Tuesday, December 06, 2016

Give Me Your Banners!

NEW CONTEST!

We need a new banner for the Sue Ann Jaffarian Fan Club, so all you creative types, put your graphic talents to work.

RULES:

  • Banner must be sized correctly for Facebook banners (see pixel requirements in pic above).
  • Banner must embody what the club is about.
  • Entries must be in a suitable format (JPEG, etc).
  • Send entries to contest@sueannjaffarian.com.
  • Entries must be received by 9 pm Pacific Time, December 21st.
  • Contest is open only to members of the Sue Ann Jaffarian Fan Club. (You know you want to join!)

Once we receive all entries, I will post the top 3 chosen by me in the club for voting by members.

Winner will have their banner posted at top of club AND will get their name in the 12th Odelia Grey book, TOO BIG TO DIE.

NOTE: By entering, winner agrees to release all rights to banner to Sue Ann Jaffarian for publicity use without remuneration or value.

Friday, December 02, 2016

Book Ideas. Yeah, They're Out There!

I'm blogging today over at the Midnight Ink Blog. Talking about book ideas and how to get ya some. Check it out!

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Yes, Another Book Give-A-Way!

THE GHOSTS OF MISTLETOE MARY, my 9th Ghost of Granny Apples book, will be released on December 6, 2016. So ...

It's Contest Time Again!

Three (3) lucky winners will win a signed copy of THE GHOSTS OF MISTLETOE MARY.*

Here are the details:
  • Become a member of the Sue Ann Jaffarian Fan Club on Facebook.  Come on, you know you want to join. And here's the link so you don't have to hunt for it.
  • Send your name and snail mail address to contest@sueannjaffarian.com. If you skip #1, your entry will be deleted. We do check.
  • Only one entry per person.
  • Deadline for entries is 9 pm pacific time, December 4, 2016. Winners will be announced on Monday, December 5th.

*Note – if you prefer an e-book edition instead of a print edition, please put that in your entry e-mail. Entrants outside of the US are eligible, but winners will only be awarded an e-book. 

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Shop Small. Big Benefits

The Saturday after Thanksgiving is Shop Small Day. It's a day to shop and spend your dollars locally at local businesses.

This time of year a lot of us, me included, go straight to Amazon or big box stores for gifts. It's only natural to want to save money and have the convenience. But our neighborhood stores and restaurants need our love and our bucks too. So support them this Saturday, and every day, as much as you can.

This Saturday is also Indies First Day, a day to celebrate independent bookstores.

On Saturday, November 26th, at noon, Mystery Ink Bookstore in Huntington Beach will be having a gathering of authors to celebrate Indies First. I understand Mystery Ink will also have THE GHOSTS OF MISTY HOLLOW, my latest Granny Apples novel, on hand. So come on down and say hello and get your signed copy.

And while we're on the subject of the new Granny Apples book, I'll also be attending the Mysterious Galaxy Bookstore's Holiday Party on December 10th. Again, a great store hosting a lot of authors on one day. THE GHOSTS OF MISTY HOLLOW and RHYTHM & CLUES will also be available there. 

November 26, 2016 - Noon
Mystery Ink Bookstore
8907 Warner Avenue, #135
Huntington Beach, CA 92647

December 10, 2016 - 2:00-5:00 pm
Mysterious Galaxy
5943 Balboa Ave. Suite #100
San Diego, CA 92111

And remember, if you can't make a book signing, just call one of the above bookstores and they will make sure you get a signed copy.

Monday, November 21, 2016

Let Your Freak Flag Fly!

I remember when I first started writing almost twenty years ago. A lot of people shook their heads and laughed, thinking it was just another half-baked idea, something I would get bored with and cast aside in a very short time. Now with over 20 books to my credit and numerous short stories, no one is laughing, except maybe at my books because they are humorous.

And some of you may remember, seven years ago when I announced that I would tackle the Camp Pendleton Mud Run, a combination 10K and obstacle course, not only did A LOT of people look at my middle-aged obese body and laugh, but they laughed right up until the day of the race. Some even expressed concern that I would hurt myself. Well, they weren't laughing after, when I not only finished the race, but managed to come in just under the official cut off time.

