Thriller Writer Tj O'Connor

Just When You Thought It Was Safe to Return To Your Bookstore. . . 

Aug 2, 2023

Dateline: July 2023.
Mission: Surveil location. Identify targets. Sell books. Make millions.
Out-briefing: 3 out of 4 ain’t bad

Well, anyone who’s an author knows that making big bucks selling your books is a dream. Unless, of course, you’re one of the big names the publishers swoon over and spend big bucks promoting. Me, I’m one of the little guys fighting for shelf space and a little table in a bookstore to hock my stories. Still, I love it.

This past July has been an absolute blast. I’ve been blogging and promoting and even doing some long overdue writing setting up a new thriller. The highlight of the month was a recent signing at a Barnes & Noble in Fredericksburg, VA, a week ago.

Why so delightful, you might ask? Well, for two reasons. First, it’s becoming harder and harder to score a signing at a B & N. Those I get to visit are fabulous and the staff are amazing. It’s just getting them to offer the slot that is tough. I’ve been very lucky these past few months. B & Ns in Morgantown, WV; Frederick, MD; Harrisonburg, VA; and Ashburn, VA, were great signings. I owe all those stores a huge thank you. I’ve got a few more on the way, too, including upcoming events in Pennsylvania and elsewhere.

But among the best so far has been Fredericksburg, Virginia. Jane, the store event manager, and store manager, Mike, were fabulous. They treated me like family and ensured I had the best place in the store and always sent customers my way for a chat. I sold a bunch of books and met some of the greatest old and new fans. Like Mark, a US government guy who not only bought some books but was so supportive of new authors; Rebekah whose dad was a Green Beret and may have known some of my pals from Special Forces who work with me; John from CISA who knew all about my work with DHS and will connect later this summer; and of course Leslie, Sherri, Gerald, Beth, Sarah (who writes non-fiction), Steve, Genevieve and Perrin, Eric, Changiz, and others who stopped by to chat and buy books! Most fab was speaking with two young boys-probably mid-teens, who chatted with me for a half hour about writing and what they read. Jaylin plans on writing a novel and we talked about researching and how to get started. He’ll be a big name one day, trust me.

I love talking books. But when young people engage with me, it’s the best.

And man, so many were interested in my paranormal mysteries that it totally floored me again. It didn’t go unnoticed, either, as Jane will be ordering a bunch for October!

As always, it’s the return of my old pals and fans that make the day even better. Cara W stopped by (an old work colleague) to say hi. Then the big guns arrived—Bernie, (DB Corey) an author on his own, and Pat & Dennis. They visit whenever I’m on the road in Maryland and Virginia. The three are probably some of my oldest and dearest friends and fans—both began as fans and quickly grew to pals. Amazing people.

So, sure, selling books is the mission. But talking books and meeting great people—young and old— is really what buoys me. There is nothing more encouraging than to have fans ask about your work and when they can get the next one. They quote your characters. They ask about behind the scenes stuff as though the characters are real and running the show. (Come on guys, I really do write my own books. The characters just help!) I love them all.

Wait, there’s one more thing that makes a great event. And I’m very lucky that it happens a lot. It’s when a bookstore asks you back—before the next book is published. Yep. It happens.

Jane and Mike from Fredericksburg first had me sign about ten remaining copies of The Hemingway Deception for their special table up front of noteworthy books. Then, they’ve ordered a bunch of New Sins for Old Scores, my last paranormal mystery, for their October Spooktacular. I have to visit them when the books arrive and sign them all in advance. Then, the crème de la crème—they scheduled me to return on December 16 for the Christmas shoppers to sell all my wares once again. How cool is that?

Cool. Too cool.

They say it takes a village to raise a kid. Well, it takes great friends and fans to sell a book. And I am lucky that as I go on doing this crazy author-thing, I’m slowly building great friends, fans, and supporters like Jane, Mike, and others like Amie and Skye at Morgantown and Emily and Kelly in Harrisonburg who are always in my corner. Thank you all!

Lastly, my new publicist, Gina, has put together a terrific video clip on The Hemingway Deception. Check it out!

Stay tuned, too. More blogs on my paranormal experiences and a few coming about my swashbuckling adventures on the way! You don’t want to miss them. In the upcoming episodes, you’ll hear about:

  • Me getting the crap scared out of me a dozen times in my own living room.
  • The radio that came on and announced my mentor’s fav 40’s swing music – while it was unplugged and without batteries—years after his death.
  • Getting my butt kicked by three irate Greek terrorism operatives when they mistook me for an Arab Abu Nidal terrorist—no joke!
  • Getting captured and interrogated by the German GSG9 during the First Gulf War as I transited Germany en-route home. All because I had an empty holster in my carry-on bag (and too many Turkish pistachios) instead of my checked luggage. Whatever was I thinking?
  • More adventures in Greece, Turkey, Latin America, and elsewhere.

. . . Oh, how did I go so wrong so many times and still live this long?


I first fell in love with writing while in grade school and over the years continued to dabble with characters and stories whenever life allowed. Lately, I've focused my energy on pursuing this dream—interrupted only by life as a security consultant and the demands of two Labrador retrievers.

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