Thursday, March 29, 2007

Examining Goals

I do a lot of public speaking about setting and reaching goals, mostly as it pertains to writing and getting published, but often as it applies to pursuing personal dreams in general. One of the things I advise folks is to step back every now and then and examine your progress to make sure you are still on track and to make sure your goals haven't shifted to reveal new exciting paths.

Since this week is the end of the first quarter of 2007, I thought it a good time to examine the goals I set for myself earlier this year on this blog. Some of the goals are still in progress, some have been achieved, some are on hold.

*Complete God’s Apology, the non-mystery novel I’ve been working on for a few years and which is near completion. Deadline: March 31st. Didn't happen; new deadline June 1st.

*Complete first three chapters of 4th Odelia Grey mystery, Epitaph Envy. Deadline February 28th. Done and is being submitted to publisher as I write this.

*Complete Epitaph Envy. Deadline September 1st. In progress.

*Research on 5th Odelia Grey mystery. Start date: September 7th; end date: September 30th. Still in the plans; have started some of the ground work.

*Healthier lifestyle (eating better and getting more exercise). In progress. Have been walking a lot more and have lost 7 lbs. Would have been more but there was that unfortunate tangle with biscuits and gravy a few months ago that blew me off track for a while.

*Write at least one short story and submit it for publication. Deadline November 1st. In February I was invited to participate in a holiday anthology. My short story, entitled Ho Ho Homicide, is in progress. New Deadline: July 1st.

*Post one author interview a month on my blog. So far only one interview has been posted since January, but not for my lack of trying. Christa Faust and Chuck Zito are lined up but both have fallen into deadline hell. Stay tuned.

How are your 2007 goals progressing?

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

The Circle of Life

Everyday at my day job as a paralegal, I am reminded of my roots in the legal field. When I look out my office window and across Century Park East, I look directly at the office building where it all started, the building that houses the law firm where I had my first real legal job over thirty years ago. The firm is still there. It has evolved and changed names, but it's still there.

It started out to be a "temporary job;" something just until I decided what I wanted to be when I grew up. Funny thing is, I always wanted to be a writer, it just took me two decades to put my butt in gear and pursue my dream of being a writer, and the past decade bringing that dream to fruition.

In the past thirty years I've lived in several places around the country. I've lost both parents. Found love, lost love, found love. Gained and lost enough weight to build several new people. Had two agents and written 5 novels, two of which are published, with a third coming out in less than a year. And I've had many jobs in the legal field in both law firms and corporations.

I really enjoy my present day job. The people, both the attorneys and staff, are very nice and the work is interesting. It's a good place to be. It will be a great place to remember as my last legal job when the time comes.

I used to tell people I was a paralegal who writes. Now I tell people I'm a writer who works as a paralegal.

In a little over an hour, I will head back to my paralegal job on Century Park East. Several times today, I will look out my window at the building where it all started. It's a gentle reminder of where I've been. On my computer at work my screen saver is a photo of my current book's cover. It's a gentle reminder of where I'm going.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Happy Friday!

Another long week at the office brings me back to the weekend and my life as a writer.

Tomorrow, March 24th, I will be appearing at the Malibu Library, along with writing buds Denise Hamilton, Harley Jane Kozak and Pamela Samuels-Young. The program will begin at 3:00 p.m. at the Malibu Library, 23519 W. Civic Center Way, Malibu, CA 90265. Admission is free.

For the rest of the weekend, the plan is to get the first 3 chapters of the 4th Odelia Grey novel, Epitaph Envy, polished and off to my agent, and to start the final edits on Mother Mayhem, due out next February. I can't wait to get back to the keyboard!

Have a great weekend, everyone!

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

A Writer With A Day Job

This picture is how I feel this morning. Actually, it's how I feel a lot of days.

Since returning from my San Diego trip, my day job has kicked into high gear. At the perfectly nice law firm where perfectly nice people pay me to be a paralegal my normal work day has jumped from 8 hours to 10-12 hours a day. It's not forever, just until this special project is launched. I go to work, bury myself in the mounds of paper and meetings, come home, do a few minimal chores and go to bed. The next day I do it all over again.