Now I'm looking at living in a camper van and traveling the country when I retire in under two years. At first a few laughed. A couple even told me I was nuts. But most people have learned by now that when I set my mind on something, chances are VERY GOOD that I will accomplish that goal. Even some of the earlier skeptics have changed their tune seeing how much research and planning I'm putting into this goal. I have a whole community behind me now, cheering on this plan.

Okay, now comes the downside of setting and announcing personal goals

There have been things I've said I was going to do that I haven't. I don't have a 100% completion rate on my goals. Not by a long shot.

I once said I was going to do a marathon, but cast it aside because of my arthritic knees and the time involved in training. I said I was going to clock 2,016 miles in 2016, but am going to fall way short of that goal, even though I have been putting miles on my exercise bike and in walking. And let's not forget how many times I've said I was going to lose weight - too many times to mention - yet I'm still determined to do that. That one day, whatever is in my brain throwing a strip of nails in the way of that goal, will be emotionally doused, allowing me to turn that goal into an accomplishment.

I believe in putting my goals and dreams out there for people to see. I believe in letting my freak flag fly, high and proud.

A lot of people don't like talking about their dreams because they are afraid of being laughed at if they fail. Or they're afraid people will think they're weird or won't like them. Or that people will judge them. Yes, that is going to happen. I guarantee it. Because some people are real shits.

But here's the thing - who freaking cares if people laugh at you or judge you?  Is it going to kill you? No. It's not even going to give you the sniffles. Still a lot of folks want to fail in private, so no one will know, except them. I think that's a sad and lonely place to be. It's like hiding your life energy under a bucket. It's setting yourself up for failure, whether you realize it or not.

If you don't have the cajones to put your goals and dreams out there, even to a small private group of friends, then you don't have what it takes or the tools to tackle then, win or lose. It's denying who you are. There's something both frightening and liberating about saying THIS IS ME AND THIS IS WHAT I PLAN ON DOING.  SO THERE!

And you might be surprised by how many people don't laugh and instead give you their full support. Support that will give you great energy and strength, and make the path a bit easier. And if for some reason you don't hit your target, those same people will be there to pick you up, dust you off, kiss your boo-boo, and set you back on your way. And those same people will at the finish line, cheering you across it.

So let your freak flag fly. Wave it high. Wave it proudly. Announce your intentions to the world, then go forth and make it happen. If you don't, you will spend your life holding onto what-ifs like a box of broken china. And how sad is that?

Thursday, November 17, 2016

I Still Miss You, Baby Boy

A year ago I said goodbye to Raffi, my gray and white bundle of  obstinate energy. He was felled my intestinal cancer. It happened quickly and I still greatly mourn and miss him. Pets bring so much into our lives, but losing them is so painful. Still, the joy out weighs the pain by a landslide.

I'm in the middle of downsizing my apartment as I get ready to retire and hit the road in an RV. Recently I was moving stuff around and packing up when I stumbled upon a small hidden cache of Raffi's favorite toys. Raffi loved to hide his toys. I'm not sure if it was to keep B from playing with them or because he thought it was a game, but every now and then I'd see him playing with a small stuffed item I hadn't see in a while, then as quickly as it appeared, it would magically disappear. He was a true pack rat. I'm sure as I keep cleaning out items in the house, I'll find more of his treasurers and have a few more tearful moments.

This is one of my favorite photos of Raffi. He'd actually photo bombed a shot I was trying to take of B by jumping up in front of the camera just as I snapped it. It's a one in million shot, just as he was a one in a million kitty.

A lot of people say when a pet dies it crosses the rainbow bridge and lives on beyond the bridge. I don't know if I believe in that, but it's a charming thought. One thing I do know is that Raffi will live on in my heart until I draw my own last breath.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Trump IS My President

I remember when Barak Obama was first elected. A lot of people went nuts, claiming he wasn't THEIR president.  And for eight years these people, including a lot of Republican politicians, continued with that rant. Now that Donald Trump has been elected, many people who didn't support him are saying the same thing.

