Thursday, December 31, 2009

And In This Corner ... My Other Self

In 32 days I have to turn in Murder in Vein, the first book in my new vampire mystery series, to my publisher – a book that was just a wisp of an idea four months ago. Upon striking the deal, Midnight Ink decided they needed the book in eight weeks. I agreed. Not because I’m insane, but because it made sense from a marketing standpoint.

So Writer Sue Ann made a contractual promise to deliver an entire book in a whole new series in eight weeks. Problem is, she forgot to discuss the matter with Paralegal Sue Ann. Normally this would not be a problem, but, you see, near the end of the year, Paralegal Sue Ann often works 10+ hour days. This conveniently slipped Writer Sue Ann’s mind.

Here is a sample of a recent conversation at the Jaffarian household:

Writer Sue Ann: Come on now. You can do it. Just a couple of pages.

Paralegal Sue Ann: Grrrrr. I just worked 11-1/2 hours straight without a break. I’m pooped.

Writer Sue Ann: May I remind you that February 1st will be here before you know it.

Paralegal Sue Ann: You can stick February 1st where the sun doesn’t shine.

Writer Sue Ann: Aw, don’t be like that. Just a page. A single page. Then you can go to bed.

Paralegal Sue Ann: My brain is fried. One page might as well be ten. And may I remind you that I have to be in the office by 7 tomorrow morning.

Writer Sue Ann: Tell you what, if you write two pages, you can buy some new shoes with some of the advance money.

Paralegal Sue Ann: Shoes? Did you say shoes?

Writer Sue Ann: Is it a deal?

Paralegal Sue Ann: I’m thinking. I’m thinking. Hmmm, Nordstroms or Payless?

Writer Sue Ann: Macy’s – on sale.

Paralegal Sue Ann: I’d rather have a flat screen TV.

Writer Sue Ann: Wouldn’t we all?

Paralegal Sue Ann: Keep the shoes. I don’t need no stinkin’ shoes. I’m going to bed.

Writer Sue Ann: Okay, then, what’s a flat screen TV worth to you?

Paralegal Sue Ann: I’m thinking. I’m thinking. Okay, two pages and I get the TV and I get to go to bed.

Writer Sue Ann: Not so fast, slick. A TV isn’t a pair of shoes. Five pages a day on weekdays; 10 pages on each Saturday and Sunday until the deadline.

Paralegal Sue Ann: 2 pages a day. Period.

Writer Sue Ann: 4 a day; 15 on the weekend.

Paralegal Sue Ann: 2 a day; 10 total on the weekend.

Writer Sue Ann: 3 a day during the week; 15 over the weekend, plus edits. And that’s my final offer.

Paralegal Sue Ann (sitting down at the computer): That freaking TV had better have a built-in DVD player.

If any of you reading this haven't already figured out that writers are nuts, you haven't been paying attention.

Oil painting: Split Personality II by Santiago Proaño.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

How I Spent My Christmas Vacation

In just a few hours, the long Christmas weekend will be over and I'll be returning to my regular schedule of juggling my career as a busy paralegal with my career as a novelist.

When the law firm closed at noon on Christmas Eve day, I made a trip to the grocery store for cat food and came home, ready to plow through as much of Murder In Vein as I could. As you may recall, my publisher seems to think I can pull this book out of my butt by February 1st, and I agreed to that.

BTW, that's 36 days away.

Since Christmas Eve, I have not left my apartment for even 30 seconds. I haven't unlocked the door or taken the security chain off its hook, not even to go to the laundry room or to take out the trash. I have stayed inside for the past 3-1/2 days, mostly writing. Trust me, I'm not a pretty sight.

But don't feel sorry for me or think my publisher a modern day Scrooge. I had a wonderful Christmas. I had a lovely dinner, complete with leftover turkey sandwiches, called family and friends, opened gifts. I also watched Julie & Julia and The Hangover. Even finished reading a book.

As far as Murder in Vein goes, my goal was to write 60 pages this weekend. The reality was that I wrote and edited close to 40 pages. I even did some further online research. I sent the pages off to my manager and the verdict came back a winner. I may not have written 60 pages, but the 40 I did write were tight and complete.

One thing I've discovered since starting this mad dash to February 1st is that no matter how many hours I work on a book in a day, my brain seems only capable of spilling forth 10-12 good pages, plus edits. Anything beyond that and a fuse blows.

I have another long holiday weekend next week. And, yes, the plan is to come home from work the afternoon of New Years Eve, lock myself inside and pound away at the keyboard until the following Monday. I'm hoping to coax 15 pages a day out of my tired brain next weekend.

Even though it will be New Years, I guarantee alcohol will not be involved.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Merry Christmas!

To my family far away and to all my friends, those close and those I've only met on the internet, a very Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays.

Warmest holiday hugs to you all!

Sue Ann

Friday, December 18, 2009

Mystery on the Menu - Tickets On Sale NOW

Each year The Friends of the Cerritos Library host an annual fund raiser called Mystery on the Menu. This year the event will be held on January 30, 2010, which will also mark the fourth time I've been an invited author to this wonderful event.

At Mystery on the Menu, patrons purchase tickets to a luncheon and then can choose which author they would like to dine with at tables set up for 10. Besides the lunch, there are mystery panels before and after lunch, and plenty of time to purchase books and have them signed. When this event first started, there were only two panels, but in recent years it has expanded to three.

Tickets for the luncheon are $40 per person. If you would like to attend, contact Janice Dawson at (562) 924-2474. And don't delay, every year it sells out quickly.

This year the participating authors include:

Hannah Dennison
Dianne Emley
Joanne Fluke
Wendy Hornsby
Sue Ann Jaffarian
R. T. Jordan
Susan Kandel
Robert S. Levinson
Michael Mallory
Keith Raffel
Nina Revoyr
Stephen Schwartz

Patricia Smiley
April Smith
Eric Stone

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

What's Coming Out When

With the addition of my new vampire mystery series, my publisher had to do some shuffling of my book release dates. Since Murder in Vein is scheduled for release September 2010, several folks have asked when Granny Apples #2 is going to be released. After all, it was originally scheduled for September 2010.

