Return of the Auntie

At long last, I have returned from my adventures in the sunny wilds of southern California. I spent a lovely week taking care of my sister in law and brand new nephew which, if you’ve ever taken care of a newborn, you know means hundreds of tiny tasks that don’t seem like much and yet, somehow, still take up an entire day. The fatigue didn’t catch up to me until Sunday afternoon, when I quite simply ran out of gas and had to collapse into bed for a two-hour nap.

My husband was incredible in my absence, however, and managed to work his full-time job while also keeping our children alive and on time for school. I came home to a house that was freshly vacuumed, swept, and scrubbed. The laundry was done, the trashcans were empty, and my car was washed, vacuumed, and full of gas. It was the absolute best way to come home, and I felt truly loved. Those of you who know me well know that I’ll take a clean house and car over flowers and chocolates any day.

Somehow before I left, I was able to submit the final edits to my editor for Take the Bai Road, and I’m thiiiiiiiiis close to finishing the short story I’m submitting to the anthology that’s coming out in the fall. Good thing, too, because the deadline for that is on Friday.


In other news, my book cover designer is almost done with the cover for Take the Bai Road and it is sweeeeeeeeeet. Oh man, this series is looking pretty darn slick, if I do say so myself. I’ll share it as soon as she’s put the final touches on it and hopefully we can start offering pre-orders.

Stay tuned!

Updates and Appearances and Anthologies, Oh My!

I just got back from a quick trip down to CA to visit family with my two children and these are the things I learned:

  • CA gets crazy flooding when there’s a monsoon-style downpour.
  • Dramamine makes my children almost catatonic.
  • In N Out is still delicious and the best thing ever.

I seem to have caught a cold while I was visiting, however, which is kind of a bummer because I’ve been invited back to do a guest lecture for the Writing for Publication class at Northwest University and I have this weird feeling like I’m going to need my voice for that. I’m getting really excited about it.

I had the chance to do this a couple years ago and it was a blast. There’s something invigorating and inspiring about discussing the craft of writing with other people who are as passionate about it as you are, and I fully expect to have a fantastic time (assuming, of course, that I have use of my voice and will not have to conduct the lecture via semaphore).

From one of my favorite Monty Python sketches, Wuthering Heights by Semaphore.

I’ve also recently applied to participate in the LitQuake Festival in San Francisco this fall, so fingers crossed for that, and I’m most likely doing a book singing on Bainbridge Island at the Eagle Harbor Book Company in late July as well. All told, 2017 is shaping up to be a very busy year, which is great because there’s almost nothing more frustrating than trying to get the promotional wheels spinning only to have nothing happen.

Oh! And I almost forgot the coolest thing that happened last week: I got invited by my writing buddy AC Fuller to participate in a thriller anthology that’s coming out in the fall! How cool is that?! Doing an anthology is on my writer bucket list, so I’m delighted the timing worked out for it.

I’m submitting a short story about what happens when Bai goes home to visit his parents after the events of Take the Bai Road. Hint: stuff happens. Lots of stuff.

I had a blast writing the story, and I think it’ll be a fun amuse bouche for those of you looking for something to read in between Take the Bai Road and book number three, which will be called Bai Treason. (Oh, man. Bai Treason is GOOD. I can’t wait to get started on revisions for that one after I finish Take the Bai Road and the anthology short story).

All in all, things are looking busy in a good way. Full steam ahead!

Toasting Marshmallows with Robert Ludlum’s Ghost

When I was a brand-new writer, the publishing world was overwhelming and intimidating. What was a query? How do you pitch? What’s a three-act structure? Why does no one use prologues anymore? And what’s the difference between awhile and a while?

I learned, as most authors do, the hard way. I self-published a book before it was ready because I didn’t know better. I wrote a book with a 20,000-word prologue. I used adverbs. I made one of my protagonists a writer. I thought people would just buy a book without any marketing effort on my part.

