Saturday, May 30, 2015

Thank You for Your Kindness

My brother, Thomas A. Jaffarian, passed away on May 20, 2015. He'd been ill for quite a while and for the past few weeks had been declining rapidly at the VA Hospital in White River Junction, Vermont.

Here is his formal obituary.

I want to thank everyone for their support, kindness, and condolences during the past difficult few weeks. There were simply too many to thank you all individually. My family and I were blessed with hundreds of online support comments, dozens of cards, private messages, and phone calls. And each and every one touched us.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

As He Lay Dying

My brother is in hospice care in a VA hospital in Vermont as I write this, and probably only has a few days left on this earth.

Last visit with Thom August 2014
We knew this was coming. He's been suffering from liver failure for quite a while and now has kidney failure. The toxins in his blood are poisoning him and they can't do anything about it at this point. The last time I saw him was August 2014 and he was so sickly I didn't even recognize him at first.

Thom and I have never been that close, at least not since we were young kids. We're very different. Made different life choices. Had different outlooks and priorities. There has been a lot of long-term disagreement and unresolved pain between us. But he's still my brother, and I love him, and I've been grieving for him for a long time, knowing his illness would take him soon.

On my 1st birthday
I've also been grieving for a very long time over the fact that we never made the emotional connection so many siblings enjoy. I have a few male friends who are more like brothers to me than Thom, and while I love them dearly, it reminds me of my own miss-connect with my real brother. Attempts to get closer just never stuck.

Thom is five years older than me. He attended Sierra High School in Whittier, California. He has three children - two sons and one daughter - with whom I am very close. He also has a grandson and three granddaughters, who I adore. I'm not sure how many times Thom was married. I know of three, and while I think that's correct, I'm not positive because he had many relationships over the years and made very little attempt to stay in touch for long stretches of time. His first wife and I are as close as sisters. We often joke that when she and Thom parted, she got me in the divorce.

Thom as young soldier
Thom was also a Viet Nam vet and was on total disability for emotional problems. My undying gratitude goes out the VA Hospital in White River Junction in Vermont. They have taken such good care of him over the years and especially now at the end. The doctors, nurses and staff there have been especially lovely to my niece when she's gone to visit Thom, and to me when I've called for updates. THANK YOU!

I'm almost finished with a digital novella titled THE GHOST OF MISTLETOE MARY, which features Viet Nam vet and ex-cop turned P.I. Jeremiah Jones. I had dedicated the book to my brother and was planning on sending him a hard copy as a surprise for Christmas when it is released. Now he will never see it and that saddens me. He was loved, even if he didn't realize it.

I was able to speak with Thom for a few minutes last Saturday. He knew it was me even though his mind sparked in and out with faulty wiring. We chatted briefly before I said goodbye. I am grateful for that.

Tuesday, May 05, 2015

If An Erection Lasts Longer Than 4 Hours ... Call An Editor

Recently I was reading YESTERDAY'S ECHO by Matt Coyle when I came across a couple of lines that made me LOL! for real:

In the movies, we would have made love again. 
In real life, I was asleep in five minutes.

I know Matt and I'm sure this line was written a bit tongue-in-cheek, but that's not why I laughed. I laughed because it highlighted an issue I'm facing in my own writing.

As I've disclosed, I'm now writing, under the pen name of Meg Chambers, a steamy romance series about a 50-year-old newly divorced woman named Winnie Wilde who is rediscovering herself emotionally and physically. In the first novella, RUNNING WILDE, she starts off with an affair with a 28-year-old named Ben Church. Winnie's adventures continue in WILDE WOMEN, due out late summer 2015.

Here's an excerpt from WILDE WOMEN:

In the book, Adam kept up the action, but this wasn’t a book.  This was reality and Ben was a real man. He might be a young man, but he still had his limits.

Sexual limitations. That's the issue. In reality, most men cannot keep on humping and pumping, unless they have the help of meds.  In reality, couples, especially men, turn over and fall asleep pretty quickly after making love. I know this because I've been there, done that myself. And it happens more as you get older. Trust me on this. I'm not as old and stuffy as I might appear.

BUT, Winnie Wilde is fiction and in fiction the writer can do whatever he/she wants. Right? Maybe. Maybe not. 

