Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Writer's Little Helper

So one of the things you do as a published author is sign books.

I have absolutely terrible handwriting, so this is one of those things I'm having to learn how to do. I mean, back in the days of traveler's checks, by the time I'd gotten through a pack of them, my signature only slightly resembled the one I'd begun with.

So if you end up with one of my books with an illegible scrawl that might say "LisaBr....something," yes, it's from me.

I had a case to do tonight, and here's another reason some of them are less than perfect:

Friday, June 18, 2010


So, I'm going to Phoenix next week to the wonderful Poison Pen Bookstore for their annual conference. This is something I have really struggled with. Here's why:

I'm a political person. If you know me, or if you've read my book, that's probably not going to come as a huge shock.

I try to keep an open mind. I don't consider myself dogmatic. But I have some strongly held opinions.

I think Arizona's recently passed immigration law, SB 1070, is criminal. I think it's racist. I think it's un-American.

Before anyone pops on here to lecture me on the border situation or the need for immigration reform, stop. I know. I was born and raised in San Diego. I think our immigration policy has some serious deficiencies. I'm not going to pretend that I'm educated or expert enough in the issue to know the full scope of the problem or offer the best solutions. But I am educated enough to know that what Arizona proposes is not the solution, and that for every person who truly believes it's not as bad as it looks, well, it is. It puts a burden on law enforcement to make snap judgments on a person's immigration status -- to decide if a person "looks" and "acts" "American." If that doesn't lead to racial profiling, I don't know what does.

And you want to know how to gauge the real intent of the people behind this bill? Look at what they're planning next -- they want to strip away citizenship from people born in the U.S.A. who have a parent with illegal status.

It's been a while since High School civics, but I do believe that's un-Constitutional.

I mean, I have enough trouble with denying kids whose parents brought them here as children or even infants without proper documentation. Is it their fault that their parents made this decision? And we're going to deport these kids who are raised in the States, who are culturally American, to a birth country they don't even know?

Americans come in all colors and ethnic backgrounds. Maybe I'm old-fashioned, but I happen to think that's one of the greatest strengths of this country.

But the Arizona law isn't just about immigrants in general. It's about Mexicans in particular, and that to me is one of the most troubling things about the sentiment driving it.

The southwestern United States shares a cultural heritage with Mexico. This was Mexican territory before it was the US. Yeah, the US won, and those are the facts on the ground. But that doesn't mean we should not acknowledge the long, deep ties between our two countries.

Yes, there's horrific violence along the border. Let's look at why that is. It's mostly a consequence of the drug war going on in Mexico, between the various cartels contending for supremacy and the Mexican military. What's fueling that conflict?

Long-held corruption in the Mexican government, yes. Millions of people living in poverty as well.

The other half of the equation is American demand for drugs, a drug policy that criminalizes behavior and increases violence and, most directly, American guns, up to and including military weapons. America is literally arming the Mexican drug cartels. They don't make guns in Mexico. They strictly control guns in Mexico. American guns are smuggled into Mexico every day, just like drugs are smuggled going the other way.

So, we, the US, are great big enablers of this violence, at best.

Anyway. I could go on, but I think I'll stop here and get to the point.

A number of people, organizations and government entities are boycotting Arizona. The three biggest cities in California are either actively boycotting or have condemned Arizona's actions. I'm glad. I think it's entirely appropriate for a city or state government to condemn the actions of another government entity. I support the people who've chosen to boycott as well. I get it.

And yet I'm going to Phoenix.

After going around and around and around on this, I've come down on the side of fulfilling a prior commitment, and also, supporting an independent bookstore. I'm not sure how I feel about boycotting small businesses run by good people who had nothing to do with decisions by the state legislature, in any case. But particularly when it comes to this business.

I as an author, a debut author in particular, owe a debt to independent bookstores. They are the ones who take chances on new authors. They are the ones who support small presses. They care passionately about books, and they connect readers to authors in a way that a chain bookstore or online entity never will be able to do. And like much of the publishing industry, independent bookstores are going through a tough time. I owe them, as does every author (with the possible exceptions of James Patterson and Stephenie Meyer -- they seem to be doing okay on their own), as does every reader who cares about books.

(I'll be writing more about my own recent mini-book-tour, where all this was really brought home to me, in the next few days)

So, see you at Poison Pen. I'll be the one wearing a "Do I Look Illegal?" T-shirt.

Monday, June 14, 2010

New Reviews!!!

I'm cross-posting this news on my website but promise to have a post up soon reflecting on my recent mini book tour...

