8.30.15 - Sunday Smatterings

By JT Ellison

Hi there! Amy here, J.T.’s trusty assistant (and lover of books, Mexican food, and nice dogs). While J.T.’s making her way around Europe researching the next Nicholas Dummond novel, I’m at the communications helm leading the literary dialogue. So nice to meet you!

Here are a few things J.T. and I found buzzworthy around the internets this week:

Did you hear there’s a new Alzheimer’s treatment that’s fully restoring memory function? Perhaps there’s real hope for those stricken with this insidious disease.

With our busy lives and hectic schedules, sometimes it hardly seems possible to survive, let alone thrive and create amidst it all. Author and blogger Dani Shapiro hits the nail on the head with this post that will hit home for artists: On Protecting Your Instrument.

I read Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander (mostly because J.T. couldn’t stop talking about it since she’s read it 9 times), and it turned out to be a FANTASTIC book. My boss might know what she’s talking about when it comes to books. Being the Outlander nerds we are, we couldn’t help but chuckle at Outlander‘s TV composer Bear McCreary and his ode to one of the best instruments of all time: the bagpipe. Trust me: it’s worth a watch, even if you’ve never seen the show. (Zombie lovers: McCreary is the mastermind behind the creeptastic music in The Walking Dead!)

My reaction to Buzzfeed’s 26 literary characters who stole your heart? Yes, yes, 1000 times yes! (Except for you, Draco Malfoy. I have no time for Slytherins.)

And speaking of Malfoy, here’s some more Buzzfeed gold: Hilarious Harry Potter Comics Show How Irresponsible Dumbledore Was. But seriously, guys. It’ll make you do a double-take on your blind love for the old wizard!

Ok, I have a really important question for you: do you remember McPizza?!? I certainly don’t, which is why this Mental Floss article weirdly fascinated me: The short, strange life of McDonald’s Pizza.

And on the Tao, we dually celebrated the imminent arrival of the latest Nicholas Drummond book, THE END GAME, and the paperback release of its predecessor, THE LOST KEY!

Alright, everybody, that’s about all we’ve got for the week. I’ll see you soon! (And seriously, tell me if you’ve ever had McPizza. I’m ridiculously curious.)

Via: JT Ellison


Book of Shadows on sale, 99 cents this week!

By noreply@blogger.com (Alexandra Sokoloff)

“A wonderfully dark thriller with amazing “Is-it-isn’t-it?”suspense all the way to the end. Highly recommended.” - Lee Child

Book of Shadows is about a cynical Boston cop who teams up with a mysterious Salem witch to solve what looks like a Satanic murder.

It’s fascinating to me how when you write a book, everyone always assumes it’s about you. Few people get that sometimes, if not most times, when you write a book it’s about getting OUT of you. Just like reading is, right?

So naturally everyone who reads it assumes that I’m a witch (that’s with a “w”). Oh, the interviewers don’t come right out and say it, but you know that’s what they’re asking.

Well, I’m not. Really. Not really. No more than any woman is a witch.
But I can’t deny that writing Book of Shadows was a really excellent opportunity for me to indulge some of my witchier nature. I wanted to dive right in and explore some of those things that make some men – and a lot of women – uncomfortable with feminine power, and feminine energy, and feminine sexuality, and feminine deity.

I was working up to this book for quite a while. I’ve been around practicing witches most of my life. That’s what happens when you grow up in California, especially Berkeley. Actually the Berkeley part pretty much explains why I write supernatural to begin with, but that’s another post. Those of you who have visited Berkeley know that Telegraph Avenue, the famous drag that ends at the Berkeley campus, is a gauntlet of clothing and craft vendors, artists, and fortunetellers, forever fixed in the sixties. Well, look a little closer, and you’ll see just how many pagans, Wiccans, and witches there actually are.

I’ve walked that gauntlet thousands of times in my life. It does something to your psyche, I’m telling you.

There was also the Renaissance Pleasure Faire, where I spent many summer days in my interestingly misspent youth. Renaissance Faires are teeming with witches (check out the Fortune Tellers’ Grove next time if you don’t believe me).

So even though I don’t actually practice, not in an organized covenish kind of way, I’ve been to a ceremony or two, and you could say I’ve been researching this book for quite some time. In fact, I think I’ve known I was going to write this book ever since I first saw a “Calling of The Corners,” a Craft ceremony which is one of the ritual scenes I depict in “Book of Shadows.” It’s one of the most extraordinary spiritual experiences I’ve ever had — such elemental, feminine power.
And in everyday life, there some things that are just useful to know about the Craft.

