An Open Letter to Mr. Obama

By JD Rhoades
Pilot Newspaper: Opinion

Dear Mr. President:

I heard recently that you plan to delay any executive action on immigration, such as delaying deportation of child refugees, until after the November elections — this in spite of your stated intention earlier to do something by the “end of the summer.”

I’m sure your advisers told you that this would be a smart political move. You may even believe it yourself. Well, they’re wrong, and so are you if you buy into that.
Oh, sure, it’s true that some of the more hotly contested races that could determine control of the Senate are in so-called “red” states. I know it looks like a bad idea to rile up the Republican “base” of xenophobes, bigots, Fox News-addicted outrage junkies, and various other angry, frightened old white dudes. My stars, taking executive action might even upset them enough to get to the polls to vote against Democrats.
But here’s the thing, Mr. President: They’re going to get riled up no matter what you do or don’t do. Riled up is their default state. They’ve been in a state of apoplectic rage since Nov. 4, 2008, when you sent the poster child for angry old white dudes and his empty-headed snowbilly running mate packing.
It only got worse four years later, when their supposed savior, Lord Mitt Romney, couldn’t get out of the way of his own feet and stumbled to a humiliating loss that everyone except them could see coming. All you have to do to upset the Republican base and get them to the polls is be a black Democrat in the White House.
You don’t believe me when I say that trying not to upset the Raging Right is a sucker’s game? Check out Newt Gingrich, who went on CNN’s “State of the Union” to call you “cowardly” and “indecisive” for delaying taking action on immigration.
Of course, no one on the program bothered to point out that on Aug. 3, Newt called such action “unconstitutional” and an example of “the Venezuelan-style, anything-I-want-is-legal presidency.
Look at the House, where the speaker, John Boehner, urged you to act on immigration “without the need for congressional action,” the day after his caucus voted to sue you for acting without congressional action — to delay implementation of a law that they repeatedly voted to repeal.
You cannot placate these people. You cannot calm them down, especially since there’s a billion-dollar industry dedicated to keeping them angry and so afraid of everything that they’re convinced that they’ll be robbed, raped or killed if they don’t have a gun on them every time they leave the house.
Instead of trying to soothe the Republican base, why don’t you pay some attention to your own? You seem so worried at the prospect of right-wingers going to the polls that you’re forgetting the people you need to go there.
Latinos, of course, are the fastest growing demographic in the nation. You also need to get young people fired up. But what I’m hearing from them is a growing sense of frustration, complaints that “politicians are all the same,” and a general apathy about voting.
Dems will probably still get a goodly portion of the female vote, but that’s mainly because several Republicans will inevitably say something incredibly stupid, misogynistic, or patronizing toward women before it’s over. But we need the rest of the constituency, too. So now is not the time for half-measures.
I know, Mr. President, that you’re called “No Drama Obama.” But maybe it’s time for something dramatic. For starters, use the power you have as the executive to delay or defer the deportation of refugee children.
For all the caterwauling about “tyranny” (which, remember, they’re going to do anyway), that power falls squarely within the scope of what’s called “prosecutorial discretion”: the recognition that you simply don’t have unlimited resources to prosecute every law, all the time, so the executive branch can allocate those resources as it sees fit. Prosecutorial discretion has long been recognized by the courts as a legitimate use of executive power.
The Teahadists have threatened impeachment if you try that? Let ‘em bring it. Lawsuits? Bring those on, too.
Iowa Rep. Steve King has raised the idea of another government shutdown in protest if you take executive action. Tell him, “Please proceed, Congressman.” Because if there’s one thing that will get wavering Democrats and independents off the couch and into the voting booths, it’ll be the spectacle of the wingnuts once again waving their torches and pitchforks and threatening to destroy the country in order to save it.

So do the right thing, Mr. President, and dare the Republicans to do something about it. Thank you, and God bless.

Via: J.D. Rhoades


Indie publishing, UK style

By (Alexandra Sokoloff)

I’m excited to be appearing at the Bloody Scotland Crime Writing Festival next week, very dramatic timing, since the festival begins the day after the vote on Scottish independence!

