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 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. 

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Training Wheels - Part 2

After the crazy first day of my RV vacation, the rest of my vacation will seem boring to some of you.

Day 2 - My niece and her two daughters were arriving today, so I took my first shower in my rental RV. It might have been difficult to use the toilet in such cramped space, but the shower was roomy with great hot water and water pressure. Although if I wanted to dry off properly I had to move into the main part of the rig. Something tells me this is quite common in RVs. The rental had a separate vanity area, which was nice.

Fantastic Umbrella Factory
After Lindsay and the girls arrived, Lindsay and I went grocery shopping for my provisions and for stuff to feed everyone at Sunday's cookout. There was a large Stop 'N Shop close to the campground. After shopping, Lindsay and I joined Marlaine, Bob and the girls at Scarborough Beach, the place where the family cookout would take place on Sunday. The girls love the beach and the wind and chill in the air didn't bother the 6 and 7 year olds one bit. It wasn't that bad on us adults either as we sat and enjoyed the view and fresh air.

That night the oldest girl decided she wanted to stay in her Grammy's trailer, while the youngest and Lindsay stayed in my rig. Lindsay took the upper bunk and after smacking her head a few times, decided to sleep on the dinette bed the next night.

Day 3 - Today Marlaine had a "mystery day" planned. First we drove to the Fantastic Umbrella Factory, in Charleston, RI, which was a collection of small shops on a farm, complete with chickens, goats, and emus. It had a definite '60s vibe and every shop was playing vintage music and burning incense. I bought a pair of Day of the Dead socks.

Beavertail Point in RI
After, we took our packed lunch to the Burlingame State Park picnic area on Watchaug Pond. This was a beautiful picnic area with tons of tables and we had it pretty much to ourselves. Across the pond from the picnic area is a large campground that I must explore once I have my own RV.

But the day wasn't over yet. Next we drove to Beavertail Point State Park in Jamestown, RI, and plopped ourselves down on the grassy area above the sea in camp chairs. This was a very rocky and beautiful area with crashing waves beneath. Below the grassy flat was a table of rocky cliffs where the girls played and explored.

That night both girls and their mother stayed in my RV with the girls in the loft bed.

Teaching Moment #5: Children are exhausting, especially children recharged after a night's sleep.

Day 4 - After Lindsay and the girls went to Marlaine's trailer for breakfast, I settled in for some quiet time and a bowl of oatmeal (the only thing I cooked in my RV). I sat at the dinette, ate, and gazed out the window at the peaceful camp ground. I was also reminded of a dream I had several months ago when I was first thinking about RVing full-time. In the dream I was seated at a table inside a van RV and writing on my laptop. The door was open and through the wide screen door I could see a clearing in a wooded area. It was raining lightly, but not cold. But the most important thing I remember about that dream was how at home and at peace I felt. Sitting at the dinette eating oatmeal in a rental RV, I felt something similar.

Teaching Moment #6: I'm now sure full-time RVing is for me when I retire from my day job and turn to writing full-time. It feels like home.

2 nephews, 1 niece,
1 great nephew and 3 great nieces
Today would be a busy day. My nephew Derek showed up with his son and daughter, both teenagers. We packed up tons of food and took off once again for Scarborough Beach. There we met up with my nephew Tom and other members of our extended family for a cookout. It was windy, but sunny and warm. The girls flew their kite and played in the sand while the adults chatted and caught up. After, everyone departed for home while Marlaine, Bob and I headed back to the campground. Later that night we headed out for a yummy New England seafood dinner. I also hooked up my sewer hose without incident - yay, me!

Teaching Moment #7: Family is very important. While I have tons of cousins, I don't have much in the way of immediate family and have lived 3,000 miles from them for decades. About every two years I journey back for a visit and come home wishing I had more time with them. Once I retire, I plan on doing just that.

My last night in the RV, I listened to music, packed and cleaned. I was ready to go home but sad to leave. In spite of loving my time with my family, it would have been nice to have a few days alone in the campground, but that will come soon enough.

Day 5 - After another restful morning of oatmeal and reflection, I took my last shower in the rig, touched up the bathroom, dumped the black and gray tanks (again without incident!), unplugged the power and water, and gave goodbye hugs to Marlaine and Bob.

Unlike the drive to the campground, the drive back to Cruise America was uneventful and even relaxing, thanks to a fully charged phone/GPS. I wish I could say the same about the flights home, but air travel is anything but relaxing these days.

