12.04.16 - Sunday Smatterings

Sunday Smatterings 12.04.16

Hello, darlings, welcome to December! Did you have a good week? The holiday season has definitely arrived: front doors are bedecked with wreaths, spruces peek out of living room windows, neighborhoods twinkle after dark. It's a magical time of year, for sure. I try to savor the season as much as I can, try not to get caught in the checklists and party planning and tying the perfect ribbons. Because when you get caught up in the little things, you tend to lose sight of the big ones—like spending time with the people you love. That's what holidays are made of, right?

Remember: you can do anything, but you can't do everything.

At any rate...
 

Here's what happened on the Internets this week:

 

This is the stuff Internet dreams are made of: an adorable cat video. If you're having a bad day, GO WATCH THIS.

Speaking of heartwarming things, a bookstore in Michigan helps children who are timid readers by hosting a Reading with Zoey the Therapy Dog day in their shop. Be still, my heart.

In Illinois, a repo man paid off an elderly couple's car... and gave it back to them. More of this, please, and not just during the holiday season.

November is always National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo, for short), and some writers adopt fun habits or locales to soldier through those 50,000 words they agreed to write. But these writers won... because they spent NaNoWriMo in a French castle.

Hey, fellow Potterheads, check out this amazing HP Christmas tree!

 

And closer to home:

 

The FIELD OF GRAVES paperback came out this week! 🎉 Grab a copy for you and a friend (because stocking stuffers, am I right?).

Big news from The Wine Vixen: the Netflix of wine has arrived. You're welcome.

My December News comes out this week! Are you signed up to get it? If not, click here (and snag your free ebook).

 

That it from me! Go sit by a fire, grab a book and a hot beverage, and we'll talk again soon.


xoxo,
J.T.

11.6.16 - Sunday Smatterings

Sunday Smatterings 11.6.16

Hello, darlings. How are you? We're staving off the change-of-seasons sniffles here in the Ellison house, so I've got warm blankets, mugs of tea, and bowlfuls soup on my mind – the chicken stew I mentioned in this month's newsletter seems even more timely than ever. 

Sniffles notwithstanding, I'm in full work mode – I'm putting the final edits to my new standalone, currently titled TEAR ME APART. My editor and I are honing the edges, trying to make this a razor-sharp read for y'all, and I'm really excited with where this is headed. Come next fall, I hope you are too!

Without further ado...
 

Here's what happened on the Internets this week:
 

Nerdy Christmas gift alert: these Blackwing pencils. (longer, nerdier post about pencils to come later this week – I know, I know, something for you to look forward to!)

Y'all know I love a good work hack, and this is a good one for all of us: How to use social media and stay productive

Did you ever snoop in your sister's diary, or accidentally stumble upon your spouse's journal? The inner voyeur in you might enjoy reading this piece, though all of us can appreciate the beauty of writer May Sarton's insight on solitude and getting through life's darkest times.

Rejoice, English majors: the Oxford University Press has just named Christopher Marlowe as a co-author in their new edition of Shakespeare's collected works.

 

And closer to home:
 

Fellow writers, are you participating in NaNoWriMo? I almost always do. While you're blazing new trails through your story, you might find yourself stumbling on one of the more difficult subjects to write about: a steamy sex scene. I've written about this before, but this week I (along with 4 other brilliant writers) have a snippet of advice in Bustle on how to write about doing the deed, and doing it well.

As we've said time and time again on The Wine Vixen, good wine doesn't have to be expensive. And these five wines from Aldi prove that beautifully.

Also, if you've been under a rock, you might not have heard that the paperback version of NO ONE KNOWS is out!!!!! A little bird told me this would be a great stocking stuffer for a bookworm or a swap gift for a book club.


That's it from me! Y'all enjoy your week (Lord knows it'll be an eventful one), eat some soup, snuggle with a kitty, and I'll talk to you again soon.

xo,
J.T.

11.3.16 - Welcome to November

Welcome to November

November.

Not sure how this happened, though for once, I’m not wishing I could turn back the clock on the year. On the contrary, I’m ready for 2016 to be behind me because the Year of No turned into the Year of Go, and I feel like I’ve swum the English Channel in chains.

