Category Archives: JT Ellison

12.04.16 – Sunday Smatterings

By J.T. Ellison

Hello, darlings, welcome to December! Did you have a good week? The holiday season has definitely arrived: front doors are bedecked with wreaths, spruces peek out of living room windows, neighborhoods twinkle after dark. It’s a magical time of year, for sure. I try to savor the season as much as I can, try not to get caught in the checklists and party planning and tying the perfect ribbons. Because when you get caught up in the little things, you tend to lose sight of the big ones—like spending time with the people you love. That’s what holidays are made of, right?

Remember: you can do anything, but you can’t do everything.

At any rate…

Here’s what happened on the Internets this week:

This is the stuff Internet dreams are made of: an adorable cat video. If you’re having a bad day, GO WATCH THIS.

Speaking of heartwarming things, a bookstore in Michigan helps children who are timid readers by hosting a Reading with Zoey the Therapy Dog day in their shop. Be still, my heart.

In Illinois, a repo man paid off an elderly couple’s car… and gave it back to them. More of this, please, and not just during the holiday season.

November is always National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo, for short), and some writers adopt fun habits or locales to soldier through those 50,000 words they agreed to write. But these writers won… because they spent NaNoWriMo in a French castle.

Hey, fellow Potterheads, check out this amazing HP Christmas tree!

And closer to home:

The FIELD OF GRAVES paperback came out this week! 🎉 Grab a copy for you and a friend (because stocking stuffers, am I right?).

Big news from The Wine Vixen: the Netflix of wine has arrived. You’re welcome.

My December News comes out this week! Are you signed up to get it? If not, click here (and snag your free ebook).

That it from me! Go sit by a fire, grab a book and a hot beverage, and we’ll talk again soon.


Via: JT Ellison


12.01.16 – What I’m Into This Month

By J.T. Ellison

So my friends at She Reads do a great “What We’re Into” monthly blog topic that I thought I’d co-opt, because it’s very clever and very fun, and I’m restructuring everything here, so why not, right? Here goes.

What I’m Into This Month

My porch

It’s been a perfect Fall so far — cool but not cold, blue skies, and very little rain, so the cats and I have been out on the porch writing and ruminating. I am going to miss it once things turn cold (like today). There’s really nothing I like better than being outside and sheltered, especially during a rainstorm.

Harney and Sons Teas

I don’t drink coffee, so tea is my mainstay. I discovered Harney and Sons a few months ago and now have a full compliment in my cabinet. I do loose leaf, not bags, and they brew up consistently yummy every time. My favorite blend is two teaspoons of Earl Grey Supreme and one teaspoon Formosa Oolong. I also dig their Jasmine tea and add it to the Earl Grey for an afternoon treat.

Outlook for iOS

I have been a Gmail aficionado for years, but I discovered they are sending all the email from my website to trash (sorry if you wrote and didn’t receive a reply — please write again!). Since they aren’t playing nice with my website, I’m going to have to use Outlook for Mac for the foreseeable future. To prepare, I downloaded the Outlook app to my iPhone and iPad, and fell in love. It is clean, simple, beautiful, reliable, with some of the best customer service I’ve ever had. Plus, my calendar, contacts, and files are all in one place. I’m not in love with the Mac version, but it’s growing on me.

100% Pure Makeup

I have horrible allergies to chemicals, and have been having a terrible time lately with makeup, shampoo, and the like. I found this brand by accident, and I am absolutely in love. I bought the blush, eyeshadow and lip stain and was so impressed I’ve gone back for their coconut shampoo, too. 100% Pure means just that — literally no chemicals, all plant based. It’s certified vegan, and not terribly expensive, either. Win-win for us all.

Amazon Echo

Did you know that I’m a classical music junkie? I’ve tied my I Heart Radio to my Amazon Echo, and now beautiful music is only an “Alexa? Play a classic station” away. I know, I know, it’s super lazy of me, but it’s so convenient, and the sound on the Echo is wonderful. There’s something very fun and futuristic about having all of the news and music and shopping at my (voice) command.

What are you into this month?

Via: JT Ellison


11.29.16 – FIELD OF GRAVES is out in paperback today!

By J.T. Ellison

One of our favorite English language idioms is the phrase “Last, but not least.” It applies to today’s post because…

I am here to announce my last release of 2016 – FIELD OF GRAVES in paperback!

