Tuesday, June 30, 2009

FREE Books For the Happiest Feet On Earth!

Join me for a very special launch event and receive a FREE signed copy of Ghost à la Mode, the first book in my NEW Ghost of Granny Apples mystery series!

On Saturday, September 5, 2009, I will be participating in the Disneyland® Family Fun Run 5K, a 3.1 mile course that meanders through both California Adventure and the Magic Kingdom before the parks open for the day.

And I promise, there will be no mud to crawl through, no walls to scale, and no steep hills to climb. And you don’t even need to run the course. Walking is fine, but according to the Disney folks, you must be able to do at least a 15 minute mile. I will be walking fast.

And there will be Prizes – Lots of Prizes!

*The first 40 people to sign up for the September 5th Disneyland® Family Fun Run 5K and send proof of registration to me at sue@sueannjaffarian.com will receive a free signed copy of Ghost à la Mode following the run.

*The first 10 people to sign up for the walk will receive a Ghost à la Mode t-shirt (X-Large only).

*All folks signed up to walk/run with me will receive a coupon good for 20% off any Midnight Ink book purchased from the Midnight Ink website on or before September 30, 2009.

All above prizes courtesy of Midnight Ink/Llewellyn Worldwide.

Details – Details – Details

Participants must sign up for the run at the official Disneyland® Family Fun Run 5K website and e-mail me a confirmation at sue@sueannjaffarian.com. The order of launch participants will be determined by the receipt date of the e-mail.

NOTE: The 5K event has a maximum number of participants and may fill-up, so don’t delay if you want to join in on the fun. As of today, the event was 83% full.

The cost for the event is $40 per person and Disneyland is providing their own goodies to all participants.

Please see the official Disneyland® Family Fun Run 5K website for all details of the 5K event.

Fine Print – There’s always fine print.

Disney, nor any of its affiliates, are connected with Sue Ann Jaffarian, Midnight Ink, Llewellyn Worldwide or with Ghost a la Mode or The Ghost of Granny Apples mystery series, nor are they responsible for or connected with the above book launch offer.

Sue Ann Jaffarian, Midnight Ink and/or Llewellyn Worldwide are not responsible for the $40 event fee, or for any travel or other expenses connected with participation in the Disneyland® Family Fun Run 5K. All such expenses are the sole responsibility of the participant.

Sue Ann Jaffarian, Midnight Ink and/or Llewellyn Worldwide shall be held harmless from any and all injury or liability incurred at, during, or in connection with participation in the Disneyland® Family Fun Run 5K or the Ghost à la Mode book launch at the run.

From the Mail Bag: A Postcard From Odelia

Yesterday in my mail there was a postcard from Odelia - yes, THAT Odelia - the fictional amateur sleuth I created from my heart, soul and mind. Seems she's tooling around London, having a great time, and sent me a postcard to prove it.

Sigh ...

Wish I was running around London right now. My friend Miles is in Scotland at the moment with his daughter trying to entice Nessie to come home with them. LB, the Muddy Runner, just returned from a great trip to Montreal. Pal Eric Stone is in his car seeing America and pushing his latest book, Shanghaied, like pot at a rock concert. And a group of friends are heading to Vegas this weekend.

Sigh ...

My travel plans include going no further than from my apartment to work and back again. If I'm lucky, there might even be a trip to Target somewhere along the line. And this weekend, with a Granny Apples mystery due in a month, my destination will be no further than my computer.

Well, rest up Odelia, because as soon as Hot 'n Haunting is finished, you'll be put back to work on your own new mystery adventure. Hope you at least got to meet Sherlock while in London.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

My Next Finish Line(s)

I have new Finish Lines on my horizon. Drop on by Inkspot today to see what they are.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

From the Mail Bag - Odelia Does London

Determined to win the "How Odelia Spent Her Summer Vacation" contest, reader Shirley Pearson took a copy of Thugs and Kisses with her to London this past week. She went into Hatchard's book shop in Piccadilly to take a photo of it for the contest and discovered Booby Trap already on the shelf! Right up there with P.D. James, no less!

