On Lent, and Doing Good Things for Ourselves and Others

It’s that time of year, when I give up social media for Lent. For the next six weeks, I will be turning inward, and stepping back from all things online.

I’ll still have blogs here, and since I have a release in two weeks (!) I will certainly pop up to say “Hey, buy mah book,” but otherwise, I will be silent.

Lent is just that for me, a time to reflect, to go silent. To look away from the world. It is incredibly difficult for me, which is why this is my Lenten abstinence of choice. I’ve given up Starbucks in the past, smoking, wine, chocolate, but none of those things (outside of smoking — that was a good one, it stuck) truly feel like a sacrifice.

Social media, on the other hand, does. I don’t like not having ready contact with people. I don’t like missing out on photos and news. I certainly don’t like not chatting with folks about books.

Which is why this is the right thing for me to give up. It really does affect me, puts me in a different mind space, where I can contemplate life and creativity and my spiritual nature. I was raised Episcopal, which is why I celebrate Lent in the first place, but over the years I’ve brought a number of tenets from various religions into my daily life, especially Buddhism. I’ve always felt everyone is right, and every religion and belief structure has something worth exploring.

So the weeks stretch ahead of me, unformed, open. There will be a lot of yoga, and meditation. And writing. Of course, there will be writing.

Whether you celebrate or not, may I offer this blessing for your next six weeks? That you have moments of quiet gratitude. That you are showered with kindness from strangers, and in turn have some to spare for others. We have all been put through the wringer over the past six months, and I can only hope that things calm down, that everyone feels less threatened and upset, and we can all work together to keep making our lives, and the lives of others, wonderful.

Blessed be!

2.11.16 - On A Social Media Sabbatical

On a Social Media Sabbatical

Lent is upon us, and as I do every year, I am taking a social media sabbatical.

As I write this, it hasn’t begun quite yet, and I’ve been cruising through Facebook and Twitter, having wee panic attacks at the thought of 6 weeks without either. Plus, of course, I have a book launching toward the end of Lent (which is from February 10 to March 24 this year.). This is an accurate portrayal of my inner struggles. 

u haz a book

Thankfully, I have the Divine Amy, who will be running the show while I’m away. 

In this day and age, it really is hard to simply disappear, especially when, like on my Facebook page, we have a community going. The cool thing is, said community can function without me. These people know each other. They talk, they share book recommendations, they tell each other jokes and lift each other up. It’s just that I’ll miss stopping by, chatting, being a part of everyone’s lives. 

So if this Lenten fast causes me concern, why am I doing it?

That’s a good question. 2016 is my Year of Lent. I’m working so hard loosen my hold on things that aren’t in my control. For someone who keeps about 6 calendars for fear of screwing up and forgetting something important, you can imagine how difficult this is for me. 

Lent is about giving up things that are precious to you. My online community is VERY precious to me. And, as happens, I’m spending too much time on social media and not enough time on writing. 

But that’s the cop out answer, too. The truth is, I need to find some quiet space. There have been a lot of changes this year, a lot of cacophony at home, with construction and sick cats and leaks and family issues, and I need to slow down, turn inward, find some space for my creativity to flourish. I’ve been running away from a few stories that are begging to get out. I have new deadlines on everything, a massive shift in content creation, and I need to make excellent use of my time to get ahead of the game, so to speak.

I am a natural multi-tasker, which isn’t a good thing. Proof positive right here. I’ve been feeling the strain of trying to juggle too many things, so I am looking forward to mono-tasking, and really accomplishing a ton.  

Because normally during Lent, I get a LOT of work done. One year I wrote 60,000 words in 6 weeks. Another I drafted two short stories and revised a full manuscript. I have great hopes for getting the new Nicholas Drummond book done, then getting a big jump start on the new Sam novel. And I have a short story that wants to come out and play. The blog needs tending. Amy and I are working on a secret project.

Plenty to do.

Lent, for me, is a time of great creativity, of quiet reflection, of focusing on what’s in front of me. There will be some travel, a lot of reading, and, I hope, a bit of peace for me to fill my well with.

 I will be blogging, and Amy will be running all the usual exciting staples. You might not even miss me. But if you do, feel free to shout anytime through email, or through Amy.

Have a blessed Lent, chickens! See you on the other side!

On Lent, and My 40 Days of Silence

Gone for Lent.jpg

Tomorrow begins my 40 Days of Silence, as I like to refer to it. Every year, I exit from the social networking sphere for Lent. It gives me a chance to get my feet back under me, get a lot of work done, and allow me a bit of time to reflect, read, and write.

The first year I left social networking for Lent, I wrote 60,000 words. It was enough to prove to me social networking DOES affect my writing time and creativity, so I decided to repeat the experiment annually.

Without Facebook and Twitter, I find myself more focused, more present. It's as simple as that. Coming off a book launch, revising the next book with Catherine, working on the secret project, finishing another secret project, and prepping for Sam #4, I need some headspace to make it all work. And honestly, a little time away can't hurt. Absence makes the heart grow fonder, right?

I made seeing people IRL (in real life) a priority for this year, and as much as I miss the convenience of having everyone in one place, my friends and I email, text, and (gasp!) talk on the phone, so I won't be too separated from them. And I'm getting antsy, not working on a new book. My brain needs to focus on creating again.

I've done quite a bit of preparation for this fast, so many of you won't even realize I'm gone. I'm toying with the idea of posting links while I'm away through my Buffer - things I've read and found interesting. But it feels like that might be defeating the purpose. (Feel free to let me know what you think in the comments - post links, or don't post links. It's all automated and ready to go, but a single click can turn it off again.)

