Thursday, December 28, 2006
There has been a lot written lately about independent book stores closing. Gary Phillips commented about the closing of Dutton's in Beverly Hills in the Yahoo Group for the So Cal Chapter of MWA and Keith Raffel has been commenting on various closings, including Murder Ink in New York and Bob and Bob in Palo Alto, in his blog. And these two are not alone in their grief. Among writers the buzz about these closings is a lot like whisperings between family members about who has cancer or who had a stroke, who's expected to live, and who is not.
As professional writers, we certainly cannot overlook the value to our careers of the chains and online booksellers such as Amazon, Borders, and Barnes and Noble, but the independents are "family" in a way these large retailers can never be. As individuals and as professionals, writers should care a great deal about independent book sellers. These are the folks who hand-sell our books to their loyal customers and who welcome us with warmth and genuine interest when we visit. I receive a lot of mystery books for free, but when I purchase one, it is from The Mystery Book Store in Westwood or from Linda Bivens of Crime Time Books. (Linda is semi-retired and closed her store, but continues to sell books at special events and book festivals.)
But take heart, amongst all these closings there is a daffodil pushing up through the snow. Just two weeks ago Metropolis Books, a new independent, opened its doors in downtown Los Angeles. Owned and operated by the delightful Julie Anne Swayze (herself an author) and her husband Steve Bowie, Metropolis Books brings hope that the day of the independent bookseller has not passed.
So, the next time you are in downtown Los Angeles (or why not even go out of your way) visit Julie at Metropolis and give her a good pat of encouragement on the back … and while you're there, buy a book, or two, or three.
440 S. Main Street
Los Angeles, CA 90013
Wednesday, December 27, 2006
The holidays are a time for getting together with family, but if you don’t have family living close to you, as I don’t, you rely on e-mails and the phone to keep in contact. Sunday I spent close to an hour talking to my brother, Thom, who lives in Vermont with his new wife Cheryl. Thom and I haven’t always been good about keeping in touch over the years and most of our communication has been via sporadic e-mails, so it was great to spend time chatting about our lives and catching up.
Thom is also a talented woodcarver and sent me a wonderful woodcarving for Christmas. I have another of his carvings that he did for me years ago of St. Francis of Assisi. I’m trying to find the best place possible for it and may take it to work since I seem to spend more time there these days. I’m thinking it would be lovely to study the smooth texture and fine lines of the carving while surrounded by mounds of files and papers.
Like a good brother, Thom reports to me that every time he goes into his local bookstore he makes sure they have my books. He has always been a big supporter of my writing and has personally turned several people on to the Odelia Grey series. He tells me he also reads my blog. Gotta love a bro like that!
So whether you have family close or far away, the holidays are about family and knowing that even when you don’t hear from them or see them for a long time, you are still connected and remembered and loved.
Thom, let’s not wait so long next time.
Wednesday, December 20, 2006
And it was completed just in the nick of time for more than the obvious reason of my publisher’s deadline. At my day job, we were recently hit with a major year-end acquisition which may require some overtime on my part, still hard to say. It’s difficult enough to write when working a full-time job, even more so when that job is requiring some extra effort. Funny how things work out.
Tonight there’s a dual celebration, a combo birthday/book done dinner with friends, though I’m much more excited about the book being done than turning another year older.
Great job, Selma!
13 days and breathing a little easier!
Saturday, December 16, 2006
Well, this gal knew exactly what to do. So off to the mall I went at 8:00 a.m. this morning. I knew what I wanted and where to get them as I had spotted the shoes last weekend at the East Spirit store at the Westside Pavilion Mall while doing my Christmas shopping. I also have no doubt I was the first customer of the day, so imagine my surprise when the clerk seemed to have better things to do than to wait on me. But undeterred, I managed to try the shoes on, as well as another style, and make my selection.
Here’s the good part …
While paying for my new pumps, I noticed some very cute flats that would be perfect for the office with trousers. I picked up one and showed it to the clerk and asked her if she had ever tried them on. She said… and I quote… “I only wear high-end shoes.”
Now I’m no fool; I know that a pair of Easy Spirit pumps are not even in the same league as a pair of Manolo Blahnik or Jimmy Choo pumps, but I always thought the purpose of a sales clerk was to sell the products of his/her employer, not to diss them.
Silly me, all those early years spent working a minimum wage second job in retail and I had it all wrong.
Friday, December 15, 2006
Ten days ago over dinner with my gentleman friend:
Him: For your birthday and Christmas present (they are 4 days apart) you have a choice between jewelry or an AlphaSmart. Which would you prefer?
Me: I'd like them both.
Him (laughing): You can't have both. Make a decision.
Me: The girl in me wants the jewelry; the writer in me wants the AlphaSmart.
Him: You have until the end of dinner tonight to decide. (He was leaving town for the holidays and wanted to get his shopping done.)
Me: Hmmmm (while twitching my nose).
After dinner …
Him: Have you made up your mind about your gift?
Me: Yes, I'd like the AlphaSmart.
Him: Any particular reason why you chose that?
Me: If I have an AlphaSmart I can write faster, probably sell more books, then buy my own jewelry.
Him (laughing very hard): You are never dull.
I just received word from AlphaSmart that my new Neo is shipping Monday.
Thank you Santa, Baby.