Even better, Shirley assures me that Booby Trap was already turned out, that she did not do it for the photo. YAY!

Remember, the How Odelia Spent Her Summer Vacation contest is currently running until September 15, 2009. To enter, just click on the link and follow instructions. We've already had entries, so don't delay.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Sue Ann, Where Art Thou?

See this picture? Well, this is me for the next several weeks. Morning, evenings and weekends. My only respite will be time spent at the day job and two speaking gigs.

You see, I have a book due soon. And I mean SOON! In 39 days to be exact. And thanks to life getting in the way, it's not nearly close to being done.

Now that the proof of Ghost a la Mode is in the hands of my publisher, the Mud Run a thing of the past, my computer fixed, and my calendar fairly cleaned off, I will be booking it hard core on the computer to finish the 2nd Granny Apples mystery, Hot 'n Haunting.

Every now and then I will poke my head up like a prairie dog. You'll see a blog or two. A Tweet or three. Even the occasional Facebook entry. But not much more. Just enough to let you know I'm alive.

See you on the other side!

Note: Around the end of June, look for an announcement about a very special launch event for Ghost a la Mode!

Sunday, June 21, 2009

My Father's Daughter

One of the things I attribute to old people is having stacks of papers everywhere. At least that’s how my father rolled. He and my stepmother always had mounds of papers around their home. It didn’t matter if it was in their trailer in Arizona or the apartment at the elderly complex in Iowa, stacks of papers and magazines were an established part of the décor, right along with the neon on black woven wall hanging of JFK that hung above the TV.

The interesting thing is, it wasn’t done in a pack-rattish or hoarding manner. There was order to the chaos. The stack on the TV tray in the living room might hold letters or articles he wanted to read or pass along to others. The pile by the microwave would be bills coming due for payment. The heap on his desk contained old photos and mementos. The kitchen table was the place for new stuff, stuff in need of organizing into the already established piles. One could only guess what the papers covering the other surfaces meant. And right up until he died of a stroke just short of his 79th birthday 16 years ago, my father knew what was in each stack. It was his filing system. And it worked. He never hunted for anything. Ask him about something and he would put his finger on it in the blink of an eye and with a smile.

This morning, Father’s Day, I sat in my lounge chair, my sore knee elevated, the author’s proof of Ghost a la Mode in my lap for its final review, and looked around my living room. The wooden TV tray next to the sofa is piled with bills and correspondence. The table next to my chair holds a half-finished manuscript and the dining table is covered with marketing flyers, recent mail, and notes. A stack of magazines lives on the ottoman. Across from me stands the Mission style Stickley-Brandt rocker my father found in a yard sale for $25 and gave me 20 years ago.

Maybe it’s the influence of working on Ghost a la Mode and Hot ‘n Haunting, but I could have sworn my father was seated in the rocker this morning, smiling, nodding and tossing me a wink. Could be he’s visiting me on Father’s Day, as I always visited him on Father’s Day when he was alive. Or maybe he’s simply amused by the state of my home.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Love Baseball? Love Reading? Love Hotdogs & Beer?

Boy! Do I have an event for you!

This Friday night the Quakes are hosting a whole team of So Cal writers for a pre-game reception and yours truly will be there!

It will be a fun evening for the whole family.
And Friday night TV is sooooooo boring. So come on down!

Here's the flyer. The reception starts at 6:15 pm.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

From the Mail Bag - A Big Bite of Ignorance

I received the following e-mail this morning from a Pete XXXXX.

Do men allow you to perform oral sex on them, or are they too afraid that anything that enters your gaping maw will never be seen again. I would probably let you blow me, but if you tried to put mustard on my wiener I would certainly have second thoughts.

Now, I have no idea who Pete is or how he found me or why he felt compelled to send me such a nasty note from his personal e-mail address, but for lack of better judgement on his part, he did.

