Wednesday, September 3, 2014

My First Audio Book Sale!

I signed the contract last week and the announcement went out in yesterday's Publishers Lunch, so it's official: I've signed my first audio book contract! In addition to The Accidental Alchemist hitting bookstore shelves and eReaders in January, it will now also be an audio book. Special thanks to the Sisters in Crime Guppies for spotting the announcement. Thanks for all the congratulations yesterday!

Thursday, August 28, 2014

My Stowaway Gargoyle in Portland

Dori is a sneaky little gargoyle. He's gotten into the habit of stowing away in my bag when I go out of town. Earlier this month I visited Portland, where my new Accidental Alchemist mystery series is set, and Dori came along for the ride.

Dori at Powell's Books, finding Juliet Blackwell's books.
(The character Oscar in Juliet's witchcraft series is half gargoyle.)

Dori with mystery authors Lisa Alber and Cindy Brown.

Confused by all the coffee in Portland.

Book research at River View Cemetery. The leaves are changing color so early this year!

A dinner party before heading home from a wonderful trip.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

The Accidental Alchemist: a gorgeous book cover, plus Alchemist mugs

My next book, The Accidental Alchemist, comes out in January, 2015. This month, the fun has already begun -- check out the gorgeous book cover! 

The Accidental Alchemist is the first book in a new series, and I'm working with a new publisher (Midnight Ink), so I didn't know what to expect. Therefore I was absolutely thrilled when they hired one of my favorite illustrators (Hugh D'Andrade) to design the cover. Isn't it awesome?

Here's the book jacket text:

A modern tale of ancient intrigue from a USA Today bestselling author

When Zoe Faust—herbalist, alchemist, and recent transplant to Portland, Oregon—begins unpacking her bags, she can't help but notice she's picked up a stow away: a living, breathing, three-and-half-foot gargoyle. Dorian Robert-Houdin is no simple automaton, nor is he a homunculus; in fact, he needs Zoe's help to decipher a centuries-old text that explains exactly what he is. Zoe, who's trying to put her alchemical life behind her, isn't so sure she can help. But after a murder victim is discovered on her front porch, Zoe realized she's tangled up in ancient intrigue that can't be ignored. Includes recipes!

"Zoe and Dorian are my new favorite amateur-sleuth duo!"
—Victoria Laurie, New York Times bestselling author

I was so excited to see the beautifully illustrated cover that I knew I had to do something cool with it. The book is now available to pre-order, so I decided to make mugs -- and give everyone who orders the book a chance to win one!

Each month from now until the end of the year, I’m giving away a mug to someone who has pre-ordered the book. Yup, the earlier you order the book, the more chances you’ll have to win. Simply email me at gigi [at] to let me know you’ve ordered The Accidental Alchemist, and you’re entered to win a mug.

Pre-order the book:
Barnes & Noble
Directly from the publisher, Midnight Ink

Friday, July 18, 2014

Book Events: Much Better With Friends!

When I decided to throw myself into my writing after the whole stupid cancer thing got my priorities in order, I made a promise to myself that I'd keep it fun, rather than get stressed out by things beyond my control. One of the things authors often worry about is whether or not people will show up for their book signings. Well, I've got a secret to make sure people show up: I do joint events with author pals! It's a great excuse to hang out with friends, and it often brings in a larger group of people to the bookstore.

Last week, I had two such events. First stop, Borderlands Books in San Francisco with Juliet Blackwell and Kate Carlisle. It was an added celebration that day, because Juliet had just hit the New York Times bestseller list with her new book, Vision in Velvet.

Gigi Pandian, Juliet Blackwell, and Kate Carlisle
at Borderlands Books in San Francisco, July  12,2014.
Borderlands manager Jude Feldman
with Juliet Blackwell.

Next stop, Village House of Books in Los Gatos with Sophie Littlefield and Rachael Herron. I'd never been to this bookstore before, but it was just about the cutest store I'd ever visited. It's in a former cottage, so it has a cozy feel, and the owners make great use of space. There's even a treasure chest full of flowers out front.

At Village House of Books.

Sophie Littlefield, Rachael Herron, and Gigi Pandian
at Village House of Books in Los Gatos, July 15, 2014.

Sophie and Rachael.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Bouchercon short story fun: an award nomination & a new anthology

Two bits of exciting short story news to report:

Locked room mystery "The Hindi Houdini" appears in
FISH NETS: The Second Guppy Anthology, published in 2013.
1. My locked room mystery story "The Hindi Houdini" has been nominated for a Macavity AwardThe award is given out by Mystery Readers International at the Bouchercon mystery convention in October.

