A THOUSAND DOORS gets a new cover!

Take a gander at the brand new cover for A THOUSAND DOORS! I am madly in love. It’s on brand, on trend, and so striking! Mad props to Sarah Hansen at Okay Creations for knocking it out of the park. (And there’s a brand new hardcover edition feeding its way into the system as well!)


Haven’t read A THOUSAND DOORS yet? Publishers Weekly called it fascinating and gave it a starred review, and Bookreporter said it was worth the wait. Here’s some more about the book:

The day Mia Jensen died, she finally got to live.

We’ve all played the “what if” game. For forty-year-old Mia Jensen, “what if” is a fact of life. Dissatisfied with her choices, she often dreams about what could have been. Now she has the chance to know. But that knowledge will cost her dearly. Only through death can she fully realize the value of her life.

After a terrible day, trying to figure out how she’s come to this point—alone, on the cusp of divorce––Mia hears a strange noise in her kitchen. When she investigates, she is attacked and left for dead. As Mia dies, she experiences some of the lives that could have been hers had she only made a different choice.

Can one woman find peace with the path she’s chosen before it slips through her fingers forever?

Through the unique voices of New York Times bestsellers and rising stars in women’s fiction, A THOUSAND DOORS examines how our smallest decisions create lasting effects, and asks the ultimate question—can we actually change our lives?

Bringing Mia to life are the following fabulous authors:

ATD Mia's lives - which life - on sale now.jpg

And here’s even more on its genesis.

If you missed A THOUSAND DOORS the first time around, now’s your chance!

Sunday Smatterings

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Happy Sunday, friends! 

It’s hot and steamy here in Nashville, akin to stepping outside into a steaming hot wet washcloth. It reminds me of the summers we flew to Florida from Colorado, the same overwhelming wetness in the air. Southerners refer to this air as “sultry” because sultry sounds a lot better than suffocating and miserable and disgustingly gross and dripping wet. Ah, words. What would we do without them?

Thrillerfest was great. Crutches in New York at a conference? Not so much. I am forever grateful to everyone, from Lynn and Valerie Constantine to Kevin in the Grand Hyatt bar and everyone in between who offered help, succor, and good humor (and complimented my shoes. Thank you, Effortless Style!) I felt quite cherished, which, I admit, was awfully nice. A good time was had by all, even Maurice the Hawaiian Giraffe, may he forever rest in peace. 🦒

One of my favorite parts of Thrillerfest is the bar. Not for the drinks, because they’re ridiculously expensive, but for the camaraderie. There is an “us against the world” mentality, and it’s so much fun to grab a table and linger for a while, because inevitably, everyone makes their way to this gathering place. You can learn a lot just by sitting back and listening.

Soon, you’ll be able to purchase a download of the panels, and let me tell you, it will be worth it. I had to miss several and I will be grabbing them, because there was just so much incredible content.

Maurice’s unfortunate demise aside (don’t ask…just follow the links and buy the book), I loved getting a chance to meet and linger with so many folks. Can’t wait for next time.

It’s always a rough week post-conference for me, which is why I don’t do too many anymore. It takes me forever to get back into the swing of things. I’ve gotten a lot of business work done this week, but not as much writing as I’d like. I’m distracted, out of my habit, spending too much time online. And you know what that means. It’s time for a social media sabbatical. 🥳

It’s been a while since my last one. I think a couple of weeks offline (because when I say social media sabbatical, it’s really a whole-Internet sabbatical) will do me good, help me settle back into the story. I’m behind on my reading, too, so it’s well-timed. 

It’s funny, when you’re a writer, and you carry your office in your head,  getting offline is really the only way to take a vacation. 

Well, I did manage to get a few things accomplished this week. The newsletter went out Thursday -- are y’all getting it? There’s a super recipe in it this month. If you’re not already signed up, you can join us here.

A blog post is coming this week with a fabulous cover reveal, so keep an eye out.

And with that, I’ll bid you adieu and let you look at the links!

Here's what happened on the Internets this week:

The Sandman, Catch-22, Cloud Atlas ... is there such thing as an 'unfilmable' book? What do you think?

A Harry Potter Book, Bought for $1 at a Yard Sale, Could Sell for More Than $37,000 at Auction. This is wild! Makes you want to start doing the yard sales, eh?

The Future of Ebook Pricing. In case you’ve ever wondered about how your library decides what digital books to buy. This is something to keep an eye on. We’re still in a disruption, no matter what people say.

Fall In Love With the Written Word at These Literary Themed New England Hotels. I want to go! Right now. Come on!

Licensed to fill out: from Stranger Things to Star Wars, the tie-in novels continuing the story. Fascinating. There are a lot of fun, interesting things about publishing that I’m still learning.