Over time, and through the loving tutelage of such fine organizations as the PNWA and ITW, I learned. I matured as a writer (maybe as a person?), and started learning the ropes.

Those ropes, as it turns out, are even more intimidating the more you learn them. It’s not until you’ve busted your butt trying to rustle up sales that you realize how remarkable it really is to earn that “New York Times bestselling author” distinction after your name. It’s not until you’ve done a book signing for an empty room that you understand how amazing it is when authors like Neil Gaiman pack entire theaters with eager audiences who want to hear him speak.

Over time, I’ve met some incredible authors. Generous, kind, helpful souls like Jon Land, Robert Dugoni, and Ted Kosmatka, who all blurbed my last book, Bai Tide. Or Anne Rice, who was kind enough to pose for a picture with me and answer my question at a Q&A she did in New York in 2013. Or Jeff Ayers, who’s a book reviewer, board member for the PNWA, and author in his own right.

And then there was the time RL Stine told me I grew up okay despite devouring all of his books in my youth.

I have too many writing heroes to name, and they’re all on my list for different reasons. Some of them are there because their books taught me something valuable about what writing could be. Some of them are there because they’re admirable people who help and serve and contribute. And still other are there because they’re all of those things and more.

Gayle Lynds is one of the all of the above heroines. She’s a legend in the thriller writing community, and one of the foremost espionage authors of all time. She’s also, lucky for me, a kind person who makes time to help nobodies like me.

When she agreed to read my book to possibly consider providing a blurb for it, I sent it off to her with my heart in my throat. I was so nervous, I held onto the package for so long that the mail clerk asked me if I was okay.

I told her I was and surrendered it to her, but how could I be okay? What if it wasn’t ready? What if Gayle hated it? What if she burned it and then toasted marshmallows over it while complaining to Robert Ludlum’s ghost about how schlocky these new authors are?

A month later, not only did Gayle email me back with an incredible blurb, she had the grace to thank me for sending it to her! Can you believe such a thing? I couldn’t. I read her email five times just to make sure I wasn’t hallucinating.

So take it from me, kids. Dreams come true if you work for them and get really, really lucky. Here it is, folks. This is what Gayle had to say about Take the Bai Road, which is coming out in July 2017.


A cover this awesome doesn’t need an intro. It just speaks for itself.

I worked with Beth Morrell to come up with a cover that would convey the danger and intrigue of this story. I love the menace of the North Korean star coming up over the Pyongyang skyline in the background, and the sullen red color.

The new cover design should be uploaded soon and available for purchase soon. I’ll post everywhere when it’s ready. Until then, I’ll just admire it here.

New Covers, Ahoy!

I’ve never spoken publicly about my dislike of my book cover for Bai Tide because I am totes professional and all that. There’s no accounting for taste, and my publisher said it was fine so we left it at that and I did my best to sell some books.

Well, it turns out that nobody else liked my cover, either, and the feedback I received was that my book sounded interesting but the cover was too much of a turnoff. Bummer, right?

Then came the new year and, with it, news that my publisher was under new management. When we discussed it, it turns out the new head of my publishing house agreed the cover could use some updating and now, to my barely-containable glee and excitement, BAI TIDE IS GETTING A NEW COVER!!!

And, even better, my friend Beth Morrell is designing it! You might remember her as the genius who designed the cover for her brother Ben Morrell’s book, Greatly, Deeply. (Remember that project I worked on? Well, it’s still an awesome book. You should go read it.)

Stunning, right?

Beth is so very, very talented and I’m lucky to have her help. She sent me a rough sketch last night and even the rough sketch was fricking awesome. I can’t wait to share the new cover with all of you. My publisher and I have some pretty ambitious marketing plans in the works so my hope is that with a new cover and some wider exposure, Bai can start catching on with some new readers.

Things are getting exciting around here, my friends. Only 164 days until Take the Bai Road comes out!