New Planner Love

By JT Ellison

We’re eight weeks into the new year, and I have a confession. I ditched a planner that wasn’t working for me, and went in a totally new direction. Now, I feel it incumbent upon myself to turn you all on to this.


I am completely in love. I feel like I’ve FINALLY found the right planner.

I’d started the year in a Quo Vadis Journal 21 with a day to a page. It was huge. Thick. Heavy. So big, I couldn’t comfortably carry it with me. Not that I really do carry it, but it just felt so bulky. I figured it was the day to a page—I’ve always done weekly, until I started keeping a “log book” in October of last year and realized I liked having a day to a page. So maybe it was the paper? I use fountain pens—a Lamy Safari, in this instance—but I wasn’t enjoying writing in it. I bought a bunch of new inks, loaded them up, and while I liked them better for the Safari, the planner was still making me go meh.

Photo courtesy of the Hobonichi website

Photo courtesy of the Hobonichi website

Enter a midnight, full moon, couldn’t sleep read of Tools and Toys, and a review of the Hobonichi Techo. I keep seeing people rave about this unique planner. How it has a cult following, it’s filled with Tomoe River Paper, which is brilliant it was for fountain pens, how thin the paper is. I had one big issue holding me back. The Techo is A6 size. (Japanese A6 though, which is bigger that our A6) I’m an A5 girl all the way. Or so I thought.

It was late. It wasn’t too expensive. I decided to check it out. What the heck, right?

Today's agenda: planing. Like a boss.

From the moment it arrived, in its Japanese overnight air pouch, holding a green box, I was in capital L love. The size was perfect. Not too small as I’d feared. The paper inside was incredibly thin. So thin, I was certain there’d be huge bleed through. Nope. I used my new fountain pen, a Pilot Knight, and the nib slid along the page in a way I’ve never seen before. I’ve always been partial to Clairfontaine paper—no more. Tomoe River is where it’s at for me. The gorgeous Clairfontaine feels almost too slick, too smooth in comparison. And it’s grid, which I also have always steered away from. Guess what? Grid + fountain pen = perfection.

The paper sold me, but the planner has more little secrets. Quarterly planning, monthly planning, spots for monthly goal setting, in addition to the day to a page—all in half the thickness of my Journal 21. Sold.

Knowing I will be making a permanent change to the Techo planners from here on out, I finished out my new little lover with a splurge—a handmade leather case from One Star Leather. Keegan customized the cover to my exact specs, and it is stunning.

One Star Leather

Three weeks later, I can’t wait to pick up the planner and write in it every day. I carry it around the house. I put it in my purses—it fits in them all. I grabbed a Pilot Metropolitan on sale at the Pen Chalet for good measure, since my Pilot Knight internal plastic broke the first time I changed the cartridge. (It’s off being repaired.) I was surprised at how awesome the Metropolitan is to write with. Exactly the right weight, posted and un, and it has the finger rest the Knight is missing. Who knew? Combined with the new Techo, I am now an unstoppable planning machine.

Since my early work days, twenty years ago, with my Coach planner (they stopped making the insertswaaah), I haven’t had anything I’ve loved so much. Man, it is the little things, isn’t it?

I can’t recommend the Hobonichi Techo planner enough. And get Keegan to hook you up, he’s an incredible leather artist.

Via: JT Ellison


The indie publishing journey

By (Alexandra Sokoloff)

by Alexandra Sokoloff

Thomas & Mercer and Amazon KDP both did a series of video interviews with me a couple of months ago. In this first one I talk about how I started writing and why I moved from screenwriting to traditional publishing to indie publishing – and then partly back again! It’s actually an amazing lot of information in a short piece; they did a brilliant job of sketching out the transitions of my writing journey and the reasons I switched media each time.

The shoots were done over two days by a couple of wonderful production teams, and included a ton of still photograph (you can see some shots below….)

