Sunday, December 16, 2012

The Big Birthday Bang

Today begins my official big birthday week. I don't usually take more than a day to celebrate my birthday but this is A BIG ONE.  On Friday, December 21st, I turn 60 years old. 

WOW!

I know a lot of people turn 60 without so much as a blink of an eye, but it is very special to me for many reasons.

For one, my mother died when she was only 52 years old.When I turned 52, I went through a lot of anxiety, half sure I would kick the bucket sometime during that year. My mother, however, suffered from heart disease and emphysema and I am, thankfully, very healthy.

Next, during my life I've had a lot of serious emotional ups and downs. To say I've weathered them in style would be a joke, but I did get through them even though there were some days, weeks, months and even years when I was my own worst enemy. Frankly, I never thought I'd see 60.

Lastly, according to the Mayans, December 21, 2012, is also the end of the world. If that happens, I'm going to be super pissed off because on December 22nd I leave for a combo birthday/Christmas vacation with my BFF Susan. We will be spending 5 days in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Seeing Santa Fe is on my bucket list, but there are also lots of other things on that list. Even if the world ends on December 22nd after I arrive in Santa Fe, I'm still going to be pretty upset that I didn't get to do those other items. It will be like spending eternity annoyed because I forgot things on my grocery list and now the store is closed ... forever!

Originally I wanted to spend my 60th birthday at Stonehenge. But time and money muscled in on those plans so it's off to Santa Fe. Losing 60 lbs was also on Must Do Before 60 List, but, well, you can see how well that turned out.

Stonehenge is still on my bucket list. Along with sky diving, seeing Alaska, and visiting England. I also have at least four more books to write for my Odelia Grey series and at least two novels and one novella due in my Granny Apples series.   If the world ends on December 21st, I will be in serious breech of contract.  But who will care? Right?



Friday, November 23, 2012

Signed Books = Great Gifts

Latest Odelia novel - #7
Since it's Black Friday, I feel compelled to enter the fray, not as a shopper but as a pitch-woman.

Even if you did not make it to one of my book signings, you can still obtain and give signed copies of most of my books.  Below is a list of independent book stores that have signed copies.  All are located in Southern California, and all have great customer service and will be happy to ship.

Book Carnival – (714-538-3210)
Mysterious Galaxy – San Diego (858-268-4747)

Mystery Ink – (714-960-4000)
Latest Granny Apples -
Nominee for 2012 RT Reviewers Award
Prefer e-books and want to support an indie store? You can purchase many e-books from Mysterious Galaxy. Check here for details.

Speaking of e-books, It won't be long before THE SILENT GHOST, the first Granny Apples novella, is released by Berkley, but you can pre-order it now for Nook or Kindle for $2.99.



Click HERE for a full listing of my books and short stories.

Saturday, November 03, 2012

I am Woman - I Vote!

 
This is the story of our Mothers and Grandmothers who lived only 92 years ago.

Remember, it was not until 1920 that women were granted the right to go to the polls and vote.

The women were innocent and defenseless, but they were jailed nonetheless for picketing the White House, carrying signs asking for the vote. And by the end of the night, they were barely alive.


Lucy Burns
Forty prison guards wielding clubs and their warden's blessing went on a rampage against the 33 women wrongly convicted of 'obstructing sidewalk traffic.'
 
They beat Lucy Burns, chained her hands to the cell bars above her head and left her hanging for the night, bleeding and gasping for air.
 
They hurled Dora Lewis into a dark cell, smashed her head against an iron bed and knocked her out cold. Her cell mate, Alice Cosu, thought Lewis was dead and suffered a heart attack.
 

Dora Lewis
Additional affidavits describe the guards grabbing, dragging, beating, choking, slamming, pinching, twisting and kicking the women.

Thus unfolded the 'Night of Terror' on Nov. 15, 1917, when the warden at the Occoquan Workhouse in Virginia ordered his guards to teach a lesson to the suffragists imprisoned there because they dared to picket Woodrow Wilson's White House for the right to vote.
 
Alice Paul
For weeks, the women's only water came from an open pail.
 
When one of the leaders, Alice Paul, embarked on a hunger strike, they tied her to a chair, forced a tube down her throat and poured liquid into her until she vomited. She was tortured like this for weeks until word was smuggled out to the press.
 
* * * * *
 
In many parts of the world women still do not have the right to vote, or to an education, or are considered nothing but chattel. They can be stoned to death without a trial, sold into slavery, and even beheaded by a male family member.
 
Remember Alice and Dora and Lucy when you're thinking voting is inconvenient, doesn't matter, or interferes with your life.
 
And remember, too, the recent words of Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson, a tea party activist who has appeared several times on Fox News, and is founder of an organization for which Sean Hannity serves as an advisory board member.
 
"I think that one of the greatest mistakes America made was to allow women the opportunity to vote. We should've never turned this over to women. And these women are voting in the wrong people. They’re voting in people who are evil who agrees with them who’re gonna take us down this pathway of destruction."
 
Rev. Peterson said this in 2012 and being that he is African-American, he has obviously forgotten his roots and how people fought and died for HIS right to vote.
 
No matter what your political leanings, if you are a woman and you do not vote on Tuesday, SHAME ON YOU!
 
 
 (A big thank you to my friend Amanda who passed along these photos and information on the suffragettes. And an apology for the mis-coloration of the blog background today. For some reason, Blogger wasn't cooperating.)

Monday, October 15, 2012

Researching Books

All this week on Criminal Minds we're discussing how we approach research for our books.

Me, I start with nothing and hope for miracles.

Check it out.

Thursday, October 04, 2012

Facing the Rainbow Bridge

One of my favorite features of awards shows is the memorial to stars and celebrities who have died in the past year. Yes, it's sad, but it is also a celebration of their accomplishments and of the memories they gave us during their lifetime.

This past year, a lot of the legends of my youth passed:  Andy Griffith, Ernest Borgnine, Andy Williams, Phyllis Diller, Dick Clark.

Then there were those who died unexpectedly:  Whitney Houston, Michael Clarke Duncan.