So, by popular demand (and thank you all who asked), here is the new schedule for the release of my future books.

In 2010, two books will be released:

February 2010 - Corpse on the Cob, the 5th book in the Odelia Grey mystery series, will be released as originally scheduled. It can be pre-ordered now from Amazon or from Midnight Ink.

September 2010 - Murder in Vein, the 1st book in my new vampire series will be released. In a few months, it will also be available for pre-order.

In 2011, things will really change up. From what I understand, this will now be the release order of my books from Midnight Ink:

February - Ghost of Granny Apples books will be released

June - Odelia Grey books will be released

September - the vampire mystery books will be released.

Sorry for the confusion folks. As always, I will announce the release of each book through my e-mail newsletter - Hotflashes - as well as on Twitter and Facebook.

Hotflashes is e-mailed about 3-4 times a year. Anyone who would like to receive Hotflashes and is not already on the mailing list, should e-mail me at and put "add me" in the subject line. The next issue of Hotflashes will be going out in mid-January.

Those of you who are on the list but have changed your e-mail address in the last year, should also notify me of the change.

Thank you, everyone.

You keep reading. I'll keep writing. Deal?

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

A Baby Vampire Gets Its Name

A lot of folks think authors get to choose the titles of their books. Not so. Same goes for the covers. But I've been very lucky on both counts. Usually my publisher considers my titles and asks me if I have suggestions for the cover. There has little trouble or controversy when naming the Odelia Grey books. Except for Booby Trap, all have been my title suggestions.

The Ghost of Granny Apples series has been a different kettle of fish. With the first book, the publisher wanted something different than just The Ghost of Granny Apples. In the end, I came up with Ghost a la Mode, but not until after both the publisher and I turned over dozens of possibilities looking for a winner. We're going through the same problem with Granny Apples #2. They didn't like my original title or my suggestions, and I didn't like their suggestions. Dozens of titles later, we're close but still no cigar. But we are definitely getting closer. Not that it matters any time soon, because the release of Granny Apples #2 has been rescheduled until February 2011 (more on that in a later post).

Okay, so now we have series #3. A vampire series, no less. Since starting the manuscript, I've been calling the first book in the series I Could Bite You Forever. Cute and catchy, but the publisher didn't think it fit with what they've seen so far of the manuscript, and told me so this morning. But they also gave me a suggestion, a great suggestion. Unlike the Granny Apples titles, I doubt we'll be going to the mat on this one.

Drum roll, please ...

Coming in September 2010 to a bookstore near you :

Murder in Vein by Sue Ann Jaffarian

Monday, December 14, 2009

Best Laid Schemes o' Mice an' Scribes

The plan was to come home on Friday night and write nearly non-stop until I had to go to work Monday morning.

What was it that Robert Burns penned? Oh yeah.

The best laid schemes o' mice an' men...

There are now 49 days until I Could Bite You Forever, the first book in my new vampire series is due to my publisher.

49 - eeek! I think I just saw a mouse.

Friday was our holiday party at the law firm. At 1 pm the firm closed down and we all went off in the rain to Spago for lunch, work or no work. Spago in Beverly Hills is Wolfgang Puck's flagship restaurant. The food was divine and Wolfgang Puck himself came out to say hello. I could have dined solely on the miniature crab cakes and pizza slices they passed around as appetizers, but glad I didn't. My striped bass entree was so wonderful I wanted to lick the plate clean, and nearly did. The champagne and wine flowed like, well, champagne and wine.

After lunch I returned to the office to pack up some binders for delivery to an attorneys home. That's all I had to do - throw them in a box and send them off with a messenger - then I could go home and start my madcap writing weekend. But even through my slight alcoholic buzz I was able to spot that something wasn't right with the documents I'd prepared for an out-of-town deposition on Monday morning. Crap. Crap. Crap.

After calling the attorney on his cell, who was ever so nice and on his way home after the party, I went home with plans to return to the office on Saturday. Once at home, I discovered I was too fuzzy to write anything coherent for a couple of hours so relaxed (aka dozed) before hitting the keyboard.

Saturday morning I was at the office by 7:30 am, ready to right my wrong. I managed it, but it wasn't easy with copiers that broke down and supplies that were almost depleted. I personally drove the 2 boxes of binders to the attorney's house, then went home where I crashed on the sofa. That was 2 pm.

4 pm found me at the Mystery Book Store at Westwood for the launch party of Exposé!, Hannah Dennison's latest book. Even with pouring rain, the place was packed and we feasted on tiny mince pies, cheese and mulled wine. Hannah was her usual lovely and funny self. I also managed to pick up the last of my family's Christmas presents. After, it was back home where I was still too tired to bang on the keys. The amount of writing done on Saturday - a big fat zero!

Sunday was a writing day. FINALLY! And a very productive one. I Could Bite You Forever is over 25% done and is on track for timely completion. Early readers have loved it so far. The finished chapters still need a lot of tweaking, but the story and characters are behaving and helping me charge through the manuscript.

Later in the day I took a break and wrapped presents and did some chores. At dinner time I watched the finale of Dexter. WOW! WOW! WOW! I won't say more because so many of my friends wait and watch it on DVD, so I won't spoil it for them. But I will say this: John Lithgow should get an Emmy!

Now it's off to the law firm again. Writing again tonight and tomorrow morning, and every day after that until the book is done - unless the mouse in my life has other plans. In that case, I will call in the cats to keep him in line, at least for the next 49 days.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Three What?

I'm talking about the whys and why-nots of writing a 3rd series over at Inkspot.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

An Early Bird With Second Thoughts

Does the early bird really catch the worm, or does the early bird just yawn and wonder why in the hell she's not still in her warm bed? The cats are still in bed. But then they're a lot smarter than I am. I know that. I accept that.

I am an early riser. My usual morning routine is 1) bathroom, 2) feed cats, 3) read e-mail, 4) starting writing. A couple times a week exercise is thrown into the mix.

