Category Archives: JT Ellison

8.9.15 – Sunday Smatterings

By JT Ellison

There were lots of things going on in my world last week!

First of all, hats off to the courageous, competent Metro Nashville Police Department for neutralizing what could have been such a tragic situation.

The poli-sci geek in me was having a field day this week over Nashville’s municipal elections. Taking the future of your local community in your own hands is critically important, and I can’t wait to see how this mayoral campaign shakes out and (hopefully) moves Nashville to even greater heights.

In the publishing realm, have you been following author Steve Hamilton’s saga? Earlier this week, Hamilton announced his departure from St. Martin’s Press, citing a lack of support in his publisher’s marketing plans, and signed with Putnam (with whom Catherine and I publish the Nicholas Drummond series). It’s hugely unconventional for an author to buy back their rights, pay back their advance, and exit a publishing house so close to a new book’s pub date. It’s a bold move, but ultimately it’s one that should pay off for Hamilton–and his readers.

What exactly happens between me typing “the end” on a manuscript to you holding the book in your hands? The lovely Diana Gabaldon explains it ain’t no small task.

Did you read GO SET A WATCHMAN? What did you think? Well, if the novel was something different you envisioned, then you’re not alone. And if you bought the book from this Michigan bookstore, your pocketbook might be in luck.

I’m all about working smarter, so I was really digging this blog post on habits of highly organized people. So many good nuggets in here.

Are you people watching True Detective Season 2? Good grief, this plot’s convoluted. Just . . . no.

Looking for a surefire way to get your favorite author’s next book? You can “follow” them on Amazon, and you’ll never miss another book again. This should greatly enhance your status at the watercooler, as your friends and colleagues deem you “the font of culture” for knowing all the things. Who doesn’t want to be the font of culture?

I like free things. You like free things. I like books. You like books. My publisher MIRA is blending all of these wonderful happenstances into one nice giveaway, celebrating the summer season with some reading goodies and 10 fabulous books (one of which is written by, ahem, moi). Go get you some free stuff!

And this week on the Tao, I had the privilege of hosting my longtime friend and wicked talented singer/songwriter/musician, Les Kerr, in a musical edition of 7 Minutes With…

And, of course, here’s an overview of what happened in book world this week.

That’s all I’ve got. Keep reading, folks!

Via: JT Ellison


8.6.15 – 7 Minutes With… Les Kerr

By JT Ellison

I’m so happy to do something a bit different, and welcome my friend Les Kerr to the blog today. Les and I go way, way back, to my pre-writer days, when my husband worked for The Tennessean alongside Les’s most wonderful (and, sadly, late) wife, Gail Kerr. This friendship has stood the test of time through festivals and libations and conferences, with joy and heartache as constant companions. Les is an incredible singer/songwriter/musician, who plays gigs all over the south. If you ever have a chance to see him play, don’t miss it. He’s wonderful, and I’m so happy to introduce you to him today!


Set your music to shuffle and hit play. What’s the first song that comes up?

“Silver Lining” by Kacey Musgraves

Now that we’ve set the mood, what are you working on today?

Preparing for a radio interview this afternoon and a songwriting show tomorrow.

What’s your latest album about?

The title song of the album is called “Contributor.” I was inspired to write it by the men and women who sell Nashville’s street newspaper, The Contributor. The album is a collection of songs about various topics, including the late New Orleans poet Everette Maddox (who was a friend of mine), trains, grief, the importance of a handshake, and other subjects. Of the ten albums I have recorded, only two are about a recurring theme: Christmas on the Coast (2002) and New Orleans Set (2010).

Where do you write, and what tools do you use?

I scribble ideas whenever I get them on anything from paper napkins to the pad I keep in my car. Ideas have occurred to me in conversations, restaurants, bars, while driving and even in the shower. After I settle on the idea, I work them out and seriously in my home office. I use a legal pad, a pen and my guitar. My favorite songwriting pen is a wooden fountain pen my wife gave me on our first anniversary, but if I’m travelling or it’s out of ink, any pen or pencil will do as long as I can get my thoughts on paper.

Since I don’t read music, I often record the lyrics and melody on a hand-held Tascam digital recorder as soon as I find what I’m happy with so I won’t forget the melody.

What was the first album that struck a chord with you? (pun completely intended)

Elvis’ Golden Records by Elvis Presley.

What’s your secret talent?

When I was growing up on the Gulf Coast, sailing was my sport. While it’s been a long time since I was an active sailor, I could probably dust off those skills and handle a boat. Many people do not know that about me, so I suppose that would be a “secret.”

Which album or artists have been pumping through your headphones lately?

I wore headphones during my radio news career and use them in recording studios now, so when I listen to music for pleasure, I prefer to listen to speakers. The music in my car, where I listen the most, right now includes Kacey Musgraves’ Same Trailer, Different Park (she is a refreshingly moving and entertaining songwriter), B.B. King Live, Elvis Presley (his first RCA album), Jimmy Buffett, Louis Prima, and Lester Flatt and Earl Scruggs.

When did you know you wanted to be a musician?

I can’t remember not wanting to be a musician. As a child, I stood in front of the television set imitating whoever was on (my mother’s bridge club friends loved that!), then singing along with records and eventually learning to play guitar and starting a rock and roll band in high school. After getting a degree in journalism from Ole Miss and working in news for seven years, I made the commitment to move to Nashville and pursue music professionally.

