By J.T. Ellison Hi, chickens, happy Sunday. Did y’all have a good week? As you know, I just got back from vacation (which was glorious). After a few days catching up, I’m happily back at work on Brit #5, trying to…
Via: JT Ellison
By J.T. Ellison
So things have been a little hectic since I got back from vacation, lots of loose ends that need tying up. But I’m starting to feel caught up, and writing again — last night at 8 I solved a problem and had to open the manuscript again. So that bodes well — it’s starting to come alive for me.
August newsletter is out — if you haven’t received it, check your non-priority inboxes or give me a shout and I’ll get you taken care of.
I mention this because I received a lovely letter from a reader who complimented my marketing skills. I told her the truth, I had a shortcut, having been in marketing in the past.
And it reminded me of a funny, sad story. Staff meeting, aerospace contractor, circa 1994. I came in with a major marketing proposal, nervous as all get out. When my turn came, I presented my idea: start a company website. Many small and large companies around us were doing it, I knew a guy who could build it for us on the cheap, and it would give us a leg up when RFP* time came — we would have all of our previous projects and successes on the site, so it would be a one stop shop instead of recreating the wheel for the RFP.
(*RFPs — request for proposal — the soul sucking process by which the government hires contractors to build things for them. It is a long, arduous process that involves a million details, long nights, and a lot of hard work. And of course, only one company can win the contract, so every advantage helps.)
Anyway, my proposal was met with absolute silence, then an older gentleman who’d been in the game for a long time scoffed, “We don’t need this. This is a ridiculous waste of time. I refuse to approve a major budget line item just so you can give some guy you’re sleeping with a job.”
And just like that, the proposal was shot down. No website for us.
As my husband can attest, said guy was NOT my boyfriend, he was a legitimate, ahead-of-his-time computer programmer. Yes, I made a SH complaint. Yes, grumpy old man was disciplined. No, we did not get a website. Soon after, I bolted for greener pastures, to a company who also wasn’t interested in a website but grudgingly let me do it, and then, happily, circumstances changed and we moved to Nashville.
Moral of the story: technology changes. The world charges forward into the breach whenever a crack appears. Early adopters aren’t always mad. Sometimes, they actually do have good ideas.
As we gear up for the LIE TO ME launch, as we exploit the now very powerful internet and my own websites to help reach more readers, I am struck by how much things have changed, and how much has stayed the same. It’s easier to reach people, yes. But the product is still paramount. And I will always be looking for a new and better mousetrap. It’s just how my brain works. It was nice to be reminded of that today.
That’s my trip down marketing memory lane. Since I still have you, please considering pre-ordering LIE TO ME, so I can free my brain from the marketing and write more books.
Via: JT Ellison
By J.T. Ellison
Hi, peeps! It’s me, The Kerr, filling in for J.T. while she makes her way home from vacation. She’ll be back tomorrow—let’s all be nice and welcome her back to the real world gently, okay?
Not that you wouldn’t. You guys are pretty nice.
Did you have a good week? I did: my little sis came to town! It’s been fun doing all the touristy Nashville things like walking down Broadway, playing in Dragon Park, finding new treasures at Parnassus Books, and eating hot chicken (forget what you’ve heard: if you visit and wanna try of our city’s dish of the moment, Pepperfire is the place to go).
ANYWAY. You came for some links. Here’s what happened in my world this week.
I’ll tell you what I’m eating this week: everything from READY OR NOT!, the new cookbook from my favorite cooks, Michelle Tam and her husband Henry Fong. They’re the brains behind the hilarious yet informative cooking blog, Nom Nom Paleo.
The recipes in this book are super fresh, with tons of aromatics (ginger! garlic!) and herbs (cilantro! basil!) and sauces (roasted garlic mayo! sriracha ranch dressing!) to keep things delicious. The best part of this cookbook is the layout: instead of the conventional starter/entree/side we expect, this cookbook is laid out according to how ready you are to cook/how much time you have. For those of us who could use a little help with time management, this is genius.
Curious? Here’s a peek inside!
The title of a new podcast caught my eye: “Conversations with People Who Hate Me.”
How could you not click? Read the description, and let me know what you think. I listened to the first one, and I liked it. I’m intrigued to hear more!
Slow reading week for Amy: I’m still not done with WHEN BREATH BECOMES AIR, but I learned that my copy of JUST MERCY is available at the library. I better put my serious nonfiction kick into high gear before these books both expire!
You guys. We are so close to football season, I can taste it.
To quench my thirst for pigskin, I started new season of ALL OR NOTHING on Amazon. Did you miss Season 1? All right, let’s download: ALL OR NOTHING is a documentary that follows an NFL team for an entire season. And by follow, I mean follow them everywhere: practice, locker room, their own living rooms with their families. It’s a fascinating look into the biggest money generator in sports and how it affects everyone from fans to families to staff.
This season of ALL OR NOTHING is bittersweet because (a) it stars the 2016 L.A. Rams, whose head coach is my main man, Jeff Fisher [aka former Titans head coach who took us to the Super Bowl in 2000 and we lost by 1 yard and I cried] but (b) I know what happens to my main man at the end of the season [he gets fired 😭].
