Category Archives: JT Ellison

On Lent, and My 40 Days of Silence

By JT Ellison

Gone for Lent.jpg

Tomorrow begins my 40 Days of Silence, as I like to refer to it. Every year, I exit from the social networking sphere for Lent. It gives me a chance to get my feet back under me, get a lot of work done, and allow me a bit of time to reflect, read, and write.

The first year I left social networking for Lent, I wrote 60,000 words. It was enough to prove to me social networking DOES affect my writing time and creativity, so I decided to repeat the experiment annually.

Without Facebook and Twitter, I find myself more focused, more present. It’s as simple as that. Coming off a book launch, revising the next book with Catherine, working on the secret project, finishing another secret project, and prepping for Sam #4, I need some headspace to make it all work. And honestly, a little time away can’t hurt. Absence makes the heart grow fonder, right?

I made seeing people IRL (in real life) a priority for this year, and as much as I miss the convenience of having everyone in one place, my friends and I email, text, and (gasp!) talk on the phone, so I won’t be too separated from them. And I’m getting antsy, not working on a new book. My brain needs to focus on creating again.

I’ve done quite a bit of preparation for this fast, so many of you won’t even realize I’m gone. I’m toying with the idea of posting links while I’m away through my Buffer – things I’ve read and found interesting. But it feels like that might be defeating the purpose. (Feel free to let me know what you think in the comments – post links, or don’t post links. It’s all automated and ready to go, but a single click can turn it off again.)

I hope you’ll understand my silence, and cheer me on in my quest. Lent is about denial, giving up things that are precious to you. Yes, jellybeans and wine would be a stellar second choice, but social networking is even dearer to me. I’m replacing my SN time with exercise and reading, hopefully rebooting my Italian lessons. I have a retreat on the books, and a trip to see Catherine. I plan to return in April leaner, more fluent, with a ton of words under my belt.

I will be updating the blog here occasionally, and if there’s any great news that can’t wait, I’ll certainly come share. I wish you all the best in your Lenten endeavors, and whatever else you’re setting your mind to these days.

xo, JT

    

On A Wrap-up for WHEN SHADOWS FALL

By JT Ellison

So WHEN SHADOWS FALL is out in the world, and there have been a few write-ups and reviews, interviews and guest blogs. In the interest of housekeeping, I’ve gathered them all together.

Interviews and Blogs

One of the most extensive looks at WHEN SHADOWS FALL, really digging down into the story, comes from Bookreporter.com

I am so honored to have been asked to do an interview for She Reads, one of the book world’s leading curators for new books, book clubs, book blogging… they’re awesome!

Riffle Backstory – Riffle is a cool new site dedicated to readers, helping you find and share your favorite books, and this is a fun interview – with many of my favorite books and writers listed.

I did a brief podcast with my awesome audiobook publishers, Tantor Audio. The audiobook of WHEN SHADOWS FALL comes out March 31.

I’m always so excited to do anything with my good friend Allison Brennan, who’s new book NOTORIOUS is coming next month. Here’s a guest blog on her Murder She Writes

I participated in the ITW Thriller Roundtable – How do News Events Shape Your Plots discussion

On Writerspace, Samantha Owens took the Proust Questionnaire, and I also discussed the book’s path into being.

I did a piece about never giving up for The Strand Magazine’s Mystery Center (Link to come)

And from CAFTAR – Campaign for the American Reader

Reviews:

Publishers Weekly Pick of the Week (February 24, 2014)

Starred Review in Publishers Weekly

Exceptional character development distinguishes Thriller Award–winner Ellison’s third Samantha Owens novel (after 2012’s Edge of Black), the best yet in the series. When Sam, now head of Georgetown University Medical School’s forensic pathology department in Washington, D.C., receives a letter from a stranger named Timothy Savage asking her to solve his murder, she gets drawn back into her former career in law enforcement. Sam performs an autopsy on Savage, who recently died in Lynchburg, Va., and the examination shows he did not commit suicide, as the police ruled, but was indeed murdered. Meanwhile, Sam and her boyfriend, former Army Ranger Xander Whitfield, become embroiled in a search for a missing child whose disappearance may be related to Savage’s death. The suspense builds as Sam and Xander, aided by D.C. homicide detective Darren Fletcher, chase down a host of surprising leads. The author’s ability to neatly tie together the mysterious clues helps make this a standout in the romantic thriller subgenre. Agent: Scott Miller, Trident Media Group. (Mar.)

