Are You Ready to Take the Bai Road?

It hit me the other day that Take the Bai Road (book #2 of the Bai Hsu series) is coming out in less than two months. July is going to be an absolutely insane month for me, schedule-wise, thanks to the release of both Take the Bai Road and Close to the Bones, a writers conference in NYC (Thrillerfest! Woo!), and an appearance at the Eagle Harbor Book Company out on Bainbridge Island, so of course it’s right about now that I’m starting to get a bit worried about having bitten off way more than I can chew.

But listen to me, wah wah over here with my first world author problems. What I should be focusing on is that I have a new book coming out soon! It’ll be available for pre-order soon, so here’s a Q&A to fill you in on what you need to know about it:

  1. Do I need to have read Bai Tide first to enjoy Take the Bai Road? Noooooooope. You can dive right into the series with this one, and if you like it you’re welcome to circle back for Bai Tide when you’re done with taking the Bai road.
  2. What’s this one about? Bai Hsu is a CIA case officer (read: spy) who’s been stationed at Headquarters after the events of Bai Tide. He’s bored and itching to return to the field when a dangerous assignment gets dropped into his lap: His mission is to shadow a crate that’s being smuggled into Mexico along cartel trade routes by a mysterious organization that may or may not already have hooks in the U.S. government. Operating without official cover and on his own in every way, Bai must survive cartel wars, conspiracies, and chaos in order to stop corruption that reaches into the highest echelons of American power.
  3. Is Bai still a smart-ass in this one? Duh.
  4. Will I like this one? I don’t know. You’d probably better buy it and find out.
  5. Will there be more books? Yes! I’m actually in rewrites for Bai Treason (book #3 of the Bai Hsu series) as we speak. Well, right now I’m writing a blog post, but when I’m done with this post I’ll dive back into rewrites.
  6. What’s your favorite part of Take the Bai Road? The road trip with the racist truck driver, which was actually my friend Matt’s idea (he’s the King of the Beta Readers, all hail the king).
  7. Is there violence and strong language in this one? Ummm, yes. It takes place in an incredibly dangerous place with some horribly dangerous people, so yes. There’s quite a lot of violence and some profanity (though most of the profanity is in Spanish). I’d like to think the violence stays on the tasteful side of gory, though. There’s no sexual content, however, because I’m a prude.
  8. Does anyone besides you think it’s a good book? Thankfully, yes! Like this: “Mitchell’s winning tale…is constantly in motion, taking Bai from one perilous predicament to the next…Fast-paced, invigorating, and entertaining.” —Kirkus Reviews

    And this: “What makes this series so pleasurable to read is Bai himself, his somewhat snarky attitude and self doubt make him more than the mere superhero jumping into the chaos to save the day.” — Jeff Ayers for Suspense Magazine

    And this!: “Take the Bai Road is chock full of danger and suspense.  Starting with a slow burn in the power corridors of Washington, D.C., the story erupts into violence in Mexico and slams to an exciting finish in Seattle.  Bai Hsu’s search for the elusive Ghost Cartel will enthrall you.”   — Gayle Lynds, New York Times best-selling author of The Assassins

Pre-orders are coming soon, and I’m SO unbelievably eager to share this one with all of you because it’s my most ambitious story to date with twists, turns, and conflicts that absolutely rip apart everything Bai holds dear (like all good conflicts should).

Stay tuned, dear readers! The exit for the Bai Road is coming up fast!

Cockles Aglow

There’s nothing that warms the insecure, neurotic little cockles of an author’s heart than positive book reviews. You see, we work for hours upon countless hours alone, just us and the voices in our heads, and then we set these stories loose in the world for other people to read and, usually, we’re never really sure whether the things we thought were funny/scary/intense/emotional/etc. are going to land that way for other people.

And sometimes they don’t. There is not a single book out there that doesn’t have at least one bad review. Taste is subjective, and sometimes your writing just absolutely offends someone or, (worse yet?) does nothing for them. To this you can only shrug and move on. As my dad used to say, “The poop is in the pudding,” which I’ve always assumed meant the damage was done and you might as well keep on rolling.

Anyway, I got a review of Bai Tide that was such a rave, I’ve been aglow all day. It’s from book blogger Sara the Introvert, who had this to say of Bai Tide:

Bai Tide was a welcome and pleasant surprise. I love TV shows like Quantico and Criminal Minds. I’m just a sucker for a good crime or spy story. I’m also a sucker for stories that feature people who aren’t white dudes…I also loved how Mitchell handled writing the section of the book that takes place in North Korea. It’s so easy to make fun of North Korea or to make light of the situation over there, but I think she painted a real picture of it. There was nothing to suggest that she was making fun of the country; on the contrary, it seemed like she was trying to do the country justice.”

You guys, Sara gets it. All the things she pointed out as her favorites are my favorite parts of the story, too. I love that my hero isn’t a white dude with a waxed chest and sculpted jaw. I love that he has to go toe-to-toe with female spies and often gets his ass handed to him. I’m pleased and punch that she felt I did North Korea justice.

That was my goal. That was why I spent so many hours researching North Korea, giving myself nightmares in the process. It’s why I consulted native Korean speakers to get the Korean bits of dialogue correct. It’s why I haunted Google Maps so much I could probably navigate around Pyongyang pretty easily.

North Korea is a human rights travesty and, as easy as it is to make fun of North Korea, the people who are suffering and starving at the mercy of a tyrannical, paranoid despot deserve better.

So anyway, this review made my whole day. You can click here to read the whole thing; it’s a good read.

(By the way {or should I say, Bai the way? Heh heh heh}, Bai Tide is available in print with the kickass new cover, and it’s only $10.95!!! Check it out!)

Happy Cinco de Mayo, my friends! Hoist a margarita for me tonight!

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.

Gulp.

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.