Saturday, December 31, 2016

A 2016 Fail Does Not Spell Failure

In January 2016, I made only one resolution: to walk or bike 2016 miles in the year 2016. You can read my pledge here.

I'm not going to mince words, I failed to meet that challenge. I came no where near it. I started off hopeful and determined, mixing up walking with miles on my exercise bike. I actually did quite well until about mid-July, then it all went to crap in a sneaker. In fact, by the end of August I had chalked up about 1200 miles, over half way to my goal.

Um, that was just after when I started becoming obsessed with making plans for retirement. Seems I can't walk and plan my future at the same time. Then there was the election frenzy that devoured both my time and emotions and turned me into a thumb sucking idiot on November 9th. I'm not making excuses, just taking a good look at what happened.

After August, I stopped tracking my progress and only exercised sporadically, but I'm sure I added more miles. Sometime along Thanksgiving I stopped wearing my Fitbit, but according to my Fitbit records until then I added about another 120 miles. So it's a safe guess that I walked or biked somewhere around 1500 miles for the year. Not my goal, but not a total slouch either. Kind of a slouchette.

So here I am, standing up before you all and saying:

LET'S TRY THIS AGAIN, SHALL WE!

Yeah, that's right. I'm not giving up.

My exercise goal for 2017 is to put 2017 miles on this old body of mine, come hell, high water, recession, or nuclear war.

Well, okay, maybe a nuclear war would stop me, but until that happens, I hit the road on January 1st.

Just think of all the miles I can chalk up walking the protest lines when Trump begins his reign of terror!

If you would like to join me and many others in turning this challenge into reality, join the Facebook Group 2017 in 2017.

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Spoiled Crazy

Something I learned this past weekend:

You don't really understand how spoiled your cat is until you have to explain your pet's idiosyncrasies to your new cleaning lady.

This past weekend I hired a cleaning lady. She's only coming once a month to do the deep cleaning, but it's still a real treat. I walked her through my large one bedroom apartment and explained what I needed and expected. Along the way, I pointed out B's toys, B's paper pile, B's dishes, and explained B's habits and needs, and how after cleaning, said toys and paper pile had to be placed back where she'd found them.

After the woman left, I realized that B came off like a spoiled little diva and I came off as a dotty cat lady.

Guilty on both counts.

I do spoil B. She's 18 years old, has kitty dementia, and is my only fur baby.

But you don't really realize HOW MUCH you spoil your pets until you explain your pet's routine to a non-pet owning person. Trust me on this.  And it didn't occur to me until several hours after the woman left.

I also had to explain that no matter how often she came to clean my apartment, she would never see B because B is deathly afraid of strangers. But not to worry, I told her, B is real, just as the poop in the box is real, the bag of kibble is real, and the kitty bed is real.

And just in case she still thought I was making it all up, I showed her a photo of B.

Yeah, I'm not crazy, not by a long shot.


Sunday, December 25, 2016

Regifting a Blog

I didn't think I could add anything to the Christmas Blog I wrote in 2015, and hope you don't mind my re-gifting these sentiments. There's nothing to update and revise, it's still how I believe Christmas should be celebrated for me personally.

Wishing you and yours a wonderful Christmas 2016.

I thank you for reading my blog and humoring me in my rants and shameful book promotion.

Sue Ann



Tuesday, December 20, 2016

No F**king Apologies

Yesterday I went on a red hot emotional rant on my personal Facebook page, complete with language that would make a sailor proud. Later than night, someone asked me if I had to put money in a "swear jar."

No, I told her. Not in my house.

Nor do I apologize for my salty language.

The funny thing is, in spite of growing up in a house where there was a ton of swearing, I never really got into it until I was in my late thirties. And the older I get, the more I seem to swear. Not all the time, but enough and at specific times. Usually when I'm really upset or angry.

Sometimes when I let a word or two slip around someone who does not know me well, they take in my silver hair, rosy cheeks, doughy body, and big smile, and do a double take. I guess fat old ladies aren't supposed to swear. Surprise! Surprise! Surprise!

Most of my books are extremely mild when it comes to swearing. My Granny Apples novels are almost devoid of anything shocking. The Odelia Grey books only on occasion contain a swear word and then only if it fits the character and situation. There's not even a lot in my Winnie Wilde romances, though there is plenty of steamy sex in those books.

But here's a real shocker to many readers: authors are not their books or their characters.

We are individuals who create those characters. I will admit that there is a bit of each one in us, good and bad, but we are not them.  Since I am a middle-aged, plus size paralegal, I am often asked if I am like Odelia Grey. No, I usually say. Odelia dresses better and swears less. And that's the truth.

So from time to time, you're going to hear me swear. I make no apologies for it, just as I make no apologies for my personal beliefs and leanings. Nor should anyone.

Often other writers tell me that I should be more careful about exposing my true self online, that it will turn away readers. Those writers show nothing or very little of their true personalities in social media. Others of my colleagues let it all hang out, much as I do. It's a personal choice.

However, if you are shocked by my language, or any of my personal commentaries or beliefs, then you should not be following my personal page on Facebook. That's where Sue Ann Jaffarian, the individual, hangs out, for better or for worse. If you need a sanitized version, then you should follow my Author Page or my Fan Club Page. I'm a good girl there.


Tuesday, December 13, 2016

A Little Cheese With Your Whine?

I was about to take a leap of faith. Faith that I'd done my homework and faith in things lining up just right and ahead of schedule.

It's scary.

It's nerve wracking.

It's exhilarating.

This past April I got the notion of buying and traveling in an RV when I retire. At first I expected to do my research and leisurely buy the RV in 2018 or early 2019, closer to when I actually retire.

Then a funny thing happened.

My dream caught fire and became an obsession. I researched types of RVs, even rented one. I visited RV shows and dealers and lurked in Facebook groups until I finally landed on the one I wanted: a Winnebago Travato 59K.  This obsession became so real it started breathing and eating up my time and thoughts almost constantly. I started thinking I should buy the RV NOW. Seriously, I would buy it now and have it ready even though I wasn't retiring for at least 18-24 months.

Yesterday I was hit with a fire hose of cold reality in the form of a financial adviser, who is also a long-time friend. Bottom line, I should not buy my beloved RV now. Or rather I could, but it would not be advisable at this time.

My inner child kicked and screamed and threw a tantrum. But ... but ... but ... I want to, I whined.  I love instant gratification. Who doesn't? I wanted that RV NOW, just as a toddler wants that cookie NOW.

My friend assured me he wasn't saying don't, just don't do it now. He also assured me that my plan of traveling in an RV is perfect for me and definitely doable, but I needed to wait to pull the buying trigger. Then he outlined why based on my finances and other goals, and it all sounded like solid advice.

Whine.