Starred Review in Booklist

What at first appears to be a suicide propels Dr. Samantha Owens into a case that will test her resolve and sanity in Ellison’s third novel to feature the forensic pathologist. It starts with Owens receiving a letter from the victim—posted before his death—asking her to solve his murder. She is also listed, it turns out, as one of the beneficiaries in the man’s will. Having no idea who he is or why he sought out her services, she reluctantly conducts an autopsy and discovers that the death was, in fact, murder. How did he know he was going to be killed? His secret will shock Owens and her colleagues to the core, forcing them to ask hard questions about themselves, their careers, and how something as infallible as DNA can produce the wrong results. The mystery only intensifies as the narrative unfolds, and it’s a guarantee that readers will not figure out all of the details before the end. Ellison has crafted a terrific thriller, and fans of forensic mysteries, such as those by Patricia Cornwell, should immediately add this series to their A-lists. Knowledge of the prior books is not necessary to enjoy this one. —Jeff Ayers

Romantic Times Top Pick

Ellison excels at imaginative and terrifying plots, and this thriller is a fine example that sucks readers in at the beginning and spits them out at the end, emotionally drained. The latest Samantha Owens installment is a complex story with interwoven mysteries and a frightening conspiracy. Villains range from just greedy to truly evil.

After several years of tragedy and danger, forensic pathologist Samantha Owens has accepted a teaching position at Georgetown University in an effort to lead a calmer life. Her plan is shattered when she receives a letter from a dead man, Timothy Savage, asking her to solve his murder. Savage’s attorney is then murdered, and the killer is working his way down the list of Savage’s beneficiaries. Sam becomes involved with the FBI’s investigation of a missing girl and finds out Savage was an FBI agent who went undercover in a cult to rescue a young girl. (MIRA, Mar., 416 pp., $24.95) —Joyce Morgan

Library Journal

Dr. Samantha Owens is transitioning into her new job teaching and chairing the forensic pathology department at Georgetown University Medical School when she receives a cryptic letter from a stranger asking her to solve his murder. Hesitant to get involved in fieldwork after recently opting out of law enforcement, Sam ignores the request. When the dead man’s will stipulates that Sam perform the autopsy, her curiosity is piqued. The autopsy indicates murder, catapulting Sam and those closest to her into an intense FBI case. In her five harrowing days on the case, Sam uncovers dangerous links among a missing FBI agent, cold-case child abductions, and a suspicious religious cult led by a charismatic female. VERDICT Ellison’s third Samantha Owens installment (after A Deeper Darkness and Edge of Black) is a gripping page-turner. Skillfully seasoned with suspense, intrigue, adventure, and a dash of romance, it’s essential for suspense junkies. Fans of Patricia Cornwell’s Kay Scarpetta books may notice similarities but will find that Ellison puts her own unique spin on forensic investigation. —Mary Todd Chesnut, Northern Kentucky Univ. Lib., Highland Heights

Suspense Magazine

Ellison, yet again, offers up a story that goes from 0-to-60 in seconds.

Dr. Samantha Owens is working to set up her classroom for her new job as head of the Georgetown University Medical School’s Forensic Pathology Department in Washington, D.C. She is extremely happy about her new career and has no regrets about giving up a life in law enforcement.

While she’s going about her work, looking forward to the new path her life is taking, she receives an extremely odd letter. The letter is from a corpse who states that he’s dead and wants, more than anything, for Dr. Owens to solve his murder. In addition, the supposed victim is even more helpful by compiling a list of suspects for the doctor to look at, and setting aside some money in order to cover any expenses she has during the investigation. Downside? The corpse also states that Dr. Owens life will definitely be on the line if his killers find out she’s received this post-mortem letter.

