Monday, June 13, 2016

Go Learn Some Shit

In almost every episode of NCIS New Orleans Agent Dwayne Pride, played by the always yummy Scott Bakula, tells his young team "go learn something" as he sends them out to solve a crime.

Leaning is cool and you're never too old to do it. I've been learning a lot lately about RVs and the RV lifestyle.

Although I'm not hitting the road for at least 2 years, I want to be prepared. I also want to make sure there's nothing that will be a deal breaker, not even the draining of the sewer tank, which, thanks to several You Tube videos, I feel I could do right this minute without much of a hiccup.

Yeah, my book deadline is behind me so I'm spending my time learning how to dump human waste in a clean and efficient manner.  Somehow I need to work that into a book.

But that's not all I've learned recently.

Thanks to a plethora of blogs and You Tube videos, I've also leaned about the best internet connections while on the road, best way to boondock (dry camping - no hookups), how to meet people, find camping spots, the basics of RV electrical and plumbing systems, storage organization, safety issues, and RV buying and financing. I've even read and viewed videos on how to decide on the best RV for my needs and how best to acclimate a cat to RV life.

My favorite RV bloggers quickly rose to the top:

The Fit RV - James and Stef are fitness trainers who also do a lot of reviews of different types of RVs, products, RV renovation tips, and how to stay fit on the road.  They also have a great blog post called 8-Step Program For Choosing Your First RV.  Through it I realized that for me to be comfortable on the road I must have (in order of importance) a dry bath (shower separate), good working area where I can sit comfortably for several hours a day and write, good storage, and a permanent bed. I don't need fancy slides or all the bells and whistles and even the permanent bed is negotiable if I find everything else.

Technomadia - I have found this blog and site to be my go-to for all kinds of straight-talk information on the RV lifestyle. They are also experts in all things techy and had the best video explanation on internet connectivity while on the road. This weekend I watched their video: 10 Things That Suck About Full Time RVing. It was extremely informational and entertaining.  Cherie and Chris also do a lot of Q&A with their followers.

Gone With the Wynns - This couple has just transitioned to a sail boat, but their RV blog is full of archived valuable information. And they're cute, energetic, and have two cats. What's not to like?

The Freedom Theory - Josh and Kali are just too cute for words and have a lot of great and informational You Tube videos on everything from techy stuff to money issues.

In addition, just this past week I was invited to join a Facebook group called Authors on the Road, whose members are all writers living either full-time or part-time on the road.

I have found my people and they have knowledge; knowledge I intend to suck dry like a vampire dining on brains. Or should I say absorb like a thirsty sponge? Nah, I like the vampire thing better.

Monday, June 06, 2016

Keeping It Moving

So Odelia #11, Rhythm & Clues is done, what shall I do?

 Go to Disneyland.

 Ah, nope. 

 I'll be getting back to my more stable routine of morning exercise and writing before work, instead of the frenzied writing every waking moment when I'm not at work that happens when I'm on deadline.

 But first I will take a few days off from writing to clean my apt (and this time also my car) top to bottom. I mean really deep clean. Every nook and cranny until everything sparkles. I do it after every book, except that I had no time to do it between the last Granny Apples book and this Odelia. Even poor B will be brushed and bathed!

 I also need to start organizing the stuff in my apt to get ready in preparation of hitting the road full-time in an RV when I retire in 2-3 years. I'd love to go in 2 years, if I can.  So I'll be going through everything, giving some away, selling most of it, and keeping the few things that I just can't live without.

 Yes, I know my retirement is in 2-3 years, but experience has taught me that time moves fast, lightening fast, unlike when I was a kid and it crawled. I need to start my downsizing now, even if it means living in a near empty apartment next year.  I figure if I do that, I won't lose sight of my ultimate vision and goal - retiring to live, write, and travel in an RV.  Stay tuned for more posts on that topic as I set my sights and begin implementing my plan.

