Daily Tao ☯ 5.6.17

All hail silence! Yes, I've lost my voice. It's a super low grumble, and I can whisper without too much issue, but things aren't looking good in larynx land. I'm guzzling tea, keeping it warm and loose, but if you have any suggestions, I'm all ears. This seems to happen once a decade for me, and ALWAYS at the worst possible time. As a matter of fact, the last time was when I was heading to NYC for Thrillerfest, when THE COLD ROOM was nominated. I won and had to give a speech with no voice. Fun times!

Tons of deep research today, especially on the Voynich Manuscript. The ideas are coming fast and furious as the historical timeline reveals itself, and I'm excited to hash them out with Catherine on Tuesday. I'm really digging writing these books with a historical tie-in. Gives the adventure so much more texture! 

Hope your weekend is fun and peaceful!


The Thriller

It's been a bit of a surreal weekend.

As most of you have heard by now, THE COLD ROOM was named 2010's Best Paperback Original by the International Thriller Writers Saturday night. I was overwhelmed at the nomination - and up against two very good friends, Shane Gericke and Rob Browne, both incredibly fine writers. I was a bag of nerves going into the conference too: I've never been nominated for anything, and I put a lot of unnecessary pressure on myself because I was really nervous about the whole thing.

Well, someone divine knew I needed to stop fretting, because Tuesday morning I woke with a whoppingly (soppingly?) bad cold. I was shocked they let me on the plane Wednesday, actually. I had to cancel all my Wednesday plans, and suck it up when I woke Thursday for my Craftfest class with Erica Spindler and felt exactly like hell. I had left my sparkle in the room. (Sorry, Erica, for being so scattered and blech!)

I made it through the day, but at the big cocktail party Thursday night, my voice started to go. By Friday, I had none. By Saturday, it was even worse - I was feeling okay, but mute. So the divine Toni McGee Causey moderated my panel for me.

Now, this was strangely prophetic on several levels. First, because of my nervous state, I told Randy I'd been praying for laryngitis so if I did win, I couldn't get up in front of all those people and speak, thus making a fool out of myself. Second, because in the new book, WHERE ALL THE DEAD LIE, Taylor is suffering from hysterical aphonia. She has no voice. I joked to my publisher that I was simply starting the marketing early.

And third, when I got choked up and started to cry on stage, I was able to mask it.

Yes, I cried. I am such a girl. I get overly emotional all the time, and this was no exception. To be honored by your peers, to be told your book was the best of the year, was utterly overwhelming.

But that's wasn't the only magic happening in New York Saturday night. Many of you know that John Sandford was my direct inspiration to start my writing career. I was reading the PREY series and three books in had this epiphany: I wanted to write a female Lucas Davenport. And so I did. Of course, Taylor is very different from Davenport on many levels, but I absolutely took the idea of a cop who was half rock star, half hero from those books. John's novel was up for best novel, and lo and behold, he won. Which meant things like this were happening Sunday and Monday:

Publishers Marketplace:

Sandford and Ellison Top ITW Thriller Awards

I really can't put into words what reading that headline did to me. Affirmation of my chosen career, a reward for the many hours of labor spent toiling away, the knowledge that I've done something only one other woman in our field has accomplished... (two - truth be told, they are a writing team) all combined with winning the award with my heroes in the room.... it was priceless.

And yes, I say heroes, because it wasn't just John there. Diana Gabaldon, my favorite author, was there too! When she congratulated me, I about melted into the floor.

But it was even more than that. ITW has been a part of my writing life from day one. I will never forget how excited I was when I got my deal just in time to add PUBLISHED AUTHOR to my name badge at that first, mythical Thrillerfest in Phoenix. To be honored by the very organization that has been nurturing my career from day one... well, you get the idea. 

My acceptance speech managed to thank my darling husband Randy (though I shouldn't have started with him, I got choked up immediately), my amazing agent Scott Miller, my incredible publishers Mira Books, my former editor Linda McFall, and the whole of ITW.

But let me take this moment to thank you. Because you read the books, bought the books, and gave me a career. Because you share the books with your mom and dad, your sister and brother and friends. Because you request the books be housed in your library, and tell your favorite bookseller that they need to carry the titles. Because each and every day, you reach out to me: here at the blog, on Twitter and Facebook, through email. Because of you, I am inspired. I have a writing career. And that's the most beautiful thing of all.

With love,


THE COLD ROOM is nominated for a Thriller!

Now that it's official, I can share the great news I received earlier this week - THE COLD ROOM has been nominated for a Thriller Award in the Best Paperback Original category. I am so honored to be included in this stellar lineup - with two dear friends as well - so it's triple-y joyous news.

Thank you, ITW. You've made this thrillerchick very happy!