Upcoming interviews will include pitches of all my books in 15 seconds or less, a piece on Dangerous Women that gets more thematic, and more individual interviews, all of which Amazon is giving me to use in my own promotion.

Traditionally published authors may have had to read that last bit twice.

I never had a traditional publisher do that level of promotional work for me. But that’s the way Amazon thinks. It’s smart business and shouldn’t be so shocking, but in traditional publishing authors are usually left to do and pay for the bulk of promotion on their own.

Just something for the authors out there to consider when making those publishing decisions. Of course, the bottom line is that we have more choice of how we get our books to readers than ever before, and that’s only good!

– Alex

Photo credit: Israel David Groveman

Via: Alexandra Sokoloff


2.26.15 - 7 Minutes With... Courtney C. Stevens

By JT Ellison

Courtney C. Stevens blazed onto the scene last year with her stellar debut FAKING NORMAL, a young adult novel about the pain and secrets two teens are holding on to. The book completely captured my attention; I read it quickly, closed the cover, and knew I’d just experienced something special. I’m lucky enough to know Court in real life – she’s part of the Nashville literati, influencing so many of the young adult authors around town, and is possibly one of the nicest, sweetest people you will ever meet. I’m thrilled to have her on the Tao today. Meet Court, everyone!


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

“Let’s Be Still” by The Head and the Heart

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

Mostly emails. My time is very blocked and scheduled, but what I want to be working on is (a) finishing Pass Pages for my upcoming book and (b) drafting the final 5k of the project I’m turning in on April 1st.

What’s your latest book about?

It is a young adult, contemporary realistic, aftermath story. THE LIES ABOUT TRUTH is the story of five friends, three boys/two girls, four alive/one dead, and three huge lies they tell each other. If you want to know more, check out the trailer.

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

I wrote all of THE LIES ABOUT TRUTH in a covered shelter at Percy Warner Park near my home in Nashville. I use Scrivener and a Mac, although I’m quite fond of my pen and notebook. This summer, I’ll be writing on the John Muir Trail in California with a pencil and Moleskine.

What was your favorite book as a child?

I loved ANNE OF GREEN GABLES. Still do. I’m always checking for affordable flights into PEI and treasure the trip I made their for the 100 year celebration of Anne.

What book are you reading now?

I’m splitting time between ALL THE LIGHT WE CANNOT SEE (Doer) in print and BIG LITTLE LIES (Moriarty) on audio.

What’s your favorite bit of writing advice?

I’m not sure who said it, but I love: “If the muse is late, start without her.” We want writing to be this dreamy process, but quite honestly, I don’t receive scrolls from fairy writing godmothers or download plot map from Shakespeare. I write it wrong, and then try my very best, to re-write it right.

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

I try three things: 1- Keep writing. 2- Exercise 3- Take a shower

What would you like to be remembered for?

Loving people for who they are rather than who they might be someday.


Courtney C. Stevens

Courtney C. Stevens grew up in Kentucky and lives in Nashville, Tennessee. She is an adjunct professor and a former youth minister. She is also the author of FAKING NORMAL, as well as the e-novella THE BLUE-HAIRED BOY. You can visit her online at or follow her on Twitter/Instagram – @quartland

And here’s a little more about her new book THE LIES ABOUT TRUTH:

Sadie Kingston is living in the aftermath. A year after surviving a car accident that killed her friend Trent and left her body and face scarred, she can’t move forward. The only person who seems to understand her is Trent’s brother, Max.

As Sadie begins to fall for Max, she’s unsure if she is truly healed enough to be with him—even if Max is able to look at her scars and not shy away. But when the truth about the accident and subsequent events come to light, Sadie has to decide if she can embrace the future, or if she’ll always be trapped in the past.