And those who made my life better through their work:  Steve Jobs, Ray Bradbury, Mike Wallace, Andy Rooney.

I even lost some personal friends in 2012: Diana James and Jeff Sheratt.

My beloved B and Raffi
The above lists are by no means complete, but this blog isn't about those folks and what they meant or contributed to my life.

Recently it struck me that in 2012 many of my friends lost or are about to lose their beloved pets. I don't know why there seems to be such a rise in pet deaths among my friends and acquaintances, but it's enough to be very noticeable.  Maybe because so many of these sad passings are announced on Facebook, so I'm being made aware of it more. Maybe it's because as I and my friends age, so do our furry companions. Most died because of ailments of age. Some because of cancer or stroke.

Whenever I receive the news of a friend's lost companion, I look at my own two fur babies and wonder when will it be my turn to suffer such a deep loss. Not that I'm in any rush, mind you.  Except for B's arthritis, both B and Raffi are relatively healthy, but they are also getting up in years, just like me. 

According to cat age calculators, B and Raffi are between 70 and 80 in human years. I'm at the cusp of 60 myself, so they are my elders. Seeing their human age is a shot of cold water to my pet owning bliss. One day - it might be soon, it might be years from now - I will be facing their deaths or making decisions about their health care. They will cross The Rainbow Bridge. I can't stop it anymore than I can stop my own journey to the grave.

As with human relationships, loving involves loss. They love me (of course providing the kibble helps), and I slavishly adore them. I put up with their antics in the middle of the night. The bites when they are peeved. The scratches on the furniture. It's a small price to pay for the hours, days, weeks and years of cuddly love and joy they bring to my life.

If you've lost a pet recently or are facing the serious illness of one, my heart goes out to you. Be strong. Remember the years of fuzzy warmth and fun they gave you so unselfishly and smile.  And when it's time for me to face a similar tragedy, you can tell me the same thing. Even if I don't appear to be listening at the time, know I really am and will appreciate your kindness.


Monday, October 01, 2012

Fact vs. Fiction - And The Winner Is?

What happens when fact vs. fiction while writing a manuscript? Does the author change the story to fit the facts? Or change the facts to fit the story?  That's the topic all this week on Criminal Minds.

I'm up today talking about whole buildings that disappear between the initial draft and final edits.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Hell, No, I Won't Go!

This week on Criminal Minds we're discussing what it would be like to be transported into one of our favorite books. I'm up today and am more than just a little hesitant to leave the comfort of my armchair, and for good reason.  Check out why at Criminal Minds.

On an important side note, I have extended the cut off date for the Odelia Back to School contest.  The new deadline is this coming Sunday, September 23rd.  For contest details go here.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Mr. Odelia Grey Speaks!

Today on Dru's Book Musings, Greg Stevens, Odelia Grey's beloved hubby, talks about meeting Odelia and their life together.

Visit the blog and leave a post to enter to win a copy of HIDE AND SNOOP!


Tuesday, September 11, 2012

9/11 My Pearl Harbor

Today's blog topic is no surprise. It's about 9/11. Everyone will be posting about it and well they should. It doesn't matter if you were in New York eleven years ago today, or knew someone who perished, or know someone who lost a loved one on that day, the important thing is that we never forget. 

In my almost 60 years on this earth I've seen many horrific things: the assassinations of a President, a civil rights leader and a presidential candidate, and several assassination attempts on public figures. I watched TV in horror as Challenger disintegrated before my very eyes. I listened with disbelief as news drifted in from Guyana of the Jonestown mass suicide. And the list could go on for pages.  But topping them all are the events of 9/11/01.

9/11 is my generation's Pearl Harbor. It's the one thing I will remember, even after other world events grow dim in my aging memory.

My niece Lindsay had just flown in from Boston a couple of days before. We had tickets to see the Jay Leno Show that day, but I needed to do some work at the office first, so with Lindsay in tow we drove into downtown Los Angeles early that morning. I remember wondering why traffic was so light. The freeways were nearly empty - a far cry from the usual LA weekday. We turned on the radio and that's when we learned that two planes had struck the Twin Towers. At first I thought it was a hoax, then it slowly sunk in that it had really happened. Someone had attacked those buildings.

We made it to the highrise where I worked in downtown, and shortly after went back home, where we watched the news for days. Reliving over and over the fall of the towers and the running and screaming of the people. We learned of the Pentagon crash and the plane brought down by heroic passengers in Shanksville, PA. We learned the names of the first responders killed in action.

Fellow author Tim Hallinan, who was in NY on 9/11, wrote this on his Facebook wall this morning: 

"Just horrific. I don't care if Osama bin Laden was in the tub with a rubber duck, I'm glad they clipped his ass."

I couldn't agree more or said it better.

(On second thought, I would have said "rubber duckie."  Sorry, Tim.)

Sunday, August 05, 2012

50 Shades of Gray - Jaffarian Style

Last dye job - 8/13/11
This month marks an important milestone. It was one year ago that I decided to stop coloring my hair and let the gray shine through. It has been an interesting journey and not once did I think about running back to the dye bottle. My last color job was August 13, 2011. I recently had my silver and gray hair cut and my stylist and I celebrated with hugs. He told me that if I ever tell him I want to go back to dying my hair, he’s going to refuse to do it. He loves my new look and his part in it. Every time I came in for a cut, he’d light up like a Jewish kid at Hanukkah to check the progress.

9/19/11

I belong to a lovely group on Facebook called Gray and Proud. It’s a collection of men and women who have decided to stop coloring their hair and go natural. Some are having their stylists weave lighter color into their hair so that the outgrowth of gray won’t show as much during the process. Others, like me, went cold turkey, letting the various skunk stripes show for all the world to see. Going cold turkey shortens the time it takes to grow out the color. So does cutting your hair short, but I’d been wearing mine short for years already, so that was not a drastic change.