Who is your music idol? Have you met him/her? If so, did you completely nerd out or keep your cool?

There are many musical heroes to me. Elvis Presley was the biggest one and I regret that I never met him. I did see him perform in concert three times, and I am grateful for that.

I’ve actually met a few of my other heroes: Roy Acuff, Bill Monroe and B.B. King. With Acuff and Monroe, I interviewed them during my radio career, so it is my hope that I was cool (on the outside, at least). With B.B. King, I was able to shake his hand and chat with him on two different occasions. Each time, we talked about being from Mississippi and had very pleasant and brief conversations.

What’s your favorite bit of performing advice?

Here are two pieces of advice that I have tried to live by:

1. When Minnie Pearl was nervous about her first appearance on the Grand Ole Opry, the “Solemn Old Judge” George D. Hay, the founder of the Opry, told her, “Go out there and love the audience, and they’ll love you back.”

2. In Will Rogers’ autobiography, he writes: “I learned the secret of the show business: I learned when to get off. It’s the fellow that knows when to quit that the audience wants more of.” I put that one in a little frame and I keep it on my desk. It not only applies to performances, but I use the same philosophy when I write my blog.

What do you do if your creative juices aren’t flowing?

As I mentioned, I write ideas on scraps of paper and I keep a stack of them on the coffee table in my office where I write. If none of those ideas move me, I pick up my guitar and just start playing songs I enjoy, whether I wrote them or not. It was the joy of music that got me here and it helps to remember that.

Also, I read a lot. Everything from books about professional and personal development to biographies and books on various topics, like the history of New Orleans’ unusual street names.

Finally, I try not to put myself under any pressure to write. I’m a performer, too, so if I don’t have a song to write, I work on my guitar playing or singing.

Are you creatively satisfied?

I am happy that I can write songs and find outlets for them to be heard, either on my albums or by playing them at shows. That is very satisfying and something for which I am very grateful.

What would you like to be remembered for?

Just being remembered is enough, but specifically, I would hope people remember that I care about my friends, family and loved ones. I do my best to show that now.

Alright, now for the really important questions:

  • Beach or mountains? Beach
  • Coffee or tea? Coffee
  • Skydive or bungee jump? Neither. I’ll stay in the plane or on the ground.
  • Chocolate or vanilla? Chocolate
  • Winter or summer? Summer
  • Cake or pie? Pie
  • Cats or dogs? Dogs
  • Pens or pencils? Pens
  • Truth or dare? Truth
  • Mp3’s or vinyl? Vinyl


Here’s a little more about Les’ new album!

Contributor” is the title song of Les Kerr’s new CD, scheduled for release in Summer 2015. In addition to the title song, eleven other songs not related to the newspaper will be included. The subject matter of Kerr’s songs reflects the Mississippi and New Orleans influences identified with his music. A native of the Mississippi Gulf Coast and a frequent traveler and performer in New Orleans, he refers to his music as “Hillbilly Blues Caribbean Rock and Roll.”

The blues influence is evident in “The Blue and White,” inspired by a diner in the Mississippi Delta. His love of New Orleans music and culture is reflected in “More to Life” and “Inspiration and Bar Scotch,” and Coastal culture comes through in “The Gail” and “Seductive Eyes.” The album will be available at and though Tunes, Amazon, and other internet download sites.

You can watch the music video for “Contributor” here:

Via: JT Ellison


8.2.15 – Sunday Smatterings

By JT Ellison


Go Set a Publication Date – super cute piece by author Mardi Jo Link about the nightmare of having your release date up against a legendary book. http://www.

Some inspiration from Don Winslow@donwinslow, whose book THE CARTEL is absolutely killing it, and being made into a movie with Ridley Scott directing: “Dear aspiring writers: It took me 19 books and several decades to have this terrific year with The Cartel. Keep writing. Never give up.”

Some excellent, calming advice from Mind, Body, Green: 3 Zen Principles That Will Rock Your World (And Make You Happier!)

Tools and Toys ( a blog you should be reading if you like elegant, cool things) has a great list of books that everyone should read. Some old faithfuls and some new ones, too, but all in all, a great list: Some of Our Favorite Reads

As an introvert, Everything I Am Afraid Might Happen If I Ask New Acquaintances to Get Coffee was both hysterical and hit very close to home for me. http://

A couple of links to things from the Tao this week:

7 Minutes With… my dear friend Kim Law

And some major news on the Nicholas Drummond Brit in the FBI front – a TV deal! 7.28.15 – The Kind of News I Like To Share

Finally, as always, this week in publishing: News From the Book World

Via: JT Ellison


7.30.15 – 7 Minutes With… Kim Law

By JT Ellison

So happy to have my buddy Kim Law on the blog today! Kim is a Nashville romance writer who astounds me with her productivity, amuses me with great stories of writers writing pantless (come on, we all do it, but Kim’s stories turn it into a high art!), and always finds time to smile. She’s a sharp cookie who knows exactly which heartstrings to pluck with her stories. I love giving away her books because she’s just so lovely, and the books are so lovey! Meet Kim, y’all!


Set your music to shuffle and hit play. What’s the first song that comes up?

Something soft and probably boring. (My taste in music disgusts my husband. 🙂 )

Now that we’ve set the mood, what are you working on today?

Today I’m finishing up edits for my third Turtle Island book. ON THE ROCKS is set to come out January 12, and was (strangely) an “easy” book for me to write.