Last, but not least, because FIELD OF GRAVES (or FOG, as it is lovingly referred to at Chez Ellison) is the 6th release of the year. Yes, 2016 was a very, very busy publishing year for me. And this is it until March 14, 2017, so enjoy it slowly…

FOG was a very fun book for me, not only because it was the very first book I ever wrote, but because it was a SIBA Okra Pick!, received a starred Publishers Weekly review, and saw me out on the road across the country on tour. I had so much fun releasing this baby out into the world, and I’m so thrilled it’s now available in paperback for your enjoyment.

Click here for the official round-up of all the reviews and articles.

And in case you missed the hardcover release, here’s the scoop:

Taylor Jackson is back, y’all.

Get all of your questions answered (How did Taylor get her scar? How did she and Baldwin meet?), and say hello to your old favorites (Sam! Fitz! Marcus! Lincoln!) as they track down a madman trying to create his own apocalypse.

Enjoy revisiting Taylor and her team. And if you’ve already read FOG, might I suggest that it makes a fabulous, portable holiday gift…

Buy Yours Now!


Barnes & Noble



Via: JT Ellison


11.27.16 – Sunday Smatterings

By J.T. Ellison

Hello, gentle readers! Have you had a nice holiday? Eat lots of yummy things? I hope you have, and that you got to make some memories with the people you love, to celebrate traditions and make new ones. We had a low-key celebration here, followed by a shift at my lovely indie, Parnassus Books, on Small Business Saturday.

Do me a favor and show some love to your local indie, would you? There’s nothing like walking into a bookstore, browsing a shelf and finding something new to devour. Lots of work goes into putting that book into your hands, and indie booksellers inject a big dose of love into the mix that you don’t get from the click of a mouse.

That’s my two cents, anyway.

Here’s what happened on the Internets this week:

My friend Ariel Lawhon is one of the wisest people (and one of the most brilliant writers) I know. Her blog post this week is a must-read for anyone, regardless of age or profession. Simply wonderful advice.

Do you know where wine’s from? We at The Wine Vixen didn’t guess correctly… and we hadn’t heard of the varietals that call the region home. See, chickens—learning lasts a lifetime!

Utterly captivating: “How Jack Reacher Was Built.”

Quirk Books imagined a few Twitter rants from literary characters, and they are kind of spot on.

Y’all. Now’s the time to sign up for Fresh Fiction’s Limited-Edition Christmas box! They’re chockfull of goodies every month, fellow bookworm. But there might be a special surprise from yours truly in the Christmas box… just sayin’.

The Oxford English Dictionary named its 2016 Word of the Year. Have you heard of it?

And closer to home:

Have you been pinching your pennies waiting for the FIELD OF GRAVES paperback? Your patience is about to be rewarded: it’s finally coming out this Tuesday! Go here to snag your FIELD OF GRAVES paperback.

I had the best time with the ladies of XOXO After Dark, chatting about why we can’t put down thrillers, road trip snacks, NO ONE KNOWS, and more. It doesn’t get much more fun than this. Tune into our conversation while you run, while you laundry, while you’re online shopping… whenever!

One of my favorite things to do is to peek behind the curtain, to see how other writers make the magic. In the spirit of the giving season, I’ve put all my tools on display, the things that make my business chug along. Whether you’re a writer, a stay-at-home-mom, or a student looking for some productivity hacks, I’ve got you covered. My writing software, my research workflow, my favorite notebooks, pens, and pencils—I went full-nerd here. 🤓

That’s it from me! Enjoy the post-Turkey lull, welcome December with open arms, buy a copy of FIELD OF GRAVES paperback for you and a friend, and we’ll talk again soon!


Via: JT Ellison


11.24.16 – I am thankful for…

By J.T. Ellison

A leaf teacup spins,
Lazy in the air, falling,
The cold ground opens.

Today, we gorge on turkey and stuffing, football and family, and give thanks for all the bounty we receive. For that spirit of togetherness, I am most grateful.

2016 has been a very good year for me. I’ve signed new contracts, traveled all over the country, communed with friends and family.

I am so thankful, for so many things. Pencils and notebooks, words and songs, friends and foes (yes, foes, because if we all thought the same, the world would be a very boring place indeed).

I am thankful for the gifts I’ve been given, and the drive to create.

I am thankful I have a roof over my head and job security, that I’m surrounded by brilliant people who do nothing but enhance my life.

I am thankful for the soft fur of my twin kittens, and the strong arms of my husband.

I am thankful for my family, for their good health and continued cheery attitudes and support.

I am thankful for the phrase #keepreading and all those who are involved in A Word on Words.

I am thankful for the kind, generous readers who keep me in work, for award nominations and starred reviews.

