Sunday Smatterings (The Kerr Edition)

Sunday Smatterings (The Kerr Edition) 8.6.17

Hi, peeps! It's me, The Kerr, filling in for J.T. while she makes her way home from vacation. She'll be back tomorrow—let's all be nice and welcome her back to the real world gently, okay?

Not that you wouldn't. You guys are pretty nice.

Did you have a good week? I did: my little sis came to town! It's been fun doing all the touristy Nashville things like walking down Broadway, playing in Dragon Park, finding new treasures at Parnassus Books, and eating hot chicken (forget what you've heard: if you visit and wanna try of our city's dish of the moment, Pepperfire is the place to go).

ANYWAY. You came for some links. Here's what happened in my world this week.


What I'm Eating

I'll tell you what I'm eating this week: everything from READY OR NOT!, the new cookbook from my favorite cooks, Michelle Tam and her husband Henry Fong. They're the brains behind the hilarious yet informative cooking blog, Nom Nom Paleo.

The recipes in this book are super fresh, with tons of aromatics (ginger! garlic!) and herbs (cilantro! basil!) and sauces (roasted garlic mayo! sriracha ranch dressing!) to keep things delicious. The best part of this cookbook is the layout: instead of the conventional starter/entree/side we expect, this cookbook is laid out according to how ready you are to cook/how much time you have. For those of us who could use a little help with time management, this is genius.

Curious? Here's a peek inside!


What I'm Playing

The title of a new podcast caught my eye: "Conversations with People Who Hate Me." 

How could you not click? Read the description, and let me know what you think. I listened to the first one, and I liked it. I'm intrigued to hear more!


What I'm Reading

Slow reading week for Amy: I'm still not done with WHEN BREATH BECOMES AIR, but I learned that my copy of JUST MERCY is available at the library. I better put my serious nonfiction kick into high gear before these books both expire!


What I'm Watching

You guys. We are so close to football season, I can taste it.

To quench my thirst for pigskin, I started new season of ALL OR NOTHING on Amazon. Did you miss Season 1? All right, let's download: ALL OR NOTHING is a documentary that follows an NFL team for an entire season. And by follow, I mean follow them everywhere: practice, locker room, their own living rooms with their families. It's a fascinating look into the biggest money generator in sports and how it affects everyone from fans to families to staff.

This season of ALL OR NOTHING is bittersweet because (a) it stars the 2016 L.A. Rams, whose head coach is my main man, Jeff Fisher [aka former Titans head coach who took us to the Super Bowl in 2000 and we lost by 1 yard and I cried] but (b) I know what happens to my main man at the end of the season [he gets fired 😭].

Don't worry, that's not a spoiler—that's how the doc opens. 

Also, it's narrated by Jon Hamm, who has one of the best voices in the history of voices. I could listen to him narrate almost anything, which is why I get excited about Mercedes-Benz commercials, even though my dream car would be a brand-new Toyota Corolla. Because I have exquisite taste.*

*I drove a rental once, and I loved it. That's all. I know nothing about cars, don't listen to me.


Dog of the Week

This is Lita the Greyhound! Lita is available for adoption through Greyhound Pets of America – Nashville. And if I didn't have two greys in my life already, I would adopt her because she is so precious, I can hardly get over it. Look at that face! 😍

Her favorite hobbies are loving stuffies and loving people.

Hobbies we should all strive for, Lita.


That's all from me, folks! Bless you Southern parents who have school-age children going back to school. Our hearts go out to you and your early morning alarms and forcing your little ones to eat breakfast and saying Would you just get in the car already!? for the umpteenth time with clenched teeth. You Northern parents, y'all have fun with that in about a month.

For those of us without school-age children: I hope you also enjoy hitting Snooze on your alarm.

Warmly,
Amy

Daily Tao ☯ 5.26.17

Daily Tao 5.26.17

So guess who forgot to blog last night?

I remembered at 10:30, whilst watching the Penguins v. Senators game, and decided you know what? It’s okay. I figured y’all wouldn’t mind. 

But I should have done it early, before we went to dinner for my MIL birthday, so shame on me. I didn’t get as much work done yesterday as I wanted either, for various reasons, mostly to be blamed on fellow scribe Sarah J. Maas, whose utterly brilliant and captivating A COURT OF WINGS AND RUIN has me between the Scylla and Charybdis of work and reading. 

I haven’t enjoyed a book so much in months. All I want to do is gobble it up. So when my normal reading during breakfast and lunch accidentally stretch into my writing time, and I’m up well past midnight reading, I have to simply bow in Sarah’s direction, and recognize that refilling my well is sometimes as important as expending its contents. 

