Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Sunday, December 28, 2008

The Bucket List

This past week I finally took the time to watch The Bucket List, a movie with two of my favorite actors, Morgan Freeman and Jack Nicholson. In spite of its Make-A-Wish plot foundation - two 60+ cancer patients with less than a year to live fulfilling lifetime dreams - I thought this movie would be a lot funnier. Don't get me wrong, it was funny in many ways, but the humor wasn't the broad humor I expected based on the trailers. It was gallows humor. A type of humor I love and exercise myself on many an occasion.

Jack Nicholson, as usual, delivers one of my favorite lines just after he pukes his guts out from chemo: "Somewhere, some lucky guy's having a heart attack."

Gotta love that line. It's something I might say or think myself.

Bottom line, I loved this movie. Loved it enough to watch it twice within 4 days. Some of the improbable situations aside, I found the movie poignant and thought-provoking.

I've now started my own Bucket List. No, I've not been delivered tragic news. As far as I know, I'm healthy as a horse (one that's overfed and under exercised, at least). I'm all about setting goals for short periods, but this movie got me to thinking about all the things I'd like to do and see before I kick the bucket. So why not make that list and start crossing things off now, before doctors start the egg timer.

The first item on my list has already been accomplished: become a published author. So, you see, I'm already on my way.

I expect the list to be a work in progress, but on it so far are things like:

Own my own home
Travel the British Isles
See Santa Fe, New Mexico
Take an Alaskan Cruise
Publish a non-mystery novel
River raft through the Grand Canyon

Do you have a bucket list?

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Call Me Cratchit

For the past 3 days I did something I seldom do this time of year. I took a time out. For the past 3 days I've hardly worked on my Corpse on the Cob manuscript at all, outside of discussing the plot line and scribbling new ideas down on note papers. But when it came to sitting down and putting fingers to the keyboard for any length of time, I was MIA.

Friday, my law firm sent me to an all day mandatory notary class, which was followed by the CA notary exam. The class was actually interesting. I'd been a notary for several years in the past and there have been a lot of new and expanded laws since then. Not sure how I did on the test. I'll know in about 10-15 days. When I finally got home, I was beat, so took the night "off" from writing.

Saturday I ran around town doing last minute holiday errands and getting my hair cut and stuff like that. I even decorated my apartment, which I haven't done for the past few years. Saturday night was the law firm's annual holiday party. This year it was held at the new Montage Hotel in Beverly Hills. My friend Miles Holiman went with me again this year and we had a great time. Again, another day without writing. Although, in hindsight, I think I did pound out a few paragraphs.

Today was my birthday. I opened a couple of presents that came in the mail; made and received calls to and from family and friends. Then I met my friend and manager, Diana James, for brunch. Okay, during and after brunch we discussed Corpse on the Cob and other writing topics, but did I put fingers to the keyboard like I should have when I got home? Hell, no! I did some wrapping, reading, opened mail, played with the cats, answered e-mails, and generally goofed off. Except for changing the litter box, I didn't even do a household chore.

So now here I am, 10:30 p.m. on Sunday night, wondering where the weekend went. Wondering how in the hell I'm going to make my deadline with such behavior. And you know what? I'm not sure I care, at least not at this very minute. I know the book will get done on time (btw, I was granted an extension until January 12th.). It's coming along nicely. And, frankly, I needed a breather. It seems that every year the holidays pass me by. Well, not this year. Tomorrow I'm having dinner with my buddy Ashley Baker (aka A.H. Ream) and next weekend my friend Susan is coming up from Newport Beach.

This year, I'm taking time to smell the gingerbread and sing Oh Holy Night. This year, I'm not turning down invitations to brunch, dinner, and parties. Unlike the past few years, this year, I will not sacrifice my holidays and time with friends in pursuit of deadlines. Life is just too damn short.

This year, I will not be Ebenezer Scrooge. I will be Bob Cratchit.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Announcement - Contest Deadline Extended

The deadline for the current Odelia Grey contest was supposed to be this coming Sunday, December 21st, which is also my birthday (btw). But I've decided to extend it until December 31st. So you have 10 extra days to get those entries in!

The original plan was to take my web site down the last 10 days of December and re-launch it with a totally new look in the new year. The winners were to be announced on the new site. Well, the new site is being postponed a bit, so now we can extend the contest until the 31st and announce the winners on January 3rd both on the website and here on the blog.

We have lots of entries already, but there is still room and still time for you to get your entry in to win a signed copy of Booby Trap, along with other goodies. Just go to the contest page on my website and follow the instructions.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Happy Sea Monkey Birthday!

Today marks the one month birthday of my Sea Monkeys. Actually, it's difficult to say when they hatched and they didn't all hatch at the same time, but about a month ago I started seeing life in my Sea Monkey tank. The little buggers are doing great and some are getting quite large. They seem to love living on the sill of my office window. I have about 12-16 of the little suckers and will probably have more in the future. A couple of the females have very large egg sacks and I've noticed two couples linked together in copulating bliss. Almost every day they get visitors from people in the office. What a life!

Monday, December 15, 2008

Chasing Christmas

As with the past four years, Christmas is here and I'm running at full steam. Not in the pursuit of gift giving and holiday cheer, but to finish the latest Odelia Grey manuscript. The book is going well, albeit slowly due to life getting in the way, but overall I'm pleased with it so far.

