Category Archives: JT Ellison

6.25.15 - 7 Minutes With... Patti Callahan Henry

By JT Ellison

I met Patti Callahan Henry last year over margaritas and queso dip (which is truly the only civilized way for any author to meet another.) We’ve circled each other for years, having many friends in common, but had never met face-to-face. I couldn’t wait to meet her, though, and I wasn’t disappointed. She’s a lovely, intelligent and fun woman. And when I heard her speak at Parnassus later that evening, I knew she was the whole package as an author, too. Smart and sassy, but poignant at the same time, Patti wraps her readers, and audiences, in a warm embrace of words. I am so thrilled to have her join us today. Welcome, Patti!


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

“Every Little Thing” by Eric Clapton and “Brave” by Sara Barielles

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

My speech for book tour!

What’s your latest book about?

It’s about a failing screenwriter out to steal a love story when he finally meets his match—a woman who is giving him the perfect love story. Or is it?

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

I mostly write in my attic longhand at first and then on the computer.

What was your favorite book as a child?

CHARLOTTE’S WEB or Narnia, depending on what childhood age you catch me.

What’s your secret talent?

Poker (well, it’s not really a talent, but I love playing when someone will let me. I usually lose, so not sure it’s a talent). The other secret talent—sleeping in on Saturday. I am almost a professional.

What book are you reading now?


When did you know you wanted to be a writer?

I knew I wanted to be a writer when I was too young to even know what “being a writer” meant. But it wasn’t until I was 35 years old that I admitted it to myself and set out to find out how to do such a thing.

Who is your writing idol?

Anne Rivers Siddons

Have you met him/her?


If so, did you completely nerd out or keep your cool?

I absolutely did not keep my cool. It was before I even started my first novel. I waited in an hour-long line,and then babbled until her husband asked me to move on.

What’s your favorite bit of writing advice?

Aim for the heart.

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

Walk. Walk outside in nature and try to let go of my expectations and just “be.” Which sounds easy but isn’t!

Are you creatively satisfied?

Sometimes. In the best times.

What would you like to be remembered for?

Touching a reader’s heart.

Alright, now for the really important questions:

  • Beach or mountains? Both
  • Coffee or tea? Coffee
  • Skydive or bungee jump? Neither. Ever.
  • Chocolate or vanilla? Chocolate
  • Winter or summer? Summer
  • Cake or pie? Pie
  • Cats or dogs? Dog
  • Pens or pencils? Pens
  • Truth or dare? Dare
  • Print or ebook? Print


Patti Henry

New York Times bestselling author Patti Callahan Henry has published ten novels, including her latest, THE IDEA OF LOVE, which will be released by St. Martin’s Press in June 2015. Hailed as a fresh new voice in Southern fiction, Henry has been shortlisted for the Townsend Prize for Fiction, and nominated four different times for the Southeastern Independent Booksellers Novel of the Year. Her work is published in five languages and in audiobook by Brilliance Audio.

Via: JT Ellison


7.2.15 - 7 Minutes With... Carla Norton

By JT Ellison

Carla and I met on a warm April day at the Southern Kentucky Bookfest, where we served together on the thriller panel. But I already knew of her from her stellar fiction debut, THE EDGE OF NORMAL, which was one of best books I read in 2014. The writing was excellent, but it was her main character, Reeve LeClaire, who was so striking. I couldn’t wait to read more about her, and this year, Carla is releasing the sequel, WHAT DOESN’T KILL HER, which walks a fascinating line between straight-out thriller and really creepy stalker story. Carla’s got a very cool background, too, so let’s get to it. I will say this, if you’re new to Carla’s work, I can’t wait to hear what you think. Welcome, Carla!


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

Ah, it’s a nice piece by acoustic guitarist Eric Hansen, called “String Theory.

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

This morning I’m working on my novel-in-progress, which I can’t talk about until it’s close to finished. (I’m a bit superstitious about that.) Later today, I need to work on handouts for a writing workshop I’m teaching.

What’s your latest book about?

WHAT DOESN’T KILL HER is a crime novel about a 23-year-old survivor of kidnapping and captivity named Reeve who is just getting her life back on track when her abductor escapes from a mental lock-up facility. His escape is Reeve’s worst nightmare, and as he evades capture—baffling authorities and leaving a bloody trail through the forests of Washington State—she realizes that she knows him better than anyone, and must risk everything to try to stop him.

