Monday, May 26, 2008

Zap Me Next, Blanche

This must be my weekend for the bizarre. Or maybe my sense of observation is more revved up for some reason. But just a day after spotting the ironing board on my 5K walk, I spotted something else that made me go: “What the hell?”

This time it wasn’t on a busy city street, but on a well-respected book review web site. And this time it wasn’t an ironing board, but a Google advertisement about tasers. You know, those thingies you zap bad guys with. But it wasn’t the ad for the taser that made me sit up and take notice, but what it said.

“Taser Sales Positions - Independent Sales Representatives Host Taser Parties-Make BIG Profit .”

Is it just me? Or does this strike you odd, too?

They now have home parties to buy tasers???

Now I’ve been to Tupperware parties, make-up parties, Pampered Chef parties, clothing parties, candle parties, even lingerie and sex toy parties … but a taser party? Do the ladies sit around and zap each other during the product demonstration? Or does the representative hire some fool to be the “dummy” for that purpose? I can see it now: “Will be tasered for food?”

Then there’s the whole “hostess gift” thing to be considered. If you host a party and your sales exceed a certain amount, what would you receive as a bonus? A heavy duty cattle prod? Handcuffs to secure your attacker after you zap him?

The mind reels at the possibilities.

Oh, by the way, I looked up the company that placed this ad. Did you know that tasers now come in a variety of fashion colors and patterns? How cute is that?

Sunday, May 25, 2008

An Ironing Board?

Today I did my first 5K. It wasn’t a charity event and I didn’t even try to run any of it.

Last week I mapped out both a 5K and a 10K route to start my personal training for the 2009 Mud Run. The route for both goes from my apartment and travels through Cheviot Hills, an upscale neighborhood of very expensive homes. It’s a very nice route to travel and the path is filled with rolling hills that are both lovely and taxing to my legs.

My time was a bit disappointing, but not terrible. Still, I’m happy that I did it, and proud to say that once I got home, I climbed the stairs to my 3rd floor apartment instead of taking the elevator. I plan to do the route again in 2 days with an eye to shaving off some time. The plan is to eventually be able to do the entire 10K route and, beyond that, to be jogging it instead of walking.

But being a mystery writer, even something as mundane as walking is fraught with puzzles. On the return route, I came upon an ironing board. Yes, an ironing board. It was smaller and more light weight than the one I have at home, but didn’t look like a toy. It was white with a colorful floral cover. And it was just standing there, all alone, without any clue to its purpose.

Okay, let’s re-examine the situation, because I still don’t believe it: I’m in an upscale neighborhood where the smallest of 2 bedroom bungalows start at a cool million. I’m on a well maintained city street, traveled by cars, joggers, and pedestrians (with and without pets). This isn’t exactly the type of neighborhood where residents throw old sofas and chairs to the sidewalk for passersby to pick over.

So where in the hell did the ironing board come from? Could somebody please tell me.

Will there be ironing boards on the Mud Run? Is this an obstacle they didn't tell us about?

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Mud Run 2009 or Bust!

Okay, now I'm pumped! I put out an e-mail to all my co-workers at the law firm (all 3 offices) a couple of days ago to see if anyone was interested in joining me in this madness. Believe it or not, I received many responses. So, game on!

To see what we're in for, check out these photos and this account from LAist on the 2007 Mud Run.

And just so you don't think this obsession is interfering with my writing, I can tell you with confidence that The Ghost of Granny Apples is flying along and is on schedule for hitting its deadline. It's almost like my fingers are wearing Nikes!

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

In Training

As many of you know who read this blog, I’ve been on a mission to lose 100 lbs in 2008. Well, several months ago I stalled at 22 lbs, wobbled, and then staggered backward when my life hit yet another pot hole of work crap, deadlines and, oh yeah, a car fire. In my regression, I gained 9 lbs of it back in a frenzy of comfort eating. Now I’m back on track and have re-lost the errant 9 lbs.

