Category Archives: JT Ellison

Daily Tao ☯ 6.7.17

By J.T. Ellison

Riding my wave today. Two versions of synopsis for THE BLOOD CABAL done and sent to California, actual words on the page, edits on a short story, and tonight, I’m in conversation with my friend Heather Gudenkauf for her new novel NOT A SOUND. It’s a great book—the main character is profoundly deaf after an accident, and the claustrophobia of her situation, to be suddenly plunged into silence, and be in danger, was fascinating to me. If you remember, at one point in the Taylor series, she too is made silent by an accident, mute, and the challenges of writing the character without a voice, or hearing, is extreme. I’m looking forward to hearing what Heather has to say. We’ll be at the Vanderbilt Barnes and Noble at 7 pm if you want to come say hi.

Tomorrow begins demolition on my guest bathroom. It is the one original room left in the house, with an icky vinyl floor, ancient wood vanity, and one-piece shell tub and shower (beige… yuck.). When we’re finished, it will be elegant marble floor and walls, and a new vanity and pretty mirror, painted a lovely shade of seagrass, which is a very subtle gray green. Nothing crazy, just a nice update. I can’t wait.

Don’t worry, I won’t be chipping nails on this. I’ll be on the porch writing whilst the guys deal with the heavy lifting. I can’t wait to see it finished, though. We’re overrun with boxes right now, the dining room looks like it’s decorated in cardboard, and my Feng Shui is way messed up.

Do you believe in Feng Shui? Do you do anything special in your house to help with flow or chi? I don’t do as much as I would like, but we’re working on it.

Sweet dreams!

Via: JT Ellison


Daily Tao ☯ 6.6.17

By J.T. Ellison

A metaphor has been brewing in me today.

Our careers are an ocean. You ride each wave as far as it will take you. Some fizzle out in the breakers, some smash into the beach. Either way, they wax and wane, build and smooth. The trick is to ride the wave in as far as you can, and when it hits the sand, you pick yourself up and paddle back out to catch another. Every part of your career is simply another set of waves. (Yes, I surfed some…)

It’s been a free flow kind of day, back and forth from phone to laptop, talking with friends and professionals, creatives all. I realized I feel like I’m riding a wave that is just starting to build. I can literally feel the momentum of the water gathering beneath me. Part of it, of course, is building this new book; it’s a natural feeling as the words start to layer in, the ideas begin to manifest. But it’s also juggling the many components of the creative life, from the writing, to the friends in the trenches with you, to how you’re perceived publicly. The To Do lists, the blogs, the daily word counts, the calls, the planning—all the things we do to make a book happen.

There are two things we have under our control — the quality of our work, and the interactions we have with the people who make our books and read our books. The rest is timing and luck and arranging a team of people around you to do the best for you as they possibly can.

Thanks for being a part of my team.

Oh, and GO PREDS! Yes, we’ve been at the games, and yes, it’s been incredible. Our Cinderella story, twenty years in the making. No one’s really an overnight success, you know?

Sweet dreams!

Via: JT Ellison


Sunday Smatterings

By J.T. Ellison

Happy Sunday, chickens! I hope you had wonderful week. As I’m sure you heard, I had a great time in New York at BEA. You can scroll back through the blog this week to see all the excitement, but suffice it to say, I think the message was sent loud and clear. LIE TO ME is coming… and we kicked it off with a bang. I had a blast, met so many awesome folks, and am really looking forward to September.

Lot’s happened in the world whilst I traveled, so without further ado…

Here are your Internet reads for this week:

Going Mobile: can we write a novel on a smartphone, or edit a short story on a tablet? In short? Yes. Yes we can. It’s a new dawn and a new day, fellow writers. (You may even spot someone you know in the article!)

Starred Review from Publishers Weekly: NOT A SOUND by Heather Gudenkauf. Looking for your next summer read? Snap. This. Up. And Nashville friends, come see Heather and me in conversation this Thursday, June 7, at the Vandy B&N on West End.

Amazon made a small change to the way it sells books. Publishers are terrified. It’s an interesting time in the book world, folks. I’m not sure how this is going toward out, but I’m hoping for the best. Technically, it means indie booksellers can bid for the buy button to sell their wares on Amazon….that would be sweet irony, right?

Amazon Starts Weekly Bestseller Lists. Amazon had a very busy week, injecting all kinds of variables into the publishing sphere. This was another one. I dig the idea of seeing what people are actually reading, since I know what I buy and what I read are very different.