I am thankful for the many incredible ways I can talk to you, through social media, and blogs, through books and shorts stories.

I am thankful for bookstores and libraries.

I am thankful for my health, and my mat and treadmill, that are keeping me in shape.

I am thankful for #TheKerr, without whom all things would be boring.

I am thankful that despite our differences, we can still be friends, still love and support each other.

And I am thankful for you.

Happy Thanksgiving, one and all!

If you’re looking to share your bounty today, may I suggest the Second Harvest Food Bank? It is a worthwhile and generous place, feeding those cold and hungry with no place of their own.

Also, this Saturday is Indies First. I will be working a shift at Parnassus to celebrate. Come by and say hello!

Via: JT Ellison


11.22.16 – Tools of the Writing Trade (with links!)

By J.T. Ellison

I spend a lot of time with my tools every day, and I often field questions from both writers and readers about what I use to make my business hum. I am an inveterate first adopter, so my tools have tended to change from year to year. Now, I have settled into a few very comfortable habits and tools that I use daily and weekly.

ACCOUNTABILITY: I use daily word trackers (i.e. Excel spreadsheets) from graphic artist Svenja Gosen. I love to track my progress, and using these gorgeous Excel spreadsheets has become a must for me. I use one for Fiction and one for Non-Fiction, and fill them in nightly. It makes my annual reviews so much easier to calculate!

WRITING ON THE LAPTOP: Scrivener is my go-to writing program. Highly scalable, easy to use, it’s the finest writing software available. Plus, their Project Target tools allow me to set a deadline and see exactly what my daily word count needs to be. Every book and treatment has their own Scrivener file, as well as a massive Tao of JT file for all the blogs. And a bonus, they’re now mobile!

WRITING ON THE GO: Scrivener for iPad – The best app invention ever, hands down. I love that I can write on the go without dragging my laptop and chargers along. It’s streamlined my process and lightened my purse!

ZONING OUT FOR SAID WRITING: Freedom. Oh, how I love Freedom. I use Freedom to turn off my access to social media, news sites, and other Internet worm holes so I can turn my brain on. I’ve written over a dozen books with Freedom in my life, and I hope it’s by my side as I write dozens more.

JOURNALING: Day One, which I use for a number of things, including journaling, keeping track of major events and minor triumphs, and capturing ideas. It’s beautiful and easy to use, plus syncs across all devices. It’s a great tool for remembering, too.

WEBSITE HOSTING: Squarespace – my web platform, where I host this blog, The Wine Vixen, and Two Tales Press.

TO DO LIST: Wunderlist is, pound for pound, the very best online To Do list and capture system. I spend half my day here. There is some redundancy with my calendar, but that’s fine by me, as I live in fear of forgetting an event of deadline.

PROJECT MANAGEMENT: Asana – for major project management/workflows that won’t fit within the Wunderlist construct. I am a relative newcomer to Asana, but my assistant and I use it for the many workflows we have for book releases and major project development.

ONLINE TOOLS FOR READING, RESEARCH, and SHARING (this is my actual workflow)

Feedly, my favorite RSS feeder, pulls in stories from my favorite blogs
Instapaper, I capture online stories here, then share to…
Evernote, where my research files live; or to…
Buffer, to share posts firsthand on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram, which shares just-posted content to my other Facebook and Twitter accounts
Emma, to send newsletters with fun recipes and book recommendations

CALENDAR: iCal (I have both online and paper calendars. I don’t like carrying a day planner, so I use my phone when I’m out and traveling) run through Google calendar. I use the Outlook app calendar, too.

PLANNER: Quo Vadis Habana, used as a Bullet Journal

Interestingly, two years ago, I switched to a daily calendar instead of weekly. It took a while, but I finally realized I was totally stressed by this daily accountability, and have switched back to weekly. My stress levels dropped immediately. I feel so much more settled! Crazy, right? The Habana is the perfect size — larger than a regular Moleskine, it fits my hand perfectly, can capture a few more lines per page, and the paper is fantastic — smooth, easy to write on, never bleeds through, and beautiful. I like paper you can pet.


Clairfontaine A5 spiral bound – idea capture, notes, book notebooks, research, planning — each book gets a notebook.


Midori Travelers Notebook – A lovely back-to-the-earth choice, I love throwing this in my bag when I’m heading out. The leather is stroke-able, the paper is smooth, and I always get compliments on it. When I’m traveling, there’s no sense taking five notebooks along, so it doubles as my writing notebook and my planner.

