Thursday, January 31, 2008

Measuring Progress - Part I

Today is weigh-in day and I didn't lose a single pound this week. Sigh. But then I didn't gain anything either, which is a good thing. Four weeks after starting my new healthier lifestyle, I am 14 pounds down, so that's a very good thing!

One month after setting my 2008 goals, here's where I stand:

Goal to lose 100 lbs - 14% completed.

Goal to finish The Ghost of Granny Apples before its deadline of August 1st - 6% completed.

Goal to finish Fifty Can Be Fatal before its deadline of January 1st - 3% completed.

Finished editing God's Apology (goal left over from 2007) and sent it to my agent this morning. Yea!

Now it's time to turn full throttle on Granny and Odelia .

LAUNCH PARTY REMINDER - And don't forget the launch party for Thugs and Kisses this Saturday, February 2nd, 5:00 pm, at the Mystery Bookstore, 1036C Broxton, Los Angeles, CA (Westwood).

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

The Liar's Diary

There is a very special blog today at Inkspot featuring The Liar's Diary and author Patry Francis.

Don't miss it!

Monday, January 28, 2008

The Best Laid Plans of Mice, Men and Obsessive Novelists

I had an interesting weekend. What's more, I had it all planned out.

Friday night I was going to relax and watch a movie. Saturday I was having breakfast with my friend Miles Holliman, then scoot over to the Cerritos Library for Mystery on the Menu. From there I would head home and write virtually non-stop on Fifty Can Be Fatal, the 5th Odelia Grey book. Sunday was to be devoted to writing all day on The Ghost of Granny Apples. Sounded like a good plan to me.

Okay. Friday night I made Five Can Soup, a new recipe given to me by Jennifer Gray (the attorney, not the actress) and watched Superman Returns. So far, so good.

Saturday, I had breakfast with Miles and spent the rest of the day with 14 other authors at the Cerritos Library. Right according to plan.

It was when I got home from Cerritos that my carefully planned weekend took a bizarre turn.

For some odd reason, my brain refused to work on Fifty Can Be Fatal. No problem. But then it also refused to tackle The Ghost of Granny Apples. Uh oh. Both of these books have deadlines in 2008. Both of them are under contract and MUST be completed on time. And, what's more, I am excited about writing both of these new books.

So what did my brain want to write Saturday night? No, not dirty limericks. Not overdue thank you cards. Or e-mails to my family and friends. For some odd reason, the part of my brain that governs my writing was determined to work on God's Apology, a non-mystery novel I started 13 years ago and have been editing and honing since. And my muse, the ghost of Selma Diamond, sided with my brain.

Finally, realizing I was powerless to fight such supernatural powers, I gave in and wrote 6 hours on Saturday night and 10 hours on Sunday (and that is no exaggeration!) on the final edits of God's Apology. I am just over halfway done.

In 30 minutes I have to leave for my day job. But I can already feel the tug of Selma drawing me back into God's Apology and know full well what I am going to be doing tonight after work. Something tells me, she's not going to let up until the damn book is done and in my agent's hands.

All I can say is, I'd better work fast. Granny and Odelia are not going to be patient forever. In fact, I overheard them this morning, plotting their revenge.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

High and Lows on a Wednesday

After my week off from writing, I'm back in the saddle again, writing every morning before going to my day job. I want to get a good start on the 5th Odelia Grey novel, Fifty Can Be Fatal, before jumping feet first into the 1st book of the Granny Apples series. (To the right, The Writer, by Diana Golledge)

Yesterday was a wild and woolly day, filled with great highs and lows. Fortunately, the highs affected me directly and the lows did not. The lows: a couple of people were let go at my day job. The highs: Library Journal came out with a kick ass review of Thugs and Kisses and a lot of folks sent me personal congratulations on the release of T&K, which is doing fabulous right out of the gate! Below is the Library Journal review.