It’s the second in my series—the sequel to THE EDGE OF NORMAL—but I’m getting great responses from first-time readers, so I’m hugely relieved that it works as a stand-alone.

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

For me, the first hours of the day are for carrying the dream state onto the page, so I mostly write in bed in the morning, then migrate to my office in the afternoon. But I’ll carry my laptop all over the house, and I keep notepads everywhere—even by the shower—so that I can always jot down ideas.

What was your favorite book as a child?

I read Nancy Drew, but she was already driving, which made her hard to relate to, so I preferred the Trixie Belden series, because a 13-year-old tomboy who solved crimes while riding a bike was more to my taste. The next book that springs to mind is HENDERSON THE RAIN KING, which I read it in high school. Before that, I saw literature as a dusty stack of books by dead guys from which teachers pulled reading assignments, but Saul Bellow’s writing was so vibrant, he rocked my world.

What’s your secret talent?

Ha! That’s a good one. I can’t sing, tap dance, or juggle. Does speaking Japanese count?

What book are you reading now?

I’m reading a lot of nonfiction, which is research for my next book, so I can’t talk about it. But I recently read ALL THE LIGHT WE CANNOT SEE, which was absolutely terrific. No wonder it won the Pulitzer Prize.

Who is your writing idol? Have you met him/her? If so, did you completely nerd out or keep your cool?

I’d love to be cool, but unfortunately, I either freeze or nerd out. For instance, my stomach was doing flips when I first spotted Stephen King at the Edgar Awards. He looked extremely handsome and quite imposing in his tux, and it took several glasses of wine before I rallied the courage to speak to him. Then I grinned and babbled while pumping his hand. To his credit, he was thoroughly gracious.

What’s your favorite bit of writing advice?

My all-time favorite quote about writing is from Walter Mosley: “Plot is the structure of revelation.” I love that. But there’s a more down-to-earth quote from my grandfather that also resonates with me. He used to say, “I don’t give a damn about it unless it breathes,” and that applies to writing as well as to life. Forget the pontification. Don’t try to dazzle everyone with long, lyrical passages and esoteric vocabulary. Readers want to be moved, so it’s our job to slip inside the skins of our characters and breathe life into them.

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

When I’m stuck, I’ll go for a walk on the beach, where I can draw in the sand and talk to myself like a crazy lady without frightening anyone. Then I might approach a scene from another character’s point of view, or I might set that scene aside and move on to the next one. Recently, I was struggling to find drama in a section that needed to be cut out of the action and relegated to backstory.

Are you creatively satisfied?

Oh, for brief, glorious moments I’m lifted by a kind of literary glee. But then I’ll write something leaden, which brings me back down to earth.

What would you like to be remembered for?

I’ve never even considered that question. Let’s see… World peace?

Alright, now for the really important questions:

  • Beach or mountains? Beach, please, though I love to ski when given the chance.
  • Coffee or tea? Coffee in the morning, and tea in the afternoon. Writing requires frequent doses of caffeine.
  • Skydive or bungee jump? Neither, thank you very much. I prefer to keep my feet on the ground.
  • Chocolate or vanilla? CHOCOLATE! It’s brain food, right? So there’s no guilt in having some dark chocolate, especially with almonds, or orange, or chili.
  • Winter or summer? Summer. I love the long days.
  • Cake or pie? Peach pie with ice cream. Yum.
  • Cats or dogs? That’s a tough one. Dogs are brave, empathetic creatures, and I’m a secretly in love with Cesar Milan, but dogs are also a lot of work. The truth is, I prefer cats because they’re wonderfully independent and I’m just plain lazy.
  • Pens or pencils? Pens.
  • Truth or dare? Truth.
  • Print or ebook? I read ebooks when I travel, but I prefer to have physical books—especially the ones I love most—close at hand, on the bookshelf, where I can fondle them at will.


Carla Norton

Carla Norton is a novelist, journalist, and true crime writer. Her debut fiction, THE EDGE OF NORMAL, was a Thriller Award finalist in 2014. The sequel, WHAT DOESN’T KILL HER, is coming in June. Carla’s true crime books include PERFECT VICTIM, which was put on the reading list for the FBI Behavioral Sciences Unit and became a #1 New York Times bestseller. She also writes monthly for To learn more, visit, or find her on Goodreads, Facebook, and Twitter.

