Sunday Smatterings

Sunday Smatterings 8.13.17

Hi, chickens, happy Sunday. Did y'all have a good week? As you know, I just got back from vacation (which was glorious). After a few days catching up, I'm happily back at work on Brit #5, trying to flesh out a rip-roaring adventure for Nick and Mike. Things are swimming along, and there's a big month of writing ahead. Summer's over for the kiddies, and now it is for me, too. 

I have a favor to ask you below, but we'll get to that later. Right now, it's time for links:

Here's what happened on the Internets this week:

Have Smartphones Destroyed a Generation? A fabulous long read with sobering statistics.

Aziz Ansari gave up using the internet for reading books. After reading articles like the last one, this gives me hope.

Why are cats afraid of water? This was the most retweeted article on my feed this week—for good reason. Face it, you've always wondered...

[Listen] The World's Most Glamorous Librarian. BookRiot brings us the life of Belle De Costa Greene, the most glamorous and influential librarian in early 20th Century America. And she is fascinating

Branch out from your usual genres this year (and 15 titles that will help you do just that). For those of you doing book challenges, Modern Mrs. Darcy may be able to help you out.

Megan Abbott on Genres. On the last season of A Word on Words, I talked to the brilliant Megan Abbott about the literary vs. genre divide. And her insight is pretty spectacular and totally spot-on. This week Poets & Writers picked up the interview, which turned out to be quite timely.

Wizarding World of Harry Potter's New Ride Promises to Be Scarier Than the Dark Arts. This is important. Obviously.

And closer to home: LIE TO ME is almost here!

Y'all, I have to tell you – I am so excited to share LIE TO ME with my chickens! You can start devouring Ethan and Sutton’s story on September 5!

If you'll indulge me, let's talk about this book a little bit.

I had a specific goal in mind when I wrote this story – stretch myself beyond my limits. Thankfully, some very important people agreed. Lee Child called LIE TO ME “wonderful... a one-more-chapter, don't-eat-dinner, stay-up-late sensation." Lisa Scottoline said LIE TO ME has “more twists and turns than the backroads of Tennessee.” And in their starred review, Publishers Weekly said LIE TO ME was “exceptional” and “may be [my] best work to date.”

This book is a big one, y’all. It would mean the world to me if you supported LIE TO ME the way you have with my past work.

How can you help, you ask?

I’ll be honest – a pre-order means EVERYTHING for this book. Pre-orders are vital to a book’s early success. It tells bookstores to order more copies, it helps with placement on the front tables and bestseller lists, it gets libraries excited to stock the title – everything a book needs to be a success. And it’s all in your very capable hands.

Plus, you have options! You can order it in your preferred format – trade paperback, hardcover, digital, or audio – right now. No waiting six months to a year for the more cost-effective paperback. Cool, right? (FYI, the trade paperback is only 10 bucks. Just sayin’.)

So if you would, pick up a copy, rate it on Goodreads, leave a review at your favorite retailer, copy and paste the image above on your social feeds, tell a friend about it: every little thing helps, and I am so grateful for any support you can give.

Thank you, thank you for coming on this journey with me. I’m thrilled to share my writing world with you!

That's it from me. Y'all have a great week, go get a popsicle, finish the book you're reading, and we'll talk again soon!


Daily Tao ☯ 8.11.17

So things have been a little hectic since I got back from vacation, lots of loose ends that need tying up. But I’m starting to feel caught up, and writing again — last night at 8 I solved a problem and had to open the manuscript again. So that bodes well — it’s starting to come alive for me.

August newsletter is out — if you haven’t received it, check your non-priority inboxes or give me a shout and I’ll get you taken care of. 

I mention this because I received a lovely letter from a reader who complimented my marketing skills. I told her the truth, I had a shortcut, having been in marketing in the past.

And it reminded me of a funny, sad story. Staff meeting, aerospace contractor, circa 1994. I came in with a major marketing proposal, nervous as all get out. When my turn came, I presented my idea: start a company website. Many small and large companies around us were doing it, I knew a guy who could build it for us on the cheap, and it would give us a leg up when RFP* time came — we would have all of our previous projects and successes on the site, so it would be a one stop shop instead of recreating the wheel for the RFP.

(*RFPs — request for proposal — the soul sucking process by which the government hires contractors to build things for them. It is a long, arduous process that involves a million details, long nights, and a lot of hard work. And of course, only one company can win the contract, so every advantage helps.)

