Monday, March 24, 2014

Left Coast Crime 2014: Photos from Monterey

I'm back from Left Coast Crime, feeling incredibly inspired by all the mystery readers and writers I talked with and heard speak over the long weekend. Here are some highlights:

Sophie Littlefield was a saint and got up before dawn to drive to Monterey with me in time for my Thursday morning panel, Leap of Faith: Writers Who Took Alternative Paths to Publication.

Here I am with fellow panelists Cindy Sample, Claire Johnson, Barbara M. Hodges, and Chuck Rosenberg (a fantastic moderator). We each had a completely different story about our path to publication, so it was a lot of fun to discuss our varied experiences.

Juliet Blackwell and Sophie Littlefield at dinner. 

 New pal Tracy Weber talking about her debut novel at the New Author Breakfast.

Coffee with the Dana Kaye crew: Sophie Littlefield, Ray Daniel, and Lynne Raimondo.

Mysti Berry at the San Francisco mysteries panel, with moderator Randal Brandt, a librarian at the UC Berkeley Bancroft Library who keeps a bibliography of mysteries set in the San Francisco Bary Area.

An impromptu "Noir at the Bar."

 Hanging out with the MacRae siblings, Andy and Molly, both of whom write mysteries!

 Catching up with short story writer Pat Morin between her volunteer duties.

 Henery Press authors at LCC: me, Susan Boyer, Diane Vallere, and Kendel Lynn.

Wonderful to meet my new Midnight Ink editor, Terri Bischoff, in person. I'm incredibly blessed to be working with such awesome editors.

 Running into one of my literary idols, Aaron Elkins.
I still have to pinch myself that this is my life. Two years ago, Aaron graciously read my first novel, before we'd ever met and before I was published. He ended up loving it and giving it an amazing blurb, which made me feel like I'd made it as an author before I even had a book out. We met for the first time when he was being honored at Malice Domestic last year, and now that I know him it's even more fun to see him.

With fellow panelists of Mystery Far Afield: Anne Cleeland, Lisa Alber, Aileen Baron, and moderator Jeffrey Siger (who I want to pack in my suitcase to be my moderator at all conventions). Very cool to be on a panel with pal Lisa, whose first book Kilmoon came out just this week!

With Lisa Alber at our signing.

 Hanging out with fellow Guppies Donnell Bell, Susan Boyer, and Leslie Karst.

Portland pals Holly Franko, Cindy Brown, and Lisa Alber.

 At the banquet dinner with Fan Guest of Honor Sue Trowbridge.

 I was having such a good time that it was difficult to take a break and head out of the hotel, but I'm glad I did. On a waterfront walk, I got to stretch my legs and see dozens of sea lions like these two.

In spite of several days of not enough sleep, the convention left me energized. I've got one week until a draft of Jaya Book 3 is due to my editor, so it's time to get back to work!

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Left Coast Crime, Here I Come

From March 20 - 23 I'll be in Monterey for Left Coast Crime, the West Coast's annual mystery convention that bounces to a different location each year.

If you'll be there, you can catch me on two panels:

Thursday, March 20
10:45 a.m.
Leap of Faith: Writers Who Took Alternative Paths to Publication
With Charles Rosenberg, Barbara Hodges, Claire Johnson, and Cindy Sample

Saturday, March 22
9 a.m.
Mystery Far Afield
With Jeffrey Siger, Lisa Alber, Aileen Baron, and Anne Cleeland

I didn't do an official book tour for Pirate Vishnu after the book came out last month, but after the book launch party I had the opportunity to do three joint events with friends. And you know what? I'm now completely convinced that doing joint events with friends is the way to go. It's not only that we can draw a bigger audience and help readers discover other books we love--it's the fact that it's so much more fun. In our interactions with each other, we chat about things that are entertaining for both ourselves and the audience.

With Sophie Littlefield and Rachael Herron at Read Booksellers in Danville.

With Terry Shames at Orinda Books.