I got news for you folks (on both sides): whoever is elected President of this country IS the President. Not just for some of the people, but for ALL of the people, whether you like it or not.

It's no secret that I despise Donald Trump and what he stands for. I am still heartbroken and angry that he was elected, but I am an American and he is the President-elect of my country. Therefore, he will be my President.

BUT

That doesn't mean I will sit by idly while he destroys policies I believe in or takes actions I find deplorable.  It means that as an American, I will give respect to the office of President, while I protest and fight back on things I don't believe are good for the country. That's my right and my duty.

If you don't like what's going down in this country, get off your ass and stop ranting and raving on Facebook and Twitter, getting into word wars with other desk jockeys. Put your actions where your mouth is and get involved.  Unfriending someone gets nothing done. Doing something productive and planned might.

  • Run for office or help your candidates get elected in two years, in four years. Campaigns always need volunteers.
  • Support the agencies threatened by donating your time and money.
  • Let your representatives in Washington know how you feel BEFORE they vote.
  • Organize peaceful activities to protest these changes.
I've already joined a group in the writing community organized to do the above, and I'm sure I'll be volunteering for others down the road. I know you're worried, hurt and angry. It takes time to absorb shock. But it's time to push that aside and get involved. Flapping your gums and beating your chest in impotent rage only raises your blood pressure.

Donald Trump is YOUR President, but you do have the power to change that and his dumb ass policies. Not overnight, but it can be done.

Be PROACTIVE, not REACTIVE. GET INVOLVED!

Oh, and Mr. Trump, I'm watching you!

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Who Does This To Themselves?

Warning: This is a big-ass rant. But I'm pointing my finger at me, no one else.

Last night every inch of my body itched. My eyes, face, legs and even earlobes drove me nuts. My scalp felt like I had lice. My ankles felt like fleas were making a picnic of them. I was in a full-blown allergy attack and couldn't wait until I got home to take medication.  I'm better this morning, but my skin all over is very dry and itchy, especially my legs. I still have painful cyst-like pimples on my face and crusty patches of rash on other parts of my body. Even my eyes are still a bit puffy. How attractive it that, right?

The culprit: dairy products.

But the real miscreant here is ME.

As I've written before, I'm allergic to dairy products. I am NOT lactose intolerant, but actually allergic to them.

Warning, if you recommend I use Lactaid or something similar, I will strangle your uninformed ass with string cheese.

Milk, cheese, sour cream, butter, ice cream - if it comes from the mammary gland of an animal, I am not supposed to eat it. It's something I discovered a few years ago when trying to figure out why I had acne at my age and most of my body was covered with eczema. Usually I'm super good about it. But after cleaning out my system from years of dairy consumption, now I'm even more sensitive to it. It is the reason I became a half-ass vegan.

Oh, and by the way, just to make things interesting, dairy is/was my favorite food group.

I can have bits of it, like a splash of milk in scrambled eggs or a baked good without any problem, but regular consumption is a definite no-no.

These last few weeks, as I waited out the election, was swamped at work, and staring down a book deadline, what did I do? I turned to my favorite comfort food: dairy. I've had cheese, pizza, ice cream,  milk shakes, etc. If it had dairy in it, I defiantly shoved it into my pie hole. Not every day or at every meal, but enough so that my body twice started screaming at me in protest. First last weekend and again yesterday. Two very bad nearly back-to-back reactions. How many more warnings do I need?

Who does this to themselves? Who, with the raised fist of a temperamental four-year-old, insists on doing the very thing that will do them harm?

Me, obviously.

My name is Sue Ann and I am an emotional eater, and I'm choosing to self-medicate with the very food group that will do me more harm than just adding calories and weight.  I guess I think Anaphylactic shock sounds sexy.

What the &#$* is wrong with me???

Starting today when stressed out, I'm finding something else besides food (not just dairy) to burn off that frustration. Exercise sounds like a good start, and meditation, music, or even writing.

But it's not just the food issue. My doctor has been telling me for years that I need to cut back on the stress in my life or else... and I've been working on that for the past year by cutting out some of my outside obligations, managing book deadlines, and learning to say no to requests for my time. For years I've overextended myself and it's coming back to bite me on the ass. Big time.

