January 7 – 13: “What is your New Year’s resolution for 2019?”

thriller-roundtable-logo5Happy New Year! As we enter 2019 we’re joined by ITW Members J. T. Ellison, Robert E. Kearns, Jess Montgomery, Larry Loftis, Mark Alpert, William L. Myers, Jr. and Samuel W. Gailey who will be discussing…what else? New Year’s resolutions, both writing related and perhaps even personal. Scroll down to the “comments” section to follow along – you won’t want to miss this!


Robert E. Kearns was born in Dublin in 1971. He worked in the Accounting and Finance Departments for a number of multi-national organizations in several industries both in Ireland and Texas where he lived for nine years. His world experiences and background are evident in the writing he employs, which conveys a maturity and discernment to the plot and characterizations. Robert currently lives and writes in Dublin. Hy Brasil, Island of Eternity is his first novel.


Samuel Gailey was raised in a small town in northeast Pennsylvania (population 379) and now resides on Orcas Island with his wife, author Ayn Gailey, and daughter. The Guilt We Carry is his second novel, following the critically acclaimed Deep Winter (Penguin). Gailey’s novels are intriguing studies of human nature and portray how the simplest act of fate can alter and shatter lives. Before writing novels, he wrote and developed shows for Showtime and Fox.


Jess Montgomery is the author of the Kinship Historical Mystery series, inspired by Ohio’s true first female sheriff and published by Minotaur Books. THE WIDOWS, the first book in the series, is set in 1920s Appalachia and follows two women who investigate murder and fight for their community. Jess is also a newspaper columnist, focusing on the literary life, authors and events of her native Dayton, Ohio for the Dayton Daily News.


Larry Loftis is the international bestselling author of the nonfiction spy thriller, INTO THE LION’S MOUTH: The True Story of Dusko Popov — World War II Spy, Patriot, and the True Life Inspiration for James Bond.



New York Times and USA Today bestselling author J. T. Ellison writes standalone domestic noir and psychological thriller series, the latter starring Nashville Homicide Lt. Taylor Jackson and medical examiner Dr. Samantha Owens, and pens the international thriller series “A Brit in the FBI” with #1 New York Times bestselling author Catherine Coulter. Cohost of the EMMY Award-winning literary television series A Word on Words, Ellison lives in Nashville with her husband and twin kittens.


Mark Alpert is an internationally bestselling novelist and a contributing editor at Scientific American. His first thriller, Final Theory (Simon & Schuster, 2008), was published in twenty-four languages, optioned for film, and condensed for Reader’s Digest. His other novels include The Omega Theory (S&S, 2011), Extinction (St. Martin’s Press, 2013),  The Furies (SMP, 2014), and The Orion Plan (SMP, 2016). He has also written a trilogy of Young Adult science-fiction novels—The Six, The Siege, and The Silence, all published by Sourcebooks. His next thriller, THE COMING STORM, will be published by St. Martin’s Press in January 2019.


William L. Myers, Jr. is the No. 6 bestselling author for Amazon Kindle in 2017 for his debut. Once you pick up his legal thriller and bestselling novel, A Criminal Defense, it becomes obvious he is not new to the intricacies of the legal profession. Open A Criminal Defense and you’ll find yourself lost in a labyrinth of deceits and hidden agendas, a world where everyone has a secret. You never know what is going to happen next or when the plot is going to take another unexpected turn.



  1. Welcome to 2019!

    I love goal setting, but often my goals are much too stringent. This year, my biggest goal is to be looser with myself and my need to check items off my lists. With that in mind, I am scaling back majorly. I do an Annual Review every year, and it has all the very specific things I accomplished in the previous year and what I want to do in the new year. Here’s a synopsis of my 2019:

    + The Year of Joy — Focused on being present and enjoying the work

    + Better Organization — I deleted or archived 450 Instapaper articles today. I want to stay on top of what I want to read, research that is needed, and actually read the articles I clip

    + Words by Noon — I’m a natural afternoon writer, but I want to be sure my words are done earlier. Increases word counts tremendously

    + Saying No — I have a horrible time saying no, but I have to if I want to make my deadlines

    + Daily Pages — a bit of journaling longhand every day, just to keep my brain fresh

    + Read 80 books and write 200,000 words, too.

    Looking forward to hearing more about goal setting, and this week’s discussion!

  2. My New Year’s resolution for 2019 is to write a novel that’s completely different from all my previous books. The number of possible novels is nearly infinite — think of a roomful of monkeys banging on typewriters — and yet there’s an unfortunate tendency to repeat the same plot lines, the same stereotypical characters, even the same metaphors. It seems like such a waste of potential. Who wants to spend his or her whole writing career doing the same thing over and over?