Done! Out November 2016!
As for the writing, I have so many books waiting to be finished and waiting to be started that it's difficult to know where to begin.  When I return to writing later this week, I'm going to focus on Odelia #12, the last book I have under contract to a publisher AKA the last deadline I'll need to face for now.

 I can't wait!  To be deadline free is indeed freedom and should reduce my stress level considerably.

 The deadline for Odelia 12 is early November 2016. My goal is to have it done and turned it before I go on vacation in mid-October. I've already started it.

 Also on deck is a short story I'm writing for a contest and the 3rd Winnie Wilde novel.

 The next 2 years are going to be exciting in both my writing and my goals.  Stick around!   

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Nooch Me Again!

A Half-Assed Vegan Post

Since I'm not supposed to eat dairy, I'm not supposed to eat cheese. (BOO! HISS!) I love cheese and it has been the toughest thing to give up in the dairy group.  Every now and then I go off the reservation and have some. And every time I pay dearly for it with rashes and acne, and lately even with some facial puffiness and horrible itching.

You'd think that would be enough to get me to stop fudging on it, wouldn't you?

Let's just say I'm pretty smart, but I've never claimed to be all that bright.

In the past two years, I've become well acquainted with nutritional yeast. It's used by a lot of vegans and vegan chefs and it really does lend a "cheesiness" to dishes.

Nutritional Yeast - now isn't that a sexy name, huh?

How about "Nooch?"  Does that do it for ya? Just so ya know, nooch is the nickname for nutritional yeast.

So, you ask, what in the hell is this stuff?

Nutritional yeast is an inactive yeast made from sugar cane and beet molasses. It comes in flake or powder form. No, it is NOT the same as the active yeasts used in making bread. It's also quite healthy for you. Low in calories, fat, and salt, nooch is full of fiber and protein and super packed with vitamin B.

It can be found in health food stores or at Whole Foods, but can be expensive in those markets. I buy mine from Amazon and get a lot more for about the same price. 

Here's a great article about it on the Huffington Post.

Okay, so now you know what it is, let's see what you can do with it.

Pretty much any vegan dish that needs a cheesiness spin to it will call for some nooch. It can be added to cashew cream, which I talked about in an earlier post, to make a great "cheese" sauce.

Add it to a basic tomato pasta sauce to give it a cheesy boost.

You can mix it with baked tofu to make a yummy "cheese" sandwich spread or dip. Here is my recipe for that:

1 package of pre-baked tofu, teriyaki flavor works best
1/4-1/3 cup vegan mayo (start with less and add a bit at a time to get your desired consistency)
2 tbsp nooch
1/2 tsp paprika
1/4 tsp garlic powder

Toss the ingredients into a food processor and pulse, and you have a protein packed "cheese" spread. I love it on toast or crackers or even grilled with slices of tomatoes. It's also great with celery. And go wild with adding your own favorites to the blend such as pimentos, cilantro, fresh basil, or diced chilies,

Yes, this golden goodness is "cheeseless"!
Another favorite thing I do with nooch is make vegan "Parmesan cheese."  I love this stuff! I use it on cooked veggies, pasta, anywhere I'd use regular Parmesan cheese. Last night I added it to risotto. I always have a batch of this in my fridge. It's super easy to make and only takes 5 minutes.  Here is the recipe I use, which I got from Minimalist Baker.

And don't miss these 3 ways to make Mexican cheese - yes, I'm talking queso!  Also from Minimalist Baker and perfect on chips, nachos and dips.

I've even used nooch in omelettes, both egg and tofu based, and in vegan quiches.

Some nooch enthusiasts sprinkle it on popcorn and cheeseless pizza, and mix it into rice, mashed potatoes and mashed cauliflower. It's uses are endless.

So if for any reason you must give up cheese, don't despair, just buy some nooch and learn how to use it!

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Remembering the Good

Taken about 6 years ago
Tomorrow marks a year since my brother, Thomas Arthur Jaffarian, passed away from complications of liver disease. I've been thinking about him a lot lately, which is natural.