As of today I have 566 days until retirement. If I don't take better care of myself, I'll never make it to that date. And that's not an option. I have plans. Big plans. Much larger than a pizza with double cheese. I can't wait until retirement to take care of myself. I need to start that NOW. TODAY.

Okay, rant over.

But, Sue Ann, I'm watching you!

Wednesday, November 09, 2016

No Canada For Me

So Donald Trump won the presidency. Needless to say I am devastated.

I didn't go to the polls yesterday convinced Hillary Clinton would win. I know better than to believe in a "sure thing,"  But I had hoped it would go her way, which in my opinion was the sane way.

I am very disappointed in my fellow Americans, that they would choose someone spouting hate and division at every opportunity. A man who vows to build walls and to deport immigrants. A man backed by white supremacists.

I am an old fat straight white lady born in the USA. Trump will not go after me. I'm not on his personal hit list. Not even sexually since I'm probably a 1 on his attractiveness scale, if I even made it at all. But I worry for my friends who are gay, foreign born, of different religions, minorities. I worry about the impact a Donald Trump attitude will have on our young women and girls. I worry about our future.

Recently I had this conversation with a friend:

Me: I'm worried that if Trump wins, he'll tank the economy and ruin my retirement plans.

Friend: I wouldn't worry, we'll all be dead by then in a nuclear war.

Yeah, then there's that.

Barring nuclear war and any other unknown tragedy or destruction of our system, in four years there will be another election. A chance to make things right and elect someone sane and stable. An opportunity to make Trump a one term president.

2020 will also be the 100 year anniversary of the passing of the 19th Amendment which gave women the right to vote.  We need to make the 2020 election count like no other.

Last night on Twitter and again this morning, a lot of people said they were leaving the USA for Canada or other places. But there was one Tweet I read where the person said hell no, he won't go. He's going to stay and fight.

And that's where I stand this morning. I'm an American and I will stay and fight any injustices I can however I can, for as long as I can. I could leave when I retire. I could easily get in my RV and slip into Canada or some other quieter place - barring nuclear war. But I won't give up the good fight, because I believe in the goodness of people and I believe in the basic goodness and structure of my country.


Friday, November 04, 2016

My Tribe(s)

Recently I posted a blog about freaders - my word for readers who have become good friends. Now I want to address another bunch of people who have become friends through my books or my writing career - other authors.

A few weeks ago was the annual So. Cal MWA Gumbo Party.  Every year, author Bill Fitzhugh and his wife Kendall open up their lovely home and amazing back yard to our chapter, and Bill cooks up batches and batches of authentic gumbo. There's usually around 100 in attendance. It's hands down my favorite party of the year.

This past year, like all the others, I sat and talked with authors I know well and reconnected with many I hadn't seen in a long time.

I remember when I first started connecting with other authors. It was more than a dozen years ago. I had just completed TOO BIG TO MISS but it wasn't published yet. At a friend's urging, I attended a Sisters In Crime - Los Angeles meeting. I remember it well because the presentation subject was autopsies and decomposition of the human body (with color slides and, no, I didn't get sick). Before and after the meeting was a nice time to chat with others and everyone welcomed me.

I had found my people!

In the following years, I served on the board of SinC/LA and even became its president for four years. And I made lots and lots of other friends. Friends with whom I shared the love of writing and mystery. Friends I still hold dear and many I saw at the gumbo party since the two chapters have considerable overlap.

Well, I'm at it again, making new friends. As I gear up for retirement and my life on the road in an RV, I've connected with a lot of RVers, especially those who already own the specific model RV I have my heart set upon buying - a Winnebago Travato.

At the recent Pomona RV show, I was fortunate enough to meet several of my new friends, including James and Stefany of The Fit RV. I love these folks! Not only are they very cool and entertaining, but their videos on RVs and fitness are super valuable. I'm already doing Stef's resistance exercises for seniors.

I've made a lot of other friends in the RV world, too, mostly through Facebook, and I look forward to meeting many of them in person soon.  I imagine being on the road will have its lonely moments, but by the time I actually hit the road, I'll be part of a very vibrant community of helpful and fun people.