And you can catch Carla at some of her book tour stops below!
Tues. July 7: Book Culture, 450 Columbus Ave., NYC, 7:00 p.m.

July 8-11: Various events, ThrillerFest, NYC

Wed. Aug. 5: Third Place Books, Lake Forest Park, WA, 7:00 p.m.

Via: JT Ellison


6.15.15 - Today's the big day for BASED ON: Words, Notes, and Art from Nashville

By JT Ellison

I have the greatest pleasure of announcing that today we see the release of a most fabulous original project, and I am honored to be a part of it. My dear friend Chuck Beard told me he wanted to curate a special anthology, with songs based on short stories written by Nashville authors, and I told him I was in before he finished his sentence.

And now, BASED ON is alive!!!!!

All the details are below, but we have a special, one time event TONIGHT– the ultimate launch party, Come see the show, get your copy of the book and CD, and revel in the art this great city produces. Here’s the official announcement. Hope to see you tonight!


East Side Story is incredibly excited to be publishing an anthology titled Based On: Words, Notes, and Art from Nashville! This project is a rich collection of short stories, songs, and visual art prints “based on” one another and thoughtfully arranged in a single printed book that includes a CD of 12 songs. We will celebrate the publication of Based On with a one-night ticketed show at Belmont University’s BEAUTIFUL McAfee Concert Hall Monday, June 15, at 7:00 p.m. We would LOVE for you to join us!

Tickets to the event and pre-sale book purchases may be made at

Based On: Words, Notes, and Art from Nashville contributors include:

Authors: Chuck Beard, Paige Crutcher, Tony Earley, J.T. Ellison, Cary Graham, River Jordan, Ariel Lawhon, Betsy Phillips, RashadthaPoet (Rashad Rayford), Victoria Schwab, Shawn Whitsell, and Tommy Womack. (Introduction by Craig Havighurst /afterword by Robert Hicks)

Musicians: Kyle Andrews, Boom Forest, Carolina Story, Michael B. Hicks, Griffin W House, Phil Madeira, David Mead, The Coal Men, The Lower Caves, The Rough & Tumble, Tristen Gaspadarek, and Brooke Waggoner.

Visual Artists: Adam Baker, Cory Basil, Carl Carbonell, efharper (Emily Harper Beard), Michael Mcbride, Barry A. Noland, Rebecca Sloan, Julie Sola, and Ian White.

All proceeds from the book and event will benefit the Arts & Business Council of Greater Nashville. Printed copies of Based On will be available at East Side Story and Howlin’ Books after the event on June 15.

We are extremely proud of this project and hope that you will share in our excitement on June 15. Any help sharing this information would be greatly appreciate. See you soon!

Via: JT Ellison


6.8.15 - On Eliminating Busy From Our Vocabulary

By JT Ellison

As a writer, I love words. I find our language rich and beautiful. There are so many exciting, insightful ways to express ourselves. Truly, there are few words that I dislike. My friends know my biggest no-no buzzword (it starts with an M) but aside from that squicky one, there is a word that I truly despise.


I hate the word busy with the fierce fire of a thousand suns. I hate myself for using it, because it’s such a deflection, such a cop out term. “How are you?” “Oh, I’m so busy. Busy, busy, busy.” It implies importance, excitement, a sense of belonging to our crazy society. It’s become the buzzword of our generation.

We are all so busy. So very, very busy.

And it’s a term so often abused. Busy is the new No. Don’t want to do something? Just say, “I am too busy,” and everyone immediately understands, empathizes, and seeks to soothe. In the past, I found myself often too busy to get together with friends, too busy to talk on the phone, too busy to make dinner, do laundry, get the appropriate amount of sleep, eat well, love well, even (gasp) read.

I’ve launched a campaign against the word busy this year. This year, the busiest I’ve ever had. I’ve been underwater too many times to count with deadlines and obligations, which means only one thing. It’s not that I’m busy. I am overcommitted.

Worse. I am rushing through my life.

A life that is well-lived, but going so fast. Too fast.

As I sit here with my parents, 78 and 80 respectively, I think about where they were in their lives 40 years ago. A major move across the country, to an area of the country thirty miles form the nearest town. Three children in three different schools. New jobs, a new real estate practice. New friends and parties and unpacking and settling in.