I've been doing this for years. Generally, the writing time is about 2 hours long, followed by getting ready to go to my job at the law firm. On weekends, the initial writing time is a 3-4 hour block before I get dressed - IF I get dressed. But lately it's been tough getting up and hitting the keyboard. And forget going outside to walk.

You see, it's cold! Yeah, yeah, yeah. I know. I live in Southern California. Boo hoo hoo.

But it has been very cold here, at least by our standards. My apartment has heat, but it's a small wall unit that is only of any use if you're in the living room. I write in my bedroom and since I don't use a laptop, I stay in my bedroom. This morning the thermostat in the living room says it's 64 degrees. I'm sure my bedroom is a degree or two colder. I'm writing bundled up in an oversized chenille rob that could easily kick a Snuggie's ass.

My writing time today will be cut short because I have to be to work early. For a change, I'm not unhappy about that. Although it means I will have to work longer tonight to stay on track to meet my February 1st deadline. But that's okay. It's a lot warmer in my apartment in the evenings. But even my office at the law firm is chilly. We're all freezing there, too. We haven't decided if the building is still running the air conditioning or not running any heat, but we're all bundled up in our offices. Some are even wearing their jackets inside and many are wearing heavy scarfs.

What can I say? We're Californians. We're nuts on so many levels and not as hardy as people in Minnesota or Wisconsin. Our blood has been thinned by organic this and legally prescribed that.

I wonder if anyone would notice if I wore my robe today at work? It could be the first "Bring Your Robe To Work Day."

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Hey Folks, Watch Me Pull A Book Out of My Butt

You’re hearing it here first.

My current publisher, Midnight Ink, has given me a 3-book deal for my Doug and Dodie Dedham mystery series. The Dedhams are your normal, retired, active couple. They love to dance, play bridge, and enjoy tennis. Attractive and vibrant, they could be the poster children for AARP . Dodie is nurturing and loves to bake. Doug is the kind of guy who might ask you to pull his finger. They also stick their noses where they don’t belong and help solve local crimes.

Oh, by the way, did I mention they’re vampires?

Oh, yes, they are!

Now I know you’re used to seeing vampires who are hot and sexy and brooding. Vampires who create heart-throbbing havoc amongst young hormonal women. Vampires who all seemingly entered the realm of the undead while under 35 years of age.

The Dedhams and I are asking you to think outside the coffin.

The first book in the Dedham mystery series is entitled I Could Bite You Forever and is scheduled for release September 2010.

Yes, you read that right – 2010.

Yesterday, the book was scheduled for release in September 2011. But this morning around 7ish, I received a call from my editor asking if I could get them the finished manuscript by February 1st because they wanted to launch it in 2010. They had their reasons and they were all valid and understandable.

With my editor on the phone, I pulled up my manuscript-in-progress and noted that I had 6 chapters written on I Could Bite You Forever. After thinking it over for about 30 seconds, I said, No problem.

Neither alcohol nor crack were involved in my decision.

Okay, so there goes my birthday and Christmas and New Years. I’ve scratched 3 holiday parties off my list and alerted my close friends that they may not see me until sometime in February.

I’m thinking of this as the Mud Run but with my fingers instead of my feet.


Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Sleep Writing

A couple of days ago I posted about how I was not happy with all the work I'd recently put into my manuscript for Odelia #6, due very soon. Yesterday morning and last night I fudged with it, deciding about 1/2 - 2/3 of it is salvageable, but I still did not have a clear picture on the new direction for the plot. Usually this is not a problem for me at all. Usually my problem is I have too many ideas. But in this case, as I wrote deeper into the manuscript, I realized my original plot was boring and dull. If it bores me, I can just imagine how my readers would feel. Can't have that!

Last night I went to bed at 12:30, rather late for me for a work night. As I drifted off to sleep, possibilities for Odelia #6 hopped around like sheep jumping a fence. It helped me get to sleep, but didn't present any brilliant solutions.

I went to bed thinking about Odelia #6 and woke a few hours later thinking about book #1 in my vampire series. Not sure how that transpired, but being someone who does not get up to jot down nocturnal ideas, I took mental notes on the vampires, thanked my muse, and drifted back to sleep.

Fast forward to 6:30 am. Late for me to rise during the week, but I was tired. Instead of getting up, I stayed in bed and let my mind drift. Low and behold, it drifted smack dab into a great idea for Odelia #6. An idea that blends beautifully with most of what I've already written. I stayed in bed until 7:30, kneading the new idea like a lump of bread dough until I was satisfied and very excited. Sometime during the night my brain had done a little housekeeping and sorted out out the junk in my head, leaving a clean and clear path to the manuscript. Yeeeeeeee ha!

Unfortunately, I have to go to work early every day this week, so this new idea will have to wait until I get home tonight to be folded into the manuscript.

Houston, we now have lift off!

Painting - Counting Sheep by Karen Aune.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Call Me Crazy, But I Miss Work

As I write this it is 10:50 pm on Sunday. In 10 minutes I will be going to bed, my stay-cation at an end. It was a blast. Something I definitely must plan on for next Thanksgiving.

In review, I didn't get a lot of the things done around the house that I wanted to do, such as shampooing the carpet and cleaning out my big closet. But I did do a lot of things I wanted to do, such as see several friends, write a lot, and clean my apartment top to bottom. I also went to Olvera Street, something I hadn't done in years, and did some research for both the next Granny Apples book and the next Odelia Grey book. On top of that, I read through 2/3 of the proofs for Corpse on the Cob, which goes to print on December 11th. Oh yeah, and I slept a lot.

So I'm heading to bed in a couple of minutes satisfied with what I've accomplished in the last 9 days.* And I'm heading to bed ready to resume work at the law firm. I know it must sound crazy with everything else on my plate, but I was actually starting to miss my work as a paralegal. That tells me it's time to go back.

I also watched several movies this week. Some were sentimental favorites like Love Actually and Sleepless in Seattle. But one movie really stood out. Yesterday I watched Changeling, the movie starring Angelina Jolie and directed by Clint Eastwood. It was both fabulous and terrifying and I spent a great deal of today thinking about it. If you haven't seen Changeling, check it out.