What’s your latest book about?

My latest book, MONTANA CHERRIES, is about a daughter who’s devoted her adult life to helping raise her five brothers and is finally getting her chance to chase her own dreams. But before she can depart from her family cherry orchard, she learns secrets about her family, uncovers buried memories that leave a lasting scar, and finds herself caring more than she expected to for old friend (with sexy green eyes). All of it leads her to question her motives for leaving Montana, and makes her take a close look at her own life.

Where do you write, and what tools do you use?

I write in several places, but the thing that’s working the best for me right now is to get out of bed and sit in the glider in my bedroom corner, laptop open, and blinds drawn. If I can do that before leaving the bedroom and “starting my day,” then I can get in two – three hours of new words. Editing is done at my desk in my office (with the door closed), and occasionally I can be found on the sectional on my covered desk—when it’s not too muggy and there aren’t too many mosquitoes out!

What was your favorite book as a child?

Would it be sad to say THE THREE BEARS? 🙂 That was my first favorite book! My grandmother used to read it to me all the time (before I could read), until I could recite it word for word.

What’s your secret talent?

Hmm . . . I’m not sure I have a secret talent. I’d love to have one, though. I’d love to be able to read people’s thoughts on command. I think it would help with getting thoughts and feelings right in my books. Plus . . . I’d just like to know what they’re thinking from time to time. 😉

What book are you reading now?

I’m reading three books right now: 1) Marie Force’s ALL YOU NEED IS LOVE, 2) A debut novel . . . DIAMOND LEGACY, by Monica McCabe, and 3) I’m listening to BIG LITTLE LIES by Liane Moriarty. (And I used to say that I could only read one book at a time!)

Who is your writing idol? Have you met him/her? If so, did you completely nerd out or keep your cool?

Nora Roberts is my writing idol. (And Stephen King, but since I write romances, I’ll say Nora.) I have met Nora at a book signing, and I was brought to tears. It was embarrassing. Especially when she looked at me as if I’d grown a second head. And I’ve seen Stephen King’s house but, sadly, not him.

What’s your favorite bit of writing advice?

Accept that it isn’t easy. Writing good books is very hard work, yet extremely rewarding. Suck it up and keep diving in until you get it right. Then sit back and be proud as heck when you’re finished! Until you start the next one . . .

What do you do if the words aren’t flowing?

Whine, eat something bad for me, and take a nap. But usually if the words aren’t flowing, something is wrong with the story. I need to step away (though I should really lay off of the sugar), and just ignore it for a bit. Often when I lay down and close my eyes, the answer (or problem) easily reveals itself.

Are you creatively satisfied?

Yes, only . . . I want more. I love writing so much, but the more I write, the more stories that come to me. So it’s frustrating that I can’t write fast enough to get them all out.

What would you like to be remembered for?

Mostly for being a good, caring person. But also, for writing exceptional books. 🙂

Alright, now for the really important questions:
Beach or mountains? Beach—though I love mountains, too!
Coffee or tea? Neither. Detest the taste of both.
Skydive or bungee jump? Haven’t done either yet, but would love to skydive.
Chocolate or vanilla? Boring. But if I have to choose, then chocolate.
Winter or summer? Fall ☺
Cake or pie? Cake!
Cats or dogs? Cats. They understand that I want to be left as alone as they do.
Pens or pencils? Pens
Truth or dare? Hmmm . . . I think truth. I’ll share anything, but dare me to eat something nasty and we’ll have to end our friendship.
Print or ebook? Ebook.


Kim Law

As a child, award-winning author Kim Law cultivated a love for chocolate, anything purple, and creative writing. She penned her debut work, “The Gigantic Talking Raisin,” in the sixth grade and got hooked on the delights of creating stories. Before settling into the writing life, however, she earned a college degree in mathematics and then worked as a computer programmer. Now she’s living out her lifelong dream of writing romance novels. She’s won the Romance Writers of America’s Golden Heart Award, has been a finalist for the prestigious RWA RITA® Award, and has served in varied positions for her local RWA chapter. A native of Kentucky, Kim lives with her husband and an assortment of animals in Middle Tennessee.

You can connect with Kim online at:

And here’s a little more about Kim’s latest book, MONTANA CHERRIES!

After her mother’s tragic death, Dani Wilde had no choice but to abandon her dreams. She left Columbia University and returned to her family’s Montana cherry farm, intent on being a maternal figure to her brothers. Now the kids are grown, and it’s finally her time to fly. Her sights are on New York City, and nothing will stop her—not even an old flame with gorgeous green eyes.

Celebrity photographer Ben Denton hasn’t seen Montana in years—and hasn’t spoken to Dani since “that night” so long ago. When he discovers he’s a dad to a four-year-old—and the child’s mother refuses to care for her—Montana and the Wilde farm spring to mind. The orchard is the only place that’s ever felt like home, but will the warmth of the Wilde family be enough to help Ben figure out how to be a father?

As the Wilde family gathers for the yearly cherry harvest and Dani struggles to figure out what she really wants in life, she discovers the shocking truth about her own mother—and learns that following her heart may lead her to her dreams after all.

MONTANA CHERRIES is available in paperback at Barnes & Noble, Books-A-Million, and Powell’s Books, and is also available as a Kindle Book.

Via: JT Ellison


7.28.15 – The Kind of News I Like To Share

By JT Ellison

Some super fun news to share with y’all today — as announced in Publishers Marketplace.