James Fallows is one of the best reporters out there on contemporary China—and he's reviewed Rock Paper Tiger. To say I'm excited is an understatement:
To add to the list of "good fiction set in modern China," check out Rock Paper Tiger, by Lisa Brackmann. It's a mystery/action novel that pretty much pulls off something I would have thought improbable: combining an account of Iraq-war drama (the emphasis is on Abu Ghraib-type themes), with a portrayal of the urban China of these past few years, complete with overhyped art scene, dissident bloggers, lots of young expats, and constant uncertainty about what the government will permit or crack down on. Along the way, lots about the online gaming world that often seems the main passion of youthful Chinese, especially males.
There's more at the link!

Then, a really nice review in the Seattle Times:
In "Rock Paper Tiger" (Soho, 345 pp., $25) — a remarkable debut by Lisa Brackmann — Ellie, a wounded medic and Iraq War vet, is scraping by in a low-rent corner of Beijing. Her friends, scrappy artists with dissident connections, attract the attention of Chinese and American authorities, forcing blunt-speaking Ellie and others into hiding.
Check out the rest at the link!

And finally, one of my very favorite publishing industry bloggers, the Rejectionist, writes a really thoughtful (and funny) review, picking up on aspects of the book that I am so gratified to have recognized:
Possibly it is not a total secret that the Rejectionist has, like, a soft spot for the tough-but-fucked-up lady-heroine! IT IS DEFINITELY NOT BECAUSE WE SEE ELEMENTS OF OURSELF IN THESE FICTIVE REPRESENTATIONS NO IT IS NOT THANK YOU VERY MUCH. Oh, SHUT UP. Anyway! Also very dear to us is the thriller-as-a-vehicle-for-insightful-social-commentary! So you can IMAGINE how much we like insightful thrillers starring tough but fucked-up lady characters! A LOT. That's how much we like them. And GUESS WHAT? They're kind of hard to find (the operative adjective being "insightful," folks)! All of which is to say, we tore through the fantabulous Rock Paper Tiger with RECKLESS ABANDON AND DELIGHT.
Lots more at the link!

Monday, June 07, 2010

Bay Area Folks!

I'm in your neck of the woods for the next couple of days. Today, Monday June 7, at Great Good Place for Books in Oakland/Montclair, at 7 PM, and tomorrow, Tuesday June 8, at M is for Mystery in San Mateo, also at 7 PM.

Sunday, June 06, 2010

Greetings from San Francisco—and Houston!

I've had a crazy weekend, flying to Houston very early Saturday AM for an event at Murder By the Books with authors Victor Gischler and Duane Swierczynski.

First, if you are ever anywhere within a hundred, maybe two hundred miles of Houston, go to Murder By the Books. McKenna and David run an amazing store and are just awesome hosts. I'd write another mystery/thriller/suspense-type book just to get a second invitation from them.

That, and meeting maniacs wonderful authors like Victor and Duane made this a truly memorable day. Also, the amazing seafood at that place we went to after.

And oh yeah, the bar fight...

Good times!

I completely spaced out on taking photos, but a part of our talk is available on Youtube thanks to author Bill Crider. I've been too embarrassed busy to watch it yet, but from the opening snip, I look pretty much like a person who didn't sleep and caught a 6 AM flight from LA and arrived at Houston just in time to catch a Supershuttle from George Bush International Airport, get dropped at the wrong Crowne Hyatt on Southwestern Freeway Rd. (I mean, my thinking was, "how many Crowne Hyatts could there be on Southwestern Freeway Rd." Answer: two), catch a cab to the right Crowne Hyatt—a large number of Houston cabbies seem to be Caribbean or W. African immigrants. This cabby was great and had a GPS that played the Racing Fanfare every 15 seconds— and just happened to encounter Victor and Duane in the lobby of the Hyatt, so we cab-pooled to Murder by the Book, and, oh yeah, then we talked for a bit, me on no sleep.

A longer version of our talk, which I'm REALLY scared to watch, is here...

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Launch Day!

It's ROCK PAPER TIGER launch day, and I forgot to post. D'OH!

And now that it's here, I got nuthin'. I'm just incredibly gratified by the response the book is getting.

Some of the stuff that's going on...

The book has been getting some great reviews, which I've been linking to on my Facebook page (it's a "fan" page, so you don't have to have a FB account to view it).

My awesome agent, Nathan Bransford, has the official ROCK PAPER TIGER Chase/Action Writing Contest Extravaganza! up on his blog. You have until Thursday at 4 PM PST to enter your best 500 word chase/action writing sample. The prizes, as usual, are fabulous, so get on over there and check it out!

(and watch his blog for a guest appearance by yours truly)

Finally, I have my very first book signing at the wonderful Mystery Bookstore in Los Angeles (Westwood). Details available here!

Oh, and for a look at upcoming events, check out my website under "News." There's a handy calendar there that has all the information.

Thanks to everyone who has supported me along the way. It's been quite a ride!