Category Archives: JT Ellison

2.1.16 – Winter Pick-Me-Up Contest!

By JT Ellison

The Final Cut by Catherine Coulter

Goodreads Book Giveaway

The Final Cut

by Catherine Coulter

Giveaway ends February 08, 2016.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter Giveaway

Y’all, it’s February. The days are short, it’s cold outside, and it’s been a long time since I’ve eaten a vegetable that wasn’t shipped to Publix from South America.

I know, I’m just a ray of sunshine. I’m a riot at parties, too.

You know what we all need? A nice winter pick-me-up. And what’s a bigger breath of fresh air than a big ol’ free book to read by the fire?

If you’ve never read mine and Catherine’s A Brit in the FBI series, buckle up: I’m giving away three copies of the first book in the series, THE FINAL CUT. All you have to do is enter via the Goodreads portal above.

Good luck!

Via: JT Ellison


1.31.16 – Sunday Smatterings

By JT Ellison

Another Sunday is upon us — and can you believe it, tomorrow ushers in February? This month has flown by. I get lost in words sometimes and I look up to see a portion of life has passed with nothing to show but oodles of story. It’s rather surreal, time. One wonders just how fragile and flexible it truly is. We let a groundhog dictate the weather, maybe we need a time squirrel who can run backward and give us another 15 minutes a day. That would add up, don’t you think? (And yes, all this is a giant metaphor for OMG DEADLINE and bonus distraction, I have SQUIRRELS in my attic. Who can blame them, really. It’s nice and warm up there.) And speaking of small beasts, don’t forget to say bunny rabbits first thing in the morning — brings you good luck all month!

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

A beautiful read that might explain my earlier thoughts: Stealing Time. Don’t wait, people. Just don’t wait. Follow your dreams now.

My Broncos are going to the Super Bowl! Such a nail-biter of a game, and I’m so glad they beat Tom Brady. Just sayin’.

On the 30th anniversary of the day we lost the Challenger Seven, the Smithsonian had this remembrance. I was on my very first visit back to Colorado after we’d moved to D.C., and my father and I were sitting in the parking lot outside my junior high listening to it on the radio. I remember looking at him in horror, asking, “What does that mean? Did it blow up?” and the sadness etched on his face when he nodded. We hugged an extra long time before I went into school.

Writers, some solid advice here, including: “…treat the readers you have like they are the most special people on earth.” And other solid advice. Truly, without your readers, the ones you already have, you won’t have a career. Honor them, and they will honor you.

More for writers: looking for ways to develop a scene? Or maybe an outline? This article is for you. When I’m on deadline, a part of my brain is already disengaged and thinking about the next book, and I am going to try outlining it. Why not, right?

Book lovers: here are 99 ways you can spread word about the book you love. You may not think one person’s actions make a difference. But remember your chaos theory: one ripple in the ocean can be felt a world away. If you care about books, show your love! You have no idea how much we authors appreciate it when you do—when people can more easily discover our books, it makes all the difference.

Women & Booze: Is Everything We Know About Alcoholism Wrong?” This was fascinating. I didn’t know AA was originally for men only.

CBS has ordered a Nancy Drew pilot that features the super sleuth…as a 30-something NYPD cop. Um, what? (Hat tip to Laura Benedict)

“The Deep Space of Digital Reading.” This is why we shouldn’t worry about leaving print behind. Do we have what Nicholas Carr calls “the shallows”, our brains flitting from piece to piece, book to book, article to article, never fully delving and focusing and comprehending what we’re consuming? Perhaps. But I like this historical context, how reading has changed from verbal to silent, and our consumption changes along with it. Cool read.

And closer to home:

JT Ellison logo

As I’m on deadline, I’ve been thinking a lot about the writing process and this thing I do every day. Here’s a little inspiration for the frustrated creative: Endurance separates the published novel from the book in a drawer.

The Wine Vixen logo

We premiered a new segment on The Wine Vixen: a culinary travelogue! Each month, Amy and I will bring you a new restaurant we loved, either here in Nashville or found on our travels. First up: one of the best restaurant meals we had in 2015 right here in Music City.

Two Tales Press logo

And on Two Tales Press, in the spirit of Valentine’s Day, we debuted a new low price for MAD LOVE, our collection of… unconventional love stories, now available for $0.99.

That’s it from me! The February newsletter is coming out this week, chock-full of goodies and a pretty awesome slow cooker recipe. If you haven’t signed up, click here!


