Writing with Pen and Paper

Last month, I watched Tim Ferris interview Neil Gaiman , and they discussed Gaiman’s habit of writing his first drafts by hand in a notebook, using a fountain pen. Here’s a snippet from that interview:

“If you’re writing on a computer, you’ll think of the sort of thing that you mean, and then write that down and look at it and then fiddle with it and get it to be the thing that you mean. If you’re writing in fountain pen, if you do that, you just wind up with a page covered with crossings out, so it’s actually so much easier to just think a little bit more. You slow up a bit, but you’re thinking the sentence through to the end, and then you start writing.”

I already journal by hand, and it hasn’t escaped me how I feel better connected to the creative part of my mind when I’m working with a pen and paper instead of a keyboard. So I wondered: Perhaps I should give Gaiman’s approach a try?

Although I was afraid my hand would get tired, and my handwriting would be illegible, it turns out that I love writing fiction by hand. Not only is it fun, but it comes with all these weird bonuses you don’t get when working on a computer. Like Gaiman suggested, hand writing forces me to slow down and think before filling up a page, and therefore I’m less inclined to drop waste-words on the screen and waste even more time fiddling with them. Additionally, seeing the story in my mind’s eye is far easier when I’m using a pen. I don’t know why, but I’ll run with it! And I love the way writing in a journal makes my first draft feel entirely private, much more so than when I work on a screen. There are no distractions inside a paper journal, and no notifications jumping out to fuck with you.

Hand writing also prevents me from slowing down too much during the drafting process. Tweaking sentences as I go would leave a fat mess on the page, so hand writing forces me to wait for the second draft before I edit. That’s when I’ll shift the story from paper to the screen. I might be moving more slowly when writing by hand, but at least I’m continually moving forward, not backward.

So far, I’ve only found two downsides to going old-school. I’m a bit paranoid about losing one of my journals, given that paper doesn’t lend itself to automatic backups. (eep!) And my hand does get tired (and my handwriting gets sloppier) after 1000 words or so. In practice, this means I’ll break up my writing across more than one session. That’s not bad, just different.

It’s fun to select a journal that fits your story. For example, I’m writing a “cupcake cozy” in glittery blue ink inside a floral-print journal, while my next spy novel is in a sleek wine-colored Leuchtermm. Meanwhile, my witchy novel is in a black journal with a stained-glass appearance. Instead of living as “files” on my computer, the manuscripts themselves become colorful and unique, they feel like toys in my toybox, ready to be picked up and played with. And the more I get into the hand writing, the more I begin to embellish, adding small sketches to help me work out a setting, or making notes about cover art. I’m so used to typing that it’s taken me a while to remember paper is non-linear. I can write AND draw AND make notes. It’s all there in one place.

Huzzah for experimentation! I didn’t think I’d enjoy working by hand, but it’s been great.

Can we make the internet fun again?

Last week, the New Yorker published an essay entitled Can Indie Social Media Save Us? and I was delighted to see Micro blog mentioned, as I’ve been a microblogger for over a year now. Services like Micro blog are making it easier than ever to create a more humane, diverse, and human internet. The kind of internet I believe we need today.

I miss the days when my friends had blogs; they wrote about their hobbies and projects and hikes, and each of those sites were as unique as the individual. Websites were clunky back then, yes, but they were far more interesting than the sterile corporate web we live with today. The web was actually a web back then, full of serendipitous links and surprising points of discovery. It could also be bizarre. Does anyone else remember Gonads and Strife ? 😂

The Great Flattening

Our internet changed significantly in the early 2000s, starting with the dominance of search engines. Why should sites build links to one another, talk to one another, if you could enter what you wanted in a search box? Organic cross-linking between sites diminished, and everyone began gaming the system to get more attention from the search engine algorithms.

Soon after, Facebook changed everything again. Why put your words, photos, and hobbies on a website when you could throw it into a single social feed for your friends to see? Social media was convenient and seemed to come with few downsides. Why blog when you could throw a quick update online from your phone? And thus Facebook ate the blogosphere, capturing us all within their walled gardens.

The conveniences provided by search and social media consumed much of the early web. We all started visiting the same few sites, and reading what they chose to prioritize. Later, these websites sought to control our behavior and take psuedo-ownership of our content, using it to drive their own agendas. Thus began the malignant onset of fucked-up terms of service contracts and manipulative algorithms. Over the course of five years, the original internet all but disappeared, replaced with corporate-owned surveillance boxes, designed to profile you based upon what photos you upload, what you like, what you hate, what you read, and what you say. Thus our humanity became distilled down to a set of characteristics third parties could use to manipulate our behavior, and our thinking.