12/3/11
It has been an interesting and even fun journey. I treated the growing out of my hair color as a game. I took regular photos and posted them to face book. I wore my skunk stripe with pride. Along the way, I received a lot of encouraging comments from both men and women. I only recall one woman telling me I was too young to stop coloring my hair and that was early on. Maybe others thought that, but wisely kept their comments to themselves. Or maybe my cheery commitment to my decision kept them from seeing it as a negative choice. Whatever it was, I received great support all along the way. And now that the process is over, I am constantly receiving compliments on my hair and overall new look. Many have even said I look younger with my gray hair!


Feb. 2012
Many of the women who post on G&P have had a lot of negative feedback on their decision to stop coloring their hair. People tell them they are too young to go gray. They will never attract a man. It looks ugly and old. For some of the G&P members, the pressure was enough to send them back to the dye bottle. Even though it wasn’t what they wanted, it was easier than putting up with all the negative bullshit. Frankly, I’m angry at both sides. People who feel entitled to attack other people’s personal choices can just bite me! Personal choices are just that – personal. It’s not like these ladies are deciding whether or not to go postal the next time they’re at Target. So, naysayers, if you can’t say anything positive and supportive, keep your mouth shut! As for those who succumb to peer pressure and criticism, quit being a victim. Pull on your big girl panties and go for it, no matter what IT is.


August 2012
 A year ago, I decided to make a lot of changes in my personal life. Going gray was the easiest, but the catalyst for others. Moving my Ghost of Granny Apples franchise to a new publisher was another change. (The next time you see a new Granny Apples novel or novella, it will be released by publishing giant Penguin/Berkley.) Taking myself off the book conference circuit until 2014 was another, and a big one. This decision was made for two reasons: 1) I was falling on my face with exhaustion from juggling my careers as a writer and a paralegal; and 2) I needed to stablize my debts and spending.  Today I’m almost debt free, and ahead of my initial schedule! To be able to do this in the face of this horrible economy has been a major accomplishment and sense of great pride.

I have another goal I’m about to tackle, but I’ll share that another time since this post is going WAY TOO LONG….

Wednesday, August 01, 2012

A Birthday Party Invitation!

One of the things that is very important in character development is back story. Back story is what has happened to a major character before they ever get to an author's page. A great character starts with an author sketching out their personal history: where they were born, family dynamics, schooling, beliefs, physical traits, career history, hobbies, triumphs and tragedies. An author doesn't have to have every detail of the back story in place before a book begins, but at least the basics. Along the way, a good character will reveal more to the author as the book or series continues. 

One of the first things I always do for a main character is set his or her birthday.  Sometimes I use it in a book and sometimes I never mention it. I've referenced Odelia's birthday a few times in books. Curse of the Holy Pail opens on her forty-seventh birthday. In Corpse on the Cob, Odelia has just celebrated her 50th birthday. Birthdays are great time markers in books.

Well, guess what? On August 12, 2012, Odelia turns 54 years old. And you're invited!

I've been kicking around the idea of organizing a no host brunch for my readers in Southern California, and recently thought: Why not now?

It all started when my niece posted a photo of Thin Mint cupcakes in the Sue Ann Jaffarian Fan Club. Seeing that the plus size paralegal sleuth is addicted to Thin Mint cookies, Lindsay thought these would be great for Odelia's birthday. And that got my wheels to turning.  And how convenient that Odelia's birthday falls on a Sunday this year.

What: ODELIA GREY'S 54TH BIRTHDAY
When: Sunday, August 12, 2012
Time:  9:30 am
Where:  Spitfire Grill, 3300 Airport Avenue, Santa Monica, CA 90405

Note:  This will be a no-host brunch (you pay for your own meal). No gifts, please.  Let's simply get together and have some fun celebrating Odelia Grey and what she means to us.

Besides Odelia's birthday, the 7th Odelia Grey book, HIDE AND SNOOP, is about to be released. We can celebrate that, too.

If you are interested in attending Odelia's Birthday Brunch, please let me know so I can tell the restaurant how many to expect.  You can RSVP to sue@sueannjaffarian.com.  Please put RSVP in the subject line.

How much fun is this gonna be?!

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

OMG! Just Two Months Left!

I'm trying not to panic. I have 62 days left to finish Bidding On Bodies. That's the working title of the 8th Odelia Grey novel and my current Work In Progress.

I've been working steadily on the manuscript, but it's going S-L-O-W, slower than usual. I'm not sure why. I have the story line, the characters gathered, and am moving along, but it's not moving nearly fast enough. Today when I woke up and headed to the computer, panic started to rise, but I beat it down like bubbling stomach acid and went to work.

This past Sunday, I scoured my apartment top to bottom. I don't know if it's just me, but I work much better when my personal space is tidy. With writing novels back-to-back with little time off between them, sometimes my apartment slips into seediness. At some point, I stop writing, take a good look around, and shiver with disgust. That's what happened this past weekend. Unable to keep my mind on my work, I stopped, picked up a mop, dust cloth, and sponge and went to work until the placed shined and I was sweaty and exhausted. I guess you could say it was my own personal Olympic event.

Now it's time to press the pedal to the metal.  I've written whole novels in two months before, so I know I can finish this one on time, but it might involve the intake of a lot of antacids. Something tells me my apartment won't be scrubbed thoroughly again until October 2nd. Until then, it will be more hit and miss maintenance.

Here are the first few paragraphs of Bidding On Bodies:

“Harpie bitch!” the woman with the bad bleach job shouted.

“Excuse me?” Horrified, I leaned back, a hand over my fast beating heart. It wasn’t uncommon for me to piss people off, but usually they knew me first. Without getting too close, I peered at the woman, wondering if we had met, but I’d forgotten. She appeared to be in her late twenties and was dressed in low-slung jeans and a no-longer-white white tank top that showed off her very buffed arms and shoulders, along with a plethora of tattoos. No bells of familiarity went off, though I was sorely tempted to give her some laundry tips.

Ina Bruce put a hand on my shoulder and pushed me aside a few inches. “Relax, Odelia. The nasty skank is talking to me.”
 