Did Pete (may I call you Pete?) think this note would cause me to sink into a quicksand pit of self-pity and tears? Did he hope I would shrink like a genteel hot house flower from words conjuring up images of blow jobs? Did sending this missive to me on a Sunday morning make him feel better about himself? Did saying this give him a blast of manly testosterone like a can of Red Bull boosts energy?

Hard to tell.

One thing is for sure, if Pete is over the age of 13, shame on him for airing the nasty side of his personality in public like unclean boxers. And if he thinks sending me notes like this won't end up in the public realm, then shame on him for not doing his homework.

I've been subjected to insults like this most of my life. For many years, they hurt deeply. Now they just strengthen my resolve to shine a light on prejudice in all of its ugly forms. Although no one was hurt physically and property wasn't vandalized, notes like this are still "hate crimes" fueled by prejudice and ignorance.

BTW, Pete, I only give BJ's to men and those men must have at least a triple digit IQ. Rest easy, you wouldn't qualify.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Where Do I Audition?

A friend told me on Friday about a new game show called More to Love – a Dating Game style show for plus size women. Naturally, being 1) a plus size woman, 2) an author of books featuring a plus size protagonist, and 3) just naturally curious about all the flaky things on TV, I decided to do some snooping.

Yes, there is a reality show being produced featuring plus size people. But instead of it being patterned after the old Dating Game, it’s more along the lines of The Bachelor. Only this time the bachelor looking for love will be husky and the single women plus size. In fact, More to Love is produced by the same folks who brought the viewing public The Bachelor. It is scheduled to be aired this summer on Fox and hosted by plus size super model Emme.

The problem is I've read comments about the show that have annoyed me and comments that made me think this might be a good thing. Something that might make people across America see that people with extra poundage are just normal folks looking for the usual stuff out of life like security, happiness and love, the very things I strive for in my Odelia Grey books. One of the annoying quotes I read is: "More to Love’"is billed as the first dating show for ‘average-looking’ people.

When did “average-looking” become synonymous with plus size or ample? Does a drop-dead beauty who is a size 14 or over automatically become “average-looking?” Is a plain jane who is a size two now the poster child for beautiful? I think these folks are confusing their adjectives. And just because a hopeful Romeo has a few extra pounds, it doesn’t make him average either. And while I'm on a rant, why are big people only being paired with big people? Most of the men I date have medium body types. And I see a lot of husky men with slender women. It's like the More to Love contestants are being paired off as a special species for Noah's ark. Or maybe paired to be future contestants on The Biggest Loser - Couples (a show I love, BTW).

According to a casting site for More to Love, they are looking for “REAL women who are curvy, beautiful, sexy, ages 23-35.” The combination of beautiful and sexy is not average. Nor is there any explanation of “curvy.” I’m sure the show has its size limits, but is too politic or afraid to print them. I wonder how many women will be considered who are 180 lbs or over. Me thinks none. I’m betting the women on More to Love will be as drop-dead beautiful as their more slender counterparts on The Bachelor, just a little more filled out. “Average-looking” my ass.

It’s not that I object to contestants being gorgeous and young, but don’t call this a dating show for “average-looking” people. The Dating Game – now there was a show with average-looking people. I know because I knew some of the folks chosen for that show. The Biggest Loser contestants are average-looking people, and not because of their starting weights. Maybe instead of average, they should have said a dating show for "everyday people." You know, the folks you see at the bank or grocery store - folks before a Hollywood makeover.

Then I read this comment on the official site for More to Love: "This is a dating show that sends the right message about embracing and loving yourself no matter your shape or size," said executive producer Mike Fleiss. "When you are comfortable with your own body, you can really allow yourself to be open to the possibility of finding the right person to love." In this site's casting requirements for the women "sexy" has been replaced by "confident."

Okay. Now these ideas I can get behind. Why? Because it’s true of everyone, no matter what you look like. Confidence is beautiful and sexy at any size ... and at any age.

Speaking of age, when is there going to be a dating show for “average-looking” single mystery authors in their fifties? Now that would be TV worth watching.

