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.

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How an Author Chooses What to Write Next

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I’ve been in a strange sort of limbo for the past few years. My last 4 solo books were planned and written a couple of years prior to release. NO ONE KNOWS was five years in the making, LIE TO ME was started back in 2014. FIELD OF GRAVES I obviously wrote ten years ago, as it was my first, and the new novel, TEAR ME APART, was originally conceptualized in 2011, replanned in 2016, and brought to life during a brief writing stint last year. 

Add in a Catherine book every year since 2012, and the long-standing Sam book to follow up WHAT LIES BEHIND (which is still sitting in its Scrivener file with 15,000 words written), it’s been a long while since I’ve had to develop and plan for a new novel. 

(Yes, I do plan to finish the Sam book, and yes, Taylor is in it. I swear to you, it will happen, and soon.)

I thought for the longest time I would write a standalone or two then dive back into my franchise series, but I’m finding the standalone world quite seductive. There are pros and cons to series and standalone writing — mainly, the challenge with a standalone is developing an entire world construct and wrapping all the threads versus the series in which your world is already built and it becomes a bit like paint by numbers, plugging in new plots to people who are already established. One is not better than the other; in my mind, they’re both fun.

But since I’m writing a big international series with Catherine, it’s been easier to write standalones on my own. I have another series idea. And another series idea. And a few more book ideas based on previous characters who’ve appeared in novels and short stories. All of these have been in the idea file for years, though. 

Full circle back to what’s possibly next: 

I was watching International House Hunters this morning, and the family was moving to Surrey, England, so the husband could teach at a private all-girls school. The building was so charming, with its Gothic spires and red brick front, my latent brain starting churning. 

I like the idea of doing something totally new, fresh, different. Something I plotted recently… Perhaps…

A boarding school. Dark. Gothic. Nasty. I kinda like the sound of that.

I’ve ALWAYS wanted to write a boarding school novel. I went to an all women’s college that required the students (except Prime Time—older/married students coming back to school) to live on campus. We lived behind the “Red Brick Wall” and our buildings were attached by covered trestle bridges, so we could literally move from dorm room to class room to dining hall without ever going outside. The school was haunted, as all good boarding schools must be. We even had a staircase painted blood red, because legend had it a girl died in the stairwell and they couldn’t get her blood out of the concrete, so they painted it to match.

Yeah......

The moment the show was over, I opened my Day One app, titled a Story Idea entry (this is how I file ideas and things that don’t have titles), and pulled a plot out of thin air that actually might have promise. It will take a lot of work, but I may have a line on my next book. And in the subsequent days, bits and pieces are floating toward me out of the ether. It's cray cray.

Interestingly, the last time I had a "gut feeling" about a novel like this, I felt compelled to write a haunted house book set in Scotland, and I ended up with WHERE ALL THE DEAD LIE... 

So… since this is getting to be an actual possibility, a little help please? What’s your favorite boarding school novel?

11.2.15 - On More Good News (hint: Taylor....)

I thought y'all might like to see this lovely bit of deal news that was just released on Publisher's Marketplace...

Fiction: Thriller 
NYT bestselling author JT Ellison's next three thrillers continuing her two series featuring Nashville Homicide Lieutenant Taylor Jackson and Dr. Samantha Owens, to Nicole Brebner at Mira, in a significant deal, by Scott Miller at Trident Media Group.

Yes, you're seeing that right - I've agreed to a new deal that both continues the Sam novels and resurrects the Taylor books. I am over the moon.

And, you will shortly see another component of this deal, which will release June 14, 2016 -- FIELD OF GRAVES (formerly known as Crossed).  (Ignore the meta data mistake, it is a Taylor Jackson novel, not Sam, and it is hardcover, not paperback.) This is the Taylor Jackson prequel to the series.

The next Sam book, currently known as ALL FALL DOWN, is a part of the new deal, and I think it will be out around June 2017.

It is a week of news, with even more to come, but I had to share this exciting new deal with y'all. I can't wait to revisit my girls!

1.8.14 - The Proust Questionnaire: Dr. Samantha Owens

A very, very good day. It started with the news WHEN SHADOWS FALL is getting a starred review in Booklist. A star, people! I. Am. Floored. And so excited. SHADOWS is a seminal book for Sam, I am so thrilled it's been well received, at least in one quarter. Then I wrote up a storm, since I was so inspired by this morning's bit of loveliness. 

