Monday, January 16th, 2017 | Author:

I’ve had this problem with my author website for years. It’s not an interesting problem. It’s not even an important problem. It’s simply a problem. A little, tiny, probably insignificant problem, and it’s been bothering me for a long time.

The problem was with the social media button icons on my author website. (If you haven’t checked it out yet, by the way, it’s got nifty little goodies and extras from my books. You might want to hop over there if you’re a fan of my novels.) You see, the website theme I’m using for my blog comes with the option to customize, to a point. I can enter my pertinent social media urls into the backend to make them show up fancy-like on the website, but I could only pick from four options, with the corresponding icons to match. Facebook, Twitter, Github, and Google+.

Now, I use Facebook and Twitter for my writing so no big deal, right? But I don’t use the other two. Instead, I have a personal blog (which you’re reading! Right now!) and an new Instagram account I’m still not sure I’m using properly. I could enter those urls on the backend, but the icons for them would be wrong. In order to change this, I’d need to fiddle with the CSS of the page, something I’m woefully under-qualified to do.

So what did I do about this dumb little problem? I enlisted the help of my favorite code ninja (read: husband) and now? Problem solved! And all I had to do was hand Wes his laptop and ask him pretty please to save the day.

All better!

Easy-peasy. It helps to know a guy. And then date him. And then marry him and have kids with him.

Wednesday, January 11th, 2017 | Author:

Inspired to try something new, lest I fully succumb to my curmudgeonly tendencies, I signed up for Instagram yesterday. Now, I know all the kids these days have moved on to SnapChat, but I cannot, for the life of me, imagine what I would possibly have to SnapChat about. I can barely wrap my mind around Instagram!

That said, if you’re of a picture-enjoying sort and you’d like more frequent updates on my day-t0-day as a nobody author, saunter your fabulous self on over here. I’m going to try to update once daily, but we’ll see how that goes.

I’m really looking forward to sharing endless pictures of myself with you! Ha. No, I’ll try to throw in other images for good measure. Like maybe of my keyboard or something. See you over there!

Tuesday, January 03rd, 2017 | Author:

A very happy 2017 to all of you! It is my sincere hope that the new year is off to a merry start for all of you. As for me and mine, I’m happy to say we gamboled and feasted our way through the holidays with almost all our nearest and dearest.

Now, I’ve been told by a few kindhearted people that I need to blog more because they find my blog posts humorous and entertaining to read, to which I say, Aw shucks! To make up for the last few weeks of nonexistent content, here’s a list of what I’ve been up to in bullet-point format because I’m too lazy to put in transitions between the points so this post will seem cohesive and intentional.

  • Christmas preparation. I never realized as a kid how mind-shreddingly hectic Christmas is for mothers. Sandwiched between mile-high shopping lists and celebration logistics are class parties, decorations to put up and take down, traditions to honor/pioneer, stir-crazy kids who are on break from school and blame you that it isn’t Christmas yet, Santa pictures to take, cookies to bake, gingerbread houses to build, cocoas to stir, and gifts to wrap. It’s exhausting. I do believe, and please do correct me if I’m wrong, that December is a stay-at-home parent’s busiest month of the year.
  • Proof.

    Celebrating the return of my red hair. I had a blast with blonde hair over the spring and summer, but man it feels good to be a redhead again. I will say this for blonde hair, though: It’s MUCH lower maintenance than red hair. “But no!” you say, “It cannot be! I’ve heard blonde is constant touch-ups every couple of weeks!” Not if you do balayage, my friends, which is where they layer the color and leave a little of the root color so grow-outs aren’t so noticeable. With my blonde hair, I could do anything to it and nothing seemed to affect the color. Red, however? Red is sensitive. It’ll wash out no matter what you do, but if you use the wrong shampoo you might as well kiss your color goodbye. And I hope you don’t have white pillowcases because your hair color owns those now. They are red, just like your towels and maybe the collars of your coats as well. Might as well get used to it.

  • The British guy slaughter. Let me explain. Wes was gone on a business trip for a week in mid-December, so I figured it would be a good time to let my heart go on with Jack, Rose, and James Cameron. I poured a glass of wine each night for three nights and watched Titanic, the end of which, as always, saw me ugly-crying as I realized that yes! Her heart DID go on! She did all those things she promised him she’d do! As I dried my tears, I texted my best friend and described what I was doing so she could mock me because, come on. Who wouldn’t? When she finished laughing at me, she recommended I watch Atonement next, followed by The Painted Veil. For those not familiar with these films, they’re both excellent but, and this is a tad spoiler-y, they end tragically in the deaths of some truly likable British blokes. I think her aim in this was to see whether a middle-aged woman could, indeed, become dehydrated from crying at movies over the course of a week. As much as I enjoyed the quality of these movies, they did not, for some reason, prompt additional tears from me for reasons unknown. Maybe I was all cried out after Jack’s untimely demise? Who knows? All I know is that, for a week last month, it was very dangerous to be a British guy on my TV screen. They were seriously dropping like flies.
  • Medical mystery solved! Longtime readers will remember my years-long struggle to lose weight, with every attempt usually ending in either futility or injury. Well, the injuries have been mostly addressed and repaired, but the futility? That was a major issue. I gain weight like no one I’ve ever met (I gained ten pounds in four days, once. For no reason) and no amount of dieting or exercise can make me lose it. Well, my doctor has figured out why and, with any luck, the medications she has me on will start resulting in weight loss soon. If they don’t? Well, there are different meds. By hook or by crook, it looks like 2017 should finally be the year I finish losing the baby weight I packed on over four years ago. Here’s to finally looking like the gym rat I’ve grown to be!