Thom and I were never close and there were many patches of time when we didn't see or speak to each other for years. Sometimes I didn't even know where he was if I had wanted or needed to reach him. Even his kids didn't know where he was a lot of the time. Every now and then he would pop up or we would track him down through some of his online contacts.  He was just that way. He had a lot of personal demons, more than most of us.

To be honest, I have a lot of not so good memories of my brother or my family. Thom and I couldn't have been more different in the paths we chose for our lives. But he was my brother and I loved him and today I'm going to remember some of the good things:

    Walking me to school when I was in first grade. I have old home movies that my mother took of my first day of school and Thom holding my hand as we walk up the street, me with my little lunch box.
Playing board games with me when we were kids even though we were five years apart.

Coming to my defense when other kids picked on me.

Giving me my beautiful nephews and niece: Tom, Derek and Lindsay.

Nights playing cards with my mother and Thom's first wife, Marlaine, with whom I am still as close as a sister.

Going on kiddie rides with me when I was too small to ride them alone. There is one photo of Thom and me that I still remember and wish I could find. We're on one of those rides for really small children. I'm only about four and look terrified and Thom is mugging for the camera, obviously not thrilled to be on a ride for babies. I'll post it if I find it.

He was a wonderful wood carver and I have two of his pieces that I will always treasure. The one to the left is my favorite.

As a young man he was good looking and strong. He didn't always made the best decisions or take the best paths in life, but isn't that true of us all?

Several years before my father passed, he gave me his old Kodak projector and our old home movies. In the next year, as I'm getting rid of a lot of my personal things in preparation to hit to road for retirement, I want to take the time to go through those old films and see if there is anything worth salvaging and having transferred to DVD. I've been meaning to do it for YEARS, but you know how it is, time just slips away. Now it will be a major item on my To Do List as I clean out my apartment. I want Thom's children and grandchildren to see those movies. To see how Thom and I were as kids. That there were good times and fun times.

Be at peace, brother.

Monday, May 16, 2016

Oh The Places I'll Go!

Oh The Places You'll Go! by Dr. Seuss
Not too long ago I announced that when I retire in a few years that I plan on buying an RV and traveling this beautiful country. Since then I've been doing a lot of research on what type of RV I'd like. And I've done a lot of research on what things I need to take and what I need to leave behind.

Yes, I know I'm three years from retiring, but I'm compulsive (read anal) when it comes to things like this.

Now I'm focusing on making a wish list of places I want to see. Topping the list are two destinations that couldn't be more different or far apart: Key West, Florida and Alaska. Something tells me I won't be seeing both of those in one year, but who knows!

Also on the list are the Smoky Mountains and Bryce Canyon. I'd also like to see Hilton Head, Martha's Vineyard, both North and South Dakota, the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, Austin, TX, Big Sur, and drive across Canada. Places I want to revisit: Sedona,Vermont, New Orleans, British Columbia, Wisconsin and Maine.

And, of course, along the way, I'll be zig-zagging between friends and family and seeing as many of my wonderful readers as possible.

In looking at the various styles and floor plans of RVs, one thing is for sure, it must have a very comfortable set up for writing! (And a decent bed and bathroom.)

The biggest challenge of this retirement plan is putting it aside for now and concentrating on the deadlines still on my plate and the books still to write. After all, I also need to build up my book income to help finance my life on the road. RVs and gas cost money.

But I know from my pursuit of becoming a published author that to reach a goal, you must focus on it. You must have it in your sights, even while you are doing other tasks that must be done. Long term goals must constantly run in the back of your brain like security software runs on your computer. Every now and then you bring it to the forefront and concentrate on laying another brick to the path of that goal, until the long-term goal becomes a short-term goal, and eventually a reality. I'm already taking steps toward dismantling my life in Los Angeles. Not drastic steps, but steps needed to get me started.

And OMG, do I have a lot of crap to get rid of!

Meanwhile, I have other more-pressing goals that also need to be addressed, like new books to write and establishing myself as an independent author.

Just some of the bricks to be laid on my Yellow Brick Road...