So I slept on it and this morning, well-rested, I could see his point clearly. I didn't like it any better, but I saw what he was seeing in the crystal ball of my future finances. He was seeing way ahead, to a time when I would no longer be working and collecting a nice paycheck. I was only seeing the shiny object in front of my face. Sometimes we need that dose of reality. Sometimes we need to listen to the voices around us. Not to the naysayers, but to those who are seeing the big picture on our behalf.

As I said to a Facebook friend yesterday when I suggested this hold on the purchase might happen: My dream is delayed, not deleted.

And it's not a long wait, but the benefits of waiting will pay off. And it's not like I have nothing to do in that time. Besides my day job, I have books to write and a home to dismantle.

Sometimes dreams are delayed for the right reasons.

But I'm still whining and stomping my foot in frustration.

At least let me have that moment.

Okay, that felt better.

Tuesday, December 06, 2016

Give Me Your Banners!

NEW CONTEST!

We need a new banner for the Sue Ann Jaffarian Fan Club, so all you creative types, put your graphic talents to work.

RULES:

  • Banner must be sized correctly for Facebook banners (see pixel requirements in pic above).
  • Banner must embody what the club is about.
  • Entries must be in a suitable format (JPEG, etc).
  • Send entries to contest@sueannjaffarian.com.
  • Entries must be received by 9 pm Pacific Time, December 21st.
  • Contest is open only to members of the Sue Ann Jaffarian Fan Club. (You know you want to join!)

Once we receive all entries, I will post the top 3 chosen by me in the club for voting by members.

Winner will have their banner posted at top of club AND will get their name in the 12th Odelia Grey book, TOO BIG TO DIE.

NOTE: By entering, winner agrees to release all rights to banner to Sue Ann Jaffarian for publicity use without remuneration or value.

Friday, December 02, 2016

Book Ideas. Yeah, They're Out There!

I'm blogging today over at the Midnight Ink Blog. Talking about book ideas and how to get ya some. Check it out!

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Yes, Another Book Give-A-Way!

THE GHOSTS OF MISTLETOE MARY, my 9th Ghost of Granny Apples book, will be released on December 6, 2016. So ...

It's Contest Time Again!

Three (3) lucky winners will win a signed copy of THE GHOSTS OF MISTLETOE MARY.*

Here are the details:
  • Become a member of the Sue Ann Jaffarian Fan Club on Facebook.  Come on, you know you want to join. And here's the link so you don't have to hunt for it.
  • Send your name and snail mail address to contest@sueannjaffarian.com. If you skip #1, your entry will be deleted. We do check.
  • Only one entry per person.
  • Deadline for entries is 9 pm pacific time, December 4, 2016. Winners will be announced on Monday, December 5th.

*Note – if you prefer an e-book edition instead of a print edition, please put that in your entry e-mail. Entrants outside of the US are eligible, but winners will only be awarded an e-book. 

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Shop Small. Big Benefits

The Saturday after Thanksgiving is Shop Small Day. It's a day to shop and spend your dollars locally at local businesses.

This time of year a lot of us, me included, go straight to Amazon or big box stores for gifts. It's only natural to want to save money and have the convenience. But our neighborhood stores and restaurants need our love and our bucks too. So support them this Saturday, and every day, as much as you can.

This Saturday is also Indies First Day, a day to celebrate independent bookstores.

On Saturday, November 26th, at noon, Mystery Ink Bookstore in Huntington Beach will be having a gathering of authors to celebrate Indies First. I understand Mystery Ink will also have THE GHOSTS OF MISTY HOLLOW, my latest Granny Apples novel, on hand. So come on down and say hello and get your signed copy.

And while we're on the subject of the new Granny Apples book, I'll also be attending the Mysterious Galaxy Bookstore's Holiday Party on December 10th. Again, a great store hosting a lot of authors on one day. THE GHOSTS OF MISTY HOLLOW and RHYTHM & CLUES will also be available there. 

November 26, 2016 - Noon
Mystery Ink Bookstore
8907 Warner Avenue, #135
Huntington Beach, CA 92647

December 10, 2016 - 2:00-5:00 pm
Mysterious Galaxy
5943 Balboa Ave. Suite #100
San Diego, CA 92111

And remember, if you can't make a book signing, just call one of the above bookstores and they will make sure you get a signed copy.

Monday, November 21, 2016

Let Your Freak Flag Fly!

I remember when I first started writing almost twenty years ago. A lot of people shook their heads and laughed, thinking it was just another half-baked idea, something I would get bored with and cast aside in a very short time. Now with over 20 books to my credit and numerous short stories, no one is laughing, except maybe at my books because they are humorous.

And some of you may remember, seven years ago when I announced that I would tackle the Camp Pendleton Mud Run, a combination 10K and obstacle course, not only did A LOT of people look at my middle-aged obese body and laugh, but they laughed right up until the day of the race. Some even expressed concern that I would hurt myself. Well, they weren't laughing after, when I not only finished the race, but managed to come in just under the official cut off time.

Now I'm looking at living in a camper van and traveling the country when I retire in under two years. At first a few laughed. A couple even told me I was nuts. But most people have learned by now that when I set my mind on something, chances are VERY GOOD that I will accomplish that goal. Even some of the earlier skeptics have changed their tune seeing how much research and planning I'm putting into this goal. I have a whole community behind me now, cheering on this plan.

Okay, now comes the downside of setting and announcing personal goals

There have been things I've said I was going to do that I haven't. I don't have a 100% completion rate on my goals. Not by a long shot.

I once said I was going to do a marathon, but cast it aside because of my arthritic knees and the time involved in training. I said I was going to clock 2,016 miles in 2016, but am going to fall way short of that goal, even though I have been putting miles on my exercise bike and in walking. And let's not forget how many times I've said I was going to lose weight - too many times to mention - yet I'm still determined to do that. That one day, whatever is in my brain throwing a strip of nails in the way of that goal, will be emotionally doused, allowing me to turn that goal into an accomplishment.

I believe in putting my goals and dreams out there for people to see. I believe in letting my freak flag fly, high and proud.

A lot of people don't like talking about their dreams because they are afraid of being laughed at if they fail. Or they're afraid people will think they're weird or won't like them. Or that people will judge them. Yes, that is going to happen. I guarantee it. Because some people are real shits.

But here's the thing - who freaking cares if people laugh at you or judge you?  Is it going to kill you? No. It's not even going to give you the sniffles. Still a lot of folks want to fail in private, so no one will know, except them. I think that's a sad and lonely place to be. It's like hiding your life energy under a bucket. It's setting yourself up for failure, whether you realize it or not.

If you don't have the cajones to put your goals and dreams out there, even to a small private group of friends, then you don't have what it takes or the tools to tackle then, win or lose. It's denying who you are. There's something both frightening and liberating about saying THIS IS ME AND THIS IS WHAT I PLAN ON DOING.  SO THERE!