In her third sleuthing outing after Too Big To Miss and The Curse of the Holy Pail, paralegal and world-class snoop Odelia Grey attends her 30th high school reunion, where the class bully who humiliated her at the prom years ago is murdered. Good thing her date is police detective Devin Frye, who gives Cordelia (sic) an alibi. Then her boss, Mike Steele, vanishes, and the head of her legal firm asks her to find him. This is the best title yet in a priceless series: the unstoppable Odelia never waivers (sic) in her quest to find Steele while involving herself in another murder investigation and juggling her up-and-down love life. Humorous asides and grown-up innuendo abound. A real treat for chick-lit and mystery fans who like feisty women. -- Library Journal.

Another high this morning: I lost another 2 lbs for a total of 14 lbs lost! Although I am following the Weight Watchers Flex Plan, I am really enjoying my membership to the Biggest Loser Club. I belong to a posting thread for people who have 100 lbs+ to lose and who are over 50 years old. The ladies (and one gentleman) in the group are so uplifting. We post daily encouragements, as well as share the ups and downs of life with each other. I've even picked up a couple of great recipes.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

See Ashley Run

While the rest of us were enjoying a lovely and relaxing long weekend, my friend and fellow author Ashley Baker (aka A. H. Ream) was running an ultra marathon through the Mojave Desert.

Yes, she's nuts. Cute, but nuts.

Don't miss reading her hilarious account of the event on her blog.

Okay, she's cute and funny ... but still nuttier than a Snickers bar.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Weekend This 'n That

I'm having a wonderful 3-day weekend. Hope you all are, as well. There is nothing I enjoy more than having several days mostly to myself to catch up on my life, especially after finishing up a new book.

The unexpected came on Saturday when I was on a panel at Vroman's Book Store with Harley Jane Kozak, Kathryn Lilley and Patricia Smiley. We were half way through our discussion with a full audience when the power went out! Not to be deterred by a little black out, we continued. At least we did until the store manager told us they needed to evacuate the store.

But we're troopers. Once outside, we gathered in the little plaza behind the store and continued the panel and Q&A. No books were sold because the store was shut down, but it was very successful nonetheless. I heard the power outage was caused by a fire and blown transformer a few blocks away.

True to my vow to take this week off from writing, I spent a lot of time this weekend watching movies and reading, as well as organizing around the house. Today's agenda includes cleaning out my clothes closet. Of course, that also means dismantling some of B's favorite hiding spots, but she'll have to live with it.

I finished Tim Maleeny's Beating the Babushka this weekend, and loved it! It's the second in his Cape Weathers series. Now I'm moving on to Felicia Donovan's The Black Widow Agency, both books are from my publisher, Midnight Ink. I'm also reading a couple of manuscripts that I promised friends I would blurb for them.

Another promise I made to myself for this weekend was to update my website. It hadn't been done in 5 months. I spent 3 hours last night doing that.

Finally, below are the winners of the "How Well Did You Follow the Trail to the Pail" contest:

1st Prize - Shirley P. of Mountain View, CA
2nd Prize - Sylvia C. of Winston, GA
3rd Prize - Diana H. of Willingboro, NJ

Thanks to everyone who participated in the contest. We had many more entries than last year! And stay tuned. Another contest will be announced in the fall of 2008.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Upcoming Events

It's time to hit the promotion trail with Thugs and Kisses. Below are a few upcoming events for the next few weeks. If you're in the area come on down!

Saturday, January 19th, 3:00 – 5:00; Vroman’s Bookstore, 695 E. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena, CA, with pals Harley Jane Kozak, Patricia Smiley and Kathryn Lilley.

Saturday, January 26, 11:00 – 4:00; Mystery on the Menu, Cerritos Library, 18025 Bloomfield Avenue, Cerritos, CA featuring 15 award-winning authors. (This is a ticketed event. For more information call (562) 924-2474.)

LAUNCH PARTY for Thugs and Kisses! Saturday, February 2nd, 5:30-7:30, Mystery Bookstore, 1036C Broxton, Los Angeles, CA (Westwood). This will be a joint launch with Christa Faust, who will be celebrating the release of her book Money Shot. You must check out the very cool trailer on Christa's website.

