Thursday, September 10, 2015

The Thrill Re-Begins

by Ed Aymar

We’re closing a chapter with The Thrill Begins. This site has hosted some of the best and brightest new voices in thriller writing over the years, and Marjorie Brody (one of those bright voices) has done a tremendous job of turning it into a valued resource for aspiring and debut writers, as well as an avenue for readers to discover tomorrow’s next generation of authors.

Marjorie is stepping down as Managing Editor after two years, I’m stepping in, and the Thrill Begins is going to take on a slightly-different format. Along with the weekly guest blogs that you’ve enjoyed, we’re launching a re-designed site and several new features, running Tuesdays and Thursdays:
  • 1st Tuesday of the month – Publishing Panel. An editor and/or agent weighs in on a hot topic in publishing. On 9/15, Laurie McLean (President, Fuse Literary) and Elizabeth Lacks (Editor, St. Martin’s Press) discuss self-publishing, and whether it makes sense for a writer to self-publish before trying a “traditional” route.
  • 2nd Tuesday – How It Happened. A prominent thriller writer details his or her journey to publication. On 9/22, Owen Laukkanen describes what led to the publication of his first award-winning novel, The Professionals.
  • 3rd Tuesday – Debut Author Spotlight. An interview with a member of the current ITW Debut Authors Program. On 9/29, Wendy Tyson interviews Art Taylor about On the Road with Del and Louise, his first novel out from Henery Press.
  • 4th Tuesday – Debut Releases. A list of the books published that month by ITW’s debut authors.
  • Thursdays – Murderers’ Row. One of The Thrill Begins' regular contributors will contribute a column about craft, publishing, marketing, or another topic relevant to contemporary thriller writing. Our first two contributors are J.J. Hensley on 9/17 and Shannon C. Kirk on 9/24.
Regular contributors to Murderers’ Row include Jennifer Hillier (The Butcher), Rob Brunet (Stinking Rich), Gwen Florio (Dakota), Elizabeth Heiter (Hunted), J.J. Hensley (Measure Twice), Shannon Kirk (Method 15/33), Thomas Sweterlitsch (Tomorrow and Tomorrow), and Wendy Tyson (Dying Brand).

The new site is located at We hope you’ll check it out, share the page with your fellow writers and readers, and visit often. As I said, a chapter is coming to an end with this site, but we hope you’ll turn the page and keep reading.

E.A. Aymar is the author of I'll Sleep When You're Dead(2013) and You're As Good As Dead (2015). He also writes a monthly column with the Washington Independent Review of Books, is the Managing Editor of ITW’s The Thrill Begins, and his fiction and nonfiction have been featured in a number of respected publications. He holds a Masters degree in Literature and lives outside of Washington, D.C.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Bloom Where You’re Planted

by Nichole Christoff

The best bit of writing advice I’ve ever had really isn’t writing advice at all. Rather, it’s advice for the
wives and husbands of the men and women in our nation’s Armed Forces. Among military spouses, this advice is so well-known, it’s practically a motto. And it goes like this: Bloom where you’re planted.

With frequent deployments, the risks of armed conflict, and routine relocations, life in the military can be hard for any soldier, sailor, airman, or marine. But it can be a challenge for the wife or husband who’s vowed to go along for the ride. During my husband’s twenty-some year career as a military officer, we moved nine times. Sometimes, we traveled across the country to reach our new home. Sometimes, we crossed international borders.

For military folks, the rigmarole of so many moves isn’t uncommon. Each time, you start your home life practically from scratch. Every day, in every ordinary way, you face a thousand frustrations. Like finding the branch of the Post Office that serves your new neighborhood. Or connecting with a babysitter you know you can trust. And just when you feel you’re at home, it’s time to move again.
Your grandmother’s china ends up chipped. You learn to say good-bye much too early and way too often. And despite the warmth of friends, family, and other spouses, when your sweetie’s away, you’re very much alone.

But with each move comes a beautiful opportunity. You can bloom where you’re planted. In a new town, in a new state, or in a new country, you can make new friends to add to the old. You can try new tastes like Louisiana king cake and Montreal caviar. You can pick up new skills like snow-shoeing and stained-glass window-making. And you can live like a local. You can pass the Washington Monument every time you pick up the dry-cleaning. And you can never worry the rain will ruin your trip to the beach. After all, from your new address, the beach is only a few minutes away.

So, you dig in. You put down roots—even if it’s for a short time. And you find ways to do what matters to you.

If you’re a writer like me, you join writers’ groups, set-up office space in some corner of each new home, and when your husband’s away, you write like the dickens because it’s the constant. It’s the control. It feeds your soul. And it doesn’t matter if you’re in the Deep South where it’s steamy outside or in the frozen North with four feet of fallen snow. You bloom where you’re planted.

So if you’re a writer with a day job that drags you down, I understand. Take some advice from a military spouse. Let those cranky coworkers give you ideas for great characters and bloom where you’re planted. If helping your aging, ailing parent means less time at the keyboard, I hear you. Cherish those moments, write when you can, and bloom where you’re planted. And if your husband has to move again, again, and again while you’re trying to write and trying to live, don’t be afraid to go with him.

Because you can bloom where you’re planted.

Nichole Christoff is the award-winning author of three Jamie Sinclair thrillers: THE KILL LIST, THE KILL SHOT, and THE KILL BOX. A writer, broadcaster, and military spouse who has worked on the air and behind the scenes for radio, television news, and the public relations industry, she credits Jane Austen, James Thurber, and Raymond Chandler with her taste in fiction. When she's not reading, writing, or teaching creative writing at university, she's out in the woods with her ornery English Pointer. Connect with her at

In THE KILL BOX, an intense thriller perfect for fans of Lee Child or Lisa Gardner, security specialist and PI Jamie Sinclair tackles a cold case that could cost her the one person who means the most to her. When the consequences of an unsolved crime threaten to catch up with Jamie and military police officer Adam Barrett, a late-night phone call sends her racing to his hometown in upstate New York. In a tinderbox of shattered trust and long-buried secrets, Jamie must fight to uncover the truth about what really occurred one terrible night twenty years ago. And the secrets she discovers deep in Barrett’s past not only threaten their future together—they just might get her killed.