Teaching Moment #8 and last thoughts: I cannot wait until I retire, have my own RV, and hit the road to explore this beautiful country. Renting an RV was a great way to confirm my path. In spite of the initial ups and downs, it was a wonderful vacation.

As I write this, I have 590 days until retirement.  But who's counting?

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Training Wheels - Part 1

Yeah, but some of us wanderers are really lost!

Every fall my family camps at the Fishermen's Memorial State Park at Point Judith, Rhode Island. This year I decided to join them. At first the plan was to stay in a motel close by. As most of you now know, my retirement dream is to buy an RV and travel the US, so my motel plan quickly morphed into renting an RV and camping with them. As luck would have it, I managed to snag the space next to them.  This would be the first time I've ever stayed in an RV, except for when I was a young teen and camped with a friend's family in their camper. And I've certainly never driven one.

Let the adventure begin!

Day 1 - A cancelled connecting flight in Philadelphia to Hartford, CT spelled disaster, but I was lucky enough to get on the next flight as a standby. Still it put me several hours behind schedule. I got to the Cruise America rental place just outside Hartford, went through the thorough orientation, and hit the road.

Teaching Moment #1:  I didn't like driving the big Class C RV. It was hulking and rattled liked nobody's business. It drove fine and after about 15 minutes I was comfortable with driving with the side mirrors. I was 95% sure I wanted a Class B van when I bought an RV. Now I was 100% sure.

I was using my phone's GPS for guidance for the 2 hr drive to the campsite and things were going well until my phone alerted me to a low battery. Can't be! I was plugged into the RV's 12 volt outlet on the dash! A quick check showed me there was no juice charging my phone. YIKES! All I could hope for was it lasting for the duration of the trip.  It didn't. Nor were there any other 12 volt or USB outlets in this basic coach.

About 40 minutes in my phone died and I was left with no driving instructions. I stopped at a convenience store and asked to buy a map. They didn't sell maps. Nor did they sell battery packs for cell phones, although they did carry a very large assortment of chargers and earbuds. Nor did the attendant have any clue how to get to Point Judith.  The second store was about the same.

I wandered around, stopping now and then to ask people for directions. I found two men at another store who gave me some general directions and I wrote them down. By now it was getting dark. I was back on track until I tried to read more of the instructions and realized the cab overhead light was also not working. I couldn't read a word of my directions. I pulled off the road and into a McDonalds to look for a spot to charge my dead phone (something I should have done sooner, stupid me!) and let the family know I wasn't dead in a ditch somewhere, since by now it had been several hours since I'd left the RV place. Alas, there were no public outlets in the Mickey D's I visited.  Then an idea hit me.

Teaching Moment #2:  RVs are self contained. They have generators that provide electricity! Duh! Parked in the back of Mickey D's, I fired up the generator to recharge my phone and call the family. However, I was asked to move along after it was only 10% charged.

Okay, but now we're cooking.  Following the GPS I got really close to my destination but then ran out of juice again.  I pulled over into the parking lot of a closed business and hit the generator again for a several minutes. This time I had enough to get me to the RV park. YAY!

The RV park check-in was closed for the night, but I knew my space number. Easy peasy, right? Wrong. This RV park is a warren of sections and winding roads. After 15 minutes of wandering, I stopped and asked some folks sitting around a campfire where my spot might be. They graciously said they would walk on over there with flashlights and lead the way, but first I had to circle around again because I was on a one way road.

Okay, getting closer. As I wound my way around to get on the right road a man with a flashlight flagged me down. When I stopped he asked, "We've been watching you go around and around. Are you lost?"

Teaching Moment #3: RV people are super nice, kind and helpful. I already knew this, but now I had living proof.

After thanking that man, I headed around and met up with the man who was guiding me to my site. We found it with no trouble and he guided me in as my sister-in-law Marlaine came out of her trailer concerned. Her husband Bob was off in their truck at the entrance waiting for me! We'd probably just missed each other. He returned a minute later.

The two men insisted on hooking me up since it was pitch black out. I didn't argue since I was exhausted, but told them to leave the sewer hose. I didn't need it right then and I really wanted to tackle it myself. So powered up and with water, I was ready to go ... and fully charge my phone.

Marlaine and Bob and I were supposed to go to dinner, but it was too late, so we retreated to their large trailer where I gobbled down a PB&J. Soon after I climbed into my rental rig, got settled and ready for bed.