Samantha doesn’t have a clue as to who Timothy Savage, the signer of the letter, is. What makes it even more confusing is when she’s approached by his lawyer and informed that Savage was not murdered at all; he is dead by his own hand.

After a great deal of hesitation, she agrees to perform an autopsy on Savage and finds that natural causes or suicide are not the case at all. Add to this, another plot where her significant other, Army Ranger Xander Whitfield, is pulled into a case involving a search for a missing child whose disappearance may be connected to the death of Mr. Savage, and the story blows up. When Homicide Detective Darren Fletcher arrives, anything and everything boils to the top.

Full of carefully mastered clues that tie both cases together, this is a true thrillfest that will keep readers on the edge of their seats until the very end. —Mary Lignor, Professional Librarian & Co-Owner of The Write Companion

Fresh Fiction

Dr. Samantha (Sam) Owens is an expert forensic pathologist the FBI would love to have working for them. After turning down their job offer, Sam wants nothing more than a normal life teaching at Georgetown University. She’s deeply in love and building a life with Xander Whitfield, a former Army Ranger, and content with her decisions. That contentment crumples when she receives a strange letter from a man named Timothy Savage begging her to solve his murder, even though his recent death has been ruled a suicide.

Things become even more bizarre when Savage’s will names Sam as executor, as well as a benefactor, compelling her to autopsy his body to learn the truth. Her findings verify his death was murder, not suicide, but there’s also foreign DNA on him that belongs to a girl who was found dead years ago. That’s impossible, or is it?

Each step taken in the investigation turns up even more questions. Who is [Timothy] Savage, and how did he know he was going to be killed? How did he get a dead girl’s DNA on his body? Is the DNA wrong? The mystery unfolds and intensifies with many shocking twists and turns leading to a totally incredible conclusion.

J.T. Ellison’s WHEN SHADOWS FALL is a cleverly devised forensic thriller with multifaceted characters and a compelling storyline. Even though it’s part of a series, WHEN SHADOWS FALL is an excellent stand-alone novel giving all the background information that’s needed for its total enjoyment. Ellison is a master-craftsman at developing superb forensic thrillers! —Tanzey Cutter

And last, but not least, here’s a short Excerpt from WHEN SHADOWS FALL

Thanks for your support!

    

On Decisions

By JT Ellison

What do you do when faced with a life-changing decision? Do you jump off the cliff and go for it, heedless of the consequence? Do you agonize, write lists of pros and cons, worry yourself into sleepless nights until the decision is made? Or do you use entropy, edging toward the decision through the path of least resistance, not deciding, but not walking away, either?

I’ve always been a bit of a cliff jumper myself. I make up my mind on things quickly, and move forward decisively. Sometimes too decisively.

So when my main character, Dr. Samantha Owens, was faced with a life-changing decision at the beginning of WHEN SHADOWS FALL, I thought she’d be like me – make the decision and move on. But she didn’t. She fought against what she knew would be best for her, and it took her a whole novel to decide.

It’s a tricky thing, changing a character’s world. Whether they get married, have a child, get divorced, meet a lover, start a new job, deal with a loved one’s death – these catalysts drive our narratives, giving our character’s depth, and making them relatable.

I’ve been throwing changes at Dr. Samantha Owens for several books now. She’s had to face the death of her husband and children in the Nashville floods, the death of her ex-lover, the surprising love of a new man, a move from Nashville to Washington D.C. and a new job running the brand-new forensic pathology program at Georgetown University. And in WHEN SHADOWS FALL, she’s faced with even more decisions – whether to accept a consulting position with the FBI, whether to accept a ring from her lover, whether to investigate the murder of a man who clearly committed suicide.

What is it the French say? Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose. The more things change, the more they stay the same.

