Category Archives: JT Ellison

Daily Tao ☯ 5.24.17

By J.T. Ellison

Great news, y’all — commenting on the blog is fixed! From here on out, to comment, you click on the word “Comment”, which opens a nice, clean box. You write me a love letter, click “Post Comment”, and the following box will appear. All you have to do is put in your name, and click “Comment as Guest” and voilà!

*Ignore the Log In to Comment. It shouldn’t be there, but at least now there’s the guest option. Still working on eliminating any more confusion with the service, but this is a good start.*

So. With that fixed, which took up a lot of time today, I was able to turn to the manuscript, edit what I did yesterday, and eek out another almost 1000. I’m over 6k now… I also did a big print interview (which you’ll see next month, fingers crossed) and did some last minute travel arrangements for BEA.

A good day, all in all. And tomorrow, it’s manuscript only. And kitties. Who really do love to distract mom the moment she gets going with her words…

Oh, did y’all see the great news from my BFF, Laura Benedict? She sold her new novel, and it’s going to be incredible — I’ve read the book and it’s fantastic. Many congrats to Laura today!

Sweet dreams!

Via: JT Ellison


Daily Tao ☯ 5.23.17

By J.T. Ellison

A stellar start to the book today, 2300 words. I could have kept going, but there were a ton of distractions, too. My fault, I forgot to turn on Freedom and ended up dealing with an issue that should have waited until after work hours. My goal is to average 2000 per day 5 days a week, and I’m feeling confident enough in the story that I think this is very doable.

I am back in my zone, only taking appointments and calls on Mondays and Fridays, which allows for deep work Tuesday through Thursday. It worked for the last book so well I’m excited to try it again. If it continues to work, it means I can almost double my usual weekly output, which makes my brain (and my publishing partners) very happy, because there are so many stories begging to get out.

Last night was historic in Nashville. My beloved Predators won the Western Conference title, and will be playing in the Stanley Cup for the very first time. And I will be there, in my nineteen-year-old practice sweater, cheering them on. The Preds came to town the same year I did, and I’ve always been a fan. My parents took me to Colorado Rockies and Washington Capitals games growing up, and darling husband continued in their stead, so this is a lifelong quest, for me to see my team make it to the big dance.

And at the same time, my heart is breaking for the families in Manchester, England. It’s a terrible thing, and I was so torn last night, filled with great pride and great sorrow. It feels like the world should stop turning when these horrible events happen, but it doesn’t. All I can do is offer a prayer, and make sure the godless people who commit these atrocities are forever stopped in my novels. You wonder why I write crime fiction? So I can stop the bastards in their tracks.

And on that rather vicious note, sweet dreams!

Via: JT Ellison


Daily Tao ☯ 5.22.17

By J.T. Ellison

It’s so nice to be home! Darling Husband and I had a lovely afternoon yesterday, the kitties were super excited to see me, there was even a block party (not for me, but fun to catch up with everyone.) Today I got up, poured my tea (oh, the joy of having the tea already made when you arise) and settled in to work. I haven’t been alone for a few weeks, and as cool and fun and everything has been, the travel and interacting for days on end has gotten to this introvert.

Nothing fixes me up like a nice day puttering around cleaning, doing laundry, and listening to podcasts, then writing! After a fun call with CC, in which we refined a bunch of the ideas I worked on last week, I am cleared to start writing this book. Which is good, because I’m antsy to create.

Speaking of creating, I received a cool email this morning from Chapter 16, Tennessee’s premier online literary magazine, which you really should be reading, because they review all the best books. Here’s a link! Chapter 16 came into existence when all of the local newspapers dropped their book coverage (boo-hiss!). Sponsored by Humanities Tennessee, and run by the indefatigable Margaret Renkl, it’s a veritable treasure trove of book info. Today, she did a roundup of the upcoming workshops and conferences that are great for writers of all stripes, and I asked for permission to share. Get thee writing, people!

Editor’s Note

It’s summertime and the living might be easy somewhere else, but here in Tennessee summer is the time when writers flock to conferences and workshops to hone their craft. Here’s a list of upcoming opportunities across the state, the location where each is held, and the dates of the event. Please keep in mind that registration deadlines for many of these workshops are right around the corner, so take a moment now to click anything that looks interesting.