They were busy, my parents.

But I never felt like they weren’t around. I never felt they weren’t present. My dad took me fishing. My mom took me to the library. My brothers played Pippi Longstocking with me, allowing me to throw them bodily around the house (They are 9 and 11 years older. They had such patience with their little sister.) We lived a life, a beautiful, quiet, lovely life.

I think back to the peace of my childhood, of growing up in the woods, and realize my parents chose this place because it was away from the bustle of the city. Because nature and life were inextricably linked. Because they didn’t want the insanity of being busy all the time.

It explains why I feel so comfortable here. Why my creativity sparks. Why I feel like I can breathe.

For the first quarter of this year, I was trying to satisfy too many masters, letting important things slip through the cracks because there weren’t enough hours in the day. Yesterday, 9 p.m. rolled around and I mourned because my day was over. So I stayed up until 11:30 watching a movie because I didn’t want the day to end. Today I have a headache, and I’m tired, and I’ve been working, but it’s been forced. If I’d just recognized it was time to end the day instead of trying to sandwich in just one last thing, I would have been much more productive today, and felt better to boot.

I want time to slow. I want life to slow. My Year of No has gotten away from me, and it’s time to pull back again.

I’ve been taking baby steps away from busyness for the past few months. Recognizing I simply can’t do it all, nor do I want to do it all. You know how they say actions speak louder than words?

I’ve been showing up on the golf course. I’ve been getting to bed at a decent time. I’ve stopped piling every thought of Oh, I must do THIS, and THIS, and THIS into my Wunderlist. How many things on your To Do list are actually vital to your survival? I bet over half of them aren’t important at all.

I’m eating better — they call it eating mindfully, but it’s true. I enjoy food more when I slow down enough to think about what I want to eat, then cook or prepare it, eat it, taste it, appreciate it.

If I start feeling stressed, start feeling busy, I set down my laptop and breathe. I play with the cats. I take a walk. Read a few pages from a book. Cut an apple with a knife and dip it in peanut butter. Make a cup of tea. Play with the cats. Do a few yoga poses. Call a friend.

Anything—anything—that will calm my racing heart and pull me from that scattered sense of Stress and Busy multitasking gives me.

I have a long way to go until I unyoke myself from the busy. But I’m trying. Will you try with me? Together, we can stop this insanity, and start living our lives again, instead of rushing through them, busy, busy, busy.

Are you in?

Via: JT Ellison


5.26.15 - To Celebrate Release Day - a Contest!

By JT Ellison

a Rafflecopter giveaway

It’s launch day!!! WHAT LIES BEHIND is now available wherever you buy your books, print or digital. I’m so excited to present the next installment of Sam’s story, and hope y’all have as much fun reading it as I did writing it!

But here’s your chance to beat me to the punch: in your opinion, what would the biggest twist to Sam’s story be? The 25 most creative answers win a signed page of the working manuscript! Think about it for a minute, and fill in the form above.

Thanks for being the greatest readers on the planet!

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Books-A-Million

iBooks | Indiebound | Kobo | Powell’s Books

Via: JT Ellison


5.17.15 - What Lies Behind the Book (see what I did there?)

By JT Ellison

On July 24, 2013, I read a story about a young med school student named Paul DeWolf who’d been killed in his apartment. No motive, no witnesses, no suspects. By all accounts, DeWolf was an exceptional young man. He excelled in everything from school to his military training to sports and his faith. He was perfect. Everything about him foretold a brilliant future. And here he was, his promising young life cut short. I couldn’t get him out of my mind. I read everything I could find on the case. And there was a single conclusion to be drawn.

It was a perfect murder…

That became the first line of WHAT LIES BEHIND. I let my imagination run, wrote up a somewhat outlandish proposal. By August 12 I had a title, one that fit beautifully with the idea of a locked room mystery, and the futility of a life lost too soon. The title comes from the Thoreau (or perhaps Emerson, no one knows) quote:

What lies behind us and what lies ahead of us

are tiny matters compared to what lives within us.

Oddly enough, the day I decided on the title, I was in Ace Hardware looking for plants, and saw a plaque with beautiful birds on it. Up close, I realized it was the very quote I’d used to title the book. (I snatched it up, and it resides in my office in a spot of honor.) I knew then I had something special. Sometimes, the universe tells you when you’re on the right track.