That’s enough for now. Welcome to the new year, my friends. I hope it’s freaking awesome for all of you.

Monday, December 19th, 2016 | Author:

Even though I have SO much to blog about, and I WILL, I promise, I only have just enough time at this exact moment to stop by and let you all know there’s a giveaway for Bai Tide going on over at Goodreads. Proof:

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Bai Tide by Erika Mitchell

Bai Tide

by Erika Mitchell

Giveaway ends December 27, 2016.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter Giveaway

Now, here’s why this giveaway is cool:

  • It costs nothing to enter.
  • If you win, you get a printed book shipped to you for free.
  • Winners get an autographed copy of the book, plus a lovely handwritten note from me.

Seriously, there’s no reason not to enter. If you already have a copy of my book? No problem! Enter anyway and give the unsigned copy to someone else, or donate it to your library or your local old folks’ home.

The giveaway ends in one week, so get cracking and good luck!

Category: My Books  | Tags: ,  | Leave a Comment
Wednesday, December 07th, 2016 | Author:

“Yay! Someone took me seriously even though I’m a woman!”

I have been asked a few times why I wrote my books from a male perspective. After all, I do not, nor have I ever, possessed a pair of testicles, so why am I writing characters who do?

Not only that, but my male protagonists aren’t white, either. In Blood Money, my hero is an Iraqi-born Muslim living in London. In Bai Tide and Take the Bai Road, he’s a second-generation Chinese man who was born and raised in Berkeley, CA. This is weird for people, and I’m asked frequently why I wrote these characters.

After all, I’m a white chick who’s been living in the suburbs her entire life. What qualifies me to run around the literary jungle pretending I’m something I’m not?

The subtext here is odd, I think. Is it possible to ask me why I’m writing heroes who are men of color without the unspoken assumption that because I’m a white woman, I should be writing chick lit with a nice, comfortable white heroine?

After all, men who write novels from a female perspective are often praised for their bravery (here, I would refer you to Wally Lamb’s She’s Come Undone, Jon Land’s Caitlin Strong novels, or Robert Dugoni’s Tracy Crosswhite series {which is excellent, and which you should read immediately if you like thrillers}). If done well, male writers are seen as taking a bold risk writing from their heroines’ perspectives; they’re asked about their choices from a place of praise. “Oh, you did such a good job writing from a woman’s perspective, how did you do it?”

Women writers, however, are held to a different standard, measured against a different set of biases. I read a blog post recently called “Homme de Plume” about one writer’s experience querying agents under a man’s name instead of her own name, and the shocking difference that made in those agents’ reception of her work. The same book that was submitted under a woman’s name received one request for more out of twenty-five queries sent.

Under a man’s name? That same work netted seventeen requests for more out of fifty queries.

The entire post is a fantastic read and well worth your time if you’re so inclined, but what it boils down to is this: Female writers are expected to write nice, compact little stories in the expected genres. Any time you decide to color outside the lines, be it by writing the wrong kind of protagonist, writing the wrong kind of story in the wrong genre, or daring to try something new, you’re going to be fighting an uphill battle against the expectations of an industry that rarely changes and, when it does, does so only grudgingly.

All this to say, I have an answer to the question I’ve been asked so many times. Why do I write male protagonists, and why aren’t they white? Why am I writing espionage stories when I am theoretically much better qualified to write cozy little chick lit stories?

Because these are the kinds of stories I want to write. Because I like guns, and I enjoy blocking out fight scenes in my living room. Espionage is interesting, and so are explosions. Writing, at least the kind I’m trying to bring to the people who are nice enough to buy my books, should be an entertaining escape. A fun thought exercise that lets you feel, if just for a second, like you’re pulling back the curtain of national security to peek, even if just for a second, at the roiling covert landscape beneath.

And why aren’t my heroes female and white? Because they’re not. It’s just that simple. The world is full of people who don’t look like me, and when I was coming up with those stories, those are the heroes I saw doing what needed to be done.

Despite what Hollywood would have you believe, there are some problems that even a muscled white dude can’t fix.

I doubt I’ll ever submit my work under a man’s name, if only because I imagine that might make writer’s appearances and book signings problematic should the book ever get published. Instead, I’ll keep writing the stories I want to write and encouraging others to do so as well. I’m well aware that my possibly odd choice of heroes and genre may well be the reason I never see my name on a bestseller list, but that’s an ambition I’ve learned to let go.

If I can bring a few hours of enjoyment to my readers, I’ll consider my job well done, and if I can make even one person who looks different than I do feel good because there’s actually a hero who looks like him/her in a book? That’s even better.