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.