Six Reasons You’re Not as Creative as You Could Be. Lisa Unger brings some truth in the form of a Target parking lot. She’s brilliant!

Creator of the GIF says it is pronounced “Jif.” I’m just gonna leave this here…

Bill Gates says this is the most important book for college grads to read. Though perhaps everyone should.

And closer to home:

Author Assistant 101: The Best Tool I Use to Create Images. This week, the Kerr divulged how she creates the images you see on this website, my social media platforms, and beyond. If you’re into social media marketing, this may be the tool for you!

Win a Mega Bundle of Contemporary Mysteries & Thrillers + MORE! Don’t forget about this giveaway, folks. Entry is just a few clicks of a button! (and may get you a boatload of good books and a Kindle Fire!)

That probably got you through your morning coffee. Read a good book, and I’ll see you next week!


Via: JT Ellison


Daily Tao ☯ 6.2.17

By J.T. Ellison

When is a banner more than a banner?

BEA 2017 —BookExpo— is in the books. I’m back in the plane, heading south. What an incredible, awesome couple of days. The surprise banner, brilliant marketing meetings, the view at the cocktail party, the signing, getting a few moments to commune with friends… just a perfect event.

You probably saw a bunch of pictures and videos about the banner. I will admit to having all the feels about this. I probably should be so much more laid back and cool and blasé about the whole thing, but I can’t. I couldn’t. It was by far the coolest thing that’s happened in my professional career. The surprise of it, too, not knowing that’s what I was walking into… wow!

The thing is, it was so much more than a huge book cover on vinyl and a kick ass catch phrase. For me, standing beneath it, it was … I don’t know, acceptance? Acknowledgement? Faith in my work? Faith in me? I surely felt special, there’s no question about it. I’ve been around this industry for a long time now, and I know a lot of people, and they were all so proud to see it. Which felt really, really great. It was surreal as hell, actually — did you see your banner? was the catchphrase of the con.

My banner.


It was at once exhilarating and terrifying. Exhilarating because of the message it sends — this is the book you should paying attention to. Terrifying because — this is the book you should be paying attention to. I’ve never had so much scrutiny on my work; I pray and pray it holds up to the bright light of exposure. That I can hold myself together, to make you guys proud. I’m feeling pressure, yes, but I’ve spent a decade laying the groundwork for this. If I can’t handle a little exposure now, I’m in the wrong business.


So, with that, I want to take a second to thank everyone involved in making this huge surprise happen. MIRA Books has been my home for many years, and I think they were just as tickled as me by the attention this book brought. You know why?

Because this isn’t just about me. I wrote the book, yes, but I can’t begin to help you understand the unbelievable amount of work that is going into getting this book into your hands. The meetings, the planning, the dreaming that my team has done with this book is nothing short of breathtaking. Staggering, as my marketing manager said today, and he’s exactly right. Their efforts for this IS staggering. They are working themselves so hard to make this happen for LIE TO ME. And the cool thing? They really do this for all their books. The heart and soul of MIRA is always beating for all the authors. Yes, I had the banner. But I was only one of many, many, many authors that are getting promoted and exposed to new readers because of their incredible work.

So to Nicole, Margaret, Loriana, Lisa, Heather, Marjean, Brent, Amy (1 and 2), Randy (1 and 2), Emer, Mariana, Craig, Susan, Dianne, Olivia, Stef, Shara, Lynette, Mary Beth, Margot, Monika, Scott, Sean and everyone else I’m too flummoxed to hit, and those who are toiling and I don’t even know about it…

Thank you for believing in me. No lie. xox

Brilliant, peaceful weekend, everyone!

Via: JT Ellison


Author Assistant 101: The Best Tool I Use to Create Images

By J.T. Ellison

Hey, peeps! It’s me, The Kerr. Welcome to June. (yes, June—I’m not sure how it happened, either)

Today we continue my Best Tools series for author assistants and other communicators. So buckle up, buttercup!

Since we spoke last, I bet you’ve organized your life into beautiful To-Do lists. Perhaps you went a step further and transcribed your To-Do lists onto color-coded Google Calendars. Maybe you’ve gone to the full organizational dark side and are now the proud owner of a label maker. 😱

Or maybe you thought Wunderlist was for the birds. That’s okay, too. We can still be friends.

At any rate, let’s grab a cup of coffee and talk about . . . images.

o rly sloth is fascinated with my post

We all have social media accounts (or at least 94% of Internet users do). You may have noticed that almost every post has an image attached—a photo, some words, a combination of both. There’s good reason for this: we humans process images in 13 milliseconds, which is much faster than we can process text. As much as we humans love words (because if you’re on this blog, you undoubtedly do), there’s no denying at heart (at brain?) we are visual creatures.