Monday, May 09, 2016

Pea Green With Taste!

A Half-Assed Vegan Post

I love peas! There, I've said it. Out loud.  With no shame.
  • I love them dried in split pea soup.
  • Fresh in soup.
  • Added to casseroles and pastas.
  • Raw in salads.
  • Pea pods sauteed up in a stir-fry.
  • Peas are a cheerful veggie with its bright color and willingness to be added to most any dish, hot or cold.
  • The only way I won't eat them is out of a can.

These little guys are super healthy too!

One of my favorite recipes is this creamy asparagus and pea soup from Minimalist Baker. I make it quite often. At the same time, I usually make this lemony mushroom asparagus pasta or some other pasta with asparagus.  I use the tips of the asparagus with the pasta and the stalks for the soup. Since they're just going to be pureed for the soup, they don't have to look pretty.

I often add a handful of peas to recipes that don't even call for them, both hot and cold. I have a favorite curried cauliflower salad that I adapted from the famous Mendocino Farms cauliflower couscous salad. Here's the basic recipe, BUT in mine I reduce the pasta by half and add a ton more carrots and only half the mayo ... and I add peas!

Another favorite recipe is this cauliflower and chickpea coconut curry from Oh My Veggies. Near the end, while it's simmering, I add a cup of frozen peas that have been partially thawed under the faucet. They also add a lot of bright color to an otherwise beige dish.

This week I made these samosa inspired potato and pea patties from Minimalist Baker, which are also chock full of ... you guessed it ...peas! BTW, I bake the patties in the oven to save on calories and fat. The cilantro based green chutney is to die for!

And let's not forget another health benefit of peas. If you need an ice pack, simply slap a bag of frozen peas on your injury.  After the swelling goes down, you can cook them up and eat them!

There is always a bag of frozen peas in my freezer ... always. I may not always have ice, but I always have peas!

Friday, April 29, 2016

An Early Birdie Gets The Manuscript Done

This is kind of laughable right now since I am woefully behind in finishing my current work in progress, but it's not for lack of trying. But that's a whole 'nother blog topic.

I'm an early bird. Unless I'm not feeling well or am unusually tired, I get up between 5 and 5:30 every morning during the week without setting an alarm.  Even when my dear Raffi was alive, I was often awake before he hopped on the bed and commenced chewing my hair, demanding his breakfast.

When folks ask how I'm able to get so much writing done while juggling a day job, I point to this habit first thing. I write in the morning, after I feed my other cat B, clean her box, and brew my coffee. I take a few minutes to do some social media chores and posts, then it's all about the writing for a couple of hours. Between 8 and 8:30 I break to do my exercise, then shower and it's off to the day job. Sometimes I even write during my lunch hour.

On weekends, I'm up fairly early, usually by 7 or 7:30. When on vacation, I'm usually writing by 7 am at the hotel or cottage, or wherever I'm hanging my hat.

There is seldom a day in the year when I don't put my fingers to the key board in the morning. Yes, there are some, like when I'm ill or experiencing burnout or my focus must be directed elsewhere, but not very many.

Not all writers are morning people. A lot of my writer friends write at night, after their family has turned in and the house is quiet. Some have the luxury of not working a day job so can write during the day and for a much longer block of time. I know of a few who only write for long stints on weekends,

There is no right way to write when it comes to when and where. Through trial and error, and sometimes circumstances, a dedicated author will find what works best for them. Some work in coffee shops with people around them. Some, like me, prefer the privacy and the comfort of my home. Some write with a playlist, others, again like me, prefer no music in the background. But we all spend time writing.

The only thing that is a MUST is making a commitment to a schedule, whatever it may be personally, and sticking to it.  If you only write on weekends, then make sure you do it. If you only have an hour a day, then make that hour a priority.

Frankly, it pisses me off when wannabe writers tell me they have a great idea for a book but no time to write it.  To that I say BULLSHIT! If you really want to write, then put your ass in a chair and write, even if it's only for 30 minutes a day. Put the TV remote down and get to a computer! If you don't, then you really don't want to write, because writing is compulsory for a writer.