In October, I submitted the proposal, which my agent and editor loved. I shelved the story until April 2014, when I was finished with my six months of the year I dedicate to Catherine and could think about it.

I started writing April 3. My publisher needed an excerpt for the paperback of WHEN SHADOWS FALL, so I wrote an opening. Cobbled it together, really. And in so doing, realized the story I thought I was telling wasn’t the story that wanted to be written.

It happens that way sometimes. You think a book is about one thing, but it surprises you, takes on a life of its own, and suddenly, you’re left with a completely new story. The characters dictate the story, obviously. And a lot happened between October 2013 and April 2014. Weird things, and good things.

Several wonderful people gave money to charity to have their names appear in the book. When I accept these kinds of commissions, I don’t just toss in a name. I want the donor to get their money’s worth. I create real characters, with real purpose to the story. Tommy Cattafi became my dead medical student. Robin Souleyret was his contact, also dead. (There’s another character name I can’t share, because I don’t want to spoil the story for you. You’ll see that one in the acknowledgements.)

And then the story decided it didn’t want to be about dead people. It wanted to have live people, who did amazing things. Every day, while I watched, it wove itself into a completely different entity. Tommy Cattafi wasn’t dead, but gravely injured. Robin Souleyret was very much alive, and a former CIA agent. What? She had a sister who was FBI, and her name was Amanda. She was murdered and Cataffi injured in what looked like a murder suicide. Their names became so intrinsically involved that, because of these character names, the story itself changed. It evolved. It became about Sam and Robin, the push and pull of the investigation, and the power of love.

There were other issues with the story as well. At its heart, WHAT LIES BEHIND is about a bioterror attack on the U.S. using an Ebola-esque hemorrhagic virus. Yeah. Topical much?

I was more than halfway through the writing well before the African outbreak, and as the virus, and the story, continued to spread, I kept having to change the book so it didn’t look like I’d stolen the story from the headlines. Because I, apparently, am simply too prescient when it comes to writing about current events.

And then we have Sam and Xander and Fletcher. The backbone of these books. Vital, one might say, to their longevity. Samantha really comes into her own during this investigation. It was such a blast to watch her take over. She’s always been a smart cookie, but now, she’s smart and tough and isn’t about to sit back when she sees injustices. To put it mildly, she kicks ass.

It took five months to write this book, because the story was a moving target, day after day. When I finished the book, I was almost afraid to turn it in. The synopsis I’d given my editor months before was unrecognizable outside of a young man cut down in his prime. Completely different from the finished book. Happily, she loved it, and here we are.

It’s always fascinating to me to relive the writing of a book. WHAT LIES BEHIND was possibly my most challenging to date, simply because it did not behave. It didn’t do what it was told. It’s fitting WHAT LIES BEHIND was the thirteenth novel I’ve written. It seems I’ve just given birth to my first teenager.

Via: JT Ellison


5.14.15 - 7 Minutes With... Tracy Grant

By JT Ellison

Meeting the lovely Tracy Grant was another benefit to my relationship with Catherine Coulter. We got to know one another at one of CC’s lunches a couple of years ago, and I’ve been entranced with her work ever since. She’s a very interesting woman – I mean, come on, how many people do you know who studied fifteenth-century British history at Stanford, co-wrote with their mom, and love opera? Tracy is now writing in the fascinating vein of fellow favorites of mine, Deanna Raybourn and Lauren Willig, whose work come alive on the page as history mixed with a dash of romance and a lot of suspense. I can’t recommend her enough both as a person, and a writer. She’s the bomb.


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

“Children will Listen” from Into the Woods. The original Broadway cast, though I also listen to the movie version.

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

A scene set at the London docks involving a runaway child. It’s from my as yet untitled WIP, the next book in my Malcolm & Suzanne Rannoch Regency/Napoleonic historical mystery series.

What’s your latest book about?

THE MAYFAIR AFFAIR, which comes out tomorrow (May 15) begins with Malcolm and Suzanne woken in the middle of the night by a friend who is a Bow Street Runner. The powerful Duke of Trenchard has been murdered in his St. James’s Square house. And Laura Dudley, governess to the Rannoch children, was found standing over the dying duke. Laura has been a minor character in the series. It was fun exploring her story – and her secrets.