To celebrate, here's something a little different. I thought you might like to get to know Samantha Owens a wee bit better. I dispatched a reporter to interview her using the Proust Questionnaire. This ran on the  Writerspace blog originally -- I highly encourage you to head over there and subscribe to their awesome blog.

The Proust Questionnaire: Dr. Samantha Owens

Dr. Saman­tha Owens granted me a rare inter­view this win­ter. We sat down at the Tombs, a D.C. restau­rant she likes to fre­quent, to dis­cuss her life, her posi­tion as the head of George­town Uni­ver­sity Med­ical School’s new Foren­sic pathol­ogy pro­gram. Dr. Owens was incred­i­bly can­did, agree­ing to answer the infa­mous Proust ques­tion­naire. We had a cou­ple of drinks and I ran through the ques­tions, amazed at times by her insight, and her pos­i­tive out­look despite the sad­ness that has per­me­ated her life in the past few years.

What is your idea of per­fect happiness?

Kind­ness among all people.

What is your great­est fear?

You’re kid­ding, right?

Hey, it’s part of the questionnaire.

Floods. I am deeply afraid of floods.

Which his­tor­i­cal fig­ure do you most iden­tify with?

Good­ness, Madame Curie, maybe? How ego­tis­ti­cal is that? (She laughs.)

What is the trait you most deplore in yourself?

Cow­ardice.

What is the trait you most deplore in others?

Dis­loy­alty.

What is your great­est extravagance?

It’s going to sound so shal­low, but clothes. Soft sump­tu­ous fab­rics — I sim­ply can’t help myself.

What is your favorite journey?

Other than cross­ing the River Styx? Kid­ding. I’d like to go to Italy. Tay­lor went and has been rav­ing ever since. Truth be told, I haven’t trav­eled as much as I’d like. There was never time, with work, then the kids… well. I’d like to travel.

What do you con­sider the most over­rated virtue?

Moral excel­lence. I don’t believe it exists. I’m con­cerned by the mob men­tal­ity I see, peo­ple gang­ing together, claim­ing moral supe­ri­or­ity but pur­pose­fully hurt­ing other peo­ple. It’s not sustainable.

On what occa­sion do you lie?  (She doesn’t answer right away. There is a dis­tant look in her eyes, but then she smiles and takes a sip of her Scotch.)

I don’t lie to oth­ers, only to myself. And it often lands me in trouble.

What do you dis­like most about your appearance?

My hands.

(I can’t help but look at them, they are sur­pris­ingly unkempt for a woman who seems so put together. Red and cracked, they look almost painful. Curious.)

Which liv­ing per­son do you most despise? (She snaps the answerher face sud­denly con­torted in anger.)

He’s no longer liv­ing – but a man named Ewan Copeland. Next.

Okay. Which words or phrases do you most overuse? (This is safer ter­ri­tory, she laughs, and I am struck again by how a smile utterly trans­forms her face.)

I tend to curse a lot, so Jesus is prob­a­bly my go to phrase.

What is your great­est regret?

That I asked my hus­band to save my lap­top. Next.

What or who is the great­est love of your life? (She seems very uncom­fort­able with this ques­tion. It takes her almost a whole minute to respond.)

I decline to answer. My life is far from over. Besides, I couldn’t pos­si­bly pick just one.

When and where were you happiest?

I’m happy right now, and that’s all I can ask.

Which tal­ent would you most like to have?

The abil­ity to forget.

What is your cur­rent state of mind? (Another laugh.)

I’ve had a cou­ple of fin­gers of Laphroaig, so I’m pretty well lubri­cated at the moment. Is that a state of mind?

If you could change one thing about your­self, what would it be? (She grows seri­ous again. This woman is mer­cu­r­ial, swing­ing moods from moment to moment. This inter­view is clearly mak­ing her uneasy.)

I wouldn’t. Every­thing that I am, every­thing that’s hap­pened to me, makes me who I am. The good, the bad, the ter­ror, the love. But there’s a scar on my stom­ach I wish wasn’t there.

If you could change one thing about your fam­ily, what would it be?