TIP: You can't write a book by rubbing a magic lamp or 
wishing on a star while turning around three times.

I write in the early morning because it's the best time I have to get in a quality block of time. At night after work I'm tired and not as focused. I have conditioned myself to go to bed at a decent hour so I can get up early to get it done, because there is no other time that works as well for me. I don't whine about it. I just do it.

I know women who crank out book after book while raising children, cooking meals, and driving carpool.

Now doesn't that put all those sorry ass excuses to shame?

Friday, April 22, 2016

A Writer On The Road

For about a year, I've been thinking about what I want to do when I retire. Well, not exactly do. I know that once I retire from my career as a paralegal I want to focus full time on my writing. The real question is where?

Staying in California wasn't looking good as an option because it is simply too damn expensive to live here. My retirement budget will not allow it if I want to eat and not live under an overpass. Unless, of course, I want to move to some really out of the way place in Cali, but what fun is that? I just don't want to move somewhere and wait for the Grim Reaper. Wherever I land, it has to enhance my life.

On my list of places under consideration are: Massachusetts, where I'm from and where my family lives, Oregon, where many friends live and love living there, and Nevada because of the low cost of living and close proximity to California and other friends. Arizona? Meh, been there, done that, didn't like it. 

A while back I wrote about having an attack of wanderlust.  I know I want to travel when I retire and visit friends and family scattered all over this great country. Then the thought hit me. Why not live full-time on the road?

Yeah! I could do that! I know I could. After all, I can write anywhere.

The more I thought about this option, the more it felt right, like something I'd not only enjoy but would enjoy a lot. First, I thought about simply climbing into my car and hitting the road, visiting all the people and places I want to see, living carefree out of a suitcase, my next stop wherever I fancy going. 

Then I thought, why not an RV? Why not join the hoards of retirees who live on the open road, taking their home with them, state to state, experiencing nature, avoiding bad weather by snowbirding in the winter. It seems so cliche, but why not? So I did what any good paralegal or crime writer would do: I started researching the possibility, looking into financial needs, vehicles, safety issues, and the logistics of living mostly off the grid full-time. I've watched dozens of videos, and read blogs of full-time RV'ers (BTW, there are tons of them, including many women who are on the road solo), which contain incredibly helpful information on all aspects of the lifestyle.

BINGO! I have found my retirement plan! 

Susan, one of my BFFs who is retired, has always said that when I find the retirement place for me, I'd know it in my gut. Susan, my dear, you were right. As soon as I saw this possibility, it clicked in my very soul.

I'm not worried about being lonely. I'll be visiting friends and family, and I'll make new friends along the way. I'll even be able to visit many readers for the first time. I've discovered that there are all kinds of full-timer clubs and communities online. And I'll have the internet to stay in touch.  I'm also not adverse to being alone. Alone is not the same thing as being lonely.  I've been painfully lonely in a crowd of people and even while in relationships. And although I'm very outgoing, I'm basically a loner, always have been, even as a kid. I've already logged quite a few solo travel miles and prefer to travel that way most of the time. Maybe I'll even get myself a small dog, since B will most likely be gone by then.
I could live here!

I'm also not concerned about living in such tight quarters. I once lived in a tiny studio apartment for 4 years and it never bothered me. I know how to live small and compact if I have to, and today's RVs are super convenient and well planned, even the small van-style ones, which I'm considering. In fact, have you seen these things lately? They are incredible! I think this lifestyle will fit me like a glove.

I'd hit the road NOW, if I could, but alas, I'm not quite there. So for the next few years, I'll be purging my stuff, saving money, and making plans, with hitting the road as my goal after I say goodbye to the day job. It's my brass ring. The golden ticket for my golden years. 

And, as I've said before, time has a way of going by in the blink of an eye.

When I told another friend about this plan, she was very excited and asked how long I planned on doing it - 6 months, a year, a couple of years? My response was:

Until it stops being fun!