Notice, please, no where in my description of my current lifestyle do you see the word writing. That's because, except for this blog and correspondence, none is getting done. But it's not forever, just through this week, and then it's back on track.

Such is the life of a writer with a day job. Even my muse, Selma Diamond, understands. She's well aware that ye old day job pays for the Internet, the roof over our heads, and the cat kibble, and must be given the right-of-way in times like these.

This past weekend I had two whole days... I thought... to write. Unfortunately, the business of writing got in the way. For those of you who think that all a writer does is write, let me introduce you to the business of writing. In addition to much needed household chores (which didn't get entirely done), this past weekend was spent promoting my books, website and blog upkeep, responding to reader mail, writing thank yous for speaking engagements, phone calls and e-mails regarding speaking engagements, Sisters In Crime/LA chores, maintaining and updating timelines and notes for novels and research, correspondence and phone calls with my agent and my manager, reading and making notes on critiques and feedback on Mother Mayhem from editor, agent and focus readers, reading feedback on Epitaph Envy from agent and making notes on same.

At no time during the weekend did I sit down and actually write on any of the 3 novels and one short story I have in the pipeline and which each have their own looming deadline. When I don't write, I feel like someone who doesn't get their cup of morning coffee ... grrrrrr.

In a few minutes I'm off to ye old day job and another long day. Tonight at 6:30 I'll be speaking at the Rancho Park Library at 2920 Overland Avenue in Los Angeles.

Did I just hear a plate crash?

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Dolce & Gabanna - What the HELL Were You Thinking??!!!

I'll admit it, the news makes me nuts. Very often, if not daily, it saddens me, angers me, and sometimes it even makes me cry. But reading about this latest Dolce & Gabbana ad really pissed me off.

Why? Because someone in the Dolce & Gabbana corporate structure or in the hierarchy of that clothing company's top-of-the-line marketing firm had to have known better. Dolce & Gabbana is not a stupid company run by stupid people. It is one of the world's top lines of designer clothing and respected in the fashion world. Yet STILL this ad was conceived, pitched, approved, and paid for, not to mention the irresponsibility of the editors at the newspapers and magazines who allowed it to be printed in their rags. But STILL it got out there. All those levels of educated, well-heeled, executives and decision makers, and this disgusting ad STILL made it to the streets and into the public view. Such irresponsibility boggles this writer's muddled mind.

What's your intended message here D&G?
Pay $2,000 for a dress and you, too, can be gang raped?
That any woman who dresses in high fashion deserves to be gang raped?
That gang rape is entertainment?

For years, the high fashion world has pounded into the minds of women around the world that they are worthless unless they are 6 feet tall and a size 0. Is their mission now to tell women that being the object of sexual violence is acceptable and even desirable?

I read where this ad was banned in Spain and Italy and eventually Dolce & Gabanna pulled it world-wide, but the damage was done. The damage was done the minute some big wig in an expensive suit in some board room looked at the marketing firm's concept and said: I like it! Let's run it!

I wish I could boycott Dolce & Gabanna, but alas, I can't afford their clothing or accessories, so a boycott would be pointless.

Baby, it looks like we haven't come such a long way, after all. Sigh.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

The Pan-Massachusetts Challenge for Cancer

As many of you already know, my oldest nephew, Tom, has ridden for years in the Pan-Massachusetts Challenge to raise money for cancer research. Then a few years ago, the ride and our support became very personal when Tom himself was diagnosed with cancer. He recently sent out the following e-mail to his friends and family, letting us know it's time again to get out our checkbooks and support a very worthy cause. If any of you would like to join us in sponsoring Tom's ride this year (the actual bike ride is in August, I believe), please feel free. Just follow the directions below.

