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On Breaking My Lenten Fast to Share Great News: More Nicholas Drummond Books Coming!

So I promised I'd reach out from my 40 Days of Silence if anything newsworthy happened. Well, this counts, I think. From Publishers Marketplace: 


Fiction: Thriller

NYT bestselling author Catherine Coulter's next two books in her BRIT IN THE FBI series, co-authored with J.T. Ellison, which expands her FBI books with the addition of the UK-bred hero Nicholas Drummond of Scotland Yard, to Ivan Held at Putnam, in a major deal, for seven figures, by Robert Gottlieb at Trident Media Group (NA).

I am so excited to continue working with my amazing friend Catherine Coulter on the Brit in the FBI series, with our incredible editor Chris Pepe, and awesome Putnam and Trident Media Group teams. We are having so much fun developing these books. The second in the series, THE LOST KEY, will release September 30. (Cover reveal coming soon - it is SO pretty!) 

So this means more exciting locales and intriguing characters and wild-ass villains. I can't wait.

And you must know, you make these awesome things happen. You buy and read the books, cheer us on, and I can't thank you enough for reading.

I hope everyone is doing wonderfully. I miss you all! Raising my champagne glass to you.

xoxo, JT

7 Minutes With... Allison Brennan

I am so thrilled to have my dear friend, mentor extraordinaire, and wonderful NYT bestselling author Allison Brennan here today for a special 7 Minutes With... interview. Her new book, NOTORIOUS, the first in a new series starring Max Revere, comes out tomorrow. I can't say enough good things about this book - you simply must buy it, right now.

Allison and I have known each other for years - she was the first person I met at the very first Thrillerfest, and the friendship stuck. In all things, when I'm trying to make decisions, I ask myself - WWAD? She's a brilliant author, mother of five, a word churning burning chick who is one of the most selfless people in crime fiction. If you haven't read her yet, you're in for a treat. And if you have - NOTORIOUS will knock your socks off.

Here's a quick interview to help you get to know her better.  

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

Time that Remains by Three Days Grace

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

What am I not working on? I have a book due this week (Max Revere #2), I have page proofs due next week, and a book out tomorrow. So … a little of everything!

What’s your latest book about?

I hate talking about my books, let’s talk about yours … WOW is all I can say about WHEN SHADOWS FALL. How do you write every book better than the last?

[Blush - stop that.]

Oh, wait, this is my interview. Okay … NOTORIOUS is the first book in a new series starring investigative crime reporter Maxine Revere. Max goes home to wealthy Atherton, California for a funeral and ends up investigating two cold cases – the five month old case of a murdered architect at her alma mater, and the thirteen year old case of her murdered best friend. Max is totally different than my other heroine’s – she’s not in law enforcement, breaks rules, has an attitude, is opinionated and arrogant but hates bullshit and has a heart of compassion. As long as she doesn’t catch you in a lie.

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

Most of the time, I write on my iMac in my office. Sometimes, when I’m stuck, I need a change of scenery and take my MacBook to Starbucks. Or a bar. Depends on the time of day … and my mood!

What was your favorite book as a child?

You ask hard questions. How young? I don’t remember most things before I was 5. When I was 8 I discovered my first favorite book series – Trixie Belden. I still have all the books.

What’s your favorite bit of writing advice?

RUE: Resist the Urge to Explain. I tend to over-explain. It also fits my second favorite bit of writing advice: Resist the Urge to Edit. When I start editing before I’m done with the book, I tend to have time management problems.

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

Change writing locations (like go to Starbucks); watch television; play video games. Something relatively mindless so I can empty my head for awhile. Usually after an hour I uncover the fundamental problem with the scene.

What would you like to be remembered for?

Being kind.

[That will not be a problem.]

Thank you for joining us today!

Photo Credit - Britton Dodd

Photo Credit - Britton Dodd

Allison Brennan is the New York Times bestselling author of 23 books and numerous short stories. Visit her website here.

Here's a bit about NOTORIOUS on sale March 25, 2014:

Maxine Revere has dedicated her life to investigating murders that the police have long since given up any hope of solving. A nationally renowned investigative reporter with her own TV show and a tough-as-nails reputation, Max tackles cold cases from across the country and every walk of life. But the one unsolved murder that still haunts her is a case from her own past.