Another thing many of you understand about me is that I’m goal oriented. I focus on one thing like a heat seeking missile and go for it. I did that when I decided nearly 20 years ago to take my Certified Legal Assistant Exam. It was a grueling 2-day exam (like a mini-bar, but for paralegals). I studied like a mad woman for 8-9 months and passed on my first try. Not bad for an exam with a traditionally dismal first try pass rate. I did the same when I finally set my hand at following my dream of being a published writer. I made the commitment and did whatever I needed to do to make it happen. Staying the course until my dream came true. And even today sacrificing to continue the dream. I learned late in life that without goals, I run around aimlessly, wasting time and energy.

Now I’m in training for the 2009 Mud Run.

The Mud Run is an annual 10K run through the Camp Pendleton obstacle course. On top of that they hose it down to create a slippery bog. I have yet to run a standard, level course, 5K, let alone a 10K through a muddy military obstacle course with one section fondly referred to as “Suicide Hill,” yet my dream is to participate in the June 2009 Mud Run. Yes, I know, this makes me officially certifiable.

I see this as killing two birds/goals at once. You see, if this training doesn’t peel the weight off me like an overripe banana, it ain’t coming off. Currently, I’m trading off weight training with cardio. I work out in a gym 3 days a week and walk/run 2.5 miles the other days on a course with a hill. Okay, okay, it’s not Suicide Hill, more like Whine Ass Hill, but still, I’m doing it. My self-training begins every morning between 5:30-6 a.m. By 7-7:30 a.m. I’m at my computer writing, then it’s off to work at ye ole day job.

In a few weeks, I start my hardcore training with my pal and fellow author A. H. Ream (aka Ashley Baker). Ashley runs ultra marathons, so who better to enlist as a trainer? She’s very excited and has many plans for my fat ass, which is beginning to worry me a bit.

Anyway, thought I’d let you folks know. So if you don’t hear from me for awhile, check with Ashley. She’ll be able to lead you to the body.

Oh, in case you (and I) have forgotten, I’m 55 years old. But then, Rocky Balboa stepped back into the ring in his 50’s. Why can’t I?

However, I draw the line at drinking raw eggs.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Books and Basset Hounds


Hop on over to
Inkspot and read Tom Schreck's account of his glamorous book tour with his 3 basset hounds. Oh yeah, and his wife.

By the way, Tom's latest book, TKO, was just released.

Stop, You're Killing Me!

Tomorrow, Saturday, May 17th, I will be yakking (or is that yukking) it up at the Manhattan Beach Library. With me on the panel entitled Stop, You're Killing Me! are two of the funniest people in the mystery game: Laura Levine and Bill Fitzhugh. Moderating the panel will be the delightful A. H. Ream.

Laura, Bill, Ashley and I have teamed up before and the results can often be off the wall and unexpected. So come on down and say howdy.

Saturday, May 17th
2:00 p.m.
Manhattan Beach Library
1320 Highland Ave.
Manhattan Beach, CA 90266-4789
(310) 545-8595

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Black Thumb, Green Heart

This is my favorite time of year. Here in California everything is in bloom, including one of my favorites - the jacaranda. Driving home last night from the office, I was treated to streets ablaze with the purple tree. It's funny, I drive this route twice a day, five days a week, and it was just yesterday that I noticed all the jacarandas in bloom. It's like they suddenly woke up and shook their blooms out into full glory. Or maybe I was the one who woke up and finally noticed. Either way, all around the west side of Los Angeles the jacarandas are gracing our concrete jungle with their majestic beauty.

About two weeks ago, I took a very quick, one day trip down to Julian, CA to do some last minute research for The Ghost of Granny Apples. I'd been to Julian twice before - once at the end of June and once in late March. What a treat it was to travel that same rural highway in early May! All along the country roads to and throughout the Julian area, wild poppies and lavender were in bloom. It was everywhere - fields, people's yards, vacant lots. And many of the hillsides were adorned with tall grass that turned the land into fields of honey-colored gold.