Along with appearing on a panel on crossing the supernatural with crime fiction, the usual book signings, and hosting a table at the banquet, I’m moderating a panel on indie publishing, UK style. If you’re in the neighborhood, hope you’ll stop by. And if you aren’t, you may be interested in a UK author/agent and UK indie author’s perspectives, below.


Digital Detectives: The author independence debate

This year at the Bloody Scotland Crime Writing Festival, crime authors Allan Guthrie and Ed James will be discussing their books and their roads to independent publishing success, chaired by American crime author Alexandra Sokoloff. The panelists will share how they have reached hundreds of thousands of readers worldwide and built or added to full-time writing careers through self-publishing, on Saturday, 20 September, 10 am-11 am, in the Academy Suite, Stirling Highland Hotel, Stirling. (Ticket information here).

Allan Guthrie‘s traditionally published crime novels have won multiple nominations and awards (the American Edgar, the UK’s Theakston’s Crime Novel of the Year), but he embraced the DIY options early and found indie-publishing success as well, his novella, Bye Bye Babybecoming a top ten bestseller on Amazon. Al is also a literary agent for Jenny Brown Associates, co-founder of the digital publishing company Blasted Heath, and a freelance editor for several British and American publishers, and his sage and generous advice have made him somewhat of a mentor to many authors, regardless of whether they’re traditionally published, indie published, or both.

Guthrie initially self-published digital editions of his crime novels Two-Way Split and Kiss Her Goodbye, in the US after seeing his client John Rector’s success with self-publishing:

“I started to look into the market a lot more closely because of John’s success with his debut novel, The Grove. And I liked what I saw. Not only did digital publishing expose an author to a new readership, but I did some calculations and discovered that a self-published book priced at $1.25 on Kindle would pay the author almost as much in royalties as a typical mass market paperback at $5.99. I wasn’t sure that there was a huge readership out there, but on the other hand, the chances were that anyone who spent a few hundred dollars (they were more expensive back then) on an e-reader was going to be a heavy reader and liable to buy a lot of books. So I thought maybe they’d take a chance on an author they hadn’t tried before, especially if the price was low. Things took off for me in early 2011, which is when the UK Kindle market really opened up.”

After rejection by traditional publishers, Ed James took his career into his own hands. He self-published his Edinburgh-based Scott Cullen crime series and hit the bestseller charts, enabling him to give up his corporate IT job to live the dream as a full-time crime author:

“Back in 2009, I sent off my finished book to about 40 literary agents. Three or four wanted to read it. I polished it up then sent it off before waiting three months for the inevitable rejections. For a while I got really angry about the rejection and didn’t write a word for 18 months. A couple of years down the line and things had moved on. The whole Amazon/Kindle thing had come out of nowhere. Suddenly it was possible to self-publish. There were guys out there doing it and making millions. I thought there was nothing to be lost. I published the book, started writing the sequel and, within a year, I had four books on Kindle. Somehow they crept into the bestsellers’ list. The first one has been downloaded 290,000 times.”

Thriller Award-winning US author and screenwriter Alexandra Sokoloff was doing well in traditional publishing — but not as well as some of her author friends who were experimenting with indie publishing. So she took a chance by self-publishing her Huntress Mooncrime series – and made the bestseller charts as well as double her usual advance from traditional publishers in just the first two months of publication.

In fact, self-published crime fiction often sells as well and even better than traditionally published crime fiction. Major e-publishing platforms (Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Apple i-Books, Kobo, Smashwords) have promotional opportunities built in to their systems, which entrepreneurial indie authors can use to find an audience whether or not they have been published before. Indie authors can earn 70% of the RRP from these e-platforms, as opposed to (typically) 25% of the net receipts (ie, the RRP minus the vendor’s cut) from traditional publishers, and indie publishing gives authors the control over book pricing, which can lead to significantly greater sales and significantly expanded readerships. And e-publishing platforms, particularly Amazon, allow UK authors to make their books instantly available not just in the UK but also to the enormous US market, as well as Germany, France, Australia, and a growing number of other countries – with no additional work involved.