I’d bring them back to life.

What do you con­sider your great­est achievement?

Oh, that’s easy. Being the youngest female chief med­ical exam­iner in the State of Tennessee.

If you were to die and come back as a per­son or thing, what do you think it would be?

A beloved cat in a well-kempt home.

What is your most trea­sured possession?

Xan­der.

What do you regard as the low­est depth of misery?

Out­side of inter­views? Loss.

Where would you like to live?

George­town is fine by me. I like it here. It’s very vibrant, there are a lot of great restau­rants and shops nearby. I can walk to work, and liv­ing in D.C. is amaz­ing. Maybe some­day I’ll live near a beach, where I can take long walks in the chilly air wrapped in a sweater, with a cou­ple of dogs frol­ick­ing around my feet. Idyllic.

What is your favorite occupation?

Foren­sic pathology.

What is your most marked characteristic?

Oh, I bet if you asked a few other peo­ple, they’d say I am incred­i­bly stub­born. But I’d say I’m kind.

What is the qual­ity you most like in a man?

Humor.

What is the qual­ity you most like in a woman?

Humor.

What do you most value in your friends?

Love and loy­alty. There’s no judg­ment from them. They often seem to know me bet­ter than I do.

Who is your favorite hero of fiction?

Maura Iles. You know, the Med­ical Exam­iner in Tess Gerritsen’s books? She has such class, and I under­stand her. She’s a rather… eso­teric character.

Who are your heroes in real life?

My best friend, Tay­lor Jack­son, her fiancé, John Bald­win, Detec­tive Dar­ren Fletcher of the Wash­ing­ton D.C. Metro Police, and Xan­der Whit­field. All four are brave beyond mea­sure, car­ing, kind, and beloved. They will never shy away from a fight, and charge head­long into life. I admire that in them.

What is it that you most dislike?

How some­times I have urges I can’t seem to con­trol, and I embar­rass myself in front of strangers.

How would you like to die?

I will give the most banal answer I can. Asleep in my bed at a very advanced age. (She smiles wickedly.) Prefer­ably after a long night of great sex.

And now I’m blush­ing. Last ques­tion. What is your motto?

Justi­tia Omibus.

What’s that mean? (She tips her head to the side, her dark hair swinging.)

Jus­tice for all.

_______________

WHEN SHADOWS FALL goes on sale February 25. Pre-order it from your favorite bookseller today!

On A Little Tease of Samantha's Next Adventure...

 

A little birdie (Thanks, Lori!) let me know that EDGE OF BLACK, the second installment in the Dr. Samantha Owens series, is up for pre-order on Barnes & Noble and Amazon. Since both pages have the back cover copy, I thought I'd go ahead and share it with you too. I do have the cover, but it's much, much too soon to debut - goodness, we're only just wrapping up the tour for A DEEPER DARKNESS. But trust me, the cover is a sight to behold. I love it. So... since I don't want to let the retailers steal all my glory... I give you Sam #2.

EDGE OF BLACK

The path of the righteous man is beset on all sides 

Dr. Samantha Owens is starting over: new city, new job, new man, new life. She's trying to put some distance between herself and the devastating loss of her husband and children-but old hurts leave scars. 

Before she's even unpacked her office at Georgetown University's forensic pathology department, she's called to consult on a case that's rocked the capital and the country. An unknown pathogen released into the Washington Metro has caused nationwide panic. Three people died - just three.  

A miracle and a puzzle... 

Amid the media frenzy and Homeland Security alarm bells, Sam painstakingly dissects the lives of those three victims and makes an unsettling conclusion. This is no textbook terrorist causing mayhem with broad strokes, but an artist wielding a much finer, more pointed instrument of destruction. An assassin, whose motive is deeply personal and far from understandable. 

Xander Whitfield, a former Army Ranger and Sam's new boyfriend, knows about seeing the world in shades of gray. About feeling compelled to do the wrong thing for the right reasons. Only his disturbing kinship with a killer can lead Sam to the truth...and once more into the line of fire.

EDGE OF BLACK will be on shelves and ereaders on 12.1.2012

Available for Pre-Order Now

Amazon
Barnes & Noble
Indiebound

PS: Be careful when looking for images to compliment the term tease... Oy, my eyes...