floor. 😮 WANT!!!!! (The house ain't bad, either...)
 

Sidekicks People Like Better Than the Main Character. Do you agree?
 

A Book to Watch Out For: I WAS ANASTASIA by Ariel Lawhon. Historical fiction fans, and history fans in general, don't walk—run—to get a copy of this book. I WAS ANASTASIA comes out next March, but those of you with NetGalley access can request it now. I got my hands on an advanced copy, and it's INCREDIBLE.
 

[video] New A Word on Words episode: Chemical Reaction with Weike Wang. This week's episode of AWOW finds my cohost Mary Laura Philpott chatting with CHEMISTRY author Weike Wang about her debut book, a coming-of-age novel about a young (unnamed) female scientist who must recalibrate her life when her academic career goes off track. Interesting!


And closer to home:

It's here: LIE TO ME is out! If you've been living under a rock (or missed the banner at the top of the page), you may not know that my newest standalone novel, LIE TO ME, came out this week. And oh, has it been a week. I've been overwhelmed by the flood of well wishes and love from all of you. LIE TO ME is stocked in stores across the land in all formats.  Even The Washington Post ran a review that said I've crafted a "compelling story" (let the angels rejoice!). It's been quite a ride—thank you for making all of this happen. ❤️

A few pieces that have run during LIE TO ME release week:

  • Pushing Boundaries. If you're looking for ways to level up your writing, I give you 6 ways to do just that.
  • Libro.fm's Books We Love. This sampling of HarperCollins new releases popular in independent bookstores is perfect for your audiophiles.
  • Instagram Tour of Franklin, TN. The settings in my novels are, to me, characters unto themselves. I love the verisimilitude of writing a place I know so well. LIE TO ME is set in the beautiful, idyllic town of Franklin, twenty miles south of Nashville. If you'd like to see if the settings in LIE TO ME match your imagination, take a peek at my Instagram.

That's it from me! Y'all be good, be safe, read a good book, take a walk in the cooler evenings, and we'll talk again soon.

xo,
J.T.