Daily Tao ☯ 6.28.17

After the writer’s death, reading his journal is like receiving a long letter.
— Day One Inspirations

Interesting creative day today. Reworked a scene that’s been bothering me in the manuscript, then dealt with a lingering annoyance. I’ve had a To Do on my Wunderlist for a few months called “Create a mental inventory.” I don’t know why lunch today became the moment to tackle this, but tackle it I did. You see, I’ve been offloading ideas as they happen into my Day One journal, but I’d neglected to mark any of them in a specific (read searchable) way. Well, now they are. Thirteen solid, doable, interesting story ideas, all coded and tagged so I can pull them up at a moment’s notice. And offloaded, and backed up, and printed out.

Maybe it was the malware attack that launched yesterday, maybe it was some weird premonition that my computer might freak out, but I knew I needed to do this immediately. I feel much, much better now. (Hello, OCD.)

I used to write these ideas down in a notebook, but with the advent of Day One, which syncs across all my devices, being able to access this anywhere is too cool, and so it became my go to for story creation. 

I blog in it, too. I actually have entries dating back to 2004. You know what that first post is? My first major rejection, by a leading NY editor, on the book that 12 years later was published as FIELD OF GRAVES. (Awww… admittedly, poor kid J.T. was pretty well crushed that day.) 

It’s kind of nice to be able to look back and see this, and know that things were soon to change. It took another year, but things did pick up. And here we are now, a career underway, more ideas than I have time to write. Pretty cool.

I have to admit, though, when I opened Day One to do today’s blog, I was a bit shocked to see the weird quote at the beginning of the blog. It’s true, absolutely. These daily entires,my daily devotions, whether I share them online or keep them private, really are a love letter, left behind. 

On that note, sweet dreams — and be sure to come by the blog tomorrow for some fun news!





Sunday Smatterings

Sunday Smatterings 6.11.17

Hi, y'all, welcome to Sunday.

It's been a relatively quiet week at chez Ellison. I've been nursing this rebound cold, been provided chicken soup and bone broth by dear friends who want to see me well. The Preds have left me breathless (and hoarse) during their Stanley Cup run. We started the main guest bathroom renovation this week, and I was shocked by how quiet the demolition was. Seriously, they were like little mice, and suddenly, the bath was taken back to studs. I got to see my friend Heather Gudenkauf and talk to her about her new book. Busy, but fun. And amid all the chaos, I was doing my job, plugging along, working on the new Brit in the FBI—this is going to be such a fun ride. I think you'll enjoy it.

Here for links, are you? Here you go.

Here's what happened on the Internets this week:

Writing Through Rejection. Yes. Yes. Yes. If you want to be any kind of artist—writer, painter, dancer, chef, whatever—you must be okay with rejection. Not everyone is going to be on board with your vision. That's all right. You are not for everyone, you are not Nutella. (and check out the quote from Suzanne Brockman, it's brilliant)

Blake Lively to Star in Thriller The Husband’s Secret from Big Little Lies Author. Fans of Liane Moriarty, rejoice! CBS Films is adapting this juicy novel. Haven't read the book yet? You should. Check it out here, it's a great summer read.

Making a Marriage Magically Tidy. If you've never read Helen Ellis, you're going to want to fix that right now. Helen wrote one of my all-time favorite novels, EATING THE CHESHIRE CAT, along with the deliciously dark and hilarious short story collection, AMERICAN HOUSEWIFE. If you're a struggling slob, or have ever lived with one, please read this wonderful piece. You'll have tears rolling down your face by the time you're done.

How to Quit Diet Coke. The struggle is real. Modern Mrs. Darcy tells us how to ditch the habit.

‘Not a Sound’: A thriller worth staying up all night to finish. Maureen Corrigan, book reviewer for NPR's Fresh Air, gives Heather Gudenkauf's newest two thumbs up! I must say, I agree: NOT A SOUND is fantastic, a brilliant summer read.

