Thriller Writer Tj O'Connor

The First 75 Days . . . and Counting

Jun 15, 2023

Seventy-five Days? Already? Holy shit on a popsicle stick. It seems like last week that Ana, Cat, Brennan, Trane, and all the crew from The Hemingway Deception arrived from Suspense Publishing. But after thinking about it, yeah, it’s been that long. And it’s been a fun ride thus far. Let me fill you in on where Ana and Cat have taken me. . .

First there was a radio interview with my old pal, Fran Lewis, on Blog Talk Radio. That was a blast and Fran is a wonderful host. She also loved Ana and Cat and the strength that both projected in the story. It’s always a pleasure chatting books with her!

 The highlight of the first few days after book launch was my initial bookstore launch at The Winchester Book Gallery and my bash-The Hemingway Deception Reception. The Book Gallery brought in a couple dozen fans—old and new. Some of them were buying the book as their entrance ticket to my later book launch cocktail party. Others were simply stopping in to rattle my cage and grab their copy—in that order. The Book Gallery has been a supporter of mine for years and I wouldn’t want to launch a book without them. Thank you, Christine!

Railyn the Emerging Author
A few Gifts from Fans

The big event launching this thriller was my The Hemingway Deception Reception—an evening cocktail party at the local 5-Star George Washington Hotel Garden Room. About 100 fans, friends, and guests joined me and what a night! So much “what a night” that we ran out of food after an hour and almost bled the bar dry. No worries, I restocked and sold my fourth kidney to make sure everyone had fun. Sold a ton of books, had a load of laughs, and connected with some folks I haven’t seen in a long time. I may not be a big commercial success—if any at all—but when folks drive from North Carolina, Pennsylvania, DC, Maryland, West Virginia, and Florida to be with me for the launch, I feel like I’ve made it. Sure, sure, dangle coconut shrimp and an unlimited bar and all bets are off. But, the night was a huge success and the only complaints I got were it ended too soon and there weren’t enough stuffed mushrooms! Next time. I promise. But you know, the best thing about the night? I met for the first time a couple I’ve Facebook chatted with for a couple years. There were also some special thanks to daughter Jean, pal and editor, Nic, and new member of the Beta readers and pal, Susan. Oh, and Railyn, one of my granddaughters, wrote her second short story novella and sold it at the signing! She signed copies and made a bunch of money for her college fund!                       

Over the next few weeks, I travelled to bookstores in Morgantown, WV (twice); Harrisonburg, VA; Ashburn, VA; Frederick, MD; and Capon Bridge, WV. I’ve met a few hundred folks and sold a bunch of The Hemingway Deception, The Consultant (my last thriller), and even New Sins for Old Scores, my last paranormal mystery. Talking with old fans and new readers of my work, I discovered there was huge interest in my paranormal mysteries, and I promise to have them available at my future stops. Who would have thunk it, right? I don’t get the thriller vs. paranormal mystery connection, but I’ll take every fan I can get.

Most of my bookstore signings have been at the Barnes & Noble stores. I really want to thank those managers who brought me in, too. Great folks and wonderful hosts. I’ve been trying to expand my B & N list and getting a little “dead air” from many stores, but slowly I’m hearing back. So, I’ll be headed to Fredericksburg, VA, soon, then onto Manassas, VA, and even Camp Hill, Pennsylvania! So, thank you B & N! Oh, and your coffee at Starbucks is great, too. Nothing like sitting around all afternoon, sipping great joe and meeting fabulous book people.

A few shoutouts from my signings:

  • Book Gallery: Thank you Ledo Pizza and El Centro restaurants for sponsoring prizes for me. Great turnout! And thanks Laura and Deena for coming all the way from DC to help support me. And how cool is it that The Book Gallery let me—and my granddaughter Rail—sign their wall of authors? Too cool, that’s how cool.
  • In Morgantown, Skye and Amie and their crew at B & N were fab! Steve and I chatted for half an hour about his writing and attempts at publishing. It’s a killer world out there, Steve! Keep up those Sci Fi and adventure stories.
  • Returned to the scene of previous crimes at Harrisonburg, VA, B& N: Emily and Kelly and crew were also amazing. Kelly was a big fan of mine when The Consultant came out and he didn’t forget me!
  • In Ashburn B & N, Megan and her team were fab-who knew their Starbucks sold wine? Well, I found out the hard way when some fun-loving patrons stumbled over, er, visited me. No, I did not join them. Drats. I also ran into some brethren from the intelligence community and government folk. Always a pleasure to share the secret handshake and tell fibs about ourselves, right? Oh wait, I meant in books of course.
  • In Frederick, MD, many thanks to Brenda, Billie, and Debbie (and your whole crew!).  I started off with 30 people waiting to greet me at the front door. Sure, sure, it was a fire alarm in the bookstore, but the net result is the same. And, too cool- I sold my first The Hemingway Deception to wonderful Denise while still in the parking lot! Met fellow author, Scott, and started a little back and forth on email talking books; and Ray, Angela, Hannah, Kierstin, Karrie, and so many more who not only bought some books but chatted me up and made me feel like a real author! Just great people up there.
  • Spent an early afternoon at the Capon Bridge Library recently with old pal, Elizabeth, and her brilliant daughter, Audrey. I met a dozen or so board members, friends of the library, and locals. We chatted and laughed and sold some books. Can’t ask for more! Well, they didn’t like me being a Harley pilot, but they laughed at my stories, nonetheless. Next time, lunch at the famous River House gathering place a few blocks away.