And if you want to meet Courtney, you can catch her here:

March 11th
Lexington, KY
Joseph Beth Booksellers

March 31st
Cincinnati, OH
Joseph Beth Booksellers

April 18th
Bowling Green, KY
Southern Kentucky Book Fest

April 21st
Young Adult Georgia Author Celebration

May 16th
Columbia Metropolitan Convention Center
South Caroline Book Festival

Via: JT Ellison


2.19.15 - 7 Minutes With... Roy Burkhead

By JT Ellison

We have a slight departure in today’s interview to bring you my buddy Roy Burkhead, the editor in chief of the impressive 2ND & CHURCH magazine, whose readership stretches from Nashville to Paris. Roy is one of the most dynamic, dedicated writers I’ve ever known, always looking for ways to help promote other people, share stories with readers, and find ways to reach out and shape our younger readers. He co-started “The Writer’s Loft” at Middle Tennessee State University, a creative writing program, prior to launching 2ND & CHURCH (so named because he was hit by a car at that corner) and has turned 2ND & CHURCH into a stellar southern journal, focused on Tennessee writers.

Roy’s attitude and dedication to the written word have given him quite a reputation among the Nashville literati. He’s a great guy, and as you’ll see in his interview below, is working on a new novel which sounds divine. Please join me in welcoming Roy to the Tao!


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

ON WRITING: A MEMOIR OF THE CRAFT: PART 2 OF 4 by Stephen King. (I don’t have a lot of storage space on my phone, and I transitioned about a month ago from Christmas music to audio books.)

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

Today finds me in a transitional period. A couple weeks ago, I published the seventh issue of 2ND & CHURCH, a literary journal out of Nashville that celebrates writers, poets, and readers. It was our Theatre issue, featuring Denice Hicks, the artistic director of the Nashville Shakespeare Festival. (J.T. was our first In Depth / cover story interview!) We have two more issues out later this year, but I’m taking a few months off now to return to my first novel, MR. TOMORROW.

What’s your latest book about?

MR. TOMORROW takes place in London, England, and Middle Tennessee during three days in December, and it involves three childhood friends. Patricia and Jacob grew up together in rural Tennessee, and Vinod moved from India for two years to live with Jacob’s family as a foreign exchange student. Pat and Jacob are on individual physical and psychological journeys. Jacob works in the London offices of a Nashville-based company, and he returns home to auction off the family farm after the death of this last surviving parent, his mom. His journey will find him questioning the decisions that he’s made in life, those decisions that have made him the man he has become. The story follows Patricia’s journey as her company downsizes forty percent of the office in a single morning. Internally, she continues her decades-long struggle with her bipolar disorder. Vinod is the story’s moral compass. The story finds him working in London with Jacob. While still friends and active in one another’s lives, Vinod does not always agree with Jacob’s decisions and behaviors, and he’s never shy with opinions. The paths of all three characters converge at the story’s climax, where life altering decisions await.

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

I have a writing space at home, and that’s where most of my writing happens. But time management issues and life require me to write wherever I may find myself at any given moment! For first drafts, I prefer to write at home using my old Smith Corona manual typewriter. It’s one of the old World War II models that I found at a second-hand store in Nashville over two decades ago. It’s still great! Once I take off my writer’s cap and put on the editor’s hat, I switch to my computer.

What was your favorite book as a child?

I read a lot of books like THE HARDY BOYS, THE TOWER TREASURE, and WHILE THE CLOCK TICKED! But I’m sure those were given to me. The first novel that I remember going after and loving was THE HOBBIT.

What book are you reading now?

I have dozens of unread books, each waiting its turn. Some are books I should have read long ago, but never did. Novels like TOBACCO ROAD. The one I have open now is FACTORY MAN by Beth Macy. It’s about John Bassett III of The Bassett Furniture Company. The book’s subtitle is HOW ONE FURNITURE MAKER BATTLED OFFSHORING, STAYED LOCAL – AND HELPED SAVE AN AMERICAN TOWN . I’m just getting started, but it’s a great read so far. I think Tom Hanks is turning it into a mini-series.