*Although I did a lot of writing this week, tonight I came to the conclusion that I'm not happy with what I've done on Odelia #6, which was considerable. Happy with what I accomplished. Not happy with the results. But that's okay, because somewhere between watching Dexter and The Amazing Race tonight, I had a brainstorm about Odelia #6 and know exactly how to fix it. Of course, it will require a major overhaul. But that's all part of the writing game.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Stay-Cation in Progress

Today is day 7 of my stay-cation. Just a couple more days and I'll be back to the good ole day job. I gotta say, stay-cations ROCK! I am loving my time off. It's the first time I can remember taking a whole week off work without being sick or travelling. Or being laid off.

At the beginning, I made a list of things to get done while off work this week, and while I still have a couple of days left, some items have already fallen by the wayside. See what I mean below:

Clean and organize closet – still has possibilities, maybe later today or tomorrow

Read a book – in progress

Lunch with friends – So far I've met up with two of them. Bonus was former boyfriend calling and taking me to dinner on Tuesday night.

Visit the Getty Museum – This isn't going to happen, but is being substituted with trip to Olvera Street today with friend Susan. This is actually a research trip for possible use in Granny Apples #3 book.

Shampoo carpet – I'm telling you right up front, this ain't happening. I'm having way too much fun to move furniture and deal with disturbed pets. But I did scour the apt. from top to bottom.

Attend Drag Queen Bingo - check. Went with friend Patti. Though the trip was for background to use in book, not sure it will go into book now, but we did have a great time. BTW, this is a very fun thing to do when in Los Angeles. All proceeds go to a chosen charity for the night and there are no cash prizes, but the prizes were fabulous - tickets to the theatre, dinners at wonderful restaurants, wine, etc. We went to the 7 pm show and arrived by 6 so we could have dinner first. Pal Ashley advised to eat first because the bingo games move fast. She was so right. Food at Hamburger Mary's was very good. Drink menu is extensive.

Write until my fingers are bleeding stumps – in progress

Other items since added to list:

Read proofs of Corpse on the Cob which is going to print on December 11th - in progress

Put up Christmas decorations - tomorrow

Catch up on e-mails and update website - this weekend.

See, absolutely NO time to shampoo carpet.

This week also began the negotiations for my new vampire series. Nothing is a done deal yet, but my agent and publisher were working hard earlier this week and should button things up next week. If all goes well, you can expect to see my first vampire novel in the fall of 2011! Wooooooooo Hooooooooooooo!

Photos: Left - Bridget of Madison County calling bingo along with Bingo Boy; right - This is how your dinner bill arrives.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

How Do You Stay-Cation?

Friday night starts my stay-cation. See what I have planned by visiting the Inkspot.

And stay tuned to Babble 'n Blog for reports on my activities while vacationing at home.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Do I Look Like Betty Crocker?

The ladies over at the Mystery Lovers' Kitchen invited me to guest blog today.

Following in their culinary footsteps, I talked about food and provided a recipe. Check it out!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Last Call For 2009

I have one final book event on my calendar for 2009 and it's this coming Saturday. After that I will bury my nose in my writing like a burrowing hedgehog. So come on out this Saturday and say hello.

November 14, 2009 - 1:00-3:00 p.m.

"Death Takes a Holiday" featuring Hannah Dennison, Amnon Kabatchnick and Sue Ann Jaffarian, moderated by A.H. Ream.

Lloyd Taber Marina del Rey Library
4533 Admiralty Way
Marina del Rey, CA 90292
(310) 821-3415

Friday, November 06, 2009

Never Say Never

I have officially thrown my hat into the vampire-rage ring. Last year I got an idea for a vampire book and let it sit in my brain, giving it time to ferment into something solid and interesting. Then a few months ago, it knocked on my skull and said it was ready to come out.

Next, I honed and developed the idea until I had several solid chapters and a synopsis for a vampire mystery series. A series I hoped would be very different from anything out there to date. Yesterday, my agent informed me my vampire proposal was ready to be sent to various publishers. Yikes, the submission process all over again!

But the business of publishing isn't at issue here. What's bothering me is where in the hell did this idea come from? I mean, get real. Me? Write a vampire series? You've got to be kidding! At least that's what I would have said had anyone asked about it a year ago. Yet, here I am, gleefully composing paragraphs using words such as fangs and undead.

Then again, if anyone had asked me a few years ago if I had any plans to write a ghost series, I would have laughed. But look at me now. Ghost a la Mode was recently released and the second book in the Ghost of Granny Apples Mystery Series has been delivered to my publisher.

Never say never...

Sunday, November 01, 2009

Writer, Writer, Pants On Fire

Today, November 1st, officially kicks off National Novel Writing Month, and the start of the annual NaNoWriMo program.

What is NaNoWriMo, you ask? In it's own words:

National Novel Writing Month is a fun, seat-of-your-pants approach to novel writing. Participants begin writing November 1. The goal is to write a 175-page (50,000-word) novel by midnight, November 30.

Valuing enthusiasm and perseverance over painstaking craft, NaNoWriMo is a novel-writing program for everyone who has thought fleetingly about writing a novel but has been scared away by the time and effort involved.

This is a grueling pace. I know, because it's similar to the one I keep month after month, year after year, in order to produce two novels a year. And my novels are not 50,000 words, but generally fall between 77,000 and 85,000 words each. They must also be honed and polished when they hit my editor's desk. Of course, I take a bit longer than a month to do this. And during the year I must also do editorial edits and galley corrections on other books and book promotion.

I think NANOWRIMO is a great jump start for those budding authors who have never thrown commitment into their writing. NANOWRIMO isn't about whether someone has the talent to write a novel, but whether or not he or she has the cajones to stick it out. No matter what.

Several people I know have signed up to participate this year and I wish them all the best.

TIP: put your heiny in the chair, your fingers on the keyboard, and type like your pants are on fire and only getting to your word count will put out the blaze.

It works for me.

Since my 6th Odelia Grey novel is due to my publisher in exactly 75 days, I will be conducting my own unofficial and personal NANOWRIMO program this month. See you on the other side of November, scorched panties and all.