Anyway, my proposal was met with absolute silence, then an older gentleman who’d been in the game for a long time scoffed, “We don’t need this. This is a ridiculous waste of time. I refuse to approve a major budget line item just so you can give some guy you’re sleeping with a job.”

And just like that, the proposal was shot down. No website for us.


As my husband can attest, said guy was NOT my boyfriend, he was a legitimate, ahead-of-his-time computer programmer. Yes, I made a SH complaint. Yes, grumpy old man was disciplined. No, we did not get a website. Soon after, I bolted for greener pastures, to a company who also wasn’t interested in a website but grudgingly let me do it, and then, happily, circumstances changed and we moved to Nashville.

Moral of the story: technology changes. The world charges forward into the breach whenever a crack appears. Early adopters aren’t always mad. Sometimes, they actually do have good ideas.

As we gear up for the LIE TO ME launch, as we exploit the now very powerful internet and my own websites to help reach more readers, I am struck by how much things have changed, and how much has stayed the same. It’s easier to reach people, yes. But the product is still paramount. And I will always be looking for a new and better mousetrap. It’s just how my brain works. It was nice to be reminded of that today.

That’s my trip down marketing memory lane. Since I still have you, please considering pre-ordering LIE TO ME, so I can free my brain from the marketing and write more books.

Sweet dreams!


Sunday Smatterings (The Kerr Edition)

Sunday Smatterings (The Kerr Edition) 8.6.17

Hi, peeps! It's me, The Kerr, filling in for J.T. while she makes her way home from vacation. She'll be back tomorrow—let's all be nice and welcome her back to the real world gently, okay?

Not that you wouldn't. You guys are pretty nice.

Did you have a good week? I did: my little sis came to town! It's been fun doing all the touristy Nashville things like walking down Broadway, playing in Dragon Park, finding new treasures at Parnassus Books, and eating hot chicken (forget what you've heard: if you visit and wanna try of our city's dish of the moment, Pepperfire is the place to go).

ANYWAY. You came for some links. Here's what happened in my world this week.

What I'm Eating

I'll tell you what I'm eating this week: everything from READY OR NOT!, the new cookbook from my favorite cooks, Michelle Tam and her husband Henry Fong. They're the brains behind the hilarious yet informative cooking blog, Nom Nom Paleo.

The recipes in this book are super fresh, with tons of aromatics (ginger! garlic!) and herbs (cilantro! basil!) and sauces (roasted garlic mayo! sriracha ranch dressing!) to keep things delicious. The best part of this cookbook is the layout: instead of the conventional starter/entree/side we expect, this cookbook is laid out according to how ready you are to cook/how much time you have. For those of us who could use a little help with time management, this is genius.

Curious? Here's a peek inside!

What I'm Playing

The title of a new podcast caught my eye: "Conversations with People Who Hate Me." 

How could you not click? Read the description, and let me know what you think. I listened to the first one, and I liked it. I'm intrigued to hear more!

What I'm Reading

Slow reading week for Amy: I'm still not done with WHEN BREATH BECOMES AIR, but I learned that my copy of JUST MERCY is available at the library. I better put my serious nonfiction kick into high gear before these books both expire!

What I'm Watching

You guys. We are so close to football season, I can taste it.

To quench my thirst for pigskin, I started new season of ALL OR NOTHING on Amazon. Did you miss Season 1? All right, let's download: ALL OR NOTHING is a documentary that follows an NFL team for an entire season. And by follow, I mean follow them everywhere: practice, locker room, their own living rooms with their families. It's a fascinating look into the biggest money generator in sports and how it affects everyone from fans to families to staff.

This season of ALL OR NOTHING is bittersweet because (a) it stars the 2016 L.A. Rams, whose head coach is my main man, Jeff Fisher [aka former Titans head coach who took us to the Super Bowl in 2000 and we lost by 1 yard and I cried] but (b) I know what happens to my main man at the end of the season [he gets fired 😭].

Don't worry, that's not a spoiler—that's how the doc opens. 

Also, it's narrated by Jon Hamm, who has one of the best voices in the history of voices. I could listen to him narrate almost anything, which is why I get excited about Mercedes-Benz commercials, even though my dream car would be a brand-new Toyota Corolla. Because I have exquisite taste.*

*I drove a rental once, and I loved it. That's all. I know nothing about cars, don't listen to me.

Dog of the Week

This is Lita the Greyhound! Lita is available for adoption through Greyhound Pets of America – Nashville. And if I didn't have two greys in my life already, I would adopt her because she is so precious, I can hardly get over it. Look at that face! 😍

Her favorite hobbies are loving stuffies and loving people.