July 27, 2015 – THE FINAL CUT and THE LOST KEY by Catherine Coulter and J.T. Ellison

Television rights:

Catherine Coulter and J.T. Ellison’s NYT bestselling A Brit In The FBI series, including THE FINAL CUT and THE LOST KEY, to Amber Television producing with Endemol Shine International distributing, by Erica Spellman Silverman on behalf of Robert Gottlieb at Trident Media Group.

Talk about fun! More news as we have it.

Now you REALLY want to pre-order THE END GAME, don’t you???

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Books-A-Million | iBooks | Indiebound | Kobo

Via: JT Ellison


7.27.15 – THE END GAME Is Coming… excerpt & Giveaway!

By JT Ellison

If you can believe it, there is another book soon to be born. THE END GAME, the third Brit in the FBI novel, releases September 15, and the reviews have been fantastic so far.

To whet your whistle, read on for a short excerpt. You’re going to want to pre-order this puppy, trust me!

And when you’re done, tell me your favorite British expression in the comments to be entered to win an advanced reader copy of THE END GAME!

“In nonstop action covering less than a week, Caine and Drummond are challenged as never before, taking both their personal and professional relationships to new levels. This third in the series is an adrenaline-fueled caper that’s hard to put down. Another hit for the team of Coulter and Ellison.” – Booklist – Starred Review

“Suspense lovers can rejoice at the third fantastic installment of the A Brit in the FBI series. This talented duo continues to produce books that are incredibly complex, filled with layered characters and heart-stopping in their suspense. Nicholas Drummond and Mike Caine’s growing partnership helps anchor the flat-out intensity of the action set-pieces. It will be a long wait for the next installment!” – RT 4.5 Stars Top Pick!

“The third in the series featuring the brilliant Brit adds scary technology to physical action to produce a tip-top thriller.” – Kirkus


The End Game — by Catherine Coulter and J.T. Ellison

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

United States-Mexico Border
Three Months Ago

Zahir Damari watched the coyote turn to face the ragged band of Hondurans on the sloping Texas side of the Rio Grande. As the last Honduran climbed up the bank, pulled up by his father, Zahir saw hope now dawning on the dirty faces, saw the relief in their tired eyes at surviving the nightmare trip. They’d made it; they were in America.

The coyote, Miguel Gonzales, eyed them with contempt–nothing new in that, he’d treated this group with unveiled scorn since the beginning of their trek eight days before. Gonzales stuck out his hand to the leader of the group, an older man, a father of two younger sons. He waggled his fingers.

“Pagenme porque ustede son unos miserables.”

He wanted the other half of the money owed. No, the thieving scum wanted more. Gonzales had upped the payoff. He saw the Hondurans’ shock, their fear, saw them talking among themselves, voices rising.

Gonzales pulled a pistol, aimed it at the group, and held out his hand again.

Zahir smiled at Miguel Gonzales, a brutal man with stained teeth and black eyes that reflected Hell. He walked up to him, his hand outstretched with bills, and as the coyote grabbed them, Zahir stepped in quickly and gently slipped his stiletto into Gonzales’s filthy shirt. Gonzales didn’t make a sound because Zahir’s knife was always true. It slid under the breastbone, directly into the coyote’s heart. Gonzales simply looked up into Zahir’s face, dropped the pistol, fell on his side, and died in the mess of dry shrubs.

The Hondurans were frozen in place, too terrified and shocked to move. Zahir leaned down, pulled out his stiletto, cleaned it on Miguel’s’ filthy jeans. He calmly went through Miguel’s pockets, pulled out a big wad of bills, handed them to the young woman closest to him, and smiled.

Buena suerte“–good luck–and he gave them a salute and walked away, toward El Paso, only three miles to the north.

The day was brutally hot, but he didn’t mind since he’d been raised in the worst desert heat imaginable. In his shirt pocket was a small notebook filled with information and strategy from Hezbollah’s top enforcer, Hasan Hadawi, called the Hammer, about a brilliant young scientist named Matthew Spenser, and how Zahir could use him to help cut off two heads of the hydra. It made Zahir’s heart speed up to think about the actual doing of it, the awesome pleasure that would course through him when he’d succeeded.

Zahir knew most of the intel and strategy was from Hadawi’s Iranian master, Colonel Vahid Rahbar, openly committed to the obliteration of anyone who wasn’t a Shia, which would leave a small world population indeed, Zahir thought.

Zahir knew Spenser and his small group were hiding near Lake Tahoe. Spenser, according to the Hammer, had gone off the rails years before when his family had been killed in London’s terrorist subway bombing in 2005. Now he led a small group called Celebrants of Earth, or COE, their goal to eliminate oil imports from the Middle East, but no murder, no casualties. The idiot ideologues, Zahir thought. Until recently, the group had operated in Britain and Europe, blowing up small to mid-sized oil refineries, small crap. But now they were here, in America, their message to the media after each bombing always the same:

No more oil from terrorist countries or you will pay the price.

Both the Colonel and the Hammer believed Spenser was an unsophisticated anti-Muslim zealot, and ripe for manipulation. Over the Hammer’s favorite gin and countless French Gauloises, he’d told Zahir to become Matthew Spenser’s best friend, his mentor, a man he would come to trust implicitly, a man he would follow. “You will gently mold and manipulate this fool’s penny-ante goals until they become your glorious ones”–that is, until Spenser became a murderer, Zahir thought, and knew it would be a challenge, but one he would win. Zahir knew he wasn’t as smart as Spenser in science, but he was years beyond Spenser in strategy, planning, execution, and sheer balls. But unlike the bare-fisted Hammer, Zahir was never guilty of underestimating an opponent, or reducing him to faults and weaknesses and strengths. He knew when to use a hammer, when to use a simple lie.

