Rock On…

by JT Ellison

There comes a time in every writer’s life when they have to take a serious inventory of their career, and make decisions accordingly. Ever since I wrote this blog post a few months back, I’ve been taking inventory. Measuring and analyzing and talking and trying to figure out where my time goes. I’ve been reading books on a variety of topics, trying to expand my consciousness about what’s happening to my mind. I’ve read about what the Internet does to our brains (The Shallows)  how we can better unplug (Hamlet’s Blackberry)  and how I can find my inner artist and treat her a little better (The Artist’s Way). I’ve even been looking at ways to redecorate my house to make the flow better (Apartment Therapy) and diving back into cooking (Mastering the Art of French Cooking, La Cucina Italiana).

There have been some very, very personal setbacks too, setbacks that have rocked the core of my identity as a woman, and scattered my thoughts about what’s important, and what’s not, to the winds. 

I’ve seen the writing on the wall for a while now. With all the traveling and networking and socializing and promoting and, oh, yeah, writing, I’m missing parts of my life. Not just that. Somewhere along the way, I’ve lost me.

Me, who used to read four books a week. Me, who used to cook elaborate meals. Me, who used to look forward to the weekend, because it meant quiet time, family time. Me, who was so disciplined and focused she could write three books a year with her hands tied behind her back. Me, who used to have time to attend meetings in town of my organizations, meet friends for dinner or drinks. Me, who didn’t have to refocus my attention on my husband when he asked a question because I’ve been lost in Internet land. Me, who used to adore writing non-fiction, and now struggles to say something, anything, that hasn’t been said before a thousand times.

I need to find that girl again.

I’ve been incredibly blessed in my career. I’ve been able to write books, get paid for writing them, travel around the world promoting them, meet readers, have adventures, and pull those experiences into my stories. I’ve been blessed to be a part of the finest crime fiction blog on the planet. I’ve been blessed with amazing readers, newfound friends, and deepening relationships with old friends. I’ve pissed a few people off along the way too, but as my darling husband always says, if you’re not pissing some people off, you’re not doing anything. (To those of you who are reading this that I’ve pissed off – I’m sorry. No offense. Truly. I wish you light and love, always.)

Highs, and lows. Joy, and sorrow. This, as you all know, is life. 

I’ve come a long way on this blog, from those first tentative, worrisome, nail-biting, took a week to write posts that I made my husband read to make sure I didn’t sound like an idiot, to having the confidence to actually share what I’ve learned about the writing and publishing process.

But I have a workload that has gotten seriously out of hand… Y’all may have heard that my editor left, so there are changes afoot in my novel world. Being orphaned is scary business, but I’ve landed with a fabulous new editor who I’m sure is going to challenge and stretch malleable me into a better writer. I’ve been working on a sekrit project, plus a standalone, plus the new Sam book, plus three short stories and planning a series in a completely different genre… These are the things we writers dream about – too many ideas, and not enough time to work them all in. An embarrassment of riches, to be sure, but time consuming, for all that.

So I’m making a few changes, across all my Internet worlds. The biggest of those is my role in Murderati.

The wonderfully gracious, lovely writers of Murderati, who understand me more than I understand myself sometimes, have granted me a leave of absence. I’m taking the next six months off from the blog. In April, I’ll reassess where I am, and make a decision to either come back or leave permanently.

Because of my selfish desires to regain some more me time—and selfish they are, I admit. I’m really hanging people out on a limb with this decision, and I hate that—there will be more changes to follow. Pari will be going into those on Monday.

I’ll still be out in the world, posting occasionally to Tao of JT, on Facebook and Twitter, but it’s time to hibernate, to pull in, to focus on being as creative as possible for the next several months.

I’m so incredibly grateful to all of you. For the past six years, you’ve cheered me on, held me up, made me laugh, made me bite my tongue, and supported me. The real me. Not just JT the writer. JT the woman. I can’t thank you enough for being here, every Friday, then every other Friday, helping me grow as a writer, a columnist, and a person. I will be forever in your debt.

So, a thought to leave you with, because if I go on any longer I’m going to start crying:

Advice From a Mountain

Dear friend,

Reach new heights
Savor life’s peak experiences
There is beauty as far as the eye can see

Stand in the strength of Your True Nature
Be uplifting
Follow the trails of the Wise Ones
Protect and preserve timeless beauty,
silence, solitude, serenity,
flowing rivers,
ancient trees

Rise above it all
Make solid decisions
Climb beyond your limitations
Leave no stone unturned
Never take life for granite

Get to the point
Patience, patience, patience
Life has its ups and downs
Let your troubles vanish into thin air
To summit all up
It’s the journey step by step

Rock on!