I’m not much one for spells, I’m more of a meditator. But when I had to kick my evil tenants out of my rental house? A cleaning service was just not enough. You better believe that the second the locksmith was done changing the locks, I was down at the witch supply store, buying black and white candles (for protection and cleansing), and sage (smudge it for purification). I opened every window and swept the whole house widdershins (to the left, to dismiss) with a new broom dipped in salt and rosemary to dispel all lingering energy. Ritual works, and it doesn’t really matter what accoutrements you use; it’s really about the intention: in this case to cleanse, heal, and start over fresh.

Another concept of the Craft that I’ve always found particularly useful is Maiden, Mother, Crone. Those are the three aspects of the Goddess, and also the three phases of the moon, corresponding colors white, red and black. They represent the three cycles of a woman’s life – youth, womanhood and age – but women also pass through all three aspects every month when they’re menstruating, and knowing that has saved my life (and the lives of many of those around me) many a time.

The time right after your period is Maiden: you have a rush of estrogen, so you’re glowing, you’ve just dropped all that water weight, you have a ton of energy, and you’re – well, up for it. And men can sense it. Best time to snag a partner, although your choices might not be exactly the best in this phase of the cycle.

The Mother (also called Queen) phase of the month is around ovulation. You’re powerful, grounded, and can get a lot done, especially creatively, because of the pregnancy connotations. It’s a sexy time in a different way than Maiden, because there’s the extra knowledge 
that yes, you really can get pregnant right now.

The Crone phase is raging PMS and the “death” that a period often feels like. Wise people know to avoid you at this time unless they really want a faceful of truth, and I try not to schedule meetings, especially with men, when I’m in this phase. Best for me to be solitary and contemplative. And contain the damage.
But the things that come out of your mouth during this phase are the deep truth, even if they’re not pleasant, and if you remember to breathe, put the knife down, and pay attention to what you’re feeling and saying, you can learn a lot about your life and what you really need to be doing. Also your dreams will tend to be the most powerful, vivid, and significant in this phase. I know mine are.

I appreciate the earth/nature centeredness of the Craft. I like to be aware of whether the moon is waxing or waning, and focus on bringing things into my life during the waxing, and letting go of things (or people!) in the waning. And I like knowing that there is extra power and magic at the Solstices and Equinoxes; that knowledge makes me stop at least four times a year to consider what I really want to manifest in my life.

(Obviously I used all of that Moon knowledge and more in the Huntress Moon series, too…)

Let’s face it: I also like the clothes. With my hair, I’ll never be able to pull off the tailored look. I love lace and fishnets and velvet and sparkles and corsets and big jewelry. I love the candles and the scents and that every day has a color (today is white, if you’re wondering).
And there is another aspect of the Craft that has been truly important to me, spiritually. It’s about balance. I have never, ever bought the idea that God is male. It runs contrary to my entire experience of reality. I love you guys, really I do, but you’re only half the equation. I can’t see how an ultimate power could be anything but BOTH male and female. So the notion of a Goddess, in all Her forms, to me, completes the equation.

And a Supreme Being who likes velvet and fishnets? Even better.

So how about you? What’s your take on witches? Are you familiar with the way witchcraft is actually practiced, or is that whole world completely mysterious to you? Or do you do the odd spell or two yourself?

Alexandra Sokoloff

Book of Shadows

Homicide detective Adam Garrett is already a rising star in the Boston police department when he and his cynical partner, Carl Landauer, catch a horrifying case that could make their careers: the ritualistic murder of a wealthy college girl that appears to have Satanic elements.

The partners make a quick arrest when all evidence points to another student, a troubled musician in a Goth band who was either dating or stalking the murdered girl. But Garrett’s case is turned upside down when beautiful, mysterious Tanith Cabarrus, a practicing witch from nearby Salem, walks into the homicide bureau and insists that the real perpetrator is still at large. Tanith claims to have had psychic visions that the killer has ritually sacrificed other teenagers in his attempts to summon a powerful, ancient demon.

All Garrett’s beliefs about the nature of reality will be tested as he is forced to team up with a woman he is fiercely attracted to but cannot trust, in a race to uncover a psychotic killer before he strikes again.

“Sokoloff successfully melds a classic murder-mystery/whodunit with supernatural occult undertones.” - Library Journal

”Compelling, frightening and exceptionally well-written, Book of Shadows is destined to become another hit for acclaimed horror and suspense writer Sokoloff. The incredibly tense plot and mysterious characters will keep readers up late at night, jumping at every sound, and turning the pages until they’ve devoured the book.”Romantic Times Book Reviews

“Fast-paced with strong characterizations, fans will enjoy this superb thriller, as Adam and the audience wonder if The Unseen could be the killer.” - Publisher’s Weekly

“A wonderfully dark thriller with amazing is-it-isn’t-it suspense all the way to the end. Highly recommended.” - Lee Child

Via: Alexandra Sokoloff


8.25.15 - THE LOST KEY, now out in paperback for $9.99!

By JT Ellison

One of the most devastating parts of summer is, bar none, the TV hiatus.