It was over the Hammer’s fourth gin that he’d told Zahir with a snicker that Spenser might have a possible weakness–a woman named Vanessa, a beauty, late twenties, red hair, milk-white skin, and blue eyes, and the Hammer showed him a photo of her. She hardly fit the image of a wacko bomber, but the Hammer assured him she’d been building bombs with an Irish IRA git named Ian McGuire and his faction. Both groups hated what they saw as radical Islam’s encroachment into their world, and according to the Hammer, this common cause united them.

With another snicker, he told Zahir the woman and Spenser were probably lovers and his grin split his mouth wide enough to see the gold filling in his back molar. He suggested Zahir seduce Vanessa away from Spenser, but Zahir couldn’t figure out what that would gain him, certainly not Spenser’s trust and friendship. He would see.

But it was Iranian colonel Vahid Rahbar who’d told him his most important goal: to steal Spenser’s amazing invention, a bomb that looked like a gold fifty-cent piece, no larger, and, according to their sources, would be undetectable. Nearly perfected, they’d heard, and the minute it was perfected, he wanted it. The colonel had rubbed his hands together. “You, my friend, will light the fuse that will begin the war, then we will explode their cities, kill millions, and none of them will even know how it was done. Our casualties–it is nothing compared to what we will gain. When it is all over, we will rule the world.” Unspoken was Shia will arise from the ashes and control the earth’s destiny.

Zahir didn’t really care if Shia ran the world or if Buddha took over. His specialty would always be in demand.

He whistled as he got into another stolen car, lifted from a side street in Reno. He would steal another car in a place named Incline Village, drive into the Sierras, and find Spenser.

He wondered which head of the hydra he’d manipulate Spenser into killing–the president or the vice president.

The game was about to begin.


Chapter 4 – Pawn to G6
Bayway Refinery
Elizabeth, New Jersey

They arrived on scene along with most of the first responders. Mike speeded through the gates of the refinery, onto the long road leading to the huge converters, closer and closer to the fire. When the road ran out, blocked by a large chunk of metal, she pulled to a stop and flew out of the car, running toward the flames, Nicholas beside her, both dodging the debris still raining down. Nicholas grabbed her arm, jerked her back to him. He pulled off his leather jacket, ripped off his shirt sleeve, and wrapped it around her face. “Tie it tight.”

He ripped off the other sleeve and covered his own nose and mouth. Still, the choking black smoke seeped in, making them wheeze and cough. And then they were off. It was like running through a battlefield toward a wall of flames, he thought, as he shrugged his jacket back on. It wasn’t much protection, but some. Mike was wearing her motorcycle jacket, heavier than his, and that was good.

They sucked in their breaths and kept running. he heard Mike scream, “Over here, Nicholas!”

He changed course, dodging flying rubble, banging his hip against a concrete pylon, there to ensure the security of this place, only it hadn’t done any good. The bombers had gotten in despite all the safety precautions.

Nicholas saw a man pinned under a piece of the wreckage. His skin was deathly white and blood seeped from his legs, black in the night.

Nicholas moved behind the man, nodded to Mike. “One, two, three,” she yelled, and Nicholas pulled up the stinging hot metal burning his hands, heaving with all his strength while Mike tugged the man clear. He dropped the metal back to the ground with a crash barely heard in the hellish chaos around them.

“Bloody hell.” He shook his hands, rubbed them together, wincing at the blisters that had popped up. he hadn’t thought to get gloves from the car’s boot, lame brain that he was.

“There’s another man over there!”

Nicholas saw a large chunk of metal sticking out of the man’s neck and the odd angle of his head. “He’s dead. Keep moving.”

Mike swallowed, nodded. They wound their way closer to the center of the blast site. The heat was incredible, the flames shooting madly into the night, singeing their arms and hair, but they kept moving, picking through the rubble, looking for survivors.

‘here’s one,” Nicholas shouted, and they dragged the man free, picked him up by arms and legs, and ran him back to where firemen had set up a protected space for the arriving EMTs to tend to the wounded.

They lost count of the men they’d carried back to the staging area. Finally a firefighter stepped in their way, hands up.

“Hey. Stop, both of you. I don’t know who you are, but you don’t have the right equipment. Get back away from here, now. I don’t want the two of you hurt as well.”

Mike shouldered her way past him. “These men are going to die if we don’t get back in there. Help us or get out of the way.”

The firefighter opened his mouth to yell at her when Nicholas grabbed his arm, saw his name on his jacket. J. JONES. “Don’t bother, mate. She’s unstoppable. Come on, we could use your help. We’ll tell your supervisor you were escorting us. Move it, now.”

Without waiting to see what the man did, Nicholas ran after Mike into the flame-lit night.

Twenty minutes after the bomb went off, the scene looked like a Hieronymus Bosch nightmare scape. The air was still ripe with the scent of carnage, men stumbling from the converters, others slumped silent on the ground, bloody, groaning, so many others more seriously hurt and bleeding in the staging area. in that instant, this hell shot Nicholas back to a place more than three years before, in another part of the world, and the terrible mistakes made, and he felt a ferocious hit of pain and guilt.