Buy this thing.

Vote this way.

Fear this group.

Believe this lie.

There’s no use in blaming ourselves. It’s only recently that we’ve begun to see the trade offs, the deep and abiding damage to our institutions, and the ways we’ve been mislead. And I doubt that (most of) the programmers building these systems set out to create these social monstrosities. Company leaders chased the money, made bad choices, and minimized them. “It’s just ads,” they seemed to say. “We’ve always had ads.” But we all know there’s a difference between an ad and psychological profiling.  And we understand that showing women ads for women’s shoes is very different than using racial data and misinformation campaigns to manipulate elections. But the tools of big social media don’t discriminate between good and evil; they’re unsafe tools in irresponsible hands.

a smiling man in blue installs a surveillance camera
Don’t mind us! Your private conversations are totally private! Promise.

“The Internet” is Bigger Than We Think

Because the online world has consolidated so much, when you think about “the Internet” today, you’re probably thinking about a small number of sites run by powerful corporations. As different as they are, they operate under a similar set of rules, the most sacrosanct being that your online communications must go through their surveillance box, and that you will be targeted by those who are willing to pay, based upon what you’ve said, uploaded, or clicked. Even based upon who you associate with!

If you’ve followed me this far, let me ask you a few questions: Does this limited view of “the internet” sound like the internet you wanted? And is this type of internet supportive of the world you want? Are free services worth the trade-offs? And were you fully informed of the costs when you signed up?

Writing about the corruption of online culture makes me sad. But instead of staying sad, let’s consider an alternative world, one not too different from the internet that had begun to emerge before we walked away. Let’s talk about the possibility of the internet working for us, instead of the other way around. Really, what I want to know is this: Can we make the internet fun again?

That question has been tickling the back of my brain for a long time, and indie social media sites like Micro blog are indeed part of the answer. But no single service or method can bring us a better internet. In reality, we’ve got lots of things we can do.

So far, I’ve found three options for making a happier internet. I’ll outline them here, and I’m curious what you’d add to my list.

Option One: Minimizing Internet Use

Some people are choosing to minimize their exposure to the internet, because it’s become dominated by manipulative corporate interests and bad behavior. For example, they might quit Facebook and Instagram but they still use the internet for texting, television streaming, and research. The book Digital Minimalism is a good entry point into this line of thinking.

My problem with this option is that abstaining from the web isn’t the same thing as fixing it or enjoying it. You might enjoy sharing photos and ideas online, like I do. You might have friends who aren’t near you physically, making the internet a good way to interact with them. Being “mostly” offline can shrink your world, a little, and not everyone wants that. But I’ve tried the minimizing thing, on and off, and it isn’t bad.

Time away from the online world is restorative, but I want a better internet, too.

Option Two: Paying for the Services You Use

In a simplistic sense, the big internet companies monetize us and sell us out because they have bills to pay and investors to please. Servers, employees, and electricity all cost money, right? We shouldn’t expect free services to come without a catch.

Therefore, a good alternative to surveillance capitalism is paying a small fee for the services you want to use. In doing so, you become the customer, and not the product. And instead of trying to manipulate you ever-harder for more money, the right kind of service provider will focus on your satisfaction.

For example, you can run a hosted Micro blog for $5 per month, posting your status updates, ideas, and photos there so your family can see them and enjoy them. There are apps for your phone to make uploading photos easy, and anyone with a web browser can see your posts, without needing an account.

Or, for the same price, you can run a blog on with your own domain name and no ads. Post photos, updates, essays, videos; anything you like, really. And if your Mom complains that she doesn’t want to go to your site directly, she can get your blog posts by email!

Privately run, advertisement free, and reasonably priced services exist for all sorts of internet activities. I use Pinboard ($11/yr) for saving and archiving online reading material. Hobby photographers might enjoy a SmugMug account with private links for friends and family. Letterboxd is a service specifically for movie lovers! Chances are, whatever your “thing” is, there’s a programmer who has started a small and scrappy business to offer you an option that respects you and gets the job done.

And for anyone feeling like “This sounds great, BUT NONE OF MY FRIENDS ARE ON THOSE SITES” take a slow breath and think for a second. This isn’t actually a problem, but the big companies want you to believe it is. As long as you feel locked in, they profit.