In addition to writing, learning that it’s called a “cast” of falcons (dangling editorial carrot, there) I did do something else awesome yesterday — picked the audio narrators for LIE TO ME. My God, the talent on this book — you’re going to love it!

And today I took a lunch break and did a long, fun, intricate, and exciting interview with Hank Garner from THE AUTHOR STORIES podcast. We covered everything from my humble beginnings writing weird short stories of astronauts left behind on Mars (yes, I went there first) to a very extemporaneous discussion of creativity and inspiration to my favorite topic, the need for strong female leads in fiction. He made me so comfortable that I was actually doing voices. Which is a thing. My friends can tell you I slip into characters all the time, but I sometimes do it unknowingly, and only when I’m utterly relaxed. So… impressions by J.T., coming next Friday on Hank’s awesome podcast. I’ll put up links.

And then, the afternoon calmed, and I managed 1500 words. That's better.

Have a wonderful long weekend! Be safe, be smart, and have fun.

The Divine Inspiration of the Perfect Podcast

The Divine Inspiration of the Perfect Podcast

I am late to the podcast game. 

I am a visual learner, which means when I’m in the car going places, I’m don't normally use that time constructively. I make phone calls (hands-free, of course) and listen to music. I’ve tried audiobooks, but unless they are seriously engaging (Rosamund Pike reading PRIDE AND PREJUDICE, for example) I have a difficult time with them. 

But I wanted to use my car time more productively, so I subscribed to Elizabeth Gilbert’s MAGIC LESSONS podcast. I hadn’t read Big Magic yet, but I liked the idea of getting bits of inspiration as I drove around town.

And boy, did that work. I was hooked. I caught myself creating trips out just to listen. (I know, I could have listened at home, but I LOVE to drive, so…) When I finished, I told everyone I know to listen, and listen now, and I looked for something new to capture my attention.

I came across a podcast called WRITING EXCUSES. It has an adorable pitch— “15 Minutes Long, Because You’re in a Hurry, and We’re Not That Smart!”

OK. Totally in.

I scrolled for something that looked up my alley, for something I’d connect with. The proprietors of said podcast (Mary Robinette Kowal, Brandon Sanderson, Howard Tayler, and Dan Wells) all write in the fantasy, sci-fi world, so I worried for a moment that I was going to feel lost in space somewhere, but I love Sanderson, and what the heck, it’s fifteen minutes. (Though of course it has 12 SEASONS)

I picked an episode called “Elemental Thriller.”

Holy shit, people.

You know what’s totally awesome? Having people who don’t write your genre exclusively dissect your genre. I learned SO MUCH. A lot I already knew instinctively, I just hadn’t heard it phrased that way. But the most important thing was, I listened for five minutes and suddenly realized the essence of what was troubling me with my WIP—and fixed it that night. This particular episode was the key to allowing me to finish LIE TO ME.

I was hooked—again. I never expected something presented in a such a silly way to have such a remarkable effect on my writing. I of course went back to the beginning of Season 9 and have been systematically working my way in. I’m halfway through Season 11 now, and I am 100% convinced my writing is stronger, tighter, and more impactful because of all I’ve learned. The way they talk about story, about themes and elemental genres, just makes sense. 

Highly recommend you listen, and try some of the writing prompts! It will help you think about your story in a different way, guaranteed. And hey, we all need to learn, right?

3.31.16 - NO ONE KNOWS Roundup

NO ONE KNOWS cover

Whew!

For me, the past few weeks have been a whirlwind—but in the best kind of way. My beloved five-year project NO ONE KNOWS is finally out into the world, and I'm so tickled/thankful/relieved that you guys are enjoying it. 

You just never know what'll happen when you switch gears, ya know?

At any rate, for your entertainment, I've gathered up the articles, interviews, endorsements, and some of my favorite reviews of the book. After collecting all of this in one place, I can see how I actually wrote 1/4 of a novel in nonfiction about this book (20,000 words, folks). 

Enjoy!

_______

Recognition

SIBA 2016 Winter Okra Pick

Book of the Month Club – April 2016 Selection

She Reads Spring 2016 Book Club Selection

 

Written Interviews & Features

InD'Tale Magazine

Southern Writers Magazine

Chapter 16

SIBA's Lady Banks newsletter

Reddit AMA (Ask Me Anything)

CAFTAR: What I'm Reading, Page 69 Test, and My Book, the Movie

Working Mother

Parnassus Books' Musing Blog

BookReporter

The Fresno Bee's Library column

My Book, the Movie

The Page 69 Test

Writers Read

She Reads

Off the Shelf

CBS Local

When I met with TN Ledger journalist Zack Barnes, I had no idea he was going to do three articles about me: three. But he did. And I'm so honored to be young journalist's first cover story. Here are articles onetwo, and three.

