Category Archives: JT Ellison

Daily Tao ☯ 5.12.17

By J.T. Ellison

Home again, home again, jiggity jig! And let me tell you, I have a couple of very happy cats who’ve been alternately running around in joyful leaps or purring on my lap. Always nice to be wanted, right?

So New York was a monstrous success all the way around. Catherine and I pulled together a solid story and characters for THE BLOOD CABAL. Next week I will take everything we did and put it into a cohesive narrative so we can get this puppy outlined fully. We have the first 6 chapters already set, and wow, this one is so cool!

Thursday was full from start to finish. Several hours of plotting with CC, then lunch with my publisher and editor at MIRA, which was a blast. I admit, I rather enjoy sitting in a dark wood paneled New York steakhouse plotting world domination. I had a lobster Cobb salad that was divine, too. We are all getting excited for LIE TO ME, and BEA is right around the corner!

I spent part of the afternoon reading a blurb book, then we met up with Catherine for dinner, which was a hoot. Mexican food in New York is interesting, to say the least. I asked for queso and the waiter was confused. Enough said. But the tacos were yummy!

And then we had second dinner with a dear friend who we haven’t seen in months, and that made the trip for us. A long walk back to the hotel, a little blood orange and lemon basil sorbet for dessert, and a well-earned glass of wine topped off a very pleasant evening. I stayed up half the night reading the book I was blurbing—I will absolutely share links when this one comes out. It’s great.

The flight home was uneventful, happily, outside of the woman who spilled her double vodka on my bag (she was having a VERY bad day). Warm cuddles with the kitties more than made up for that. Tonight, it’s a quick supper party with friends, and then, my dears, I collapse. My doctor (who was my first call upon landing) kindly called in some antibiotics, so this sick puppy should be feeling better in no time.

Sweet dreams!

Via: JT Ellison


What I’m Into (May 2017)

By J.T. Ellison

These are five things I’m seriously grooving on this month…

Desire to Inspire

1. Design Blogs

I am in a slight(ly massive) overhaul of the two upstairs bathrooms, my bedroom, and my living room. I have never asked for help from a professional before, and decided it was high time. It’s been an eye-opening experience, for sure, and I’m at once overwhelmed and totally raring to go to get things finished.

The fun thing is, less is definitely more, so we’ve been slowly paring back years of furniture buys from Target and Pier 1 in favor of a single new piece here and there. The rooms feel bigger, airier, more comfortable. There’s been lots of looking at Pinterest boards (a favorite pastime anyway) and reading design blogs.

My favorite that I’ve been following for years is Desire to Inspire. I can’t tell you how many ideas I’ve found there. Great photos, excellent curation. You can’t go wrong.


2. Serious Decluttering

I’ve had to remove every stick of furniture in my house twice in the past year—once to get the floors laid, and once again to have those floors re-stained. (don’t ask…)

The first time, we took bags of stuff to Goodwill. It’s easy to part with inanimate objects that are old and ready to be repurposed by clever people. This time, I was surgical about what went back, and we coupled it with the elimination or replacement of major furniture pieces.

I’m Marie Kondo-ing again, and this time, I’m getting into the artifacts of our life—gifts, trinkets, pieces that are out of style or frayed around the edges. It’s a difficult process, but it’s created a brand-new workflow in our house, which is in turn making my words flow.

Feng shui? Decluttering? Out with the old? I’m doing it all.

Leuchtturm Black Pen Loop

3. Lechtturm Pen Loops

These little beauties are sheer perfection. They stick to any notebook (permanently, so be forewarned) and fit my Palomino Pearls perfectly. I set up my a fresh Bullet Journal last week, and popped one of these in the back of my Habana, and off I went.

Steagle Laptop Webcam Covers

4. Steagle Laptop Webcam Covers

They’re watching…. You know they are….

For the longest time, paranoid me has used a stick-on silver star over my laptop’s camera, edging it off when I needed to Skype or FaceTime. I saw these recommended on Tools and Toys and decided to try them out. They work perfectly. Thin, unobtrusive, they slide open and closed easily, and don’t interfere with the lid. Now I can work with confidence, and there’s none of the sticky, nasty residue other methods leave behind. I got one for my iPad, too!