Don’t worry, that’s not a spoiler—that’s how the doc opens.
Also, it’s narrated by Jon Hamm, who has one of the best voices in the history of voices. I could listen to him narrate almost anything, which is why I get excited about Mercedes-Benz commercials, even though my dream car would be a brand-new Toyota Corolla. Because I have exquisite taste.*
*I drove a rental once, and I loved it. That’s all. I know nothing about cars, don’t listen to me.
This is Lita the Greyhound! Lita is available for adoption through Greyhound Pets of America – Nashville. And if I didn’t have two greys in my life already, I would adopt her because she is so precious, I can hardly get over it. Look at that face! 😍
Her favorite hobbies are loving stuffies and loving people.
Hobbies we should all strive for, Lita.
That’s all from me, folks! Bless you Southern parents who have school-age children going back to school. Our hearts go out to you and your early morning alarms and forcing your little ones to eat breakfast and saying Would you just get in the car already!? for the umpteenth time with clenched teeth. You Northern parents, y’all have fun with that in about a month.
For those of us without school-age children: I hope you also enjoy hitting Snooze on your alarm.
Via: JT Ellison
By J.T. Ellison
Hey, folks! Assistant Amy/The Kerr here. I’m stepping in for my boss, who’s off on a well-deserved vacation. Even writers need to unchain themselves from their laptops sometimes.
We’re going to do Smatterings Kerr style today, which means we’ll be all over the place. Thanks for coming along for the ride!
You know what I can’t get enough of? This ridiculously easy cucumber salad. All you need are:
Mix together and boom. I’d take a picture of it, but I always devour it before I remember.
Okay, I have to tell you about my new podcast obsession: Death, Sex & Money, a podcast about the big questions and hard choices that are often left out of polite conversation.
If you’re a fan of NPR’s Morning Edition, you know the best part of the whole week is 7:20 am CST, which is when the StoryCorps segment airs. 80% of the time I’m in tears by the end of the three-minute bit because people are on the segment are sharing some of their most defining moments, and I’m weeping because of the sheer tragedy or hope for humanity I hear. I’m a sap.
Death, Sex & Money is like an extended StoryCorps segment. I don’t know how they find such fascinating people to interview, but the producers do a fantastic job of picking people from all walks of life (the guest could be Alec Baldwin or your Uber driver, you never know) and just talking to them about random things. Break-ups. Student Loans. Incarcerated Spouses. Retired NFL players. Surrogate mothers. Kevin Bacon. If you’re into exploring human relationships and what makes people tick, this is the podcast for you.
The show’s been a around for a few years, which is great for me because I have a lot of episodes to catch up on.
Confession: after starting and quitting a bajillion new comedy series, I’ve decided to watch Cheers all the way through on Netflix. I’d forgotten how hilarious this show is: the writing, the comedic timing. And tell me you don’t love the answers to How’s life treating you, Norm?
Plus, it has the best theme song ever. You know it’s true.
When I was a kid, all I wanted was a golden retriever. Though I am now a proud greyhound mama, I still have a soft spot for goldens like Lulu (she’s available for adoption here in Nashville!).
Look. At. Her. Face. If you live close by, you should think about getting Lulu or a friend like her from Adopt a Golden Nashville.
That’s all I have today, guys. Don’t mind me, I’ll be sitting over here, shopping for fall décor and dreaming of cooler temps (no joke—I will be putting this up on my front door September 1, I don’t care what it feels like outside!).
Via: JT Ellison
By J.T. Ellison
OK, I’ve been terrible about the Daily Tao. You get in a habit, then you get out of the habit, and boom — no blogs for a week.
But here I am.
And there were words today.
They happened late. They happened unexpectedly. And there were a lot of them. I don’t know what, exactly, broke the drought, but 2700 in 2 hours later, I could have cried in relief.
A week of no writing freaks me out. A day here, a day there, eh, that’s the nature of the beast. But a week of staring at the page means something is wrong. Oddly, while there’s usually a simple reason for this–the story is going in the wrong direction–that wasn’t the case. The story is fine. The characters are fine. The setting and timing – all fine.
It was just me.
So many changes in the house, so many boxes and bags and worry and selections and phone calls and email (much more of that than I’m used to, too), planning for birthdays and vacations and conferences and tours, editing secret projects, dealing with a kitten who got into some chicken, to which she’s allergic, and vet visits for steroids and antihistamines, shows to prep for, family and friends and gym visits, and, and, and…
I think there’s just been too much noise around.
And I have to forgive myself for that. Because, sometimes, despite your best efforts, life happens. It happens around you, in you, and to you.
So. Chicken stew on the stove, a non-itchy kitten, boxes broken down and in my trunk, paintings hung, laundry finished.
And words, written.
I feel like I can finally breathe again.