Hobbies we should all strive for, Lita.

That's all from me, folks! Bless you Southern parents who have school-age children going back to school. Our hearts go out to you and your early morning alarms and forcing your little ones to eat breakfast and saying Would you just get in the car already!? for the umpteenth time with clenched teeth. You Northern parents, y'all have fun with that in about a month.

For those of us without school-age children: I hope you also enjoy hitting Snooze on your alarm.


Sunday Smatterings (The Kerr Edition)

Sunday Smatterings (The Kerr Edition) 7.30.17

Hey, folks! Assistant Amy/The Kerr here. I'm stepping in for my boss, who's off on a well-deserved vacation. Even writers need to unchain themselves from their laptops sometimes. 

We're going to do Smatterings Kerr style today, which means we'll be all over the place. Thanks for coming along for the ride!

What I'm Eating

You know what I can't get enough of? This ridiculously easy cucumber salad. All you need are:

  • cucumbers, chopped
  • tomatoes, chopped
  • red onion, sliced thin
  • a squeeze of fresh lemon
  • olive oil
  • salt and pepper

Mix together and boom. I'd take a picture of it, but I always devour it before I remember.

What I'm Playing

Okay, I have to tell you about my new podcast obsession: Death, Sex & Money, a podcast about the big questions and hard choices that are often left out of polite conversation.

If you're a fan of NPR's Morning Edition, you know the best part of the whole week is 7:20 am CST, which is when the StoryCorps segment airs. 80% of the time I'm in tears by the end of the three-minute bit because people are on the segment are sharing some of their most defining moments, and I'm weeping because of the sheer tragedy or hope for humanity I hear. I'm a sap. 

Death, Sex & Money is like an extended StoryCorps segment. I don't know how they find such fascinating people to interview, but the producers do a fantastic job of picking people from all walks of life (the guest could be Alec Baldwin or your Uber driver, you never know) and just talking to them about random things. Break-ups. Student Loans. Incarcerated Spouses. Retired NFL players. Surrogate mothers. Kevin Bacon. If you're into exploring human relationships and what makes people tick, this is the podcast for you.

The show's been a around for a few years, which is great for me because I have a lot of episodes to catch up on. 

What I'm Reading

After whipping through Tom Perrotta's Mrs. Fletcher, I thought I'd try When Breath Becomes Air. Are you reading anything good?

What I'm Watching

Confession: after starting and quitting a bajillion new comedy series, I've decided to watch Cheers all the way through on Netflix. I'd forgotten how hilarious this show is: the writing, the comedic timing. And tell me you don't love the answers to How's life treating you, Norm?

Plus, it has the best theme song ever. You know it's true.

Dog of the Week

When I was a kid, all I wanted was a golden retriever. Though I am now a proud greyhound mama, I still have a soft spot for goldens like Lulu (she's available for adoption here in Nashville!).

Look. At. Her. Face. If you live close by, you should think about getting Lulu or a friend like her from Adopt a Golden Nashville.

That's all I have today, guys. Don't mind me, I'll be sitting over here, shopping for fall décor and dreaming of cooler temps (no joke—I will be putting this up on my front door September 1, I don't care what it feels like outside!). 

The Kerr

Daily Tao ☯ 7.25.17

OK, I’ve been terrible about the Daily Tao. You get in a habit, then you get out of the habit, and boom — no blogs for a week.

But here I am. 

And there were words today.

They happened late. They happened unexpectedly. And there were a lot of them. I don’t know what, exactly, broke the drought, but 2700 in 2 hours later, I could have cried in relief.

A week of no writing freaks me out. A day here, a day there, eh, that’s the nature of the beast. But a week of staring at the page means something is wrong. Oddly, while there's usually a simple reason for this--the story is going in the wrong direction--that wasn't the case. The story is fine. The characters are fine. The setting and timing - all fine.

It was just me. 

So many changes in the house, so many boxes and bags and worry and selections and phone calls and email (much more of that than I'm used to, too), planning for birthdays and vacations and conferences and tours, editing secret projects, dealing with a kitten who got into some chicken, to which she’s allergic, and vet visits for steroids and antihistamines, shows to prep for, family and friends and gym visits, and, and, and…

I think there’s just been too much noise around.

And I have to forgive myself for that. Because, sometimes, despite your best efforts, life happens. It happens around you, in you, and to you.

So. Chicken stew on the stove, a non-itchy kitten, boxes broken down and in my trunk, paintings hung, laundry finished. 

And words, written.

I feel like I can finally breathe again.

Sweet dreams!