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

At home curled up in an armchair. In Peet’s Coffee & Tea with a latte or a cup of Earl Grey. Or in the play park or Pottery Barn Kids while my daughter plays. I write on a MacBook Air using Scrivener, but sometimes I take notes by hand. I’m very attached to my Cross pen.

What was your favorite book as a child?

Different books at different ages, but THE GRAND SOPHY by Georgette Heyer was a favorite from about 10 on.

What’s your secret talent?

I’m good at seating arrangements. Would come in handy if I found myself in one of my novels.

What book are you reading now?

WHO BURIES THE DEAD by C.S. Harris. Love this series!

When did you know you wanted to be a writer?

I actually can’t remember not wanting to be a writer, but the first I remember consciously thinking about it was in 3rd grade when we were assigned a story in school and characters and scenes poured out of me. From then on I was always writing something.

Who is your writing idol? Have you met him/her? If so, did you completely nerd out or keep your cool?

Jane Austen and Tom Stoppard. I suppose it’s conceivable I could meet Tom Stoppard someday. I think I’d be starstruck to the point of incoherence.

What’s your favorite bit of writing advice?

“Don’t get it right, just get it written.” My mom, Joan Grant, with whom I wrote 8 books, had it taped to her computer.

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

Tell myself I just have to write 100 words and then I can take a mini-break, check email, look at Facebook or Twitter, read a few pages. Then another 100 after the mini-break. I can nearly always come up with 100 words (and usually when I read them over they aren’t as bad as I fear).

Are you creatively satisfied?

Yes very. As long as I’m working on a book!

What would you like to be remembered for?

My writing. And, by my daughter, for being a good mom and inspiring her to be creative.

Alright, now for the really important questions:

Beach or mountains? Beach.

Coffee or tea? Coffee in the morning. Lattes or Earl Grey tea while I’m working.

Skydive or bungee jump? I like to create adventures for my characters rather than have them myself, but if I had to pick probably bungee jump.

Chocolate or vanilla? Chocolate. Though I love vanilla lattes!

Winter or summer? Winter. Good writing weather.

Cake or pie? I have to pick? Cake.

Cats or dogs? Both, though right now we have 3 cats.

Pens or pencils? Pens.

Truth or dare? Probably truth. Of course I might change my mind if I heard the question…

Print or ebook? Both. I still love print books and buy them. But I got an iPad to read out-of-print research books and found I love reading on it, so that’s actually how I do most of my reading now.


photo credit: Raphael Coffey Photography

photo credit: Raphael Coffey Photography

Tracy Grant studied British history at Stanford University and received the Firestone Award for Excellence in Research for her honors thesis on shifting conceptions of honor in late-fifteenth-century England. She lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with her young daughter and three cats. In addition to writing, Tracy works for the Merola Opera Program, a professional training program for opera singers, pianists, and stage directors. Her real life heroine is her daughter Mélanie, who is very cooperative about Mummy’s writing time. She is currently at work on her next book chronicling the adventures of Malcolm and Suzanne Rannoch. Visit her on the Web at

And here’s a little more about THE MAYFAIR AFFAIR, in stores everywhere tomorrow!

In the elegant environs of Mayfair, Malcolm and Suzanne Rannoch live a seemingly charmed life. Malcolm, a former diplomatic attaché and intelligence agent, is a rising Member of Parliament. Suzanne is fast becoming one of London’s most sought hostesses. But even their closest friends don’t know that the Rannoch’s marriage is still reeling from the revelation that Suzanne was a French spy when she met British agent Malcolm and that she married him to gather information on British plans. Malcolm and Suzanne are hoping for private time to repair their marriage. But their peace is shattered by a late night visit from a Bow Street runner. The powerful Duke of Trenchard has been found murdered in the study of his St. James’s Square house. And Laura Dudley, governess to the Rannoch children, was standing over the dying duke.

Malcolm and Suzanne are convinced the woman they trusted with their children is not a killer. To prove Laura’s innocence, they are drawn into an investigation that will test their wits and the fragile truce between them. But whether or not she murdered the Duke of Trenchard, Laura Dudley is certainly not what she seemed. Revelations about her identity cut dangerously close to Suzanne’s own past. Malcolm and Suzanne realize more is at stake than Laura’s life and liberty. The investigation into the Duke of Trenchard’s murder will either prove the resilience of their bond–or snap it in two.

