28

I have been alive 28 whole years. It is an astounding privilege to say that, because I know that life is tenuous and there is no guarantee of old age for me or anybody. I think about that every time I get to celebrate a birthday, how grateful I am to see another May 25 tick by on the calendar.

I spent my birthday surrounded by my favorite things: Great food and fun people. I’ve decided that 28 is going to be an adventurous year. My comfort zone is getting a little too comfortable, if you know what I mean.

Maybe I’ll write another book. It’s possible I’ll finally make good on my repeated desire to learn how to pick locks. This may even be the year I master cooking chicken (not likely, but I’ll give it a go).

Either way, I’m going to lose weight and get healthy again (bum knee bedarned), finish working on my friend Ben‘s book, and send my little guy off to school. I’m going to laugh as often as I’m able, love as richly as I can, and see if I can’t make it to 29 astounded by what life has thrown my way.

Yeah. That sounds pretty good. Y’all are welcome to laugh, love, and be astounded right along with me if you like. I enjoy good company :)

Dwell in Possibility review

Dwell in Possibility just posted a review of Blood Money and it’s maybe the most gratifying review I’ve ever read in my life. All the things she loved about the book are the things I enjoyed most about writing it!

Here’s my favorite excerpt (it was tough to pick just one excerpt. I really just wanted to copy/paste the whole darn thing):

Mitchell never stoops to justifying criminal actions, but she does remind the reader that people who commit horrific crimes are still people. I suppose it’s a case of “there but for the grace of God…,” and in my opinion it’s a good reminder. (After all, dehumanizing people is never the correct response to violent crime from those people.)

Head on over to read the whole review for yourself. It’s humbling and exhilarating and I love it so much I want to wallpaper my house with it!

(This review was part of a book tour organized by TLC Book Tours, an outstanding organization every author should use.)

Tiffany’s Bookshelf Review

Tiffany’s Bookshelf reviewed my book, Blood Money, as part of a book tour organized by TLC Book Tours. I’m thrilled to say that Tiffany LOVED it!

My favorite quote from her review:

“Typically, books involving espionage and terrorism are just not my thing, but this book really captured me from the start.  I think these types of books hit a little close to home, and make readers think about all the hidden terrorist cells around the world; it is a little scary.  But this book is well written.  I particularly enjoyed the character of Azzam.  I liked that the “good guy” is a Muslim born in Iraq.  It makes the reader really think about how there are good people as well as bad people in all religions and ethnicities.”

Her whole review is great, and well worth a read!

A Tale of Two Obesities

After I had my son, my weight hovered in the mid 220’s despite a year of breastfeeding. Perplexed and convinced I was doing the whole “Breastfeeding Makes You Lose Weight!” thing wrong, I hied myself to the gym shortly after he was weaned and lost forty pounds in about six months.

Yay me!

How did I do it? Personal training (Thanks, Fitness Together!) and eating less. I counted my calories using a nifty phone app, exercised more in six months than in the preceding 27 years of my life, and listened to my personal trainers. If they told me to do something, you could consider something done.

Then, alas, I broke a bone in my foot, wore a boot for two months, got pregnant, had a complicated pregnancy (that it was complicated because the boot threw my spine and hips out of alignment I wouldn’t find out until too late), had a c-section, and then tragically tore the meniscus in my knee when I tried to go back to the gym four months after my daughter was born.

Sad me.

Now that my daughter is weaned, I’m ready to try to make lightning strike again. The good folks at Fitness Together (in Issaquah, if you’re interested) are taking me on again to teach me how to exercise with my bum knee, I’ve got a new calorie counting app on my phone, and I’m ready to recognize myself again.

You know that feeling where you think you look okay in the mirror but then you see yourself in a picture and you’re aghast? I’m tired of that feeling.

This time, there are Zumba classes at the personal training studio. I’ve never done Zumba but it sounds like a blast! Get ready Issaquah, it’s about to get a whole lot flailier in your city on Monday nights…

Wish me luck, won’t you? Losing baby weight is hard work. It’s a thousand decisions not to dive into a bag of chocolate chips whenever your kids are driving you crazy and throwing out the remains of their luscious  grilled cheese sandwiches rather than eating them. It’s repealing the lies you’ve told yourself, such as, “I was good at lunch today so I can have a big dinner AND dessert” or “I’m pretty sure I read somewhere that chocolate chip pancakes will make me live longer.”

As of this morning I’m 235 pounds and can’t really climb a staircase without feeling winded. Here’s hoping that by next Christmas I’ll be out of the 200’s and able to keep up whenever my son decides to sprint across the park.

3v1

I was chatting with a writing buddy the other day about the merits of third person versus first person storytelling points of view. For those not in the know, first person storytelling is considered amateurish by the writing elite, while third person is far preferred.

For those writers (like me) who cut their writing teeth via blogging, this poses a problem. Basically, we’re told that our natural writing style, in which we are proficient and comfortable, will all but scream THIS PERSON DOESN’T KNOW WHAT THEY’RE DOING to anyone who reads it.

Having written books in both third person and first person, and read successful NYT bestselling books in both styles, I’ve decided it doesn’t really matter. Maybe some people will always think first person is lame, but whatever. Someone will always find something wrong with your writing, and that’s a bummer for them because they’re dismissing so many wonderful books out of hand just because they use “I” instead of “he” or “she.”

I think it really depends on the story you’re telling. When I wrote Blood Money, I told it in third person because I was writing it from multiple perspectives and my main character, Azzam, was always a bit of a mystery to me. He’s a closed book, so to speak, and I felt like writing him from the outside looking in was the most natural way to write him.

My most recent draft, Bai Tide, however, is written from first person because I’m in Bai’s head. I know him really well, so I felt comfortable letting him run the whole show.

I guess this all goes to show you that adverbs, first person point of view, prologues, epilogues, and starting books with dialogue (these are all considered No No’s for the most part) be darned. You either tell the story you have to tell, in the way that seems most natural to you, or you falter with awkwardness because you’re trying to write like a cat walking on its hind legs.

That’s not to say that you can’t ever try to grow as a writer and try new things. That would be terrible advice. What I’m trying to say is, write what makes you happy. Fix it later if you must. Trust that if the story and storytelling are strong enough, your readers will enjoy just about anything you can think up.

Even, yes, first person.