Oh sure. As an artist, I understand the benefits of taking time away from your craft to recharge your batteries. Heck, when I’m under deadline, I read like the dickens to refill my well, so I can keep my creative juices flowing. You guys know this.

But selfishly . . . I want all the TV. All the time.

And when it’s finally time to sit down and watch my favorite show (RIP, Mad Men), for the life of me, if there isn’t a “Previously on Mad Men!” highlight reel at the beginning, I’m slightly lost. And a little confused. And a little ashamed, because how could I be a true fan if I forget those nitty-gritty details?!

The End Game

The same holds true with books. I can’t tell how how many times I’ve skimmed the previous book in a series to refresh my brain on storylines, so I can nerd out in the best way possible when I get my hands on the coveted new addition to the series!

TV. Books. A nerd in one arena, and chances are, you’ll be a nerd in (several) others.

And so, my chickens and Nicholas Drummond fans, THE LOST KEY goes on sale in paperback today for only $9.99 (and cheaper, at some retailers!). It’s a fantastic way for you to catch up on all the action before the next book in the A Brit in the FBI series, THE END GAME, releases September 15. Pre-order your copy of THE END GAME now, so you can start on the fun as soon as retailers put it on the shelves.

Because being a nerd is hard work, y’all.

Via: JT Ellison


8.23.15 - Sunday Smatterings

By JT Ellison

Hello, lovelies! How are you? I came home this week after an extended work/play trip—and boy, were my kitties glad to see me (and me, them!). My first morning back, I don’t think they budged for an hour, preferring to perch on top of Mama instead of beg for breakfast. Hey, there are worse things.

Here are some things that piqued my interest this week:

First of all, did you hear about the first two women who graduated from Army Ranger School?! Tough. As. Nails. Xander would be proud.

You want to know about the She Reads Triangle. Combine equal parts food, friends, authors, and book discussions, and you’re going to have yourself one grand bookish weekend in North Carolina!

One of my favorite writing bloggers, Steven Pressfield, always hits it out of the park. But the advice he gave this week was so simple, yet so difficult for some to swallow: the artist’s most important skill. This one I actually do know, and follow.

An artist always needs the right tools to get the job done. WHERE HAS THIS BEEN ALL MY LIFE?!

And contests still abound, folks. Don’t forget about my publisher MIRA’s Bookclubbish Summer Reading Sweepstakes! And, of course, don’t forget about my August contest!

That’s all I’ve got, folks. Have a great final week of August!

Via: JT Ellison


8.16.15 - Sunday Smatterings

By JT Ellison

Hello, darlings! How’s your week been? Is back-to-school time kickstarting your routine again? Or are you still in the throes of summer? For me, it’s completely the latter, and will be for quite some time.

I’ve spent this week with the lovely Catherine Coulter in Sausalito, dreaming up new adventures for Nicholas Drummond and Mike Caine all while basking in the gorgeous views San Francisco Bay views from her house. Seriously, I could really get used to having that vantage point (especially with the fog! #pluviophile).

With my head in Book Land, I didn’t spend as much time on the Internets as usual this week. But I did manage to unearth some interesting tidbits:

Those of you with an eye toward reaching an audience might find this article from Buffer on why you should try to keep your existing customers quite interesting.

Hey wordsmiths, listen up: the incomparable Jane Friedman had a very insightful guest post on “3 Qualities of Masterful Word Choice” from author Barbara Baig’s new book, Spellbinding Sentences. Some really good nuggets in this one.

In book news, the reviews have started rolling in for THE END GAME, and I’m so pleased by the positive feedback! Particularly, the fine people at Publisher’s Weekly had some nice things to say in their starred review.

And on the home front, InD’tale publisher T.J. Mackay stopped by for a 7 Minutes chat, and she was just awesome. Smart, savvy, and so much fun!

Oh, and don’t forget about my August contest, still ripe for entering! Free books, people!

And here’s a little carpe diem for your week: “Build your own dreams, or someone else will hire you to build theirs.” –Farrah Gray (which is my philosophy on life—that and, you know, “It’s never too late!”)

Via: JT Ellison


8.14.15 - The (long-overdue) Round-Up of WHAT LIES BEHIND

By JT Ellison

So WHAT LIES BEHIND has been out since just before Memorial Day, right when spring was on the cusp of becoming summer. Lots of people have said lots of nice things about this book, and in the dual interests of posterity and housekeeping, I’ve gathered them together in one, convenient place. It’s my media scrapbook, of sorts. Forgive the delay on the post, but if you haven’t read Sam’s latest adventure yet, this should tip you right on over the edge. Happy Friday!


I’m always grateful to get a good review from the fine people at Publisher’s Weekly.