~Ilan Shamir


I’ll see you in April. Blessed be and merry part.


Wine of the Week: A recap of most of my favorites, posted here for your viewing pleasure.

43 thoughts on “Rock On…

  1. PD Martin

    JT, JT, JT…it's so sad to see you leave Murderati. Hopefully it will only be for the six months. And I'm sorry to hear things are so stressful in your life.

    I know I haven't been part of Murderati for long, but you've been such an amazing voice in this blog.

    I know we'll all miss your posts. But ultimately you've got to do what's right for you and well done for identifying that and drawing a line in the sand.

    Good luck with your many and varied projects in the meantime.


  2. Reine

    JT, I have to trust that your direction will guide you. Selfishly I hope it leads you back here to Murderati. Wonderful poem, that. xoxo R

  3. Sarah W

    You're amazing, JT — I'll miss you and your posts.

    Please take care of yourself . . .And if it isn't too selfish to ask, please remember to come back!

  4. Karen in Ohio

    Boy, howdy, this is NOT what I thought you meant last week when you told me to read this today, JT!

    I completely understand this. Sometimes the tail wags the dog, doesn't it? You have to protect the core things that go into making you what you are. If that means pulling back from major time sumps, well then.

    Best of luck, sweetie. Will be watching for posts on Tao of JT.

  5. Schwartz, Stephen Jay

    You understand, my dear, how hard it is for me to see you go? You brought me to the Murderati table, to cover every other Friday, to keep you from going mad writing every single Friday. You were my very first blurb for Boulevard. You were the introduction to my debut year. I am so proud of you for your incredible talent and accomplishments.
    Take your time. Find what needs to be found. You are doing what is necessary and you will thank yourself in the future. I'm always here for you.

  6. Neil Nyren

    Not selfish at all, JT — just sane (but then, you know my views on that). Go! Find that girl! And, as with Stephen, I'll be here for you.

  7. Chuck

    God bless you, JT! I'm proud of you and, while I'll hate not reading your Murderati blog every fourteen days, I'm sure this move is what's best for your career. And your sanity.

    Thanks for all you do behind the scenes. You're truly a gift to this industry.

  8. Cornelia Read

    Okay, if you write SEVEN books and climb Everest and Kilimanjaro while you're on leave, I'm going to be seriously pissed at you! I hope you get some wonderful, nourishing, extraordinarily fine chill time, dearest JT. And some wine, spodee-odee… massive hugs to you!!!

  9. MJ

    You gotta do what you gotta do. And I completely understand the "losing me" part of the time crunch (thank you law firm for the evenings and weekends of work). Ultimately it is your life, and your satisfaction in your life, that matter, so go and get refreshed and reoriented.

  10. Zoë Sharp

    JT, you know we're all going to miss you like hell, darling. And I had to skip over part of the poem because it was making me all misty eyed. And I'm a Brit and we don't DO that kind of thing, dammit!

    But I'm also aware that the biggest journeys a person can make are inside their own head. Travel wide, travel well, come back safe, and whole, and happy.

    We'll be here for you, too 🙂

  11. Rob Browne

    Congrats on the decision, JT. You won't regret taking time off. A lot has happened to all of us in the last six or so years and its easy to lose perspective. Enjoy the next six months.

  12. Jake Nantz


    Damn. Well, you have to do what's best, but we hope you miss us enough to be back in 6 months. God bless and take care.

    Now get to writin', woman!

  13. Jungle Reds

    Hey J.T. , Red Julia Spencer-Fleming here. Cannot thank you enough for all you have given to me and to other writers as we try to feel our way in this Brave New World of social media and publishing. You are truly an inspiration to so many writers. Will miss you on the 'Rati , but do know we're around if we can ever repay your many favors…enjoy your respite. And isn't S.M. Stirling terrific!? Yours, Julia

  14. Sheri Hart

    Above all, we must protect ourselves and protect the work. Best of luck to you, JT. You will be missed and I sure hope to see you back here. I love this blog! 🙂


  15. twist


    Thank you for all you've given. Will miss you. Take care of yourself and best wishes in ALL endeavors.