BookExpo 2017: J.T. Ellison Changes It Up. While I was in New York last week, I got to talk to Publishers Weekly about LIE TO ME, and why I'm writing standalone novels now. So much fun!

[video] This is what marriage is. I don't know that I've ever laughed harder. Though it applies to more than just marriage when it comes to me... 

And closer to home:

Read the first 3 chapters of LIE TO ME! The June newsletter went out this week, and tucked inside was an offer to read the first three chapters of LIE TO ME—for free! Read it, and let me know what you think. (Aren't signed up for the newsletter? Whatcha waiting for? You get a free ebook, and stay in the know. Join the list today!)

Deal alert: 14 (Taylor Jackson #2) is on sale for .99 through tomorrow! Get it now!

Win a Mega Bundle of Contemporary Mysteries & Thrillers + MORE! There's still time to enter this contest (where you could win NO ONE KNOWS and an eReader). Don't miss out! Entry only takes two seconds. Good luck!

That's it from me. Y'all have a good week, GO PREDS, and we'll chat again soon.


On Rejection

I've been watching a young writer friend go through the tumultuous, difficult, heart-rending process of querying her first YA novel. She's been rejected half a dozen times now, but not form letters. The rejections have been constructive, and have changed her writing. She's taken each letter, carefully listened to the suggestions, gone back into her manuscript and tightened, revised, fixed. Several agents has offered to reread the manuscript if revised, or to submit new material.

I've been watching her work, and trying to help, to guide, though I know she is truly on this journey alone. It is her baby. It is her feelings hurt. It is her spirit that must survive the onslaught of people saying you're good, chick, you're really good. You're just not quite good enough for me, right now.

Right now.

Two very little words, that equal hope.

Right now means you've got talent, sister. You can turn a phrase and make it weep. But you need to keep tightening, keep revising, keep making that book as good as you can make it, and then send it out again. Which, in all facets, is rather uplifting. Revision is the writer's greatest asset, our finest tool. If you can't revise, you can't write.

Listen, getting rejected sucks donkey butts. There's no two ways around it. But it is also a part of the process. New writers often think that once you make it through the "doors" into the publishing world, by landing an agent and a deal, you never face rejection again.

Oh, darlings. If only that were true.

Not a lot of published authors talk about it, but we get rejected all the time. A proposal doesn't work. A reviewer slams us. Our agent doesn't like the new direction we're headed. Is it as sting-ey as those first few rejections when you start out? Actually, yeah, it is. It may almost be harder because you've done it before, once, or twice, or twenty times, and suddenly, all stop, now, this doesn't work for us can be very demoralizing.

I did a piece on rejection early on in my career. Back when I thought that once I was through the doors, the rejections would magically disappear. I share it with all of you again, simple because it bears repeating. Rejection happens. It's how we deal with it that defines us. I've pulled this from that piece. Hope it helps.

Rejection Do's and Don'ts


Do – Give yourself permission to be upset when a rejection comes. If a piece of chocolate or an ice cream cone will make you feel better, then have it. Enjoy a drink with friends. Be social.

Don’t – Comfort yourself with destructive behaviors, like going out on the town and ending up blowing in a tube. It’s just a rejection letter, not the end of the world.

Do – Go for a walk.

Don’t – Burn your manuscript, shred your notes, and delete all the files on your computer. Seriously.

Do – Take a day off from writing and read a book.

Don’t – Call all your friends and tell them you’ve decided not to be a writer anymore.

Do – Step away from the computer for a few hours, allow yourself a break from the cycle.

Don’t – Call the originator of your rejection to ask why they didn’t like your project. Really, that’s just not a good idea.

Do – Reorganize your office.

Don’t – Quit writing.

Do – Something productive that will allow you to feel better. My personal favorite? Staples therapy. New pens always put me in a better mood.

Don’t – Give up. We’ve all been there. Commiserate for a day, then get back to it.There will be more rejections in your life. But if you persevere, there will be bigger triumphs in the end.