Via: JT Ellison
By J.T. Ellison
Hey, y’all! How’s tricks? The Ellison house is trying to stay cool during the heat wave, and thankfully that’s more possible now that our air-conditioner is fixed…er…completely replaced. Yes, our 30-year-old unit took one look at the heatwave and said, no, nope, no way and quit. Oh, the joys of Tennessee summertime…
Got a bit of writing done on the new Brit in the FBI book, though not as much as I wanted. But like I said, hitting a rough patch at this stage of the book, a quarter of the way through, is normal for me. Sometimes you just have to buckle down and write through it anyway. It’s not fun, by any stretch, but as a professional, sitting down and doing the work is something I have to do. The end result will be worth it, and I think you’re all going to love this book. Plus I get to go on vacation soon, a proper one, something I haven’t done in a couple of years. That’s a nice light at the end of the tunnel.
Anyway. It’s been a while since we’ve had a Sunday Smatterings, so without further ado…
BLAME, the stunning new thriller from Jeff Abbott. Y’all, do yourselves a favor and pick up a copy of my buddy Jeff Abbott’s latest novel, BLAME. It’s a five-star read!
10 Writing Rules You Can (and Should) Break. Amen. What makes your writing yours is how you break the rules.
Revered and Feared in the Book Review. “A good murder novel, she once wrote, can be ‘a portal to a wider world.’ Here she is literally at home among them, windows into alternate realities as familiar and vital to her as they can be strange and sinister to others.”
Should You Make Your Book Available for Pre-Order? I, along with 13 other authors, weigh in.
The Handmaid’s Tale: How to Soundtrack a TV Show Set in Silence. If you haven’t seen the TV adaptation of Margaret Atwood’s THE HANDMAID’S TALE, trust me when I say the soundtrack of the show is sheer brilliance. I enjoyed this peek into the creative minds behind it.
Emma Watson Interviews Margaret Atwood on “The Handmaid’s Tale.” Speaking of tapping creative minds, Hermione Granger interviewed the author herself. The meeting of these two smart, savvy women is so enjoyable!
The Golden Age of Bailing. “Technology makes it all so easy. You just pull out your phone and bailing on a rendezvous is as easy as canceling an Uber driver…. But we should probably make bailing harder.”
This week, not only did we receive a wonderful starred PW review (!), I announced dates and locations for the LIE TO ME tour! I’m heading to some new places on tour this time. Am I going to be near you? If not, never fear: I have a LiveSigning planned on September 21! What’s a LiveSigning, you ask? It’ll be a live streaming video where I’ll sign books on camera, talk about LIE TO ME, and answer your burning questions—just like a regular bookstore signing. And guess what? You can get yourself an autographed book and submit a question before the livecast! Want to learn more? Details here.
New J.T. story: THE ENDARKENING. Have you read my latest short story? It’s the perfect ebook read for a plane ride or a day at the beach. Especially if you’re into sexy Scottish Highlanders…
JUDAS KISS is only $0.99 until tomorrow! If you’ve never read Taylor’s 3rd book, now’s your chance to get the ebook for a bargain.
That’s it from me! Y’all enjoy a lazy summer day or two, binge-watch something good, be safe in the heat, and we’ll talk again soon.
Via: JT Ellison
By J.T. Ellison
Inexplicably grumpy today. You know how that is — nothing’s wrong, but you’re still meh. Wrote some, went to the gym, ate a lovely spinach salad, planned out the next week in the bullet journal. Wrote some more, but nothing was clicking. Finally gave up and right now I’m watching Barnwood Builders. They’re rebuilding cabins in Gatlinburg, resurrecting homes from the ashes of the 2016 fires.
I am in the mood to chuck it all and buy a cabin in the woods somewhere, go totally off grid. A tempting thought, but what’s the real emotion behind it?
Usually, wanting to disappear into the fabric of the world means I’ve hit one of my three turning points of a novel. And sure enough, when I checked, the word count says I’ve just passed the quarter of the way spot, and I almost always, always get malaise about the book at this point. It’s part of my process. It’s a bloody annoying part of my process. And I get stubborn about things. The ideas and outline say to go one way, and my gut is telling me to go elsewhere. It’s frustrating as all get out.
This is actually an important lesson, should you be interested. Many writers peel away from a story at this point, especially new writers. The excitement of beginning makes way for the slow drudge of the middle acts—and trust me, the writing of middle acts is always a drudge—and suddenly, the shiny, fun concept you’ve been working on tarnishes.
The professional writer recognizes this for what it is. Resistance. For me, it always comes at the 25K mark. The book is just beginning to show its personality, becoming its own entity instead of what I’d originally imagined, and I, writer extraordinaire, want to run for the hills. How could I have thought this idea had merit? How could I think this storyline would work?
This is the time to buckle down and power through. At 30k, things will smooth out. I know this. I’ve done this a few times before. Doesn’t mean it ever gets easier. And there are more all is lost moments ahead. 50K, 75K, both are always problems spots for me. Plus, I feel the grains of deadline sand slipping inexorably away.
And yet, somehow, someway, I’ll find the thread again. I always do.
Methinks I need a vacation — a real one, with a beach and umbrella drinks and books galore. But I haven’t earned it yet, so back to the keyboard I go. I have a show to tape in the morning, and then it’s plug away and find the thread that’s currently eluding me. I will figure this out by the weekend. I will!
Via: JT Ellison