Being True to Myself

5. Being True to Myself

This isn’t a material item, but it’s something I am really plugging into. I’ve realized that I just don’t have the stomach for a lot of social media right now. I’ve been popping on, talking to my friends, doing some updates, then leaving and going off to read a book. My Lenten break really altered me this year, altered the way I work, the way I approach my Internet time. I am the first to admit I was succumbing to Internet addiction, and it’s not healthy. I decided to nip it in the bud now, before I get lost. To instead read books, to learn and form my own opinions and historical backgrounds, to help my brain heal from the blue backlight, and stay away from the vitriol of disagreement that never seems far away. I wasn’t back on Facebook for a week before I was being bullied by someone for refusing to get into the mud with them. That’s not what life is about. It’s not what life is for.

I’m not quitting social media, or anything so drastic. If anything, you may see more of me. I’ve simply found my balance with it, and with what I’m trying to accomplish as a human being, and in my interactions with others. Our lives are so short. Our hearts are so full. There are more ways to truly experience life that don’t involve the ubiquitous screen, and I am exploring them in new ways.

So here’s a little “Lokah Samastah Sukhino Bhavantu” for you today. “May all beings everywhere be happy and free, and may the thoughts, words, and actions of my own life contribute in some way to that happiness and to that freedom for all.”


Via: JT Ellison


Daily Tao ☯ 5.10.17

By J.T. Ellison

Very late to the blog tonight, but here I am, stuffed full of Barolo and branzino, the most delightfully delicate pears wrapped in prosciutto, and incredible chocolate and coconut soufflés, courtesy of my lovely publishers at Gallery Books. They took Catherine and me to dinner tonight after jam packed afternoon—a couple of interviews, lots of great meetings and planning sessions, and a champagne social with the most adorable cupcakes ever! There is really nothing cooler than meeting the people who take our manuscripts and turn them into the gorgeous creations you pick up at the bookstore. Book making people are the best people, I say. They sure do know how to eat!

Had a fun dinner with my agent last night, as well. We had a celebrity sighting — the most divine Isabella Rossellini — which I took to be a sign, as Catherine and I had just named a major character in THE BLOOD CABAL Isabella. What are the odds?

More Blood Cabal work tomorrow, then another lunch, two dinners and one drinks date with friends… I’m going to waddle home at this rate, with no voice (I’m still husky, coughing and sneezing. Better, but not great. I love adrenaline.) An image, right?

I hope your day was advantageous. Sweet dreams, my dears!

Via: JT Ellison


Daily Tao ☯ 5.9.17

By J.T. Ellison

And so it begins… Brit #5 is underway! Catherine and I met this morning, tossed around some ideas, and settled on a course of action. I had a yummy lunch with my awesome publicist at Má Pêche, then did a quick phone interview about LIE TO ME, in which we were wildly diverted by the appearance of garden gnomes (I swear, the codeine has not gone to my head!)

And now I’m ensconced in the hotel with a big cup of tea, a cozy sweater, and my fat notebook, pulling together the ideas we cooked up into a more cohesive format for tomorrow morning’s session. Today was ironing out motivation, tomorrow will be plot, plot, plot. Then publisher meetings all afternoon. Super fun!

When I’m starting a book, I go in with a series of questions which are, in essence, a glorified version of who, what, where, when, and why. The why is always the most important, and can be the biggest stumbling block. Villains can quickly become one-dimensional mustache twirlers if you’re not careful with their true motivations. For me, finding the why behind the villain/killer is the key to a successful story.

And I’m pretty sure we nailed it this morning. I’m excited to see where this takes us!

Hope your day was awesome!

Via: JT Ellison


Daily Tao ☯ 5.8.17

By J.T. Ellison

New York, New York! I love this place. The vibe, the people, the food… the moment I step out of the car in Manhattan I always feel so very alive.

Tomorrow starts the big brainstorm with Catherine for Book #5 of the Brit in the FBI series — THE BLOOD CABAL. I spent the weekend reading through a metric ton of research—I’ve been clipping stories and writing down ideas for a couple of months now. I made a lovely binder separated by topic to supplement my files in Evernote. (Hello, nerd!)

Nerds Unite!