I'm ready for my close-up, Mr. Fleiss.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Bum Knee, Bummed Out

Tomorrow is the Ronald McDonald Los Angeles House 5K Walk. I am signed up and I've raised quite a bit of money for this, one of my favorite charities. Unfortunately, I will not be amongst the walkers. Last week I did something to my left knee after the Mud Run. That's right. After 6.2 miles of mud, obstacles and killer hills with only a few scratches, I twisted my good knee getting off the shuttle bus that took us back to the parking lot. I called it dumb. My friend Joni called it ironic.

Whatever it's called, I'm a bit pissed about it. I love walking in the RM walk and I do it with colleagues from my law firm. All week I have been resting and babying my knee. It's a lot better, but not in any shape to walk 3 miles without setting me back.

To date, I am the top fund raiser at my firm for the RM walk. I want to thank all of you who contributed - those who bought character names (there's still 1 left!) and those who donated other sums. A lot of families are cared for at the Los Angeles Ronald McDonald House and you became a part of it by supporting me, lame or not.

And even though I'm not walking tomorrow, there is still time to make your donation to this very worthy cause. Just go to my page. Donations are being accepted through June. I'll be doing 5K in my chair with my knee elevated.

I'm dedicating half of my Mud Run to the LA Ronald McDonald House. Would that be okay with you?

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

A Not So Gentle Reminder to Never Forget

I am horrified and astounded.

Today a gunman entered the Holocaust Museum in Washington and started shooting. The security guard he shot died. Last report, the shooter was wounded. It could have been worse, had he not been stopped.

This museum was one of the highlights of my trip to DC many years ago. I cried most of the way through it and remember going into the ladies room to get some tissue and finding another woman already there sobbing. This museum is not to be missed. It's a sacred place. It's not just a place to remember the horrors the Germans inflicted upon the Jews, but a place to remember that atrocities are still being visited upon people around the globe by other groups of people. We must never forget that it's still going on. I, as a person of Armenian heritage, will never forget.

It's really surprising that a shooting like this hasn't happened before or more frequently. There is so much hate in the world. So much anger. I guess that's what astounds me more - all the bile stored up in people. We all feel angry and powerless from time to time, but most of us don't go around shooting people.

The shooter was an 88-year-old white supremacist. What made him think the world would be a better place if he entered this museum and started shooting? Why couldn't he have just gone to a soup kitchen in DC and help serve meals to the homeless? Or taught a great-grandchild to say his A, B, Cs. Now that's channeling energy into something good. We should all be adding to the good in the world, not the bad and bitter.

The photo to the right is of the "shoe" exhibit at the Holocaust Museum. It's the exhibit that touched me the deepest of the deep.

Sunday, June 07, 2009

Fat Middle-Aged Woman Takes On The Marines

The World Famous Camp Pendleton Mud Run – a grueling 10K through a military obstacle course – was yesterday. And I FINISHED. Originally, we thought I’d finished it in 2 hrs 58 min. But in checking the official race results, it seems I finished in 2 hrs 34 min 5 sec; 3075th overall (in a race with 4,000 entrants). I was the last racer to clock in before the official time cut off of 2 hrs 45 min.

The day started off with great excitement. I’d spent the night with friend Terri Nolan and her hubby Scott Bozanic in San Clemente. The race grounds had a carnival atmosphere. The event area was strewn with blankets, portable chairs, and people having a grand time. There was music, food, giveaways and merchandise to be purchased. After picking up our event t-shirts, checking our bags (the airlines could learn a lot about orderly baggage handling from the Marines), and visiting the porta-potty for the last time, we made our way to the staging area, then through the chutes to the starting line. There we stood like cattle heading for slaughter for nearly 30 minutes listening to marine spokes people pumping us up for the big event. We also received the most important instruction of the day, barked Marine style over the loud speaker. “DO NOT DIE. YOU START THE RACE ALIVE, YOU FINISH THE RACE ALIVE.”

Okey dokey.