I hope you'll understand my silence, and cheer me on in my quest. Lent is about denial, giving up things that are precious to you. Yes, jellybeans and wine would be a stellar second choice, but social networking is even dearer to me. I'm replacing my SN time with exercise and reading, hopefully rebooting my Italian lessons. I have a retreat on the books, and a trip to see Catherine. I plan to return in April leaner, more fluent, with a ton of words under my belt.

I will be updating the blog here occasionally, and if there's any great news that can't wait, I'll certainly come share. I wish you all the best in your Lenten endeavors, and whatever else you're setting your mind to these days. 

xo, JT


J.T. Ellison

New York Times bestselling author J.T. Ellison writes dark psychological thrillers starring Nashville Homicide Lt. Taylor Jackson and medical examiner Dr. Samantha Owens, and pens the Nicholas Drummond series with #1 New York Times bestselling author Catherine Coulter. Cohost of the premier literary television show, A Word on Words, Ellison lives in Nashville with her husband and twin kittens.

For more insight into her wicked imagination, join J.T.’s email list at jtellison.com/subscribe, or follow her online at Facebook.com/JTEllison14 or on Twitter @thrillerchick.

Social Networking and Lent: My 40 Days of Silence

Hi all! Sorry I've been so remiss with the blog - the release and the tour last week and the finishing touches on Taylor #7 have gotten me way behind schedule.

But I'll have plenty of time to catch up now that Lent is starting.

Every year, I take these 40 days and exit from the social networking sphere. I usually pick one or two days a week to stop in, say hi, and see what's happening. I'm pretty sure that day will be Friday for me. Fish and Facebook Fridays.

This is really hard for me, because I love talking to all of you. But it's also always such great timing, because each year at this time, I'm coming off a tour, turning in the last bits of the October book, and starting next year's March book. My brain needs to focus on creating again, looking forward, making the new book as solid as possible.

My 40 Days of Silence, as I like to call them, gives me a chance to get my feet back under me, get a lot of work done, and allow me a bit of time to reflect. After reading William Powers book HAMLET'S BLACKBERRY over Christmas, I've been focused on taking some Internet sabbaticals, giving my brain time to settle onto one or two things instead of fifty. Lent is the perfect moment to go deeper into that concept. 

I hope you'll understand my silence, and cheer me on in my quest. Lent is about denial, giving up things that are precious to you. Yes, chocolate would be a stellar second choice, but social networking is even dearer to me. I'm replacing my SN time with a walk and Italian lessons, so I plan to return in April leaner, and more fluent, with a ton of words under my belt.

I will be updating the blog here, though, and will have my usual columns on Murderati. I wish you all the best in your Lenten endeavors, and whatever else you're setting your mind to these days.

xo, JT

P.S. - Pics from the tour will be on the site by Friday! Signed copies are available at Reading Rock Books, The Book Exchange, Square Books and Mysteries & More.

Also, a signed book is avalable in a great auction to save our libraries - see here for more info.

There is No Truth More Self-Evident...

... than the simple, unassailable fact that authors are losing writing, reading, and sanity time on the social networks.

The season of Lent is upon us. Though I consider myself to be much more spiritual than religious, Lent is a special time of year for me. It's always functioned as my version of a New Year's resolution - pick one thing that you'd really, truly miss, and give it up for six weeks.

Six weeks isn't a very long time.

But it really is. Six weeks can be a lifetime in the publishing industry. Traditionally, the first six-week sales are absolutely vital to the success of your novel. If you're a list author, the first week is crucial, for the rest of us, it's that first few weeks on sale that can determine future print runs, contracts, etc. After all the hoopla leading up to a book's release, the stress doesn't really start until the official release day, when the numbers become the focus.

We do what we can to help further these sales along. We tour. We do stock signings. We do interviews in print, radio and television stints. We blog about the book, and we Twitter and Facebook constantly, letting people know where we are at all times, our mental standing and our hotel room niceties.

In the long run though, distribution is the most important factor in how well a book does. If you're in Walmart, for example, you can really see some dramatic sales as compared to just being on Amazon. Distribution is one of the big dividers between self-published and traditionally published books.

What does all this have to do with Lent?

Last year, when social networking was entering its frenzy, I gave up Facebook except for Tuesdays and Fridays. What I realized was shocking - in the ensuing six weeks, I wrote 63,000 words. I had no idea just how much time I was spending on Facebook and Twitter until I was off of it for a while.

With THE COLD ROOM officially launching next week, I've been struggling with the fact that I'd like to repeat my sacrifice from last year with the fact that I need to promote my new book. But late last night, I found the solution.

The Tao of JT feeds into Twitter, Facebook and my Facebook fan page through a wonderful program called Twitterfeed. I'm going to use this blog to communicate with the outside world for the next six weeks. I've turned on the comments so if you have something to say, you can pop on here and let me know. If you like the book, hate the book, want me to post a picture we took at a tour event, anything goes. And I in turn will post tour stories, pictures, and my hotel niceties here, without being hampered by 140 character limits.

And since on Sundays we are allowed to cheat, as it were, I'll pop on Facebook and Twitter to do housekeeping - friend requests, clean my page of random meatballs thrown and angels promised. 

How's that sound to y'all? Oh, and I'm giving up sweets, too, just in case I slip. It's always good to have a backup plan, right?

If you need me, you can email me through the website here. Don't DM or Inbox me important things - heck, you shouldn't do that anyway. It's too easy to lose business information in the chatter - always go to the author's real email if you need something business-oriented. Let's see how this experiment works, and just how much work I can get done. I'll report on my progress as we go.

Have a wonderful Lent.