This is good for you, fellow communicator. Why?

Because it’s never been easier to create beautiful, shareable images for your author’s social media platforms.

For this I thank you, Canva.


Canva is a (free!) tool that helps anyone create a beautiful, shareable image in just seconds.

Seconds, I say. I’m not even joking.

Why do I use Canva?

1. It’s easy. The Adobe Creative Suite is daunting—I don’t know the jargon and capabilities of each program. Do I have time to learn them? Not at 10:37 a.m. on a Thursday, when I learn J.T.’s been nominated for an award and I want to shout it from the rooftops ASAP. I want an image with all the details her readers need—and quickly. With Canva, I can do just that.

Don’t overthink it, y’all. This is coming from a classic over thinker.

2. It’s fast. Canva is intuitive—it has a clean interface with drag-and-drop capabilities. This means you can create a fabulous social image in thirty seconds. Maybe even fifteen. Ten, probably, though don’t get crazy.

3. It’s fun! Because making images on Canva is easy and fast, this also means Canva is fairly stress-free (aka you won’t say many four-letter words when you’re using the program).

Stress-free = you can play around with features.

And play = fun.

Ergo, by law of the transitive property, Canva = fun.

These are my favorite Canva features:

1. Templates! Savior of busy assistants and social media marketers everywhere, Canva has templates for each social platform (correctly sized, dear reader! 😭), and then some. Can you say game changer?

even more templates below!

2. Magic Resize! Full disclosure: Magic Resize is a paid feature. But if you’re juggling a variety of social platforms, this will save you oodles of time. With the click of a button, you can create correctly-sized images for each platform.

more magical than Hogwarts!

3. Image library! Canva stores each design draft, and all of the images you upload into its database (don’t quote me on this, but I don’t think there’s a data limit). This is super convenient if you’re creating a variety of images for a book campaign, of if you’re creating branded content for a series (like this one!).

Visual Image Library FTW!

4. Save images in different formats! Whether you need a low-res or print-quality image, Canva’s got your back. I haven’t tried making a gif in Canva, but I’ll play around with that soon!

save an image in different formats!

Bottom line: Canva has saved me countless hours. Once upon a time in 2015, I was still using Microsoft Publisher to make images and memes, and softly weeping each time I did.

Not so with Canva. It’ll stay in my toolbox for a while.

How do you create social images? Let’s chat about it in the Comments!

P.S. Looking for royalty-free stock images? Check out Pablo by Buffer!

Via: JT Ellison


Daily Tao ☯ 5.31.17

By J.T. Ellison

I write to you from my favorite place—an airplane seat. And actually my favorite of all seats, the A seat in the exit row with no seat in front of me. I’m on Southwest, for those of you who are like, what? There are seats like that? Oh yes, padawan. Oh, yes.

So here I am, legs stretched out, laptop in lap, the LIE TO ME soundtrack playing on my headphones… it’s perfect. (Many thanks to the lovely barely 5 feet tall lady in front of me who was going to take it, then saw me looming behind her and said, “You probably need that.” Bless you, madam!)

So, warning… true confessions ahead.

I never like to admit any sort of weakness, it’s an Italian thing, I think, but today I realized I am utterly frazzled. It’s was almost 10:30 am, I’d been putting out fires all morning, the phone was ringing, I was having massive outfits for New York packing regret. I stalked into the kitchen and said to Randy — now you see why I can’t get anything done around here. He just smiled and calmly continued his own work while I swanned in and out. I had a grumpy call with a contractor, then huffed back upstairs, unpacked my bag and repacked it with all new clothes, stomped around, fretted and realized… Wow. You are a wreck, sister. And I asked myself what was really wrong.

I do these checkins every so often, whether I’m happy or sad, settled or frachetty. Sometimes I look at the calendar and have that “Ah” realization. But others times… especially the days when I’m feeling this level of out of control, I have to take stock and see what’s really going on. Hormones are a great crutch, but they aren’t the sole issue.

I looked back at the past few weeks, at my normal schedule, and realized it’s been shot to hell. Writing? Not nearly enough. Yoga? Nope. Walking? Some. Listening to music? Not really. Golf? No. Reading? More there, happily. But everything I am accomplishing is being sandwiched between minor freakouts.