For a fun look at the potential aftermath of NANOWRIMO, check out Alan Orloff's blog about it. He's looking ahead to December 1st. Be afraid. Be very afraid.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Notarize My Book?

I'm over at Inkspot today talking about my two careers colliding. Come on over and say hello.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

October Isn't Just About Halloween

Wondering why there have been so many blogs, news reports, and special events about boobies lately? Might be because October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. It fact, 2009 marks the movement's 25th year.

A lot of my friends and family have participated in various events across the country. My niece Lindsay walked in the Making Strides Against Breast Cancer in Boston. My author friends are Bowling for Boobies tonight. And Tamara Rupke, the niece of an online friend, participated in the Grandmother of all breast cancer awareness events, the 3-day, 60 mile Washington, DC walk.

Here, in Tamara’s own words, is an accounting of her experience.

Many of you have asked, “How was the walk?” Well, here goes..

At the opening ceremony participants carried flags describing their motivation for walking- Dreams, The Future, Myself, My Friend, My Wife, My Mother, etc. Right then I knew it would be an emotional weekend… even for a ‘tough’ girl like me.

The walk itself was much more difficult than I imagined. Many walkers suffered from blisters and sore/pulled muscles. 60 miles in 3 days is INSANE, walking or not. After the first night I heard one girl talking to her sister about getting a blister on her behind. (I assume they were walking for their mother.) One sister said to the other, “Mom always said she was going to blister our A$$.” The Pit Stops became our best friend. We were able to re-vaseline our tootsies, change socks, get a snack, rehydrate, tinkle, stretch, and hit the road again… not necessarily in that order. There were also cheering stations along the way where supporters greeted walkers with candy, (one camper greeted us with wine J) and wow did they cheer! Oh, and I mustn’t forget the creative pink ta-ta paraphernalia!! Men in pink tutus, Harley’s with bra’s strapped to the front handlebars, and shirts that read, “boobs, sweat, and tears”, or “Yeah their fake, my real ones tried to kill me!” I could go on and on. So much creativity.

Camp featured local entertainment which Charlyn and I regrettably declined. We preferred to stretch, shower, and sleep. Camp was surprising comfortable. We had hot showers, delicious meals, and all the coffee one could ask for. I’ve never seen so many pink tents in my life! And of course one white tent, the Remembrance Tent, where participants could record their story and honor loved ones.

The weekend carried many emotions, fear, anticipation, happiness, sadness, disappointment, appreciation, courage…. Needless to say, I had many “ah ha” moments. There is one memory I will take with me forever and reminds me why I walked that weekend. On Day 2 as we walked through Bethesda, a woman who appeared to be shopping approached and asked us why were walking. We told her to benefit Susan G Komen for the Cure. I noticed the woman choke up. As she turned and walked away carrying her shopping bags she looked back and replied, “It’s because of people like you that I am still alive today.” I wanted to share that story with all of you because I feel like it’s also because of YOU that this woman is still alive today. Thank you so much for your support and for allowing me to participate in such a worthy event. I had a great time and I hope if any of you have ever considered doing anything like this that you don’t think twice and just go for it! It is an experience of a lifetime.

Thank you so much from the bottom of my heart!!!


The month is almost over, but it's not too late to contribute to one of these very worthy events. So put down the candy corn and get involved in one way or another. It's never too late to raise awareness and fight breast cancer. Make it a year-round event.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Bravo - What In The Hell Were You Thinking?

Bravo TV has become the "Rich People Behaving Badly" channel.

There, I've said it. And I say to you, Bravo TV: Shame, shame, shame.

I've always been a big Bravo TV watcher, which still has some of my favorites shows like Top Chef and Inside the Actor's Studio, and until recently considered it a fairly classy network. But somewhere along the line, someone at the network decided that watching rich, privileged women cat fight, bitch and scream, and spend with no conscience would be great and enlightening entertainment. I've watched one episode each (and not even full episodes) of The Real Housewives of Atlanta, The Real Housewives of Orange County, The Real Housewives of New York and The Real Housewives of New Jersey, and wanted to retch each time. And don't even get me started on a few of their other shows.

Real housewives my big fat ass!

Even in good times, I would find these shows appalling. Given the present state of the economy, job losses and foreclosures, I find these shows a slap in the face of the REAL housewives and househusbands across the nation who daily clip coupons, juggle car pools, scrub floors, care for sick children, and fix broken plumping. These men and women raise entire families on what one of the wives on a Bravo show pays for a cocktail dress. They are the REAL heroes of the American family. I shudder to think what other countries think when they watch these Bravo atrocities.

Question for James Lipton: Mr. Lipton, do you have to go to the studio with a bag over your head?

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Wanted - Serious Art Patron (without the wink)

Often in old movies, we are introduced to the “art patron.” A wealthy man or woman who subsidizes a budding artist financially so that the artist – a composer, painter, writer – can continue being brilliant on his or her road to discovery without the crushing worries of expenses. Sometimes the title “art patron” came with a sly wink. Sometimes not.

Recently in an interview, I was asked what was the one thing I know now that I wish I’d known before I started writing. My answer was that I wish I had known more about the business side of writing. That answer is true, but sanitized. I do wish I had known more about the biz of writing and publishing, but more to the point, I wish I had known how much out-of-pocket money it was going to cost me for promoting my work, because without full blown promotion, even the best books can die on the vine.

This brings up another valid question. Had I known the rocky debt road ahead of me, would I still have continued down the path? Absolutely! You see, this is my dream. It’s all I’ve ever wanted to be. I was born to write. It’s the only thing in my life that comes as easy to me as breathing in and out. And I think I’m pretty good at it. I can also say, without even a slight blush, that I am one of the hardest working authors on the planet.

According to my agent, my manager, the producer who optioned my Odelia Grey series, and even some murmurings from my publisher, I am about to “break through.” This means my books and my sales could hit it big in the future. It means my dreams are about to explode onto the scene.