Sundress Academy for the Arts summer writing retreats (Knoxville, dates vary beginning 5/26)

Classes at The Porch Writers’ Collection (Nashville, dates vary beginning 6/2)

Clarksville Writers’ Conference (Clarksville, 6/2-3)

Mountain Heritage Literary Festival (Harrogate, 6/9-11)

Manifest Voices, a free workshop for teens (Chattanooga, 6/12-24)

Humanities TN’s Appalachian Young Writers’ Workshop (Harrogate, 6/18-24)

Utopiacon (Nashville, 6/22-25)

Humanities TN’s Tennessee Young Writers’ Workshop (Lebanon, 7/9-15)

Crosstown Arts’ Zine Workshop (Memphis, 7/15)

Belmont “Writing for Your Life” conference (Nashville, 7/18-19)

Tennessee Writing Workshop (Nashville, 7/22)

Killer Nashville International Writers’ Conference (Nashville, 8/24-27)

I’m off to a retirement party this afternoon, and then the week stretches before me, unformed, perfect for diving into a new story. I can’t wait!

Sweet dreams!

Via: JT Ellison


Sunday Smatterings

By J.T. Ellison

Happy Sunday, and SURPRISE! It’s me, The Kerr!

While J.T. is frolicking in snowy Colorado, I thought I’d join the rest of us whose faces melted off this week (why is it so hot in May!?) and talk about fun things I saw online.

Guys, I’m not ready for another Tennessee summer. To be honest, I never am. Never been to the South? Everything they say about the humidity is true. Oh, the humidity!

This is how I plan to combat the heat June–October (because let’s be honest, the temps stay sky high until Halloween).

oh, the humidity!

All right, all right, you came here for links. And links you shall get.

Many things captured my interest last week, so instead of my usual format, I’m piggybacking on J.T.’s instead. Because she is a smart lady.

Here’s what happened on the Internets this week:

Modern Mrs. Darcy’s 2017 Summer Reading Guide. The forecast for good books this summer? Bright and sunny. (Place a ✔︎ by your Corny Joke of the Day)

Meet Mr. Frank, Nashville’s 91-Year-Old Substitute Teacher. A WWII veteran subbing in public schools? I’d call that inspiring. You should read why he does it.

Shipt. You’re an introvert’s dream. And I love you.

Amazon Prime Now. I love you, too. Even though you introduced me to an unhealthy obsession with these maple pecans, and I can’t find them anywhere else.

RIP, Chris Cornell. Thanks for producing most of my high school soundtrack.

The Sound of Gravel: A Memoir. I’m a sucker for a good memoir, and this one didn’t disappoint. I read this book in fifteen hours—only breaking for sleep and work. It’s that riveting.

Um. American Idol is coming back. But it won’t be on Fox…

2017 Netflix Premiere Schedule. Because summer TV shows are important.

And closer to home:

Bargains! There are still a couple of contests up on the Bargains page (including a 200-copy galley giveaway for LIE TO ME). Check ’em out!

Grab a Three-Chapter Excerpt of LIE TO ME! What!? Yes. You’re going to hate me because you’ll want to read more. But trust me, friends—this book is worth the wait.

Folks, that’s all I have for you. Stay cool, drink lots of water (and make sure your pets do, too), eat an ice cream sandwich, and we’ll chat again soon!

Amy/The Kerr

Via: JT Ellison


Daily Tao ☯ 5.19.17

By J.T. Ellison

Back in 2016, when I was working on the book now known as LIE TO ME, I was struggling with my work. I knew I wanted to really tap into the creative universe, try something new and different, but something was holding me back. I have been doing this long enough to know that fear is resistance.

I decided to really hit back at this resistance that was proverbially tying my hands behind my back. I printed three labels with the following reminders:




I taped them on my laptop so they could inspired me daily, and put a starred reminder in my To Do List: Be willing to take one more step with TMA…

Today, I gifted my dad the laptop that wrote the book, as I have a new one that’s smaller, faster, and easier to write on. After we got it all set up for him, I peeled off the labels and put them in my bullet journal, so I’d never forget the inspiration they gave me.

We writers take inspiration wherever we can get it. My Instagram account is dedicated to this sort of inspiration; that’s me trying to spread it out to the universe (remember, what you seek is seeking you). But I receive inspiration from you, daily. You read my work, you share it with your friends, you tell me when you love (or hate) something, you cheer the successes and comfort the failures. You are as important a part of my daily writing process as the little reminders I leave for myself.

As I sit here today, plowing through a synopsis, watching the snow-capped peaks and the flitting hummingbirds, I am struck by how much you help me on this creative path. So thank you!

Have a lovely weekend, and I’ll see you Monday.

(Also, see our gorgeous new branding for these little dailies? Big kudos to The Kerr for keeping everything so gorgeous around here! She’s up for Sunday Smatterings this weekend, too!)

Via: JT Ellison


Daily Tao ☯ 5.18.17

By J.T. Ellison

A MUCH better work day today. Solid planning and outlining, editing some cool stuff for a project y’all will hear about shortly, and, of course, a mega-storm that as of this writing has dumped nearly a foot of snow on us, with more to come, which spurred me on to great focus and energy.