And you might be surprised by how many people don't laugh and instead give you their full support. Support that will give you great energy and strength, and make the path a bit easier. And if for some reason you don't hit your target, those same people will be there to pick you up, dust you off, kiss your boo-boo, and set you back on your way. And those same people will be at the finish line, cheering you across it.

So let your freak flag fly. Wave it high. Wave it proudly. Announce your intentions to the world, then go forth and make it happen. If you don't, you will spend your life holding onto what-ifs like a box of broken china. And how sad is that?

Thursday, November 17, 2016

I Still Miss You, Baby Boy

A year ago I said goodbye to Raffi, my gray and white bundle of  obstinate energy. He was felled my intestinal cancer. It happened quickly and I still greatly mourn and miss him. Pets bring so much into our lives, but losing them is so painful. Still, the joy out weighs the pain by a landslide.

I'm in the middle of downsizing my apartment as I get ready to retire and hit the road in an RV. Recently I was moving stuff around and packing up when I stumbled upon a small hidden cache of Raffi's favorite toys. Raffi loved to hide his toys. I'm not sure if it was to keep B from playing with them or because he thought it was a game, but every now and then I'd see him playing with a small stuffed item I hadn't see in a while, then as quickly as it appeared, it would magically disappear. He was a true pack rat. I'm sure as I keep cleaning out items in the house, I'll find more of his treasurers and have a few more tearful moments.

This is one of my favorite photos of Raffi. He'd actually photo bombed a shot I was trying to take of B by jumping up in front of the camera just as I snapped it. It's a one in million shot, just as he was a one in a million kitty.

A lot of people say when a pet dies it crosses the rainbow bridge and lives on beyond the bridge. I don't know if I believe in that, but it's a charming thought. One thing I do know is that Raffi will live on in my heart until I draw my own last breath.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Trump IS My President

I remember when Barak Obama was first elected. A lot of people went nuts, claiming he wasn't THEIR president.  And for eight years these people, including a lot of Republican politicians, continued with that rant. Now that Donald Trump has been elected, many people who didn't support him are saying the same thing.

I got news for you folks (on both sides): whoever is elected President of this country IS the President. Not just for some of the people, but for ALL of the people, whether you like it or not.

It's no secret that I despise Donald Trump and what he stands for. I am still heartbroken and angry that he was elected, but I am an American and he is the President-elect of my country. Therefore, he will be my President.

BUT

That doesn't mean I will sit by idly while he destroys policies I believe in or takes actions I find deplorable.  It means that as an American, I will give respect to the office of President, while I protest and fight back on things I don't believe are good for the country. That's my right and my duty.

If you don't like what's going down in this country, get off your ass and stop ranting and raving on Facebook and Twitter, getting into word wars with other desk jockeys. Put your actions where your mouth is and get involved.  Unfriending someone gets nothing done. Doing something productive and planned might.

  • Run for office or help your candidates get elected in two years, in four years. Campaigns always need volunteers.
  • Support the agencies threatened by donating your time and money.
  • Let your representatives in Washington know how you feel BEFORE they vote.
  • Organize peaceful activities to protest these changes.
I've already joined a group in the writing community organized to do the above, and I'm sure I'll be volunteering for others down the road. I know you're worried, hurt and angry. It takes time to absorb shock. But it's time to push that aside and get involved. Flapping your gums and beating your chest in impotent rage only raises your blood pressure.

Donald Trump is YOUR President, but you do have the power to change that and his dumb ass policies. Not overnight, but it can be done.

Be PROACTIVE, not REACTIVE. GET INVOLVED!

Oh, and Mr. Trump, I'm watching you!

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Who Does This To Themselves?

Warning: This is a big-ass rant. But I'm pointing my finger at me, no one else.

Last night every inch of my body itched. My eyes, face, legs and even earlobes drove me nuts. My scalp felt like I had lice. My ankles felt like fleas were making a picnic of them. I was in a full-blown allergy attack and couldn't wait until I got home to take medication.  I'm better this morning, but my skin all over is very dry and itchy, especially my legs. I still have painful cyst-like pimples on my face and crusty patches of rash on other parts of my body. Even my eyes are still a bit puffy. How attractive it that, right?

The culprit: dairy products.

But the real miscreant here is ME.

As I've written before, I'm allergic to dairy products. I am NOT lactose intolerant, but actually allergic to them.

Warning, if you recommend I use Lactaid or something similar, I will strangle your uninformed ass with string cheese.

Milk, cheese, sour cream, butter, ice cream - if it comes from the mammary gland of an animal, I am not supposed to eat it. It's something I discovered a few years ago when trying to figure out why I had acne at my age and most of my body was covered with eczema. Usually I'm super good about it. But after cleaning out my system from years of dairy consumption, now I'm even more sensitive to it. It is the reason I became a half-ass vegan.

Oh, and by the way, just to make things interesting, dairy is/was my favorite food group.

I can have bits of it, like a splash of milk in scrambled eggs or a baked good without any problem, but regular consumption is a definite no-no.

These last few weeks, as I waited out the election, was swamped at work, and staring down a book deadline, what did I do? I turned to my favorite comfort food: dairy. I've had cheese, pizza, ice cream,  milk shakes, etc. If it had dairy in it, I defiantly shoved it into my pie hole. Not every day or at every meal, but enough so that my body twice started screaming at me in protest. First last weekend and again yesterday. Two very bad nearly back-to-back reactions. How many more warnings do I need?

Who does this to themselves? Who, with the raised fist of a temperamental four-year-old, insists on doing the very thing that will do them harm?

Me, obviously.

My name is Sue Ann and I am an emotional eater, and I'm choosing to self-medicate with the very food group that will do me more harm than just adding calories and weight.  I guess I think Anaphylactic shock sounds sexy.

What the &#$* is wrong with me???

Starting today when stressed out, I'm finding something else besides food (not just dairy) to burn off that frustration. Exercise sounds like a good start, and meditation, music, or even writing.

But it's not just the food issue. My doctor has been telling me for years that I need to cut back on the stress in my life or else... and I've been working on that for the past year by cutting out some of my outside obligations, managing book deadlines, and learning to say no to requests for my time. For years I've overextended myself and it's coming back to bite me on the ass. Big time.

As of today I have 566 days until retirement. If I don't take better care of myself, I'll never make it to that date. And that's not an option. I have plans. Big plans. Much larger than a pizza with double cheese. I can't wait until retirement to take care of myself. I need to start that NOW. TODAY.

Okay, rant over.

But, Sue Ann, I'm watching you!

Wednesday, November 09, 2016

No Canada For Me

So Donald Trump won the presidency. Needless to say I am devastated.

I didn't go to the polls yesterday convinced Hillary Clinton would win. I know better than to believe in a "sure thing,"  But I had hoped it would go her way, which in my opinion was the sane way.