Thursday, December 14, 2006
Yesterday I received an e-mail from my wonderful agent saying that a well known production company was making inquiries about the film rights to The Curse of the Holy Pail, the second book in the Odelia Grey mystery series which is due out in just a few weeks. Needless to say I am ecstatic about the news. The first book in the series, Too Big To Miss, has already been optioned by another party. But in all the excitement there is always the sense of cautious celebration. Many books are optioned, but few actually make it to TV or the big screen. Still, someone is interested and that someone was not ferreted out by anyone in my camp, they came to us. Even after a good night’s sleep, my toes are still curling in joy at the thought.
November and December have been exciting months for me and my writing career. As I careen towards the finish of Mother Mayhem (18 days and counting), the release of The Curse of the Holy Pail is building buzz. Recently, I received great reviews by both The Library Journal and Kirkus Reviews, and my publisher placed a beautiful ad for my books in a recent issue of Publishers Weekly. In addition, both Deadly Pleasures Magazine and Mystery Scene Magazine should be running favorable reviews in their next issues (my publicist and I have already seen previews). On top of this exciting news, my calendar for 2007 is filling up with speaking invitations and book signings.
Writing is such a solitary endeavor and can be very frustrating, yet still writers write, throwing themselves under the bus of criticism with every word. But just when you think you can't write another word, that you'd be better off sitting on your duff watching TV, things like these happen and renew your sense of purpose and focus your attention back on your goals.
What more could a writing gal want … besides Peace on Earth.
Monday, December 11, 2006
Done: Holiday Open House at the Mystery Book Store in Westwood. This is one of my favorite book stores and the Open House was so much fun. In addition to visiting with Bobby and Linda and other staff members, I spent time with friends like Patricia Smiley and Eric Stone. During the time I was at the store they had a reading and signing by a new author named Michael Graham. His reading was so compelling I purchased his novel, The Snow Angel (like I need another book for my To Be Read pile!) and look forward to reading it.
Done: Christmas Shopping. In spite of my penchant for online shopping, there were still a few things I needed to get at real stores and much of Saturday was spent driving to specialty stores for these items. My Christmas shopping is done… finito … adios.
Done: Grocery Shopping. Go ahead and laugh but I have discovered the joy of ordering my groceries online, at least temporarily. Actually it was through necessity and not laziness. The elevator in my apartment building has been out-of-order for almost three months (grrrrrrrr) and I live on the third floor. Even with a bit of arthritis in one knee I haven’t minded the trek up and down the stairs, but hauling 30 lb boxes of kitty litter and 8 lb bags of kibble up them has become problematic. Yesterday I ordered 60 lbs of kitty litter and 24 lbs of cat kibble and someone else hauled it up the stairs. I consider it take out for kitties.
Not Done: Housework. The place is a mess, but who cares. Hazel has been banished by Selma the Muse until Mother Mayhem is done. However, I’ve discovered that Selma loves to Christmas Shop and attend open houses at book stores.
Not Done: Mother Mayhem – I want to erase this so bad, but can’t quite. The plan was to finish the manuscript this weekend, but it’s not quite done. I only have another chapter or two to go. The finish line is in the horizon; I can see it and hear the roar of the crowd. 21 Days and Counting!
Weekend Guilty Pleasures (items not on the white board): Watching the finale of The Amazing Race; leisurely Saturday lunch out alone reading a book (Hoodtown by Christa Faust); watching Cheaper By the Dozen 2; playing Scrabble online; and most important, 2 mornings of sleeping late.
It was a very good weekend!
Friday, December 08, 2006
Thursday, December 07, 2006
Which brings me to this bit of advice for everyone looking for an agent or anyone unhappy with their present agent: Not all agents are created equal.
Several years ago I was represented by another agent, a very competent woman with a well-known New York agency. But in spite of our being together for nearly three years, it was never a good fit and we parted ways when she called Too Big To Miss crap. Oh yes she did! In fact her exact words to me were: No one wants to read this crap.
Comments like this to an author are about as sensitive as telling a new mother that her baby is ugly. Calling a manuscript crap isn’t constructive criticism, it’s destructive bullshit. There are other ways for literary professionals to tell authors their work is not up to their standards – this ain’t one of them. (By the way, this same Too Big To Miss has received rave reviews and has a TV option. The Best Revenge isn’t living well, it’s getting published to great reviews. Remember that.)
When choosing an agent, make sure that agent fits your personality, your style of work, and your career goals. If you find an agent overbearing and obnoxious, perhaps potential publishers might also. Remember, a good agent will not pigeon-hole you, talk down to you, or berate you. When Whitney doesn’t like something I’ve written, she suggests positive changes. When I don’t hear from her for awhile, I don’t fret that I’ve fallen off her radar. When I explain a project I want to write that is outside of my usual niche, she cheers me on. She is an integral part of my writing career, not a necessary evil.
Whitney has represented me now for three years, the same length of time the other agent represented me. During that time she has sold three of my novels, a TV option, and e-book rights. In addition, she has critiqued a non-mystery novel that I am working on called God’s Apology and is excited about representing it in the next few months, along with another non-mystery novel and future Odelia Grey mysteries.
More importantly, I never feel like I should numb myself with a double scotch before dealing with her.
Three Cheers for all the wonderful Whitneys out there!
Wednesday, December 06, 2006
But last night my gentleman friend enticed me out to dinner with the promise of a much needed relaxing evening. By the way, romantic relationships are another casualty of deadlines, but thankfully my guy pal is very understanding and patient … but I digress. We decided to meet at Harpers, an Italian restaurant at the Century City Mall just a block from my day job. I love this restaurant and if you ever go, order the seafood salad, it’s to die for … but again I digress.