In the Winnie Wilde books I have Winnie and her lovers using condoms. There is no discussion about it. No whining from the man that "it doesn't feel as good." It's just the natural and responsible thing to do. Since it is fiction, I could have them enjoying unprotected sex without the thought of STDs. After all, it's my world and in my world STDs do not have to exists. Right?


Even though I write fiction, most of my fiction is reality based. One might argue that my Ghost of Granny Apples books are fantasy, but can you prove that ghosts don't exist? Or how about my Odelia Grey character stumbling over bodies every six months or so?  No, that isn't reality either, but when it comes to portraying everyday life, I strive for reality. 

When Winnie is about to embark on her affair with Ben, she has a frank discussion with her best friend Kathy:

“Condoms,” groaned Winnie, “there’s another concern.”
“Just stock up,” Kathy advised. “Get a small assortment of sizes, just in case.”
“Condoms come in sizes?” Winnie’s eyes shot open at the news. “You mean like shoes?”

“They also come in different colors and styles,” Kathy advised. “Just like shoes.” She winked across the table at Winnie.

Being a responsible adult, Winnie uses condoms. I made sure of that. As for the frequency of sex, I recently edited a portion of WILDE WOMEN to make it more realistic. The original text was much more exciting and involves a new romantic partner for Winnie, Dr. Gabriel Dunn, who is hotter than hot. But Dr. Gabe is pushing forty and he and Winnie need time to bond in other ways besides between the sheets. That's also reality. 

So grown-ups in non-monogamous relationships use condoms and men not on meds don't keep it up for hours. Real sex is messy and often awkward, and if it didn't feel so damn good, we might not bother with it except to procreate.

It's also important to me that my steamy romance novels have a real story line with well-developed characters, and not just be about sex and hunks and heavy breathing. Romance novels are escapism, but that doesn't mean they can't also be good solid reading.

BTW, I am having SO MUCH FUN writing the Winnie books.

And that's all I'm going to say about that...

Monday, May 04, 2015

I Ain't Afraid Of No Ghosts!

I haven't posted much lately because I've been recovering from gall bladder surgery, fighting nasty hives, and am on yet another DEADLINE! Or two.

Yeah, I know, so what else is new? Right?

So my head is down and my fingers are flying along on two Ghost of Granny Apples adventures. The first one is a novella titled THE GHOST OF MISTLETOE MARY featuring Jeremiah Jones, a P.I. and former Viet Nam Vet and LAPD detective introduced in THE GHOST IN THE GUACAMOLE. I loved this character when he came to life in Guacamole. Like most interesting characters, he was only supposed to be a minor player, but the quiet boldness of his personality won over not just me, but Emma, Phil and Granny, and everyone wanted him back. Look for Jeremiah in future books, but I'm not telling which ones.

THE GHOST OF MISTLETOE MARY is a story I've had in the back of my head for a long time, and originally thought of it as a plot for an Odelia Grey novel. But as soon as Jeremiah made his presence known, I knew it was his story. It's the tale of a missing prostitute in Skid Row Los Angeles who Jeremiah is asked to find. This is due to my publisher by the end of May and will be released as an e-book novella from Penguin in time for the 2015 holidays.

Also in the works is THE GHOSTS OF MISTY HOLLOW, the 6th Ghost of Granny Apples novel. That is due to Penguin by the end of July, so I'm also buzzing along on it. In Misty Hollow, Emma and Phil visit Gino Costello, the famous crime novelist and father of Tanisha Costello, Kelly Whitecastle's best friend, in rural Massachusetts. There they are asked by an entire clan of spirits to help find out what happened to two of the family's children who went missing near the end of the 1800's.

Every time I turn in a new Granny Apples book, I laugh remembering how this series wasn't even on my radar. It came about purely by accident during a chat with a former editor. In my mind, it was just a simple short story. Then I thought maybe just a short series - 3 books tops. With the publication of these two new works, the Ghost of Granny Apples series will swell to 6 novels and 3 novellas. And who knows what more will come? I do have ideas for two more novels.

I never thought I'd say this, but I really enjoy writing these paranormal books. It's especially odd since I have read very few paranormal novels. I still don't read them very often. Mostly because I don't want someone else's voice to seep into my soft brain and taint my own voice and ideas.

See you on the other side ... 
of the Deadline, that is!