I am very disappointed in my fellow Americans, that they would choose someone spouting hate and division at every opportunity. A man who vows to build walls and to deport immigrants. A man backed by white supremacists.

I am an old fat straight white lady born in the USA. Trump will not go after me. I'm not on his personal hit list. Not even sexually since I'm probably a 1 on his attractiveness scale, if I even made it at all. But I worry for my friends who are gay, foreign born, of different religions, minorities. I worry about the impact a Donald Trump attitude will have on our young women and girls. I worry about our future.

Recently I had this conversation with a friend:

Me: I'm worried that if Trump wins, he'll tank the economy and ruin my retirement plans.

Friend: I wouldn't worry, we'll all be dead by then in a nuclear war.

Yeah, then there's that.

Barring nuclear war and any other unknown tragedy or destruction of our system, in four years there will be another election. A chance to make things right and elect someone sane and stable. An opportunity to make Trump a one term president.

2020 will also be the 100 year anniversary of the passing of the 19th Amendment which gave women the right to vote.  We need to make the 2020 election count like no other.

Last night on Twitter and again this morning, a lot of people said they were leaving the USA for Canada or other places. But there was one Tweet I read where the person said hell no, he won't go. He's going to stay and fight.

And that's where I stand this morning. I'm an American and I will stay and fight any injustices I can however I can, for as long as I can. I could leave when I retire. I could easily get in my RV and slip into Canada or some other quieter place - barring nuclear war. But I won't give up the good fight, because I believe in the goodness of people and I believe in the basic goodness and structure of my country.


Friday, November 04, 2016

My Tribe(s)

Recently I posted a blog about freaders - my word for readers who have become good friends. Now I want to address another bunch of people who have become friends through my books or my writing career - other authors.

A few weeks ago was the annual So. Cal MWA Gumbo Party.  Every year, author Bill Fitzhugh and his wife Kendall open up their lovely home and amazing back yard to our chapter, and Bill cooks up batches and batches of authentic gumbo. There's usually around 100 in attendance. It's hands down my favorite party of the year.

This past year, like all the others, I sat and talked with authors I know well and reconnected with many I hadn't seen in a long time.

I remember when I first started connecting with other authors. It was more than a dozen years ago. I had just completed TOO BIG TO MISS but it wasn't published yet. At a friend's urging, I attended a Sisters In Crime - Los Angeles meeting. I remember it well because the presentation subject was autopsies and decomposition of the human body (with color slides and, no, I didn't get sick). Before and after the meeting was a nice time to chat with others and everyone welcomed me.

I had found my people!

In the following years, I served on the board of SinC/LA and even became its president for four years. And I made lots and lots of other friends. Friends with whom I shared the love of writing and mystery. Friends I still hold dear and many I saw at the gumbo party since the two chapters have considerable overlap.

Well, I'm at it again, making new friends. As I gear up for retirement and my life on the road in an RV, I've connected with a lot of RVers, especially those who already own the specific model RV I have my heart set upon buying - a Winnebago Travato.

At the recent Pomona RV show, I was fortunate enough to meet several of my new friends, including James and Stefany of The Fit RV. I love these folks! Not only are they very cool and entertaining, but their videos on RVs and fitness are super valuable. I'm already doing Stef's resistance exercises for seniors.

I've made a lot of other friends in the RV world, too, mostly through Facebook, and I look forward to meeting many of them in person soon.  I imagine being on the road will have its lonely moments, but by the time I actually hit the road, I'll be part of a very vibrant community of helpful and fun people.

I have found more of my people!

This is true of any interest, not just writing and RVing.  If you want to meet new people, simply seek out those whose interests coincide with yours, or those involved with new interests you want to know more about. There are lots of people out there just waiting to meet you. And I mean nice, stable people, not serial killers or stalkers.  (Sorry, but my murder mystery side just popped out for a moment.)

I'm a loner by nature, but that doesn't mean I don't enjoy the company of good people or don't seek out new people. I'm kind of an extroverted introvert.  Every new turn I take in life, even at my age, usually brings me new friends, and new friends bring new adventures, and we all need both.

I look forward to many years of finding even more of my people!

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Yankee To The Bone

You can take the girl out of New England, but you can't take New England out of the girl.

Trust me, this is true.

I was born in Massachusetts, and while we left there when I was about eight or nine, I have returned to live in both Massachusetts and Maine for short periods as an adult. And even though most of my life has been spent in Southern California, with stints in Phoenix, San Francisco, and even South Carolina as a kid, I still call Massachusetts "home."

Recently I got back from a short vacation to New England, specifically Rhode Island and Connecticut. I was camping with my family at Fisherman's Memorial State Park in Rhode Island. It's a lovely campground just a mile from Scarborough Beach. I was there during peak foliage season. The weather was crisp and windy but very sunny. In other words, perfect.

As I mentioned in a prior post, I don't have much family so try to return East every couple of years for a visit. Two years ago I visited in August and rented a lovely cottage on Lake Lashaway that was close to them. Another great trip.

Every time I visit New England, there are several  traditions in which I must indulge:

Moxie - an old New England soft drink that is kind of bitter and earthy.  I can get this in Los Angeles at Bev Mo.

Lobster roll - not an entire lobster, but a big juicy lobster roll. Again, thanks to the Lobsta Truck and Cousins Maine Lobster Truck, I can get these in Los Angeles. I can also get live Maine lobsters in my grocery store.

Fried clams/scallops - preferably from a beach side establishment. Very difficult if not impossible to find in Los Angeles.

Indian Pudding - a molasses corn meal pudding that comes in a can. It's great heated with vanilla ice cream. Must be ordered online if I want to have this in LA. Only thing I missed on this last trip.

As I said, most of the above can be found in LA, but it's not the same as having them in the mother ship of New England.

You'll notice all my favorites must-haves are food-related. I'll bet you expected at least mentions of the Patriots or the Red Sox, but, no, I'm not much of a sports fan. New England sports fans are rabid and that includes those in my family, but somehow I missed that gene.

But what really speaks to my soul isn't the food, but the overwhelming beauty of New England. I've traveled to almost every state in the U.S. and they all have their own special beauty, but when I see miles and miles of woods ablaze with red, orange and gold, as on this recent trip, the sap in my veins warms like maple syrup poured over freshly flipped pancakes.

So it's no accident that I've placed two of my Southern California based novels in New England, specifically Massachusetts.

The fifth Odelia Grey novel, CORPSE ON THE COB, finds California born Odelia coming face-to-face with her long-lost mother in Massachusetts, in a fall corn maze ... over a dead body.

The upcoming 9th Ghost of Granny Apples book, THE GHOSTS OF MISTY HOLLOW, puts medium Emma Whitecastle, Phil Bowers, and, of course, the ghost of Granny Apples, smack in the middle of a mystery of two Massachusetts children who went missing in the 1800's. THE GHOSTS OF MISTY HOLLOW will be released December 6, 2016, and is available now for pre-order.