Good luck to everyone - and see you in New York at Thrillerfest!

Here's the complete announcement from International Thriller Writers: (and check Best Novel - my inspiration John Sandford is nominated too!)

2011 Thriller Awards Nominees

ITW is proud to announce the finalists for the 2011 Thriller Awards!

Best Hard Cover Novel:

Michael Connelly - THE REVERSAL (Little Brown)
Jeffery Deaver - EDGE: A NOVEL (Simon & Schuster)
Brian Freeman - THE BURYING PLACE (Minotaur)
Mo Hayder - SKIN (Grove)
John Sandford - BAD BLOOD (Putnam)

Best Paperback Original:

Robert Gregory Browne - DOWN AMONG THE DEAD MEN (St. Martin's)
Max Allan Collins and Matthew Clemens - YOU CAN'T STOP ME (Pinnacle)
J.T. Ellison - THE COLD ROOM (Mira)
Shane Gericke - TORN APART (Pinnacle)
John Trace - THE VENICE CONSPIRACY (Hachette Digital)

Best First Novel:

Carla Buckley - THE THINGS THAT KEEP US HERE (Random House)
Paul Doiron - THE POACHER'S SON (Minotaur)
Reece Hirsch - THE INSIDER (Berkley)
Thomas Kaufman - DRINK THE TEA (Minotaur)
Chevy Stevens - STILL MISSING (St. Martin's)

Best Short Story:

Mike Carey - "Second Wind" (THE NEW DEAD, St. Martin's)
Michael Connelly - "Blue on Black" (Strand Magazine)
Richard Helms - "The God for Vengeance Cry" (Dell Magazine)
Harley Jane Kozak - "Madeeda" (Crimes By Midnight)
Nicolas Kaufman - "Chasing the Dragon" (ChiZine Magazine)
Mickey Spillane and Max Allan Collins - Long Time Dead (Strand Magazine)

Congratulations to all the finalists!

2011 Thriller Awards Winners to be announced at ThrillerFest VI July 9, 2011,
Grand Hyatt, NYC.

Special thanks to:

Allen Wyler, VP Awards
Julie Korzenko, Awards Committee Chair
Liz Wolfe, Awards Coordinator
And the 2011 Thriller Awards Judges

Midwest Book Review on THE COLD ROOM

Reviewed by Christy Tiller French

Due to restructuring of the Nashville Metro Police Department, homicide detective Taylor Jackson's been demoted from her prior position of lieutenant. If that isn't bad enough, she's being pursued by a serial killer called the Pretender. Now another serial killer's in Nashville, one who abducts young black women, starves them to death and, after performing necrophilia, poses them per scenes from famous paintings. It isn't long before Jackson's fiance, FBI profiler Dr. John Baldwin, connects Jackson's serial killer to one he's been investigating in Europe named the Conductor. Jackson and Baldwin team up with Scotland Yard detective James "Memphis" Highsmythe, and the chase is on as the three try to determine if they're dealing with only one killer or perhaps two. As the investigation proceeds, Jackson's trying not to be distracted by the chemistry between her and Highsmythe, which is unexpected and confusing, and her superior's strange actions, which are hampering her efforts to investigate her case.

This fourth installment of the Taylor Jackson series is as suspenseful and intriguing as the first. This psychological thriller is gritty and realistic and filled with intense action. The chemistry between Jackson and Highsmythe, although not expected, is nicely delivered. Jackson's a great character, a woman who's tough mentally and physically but a real softy on the inside. The colorful backdrop of Nashville is a bonus to readers, as is Ellison's intelligent writing.

PW Review of THE COLD ROOM Audio Book

"Ellison's fourth Taylor Jackson thriller finds a serial killer murdering young women in both the United States and Europe. Such an international crime brings New Scotland Yard Detective/profiler James Memphis Highsmythe into the investigation, causing an unexpected hitch in homicide detective Jackson's romantic involvement with fiance FBI profiler Dr. John Baldwin. But personal feelings or no, the trio must pool their resources to find the serial killer known as the Conductor in the United States and Il Macellaio across the Atlantic, before he can strike again. Joyce Bean is perfectly cast; her narration keeps the book moving at a steady pace and infuses the prose with just the right amount of menace and suspense. Her reading of the killer's chance encounter with a young woman destined to become his next victim is chilling. Even when the writing may be a little over the top at times, Bean's performance is down to the ground solid. A Mira paperback."

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Audio CD edition.


I'm so happy to see Joyce Bean getting the recognition she so richly deserves - I have been blown away by her reading of the first four Taylor books! She turns the words on the page into a rich, detailed story, with the perfect inflection. Thanks, Joyce, and thanks, Brilliance!!! (And PW, obviously...)

If you're interested in purchasing the audio books, click here.