Don’t get me wrong: having work as an author is a wonderful, glorious thing. I’ve just been a wee bit overwhelmed.

As such, the blog has been neglected, but as we’re nearing the end of the insanity, and things feel like they’re calming down, I’m going to come back with snippets and word counts and affirmations. Sunday Smatterings will stay in it’s slot, and I’m going to blog as the spirit moves me.

So there. To hell with schedules, right?

Now. November is a special month in the writing world—It’s NANOWRIMO, National Novel Writing Month.
 

I’ve written about it many times. The general gist: writers try to write 50,000 words in 30 days. That’s 1666 words a day for those of you keeping score. Yes, that’s the usual output for a professional writer, which is why you see some disdain for this exercise from some, but the idea behind NaNo is much more basic. It’s a chance to throw caution to the wind and try something new. Which I love. My 2nd Taylor novel, 14, was a NaNoWriMo winner. I fully believe in the power of the creative spirit, and with so many creatives engaged, the universe becomes full. 

So NaNo on, peeps. I’ll let you know how I’m doing as well. I have a new standalone I’m a few chapters into and I want a nice big jump on it. It’s called THE LOST ONE, the story is whack, and I’m looking forward to having some fun. Onward! 

Write hard!

Comment

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.

Not ANOTHER NaNoWriMo Blog...

Yes, it is. Because it's that time of year, when millions of people will sit down at their computers November 1 and commit themselves to writing a novel over the course of the next 30 days. National Novel Writing Month - or NaNoWriMo - is an exercise in lunacy, pain, exultation, and true accomplishment. 

Whether you finish or not, the 30-day, 50,000 word sprint has a more specific purpose: to help you develop the habit of sitting down at the computer every day and mindfully writing.

To meet the NaNoWriMo goals, you must write an average of 1666 words a day. That equals about 7-8 pages. To some, that seems an insurmountable number, which is why the whole goal of NaNo is for you to write without censure, turning off your inner editor, not worrying about plot or structure or voice or character, just writing. Getting words down on the page. Free as the wind.

Just so you know….1666 - That’s pretty standard output for a professional writer. With the exception of the times we’re pouting and moping, of course, we do that every day, and then some, five to seven days a week, 365 days a year. With deadlines looming, books releasing, and the necessary issue of worrying about plot and structure and voice and character, satisfying contractual obligations… etc… etc… those numbers can rise into the 4-7K range. That's a lot of pages in a day.

I love NaNo. I think it’s a great exercise. The first 60K of 14, the second Taylor Jackson book, was a NaNo winner in 2006. I use November every year as a fun challenge to myself to see how much I can write in a month. It’s always the start of the cycle - two books in quick succession. This year, I'm deep in my collaboration novel with Catherine Coulter, JEWEL OF THE LION, and as soon as it's finished, I head into Samantha Owens #3, plus I'm into a short story for my annual novella with Alex Kava and Erica Spindler. I NEED a nice, big, fat, lush November.

Just FYI – a NOVEL is usually 75,000 plus, (mine are usually 90-100K) while a NOVELLA is 20-45,000 words. Just so you don’t think you’ve written a novel at 50K.

As you sit down to your computers November 1, remind yourself of this one thing. Should you succeed, should you finish the 50K, and go on to write another 30-50K on this story, then edit and edit and revise and revise then submit to agents, get an agent, who sells the book, you will be asked to do it again.

Yes, this isn't a one off situation. 

When you work hard to fulfill your dreams, they have a tendency to become reality. And reality for a professional writer isn’t just a month of intensity. It isn’t just 1600 words a day. It is months of intensity. Millons of words. It is deadlines and jubilation and triumph and setbacks and heartbreak and bad breaks and sheer unadulterated bliss coupled with some luck – always luck. But none of that happens with seriously hard work.

So if you want to do this as a career, stick that in the back of your mind as you fly through the month of November. 

One more thing. DO NOT, under any circumstances, submit on December 1. Take a few weeks off. Flesh out the rest of the book. Think about your story. Be sure it's up to regular novel word count, finished, polished, and perfect. Then, and only then, can you submit. Remember, you only get one chance to make a first impression.

With that - best of luck to you all!