These days a huge number of authors consider themselves “hybrids” – selling their books through both traditional and indie publishing. For example, James will continue to self-publish his Cullen books, but is very close to having a traditional publishing deal for a new series based on the success of his first series; and Sokoloff just sold the rights to her Huntress Moon crime series to Amazon’s Thomas & Mercer imprint, while keeping the rights to her supernatural thrillers. Traditionally published authors with out-of-print backlists have found new life for their novels and new income from going digital. And aspiring authors should note that agents and traditional publishers routinely track the success of indie authors, making indie publishing a viable alternative to the traditional query-agent-editor route to publication.

James says: “A lot of novice writers still tend to think of the Writers and Artists Yearbook as the primary method of getting an agent whereas I think it’s genuinely changing…” In fact, it was Guthrie who approached James to offer representation, rather than James querying the agency himself.

Guthrie explains: “If you can establish that there’s a market out there for your books, it can be a big help, no question. Selling tens of thousands of books, backed by lots of Amazon reviews with a high average rating, is a pretty clear indicator that there’s a big readership for your writing. Which is the kind of safety net risk-averse publishers tend to find attractive. Also, if an author has a good number of sales through their own efforts, a potential publisher is going to know that they’re very likely dealing with a canny marketer who knows what their readers want and knows how to reach them. A good publisher can take that to the next level.”

The audience is welcome to join the authors in an informal chat session after the panel and book signings, to discuss specifics of self-publishing and promotional strategies.

By phone: 01786 27 4000

More about the authors and their books at:

Via: Alexandra Sokoloff


Cover Reveal

By Allison Brennan Good news: I finished MORTAL SIN, book three of my Seven Deadly Sins series. My publisher cancelled this supernatural thriller series more than four years ago. I was heartbroken and never planned on writing another book, even though I loved

Via: Allison Brennan


Creative immersion

By PD Martin


This past week has been about creative immersion—not for me, for a group of students!

I created my new novel writing intensive course so I could have complete ‘control’ over my creative writing course in terms of the length and content. And I’m loving it! Don’t get me wrong, I also love teaching at Writers Victoria and the other state centres around Australia (like my two-day stint in Adelaide at the end of July). However, nothing beats designing the course yourself. In the case of my novel writing intensive, it’s five days in a row, 10am-4pm at the Abbotsford Covent (on the left). By the end of the week, participants really do have everything they need to write a novel or take their current draft to that next level.

And while I’m not actively taking part in the creative immersion, as such, it’s also pretty intense for me. I’m on the journey with my students, and I’ve got to say, nothing beats seeing a writer’s eyes light up when they see/hear something that clicks and their whole novel falls into place. Something that changes their whole world view—of their fictional world, that is.

As I expected, it was the character and plot days that provided the most lightning bolt moments for my students—who ranged in writing backgrounds from writers about to embark on their first novel to a student who’d had two books traditionally published ten years ago and wanted to up her professional development and to ignite her love of writing again. And I’m happy to say, by the end of the week she was raring to go.

While the course only involves me reading the students’ first 10-15 pages and so I’m by no means intimate with their stories and characters, it’s still incredibly satisfying to see students work out new beginnings, identify their problem areas, work out some more plot twists and turns, and head off after day 5 ready to attack their novels. There aren’t many things that beat the passion for a story and your characters. It burns you, consumes you, until all you can do is write.

That’s my job done, I guess. Mission accomplished. Now it’s back to MY work in progress. Man, am I behind.