Hello everyone,

It's time for your Royal Awesomeness to come sucking around for cancer cash again. Last year, we collected over $4500 as a group and the PMC raised an amazing $26 million, with 99 cents of every dollar going to research and patient care. The overall goal this year is $27 million and our minimum has been bumped up to $3600. More good news is that last year the number of cancer deaths dropped for the first time in decades:

The following link offers comparisons of the PMC's efficiency and energy against other fundraising events in Massachusetts and around the country.

An unreasonable independent streak hesitates sending these emails out, but there is the tiniest mote of humbleocity (or is that humbleicity? I can never remember) that knows I cannot do this alone and is too important to forego. Pride is swallowed and I come again asking you for the honor of sweating and aching in your name for those we'll never know. For the honor of cursing under my breath in your name for that darn hill that inexplicably rises out of nowhere when 5 miles back you have been assured that "it's all downhill from here", and why the heck are there hills on the Cape anyway?!?! The thing is made out of sand! Isn't there supposed to be an erosion problem or something? What kind of sadist laid out this route? I want names damm... Um, sorry, maybe got a little sidetracked there. I'm asking for a minimum donation of $25 again, and please feel free toforward this to anyone you think would be interested in helping the cause. The easiest way to make a donation is online.

Please be sure my egiftID is used so my account will be credited with the donation. egiftID = tj0020 or you can send me a check payable to the Jimmy Fund to Tom Jaffarian, 857 Tucker Road #4, Dartmouth, MA 02747.

Tom's health: Except for some nasty virus I contracted when I was kidnapped by martians recently, my health has been excellent. My next check-up is in a few weeks and with the anticipated negative results, will officially be over 1 year cancer free.

Thank you very much for your love and support,


Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Attention all Writers and Budding Writers!

If you are a mystery writer or want to be a mystery writer, then I have just the conference for you!
The Los Angeles chapter of Sisters in Crime announces its No Crime Unpublished mystery writers conference on June 10, 2007. The morning speaker will be Rochelle Krich (below), SinC President, and author of the Molly Blume series. Jacqueline Winspear (left), author of the Maisie Dobbs series will deliver the keynote address at the luncheon banquet.

This year the conference moves to a great new location: The Embassy Suites Hotel, 211 E. Huntington Drive in Arcadia, California; freeway close with free parking, expanded banquet facilities to host a larger number of attendees, and elegant accommodations for out-of- towners.

This writers' conference will offer three breakout rooms and a choice of twelve workshops. New this year will be a Vendor Room.

The conference cost includes all panels, breakfast, lunch, and an afternoon snack. Special price of $125.00 is available for SinC members, $135 for non-SinC members, until May 31st, 2007. After June 1st and ‘at the door’, conference price is $150.00. For more information visit and click on No Crime Unpublished Conference tab.

This is also a great conference for non-mystery writers.

Monday, March 12, 2007

And the Winners Are ... Continued

Just in ...

Jinx Schwartz has won the 2007 EPPIE for mystery for her novel, Just Add Water.

Way to go, Jinx!!!

And the Winners Are ...

A BIG Congratulations to fellow Midnight Ink author, Cindy Calvert, for taking first place in the 2006 Reader Views Literary Awards in the mystery category for her novel Dressed to Keel. My good friend Darrell James received honorable mention for Body County: A Killer Collection.

Congratulations to all finalists!

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Post Card from San Diego - Women of Inspiration

Greetings from San Diego! Old habits die hard, even when you're on vacation. I woke up this morning at 5:30 and couldn't sleep so I tip-toed out of the room and came down to the lobby to work/read so not to disturb Susan.

We're having a fantastic time here by the sea. Yesterday, we spent most of the day at Balboa Park. We had planned to do some serious museum hopping but two exhibits so moved us we spent most of our time there.

Upon arriving at Balboa Park we went immediately to the Mingei International Museum fully intending to lose ourselves in the exhibit from Kazakhstan. The exhibit was lovely as was the Jewelery From Five Continents exhibit. But the real treat was the Eva Zeisel exhibit on the 2nd floor. The exhibit, celebrating this designer's 100th birthday, is NOT to be missed. If you get to the exhibit, don't miss the inspirational 1 hr film on her life. That alone was worth the price of admission.

