By J.T. Ellison For years, I’ve been telling people (new writers, especially) that while everything is derivative—there are only seven plots, after all—what makes their story distinctive is voice. The treatment a…
Via: JT Ellison
By J.T. Ellison
Morning, y’all, and welcome to Sunday. How was your week? All is peachy keen at Chez Ellison. We just started the final project for our ten-year fixer-upper. Our master bath renovation should be done this Friday, and I’m telling you, after ten years I should write a home renovation thriller. I’ve certainly earned a PhD in home repair by now. 😑
In between the saws and hammers, I’m pounding away at THE BLOOD CABAL. When it comes to writing books, slow and steady wins the race, and I’m doing my part to knit the story together scene by scene. It’s not quick work by any means, but after doing this twenty times I know consistency will be rewarded.
This is always a helpful mantra:
“Does It Spark Joy?” Is the Wrong Decluttering Question. I love this: we should be asking if our stuff fulfills a purpose (says the practical utilitarian).
I WAS ANASTASIA by Ariel Lawhon Galley Giveaway. I just finished this breathtaking book. Lucky me, I got an early copy. I WAS ANASTASIA doesn’t hit stores until March, but if the odds are ever in your favor you can get an early copy, too! (and trust me, you want one)
14 Book-Themed DIY Projects To Add Some Literary Flavor To Your Space. For the times you need a bookish weekend project. ✂
How To Stay Productive When Anxiety & Depression Feel Utterly Paralyzing. When we fall into the pit of overwhelm, actionable steps help us climb out. These are great, actionable steps to keep you on goal even when your body and mind don’t want to play ball.
21 Books Goodreads Users Are Damn Excited To Read This Fall. Once upon a Saturday, Buzzfeed put out this list (which includes LIE TO ME! 🎉) and I nearly fell on the floor. The end. Also, there are tons of good books for your TBR pile.
Government Almost Killed the Cocktail. So glad to see a good cocktail come back. Sláinte!
All About Gothic and DEAD ENDS, Too. My bestie, Laura Benedict, is a master of the Southern Gothic genre, and she breaks down its origins here, and talks a bit about the upcoming DEAD ENDS! (P.S. Laura’s story in DEAD ENDS, “Stone Angels,” is deliciously creepy and worth the price of admission alone)
Idris Elba Reads a Bedtime Story. This is rather awesome.
Want to see the spooky photo that inspired DEAD ENDS? When I saw this picture, I had to ask my friends to write a story about it. You know what I learned? If you give 13 writers a photo and ask them to write a story, you’ll get 13 completely different (and awesome) stories.
That’s it from me! Happy official fall, blessed solstice, go enter Ariel’s galley giveaway, chug a pumpkin spice latte or two, and we’ll talk again soon.
Via: JT Ellison
By J.T. Ellison
Hey, y’all. How’s tricks? Yours truly is back in Nashville for the first time in a long while. I loved, loved, loved meeting so many of you out on the road. But this introvert is overjoyed to be back with her hubby, her cats, and pots of tea within arm’s reach. It’s the little things, you know.
Fun news: If you didn’t get to see me on tour, join me for my LiveSigning this Thursday night at 7:00 pm CT! Details are below. Bonus – you don’t even have to leave your couch to attend. 🎉🎉🎉
Now it’s back to work for me, conjuring new adventures for Nicholas and Mike. Things are going to be quiet on this front while I whip our new book into shape. But don’t worry, I’m not disappearing for long. I’ll see many of you at Bouchercon mid-October!
And without further ado…
11 Literary Destinations Every Book-Lover Should Visit in the Fall. Autumn is just around the corner, and it’s the best time of year to be a book geek! Here’s where you should go on a literary road trip.
What I’ve Been Reading Lately: The New and the Notable. Great book finder Anne Bogel dishes on the five books she’s been loving lately. Stock those TBR piles, y’all!
The Crazy Story Behind the First Book Published in the (Future) United States. An escape from England, an indentured servant with a mysterious past, and an untimely death while crossing the Atlantic—it sounds like a juicy plot, doesn’t it?