Via: JT Ellison


5.11.15 - A Sneak Peek of WHAT LIES BEHIND!

By JT Ellison

The countdown continues! Here’s another insider treat for you – a sneak peek at the first chapter of WHAT LIES BEHIND.

Sam is coming….


Chapter One

Washington, D.C.
Tuesday morning


They’d drunk too much, gotten too loud, too boisterous. Mr. Smith’s kicked them out a few minutes past midnight, and they stumbled into the Georgetown night, dragged themselves up Wisconsin, and loped across M Street, tripping and clutching each other to stay upright, cackling hysterically, their heels an incoherent tattoo on the sidewalks. People watched them, their antics greeted with amusement or derision, depending on the mood of the observers.

“I can’t go on, I can’t. Stop, Emma, please, stop.”

Emma, ponytailed, blonde and lanky, fiddled with her tights with one hand, tugged on Cameron’s arm. “I gotta pee. We can’t stop now, Cam, it’s just a few more blocks.”

“My feet hurt. And my head.” Cameron slipped, landed hard against the plate-glass window of Starbucks. “Bump!” That set them off again, the giggles turning into guffaws.

Emma yanked on the door to the darkened store. “Nuts. They’re closed.”

“Why are they closed?” Cameron whined.

“`Cause it’s midnight. The witching hour. And you’re not a witch, you’re just a bitch. Tommy’s place is just ahead. Can you make it there?”

Cameron squeezed her eyes closed, chanting the rhyme under her breath. “Not a witch, just a bitch, not a witch, just a bitch.”

“You really are screwed up, aren’t you? Come on.” Emma dragged her to her feet, off down the darkened street.

Georgetown never truly sleeps. Even when the bars close, there are still people about—joggers, the ubiquitous construction workers, musicians and homeless, dog walkers and students, lovers and mistresses. A stew of incessant liveliness, perfect for the college-aged, and the cuckolded. The romantics and the hardened.

They made it a block before Cameron stopped dead. She grabbed Emma’s arm, nails digging into the soft flesh.

“Did you hear that?”

Emma strained, but one block up from M Street and two blocks over, all she heard was the tittering of the night birds and the whooshing of tires on pavement, maybe some faint, masked music. “Hear what?”

Cameron shook her head. “I thought I heard something. Someone shouted. I’m drunk. Where are we?”

Emma glanced at the sign on the corner. The numbers and letters weaved together. She shut one eye and the familiar N floated into range.

“We’re on N Street. One more block up. Come on already.”

They started off again. “How are you going to get in? I thought you two broke up. Didn’t he take back his key?”

“We’re not broken up. Just on a break. There’s a difference. He’s so busy now, with school and working. He just took on another new project. He needed some space. I understand.”

“Oh. I see. You understand why you’re not important to him anymore. Big of you.”

“Bitch.” But there was no heat behind the word.

She heard footsteps. Straightened in time to see a jogger cross the street in front of them, legs pounding out a steady rhythm. Chick could move. Emma wasn’t a runner. She played tennis, quite well, but the idea of running for the sake of running was boring to her. At least on the courts there was a tangible goal.

She realized she was alone, looked over her shoulder. Cameron had stopped again, was leaning woozily on a trash can.

“Come on,” Emma said, her tongue getting stuck on the words. She bit back a giggle and held out her hand. “We’re almost there.”

“Gotta rest.”

“Fooocuuuus, Cameron. Don’t make me leave you behind in the dark, all alone. Whooooo. Big nasty dark gonna eat you alive.”

Cameron flipped Emma the bird and stumbled back to her feet. “Lesgo.”

A car turned the corner, engine purring as it disappeared behind them. Now they were truly alone.

One block, turn right. Twenty steps more, then the basement apartment railing appeared on her left. Emma fished the key out of her bra. She’d known they were going to be drunk tonight. Thought a little booty call would be appropriate, even though she and Tommy had, in essence, broken up. Not because he didn’t dig her; he did, she knew it. It was just school was tough on him.

