Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Posting By Proxy

It’s no secret that many celebrities, politicians, and even authors hire people to compose and send out Twitter and Facebook posts under their name. Not too long ago there was even a case where a well-known person fired the employee who was posting his tweets, but forgot to change his account password after, allowing the ex-employee to continue to send out short messages of an unflattering nature.

From time to time I get asked if that’s really me tweeting and posting to Facebook. Even my manager has been asked if she posts those tidbits on my behalf.

Do you really think I pay someone to post about B’s habit of pooping on the bathroom rug? Or have room in my budget for someone else to post about letting my hair go gray? Or to even share my joy over a newly released book or new contract?

Nope that’s all me, all the time.

I don’t want to throw stones at colleagues who do hire PR people to write and send their posts. For some, it’s a matter of saving time while still connecting with their readers. For others, it’s a distaste for social media in general. But social media posting is my way of connecting personally with readers. Those posts only take a few minutes out of my day and through them I get to know a lot of the good folks who read my books. And there is an additional bonus. Several of those “friends” and “followers” have become real friends over time.

I spend a lot of time alone at the computer. My schedule and budget do not allow for me to do many book events outside the Los Angeles area. So without social media, I’d never be able to get up close and personal with my readers. Using someone else to make that connection would short change me of that pleasure.

By the way, I also answer all of my reader mail personally, though that takes more time.

So, yes, Virginia, there really is a Sue Ann Jaffarian. She lives with two cats named B and Raffi in a 3rd floor apartment without AC on the west side of Los Angeles, and works as a paralegal in a LA law firm.

And she spends 15-30 minutes on average a day on Twitter and Facebook trying to keep in touch with everyone.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Another Freaking Resolution.

This week over at Criminal Minds, we've been tasked with announcing our New Year's Resolutions. This year I came up with a new one. Considering all my prior ones have not made it very far past January 1st, let's see how this %$#@* one does.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Not Your Usual Christmas Greeting

Yesterday was my 59th birthday. For me it’s a milestone. While most people fret about turning 30, or 40 or 50, I always focused on 29, 39, and 49. The last year in a decade is like standing on the precipice of a cliff, wondering if I’ll jump or be pushed into the next chapter of my life.

Let me be frank, this has been a rough year for me, starting with last December. The last 12 months have been fraught with annoying physical ailments, some of which were serious scares, but which, much to my relief, turned out to be of a more minor nature. In February, I had my first bad fall, something all people worry about as they get older. It was my body letting me know it needs better care as it ages.

I know many folks have had a much worse year than I have, and I don’t want to sound like a whine-ass. I’m just saying last year can leave any time now, the sooner , the better.

This last year the IRS and I had a battle royal. They seem to think I make a lot more income than I do and for months they bullied and beleaguered me, even though I was cooperating fully. Finally, I was able to get help from the good folks from Taxpayers Advocate. I won’t go into details, but the IRS seemed determined to either see me living on the street or on a slab in the morgue. We settled for somewhere in between. (When I start screaming and swearing about corporate greed and financial injustice supported by our government, trust me, I mean it!) It took nearly 8 months for me and the IRS to come to an agreement. 8 freaking months of government incompetence and bullying.

As many of you who follow this blog have caught on, I suffer from depression from time to time. Sometimes it’s mild, sometimes it’s severe, but it’s never continuous. It’s more like spots of red wine on a white table cloth.

For the most part, I’m a pretty happy and stable person, and very productive. But for about 5 months in 2011, my depression was so severe, I couldn’t write, could barely work, barely could get out of bed. So severe, I thought seriously about finding a slab on which to rest my head. I was crying all the time – at work, at home, at my computer. I even had to take some time off work because of it. My close friends were horrified by how deep I’d plunged. Much of this long bout was predicated on my IRS problems and the feeling that I was being torn apart by hungry pit bulls. When you see no resolution to a severe problem, depression raises its head like a poked vicious dog.

Not to worry. I came out of the blackness about two months ago, and I look forward to the books and stories I need to write and contracts for new books with great anticipation. And I’m not writing this blog post for sympathy. I’m writing it in the hope of bringing awareness to a serious problem. I’ve suffered from some form of depression since I was a teenager, and I know I’m not alone. And neither are you. And you know if I’m talking to you.