The not-so-easy Weasley quiz. They aren’t kidding. How many did you get? My score was deemed “Weason-able.” #WeasleyIsOurKing
THE ABANDONED HEART by Laura Benedict is out in paperback! My bestie writes Southern Gothic fiction, and it is superb. Check out the last of her Bliss House trilogy, now at a killer bargain price.
Best Books of the Month: September Edition. Speaking of good books, check out these favorites from suspense authors Liz Fenton & Lisa Steinke (word on the street is there’s a giveaway attached to this post…).
U.S. Postal Service unveils series of stamps honoring children’s book “The Snowy Day.” Just in time for the holidays!
16 New Thriller Books Coming Out This Fall. So many book roundups hit the feeds this time of year, and for good reason: fall is a treasure trove for us book lovers. BookBub gives us even more books for our TBR piles.
A Big Ol’ Interview about LIE TO ME with Book Reporter. This was a fun one—lots of great questions!
Did I not visit your city for the LIE TO ME tour? Worry not, chicken: at my LiveSigning (with special guest, historical novelist and my dear friend Ariel Lawhon!), you can get a signed book AND ask me questions – all from your own couch!
Click here to get your signed copy. ➤ https://livesigning.com/jt
Pre-Order DEAD ENDS: Stories from the Gothic South, edited by ME! Look at this lineup. Look at it. Y’all, this anthology is packed with creepy goodness from emerging voices and NYT bestsellers, and will arrive just in time for Halloween reading.
It’s. So. Good. Order your copy today! It’s in hardcover, paperback, and ebook.
John Grisham tried to write a book without lawyers in it. And he (almost) succeeded.
His latest, CAMINO ISLAND, is a fascinating look into the world of stolen rare books, and he takes us along for the ride.
I have been sitting on this interview for months, desperate to tell you about it, and I’m so excited to finally share it with you! Mr. Grisham was a gracious, insightful, and disarmingly funny guest. I was thrilled to sit down with him for this week’s episode of A WORD ON WORDS. #keepreading
That’s it from me! Enjoy some lovely autumn weather, bake some brownies for the neighbors, buy a pumpkin or two, and we’ll talk again soon.
P.S. I’m thinking of you, my Texas and Florida chickens.
Via: JT Ellison
By J.T. Ellison
Hello, lovelies. How are you? While it’s been a wild ride this week, I have to admit I’ve been following Irma reports quite closely. Many friends and loved ones in the storm’s path, so while I’m still on tour today, my heart is with you, beloved Florida. Y’all stay strong and safe. ❤️
LIE TO ME touring has made me quite the road warrior—it’s been so much fun seeing so many of you in person, and saying hi to new faces. Today I’m in the Bay Area, teaching at the Book Passage Mystery Conference. I prefer to think of it as corrupting the young writers of America, but YMMV…
I’m off to Seattle tonight, signing tomorrow at the wonderful Seattle Mystery Bookshop, then off to my Colorado stomping grounds, where I’ll be talking with the brilliant Chris Goff at Tattered Cover – Aspen Grove on Tuesday night. Then a little break. Whew!
Without further ado…
The Best Places to See Fall Foliage in the United States. It’s the most wonderful time of the year! 🍂 Even more fun: Sutton and Ethan Montclair’s Franklin, TN, is on the list.
The Greatest Goths in Literary History. I’ve always been a little punk rock and enjoyed the darker side of things—heck, I’m even putting out a Southern Gothic collection later this month! Here’s to the darker writers who came before us.
White Shoes After Labor Day: Can You Do It? What say you, dear reader? Can you do it? Full disclosure, I have never owned a pair of white shoes (see punk rocker, above), so I’m doubly fascinated.
Ian McEwan’s Enchanted Garden. Excuse me while I pick up my jaw from the floor. 😮 WANT!!!!! (The house ain’t bad, either…)
Sidekicks People Like Better Than the Main Character. Do you agree?
A Book to Watch Out For: I WAS ANASTASIA by Ariel Lawhon. Historical fiction fans, and history fans in general, don’t walk—run—to get a copy of this book. I WAS ANASTASIA comes out next March, but those of you with NetGalley access can request it now. I got my hands on an advanced copy, and it’s INCREDIBLE.