With Juliet Blackwell and Penny Warner at the
Alta Mira Scholarship Tea in San Leandro.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

My Evolving Path to Publication from 2012 - 2014

Next week, I'm attending Left Coast Crime, the west coast's big mystery convention. One of the panels I'm on is "Leap of Faith: Writers Who Took Alternative Paths to Publication." I love this topic, because the more I talk with other authors, the more I'm convinced that nobody's path to publication is the same. It's a road of unexpected twists and turns, and if you don't speed too quickly and rush the process, it can lead somewhere great.

In 2012 I self-published my first mystery novel (details here). It was the right decision for me at the time, and it's what ended up kick-starting my writing career more than I anticipated. But at the same time, acting as my own publisher pulled me in more directions than I wanted to deal with.

Some writers find self-publishing empowering and fun; I agree it's empowering, but for me it wasn't so fun. I missed being able to focus my energy on writing. That's why I was thrilled to receive offers from two publishers for three-book deals in 2013.

It's now been exactly one month since my second novel, Pirate Vishnu, was published with Henery Press. I'm now even more certain it was the right decision to sign with Henery Press (for the Jaya Jones treasure hunt mystery series) and Midnight Ink (for the Accidental Alchemist series). I'm gobsmacked--gobsmacked!--by the month I've had. A few highlights made possible my kick-ass publishers:

Hitting the USA Today bestseller list! 
(It was the extended list, but I was next to James Patterson!)

Climbing the Amazon charts.

Receiving these reviews: 

“Pandian’s second series entry sets a playful tone yet provides enough twists to keep mystery buffs engaged, too. The author streamlines an intricate plot….[and] brings a dynamic freshness to her cozy.”
Library Journal

“A delicious tall tale about a treasure map, magicians, musicians, mysterious ancestors, and a few bad men.”
Mystery Scene Magazine

Plus a feature in Mystery Scene.

Getting great feedback on my next book, The Accidental Alchemist, from my editors at Midnight Ink. 

And now that I only have two jobs (my day job and this writing job) I have time to make revisions this spring as well as finish a draft of Jaya Book 3! The winding path continues, and I love the curve I'm on right now. 

Monday, February 10, 2014

Pirate Vishnu Book Launch Party Photos

Last night, fabulous independent bookstore A Great Good Place For Books hosted the book launch party for Pirate Vishnu. Thank you to the dozens of you who braved the rain to come to the party! Everyone who knows me knows I prefer the rain to sunny weather, so it was the perfect dark and stormy night to launch for my newest mystery.

To keep the formal part of the program entertaining, Juliet Blackwell interviewed me. 

I love throwing a good party, so in keeping with the spirit of the book (set in Barbary Coast San Francisco and India), drinks included San Francisco craft beer and beer from India. 

The giveaway for the evening was a pirate treasure including a pirate Scooby Doo. 

Several Pens Fatales were in attendance. 

One of my earliest critique readers made it as well! 

As did far-flung friends. 


I signed stock with the few books that remained at the end of the night -- and found myself realizing how strange it is that I now use industry terms like "signing stock" without thinking about it. 

The party was two days before the official book release day for Pirate Vishnu, so there's more celebrating to come this week! 

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

The End of My Sabbatical as a Full-Time Writer

100 days ago, I began the grand experiment of being a full-time writer. I was eligible to take a sabbatical at work, so I took the opportunity to finish writing The Accidental Alchemist

Last week, I turned in the novel. Whew!

Finishing a novel: laptop, coffee, notebook, research books,
critique reader notes, printed copy with scribbled notes, another notebook...

And yesterday, I went back to my day job!

I'm so excited about this book, but even more excited to go back to my normal life balancing two jobs that I love.

The sabbatical taught me some surprising things about writing, which I shared on the Pens Fatales blog last week. And here are my biggest personal takeaways from the sabbatical:

1. I'm not someone who wants to be a full-time writer.

Some people are cut out to be full-time writers. I've learned that I'm not one of them. I'm not giving up writing. On the contrary, I'm more committed to it than ever. But I want to write as part of a more balanced life.