What’s your favorite bit of writing advice?

“It takes as long as it takes.”

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

I’m wordy enough to never have had this problem. I’ve been a professional writer since 1992. My problem has always been how to find the time to allow the right kind of words—the fiction—to flow. I’ve always had a day job, writing all sorts of strange word combinations for different…”industries.” The mortgage has to be paid, and the kids have gotta eat. By the time you commute to the office, write for “The Man” all day, commute home, deal with home maintenance and household chores, help the kids (at least a little bit) with homework…well, energy is finite. I’ve been forced to make some choices to force time and energy to appear for my fiction. I am jealous—and a little angry—that so much of my fresh writing energy over the years has gone to subjects like accounting software, healthcare demographics, and ovens versus to my love of storytelling and fiction.

What would you like to be remembered for?

I don’t care if I’m remembered or not. History is so long, and so few humans are ever actually remembered. As long as I am able to trick my kids into thinking I’m cool, I’m happy. Everything else is just noise.


Roy Burkhead

A Kentucky native and longtime Nashvillian, Roy’s journalism and prose have appeared in local and regional newspapers, journals, and anthologies. After earning a MFA in Writing (fiction genre), he founded a creative writing program at MTSU. He’s the founder and editor of 2ND & CHURCH, a literary journal that celebrates writers, poets, and readers. Last year, he was the short story judge for the Alabama Writers’ Conclave, and he edited former astronaut Rhea Seddon’s memoir GO FOR ORBIT, out in 2015. He volunteers at local literary events and teaches English at WKU. He’s wrapping up work this year on his first novel, MR. TOMORROW.

Via: JT Ellison


Women in Horror

By (Alexandra Sokoloff)

This month is Women in Horror Month. Don’t ask me how these things get decided! But since February has Valentine’s Day, Mardi Gras and Leap Day, and is also the shortest month of the year and the only month of the year that actually changes in number of days – and is closest to a true moon cycle! – I guess there’s some kind of psychic sense to it.

Actually I never remember it’s Women in Horror Month until I start getting Google Alerts because I’m showing up on the lists of female horror authors to read.

Obviously this is something I’m very grateful for, but it always surprises me these days, because I’m not writing horror any more – something I’m not really sure people in the horror community know, because that community tends to be sort of insular. Maybe all genres are sort of insular.
As a matter of fact, I had a very short tenure writing horror. My first two books, The Harrowing and The Price, are really the only books I’ve written that I could classify as horror. My third book, The Unseen, was really a mystery/suspense – with poltergeists. My fourth, Book of Shadows, was when I really started moving into crime, although there is a strong possibly supernatural element in that book as well.

I started moving away from horror as a genre because I didn’t feel comfortable being associated with a lot of the books in the genre. I was actually having this conversation quite recently with another one of the female authors who always gets on those lists this month. We had the exact same very strong feeling about it: the horror genre – in all media – has been brought to a very low, base level by torture porn and rape, with overwhelmingly female victims.

I find it disgusting and harmful and it doesn’t deserve to be listed with the true psychological horror of Jackson, Lovecraft, Shelley, DuMaurier, King, Poe – the great explorers of the dark side.

(I am often asked to blurb books and I find it surreal that I have had to start telling male writers up front: “I won’t read or review anything with rape scenes – unless you’re honestly exploring your own fear of male-on-male rape.” Same goes for torture. There is somehow not even the basic awareness that scenes like that would bother me.)

There’s also a widely acknowledged bias in the industry against female horror authors (probably one of the reasons there’s a Women in Horror Month to begin with.) That bias didn’t ever affect me in a practical sense because I quickly moved into writing and publishing very dark thrillers rather than overt horror. Quite possibly being a female author in a male-dominated genre got me more attention for my first two novels than I might have gotten if I were writing straight mystery or crime, because so few women were writing full-length horror at the time. But that attention was probably cancelled out by the fact that horror is a lesser-read genre which doesn’t pay as well as the crime/thriller genre.