Stasis is the death of novels. Change, not for the sake of change, but for the sake of challenge, is the only way to keep a series alive, to keep the characters interesting, to keep their story moving forward. It’s a careful balance, and it’s where the novel’s conflict comes from. Too much change, and you lose the things that make readers love the character. Too little change, and things get boring.

Sam’s facing the biggest decision of her life in WHEN SHADOWS FALL. The question is posed in the first chapter, and she doesn’t decide fully until the last. Her decision changes the course of the series, sending it in a new direction. It gives the series real legs, sustainability, reason and meaning. Sam can move forward now, unfettered by her past.

At least, we hope she can.

So what about you? How do you make decisions? Leap and bounds, or slow and steady?

This blog first appeared on Murder She Writes February 24, 2014

    

On Release Day for WHEN SHADOWS FALL!

By JT Ellison

          Buy Yours Today! IndieBound / Amazon / Barnes & Noble / Books-a-Million / iBooks / Kobo /  East Side Story / Parnassus  Audiobook available March 31, 2014 from Tantor Audio

February Newsletter Special Edition

Vol. XXXIII

“Exceptional character development distinguishes Thriller Award–winner Ellison’s third Samantha Owens novel, the best yet in the series.”

– Publishers Weekly Starred Review
– Publishers Weekly Pick of the Week

Gentle Readers:

My eleventh novel, WHEN SHADOWS FALL, has been born into the world today, and I want to celebrate with you!

Over on my Facebook page, I’m giving away 3 $50 gift cards to your favorite bookstore. All you need to do is leave a comment on the post to be entered – and in the interest of spreading the word, if you share it on your page, you’ll be entered twice. How’s that for a deal? I’ll announce the winners on Friday, February 28th at noon.

Buy Yours Today!

IndieBound / Amazon / Barnes & Noble / Books-a-Million / iBooks / Kobo / East Side Story / Parnassus

Audiobook available March 31, 2014 from Tantor Audio

Every series has a path, planned or unplanned. When I started writing my Taylor Jackson books, I had no idea it was going to be a series. I hadn’t thought about extended story, structure, character development. I created a finite character in a finite world, and it was difficult to see where to take the books.

With Sam, it was the opposite. I knew I wanted a character who could grow and change remarkably. I knew I wanted to allow her the freedom to move around the country, the world, with relative ease. As my then editor and I were planning the first book in the series, I mentioned I wanted Sam to be the Indiana Jones of forensic pathology. The idea stuck.

This third book is a seminal part of the series. Sam is faced with the biggest decision of her life, one she must grapple with over the course of the strangest case she’s seen to date. She receives a letter from a man begging her to solve his murder, but a quick look into his death shows he is a clear suicide. Sam discovers his body has DNA from a twenty-year old cold case, linking him to a kidnapped child whose remains were recovered years earlier.

The book unfurls from there, traveling all over D.C. and Virginia, from Georgetown to Lynchburg, and the beautiful Great Falls – all my old stomping rounds – delving into the a world of killers and cult leaders and things that go bump in the night.

I hope you’ll love this third installment in Sam’s story, enjoy watching her truly come back to life, moving forward with her new love and her dear friends at her side, into a mind-bending case that will decide her fate for years to come. Here’s a quick excerpt from the book to give you an idea of what’s ahead.

For those of you in the Nashville area, I will be reading from and signing WHEN SHADOWS FALL at the Barnes & Noble in Cool Springs tonight at 7:00 p.m. I hope you’ll join me for an evening of fun and frivolity and murder.