Teaching Moment #4: I detested the dry bath in the rental rig. The shower took up too much room to use the toilet properly. Seriously, there was probably only 4-5 inches between the end of the commode and the wall. The shower was a nice size but took up way too much room. The only way to effectively use the toilet was to sit with your feet on the rim of the shower. Many times I longed for the big wet bath in the Travato 59K, my rig of choice,

BTW, the hot water heater, the fridge, and the furnace on my rental rig worked great! The bed was big and comfortable the first night and I dropped off to sleep quickly, but after a few nights the thick hard foam wasn't that comfortable. And Cruise America was lovely about the serious problem their faulty 12v outlet caused me. They didn't charge me for the generator use, or my propane (which was minimal), and even knocked off my late fee for returning the rig 2 hours late. They couldn't have been nicer or more accommodating over the issue.

At the end of my first day RVing, I fell asleep wishing I was in my very own rig.


Very soon.

Sunday, October 09, 2016

From The E-Mail Bag - A Racist Line?

Today I received an e-mail from a woman who is a big reader of my work. She wrote to tell me how disappointed she was that I included in A BODY TO SPARE what she considered a "racist" line.

Here is an excerpt from her very polite and obviously heart-felt e-mail:

I was shocked and disappointed with what I consider a racist line in your book, A Body to Spare where Odelia is talking about people trusting a middle aged overweight woman and says, "if I was a big guy of color," it would be different. Even if in our society sometimes that's true, I found it very offensive and inappropriate - and unnecessary. I'm sorry to complain but I felt strongly enough about it to have to write to you.

Here is the part in the book, in context, that offended the reader:

“Excuse me?” she said, taking out one earbud. “Did you speak to me?” She took a trusting step closer. I’m sure if I’d been a guy, especially a big guy of color, she would not have been so curious and polite. Sometimes it pays to be a squat, white middle-aged woman. I’m surprised more crimes aren’t committed by women like me considering how harmless people consider us. If my hair had been gray, she probably would have also given me a concerned smile.

And here is my response to her:

I am very sorry you were offended by that line, but I stand by it 100% and by my decision to include it in my book. While my books are humorous, I also endeavor to include real truths about life. I am a large white woman and people just naturally assume I am not a threat, but men of color, especially young men of color, often raise red flags immediately in people, even if they are non-threatening.  We see it on the news all the time.

I am the creator of those books, and I go where the story, the characters, and my heart lead me. That comment is a part of Odelia's life in Southern California, just as much as weight prejudice and horrific traffic is, and it's something she (and I) think about. 

I do, however, thank you for voicing your opinion.

Sue Ann

Now, blog readers, pay attention. I am not writing this blog so you all can feast on the bones of this lovely woman, and some of you tend to do just that when someone disagrees with you. And you know it. I'm writing it to show a side of writing many of you might not understand.

Authors receive all kinds of e-mail, even snail-mail, voicing both disappointment and praise for their work. I get both all the time. Happily most of it is praise.  But over the years I've had my ears boxed for using the words Christ, fuck, damn, and even fat, just to name a few, and I use those words sparingly. I've also been lectured on Odelia living an "unhealthy" lifestyle and encouraging my readers to do the same.

Even my Granny Apples books are not safe. I've received comments about those novels being too silly and unrealistic, and for containing pre-marital sex. And when Emma in GEM OF A GHOST kissed Dr. Quinn, many readers went ballistic and one even called poor Emma a tramp.

I've also been dressed down soundly for things totally out of my control; things that are decided by the publisher.

I love hearing from readers, including the criticism. Really. I do.

But here's the thing. If authors sat down to write a book that they felt would not offend or upset or disappoint anyone, then NO books would ever get written. Including mine.

Good writers write from their heart. We write the stories in our heart and try our best to make them realistic. If I wrote the Granny and Odelia books without any diversity, shame on me since Southern California is totally diverse in race and culture. If someone wrote a hard-core police procedural without swearing and violence, readers would call foul.  We might consider our audiences for a particular book when it comes to some content. For example, I'm not going to put as much sex or swearing in the Odelia or Granny books as I might in my Winnie Wilde novels. Or as much violence in those books as I would in my Madison Rose novels.

A good author considers their audience but does not allow the audience to dictate the work. If an author does that, they might as well unplug their computer.

In the end, these books are my words, from my heart, and chosen carefully. I stand behind them 100%. You don't have to agree with me, but know you aren't going to change me.

Kind of like my stand on politics...

Friday, October 07, 2016

Potty Mouth

There are several businesses I frequent that have signs posted that warn if you are on your cell phone when it's your turn for service, they will not help you, talk to you, take your food order, etc. I think this is a dynamite idea. Cell phones are ubiquitous. Yes, they are useful and convenient, and even I carry mine almost everywhere.