I love both genres. I went back and forth and crossed the two as a screenwriter, too. But I’m a full-time writer, so I’m not going to struggle against a genre that brutalizes women AND doesn’t pay as well as the thriller genre. What possible sense would there be in that?

And practicality aside – I find the crime genre a better fit for my own themes as a writer. My writing is largely an exploration of good and evil, and nothing supernatural could possibly be more horrifying to me than the evil that people do. And I mostly mean what MEN do: serial killing, rape, child molestation, torture, genocide, war crimes. These are largely male crimes – so why aren’t we being honest about that fact? How can we prevent and heal the ravages of those crimes without being honest about root causes?

Those are questions I’ve found I can explore more fully in a crime novel. I can use the examples of real crimes. I can hint at practical societal solutions.

But I also think that my tenure as a horror writer taught me how to bring that sense of true evil into my crime novels, and continues to help me provide a touch of the sensual thrill of the uncanny – that sensation I love in a good psychological horror tale. It was the right place to start, and I’m sure it’s only a matter of time before I’ll be tempted back to the dark side again.

So readers – do you read in the horror genre as well as in crime, suspense, mystery and thrillers? Or does the genre give you pause, maybe for the same reasons I wrote about above?

And authors, have you dabbled in the dark side? Or, horror aside, have you made a genre switch for practical or thematic reasons?



For Women in Horror month, my boxed set Haunted is on sale – three complete scary novels for $5.99.

Via: Alexandra Sokoloff


Top Ten Romantic Movies

By (Alexandra Sokoloff)

by Alexandra Sokoloff

And no, That Movie is not one of them. Although it’s hard to ignore it skulking around out there in the zeitgeist. Knowing a bit about that world, I can’t help but ponder the statistic that 90 percent of people are actually sexually submissive – only 10 percent are naturally dominant. So who exactly is going to be doing all of the tying up, duct taping and handcuffing that is supposed to be happening all over the world this weekend?

Anyway, for Valentine’s Day, I thought I’d do a romantic but useful post and talk about some filmic alternatives for your VDay movie bingeing pleasure.

As many of you know by now, the first assignment I lay out in my Screenwriting Tricks workbooks, and the first exercise I make any class or workshop I teach do right up front, is a Top Ten List of favorite movies.

Because, yes, I teach story structure, but what works for me structurally is not necessarily going to do it for you. My primary goal is to teach you how to do this for yourself.
If you take the time to list, study and analyze the books and films that have had the greatest impact on you personally, or that are structurally similar to the story you’re writing, or both, that’s when you really start to master your craft. Making the lists and analyzing those stories will help you brainstorm your own, unique versions of scenes and meta-structures that work in the stories on your master list; it will help you figure out how your particular story will work. And doing this analysis will embed story structure in your head so that constructing a story becomes a fun and natural process for you.

Making a genre list is particularly useful for brainstorming and analyzing the elements of a genre or sub genre that your reader or audience will be expecting in any book or film of that genre.

So in honor of the day, I’m going to do a favorite love story list.
Four Weddings and a Funeral

• Lost in Translation

• Next Stop Wonderland

• Notorious

• Bridget Jones’ Diary (the book more than the movie, for me)

• Notting Hill

• When Harry Met Sally

• Philadelphia Story

• Rebecca

• Bringing Up Baby

• Much Ado About Nothing

• Casablanca

• Sleepless in Seattle

(That’s a list of more than ten, just to demonstrate that the list is whatever you want it to be!)

So what can I learn about my own love story themes by looking at that list?