The firefighter who’d tried to stop them, Jones, was at his elbow, pointing and shouting. Nicholas whirled round. He thought they’d cleared everyone in this quadrant. He couldn’t see any more bodies in the hellish light.

“What is it? I don’t see anyone.”

Jones yanked on his shoulder, pulled him backward, shouting, “No, look, over there. Bomb, bomb!” and Nicholas saw a black backpack on the ground, with wires sticking out of the top. His heart froze.

Mike was a good twenty feet in front of him. He sprinted to her, caught her, grabbed her hand, and dragged her as fast as he could away from the backpack into the darkness, yelling, “Secondary device, run, Mike, run!”

They ran toward Jones, who was still screaming at everyone to fall back, fall back.

The backpack exploded, and the world around them shattered.


Fun, huh? If you enjoyed this little preview, go ahead and pre-order your copy of THE END GAME from one of these fine retailers. I can’t wait to share the rest with you on September 15!

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Books-A-Million | iBooks | Indiebound | Kobo

Via: JT Ellison


7.26.15 – Sunday Linkage

By JT Ellison

It’s high time we resurrect the “Best Links of the Week” – a gathering of the most interesting stories and essays I came across during the week. Sometimes there will be many, sometimes few, but always, these posts will appear on Sundays!

Business Musings: The Branding Surprise” Kris Rusch always has excellent business and career blogs, but this one about branding is stellar. I’m in the midst of it myself, so it was very timely!

Peyton Manning launches Chattanooga Heroes Fund to honor shooting victims | WKRN News 2

The Web We Have to Save – A great philosophical essay by Hossein Derakhshan about what the Internet has become. All bloggers, especially those who came up in the 00s, should read this awesome piece.

Resistance, Housekeeping, Writing, & Me by Laura Benedict
A fabulous essay for all writers who are here (ahem) instead of writing now. And can we give props for the Oxford comma in the title?

Brilliance from Steven Pressfield about the revision process, its importance, and its difficulties, using GO SET A WATCHMAN as the prime example. This is really valuable info – Atticus Finch 2.0

The Puzzle of Life” I loved this quote — “Your purpose in life is to find your purpose and devote yourself to it wholeheartedly.” Amen to that!

Debbie Haupt’s Reading Frenzy has an interview with moi on What Lies Behind

This week on the Tao, we had a 7 Minutes With… interview with @SeanChercover

As always, News from the Book World

And I’ve just found out WHAT LIES BEHIND is $2.99 on Kindle. What a deal!

Via: JT Ellison


7.23.15 – 7 Minutes With… Sean Chercover

By JT Ellison

Sean is one of my all-time favorites, and not only because he used to let me sneak off and smoke with him. Killer Year brought us together, he won a slew of awards for his work, and here we are, nearly a decade later, celebrating his new thriller, THE DEVIL’S GAME. Awesome cover, don’t you think? Sean is rushing up the charts his new series, which isn’t a surprise. He’s an amazing crime fiction writer, and has really spread his wings with The Game Trilogy. The books are thick with prophecy and miracles and mysteries, and sharp, evocative writing. You’re going to LOVE them. Welcome, Sean!

 I was lucky enough to chat with SEAN in New York last week at Thrillerfest!

I was lucky enough to chat with SEAN in New York last week at Thrillerfest!


Set your music to shuffle and hit play. What’s the first song that comes up?

“She’s Gone,” by Hound Dog Taylor and the Houserockers.

Now that we’ve set the mood, what are you working on today?

Right now, this interview. Then I’ll dive back in on the final book of the Game Trilogy.

What’s your latest book about?

Intrigue, adventure, romance . . . also deceit, betrayal, and villainy (all the good things in life). In my previous thriller, THE TRINITY GAME, [my protagonist] Daniel Byrne was searching for a miracle, but found much more than he was looking for. Perhaps the real miracle he found was the healing of his relationship with his uncle and childhood guardian, the Reverend Tim Trinity, televangelist-grifter-turned-maybe-prophet. In THE DEVIL’S GAME, Daniel is no longer searching for a miracle—now he’s searching for the truth.

And the truth is, Trinity was not the only person strangely afflicted with an apparent gift of prophecy. While the world only knows about Trinity, what’s come to be known as the Trinity Phenomenon has actually manifested in thousands of people, and it’s spreading like a contagion. Whatever the cause, it’s clear that the universe is trying to tell us something. So Daniel hooks up with some shady rich dudes and goes running off to try and solve the thing. And then everybody starts shooting at each other.

Where do you write, and what tools do you use?

I rent an office in the same building as my apartment, which makes for an easy commute. Tools? I write my first drafts in a notebook, using Blackwing 602 pencils, then move to my MacBook Air. And I write at a standing desk, which is a life saver.

What was your favorite book as a child?


What’s your secret talent?

I can move my consciousness back and forth between parallel universes.

What book are you reading now?

WAYS TO DIE IN GLASGOW, by Jay Stringer. Loving it.

When did you know you wanted to be a writer?

I knew for sure by the 3rd grade. But I kept it a secret for a long time.

Who is your writing idol? Have you met him/her? If so, did you completely nerd out or keep your cool?

