But First—Why This Newsletter is a Big Ole Lie
The truth is, I’m not young anymore. (Though I DID recently go west. More on that later). I have actually spent—wait for it, this is going to make you gasp, at least, it made me gasp and sputter and cough a few times—almost twenty years in this business.
I’ve only been published for not-quite-seven of them. That leaves eleven years when I was struggling to get published, and two spent waiting for my “first” novel (which was actually the eighth one I had written) to come out.
I’m sharing these weepy facts (rejection, not being young anymore, how frigging fast time goes) because I think everybody reading this should take heart.
Yes, we struggle and yes, we fail, and we age. But look what can happen as we do!
My Debut Novel Just Got a Really Cool Mention
Greg Hickey is an author, screenwriter, blogger and he compiled a list of the 112 Best Literary Mysteries. I didn’t make this list—though several of my literary idols, including some I am lucky enough to call friends, did—David Morrell, this means you! One of my books earned an honorable mention though.
Click because you’ll almost certainly find a new read or two or twenty on this list, while recognizing some of your faves, and also…look between which two books Cover of Snow appears! Patricia Highsmith and Peter Freaking Straub?!?
I have a mental compilation of bucket list moments, and they don’t include summiting K2, jumping from a plane, or eating caterpillars while gazing at ancient ruins, but various writing triumphs. This goes on it.
Wait, What About the Wild West?
Actually, I only got as far as Illinois, but boy, it was fun! I got to hang with dear writing friends (Kalisha Buckhanon, Susanna Calkins, Lori Rader-Day) and new ones (Patricia Skalka). Eat the biggest soft pretzel I’ve ever seen. Listen to twenty-five hours of country music. Driving to speak to the Chicagoland chapter of Sisters in Crime reignited a love in me for connecting with writers, readers, booksellers (thank you, Book Bin!) and strangers. Wait...strangers?
While pumping gas, I started using the concrete block as a kind of Stairmaster because a) it was legit cold and b) I am a believer in micro-movements throughout the day and how they add to your health. Anyway, this guy passed by and said, “Exercising?” Now, anyone who calls stepping up and down for the amount of time it takes to fill your car "exercise" is an instant friend of mine.
In a Jenny Milchman novel, the next thing you know there’d be terror, mayhem, and an eventual victorious battle. On my trip, it was just a small, shared moment of camaraderie. And I treasured it.
I love the expressions on peoples’ faces when I tell them about my debut novel, The Ninja Daughter. Their eyes grow wide, they laugh with delight, and invariably ask, “What in the world could have inspired a gritty thriller about a Chinese-Norwegian modern-day ninja in Los Angeles with Joy Luck Club family issues?” The next thing they ask—if they know me at all—is, “How much of it is true?”
Like my protagonist, Lily Wong, my mother was Chinese (and Hawaiian) and my father was a North Dakota Norwegian. I also hold a 5th degree black belt in To-Shin Do ninjutsu and have lived the majority of my life in Los Angeles. So… gritty urban fiction with a mixed race modern-day ninja in the City of Angels? Let’s just say that I take pride in weaving fact into fiction.
My favorite thrillers are those that keep up the pace while diving deeply into culture and relationships. I enjoy stepping into unfamiliar territory and getting to know intriguingly complex people. And, of course, I love a good fight scene.
Take Your Child to a Bookstore Day 2019
Ten years ago, as the mother of two small children whom I loved taking to story hour at the bookstore, I suggested a holiday. Book bloggers and contributors to the listerv DorothyL talked about it on the web, and 80 bookstores celebrated Take Your Child to a Bookstore Day that first year. That summer, my husband and I packed said kids into the car and drove across the country, stopping in at bookstores. Over 300 bookstores celebrated the second year. Now we're at 800 and counting, in all 50 states, and on 5 continents. Thanks go to the publicity firm of JKS Communications, for getting out word of the Day every single year. (If you're an author and want to take your career to the next level, JKS should be your first call).
And on December 7th, join an ever-growing movement and take a child to a bookstore!
Here’s the Thing
We don’t know when our years of struggle will explode into epic success. This holds true for whatever we’re struggling with—be it getting words on a page, finding an agent, hitting a bestseller list, or conquering illness or coming to terms with loss.
I haven’t had epic success yet, but I’m trying to follow my own advice and not think too much about it. Instead just keep on doing what I love—being with my family, writing, speaking, connecting with all of you—and hope that one day one or two other dreams come true too.
The beauty of this approach to career, and life, is that no matter what happens, we’ll have all been doing what we love as often as we can, as much as possible, along the way.
I hope you and yours had a wonderful Thanksgiving. I am thankful for all of you!
Love from the Hills of Wedeskyull,