I hate the term busy, but right now, it’s the only word I can use. I’m transitioning from one novel to another, have a big (surprise) project going on in the background, and am several months into remodeling a couple of rooms in my house. Lots of incredible things are happening with LIE TO ME. I’ve been on the road almost all month. The Predators are in the Stanley Cup. And the world is a really, really weird place.

My deep work time has been encroached upon. I’m out of my habit.

And I had that Ah moment. There it is. The OCD control freak doesn’t have control, and has let her discipline slide. And that triggers major anxiety. And anxiety triggers chaos. So it was clearly time for a little chemical help. Ativan on board, I was able to really take a look around (ahem, limited view, aka plane) and figure out exactly what was wrong.

Writing is a muscle. You must exercise it regularly or it atrophies. But you can go too far. I’ve been keeping that muscle flexed all the time. Which isn’t good for the muscle either, is it?

I’m sort of ridiculous. I always think I’m a superhuman who can just move seamlessly from project to project without any sort of glitch, like opening the door ahead and closing the one behind me. As if my brain would allow for that sort of finality on a project. LOL.

One of these days, I’m going to build a month into the schedule to allow me to take a couple of weeks off between projects. I’m maybe not being fair to my muse trying to wring words out of her when she’s been working so hard for months, and dealing with life.

I think that’s why I normally get sick when I finish a book. It’s my body saying OK, now it’s time to chill for a few. But this time, when I got sick, I had to power through for a week of meetings in New York. I haven’t had that break, and I needed it.

So. After BEA, I will be doing a massive reset on the schedule, the habit, and all that attendant jazz. Because I absolutely adore this life. I adore that I’m sitting on a plane, flying to a book conference, where I get to schmooze with a bunch of wicked smart people about books and stories, then fly home to write them. I am so, so lucky. And as crazy as it gets sometimes, it’s the perfect life for me.

But the words are what matters. The words are what connects me to you. Without them, our contract goes away. And I will never let that happen.

Sweet dreams!

Via: JT Ellison


Daily Tao ☯ 5.30.17

By J.T. Ellison

Goodness. You’d think the holiday would have let me catch up, and it did, sort of, but I maybe got my dates mixed up and didn’t realize I was heading to NYC… tomorrow… Amy was very amused when she reminded me I needed to check in for my flight, and I said, oh, no, that’s not until tomorrow. Derp. Lesson learned—always trust the Kerr.

So off to New York again, this time for BEA. I love BEA—Book Expo is the business meeting to end all business meetings for publishing. The energy, the excitement, the galleys! It’s a wonderful couple of days surrounded by my publishing team. Lots of meetings, lots of laughs. Anecdote: I saw my very first book (ALL THE PRETTY GIRLS) in person for the very first time at BEA, ten minutes before my first ever signing. I was still torn up when the line started.

LIE TO ME will be front and center, and I can’t wait to see the reception it gets.I will Facebook Live a couple of times, so you can enjoy it with me!

I’m hoping to work some, too. Definitely will be writing on the plane tomorrow, and I have a relatively quiet afternoon Thursday. So work, and work, and write, and write. Not a bad few days ahead.

The book is starting to shape up in my mind, too. So many little details that are floating around my head. This is what it’s like at the beginning. Disparate thoughts, a jumble of ideas, and you have to write around and through them knowing they’ll fit in somewhere eventually. Fun!

Sweet dreams!

Via: JT Ellison


Sunday Smatterings

By J.T. Ellison

So another week in the books, and May coming to an end. It’s been a long week for everyone, especially those affected by the horrific attack in Manchester. But the stories that emerge, the heroics, the kindnesses, restore our faith in humanity when faced with the cowardly actions of these idiots. I fear it will be a long summer for us all, and I hate that.

In better news, Nashville is going to the Stanley Cup! We’re playing Pittsburgh, and it won’t be an easy road, but I hope it will be a good one.

I made a lot of mental progress on the new book, and some solid writing, too. It’s a long weekend, but it’s going to be rainy, plus I’m traveling next week, so lots of work this weekend. I actually love a rainy Saturday to write.


Here’s what happened on the Internets this week:

From Hockey 101 to a Ph.D. in Nashville. This week has been nothing short of highs and lows. Here’s one of my bright spots.

The Empathy Machine. New research shows that seeing through another’s eyes takes a detached mind not just a warm heart. A fascinating long read. Cognitive empathy is a real thing in my world.

“Incredibly rare” William Caxton print discovered. History nerds will want to check out this BBC article. Caxton brought the printing press to England in the 1400s, so this is a pretty cool discovery, indeed!