When the race started, people took off. I was near the front, but kept to my steady, power walking pace as people flew by me, remembering what pal Ashley had advised: to run my own race at my own pace. The other fabulous advice came from Scott. He told me to take water at every water stop, even if I wasn’t thirsty. The water stops were posted at every mile. At each I poured a glass of water over my neck and head and drank Gatorade, even when I didn’t feel I needed it.

The first 2 miles were great. The only “obstacles” a small stream crossing and two patches of sand to cross. Then we hit Suicide Hill. During training, this was the obstacle I’d dreaded the most. I was sure this 2 mi 570 ft climb would be my undoing. Not so, but not because it was easy. It wasn’t. But I had been training on hills for months and it obviously paid off at crunch time. The fun part of Suicide Hill was a detour through Combat Town – a collection of concrete fake buildings used for training. When we entered Combat Town, about a dozen marines were waiting for us armed with Super Soaker water guns. At the top of Suicide Hill, I asked a Marine for the time. I’d been on the course about 90 min. I was actually ahead of where I expected to be at mile 4. I had just over 2 mi left to go with 1 hr 15 min of official time left. Knowing I could easily power walk 2 mi in under 30 min, I flew down the backside of Suicide Hill with my heart full of hope that the worst was behind me and I would fly through the next 2 miles and the remaining obstacles in the time I had left.

Silly Wabbit.

There was another stream crossing and some up and down terrain, but nothing I couldn’t handle. In fact, much of the trail was beautiful. There were a lot of folks walk/running by now and a lot of joking and chit chat. The teams started 30 min after the individuals and when they caught up to us slow pokes many cheered on us on with cries of “Good job!” and “Keep it up!” as they flew by. I forgot to mention that there were teams of blind runners participating – yes, blind! There was a sighted runner on each team and it was near the top of Suicide Hill that many of these runners passed me … and inspired me.

Just when I was thinking I had this thing in the bag, I hit the first mud pit and wall. By now I was pretty exhausted, but I took a deep breath, squared my shoulders, and headed into the mud towards the wall. Three steps later, I was on my back in nearly 2 feet of thick, slimy mud. (Well, it’s not like the race is called the Camp Pendleton Clean Run.) It took me several tries to get to my feet again. Once upright, I slogged to a baby-faced smiling Marine who was waiting to help me. Problem was, I was so tired, I couldn’t even get my foot up onto his knee for the boost. Another Maine came over to help, but after several attempts I decided I should go around the wall. Going around the wall doesn’t mean you get to go around the obstacle as a whole, it just means the wall. Once around the wall, I had to slip back down into the mud on the other side and slog my way through it and up the slippery incline on the other side. Once on the other side, I wanted to lay down and die. Then I remembered the command for the day: DO NOT DIE.

Fortunately for me, next came my favorite and easiest obstacle – the river crossing. This wasn’t a stream, this was a wide river with a depth of at least 4.5 feet and a strong current. Once I maneuvered my way down the slippery, muddy bank into the water, I found new life. My toes could barely touch the bottom, so I gave my legs a much deserved rest. Using the ropes and buoys that indicated the trail borders, I crossed the river quickly in a half swimming, half rope crawling method that made up a lot of time.

Soaked and weary, I plugged along another meandering trail until I hit the next obstacle – another $#@&$# wall and mud pit. Again, I made my way into the mud. Again, I slipped backwards and floundered like a turtle on its back. Once back on my feet, I took a few steps and found my feet STUCK in the mud. And I mean STUCK. A Marine gave me his hand and pulled me free. I’m proud to say my shoes stayed on my feet. At the wall, the same Marine took one look at my exhausted, mud covered face and said: “Ma’am, why don’t you go around.” I could have kissed him. On the other side, I trudged through knee-high mud to the tunnels. The tunnels were, thankfully, shorter than I imagined and I did them easily on my hands and knees, although part way through I considered laying down and taking a nap. Had I realized what was still ahead, I just might have.