New A Word on Words episode: Chemical Reaction with Weike Wang. This week’s episode of AWOW finds my cohost Mary Laura Philpott chatting with CHEMISTRY author Weike Wang about her debut book, a coming-of-age novel about a young (unnamed) female scientist who must recalibrate her life when her academic career goes off track. Interesting!
It’s here: LIE TO ME is out! If you’ve been living under a rock (or missed the banner at the top of the page), you may not know that my newest standalone novel, LIE TO ME, came out this week. And oh, has it been a week. I’ve been overwhelmed by the flood of well wishes and love from all of you. LIE TO ME is stocked in stores across the land in all formats. Even The Washington Post ran a review that said I’ve crafted a “compelling story” (let the angels rejoice!). It’s been quite a ride—thank you for making all of this happen. ❤️
A few pieces that have run during LIE TO ME release week:
That’s it from me! Y’all be good, be safe, read a good book, take a walk in the cooler evenings, and we’ll talk again soon.
Via: JT Ellison
By J.T. Ellison
I say this all the time, but thank heavens for my book journals. There is nothing better than leafing through my old notebooks to find the impetus for my stories.
LIE TO ME is no different. It began, quite literally, in a Parisian café, in a humble travel-worn Moleskine, under the influence of champagne, as the story of a woman whose mother has deserted her. I was charmed by the neighborhood we were staying in, and affected by the roaming we did throughout the city. I took notes on every person I saw, scripted their conversations, imagined their lives. And then I went home, to Tennessee, and started to write.
The story quickly morphed into something very different, at once challenging and frightening. So much so, I sometimes wondered why I was writing it. You’ll understand when you read the opening line. I tried very hard to open the story a different way, but sometimes, characters insist on telling their tale their way, and the writer must simply sit back and allow them to take center stage, under a lone spotlight. This is LIE TO ME in a nutshell. The characters took over, and I was along for the ride.
But fear is a part of writing. Fear creates resistance, which keeps us from the page. It’s a truth well known among writers that the books you’re the most scared to write are the ones that will push you to the next level, that teach you how to be a better writer, that reach new readers. LIE TO ME was such a book. The fear, the resistance, were sky high, and so I knew I was on to something, and continued pushing until the story revealed itself. I even went back to Paris to write more, because sometimes you must honor your Muse when she gives you gifts. You’ll understand after you read it why this was so necessary to the process.
LIE TO ME is, at heart, a story of the ultimate betrayal. Of a marriage gone awry after the loss of a child. Two young, successful writers, Sutton and Ethan Montclair, the toast of the literary community, the perfect couple, lose their son to SIDS, and the aftermath of his death creates an untenable world for them. Unable to cope, Sutton leaves in the night, and Ethan finds a note on the counter that clearly states: Don’t look for me.
But is this the truth, or only one part of the story?
Sutton has seemingly left without her lifelines: her phone, her computer, her wallet. Has she left on her own? Or is her disappearance the result of something more sinister? Knowing he will be fingered for hurting his wife, Ethan delays calling the police, and when he finally does, his world falls apart.
And that’s as much as I can say about the story without revealing too much. A problem inherent to the domestic noir genre.
What is domestic noir? I define it thusly: a story of dark suspense in which the reader is misled along the way to the conclusion. The narrators are ordinary people to whom extraordinary events happen, and are oftentimes unreliable, which means the narrative’s mystery is even more obscured than normal. Twists happen in the story, turns in the narrative that set the reader off on a new path. The ending is often explosive and always surprising. It is not a new genre, though it has seen a resurgence of late.
By its very title, the reader will recognize LIE TO ME sits squarely in the domestic noir genre. It is a story of ordinary, if talented, people, who are overwhelmed by an extraordinary event. Even though this event happened in the past, their futures remain uncertain. Their pain is relatable, their actions understandable.
And yet… there is something else at play.
My goals with these types of stories is to take you to the very last line, to give as satisfying an ending as possible, with a few unexpected twists thrown in along the way. If I’ve done my job correctly, LIE TO ME will leave you breathless and turning the pages late into the night.
You’ll let me know, won’t you? And if you don’t like it, please, lie to me.
Via: JT Ellison