When Max was a high school senior, one of her best friends was strangled and another, Kevin O’Neal, accused of the crime. To the disgrace of her wealthy family, Max stood by her friend, until she found out he lied about his alibi. Though his guilt was never proven, their relationship crumbled from the strain of too many secrets.

Now Max is home for Kevin’s funeral—after years of drug abuse, he committed suicide. She’s finally prepared to come to terms with the loss of his friendship, but she’s not prepared for Kevin’s sister to stubbornly insist that he didn’t kill himself. Or for an elderly couple to accost her at the airport, begging her to look into another murder at Max’s old high school. Max is more interested in the cold case at her alma mater than in digging around Kevin’s troubled life, but she agrees to do both. As Max uncovers dark secrets, she finds herself caught in a complicated web of lies that hit far too close to home. And it’s becoming increasingly clear that someone will do whatever it takes to make sure the truth stays buried.



On Lent, and My 40 Days of Silence

Gone for Lent.jpg

Tomorrow begins my 40 Days of Silence, as I like to refer to it. Every year, I exit from the social networking sphere for Lent. It gives me a chance to get my feet back under me, get a lot of work done, and allow me a bit of time to reflect, read, and write.

The first year I left social networking for Lent, I wrote 60,000 words. It was enough to prove to me social networking DOES affect my writing time and creativity, so I decided to repeat the experiment annually.

Without Facebook and Twitter, I find myself more focused, more present. It's as simple as that. Coming off a book launch, revising the next book with Catherine, working on the secret project, finishing another secret project, and prepping for Sam #4, I need some headspace to make it all work. And honestly, a little time away can't hurt. Absence makes the heart grow fonder, right?

I made seeing people IRL (in real life) a priority for this year, and as much as I miss the convenience of having everyone in one place, my friends and I email, text, and (gasp!) talk on the phone, so I won't be too separated from them. And I'm getting antsy, not working on a new book. My brain needs to focus on creating again.

I've done quite a bit of preparation for this fast, so many of you won't even realize I'm gone. I'm toying with the idea of posting links while I'm away through my Buffer - things I've read and found interesting. But it feels like that might be defeating the purpose. (Feel free to let me know what you think in the comments - post links, or don't post links. It's all automated and ready to go, but a single click can turn it off again.)

I hope you'll understand my silence, and cheer me on in my quest. Lent is about denial, giving up things that are precious to you. Yes, jellybeans and wine would be a stellar second choice, but social networking is even dearer to me. I'm replacing my SN time with exercise and reading, hopefully rebooting my Italian lessons. I have a retreat on the books, and a trip to see Catherine. I plan to return in April leaner, more fluent, with a ton of words under my belt.

I will be updating the blog here occasionally, and if there's any great news that can't wait, I'll certainly come share. I wish you all the best in your Lenten endeavors, and whatever else you're setting your mind to these days. 

xo, JT


So WHEN SHADOWS FALL is out in the world, and there have been a few write-ups and reviews, interviews and guest blogs. In the interest of housekeeping, I've gathered them all together.

Interviews and Blogs

One of the most extensive looks at WHEN SHADOWS FALL, really digging down into the story, comes from

I am so honored to have been asked to do an interview for She Reads, one of the book world's leading curators for new books, book clubs, book blogging... they're awesome! 

Riffle Backstory - Riffle is a cool new site dedicated to readers, helping you find and share your favorite books, and this is a fun interview - with many of my favorite books and writers listed.

I did a brief podcast with my awesome audiobook publishers, Tantor Audio. The audiobook of WHEN SHADOWS FALL comes out March 31.

I'm always so excited to do anything with my good friend Allison Brennan, who's new book NOTORIOUS is coming next month. Here's a guest blog on her Murder She Writes 

I participated in the ITW Thriller Roundtable – How do News Events Shape Your Plots discussion

On Writerspace, Samantha Owens took the Proust Questionnaire, and I also discussed the book's path into being.

