Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Living Large and Loving It!

Back in 2004 a small anthology was published by Draumr Publishing titled Love At Large. It contained a collection of romantic short stories all featuring plus size women.  I was asked by my friend Rida Allen, one of the owners of Draumr, if I would write a forward for the book. I did and also wrote a short story for it called "Love Bytes."

Today I received a royalty statement and payment for my story in Love At Large for the first 6 months of 2010. I receive a tiny royalty from that short story every six months like clockwork.  My royalties total just shy of $10 a year.

Go ahead and laugh.  But a buck’s a buck.

More importantly, that not-quite $10 in royalties is proof that the book is still selling six years later.  It’s available in both print and e-book formats.  You won’t find it stores, only online, but it’s still out there and still being purchased by readers.

At the time I wrote "Love Bytes,"  I was at the beginning of my professional writing career and the only book I had out was Too Big To Miss.  Now, with eighteen contracts spread across three series, of which six novels are already in print and one on the precipice of launching, I look back on this short story with warmth and fondness. It was one of my first born and it still makes me proud.

I’ve only had two short stories published.  The other is "Ho Ho Homicide," an Odelia Grey short story written for a holiday anthology. The proceeds of that book went to charity.  I’d like to do more short stories, but with deadlines for books coming at me every four months, it’s just impossible at this time. Instead, I will rejoice in Love at Large and Love Bytes, knowing that my very first short story is still making the rounds.

I guess books are like vampires – barring a stake in the heart, they never really die.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

For My Viewing Pleasure

Spy shows must be the new rage. At least it seems that way to me. I’ve always been a fan of USA’s Burn Notice. It smart, sassy and rather tongue-in-cheek. I love it!

Now USA has released a new show – Covert Affairs. It stars the charming Piper Perabo as a very green CIA agent working out of Langley. The rest of the cast is just as likeable as Perabo, especially Christopher Gorham who plays Auggie, the blind but in no way disabled CIA vet who shows her the ropes There have only been two episodes of Covert Affairs so far and I have enjoyed both. It’s on Tuesday nights at 10, or catch it via On Demand as I do. (A special thank you shout out to USA for making their great shows available on On Demand. Otherwise, I’d hardly ever catch them.)

This fall NBC is releasing Undercovers, a husband and wife spy show by J. J. Abrams (Lost). The teasers for Undercovers hooked me immediately and reminded me of a ramped up Hart To Hart. The spies are played by the equally gorgeous Boris Kodjoe and Gugu Mbatha-Raw as married former CIA agents drawn back into the spy life. The show also stars veteran Gerald McRaney.

I’m sure all these shows have and will receive their share of negative comments, but this is TV fiction folks. It’s escapism, not a documentary, and as with novels, the watcher is expected to suspend a little belief in return for entertainment. So, entertain me!

Last night was a rare night for me. I watched 3 hrs of TV – 3 shows back-to-back: Royal Pains (another fun USA show – a doctor with MacGyver type skills), Burn Notice and The Good Wife (another BIG favorite of mine). BUT, and this is a big but (not to be confused with my big butt), I had already put in quality and productive time on my current manuscript. TV never comes before my writing.

Also coming up soon on my watching radar: the return of Weeds (YAY!) and the premiere of Showtime’s The Big C, both on August 16th, and the return of the fabulous Dexter on September 26th. The Big C stars two of my favorite actors, Laura Linney and Oliver Platt. Gabourey Sidibe also appears on this comedy/drama about a woman rediscovering herself after being diagnosed with cancer.

Another must watch show for me is Drop Dead Diva. If you haven’t seen this Lifetime original series yet, do so. It’s positively charming and has a lot of guest cameos. My favorite is Rosie O’Donnell as a crusty judge. Alas, this show is not on On Demand (wake up Lifetime!), so catching it tends to be a crap shoot. Fortunately, it’s aired on Sunday nights at 9 pm when I’m usually home and done with my writing.

I’m also into the current seasons of True Blood and Top Chef.