    My first few books were all science thrillers written in the past tense, third-person point of view, but I varied the scientific subjects to keep things interesting. One novel was about Albert Einstein’s lost theory; another was about the quest for immortality; another was about an alien invasion of New York. I also did a trilogy of Young Adult novels, and it felt very liberating to switch to the present tense, first-person, for those books. My latest novel — THE COMING STORM — throws in some political suspense, specifically involving an erratic U.S. president who hates immigrants and ignores global warming.

    And now I’m wondering: Okay, what’s next?

    1. Posted on behalf of author J.T. Ellison:

      Have you decided what’s next yet? It’s such a fun question to pose at the beginning of the year.”

  3. Good morning everybody, and a very Happy New Year to you all.

    2019 has started with a book release for me and now that it’s out there, I’m itching to return to a manuscript I began a couple of months back. The holiday period made me lazy, I admit. However, I’m anxious to dust off the cobwebs and knuckle down to some creativity.

    I’m pretty excited about this new story. I can’t reveal too much at the moment, but it’s going to be based in Texas with components of conspiracy centered around two main characters. It’s inspired by my time living in Houston and I look forward to completing it.

    Wishing all readers of The Big Thrill a great start to the new year.

    1. Robert –Best of luck on your new release! Your new book utilizes prose. What authors inspired you to use this style? How did you find the tone for your book Hy Brasil?

  4. Happy New Year!

    Usually, my New Year’s resolutions revolve around work goals. I have plenty of those for 2019, but this year I’m trying something different.

    Resolution number one is to focus on my health.

    Oh, don’t worry. I’m not in dire straits, or in need of a defibrillator. But I am hoping to avoid the above.

    Years ago, after we had our daughters (21 months apart), I was determined to write–no matter what. That’s fine, except I foolishly decided to drastically cut sleeping to fit in everything: parenting, home life, personal life, day job, writing. It worked–until my serotonin levels crashed and I developed chronic migraines. It took a year to recover.

    So I always tell writers–take care of your health!

    But while I get plenty of sleep now, I have come to realize that I’ve neglected my health in other ways. Every day, I think–pay yourself first! And for me, that means writing first thing. And every day, I think–I’ll take a walk in the afternoon!

    But then the afternoon comes, and there are business matters to attend to, or I’m so caught up in the writing that I don’t want to stop, and that walk or exercise session rarely happens.

    So in 2019, I’m ‘paying myself first’ by walking/exercising FIRST. And then writing. My logic–if I’m not healthy, eventually I won’t be able to do the writing work I love. Oh, and also, I won’t be healthy.

    So far, so good. Bonus: while I’m walking, my thoughts go toward writing anyway, and by the time I’m back, I’m excited to capture in writing the images, scenes and plot points that have arisen in my imagination during my walk.

    My other BIG goal for 2019 is to try to focus on what I *can* control and let go of worrying about what I can’t in my writing career and life in general. I *can* control getting in that walk, getting my pages done, and responding in a professional and timely way to business demands. I *can’t* control results. I *can* control enjoying every moment with my dear family and friends. I *can’t* control events beyond my reach. Knowing that makes every moment precious, and being truly present for those moment crucial.

    Oh–and yes. As for goals–I will finish the novel I’m working on, write another, and write several short stories and essays. I will read others’ books and promote them. And I look forward to attending several mystery conferences.

    I think the best way to make those goals happen, though, is to focus on my resolutions: focusing first on health and on being in the moment with those I love and with my writing.

    Happy 2019 to all The Big Thrill readers. I’m looking forward to your roundtable comments!

  5. I have a few resolutions, both professionally and personally. On the personal front, I’ve made a list of classic books that I want to finally read: Tolstoy’s ‘War and Peace’, Hemingway’s ‘For Whom The Bells Toll’, and John Steinbeck’s ‘The Grapes of Wrath.’ A little more exercise might be nice, too…certainly couldn’t hurt.

    In regards to writing, I’m really close to finishing my first straight-up mystery novel, which has been a bear to wrestle. I have a new-found respect for mystery writers. My first two novels are suspense thrillers, but I have found writing a mystery to be a complex undertaking—peeling back the onion layers, leading but not misleading the reader down a winding path of truth and discovery. I’m loving the ride in writing this newest novel…and what’s making it even more compelling, is that I’ve returned to the same small community that my debut novel, ‘Deep Winter’, took place in…and I have a few characters returning and contributing to the story.

    1. I read War and Peace several years ago. It took a long time but it was surprisingly readable and I did enjoy it. My copy is a brick of a paperback with about 900 pages of small print. I found it hard to keep track of all the characters with their multiple names–I wonder how Tolstoy managed it.

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