I did a piece about never giving up for The Strand Magazine's Mystery Center (Link to come)

And from CAFTAR - Campaign for the American Reader


Publishers Weekly Pick of the Week (February 24, 2014)

Starred Review in Publishers Weekly

Exceptional character development distinguishes Thriller Award–winner Ellison’s third Samantha Owens novel (after 2012’s Edge of Black), the best yet in the series. When Sam, now head of Georgetown University Medical School’s forensic pathology department in Washington, D.C., receives a letter from a stranger named Timothy Savage asking her to solve his murder, she gets drawn back into her former career in law enforcement. Sam performs an autopsy on Savage, who recently died in Lynchburg, Va., and the examination shows he did not commit suicide, as the police ruled, but was indeed murdered. Meanwhile, Sam and her boyfriend, former Army Ranger Xander Whitfield, become embroiled in a search for a missing child whose disappearance may be related to Savage’s death. The suspense builds as Sam and Xander, aided by D.C. homicide detective Darren Fletcher, chase down a host of surprising leads. The author’s ability to neatly tie together the mysterious clues helps make this a standout in the romantic thriller subgenre. Agent: Scott Miller, Trident Media Group. (Mar.)

Starred Review in Booklist

What at first appears to be a suicide propels Dr. Samantha Owens into a case that will test her resolve and sanity in Ellison’s third novel to feature the forensic pathologist. It starts with Owens receiving a letter from the victim—posted before his death—asking her to solve his murder. She is also listed, it turns out, as one of the beneficiaries in the man’s will. Having no idea who he is or why he sought out her services, she reluctantly conducts an autopsy and discovers that the death was, in fact, murder. How did he know he was going to be killed? His secret will shock Owens and her colleagues to the core, forcing them to ask hard questions about themselves, their careers, and how something as infallible as DNA can produce the wrong results. The mystery only intensifies as the narrative unfolds, and it’s a guarantee that readers will not figure out all of the details before the end. Ellison has crafted a terrific thriller, and fans of forensic mysteries, such as those by Patricia Cornwell, should immediately add this series to their A-lists. Knowledge of the prior books is not necessary to enjoy this one. —Jeff Ayers 

Romantic Times Top Pick

Ellison excels at imaginative and terrifying plots, and this thriller is a fine example that sucks readers in at the beginning and spits them out at the end, emotionally drained. The latest Samantha Owens installment is a complex story with interwoven mysteries and a frightening conspiracy. Villains range from just greedy to truly evil.

After several years of tragedy and danger, forensic pathologist Samantha Owens has accepted a teaching position at Georgetown University in an effort to lead a calmer life. Her plan is shattered when she receives a letter from a dead man, Timothy Savage, asking her to solve his murder. Savage’s attorney is then murdered, and the killer is working his way down the list of Savage’s beneficiaries. Sam becomes involved with the FBI’s investigation of a missing girl and finds out Savage was an FBI agent who went undercover in a cult to rescue a young girl. (MIRA, Mar., 416 pp., $24.95) —Joyce Morgan

Library Journal

Dr. Samantha Owens is transitioning into her new job teaching and chairing the forensic pathology department at Georgetown University Medical School when she receives a cryptic letter from a stranger asking her to solve his murder. Hesitant to get involved in fieldwork after recently opting out of law enforcement, Sam ignores the request. When the dead man's will stipulates that Sam perform the autopsy, her curiosity is piqued. The autopsy indicates murder, catapulting Sam and those closest to her into an intense FBI case. In her five harrowing days on the case, Sam uncovers dangerous links among a missing FBI agent, cold-case child abductions, and a suspicious religious cult led by a charismatic female. VERDICT Ellison's third Samantha Owens installment (after A Deeper Darkness and Edge of Black) is a gripping page-turner. Skillfully seasoned with suspense, intrigue, adventure, and a dash of romance, it's essential for suspense junkies. Fans of Patricia Cornwell's Kay Scarpetta books may notice similarities but will find that Ellison puts her own unique spin on forensic investigation. —Mary Todd Chesnut, Northern Kentucky Univ. Lib., Highland Heights

Suspense Magazine 

Ellison, yet again, offers up a story that goes from 0-to-60 in seconds.

Dr. Samantha Owens is working to set up her classroom for her new job as head of the Georgetown University Medical School’s Forensic Pathology Department in Washington, D.C. She is extremely happy about her new career and has no regrets about giving up a life in law enforcement.

While she’s going about her work, looking forward to the new path her life is taking, she receives an extremely odd letter. The letter is from a corpse who states that he’s dead and wants, more than anything, for Dr. Owens to solve his murder. In addition, the supposed victim is even more helpful by compiling a list of suspects for the doctor to look at, and setting aside some money in order to cover any expenses she has during the investigation. Downside? The corpse also states that Dr. Owens life will definitely be on the line if his killers find out she’s received this post-mortem letter.