Via: P.D. Martin


Less to the Perry Indictment Than Meets the Eye

By JD Rhoades
The Pilot Newspaper: Opinion

There was certainly a lot of liberal schadenfreude at the news that Texas Gov. Rick (“Oops”) Perry had been indicted by a grand jury in Austin on two felony counts.
Schadenfreude, as you may remember, is a German word meaning “pleasure at another’s misfortune.” (I love how those Germans have a word for every emotion.) But, as so often happens when it comes to legal matters in the news, there may be less to this supposed “crime” than meets the eye.
I’ll admit, there was a certain amusement value to seeing Perry’s mug shot plastered all over the news and to learn that he’d lost his concealed carry permit while the charges are pending. Heavens! How will he fight off the coyotes on his morning jog, the way he once bragged of doing to The Associated Press? It was even more amusing to watch Perry defenders twist and turn trying to spin this charge.
For example, The Wall Street Journal’s Wingnut Laureate Peggy Noonan appeared on ABC’s “This Week” (or as I like to call it, “David Brinkley Spins in His Grave”) and blasted the indictment as “local Democratic overreach.” When host George Stephanopoulos pointed out that the prosecutor who brought the case was a Republican, Noonan simply handwaved that away: “That may be. But when you look at this case, it just looks crazy.”
In fact, Michael McCrum, the prosecutor in question, worked in the Bush/Quayle White House and was appointed by a Republican judge. Democratic officials in Travis County recused themselves from the case. But Peggy Noonan, like any good conduit for right-wing persecution fantasy, isn’t going to let something like facts turn her aside.
All that said, Rick Perry deserves the same presumption of innocence as anyone else, and he shouldn’t be convicted of a crime unless a crime was actually committed. So let’s look at the case.
It seems there’s this district attorney, a Democrat as it turns out, named Rosemary Lehmberg. Lehmberg was the head of what was called the Public Integrity Unit (PIU), which investigates wrongdoing by public officials.
One fine night in April 2013, Madame DA not only got arrested for drunk driving, but also made a grade-A, world-class ass of herself while doing it. On video. Lehmberg pleaded guilty to the charges, which is about all one can do when the cops find a bottle of vodka in your passenger seat and have video of you raving like lunatic down at the station.
Perry demanded that Lehmberg resign her position. Lehmberg refused, claiming that just because she was convicted of breaking the law, it didn’t mean she couldn’t go on being a DA. (Say what you like about Texans, you have to admire ‘em for pure chutzpah.)
Perry threatened to veto the funding for the PIU, then did so when Lehmberg remained defiant. So Special Prosecutor McCrum got a grand jury to indict Perry for “abuse of official capacity” (on the theory that vetoing funding to compel or punish behavior was using said public funds for an improper purpose) and “coercion of a public servant.”
It probably didn’t help that the Public Integrity Unit was, at the time, investigating misuse of public funds in a grant to a major Perry donor. It also didn’t help that Perry didn’t demand the resignations of two other Texas DAs, both Republicans, who’d also been involved in drunk driving arrests.
And let’s be honest: Had Barack Obama pulled a stunt like this, Republicans would be screaming about “tyranny” and “Chicago Thug Politics” and adding it to their long list of impeachable offenses (right after “mentioning that he has things in common with other black people” and right before “inappropriate golfing.”)
However, “failure to do right,” as an old DA in this district once used to put it, isn’t a crime. You have to have violated some actual law, and several legal scholars have pointed out that interpreting the law the way McCrum wants to might very well be unconstitutional.
The Executive Branch, state and federal, uses the veto and/or the threat of the veto all the time to bargain or to get its way. It’s the way checks and balances and separation of powers work. There’s also what’s called the “political question” doctrine, which states that if the question is “fundamentally political and not legal,” the courts should stay out of it.

In other words, hardball politics may be distasteful, even unfair, but they’re not necessarily criminal. If you don’t like the way an executive uses executive power, don’t vote for him. Which is exactly what I suggest when it comes to Rick Perry.

Via: J.D. Rhoades


7 Minutes With... L.R. Nicolello

By JT Ellison

I was at RWA this year, at the literacy signing, when this knockout girl approached me and started asking questions about publishing. Her debut novel was coming out in a month, and she was hoping to glean some tips. Turns out said girl writes for my publisher, writes wicked thrillers, and within minutes, I knew she was something special. I meet a lot of people, a lot of writers, and sometimes, you just click with people, and we clicked. Plus – Nicolello? Come on, how can you not love a girl from the Old Country. I read DEAD DON’T LIE, which totally freaked me out, and knew I wanted to share L.R. and her writing with you. Beauty, brains, talent – she’s going to go far, very far, and you heard it here first! So here we go!


Set your music to shuffle and hit play. What’s the first song that comes up?

‘Empty Words’ by Christina Aguilera.

Okay, first, that’s hilarious. But, this song—oh, my heart—this song. I love how music releases just the right tsunami of emotions. I had this on repeat while writing a particular twist for my latest villain and walked away from the pages actually hurting for him and a little bit in love. (I blame Allison Brennan for that. : ) )

Now that we’ve set the mood, what are you working on today?

Today I’m on the beach but like every day, I’m multitasking, which I love. I’m prepping for the release of my debut book, DEAD DON’T LIE, while I finish up edits due back to my editor tomorrow for my second book in the series, DEAD NO MORE.