You know what? My gut is telling me that, too. Even when I feel crushed emotionally, financially, and spiritually by the business of writing, I keep going, like the Energizer Bunny, convinced in my stout heart that all my dreams will soon be realized.

Film producers have backers
Olympic hopefuls have sponsors
Painters have patrons

This writer needs one of the above to keep fighting the good fight.

My manager and I have kicked around several ideas to package me for investment purposes. Basically, we need to find an investor/sponsor/backer/patron who can fund the writing expenses of my career for this last leg of the journey without needing a quick return. Remember, publishing moves SLOWLY.

If you know of someone who might be interested in discussing a professional and proper arrangement, please pass this along to them. Interested parties should contact me at

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Bowling for Boobies!

Christa Faust, one of my very favorite people, has put together a team of Sister In Crime members and friends for the upcoming Bowling for Boobies fund raising event on October 27, 2009.

The event runs from 6-9 pm and takes place at Jillian's Hi-Life on Universal City Walk in Los Angeles. At this time, celebrity bowlers include Jane Wiedlin of The Go Go's, and Thomas Lennon of RENO 911, and, of course, our own Sisters In Crime celebrities: Christa Faust, Naomi Hirahara, A.H.Ream, Jane DiLucchio, Sue Stimpson, and Maureen McLaughlin.

Unfortunately, I'm unable to be there, but I will be present in spirit and in checkbook.

Why Bowling for Boobies? Here's why, in Christa's own heart-felt words:

A good friend of mine named Edith recently took her own life after discovering that her breast cancer had returned even after a double mastectomy. I was devastated, as were all her friends, but Edith was an amazing woman who always wanted to help others and so it is in her memory that I have formed Team Sisters in Crime for The Busted Foundation's Bowling for Boobies charity tournament.

The Busted Foundation helps women who beat breast cancer but can't beat the bills. I know times are lean for everyone, and there's very little left over for anything extra, but please consider donating to sponsor my team. No amount is too small. Even one dollar helps keep women like Edith from being crushed under the financial pressures in the aftermath of breast cancer.

You can donate online here:

Read more about the event here:

Thanks!- Christa

The Sisters In Crime team is very close to meeting their $6,000 goal. So let's all pitch in and help them bowl a perfect game. As Christa says, no amount is too small.

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Next Stop - Bakersfield!

This coming Saturday, October 10th, I will be signing books in Bakersfield, CA, at Russo's Books.

Russo's is a family-owned independent bookstore. It's a lovely place. Light and airy and full of knowledgeable and friendly staff. I signed there earlier this year and they're having me back to sign Ghost a la Mode.

If you're in the Bakersfield area, drop on by and say hello. Make Russo's your indie in Bakersfield.

Saturday, October 10th - 1:00 - 3:00 pm
Russo's Books
9000 Ming Avenue #I-4
Bakersfield, CA 93311
(661) 665-4686

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

The Passion of the Pen

I'm writing about the passion of the pen over at Inkspot today.

Come on over and say hello.

Monday, October 05, 2009

Joining Cirque Du Soleil

The folks from Cirque Du Soleil were at WEHO this weekend advertising their new Kooza show. I think this is the best headshot I've ever taken.

Friday, October 02, 2009

Heigh-Ho, See You At WEHO

This Sunday, October 4th, West Hollywood will once again host the West Hollywood Book Fair. This event is in its eighth year and is always a lot of fun for the entire family.

The hours are 10 a.m. until 6 p.m. and the location is the West Hollywood Park on San Vicente Blvd. (corner of Melrose and San Vicente)

Unlike the monster Los Angeles Times Book Festival, author panels at WEHO do not require tickets and are easy to attend. There is also plenty of free parking across the street at the Pacific Design Center, as well as parking in other lots with a free shuttle to the book fair.

I'll be at the Sisters In Crime/LA booth signing books from 1-2. At 2:30 I'll be on a panel in the mystery pavilion and signing books again after that.

Come on down! This is a fun way to spend a sunny Sunday.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Reading - Try and Stop Me!

I was reminded today by my friend Ashley Ream that this week is Banned Books Week - the week most of us thumb our noses (and/or flip the bird) to those folks who believe some books should be banned because of their content.

Now, there are books you might not want your 8-year-old to read until he or she is older. And there are books you might not agree with politically, religiously, or in theory. And I'm sure we've all come across books that have offend us for one reason or another. But that doesn't mean those books should be banned. It just means we, individually, choose to avoid those books or keep them from the hands of our little ones. But even the latter situation is iffy. Just because you might think a book inappropriate for your offspring, doesn't mean all parents feel the same.

Case in point: All my life I've been a heavy reader. In my youth, precocious. When I was in junior high school I tried to check a particular book out of our school library, but the librarian refused, saying it was beyond my age level. She chose for me instead a book I found silly and childish. When I insisted on having the book I wanted, she told me I would have to get the permission of one of my parents in order to check it out.

Neither of my parents finished school and neither supported me or my brother much when it came to academics. They worked hard all day. Came home, tried to relax, went to bed, and did all over again the next day. And the next. And the next. Pretty much I was on my own when it came to anything school-related. Asking my mother to write a note to the school librarian had a 50-50 chance of success. It all hinged on her mood at the time I asked.

When I told my mother what I needed and why, she asked just one thing: "This book already in the school library?" I told her it was. She scribbled out the note and I took it back to school. Pretty much the note said that I was allowed to read ANY book that was in the school library.

The book in question was The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas.

This week, in honor of all the Banned Books, I am going to finally read The Catcher in the Rye by J. D. Salinger. It's amazing that I've gotten this far in life without having read this often challenged and banned novel, even more amazing in that I've owned a copy for at least a decade. But tonight I'm putting down the other books I'm reading and opening the pages of this American classic.

So, what banned book are YOU reading this week?

Houston, We Have a Success!

I'm happy to report, the launch party for Ghost a la Mode, the first Ghost of Granny Apples mystery, was a huge success. We set up a pie bar where folks could help themselves to apple, cherry and french apple pie, along with coffee, tea and soft drinks. It was a nice crowd, mostly familiar faces with a few new ones in the mix.