I know without a doubt that once I'm on the road in my RV that I'll be spending much of the fall (my favorite time) in New England visiting family and friends and drinking in my roots, along with a fair amount of Moxie.  At least until cold weather arrives and I scoot to warmer weather.

You see, you may not be able to take New England out of the girl, but after years on the west coast, this girl detests the cold and the maple syrup in my blood is thin and watery.

Monday, October 24, 2016

Sorry, Daryl.

I didn't discover The Walking Dead until March of this year. And in spite of my revulsion to all the gore and violence, I hung in there with it, binge watching over several months on the first six seasons.

Why?

Because of the great writing and characters.

Somehow I'd gotten through 6 seasons of blood and squishy disgusting sounds and off the chart violence just to learn more about the characters I'd grown to love.

I didn't see the first episode of season 7. And I never will. I had already been having second thoughts about not continuing with this show because as much as I enjoyed it, it was messing with my mind by way of creepy nightmares. But I was still intrigued, so I Googled the season 7 opener the night it aired and learned who was murdered at that hands of Negen.  I also read about how gory and disturbing the deaths were on the screen on both the Net and Facebook.

Enough, my inner voice said. You don't need to see that. You don't need that imprinted on your brain forever. The real world is harsh enough.

Sorry Daryl, Carol, Rick, Michonne, and all the rest of you zombie fighters I've come to know and love, it's time we break up and see other people. 

There's nothing wrong with you. You've got a great show with fantastic writing, acting, and special effects. It's just that we're not a good fit.

It's not you. It's me.

Trust me, it's for the best.

Saturday, October 22, 2016

"Nasty" Women Vote!


Four years ago I re-posted the following commentary found elsewhere. The events described below happened 100 years ago, but it’s still an important reminder of why it’s important to vote, especially for women. Especially this election, when we have a better than excellent chance of electing a woman to the presidency - a competent, educated, and experienced woman.

* * * * *

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

Lucy Burns
The women who fought for this right 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.

Forty prison guards wielding clubs and with 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.
Dora Lewis

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.

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 being arrested
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 2012 Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson, a tea party activist, said this: "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."

The Rev. Peterson is African-American and has obviously forgotten his roots and how people fought and died for HIS right to vote.

As I said in 2012, no matter what your political leanings, if you are a woman and you do not vote on November 8th, SHAME ON YOU!

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Contest Time Again!

There’s a new Odelia Grey book coming out on November 8th.  

You know what that means? 

It means it’s Contest Time Again!

Three (3) lucky winners will win a signed copy of RHYTHM & CLUES, the 11th Odelia Grey mystery.*

Sound good?

Here are the details:
  • Become a member of the Sue Ann Jaffarian Fan Club on Facebook.  Come on, you know you want to join. And here's the link so you don't have to hunt for it.
  • Send your name and snail mail address to contest@sueannjaffarian.com. If you skip #1, your entry will be deleted. We do check.
  • Only one entry per person.
  • Deadline for entries is 9 pm pacific time, October 30, 2016. Winners will be announced on Monday, October 31st.

*Note – if you prefer an e-book edition instead of a print edition, please put that in your entry e-mail. Entrants outside of the US are eligible, but winners will only be awarded an e-book. 

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Training Wheels - Part 2

After the crazy first day of my RV vacation, the rest of my vacation will seem boring to some of you.

Day 2 - My niece and her two daughters were arriving today, so I took my first shower in my rental RV. It might have been difficult to use the toilet in such cramped space, but the shower was roomy with great hot water and water pressure. Although if I wanted to dry off properly I had to move into the main part of the rig. Something tells me this is quite common in RVs. The rental had a separate vanity area, which was nice.

Fantastic Umbrella Factory
After Lindsay and the girls arrived, Lindsay and I went grocery shopping for my provisions and for stuff to feed everyone at Sunday's cookout. There was a large Stop 'N Shop close to the campground. After shopping, Lindsay and I joined Marlaine, Bob and the girls at Scarborough Beach, the place where the family cookout would take place on Sunday. The girls love the beach and the wind and chill in the air didn't bother the 6 and 7 year olds one bit. It wasn't that bad on us adults either as we sat and enjoyed the view and fresh air.

That night the oldest girl decided she wanted to stay in her Grammy's trailer, while the youngest and Lindsay stayed in my rig. Lindsay took the upper bunk and after smacking her head a few times, decided to sleep on the dinette bed the next night.

Day 3 - Today Marlaine had a "mystery day" planned. First we drove to the Fantastic Umbrella Factory, in Charleston, RI, which was a collection of small shops on a farm, complete with chickens, goats, and emus. It had a definite '60s vibe and every shop was playing vintage music and burning incense. I bought a pair of Day of the Dead socks.

Beavertail Point in RI
After, we took our packed lunch to the Burlingame State Park picnic area on Watchaug Pond. This was a beautiful picnic area with tons of tables and we had it pretty much to ourselves. Across the pond from the picnic area is a large campground that I must explore once I have my own RV.

But the day wasn't over yet. Next we drove to Beavertail Point State Park in Jamestown, RI, and plopped ourselves down on the grassy area above the sea in camp chairs. This was a very rocky and beautiful area with crashing waves beneath. Below the grassy flat was a table of rocky cliffs where the girls played and explored.

That night both girls and their mother stayed in my RV with the girls in the loft bed.

Teaching Moment #5: Children are exhausting, especially children recharged after a night's sleep.

Day 4 - After Lindsay and the girls went to Marlaine's trailer for breakfast, I settled in for some quiet time and a bowl of oatmeal (the only thing I cooked in my RV). I sat at the dinette, ate, and gazed out the window at the peaceful camp ground. I was also reminded of a dream I had several months ago when I was first thinking about RVing full-time. In the dream I was seated at a table inside a van RV and writing on my laptop. The door was open and through the wide screen door I could see a clearing in a wooded area. It was raining lightly, but not cold. But the most important thing I remember about that dream was how at home and at peace I felt. Sitting at the dinette eating oatmeal in a rental RV, I felt something similar.

Teaching Moment #6: I'm now sure full-time RVing is for me when I retire from my day job and turn to writing full-time. It feels like home.

2 nephews, 1 niece,
1 great nephew and 3 great nieces
Today would be a busy day. My nephew Derek showed up with his son and daughter, both teenagers. We packed up tons of food and took off once again for Scarborough Beach. There we met up with my nephew Tom and other members of our extended family for a cookout. It was windy, but sunny and warm. The girls flew their kite and played in the sand while the adults chatted and caught up. After, everyone departed for home while Marlaine, Bob and I headed back to the campground. Later that night we headed out for a yummy New England seafood dinner. I also hooked up my sewer hose without incident - yay, me!