Anyway, I arrived about thirty minutes early so I could pick up something at The Container Store, then still with time on my hands, I sat down on a bench and simply watched the people. In all the rush of my life, I had forgotten how much I enjoy people watching. Most writers are natural people watchers. It’s in our blood and part of our daily need as much as the need to write. We sit in parks, restaurants, airports and on benches in malls observing people and listening for tidbits of choice conversation, all the while taking mental notes for later use in character development.
But last night I observed something else: Christmas is here! It’s here in all its brightly colored lights and poinsettias, shoppers scurrying, and timeless musical favorites played over and over. People bustled about the mall, dashing into stores and emerging with packages. They greeted friends in front of restaurants with hugs and smiles, and squeals of delight, and even in Harpers last night there were two holiday parties in progress. For all its convenience, online shopping can’t provide this kind of heart-warming ambience; not even if ginger-scented candles burn in the background while you type in the numbers of your credit card.
My friend thought he was simply treating me to a nice dinner and relaxing evening. Instead, he pulled my head out of my frantic pace and worry over meeting a deadline while juggling seasonal social demands and gave me Christmas Spirit. What a nice gift.
26 days and counting . Last night I didn’t write a single word and I’m happy with that.
Memo to self: must hang wreath and buy eggnog!
Sunday, December 03, 2006
And they’re off … the holiday festivities that is. Today was the annual Holiday Party and Prepublished Authors Showcase of the Los Angeles Chapter of Sisters In Crime (of which I'm president). For me it kicks off the Christmas season.
It was a wonderful event organized by our VP, Diana James, and executed by the entire board with assistance from many members. I have been in Sisters In Crime for eight years now and this year’s Los Angeles Holiday Party was the best attended yet with about 70 people coming together to eat, drink, socialize, and listen to their fellow members read from unpublished manuscripts. In addition, for the second year, the chapter also collected toys for needy children.
It’s events like this that make me proud to be part of Sisters In Crime, an organization of men and women dedicated to the genre of mystery writing. Writing isn’t just about putting words to paper, deadlines, and sales figures; it’s also about sharing, mentoring, and building steps for others to follow.
It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas.
Saturday, December 02, 2006
Word of advice – never try to write in the presence of a sleeping cat. Your might as well be trying to write under the influence of a half bottle of Tylenol PM. Make that two cats and you have a recipe for creative disaster. So goes my writing life this weekend. Since nine this morning I have been struggling with one chapter in Mother Mayhem. I know what happens in the chapter and to whom and it’s a pivotal chapter leading up to the climax of the book, but I just can’t seem to get it from my brain to the computer. Instead, I want to nap the day away just like my two feline companions. And I think Selma, my muse, feels the same because she’s seems a bit logy today herself.
My cats are jealous of my writing, or the time I spend writing. They show it in subtle ways like B, my big fluffy diva, stretching out in the space between the keyboard and the monitor and draping her tail across the keyboard while I work; or Raffi scratching the hell out of the back of my desk chair while I sit in it. Generally, Raffi insists on sleeping in another desk chair pulled up next to mine, but he was banished from that this week when he bit my left elbow while I typed ... for the second time.
Right now they are both out cold. Raffi is on HIS cushion in front of the patio door and B is on HER cushion on the floor near my desk. And me? Me, I’m fighting the urge to follow their example by curling up on MY bed for an hour or two. Something tells me my muse would vote for that as well.
30 days and counting – YIKES!
Wednesday, November 29, 2006
When I was a kid in Massachusetts, Prince Pasta had a slogan: Wednesday is Prince Spaghetti Day. Now that I’m grown and living in Southern California, Wednesday is Naomi Day.
Every Wednesday I read Naomi Hirahara’s blog posting on Murderati, one of the best blogs devoted to writing mysteries and the life of a mystery writer. This blog is shared by several wonderful authors, many of whom I’ve had the pleasure of getting to know personally. But (with no offense meant to the others) Wednesday was always my favorite.
Naomi Hirahara writes the acclaimed Mas Arai series which features mysteries involving an elderly Japanese gardener who lives in Altadena, California. Mas is also a Hiroshima survivor. Her books are packed full of informative glimpses into the Japanese-American culture of Southern California and her characters are memorable. I recently finished her second in the series, Gasa Gasa Girl, and will soon move on to the third book. As with her books, her Murderati postings were always educational and fun. They made us think and introduced us to many folks in the Los Angeles writing community. A few months ago she even interviewed me and I remember how honored I felt when she asked.
But although this is a type of eulogy, Naomi is alive and well and I know I will continue to see her smiling face at book events and Sister In Crime and MWA meetings. She is leaving blogging to pursue growth and changes in her writing career (see Get Ready for the Boar, her last Murderati posting). I wish her continued success in her thriving career. She’s definitely a Gasa Gasa Girl.
Love you, Naomi!
Sunday, November 26, 2006
Jan Burke is one of my favorite writers, and she’s also good folks!
Jan is a big time advocate of the Crime Lab Project which supports better forensic science across the nation. If you’ve never heard Jan speak about this topic, you’re missing out. It’s both fascinating and scary – very scary. Below is a recent posting Jan made to a group and I thought I would spread the word. The Crime Lab Project is very important and needs our help.