COMPUTER: iMac in the office, currently a 2013 13” MacBook Air laptop for writing, soon to be a 2016 13” MacBook—the all-day battery life is essential to my well-being.

PHONE: iPhone 6S in a Twelve South BookBook case

TABLET: iPad Air 2 in a Moshi origami case

EREADER: Kindle Voyage


Pilot Knight Fountain pen – beautiful, sturdy, a real workhorse
Sharpie Fine Point Pens – I especially like the blue
Pilot Precise v5 Pens – I prefer black
Blackwing Pencils in Pearl

It seems like a lot, but each tool has its purpose. Collectively, they make my life easier. I hope you find some of them useful!

Via: JT Ellison


11.20.16 – Sunday Smatterings

By JT Ellison

Hello, chickens. How are you today? Ready for turkey? It’s been a whirlwind around here, to say the least: edits (LIE TO ME is in production!) and family and Emmy® nomination parties (more on that below!) and pie-making and early Thanksgiving. Which was delicious!


It’s officially time for the holiday bustle. Pace yourself, dear ones. Like The Kerr says, you can do anything, but not everything. Remember that for the next six weeks. Or forever.

Here’s what happened on the Internets this week:

I’m still heartbroken over the loss of longtime excellent reporter and human, Gwen Ifill. She’s going to be impossible to replace.

Our newest Nobel Prize Winner in Literature, Bob Dylan, can’t make it to the awards ceremony. Like so many of us during the holiday season, he had a prior commitment. Hmm….

Are you looking to join a book club? I’ve got one for you: Modern Mrs. Darcy’s online bookclub! I spoke to them this week, and they are a fun, sharp group of bookworms. Check them out!

My favorite productivity app turned 1 this week! Happy Birthday, Freedom! 🎉

Jane. Austen. Mugs. Need I say more?

And closer to home:

I love writing. I love my job. But make no mistake: this is not a glamorous one by any means. Some days I wish I could snatch the Muse right out of the air so I could listen to her… but sometimes she has other plans. And I just have to deal. This week, I had one of those days.

I also nerded out over pencils.

Psst… the December newsletter comes out Thursday! Are you signed up? If you aren’t, plug in your email, and get yourself a FREE ebook!

Best for last. Y’all. You know the literary TV show I co-host, A WORD ON WORDS? Well. WE GOT NOMINATED FOR AN EMMY® THIS WEEK!!! I am verklempt. Hats off to our brilliant crew led by our intrepid producer, Linda Wei, and of course my lovely co-host, Mary Laura Philpott. Wanna see what the fuss is all about? Go watch some episodes!

That’s it from me! American chickens, have a blessed Thanksgiving, enjoy your turkey and loved ones, read a good book, drink some tea, pet a kitty, and I’ll talk to you again soon.


Via: JT Ellison


11.17.16 – Things I’ve Done Today Instead of Writing

By JT Ellison

Today was supposed to be one of those huge word count days. Instead, it is nearly 3pm, and I’ve written a single word. One.

As punishment, I present to you my day thus far, highlighting all the things I did instead of writing, in real time:

  • Sleep through my alarm
  • Love on the cats
  • Talk business with a friend
  • Skip my morning walk
  • Eat a lingering breakfast whilst researching a duplicate wine shipment (the horror)
  • Read the news
  • Read the news again
  • Complain on Twitter
  • Receive brilliant news from my editor
  • Call husband and parents to share said news
  • Text assistant to share said news
  • Check email
  • Write agent
  • Research what said news actually means
  • Complain to writer friends I am getting nothing done
  • Check email
  • Talk to husband again
  • Throw mice for the cats
  • Open manuscript. Type one word.
  • Check email
  • Decide to get lunch
  • As I leave, unmarked pizza delivery arrives
  • Decide pizza delivery man is really an assassin. Check neighbor’s Facebook to make sure they are alive, because NO ONE IS HOME TO GET THE PIZZA AND THE DELIVERY GUY IS STANDING ON THEIR PORCH WHAT THE HELL IS HE DOING?
  • Wait for pizza delivery guy to leave because ASSASSINS
  • Go to Subway for lunch
  • Read a book while eating stinky salad (stinky because tuna and onions, not stinky bad)
  • Order groceries
  • Heat up tea, get fresh water, take laptop to the porch
  • Find something sweet (spiced pecans)
  • Read the one word written
  • Listen to small child next door calling “Is anybody here?” (a game, I assume)
  • Read the news
  • Pet the cat
  • Check email
  • Facebook
  • Update my Goodreads queue
  • See I’ve only read 60 books this year, but am relieved to see I’m on track for the 70 I committed to
  • Look at stats on new book just released. Realize this is a very bad idea
  • Check email
  • See Parnassus Books Classic Bookclub is reading AND THEN THERE WERE NONE
  • Admire cover copy
  • Realize I am the last person on earth who hasn’t read Agatha Christie (again, the horror)
  • Order my first Agatha Christie novel
  • Check email—receive assurance from BFF I am not a hack
  • Decide to write a blog. Because if you can’t write, write about not writing, right?
  • Take a deep breath, turn on Freedom, and write*…
  • (Whilst writing, check email three times, prep and start dinner, and take three phone calls.)