I didn't enjoy the unstructured life that came with writing full time. Similar to my experience during graduate school, I felt like I always needed to be working. My regular schedule, in which I write for several hours three mornings a week plus plot on the train during my commute, works much better for my brain.

2. Writing to a deadline is awesome.

I knew this to some extent already, because I've successfully completed the National Novel Writing Month challenge several times.

But a messy NaNoWriMo draft is very different from a polished manuscript. Now I know that I can work toward a serious deadline and turn in a good finished product — which I did two days shy of my deadline.

Now that I'm back to my normal life, I'm looking forward to plotting my next novel in a paper notebook on my commuter train on the way to work, and happy that I know I'll meet my next deadline. 

Saturday, February 1, 2014

My Surreal Life: An Agatha Award Nomination!

Earlier this week, the list of 2013 Agatha Award nominations was released. My locked-room mystery short story "The Hindi Houdini" has been nominated for an Agatha!

Thank you to everyone who has congratulated me this week on the nomination! The whole thing is a bit overwhelming (I'm still pinching myself), so I didn't take a step back and post the news here on the blog until now. Here's the scoop:

The Agatha Awards are given out at the Malice Domestic mystery convention that takes place every year in Bethesda, MD. The convention celebrates the traditional mystery — i.e. mysteries typified by Agatha Christie and other authors who wrote when puzzle plots were at the heart of mystery stories, and no gratuitous sex or violence was on the page.

My pet gargoyles with the anthology featuring my story.
This is my genre of mystery. I grew up devouring the books of prolific traditional mystery writers Elizabeth Peters and Aaron Elkins, who were writing clever twisty-turny plots with characters I adored. Books like that are why I wanted to become a mystery writer. And that's why this nomination means so much to me.

My nominated story, "The Hindi Houdini," is an impossible crime story starring Sanjay Rai, Jaya's magician best friend from the Jaya Jones treasure hunt mystery series. As a magician, he's the perfect person to solve locked-room impossible crimes, which he does in Fool's Gold as well. This story was published in Fish Nets: The Second Guppy Anthology by Wildside Press in April 2013.

The Agatha awards will be given out on May 3, 2014, at the banquet at Malice Domestic. I love this convention, and this year it'll be even more fun!

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Pirate Vishnu: The Treasure Hunt Begins in One Month! In the Meantime, Fun is Afoot

Jaya Jones Treasure Hunt Mystery #2, Pirate Vishnu, hits shelves in exactly one month, on February 11. Leading up to the launch, here's some fun: two giveaways, a free short story, and a book launch party two days before the official book release!

Two chances to win one of two signed copies of Pirate Vishnu along with an India wall-hanging that has a pocket to hold letters or magazines. 

Chance #1: Sign up for my email newsletter by February 10. All subscribers are automatically entered.

Chance #2: Like my Facebook page by February 10. All new Likes are entered, and all existing fans who comment between January 1 and February 10 are also entered.

Giveaway: Signed copy of Pirate Vishnu in a wall-hanging from India.

Download my locked-room mystery short story "The Hindi Houdini," available FREE for the month of January 2014. 

The story features Sanjay Rai, aka The Hindi Houdini, Jaya's magician best friend who plays a big role in Pirate Vishnu, so I thought you might like to check it out before Pirate Vishnu comes out. 

(Normally you can buy the story in Fish Nets: The Second Guppy Anthology, a mystery anthology full of lots of great stories.)  

The Hindi Houdini short story by Gigi Pandian, free in January 2014

And if you're local, join me at the book launch party!

Sunday, February 9
6 p.m.
6120 LaSalle Ave., Oakland CA
(in Oakland's Montclair Village) 

The event takes place at the fabulous independent bookstore that hosted the book launch party for Artifact. That party was a blast, so I hope you can make it to this one! Drinks, snacks, prizes, good company, and you can buy Pirate Vishnu two days before its official release. 

More party details are on Facebook, where you can also let me know if you plan on attending. 

It's such a strange time leading up to a book release. I've only done this once before, so it still feels so new! I love this book, so I'm excited to share it with the world.