  1. Paid services like WordPress and Micro blog make it easy to cross-post. You can host your stuff on your own site, and cross-post links Facebook or Twitter so people still trapped in the corporate web can find your newest stuff with little effort. Also, no one is forcing you to quit anything.
  2. At risk of sounding snarky, let me remind you that your friends don’t actually “exist” on Facebook or Instagram. They’re flesh and blood people with a miraculous web browser in their pocket. If clicking a link to see your latest photos (or calling you, or texting you, or hanging out) is too much work for them to bear, are they really your friends?

As a side benefit, some of these services don’t use “likes” because the whole sharing things only to get likes back is a stressful and crummy dynamic. Breaking that cycle can feel pretty good, after an initial adjustment period where it feels weird.

Option Three: Run a Personal Website

Here’s where things get exciting for me. If you’d like to take your internet expression one step further, you might consider running your own website. Post something that goes deeper than status updates, give your site a slant or a theme, perhaps even customize the design. In doing so, you’re not only giving your friends and family a place to see your stuff, you’re helping to build a more diverse and interesting internet.

The human internet!

I’m talking about sites like and Austin Kleon’s blog and Brad Enslen ’s human-edited web directory . These are websites that exist as an extension of human curiosity and the desire to share what’s useful.

Back in the early aughts, the human web used to be full of people, not bots and targeted ads. And it can be that way again, if we’d like it to be. I believe we all benefit from authentic balls-to-the-wall human expression and the creation of sovereign spaces to be ourselves without manipulation by third parties. By making your “online home” your own, and controlling what goes there, and being yourself, you’re making the internet a more human place.

Does making a website or blog seem intimidating? Or like too much work? Don’t stress! Instead, read this fine post by Alex Guzey who reminds us all that doesn’t matter if you have an audience, or if what you are posting is original. Having your own site or blog can help you clarify your own thinking, explore your creativity, and have fun. You might build something that helps someone else, but that isn’t the point. Do it for the joy of it. Make something only you could make.

If it helps you to get started, imagine me and the other residents of the IndieWeb standing on the other side of a low fence. We’re jumping up and down, smiling, and waving our arms. Join us! Come on over and play! We wanna see your new website or blog!

And by making a personal website, blog, or project-site, you can proclaim your freedom from the crummy surveillance sites. You can leave the unethical tech companies wallowing in their own stinky algorithms while we create something better. Not one website to fix this mess, or even a dozen, but hundreds of thousands, each different, like stars in the sky, each one representing a unique human mind.

What a beautiful thought!

Let’s Make the Internet Fun Again

Are you ready to make your own site? Getting started goes something like this:

  1. Claim a little plot of land online. It could be a blog, a micro blog, a website, a photo album, a page that lists music you like, anything, really! Pay for it. Choose a service provider you like, one whose terms of service wasn’t written by Satan’s own lawyer.
  2. Ideally, connect your site to a domain name that you own.  This makes it easier for people to find you, and you can keep your domain the same even if the underlying website changes. But if you’re feeling intimidated by the domain thing, skip it for now.
  3. Use your site however you’d like! Share or create something you find interesting. Write, or post photos, or share whatever you like. Cool! Now you’ve got an online playground.
  4. When you’re ready, link your sites to other sites. Learn about using comments or webmentions to create conversations, friendships, and to spark new ideas.

If there’s one thing that my forty years on this planet has taught me, it’s that humanity is bizarre, wonderful, diverse, and creative. By bringing your creativity and humanity to the internet, you’ll be making the online world more human, more lively, and better for everyone.

I hope you’ll join us!

Another Year Gone By

Ah, we come to the end of another year, and that means it’s time for an annual wrap-up post. What shall I make of my most recent loop around the sun?

2018 managed to be wonderful and terrible at the same time. We had some excellent travel experiences (South America, Amsterdam, London) this year, and we published two new novels (Death by Team Building and The Assistant ). In January, Patrick and I launched Adventurous Ink, our new publishing business, and we’ve learned a lot about the industry and how to work together. We had good times with family and friends this year, too. But 2018 was pretty dark at times, marked by the erosion of American democracy, weighed down by the grim news about advancing climate change, and full of personal crises. Like our friends coping with scary health issues, and my father’s unexpected death at the age of 59.  