Teaching Moment #7: Family is very important. While I have tons of cousins, I don't have much in the way of immediate family and have lived 3,000 miles from them for decades. About every two years I journey back for a visit and come home wishing I had more time with them. Once I retire, I plan on doing just that.

My last night in the RV, I listened to music, packed and cleaned. I was ready to go home but sad to leave. In spite of loving my time with my family, it would have been nice to have a few days alone in the campground, but that will come soon enough.

Day 5 - After another restful morning of oatmeal and reflection, I took my last shower in the rig, touched up the bathroom, dumped the black and gray tanks (again without incident!), unplugged the power and water, and gave goodbye hugs to Marlaine and Bob.

Unlike the drive to the campground, the drive back to Cruise America was uneventful and even relaxing, thanks to a fully charged phone/GPS. I wish I could say the same about the flights home, but air travel is anything but relaxing these days.

Teaching Moment #8 and last thoughts: I cannot wait until I retire, have my own RV, and hit the road to explore this beautiful country. Renting an RV was a great way to confirm my path. In spite of the initial ups and downs, it was a wonderful vacation.

As I write this, I have 590 days until retirement.  But who's counting?

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Training Wheels - Part 1

Yeah, but some of us wanderers are really lost!

Every fall my family camps at the Fishermen's Memorial State Park at Point Judith, Rhode Island. This year I decided to join them. At first the plan was to stay in a motel close by. As most of you now know, my retirement dream is to buy an RV and travel the US, so my motel plan quickly morphed into renting an RV and camping with them. As luck would have it, I managed to snag the space next to them.  This would be the first time I've ever stayed in an RV, except for when I was a young teen and camped with a friend's family in their camper. And I've certainly never driven one.

Let the adventure begin!

Day 1 - A cancelled connecting flight in Philadelphia to Hartford, CT spelled disaster, but I was lucky enough to get on the next flight as a standby. Still it put me several hours behind schedule. I got to the Cruise America rental place just outside Hartford, went through the thorough orientation, and hit the road.

Teaching Moment #1:  I didn't like driving the big Class C RV. It was hulking and rattled liked nobody's business. It drove fine and after about 15 minutes I was comfortable with driving with the side mirrors. I was 95% sure I wanted a Class B van when I bought an RV. Now I was 100% sure.

I was using my phone's GPS for guidance for the 2 hr drive to the campsite and things were going well until my phone alerted me to a low battery. Can't be! I was plugged into the RV's 12 volt outlet on the dash! A quick check showed me there was no juice charging my phone. YIKES! All I could hope for was it lasting for the duration of the trip.  It didn't. Nor were there any other 12 volt or USB outlets in this basic coach.

About 40 minutes in my phone died and I was left with no driving instructions. I stopped at a convenience store and asked to buy a map. They didn't sell maps. Nor did they sell battery packs for cell phones, although they did carry a very large assortment of chargers and earbuds. Nor did the attendant have any clue how to get to Point Judith.  The second store was about the same.

I wandered around, stopping now and then to ask people for directions. I found two men at another store who gave me some general directions and I wrote them down. By now it was getting dark. I was back on track until I tried to read more of the instructions and realized the cab overhead light was also not working. I couldn't read a word of my directions. I pulled off the road and into a McDonalds to look for a spot to charge my dead phone (something I should have done sooner, stupid me!) and let the family know I wasn't dead in a ditch somewhere, since by now it had been several hours since I'd left the RV place. Alas, there were no public outlets in the Mickey D's I visited.  Then an idea hit me.

Teaching Moment #2:  RVs are self contained. They have generators that provide electricity! Duh! Parked in the back of Mickey D's, I fired up the generator to recharge my phone and call the family. However, I was asked to move along after it was only 10% charged.

Okay, but now we're cooking.  Following the GPS I got really close to my destination but then ran out of juice again.  I pulled over into the parking lot of a closed business and hit the generator again for a several minutes. This time I had enough to get me to the RV park. YAY!

The RV park check-in was closed for the night, but I knew my space number. Easy peasy, right? Wrong. This RV park is a warren of sections and winding roads. After 15 minutes of wandering, I stopped and asked some folks sitting around a campfire where my spot might be. They graciously said they would walk on over there with flashlights and lead the way, but first I had to circle around again because I was on a one way road.

Okay, getting closer. As I wound my way around to get on the right road a man with a flashlight flagged me down. When I stopped he asked, "We've been watching you go around and around. Are you lost?"

Teaching Moment #3: RV people are super nice, kind and helpful. I already knew this, but now I had living proof.

After thanking that man, I headed around and met up with the man who was guiding me to my site. We found it with no trouble and he guided me in as my sister-in-law Marlaine came out of her trailer concerned. Her husband Bob was off in their truck at the entrance waiting for me! We'd probably just missed each other. He returned a minute later.

The two men insisted on hooking me up since it was pitch black out. I didn't argue since I was exhausted, but told them to leave the sewer hose. I didn't need it right then and I really wanted to tackle it myself. So powered up and with water, I was ready to go ... and fully charge my phone.

Marlaine and Bob and I were supposed to go to dinner, but it was too late, so we retreated to their large trailer where I gobbled down a PB&J. Soon after I climbed into my rental rig, got settled and ready for bed.

Teaching Moment #4: I detested the dry bath in the rental rig. The shower took up too much room to use the toilet properly. Seriously, there was probably only 4-5 inches between the end of the commode and the wall. The shower was a nice size but took up way too much room. The only way to effectively use the toilet was to sit with your feet on the rim of the shower. Many times I longed for the big wet bath in the Travato 59K, my rig of choice,

BTW, the hot water heater, the fridge, and the furnace on my rental rig worked great! The bed was big and comfortable the first night and I dropped off to sleep quickly, but after a few nights the thick hard foam wasn't that comfortable. And Cruise America was lovely about the serious problem their faulty 12v outlet caused me. They didn't charge me for the generator use, or my propane (which was minimal), and even knocked off my late fee for returning the rig 2 hours late. They couldn't have been nicer or more accommodating over the issue.

At the end of my first day RVing, I fell asleep wishing I was in my very own rig.

Soon.

Very soon.



Sunday, October 09, 2016

From The E-Mail Bag - A Racist Line?

Today I received an e-mail from a woman who is a big reader of my work. She wrote to tell me how disappointed she was that I included in A BODY TO SPARE what she considered a "racist" line.

Here is an excerpt from her very polite and obviously heart-felt e-mail:

I was shocked and disappointed with what I consider a racist line in your book, A Body to Spare where Odelia is talking about people trusting a middle aged overweight woman and says, "if I was a big guy of color," it would be different. Even if in our society sometimes that's true, I found it very offensive and inappropriate - and unnecessary. I'm sorry to complain but I felt strongly enough about it to have to write to you.

