I Spy Valentine’s Day

As Valentine’s Day sidles up close enough to air-kiss you against your will, I just wanted to wish all of you a happy February 14th. Depending on who you ask, Valentine’s Day is either a fun excuse to be sappy and romantic, an annoying schlock-fest that is to be endured, or the WORST THING TO HAPPEN ALL YEAR.

I made the above valentine to share with all of you, regardless of how you feel about tomorrow. Always remember, my books are here for you whenever you’re looking for either excitement or you feel like shooting something.

Want to know more? Click here for Take the Bai Road, and here for Bai Tide.


Book Trailers!

I finally pep-talked myself out of my camera avoidance and created book trailers for each of my three books! I even posted them to YouTube!

If you want to see what an author looks like using her spoken words to describe her written words (is that meta?), give these a listen. They’re all less than two minutes each.

Click here for my YouTube channel.

Click here for the Blood Money trailer.

Here’s where you’ll find the Bai Tide trailer.

And here’s the one for Take the Bai Road.

Thanks for watching!

The Exploding Envelope Series: CIA Headquarters

Leading up to the release of Take the Bai Road, and the re-release of Bai Tide, I’ve started a blog series about various espionage terms. Today’s installment? An exploration of CIA Headquarters, which are actually pretty cool.

You know what’s annoying? The CIA won’t give authors a tour of their building. Wait. Scratch that. They will, if you’re a major headline-type author (I happen to know that several of the instructors at the 2014 ThrillerFest I went to got to go on a tour after the conference), but regular schmoes need not apply. I’ve asked the CIA’s entertainment liaison, just to confirm I’m not a big enough deal, yet. That’s a good goal, right, guys? To be a big enough deal as a writer to merit a tour of CIA Headquarters?

Anyway, the CIA’s Headquarters in Langley, Virginia are pretty cool. Not much of Bai Tide takes place there, but parts of Blood Money do, as do parts of Take the Bai Road. Here’s what you need to know about one of the more secretive workplaces in the country.

This is the Old Headquarters Building (or OHB for those in the know). It’s a feat of 1950’s architecture, the designers of which worked off DCI Allen Dulles’ vision of a college-like campus for officers to work in. It contains a whopping 1,400,000 square feet of space.

I’ve had to use a little creative license to imagine how that space is utilized. The CIA is understandably cagey about the layout of their building, but they do share some aspects of it. Like this awesome tile inlay on the lobby floor:

This seal is made of granite and measures sixteen feet across. The symbology of the seal is as follows: Eagle (Our national bird, it stands for strength and alertness) Sixteen-point star (Represents the convergence of intelligence data from around the world that all meets at a central point) Shield (Defense)

This is the Memorial Wall, which is on the north wall of the OHB lobby. Each of the 125 stars represents an intelligence officer who gave his or her life in service of the U.S., The criteria for inclusion on the wall is strict: “Inclusion on the Memorial Wall is awarded posthumously to employees who lose their lives while serving their country in the field of intelligence. Death may occur in the foreign field or in the United States. Death must be of an inspirational or heroic character while in the performance of duty; or as the result of an act of terrorism while in the performance of duty; or as an act of premeditated violence targeted against an employee, motivated solely by that employee’s Agency affiliation; or in the performance of duty while serving in areas of hostilities or other exceptionally hazardous conditions where the death is a direct result of such hostilities or hazards.”

That book you see in the middle of the Memorial Wall? It’s the CIA Book of Honor. It lists the names of 91 officers who died in service, and 34 stars to represent the lives of those whose identities must, even in death, remain a secret. Can you imagine passing this every day on your way in to work?

Also in the OHB is the CIA Library. It’s extensive, and makes a prominent appearance in Take the Bai Road. Imagine every research tool you’d need to understand or investigate something from a different part of the world and you’ll find it in there.

The OHB is also home to several thoughtful memorials, a portrait gallery of directors past, a gallery of U.S. presidents, a museum filled with important items from the CIA’s storied past, and an art collection. It’s massive, and from what I’ve read, each new employee gets a tour their first day.

Now this is the New Headquarters Building, or NHB. By the 1980’s the CIA was bursting at the seams so they built this. It is two six-story office towers built into a hillside behind the OHB and the entrance is actually on the fourth floor.

They weren’t kidding about the college campus. The entire Headquarters property occupies 258 acres of land, and much of it is landscaped like this.

This is just one of many art installations on the CIA campus. It’s called Kryptos. Found at the entrance of the NHB, it contains complicated codes that apparently still have not fully been cracked.

Believe it or not, there actually is a Starbucks in CIA Headquarters. The first chapter of Take the Bai Road takes place there, as a matter of fact. Don’t believe me? Read this article on “Store Number 1.”

If you want more, the CIA’s website has a photo tour of their headquarters that’s a lot of fun. Feel free to take a look and let me know what captured your interest!

Did you enjoy this post? If so, be sure to order a copy of one of my books for more in-depth looks at the fascinating world of espionage!

The Exploding Envelope Series: An introduction

I’ve been lucky enough to have had three spy novels published in the six years since I’ve been a professional writer. I’ve learned a lot, and I’m going to start sharing some of what I’ve learned with all of you in honor of the impending release of Take the Bai Road (Book 2 of the Bai Hsu series) on July 3, 2017 (woo hoo!).

Every Tuesday for the month of June, I’m publishing a blog post that pulls the curtain back on some aspects of the shadowy world of espionage in a series I’m calling The Exploding Envelope Series.

Why an exploding envelope? Well, I watched a lot of Mission Impossible in my youth and I’ve always loved how dramatic it was when the hero received his orders and then the ominous voice said, “This message will self-destruct in three, two, one…” BOOM!

So for now, this is just a heads-up that there will be some fun content coming up around here starting next week.

Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to read those blog posts, learn cool new stuff about the spy trade, and then order and read a copy of Bai Tide if you haven’t already so that you’re ready when Take the Bai Road comes out in July.

Good luck!

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!