I have found more of my people!

This is true of any interest, not just writing and RVing.  If you want to meet new people, simply seek out those whose interests coincide with yours, or those involved with new interests you want to know more about. There are lots of people out there just waiting to meet you. And I mean nice, stable people, not serial killers or stalkers.  (Sorry, but my murder mystery side just popped out for a moment.)

I'm a loner by nature, but that doesn't mean I don't enjoy the company of good people or don't seek out new people. I'm kind of an extroverted introvert.  Every new turn I take in life, even at my age, usually brings me new friends, and new friends bring new adventures, and we all need both.

I look forward to many years of finding even more of my people!

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Yankee To The Bone

You can take the girl out of New England, but you can't take New England out of the girl.

Trust me, this is true.

I was born in Massachusetts, and while we left there when I was about eight or nine, I have returned to live in both Massachusetts and Maine for short periods as an adult. And even though most of my life has been spent in Southern California, with stints in Phoenix, San Francisco, and even South Carolina as a kid, I still call Massachusetts "home."

Recently I got back from a short vacation to New England, specifically Rhode Island and Connecticut. I was camping with my family at Fisherman's Memorial State Park in Rhode Island. It's a lovely campground just a mile from Scarborough Beach. I was there during peak foliage season. The weather was crisp and windy but very sunny. In other words, perfect.

As I mentioned in a prior post, I don't have much family so try to return East every couple of years for a visit. Two years ago I visited in August and rented a lovely cottage on Lake Lashaway that was close to them. Another great trip.

Every time I visit New England, there are several  traditions in which I must indulge:

Moxie - an old New England soft drink that is kind of bitter and earthy.  I can get this in Los Angeles at Bev Mo.

Lobster roll - not an entire lobster, but a big juicy lobster roll. Again, thanks to the Lobsta Truck and Cousins Maine Lobster Truck, I can get these in Los Angeles. I can also get live Maine lobsters in my grocery store.

Fried clams/scallops - preferably from a beach side establishment. Very difficult if not impossible to find in Los Angeles.

Indian Pudding - a molasses corn meal pudding that comes in a can. It's great heated with vanilla ice cream. Must be ordered online if I want to have this in LA. Only thing I missed on this last trip.

As I said, most of the above can be found in LA, but it's not the same as having them in the mother ship of New England.

You'll notice all my favorites must-haves are food-related. I'll bet you expected at least mentions of the Patriots or the Red Sox, but, no, I'm not much of a sports fan. New England sports fans are rabid and that includes those in my family, but somehow I missed that gene.

But what really speaks to my soul isn't the food, but the overwhelming beauty of New England. I've traveled to almost every state in the U.S. and they all have their own special beauty, but when I see miles and miles of woods ablaze with red, orange and gold, as on this recent trip, the sap in my veins warms like maple syrup poured over freshly flipped pancakes.

So it's no accident that I've placed two of my Southern California based novels in New England, specifically Massachusetts.

The fifth Odelia Grey novel, CORPSE ON THE COB, finds California born Odelia coming face-to-face with her long-lost mother in Massachusetts, in a fall corn maze ... over a dead body.

The upcoming 9th Ghost of Granny Apples book, THE GHOSTS OF MISTY HOLLOW, puts medium Emma Whitecastle, Phil Bowers, and, of course, the ghost of Granny Apples, smack in the middle of a mystery of two Massachusetts children who went missing in the 1800's. THE GHOSTS OF MISTY HOLLOW will be released December 6, 2016, and is available now for pre-order.

I know without a doubt that once I'm on the road in my RV that I'll be spending much of the fall (my favorite time) in New England visiting family and friends and drinking in my roots, along with a fair amount of Moxie.  At least until cold weather arrives and I scoot to warmer weather.

You see, you may not be able to take New England out of the girl, but after years on the west coast, this girl detests the cold and the maple syrup in my blood is thin and watery.

Monday, October 24, 2016

Sorry, Daryl.

I didn't discover The Walking Dead until March of this year. And in spite of my revulsion to all the gore and violence, I hung in there with it, binge watching over several months on the first six seasons.