Here is the part in the book, in context, that offended the reader:


“Excuse me?” she said, taking out one earbud. “Did you speak to me?” She took a trusting step closer. I’m sure if I’d been a guy, especially a big guy of color, she would not have been so curious and polite. Sometimes it pays to be a squat, white middle-aged woman. I’m surprised more crimes aren’t committed by women like me considering how harmless people consider us. If my hair had been gray, she probably would have also given me a concerned smile.

And here is my response to her:

I am very sorry you were offended by that line, but I stand by it 100% and by my decision to include it in my book. While my books are humorous, I also endeavor to include real truths about life. I am a large white woman and people just naturally assume I am not a threat, but men of color, especially young men of color, often raise red flags immediately in people, even if they are non-threatening.  We see it on the news all the time.

I am the creator of those books, and I go where the story, the characters, and my heart lead me. That comment is a part of Odelia's life in Southern California, just as much as weight prejudice and horrific traffic is, and it's something she (and I) think about. 

I do, however, thank you for voicing your opinion.

Sue Ann

Now, blog readers, pay attention. I am not writing this blog so you all can feast on the bones of this lovely woman, and some of you tend to do just that when someone disagrees with you. And you know it. I'm writing it to show a side of writing many of you might not understand.

Authors receive all kinds of e-mail, even snail-mail, voicing both disappointment and praise for their work. I get both all the time. Happily most of it is praise.  But over the years I've had my ears boxed for using the words Christ, fuck, damn, and even fat, just to name a few, and I use those words sparingly. I've also been lectured on Odelia living an "unhealthy" lifestyle and encouraging my readers to do the same.

Even my Granny Apples books are not safe. I've received comments about those novels being too silly and unrealistic, and for containing pre-marital sex. And when Emma in GEM OF A GHOST kissed Dr. Quinn, many readers went ballistic and one even called poor Emma a tramp.

I've also been dressed down soundly for things totally out of my control; things that are decided by the publisher.

I love hearing from readers, including the criticism. Really. I do.

But here's the thing. If authors sat down to write a book that they felt would not offend or upset or disappoint anyone, then NO books would ever get written. Including mine.

Good writers write from their heart. We write the stories in our heart and try our best to make them realistic. If I wrote the Granny and Odelia books without any diversity, shame on me since Southern California is totally diverse in race and culture. If someone wrote a hard-core police procedural without swearing and violence, readers would call foul.  We might consider our audiences for a particular book when it comes to some content. For example, I'm not going to put as much sex or swearing in the Odelia or Granny books as I might in my Winnie Wilde novels. Or as much violence in those books as I would in my Madison Rose novels.

A good author considers their audience but does not allow the audience to dictate the work. If an author does that, they might as well unplug their computer.

In the end, these books are my words, from my heart, and chosen carefully. I stand behind them 100%. You don't have to agree with me, but know you aren't going to change me.

Kind of like my stand on politics...

Friday, October 07, 2016

Potty Mouth

There are several businesses I frequent that have signs posted that warn if you are on your cell phone when it's your turn for service, they will not help you, talk to you, take your food order, etc. I think this is a dynamite idea. Cell phones are ubiquitous. Yes, they are useful and convenient, and even I carry mine almost everywhere.

Almost everywhere. Emphasis on the word almost.

In my day job, I work in a high rise building with nearly 25 floors. On my floor there are several women who bring their cell phones into the women's room and make calls while in stalls. I don't know if they are using the facilities during these calls or just pretending the stall is a phone booth, but it annoys the freaking hell out of me. It's bad enough I have to listen to everyone's calls in the elevator or in line to get food, but this takes the Charmin. And it's not just in the bathroom at my office. I've witnessed this in many public restrooms.

So ... the next time you are tempted to make a call in a public or near public restroom, Buttercup, consider this:

1. Your call is NOT private. I, and the other women in the bathroom, can hear every word you are saying, and some of the calls I've heard should be private. Just yesterday I heard someone talking to an obvious client. Really? A client? In the toilet? Last week someone was checking back on a job interview from the stall next to me. Over time, I've overhead fights with significant others and scolding of children.  And I've heard gooey love talk, some of it rather graphic. If you need privacy, walk to the parking garage and get in your car, or go outside to make your call.

2. I don't want to use the toilet or even flush the toilet within hearing of the other person on your phone. It's true they don't know who I am, but it's icky and embarrassing. I don't want them hearing my "business" anymore than I want to hear yours. It's an invasion of MY privacy.

3. It's just freaking nasty. I don't even talk on the phone when using my bathroom at home. Where are your manners? Your call can wait five minutes while you take care of bodily functions.

Yesterday I flushed the toilet about six times in a row. A waste of water, yes, but I was trying to make a point. Didn't seem to bother Ms. Nasty Phone at all. She went right on talking, just louder. Her client must have thought she was calling from Niagara Falls.

I'm really tempted to put a NO PHONES ALLOWED sign on the door, but I know it will only be ignored, laughed at, or defaced.

Maybe next time I should wait and when the caller emerges from the stall, grab the phone and flush it. Do you think she'll get the message? Or maybe she'll call security ... from the phone in her office.

Am I the lone voice in the desert on this issue? Or do others hate this too?

Or maybe I'm just a crabby old lady ... with outdated bathroom manners?

Saturday, October 01, 2016

Instant Love

I have fallen in love with only a few appliances in my life. Very few.

Four years ago I bought a Keurig coffee maker. LOVE

A couple of years ago I purchased a Ninja Kitchen Center. LOVE

I also purchased another appliance that shall remain nameless, but is no less loved.

Both the Keurig and Ninja sit proudly on my kitchen counter and are still going strong and get used almost daily.

Last week I added another appliance to my bevy of beauties - an Instant Pot!

Unlike the Keurig and Ninja, who are both fairly svelte and decked out in glossy red, Pottie, as I like to call her, is rotund and wears basic black and silver . If she thinks it's slimming, she's delusional.

I was warned before I bought her that she was big and bulky and heavy, and may not be a good fit for my future scaled-down life in an RV. All that is true. In the world of kitchen appliances, she is the "big girl" in the room.

But like a lot of us big girls, she can she work it!

I've made three of my favorite vegan dishes in Pottie so far, and she's rocked each and every one. She's easy to use, works quickly and efficiently, and doesn't heat up my kitchen. And she's super easy to clean.  Pottie can make healthy dinners in 15-20 minutes from chopping to serving!

WINNER. WINNER. TOFU DINNER!

In fact, I'm trying tofu in her this weekend.

As for fitting in the RV, big or not,Pottie is definitely going. So is Ninja. Keurig will probably be left behind. I will find a place to secure Pottie so that she travels safely and is easily accessible. Her size will not be an issue. Unlike a certain nameless politician, big girls are welcome in my home, whether it be fixed or on wheels.

Monday, September 26, 2016

Freaders, Yes, That's a Thing

Over the years I've been writing I've amassed a lot of loyal readers. And along the way a lot of those readers have become good friends. I'm not talking Facebook friends, but real friends that I see and spend time with in my personal life whenever possible.