My WIP aside, in a few weeks the 7th Odelia Grey novel, Hide and Snoop, will be released.  I am very excited about this book. The early reviews have been great. Publisher's Weekly said of it: "...enormously entertaining ... offers tight plotting, first-class humor, and vivid descriptions."  

Sneak Peak of Hide and Snoop.

So really, I have to get most of Bidding On Bodies done in August because my weekends in September will be spent at book signings for Hide and Snoop. You can see my upcoming schedule in the sidebar to the right of this post.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm going to pull on my big girl panties and get to work.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Summer's Halfway Report Card

So far, Summer 2012 has been a mixed bag of highs and lows, blended together like ingredients that should never be considered complimentary, but somehow work on the tongue.  Scary thing is, it's only half over. Or is it scary because it is half over?

For starters, I'm staring down yet another deadline, which I'm talking about this week at Criminal Minds.  I have two months to write, polish and produce the 8th book in my Odelia Grey series to Midnight Ink.  The book is tentatively titled Bidding On Bodies and in this offering we will get to meet some of Odelia's in-laws. The writing on this manuscript is going well, but slooooooooooooow. But the days will shoot by like bullets from a terrorist's gun, so I have to be diligent on how I spend my time.

Sky Walk over West Rim of Grand Canyon
Speaking of bullets, I still cannot believe that Friday night someone shot up a theatre in Colorado, killing a dozen innocent people and injuring scores of others. It's horrific, something you think you'll only see on an episode of a TV crime drama. But it wasn't on TV, it was real.  I agree wholeheartedly with President Obama's comment that words are inadequate at a time like this. As Jaws did for beach going, this event will have a high impact on folks considering going to movies or to any crowded venue. I already hate crowds and this just makes me want to stay home with my doors locked even more.  I don't even want to know why James Holmes shot up the theatre. That fact that he did is enough for me to want to see him fry. My heart goes out to all the people involved in this unthinkable event - victims, families, and the first responders who have to deal with this tragedy in a personal way.

Even summer TV has had it's ups and downs. I have been watching True Blood since its beginning. Some seasons I've loved. Others not so much. This season has been my least favorite. While I love that the Russell Edgington (played to campy perfection by Denis O'Hare) is back, the entire plot with the warring factions of vampires is really getting on my last nerve. So much so that this past Sunday's episode may reduce the series from "must watch TV" to "I'll catch it on On Demand if I remember and have some time to waste."

On the other hand, HBO just released Newsroom, which has quickly become my favorite Sunday night show with its stellar ensemble cast headed by Jeff Daniels and Sam Waterston. The writing is sharp and intelligent and a joy to watch. And Suits, another beautifully written show, and Covert Affairs are back on USA. YAY!

I did sneak in a combination vacation/research trip the first week of July. I headed to Las Vegas, where the 4th Granny Apples novel will take place, and stayed at the Venetian, a hotel I've always wanted to stay in and thanks to a summer special finally had the pleasure. Plus, I got to scratch an item off my bucket list - The Grand Canyon! I took the West Rim Tour from Pink Jeep, and had a great time, which included taking a stroll on the Sky Walk. It was my first trip to Las Vegas during which I did not see a single show. I did take in the new Da Vinci exhibit at the Venetian and spent a half day at the Canyon Ranch Spa and, instead of my usual budget meals, ate at the restaurants of some of the world's most famous chefs: Mario Batali, Emeril Legasse, and Thomas Keller.  And I'm happy to say the hype about their food isn't hype at all, but deserved raves.

New and Improved B
This was also the summer of the shaved cat. I didn't personally do the shaving, but The Best Little Cat House in Los Angeles changed my B from a long hair mess into a happier and cleaner cat. Now that B has acclimated to the change, she seems perkier without all that hair, which she hated having groomed, and is strolling around the apartment with her tail aloft and her head held high. I don't think B's going back to being a long haired cat, at least not if I have anything to say about it.

A big milestone was reached this weekend - the Sue Ann Jaffarian Fan Club on Facebook shot past 500 members! I can't thank Cyn Rielley enough for starting this club, and also my niece, Lindsay Jaffarian Holm, who administers it with Cyn. When it started a few years back, it never occurred to me we'd have so many members or that it would become such a lively place for book discussions. If you haven't joined yet, you should. In August, I'm running a contest just for members.

Coming up - no more vacation time until the end of the year, but in a few weeks HIDE AND SNOOP, my 7th Odelia Grey novel will be released, and I'll be spending most September weekends making the rounds of book stores and speaking engagements. Unfortunately, one of my favorite book stores, Mysteries To Die For in Thousand Oaks, CA, is closing at the end of July. That store was always one of my main stops whenever a new book was released. MTDF will be sorely missed as the family of mystery book stores continued to shrink. For a list of upcoming events, see the side bar to the right of this post.

Recently, the first review of HIDE AND SNOOP came out and I did a happy dance.  Publisher's Weekly called it: "...enormously entertaining ... offers tight plotting, first-class humor, and vivid descriptions."  Read chapter 1 of HIDE AND SNOOP.

Circling back to writing, this weekend I realized that in the next 14 months I have three novels and one novella due to two different publishers, and I'd like to add to my Holidays From Hell short story series.  It's a very tall order, but I'm optimistic that it will all get done. I'm not so optimistic about the condition of my apartment during the next year, but it's a small sacrifice to make for doing what I love. So if I seem scarce in the next few months, you'll know I'm hard at work knocking manuscripts off of my to do list.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

A Lost Fan - What's an Author to Do?

I received an e-mail yesterday from a woman who signed her e-mail "Lost Fan." She had fallen in love with my Odelia Grey character after reading Too Big To Miss, the first book in the series, and went on to buy several more books. She wasn't as pleased with the rest of them and has vowed to read no more.

Was her vow to be a Lost Fan due to uneven plotting or weak characters? No.

Because she didn't like humor mixed with her mystery? No.

Or because the main character is fat and middle-aged? Certainly not.

