This is What Comes of Leaving the House

This dog has nothing to do with this post, I just like how annoyed he seems by what he has to put up with.

I was invited to a cocktail party Saturday by some of the wonderful people I met at ThrillerFest last week, and it was hands down my most interesting evening of the week. Now, Wes has been gone since early Tuesday morning, so my bar for interesting is set pretty low these days, but even by normal standards it was noteworthy.

To start the evening off, I did my hair and makeup alone but when it was time to get dressed my five year old daughter took over. When I told her I was going to a grown-up party, she considered all my dresses before selecting the black and white tea-length dress I bought on a whim last month. It was a little dressy for the occasion, but I went with it because 1) I’m not arguing fashion with my daughter and 2) she was so enthusiastic about her sartorial victory, only a monster would have taken that away from her.

I drove Wes’s Mustang out to Seattle for the party, which is always a dicey proposition when I’m feeling pretty because I get kind of cocky when I feel pretty and my driving reflects that. I’m telling you, you haven’t truly passed someone until you’ve passed them in a Mustang. I had my sunglasses on, my Girl Power playlist going, and I was feeling good.

I parked in an adjacent neighborhood to where the party was because I knew I could find parking there and then just took an Uber the rest of the way. My first driver was a 23-year old Chinese-American man who regaled me with stories about his mother’s intimidation techniques. When I told him about Bai, my character, and how a reviewer had recently commented that it seemed unlikely to him that Bai’s parents would disapprove of his chosen profession, my Uber driver laughed and said I’d nailed it.

Gotta admit, that felt pretty good.

The party itself was a lot of fun. Great food, killer view, and I was surrounded by stage actors and the people who love them. Actors make for very diverting company, it turns out.

My Uber driver for the ride home was a guy who’d moved here from Palestine six years ago. He holds a Master’s degree in comparative literature and says driving for Uber is the price he pays for picking that field of study. He also expounded on his views of the Israel/Palestine dispute, which I didn’t feel qualified to comment on so I just listened instead.

Do you see what comes of leaving the house, intrepid readers? You meet interesting people and get to do interesting things.

Win a Road Trip with a Spy

Hello, faithful readers! I’m back on the west coast, mostly over my jet lag, and working hard on Bai Treason (book #3 of the Bai Hsu series, and the last one for a while).

I just wanted to make sure you all know about the giveaway that’s going on over at Goodreads right now. You can win a paperback copy of Take the Bai Road, but you only have a few more days to enter!

Good luck!

 

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Take the Bai Road by Erika Mitchell

Take the Bai Road

by Erika Mitchell

Giveaway ends July 25, 2017.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter Giveaway

This Story Has Everything

You guys, I’m so excited! It’s always been on my bucket list to participate in an anthology, so when I was invited to contribute a story to Close to the Bones by my writer friend A.C. Fuller, I said yes without even considering the answers to either of these very important considerations:

  • Did I have time to write a new story? No, I did not. I was in the middle of revisions and edits for TAKE THE BAI ROAD and the revisions for BAI TREASON were waiting patiently for me to get to them. I absolutely did not have time.
  • Did I have an idea for a new story? Oh, um, nope. No, I did not. And because  I had very little practice writing in a shorter medium, most of my ideas turned out to be too long.

I didn’t let a little thing like no time and no idea stop me, though. I forged ahead, determined to play with the the real authors, all of whom have contributed to anthologies throughout the course of their careers.

To be honest, it felt really good to write something new. I’ve been living in Revisions Land so long, I’d forgotten the wild abandon of throwing words onto a blank page. With a lot of help from my critique partners and beta readers, several of whom lovingly pointed out to me that a short story is short so the beginning should just get to the point already thankyouverymuch, I was able to carve a solidly entertaining short story out of the long, rambling stream of consciousness that is my mind.

Where am I going with all this? Ha! Yes. The point. You’d like it, please.

The point is this: I wrote a short story called The Spy Who Came in from the East Coast (name that classic espionage reference!) and it’s available now for purchase in an anthology that finally came out today!

What’s the story about? CIA case officer Bai Hsu, of course, and what happens when he goes home to visit his disapproving parents for the first time since he joined the CIA. It takes place after the events of TAKE THE BAI ROAD, so be aware of the order in which you read them.

In this story, you’ll find out what Bai’s REAL name is (Bai Hsu is his official cover name), meet his parents, and get to know some truly violent members of LA’s gangland underworld.

via GIPHY

In the immortal words of Stefan, this story has everything: humor, sarcasm, a car chase, gunfights, and Chinese home cooking.

So go pick up a copy of CLOSE TO THE BONES (which will only be available on Amazon), available now for a freaking STEAL of a price at just $0.99. It has stories from ten other authors, too, so get thee to a pool STAT, put up your feet, and enjoy.

Happy reading!

The Definition of a Successful Author

I was chatting with a fellow author this afternoon and she  told me something that was pretty cool. According to her brother in law, who’s a literary fiction author, the incredible sense of camaraderie and accessibility that’s become one of the hallmarks of the thriller writer community is somewhat of an oddity in the publishing world. He told her the literary fiction world is considerably more cutthroat, and that we should be grateful to be in our genre.

I don’t think this is because of our genre. I think the reason for the ongoing buddy comedy that is most of the author friendships I’ve observed and made here at the conference are only made possible because of the ITW (International Thriller Writers). The organization’s founders specifically built mentorship and service into the mission of the ITW. This has resulted in a vibrant, friendly, and empowering support network.

I’ve attended three ThrillerFest conferences so far, and every single one has been a well-oiled machine. I’ve never felt like there was any sort of separation, implied or overt, between the Big Name Authors and those of us who can count our book sales using a child’s abacus.

Last night, I was invited out to have dinner with some of the presenters from the conference and it was a blast. They were welcoming, gracious, and made me feel like one of the group even though I’d only met one of them before. The most important thing I took away from those conversations (which went on until very late last night) was that no one’s career rises in a straight line. You never know which project of yours will take off, which means you just need to keep moving forward and try not to look back too much.

This morning, I attended a panel discussion featuring authors whose book sales can be measured in the millions. The moderator asked, “What is the definition of a successful author?”

The overwhelming consensus is that a successful author is one who gets it done. Writes a book, gets it out, writes another, gets it out, writes another, etc. No one mentioned sales or reviews. It was all about the writing. Each book you write promotes the books you’ve written before, which means the best thing you can do to sell books is, duh. Write more.

It was exactly what I needed to hear.

Man, I love this conference. I’m going to be sad when it’s over. And then I’m going to sleep. You guys, I’m going to sleep so much.

A Quick ThrillerFest Update

Today was the first day of the conference for me, and as always I’m exhilarated, exhausted, encouraged, intimidated, hopeful, and despondent. The trick to surviving a conference where you’re breathing the same air as the people who brought Rambo and Jack Reacher to life is to realize you will never, ever sell as many books as they have. Once you accept that simple truth, a healthy amount of hopelessness sets in and you’ll be right where you need to be.

Let’s see, this morning I attended a class on autopsies, learned how to structure a thriller from one of my favorite legends in the field (the incomparable Gayle Lynds, who is articulate and pleasing to listen to), and learned more about the ATF than I ever thought I would.

It’s been a long day (my first session was at 8 AM, and I’m only now sitting down for a break at 6 PM) but I have one last event tonight before I can collapse in an introvert coma. Cocktails and networking, here I come! And then? There’s a pillow with my name on it.