I’m a big fan of online research, but there’s something settling about having a print back up, just in case. There is a lot to learn in order to make this book work, and I’m sure some of what I’ve cooked up will be replaced by bigger, grander ideas. When CC and I get together and start working, we’re rather combustible.

Trip up was just fine, though I’m still lacking in the voice arena. I have Chloraseptic, Halls, tea, cough medicine with codeine, and a massive bottle of water that’s being refilled constantly. I had to cancel my dinner plans tonight, which breaks my heart, but I’m afraid I might infect the world if I’m not careful. Caring is NOT sharing, am I right?

Hope you had a lovely day!

(Also, I’ve been hearing some of you are having problems commenting. If you are, please let Amy know so we can share the issue with Squarespace!)

Via: JT Ellison


Sunday Smatterings

By J.T. Ellison

Morning, gentle readers, welcome to Sunday! Did you have a good week? I’m a bit under the weather (more on that here) and have lost my voice. Which is going to be fun., considering all the talking upcoming this week. Regardless, I’m looking forward to a fun-filled week in NYC with Catherine as we start Brit #5, hang out with publishers, eat delicious food, and cause all kinds of tomfoolery.

Lots of links this week, so without further ado…

Here’s what happened on the internets this week:

9 Real Life Places That Inspired Classic Novels. Summer’s almost here! Time for a literary road trip, yes?

[VIDEO] Shades of Writing. Great advice (and a superb new video series) from one seriously smart author, V.E. Schwab. V’s the one who saved my latest manuscript by suggesting a tense change was in order. If I listen to her, shouldn’t you?

Why Lady Gaga Is Our Mental Health Hero. An incredible artist who uses her platform to share her struggle, help others feel accepted, and spread kindness. What’s not to love about Lady Gaga? This is too important a subject to be silent on.

How Jane Austen Continues to Inspire Romance Authors. Lady Jane is Queen of Everything forever and ever, amen. She inspires thriller writers, too. Just saying…

What I’ve Learned After 5 Years and 20 Books: 25 Lessons. Chuck Wendig may have a salty tongue (very salty, so be warned), but the lessons in this essay are good ones. I’ve preached many of these things on the Tao, especially #3 and #4.

Three Powerful Questions that Lift the Weight of “Too Much” and Anchor Us in Peace. Because learning to say no is so vital. Its a word I despise using, but the more I do, the easier my life is.

And Closer to Home:

A WORD ON WORDS with Adam Haslett. A fascinating discussion of writing the interior life, writing about hard things, and Adam’s unconventional journey to the craft. Adam Haslett is a down-to-earth genius. Seriously.

Author Assistant 101: The Best Tool I Use To Collaborate With My Author. Amy’s latest in her series for Author Assistants—or anyone looking to organize and communicate with others more effectively. This week she talks about the godsend of a program we use more than any other.

Daily Writing Tao 5.4.17. I missed writing my little daily vignettes, and according to a very nonscientific Facebook poll, you guys did too. So to keep me accountable as I get started on Novel #20, off we go again! Think of these as a logbook, a way to get my day and lingering thought beasties onto the page. I started up again on Thursday and haven’t looked back. Weekends off, natch, to accommodate this blog (and really, who wants to hear that I took a nap on the porch?)

Bonus Section: Contests!

Book Giveaway For Lie to Me. You have 200 chances to win an ARC of my new book, LIE TO ME. With odds like that, how could you not enter?

Enter to Win 50+ Crime Fiction & Thrillers PLUS a New Kindle Fire! Including ALL THE PRETTY GIRLS!

Enter to Win 50 Paranormal, Sci-Fi, and Fantasy Romances, 1 of 4 $25 Bookstore Gift Cards, PLUS a Kindle Fire or Nook Tablet! Including WHERE ALL THE DEAD LIE!

That’s it from me! Y’all be good this week, go pick some flowers for your neighbor, take a long walk with a friend or the dog, and we’ll talk again soon.


Via: JT Ellison


Daily Tao ☯ 5.6.17

By J.T. Ellison

All hail silence! Yes, I’ve lost my voice. It’s a super low grumble, and I can whisper without too much issue, but things aren’t looking good in larynx land. I’m guzzling tea, keeping it warm and loose, but if you have any suggestions, I’m all ears. This seems to happen once a decade for me, and ALWAYS at the worst possible time. As a matter of fact, the last time was when I was heading to NYC for Thrillerfest, when THE COLD ROOM was nominated. I won and had to give a speech with no voice. Fun times!