I present Jan Burke …
This is a critical time for those of you who support better forensic science funding to contact your Member of Congress. The Senate voted $18 million for Coverdell Forensic Science grants, the House voted zero. The bill is now in conference. Obviously, the Crime Lab Project supports the Senate version! Please call or e-mail your Member of Congress and ask them to make the House recede to the Senate for the Paul Coverdell Act -- and ask everyone you know to do the same. The issue is non-partisan and the funds are not earmarked -- public labs in any state, the U.S. territories, and the District of Columbia have access to these grants. For more information, please visit http://crimelabproject.blogspot.com
Wednesday, November 22, 2006
And check out the entry just below it entitled Distractions. I was writing for 2-3 hours a day but often found productivity inconsistent. After reading Distractions I found myself shooting for 3,000 words a day plus editing with breaks at about 1,000-1,500. I found the time flew by when I stopped watching the clock and concentrated on the words spilling out onto the page.
Sometimes the other guy does build a better mousetrap.
40 days to ye ole deadline!
Tuesday, November 21, 2006
It is the duty of every citizen to keep their mouth open.
Often you will hear people say what does it matter? No one listens, why bother? Nothing will change, why should I get involved?
It is my duty, your duty, everyone's duty to vote, to comment, to say no, to say yes, to voice outrage, and to voice support. You may think you are just one voice, but together we are many, and many voices can make a difference.
In the past few weeks we have seen a surprising election and the withdrawal of a highly questionable book and TV program, all based on voices being raised together in one form or another for a common goal. We can make a difference, individually and together.
A personal favorite:
First They Came for the Jews
by Pastor Martin Niemöller
First they came for the Jews
and I did not speak out
because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for the Communists
and I did not speak out
because I was not a Communist.
Then they came for the trade unionists
and I did not speak out
because I was not a trade unionist.
Then they came for me
and there was no one left
to speak out for me.
And another personal favorite:
"Who now remembers the Armenians?" -- Adolf Hitler
At this Thanksgiving season, let's give thanks for our family, friends, and freedoms.
Friday, November 17, 2006
Another interesting piece forwarded to me is from the NY Daily News and contains comments from other publishers and some book stores.
Would love to hear your thoughts on it.
Thursday, November 16, 2006
O. J. Simpson was acquitted of the murders of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Goldman. That’s a fact and a fact that cannot be disputed no matter if you believe Simpson to have killed these people (as I do) or you do not. The legal system gave us its decision and we must live with it and move on.
But, no matter what your belief regarding Simpson’s involvement in the murders, the bottom line is that a book by Simpson supposedly entitled “If I Did It” is blatantly arrogant on Simpson’s part and unconscionable on the part of Harper Collins/Regan Books.
It's as if they're flipping us the bird.
I didn't rape that girl, but if I did ...
I didn't rob that bank, but if I did ...
I didn't beat my wife , but if I did ... (ooops, sorry, I guess that will be covered in Simpson's book).
And don’t get me started on Fox for the upcoming interview with Simpson to be aired during sweeps week … let me just say, I stopped watching Fox a LONG LONG TIME AGO.
In a partial reprise of an earlier blog: JUST SAY NO!
SAY NO TO BUYING THE BOOK
SAY NO TO WATCHING THE INTERVIEW
Books and TV shows of this kind are fueled by greed. As individuals, the only weapon we have to fight these sordid assaults on our sensibilities is the closing of our wallets.
Wednesday, November 15, 2006
Sue Ann ... I just wanted you to know that there is an outrageous red headed woman in Alabama rooting for you as you write. -- Marilyn Tarvin
Life is like writing letters,
I take pen to paper to define myself.
From my perspective,
I live my days
Seeing this photo got me to remembering a true story I often tell about the first time I was ever interviewed when Too Big to Miss first came out in its original self-published mode. It was for a piece in a small newspaper by a very young journalist and the interview was held face-to-face (this is an important fact).
Journalist: So, whatever inspired you to write about a middle-aged, overweight paralegal?
Me (to myself): That's odd, I didn't think this interview was with someone from the Braille Institute.
Me (to journalist after a slight hesitation): I get my inspiration for my mystery novels from my day-to-day life as a young, thin, tall, blond, who works as an extra on Baywatch.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY, PATTI! (Patti is a kindred spirt -- a writer being paid by the perfectly nice people in the perfectly nice law firm to be a legal secretary.)
47 days and counting - New rules have not kicked in, but Selma is working overtime.
Sunday, November 12, 2006
Well, this morning, after reading an e-mail from my publisher, Selma the Muse and I decided we need New Rules.
Currently my head is deep into Mother Mayhem, the 3rd Odelia Grey novel due to my publisher on January 1, 2007 (or as Keith Raffel recently pointed out to me, January 2nd due to the holiday). But my publisher’s head is deep into The Curse of the Holy Pail, the 2nd Odelia Grey novel being released February 2007. Can you see the conflict here?
Over the past couple of months, while I’ve been slaving away on book #3, I’ve been receiving e-mail requests from my publisher about book #2. Sometimes these require simple and quick responses and sometimes, like final edits on galleys, they require a lot of time and effort. This morning I received an e-mail asking me to review the back cover content for book #2 and, me being me, I spent at least an hour explaining exactly what I liked and what I did not like and providing examples of what I would ultimately like to see on said back cover.
Okay, I do understand that this obsessive behavior is my problem, not Midnight Ink’s problem, but hitting deadlines is MY problem, and since my body type is not one conducive to hurdling over obstacles, I have a tendency to plow through them, which takes more time.
NEW RULE: For every 15 minutes it takes me to fiddle with book #2, I should get one more week to finish book #3.
50 days and counting (under the old rules).
Friday, November 10, 2006
I also learned that Ashley is one of the funniest writers I know. But don't believe me, check it out for yourself. Go to her website, click on BLOG and then click on the entry called The Funniest Dang Thing I've Ever Seen. It almost made me pee my pants.