Four Weddings and a Funeral, Philadelphia Story, and Lost in Translation are probably my favorites of that list.
Four Weddings appeals to me on a very personal level because writer Richard Curtis, as is his wont, is not just exploring love relationships between two people, or several sets of two people, but also the group love dynamic of a posse of friends. In fact, in that movie, the group dynamic is one of the factors keeping the hero, Charlie (Hugh Grant) from settling down to marry — and has kept every single one of the others single, except for the one truly married couple in the group, the gay couple who can’t legally marry. (Wonderful, scathing truth there).
That group dynamic has always resonated deeply with me, and I imagine it struck a chord for a lot of people. Also, in terms of high concept, the film is great because most of us have experienced that totally exhausting year that every single person you know gets married and your entire social calendar revolves around weddings. I certainly could relate to Hugh Grant groaning and burying his head under a pillow as yet another embossed linen envelope arrived in the mail.
But the real beauty of Four Weddings is the underlying theme that there is something magical about a wedding that opens the door to love, not just for the couple involved, but potentially for everyone who attends. The structure of the film is a round-robin, where at each wedding at least two people find the loves of their lives, and we see one of those weddings next, or the preparation for a wedding, or at least the deepening of the relationship with a promise of marriage. This is something I think most of us would like to believe about weddings: that there is an encompassing magic there, a kairos, that invites something life-changing. That story truly delivered on that theme.
When Harry Met Sally is an enduring romantic comedy not just because of the great chemistry between Billy Crystal and Meg Ryan and the charming documentary clips of elderly couples talking about how they met and fell in love, but because it explores a strong theme: Can a man and woman ever really be friends? And we experience the great treat of watching Billy and Meg first becoming friends and then falling in love.
Next Stop Wonderland and Sleepless in Seattle are examples of the theme of the soul mate — that there is someone out there who is destined for you, and that the Universe will guide you to that person. Next Stop Wonderland shows two people whose paths cross over and over again, with all kinds of attendant signs that these two people are supposed to be together — but they don’t meet until the last few seconds of the movie. Sleepless in Seattle explores the same kind of fatedness, and similarly keeps the hero and heroine apart until the end of the movie. I admit, this kind of thing just turns me inside out. I would love to believe that there is one person who is all that, and that all of life is conspiring to help you find that person.
Lost in Translation is a bittersweet variation on the soul mate theme: Bill Murray and Scarlett Johansson are two married people (married to other people!) in spiritual crisis who meet each other in a posh hotel in Japan. They are drawn to each other despite their marriages and the big age difference between them, and we feel a simultaneous HOPE and FEAR that they will get together. We want it at the same time we sense it’s wrong. But the story is really about — to me — the concept that we may have lived multiple past lives, with multiple lovers, and sometimes in the midst of a crisis, one of those soul mates will show up to guide you through the dark woods … but not necessarily stay with you. In the Final Battle (the film’s climax), Bill does not sleep with Scarlett, and they part ways, but their lives have been transformed by each other nonetheless.
Notting Hill is an interesting story because there’s no one person who’s the antagonist (even though Alec Baldwin does a charming turn as the rival, the movie star boyfriend). The real obstacle to Hugh Grant’s and Julia Roberts’ relationship is her fame, and each sequence explores a different aspect of that celebrity and how it keeps the couple apart.
Philadelphia Story has a very sophisticated underlying premise: Cary Grant knows that Katharine Hepburn will never be able to love him fully until she steps off her pedestal and has a roll in the mud. It’s only after she abandons herself and sleeps with Jimmy Stewart (oh, come on, you know they did!), that she is fully human to love Cary.

Try it with your own list!

Every time I teach a story structure class it’s always fascinating for me to hear people’s lists, one after another, because it gives me such an insight into the particular uniqueness of the stories each of those writers is working toward telling. The list tells you who you are as a writer. What you are really listing are your secret thematic preferences. You can learn volumes from these lists if you are willing to go deep.
I really urge you to create your list, and break those stories down to see why they have such an impact on you — because that’s the kind of impact that you want to have on your readers. Why not learn fron your favorite storytellers how to do it?

So of course, what I want today is love stories! What are yours? What romantic themes particularly resonate with you?