My biggest lesson from 2018, this year of gifts and gut-punches, is that it’s possible to be happy even when the world is falling apart. And more than being possible, it’s also necessary. The late poet Jack Gilbert said it best, I think, in his poem A Brief for the Defense:

Sorrow everywhere. Slaughter everywhere. If babies
are not starving someplace, they are starving
somewhere else. With flies in their nostrils.
But we enjoy our lives because that’s what God wants.
Otherwise the mornings before summer dawn would not
be made so fine. The Bengal tiger would not
be fashioned so miraculously well. The poor women
at the fountain are laughing together between
the suffering they have known and the awfulness
in their future, smiling and laughing while somebody
in the village is very sick. There is laughter
every day in the terrible streets of Calcutta,
and the women laugh in the cages of Bombay.
If we deny our happiness, resist our satisfaction,
we lessen the importance of their deprivation.
We must risk delight. We can do without pleasure,
but not delight. Not enjoyment. We must have
the stubbornness to accept our gladness in the ruthless
furnace of this world. To make injustice the only
measure of our attention is to praise the Devil.
If the locomotive of the Lord runs us down,
we should give thanks that the end had magnitude.
We must admit there will be music despite everything.
We stand at the prow again of a small ship
anchored late at night in the tiny port
looking over to the sleeping island: the waterfront
is three shuttered cafés and one naked light burning.
To hear the faint sound of oars in the silence as a rowboat
comes slowly out and then goes back is truly worth
all the years of sorrow that are to come.

So that’s 2018 in a nutshell for me. The world is a mess, but it’s beautiful too. Death stalks us all, either quickly or slowly. Meanwhile, stupidity and cruelty have no shortage of admirers in the public square. Yet, despite all those things, I insist on delight. And shouldn’t we all?

May we all chase what delights us in this shiny new year.

Eight months without Facebook

Eight months ago, I deactivated my Facebook, Instagram, and Whatsapp accounts. Four months ago, I deleted those accounts entirely. And now that I’m outside the Facebook bubble, I wanted to describe what that’s been like, for anyone curious about the other side.

Let’s start with a quick summary of the main points, and I’ll elaborate on a few things below.

  1. I quit because social media was stressing me out. I hated the way I kept compulsively checking it, and I was concerned about the Facebook company’s use of my personal data.
  2. Quitting gave me twitchy fingers. I felt like an ex-smoker reaching for the pack of cigarettes that were no longer there. And I felt guilty about inconveniencing my friends and family.
  3. I felt disconnected and lonely for a while after quitting. But as I’ve been more proactive with my friends (and they’ve returned the favor) my quality of life has gone up.
  4. Some relationships have faded away. Mostly those were acquaintances, or “friends” that I rarely saw in real life. I’ve come to see this as an acceptable trade-off.

Eight Months Without Facebook

Do you know what the best part of being off Facebook is? I thought it would be having more privacy, or feeling less addicted to checking social media, but what I love most is something else entirely. Now that I’m off Facebook, when I’m with my friends, I’m actually with my friends.

Have you ever had conversations like this one?

I see you went to Aruba, Bob.

Yes, it was a nice vacation. How are the kids? It looks like Billy is playing soccer this year?

He is. Thanks for asking.

(awkward silence)

Want some punch?

I don’t miss that bullshit! When we allow sites like Facebook to do the heavy lifting in our relationships, it seems that we turn into cardboard cutouts, even when hanging out in person.  I always hated that dynamic, and now it’s over.

Being off Facebook has also eliminated the accidental irritations that occur from oversharing. Have you ever had thoughts like these?

I hate (that politician) too, but do you have to rant about it every day?
Yup. Your children/pets are cute. I get it.
Thank you for the fifth workout photo this week. Yes, we all know you’re swole.
Why wasn’t I invited to that party?

When I spent a lot of time on sites like FB and Insta, I developed the habit of stereotyping people based on what they shared. I’d unconsciously tell myself that so-and-so is all about being a parent, and my other friend is super career-minded, and yet another friend is a world traveler. Our digital projections can become so strong that we don’t really see our friends (in all their complexity) any longer. And when that happens, it seems difficult to get beneath the surface.

I believe relationships take time. Conversations. Support. An investment in one another. And in that regard, getting off Facebook acted as a sorting mechanism. I found the answer to: Who will make time to hang out? For me that’s a small group but a treasured one. And sure, it can feel lonely while you look for your people in the flesh-and-blood world. But it gets easier the more you invest in your relationships.