BookBub has been giving the book all sorts of love, naming it one of Ten New Thrillers to Read this Spring and one of 16 Books Compared to 'Gone Girl'

Fresh Fiction included NO ONE KNOWS in their quarterly mystery box

A nice feature on 2nd & Church online

XOXO After Dark featured the first chapter of the book

On Criminal Element, I talked about the dream that inspired NO ONE KNOWS. It may have included my husband, Opryland Hotel, and Harlan Coben.

For Southern Writers Magazine's Suite T blog, I wrote about my fears and journey to writing a standalone novel.

I also had a delightful conversation with Lori's Reading Corner!

It's always an honor to be part of The Big Thrill. I appreciate all the love ITW has thrown me over the years!

*We still have a couple more things in the works... I'll let you know as they pop up!

 

Audio Interviews

It's been a while since I've been on Suspense Magazine Radiobut it was such a blast!

It's always lovely to talk to my friend, Libby Hellemann. On Second Sunday Crime, we chatted about NO ONE KNOWS, writing, and the best wine out there.

I loved the premise of the Creative Push Podcast. Host Youngman Brown was a delight to talk to. Creatives, this is a podcast for you.


Reviews

Some of my favorites were:
 

Dream by Day Book Reviews (she knows how to style a photo—so elegant!)

Two Fangs About It

Book Splot Reviews

Project Fandom

All About Romance

Judith D. Collins Must Reads

The Reading Chick

Fallen Over Book Reviews

Red Carpet Crash

Page One

Murfreesboro Daily Journal

Fresh Fiction

Suspense Magazine

And here are the trade reviews you've seen:
 

“Riveting . . . a skillfully plotted story that's equal parts mystery, psychological thriller, and cautionary tale. Ellison's twists are fresh . . . and the novel's action-packed conclusion will shock.”
Publishers Weekly

“The unreliable female narrator is all the rage, and Aubrey Hamilton is up there with the slipperiest of them all.”
Kirkus Reviews

“The reader becomes enthralled with Aubrey and her life while also desperate to learn answers. The payoff succeeds in surprising.”
Booklist

 

Endorsements

“You think GONE GIRL couldn't be topped, try Ellison's web of betrayal, lies and deceit. And wonder --”
Catherine Coulter, #1 New York Times bestselling author of NEMESIS
 

“Enthralling! Ellison's twisty, turny thriller is my kind of novel; interesting characters, complex plotting, and an ending you'll never see coming. Suspense at its finest!”
Lisa Gardner, #1 New York Times bestselling author of FIND HER
 

"J.T. Ellison's stand-alone thriller is a slow burn suspense that heats up, page-by-page, until the shocking end. NO ONE KNOWS is unputdownable, a gripping story that begs to be read in one sitting."
Allison BrennanNew York Times bestselling author of NO GOOD DEED
 

“Clever and compelling, JT Ellison’s NO ONE KNOWS is a page-turner full of unexpected twists and surprises. Pour a glass of wine, settle down in your favorite chair, and get ready for an entertaining roller coaster of a read. JT Ellison is a fast-rising star.”
Jeff AbbottNew York Times bestselling author of THE FIRST ORDER
 

“Reader beware: In NO ONE KNOWS J.T. Ellison has created a masterful game of cat-and-mouse—with Ellison being the cat and us readers her prey. My favorite kind of story—I loved it.”
Erica SpindlerNew York Times bestselling author of THE FIRST WIFE and THE FINAL SEVEN
 

“NO ONE KNOWS grabs you from the start and doesn’t let go. A compelling thriller about loss, betrayal, and buried secrets, it’s a book you’ll devour, trying to guess what’s going on and what will happen next. The twists are genuinely—and satisfyingly—shocking. J.T. Ellison has written another winner.”
Meg Gardiner, Edgar Award-winning author of PHANTOM INSTINCT
 

“J.T. Ellison has created one hell of a brain-bender. NO ONE KNOWS is a masterfully written shell game in which a grief-stricken woman is forced to reckon with her past until everything she believes about love, hope, and trust is tested. Ellison’s storytelling powers are on sharp display in this literary thriller, proving that no one is who they claim to be and everyone has secrets worth protecting. Compelling, perceptive, unsettling and with an ending so on point I wish I could read it again for the first time. I inhaled this novel.”
Ariel Lawhon, author of FLIGHT OF DREAMS
 

“Like a nerve-shredding trip through a carnival house of mirrors, NO ONE KNOWS left me breathless. Ellison's deft, seamless prose makes her devilish twists look effortless, and her sleight-of-hand with the facts of Aubrey Hamilton’s troubled life keeps the tension wire-high. NO ONE KNOWS is razor-sharp, shocking, and delicious.”
Laura Benedict, author of CHARLOTTE’S STORY