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Cashew - Gesundheit!

A Half-Assed Vegan Post

I am allergic to pecans and walnuts, both of which I like. When I eat them, often my lips and tongue will tingle and swell and sometimes go numb, like I've just had a shot of Novocain. Needless to say, I avoid the little buggers, which is particularly difficult when it comes to walnuts since they seem to be in EVERYTHING! So far I haven't experienced anaphylactic shock from eating them, but I really don't want to push my luck.

Fortunately for me my favorite nuts are almonds and cashews. Even more fortunate for me is that so far I have experienced no adverse reactions to either.  Which is great since a lot of vegan cooking uses both.

I'm sure most of you have heard how good nuts are for us. And they are! They are chock full of protein, vitamins, fiber and healthy fats. A few almonds can boost your energy and satisfy the crunch craving. Although nuts can be high in calories, these are far from empty calories. And almonds and cashews can also be made into wonderful butters and can be tossed into stir frys and salads.

And here is a very interesting article about the health benefits of cashews and how they can help depression.  Who knew???

Cashews also have another great feature. They can be made into a cream sauce that can rival most high fat butter and cream sauces in taste, and surpass them hands down when it comes to healthy eating. It's true!

I love cream sauces on pasta and in casseroles.  LOVE THEM! So when I had to remove diary from my diet, I mourned the loss of these yummy comfort foods.  Then I discovered cashew cream through many of the new recipes I was trying.

Hooray for cashew cream!

Recently I made creamy mushroom and asparagus pasta from Minimalist Baker. While the recipe called for vegan cream cheese (which I dislike), I substituted it for 3/4 cup of soaked cashews and increased the almond milk to 1 cup. I followed the rest of the recipe as written and was rewarded with a very yummy comfort food dish that was creamy, lemony, and cheesy (this last part thanks to nutritional yeast, another great vegan discovery).

BTW, I've gotten a lot of my non-vegan and non-vegetarian friends following Minimalist Baker and you should too! Dana and John also do a lot of gluten free recipes, if you need to go that route. I have a lot of great vegan blogs that I follow but this one is hands-down my favorite. Check them out!

Mushroom Asparagus Pasta
Another favorite recipe of mine is tofu and mushroom stroganoff from Isa Chandra Moskowitz's cookbook Isa Does It, and which can also be found here.  This dish is incredibly satisfying on many levels.  Hmmm, it's been awhile since I've made it...

Isa has a acronym in her cookbook - ABS, which stands for always be soaking.  A lot of recipes using cashews as a cream base will reference this step.  Cashews make the best and smoothest cream if they are soaked in water for several hours or overnight. Just put the amount of cashews the recipe calls for in a bowl, cover with water, and stick it in the fridge. It will even last a few days. Soaking causes the cashews to swell and soften so that when you put them in a blender with your plant-based milk, veggie broth, or water, the sauces will be smooth and creamy.  If you have a high speed blender, you might be able to skip this step.  I do have a very powerful blender, but I find that the soaking step does make a better sauce.

BTW, cashew cream is made with RAW cashews, not roasted, salted cashews.  I buy mine at Trader Joe's and buy the bags of pieces, which are a lot cheaper than whole or half cashews.  Nuts don't need to be pretty to be whirred around in a blender, so why pay for whole cashews?

Go Nuts For Nuts!

Sunday, April 17, 2016

I Ain't Afraid of No Needle

Typewriter tattoo on  writer Christa Faust
I've decided to get a tattoo.

This is not a sudden decision. I've wanted one for years, at least 15-20 years. I just didn't know what kind of tattoo I wanted. I didn't want something silly or meaningless. No Chinese characters for me. No Winnie the Pooh, or portrait of my cat. I wanted a tat that I could be proud of and inspired by every time I saw it. Something that displayed who I am.

For the past month I've given this a lot of thought and now I know EXACTLY what kind of tattoo I want and where. I then went to friends asking for referrals and looked at dozens of tattoo artists and their work until I found one I believe will do a kick-ass job. His name is Adam Parrot at Rabble Rouser Tattoo, which is very close to where I live.