Thank you, as always, for being the best readers on the planet. I wouldn’t be here without you! Cheers!

xoxo,

JT

Amazon / Barnes & Noble / Books-a-Million / iBooks / Kobo / Walmart
IndieBound / East Side Story / Parnassus / Reading Rock

Audiobook available March 31, 2014 from Tantor Audio

___________________________________

Praise for WHEN SHADOWS FALL

“Ellison has crafted a terrific thriller, and fans of forensic mysteries, such as those by Patricia Cornwell, should immediately add this series to their A-lists.”
— Booklist (starred review)

“Skillfully seasoned with suspense, intrigue, adventure, and a dash of romance, [WHEN SHADOWS FALL is] essential for suspense junkies.”
— Library Journal

“Ellison excels at imaginative and terrifying plots, and this thriller is a fine example that sucks readers in at the beginning and spits them out at the end, emotionally drained. The latest Samantha Owens installment is a complex story with interwoven mysteries and a frightening conspiracy. Villains range from just greedy to truly evil.”
— Romantic Times Book Review (Top Pick!)

“Exceptional character development distinguishes Thriller Award–winner Ellison’s third Samantha Owens novel (after 2012’s Edge of Black), the best yet in the series. The author’s ability to neatly tie together the mysterious clues helps make this a standout in the romantic thriller subgenre.”
— Publisher’s Weekly (Starred Review)

“You want compelling characters, warp-speed action, a complex, terrifying plot, then Ellison’s When Shadows Fall, with Dr. Samantha Owens, is for you. Be prepared for calloused fingers you’ll be turning the pages so fast.”

– Catherine Coulter, #1 New York Time Bestselling Author of Bombshell

    

On Keeping a Book Journal, and the Nascent Beginnings of Books

By JT Ellison

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WHEN SHADOWS FALL releases next week, and I wanted to show a bit of the process I went through writing the book. Every book has a different genesis, and I’ve been trying to keep better track of how the stories come alive for me.

I am not a natural journaler. I had the requisite locked diary as a girl (Dear Diary, why doesn’t so and so like me?) and when I found it a couple of years ago, I saw a familiar pattern: daily January entries faded into a sporadic February into one or two lonely March entries, then nothing at all until July, when I wrecked a friend’s moped and finally – finally! – had something to talk about.

It is the mundane that I’d always found of such little interest. And yet, how I wish I’d stuck to the discipline, that I’d at least put down a few words here and there for all those childhood years. Dinners, friends, sleepovers, heartbreaks. So many things lost, so many ideas gone.

I tried for years to journal properly – even took a class in college that called for a daily journal. What do you think happened? Yep, the night before it was due, there I was with my day runner, trying to recreate a semester’s worth of entries.

In 2003, blogging became a part of my life. It was a journal, though I didn’t realize it at the time. I can go back through the entries on my blog and on Murderati and watch my journey – my highs and lows, my successes and failures. When I stopped blogging weekly, I realized how much I missed it, and it hit me – you’ve been journaling. And you like it.

But I was still horridly inconsistent. I’m like many writers, I think, I have multiple notebooks and snippets of ideas and open file folders and cocktail napkins and half-finished blog entries scattered about my office. I need a method, a practice. And I found it again through two things – daily pages and a book journal.

Again, my fear of the mundane kept me from combining the two. What if, years from now, someone actually wanted to know my unpublicly chronicled thought process on a book? And what if they found my notebooks, and saw some of the ridiculously boring things that happen in my life?

So I kept them separate.

In each folder, for each book, I have a small journal file. I try to document the moment the idea for the book came to me, how I approached it, the emails I sent, anything that will help explain the genesis. And as I write, I keep score – word counts, what’s working, what’s not.

Which brings me to WHEN SHADOWS FALL, which comes out next week. You’d think, after all this time, I’d know what sparks a book idea for me. But for the life of me, I can’t remember. So I’m writing this blog, and now, I will go open the magic box that is the Book Journal and see. Be right back…

Here’s what I found – it’s a copy of the transcript of the email I sent my agent on 5.15.12

So the story idea for Sam #3 pranced into my head two nights ago, and I wrote it down. It’s a fun idea, I think, and based in part of a real case in Mississippi, where a man moved from California running from the “Masons” then committed suicide. Don’t worry, not a DaVinci Code-esque storyline. I have something much more fun in mind, as you’ll see when you read the synopsis.

The title – obviously a working title, but I wanted to go with three words, and have a play on the darken and black from the first two. I like this. Second place is BREATH AND SHADOW – from Sophocles. (A human being is but breath and shadow.)