Almost everywhere. Emphasis on the word almost.

In my day job, I work in a high rise building with nearly 25 floors. On my floor there are several women who bring their cell phones into the women's room and make calls while in stalls. I don't know if they are using the facilities during these calls or just pretending the stall is a phone booth, but it annoys the freaking hell out of me. It's bad enough I have to listen to everyone's calls in the elevator or in line to get food, but this takes the Charmin. And it's not just in the bathroom at my office. I've witnessed this in many public restrooms.

So ... the next time you are tempted to make a call in a public or near public restroom, Buttercup, consider this:

1. Your call is NOT private. I, and the other women in the bathroom, can hear every word you are saying, and some of the calls I've heard should be private. Just yesterday I heard someone talking to an obvious client. Really? A client? In the toilet? Last week someone was checking back on a job interview from the stall next to me. Over time, I've overhead fights with significant others and scolding of children.  And I've heard gooey love talk, some of it rather graphic. If you need privacy, walk to the parking garage and get in your car, or go outside to make your call.

2. I don't want to use the toilet or even flush the toilet within hearing of the other person on your phone. It's true they don't know who I am, but it's icky and embarrassing. I don't want them hearing my "business" anymore than I want to hear yours. It's an invasion of MY privacy.

3. It's just freaking nasty. I don't even talk on the phone when using my bathroom at home. Where are your manners? Your call can wait five minutes while you take care of bodily functions.

Yesterday I flushed the toilet about six times in a row. A waste of water, yes, but I was trying to make a point. Didn't seem to bother Ms. Nasty Phone at all. She went right on talking, just louder. Her client must have thought she was calling from Niagara Falls.

I'm really tempted to put a NO PHONES ALLOWED sign on the door, but I know it will only be ignored, laughed at, or defaced.

Maybe next time I should wait and when the caller emerges from the stall, grab the phone and flush it. Do you think she'll get the message? Or maybe she'll call security ... from the phone in her office.

Am I the lone voice in the desert on this issue? Or do others hate this too?

Or maybe I'm just a crabby old lady ... with outdated bathroom manners?

Saturday, October 01, 2016

Instant Love

I have fallen in love with only a few appliances in my life. Very few.

Four years ago I bought a Keurig coffee maker. LOVE

A couple of years ago I purchased a Ninja Kitchen Center. LOVE

I also purchased another appliance that shall remain nameless, but is no less loved.

Both the Keurig and Ninja sit proudly on my kitchen counter and are still going strong and get used almost daily.

Last week I added another appliance to my bevy of beauties - an Instant Pot!

Unlike the Keurig and Ninja, who are both fairly svelte and decked out in glossy red, Pottie, as I like to call her, is rotund and wears basic black and silver . If she thinks it's slimming, she's delusional.

I was warned before I bought her that she was big and bulky and heavy, and may not be a good fit for my future scaled-down life in an RV. All that is true. In the world of kitchen appliances, she is the "big girl" in the room.

But like a lot of us big girls, she can she work it!

I've made three of my favorite vegan dishes in Pottie so far, and she's rocked each and every one. She's easy to use, works quickly and efficiently, and doesn't heat up my kitchen. And she's super easy to clean.  Pottie can make healthy dinners in 15-20 minutes from chopping to serving!


In fact, I'm trying tofu in her this weekend.

As for fitting in the RV, big or not,Pottie is definitely going. So is Ninja. Keurig will probably be left behind. I will find a place to secure Pottie so that she travels safely and is easily accessible. Her size will not be an issue. Unlike a certain nameless politician, big girls are welcome in my home, whether it be fixed or on wheels.

Monday, September 26, 2016

Freaders, Yes, That's a Thing

Over the years I've been writing I've amassed a lot of loyal readers. And along the way a lot of those readers have become good friends. I'm not talking Facebook friends, but real friends that I see and spend time with in my personal life whenever possible.

I call them Freaders.

And if that's not a thing, it should be.

This is one of the many upsides of being a writer, if not the best one. Of course, you have to be careful. Sometimes you think you've found a freader and the person turns out to be not so friendly, and can even be dangerous. I've never had a problem with the danger part, but have backed away from some folks eager to be friends that really weren't a good fit.