Thursday, November 09, 2006
There are no small date books in my tote bag, or Day Timer portfolios being lugged about. Nor have I yet succumbed to the use of an electronic date keeper. I keep a huge “Year-At-A-Glance” calendar on the wall next to my computer with an erasable surface. It’s the only way I can make sure of juggling my time between my day job, writing events, appointments, and dates involving family and friends. Good thing I don’t have children, or else I’d need another pack of color markers just for soccer games and piano lessons.
As everyone who reads this blog knows, I am madly dashing to meet a deadline for my 3rd Odelia Grey novel. The deadline is January 1, 2007. Between now and then is a whole slew of events that I want to attend; a virtual minefield of frivolity and friendship to celebrate the holidays and the end of the year. As I write the latest party date on the calendar, I think: Why can’t some of these fun things be moved to mid-January or even to February? Why is year-end always a rush of frenetic activity that leaves us exhausted and dazed? Can’t I bank some of these events to use later?
Christmas in June … it has a certain ring to it, don’t ya think?
53 and counting.
Wednesday, November 08, 2006
My friend Kate Thornton always posts "beautiful things" on her blog. Following her lead, I want to share a couple of beautiful things that showed up recently in my e-mail -- my great niece and nephew. The cast on my niece's leg hasn't slowed her down one bit.
Sunday, November 05, 2006
Writers write, plain and simple. If you distill all of the platitudes about writing and writers, the how-tos, the whys, and the wheres, it all comes back to these two very simple words – writers write. It’s a solitary business. Even writers who collaborate must spend much time alone to produce their contribution to the partnership. For me a day without writing might as well be a day without food, water, and air. I must write. I must create. It’s a passion, a disease, a terrible master I loathe and love at the same time.
But writers must also hobnob with other writers. Whether a writer is naturally social, as I am, or shy and quiet, he or she must interact with fellow writers to be a healthy writer. Such interactions keep you grounded and provide relief from the fear that you might be nuts – or at least nuts on your own. Let’s face it, writers are crazy, but we’re crazier together. Just ask anyone who has ever attended a Bouchercon (which my friend and fellow Midnight Ink author, Keith Raffel, refers to as a summer camp for adults). Or better yet, ask anyone who knows Brian Wiprud.
Friday night I attended a dinner for writers and today I’ll attend the monthly meeting of SinC/Los Angeles. At the dinner I saw a lot of old friends, met a lot of writers I hadn’t met before, and reacquainted myself with writers I only get to see from time to time at conferences. I even had the pleasure of meeting the wonderful Anne Perry. It was a fabulous evening and the exchange of ideas at each and every table was electric. Instead of coming home grumpy because I felt I had wasted several hours socializing when I should have been home writing, I returned to my computer refreshed and revitalized, and, more importantly, productive
57 Days and Counting
Friday, November 03, 2006
And this is a true story...
While I was on my next installment of housework, I hear a frantic knock at my door. It's our maintenance man. He was working on the plumbing of the apartment directly below mine and every time I ran my water it came out into the lower apartment. No one told me, he said, because they thought I'd be at work (day job).
So back to writing I went.
I swear I could hear Selma cackling in the background.
The agenda: get up my usual time; check e-mail; then buckle down to write for a few hours; get a manicure and pedicure; have a leisurely lunch with friend (who also thought playing hooky for a few hours would be fun); write some more; finish dinner details and get ready for dinner. Sounds like a plan doesn't it?
So here's the problem. When I woke this morning, Selma the muse was not here. Instead, my other muse, Hazel, appeared. And herein lies the conflict.
I love a clean home. I used to have a cleaning lady, but that was when I lived in a much larger apartment. Since moving to Los Angeles, my digs are about half the size and I can't see the point when I can do it easily myself. But when I'm in my writing zone, cleanliness of my surroundings is the last thing I think about. However, there comes a point when instead of writing all I think about is how grungy everything looks. When my need for tidiness conflicts with my need to write, something has to give.
Gotta go -- Hazel's standing by with a sponge and mop looking at her watch and the cats are clamoring for a fresh litter box. And then there's the manicure appointment deadline-- every woman knows you clean your house before you get your nails done.
59 days and counting -- Doesn't Hazel know that?
Wednesday, November 01, 2006
Thank you for your kind thoughts, but please don't feel sorry for me. I haven't taken one word of it seriously or been injured in the least, even before my books took a huge sales jump, which they did yesterday after Opie and Anthony aired their show and discussed my blog and the comments.
If I've experienced anything because of this it has been surprise (gee people ARE reading my blog!), shock (I knew ignorance was alive and well but I didn't realize how healthy it was -- an ignorance on my part), dismay (I really had hoped people had evolved more than this), and happiness (I'm thrilled that I've touched a nerve and made some people think about tolerance.)
Tolerance is the reason I posted the blog entry Just Say No! in the first place, and it's the reason I have allowed the comments to remain posted (except for a few exceptionally vile ones and those past my closing of the comments). By letting people see the ugliness, especially that lurking under the cover of anonymity, I hope they are realizing the depth of prejudice and hatred still out there; not just for large women, but for anyone who thinks differently or is different.
I do not promote obesity in my blog or in my books; I promote tolerance.
It's obvious that many people will fight to the death for the right to speak freely, as along as you say what they want you to say. That's not how I interpret my right (or your right) to speech. I believe in the saying: I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it. Opie and Anthony have every right to publicly conduct a Fatty Pig Fatty contest, and I have every right to publicly oppose it.