Via: JT Ellison


1.28.16 – On One More Word

By JT Ellison

I just saw a great ad for Beats wireless earbuds. The message — one more rep — really resonated with me.

“Just when I think I can’t go anymore, I think about those who doubted me. And I do just one more rep.”

One more rep. One more word.

This is how I approach my writing. When I think the well is dry, that there is nothing else I can squeeze out of a day, when I know it’s time to shut things down, I often find myself throwing down a few more words, or an idea for the next day, just something to push myself further.

One more rep. One more word.

Pushing yourself past the limits is where greatness comes from. Where ambition becomes success. Where careers are born. Where unpublished becomes agented, where agented becomes published. Where you publish that story yourself because you believe it will find an audience, and you’re proven right.

Where you throw off the mantle of can’t, and embrace can.

One more rep. One more word.

But how do you start? How do you follow your dream if you don’t know where to begin?

My yoga guru often reminds me that showing up to my mat is the most important part of my practice. I used to get annoyed, until I realized she was absolutely right. Even if I don’t feel like it, if I just roll out the mat, if I just show up, I invariable end up doing a few moves, which leads into a practice. It might be five minutes, it might be an hour. But I’m there.

One more rep. One more word.

The same approach works for a manuscript, or a canvas, or the project you’re dreading at work. Show up. Open that file. Write one word. Paint one brushstroke. Do it every day, and you’ll find the habit. Find the habit, and you’ll find yourself.

And when you think you can do no more, when your fingers hurt and your family needs you and you think you’re done, do one more.

Just one more.

Via: JT Ellison


1.24.16 – Sunday Smatterings

By JT Ellison

Hi, chickens! Keeping warm, I hope? It_snowed_a_lot in Nashville, the most in 13 years (I got a little more than 6″ at my place — a triumph!). It’s great motivation to stay inside because, as you know, I’m busily writing away, trying to finish the next Nicholas Drummond book. But I do love looking at glistening trees and flakes slowly falling. The world feels so quiet and peaceful.

Here’s what happened on the Internets this week:

It takes discipline to write: it really does. There are some days when the words flow out of me, and other days, I feel my muse is still sipping her morning tea, taking her sweet time to arrive as I beg her to show up. I’m always curious to see what others’ writing experiences are like, so I really enjoyed this: the daily word counts of 39 famous authors. (I try for 1000/day.)

Speaking of deadlines… did you know there’s a fancier word for procrastination? Akrasia. And this is why we don’t follow through on what we set out to do. Fascinating stuff.

Why yes, Sam Heughan, I will replay this clip of you reading Burns poetry 10 times today. And tomorrow. And the next day…

Harlequin is in the wine business! Have you tried any of these yet? I love the bottles.

I’m sure you’ll be shocked to hear that many of us suffered mightily from Blue Monday. Here’s how you beat it. And a thought — it you have any kind of Seasonal Affective Disorder, you may have a Vitamin D deficiency. You may want to add a supplement in during the long winter days, and see if it helps.

Do you enjoy browsing your local indie store? I do. I love walking in, chatting up the staff and getting their recommendations. Which is why I was so eager to help out another one of my favorite indies in need: Seattle Mystery Bookshop. If you want to help save a great neighborhood indie store, visit their Go Fund Me page.

And closer to home:

Heads up: the first two Samantha Owens books are now available in one convenient digital package. (And for only $5.99, too!)

Oh! Would you like a free ebook? My publisher for NO ONE KNOWS is giving free ebooks to peeps who sign up to be fans of my Simon & Schuster author page.

And like I said earlier, I mused about the agonies of deadline. Don’t get me wrong—I love my job. Love it, and am grateful for it every day. But man, deadline takes a lot out of you, and there are some days I walk around like a zombie.

The Wine Vixen

On The Wine Vixen, we learned that boxed wine can actually be delicious (YEP) and how to make mulled wine, a perfect snow day drink. Mmm…

Two Tales Press

And don’t forget: if you’re looking for Snow Day reads, you can get free samples of all the books on Two Tales Press!

Alright, loves, that’s all I’ve got for you. Stay warm, read all the things, and I’ll talk to you soon!


P.S. Don’t forget to enter my January contest: I’m giving away a signed hardcover of THE FINAL CUT and other goodies!

Via: JT Ellison


1.21.16 – On The Agonies of Deadline

By JT Ellison

I went to bed the other night and realized my hair was in the most gorgeous chignon, one I didn’t remember putting in. It had no clip, no barrette, just a perfectly tucked-in curve that my hairdresser would have trouble recreating. So what was holding it in place?