What’s your latest book about?

DEAD DON’T LIE is a romantic suspense featuring Detective Evelyn Davis, the best psychological profiler in the Seattle P.D., whose talent comes from heartbreaking experience. After two local families are wiped out, Evelyn believes a serial killer is at work. With each new discovery, the case becomes more personal and Evelyn starts to suspect the families aren’t the killer’s ultimate target—she is.

I love writing kickass women who can hold their own, yet know how to let people into their hearts and lives, even if it takes them awhile to get there. Evelyn is one such woman, and I hope my readers love her as much as I do.

Where do you write, and what tools do you use?

My husband and I travel a lot for work, so I tend to write on my Macbook Pro wherever I can park myself in a chair and put in my earphones. If I’m not near my laptop, I’ll pull out my iPhone or iPad and write in Evernote.

What was your favorite book as a child?

Funny story. I actually couldn’t read until well into first grade. Once I started, I never stopped, so the list is long and distinguished. Off the top of my head—probably Nancy Drew.

What’s your favorite bit of writing advice?

Two things come to mind: 1) Don’t edit until you’re done with the first draft. Sit down, and just write. 2) If you’re not disciplined enough to write every day, then hang it up now.

Okay, I know the second bit of advice may sound a bit harsh, but when Catherine Coulter said those words to me, it was as if a pendulum swung in my mind. Total. Game. Changer.

What do you do if the words aren’t flowing?

Head to the gym, go to a movie, read, jump in the car and just drive—anything to give my mind some space to just be. Then I refer to the first bit of writing advice: Sit down, and just write.

What would you like to be remembered for?

Being a gracious, steadfast, and kind woman, wife, and friend who never gave up on her dreams or the dreams of others.


L. R. Nicolello has been obsessed with all things suspense and justice related for as long she can remember. When other girls her age were watching the latest chick flick, she was watching Top Gun, dreaming of flying fast. She thinks a man in uniform is swoon-worthy and her husband likes to tease her about it, especially whenever they are near a military base. Growing up, her parents instilled in her and her sister that women can be strong without losing their femininity, and she takes that to heart with every character that comes to life.

She lives in blue-sky Texas with her husband and their ninety-pound “dog child”, but travels—a lot. When she’s not writing, she watches and re-watches her favorite television shows, exercises or reads anything she can get her hands on. Twitter: @LRNicolello

More about DEAD DON’T LIE

You can run from the past…but you can never truly hide...

Detective Evelyn Davis delves deep into the minds of monsters for a living. She’s the best psychological profiler in the Seattle P.D., with a talent that comes from heartbreaking experience. When Evelyn was just eighteen, she received word of her family’s murder in the form of a horrifying video. Fifteen years later, tracking down other psychopaths is the only thing that brings her some peace.

But now two local families have been wiped out. Though the chilling crime scenes suggest murder-suicides, Evelyn believes a serial killer is at work. So does Special Agent Marcus Moretti, whose easy charm and fiercely protective instincts are breaking down all her defenses. Evelyn needs to put aside her emotional attachment to find the madman stalking her city—but with each discovery, this case becomes more personal. She’s starting to suspect the killer wants her—and he is edging closer with every step, ready to make Evelyn pay a devastating price.

Via: JT Ellison


7 Minutes With... Jenny Milchman

By JT Ellison

I have such a treat for y’all today. If you haven’t heard the name Jenny Milchman, prepare yourself. She’s going to be the next Laura Lippman, and you heard it here first. When I read COVER OF SNOW, I was blown away – how could this be a debut? I wasn’t the only one, Jenny was nominated for a slew of awards, and has had an amazing amount of success for a new author. If you haven’t read it, get a copy now, and while you’re at it, snag yourself her new book, RUIN FALLS. Here’s Jenny!


Set your music to shuffle and hit play. What’s the first song that comes up?

It’d be something country. Maybe Sugarland or Lady A. That’s because we’re on the road, 4 months and 20,000 miles on the world’s longest book tour now that my second novel has come out. My kids are in the backseat—we “car-school” them—and my husband works from the front. And there’s something about the road that calls for country.