 Lost Fan was leaving Odelia in the dust because I married Odelia off to Greg Stevens at the end of book #3, Thugs and Kisses. In her own words, Greg is "[N]ot a good match." She cited that Greg Stevens is too young for Odelia and wants children. Lost Fan wanted Odelia to hook up with Dev Frye, the homicide detective who met Odelia about the same time Greg met her, and boldly stated that she "will more than likely not read any more Odelia Grey unless I find out that Greg is out of the picture for some reason or the other."

Really?!

First of all, I don't like being threatened or goaded into releasing information about future books, or into making changes not in my master plan for a series for the purpose of keeping a reader. And I do operate with master plans. As I stated to Lost Fan in my reply e-mail, I am under contract for 12 books in the Odelia series and have plotted Odelia's life throughout those books. Those plans include changes in her relationships, family, job, etc. Some of those changes have already taken place, with a major one happening in Hide and Snoop, book #7 due out in just a few weeks. 

It always surprises me how invested people become in my characters. Then again, why am I surprised when that is exactly my goal when writing. I want my readers to embrace Odelia, as well as Emma Whitecastle and Granny from the Ghost of Granny Apples series, and Madison and her vampire friends. I even want readers to become part of the dysfunctional Bowen family in my Holidays From Hell series. My books are character driven, and Lost Fan's emotional turmoil over Odelia's marriage is evidence I'm doing my job.

If there is one thing I've noticed during my writing career, it's how very personal readers take the romances of characters they love.  When Odelia married Greg in Thugs and Kisses, I did receive several e-mails from readers saying they had been rooting for Dev Frye. Even before that book came out, I received notes declaring preferences of one suitor over the other. Maybe some of those readers did stop reading, but none wrote to declare their stand.  Most, I'm sure, trusted my writing judgment and kept moving forward with the series.

The biggest outcry I've received so far about romantic turmoil did not come from the Odelia series. (Most readers love Greg Stevens and he has become a favorite character.) The biggest cry of foul play received to date was triggered by the end of Gem of a Ghost, the 3rd Ghost of Granny Apples book, when Emma Whitecastle kisses someone who is not Phil Bowers. Wow! Did I ever receive comments about that!  One Amazon reviewer even went so far as to call Emma a "tramp." Again, my readers will just have to trust me.

I don't expect all of my readers to love everything I write or to embrace all decisions I make as I journey through each series. But in the end, those are my decisions, and most readers understand that. As a reader myself, I really enjoy when a favorite author turns me on my head and gives me something to gnaw on while I wait for the next book in the series. It's all part of them doing their job.

I'm glad Lost Fan wrote to air her opinion. Readers should feel free to write authors and tell them what they like and don't like. I receive quite a few e-mails from readers on a daily basis, and some of those do contain criticism of one kind or another, as well as praise.  But readers, please don't end your e-mails with ultimatums. It never works.

If Lost Fan can't bear to read any more books because Greg is married to Odelia, then perhaps that is best.

UPDATE:  I just heard from Lost Fan who, based on my e-mail reply to her, has decided not to abandon Odelia. Great news!

Sunday, July 08, 2012

RIP, Andy & Ernie!

A few minutes ago, while I was working on my 8th Odelia Grey novel, the Twitter feed from the Los Angles affiliate of NBC flashed across my computer screen. The news: Ernest Borgnine had died. Less than a week ago, while I was on vacation, Andy Griffith passed away. Both were icons from my childhood.

Long before he was Matlock, Andy Griffith was everyone's favorite TV sheriff and single dad. Be honest, didn't most of us want to grow up barefoot and fishing with Andy Taylor? I know I sure did. 

And how many nights of laughter did Borgnine bring us in the improbable but highly entertaining McHale's Navy? Although my absolute favorite work by Ernest Borgnine was his role as the title character in Marty, the film that brought him an Oscar. I've seen that movie at least a dozen times and it never fails to move me.

Every few months I'm mourning the passing of part of my personal culture, reminding me that I'm getting pretty long in the tooth myself.

Thanks, guys, for letting us share your long and successful careers. You will be missed, but never far from our memories.

Monday, June 25, 2012

6 and Only 6

I'm over at Criminal Minds today describing myself in 6 words.  Stop on by.

Friday, June 22, 2012

It's All About The Math

Dear Readers,

A lot of you are asking over and over for me to visit your area of the nation, and, trust me, I’d love that just as much, but I think it’s time for you all to know the cold hard facts of why I don’t (and why many of your favorite authors don’t travel as much as you’d like).

These days, there are fewer bookstores, and of those, few host signings, unless you are a New York Times Bestselling Author. But that aside, say a book store in Pennsylvania sets up a signing for me, and so does a store in Ohio, and so does one in upstate New York - I would have to take a week off from my job (which supports me) to attend those three signings, and that’s IF they put them in the same week, which usually does not happen. It will cost me $2,000+ in air fare, hotels, etc., and that cost will not be paid or subsidized by my publisher in any way. The big names have their book tours paid by their publisher, but not the mid-listers or those with smaller publishers.

Say I sell 10 books at each signing. (Signings are unpredictable – I can sell 80 or none, there is no way to tell, but most produce about 10-20 sales.) From those 30 total sales I will receive about $20 (maybe) in royalties, which will not be paid to me for over six months. You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to see the imbalance between income and outgo. It's very simple math. This is why so many authors stick to signings not far from their home or do bigger events like conferences where they can meet many readers at once. It's also why many of us are so active online promoting our books.

Aside from finances, book tours also take time away from writing the books you love. I juggle writing a couple books, plus short stories, a year, with a full-time day job. If I’m on the road, I wouldn’t be able to write as much, you wouldn't have as much of my work to read, and my book income would drop, leaving even less for travel.

So don’t take it personally if I don’t come out your way. It’s all about the math and my not having unlimited time and income. Maybe one day I’ll win the lottery. If so, I’ll get in my car and zig-zag across the nation, but until then, it is what it is. Most authors you love are in the same boat.

Signed,
The Author Who Appreciates You So Very Very Very Much Even If I Can't Be There To Do It In Person

Monday, June 11, 2012

No Granny or Odelia? No Problem?