I'm the sort of person who can't keep a plant alive unless it's made of silk. It's true! I just tossed two dead plants in my office and at home all greenery is fake. So I think I'll just sit back and let Mother Nature do her thing and amaze me. After all, she does it so well.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Saying Goodbye to Someone Special

When seated on panels with other authors, I am often asked who has influenced my writing most. Of course, the question means which writers have influenced me. But what about others who have put their mark on my craft?

Yesterday I learned that Barbara Moore, my editor, is leaving Midnight Ink/Llewellyn Worldwide after being with them for ten years. She and I have worked together for the past three years or so on projects which include the Odelia Grey series and the upcoming Granny Apples series. In fact, if not for Barbara, there wouldn’t even be a Granny Apples.

Granny Apples came into being when Barbara and I were casually chatting via e-mail about the paranormal. I told her about a short story idea I had about a ghost who teams up with her great great great granddaughter. Barbara asked for more information about it. One thing led to another, and before I knew it my short story had blossomed into a full-blown series. Shortly after, my agent shipped off a synopsis and sample chapters for Midnight’s consideration, which, in turn, garnered me a three-book deal for a new series.
Barbara’s probing for more story line nudged me into seeing its potential as a series. Granny Apples was my idea, but Barbara brought it into the world and spanked it on its butt.

Barbara Moore is herself a writer. She has penned several books on Tarot and is leaving Llewellyn to pursue writing and free lance editing. I wish her great success, but I’m going to miss her greatly. So will Odelia and Granny. Her insight, professionalism and patience has enhanced both my career and my craft, and her friendship has enhanced my life.

Thank you, Barbara, for midwifing my writing career!

Saturday, May 10, 2008

A Letter to Katnannie2

A few people were upset by my comments in the recent article in the Chicago Tribune. One individual posted a very passionate comment on this blog about it. Here is my response to her, and to any of you who felt similary confused by the quotes.

Kathy, I am so sorry that my quotes in the Chicago Tribune article upset you. Please understand that I was interviewed for a full hour but only those quotes (mostly taken out of context) were chosen by the journalist for her story.

First, let me address the first quote: "Legislation happens when people are too childish to police themselves.”

My intent was not to criticize fat people (me included) about being childish and unable to police themselves. That quote was taken from a larger comment about people who judge and bully others who are different from themselves. If THOSE people were less ignorant and childish, then there would be no need for legislation protecting people against discrimination for size (or race, religion, sexual orientation). When the general population and corporate America behaves civilly, the government shouldn’t need to step in.

In theory, I applaud the spirit of the legislation. No person or group should be the target of prejudice and discrimination. We are all human beings and should be treated accordingly with respect and understanding.

In my life I have also faced discrimination regarding health insurance, jobs and hateful remarks. I cannot get health insurance on my own in spite of the fact that I am very healthy, exercise regularly, don’t smoke, etc. This was another point I made in the interview.

That said, another concern of mine discussed in the interview and referenced by the “green light” comment is that I believe it’s time for ALL people to take responsibility for their individual health and the health of their children. While we are all worthy of love and respect no matter what our size, we also need to examine our lifestyles and take responsibility for our own choices. We are facing an obesity epidemic in this country, especially in children, and this is leading to higher healthcare costs and an unhealthy and sedentary population. But I just don’t feel this way about weight. Drug use, smoking, overly processed foods high in fat, salt and sugar should also be examined and dealt with on an individual basis.

Each of us is responsible for our own personal well being. No one made me fat. I did that to myself. Just as no one forces the coke head to snort or the smoker to light up.

Lastly, the legislation may provide protection and help safeguard jobs and stop other types of discrimination, but it will never effectively change the attitude of people with narrow minds. They will simply go underground, taking their nastiness with them, to resurface another day.

I hope this clarifies my opinion on the issue.

Sue Ann

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

LARGE PRINT for a Large Gal

I just found out that Thugs and Kisses, the 3rd Odelia Grey novel, is being released by Thorndike Press in a large print, hardback edition. The release date is July 1, 2008. Wooooooo Who!

Seems appropriate for a gal like Odelia, doesn't it?

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Just Me 'n Bozo

Today I'm waxing poetic about Bozo the Clown over at Inkspot.

Drop on by.