14 Pieces Of Advice From Self-Help Books People Actually Found Useful. What’s your favorite self-help book? Mine’s Twyla Tharp’s THE CREATIVE HABIT.

Writing About Synaesthesia and Face Blindness: Bee Larkham’s Murder. I'm looking forward to reading this book! I wrote a fun character who has synesthesia, and I know three people who have face blindness. Should be fascinating.

Top 10 books about cults. Something I will forever be interested in.

Wine of the Week at The Wine Vixen!

What I’m Reading:

Look at this amazing stack of galleys I brought home from Thrillerfest! I don’t know which one I should start first. See any you’re excited to read? I’m trying to decide which one to read first on sabbatical…

That’s all for now. Read a good book, watch some of the British Open, put some fresh food out for your hummingbirds, and I’ll see you next week—hopefully chill!

peace and hugs,

Sunday Smatterings

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Greetings, salutations, and warm Sunday hellos! As you read this, I am winging my way home from Thrillerfest, so this is going to be short and sweet. I’m sure I will have many stories to tell and lots to share. 

Before I took off for NYC, I spent some time doing a bit of a digital detox. Awesome Assistant Leigh was here Monday to get Team JT squared away on social media for the rest of the summer. I love these quarterly get togethers. It’s a blessing to be able to do some work in person when you run things virtually. 

That’s the way I feel about Thrillerfest. Not only do I get to see friends, I also get to see my team. This year’s event was especially exciting because my longtime editorial leader Margaret Marbury received an award for her service to the genre. While I’ve had five brilliant editors over the thirteen years I’ve been with MIRA, Margaret has been on my team from day one. I met her the first time in Phoenix, at the inaugural Thrillerfest. She embodies everything that you think of when the words “New York” and “publishing”  are put together. Gorgeous, erudite, a lanky fashion plate with a wicked sense of humor, she’s utterly cool and unflappable.  She gives good advice, too. So cheers, Margaret! Congratulations on being named the 2019 Thriller Legend!

One thing I did treat myself with was leaving my laptop at home and bringing along my ARC of Erin Morgenstern’s THE STARLESS SEA instead. I have to say, this book is going to be a massive hit. It’s wildly imaginative, structurally brilliant, and so heartfelt. Sheer genius. If you like books, you’re going to love it - so yes, that’s ALL OF YOU!

Back next week with loads more... have a super rest of the weekend. Let’s take a look at the links!

What I’m Reading:

LAYOVER by David Bell

There is something inherently sexy about meeting a stranger at an airport, especially one you connect with on every level. But what if that someone might be a missing person? It's a great premise for a book, and David Bell's latest, Layover, captures all the excitement and terror of this exact situation. If you like Harlan Coben, you will love David Bell.

What are you reading?

That’s all for now. I’ll see you next week!

peace and hugs,

Sunday Smatterings

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Sunday blessings on you all! Independence Day has come and gone, and now we’re settling in for the dog days of summer. If you’re a curious sort, as I am, you may wonder where that term came from. It conjures images of hot, sweaty dogs panting and searching for shade to me, but the Romans, who coined the phrase dies caniculares, did so because the bright star Sirius—part of the constellation Canis Major, the Greater Dog—rose in concert with the sun for two months in the summer, and they thought it added to the heat. So now you know.

Because there was no way to safely managed the crowds with my unsteady but healing knee, we stayed home and watched the fireworks on TV. The Boston Pops had an extravaganza that was broadcast on Bloomberg, and I’m telling you, it was spectacular. From the music, to the guests, to the message of unity and inclusion, to the impressive fireworks, everything was pitch perfect. I was especially impressed with the inaugural national youth poet laureate Amanda Gorman. Her poem, set to the Battle Hymn of the Republic, blew me away. Definitely treat yourself and watch it. I daresay she’s going to become a household name soon enough.

It was a good work week, too, though a bit jagged around the edges. I wrapped up my #1000wordsofsummer participation with 13,000 words in 14 days, which I was thrilled with. I settled on a solid idea and wrote up a few scenes, and retitled the book’s working title to match. I was feeling pretty good about things. And the next morning, I opened Publisher’s Marketplace to see a sale announcement—for the exact same story concept, and the EXACT SAME TITLE.


This happens more than you can imagine. With all these creative minds plugged into the zeitgeist, it’s hard not to generate the same sort of ideas. Granted, everyone’s take on this general concept would be different, but the broad strokes were just too similar to my idea, so I had to change it. Trust me, I wasn’t thrilled.

