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)

WTF!

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: bobbyooten@aol.com