Yeah, yeah, yeah, I know, I watch a lot of TV. With my tough writing schedule, I’m sure folks wonder why and how I manage to sit in front of the tube as much as I do. As I mentioned earlier, On Demand aids me in my addiction. Also, I watch during my dinner time.

TV is the perfect unwind activity for me. It requires no effort on my part, unlike reading and physical activities. I just have to put my butt in a chair and focus. But I do only watch about 1 hr a night during the week; maybe 2 if I catch a movie or a special show. On weekends I seldom turn on the TV until Sunday evening. Otherwise, I’d never get anything done. And if I do watch more than an hour, I multi-task with chores I can do in front of the tube.

And just so you don’t think I’m a total tube head – I also read 1 hour a day. I just started reading Insignificant Others by Stephen McCauley.



Sunday, July 18, 2010

On My Mark, Get Set - GO!

Today I began work on my next deadline which is October 1st – 75 days away.

On deck is book 2 of my vampire mystery series. I already have 130 pages done as I always get a jump start on books several months before I actually throw myself into them full-time. I’m very pleased to report that the story is chugging along according to plan, and I'll tell you this much – it’s going to be a rollicking adventure in the Los Angeles vampire community.

Here is the first paragraph:

The dead body floated face down in the pool like an inflatable joke, something meant to scare people at parties and on Halloween. But to Madison Rose’s eye, it didn’t look like some plastic gag. It looked real. Dead real.

Murder In Vein
, the 1st book in my new Fang-In-Cheek mystery series, will be out in a few weeks. The launch is scheduled for 5 pm on September 18th at the Mystery Bookstore in Los Angeles. Everyone is invited!!!

Already several great reviews have come out for Murder In Vein, with the one from Kirkus (see below) making me swoon with delight.

Odelia Gray (Corpse on the Cob, 2010, etc.) and Granny Apples (Ghost à la Mode, 2009) have a new cousin: Madison Rose, a human living in Los Angeles’s twilight world of vampires.

Waitress Madison Rose can hardly believe it. First she’s snatched from outside Auntie Em’s Diner by a thug named Bobby. Just as quickly, Bobby is dispatched by two senior citizens who gnaw him to death. That’s because Doug and Dodie Deadham are vampires who’ve been living in quiet luxury in Topanga Canyon. The Deadhams are dead set on finding out who’s been killing people whose palms are marked with faint red bloodlines (the only humans who can be turned into vampires), in part to protect their secret and in part to protect future vamps. For reasons not clear even to Madison, she agrees to help them. Under the direction of centuries-old Samuel La Croix, head of the California Vampire Council, she lets sexy Colin Reddy squire her to clubs where vamp wannabes test their dentist-implanted fangs on willing young flesh, blissfully unaware that the real item is under their stylish noses. Because when real vampires bite, they don’t play, as posers like Lord Wilhelm and Lady Harriet of Dark Tidings soon find out.

Like Stuart Kaminsky, Jaffarian juggles her franchises deftly, giving each a unique voice and appeal. Her latest series kickoff may be her best yet, blending supernatural sexy with down-to-earth sassy.


So watch me run towards October 1st as fast as my fat, stumpy legs and fingers can carry me. After all, with reviews like this, book 2 in the series has a lot to live up to.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, SCOUT!

Today is the 50th anniversary of the publication of Harper Lee’s Pulitzer Prize winning novel To Kill A Mockingbird.

If it were a wedding anniversary, I would be offering up gifts of gold. Instead, it has given me gold.

To Kill a Mockingbird is my favorite novel of all time. I even own a signed copy of the 40th anniversary edition.

There was a period in high school and early college when I read so many of the great American classics, one after the other, and for fun, not for class assignments. In addition to Mockingbird, I remember gobbling up A Tree Grows In Brooklyn, A Member of the Wedding, The Heart is a Lonely Hunter, The Jungle, A Light in the Forest, The Yearling, just to name a few. It was an education that has served me well over the years and definitely influenced both my desire to be a writer and my drive to be one.

I’m going to read To Kill A Mockingbird again this summer, but I’ll have to pick up a paperback. No way am I putting my grubby paws on my signed copy.