Ah – I remember now. I was in the shower, and the idea for the book hit me out of the blue. I messed around with the story, wrote up a synopsis, found a title – I can’t work without a title – and sent the email to my agent.

The title, by the way, was WHEN SHADOWS FALL – everyone loved it off the bat, and my agent loved the proposal, and the editor loved it, and suddenly, I was in business.

Except – I had a few other things on my plate, and I couldn’t come back to the story for a year.

A year is a very long time between concept and writing for me. Normally I dive right in, but I had to write my first book with Catherine Coulter, and I can’t write two books at once. So SHADOWS went on the back burner for a year.

Not surprisingly, the book journal shows a rough start when I got back to it. I just read through the diary, and realized – I am rather hard on myself.

But, all that said – the journaling is now a Godsend. It was with this book that I really got into sharing my thoughts at the end of each day, which has morphed, these many years later, into an actual daily journaling habit!

I was using my blog, but there’s a strange, uncomfortable level of intimacy to sharing a book’s life while it’s under construction, so I’ve switched to a great app called Day One. I record the mundane and the important, the books stuff and the life stuff, all in one place, and I find I can’t move on with my evening if I don’t write my little bit at the end of the day.

Apparently, I’m a journaler after all.

A little added bonus, here’s an excerpt from WHEN SHADOWS FALL


    

1.27.14 - Starred PW Review for WHEN SHADOWS FALL

By JT Ellison

Thank you, PW!

WHEN SHADOWS FALL (Starred Review)

Exceptional character development distinguishes Thriller Award–winner Ellison’s third Samantha Owens novel (after 2012’s Edge of Black), the best yet in the series. When Sam, now head of Georgetown University Medical School’s forensic pathology department in Washington, D.C., receives a letter from a stranger named Timothy Savage asking her to solve his murder, she gets drawn back into her former career in law enforcement. Sam performs an autopsy on Savage, who recently died in Lynchburg, Va., and the examination shows he did not commit suicide, as the police ruled, but was indeed murdered. Meanwhile, Sam and her boyfriend, former Army Ranger Xander Whitfield, become embroiled in a search for a missing child whose disappearance may be related to Savage’s death. The suspense builds as Sam and Xander, aided by D.C. homicide detective Darren Fletcher, chase down a host of surprising leads. The author’s ability to neatly tie together the mysterious clues helps make this a standout in the romantic thriller subgenre. Agent: Scott Miller, Trident Media Group. (Mar.)

Reviewed on: 01/27/2014
Release date: 02/25/2014

As you can imagine, a good day. Getting close on THE LOST KEY, too, so back to the grindstone….

    

1.21.14

By JT Ellison

Breaking radio silence to say – it’s been a happy day. Had news this morning that WHEN SHADOWS FALL is a Romantic Times Top Pick for March! I am giddy! Thank you, Romantic Times!

Here’s the takeaway…

Ellison excels at imaginative and terrifying plots, and this thriller is a fine example that sucks readers in at the beginning and spits them out at the end, emotionally drained. The latest Samantha Owens installment is a complex story with interwoven mysteries and a frightening conspiracy. Villains range from just greedy to truly evil.

Just a reminder, there’s a Goodreads Giveaway for an ARC of this book that ends January 31. Enter, and don’t forget to add WHEN SHADOWS FALL to your To Read list.

Back to the real world for me. 3000 today, 3000 yesterday. THE LOST KEY is rolling, rolling, rolling…

    

1.17.14

By JT Ellison

1800 today, and it’s time to take a break and see what’s what in terms of what’s done and what still need to happen in the story. Having this great outline we developed is a true blessing, but now I need to compare what’s on the page to what’s in my head and match the two together. And then I’ve have a clear path to the end, and I think – think! – I will be there at this time next week. I can see the end, but so much still needs to happen, so we’ll see.