Hard Case logo on wrist
This is happening sometime in May, after my current WIP is turned in and I have some time to relax.

I won't tell you what kind of tattoo I'm getting, but will say that it will be related to my writing.  However, I won't be throwing my entire body into it like pal Christa Faust. Christa has a vintage typewriter with wings on her belly, amongst other things, and even her publisher's logo on her wrist.

Christa is hard-ass.

I'm more fat ass.

And, no, my first tattoo is NOT going on my ass or anywhere near it.

As Rachel Maddow often says on her news show: 


Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Wanderlust In Waiting

I've been bitten by the wanderlust bug. Bitten bad. All I can think about is getting in my car and setting out on a road trip.



More and more I'm thinking that maybe when I retire, I'll get rid of most of my stuff, put the rest in storage, and hit the road. 


That's the direction my mind is going as I contemplate my golden years without the good ole day job. After all, I can write anywhere. 

I've been to most of the states in the US, but I'd love to see them all. The only states I haven't been to are Alaska, Montana, Idaho, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wyoming. I've even been to Puerto Rico.

It could be fun. I'll just gas up the car and hit the highway, visiting friends, family, readers, historical sites, Waffle Houses, and the world's largest ball of twine. Which, by the way, is located in Cawker City, Kansas. If I like a place, maybe I settle in for a few days.

The closer I get to retirement, the more I understand why so many retirees hit the road in RVs. It's our last chance to see the stuff we've been missing while punching a time clock.

According to the count down app on my phone, I have at least 993 days until I retire.

Yes, they have an app for that.

That doesn't mean I'll retire in exactly 993 days, but that is the soonest I will be able to do the deed.

It's going to go by in the blink of an eye... I'd better gas up the car.

Tuesday, April 05, 2016

Spring Time is Festival of Books Time!

Every April for one weekend, authors, publishers, entertainers, and people of all ages pilgrimage to the USC Campus in Los Angeles for the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books.

I am always surprised when I run into people who say they have never attended this annual event. In the past 12 years I've missed it once and only once, and that was because I had a bad injury to my leg and it was difficult to get around. A few years ago I attended even though I had an abscessed tooth!

But you're an author, you say. You need to be there. 

True, it is a place where I am able to connect personally with readers of my work and introduce myself to new readers. But if only authors attended, there would be no reason to have the event.

There is something for everyone at the LA Times Festival of Books, no matter your age or interest. If you have kids, this is a grand place to bring them. Admission is FREE! And there is an entire children's section complete with people dressed up as their favorite book characters. There's music. Food trucks. Panels with interesting folks. 

And BOOKS!!!  Let's not forget books!

There is also lots of parking on site, but I take the Metro when I go. It saves me a lot of time, money and stress.

Here is my schedule for the LA Times Festival of Books for 2016. All booths below are located in the 300 section, in Founders Park by Bovard Auditorium. 

Saturday, April 9, 3-4 pm, So Cal MWA booth

Saturday, April 9, 4-6 pm, Sisters In Crime/LA booth

Sunday, April 10, 12-1 pm Mystery Ink Bookstore booth

Sunday, April 10, 2-3 pm, Mysterious Galaxy Bookstore booth

Come on by and say hello!

Friday, April 01, 2016

Fat Woman Biking

Back in January I wrote a blog called Fat Woman Walking. In it I explained how several friends and I challenged ourselves to walk (or bike or run or swim) 2016 miles in 2016.

The first three months are now in the hopper and here are my stats:

Miles to date: 249.31

I incurred deficits in both January and February as I got ramped up. Figuring on about 168 miles per month average to meet the 2016 mile goal, I'm about 254 miles in the hole.  But in March I was just shy of my monthly quota and from here on out I should be able to whack off the deficit over time and be right on track.