Happy Valentine’s Day!



The writing workbooks based on this blog, Screenwriting Tricks for Authors and Writing Love, Screenwriting Tricks for Authors, II, are available for just $3.99 and $2.99.

- Amazon US

- Amazon UK

- Amaxon DE

- Amazon FR

- Amazon ES

- Amazon IT

If you’re a romance writer, or have a strong love plot or subplot in your novel or script, then Writing Love: Screenwriting Tricks II is an expanded version of the first workbook with a special emphasis on love stories.

- Smashwords (includes online viewing and pdf file)

- Amazon US

- Barnes & Noble/Nook

- Amazon UK

- Amazon DE


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Via: Alexandra Sokoloff


2.12.15 - 7 Minutes With... Erica Spindler

By JT Ellison

When I was a (very) novice writer, I read several books by a woman named Erica Spindler. One of my favorites was COPYCAT, possibly one of the best thrillers I’ve read in the past decade. Little did I know Erica and I were destined to meet, and to become such good friends. I was simply in awe of her talent, her fearlessness, and her ability to draw me into a tale.

All these years later, I feel exactly the same way, though now I have the distinct honor and privilege to call Erica friend.

At RWA in Orlando, I believe it was, Nora Roberts gave a keynote where she said you need to find the four or five people in your writing world you trust with your life, create a tribe, and stick with them. Her words struck me – and it wasn’t long after when I knew Erica was one of my tribemates. Was it the weekend in Omaha, where so many of my permanent friendships were born? Was it a joint love of wine, of New Orleans, of the twists in our brains? I don’t know, but I can say I don’t know many women with hearts so pure, so generous, so kind. Not only is she an incredible writer who constantly amazes me with her imagination, dedication and talent, she’s a lovely woman, a confidant extraordinaire, someone I want to emulate, in writing, and in life.

Her new novel THE FIRST WIFE is out this week. I can’t recommend it highly enough. Rush out and grab your copy, then settle in with some Starbucks and get to know my buddy Erica a little better.

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

Phillip Phillips, “Gone, Gone, Gone”

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

RANDOM ACTS, an e-novella. It’s a prequel to Light Keepers, a series I’m launching later this year, and will be included in SWEET DREAMS a boxed set author Brenda Novak is putting together to benefit Diabetes Research. Oh, and promotion for THE FIRST WIFE!

What’s your latest book about?

Bailey Browne is both a realist and a romantic. She always dreamed of finding Prince Charming, a knight in shining armor to whisk her away from her ordinary life. On a Caribbean vacation, she meets him. Bailey falls head-over-heels in love; impossibly, he feels the same for her. He proposes; they marry in a romantic whirlwind. Only as Bailey begins her new life on his Louisiana horse farm, surrounded by his secretive family and whispers of his dark past and the disappearance of his first wife, does Bailey realize she knows nothing about this man other than she’s has given herself to him, heart and soul.

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

I do most of my writing in the coffeehouse; I find being surrounded by activity less distracting than the silent demands of home. My tools of choice are a MacBook Pro, spiral notebooks—for notes, brainstorming and giving my muse a break from the keyboard—mechanical pencils and a giant dry erase board in my home office.

What was your favorite book as a child?

I had a favorite series: the Trixie Beldon mystery series. As far as I’m concerned, Trix was not only ahead of her time, she still rocks.

What book are you reading now?

Fiction: BREAKING CREED by Alex Kava. It’s book one in a new series from her and I’m enthralled. Non-fiction: HEAVEN by Randy Alcorn. It’s an in-depth look at what Scripture says about heaven. (Forget the puffy clouds and harps!)

What’s your favorite bit of writing advice?

Sorry, but I can’t limit myself to just one because different folks benefit from different advice. Here are my top three: 1- Believe in yourself. 2- Write what you love to read, not what you think is selling. 3- Write everyday.