After a snack we crossed over to the San Diego Museum of Art where we were overwhelmed by the Annie Leibovitz exhibit. This exhibit featured approximately 200 astounding photographs from the artist's personal and professional life, along with posted commentary on many, and a short film.

Wow, in one day I got the sun, the sea, great company, great seafood, and an inspirational shot in the arm from learning about the lives and the extraordinary work of two women who followed (and still follow) their passion.

I am humbled.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

From the E-Mail Bag

This morning I received a charming note from a reader in Massachusetts:

Dear Ms. Jaffarian, OK we have a problem, either I need to read slower or you need to write faster. Odelia is the latest addition to my most admired list. Fabulous! I am enclosing a copy of one of my paintings, a self potrait, a true celebration of me. I hope it will make you smile for at least 1/10 of the time your books are making me smile. I encourage all the people in my life to celebrate themselves no matter what others think!Megawatt thank yous!

Cynthia {goddess of the full moon} Rielley

I absolutely LOVE LOVE LOVE Cynthia's painting. It's so full of love and life and celebration.

I'll make you a deal, Cynthia. I'll keep writing, if you keep painting!

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

On the Road Again

This time it's to San Diego for a dual event. My very good friend Susan is travelling with me and we will be celebrating her birthday before I turn into a working author.

On Saturday, March 10th, 2-3 pm, I have a book signing at Mysterious Galaxy Books. Signing with me will be Michelle Scott.

COME ON DOWN and say hello if you're in the San Diego area.

Mysterious Galaxy Books
7051 Clairemont Mesa Blvd., Suite #302
San Diego, CA 92111
Tel: 858.268.4747

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Future Mystery Writers of America

Mystery Writers of America sponsors a program called MWA: Reads! Part of that program is the Joan Lowery Nixon Contest, a national writing competition for kids and teens. So when my friend Rodney Johnson asked me if I would be a preliminary judge for this contest, I was thrilled. The competition is divided into two classes: Grades 2-5 and Grades 6-10. I was given the stories from grades 2-5. After much deliberation, I submitted my choices to Rod this morning. From there they will go to a panel of national judges with the winners announced at the annual Edgar Awards Banquet in New York on April 26, 2007.

Wow! I was so impressed with the level of writing from these kid from all over our nation. It was amazing to see how they grasped the idea of formulating a mystery and following the clues to the conclusion. It was extremely tough narrowing down the field. I wanted to give them all an award!

Keep up the great work, kids! You are the future Michael Connollys and Sue Graftons!

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Saturday Morning News

Sound the trumpets! Another Midnight Ink book has been nominated. This time it's The Last Secret by Lynn Shoals and Joe Moore. The Last Secret is a finalist in the 06 ForeWord Magazine Book Of The Year awards. Last year, The Grail Conspiracy, also by Shoals and Moore, won this award!

Last night I had dinner with Patrika Darbo. Patrika is the actress who was interested in an option on my Odelia Grey books. Unfortunately for her, but fortunately for me, the option has already been spoken for, but we had a grand time gabbing and getting to know each other at Houston's at the Century City Mall. Some of you may remember Patrika from her years on Days Of Our Lives. But I remember her most as the bank teller murdered by John Malkovich in In the Line of Fire, and from her portrayal of Roseanne Barr in the biopic Roseanne and Tom.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Odelia's Favorite Cookie Recipe

After yesterday's post about Girl Scout Cookies, I had a couple of readers recommend that I post Odelia's favorite cookie recipe, which first showed up in the foreword of The Curse of the Holy Pail. So, get out your mixing bowls and cookie sheets, or should that be your sneakers and car keys? Anyway, here it is:


1. Wait until March;

2. Go to nearest supermarket;

3. Locate young girls in brown or green uniforms; they can be found in front of the store by a folding table, usually accompanied by a parental figure;

4. Purchase at least twelve boxes of Thin Mint cookies;

5. Place cookies in freezer, consuming no more than one box per month, preferably less;

6. Next March, repeat steps 1-5 above.