Most of these miles were accrued on my recumbent bike as I have an arthritic right knee. As I increased my walking in January and February, my knee started protesting. A few years back my doctor told me to either bike or swim to help my knee. But did I? Once in a while, but only on days with the letter P in them. Now I'm pedaling 7-10 miles almost every day, pushing to go faster and further and my knee is feeling pretty good.  The doc was right. Imagine that? I'm still getting in some walking. A lot of days, my combined miles are somewhere between 7-10 miles. I allow myself one day a week for a rest day.

It's not easy. Some days I piss and moan like a whiny little kid about getting my big ole butt on the bike, but I do it because I'm determined to reach my goal of 2016 miles. The first few miles each day are tough. Usually I watch TV while I pedal and it helps the time fly. I was reading while working out, but as I go faster and get sweatier, I find it tougher to concentrate on the reading.

3 months down, 9 months to go.

249.31 miles down, 1766.69 to go.

I got this!

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

The Zombies Threatened My Cat

And, as usual, I'm very late to the party.

Although The Walking Dead is about to end its 6th season, and I've been hearing nothing but raves about it from friends, I hadn't seen a single episode until this past Saturday.  It's true. I enjoy stories about ghosts. I like some stuff about vampires. Zombies, though, meh.  I really don't see the attraction to things that are dead and decaying. At least most vampires are sexy and alluring. And ghosts can be fun (insert plug for my Ghost of Granny Apples mystery series here).

But zombies?????

Foul. Ugly. Incoherent. Pieces missing or falling off.

Oh yeah, I can totally picture a zombie hunk doing a bump and grind in the next Magic Mike movie! NOT!

Still, I wanted to see what all the hullabaloo was about. So Saturday afternoon after a very pleasant lunch with friends, I sat down in front of the TV, called up Netflix, and started with episode 1, season 1.

First thing I see is Andrew Lincoln in a sheriff's outfit.  I loved Lincoln in the movie Love Actually, so I was off to a good start. Next I see dead bodies and Lincoln, playing Rick Grimes, shoot a girl zombie in the head. Okay...  not totally unexpected.

By the end of the episode, I was hiding my eyes and fighting back my lunch as both the living and the dead were butchered with glorious graphic gore and squishy sound.

I swore I'd never watch another ...

Later that evening, after some chores and writing, I sat down in front of the TV to watch something fun. Before I knew it, I was starting up episode 2 of The Walking Dead. It was like the remote had a mind of its own. Forces beyond my control were pushing me closer to the zombies. I was helpless. A lamb to the slaughter.

By 1 am - yes, 1 am - I had watched the entire season 1 of the show. At some point, I had a quick bite of dinner and was truly thankful that I eat mostly vegan, because The Walking Dead will make a vegetarian/vegan out of anyone.

I swore that on Sunday I would NOT watch the damn show. I even did a pinkie swear with myself. There would be NO ZOMBIES on Sunday. As usual, I had coffee and breakfast while watching Face The Nation. After, I went to my computer to write. It was a normal Sunday in my world.

Until ...

"Sue Ann," the zombies called from the living room.

"Sue Ann, we're right here, waiting for you."

"Just pick up the clicker. You know you want to."

Yes, I know that zombies don't talk, but they did to me. If I'm lying, I'm dying... (By the way, that's just a figure of speech. Don't go getting all excited and put a bullet in my brain just yet.)

I held firm and kept plugging away at my manuscript for the 11th book in my Odelia Grey series, due in just a few weeks. I had work to do, and some laundry.

What's really disturbing is this looks like B!

"Sue Ann," I heard again in raspy zombie grunts. "Come watch us or we'll eat your cat."


Being somewhat of a zombie novice, I wasn't sure if that meant B would become a zombie too. Would I be sharing my home and bed with a zombie cat?

Hours later, I finally tore myself away from the TV, just 2 episodes away from the end of season 2. B was safe and sound, snoring next to me on the couch, without a clue about how close she'd come to becoming undead herself.

So far this week, I've managed to stave off my craving for the show. B's not in danger though, because I promised the zombies a date this weekend.

I hope that damn cat knows the sacrifices I'm making for her.