Canlis book celebration 2013 6As of Sunday, I am 29 years old. This is it. The last year of my twenties. Starting Monday, every day will be an opportunity to put a cap on an action-packed decade that, among other things, held the following events for me:

  • I got married.
  • I bought a house.
  • I got a dog (whom we still miss every day).
  • I had two babies.
  • I wrote six novels.
  • I curated and edited a cancer memoir for a friend.
  • I visited four countries.
  • I realized one of my huge life goals in getting published for the first time.
  • I gained and lost over one hundred pounds.
  • I shook Anne Rice’s hand.
  • RL Stine told me I turned out okay.
  • Paid off two student loans.
  • Graduated college with honors.

All this, and I’ve still got one more whole year to go out and do stuff with. The twenties were a great decade for me. I mean, not universally. There was the year where Wes and I both lost our jobs within a week of each other. We had to give up our beloved dog for medical adoption when his medical expenses got to be too much. I lost my dad in my twenties, a heartbreaking loss just a few months before my son was born. I’ve survived two surgeries, found out my knees aren’t terribly reliable, and gotten plenty of writing rejection this decade. It was, like every other decade, full of things from both sides of the emotional spectrum.

And yet, it was great. It was the decade that lasted forever, it feels like. As of next year, I’ll have been married for 1/3 of my life. Wes and I have crammed a whole lot of living into that decade, and I’m optimistic we’ll do the same for the next. And the one after that, and the one after that.

So here’s to 29. The bright red cherry on top of the huge, intricate, tasty, and probably fattening sundae that was my twenties.

My Friend the Photographer

So I have this friend. His name is Aaron. He just so happens to be married to one of my closest friends. Her name is Jennifer. They just moved here from Missouri, which makes me super happy because trying to drink margaritas together from half a continent away doesn’t really work. Not well, anyway.

So my friend Aaron, he’s a photographer. A really talented one. Believe me when I say I don’t throw that word around lightly, because I don’t. Even I, with my plebeian eyes, can tell he’s got an eye, so that should tell you something.

Photo credit: Aaron James Imagery

Photo credit: Aaron James Imagery

Anyway, he’s getting his photography business set up here in Washington. This means he’s offering a special that’s so good I have to blog about it and share because seriously? You’d be crazy to pass this up.

Photo credit: Aaron James Imagery

Photo credit: Aaron James Imagery

Are you ready? Because here it is: He’s doing family photography sessions for $75! Amazing!!!

Photo credit: Aaron James Imagery

Photo credit: Aaron James Imagery

He took my family’s pictures last year and I was thrilled with the result. Those pictures are worth every penny.

Photo credit: Aaron James Imagery

Photo credit: Aaron James Imagery

If you live in Washington and have a family you’d like amazing photos of, contact him. Take advantage of this offer while it lasts!


Long-time readers of my blog (and/or people who traffic me in real life) know that my left knee is kind of a wreck. I mean, from the outside, it’s fine enough I suppose as long as you don’t mind the small arthroscopic scars from the surgery I had last year. On the inside, though? It’s a bigger wreck than any wreck that has ever wrecked.

What’s wrong with it? Well, that was the question, wasn’t it?

When I first injured it, I went to an orthopedic surgeon who shrugged and said it sounded like a meniscus tear, but that I was too young for a meniscus tear so I should try physical therapy. When the PT didn’t work, I went back and he ordered an MRI and lo and behold, meniscus tear! I rogue one, apparently, that didn’t care how old I was.

We blamed it on my hips being messed up after wearing a boot for a broken toe. I went to a chiropractor, got surgery to remove the rogue meniscus troublemaker, and did my PT. My knee felt great!

That is, until I was carrying laundry up the stairs one day and BAM! Another meniscus tear, this time confirmed by an MRI with contrast right away. My surgeon’s prognosis? My knee is messed up, just keep up the PT, don’t do anything more strenuous than walking, and if it hurts more we’ll do more surgery.

Big. Fat. Bummer. My knee hurt. All the time. A lot. And I didn’t want more surgery if we had no idea why my knee was shredding meniscus like Swiss cheese.

My, waiting in the exam room for someone to jam a needle into my knee.

Me, waiting in the exam room for someone to jam a needle into my knee.