By now I was mostly alone. I even managed to pick up my pace a bit. Then I came around a bend and saw IT. The obstacle that was to be my real nemesis – Slippery Hill. Slippery Hill was a straight, nearly vertical climb that had been watered down all day. Snaking down it was a narrow but ankle-breaking ravine made by the water. I started up, taking it 10-20 paces at a time, then resting for 20 seconds, crisscrossing the ravine here and there to get a better foothold. It was taking forever. My chest was pounding. About half way up I was barely able to move more than 5-7 steps before resting. My legs were starting to tremble. About 1/3 from the top, a female Marine came down, hooked her arm through mine, and offered words of encouragement as I took each pain-staking final step to the top. With only about a half mi to go, I trudged off without resting. After a short flat period I started down the hill. The descent was as steep as Slippery Hill but without the water. I took it very slow, worried that a fall might result in broken bones. Half way down, I sat on the ground and started sliding down on my butt until I hit a very rocky portion. Two Marines came up. One took my arm, the other offered his shoulder for balance, and they guided me down the last few yards. I asked them if I was the last one on the course (sure felt like it) and was told that there were a lot of folks behind me.

A few yards from the hill, a Marine directed me off the path and down a short muddy slope. There I was met by a Marine welcome wagon. About 10 of them stood on the side of a mud pit, cheering as I entered the final obstacle. Over the final mud pit are strips of colored flags. You have to get on your hands and knees and crawl under them. This pit is less mud, more muddy water. After clearing a few strips of flags, a Marine came into the water and started splashing dirty water at me. I stopped crawling, looked him in the eye, and told him I was gonna tell his momma.

When I was able to stand, I got to my feet and dragged my sorry ass out of the pit and across the finish line where Terri and Scott stood, already showered, waiting for me. And, yes, I cried when I finished.

I had done it! I had conquered the World Famous Camp Pendleton Mud Run!

Photos: With Jen, Stacie, and Hope before race. With Terri and Scott before race. Me at finish line trying to look mean and muscled, only succeeding in looking ridiculous. Do notice the color of the shirt before and after. You can double-click on photo to see how really filthy I was at the end.

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Next Stop - Mud Run!

In less than 48 hours the 2009 Mud Run will be behind me. I will have either made it through the course or not, but it will be over.

This morning I had my last workout. I power walked for 2 miles and felt great doing it. Shorter than my usual training walks, but perfect for 2 days before the event. I've studied photos of past Mud Runs and blogs written by people who have done it before. Tonight and tomorrow I'm going to practice my bear crawl (for the tunnels and sand crawl).

I truly believe I have a good shot at finishing the race the first time through, although not with time to spare. It will be close getting my fat ass through the course, up the hills, through the tunnels, over the walls, and through the mud in 2 hours 45 minutes or less. But nothing will stop me from trying my best, not even my own personal insecurities.

This morning while walking it occured to me that some people on the course are going to laugh at me or think I shouldn't even be there. Here I am, a 56-year-old, post menopausal woman, about 100 lbs overweight, trudging/limping/crawling behind 3,500 athletes.

Picture the pooper-scooper following the circus parade and you'll have an idea of how I was feeling.

Then it occurred to me - hey, I write humorous books. Who gives a shit if someone laughs at me? Isn't that kind of my stock- in-trade? I'm even wearing a funny shirt at the race.

So laugh it up, folks. Remember, this experience is probably going to end up in a future Odelia Grey book.

My next post will be Sunday, June 7th, and will be a recap of the race, hopefully with a few photos. If you don't see me post on Sunday, start calling the hospitals around Camp Pendleton.

Monday, June 01, 2009

Book Expo 2009

I did not attend Book Expo this year, but that doesn't mean I wasn't well represented at the event. Pal Keith Raffel sent me this photo of the Midnight Ink booth showing my Ghost a la Mode and Keith's new book Smasher being promoted in a BIG way.

Ghost a la Mode and Smasher are both coming out September 2009. And both are available now for pre-order from Amazon and Midnight Ink.