So many more great people to thank but I’ll save it for my next edition.

Travels to Frederick Maryland… (L to R) Scott-fellow author- From Hagerstown; my waiting fans at the store (fire alarm); and wonderful Denise who bought my book in the parking lot waiting for the fire alarm to end!

There have also been some pretty cool happenings that didn’t require travel, fire alarms, or Starbucks coffee. Two biggies that really helped me reach out to new fans and friends:

The Big Thrill Magazine: What a thrill! my travels, I’ve had some pretty good play on the ether, too. In May, I was the first ever Big Thrill Latest Book Recommendation—yep, The Hemingway Deception and a fantastic review by pal Millie Naylor Has.

Partners In Crime Virtual Tour:  blogs, reviews, special posts, car giveaways, a million dollar sweepstakes winner . . . okay, not the car or million-bucks. But all the rest were fabulous. Authors’ attention-if you’re not booking tours at Partners in Crime, you should be. Great people. Great service. Great results.

And what about the coming weeks?

Oh, where to begin? First, as a struggling author trying to find the right place in the world that’ll make my work successful, it’s a slog. I try everything. I’ll do anything. I’m fighting the fight for sure. Next up are a few stops and then it’s back to work filling in my free weekends.

June 17th: Back to B & N Morgantown to help celebrate West Virginia day! (Selling books, of course.)

July 22: B & N Fredericksburg, VA: Looking forward to meeting Jane and her team for the first time.

August 5th: Murder As You Like IT – Mechanicsburg Mystery Bookshop, Mechanicsburg, PA: One of my fav indie bookstores! Debbie B has me back visiting at least once a year!

August 18-20: Killer Nashville: Here’s a fast-breaking story- I’ve got a solo panel to present Terrorism for Authors 101. I’m already working on my presentation and readying for the blitz of questions.

Sep 9th: B & N Manassas, VA: My first time there and I’m looking forward to meeting Tania and her folks.

Sep 19th: Rowdy Mountain Book Club, Woodstock, VA: My all time, without a doubt, fav book club! Joyce and Candi and all their fun wine & book people-er, book club people treat me like I’m a world-best seller. They are gracious and have me back annually to update on books, talk about the world’s challenges, and feed me some of the best Virginia grub in the land!

Sep 28: Muse Winery, Woodstock, VA: Now, danger-danger-danger. I’m not sure Candi understands that putting me at a book club, talking books with fun book-loving people, in a winery has inherent risks. But, I warned you-didn’t I? Tell me the truth, is this really a book event? Or . . .

Oct 7th: Up to Barnes & Noble, Camp Hill, PA: Stephanie helped me set up my first trip there and totally stoked for it! I have travelled to the area hundreds of times and done some work nearby. I am thrilled to be stopping in at the bookstore to meet the local fans and readers.

Oct 14: Eat, Read, Local in Loudoun County, VA: My third visit there and I can’t wait to see my old friends from the area. Thank you, Jason. Always a pleasure.

. . . And more to come.

REQUEST: For friends and fans, if you know of an event, bookstore, gathering, or street corner I can meet folks to talk books and sign The Hemingway Deception (within reasonable distance from Virginia), please let me know!

In closing, thank you for all the great events I’ve done so far. The bookstore folks, patrons, fans—old and new—and all those giving me a chance to tell them about The Hemingway Deception. If I missed a special thank you, send me a note and I’ll be sure to make it up!

So, hunt me down. Come meet Ana, Cat, Brennan, Trane, and the gang. Maybe even say hi to Hunter and Noor Mallory—Jax and Trick McCall, too. We’ll be waiting.


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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