I am worried about the goslings, and I saw a hummingbird, so we put out some food for them, so they have enough energy to stay alive in this. Other than that, it’s a stunningly gorgeous winter wonderland. It snows in May a lot out here. Growing up, it always snowed on or around my birthday. This is a nice treat, considering we came out for the snow in March and ended up in shorts.

As much as I accomplished, I forget how hard it is to start a book. It’s super strange to have the ideas bouncing around but not be getting up in the morning to write them down yet. Such is the annoyance of the outlining process for me. I spent so many years just diving in and figuring it out as I went that this whole planning a book stuff isn’t my forte. But planning I am, and with luck, I can start actual writing next week.

Amazon launched their new bestseller list today, which is a very interesting set up and a clear shot across the bow to the NYT. One list is for actual sales, and one tracks which books are being read. In doing that, Amazon acknowledges how we buy books but don’t read them right away. I’m guilty of buying books that I don’t read for months, and we’re conditioning readers for a sale, which is rough on front list, but a boon to our backlist titles.

Case in point, I’m curious to see which, if any, of my books ever show up on either one of these lists. 14, Taylor Jackson #2, is a Kindle Daily Deal today for .99 — will those sales be enough to push me on? I have no idea. Will this help tap into the zeitgeist, as they claim? Perhaps, though the Reads list is limited to digital, so it’s not a fully comprehensive look, because there are still a lot of people only reading print. But as far as I know, it’s the first of its kind trying to measure what people are actually reading, and so warrants watching.

Will you be paying attention to Amazon Charts? Do you pay attention to any bestseller lists?

That’s today’s food for thought. I’m off to watch the snow and keep dreaming up plot points. Sweet dreams!

Via: JT Ellison


Daily Tao ☯ 5.17.17

By J.T. Ellison

Lousy day for concentration, as I’m sure y’all felt too. I spent most of the morning getting the folks settled. Had a nice trip into town, even treated myself to a rare latte, and came back raring to go. But it was not to be. I needed to do a spot of research, and the next thing I knew, I’d lost an hour.

Here’s the thing about research. It creates black holes of interesting information that lead to galaxies far, far away from what you really need for your story. I tucked five or six articles away for future work and dragged my brain back to my current story, only to find it just wasn’t happening. I was starting to get mad at myself until I realized I’d somehow disabled my Freedom. Argh! No wonder I was lost in internet space.

What’s Freedom? It’s the program I use to keep my Internet turned off so I can’t get distracted, and it really does work. I use it because if I don’t, I really can end up in another galaxy online.

These hours aren’t really lost, if you look at it from the writer’s perspective. You never know what little tidbit, story, or picture will spark an idea that turns into the next novel. But you also have to be careful you don’t spend ALL your time on the “research”.

I’m going to cut myself some slack, since I haven’t really stopped moving for a few weeks now, and I probably need a day off. I’ll be back at it tomorrow with vigor (she says, hopeful!)

In the meantime, for fun, I give you a little something I stumbled across whilst in the black hole… it really is quite literary, if you think about it…

Sweet dreams!

Via: JT Ellison


Daily Tao ☯ 5.16.17

By J.T. Ellison

Greeting, salutations, and warm hellos from the great mountainous west! Lovely flight out this morning (outside of the dope who kept kicking my chair—worry not, I unleashed my inner librarian on him!)

I got a lot of work done, and it was fun work. First, transcribing some notes, then dumping scenes onto the page without worrying about where they go or being linear with the story. A big part of my natural resistance is the desire to write in a totally literal fashion, from A to B to C to D. When I’m outlining, though, the only way I can make it work is to dump out all the scenes that are in my head, and THEN try to put them into some semblance of order. So far, so good!

Tomorrow we have to stock up on groceries, because… drumroll please… there is going to be a snowstorm. A BIG storm. The latest Winter Storm Watch has us possibly getting 1-2… FEET. Do you have any idea what kinds of happy dancing I’m doing?

So tomorrow is stocking up, and tomorrow night it starts to snow, and it’s not supposed to let up until Friday. I’m going to snuggle down in what might just be one a monstrous blizzard, take my cough medicine, drink lots of Earl Grey, and, so long as the power stays on, write my tail off. (Just took my last antibiotic but I’m still coughing, dang it!)

Found out today LIE TO ME is a Buzz Book at BEA, which is totally cool. I’m starting to see the book cover pop up across social media, which is at once exciting and terrifying, because it means it no longer belongs to me, and is now yours, to do with as you will. Love it, hate it, recommend it, burn it… the book is officially out of my hands. (But wow, I hope you love it!)

