Thursday, October 22, 2015

2015 - The Fast and Furious

Holy Crap!

Where did the year go!

In less that two weeks we will be in full-blown commercial holiday mode. I have yet to see my first Christmas ad on TV, and I'm hoping to hold out until at least Halloween on that.

2015 was not a good year for me. It wasn't horrible with a capital H, but not one I'd like to remember with fondness. Still, I trudge on.

I have a lot going on during the last two months of 2015:

2 books due to publishers ASAP
2 books being released

Somewhere in there, there are a couple of major holidays, my birthday, holiday parties, and an assortment of duties for So Cal MWA, of which I am the current Vice President.

What's a gal to do, besides burrow like a groundhog and not come out until February?

Instead, I'll be meeting all this head on in my usual pig-headed, bull-in-a-china-shop manner.

While November 8th is the official release date of A BODY TO SPARE, on November 1st at 2:00 pm at the Mystery Ink Book Store, 8907 Warner Ave., #135, Huntington Beach, CA, I'll be talking about and signing the book. Come on down! This event is the LA Midnight Ink Author Day and will also feature pal Linda O. Johnston. This will also be my ONLY book signing event for A BODY TO SPARE due to an already full schedule and the impending holidays.

On December 1st get ready to download THE GHOST OF MISTLETOE MARY, my 3rd Ghost of Granny Apples digital novella and 8th Granny adventure overall. This story is a particular favorite of mine and features P.I. Jeremiah Johnson from Ghost in the Guacamole.

(Note: The Ghost of Mistletoe Mary will ONLY be available digitally, so please don't ask about print copies, which happens every time. Digital means digital.)

And ... heading into the 2016, WILDE WOMEN, the 2nd digital novella in the Winnie Wilde series under my pen name of Meg Chambers, will be released on February 2nd.  This poor book has had its release date moved so much it has whiplash, but February 2nd is the date!!! Expect it to go up for pre-order in November.


Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Writing In The Raw


I'll bet you think that this is about me writing in my birthday suit because of the never-ending heat wave in So. Cal.

Fooled ya!

Nope, this is me writing about me and about some thoughts I had recently when I was really down.

Writing in the raw in this instance means writing about the rawness inside. The red bloody core of our inner selves. Something we writers all strive to do in our fiction, but seldom do as people.

I'm going through a difficult patch right now. Patch might even be an understatement.  It feels like I'm in the middle of a perfect storm of bullshit, some of it with serious potential consequences. Some of it is personal. Some physical. Some of it has to do with my writing. Some of it is at the office and out of my control.  It's all thundering down on me like a tidal wave while I dog paddle as fast as my stumpy arms and legs will go.

I'm not writing this to garner pity or sadness or to get attention, but to remind you, the readers, that behind every book you read (mine and others) is a person with a life, a family, likes, dislikes, ups and downs, frailties, and tragedies. We lose loved ones. We get sick or injured. We do incredibly stupid things. We suffer lost and despair. We have a past. Just like our thousands of readers.

This morning while brushing my teeth, I had the thought that my life would be much easier had I married when I had the chance.

But would it be? There are no guarantees.

In my life so far, I've been proposed to three times. I accepted one and the bastard broke my heart with no sense of guilt or regret. I left him three months before the wedding and never looked back. I know, without a doubt, that had I gone through with that marriage I might be better off financially, but not emotionally. He would have destroyed me.

The other two came when I was younger. I didn't love them, so turned them down. Had I accepted either of those proposals, I would have had a nice traditional life, but probably would never have become a writer. My dream was always to be a writer. Maybe I would have still pursued it, but I doubt it. I've never regretted turning them down either.

I do date on occasion, though those occasions and opportunities are more rare with each passing year. But I can say honestly that while I am alone, I am seldom lonely. Nor am I a crazy old cat lady who talks to herself. Really. I'm not.  (here, kitty, kitty)

But this post isn't about marriage or being single. Not at all. This post is about being honest with ourselves and with others about who we are. We live the life dictated by our heart and desires, but also by our choices, both good and bad. Our lives are an accumulation and canvas of our experiences.

Throughout my life I've heard:

You're too fat.
You're too loud.
You're too abrasive.
You're not pretty enough.
You don't dress nice.
You swear too much.
You don't believe enough.
You're too old. (recent addition to the list)

And sometimes the negative voice comes from within:

I'm not talented.
I'm fat.
I'm lazy.
I'm old.

I've spent decades trying to fit in, hoping to be more accepted and loved. I've wasted years doing what was expected of me instead of what I wanted to do. I always thought if I was normal, my life would be better. Then several years ago I decided, fuck it. This isn't working for me. Instead of being a square peg trying to fit into a round hole, I need to find my own personal square hole.

Now I say,

THIS IS WHO I AM.

And I own it.

Straight or gay, we all need to come out of the closet, whatever that closet might be.

Of course, that doesn't mean we can throw social responsibility out the window. If you're an asshole, own your assholeness, but don't hurt others in the process. If you're not happy being an asshole, then change. Just know that being who you are doesn't mean walking through life taking verbal and physical swings at your fellow citizens just because you feel like it or you're in a bad mood.  That's acting out like a spoiled brat and the world does not need any more spoiled brats.