5pm update

*and write… 1080 words. Hallelujah and hurrah! That’s 1080 fiction and 425 non-fiction. I’ve earned my walk!

Hey, it’s one of those days.

Via: JT Ellison


11.15.16 – Are you a pencil geek like me?

By JT Ellison

I am a pencil geek (not to be confused with a pencil-necked geek).

I’ve always loved pencils. For an OCD writer, the pencil is a must. I get anxious when I make mistakes on paper (also why the word processor probably saved my sanity) and having a way to eradicate the mistake as quickly and completely as possible is a YUGE thing for me.

In Toronto, during the marketing meeting, the pencil I was taking notes with became a bit dull. So I bent down and reached into my backpack as unobtrusively as I could, pulled out my sharpener, and proceeded to quickly sharpen my Pearl and continued taking notes.

A moment later I realized there was complete silence in the room.

I looked up from my note-taking to see everyone in the room biting their lips, on the edge of hysterical laughter.

“You have a pencil sharpener?” my editor asked, incredulous, and the whole room busted up laughing.

As I am the PROUD owner of a Blackwing Long-Point pencil sharpener and I have a trove of Blackwings in my (ahem) pencil case, pencils became the topic of conversation for several minutes. Which was awesome, not only for the historical context (Hemingway preferred pencil, as does Daniel Silva, both heroes of mine) but also the discussion of pencil styles, temperaments, lead, and erasers. I gifted my agent with a Blackwing and on we went, all warmer and happier than before.

Because that’s what pencils do. They make us happy. Which is why I love to use them.

Want to get started on Blackwing? Check this out.

And, leave me a comment, and I’ll draw at random and send the winner a box — and a sharpener — so you can get your geek on in your next meeting!

Nerd out, peeps!

Via: JT Ellison


11.13.16 – Sunday Smatterings

By JT Ellison

Another Sunday, this one much darker and colder than the last, as fall has finally settled in and (thank heavens) daylight savings is over. I’m not a fan of DST. I must be part bear — the longer nights and earlier sunsets means I sleep better, get up earlier, and am in general a happier camper. Isn’t that odd?

I spent the week relatively unplugged, working feverishly on the revisions of my new standalone novel. Thursday night I spoke to my alumni association (RMWC, represent!), a fun night dredging up memories of the people who told me I wouldn’t ever get published (HA! I say. So there!) but I’ve been home the remainder of the time typing and petting the cats, so I’m in turns stir crazy and ready to sleep for a week. One fun thing, we have a new title, and a new release date. Ready?

LIE TO ME will appear on shelves September 5, 2017.

I do have to share one great mistake:

Typo I just found: She died of a heroine overdose.

And with that, here’s what happened on the Internets this week:

The quite divine Parnassus Books is celebrating their 5th anniversary. I can hardly believe it’s been five years, and I am so honored to call them my home store. Happy Anniversary!

I know we’ve all done our Meyers-Briggs tests, but I particularly like this site’s in-depth analysis. Which one are you? (I’m an INTJ, btw.)

You’re not dreaming: turning the clock back an hour takes a toll on your mental health. Here’s how.

The answer to many of life’s questions is “be more like Beyoncé.” Wherever you are on the Beyoncé spectrum, I think you’ll agree she does social media the way we probably all should.

Two of my favorite things combined: Harry Potter yoga!!!!!

These giant flip books in the middle of the woods in New Hampshire are mesmerizing.

And closer to home:

On the Tao this week, Amy and I came up with 40 things to take your mind off the election (still valid), and I talked about my recent trip to visit my publisher (spoiler alert: click for book news!).

There’s still time to enter to win a copy of NO ONE KNOWS, plus 30+ more thrillers + a Kindle Fire!

And Leonard Cohen passed. Hallelujah is one of my favorite songs. So I leave you with the SNL version. That’s all I have this week. I love you, I stand with you, and we’ll talk again soon.


Via: JT Ellison