At the urging of my friend Jennifer (who is hilarious and has a Tumblr I very much enjoy) I got a second opinion. And you know what? It turns out I’m not doomed to a lifetime of pain and barely being able to walk at the tender age of 28! I just need some injections of synthetic joint fluid and orthotics to correct my legs, which are slightly knock-kneed. That’s been the culprit all along!


Well, except the injections. I got the first one last Thursday and, let me tell you, it’s several different kinds of squicky and uncomfortable. But. BUT! My knee feels SO GOOD. I had COMPLETELY forgotten how good a knee can feel. It’s like someone sprayed WD-40 in my joint and life is smoooooooooooooth.

Let this be a lesson to you: If a doctor doesn’t seem to have a good grasp of what’s going on with you, even if he/she’s great on paper, high thee to a different doctor. STAT. It makes a world of difference!

Put a Pin in Book #3

This is, obviously, Stewie from Family Guy. I did not draw this.

This is, obviously, Stewie from Family Guy. I did not draw this.

For those of you not following me on Twitter or who haven’t “Liked” me on Facebook


Yep. True story. I typed the last word (which, incidentally, is ‘spy’)¬†on that sucker and then had to run to get my kids. That ending was a real beast, I had to rewrite it three times because I just couldn’t seem to get it right. I knew what I wanted from it, I just had a hard time getting there. To the extent that I was in the worst mood possible Tuesday night after writing 3,000 words in what I knew was the wrong direction. I knew I had to delete everything I’d just done and try again, and it was really ticking me off because I’ve been working on this book for months now and I really wanted that satisfying ending.

The trouble was, I couldn’t seem to find it. I was so irritated about the whole thing (you would be, too! Imagine writing your favorite climax ever and then not being able to figure out how to land the story as a whole. Infuriating!) I prayed about it and, wouldn’t you know? The idea I’d been looking for plopped right into my brain. It was pretty cool.

What’s next for me now? Well, let’s see. I need to go back for an initial rewrite and revision on Book #2, which I finished in February and haven’t touched since then. After that, I work like crazy on my pitch for ThrillerFest, where I’m hoping to land a fantastic agent who likes bad puns as much as I do and will land me a big, juicy publishing contract.

For those of you keeping track, the books are working-titled as followed:

  • Bai Tide (Book #1, takes place almost right after the events of Blood Money. Bai falls in love, gets tortured in North Korea, and and goes off-roading in an armored school bus)
  • Take the Bai Road (Book #2, think Mexican drug cartels, a massive conspiracy, and domestic terrorism)
  • Never Say Bai (Book #3, from Kiev to Manhattan, Bai gets drawn into a fight between a disgruntled ex-spy and nefarious corporation)

These books are a ton of fun, and I think Bai has yet more adventures in him. Now I just need to get someone to pay me vast sums of money for them!

Erika is a Hypocrite

webcamspai_550Okay, absolute hypocrite time: There’s a guy next to me at Starbucks right now who’s done nothing on his computer but browse guns and ammunition since he sat down. And he’s making me nervous.

Isn’t that just the height of irony? I mean, come on. A week ago, I was sitting right here researching grenade launchers. This guy’s shopping for deals on a handgun and suddenly I’m Miss Prude, who only browses Pinterest and wears sweater sets while she’s at Starbucks.

Still, I know I’m not a psycho. I have no such reassurances about the hairy, bearded dude next to me with the Russian accent and lumberjack shirt.

It’s probably a good thing I sit in a corner and no one can really see what I’m looking at, isn’t it? Can you imagine how sketchy I’d look? The people around me would be thinking, Oh, sure, she drove here in a minivan, but she’s researching artillery and MTA subway lines! Shouldn’t someone call the authorities? Why isn’t she on some NSA watch list?!

You know, come to think of it, I probably am on a watch list somewhere. I bet the people who check in on me once in awhile are pretty bored with the rest of my Internet activities. I’m on Facebook a lot, and other than that, I’m on Reddit looking at funny memes. Pret-ty boring.

[I feel like I should state for the record that I am a nice lady who stays home with her kids and writes thriller novels for fun. I research sketchy things purely for the sake of my writing. Please don’t arrest me.]