And today is Thursday, which means weigh in day. I lost 2 lbs more for a total loss of 12 lbs (12% towards reaching my goal for 2008!).

Thank you everyone for your comments and personal e-mails. Your support means a lot to me.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Postpartum Depression? Who, Me?

Don't tell Tom Cruise, but I’m currently suffering from postpartum depression. No, I haven’t had a baby. At least not one of the human variety. But I have recently given birth to a new book, and that always throws me into a bit of a tailspin.

Normally, after delivering the latest manuscript to my publisher, I take the month of January off from my harried writing schedule. I still write, but at a leisurely pace and only if I feel like it. Then on February 1st, I hit the trail hard once again. I find this “time off” to be necessary and helpful to recharge my creativity.

This year it’s different.

Having recently completed and delivered Epitaph Envy to my publisher, I immediately jumped right to work on the first book in my new Granny Apples series, The Ghost of Granny Apples, which is due to my publisher by August 1st. I’ve also begun work on book 5 in the Odelia Grey series, Fifty Can Be Fatal. But while the spirit is willing, the body is weak.

I finally decided that I must take time off. I took a few days off from my day job recently, so why not a few days off from writing? Although this year it won’t be the entire month of January. So this week is my vacation from writing, though it will hardly be a week of lounging around and watching TV. After all, I still have my day job to go to. And there is all the correspondence to catch up on, and blogs to write, and sorting of receipts for taxes. But Granny and Odelia will have to wait a few days while I take a breather and catch up on my life.

Oh oh! I hear Granny Apples calling me; wooing me with her promise of fun and adventure.

I must purchase ear plugs. Is there such an item for the brain - brain plugs?!

Friday, January 11, 2008

Get It While It's Hot!

In my hands right now ... right this very minute ... hot off the press ... is a copy of the newly released Thugs and Kisses! Yea!

Thugs and Kisses is the 3rd book in the Odelia Grey mystery series and has already received some pretty nice reviews and comments.

California-based paralegal Odelia Grey is delightfully large and in charge in Jaffarian's third entertaining romp ... The double whammy of an ending will leave fans eager for the next installment. -- Publishers Weekly

Snappy dialogue. -- Kirkus

I wish I’d had Odelia Grey as my paralegal when I was on The Practice. Gutsy, smart, and loveable, she is the perfect take-no-prisoners heroine for today’s woman. -- Camryn Manheim, Award-winning actress

Thugs and Kisses should be arriving in your favorite online and brick and motar books store any day now!

Thursday, January 10, 2008

And I'm Off!

As many of you know, last week I set and posted my new goals for 2008. Here is my first progress report on the weight goal.

After my first week on Weight Watchers I lost 10 lbs! I couldn't believe my eyes this morning. I got on and off the scale several times within 15 minutes to make sure the scale was accurate. I know the first week of any diet is usually the most dramatic, but I'll take it!

This 2nd week I want to focus more on exercise. I've only done some walking here and there this past week, but no strength training. However, I have changed some of my physicial habits. The elevator is my apt. building was broken (again!) for the past month and I live on the 3rd floor, forcing me to take the stairs whenever I left and returned home. It's been fixed for a week, but I still take the stairs unless I'm lugging groceries or packages. I have one knees that bothers me, so I take it easy. Also, the office I work in takes up 1-1/2 floors. We can't go between the floors by stairs, but the floor I'm on is built with a continuous circular hallway. Twice a day, I get up from my desk and fast walk the hallway 1-2 laps. It also helps my concentration when I return to my desk.

10 lbs = 10% of my weight goal realized.

As for the writing goals, they are in progress, as well.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Out of the Woodwork

Join me today as I post a very special blog at the Inkspot.

HELL-A Freezing Over?

One of my favorite blogs is written by writer A. H. Ream (aka Ashley Baker). Don't miss today's posting. It's hysterical.

Monday, January 07, 2008

This says it all!

Sent by my friend Patti Newler (see Patti below with hubby Ira Clark).


Here are a couple of photos taken on the cruise. Unfortunately, none of us remembered to take a photo of me doing my mystery talk aboard ship.