This past Saturday I had brunch with Heide, Mark and Angelique, all freaders. I met Heide when she came to a couple of my book signings many years ago. The same with Mark, and I met Angelique through Mark. The weekend before that I had brunch with Janet, another freader from North Carolina who I try to see whenever she's in town visiting her son. Shortly before that I met Chris H. for dinner. Chris is another freader who has become a good friend. Sheila came up to me at the LA Times Festival of Books all excited to meet one of her favorite authors. In chatting, we found out that we live just a couple of blocks from each other. We've now met a couple of times for brunch. And I certainly cannot leave out Shirley and Doug. This couple has become so dear and important to me. They live in No. Cal but come to So. Cal for Disney runs often. When they do, Heide, Mark, Angelique, and I meet them at Disney for breakfast after their event. We have all become good friends. Chris even joined us once when he was in town. And I can't forget Lori O., who I've met only once in person, but who has become close to me over the years. Even she now knows Doug, Shirley, Heide, and Mark.

It's an ever growing circle.

Finally, I cannot leave out Cyn. Cyn was the loyal reader who started my fan club. The fun part is she doesn't live far from my family and when I can, I meet up with her when I'm in MA visiting. I now consider her a close friend and adore her husband and kids too.

These are people I would not have known had I not become a writer, and if my books had not become popular enough to reach far and wide. I also would not have been enriched by their friendship had I not been open to it when offered.

I'm a very lucky duck. And while I don't make a ton of money writing, I am rich beyond my dreams because of my growing circle of friends.


Friday, September 23, 2016

Take A Number

I'm always getting new book ideas. I mean ALL THE TIME. I not complaining. As any writer will tell you, it's a great problem to have. The sticky part comes when a new book idea wants to muscle in on my writing schedule, bumping aside books that have deadlines. Then there's a war for my precious writing time.

What's a writer to do?

Recently a new book idea just wouldn't let me go. It had me by the gray matter, digging in its claws with the tenacity of a cat worried about getting a bath. This new book is a very cool idea and a departure from my other books. It's a thriller and I'm not even sure yet if it will birth a series or be a stand alone.  It will also require a lot of research, which right now I don't have the time to do since I'm working on two other books.  Either way, I finally gave into its demands, sat down at the computer, and hammered out the first chapter.

Oh, did I say that it was around midnight when this happened?

I finished the chapter around 1:30 in the morning. Thankful it was a Friday night and I didn't have to go into the office the next day. I crawled into bed happy with the results: I had the manuscript template in place, the title page, Chapter 1 on the page, and a full first chapter drafted. The next morning I looked it over and, surprisingly, it was a very good chapter!

That doesn't mean this book will take priority. It won't. As mentioned, I'm working on two other books which have to be done sooner than later. One is book 12 in the Odelia Grey series and the last book I have under a publisher's contract. The other is the 3rd Winnie Wilde novella. The deadline for that book's release is the end of February. Even though it will be self-published, it still has a deadline.

After those books are done, I'll be turning my attention to Winnie #4 and finishing up a novel I started years ago called Finding Zelda, which is an expansion of my Holidays From Hell short story series. And after that will come Winnie #5 and #6. Sometime after that will be another Odelia and another Granny Apples, with Betrayed By Blood, the 3rd book in my vampire series, somewhere in the mix.

The new book I started prepping this week will just have to wait its turn. Something tells me I won't get back to it until after I'm in retirement, but you never know. And here's the thing, it's already started. It already has a spot in my heart and in the file cabinet in my brain where I keep book ideas. There are a lot of books in my mental cabinet and a lot of books on my computer that have a chapter or two complete, along with some notes. They are queued up waiting their turn, but when I do get back to them, I won't be starting with a blank page. I do the same with short story ideas.

To all you budding and frustrated writers: When you get a new book idea, start the book, at least a paragraph or two. Don't put it off, saying you'll do it later when you have more time. Nothing is as daunting as staring at a blank page and feeling nothing. It's also time consuming. When you do finally sit down to work on the new book, a paragraph or page, even if it's crap, will at least give you a push toward the good stuff to follow.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

You Gotta Eat Your Spinach, Baby!

A Half-Assed Vegan Post

In the 1936 movie Poor Little Rich Girl, Shirley Temple sang You Gotta Eat Your Spinach, Baby.

Although young Shirley wasn't enamored of the green stuff, I am. It's one of my favorite veggies, hands down! It's also very versatile. I love it raw or cooked. In salads, pasta, casseroles, and simply sauteed with a little garlic as a side dish. I often use it instead of lettuce on sandwiches and as a greens base for other salads.