Now that we’ve set the mood, what are you working on today?

Absolutely nothing! Well, I’m filling out this delightful set of questions, of course. And Tweeting, FB-ing, answering email. But I just turned in edits for my 2015 release, As Night Falls, and I’m in a lull period prior to starting my next novel, and finalizing this one.

What’s your latest book about?

Ruin Falls is about a woman whose children go missing at the start of a long awaited family vacation. But this is not a child-in-jeopardy novel, don’t worry. The kids are safe all along, and the mom and you as reader both know that. The suspense in the story comes from whether Liz Daniels can become the kind of person who can get her children back.

Where do you write, and what tools do you use?

I’m pretty much a word processing kind of girl. In fact, until recently when we rented out our house for the world’s longest book tour, I wrote on a machine that had no USB port, was running Windows 98…and backed up on floppy disks. (This led to all sorts of fun encounters at Staples or Office Max where the clerk looked at me like I was Encino Man). Now I use a real, internet-enabled netbook, but I still won’t go on the web or do email or social media while I am writing in the mornings. Instead, I stare out at a mountain, and a creek, and use the screen only as a portal into my story.

What was your favorite book as a child?

Anything by Stephen King.

What’s your favorite bit of writing advice?

Find the joy. I know the whole, Writing is easy; you just sit down and open up a vein school of thought. And maybe it’s true for some writers and some books. But I think that when we are just itching to get to that computer or pad of paper every day, travel into the world of our story, then our readers will be just as excited to keep turning the page.

What do you do if the words aren’t flowing?

Knock on wood because so far at least this hasn’t happened, at least not during a first draft. Revising is like boxing my way out of a concrete cell, though. I weep, I pull hair out. Not even necessarily my own hair. But a first draft is more like a river that pulls me along.

What would you like to be remembered for?

A bookseller in Olympia, WA told me that after reading one of my books, she feels a little stronger as a person herself. I would love to be remembered for giving people that.


Jenny Milchman is a suspense writer from the Hudson Valley of New York State, who lived for seven months on the road with her family on what Shelf Awareness called “the world’s longest book tour.”

Jenny’s debut novel, COVER OF SNOW, won the Mary Higgins Clark Award for best suspense novel of 2013, and has been nominated for the Macavity and Barry Awards.

RUIN FALLS, Jenny’s second novel, was published in 2014 to starred reviews from Booklist and Library Journal, and chosen as an Indie Next Pick.

Jenny is Vice President of Author Programming for International Thriller Writers, and the founder of Take Your Child to a Bookstore Day, which was celebrated by over 700 bookstores in all 50 states and four foreign countries in 2013.


Jenny is currently on a second World’s Longest Book Tour, from 4/22/2014 until 9/3/2014 (with some additional Fall and Winter dates), covering 40 states, 20,000 miles and almost 200 bookstores, libraries, book clubs, and other events. See for a full tour schedule and map. Jenny would love to meet you on the road!

About Ruin Falls, released 4/22/2014

Liz Daniels has just set off on vacation, but when the family stops for the night, she wakes to find a terrifying reality. Her children are missing, and the hours tick by without anyone finding a trace of them. But in a sudden, gut-wrenching instant, Liz realizes that no stranger invaded their hotel. Instead, someone she trusted completely has betrayed her. Now Liz will stop at nothing to get her children back. From her guarded in-laws’ farmhouse to the woods of her hometown, Liz follows the threads of a terrible secret to uncover a hidden world created from dreams and haunted by nightmares.

Via: JT Ellison


9.2.14 - On Living Out Loud, With Thanks

By JT Ellison

Writing used to be a solitary endeavor. I’ve only been in the game for ten years, and when I started, it was a solitary endeavor. I wrote in a vacuum, not knowing any other authors, unaware of writers’ organizations, agents, editors, sales channels and marketing plans. I wrote for me, and when I finished my first book, my husband read it, and thought it was pretty good. A friend who knew I was writing a novel offered to read it. He too liked it. The next thing I knew, I was at the library checking out a copy of the Writer’s Guide to Literary Agents, and had an editor reading my pages for continuity and grammar.