All week at Criminal Minds we're discussing what would we write if we couldn't write the books we write now.

No Granny or Odelia? Hmmm, let me see.  Yep, I'm covered!

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Biking for Dollars - A Family Thing

Derek in the 2011 ride.
For several years, my nephew Tom rode in the Pan-Massachusetts Challenge for Cancer, even after he was diagnosed and successfully treated for the Big C himself. Tom doesn't ride in these events anymore, but last year my other nephew, Derek, the father of two beautiful children, picked up the challenge, the cause, and the legacy of his older brother.

On June 10, 2012, Derek will once again be riding 100 miles  to raise money for Bicycles Battling Cancer. 


In Derek's words:

I ride because I can. When I get tired I remember those who can't ride. What they would give to have this simple gift I take for granted. And I ride harder for them.

I know they would do the same for me.

I ride for my brother Tom. I ride for friends who have lost loved ones. I ride for my friends who have fought the fight themselves. I ride for everyone who is fighting the fight. I ride for everyone who has lost the fight. I ride so someday I won't have to ride for this fight anymore.

Derek is just shy of his goal. If you would like to support him in this endeavor, please click through to his donation page.

Tom and Derek make their auntie so proud!


Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Upcoming Events

Below is my calendar - so far - for the rest of the year.  I still need to button down signings for the release of HIDE AND SNOOP, which will be out in September, so stay tuned for those dates and times.

Sunday, June 24, 2012 - All Day
ALA Convention
9:30 —11:00 am - signing at the Sisters In Crime Booth  (#2679)
12:30 —1:30 pm - signing at the Llewellyn/Midnight Ink Booth (#2375)
Anaheim Convention Center
800 West Katella Ave.
Anaheim, CA 92802

Thursday, July 12, 2012  - 7:00 pm
MYSTERIES BETWEEN THE COVERS Panel
Hawthorne Library
12700 Grevillea Ave
Hawthorne, CA 90250

Saturday, July 28, 2012 - 2:00 pm
THINGS THAT GO BUMP IN THE NIGHT panel with Michael Mallory and Paul Marks
2809 Foothill Blvd.
La Crescenta, CA

September 22, 2012
Chapman Univ. Book Festival
Chapman Univ. Campus
More Information coming

October 7, 2012 - 2:00 pm
Reading from Granny Apples
Sisters In Crime/LA Monthly Meeting
1115 El Centro Street
South Pasadena, CA

October 20, 2012 - 11:00 am.
AAUW - Long Beach Chapter Authors Luncheon
Old Ranch Country Club
3901 Lampson Ave.
Seal Beach, CA
(Note: this is a ticketed event)



Monday, May 14, 2012

Same Ghost, Different Venue

As I've already announced, in the future my Ghost of Granny Apples series will be published by Berkley. The 4th Granny Apples novel won't be released until early 2014, but don't fret, Granny will be busy in the meantime.  See what Granny will be up to during the next two years. I'm talking about it today over at Criminal Minds.

Monday, April 30, 2012

Serial Killers I'd Like To Meet

All this week at Criminal Minds we're discussing which serial killers we'd like to question. My first and only choice was Ted Bundy, a man terrorizing young women in the 70's, when I was a young coed myself.  Drop on by by today and all week to see which serial killers tickle the minds and imaginations of the bloggers at Criminal Minds.

On another note, yes, yes, yes, I know I've been remiss in keeping up this blog. But not to worry, you'll see more posts in the near future.

Right now I'm on a June 30th deadline to finish up my first Granny Apples novella and get it to my new publisher, Berkley. On its heels I will be delivering the 8th Odelia Grey novel to Midnight Ink. So it's not like I've been slacking off.

B and Raffi say "hey!"

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Time Again for the LA Times Festival of Books!!


This coming Saturday and Sunday, April 21-22, the 2012 Los Angeles Times Festival of Books will be held at the USC campus in Los Angeles.

Yeeeeee Haaaaaa!

I love this annual event. It's a time when I can connect with many more readers than possible during the rest of the year. More importantly, the event celebrates every aspect of the written word for all ages and tastes.

I will be at the book festival both days this year, dividing my time between 4 mystery booths. My book signing schedule is as follows:

Saturday
12-2 - Sisters In Crime/LA booth
4-5 - Mysterious Galaxy booth

Sunday
10-12 - Sisters In Crime/LA booth
12-1 - Mystery Ink booth

The rest of the time I will be working at the booth run by the So Cal Chapter of Mystery Writers of America.  All of these booths are usually right next to each other or back-to-back with each other, so if you want to catch me and don't see me at one booth, check them all out. You can also ask for me at the So Cal MWA booth. They should know where I am or when I'll be back.

The weather in LA is supposed to be downright gorgeous this weekend, so round up the family and come on down to USC.

I'll be writing for you. Oops, I mean waiting for you!

Monday, April 16, 2012

Was The Beev Bad?

This week on Criminal Minds we're discussing which fictional kids we could see becoming either a killer or a cop.  Instantly, Beaver Cleaver came to mind. Is it possible he was just preparing for a life of crime or maybe just a single incident of "going postal."

You decide.  Was the Beev Bad?

And don't forget to check back during the week to see what my fellow Criminal Mindscome up with. Could be very interesting!

Monday, March 19, 2012

Odelia Looks Ahead

The 7th Odelia Grey Novel
Coming September 2012
Two weeks ago I turned into my editor at Midnight Ink the manuscript for my 7th Odelia Grey novel, making Hide and Snoop my 12th completed and contracted novel overall.  Quite a milestone when I look back and remember my telephone conversation with the big name NY agent I had when I completed Too Big to Miss, my first Odelia Grey novel. 

Not to name names, but she called it "prurient" and said, "No one wants to read this crap!" She also went on to say she would be embarrassed to represent it. Oh yes, she did!  I fired her ass within the week. And she, not to be outdone, sent me a nasty letter saying she wished me well, but that I would, in the end, discover she was right.  I still have that letter.