A golf tee.


I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. Because that’s the kind of absentmindedness that overtakes me when I’m on deadline.

Yep, it’s that time again. I have a book due in a couple of weeks. I am in an all-out sprint to make my deadline. Anytime my editors/co-writer sets a date, I say, “Sure, that’s doable,” with the kind of cocky swagger generally reserved for, well, cocky writers who are out of their minds and don’t do well saying no. And then it suddenly rushes up on me, and even though I’ve been writing for months, the word count isn’t where it should be, and it’s an unholy race against the clock to get the book finished.

I hate to miss deadlines. I’ve actually only missed one, and that was by two weeks. Not bad. Deadlines are a point of pride with me. I will cut off my arm to make one. It’s something I learned about myself early on, back in high school, and I’ve never lost it. Which is a good skill to have, but it can get me in trouble sometimes.

But sometimes, the story won’t work. Things happen. Life intrudes. Writers are human (humanoid, at least) and sometimes, a deadline can’t be met, for whatever reason.

When I read George R.R. Martin’s blog post about having to miss his deadline for his new novel, I was upset for him. I _know_ how hard it must have been for him to come to that decision. And what were the headlines screaming? George R.R. Martin Disappoints Fans

How incredibly unfair. Hey, I’m just a thrillerchick writing her heart out trying to make my deadlines. I’m never going to be at his level. I will never have the kind of pressure on me as he does. But I do co-write, and I do have an idea of how many people would be let down if I were to fail at meeting a scheduled date. That pressure is overwhelming, sometimes paralyzingly so (ahem – hence, we write blog posts to get the well refilled…).

Now consider the pressure Martin has — the level of scrutiny, the number of fans of both the show and the books, how HBO is banking on the next season/story blowing our socks off, and the publishing house knows they’re going to have a Very. Good. Year. which means they’ll be able to sign new authors and renew contracts for mid-listers, and maybe they can keep that editor on board whose head was on the chopping block after the last round of mergers, plus the bookstores… I could go on and on. You get it.

There’s a lot riding on a writer being able to make their deadline.

But take the business out of it for a moment — the sense of ownership readers have is incredible. It’s exciting. It’s also scary, because the last thing any author wants is to let down their fans. Neil Gaiman addressed this once in a spirited essay in which he told a disgruntled fan “George R.R. Martin is not your bitch,” scolding said fan for being antagonistic toward Mr. Martin because of his release pace.

But read Martin’s blog. Listen to what he’s saying. He is disappointed in himself. And when a writer starts into that spiral, it’s dangerous. I have been there, and I can honestly say, sometimes, if a book just isn’t shaping up the way its supposed to, the deadline can kill the creative spirit.

There is simply nothing worse than watching the days tick away. It’s not that you haven’t been working, been writing — on the contrary, you’re working on it all the time, but something is holding you back. Word counts are minimal, the book’s pace slows. Something is desperately wrong with the story and you can’t figure it out. Now add in the level to which he’s writing, the pressure he’s under… it’s amazing there’s going be a book at all.

I am so glad I’m not in his shoes.

But I am in utter and complete distraction mode. You want to know how bad it is? They paved my road. Over four miles of paving. I had no idea until I went to take the cat to the vet. How sad is that? I really didn’t think I’d been at home that long, but you know, with a sick kitten, no sleep, it becomes a blur of days, too many of which have the moments of sheer terror, when you look at the clock and realize it’s 2 p.m. and the day’s half gone and you’ve only written 1200 and OHMYGODWHATWILLIDOIFIMISSTHISDEADLINE…

If. Such a bitchy little word. Amazing what it can do to the writer’s psyche.

The last few weeks of a book are intense, stressful, and usually for me, a total blast. It’s strange to say, but I only feel like a real writer when I’m on deadline. My normal output averages 1000 words a day. On deadline, I average 3–4,000. I write in concentrated 2-hour bursts, with 5–10-minute rewards in between: Twitter check-ins, lunchtime TV, phone calls with friends. And then it’s back to it, balls to the wall, hair on fire and wrists literally rubbed raw from the edge of the keyboard.