This is the short story that appears in Fish Nets: The Second Guppy Anthology, and was nominated for an Agatha Award earlier this year. In “The Hindi Houdini,” magician Sanjay Rai, aka The Hindi Houdini, solves a locked room mystery at the Napa Valley winery theater where he performs.

Best Mystery Short Story Macavity Nominees:

  • Reed Farrel Coleman: "The Terminal" (Kwik Krimes, edited by Otto Penzler; Thomas & Mercer)
  • John Connolly: "The Caxton Private Lending Library & Book Depository" (Bibliomysteries: Short Tales about Deadly Books, edited by Otto Penzler; Bookspan)
  • Martin Limon: "The Dragon's Tail" (Nightmare Range: The Collected Sueno and Bascom Short Stories, Soho Books)
  • Gigi Pandian: "The Hindi Houdini" (Fish Nets: The Second Guppy Anthology, edited by Ramona DeFelice Long; Wildside Press)
  • Travis Richardson: "Incident on the 405" (The Malfeasance Occasional: Girl Trouble, edited by Clare Toohey; Macmillan)
  • Art Taylor: "The Care and Feeding of Houseplants" (Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine, March/April 2013)

2. "The Haunted Room," a Jaya Jones locked room mystery story, will appear in the Bouchercon 2014 Anthology. 

If you subscribe to my email newsletter, you got a sneak peak of an earlier version of "The Haunted Room."

The Bouchercon 2014 anthology will include stories by:

"The Haunted Room" will appear in the
Bouchercon anthology, coming in October 2014.
  • Patricia Abbott
  • Roger R. Angle
  • Craig Faustus Buck
  • Bill Cameron
  • Judith Cutler
  • Ray Daniel
  • Phillip Depoy
  • Sharon Fiffer
  • Delaney Green
  • Eldon Hughes
  • Tanis Mallow
  • Krista Nave
  • Gigi Pandian
Plus Guests of Honor:

  • Jeffery Deaver
  • Edward Marston
  • Al Abramson

Thank you to everyone who congratulated me on social media over the last couple of weeks! I always thought I was rather old fashioned because of my love of impossible crime stories that were quite popular during the Golden Age of Detective Fiction, so it's really fun to see that people are enjoying my locked room mysteries.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Writers on Writing: The Writing Process

I’m in the midst of a book deadline, but I'm emerging from my writing cave thanks to Diana Orgain, who tagged me to blog about the writing process. It's a topic I love, because I've found that no two writers follow the same process, and I love hearing about how other people do it. 

What am I working on?

Jaya Jones Book 3 is nearly done! And it’s close to having a title! (Want to help me pick a title? Click here to weigh in.) 

After sending Jaya to Scotland and India, this third book in the series finds Jaya heading from her university in San Francisco to the Louvre in Paris, the quicksand-surrounded castle monastery of Mont Saint-Michel, and the park of fantastical mechanized creatures at Les Machines de L'ile.

How does my writing differ from others in its genre?

Everything I write tends to be a traditional puzzle-plot mystery that's also a fun, globe-trotting adventure with a touch of romance. In my Jaya Jones series and a new book I'm currently plotting, I also write about multicultural heroines. One of the challenges my agent faced in selling my books was that my work didn't fit neatly into any sub-genre. 

My Elizabeth Peters bookshelf.
Elizabeth Peters is the author who epitomizes this style of story, so it’s always a thrill when my books are compared to hers. If you enjoy my books and you haven't read Elizabeth Peters, you must read her books. I hope to one day be as good a storyteller as she was.

I'm sometimes dubbed a cozy mystery writer, because of the lighthearted and humorous tone in my books, and the fact that the books are family-friendly without gratuitous sex, violence, or bad language. 

Why do I write what I do?

My first trip to Scotland.
I grew up traveling around the world starting at a young age, and I fell in love with travel from my very first trip abroad to Scotland at age 10. By writing adventures that bring my American characters to different countries, I'm able to bring my love of travel and a multicultural world to the twisty twisty puzzle mysteries I enjoy.

I’ve loved Elizabeth Peters’ mystery novels since I was a teenager, so when I began toying around with writing, I knew that's the type of story I wanted to write. There’s something about the combination of international adventure, mystery, and romance in her books that strikes just the right note with me. Her books are my comfort food – the books I go to when I've had a bad day and want to curl up on the couch with a book that will make me smile regardless of what's going on around me.

How does my writing process work?