I call them Freaders.

And if that's not a thing, it should be.

This is one of the many upsides of being a writer, if not the best one. Of course, you have to be careful. Sometimes you think you've found a freader and the person turns out to be not so friendly, and can even be dangerous. I've never had a problem with the danger part, but have backed away from some folks eager to be friends that really weren't a good fit.

This past Saturday I had brunch with Heide, Mark and Angelique, all freaders. I met Heide when she came to a couple of my book signings many years ago. The same with Mark, and I met Angelique through Mark. The weekend before that I had brunch with Janet, another freader from North Carolina who I try to see whenever she's in town visiting her son. Shortly before that I met Chris H. for dinner. Chris is another freader who has become a good friend. Sheila came up to me at the LA Times Festival of Books all excited to meet one of her favorite authors. In chatting, we found out that we live just a couple of blocks from each other. We've now met a couple of times for brunch. And I certainly cannot leave out Shirley and Doug. This couple has become so dear and important to me. They live in No. Cal but come to So. Cal for Disney runs often. When they do, Heide, Mark, Angelique, and I meet them at Disney for breakfast after their event. We have all become good friends. Chris even joined us once when he was in town. And I can't forget Lori O., who I've met only once in person, but who has become close to me over the years. Even she now knows Doug, Shirley, Heide, and Mark.

It's an ever growing circle.

Finally, I cannot leave out Cyn. Cyn was the loyal reader who started my fan club. The fun part is she doesn't live far from my family and when I can, I meet up with her when I'm in MA visiting. I now consider her a close friend and adore her husband and kids too.

These are people I would not have known had I not become a writer, and if my books had not become popular enough to reach far and wide. I also would not have been enriched by their friendship had I not been open to it when offered.

I'm a very lucky duck. And while I don't make a ton of money writing, I am rich beyond my dreams because of my growing circle of friends.

I mean FREADERS.

Friday, September 23, 2016

Take A Number

I'm always getting new book ideas. I mean ALL THE TIME. I not complaining. As any writer will tell you, it's a great problem to have. The sticky part comes when a new book idea wants to muscle in on my writing schedule, bumping aside books that have deadlines. Then there's a war for my precious writing time.

What's a writer to do?

Recently a new book idea just wouldn't let me go. It had me by the gray matter, digging in its claws with the tenacity of a cat worried about getting a bath. This new book is a very cool idea and a departure from my other books. It's a thriller and I'm not even sure yet if it will birth a series or be a stand alone.  It will also require a lot of research, which right now I don't have the time to do since I'm working on two other books.  Either way, I finally gave into its demands, sat down at the computer, and hammered out the first chapter.

Oh, did I say that it was around midnight when this happened?

I finished the chapter around 1:30 in the morning. Thankful it was a Friday night and I didn't have to go into the office the next day. I crawled into bed happy with the results: I had the manuscript template in place, the title page, Chapter 1 on the page, and a full first chapter drafted. The next morning I looked it over and, surprisingly, it was a very good chapter!

That doesn't mean this book will take priority. It won't. As mentioned, I'm working on two other books which have to be done sooner than later. One is book 12 in the Odelia Grey series and the last book I have under a publisher's contract. The other is the 3rd Winnie Wilde novella. The deadline for that book's release is the end of February. Even though it will be self-published, it still has a deadline.

After those books are done, I'll be turning my attention to Winnie #4 and finishing up a novel I started years ago called Finding Zelda, which is an expansion of my Holidays From Hell short story series. And after that will come Winnie #5 and #6. Sometime after that will be another Odelia and another Granny Apples, with Betrayed By Blood, the 3rd book in my vampire series, somewhere in the mix.

The new book I started prepping this week will just have to wait its turn. Something tells me I won't get back to it until after I'm in retirement, but you never know. And here's the thing, it's already started. It already has a spot in my heart and in the file cabinet in my brain where I keep book ideas. There are a lot of books in my mental cabinet and a lot of books on my computer that have a chapter or two complete, along with some notes. They are queued up waiting their turn, but when I do get back to them, I won't be starting with a blank page. I do the same with short story ideas.

To all you budding and frustrated writers: When you get a new book idea, start the book, at least a paragraph or two. Don't put it off, saying you'll do it later when you have more time. Nothing is as daunting as staring at a blank page and feeling nothing. It's also time consuming. When you do finally sit down to work on the new book, a paragraph or page, even if it's crap, will at least give you a push toward the good stuff to follow.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

You Gotta Eat Your Spinach, Baby!

A Half-Assed Vegan Post

In the 1936 movie Poor Little Rich Girl, Shirley Temple sang You Gotta Eat Your Spinach, Baby.


Although young Shirley wasn't enamored of the green stuff, I am. It's one of my favorite veggies, hands down! It's also very versatile. I love it raw or cooked. In salads, pasta, casseroles, and simply sauteed with a little garlic as a side dish. I often use it instead of lettuce on sandwiches and as a greens base for other salads.


And Popeye knew what he was doing when he popped a can for strength. This unassuming leafy green is packed with good stuff and super low in calories.

And it's quite tasty too!

I saw those eyes rolls out there! But trust me, spinach is super yummy if made right. I grew up eating canned spinach. I know, YUK! But even then I liked it. But once I got a taste of the fresh stuff, there was no turning back.

For those of you still not convinced, here's a vegan spinach dip recipe from Minimalist Baker that might change your mind.

However, when I make this, I make it as a side dish, like creamed spinach and use less "cream."  I've even spread this on toast and added sliced tomatoes to make a dynamite sandwich. Here's my revised recipe, based on the one from Minimalist Baker:

Sue Ann's Vegan Creamed Spinach

1/2 cup cashews, soaked overnight then thoroughly drained
1 Tbsp olive oil
1/3 cup unsweetened plain almond milk
2 Tbsp nutritional yeast
1/4-1/2 tsp salt
fresh ground pepper
1 garlic clove, minced
3-4 cups washed spinach, chopped
2 Tbsp vegan parmesan cheese

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees and spray an oven-safe serving dish with non-stick spray. 
  • Add soaked and drained cashews to a blender with almond milk and puree into a cream. 
  • Add  nutritional yeast, 1/4 tsp salt and mix once more. Taste and adjust seasonings to your personal taste. Set aside. 
  • In a large skillet over medium heat, saute garlic in olive oil and then add spinach. Season with salt and black pepper and cook until wilted, then remove from heat. 
  • Add cashew cream and toss to combine. Add vegan Parmesan cheese and stir. If cream seems too thick, add a little water. 
  • Add mixture to baking dish and top with a sprinkling of vegan parmesan, if desired. 
  • Bake at 350 degree for 15-20 minutes, or until warmed through and sightly browned on top.



I might have to do a post on yams now.