And Popeye knew what he was doing when he popped a can for strength. This unassuming leafy green is packed with good stuff and super low in calories.

And it's quite tasty too!

I saw those eyes rolls out there! But trust me, spinach is super yummy if made right. I grew up eating canned spinach. I know, YUK! But even then I liked it. But once I got a taste of the fresh stuff, there was no turning back.

For those of you still not convinced, here's a vegan spinach dip recipe from Minimalist Baker that might change your mind.

However, when I make this, I make it as a side dish, like creamed spinach and use less "cream."  I've even spread this on toast and added sliced tomatoes to make a dynamite sandwich. Here's my revised recipe, based on the one from Minimalist Baker:

Sue Ann's Vegan Creamed Spinach

1/2 cup cashews, soaked overnight then thoroughly drained
1 Tbsp olive oil
1/3 cup unsweetened plain almond milk
2 Tbsp nutritional yeast
1/4-1/2 tsp salt
fresh ground pepper
1 garlic clove, minced
3-4 cups washed spinach, chopped
2 Tbsp vegan parmesan cheese

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees and spray an oven-safe serving dish with non-stick spray. 
  • Add soaked and drained cashews to a blender with almond milk and puree into a cream. 
  • Add  nutritional yeast, 1/4 tsp salt and mix once more. Taste and adjust seasonings to your personal taste. Set aside. 
  • In a large skillet over medium heat, saute garlic in olive oil and then add spinach. Season with salt and black pepper and cook until wilted, then remove from heat. 
  • Add cashew cream and toss to combine. Add vegan Parmesan cheese and stir. If cream seems too thick, add a little water. 
  • Add mixture to baking dish and top with a sprinkling of vegan parmesan, if desired. 
  • Bake at 350 degree for 15-20 minutes, or until warmed through and sightly browned on top.

I might have to do a post on yams now.

Sunday, September 18, 2016


My mother used to tell us MYOB whenever she thought we were getting too nosy or intrusive. Which is rich considering the woman kept a police scanner by her bed and spent a lot of her time spying on the neighborhood from behind curtains.

For those who don't know, M.Y.O.B. stands for MIND YOUR OWN BUSINESS.

I bring this up because often I cross paths with a woman who never fails to comment on my size, lack of exercise, or eating. She really knows very little about me, but that doesn't stop her. And, for the record, I know that I eat MUCH healthier than she does, but the fact that she's skinny seems to empower her to make "well-meaning" comments. Including threats to drag my ass into the gym, while totally ignoring that I often follow a pretty good exercise regime (one my doctor approved), which I've told her MANY TIMES. I'm not fanatically faithful to my exercise, but I am stronger and healthier than most women my size and age.

Normally, stuff like this doesn't bother me. I've been subjected to it most of my life since I've been overweight for over 50 years. Over those decades I've done almost every diet imaginable, including starvation. All it did was add more weight later and heap on depression and self-loathing. Now I eat very healthy and get regular exercise. I do not weigh myself very often, trusting my clothing and how I feel to tell me if I'm on track. But the most important thing is, I like myself better now that I'm not trying to be someone else or trying to do what others think I should do.

Most overweight people, including me, are emotional eaters. The more you hound them, the more apt they are to eat bags of cookies in a closet.  
Your intrusive rude behavior does nothing positive. Trust me on this.

When I first started writing the Odelia Grey series about an amateur sleuth who is around 220 pounds, and also attractive, dates/marries, is super smart, and a lot of fun, I received a lot of encouraging e-mails from readers who thanked me for creating a protagonist who is "real" and not apologetic for her size. Only in the first book, TOO BIG TO MISS, do we see a less than confident Odelia. From the end of that book forward, it's game on!  And as a side note, a lot of the ugly prejudice Odelia experiences in TOO BIG TO MISS, I have experienced first hand.  FIRST HAND. Meaning, it's not made up.

Some e-mails I received were from women who said they cried when they realized how close to themselves Odelia was and that Odelia gave them courage to face the prejudice. One was from an overweight woman who said she'd often thought about suicide because of the bullying she endured. (And, BTW, I was bullied horribly as a kid. I know of what she speaks.)

But one e-mail in particular I will never forget. It was from a man who picked up my book because his wife read it and loved it. He confessed that he'd always hated overweight women and dismissed them as lazy and stupid, but that my book had shown them in a different light and as real people. (So were they robots before?) He ended the e-mail promising he'd would work on his prejudice. I hope he followed through on that.