So continue to read my blog and others, knowing that you are experiencing first hand our right to speak and share our opinions, and never feel sorry for any of us. The simple truth is, if you stick your chin out there, don't be surprised when someone throws a punch at it. This is even true when writing novels. If you cannot take criticism and comments about what you write, you shouldn't be writing except for your own eyes.
This topic is now finished and I have a book to complete. 61 days and counting!
In the words of Forrest Gump: That's all I have to say about that.
A note about posting comments to this blog post: You are welcome to submit your comments, but please know that NO comments slinging slurs or with excess or vile profanity will be allowed. You have every right to your opinion, but if you cannot express it without hatefulness and prostituting the English language, you will have to post it somewhere else. - saj
Monday, October 30, 2006
But I was worried. If Selma was spending so much time with me over the weekend, would she disappear come Monday, thinking I had met my quota for muse time? Happily I can say that Selma reported for work this morning at 5:30 a.m. I only hope she remembers to come back tonight, and tomorrow, and the day after …
63 days and counting…
Sunday, October 29, 2006
Unfortunately, I am moderating the comments now. It goes against my grain but I felt I had to when so many postings were starting to rip to shreds the people who agree with me. They have a right to their opinion also. This is my blog, no need for the disgruntled to attack anyone else; although it does support the comments in my initial blog about ignorance. I am also rejecting any duplicate postings, postings that repeat phrases ad nauseum, or any posting in which the vocabulary is limited to words such as cunt, etc.
Comments about this blog topic will not be accepted on other blog entries.
Considering the immature and vile content of most of the comments to this particular blog entry, I rest my case and stand firm on my comments below. Thank you for proving my point. - Sue Ann
Today one of the postings on the Yahoo Group Don’t Tell Me What Size I Must Be was about a contest being held by the Opie and Anthony Show called Fatty Pig Fatty. The posting was by Velvet who happens to be the very same Velvet who was the plus size model recently featured (to much fanfare and flack) in the Gaultier fashion show. The gist of the contest is for fat women (please note: contest is NOT open to men) to go to the Opie and Anthony studio, put on a pig mask and weigh in. At the end of the contest the heaviest entrant will win $10 for every pound she weighs. There is also a Fatty Finders Fee if the woman is brought in by a “friend” (i.e., pimp fee).
Velvet called this contest “despicable in every sense of the word” and I agree. But what I find even MORE despicable (imagine that being said by Sylvester the Cat) is that women are ACTUALLY showing up for this contest. There are two hard truths at work here:
*There will always be morons like Opie and Anthony – can’t be helped. The stupid and ignorant will always be with us.
*There will always be people who will do anything for money – case in point, Fear Factor.
People (and I use that term loosely) like Opie and Anthony have a forum because people give them one. If people boycotted their show and didn’t encourage their immature and hurtful antics, maybe it would stop. But instead, their moronic behavior is revered and celebrated. It’s a simple fact, ignore the class bully and he will stop. Fear or applaud him and he will continue.
It’s also a known fact that very large women are often at or near the bottom of the economic chain. This easy money would be tempting for anyone. (I admit, the first thing I did was calculate how much money I could win – and that’s none of your beeswax.) But for every super-sized woman who showed up for this despicable contest there are thousands who didn’t; thousands of plus size women just trying to make their lives work in this crazy world just like everyone else; and women like Velvet strutting their stuff with glamour and pride. These are the women I applaud.
My advice to all the women tempted to enter the Opie and Anthony contest: JUST SAY NO!
My advice to all who want to follow the contest and/or this despicable show: JUST SAY NO!
Trust me, the world will be a better place.
Saturday, October 28, 2006
Until now, I never had a firm handle on my muse. I had an idea it might be a woman; it was too temperamental and too coy to be a man. But this morning, as my muse ordered me to get my fat ass out of bed and get to work, I recognized the voice immediately.
My muse is Selma Diamond … and she, apparently, reads my blog.
Ms. Diamond, for those of you too young to remember, was a wonderful character actress with a raspy, grating voice and bulldog manner. In the last year of her life she played Selma Hacker, a bailiff on the hilarious TV sitcom Night Court. She died in 1985.
So this morning, with barely enough time to pee and wash my face and no time to make coffee, I found myself at my computer pounding out Mother Mayhem, driven by the ghost of a woman dead twenty years, a cigarette dangling from her lips.
65 days and counting .
Friday, October 27, 2006
66 days -- add one more 6 and you have the Mark of the Beast, the zip code of the Antichrist. There has to be a connection here.
I am a trained corporate paralegal. Deadlines are my life. I always make them and sometimes I'm even early. So why am I in a dither?
Simply put, my muse and I are on different schedules. Monday through Friday from 9-6 perfectly nice people in a perfectly nice law firm pay me to work for them as their corporate paralegal. It's what I do to pay my rent and buy cat kibble. Without these nice people in the nice law firm I would be fighting my cats for the kibble and living under a freeway overpass.
I write either in the morning before work or in the evening after work; sometimes both. Since I live alone, this is not a tough schedule to keep, except that my muse doesn't like those hours. My muse wants a 9-5 job and I'm only offering split shifts and weekend work.
My muse thinks it funny when it whispers creative thoughts in my ear at 11:15 on a Thursday morning while I'm pouring over California statutes governing non-profit corporations. I push my muse away and say "not now, come back later." But later is not convenient for my muse. At 8:00 pm tonight, my muse was a no-show. But like the trooper I am, I continue to write, slogging through each line, paragraph and thought, watching the year run out of days.