Y’all know I’ve been watching authors on the Master Class (leave me a comment if you’d like a discounted pass…). I put on Baldacci’s class, and DH and I started to watch. I got frustrated pretty quickly, because in the beginning sections, he was saying things I already knew. The problem was my story had just been yanked out from under me, not that I needed to do more research. This is no knock to Baldacci, the class is great and clearly helped. We hit pause about 50 times as I talked it out with DH and my notebook. I grumbled. I complained. I knew I was circling something, but I couldn’t land on it. We tossed around a couple of ideas that felt possible, and I slept on it.

Sure enough, I woke up with an even bigger concept, and the first lines of the proposal. How to tell the story. What the story really was. The underlying theme, the moral question, the villain’s motives, all of it. I changed the name of a main character, and boom went the dynamite. I wrote up the proposal, and will submit it tomorrow.

Listen, there are only 7 plots. Every story is derivative of these 7 plots. (Tangentially, there are only 10 types of female energy, per this twitter thread...) How you tell an original story is in your voice, your treatment, your structure, your characters. Settings, too, play a large role. Unless a concept has quite literally been done to death, a fresh take on a classic tale will always, always sell.

I’m off to Thrillerfest this week (assuming I’m cleared to travel Tuesday, of course.) I hope to see some of you in New York!

Let’s take a look at the links!

Here's what happened on the Internets this week:

So stoked to see GOOD GIRLS LIE is a Publishers Weekly editors' pick for Fall 2019 titles!

A library of one's own: Meet the man who owns 12,000 books. Can you even imagine? This makes me curious about how many books I own…I’m going to guess I’m in the 4,000 range.

Barnes and Noble Bought by Hedge Fund. Major news, if you missed it. I’m curious to see what shakes out here.

Use Your Calendar to Record What Actually Happened. Superb advice that I follow regularly. It’s a boon at tax time, too, for deducing mileage.

What’s On These Local Author’s Summer Reading Lists. Including yours truly. I had a hard time narrowing down my list! Also, if you’re not reading the Nashville Edit, you should be.

The Norwegian island that abolished time: 'You can cut the lawn at 4am.' I kind of love this idea. Not necessarily sunlight 24/7 for three months, but the idea that time is irrelevant. Because really, it is.

We Asked 24 Fantasy Authors For The Book That Made Them Fall In Love With The Genre. Filling up my TBR…

What Makes The Perfect Book Club Read? We Asked 3 Experts. Great advice for anyone who is thinking about starting a book club.

Sarah Haywood Shares Advice For New Writers. A lovely, encouraging essay.

Wine of the Week at The Wine Vixen… a white, for once!

What I’m Reading:

LAST SUMMER by Kerry Lonsdale

Here’s the best beach read of the summer! LAST SUMMER is out Tuesday and it’s a captivating page-turner of a suspense. You need it! I think Kerry is a superb writer. She knows how to build characters.

What are you reading?

That’s all for now. Donate three things to your favorite local charity (don’t forget the animal shelter- they LOVE old towels!), cut some hydrangea for your kitchen counter, clean your desk, and I’ll see you next week!

peace and hugs,

Sunday Smatterings

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Happy Sunday! I hope this weekend’s missive finds you well.

To Do lists. They are both the glue that holds together my world, and the bane of my existence. Whenever anyone asks me to do something–professionally or personally–I open Wunderlist and pop it in. It gets a date. It goes onto the appropriate list. It, therefore, exists.

Wunderlist is my savior, my world. All of my assistants have worked in it. Every book, every project, has its own folder, plus weekly To Dos and upcoming lists, databases, etc. (all this dating back to 2012...) I even use it as a catch-all for concepts and projects I might do down the road. It is so ingrained into my workflow and life that I hardly ever thing about it. Until this week, when I got word that my beloved task manager was going away, and Microsoft To Do was taking over. Cue panic.

Y’all, I know I’m totally overkill on the organization side of things, as anyone who has worked with me can attest. There’s something so soothing about looking at my lists, plotting out tasks, matching them to my calendar, planning and planning and planning (sometimes to the detriment of my writing, I will admit.) Yes, I procrastinate by planning. It’s a thing.

So having to change this process is, for me, on par to packing up and moving to France with no notice, no job, no shelter, and no friends, and then being told I’m going scuba diving in the Seine without oxygen. It’s the kind of disruption that has a huge effect on me. And I am not a fan of mindless disruption.

When I heard of the change, I immediately looked at Microsoft To Do, and at first, it looked like a decent solution. While it’s easy to import things and looks pretty (though much too spread out for me – I need to see things at a glance and it’s a lot of white space and scrolling), it doesn’t have any communication or notification features, which means using it for a team is worthless. At least for now. I also tried ToDoist, but their importer won’t bring in all of my tasks, just the top level stuff. When I did the initial sync I saw upwards of 7500 line items importing, though many are archived. Seven years of to do lists is a LOT.