Off to Manchester in the morning for their annual Writer’s Day – will be signing from 10-1, then it’s back home to dive in again. I normally would never agree to do events during deadline, but someone (ahem) thought she’d be all done by Christmas and only editing at this stage, so said someone blew it is.

It is time to disappear into the story, though, so if I’m largely absent for the next few weeks, that’s why.

Sweet dreams!

    

Day After Day After Day

by J.T. Ellison

I know you’ve gotten used to seeing Stephen and Alex on Fridays, and let me start with a thank you to them, for allowing me back to my old spot to say hello, and farewell.

Back in October 2011, I made the unbelievably difficult decision to step away from Murderati. Difficult doesn’t describe it, really, because my leaving was more than another author taking off for greener pastures. I built this site. And by built it, I mean I was the physical architect behind Pari’s idea to start a group blog. 

Way back when, none of us knew much about websites. None of us knew anything about blogs. And while we ironed out the name (mad props to my husband Randy who came up with Murderati), the lineup, the topics, the way we wanted to portray ourselves, we tried to figure out how to make it all happen.

I’ve always been a curious lass. I started playing around with Typepad, then the preeminent blogging platform. And I made an offer to the group – instead of hiring a web designer, which none of us could afford, I’d build us a website.

From the mouths of babes…

But once the offer was out there, and accepted, I had to follow through. I learned how to code, how to run a website, how to design. Randy helped with the banner, the old header, and anything else I got myself in over my head with. And pretty soon, we had a website. It had flaws. Typepad wasn’t easy to work with. Eventually, we migrated to Squarespace, which was much easier to work with, but had its own problems. 

We blogged and blogged and blogged. And behind the scenes, all sorts of shit went down.

Let’s be real, here. We started with seven artists and ultimately built to fourteen. Over seven years, there were… issues. Of course there were. It’s only natural: when you have a group of people, all of them strong-willed and wildly creative, there will be issues. Over the years, people came and went. Friends were made and lost. Battle lines were sometimes drawn, and wars were fought. Joys and successes and opportunities were celebrated. Advice was freely given. Tears were shed. We were always our best when we were supporting each other.

In other words – family. Murderati has always been a family. A big fat happy family, with brothers and sisters who loved each other to death, squabbled with the best of them, beat up bullies who dared mess with our kin, and always, always, made our curfew.

Day in and day out, no matter what was happening behind the scenes, a fresh blog would go up. And we would put aside our petty differences and excited celebrations to pay homage to the author of the day. 

It was our daily miracle. 

With our daily miracles came forgiveness. Humor. Sadness. Anger. Cheering. Crying. We wrenched every emotion from ourselves, shared it on this blog, all to wrench it out of you.

Day in and day out, when we posted a fresh blog, you were there.

You made our blog what it was. We wrote. God, did we write. We struggled with being fresh, with not saying things that had been said before. We taught, and we learned. We strived to be authentic, to be real. To share our lives, our stories, our world, with strangers.

But you weren’t strangers for long.

You commented. You weren’t shy, not once you did it for the first time, not at all. You chose sides. You learned. You taught. You were the reason we kept coming back day after day. You were the reason we worked so damn hard to be unique, exciting, fresh. You told us when we were being silly, and cheered us on when we succeeded.  You made us laugh, and you made us cry. You held us up when we needed a boost. You stood in awe when one of us created something close to genius.

You were the reason we started this blog. You were the reason we continued on. 

But you aren’t the reason we’re closing. 

Yes, the numbers began to sag when Facebook and Twitter became so very important to our writerly lives. But that’s natural. We lost readers when several of us left all at once in 2011, then steadied, and maintained. We still have a big following here. The numbers are not the reason we chose this route.

The daily miracle, which we managed for seven years, finally became too much to bear. 2555 blogs. Millions of visits. Thousands of comments. An industry that’s changed, a society that’s changed. Too many soapboxes, too little time. When 14 authors spoke, people listened. When 14,000 speak, there’s too much noise to be heard clearly.