Oh, gawd. I’ve nerded out more times than I can count. Which is odd, because I don’t really think of artists I admire as “idols.” I used to work in television, where I met a ton of famous actors and musicians, and I never nerded out over them (Well, once. I totally nerded out when I met Bob Dylan, but I think I can be forgiven that). So I thought I was immune to the syndrome. But for some reason, when I first joined the crime fiction community, I acted like a tongue-tied teenybopper when I met authors I admire. Thankfully, they were very gracious, and I’m long over that phase. Still, I reserve the right to nerd out if I ever meet Beverly Cleary.

What’s your favorite bit of writing advice?

Just write the book that you want to read.

What do you do if the words aren’t flowing?

Hate myself. Then write anyway.

Are you creatively satisfied?

No. But there’s joy to be had in the journey, and moments of great elation along the way. As Peter Tosh said, “Peace is the diploma you get in the cemetery.”

What would you like to be remembered for?

I don’t presume that I’ll be remembered, except by the people who share my life. I hope that the people I love will find my presence in their lives preferable to my absence.

Alright, now for the really important questions:

Beach or mountains? Beach!

Coffee or tea? Coffee (although I drink a lot of green tea).

Skydive or bungee jump? Skydive (but only if the plane is going down).

Chocolate or vanilla? Are you crazy? Chocolate. Dark, bitter chocolate.

Winter or summer? Summer.

Cake or pie? I don’t really have much of a sweet tooth, but I like a good piece of pie.

Cats or dogs? I have both, love both. But if you put a gun to my head, I’ll take dogs (sorry, Fiona).

Pens or pencils? Pencils.

Truth or dare? Truth with friends, dare with acquaintances.

Print or ebook? Both. Audiobook too, when my eyes are required elsewhere.


Sean Chercover

Sean Chercover is the author of the Wall Street Journal bestseller THE TRINITY GAME, and the newly released thriller THE DEVIL’S GAME. He’s won a bunch of awards and stuff, and he lives in Toronto with his wife and son and dog and cat. To learn more, please visit

Via: JT Ellison


7.16.15 – 7 Minutes With… Kerry Madden

By JT Ellison

How fitting it is that we have Kerry Madden here today. With the wild incredible outpouring of opinion about this week’s new Harper Lee release, GO SET A WATCHMAN, who better to have on the blog than the woman who wrote HARPER LEE (UP CLOSE), the definitive biography of the woman and the author?

I met Kerry high atop a mountain in northern Georgia during a writers weekend. Engaging and funny and generous, she taught me how to make oatmeal from scratch (something I’ve utilized pretty much every day since), made me laugh with her zany stories, intrigued the hell out of my literary mind with the concept for the novel she’s talking about below, and turned me on to Brenda Ueland. Earned her keep, wouldn’t you say?

Welcome aboard, Kerry!


Set your music to shuffle and hit play. What’s the first song that comes up?

I’m playing Pandora and George Jones’s “I Think I’ll Just Stay Here and Drink” just started playing. And since I have a glass of wine now that’s the end of the day, it seems appropriate.

Now that we’ve set the mood, what are you working on today?

I’m working on several things, but the one I just finished is a picture book called GEORGIA IVY AND THE OLD PUMP ORGAN. The one I intend to finish very soon is a novel called HOP THE POND.

What’s your latest book about?

GEORGIA IVY AND THE OLD PUMP, a picture book, is about an incorrigible child who plays the pump organ to get out of doing chores. HOP THE POND, a novel, is a kind of MY FAIR LADY meets TRIP TO BOUNTIFUL meets WUTHERING HEIGHTS and is told in the voices of three generations of women with some flash fiction voices from the men in their lives. George, formerly Shelly Grace, is an exchange student at Manchester University in England and is thrilled to be out of East Tennessee for the first time in her life and gets adopted by a group of British Drama students who educate her into becoming a proper person. She changes her name from Shelly Grace to George because she adores both George Eliot and Boy George. Her mother can’t imagine why anyone would want to hoof it off to England for an entire year and leave Maryville, Tennessee, but the grandmother, Maime, suddenly realizes she wants to see something pretty before she dies, and she’s always loved the Brontës and Lawrence Olivier and the Catholic Church. It’s now 350 pages but I’m nearly there, folks!

Where do you write, and what tools do you use?

I used Microsoft Word, but I have downloaded Scrivener, and so it awaits me. I also write longhand sometimes.

What was your favorite book as a child?


What book are you reading now?

THE NIGHT OF THE GUN by David Carr and I’LL GIVE YOU THE SUN by Jandy Alexander (They even each other out – Memoir and YA) but I just finished them so next on the stack is REFUND by Karen E. Bender.

What’s your favorite bit of writing advice?

“The imagination needs moodling—long, inefficient, happy idling, dawdling, and puttering. People who are always briskly doing something and are as busy as waltzing mice, they have little, sharp, staccato ideas . . . but they have no slow, big ideas.” – Brenda Ueland

And also this by Brenda Ueland:

“Be Careless, Reckless! Be a Lion, Be a Pirate, When You Write.”

What do you do if the words aren’t flowing?

I take a walk—a long walk and try to think. Sometimes I go to the movies, but the movies are more of a reward. Sometimes, I open a file/chapter and just start reading it without any objective and begin to play with the words already on the page, and before I know it, I’m writing again.

What would you like to be remembered for?

I would like to be remembered for kindness and that I wrote some good stories and that I loved my children and husband very much.


