Sunday Smatterings

Sunday Smatterings 9.10.17

Hello, lovelies. How are you? While it's been a wild ride this week, I have to admit I've been following Irma reports quite closely. Many friends and loved ones in the storm's path, so while I'm still on tour today, my heart is with you, beloved Florida. Y'all stay strong and safe. ❤️

LIE TO ME touring has made me quite the road warrior—it's been so much fun seeing so many of you in person, and saying hi to new faces. Today I'm in the Bay Area, teaching at the Book Passage Mystery Conference. I prefer to think of it as corrupting the young writers of America, but YMMV...

I'm off to Seattle tonight, signing tomorrow at the wonderful Seattle Mystery Bookshop, then off to my Colorado stomping grounds, where I'll be talking with the brilliant Chris Goff at Tattered Cover – Aspen Grove on Tuesday night. Then a little break. Whew!

Without further ado...

Here's what happened on the Internets this week:

The Best Places to See Fall Foliage in the United States. It's the most wonderful time of the year! 🍂 Even more fun: Sutton and Ethan Montclair's Franklin, TN, is on the list. 

The Greatest Goths in Literary History. I've always been a little punk rock and enjoyed the darker side of things—heck, I'm even putting out a Southern Gothic collection later this month! Here's to the darker writers who came before us.

White Shoes After Labor Day: Can You Do It? What say you, dear reader? Can you do it? Full disclosure, I have never owned a pair of white shoes (see punk rocker, above), so I'm doubly fascinated.

Book Review: The Perfect Pencil. Y'all know how much I love a good pencil. That is why the nerd in me wants to read this book.

Ian McEwan's Enchanted Garden. Excuse me while I pick up my jaw from the floor. 😮 WANT!!!!! (The house ain't bad, either...)

Sidekicks People Like Better Than the Main Character. Do you agree?

A Book to Watch Out For: I WAS ANASTASIA by Ariel Lawhon. Historical fiction fans, and history fans in general, don't walk—run—to get a copy of this book. I WAS ANASTASIA comes out next March, but those of you with NetGalley access can request it now. I got my hands on an advanced copy, and it's INCREDIBLE.

[video] New A Word on Words episode: Chemical Reaction with Weike Wang. This week's episode of AWOW finds my cohost Mary Laura Philpott chatting with CHEMISTRY author Weike Wang about her debut book, a coming-of-age novel about a young (unnamed) female scientist who must recalibrate her life when her academic career goes off track. Interesting!

And closer to home:

It's here: LIE TO ME is out! If you've been living under a rock (or missed the banner at the top of the page), you may not know that my newest standalone novel, LIE TO ME, came out this week. And oh, has it been a week. I've been overwhelmed by the flood of well wishes and love from all of you. LIE TO ME is stocked in stores across the land in all formats.  Even The Washington Post ran a review that said I've crafted a "compelling story" (let the angels rejoice!). It's been quite a ride—thank you for making all of this happen. ❤️

A few pieces that have run during LIE TO ME release week:

  • Pushing Boundaries. If you're looking for ways to level up your writing, I give you 6 ways to do just that.
  •'s Books We Love. This sampling of HarperCollins new releases popular in independent bookstores is perfect for your audiophiles.
  • Instagram Tour of Franklin, TN. The settings in my novels are, to me, characters unto themselves. I love the verisimilitude of writing a place I know so well. LIE TO ME is set in the beautiful, idyllic town of Franklin, twenty miles south of Nashville. If you'd like to see if the settings in LIE TO ME match your imagination, take a peek at my Instagram.

That's it from me! Y'all be good, be safe, read a good book, take a walk in the cooler evenings, and we'll talk again soon.


What I'm Into (May 2017)

These are five things I'm seriously grooving on this month...

1. Design Blogs

I am in a slight(ly massive) overhaul of the two upstairs bathrooms, my bedroom, and my living room. I have never asked for help from a professional before, and decided it was high time. It’s been an eye-opening experience, for sure, and I’m at once overwhelmed and totally raring to go to get things finished.

The fun thing is, less is definitely more, so we’ve been slowly paring back years of furniture buys from Target and Pier 1 in favor of a single new piece here and there. The rooms feel bigger, airier, more comfortable. There’s been lots of looking at Pinterest boards (a favorite pastime anyway) and reading design blogs.

My favorite that I’ve been following for years is Desire to Inspire. I can’t tell you how many ideas I’ve found there. Great photos, excellent curation. You can’t go wrong.


2. Serious Decluttering

I’ve had to remove every stick of furniture in my house twice in the past year—once to get the floors laid, and once again to have those floors re-stained. (don’t ask…)

The first time, we took bags of stuff to Goodwill. It’s easy to part with inanimate objects that are old and ready to be repurposed by clever people. This time, I was surgical about what went back, and we coupled it with the elimination or replacement of major furniture pieces.

I’m Marie Kondo-ing again, and this time, I’m getting into the artifacts of our life—gifts, trinkets, pieces that are out of style or frayed around the edges. It’s a difficult process, but it’s created a brand-new workflow in our house, which is in turn making my words flow.

Feng shui? Decluttering? Out with the old? I’m doing it all. 

3. Lechtturm Pen Loops

These little beauties are sheer perfection. They stick to any notebook (permanently, so be forewarned) and fit my Palomino Pearls perfectly. I set up my a fresh Bullet Journal last week, and popped one of these in the back of my Habana, and off I went. 