The family of Ish Reynolds came down for the event. Ish Reynolds is Granny Apples' real name in the books, and the real Ish Reynolds was one of Odelia's biggest fans. She even came down from the Bay Area for one of the Odelia Grey launches. About the time I started writing the Granny Apples series, Ish died of liver cancer. Her granddaughter Stacey is a friend of mine and I thought the name perfect for Granny.

The first half hour was spent chatting and eating pie. Then I read a short passage from Ghost a la Mode and answered questions. People were very interested in where both Odelia and Granny were going from here and many asked about Corpse on the Cob, the 5th Odelia due out February 2010. Several asked how I did in the Mud Run. We ended with a drawing for a few "apple" themed prizes, including a Ghost a la Mode tee shirt, and the signing of books.

As always, the folks at The Mystery Book Store were armed and ready with stacks of books, all of which sold out! Even a few Odelia Grey novels made their way out the door. And Odelia didn't mind one bit taking a back seat to Granny and Emma.

For those of you who want signed copies of Ghost a la Mode, but can't make it to one of my events, contact The Mystery Book Store. They are ordering more copies and I will be going in to sign them as soon as they arrive. They will even take special requests if you want the book personalized. Their number is: 310-209-0415 or 800-821-9017.

There are a few more photos on my Facebook page.

Time now to focus on Odelia. Book #6 is due mid-January. YIKES!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Pie, Coffee and Ghosts

This Saturday, September 26, 2009, will be the official launch of Ghost a la Mode, the first book in my new Ghost of Granny Apples mystery series. We'll be serving up pie, coffee and beverages.

Drop on by and say hello!

3:00-4:00 p.m.
The Mystery Book Store
1036-C Broxton
Los Angeles, CA (Westwood Village)

2 hrs of free parking in the parking structure next to the bookstore.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Viva Las Vegas!

Tomorrow morning, extremely early, I will be driving to Las Vegas for two book events. I'm not fond of Las Vegas. The noise, the crowds, the second hand smoke, all make me nuts. And even though you can find cheap buffets in Sin City, that's about the only thing that is inexpensive. But there are a couple of things I am looking forward to about the trip.

1 - The 4-5 hour drive will give me time to listen to a book on tape. I've been trying to read Diana Gabaldon's A Breath of Snow and Ashes since it first came out. I even own a copy of the 1,000 page tome. But since it's not exactly a convenient book to tuck into one's purse, it has been languishing in my To Be Read pile. This week I went to my local library and picked up part 1 of the audio recording for the road. Since the entire audio edition is 24 hours long, I seriously doubt I'll finish it, but I should get a good jump on part 1 and can listen to part 2 while doing stuff around the house and on drives to other book events. I absolutely love this historical time travel series.

2 - I'm speaking on Thursday evening and Saturday morning, leaving Friday to languish by the pool and do several thing I love: read and write. My manager and friend, Diana James, is going with me and we're both are excited about having a full day of down time. My plan is to work on Odelia book #6, Body Bingo, and to read some research materials for the new series I'm developing.

3 - We're staying at a hotel that's new to both Diana and me - South Point. This hotel came highly recommended to me by a friend who stays there every time he visits family in Vegas. It is NOT on the strip, which is a plus for me, and is almost a self-contained little resort, complete with movie theatres, large rooms, even a spa. Better yet - we got it at a dirt low price. Vegas is almost giving away their rooms these days.

4 - I'm really looking forward to the two speaking events. The first one is on Thursday night. I will be speaking to the Las Vegas Writers Group. Saturday morning it's off to spend time with the Las Vegas Romance Writers - Cactus Rose RWA. Following the Cactus Rose meeting, it's back to LA for a Sunday of catching up.

Going to Las Vegas is a chore for me, but this trip, with its several plus sides, could be the best one yet. I'll post about my travels when I return.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Brunch with Me is Cheaper

The first time I heard about the eBay auction for dinner with Sarah Palin, I thought, but of course!

Whether or not you like the former VP candidate and governor of Alaska, this is a great marketing gimmick to raise money for charity. After all, if you're a fan of Palin's you'll be happy to spend time with the woman for a worthy cause. If you're not, it'll be good for a few laughs and some spectacular stories to tell your friends.

Personally, I'd rather have dinner with Tina Fey, but then, who wouldn't?

Then I read the fine print, some of which is here: Dinner shall last no more than four hours, but could be less, in the sole discretion of Sarah Palin.* Governor Palin reserves the right to refuse dinner with a winning bidder if, in her sole discretion, the winning bidder is not a suitable bidder based on her subjective standards of suitability, professionalism, background and other factors. In the event the high bidder is rejected for this reason, the high bidder's bid will be refunded, if paid, and the next highest bidder shall be notified, and thereafter, until a suitable match is determined. (emphasis added)


So, even if you spend TENS OF THOUSANDS (the current bid is at $37,700) and win this auction AND pass the mandatory background check, Sarah can still turn up her perky, ignorant nose at you and yell "next." And she can keep yelling "next" until someone she deems suitable is found amongst the bidders. And even then, she only has to stay however long she wants. There is no minimum time requirement for her presence.

Kind of like the way she treated her governor's term, isn't it.

I often donate character names in my books for charities, and once even auctioned off lunch with me personally, and I picked up the check and stayed for the entire meal. Security issues aside, I didn't check out the bidders first for suitability or retain the right to choose someone else. The winning bidder was the winning bidder. (We had a great time, BTW!)

So, here it is:

Who wants to have bunch with me and donate money to breast cancer? Think I'm kidding? Stay tuned...

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Different Puppies, Same Litter

Last night at 6 pm pacific time, I hit the send button on my computer, sending Hot 'n Haunting, the 2nd book in my Granny Apples mystery series, off to my publisher.

What is especially auspicious about this event, is that it was book #7 of the 15 books I have under contract with Midnight Ink (between 2 series). It's like hitting the half way point during a marathon. When #8 is sent off, it will be like cresting the hill - like having Suicide Hill behind me on the Mud Run.