After trying a few more agents and receiving rejections for the same book (but without the nastiness), I became crestfallen and wondered if Agent #1 was right. The thing is, my friends thought she was wrong.  With their support, I turned to self-publishing and brought out Too Big To Miss and The Curse of the Holy Pail. Both became moderately successful and, remember, this was long before e-books and social media existed to push sales. Determined to get the Odelia story out to even more readers, I found my current agent, who found me a place at Midnight Ink.  Eight years later, Agent #2 and I are still together and we have since sold Midnight Ink a total of 12 Odelia Grey novels, 3 Ghost of Granny Apples novels, and 2 vampire mystery novels.  But wait, there's more! Recently, Agent #2 went on to sell Berkley 2 more Ghost of Granny Apples novels and we're also talking a novella.

I swear, if I wrote a grocery list on the back of a sanitary napkin, Agent #2 would find a way to sell it.

The 1st Odelia Novel
Currently, I'm working on the 8th Odelia Grey novel. It doesn't have a working title yet, but I'm excited about the fun plot I have in mind. My goal is to have it done by the 4th of July. Then I'll move on to the Granny novella and the 4th Granny Apples book, both of which will go to Berkley, with a short story or two thrown in for the fun of it. My writing schedule for the year is spelled out for me as easy as A, B, C and should be a piece of cake if life remains fairly uncomplicated.

I'm very excited about the 5 remaining Odelia Grey novels. I already know the plot lines for books 8, 9 and 12, with vague ideas for the remaining 2. Already, folks are asking if Odelia will continue past book 12. Honestly, I have no idea, but book 12 should be finished about the time I'm thinking about retiring from my day job, so maybe Odelia will retire, too. Not the books, but IN the books.  We'll just have to see.

On other fronts, today is my turn at Criminal Minds and I'm tackling the Proust Questionnaire. Drop on by and see how I stacked up to the French novelist Marcel Proust when he was a mere 13 years old.  Strange, I never thought I'd have anything in common with a 13-yr-old boy, French or otherwise, especially one who died 30 years before I was born. Then again, we're both writers with a nice size body of work.

Friday, March 02, 2012

Milestones - I just passed a few

Today I'm over at Inkspot talking about recent writing milestones and asking: How bad do you want it?

Monday, February 20, 2012

I'm Ready For My Seduction Now

On Criminal Minds this week, we've been asked to share what words seduce us. But being the fickle woman I am, it's not so much the who or what, as much as the when that gets my motor running. And I plan on running my motor on March 1st!

Sunday, February 19, 2012

My Lucky Valentines!

There were so many entries in the Valentine Give-A-Way contest I decided to choose four winners instead of two. Winners were chosen randomly from qualifying entries.

Congratuations:

Brenda Norris and Nancy Bradford - their names will appear in the 4th Ghost of Granny Apples book; and

Ina Bruce and Linda McIntyre - their names will appear in the 8th Odelia Grey book.

At this time, both books are scheduled for release in fall of 2013.

Thank you, everyone, for entering. It was our most successful contest yet!

Friday, February 17, 2012

Shiatsu - Gesundheit!

I got nekkid again today, meaning I made my second trip to the Olympic Spa in Korea Town. My friend Stacia had given me a gift certificate and I decided today, halfway through my time off from the office and my crazed race towards a writing deadline, would be the perfect time to use it.

I did the same ritual as last time: dunk in hot tub, cool, steam/sauna, cool, rest, repeat. Except this time, instead of one of their incredible scrubs, I opted for a shiatsu massage. I'd never had one before, being a Swedish massage kind of gal, but shiatsu is supposed to be excellent for unblocking energy and improving the immune system. In shiatsu, the masseuse works the meridians in the body with pressure. It's like acupuncture, but without the needles.

OUCH! OMG! OUCH! OUCH! OMG!

When Lisa first started on me, there was a lot of pain and I wondered how in the world I was going to get through 50 minutes of this torture. There didn't seem to be a spot that didn't ache to her touch. She apologized, saying I was very tight. It's true. Other masseuses have also commented on how tight my neck, shoulders and back are. That's where I carry my stress and my hours at the computer.

But I didn't give up and neither did Lisa. That tiny woman elbowed, squeezed, kneed and kneaded her way over every part of my body. There were numerous cracks and pops as tight muscles gave way and things fell into place. Although, I was a bit taken back when she got up on the table and straddled me to give my back a good work out. But even more surprised when, after giving my legs and feet a thorough beating, she climbed up on the table again. This time she kneeled on the back of my thighs and worked them with her knees while her strong hands attacked my back yet again.

The last time someone was on top of me like that, it was a guy and he'd bought me a few dinners.

She also pulled my arms over my head and yanked. She yanked my legs, too. Kneaded my scalp like a lump of dough and rotated my feet and hands, fingers and toes. She was the master and I was at her mercy.

But as time went on the aches and pains diminished and when Lisa revisited areas that were painful before, they were no longer.

After the massage, I dunked again in the hot tubs, showered and headed home.

But here's the thing... on the way home I stopped at the grocery store. Usually, after I spend more than a few minutes driving, my legs ache and are stiff when I get out of the car. Halfway across the parking lot from the car to the store, it hit me that neither of my legs were stiff and achy. In fact, they both felt as if they'd lost 50 lbs. I was almost bouncing as I walked. My neck, shoulders and back were also loose and comfy.

I definitely think there's another shiatsu beating in my future because, frankly, it hurt so good!

Friday, February 10, 2012

SAJ Fan Club - Be Mine!

It’s almost Valentine’s Day and this year I want to show my love and gratitude for all the wonderful members of the Sue Ann Jaffarian Fan Club on Facebook by having a contest just for them.

There will be 2 prizes: One will will have his/her name as a character in the 8th Odelia Grey novel, the other will have his/her name as a character in the 4th Ghost of Granny Apples novel.  Winners will also receive a signed copy of the book in which their name appears. Full details of the contest are on my website. 

But there's a catch! Only members of the Sue Ann Jaffarian Fan Club on Facebook are eligible, so if you want a crack at getting your name in one of my books, join the club today and enter.