Of course there have been a few readers who have encouraged me to put Odelia on a diet, saying a diet mystery would be fun. REALLY? FUN FOR WHOM?  Then there was the e-mail that came from a female doctor who accused me of encouraging and promoting an unhealthy lifestyle.  And I know she wasn't referring to Odelia's penchant for getting into trouble and danger.

Would any of you clowns like to buy a clue?

So to all of you who feel it's your business to make remarks to me or to others about their weight ... or anything really, remember:



I got this far in life without you, and I'm sure I'll get along just fine from here on out without you.

Friday, September 16, 2016

Hot Flashes My Post Menopausal Ass!

Okay, guys, fair warning, this post is about hot flashes, so you can stop reading right now if you choose. I won't be offended.

I started going through menopause in my late forties and was done with the nonsense just past fifty. My menopause had its ups and downs but for the most part it wasn't near as bad as most of my friends experienced. I didn't even use any drugs. I told my doctor at the time that I wanted to get through it naturally and she agreed with my wishes, citing that going drug free avoids all the side-effects of the drugs but can be rough.

So drug-free I tackled the big M and got through it without too many horror stories or hot flashes. I must say, these past ten years have been paradise.

Recently though I've had several hot flashes. Yes, THOSE hot flashes. Mostly they've occurred in the middle of the night, leaving me bathed in sweat and my pillow soaked. They don't last long and I feel fine otherwise. I've also had a couple during the day.

So I Googled it... come on, don't we all do that long before we consult our doctor?

It seems some women can and do experience hot flashes into their sixties. (If you're wondering, I'm almost 64.) It's also not a big deal. I have my annual physical in a couple of months and will tell the doctor if they continue. Until then, I'll make sure I keep plenty of water and clean sheets on hand just in case they continue.

But here's the thing ... I'm rather pissed off. I thought this nonsense was over when my menstrual cycle ended. I thought I was finally in the clear, as long as my annual checkups were good and healthy.

 I feel robbed!

I also read that postmenopausal hot flashes, while hormonal in nature, can be triggered by stress, caffeine, and smoking.  Okay, I have two out of three since I'm not a smoker. Another reason to reduce the stress in my life. And that a healthy diet and regular exercise can help diminish and stop them.  Ummm, yeah about that exercise thing, guess I'd better get back on track.

In the end, it seems that stress, too much caffeine, and smoking cause a lot of negative things in our bodies, and eating right and exercise does good things to our bodies.

Where have I heard that before??? 

It sounds so familiar.

Speaking of other hot flashes - my newsletter HOT FLASHES went out in the past few days after a two year hiatus.  You can CLICK HERE to read it. 

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Another Party I'm Missing - For Now

I love going to book conferences. Really, I do. But the sad truth is that I attend very few.

There are a lot of discussions on whether they are worth the time and money they suck up, especially considering that there are 3-4 major ones a year and a bushel of lesser ones scattered about the country.

If an author attends just the major cons, it can cost in the neighborhood of $7,000-10,000 a year. And that's not counting time away from a day job and writing. My honest opinion is that the benefits aren't enough to justify the cost, especially since few authors make any decent money off their books.

Then again, how do you put a price on face time with readers and camaraderie with other writers? You really can't, and this is the part I miss most.

The last two conferences I attended took place here in Southern California. It was an easy schlep and the cost could be kept to a minimum. I also didn't have to take much time away from the office and my writing. A win-win.  Next year I'll be attending the California Crime Writers Conference here in California. Then again, I'm a co-chair of the event, so I kind of have to attend.

CCWC is not a fan-based conference, meaning it's a two-day conference for writers, no matter what their level of experience. If you fit into that category, please consider attending.  It's a great conference! You can find information about it HERE.

In a few days the annual Bouchercon World Mystery Convention will convene. This time in New Orleans. This is the largest fan-based mystery con in the country - the grand daddy of cons for crime writers. I've been to several and always have a good time.

Reading the Facebook posts of friends preparing for the event is kind of like standing on a porch looking through a window at a fun birthday party. But soon I'll be attending those parties again.  I've promised myself that once I retire and hit the road, my RV and I will be putting many conferences on our must-see list. I can drive to wherever the conference is, as long as it's not in Hawaii, and I won't have that pesky limit on my vacation time. Sounds great to me!

In the meantime, I'll sit on my sofa, rub B's belly, and sob into my Two Buck Chuck.

Yes, that's pathetic, but that's the image I was going for.

No Hurricanes or fried alligator for me this week.