Focus has changed. Long-form writing is very time consuming. Many, many of the authors from Murderati chose the independent publishing route, and there must be work product at the end of the day, and new books released — at a punishing pace — for success. The ones of us who stayed traditional are also facing challenges. With PR and marketing budgets slashed, self-marketing became not just a tasteless endeavor, but a necessary evil. The more authors are expected to handle on their own, the more authors choose to handle on their own, the more long-form blogging went by the wayside. It had to.

Because let’s be honest – at the end of the day, we’re writers. You want us to be writing books, right? Not blogs about how to write books. Right? Right? 

(I keep telling myself that. One day I may even start believing it.) 

When we started Murderati, I had an agent, but hadn’t sold my first book. I’ve now written twelve novels, sold fourteen novels and published nine, with the tenth coming in September, have a new Samantha Owens underway, a standalone I’m editing, a non-fiction I’m writing, have indie pubbed two short story collaborations with NYT bestsellers Alex Kava and Erica Spindler and have started writing with the esteemed #1 NYT bestseller Catherine Coulter. A lot of work, these past few years. It’s easy to understand why I don’t long-form blog much anymore.

Murderati played a huge part in all this, and I will be forever grateful for the massive leg up.

When we started Murderati, I used to agonize for a week over my post, and wouldn’t put it up until Randy had read it and promised me I didn’t sound like a dork. Now I write long form non-fiction for money, and Randy doesn’t see it until it’s actually done and ready for print.

When we started Murderati, I was unbelievably concerned with how I came across to the world. I hated sharing even the tiniest parts of me, a person I saw as boring and uninteresting, chose to stick solely to writing topics. I kept me apart from that JT Ellison girl. 

Eventually, through this blog, I came to accept myself. All the parts of me. Even the parts I didn’t want to share with the world. Especially those. 

When we started Murderati, I was in the beginning stages of trying to have children. Sadly, seven years later, I’ll share this – it wasn’t meant to be. The grief I experienced after multiple miscarriages, failed IVFs, all that nastiness, was what drove me away from this blog in the first place. I was a walking hormonal wreck. I couldn’t process my emotions in public. Hell, I couldn’t process my emotions in private. And then, when things were starting to form a scab, we lost Jade, Thrillercat, who you all know was my jinn. I went right back into that hole. Ah, it makes me cry, even now, thinking about all of this. 

I could have let it consume me. God knows I wanted it to. 

But I had a deadline. 

I put my head down and wrote three novels in a row (WHERE ALL THE DEAD LIE, A DEEPER DARKNESS and EDGE OF BLACK – even the titles scream what was happening to me) that dealt with loss. Loss, and pain, and horror. And it got me through. It got me through. Pouring my soul into those books… it got me through.

I started yoga the week after I stopped writing for you. I took all the time I spent on Murderati and channeled it into my practice. Into healing. Into finding myself again. Every day, when I get on my mat, I set my intention. Four words. The things I want for myself.

Calm. Graceful. Kind. Focused. 

It worked. It’s still working. 

Now, when I come back to the page to bid you adieu, I do so as a strong, healthy woman who takes herself a lot less seriously than she used to, who is dedicated to her family and friends, to her health, to her work. I’m writing with joy again, with laughter, with humility and excitement. I blog over on my own website, a place I call the Tao of JT. I have a decent-sized Facebook page, and we have a ball. I’m on Twitter, as @thrillerchick. I send out a monthly newsletter, and if you’re not signed up, please do.

I don’t have Murderati anymore. 

But if I’m lucky, I still have you.

I dedicate this blog to all the writers of Murderati. All of the friends of Murderati. All those who’ve come and gone.

And all of you.

Thank you for letting me come into your homes for seven years. Thank you for cheering me on, for making me cry, and for understanding. Thank you for making me the writer — the woman — I am today. Thank you, from the bottom of my soul.

I won’t say goodbye. I’ll just say… See you around.

xoxo,

JT

(Stop by this weekend for two more goodbye posts – from our own Allison Brennan and Toni McGee Causey!)

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