With regard to that tidal wave I mentioned above, I have no doubt that I'll weather it eventually. I may be dog paddling, but my head is still above water and my friends and family have my back.

As for my writing, I hope that even though I'm in my 60s, I can infuse my characters, current and future, with rawness and truth.


Monday, October 12, 2015

CONTEST TIME AGAIN!

It's hard to believe, but A BODY TO SPARE, the 10th Odelia Grey novel, will be released in just a few weeks. 

To celebrate, I'm giving away 4 signed copies.

To enter, simply send an e-mail before 9 pm PT, October 25th, to contest@sueannjaffarian.com with BODY in the subject line. Please include your SNAIL MAIL address. Winners will be drawn at random and posted in The Sue Ann Jaffarian Fan Club on Face Book

This contest is open to US and CANADA residents only and you must be a member of the Sue Ann Jaffarian Fan Club to enter

Why join the Sue Ann Jaffarian Fan Club?

I'm glad you asked.

Membership Has Its Benefits

  • Fun book chat with other readers, and not just about my books
  • Guest authors every month
  • Interesting questions and conversations about books, authors and reading
  • My contests are usually for members only and I hold several throughout the year
  • No spamming or advertisements allowed
  • We have 1,100 members
  • It's FREE!

Thursday, October 08, 2015

Story Ideas - Drought or Flood?

Exploding Head by Keith Haring
I am always baffled when I hear another writer say they have no ideas for their next book or a new series.

Really?

Other writers will say they have tons of ideas but not enough time to get them down on paper.

Okay, now I've found my tribe.

This second category can be divided into two camps: those who prioritize their multiple ideas and those who have a melt down by the shear weight of all the creative goodness in their heads. I stand between these two groups, a foot in each camp, depending on what's going on in my life at the moment.

I don't want to complain about having too many ideas out of fear that one day the Idea Gods might build a dam upstream and stop the flow. For now they are constantly raining down on my brain while I run around with a bucket trying to catch the best ones.

For those of you who are having trouble coming up with new ideas, I have a few pointers:

* Relax. A relaxed mind opens up like a flower to the sun. When I'm writing and hit a road block, I do something physical like a household chore, go for a walk, run an errand, or even take a shower. Or even listen to relaxing music. I find when ideas or words are stuck in my head like woolly mammoths struggling in a tar pit, I need to direct my thoughts elsewhere for a bit. Most of the time, those words break free when I stop clawing for them, unlike the unfortunate woolly mammoths.

* Look for story ideas in the most unlikely places and don't pooh-pooh crazy ones. There are gems in them thar nuts. Trust me. I got the idea for A BODY TO SPARE while sitting at the car wash waiting for my car to be finished. The opening of BOOBY TRAP came to me while eating a veal parmigiana sandwich in New Jersey. The opening of TOO BIG TO MISS came from a billboard on a highway. Get my drift. Nothing is out of bounds or too crazy.

* Follow the news, watch TV, observe situations going on around you. You never know when a story happening half-way around the globe, or in Washington, or even up the street, will spark an idea for you. Our minds work in the most wondrous ways. Things that seem totally unrelated just might be the catalyst for a new plot or even a whole new series. I find I'm my most creative when I come out of myself. I'm not that interesting, but the world and people around me are. Pay attention. Be observant. Your next protagonist or villain or the quirky best friend might be inspired by the person standing in front of you at the grocery store or having dinner at the table next to you.

*Pay attention to the void. The idea for my Winnie Wilde steamy romance series came to me out of the blue. I knew I wanted to write a romance series, but it wasn't until I read several that I realized I wanted to write one that followed a different path from those I'd read. I saw something missing and decided to fill it with my own take on the genre. The next time you think "someone should really write about that," change it to "I should really write about that."

*Write your ideas down as soon as you have them, even if they are just a few words or a sentence. Keep them in a notebook, a file, on your computer. Anywhere as long as you can refer back to them later. (And back your crap up!) I tend to start books or stories as soon as I have an idea for one. My computer is filled with manuscripts, some only one or two pages, along with a paragraph or two of notes.

I just counted. Not including works in progress that are under contract, I have manuscripts for 4 novels, two short stories, and one novella already started and in various degrees of progress just waiting for me to have time to get back to them. Every now and then, when I find I have a bit of time, I open one up and add a page or two. Eventually, I'll turn my full attention back to one of them and knock it out.

*Don't panic, prioritize. Recently, I woke up burning to work on a short story I have in progress. I'd been stuck on it for a bit and now it's full blown in my head. The problem is I'm on deadline for two novels that are under contract to publishers. What's an author to do? I jotted down the notes in my brain so not to lose them and will circle back to that story as soon as my deadlines are met. At that point, it should be an easy ride to the finish.

*Don't worry, it will keep. Recently I got an idea for a whole new paranormal series. The first thing I did was groan. Loudly. When in the hell was I going to get to this idea with all my other projects stacked up like lemmings standing in line to jump into the abyss? You know what? I'll get to it when the time is right. That's what. Unless your idea is extremely time sensitive (and few are), it will still be there when you get around to focusing on it. Let it simmer in the back of your creative mind while the front of your brain takes care of your works-in-progress. Both you and the new idea will be the better for it.