Monday, September 12, 2016

Pate Over Peanut Butter

First female winner of Master Chef Junior and youngest
I grew up with a simple palate, reinforced by simple parents with a taste for simple food and simple cooking skills. We ate things like beans and hotdogs, meatloaf, tuna noodle casserole, and fried chicken. Sundays there was usually a ham or roast of some sort, along with mashed potatoes and whatever canned vegetable my mother didn't find repulsive. To my young taste buds, a fluffer-nutter was high eating.

My food tastes and my cooking talents are far more sophisticated now, but as a kid my cooking rarely went beyond making said fluffer-nutters or heating a can of Campbell's chicken soup.

So when did all these kids start cooking?!

I love watching cooking competition shows, but I especially love the ones featuring kids. Among my favorites are:

Chopped Junior (Teens, etc)
Kids Baking Championship
Master Chef Junior
Rachael and Guy's Kids Cook Off

These kids can not only cook, but often put the adults to shame. And they certain bury me.

Of the above shows, my absolute favorite is Master Chef Junior. These kids have SERIOUS SKILLS in a major way. Not to mention it's fun to watch Gordon Ramsay tone it down and be civil and caring.

But SKILLS, I tell you! The young people featured not only know what foie gras is, but how to cook it.  And some of the competitors are so small they need step stools to reach the counters and stoves. But small in stature does not mean small on cooking talent by any means. They know what flavors to blend, substitutions that work, recipes from memory, and how to wield a knife.

I remember one kid who said his idol was Julia Child. Julia Child? Julia Child died about the time this kid was born.

But kids and competition also mean there are tears. But there are also big cheers, for all of them, even when they are ousted. My favorite winner so far was spunky 9-year-old Addison, who out cooked her competition on season 4. She not only became the first female winner of the show, but the youngest. You go, girl!

Sigh. Guess I'll go back to my slo cooker vegan chili now.

Friday, September 09, 2016

$18 Entitles Me To A Rant!

Yesterday I bought plane tickets to fly from Los Angeles, CA to Hartford, CT in preparation of my upcoming vacation with my family.  Every fall my family camps at Fisherman's Memorial State Park  at Point Judith, RI. This year I'm joining them. YAY!

But wait, there's more!

I rented the campground next to my family and yesterday I also leased an RV for the occasion!  Double YAY!

As most of you know, I'm planning on living in an RV when I retire in about 2 years. The RV I rented is bigger than the one I plan on buying, but it was the smallest they had for a short-term lease.  This will be a very short trial run and my first encounter with hooking up a black water tank. (That's a sewer tank for those of you not familiar with RV speak.) Should be fun and interesting. Pics to come, unless I'm covered in shit.

Speaking of shitty, lets talk about the plane tickets I booked.

I got a decent price. Not a yowsa great price, but it was under what I'd budgeted. The flying times were pretty much normal for flying coast to coast. I got them through Travelocity and the transaction was smooth as silk, right down to picking my seats.

So what's my beef? 


The problem came when I was picking my seats. I like aisle seats. I only book aisle seats. And on three of the 4 legs of my round trip, I got said seats with no problem. The issue came with one leg of the journey (and the shortest one).  They had plenty of aisle seats left in economy, but all the "freebies" were taken. All the other aisle seats were tagged as "premium" and came with an additional fee from $18-$40.

I kid you not. Seat 17D cost me an additional $18, while a few aisles back a similar seat would have been included in the price, had it been available.

Seat 17D does NOT come with extra leg room or extra ass room, a meal, more overhead storage, or free checked luggage. It's only claim to fame is that it's a few more rows forward in the cabin. That's it!  17D gets to the destination at the same time as seat 20D. If the plane falls out of the sky, I don't have a better chance of survival because of that $18. There is no upside to 17D to make it worth any upgrade at all. NONE. NADA. But unless I want to be squeezed into an aisle seat, I gotta pay the $18.

Really American Airlines???!! Really???!!! Isn't it bad enough that you gouge us on baggage and change fees? But I shouldn't pick on American Airlines. All the airlines are pulling this greedy stunt. And I've paid premium before, but it was for extra room. This charge got me nothing.

That $18 could have bought me a nice seafood lunch in Rhode Island!

I guess I should be happy 17D was available. A few rows up, the price would have doubled for the same freaking seat in a different aisle!

If I had more time, I'd rent an RV here in Los Angeles and drive the damn thing across country. But, alas, there's no time for that ... yet.

Okay, Sue Ann, you're going on vacation and you're visiting your family. Forget about the $18, take a deep breath, and repeat after me:


But it's still