Kerry Madden

Kerry Madden is the author of the Maggie Valley Trilogy for children, which includes GENTLE’S HOLLER (2005), LOUISIANA’S SONG (2007) and JESSIE’S MOUNTAIN (2008), set in the heart of the Smokies and published by Viking. Her first novel, OFFSIDES, (William Morrow) was a New York Public Library Pick for the Teen Age in 1997 and has been released on Kindle by Foreverland Press in a revised and updated edition. Her American Girl book WRITING SMARTS is full of story sparks for young writers. UP CLOSE HARPER LEE made Booklist’s Ten Top Biographies of 2009 for Youth and was also a Kirkus Pick for 2009. Her first picture book, NOTHING FANCY ABOUT KATHRYN AND CHARLIE, was illustrated by her daughter, Lucy Madden-Lunsford, and published by Mockingbird Publishers in the spring of 2013 about the friendship of storyteller Kathryn Tucker Windham and folk artist Charlie Lucas. Her newest book, GEORGIA IVY AND THE OLD PUMP ORGAN, is currently being submitted to editors. She is at work on two new novels, one for children and one for adults, and a memoir. She has published stories in the Los Angeles Times, LA Weekly, Five Points, Shenandoah, Salon, Redux, and the Washington Post. She appeared for in her first indie film, LITTLE FEET, as a bag lady in Echo Park, directed by Alex Rockwell and premiered at the IFC in New York this past December. Kerry is an associate professor of creative writing at the University of Alabama Birmingham and the editor of PoemMemoirStory at UAB. She also mentors in the MFA low-residency program at Antioch University in Los Angeles. She divides her time between Birmingham and Los Angeles. Learn more about Kerry at

*And here’s a little more about Kerry’s book HARPER LEE (UP CLOSE), which you should totally pick up as a companion book as you read GO SET A WATCHMAN!

Nelle Harper Lee’s TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD was published in 1960 and became an instant bestseller. Two years later it was an Academy Award–winning film. Today, it remains standard—and beloved—reading in English classes. But Lee never wanted “the book” to define who she was, which explains her aversion to any kind of publicity. Kerry Madden conducted extensive research for this Up Close biography, which reveals Lee to be a down-to-earth Southern woman who enjoys baseball games and playing golf—and whose one and only published book (until now!) happened to win the Pulitzer Prize.

Via: JT Ellison


6.30.15 – Welcome Back, Killer Year!

By JT Ellison


Such great news from our friends at St. Martin’s Press — KILLER YEAR, the ultimate anthology of debut authors from the crime fiction class of 2007, has been reissued today in mass market, with a snazzy new cover and some updates inside. And for the first time ever, there is an audio edition! It is so cool to see this little project back in print and better than ever. Grab yours today!

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Books-A-Million | iBooks | Indiebound | Kobo | Powell’s Books

A collection of killer stories from some of today’s hottest crime fiction writers, edited by grandmaster and #1 New York Times bestselling author Lee Child, Killer Year is a group of thirteen authors whose first novels were published in the year 2007. Now, each member of this widely-praised organization has written a story with his or her own unique twist on the world of crime. Each entry in this one-of-a-kind collection is introduced by the author’s Killer Year mentor, including bestselling authors James Rollins, Tess Gerritsen, and Jeffery Deaver. Other contributors—of original stories, essays, and commentary—include acclaimed veterans Ken Bruen, Allison Brennan, Duane Swierczynski, Laura Lippman, and M.J. Rose. This is an book/audiobook that no fan of the genre can do without.

This one of a kind anthology features stories from members of Killer Year, who were all fresh-faced debut authors in 2007:

Brett Battles
J.T. Ellison
Jason Pinter
Bill Cameron
Dave White
Derek Nikitas
Gregg Olsen
Marcus Sakey
Robert Gregory Browne
Patry Francis
Toni McGee Causey
Marc Lecard
Sean Chercover

And words from some seasoned vets:

Lee Child
Laura Lippman
MJ Rose
Duane Sweirczynski
Ken Bruen
Allison Brennan

The reviews are super, too.

“The disturbingly good new talent showcased in this volume bodes well for the future of the genre.”
Publishers Weekly

“The mentors’ introductions to these stories, plus brief biographies at the end, should entice readers to longer works by these promising new authors. Even amid a recent rash of anthologies in the genre, this one is well worth a look.” — Library Journal

Gems come from the 13 Killer Year members…. Remarkably for a collection this ample, there’s no sign of a clinker.”
Kirkus Reviews

Killer Year is a group of 13 debut crime/mystery/suspense authors whose books were first published in 2007. The graduating class included such rising stars as Robert Gregory Browne, Toni McGee Causey, Marcus Sakey, Derek Nikitas, Marc Lecard, JT Ellison, Brett Battles, Jason Pinter, Bill Cameron, Sean Chercover, Patry Francis, Gregg Olsen, and David White. Each of the short stories displaying their talents are introduced by their Killer Year mentors, some of which include bestselling authors Lee Child, Tess Gerritsen and Jeffrey Deaver, with additional stories by Ken Bruen, Allison Brennan and Duane Swierczynski. Bestselling authors Laura Lippman and MJ Rose contribute insightful essays. Inside you’ll read about a small time crook in over his head, a story told backwards with a heroine not to be messed with, a tale of boys and the trouble they will get into over a girl, and many more stories of the highest caliber in murder, mayhem, and sheer entertainment. This amazing anthology, edited by the grandmaster Lee Child, is sure to garner lots of attention and keep readers coming back for more.

Via: JT Ellison