Text people. Set up a coffee date. Schedule a movie night, or a game day, or happy hour. Join a book club. Get your ass out there. I’ve gotten pretty introverted these last few years, so it takes effort, but in the end, it’s worth it.

Thoughts about the Digital Future

Slowly, I’ve been backing away from the technologies that make me uneasy. In the past, I had a bias that said “if it’s a new technology, it must be good!” and I jumped in with both feet, eager to explore. But these days, I believe technology isn’t good or bad, any more than a hammer is good or bad. Better to ask yourself what you’re building with it. Are you making something beneficial, or harmful?

Modern as I am, I think the Amish have this figured out. They ask themselves what impact technology will have on their lives, families, and community, and only if they agree that it is beneficial will they adopt it. Naturally, I draw my lines in the sand very differently than they do (huzzah for electricity and my dishwasher!) but I admire their efforts to protect their way of life.

What “way of life” do I want to have? And how can I protect it? Those are questions I keep coming back to.

I’ll close this post with a few things I’ve learned since leaving Facebook.

  1. Making something easier doesn’t always make it better. (Human connection is one example.)
  2. Before using a technology, I want to consider the secondary consequences.
  3. It’s okay to opt-out!
  4. It’s okay to say “not yet!”
  5. Friends don’t disappear because you’re not on a website. Acquaintances might, and that’s okay.

I don’t believe quitting Facebook will “make you happy,” but if being there makes you feel unhappy, leaving might encourage you to connect with people at a deeper level. But doing so does take effort, and it’s lonely at first, and not everyone on your friend list will make time to connect in the flesh-and-blood world.

For Facebook skeptics like me, it’s important to remember that being against Facebook isn’t particularly interesting once you’ve extracted yourself. It’s more fun to be for things, and to bring more of what you value into your life. For me that includes:

More writing.
More walks.
More movies with friends.
More writing/books.
More coffee.
More conversation.
More philosophy.

Now, having banished some “unwanted tech” from my life, it’s time for me to take the final step and banish it from my mind too. I’m not here to tell you you should quit Facebook. But if being there is making you stressed and unhappy, I can confirm that life is pretty great on the other side of deactivation.

Observing the World Like a Writer

After a month on the road it feels great to be home again.

Seattle is where my family and friends are, and along with missing them I’ve also been yearning for the ordinary comforts of home: our local coffee shops, my comfy writing chair, and my mechanical keyboard with Cherry Brown MX switches.

We had a fun time on our fall adventure. After Bouchercon, we scraped enough airline miles together to visit Amsterdam, Cambridge, and London at one week apiece. We were in tourist mode most of the time, visiting museums and taking walking tours. And the sights were often beautiful.

Tall narrow buildings in Amsterdam crammed together along a canal. A yellow canal boat in the foreground. A top-down view of British pub food, including a round steak and ale pie with mashed potato and gravy. A round white plate on a brown table The Sherlock Holmes Pub in central London. Gold leaf letters on the sign beneath a leafy canopy. Narrow punting boats along the edge of the River Cam on a sunny day in Cambridge UK

Observing the World Like a Writer

While this wasn’t a working vacation, and I had little time to write, I did practice my observational skills. That’s something I’m trying to get better at, because good fiction is often inspired by real life. At home I tell myself I’ll jot down my observations on my cell phone, but how often do I follow through?

Spoiler: not very often.

And even when I do remember to capture an interesting snippet of dialog, or a clever turn of phrase that I’ve heard, notes on my phone tend to disappear from my brain. So during this trip I tried something different: carrying a small notebook and pen.

A Field Notes notebook and pen next to a cup of coffee on a cafe table.

To my delight, a paper journal worked much better than my phone for observing the world. Whenever I noted something interesting, I wrote it in the journal. Paper beats pixels, at least in this case. A notebook can be flipped through in a way that digital files cannot, jogging the memory and inviting new connections. And handwritten thoughts seem to stick in my memory better. Besides, it simply feels more writerly to scribble in a journal.

What did I capture while we traveled? Here’s a partial list:

Notes from Bouchercon panels, including the names of authors I met, and interesting tidbits I heard about publishing and writing.

The following quote by Van Gogh, from the Van Gogh museum in Amsterdam.

The painted portraits have a life of their own that comes from deep in the soul of the painter and where the machine can’t go.

A reminder to look up author MR James of Cambridge. We took a Ghost Stories tour in Cambridge, and his name came up a lot. He’s considered the father of English ghost stories.