Samantha doesn’t have a clue as to who Timothy Savage, the signer of the letter, is. What makes it even more confusing is when she’s approached by his lawyer and informed that Savage was not murdered at all; he is dead by his own hand.

After a great deal of hesitation, she agrees to perform an autopsy on Savage and finds that natural causes or suicide are not the case at all. Add to this, another plot where her significant other, Army Ranger Xander Whitfield, is pulled into a case involving a search for a missing child whose disappearance may be connected to the death of Mr. Savage, and the story blows up. When Homicide Detective Darren Fletcher arrives, anything and everything boils to the top.

Full of carefully mastered clues that tie both cases together, this is a true thrillfest that will keep readers on the edge of their seats until the very end. —Mary Lignor, Professional Librarian & Co-Owner of The Write Companion

Fresh Fiction 

Dr. Samantha (Sam) Owens is an expert forensic pathologist the FBI would love to have working for them. After turning down their job offer, Sam wants nothing more than a normal life teaching at Georgetown University. She's deeply in love and building a life with Xander Whitfield, a former Army Ranger, and content with her decisions. That contentment crumples when she receives a strange letter from a man named Timothy Savage begging her to solve his murder, even though his recent death has been ruled a suicide.

Things become even more bizarre when Savage's will names Sam as executor, as well as a benefactor, compelling her to autopsy his body to learn the truth. Her findings verify his death was murder, not suicide, but there's also foreign DNA on him that belongs to a girl who was found dead years ago. That's impossible, or is it?

Each step taken in the investigation turns up even more questions. Who is [Timothy] Savage, and how did he know he was going to be killed? How did he get a dead girl's DNA on his body? Is the DNA wrong? The mystery unfolds and intensifies with many shocking twists and turns leading to a totally incredible conclusion.

J.T. Ellison's WHEN SHADOWS FALL is a cleverly devised forensic thriller with multifaceted characters and a compelling storyline. Even though it's part of a series, WHEN SHADOWS FALL is an excellent stand-alone novel giving all the background information that's needed for its total enjoyment. Ellison is a master-craftsman at developing superb forensic thrillers!  —Tanzey Cutter


And last, but not least, here's a short Excerpt from WHEN SHADOWS FALL

Thanks for your support!

On Decisions

What do you do when faced with a life-changing decision? Do you jump off the cliff and go for it, heedless of the consequence? Do you agonize, write lists of pros and cons, worry yourself into sleepless nights until the decision is made? Or do you use entropy, edging toward the decision through the path of least resistance, not deciding, but not walking away, either?

I’ve always been a bit of a cliff jumper myself. I make up my mind on things quickly, and move forward decisively.  Sometimes too decisively.

So when my main character, Dr. Samantha Owens, was faced with a life-changing decision at the beginning of WHEN SHADOWS FALL, I thought she’d be like me – make the decision and move on. But she didn’t. She fought against what she knew would be best for her, and it took her a whole novel to decide.

It’s a tricky thing, changing a character’s world. Whether they get married, have a child, get divorced, meet a lover, start a new job, deal with a loved one’s death – these catalysts drive our narratives, giving our character’s depth, and making them relatable.

I’ve been throwing changes at Dr. Samantha Owens for several books now. She’s had to face the death of her husband and children in the Nashville floods, the death of her ex-lover, the surprising love of a new man, a move from Nashville to Washington D.C. and a new job running the brand-new forensic pathology program at Georgetown University. And in WHEN SHADOWS FALL, she’s faced with even more decisions – whether to accept a consulting position with the FBI, whether to accept a ring from her lover, whether to investigate the murder of a man who clearly committed suicide.

What is it the French say? Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose. The more things change, the more they stay the same.

Stasis is the death of novels. Change, not for the sake of change, but for the sake of challenge, is the only way to keep a series alive, to keep the characters interesting, to keep their story moving forward. It’s a careful balance, and it’s where the novel’s conflict comes from. Too much change, and you lose the things that make readers love the character. Too little change, and things get boring.

Sam’s facing the biggest decision of her life in WHEN SHADOWS FALL. The question is posed in the first chapter, and she doesn’t decide fully until the last. Her decision changes the course of the series, sending it in a new direction. It gives the series real legs, sustainability, reason and meaning. Sam can move forward now, unfettered by her past.

At least, we hope she can.

So what about you? How do you make decisions? Leap and bounds, or slow and steady?

This blog first appeared on Murder She Writes February 24, 2014