Bestseller Ellison’s captivating fourth Samantha Owens novel (after 2014′s When Shadows Fall) finds the former Washington, D.C., medical examiner working as a consultant for the FBI. When a woman is found dead and a man near death in a house in Sam’s Georgetown neighborhood, the bloody crime scene suggests that the man stabbed the woman, then himself, in a fit of passion. Sam’s police detective friend, Darren Fletcher, who was recently promoted to homicide lieutenant, consults with Sam on the case. When the U.S. State Department asks them to keep the investigation under wraps, Sam and Fletch become increasingly suspicious that the crime wasn’t a simple murder-suicide. Meanwhile, Sam’s boyfriend, bodyguard Xander Whitfield, takes on the job of protecting James Denon, a wealthy British industrialist, while he’s visiting his business interests in the States. As Sam and Xander’s missions converge, they discover evidence of a serious bioterrorist threat. The cliffhanger conclusion will leave fans of romantic suspense eagerly anticipating the next installment.

Romantic Times deemed WHAT LIES BEHIND a June Top Pick!

Ellison just keeps getting better and better! This new addition to her Dr. Samantha Owens series further develops the ensemble of complex characters who play off each other nicely. This would make a fine beach read, except with the fast pace and thrills — the action all takes place in about 24 hours — you might never make it into the water. Minor plot threads and a brief appearance by Taylor Jackson (another Ellison protagonist) hint at more good stories to come.

Loved this quotable quote from Library Journal:

“Verdict: The fourth Samantha Owens novel moves from forensics to international bioterrorism, and the results are breathtaking! Thriller fanatics craving an action-packed novel of intrigue will be abundantly rewarded.”

Idgie over at Dew on the Kudzu has some lovely things to say as well (thank you, Idgie!).

Samantha has an interesting case on her hands . . . This novel involves spies, double spies, sociopath spies, mama spies and apparently a slightly slutty spy. Finally, throw some bioterrorism in there and you get really nervous while reading.

Shout-out to the incomparable Margaret Renkl of Chapter 16, and thank you for a stellar review (Speaking of, did you see Margaret’s op-ed in last Sunday’s New York Times on caregiving? Beautifully written, that).

Fans of Patricia Cornwell will appreciate Ellison’s brand of high intrigue paired with a medical-examiner slant . . . What Lies Behind is a straightforward and multilayered thriller with a dynamic cast of characters and an intricate web of conspiracy and backstory. Nashville-based Ellison, whose national reputation has been growing for years, is sure to win more new fans and critical acclaim with her latest thriller.

Working Mother Magazine has some kind things to say as well.

What Lies Behind has an explosive storyline that is all too realistic. The plot is a compelling mystery with a lot of action and terror.”

MilitaryPress.com. called WHAT LIES BEHIND a “realistic, frightening novel.” You know, they’d probably know . . .

Blackfive.net seemed to dig the plot:

“Because the plot takes place in one harrowing day the action never seems to stop. It can be seen as a warning for a terrorist threat that seems to have fallen under the radar.

I so enjoyed chatting with Debbie Haupt, mastermind behind The Reading Frenzy, who was ridiculously kind in her assessment of the novel!

“Where do I start telling how wonderful this was, do I start by giving it the 6 out of 5 stars it deserves? Do I start by saying what an adrenalin rush this nail biting, page-turning, one-sitting tale is so that by the end readers will need to breathe into a brown paper bad to stop hyperventilating?”

Universal Creativity, Inc. Magazine was so gracious with their comments in the May issue.

A highly thrilling and fact-paced novel that readers will come to love. The suspense hangs high in the air on every page.

Guest Posts & Chats

Suite T, Southern Writers Magazine’s blog, invited me over for a guest post!

And many thanks to Crimespree Magazine for hosting such a fun chat.

Interviews & Features

Amazon featured WHAT LIES BEHIND in crime newsletter and on Kindle Post blog!

I was honored that Bookpage invited me to be one of their “Meet the Author” segments in June. That was pretty cool.

A kind literary blogger from Bulgaria, Ognian Georgiev of LandofBooks.com interviewed me too.

Anthony Franze of Suspense Magazine portrays me more charmingly than I deserve. I thoroughly enjoyed our conversation on writing, and giving you, gentle readers, a few of my secrets.

I had so much fun with Josie Brown of The Big Thrill. She asked me a delightful mixture of insightful yet fun questions!


I also had a few signings, where I had the good fortune to meet some of you lovelies. Many thanks to each of these venues for hosting me!

  • FoxTale Book Shoppe: Atlanta, GA
  • Parnassus Books: Nashville, TN
  • Reading Rock Books: Dickson, TN
  • Books-A-Million: Nashville, TN
  • The Friends of the Decatur Public Library: Decatur, AL
  • Publix Highway 100: Nashville, TN

And most of all, thanks to you, gentle reader, for your kind words and support. You mean more to me than you’ll ever know! Xoxo

Via: JT Ellison


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