Above, Kate Thornton, Susan Groeneweg and me our last night on the cruise. Right, Kate and Susan in our cabin.

It was so wonderful to spend my birthday with such dear friends. There isn't any better gift.

Below, my friend Miles Holiman being my arm candy at the holiday party given by my law firm the week before the cruise.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

In 2008 I Want to Be a Loser

Last year I set many ambitious goals. I met some of them, but most are still in progress or went by the wayside in all the hullabaloo. There were some big surprises in 2007, too. I landed a 3-book contract for a new mystery series that wasn't even on my radar last year at this time. And my day job got a lot crazier because of the loss of several attorneys in my department and an increased workload. But all in all, 2007 was a good year.

For 2008, I've decided to trim down, and in more ways than one. First of all, instead of a whole grocery list, I'm only setting 3 goals for 2008, but all three are big ones. I will not be going to any book conferences this year, but instead will make shorter, less expensive trips for book signings. For 2008 I want to concentrate on getting the new Granny Apples series defined and the first book written, and spend more time taking care of myself physically and emotionally.

Writing and promotion are very hard work and I have been hitting it hard for the past few years. Coupled with a demanding day job, it left me exhausted and stressed to the max by the end of 2007. Book signings and promotions will still be done, but more locally and less frequently to allow me to rest up to hit the road in 2009 when Epitaph Envy is launched in February and The Ghost of Granny Apples comes out in September.

So here's my list, read it and laugh, or read it and gasp. But next year at this time, I expect to be able to say I hit all three!

1. Finish The Ghost of Granny Apples by July 4th. (It's due August 1st.)

2. Finish the 5th Odelia Grey novel, Fifty Can Be Fatal, by November 1st, so that when the crap hits the fan at work next November and December, I'll be better prepared and not scrambling for writing time.

3. Lose 100 pounds.

Yes, you read that correctly. Goal #3 is my personal promise to myself. Last year I set the goal to become healthier and blew it off. This year, it's the most important one on the list. Although my publisher might think #1 and #2 are the most important. :)

But have no fear, dear readers, Odelia will not be losing any weight. I love her just the way she is. But she's fictional and I am not, and that makes all the difference.

I intend to reach goal #3 in a slow and healthy manner -- no drugs, no surgery, no fad diets -- just concentrating on learning and implementing a healthier lifestyle. I joined Weight Watchers online today and have set up a more frequent exercise program. I also joined The Biggest Loser Club because it's fun and inspirational. In fact, I'm already involved with a 30 day challenge with several other women on TBLC. My user name for both is OdeliaGrey (what else!). If you are a member of either of these groups, please say hello.

As for blogging about this issue and making it public, it's because I think it's important for me to put my ass on the line. Next year I intend for it to be a smaller ass. I want to blog about my journey as a means of therapy and because I want you all to share in it and lend me your support.


Cheers for 2008!

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Happy New Year Everyone!!!

No, I didn't fall overboard on my weekend cruise, but as soon as Christmas was over I went back to working long hours at the law firm and long hours on Epitaph Envy. And somewhere along the way I managed to catch a nasty head cold. We were struggling at work with the deal that wouldn't close, but finally it did during a 7:00 a.m. conference call on the 31st (yes, yesterday I was at work at 7 a.m. for said call). Talk about barely making a year-end deadline!

But then I know something about year-end deadlines. Today and tomorrow I'll be in the final throes of editing Epitaph Envy and sending it off to my publisher. It's in pretty good shape, but it's still stressful enough to make my hair fall out. In November I was actually ahead of schedule, then the year-end crunch at work hit and my writing schedule went to hell in a hand basket.

I'm taking the rest of this week off and will need it to detox from all the stress. As soon as the manuscript is done and gone, I'll be back to blogging regularly, including uploading a photo from the cruise. I also plan on cleaning out a closet and catching up on some reading. And somewhere along the way I'll be examining my goals for 2007 and setting new ones for 2008.

Wishing you all a healthy, happy and productive 2008!