In The Handbasket: J.T. Ellison and The First Decade

 

Trust me when I say that the next best thing to putting out a new book is to have your BFF putting out a new book. J.T. Ellison and I both had our thriller novel debuts in 2007, and I have had a front row seat to her meteoric rise ever since. Soon after we met, we recognized each other as kindred spirits, and we have since seen each other through many, many exciting and challenging times. J.T. has that spark that’s rare in both friends and writers: the ability to empathize, teach, encourage, and entertain like no one else. Last week, she published The First Decade, a collection of ten years’ worth of her short stories, and I had to have her here to celebrate. I love her writing and feel very blessed to call her my friend. Welcome, J.T.!

 

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The First Decade – Short Stories and Friends

Publishing can be a rough industry. You have to have a thick skin. You have to be creative on command, whether the muse is with you or not, in order to make your deadlines. There are events that force alien occurrences such as “Dressing in Real Clothes” and “Wearing Makeup.”

The cool thing about these rare events? You get to meet neat people. Almost a decade ago, I met this super cool chick named Laura Benedict. And we’ve been BFFs ever since.

Author BFFs are unique. There’s all the attendant friend stuff, but there’s also “The Business”. The hours-long discussions of what constitutes art. The cheerleading and shoulder-crying. The celebrations and the fury. (Because this business is nothing if not fury-making sometimes.) Trust me when I say there is a lot of behind-the-scenes action to book making, and I swear, 90% of it is authors talking to one another, plotting, planning, (complaining) supporting each other, and otherwise making merry.

Supporting each other. That’s the most important part. So when Laura asked me if she could publish a short story of mine in her anthology, SURREAL SOUTH ’09, I jumped at the chance. And then again, for SURREAL SOUTH ’11, when she asked me to write her a castle ghost story.

Are you seeing a trend? Laura reached out and offered to help me. That’s what good authors do. They help each other. There is no ego, no competition, only a recognition that if we work together, we all share in the spoils of war.

Laura inspired me to do the same, to reach out and lend a hand where I could for the young authors around me.

She also inspired me to write more short stories. She encouraged my love of the form. She gave me examples to read. She cheered me on when I realized the short stories I wrote were playing with form, with genre, with voice. She told me it was okay to write things that were different from my novels.

So here we are, ten years later, and I’ve published my first short story collection. It’s called THE FIRST DECADE, and it has two brand-new, never-before-seen stories that I wrote expressly for this collection. I’m so excited to have my all my shorts in print at last!

And while it’s dedicated to my mom, its heart and soul have Laura Benedict all over it. That’s why I was so excited when she agreed to let me put an excerpt of her newest, THE ABANDONED HEART, in the back. It nestles in with my own work, a true complement, and the best coda a book of this nature has ever had.

THE FIRST DECADE is available through all your favorite retailers, and you can ask your local independent bookstore to order it for you as well. Thanks so much for your support, for both Laura and me!

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New York Times bestselling author J.T. Ellison writes dark psychological thrillers starring Nashville Homicide Lt. Taylor Jackson and medical examiner Dr. Samantha Owens, and pens the Nicholas Drummond series with #1 New York Times bestselling author Catherine Coulter. Cohost of the premier literary television show, A Word on Words, Ellison lives in Nashville with her husband and twin kittens. For more insight into her wicked imagination, join J.T.’s email list at jtellison.com/subscribe, or follow her online at Facebook.com/JTEllison14 or on Twitter @thrillerchick.

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