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!