She knew Tommy would be home studying, late into the night, working on some random epithelial cell or DNA splicing theory, as he always seemed to be. Medical school was hard. Hell, undergrad was hard. Harder than she’d expected. Life was hard, too, especially for a pretty young thing with just enough smarts to make it into Georgetown, but maybe not quite enough to stay there. Her parents would freak if she failed out.

Tomorrow, I’ll stop drinking and partying and really study.


But for tonight, everyone needed to blow off some steam, get a little nookie. Sex was good for the brain. Raised the levels of oxytocin, serotonin, melatonin, all those tonins Tommy liked to talk about.

Emma shook her hair free of its ponytail so it would fall in a sultry mass about her shoulders, sloppily freshened her lip gloss, licked her lips and shot Cameron a look. Cam seemed like she was about to pass out. Her eyes were half-shut, the smile on her face dreamy and stupid.

Emma slipped as she went down the five stairs to Tommy’s front door. She grabbed the railing with both arms, clung on, the metal biting cruelly into her rib cage. She managed not to drop the key, but one sky-high platform peep-toe clattered toward the door, hitting it with a thump.

“Whoops,” she said, laughing. Cameron hooted like it was the best trick she’d ever seen.

Emma put a finger to her lips. “Shhh. God, you’re gonna wake the whole street.” She righted herself with dignity, squared her shoulders and put the key in the lock.

“Aren’t you going to knock?” Cameron asked.

“Why?” Emma replied, jiggling the key, then turning the knob. The door swung open into darkness.

“Darn it. He’s asleep,” Emma said, looking back over her shoulder. “Better be quiet, Cam. Can you be quiet?”

“Go in, for Chrissakes. I need a drink.”

Emma took off her other heel and stepped inside, the straps looped on her index finger. It was dark, so dark she couldn’t see anything. She ran her hand along the wall by the door, found the light switch. The lamp in the foyer cast its yellow glow into the hallway. Tommy’s bike was leaning against the wall. Careful not to knock it over, she pulled Cameron inside and shut the door. Made her way down the hall into the living room.

Turned on the light. Saw red, and it took a moment for reality to penetrate her margarita-fogged brain.


Not red.


Blood, everywhere. The sofa, the floor, the wall by the two-seater bar.

Emma stood frozen, unable to move. Cameron was busy getting sick behind her, gagging and choking. Only then did the smell of the blood hit her, meaty and raw, like steaks left too long in the refrigerator, their surface shiny and green.

Want to run, want to hide, want to go away.

Something kept her rooted to the spot. “Tommy?” she called.

There was no answer.

“Stay here,” she told Cameron, an unnecessary direction. Cam was on her hands and knees, moaning, trying and failing to scrabble backward away from the living room and the vomit. She bumped up against the hallway wall and ducked her head into her hands, eyes squeezed tightly shut. She wasn’t going to be of any help.

Careful to avoid stepping in the blood, Emma moved along the edges of the living room. Tommy’s bedroom was down the hall. It was dark. There were no sounds but Cameron’s low keening, which sent shivers down Emma’s spine.

“Please,” she said, uncertain to whom the plea was directed. Please don’t let this be Tommy’s blood. Please don’t let him be hurt. Please don’t let him be dead. Please please please please please.

His door was shut. She steeled herself, took two deep breaths. The smell was worse here, tighter, fresher. Almost alive in its awfulness.

She opened the door, flipped on the light.


Over and over and over again.



Don’t forget, if you pre-order WHAT LIES BEHIND, you get more treats. Send your receipt to and you’ll receive classified material from my top-secret author files, downloadable to your e-reader or other device.



Via: JT Ellison


5.8.15 - Pre-order WHAT LIES BEHIND, Get Classified Material

By JT Ellison

Want a special “director’s cut” (okay, editor’s cut) of a chapter in WHAT LIES BEHIND? When you pre-order the book and send your receipt to, you’ll receive classified material from my top-secret author files, downloadable to your e-reader or other device.



Via: JT Ellison


5.5.15 - A DEEPER DARKNESS e-book sale!

By JT Ellison

Wanna prep for the release of WHAT LIES BEHIND, Sam Owens #4, later this month? Some of your favorite ebook retailers are here to help you out. A DEEPER DARKNESS, Sam Owens #1, is only $0.99 now until May 11! Find your favorite e-retailer below:

Amazon Kindle:
Amazon Canada Kindle:
B&N Nook:
Apple iBooks:
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Via: JT Ellison


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