I’ve tried Asana and Trello in the past, but I’m not a Kanban board thinker. I’m going to take a glance at Things3 next, but learning an entirely new content management system seems… counterproductive. I do Bullet Journal this stuff too, and use a pared down Week Plan in my Day One app, just for good measure. Yes, I’m overdoing it. I like redundancies.

This is a serious situation, people. I HAVE to have my project management system work, and work well. It is the backbone of my business.

 Why, you might ask, are the words not the backbone of your business, JT? 

Well, they are. Without the words, without the books, none of this matters a whit. And I tell myself that every time I get wigged out about these things. The world will not end if I don’t have the tasks managed.

Ah... and now we hit the crux of it. I can focus on the words much easier if my tasks are neatly arrayed, emoji’d, color-coded, hashtagged, and in their appropriate spots. 

Some of my friends don’t need a clean office to write. When my inbox and desk are messy, it gives me hives. Same with my digital life. My desktop screen is empty. My folders are neatly labeled. There is a place for everything, and everything is in its place. And when they aren’t, the wheels start to come off.

This, my friends, is my OCD on full display, and why one of my main characters, Samantha Owens, also has OCD issues. I found her fascinating as a character because of this... I don’t want to say flaw, it’s far from a flaw. A detail, that’s all, in her life. But it’s one that runs so much of her personality, so much of her existence. And it’s adult-onset, which I think makes it that much worse, that much more frustrating for her. A woman who is so in control of everything suddenly unmoored makes for excellent writing fodder.

All this to say – when you’re developing characters, give them something that makes them unique. A private detective with a drinking problem is a trope, yes. But if the struggles of a character are something we can identify with, it makes them endearing, and human. You can find deeper issues to give them than over-drinking, if you look hard enough.

I will continue fighting with my systems until I find a new solution, and I will keep this advice in mind as I build my new characters. I think standalones are harder for these kinds of foibles. Each new set of characters needs their own set of unique details that make them come alive.

Something for me to ponder today. Character development, and really streamlining my To Dos.

Thanks for listening. Off to the links with you…

Here's what happened on the Internets this week:

A Precise Taxonomy of 64 Hairstyles in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Probably the most fabulous thing you’ll read this week, and bonus: it’s written by an exceptionally talented Nashville author friend by the name of Lauren Thoman.

Sleep in a library at Naples' first book hotel. This looks and sounds amazing! What could be better, Italy and books.

An amateur sleuth helped authorities confirm the identities of the New Hampshire murder victims. More proof librarians are amazing.

On the Writing Life and Safeguarding Privacy. “In our era of Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram, notions of privacy are being shaped and reshaped by the hour, with some arguing that we live in a post-privacy world. The Internet yields all sorts of knowledge we are no better off for knowing.” An absolute need to read.

Misfits Market - Ugly and Imperfect Produce, Delivered To Your Door. What a great idea. I had no idea the produce had to look pretty to make it on the shelves. Amazing how much we waste.

5 Things I Want to See in the Talented Mr. Ripley TV Series. I am a fan, and this was super fascinating.

When James Your Baby Bat Is So Cute He Can Do Whatever He Wants. "James, you're supposed to be hanging!" OMG! 😮 Hat tip to my brother for this one…

Twist Endings, Librarian Stereotypes, and Nora Roberts Books as Projectiles. Great new series from Book Marks.

'There's no safety net': the plight of the midlist author. “I had got myself into that catch-22, where your sales figures aren’t as healthy as they once were or as good as retailers would like. So then your book comes out and it’s not stocked in as many places, so it doesn’t sell as well. Then you’re writing your next one and it won’t earn as much money, as they’re looking at what happened to the one before. You’re almost doomed to continue the pattern.”

We call this the law of diminishing returns, and I’ve experienced it too many times to count.

Review: Google Chrome has become surveillance software. It’s time to switch. This is getting ridiculous. I never cared for Chrome, thank heavens. But this surveillance state we’re living in gives me the heebie-jeebies.

Wine of the Week A delicious Bordeaux from The Wine Vixen…

What I’m Reading:

DEAR WIFE by Kimberly Belle

You’d have to have been under a rock not to see Kimberly’s new book out in the wild this week… Congrats, girl!

I loved this book so much! Subtle, insidious, clever... DEAR WIFE is spellbinding. I was hooked from the first page. You’re going to love Kimberly Belle’s latest outing. And you aren’t going to see it coming...which is the best kind of suspense!

What are you reading?

That’s all for now. Have a picnic in a park, wear a hat and don’t forget your sunscreen, mark a few things off that To Do list, and I’ll see you next week!

peace and hugs,