Perks of being a club member include lively discussions of books in general, asking me questions and receiving quick answers, special contests just for members, and early notice of what's happening with Odelia, Granny and Madison. Club members are fun and friendly.

Thursday, February 09, 2012

Soft Kitty, Sick Kitty

Since all this week the authors at Criminal Minds are discussing the soundtracks of their life, it seemed fitting to talk about the song that's haunting me this morning.


As usual, I woke up today around 5 am. Depending on the call of nature, it normally takes me about 10-20 minutes after waking up to pull my butt out of bed and start my morning chores: clean the cat box, feed the cats, give the cats fresh water, make the bed, catch up on my Words With Friends moves, read e-mail and send greetings to my Facebook friends who have birthdays. It's a simple daily routine that doesn't change no matter what day it is. By 6 am I am putting words to paper on my current WIP - work-in-progress - and work until 8:30 when I must stop and get ready to go to the day job. On weekends, I push everything back by an hour or so and nix the day job.

During this routine my thoughts run to what's next in my WIP, what's on my calendar for the day, what do I want for lunch (buy or pack). Again, simple and routine.

This morning I woke up with a song in my head. And not just any song, but Soft Kitty from The Big Bang Theory, one of my favorite shows.  I'm not sure why this silly song invaded my head. It's never done that before. But there it was at 5 am, circling like a plane caught in a landing pattern over O'Hare.  Over and over and over and over.

This morning, in addition to my usual chores, about 7:30 am I had to clean up cat yak. Seems B had some tummy trouble and parted ways with her breakfast and a hair ball - twice. She's fine now and so is my carpet after a little work with a sponge and Lysol.

Do you think waking up to Soft Kitty was a premotion of the vomiting to come? Or just a coinky-dink?

Soft kitty, sick kitty,
Little ball of fur.
Retching kitty, scared kitty,
Hurl, hurl, hurl

Monday, February 06, 2012

My Life In Music

On Criminal Minds this week we've been tasked with making a soundtrack of our lives.  I'm up today and have entitled mine The Rainbow Rag.  Trust me, John Williams, the master of soundtracks, has nothing to worry about.

Come listen.

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Granny Apples is Back and She's a Gem!

February 1st is the official launch day for GEM OF A GHOST, the 3rd book in my Ghost of Granny Apples mystery series.  It is now available in both print and e-book at your favorite book seller. Reviewers have loved it and I hope you do, too.

GEM OF A GHOST has received some rave reviews, including the following starred review from Library Journal.:

Jaffarian’s welcome third entry in her paranormal series … sparkles as brilliantly as the story’s haunted diamond. Incorporating historical interest with likable characters and steady suspense, she also makes paranormal activity seem plausible. One of the best cozy authors for light chatter and low-key humor, Jaffarian is currently juggling three series with aplomb!

But this release is bittersweet, and I'm talking about that today over at Inkspot.


BIG NEWS! GRANNY IS ON THE MOVE!

Starting with the 4th book in the Ghost of Granny Apples series, Granny will have a new home.  I just accepted an offer from Berkley for books #4 and #5 in the series. The tentative release date is fall 2013.  I'll keep you posted on developments.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Normal - Overrated or A Life Line?

I’m trying to get back to normal, at least normal to me. It dawned on me recently that this past week was the first week in nearly two months that I had worked a full work week at the law firm – I’m talking a full 40 hours in the office. This loosey-goosey work schedule started with taking Thanksgiving week off, then I worked a couple of regular weeks in December. After that, it was a whirlwind of vacation days, holidays, and more vacation days, and even a sick day and a half day or two thrown in. Now it’s a couple of weeks, then we hit another long weekend in February.


I’d be lying if I didn’t admit I could get use to this schedule.
As much as I enjoy my job as a paralegal and working for the firm I’m at, I would really, really like to be home writing more. But sometimes I think I would get bored being alone all day, every day, at the keyboard. And maybe I would. I’d probably have to find something else to round out my day –exercising more might be a good start. I’d probably get out to see friends more often. My apartment would be tidier. But more truth be told, I would miss going into the office and interacting with the people at the firm and with our clients. I enjoy it and it keeps me grounded. And being grounded works best for me in the long run.

This weekend also signaled a return to normalcy. As a rule, I don’t write on Fridays. I don’t mean never, but I give myself permission to take that day off if I want. I go into the office earlier than usual, come home a bit earlier, then hang out watching TV, reading, watching movies, maybe meeting a friend for dinner, etc. Saturdays are usually spent balancing writing time with book signings and events. Sundays are a blend of writing and chores, followed by Sunday night TV. And that's exactly how this weekend is shaping up. It's on the normal track with stops at Usual and Routine.
I hate ruts, but love normalcy. Is that a contradiction or a sign of balance?

Then again, is it normal to want to spend most of my time with fictional characters that spring from my head and talk to me. That's what we writers do.  We don't talk to dead people like the kid in Sixth Sense, we talk to people who don't exist, except in our minds, until we put them on paper. And even then, it's not like they have birth certificates or social security numbers. They only exist on paper because we put them there. We talk to them, cajole them, even argue with them. They become as real as the flesh and blood people we meet every day. It doesn't matter that they are ghosts, vampires, shape shifters, nosey Nellies, or homicidal maniacs. We visit them daily, as if they're favorite aunties who bakes us cookies.

Psychosis is defined as a severe mental condition in which there is a loss of contact with reality, including  seeing or hearing things that aren't there.

Hmmm, maybe I shouldn't take so much time off from the office...

Monday, January 23, 2012

Games People Play

All this week, the gang at Criminal Minds is sharing their favorite games and why. 

I'm up today, but don't worry, the game I've chosen is strictly PG. 

Disappointed already, aren't you?

Monday, January 09, 2012

Where I'd Like To Write

NOT my office.
Over at Criminal Minds this week we're talking about the perfect retreat to write our best book ever.  I've offered up a look at my "office." You know, the cubby where I create my books and lose my mind over deadlines.  I'm also confessing to office envy and disclosing my wish list for my dream office.

Sigh ... maybe one day.