My parents only get one call a day. The laundry is unfolded, dinners are brought in, and my poor sweet husband is walking around looking somewhat haunted, probably wearing underwear with holes, never knowing if his kind greeting will be met with a kiss or a demand for silence. But he knew what he was getting himself into when he married me, so I’m not as worried about that as I should be. The cats bring mice and drop them at my feet, which I feebly kick around for them whilst typing and staring into space.

As I’ve gotten older, every deadline brings its own unique twitch. They always start in the last two weeks, when I’m living, breathing, and crying the words onto the page, calling Randy at regular intervals to go through the what ifs, and checking the word count obsessively.

Once it was my eye. For book #7, it was my right forefinger. This time, it’s my left upper lip. When it gets noticeable, that’s when I know it’s time to pop an Ativan and drink a glass of wine. All I can do is try to get rest and exercise and push through to the end, and then it will stop.

Honestly, I wouldn’t trade this for the world. It’s… exciting, in many ways. Fun. A challenge. Pitting yourself against the clock, against your mind, against the story. Knowing that somehow, someway, a living, breathing book will come out of this.

But it’s rough, the last few weeks of a book. Physically, emotionally. So when I read Martin’s blog, my heart really went out to him.

And with that thought I leave you. I can still get another scene done before I have to go to bed and get up and do it all again.

Via: JT Ellison


1.17.16 – Sunday Smatterings

By JT Ellison

Hi, lovelies! How are you? I’ll admit, it hasn’t been the easiest week. But here’s a bright spot: thrillercat Jameson has been cleared to resume normal activities, so she’s out of her cone! Thank goodness. It was hard on all of us to keep the poor bunny confined.

And without further ado . . .

Here’s what happened around the Internets this week:

First of all, I’m heartbroken that cancer has taken two of our most talented men. I’m talking, of course, of David Bowie and Alan Rickman. I wrote about Bowie here on the Tao. And there’s no question: Alan Rickman was Snape. I think one of my dearest friends, Laura Benedict, summed up our collective grief quite well:

Careers have highlights and low places. When someone dies, most everyone remembers the highlights. The best of people. They forget that the person was a work in progress, a work that was different from project to project, day to day. The day after that person sang/wrote that favorite song, or acted in that favorite film, they probably went on to do something less, well, remarkable. They went on living their lives, working because it meant something to be working, whether we cared about it or not. Their possibilities were still delightfully possible.

Rest peacefully, sirs. We will certainly miss you.

Some writers have a ritual before they put pen to paper. I get it — getting words on the page takes discipline. But Hunter S. Thompson’s pre-writing rituals were more more unconventional than even I had originally thought . . .

It’s no secret that I love Dani Shapiro. Her writing is so beautifully lyrical and resonates so deeply with me—like this piece about the friend that got away. I know we’ve all had that person. Dani articulates this situation so well, it’s like she was inside my brain.

Go read AMERICAN HOUSEWIFE. Just trust me on this one.

I love a tool that helps me get the job done. I have a well-documented love of Wunderlist, so I was intrigued by this article—it explains why I love the melodious ding! that sounds when I check something off the list.

Speaking of handy tools: Mac people, do you long for a Gmail app so that you don’t have to contend with yet another tab cluttering your browser? Here you go.

I dunno about you, but I’d much rather buy something once at a premium than keep replacing a cheap product. Turns out, I’m not alone—and there’s a website to help people like me.

And score 1 for the indies: my hometown store, Parnassus Books, is expanding!

And here at home base:

JT Ellison logo

Um, I nearly fell out of my chair when BookBub named NO ONE KNOWS one of the “15 New Books to Read If You Love GIRL ON THE TRAIN!” And a few other people have been passing around ARCs of NO ONE KNOWS, and they’ve been saying some really nice stuff!

Two more months, you guys! I can’t wait to talk about this one with you . . .

Also, you need these potatoes in your life. OK? I can’t stress to you how delicious (and easy!) these are on a weeknight. Want more recipes? Sign up for the newsletter, and get a new one every month. Spoiler alert: next month’s is a killer slow cooker recipe . . .

The Wine Vixen logo

And on The Wine Vixen, Amy learned an important life skill: how to find delicious white wines at restaurants AND stay on-budget. And I indulged in a delicious Cabernet, brought to you by the same folks who make Grand Marnier (what!?).

Two Tales Press logo

Want some free book samples? Every product page on Two Tales Press is now equipped with a handy link that’ll let you peek inside the books. Happy reading!

That’s all from me. Y’all keep warm, make some soup (or, better yet, those rib-sticking potatoes!), and we’ll talk again soon!


Via: JT Ellison