Now before anyone out there thinks I'm complaining, think again. Yes, it is almost like I've become a single-employee book factory, but I am truly enjoying writing each and every book I'm cranking out. Each one is like birthing a different child. And like children born from the same gene pool, each book has a different personality, sensitivity level and sense of humor, as well as commonality. Sort of like the 7 puppies in the photo above. They are different, yet with the same DNA. Each new book presents me with new challenges. And I can't wait for the next.

Speaking of next. Here's what's queued up.
On September 20th I begin work on the 6th Odelia Grey novel, currently titled Body Bingo. I will also be fleshing out my idea for the 3rd Granny Apples book. Between now and then, I will be taking my usual short hiatus from my novels to work on things like cleaning up my desk, sorting my notes, and resting my brain. I will also be working on an idea I have for a new mystery series, and writing 2 speeches for upcoming events. So have no fear, I won't be wallowing in inactivity.

For the next 2 months I will also be making many appearances up and down Southern California, including 2 in Las Vegas. I will be keeping very busy before the big push at the end of the year to get Body Bingo out the door on time.

Check out the Calendar page of my web site, and if you can make it to any event, please stop by and say hello!

Saturday, September 05, 2009

Me and the Mouse Go The Distance

EXACTLY 12 hours ago, I was standing with 3,999 other entrants at the starting line for the 2009 Disneyland Family 5K. We were herded together in a starting chute and while waiting for the official start were entertained by the Dapper Dans barbershop quartet, who also kicked off the race with a lovely rendition of the Star Spangled Banner.

Although called a "run" or "race," for me it was a walk. I don't run. I have bum knees. But I love to walk, and walk I did through Disneyland and California Adventure, including the back lots. Tons of folks walked. As the bulk of walkers crossed the finish line, the announcer told the crowd how they love their "walkers." That walkers are like runners, just without the caffeine. A lot of folks toted young children (you cannot bring a stroller on the route). Whole families were walking the happiest place on earth at 7 am this morning, and, in spite of the heat, I'd say we all had a great time. It was more of a festival than a race and the proceeds from the entrance fee went to Anaheim Community Charities.

The only hitches in the get-along were the oppressive heat and humidity. So. Cal is having a heat wave right now and Friday and Saturday were brutal. Added to that was a lack of water stations along the 3.2 mile route (Disney - what's with that? The Marines had a water station every mile during the Mud Run!) There was 1, count 'em 1, water station at the 1.5 mile mark and then again at the finish, where they gave away fruit, bagels, water and hydration drinks. (Note to Disney - move some of that stuff to along the route, please!) Next year, I'm packing my own drinks. I think I sweated enough this weekend to fill a bathtub. I keep telling myself it's great for flushing toxins and for my complexion.

My participation in this event started when I announced that anyone signing up for the event with me would receive a signed copy of Ghost à la Mode and a Ghost à la Mode tee shirt, which my publisher, Midnight Ink, donated. We had 5 people sign up for the 5K and one will do the half-marathon on Sunday. A couple other friends came along for support although they didn't do the 5K. Unfortunately, there were several folks who wanted to do the event but had already made Labor Day Weekend plans, and two tried to sign up for the 5K but it sold out.

Walking with me and celebrating the release of Granny Apples today were Shirley and Doug Pearson, Mark Baker and Carolyn Bryant. My dear friend Susan Groeneweg went with me and we both agreed that the Paradise Pier Hotel was tops. Shirley and Doug Pearson, who are Disney-philes and the nicest people in the world, and walk the Disney 5K every year, got us a fabulous discount at the hotel. After the race, we went back to our hotel rooms and showered and trekked to The Grand Californian Hotel for brunch at The Storytellers Cafe, where we were joined by Mark's friend Angelique. Brunch was fabulous and our table was visited by many a 6 ft furry creature.

It was decided that this should become an annual event.

You in?

A full photo album from the day can be seen at my profile on Facebook.

Friday, September 04, 2009

Chatting With Moi

Next Saturday, September 12th, at 2pm, I will be interviewed by the lovely Hannah Dennison in front of a live audience.

The event is called "In Conversation With Sue Ann Jaffarian" and is sponsored by The Friends of the Costa Mesa Libraries. Hannah, a journalist as well as a wonderful author, promises a no-holds bag of questions, so anything can happen.

Come on out and meet Hannah and me up close and personal. And bring your own burning questions. This is your shot to ask me anything and everything!

The event will be held at the Balearic Community Center, 1975 Balearic Drive, Costa Mesa, CA. Admission is free, but they would love you to RSVP by e-mailing Bob at:

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Hot 'n Haunting - Emphasis on HOT

This was me this weekend, except for the slippers. After a fairly mild summer to date, California got hit with a heat wave - right on the final week of my deadline for Hot 'n Haunting. Seems appropriate, doesn't it?

Starting with Friday night after work, I glued myself to my computer for most of the weekend, pounding out the final chapters to the second book in my Ghost of Granny Apples mystery series.

I live on the 3rd floor in an apartment without AC. At 10 pm on Saturday evening, the thermostat in my apt read 90 degrees. And that was with 2 big fans running 24 hrs a day in the living room and one huge oscillating fan running in my bedroom/office. Sweat poured down my back, down my face, down my arms. Even over the computer mouse. I took cool showers twice a day and lived on stuff like yogurt, cottage cheese, and fresh fruit. Oh yeah, and some ice cream. The cats sprawled on the cooler linoleum in the entry hall and enjoyed the ice cubes I dumped into their water from time to time. Speaking of water, I think I drank my weight in it in the past couple of days.

Why, you ask, didn't I just leave and go someplace with AC to work? Because I write better when I'm at home at my desk top. And because Hot 'n Haunting is due to my publisher in 8 days. Yes, eight, ocho, VIII days!

So how did I do on my deadline this weekend? I'll tell ya straight out - I ROCKED! In spite of the brutal heat, I cranked out some of pretty cool stuff. And I'm so close to finishing, I not only can see the finish line, I can smell it.

Or is that me needing another shower?

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Tough Love

I'm dishing out TOUGH LOVE for new and aspiring writers over at Inkspot today. Drop on by!