Tons of deep research today, especially on the Voynich Manuscript. The ideas are coming fast and furious as the historical timeline reveals itself, and I’m excited to hash them out with Catherine on Tuesday. I’m really digging writing these books with a historical tie-in. Gives the adventure so much more texture!

Hope your weekend is fun and peaceful!

Via: JT Ellison



By J.T. Ellison

So I’m feeling way under the weather today, which is terrible timing, considering I have to get on a plane in two days. It’s not going to be serious—I almost always get sick the moment I finish a book. It’s my body’s way of saying “HEY! You’ve been really mean to me lately, making me sit in one place and think so hard, so na-ne-na-ne-boo-boo, see how you like this.”

I mention this not to gain sympathy (though should you want to send tea, I’m not averse) but because Amy and I did a brief staff meeting today, and the ideas were flying fast and furious. She said, for someone who feels like crap, you’re FULL of good ideas today.

So I explained. You see, I’m used to this feeling of ick toward the end of a major project. I’ve actually finished more books than I care to admit while sick. Instead of it stopping me, I find it expands my mind, in a way. The crazy endings to my books? Very often the product of me not feeling well but sitting down to work anyway. Cool things happen, it seems. My preconceived parameters are pushed aside, and I just let it flow.

It’s a weird part of my process, but a part nonetheless. The takeaway? My creativity is sometimes enhanced when my physical body is trying to shut down. Your mileage may vary.

Research started today on vampires…. This is going to be a LOT of fun!

Sweet dreams! Oh, and since we might clinch the second round tonight… Go Preds!

Via: JT Ellison


A WORD ON WORDS with Adam Haslett

By J.T. Ellison

photo credit: Nashville Public Television

“I was someone who wrote endlessly in journals, not for an audience but because I needed to get stuff out, to get things in words.”

One day at lunch, I remember my cohost, Mary Laura Philpott, raving about a galley she had just read called IMAGINE ME GONE, which sounded like an utterly heartbreaking yet fascinating book.

Imagine my delight when we learned Mary Laura would get to interview the author, Adam Haslett!

IMAGINE ME GONE tells the story of Michael, his family’s eldest child, who suffers from depression and anxiety. The book is written from the POV of five family members, showing how Michael’s life deeply affects each person. Mary Laura and Adam talk about Adam’s interest in writing about the interior life, the unconventional way he came to the craft, and how he has integrated pieces of his own story into novel writing.

Via: JT Ellison



By J.T. Ellison

I rather miss my little daily updates, and a quick poll showed y’all did too. So to keep me accountable as I get started on a big new project (Novel #20!), off we go again!

I finished the revision of my newest standalone today. Right now, it’s called THE LOST ONE, though that might change. (And yes, I am wearing my battered Harvard T-shirt for the second time — don’t mess with a streak!) I happily only added a net 2000 words, so it comes in at 113,600. Probably 450 pages, all told. This book won’t be out until next year, so it’s not available or anything. But I wanted one in the hole, so to speak.

I sent the book to a couple of alpha readers, who are going to help me address an issue I’m concerned about (yes, even 19 books in, I still need advice from trusted friends), tidied up my office, then prepared a new Clairefontaine notebook. This one has a blue cover, and I always bring out my Brother P-Touch to print out the book title and series title.

This label reads: Brit in the FBI #5 — THE BLOOD CABAL. Cool title, right? Catherine and I are meeting up in NYC next week to get started.

Also took delivery of my new chair, which I’ve been coveting in a certain catalog for about six years. It is very pretty, and a lovely reward for writing two standalone novels in 9 months. We must celebrate all the things, right?

A little meditating and hip work to help clear out the old thoughts and welcome the new, then cracked the cover on the big fat research book! Hello, Voynich Manuscript, you sexy (heavy) beast.

Anything you want to know about, ask in the comments, and I’ll get the questions queued to answer as they come. Also, check out the cool organizational system Amy and I use to keep track of our world in this morning’s big blog!


Via: JT Ellison