Thank you, Harper Lee, for enriching my life ... for giving me gold.

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

86 Days and Counting...

Just in case you're wondering, I DID hit my deadline of July 6th for delivering the 6th Odelia Grey novel to my publisher. 6 on 6. Its working title is Murder In Drag. We'll see if that sticks.

I'm taking this week off from writing to clean up my desk, catch up on correspondence, update my website, do some reading, and just simply give the old noggin a well-deserved rest. Then I'm off to the races again with book #2 in my vampire mystery series. Its working title is The Blood That Binds.

The first book in my Fang-in-Cheek mystery series, Murder In Vein, will be out in just 8 weeks! Can you believe it? Seems like just yesterday it was a gleam of madness in my frazzled brain.

The launch party for Murder In Vein is scheduled for September 18th at 5:00 pm at the Mystery Book Store (1036-C Broxton, Los Angeles). I'd love to see you all there. It's gonna be fang-tastic!

Next deadline: October 1st - 86 days away. Piece 'o cake...

I'm celebrating a milestone over at Inkspot today. Come say hello and leave a comment.

Saturday, July 03, 2010

Next Stop - DEADLINE JUNCTION

This chant should really be:

I'd damn well better!

I'd damn well better!

I'd damn well better!

I have just 4 days until I must hurl my latest Odelia Grey manuscript into the black hole of e-mail to my editor. 4 days. 3 full days if you want to get technical.

A deadline is the thorn in the side of every author. We hate writing under pressure - writing ON DEMAND, so to speak. Yet, without deadlines, we would meander and languish over each and every word for days, weeks, months - yea, years - until we felt we had it just right.

Deadlines keep me focused. Deadlines remind me this is a business not unlike Amtrak. There are schedules to keep and people are depending on you. And when the train finally pulls into the station, often there are folks waving hankies with smiles and words of greeting.

I know I can. I know I can. I know I can.

Thursday, July 01, 2010

I Love My Beach Baby!


This just in ... Cover for upcoming Ghost in the Polka Dot Bikini, the 2nd book in the Ghost of Granny Apples mystery series. This book will be released February 2011 and is available now for pre-order.



Out of Focus

I have a problem. I have become unfocused in the past year, unraveling like a cheap sweater caught on a nail. Driven only by deadlines until I'm nearly mad and ready to drop. It's not the writing's fault, or my publisher's, or even mine. I've simply let things get out of hand until my personal life has become a mess.

Hmmm, well, okay, if there is blame, it's going squarely on the shoulders of the vampires in my upcoming Fang-in-Cheek mystery series, due for release in September. Since I first whispered my idea for this series into my agent's ear last September, my life has been totally out of control and slipping more each day. In the last nine months I have written two complete novels and have fleshed out two others. I've also put the spit and polish on Ghost in the Polka Dot Bikini and Murder In Vein, both being released in the next 6-7 months.

When I agreed to slip a third series into the mix, I believed I could do it. I still believe I can and I have. But I need to get better organized. Writing the books isn't the problem. The day job at the law firm isn't the problem. Those are my two constants. It's everything else in between that seems to have gone to hell in a hand basket, taking my common sense along for the ride.

So, yesterday I decided that today, July 1st, is refocus day. In spite of what it often sounds like, I do waste bucket loads of time. I spend way too many hours playing games on the Internet. Too much time in front of TV. Not nearly enough time getting out of my routine. In the past two months, I've stopped exercising, opening mail, cleaning my house beyond just a lick and a promise, and have neglected friends and social obligations. I can't remember the last time I wore lipstick and mascara. Oh yeah - at BEA in NY. That was in May.

I'm becoming that crazy hermit woman with cats.

This has got to stop. Now. Today. This minute. Welcome July 1st.

I'm making the mother of all To-Do Lists and I'm getting it all done and will have fun doing it - DAMMIT. For starters, before there's time to slip on the banana peel of backsliding, I'm going to have a bowl of oatmeal instead of a donut.

Just 6 days until Odelia #6 is due to my publisher. I'm going to get it done and look and feel good doing it. Watch me!