(My friend Tracy Lucas put together a listing of all the word counters, and inside her post is stashed a most glorious tool - the yearly word counter. Check it out. I us it religiously.)

And a fun PS: My dear friend, the brilliant author Allison Brennan, will be here next week in my stead. I can't wait to hear what she has to say. Her new novel, STALKED, releases October 30. Go pre-order it. You won't be sorry!

11.1.11 - NaNoWriMo

 

 

My brother had this shirt when I was little, and it used to crack me up. Not only because of the cheery smiling stick figure below the words, so incongruous with my logical, quiet, determined brother, but because I got the joke. I was ten, I got the joke, and that made me cool in my mind. Plus, since I was a precocious little know-it-all, I could take the opportunity to explain to my not as verbally gifted local yokel friends what it meant.

Yeah, I was kind of an ass when I was little. No one likes a know it all.

I thought of the shirt the other day. I had turned off all distractions and was doing a Thursday Mo-Mo – write as much as you can in a nine hour period. Everything started to click. Not just click, it began to roar.

And I was reminding myself, in sheer vernacular, of the following:

I are a professional writer.

I’ve discovered an interesting pattern in my writing life.

I finish two books in a relatively short period of time, between six and eight months, then my mind shuts off. Sitting down to the computer each day is a struggle. Focusing on story a near impossibility. This state of mind exists for about three months, during which I only get 25K-30K done on a book that should be finished after three months, then suddenly, just as I'm about to bottom out, feeling like a fraud, a joke, a poseur, something magical happens. It is usually precluded by a massive meltdown in which I mope around for a few days, start smoking again, and decide I will never, ever have a career, much less write another decent book.

Then my husband and one or more of my fabulous friends takes me in hand, allow me to wallow, then remind me that regardless of good or bad writing days, I would never, ever, trade this job for another, and suddenly, everything clicks, and I can start writing again. The cigs are thrown away, I stop moping, I look forward to getting up in the morning because I have a STORY prancing through my mind.

Sometimes you need to be reminded from whence you came.

I tell you this story because today we enter November, which means National Novel Writing Month – or NaNoWriMo. It is a 30-day, 50,000 word sprint that aims to help you develop the habit of sitting down at the computer every day and mindfully writing a novel.

Just FYI – a NOVEL is usually 75,000 plus, (mine are usually 90-100K) while a NOVELLA is 20-45,000 words. Just so you don’t think you’ve written a novel at 50K.

To meet the NaNoWriMo goals of 50K in 30 days, you must write an average of 1666 words a day. To some, that seems an insurmountable number, which is why the whole goal of NaNo is for you to write without censure, turning off your inner editor, not worrying about plot or structure or voice or character, just writing. Getting words down on the page. Free as the wind.

Just so you know….1666 - That’s pretty standard output for a professional writer. With the exception of the times we’re pouting and moping, of course, we do that every day, and then some, five to seven days a week, 365 days a year. With deadlines looming, books releasing, and the necessary issue of worrying about plot and structure and voice and character, satisfying contractual obligations… etc… etc….

I love NaNo. I think it’s a great exercise. The first 60K of 14, the second Taylor Jackson book, was a NaNo winner in 2006. I use November every year as a fun challenge to myself to see how much I can write in a month. It’s always the start of the cycle - two books in quick succession.

As you sit down to your computers today, remind yourself of this one thing. Should you succeed, should you finish the 50K, and go on to write another 30-50K on this story, then edit and edit and revise and revise then submit to agents, get an agent, who sells the book, you will be asked to do it again.

When you work hard to fulfill your dreams, they have a tendency to become reality. And reality for a professional writer isn’t just a month of intensity. It isn’t just 1600 words a day. It is months of intensity. Thousands of words a day, sometimes. It is deadlines and jubilation and triumph and setbacks and heartbreak and bad breaks and sheer unadulterated bliss coupled with some luck – always luck. But none of that happens with seriously hard work.

So if you want to do this for real, stick that in the back of your mind as you fly through the month of November. Do that, and you too can say I are a professional writer.

And best of luck to you all!

(My friend Tracy Lucas put together a listing of all the word counters, and inside her post is stashed a most glorious tool - the yearly word counter. Check it out. I will be using it from here on out.)