66... my muse has made a pact with the devil, I'm sure of it.
Thursday, October 26, 2006
Speaking of the launch party, here's a photo of many of the authors and editors of LAndmarked for Murder.
Sitting (l-r): Jinx Beers, Dee Ann Palmer, Susan K. Beery, Paul Marks, Kate Thornton
Standing (l-r): A. H. Ream, Darrell James, Michael Mallory, Gayle Bartos-Pool
Last Saturday night the Los Angeles chapter of Sisters In Crime chapter launched its latest anthology LAndmarked for Murder, a collection of short fiction centered on various Southern California landmarks. For the event, The Mystery Book Store in Westwood rolled out the red carpet of welcome and people contributed champagne and munchies. The chapter even bought a cake with the book cover emblazoned on the top in colored rice paper.
During the event I noticed Susan Beery, the board member who coordinated the entire anthology, guarding the cake, carefully serving people from the sections surrounding the image of the book, avoiding cutting into the bookcover. Near the end of the event all that was left of the cake was, indeed, the section under the cover. When a couple of more people wanted cake, Susan managed to carve out sushi-thin scraps. At the end of the night, she wrapped the remaining cake up carefully to be frozen like the top of a wedding cake. Her idea is to bring it back out for our December meeting. Maybe then we can entice her to cut it.
On January 27, 2007, I will be launching the second Odelia Grey mystery, The Curse of the Holy Pail, at The Mystery Book Store and I was thinking about having a similar cake with the cover on the top.
Now hold the phone! Do I really want people cutting into my book cover? Will I be standing nervously by saying, "You can have a piece of the lunchbox, but not of Odelia's face?" Or, "Do you really need to carve up my name like that?" Or, "Would you like a piece of boob or a piece of ass with your champagne?"
I think I'm going to order cupcakes.
Wednesday, October 25, 2006
I look forward to posting here regularly. Please say hello and give me your comments.
Tuesday, October 24, 2006
Just 30 minutes ago I went down to the Starbucks in my office building and treated myself to a pumpkin spice latte... a big one! I love these things and don't give a rat's behind how many calories, points, fat grams, carbs, etc. are in them.
On the elevator back up to the 16th floor, I was joined by a professional-looking man in his late 30's or early 40's, dressed in a nice shirt and tie (dollar to donuts he was an attorney). On the ride up we talked about coffee and the need for a late afternoon boost. He made a comment about how I could probably get my coffee for free in my office, and I laughed and said "but not a pumpkin spice latte." We stopped at his floor. As he got off he said, "You're never going to lose weight that way," then quickly disappeared.
First of all, when did the subject of weight, mine or anyone else's, even come up in this conversation?
Secondly, if you're going to insult me, come back here and do it to my face with the elevator door closed so I can beat you senseless without a witness, not like a hit and run coward taking your shot as you leave the elevator!
I'm happy to say, it's been a very long time since I've been insulted like this, but I'm very saddened to say such rudeness is alive and well and apparently working in my office building.
Hmmm, might have to put him in one of my books. Be afraid ... be very afraid.
Boy, this coffee's good!
This is a common question at book signings and library events. The answer is: from everywhere, from everything. Sometimes the most common daily routine or occurrence, such as having a cold, popping a button, or burning a meal, can bring on a spark of creativity. Sometimes it’s the uncommon events, such as a death in the family or the theft of a car, that get stored for later use. Everything is grist for the mill, little is sacred or off limits.
Take yesterday morning for example.
I was minding my own business at the Century City law firm at which I’m employed as a paralegal (yes, just like the character Odelia Grey), when the alarm in the building went off. It was a full-scale mandatory evacuation drill of the 23-floor high-rise in which I work. Okay, I’ll confess, our office manager did warn us the day before that the drill was going to take place and to wear comfy shoes, but there was no escaping the fact that in a few minutes I would be in the stairwell of one of the Watt Plaza Towers winding my way down 16 floors to the street below.
Along about floor 7 or 8, as my chunky leg muscles began to groan, I thought: This has to go into one of my books. And this morning at 6:15 when I dragged myself painfully out of bed and moved around on middle-aged legs begging for Advil, I thought: This definitely has to go into one of my books. (More examples: Two weeks ago I had a cold. Last night, while working on the third book in the series, I gave a cold to Odelia. Several months ago I popped a wire in my bra … like I said, it’s all grist for the mill.)
Now the mystery is: Which of the events in Odelia Grey’s life have really happened to me? I will give you a clue as one that is not real -- I do not, thankfully, work for an attorney like Michael Steele.
Last weekend I attended Bouchercon, the World Mystery Conference, which was held in the delightful city of Madison, Wisconsin. (I will write more about B'Con later.) Unfortunately, shortly after I returned home I found myself with a head cold. Not surprising, considering all the plane travel and shaking hands, hugging, smooching and even sharing drinks with old friends and new friends from all over the world.
But there is an upside to having a cold.
Although I was a trooper and never missed a day of work from my day job, I found it impossible to keep to my evening schedule of writing and reading while snorting cold medicine in various forms. So, what's a gal to do? Well, this gal stretched out on the sofa, slathered in Vicks VapoRub, surrounded by her two cats, and watched movies. Ahhh-choo ... such a delightful yet sinful pleasure, especially when facing a year-end deadline on a third novel.
Three movies stood out, each for their own charm, talent and content: Fever Pitch, Beyond the Sea, and The Woodsman, and I recommend all three with big "thumbs up."