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

I hate when the words aren’t flowing! I find changing my environment helps the most. Write outside or go to the coffeehouse. Take a break for a non-writing activity—I like walking, but I have friends who garden, bake or read. Calling a trusted friend to brainstorm works, too. Anything that takes my critical left brain out of the equation and gives my muse a chance to recharge.

What would you like to be remembered for?

This is totally non-writing related, but the first thing that popped into my head was being kind. What better legacy than to be remembered as someone who was kind to others and a positive force in the world?

Erica Spindler

Erica Spindler is the New York Times and International Chart bestselling author of thirty novels and two eNovellas. Published in twenty-five countries, she has been called the “The master of addictive suspense” and “Queen of the romantic thriller.”

A Romance Writers of America Honor Roll member, Erica received a Kiss of Death Award for her novels FORBIDDEN FRUIT and SEE JANE DIE, won the prestigious Daphne du Maurier Award for excellence for her novel BONE COLD and is a four-time RITA® Award finalist. In 1999, Publishers Weekly awarded the audio version of her novel SHOCKING PINK a Listen-Up Award, naming it one of the best audio mystery books of 1998. Her newest novel, THE FIRST WIFE, is available in stores everywhere.

Erica lives just outside of New Orleans with her husband and two sons.

And here’s a little bit more about Erica’s new book, THE FIRST WIFE:

As a child, Bailey Browne dreamed of a knight in shining armor swooping in to rescue her and her mother. As she grew older, those dreams transformed, becoming ones of a mysterious stranger who swept her off her feet and whisked her away from her ordinary existence. Then, suddenly, there he was. Despite the ten year difference in their ages, her working class upbringing and his of privilege, Logan Abbott and Bailey fall deeply in love. Marriage quickly follows.

But when Logan brings her home to his horse farm in Louisiana, a magnificent estate on ninety wooded acres, her dreams of happily-ever-after begin to unravel. A tragic family history she knew nothing about, plus whisperings about the disappearance of his first wife, True, and rumors about the women from the area who have gone missing—and when another woman disappears, all signs point to her husband’s involvement.

At first Bailey ignores the whispers—even as they grow louder and circumstantial evidence against Logan mounts. But finally, Bailey must make a choice: believe what everyone says is true—or bet her life on the man she loves, but is realizing she hardly knows.

And if you want to say hi to Erica while she’s out promoting THE FIRST WIFE, you can catch her on her book tour–details below!


February 10th

6:30 PM

B&N Metairie

3721 Veterans Memorial Blvd.

Metairie, LA 70002

Store: 504-455-4929

February 11th

7:00 PM

Jefferson Parish Library (with Alex Kava)

4747 Napoleon Ave, Metairie, LA

Contact: Chris Smith

February 14th

11:00 AM – 1:00 PM

B&N Mandeville

3414 Hwy 190

Ste. 10

Mandeville, LA 70471

Store: 985-626-8884


February 22nd

2:00 – 4:00 PM

Katy Budget Books

2450 Fry Rd.

Houston, TX 77084

Store: 281-578-7770

February 23rd

6:30 PM

Murder by the Book

2342 Bissonnet St.

Houston, TX 77005

Store: 713-524-8597


March 1st

2:00 PM

Erica Spindler w/ JT Ellison

Parnassus Books

3900 Hillsboro Pike

Nashville, TN 37215

Store: 615-953-2243


March 4th

7:00 PM

Fleur de Lit., Reading Between the Wines

Pearl Wine Co.

3700 Orleans Ave.

New Orleans, LA


March 14

10:00 – 11:00 (with Catherine Coulter & Brenda Novak)

Tucson Festival of Books

University of Arizona

Koffler Room 218 – book signing to follow

March 15

10:00 – 11:00 (with Iris Johansen & Brenda Novak)

Tucson Festival of Books

University of Arizona

Koffler Room 218 – book signing to follow

Via: JT Ellison


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