Before I turn to the computer, I do my plotting in a notebook on the train. I have a 25-minute train ride to and from work, which is the perfect amount of time to jot down ideas. I don't know what it is that makes trains so conducive to creativity, but I'm a believer.

Brainstorming on paper before sitting down at a computer is an integral part of my process. Sometimes ideas takes years to germinate, and sometimes they come together more quickly, but the idea is the same. As a visual, tactile learner, I need to make notes and sketches in a physical notebook.

When it comes to the actual writing, I write in intensive bursts. It's for that reason that I love National Novel Writing Month, aka NaNoWriMo, the challenge in which you agree to write a 50,000-word rough draft of a novel in a month. Writing in this manner is a great way to let go of your inner editor and let the story flow out of you. The words can be fixed later. But only if they're there on paper to begin with.

At a writer-friendly cafe in Berkeley. 
I write not at home but at cafes. At home, there are too many distractions calling to me. At a cafe, I can park myself in a chair across the table from a fellow writer, drink lots of good coffee, not turn on the Internet, and write for a few hours. 

I’m now alternating between two mystery series: the Jaya Jones Treasure Hunt mystery series (Henery Press), and the Accidental Alchemist mysteries (Midnight Ink). That's something I didn’t anticipate doing, but it’s turning out to be awesome for my writing process. I don’t work on the two series simultaneously, but instead switch back and forth each time I get to the end of a certain phase of each book – e.g. when I’m done with an outline for a book, I’ll set it aside and work on something different, then go back to it with fresh eyes. After I turn in Jaya Jones Book 3 to my Henery Press editor in early July, I'll take a week off, then dive into Accidental Alchemist Book 2!

Next week, three fantastic up-and-coming mystery writers will answer the same questions I did:

Cindy Brown
Cindy Brown 
I met Cindy through the very cool Oregon Writers Colony, and I’m lucky to have read part of her forthcoming mystery novel, MacDeath. It's a humorous mystery set in the theater world, coming from Henery Press in early 2015.

Cindy Brown has been a theater geek (musician, actor, director, producer, and playwright) since her first professional gig at age 14. Now a full-time writer, she’s lucky enough to have garnered several awards (including 3rd place in the 2013 international Words With Jam First Page Competition, judged by Sue Grafton!) and is an alumnus of the Squaw Valley Writers Workshop. MacDeath, the first in her Ivy Meadows Theater Mystery series, will be published in January 2015 by Henery Press. Though Cindy and her husband now live in Portland, Oregon, she made her home in Phoenix, Arizona, for more than 25 years and knows all the good places to hide dead bodies in both cities.

Ellen Byron
Ellen Byron
I met Ellen at the Malice Domestic mystery convention last year, where she was being awarded the Malice Domestic Grant for her work-in-progress. She’s got a long list of TV writing credits, but personally I can’t wait until her first novel is out.

Ellen’s T.V. credits, shared with Lissa Kapstrom, include comedies Wings, Still Standing, Just Shoot Me, and the drama, Young Americans, as well as pilots for NBC, CBS, and Disney. Ellen has written over 200 articles for national publications and served on the Editorial Board for the UCLA Extension Writers’ Program’s books, Inside the Room and Cut to the Chase.  Theatre credits include the award-winning play, Graceland.  Her plays are published by The Dramatists Play Service. Ellen’s first mystery, You Can’t Be Too Thin or Too Dead, won a coveted William F. Deeck-Malice Domestic Grant. 

Mysti Berry speaking on a panel at Left Coast Crime
Mysti Berry
Mysti is one of my local writing pals who inspires me on a regular basis.

Mysti Berry has an MFA, but never lets that get in the way of a good story. She's published two short stories, and is working on a novella for Stark Raving Press and a novel for her future agent, all crime fiction. Mysti lives and works in San Francisco with her husband the graphic novelist Dale Berry. 

Friday, June 20, 2014

Post-Chemo Hair Update: A Milestone!

As my hair was growing out shortly after chemotherapy two years ago, I took weekly photos of my hair. With short hair, change happened quickly. I wanted to keep track of what I looked like with my hair at different lengths, because before stupid cancer, I'd never had short hair. But as my hair grew longer, change became harder to detect, so my last hair-focused photos were taken over six months ago.

Until now. This week, I hit a milestone. Looking in the mirror, I realized my hair is now as long as it was when I cut if off my freshman year of college! It's still shorter than it's been for most of my adult life, but I look like my old self again. Maybe I'll decide to cut my hair short again at some point, but it's a great feeling to be in charge of the decision this time around.