4. Steagle Laptop Webcam Covers

They’re watching…. You know they are….

For the longest time, paranoid me has used a stick-on silver star over my laptop’s camera, edging it off when I needed to Skype or FaceTime. I saw these recommended on Tools and Toys and decided to try them out. They work perfectly. Thin, unobtrusive, they slide open and closed easily, and don’t interfere with the lid. Now I can work with confidence, and there’s none of the sticky, nasty residue other methods leave behind. I got one for my iPad, too!

Being True to Myself

5. Being True to Myself

This isn’t a material item, but it’s something I am really plugging into. I’ve realized that I just don’t have the stomach for a lot of social media right now. I’ve been popping on, talking to my friends, doing some updates, then leaving and going off to read a book. My Lenten break really altered me this year, altered the way I work, the way I approach my Internet time. I am the first to admit I was succumbing to Internet addiction, and it’s not healthy. I decided to nip it in the bud now, before I get lost. To instead read books, to learn and form my own opinions and historical backgrounds, to help my brain heal from the blue backlight, and stay away from the vitriol of disagreement that never seems far away. I wasn’t back on Facebook for a week before I was being bullied by someone for refusing to get into the mud with them. That’s not what life is about. It’s not what life is for. 

I’m not quitting social media, or anything so drastic. If anything, you may see more of me. I’ve simply found my balance with it, and with what I’m trying to accomplish as a human being, and in my interactions with others. Our lives are so short. Our hearts are so full. There are more ways to truly experience life that don’t involve the ubiquitous screen, and I am exploring them in new ways. 

So here’s a little "Lokah Samastah Sukhino Bhavantu" for you today. "May all beings everywhere be happy and free, and may the thoughts, words, and actions of my own life contribute in some way to that happiness and to that freedom for all."


11.20.16 - Sunday Smatterings

Sunday Smatterings 11.20.16

Hello, chickens. How are you today? Ready for turkey? It's been a whirlwind around here, to say the least: edits (LIE TO ME is in production!) and family and Emmy® nomination parties (more on that below!) and pie-making and early Thanksgiving. Which was delicious! 


It's officially time for the holiday bustle. Pace yourself, dear ones. Like The Kerr says, you can do anything, but not everything. Remember that for the next six weeks. Or forever.


Here's what happened on the Internets this week:

I'm still heartbroken over the loss of longtime excellent reporter and human, Gwen Ifill. She's going to be impossible to replace.

Our newest Nobel Prize Winner in Literature, Bob Dylan, can't make it to the awards ceremony. Like so many of us during the holiday season, he had a prior commitment. Hmm....

Are you looking to join a book club? I've got one for you: Modern Mrs. Darcy's online bookclub! I spoke to them this week, and they are a fun, sharp group of bookworms. Check them out! 

My favorite productivity app turned 1 this week! Happy Birthday, Freedom! 🎉

Jane. Austen. Mugs. Need I say more?

And closer to home:

I love writing. I love my job. But make no mistake: this is not a glamorous one by any means. Some days I wish I could snatch the Muse right out of the air so I could listen to her... but sometimes she has other plans. And I just have to deal. This week, I had one of those days.

I also nerded out over pencils.

Psst... the December newsletter comes out Thursday! Are you signed up? If you aren't, plug in your email, and get yourself a FREE ebook!

Best for last. Y'all. You know the literary TV show I co-host, A WORD ON WORDS? Well. WE GOT NOMINATED FOR AN EMMY® THIS WEEK!!! I am verklempt. Hats off to our brilliant crew led by our intrepid producer, Linda Wei, and of course my lovely co-host, Mary Laura Philpott. Wanna see what the fuss is all about? Go watch some episodes!


That's it from me! American chickens, have a blessed Thanksgiving, enjoy your turkey and loved ones, read a good book, drink some tea, pet a kitty, and I'll talk to you again soon.


11.15.16 - Are you a pencil geek like me?

Are you a pencil geek like me?

I am a pencil geek (not to be confused with a pencil-necked geek).

I’ve always loved pencils. For an OCD writer, the pencil is a must. I get anxious when I make mistakes on paper (also why the word processor probably saved my sanity) and having a way to eradicate the mistake as quickly and completely as possible is a YUGE thing for me. 

In Toronto, during the marketing meeting, the pencil I was taking notes with became a bit dull. So I bent down and reached into my backpack as unobtrusively as I could, pulled out my sharpener, and proceeded to quickly sharpen my Pearl and continued taking notes. 

A moment later I realized there was complete silence in the room.

I looked up from my note-taking to see everyone in the room biting their lips, on the edge of hysterical laughter.

“You have a pencil sharpener?” my editor asked, incredulous, and the whole room busted up laughing. 

As I am the PROUD owner of a Blackwing Long-Point pencil sharpener and I have a trove of Blackwings in my (ahem) pencil case, pencils became the topic of conversation for several minutes. Which was awesome, not only for the historical context (Hemingway preferred pencil, as does Daniel Silva, both heroes of mine) but also the discussion of pencil styles, temperaments, lead, and erasers. I gifted my agent with a Blackwing and on we went, all warmer and happier than before.

Because that’s what pencils do. They make us happy. Which is why I love to use them.

Want to get started on Blackwing? Check this out.  

And, leave me a comment, and I’ll draw at random and send the winner a box — and a sharpener — so you can get your geek on in your next meeting!

Nerd out, peeps! 

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.