An Open Letter to Writers at Every Stage of Publishing. This essay by Kerry Lonsdale is just beautiful. No matter where you are in the writing process, this is a must-read.

George RR Martin says Game of Thrones spin-offs will all be prequels – and announces a fifth. Did you know there were going to be spin-offs? GoT fans—and HBO execs—may be happy for a while. Just make sure you finish that next book, George… though I think I understand the delay. I wouldn’t want to let it go, either.

Interview: Agent Sarah LaPolla on how authors can stand out, negotiating offers, and the state of publishing. Authors in progress, you’re gonna want to read this, too.

Famous Writers and their Feline Friends. Cats have played a role in many artists’ creative lives. I know mine have.

And closer to home:

200 copies of LIE TO ME up for grabs! The Goodreads contest ends this week, so hurry hurry!

THE DEVIL’S TRIANGLE Roundup. For every book compile a digital scrapbook of sorts: articles, accolades, nice reviews and the like. Nick and Mike made a splash this spring, and Catherine and I are so pleased y’all have enjoyed their latest adventure.

That’s it from me. Have a wonderful and safe holiday weekend, and remember what Memorial Day is all about. God bless our soldiers who have died to secure our great freedoms. Thank you, from the bottom of my heart.

Via: JT Ellison


Daily Tao ☯ 5.26.17

By J.T. Ellison

So guess who forgot to blog last night?

I remembered at 10:30, whilst watching the Penguins v. Senators game, and decided you know what? It’s okay. I figured y’all wouldn’t mind.

But I should have done it early, before we went to dinner for my MIL birthday, so shame on me. I didn’t get as much work done yesterday as I wanted either, for various reasons, mostly to be blamed on fellow scribe Sarah J. Maas, whose utterly brilliant and captivating A COURT OF WINGS AND RUIN has me between the Scylla and Charybdis of work and reading.

I haven’t enjoyed a book so much in months. All I want to do is gobble it up. So when my normal reading during breakfast and lunch accidentally stretch into my writing time, and I’m up well past midnight reading, I have to simply bow in Sarah’s direction, and recognize that refilling my well is sometimes as important as expending its contents.

In addition to writing, learning that it’s called a “cast” of falcons (dangling editorial carrot, there) I did do something else awesome yesterday — picked the audio narrators for LIE TO ME. My God, the talent on this book — you’re going to love it!

And today I took a lunch break and did a long, fun, intricate, and exciting interview with Hank Garner from THE AUTHOR STORIES podcast. We covered everything from my humble beginnings writing weird short stories of astronauts left behind on Mars (yes, I went there first) to a very extemporaneous discussion of creativity and inspiration to my favorite topic, the need for strong female leads in fiction. He made me so comfortable that I was actually doing voices. Which is a thing. My friends can tell you I slip into characters all the time, but I sometimes do it unknowingly, and only when I’m utterly relaxed. So… impressions by J.T., coming next Friday on Hank’s awesome podcast. I’ll put up links.

And then, the afternoon calmed, and I managed 1500 words. That’s better.

Have a wonderful long weekend! Be safe, be smart, and have fun.

Via: JT Ellison



By J.T. Ellison

Dear reader, it has been a happening time for Nicholas Drummond.

Not only did Catherine and I have a blast writing Nick & Mike’s newest adventure, THE DEVIL’S TRIANGLE, we also enjoyed launching it into the world. And it appears y’all had a lot of fun launching it with us—because you made the book debut at #1 on the Wall Street Journal‘s bestseller list, and #2 on the New York Times and USA TODAY! 🎉🙌💕

We are (book) party animals. Aren’t we wild?

I’ve gathered a few links as a digital scrapbook of sorts, so in the coming days we can look back and see what fun we had. Enjoy!






“This fourth in the A Brit in the FBI series is hard to put down . . . as Coulter and Ellison continue, on a roll.”
Booklist, Starred Review

“Coulter and Ellison are really on an amazing roll with their outstanding A Brit in the FBI series. Wildly creative and twisty plots that take readers on crazy rides around the world are anchored by a core cast of unforgettable characters . . . Thrillers do not get better than this!”
RT Book Reviews

An “adventure-filled fourth thriller in the Brit in the FBI series . . . Fans of popular culture will appreciate the references to such icons as the Star Trek Romulans, Harry Potter, and Sherlock Holmes.”
Publishers Weekly

“There are action and thrills aplenty in Coulter and Ellison’s new addition to their Brit in the FBI series.”
Kirkus Reviews

Via: JT Ellison