Why?

Because of the great writing and characters.

Somehow I'd gotten through 6 seasons of blood and squishy disgusting sounds and off the chart violence just to learn more about the characters I'd grown to love.

I didn't see the first episode of season 7. And I never will. I had already been having second thoughts about not continuing with this show because as much as I enjoyed it, it was messing with my mind by way of creepy nightmares. But I was still intrigued, so I Googled the season 7 opener the night it aired and learned who was murdered at that hands of Negen.  I also read about how gory and disturbing the deaths were on the screen on both the Net and Facebook.

Enough, my inner voice said. You don't need to see that. You don't need that imprinted on your brain forever. The real world is harsh enough.

Sorry Daryl, Carol, Rick, Michonne, and all the rest of you zombie fighters I've come to know and love, it's time we break up and see other people. 

There's nothing wrong with you. You've got a great show with fantastic writing, acting, and special effects. It's just that we're not a good fit.

It's not you. It's me.

Trust me, it's for the best.

Saturday, October 22, 2016

"Nasty" Women Vote!


Four years ago I re-posted the following commentary found elsewhere. The events described below happened 100 years ago, but it’s still an important reminder of why it’s important to vote, especially for women. Especially this election, when we have a better than excellent chance of electing a woman to the presidency - a competent, educated, and experienced woman.

* * * * *

It was not until 1920 that women were granted the right to go to the polls and vote.

Lucy Burns
The women who fought for this right were innocent and defenseless, but they were jailed nonetheless for picketing the White House, carrying signs asking for the vote. And by the end of the night, they were barely alive.

Forty prison guards wielding clubs and with their warden's blessing went on a rampage against the 33 women wrongly convicted of 'obstructing sidewalk traffic.'

They beat Lucy Burns, chained her hands to the cell bars above her head and left her hanging for the night, bleeding and gasping for air.
Dora Lewis

They hurled Dora Lewis into a dark cell, smashed her head against an iron bed and knocked her out cold. Her cell mate, Alice Cosu, thought Lewis was dead and suffered a heart attack.

Additional affidavits describe the guards grabbing, dragging, beating, choking, slamming, pinching, twisting and kicking the women.

Thus unfolded the 'Night of Terror' on Nov. 15, 1917, when the warden at the Occoquan Workhouse in Virginia ordered his guards to teach a lesson to the suffragists imprisoned there because they dared to picket Woodrow Wilson's White House for the right to vote.

Alice Paul being arrested
For weeks, the women's only water came from an open pail.

When one of the leaders, Alice Paul, embarked on a hunger strike, they tied her to a chair, forced a tube down her throat and poured liquid into her until she vomited. She was tortured like this for weeks until word was smuggled out to the press.

 * * * * *

In 2012 Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson, a tea party activist, said this: "I think that one of the greatest mistakes America made was to allow women the opportunity to vote. We should've never turned this over to women. And these women are voting in the wrong people. They’re voting in people who are evil who agrees with them who’re gonna take us down this pathway of destruction."

The Rev. Peterson is African-American and has obviously forgotten his roots and how people fought and died for HIS right to vote.

As I said in 2012, no matter what your political leanings, if you are a woman and you do not vote on November 8th, SHAME ON YOU!

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Contest Time Again!

There’s a new Odelia Grey book coming out on November 8th.  

You know what that means? 

It means it’s Contest Time Again!

Three (3) lucky winners will win a signed copy of RHYTHM & CLUES, the 11th Odelia Grey mystery.*

Sound good?

Here are the details:
  • Become a member of the Sue Ann Jaffarian Fan Club on Facebook.  Come on, you know you want to join. And here's the link so you don't have to hunt for it.
  • Send your name and snail mail address to contest@sueannjaffarian.com. If you skip #1, your entry will be deleted. We do check.
  • Only one entry per person.
  • Deadline for entries is 9 pm pacific time, October 30, 2016. Winners will be announced on Monday, October 31st.

*Note – if you prefer an e-book edition instead of a print edition, please put that in your entry e-mail. Entrants outside of the US are eligible, but winners will only be awarded an e-book.