  16. lil Gluckstern

    I've enjoyed reading you, and really liked the poem. Sometimes, life just lives us and takes us where we have to go. Hope to read you again.

  17. Allison Davis

    I so get it, but even knowing, change is hard. Find that time, and when you do, let us know where it is. Best to you and all of Murderati for giving us a place to go once a day at least and be in a safe, writing place.

  18. Tom

    It's good that you listened to yourself, and so important that you're taking care of yourself sooner rather than later.

    Be well, be happy, be back when you can.

  19. Richard Cooper

    JT, you always do whatever it takes, so I realize you're not really going away, you're just going to work. And the new novels will be the better for it! Best, RC

  20. billie

    Oh, JT, it is so hard to read this, but I totally understand. Do what you need to do and know that your posts have been a regular and lovely part of my week, as a writer AND as a woman, for a long time now. Take back your time and make it what you want and need it to be.

  21. Kaye Barley

    oh, Sweetie – somehow I think we all just knew this was coming. You will be SO missed. You've given us all so much, so how can we do anything but graciously wish for you to enjoy your time now and make good use of it.

    As Billie said, you've given to us as writers and as women. You even gave me a gig here a few years back and that was a catapult for Meanderings and Muses. I thank you.

    You just keep writing as beautifully as you're now doing and we'll follow you anywhere. And hope to see you back here in 6 months!

    Many hugs,

  22. Judy Wirzberger

    Frig – just when your recommendations have turned me into a wino……. come back when you're completely happy with that image in the full length mirror …. the one that shows the insides.

  23. KDJames

    Oh, this is sad. JT, I hate it that you won't be posting here — you'll be sorely missed — but I hate it even more that you're feeling lost. Please know that your writerly wisdom and generosity in sharing it here have made a huge difference in my writing life. Thank you.

    Go now. Take care of you. Take whatever time you need to rediscover the stuff you neglected while you were taking care of everyone else. But damn, woman, leave the guilt behind — that is one thing you have not earned.

    And don't stress about "coming back." Focus on moving forward. Don't worry, we'll be stalking y– um, that is, we'll be following along and cheering you on wherever the journey takes you. Really. Just try to get rid of us. 🙂

  24. David Corbett

    Sorry to be late to the no-fun fest. A deadline kinda day. But now I've had the time to really read what you say, and I can't feel sad. it's so clear this is what you need, and how can I begrudge you that? We'll do our best to keep the barge afloat, so when April comes, you won't step onto a derelict vessel, should you decide to return.

    Meanwhile: Blow on the coal of the heart, and you'll see by and by (Alastair MacLeish).

  25. Tracy Nicol

    JT, Wow, you are really leaving us! ; ) Just kidding; I am so happy you are the incredibly insightful woman you are and are listening to your inner JT! You do whatever you need to do for YOU, girl! I will find you wherever and whenever you choose to drop us a word or two, and of course, in your books!

    I finally got to meet you at Bouchercon (first one at your signing table!) after missing you the year before at WPA. You were even more sweet and inspiring in person than you are in your written words. You invited me to join you and Randy for drinks in the bar that night and I came down with pneumonia! I was like SO bummed! No, I really was. But, as Nashville is my old stomping grounds; I hope to catch you two for lunch or dinner when I visit some time. The wine is on me!

    You are such an amazing talent and and amazing woman. You will find your way out of this dark woods and into the light before you know it. You also have one hell of a safety net if you ever need anyone.

    Thank you for always being my inspiration. Now, go get 'em tiger!

  26. Reine

    I don't know. All this talk about big changes on Murderati and coming announcements makes me nervous as Hell. I love the Rati. For me this is a lot of mystery and tension for non-fiction. XXXXXX

  27. Pari Noskin

    You know how I feel about you and about this decision. You must do what's best for you. As others have said, we'll be here for you in April and all the months in between . . . and all the months that follow.

    Find that girl again and love her with all of your heart.

  28. Lisa Alber

    Good for you! Sometimes it's hard to say "no," but you're doing it, and I'm sure it will have been worth when you look back on the next six months. I loved the honesty of your post today. Also, I might have to check out some of the books you mentioned!

  29. Reine

    Just wondering how all you easterners are doing back home in the – WHAT? PRE- HALLOWEEN SNOW???

    Cornelia, are you snowed in? Frozen out? Stuck between Vermont and The City? Bundle up and put on your winter ducky boots. Then sit back down and call the deli.

Comments are closed.