Last night I went to my first holiday party. It was thrown by the Southern California Chapter of Mystery Writers of America at the Jonathan Club in Santa Monica. It was a lovely venue and great party and I was able to catch up with a lot of friends and folks I haven't seen in a long time. Next week is the big party thrown by my law firm. It will be at the new Montage Hotel in Beverly Hills. Wooooooooo Hooooooooo!

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Catalina Report

Now that the baby news is old news and the PW review is posted, I can stop and reflect on my trip to Catalina over Thanksgiving. This past weekend, while nursing a cold, doing housework, and writing like a mad woman, Catalina seemed a million miles and a million years away, but the wonderful memories linger.

Susan and I stayed at the Pavilion Lodge. If you go to Catalina, I cannot say enough about staying at the Pavilion. It's clean, charming, nicely kept, and the location can't be beat. It's just steps from the sand and surf and fairly reasonable. Get one of the packages that includes transportation and save some money. Not being good on water, even though I love it, I was worried about the trip over and back on the Catalina Flyer. To be on the safe side, I took Dramamine and was fine. It was spitting rain when we left Newport Beach for Avalon, but the weather the rest of the weekend was great. It was cool on Catalina in the early mornings and evenings and we needed jackets, but during the day it was lovely.

Mornings and mid afternoons, I grabbed my Alpha Smart and settled in at a table in the courtyard of the hotel where I got a lot of writing done. After breakfast, Susan and I would explore the town, the shops, and just sit and enjoy the ocean. It was so relaxing, I felt like Gumby by the second day. Evenings we would have dinner, then settle back in our room to watch movies. There's not a lot of night life on the island, especially in off-season, but then Susan and I aren't big partiers.

On Saturday morning during the continental breakfast at the hotel, we met Alex and Kerry, two girlfriends like us on a weekend getaway. Kerry is an American living in England and Alex is a mother of three living in Orange County, CA, not far from where Susan lives. The four of us hit it off and got together that evening in our room for some girl talk and laughs. They tried to talk us into going out for karaoke, but it was a hard sell and we weren't buying. The next morning was the last for all of us and we met up for breakfast again.

The only tour we took was the Scenic Avalon Tour which consisted of a bus ride throughout the area in, around and above the town of Avalon. Our guide was a 40 year resident of the island and it was very educational and well-worth doing. (I had taken the 3-hr inland island tour before and that really gives you a grand view of the entire island.) We saw the burn areas from last year's fire and it was frightening to see how close it came to roaring through the town. Two tidbits I learned during that tour that I didn't know before: 1) There are only 800 cars allowed on the island and there is a 15-year waiting period to get a permit for one. That's why most everyone uses golf carts to get around. 2) The hospital on the island doesn't do any surgery and serious medical emergencies require being airlifted by helicopter to the mainland to the tune of about $12,000. Susan and I were thinking that Catalina might be a great place to retire until we heard that. Though, I still wouldn't mind spending a chunk of time there in the future. I'll just have to make sure if I get sick, I give myself time to stumble onto the ferry.

The last morning, Susan and I got up and wandered out to the beach by 6 am to watch the sunrise. It was well worth the effort. To our left, the fog rolled over the mountains ringing the town, while the glow of the sun rolled over the hills to our right. It was a hazy morning and the sun didn't shine bright, but it was spectacular just the same.

Even though I'd visited Catalina before, this was my first time staying overnight on the island, and I highly recommend it. There are lots of hotels to suit everyone's taste and style, great food of all kinds, fresh air, and endless ocean views. I can't wait to go back.

By the way, the main purpose for this little jaunt was research. Catalina Island will be featured in the 2nd Ghost of Granny Apples mystery.

Photos: Top - Catalina's famed Casino building. Middle - me, Alex, Kerry and Susan. Bottom - the beach and pier at sunrise.

Monday, December 08, 2008


Just in from my publicist, this great review in Publishers Weekly for Booby Trap (which will be out Feb. 2009):

Booby Trap: An Odelia Grey Mystery Sue Ann Jaffarian. Midnight Ink (, $13.95 paper (336p) ISBN 978-0-7387-1350-2

In Jaffarian's bodacious fourth mystery to feature bighearted, plus-sized Odelia Grey (after 2008's Thugs and Kisses), Odelia's distraught friend, Lillian Ramsey, asks the paralegal's help in proving her famous cosmetic surgeon son, Brian Eddy, is not the Blond Bomber, a serial killer who for the past year has been plaguing Southern California. Odelia—with the aid of her wheelchair-bound husband, Greg Stevens, and the cooperation of her attorney boss, Mike Steele—discovers that both Brian and his celebrity interior designer wife, Jane Sharp, appear to be connected to the four female victims, each of whom had the word whore printed on her torso. The neatly constructed plot begins zigzagging around tough guy Gordon Harper, whose ex-wife, ex-stripper Crystal Lee, was one of the Bomber's victims. Leavened with lively humor, the action builds to a wickedly satisfying windup. (Feb.)

Can't get much better than this!

29 days until Corpse on the Cob is due. How in the hell will I ever top "bodacious?!"

Monday, December 01, 2008

She's Here! - UPDATE

Megan is here! She's really here! See her above with Daddy Eric. Got the word that both mom and baby are doing just fine!

Baby Watch

This morning I was going to blog about my great trip to Catalina Island, but when I got up and checked e-mail there was a note saying my niece Lindsay was in labor in Massachusetts. Lindsay's official due date isn't until the end of the year, but it looks like baby Megan has her own ideas. Just got a text message saying all is well and Lindsay is at 6 cm. Go, Lindsay!

As for my trip report, it will have to wait. After all, baby trumps trip any day!