I love Christmas! It’s a time when I come out of myself and celebrate and connect with others. The holidays and the promise of a New Year always bring me out of my doldrums. But statistics tell us that the holidays are the most serious time for depression for most people. That there are more suicides this time of year than at other times. Add to that the current financial climate, unemployment, and increase in alcohol consumption, and it becomes a ticking bomb big enough to take out half a city.

If you suffer from depression, know you are not alone. Get the help you need and keep fighting the good fight. Take it from me, there is always light at the end of the tunnel, even if you're wearing a blindfold.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to gleefully jump into my 60th year! Yeee Haaa!

Wishing all of you a Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, and a Healthy and Bright New Year!!

Monday, December 12, 2011


No, I didn't really win the most coveted (and ugliest) award in mystery writing. I've never even been nominated, but this week on Criminal Minds, we've been tasked with writing an acceptance speech for one of our favorite authors. At the risk of coming off arrogant, I wrote my acceptance speech.

A gal can dream, can't she?

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Remembering the Forgotten

1,639 bodies will be laid to rest at 9:00 am in Los Angeles County today. No, they weren’t the victims of a terrorist attack or a massive accident or act of extreme nature. These individuals were the victims of poverty and loneliness and anonymity. They are the forgotten dead of the county in which I live and work.

According to a news article in the Los Angeles Times, every year Los Angeles County buries corpses in a mass grave, if after two to three years of storage the bodies remain unclaimed. Mostly the deceased are homeless people and people without families. Some remain unclaimed because their families are too poor to provide a fitting burial. Considering the dismal economy, I’m sure LA isn’t the only place in the country with this problem.

Today is also Pearl Harbor Day – a day of remembrance for those who died in the Japanese attack on our country seventy years ago. 2,403 people died that day.

In all the hubbub of the holiday season, the race against deadlines, and the headlong thrust to greet a New Year, I intend to pause today to honor the lives of 4,042 souls. Some we remember every year, but this year I’ve added 1,639 more to my list.

No matter how they died or what their status, these individuals deserve a moment of honor and respect, too.

Monday, December 05, 2011

29 and NOT Holding!

Starting today it’s pedal to the metal on my WIP – the 7th Odelia Grey novel. It’s due on January 1st, which means January 3rd , since the 1st is a holiday and the 2nd a day off from the office for me. Believe me I’ll that need extra time on the 2nd! I’m already on an extension from my publisher, so I can’t push the calendar any further.

This poor book has been beset by so many problems, you’d think it had been visited by the seven Biblical plagues. It’s no wonder it’s behind schedule. But it’s not the book itself that has issues, but the author. This year has been a humdinger, and I can’t wait for it to be done with.

I started book #7 ages ago, but one thing after another kept interfering with its progress. For starters, my work schedule at the office was heavier than usual and I put in longer hours. It also seems I had one ailment after another, starting with last December, and even now am fighting a tooth abscess and waiting to schedule a root canal. Thankfully, nothing turned out to be major, but all set me back time wise, especially a bad fall I took in February in Atlanta. Top that off with some other personal issues and you have writing schedule disaster. First Gem of a Ghost was turned in late, now Odelia #7 is tardy. I’ve pretty much spent all of 2011 limping after the calendar. And this year I only had 2 books due, instead of my usual 3.  (Whew!)

It happens to all writers. I know authors who have turned in books 6-12 months late. I’m not sure how their publishers deal with that since schedules for catalogues and marketing are set far in advance, but I’m doing my very best to hit my publisher’s extended January deadline.

The problem with a book getting interrupted by bumps in the author’s life is that you can lose focus of the story. That happened to me with this Odelia book, something I realized this weekend as I was slogging away on it. I use the term “slogging” specifically because that’s what it felt like each time I sat down at the computer. Usually my writing flies, but these past few weeks it has dragged like a dead body caught under a mob car.

So what’s a harried author to do?

On Saturday afternoon I stopped working on the manuscript and went back to page 1, paragraph 1, word 1. I started from the beginning, editing and reading and taking notes along the way. And it’s a good thing. Seems what I was writing later in the novel was in conflict with the beginning of the book. I also noticed that the beginning, while still needing editing, was tighter and much more focused and more fun to read. The chapters I had been working on seem rushed and scattered in comparison.

As of this morning, I’ve edited everything I have to date and it’s flowing well and is consistent. I’m back on track.

I’m still not settled on a title for this book. I have a couple in mind, but nothing that jumps out at me. I’m sure between my publisher and I, we will come up with something fun.

So please excuse me now, I have to get a book done in … um … 29 days.