Things took off quickly after that. A year later, I had a agent, and a year after that, a three-book deal. I’d joined a critique group, started blogging, first for my own blog, then on Murderati. I put up a Facebook page, began the race to accumulate “friends.” Shortly thereafter, Twitter joined the mix.

I was no longer alone.

Fast forward ten years. I’ve just turned in my 15th novel. Pinterest, Instagram and Goodreads have all become a daily ritual like Facebook and Twitter. I send monthly newsletters to a lot of people. I do chats, and blog, and create clever contests.

I am living out loud.

I’ve always been uncomfortable with sharing myself online. From the very beginning, I was incredibly careful what I put out there. I’m an introvert, and I like my privacy. I like sharing JT the author with people, but I also wanted to keep me separate from all of that. It was a learning curve. Whenever I let a piece of me into the mix, I felt raw and vulnerable, oddly exposed, like I’d walked into a cocktail party without my clothes, and everyone was staring.

Keeping the two parts separate was a nice ideal. It couldn’t sustain.

Years ago there was a successful writer whose blog I followed. She was a funny, quirky blogger, full of interesting tips about the writing process and publishing in general. And she talked about when writing was hard.


She talked a lot about it. So much so that some other nameless authors tried to run her off for being overly dramatic and whiny. So much so that even I read a few posts cringing.

How could you put yourself out there like that? People will think you’re weak. People will think you’re lazy. People will think …

I was new. Bright, shiny. Brimming with ideas and exuberance. Unstoppable. The idea of writer’s block was a joke. That it would be anything but easy to sit down and write a book? Bosh. And that you might actually admit out loud to strangers reading your blog that you were struggling? Heresy.

I know now I was running on a sort of extended adrenaline those first few years. Life does get in the way. Sometimes, writing is hard. Really freaking hard. It cuts you open just to watch you bleed, and laughs at you as you struggle on hands and knees to cross the room to your desk. And let’s not get into the parts that are out of your control: bad laydows, terrible art decisions, marketing plans that disappear, accounts dropped, promises broken.

This is a fucking heartbreaking industry, in so many ways, yet we soldier on in silence, for the most part, because there is an old adage that reads: Never let them see you sweat.

I’ve always tried to stick to that advice, simply because of that open, honest blog I used to read. It seemed so voyeuristic, to see inside another writer’s heart. To watch her bleed to death, slowly, in public, while others cast aspersions from their ivory towers.

I’m not sure when I crossed the first line myself. But over the years, I’ve shared more and more. The lines between me and that JT girl blurred, becoming nonexistent. The day I too was stuck and thinking about giving up, I reminded myself of the blog I’d read with such disdain as a child author, realizing that what she was doing was her therapy, and wrote about it myself. It helped. God in heaven, it helped.

I’ve never been good with weakness, from myself or from others. My BFFs know if you come to me with a problem, you first need to tell me if you simply need to blow off steam, because if not, I will find a path for you to fix whatever issue is nagging at you. It’s a character flaw, I think, but I’ve learned to live with it.

Sometimes, though, I need to be weak. I need to vent. I need to cry. I need.

Writing WHAT LIES BEHIND was one of those times. It was by far the hardest book I’ve ever written. Storylines wouldn’t work. Characters weren’t behaving. I was stuck, blocked, for weeks, trying machination after machination to get the story to work. Five months of head banging frustrations, slipping into despair more than once, thinking about shelving the whole thing and giving up.

And I blogged about it. I talked about it on Facebook. And on Twitter. I wined and complained and lived out loud.

And you came to my rescue.

You held me up. You encouraged me. You offered ideas, paths to cross over to different switchbacks. You sent prayers and namastes and care packages. You saw that I was weak, and needed help, and you rose to the occasion without a moment’s hesitation.

Social media gets a bad rap sometimes. Yes, it’s a distraction. Yes, it takes time away from our creative endeavors. But when you build a community of incredible people who will lift you up when you’re falling? It is worth every second.

You got me through this book. Knowing I wasn’t alone kept me going, day after day. And it is with tears in my eyes and a lump in my throat that I give you my most humble thanks. I couldn’t have done it without you. When I turned the book in Saturday, I breathed a sigh of relief so huge I think I started a tropical storm in the Gulf.

Walk a mile in another man’s shoes, right?

Via: JT Ellison


Page 1 of 26412345...102030...Last »