Being originally from Massachusetts, the romantic comedy Fever Pitch was an especially fun romp about the obsession New Englanders (including my own nutsy family) have for the Boston Red Sox. Case in point: at my niece Lindsays wedding last year, during the ceremony I read a piece entitled Why Marriage is Like Baseball. No, I didn't write it. It was penned by a pastor many years ago.
I have always been a big fan of Kevin Spacey's work, so when I saw Beyond the Sea listed on cable, I couldn't resist. Beyond the Sea is a stylized biography of the life of Bobby Darin. Kevin Spacey is both the producer and star and even sings the musical numbers himself. It is a very enjoyable and fascinating production of Darin's life and his marriage to Sandra Dee.
Last is The Woodsman starring Kevin Bacon and Kyra Sedgwick. I had seen the Ebert and Roper review on this movie (two thumbs up) and placed it on my TBW list (to be watched, not to be confused with to be read, though both lists are rather daunting in size). I was not disappointed. Although the subject matter is distasteful -- life after prison of a convicted child molester -- Kevin Bacon does a superb acting job as the parolee and I found myself rooting for him in his struggle to be "normal."
Okay, the cold is at bay, time to get back to work on Mother Mayhem.
August 8, 2006
The note below was sent to me and many others from my nephew, Tom. He rides every year in the Pan Mass bike ride to raise money for cancer, but this year was different. Since riding last year, Tom himself was diagnosed with cancer and had two surgeries. Today he is cancer free -- a survivor. So this year's Pan Mass ride was sweeter for him and for our family. Below is his report on the ride. Feel free to donate to this worthy cause, if you like. Because every family has a Tom, not just mine. -- Sue Ann
Hello everyone, The 2006 PMC has come and gone and I'm happy to report that I made it! It was a bit harder this year but even more rewarding. Standing in the cool air Saturday morning, I could only be thankful that I had survived to ride at least one more ride. I had my doubts earlier in the year, but hoped I would be healthy enough to do this at least once more.
This past weekend was my birthday and I turned two.
Love and hope are all this ride is about. The pain and struggle and injury are burdens carried with pride. To give hope and show love are the goals and ultimately, also the rewards. I can't count the number of signs that read, "I'm a survivor" along the way. In Wellfleet, a boy held a sign that read, "Because of you I am 10." If you look through the pictures from last year's ride, a rider had a picture of that boy on his back, but in that picture, his sign read, "Because of you I am 8." His two years give hope to those that follow. That 10 year old boy inspires. He sows courage whether he knows it or not. His story brings hope to others and they look to the future because of him. That's all this ride really is.
I cannot express the honor I feel in that you allow me to ride for you.
A number of you have expressed a desire to make a donation, but have not yet done so. If you still care to, you can do so online using the following link: http://www.pmc.org/mypmc/profiles.asp?eGiftID=TJ0020 some have said that there was a problem with the link, however, many have donated online. Should you need it, my egift id is tj0020.
We're up to approximately $3000 so far and still have a ways to go. Attached is a picture from this year's ride. It's at a water stop 100 miles in on the first day. The handsome fella on the handlebars Radar. He supervised both of my surgeries to make sure nothing went wrong and I rewarded him with a free tour of parts of Massachusetts. He held up pretty well except for an incident not too long after this photo was snapped when a friend's dog mistook him for a chew toy. Radar's a tough son of a gun, though, and made it the rest of the way.
I hope to celebrate my 3rd birthday with you next year! Thanks again for you love and support, Tom
If you’re like me, you take books with you everywhere, not just on planes or vacation travel. A book travels with me in my tote bag as faithfully as my lipstick and car keys. Like most avid readers, I have a TBR pile – books stacked in a corner waiting to be read. Sometimes they wait patiently for their turn and sometimes they cry like a newborn to be picked up and given attention. I’d like to think I will eventually get through them all, but as the saying goes: So many books, so little time.
Usually, I have two books going at once (and this doesn't count the book I am currently writing). I keep one on my nightstand and read a bit each night, and one I keep in my tote to be read whenever I find myself stuck waiting somewhere, or eating out alone, or during lunch break at work. I can often be found huddled behind the closed door of my office from 12:30-1:30, Monday thru Friday, with my nose in a book and a plastic fork stuck in a Healthy Choice entrée Exciting life, huh?
Because I'm often asked: What do you read? I thought I'd start Read Along With Sue Ann. (Remember the old Sing Along With Mitch TV show? Yes, I am dating myself.) I will post on About Sue Ann at www.sueannjaffarian.com the books I am currently reading and anyone who wishes can read along with me. And feel welcome to e-mail me and discuss the books. I love lively book discussions.
Originally, Too Big To Miss and The Curse of the Holy Pail, the first two books in the Odelia Grey mystery series, were self-published through iUniverse. And many of you purchased and read those, for which I am deeply and forever grateful. However, I am thrilled to say that Llewellyn Worldwide purchased both of them for their Midnight Ink imprint.
To Big To Miss was released in early 2006 with a new cover (red and green), a new ending and 6,000 new words (whew!). So even if you read the earlier edition of Too Big To Miss, you will still enjoy reading the new and improved Too Big To Miss. The new and improved (sounds a tad like a commercial for laundry soap, doesn't it?)
The Curse of the Holy Pail will be released in early 2007. Recently Midnight Ink Books purchased the rights to the third and completely new Odelia Grey novel, Mother Mayhem. It is scheduled for release February 2008.