Two scribbled pages of description about the large Orthodox Jewish family that sat near us on a train outside London.

The names of forty different types of clocks I saw inside the British Museum’s clock room. So many clocks! And so many sexy nouns. Here are just a few:

_Sectric Motor Clocks
_ _Musical Table Clock with Automata
_ _Orrery
_ Planispheric Astrolabic Clock (1560)

I also captured little snippets of overheard dialog. Public transport is excellent for eavesdropping. I caught some hilarious banter from people arguing about Jesus on a public bus.

I have no specific plans for any of these notes, they are enriching my mind. Together they form a kind of mulch from which a story can grow. And if I hadn’t written them down, they’d be gone by now.

Embracing The Ordinary

It’s October now, and my first little notebook is full. Time to switch to a fresh one, and apply those same habits of observation to my life here at home. Listening is something you can do anywhere, no plane ticket required. Although I still think a city bus is an ideal place to discover new characters.

Still, I’m grateful for a chance to fill my eyes and ears with novelty from time to time. And travel is a wonderful source of novelty.

But for now, if you’re in Seattle, and you say something interesting or weird on a Metro Bus, look around. I might be the woman scribbling in a brown paper notebook, listening for the weird and the wonderful, ready for that next spark of inspiration. 😉

A Visit to the Mob Museum

Last week, Patrick and I went to Las Vegas for our anniversary. We wanted to soak up some sun, lounge by the pool, and escape our ordinary routines. Temperatures hit 112 degrees, making poolside the perfect place to read Dune for the first time. Some quiet time with my sweetie, a cold drink, a lounge chair, and a book? It was a nice trip.

Vegas is a great place for eavesdropping. We overheard an elderly veteran holding forth about his friend who won a purple heart for being hit in the head with a can of Spam. In Vegas, the cast of characters is always colorful. It’s like Disneyland, but only if all the characters were hopped up on cocaine.

Instead of seeing a show, we went to the Mob Museum. Housed in a historic court house downtown, the museum contains an impressive collection of artifacts, stories, images, and exhibits. It highlights the history, practices, crimes, and prosecution of criminal syndicates in America. And because my next novel is set against a backdrop of organized crime, I was especially curious about the topic.

The exterior sign to the Mob Museum, National Museum of Organized Crime and Law Enforcement. A machine gun with a circular magazine holder. A map of the united states with orange squares marking the cities with known mob activity. The northeastern US has the heaviest concentration.

What an educational day! I learned that the organized crime groups we think of as “the mob” arose from ethnic gangs that formed in the slums in cities like New York, Chicago, and Milwaukee. They operated illegal businesses, offering services that legitimate businesses wouldn’t touch, such as prostitution, gambling, alcohol, and loan sharking. And when vices became legal (for example, the end of prohibition), the mob funneled their money and power into legitimate enterprises. Did you know the mob infiltrated the hospitality industry? I didn’t!

The Fall of the Mob

The rise of television played an important role in the decline of organized crime. In 1950 a Congressional committee was formed, led by Senator Carey Kefauver. The committee conducted hearings in cities across America, questioning mob bosses and witnesses while the public watched the bad guys squirm on live television.

The Mob Museum is housed inside a courthouse where some of those hearings took place over sixty years ago. You can sit on the wooden benches inside the restored court room and watch video clips from the hearings held inside. This was very cool! And just for fun, in the basement of the museum there is a prohibition-era speakeasy, complete with a hidden room behind a painting, and some truly mediocre coffee. (They also serve alcohol.)

The Return of Organized Crime?

Does the mob exist today? Fedora hats and tommy guns may have gone out of style, but corporate crime and government corruption are far from extinct. In real life, we can vote corrupt politicians out of office and support journalists that shine a light on the moral rot behind unethical business practices. And in fiction, we love stories of the good guys and the bad guys. We love to watch them battle it out.

My next project is a series of novels about a young woman ensnared in a world of corporate espionage, blind ambition, and organized crime. And while the notion of mobsters in Seattle might feel fanciful, if you replace the word Mob with the word Corruption, it feels much closer to home, doesn’t it? Why carry a briefcase full of cash when a shell company or a SuperPAC can serve the same purpose? Why bother to put a price on someone’s head, when you can run a bot-campaign against them on social media and destroy their reputation overnight?

Organized crime has gotten an upgrade. And I can’t wait to share my next book with you all! Stay tuned.