Sweet dreams, and Go Preds!

Via: JT Ellison


Daily Tao ☯ 5.15.17

By J.T. Ellison

I’m feeling a wee bit cheetah-ish today. I’ve been going going going since I woke up, and have only now sat down to eat, have a glass of wine, and catch my breath (and do my daily Tao). I had to cancel a dentist appointment this morning, because who wants to lie in the dentist’s chair when you’re not feeling 100 percent? All of my calls and appointments rang long today, and staff with Amy was truncated because there was just too much to cover. But! I capped off the day with a super fun Skype call with a library in New Jersey. There’s really nothing better than talking to book people. What fun!

Why the rush today? Because I’m back on a plane tomorrow afternoon, heading west to see my parents, who I haven’t seen since February. That’s way too long. We talked about me rescheduling, but to be honest, the idea of having some mom and dad time—i.e.: mom and dad taking care of me time—that’s too enticing to pass up. I will get good sleep, good food, and lots of chill time to write. Just what the doctor ordered. I rarely allow myself to be mothered and fathered, but I sense it’s exactly what I need.

I’m looking forward to the quiet of the flight to really dig in to the new book, too. I love to fly. I love that I have no obligation to talk to anyone, that I can turn inward and focus solely on my words. I get some of my best writing done on planes. Tomorrow, it will be character building and outlining. Maybe a little classical on the headphones to really block out the world. Bliss!

I once heard a (possibly urban legend) story about an author on a desperately close deadline who booked a round trip flight to Australia (or Singapore?), wrote all the way there and all the way back, and met the deadline. Not sure if it’s true, but I applaud the sentiment.

Sweet dreams!

Via: JT Ellison


Sunday Smatterings

By J.T. Ellison

Hello, chickens, happy Mother’s Day! Hope y’all had a good week.

As you may have heard, Catherine and I headed to New York to start writing Brit #5 (it’s called THE BLOOD CABAL—how cool is that?). We ate lots of great food, had the best visit with our fabulous publisher, Gallery Books, complete with champagne and cupcakes (honestly, book people are the best). We had a grand ol’ time getting into Nicholas and Mike’s next adventure, and I can’t wait to dive headfirst into fleshing this beauty out. I also managed lunches with my Mira folk, too. LIE TO ME World domination plans continue.

And thanks for all of your well wishes—I’m feeling a bit better after being under the weather all week, though I still sound like Lauren Bacall. Oh well, there are worse things…

Here’s what happened on the Internets this week:

People Are Adding “And Then The Murders Began” To Famous Book Openings, And It’s Impossible Not To Laugh. This is sheer brilliance.

When You’re Obsessive. A short ode from The Passive Guy.

Digital Detox: Is It Right for You? Y’all know about my annual social media fast around Lent. Sometimes a detox resets your perspective and revamps the way you work. For me, this is nothing short of magical.

Smartphones Are the New Cigarettes. Because we all suffer from second-hand tech. We really do.

Two Million Stars on the Move. Space is pretty freaking cool.

Quiz! Can You Guess the Classic Book by These Extremely Vague Descriptions? Because we all need a Buzzfeed quiz to make us question our intelligence.

12 Unforgettable Forests in Literature. Because who doesn’t want to escape into the woods sometimes?

Libraries We Wouldn’t Mind Getting Locked Into. For those who would rather escape into a place with air-conditioning and a bathroom.

Some of the Most Amusing—and Mortifying—Messages People Have Sent to the WRONG Number. 😂😂😂

And closer to home:

A WORD ON WORDS With Helen Ellis. I’m not sure if I’ve ever laughed more in an interview! Helen Ellis is a powerhouse, y’all, and it’s time she become a household name. In our delightful chat, Helen and I talk about living as a Southerner in “the Ultimate North,” whether the New York or South is a more sinister place, when it’s okay not to be nice, and why Maybelline lipstick may be the world’s most frightening fashion accessory.

What I’m Into (May 2017). These are 5 things I’m seriously grooving on this month.

Daily Tao ☯ 5.8.17. Don’t forget—I’m blogging (nearly) every day! Follow my New York adventures with Catherine, starting with May 8.

***Bonus Section: BIG NEWS!***


Bargains! There’s a new page on called Bargains (an original name, I know!), where all sorts of fun goodies will live: free and discounted books, contests of all stripes, etc. We’ll let you know when new things pop up on the Bargains page, but check back sometimes to see the loot you can get on a discount.

That’s it from me! Happy Mother’s Day to all, especially you who are furbaby mommies like me, enjoy some spring sunshine, take an extra long walk or two, and we’ll talk again soon.


Via: JT Ellison