Sunday, January 29, 2017

Reader Complaints Or Blackmail?

Last weekend I marched in the Women's March in Los Angeles. I marched in defiance of the new administration, not just against Donald Trump, but also against his team and cabinet choices. I also marched in protest of the many programs he threatens, such as women's health care, saving our national parks, environmental protection, and most of all human rights for all people of all faiths, national origins, ethnicity, and sexual orientation.

On Sunday I received a PM from a reader announcing that she would no longer buy and read my books because she found me too "liberal and militant" in my political beliefs.  This didn't surprise me at all. It wasn't the first time a reader has said they were no longer reading my work because of something I said or did or wrote. Although, it was the first time I was called "militant."

When I first became published by Midnight Ink close to 12 years ago, a reader of my earlier work when it was self-published announced to me that she would no longer read my work because the parent company of Midnight Ink, Llewellyn Worldwide, published books on the occult. And they do, along with books on paranormal, self-help, natural healing, and many other worthwhile, non-main stream topics. If that reader was really going to stick to her guns, that would mean she would have to stop reading books by most of the major publishers too, since most of them have divisions that also published similar topics. I'll bet she never thought about that or followed through.

Over the years I've received many e-mails and messages from readers saying they were no longer going to read my books based on some of the following reasons, and most of those noted below have received multiple support:

  • Too much swearing, especially when in came to using "the Lord's name in vain"
  • Too much sex (They were talking about Odelia Grey books!)
  • Contained gay/lesbian characters
  • Not enough Christianity or religious tones (Nor will they EVER.)
  • Because some of my books were only available in digital (BTW, short stories and novellas are only in digital because of short length; full-length novels are in both print and digital)
  • One woman even wrote that she would no longer read the Odelia Grey series because she felt I was promoting unhealthy lifestyles, but if I put Odelia on a diet, she'd return to reading them (Oh, bite me!)
  • And when I wrote my more graphic vampire novels, I lost some readers, and again when I started penning the Winnie Wilde steamy romances

People are entitled to their opinions, and I support that right even if I don't agree with those opinions, but sometimes I wonder what readers who write such e-mails and messages are hoping to accomplish. Are they just venting or trying to influence authors with a gentle form of blackmail?

Trust me, no writer worth their salt is going to bend to such ridiculous comments and demands. A true writer writes from the heart and follows the story and characters. If I sanitized my books to meet all of the above, nothing would get written, or if it did, wouldn't be worth the paper it was printed on.

I admit, I am quite politically and socially vocal on my personal Facebook page, and from time to time remind readers that if they don't enjoy my personal posts, they can join the Sue Ann Jaffarian Fan Club or follow my Author Page. I never post personal views on these pages unless it's about books.

Publishers often warn authors not to put their personal beliefs and opinions out on the Internet for fear of losing readers. But many of my author friends do, as I do. It's who I am and I have the same right as everyone else to freedom of speech. If I lose some readers, I can live with that better than I can being muzzled for the sake of a few sales. And since publishers make most of the money off my books, you can see why they are concerned more than I am.

In parting, I will re-post here what I posted to my Facebook page last Sunday, just so you all know where I stand in case you weren't paying attention:

Someone just told me they were no longer going to read my books because I am so liberal and militant in my politics. Hmmm, okay. It's your choice and I'm not going to try and talk you out of your decision. After all, there are things I boycott based on my principles, all things Kardashian being one of them. But for the record, in case there are any others out there on the fence, let me be clear: I am a single, white, straight senior citizen, a moderate democrat, and an atheist. I believe in equal rights for ALL human beings of ALL faiths, ethnicity, nationality, gender, and orientation. We all have the right to walk this earth in peace and without molestation from those who are hell-bent on making us into their own image. Now, if you'll excuse me, I have a book to write, because I still have other readers.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Today I Will, Because I Can

At the beginning of the year I set two physical goals for myself. One was to lose at least 50 lbs. The other was to walk or bike at least 2017 miles in this year.  I'm half way through January, and am happy to report that I'm on target for both. To date I've walked/biked over 45 miles and lost nearly 5 lbs.

But this past Thursday morning, after a restless night, I slept in, then told myself I didn't need to get up and do my daily exercises, especially climbing on my recumbent exercise bike for 30 minutes minimum. I whined and wheedled, trying to convince myself that it wasn't important that day to meet my daily miles quota to keep me on track.

Then I remembered something, or rather someone. A lot of someones, actually.

I have several friends and family members who have passed away in the last few years. And I have a lot of friends, colleagues, acquaintances, and social media friends who have had or are facing horrible physical challenges and diseases. Some are even facing the reality that their days on this earth are few.

That's a very sobering thing to remember while snug in bed whining to your cat about peddling a few miles while watching the previous night's The Daily Show.

Shame on me!

I am 64 years old, and while I am overweight, I  enjoy excellent health. Yes, I have some arthritis and stiffness, but nothing too bad or debilitating. So far any discomfort can be handled with the occasional ibuprofen.  I am truly fortunate. And I never want to forget that, not for one minute.

In the end, I got my lazy fat ass out of bed, climbed on the bike, and rode it for 6.02 miles. And I'll do it again tomorrow and the day after.


Because I still can.

I do it for me, and for those who cannot and wish they could.

Every mile is for them.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

I Take It All Back

I Will Not Be Silenced by Mecronin
On November 16th I wrote a blog titled Trump Is My President. And I meant every word  of it. Every word, even though I had grown to despise Donald Trump and what he stands for, does, has done, and wants to do.

But today, after the last few weeks' revelations, I say to you all:


And no matter how long he occupies the Oval Office, he never will be. Ever. I will NEVER refer to him as "President Trump." Never. Ever.

I was willing to give this oozing infected sore of a human being a chance. I really was. But not now. Not after the reports of just how tight his ties are to Russia. Not after watching him nominate people hell-bent on destroying our government's agencies and our way of life. Not after watching Trump and his power-hungry smug family pick our pockets and make themselves richer, along with their cronies.

No. No. No. A thousand times NO!

I don't know if there is any legal way to stop his inauguration. But if there is, I hope with every cell in my body that it is done. This man has no right to take the highest office in this country, knowing what we know now.

He may have won the election, one way or another, but he hasn't won me, and as long as I still have my right to freedom of speech I will fight this pus pocket. I will march. I will write and call my representatives. I will watch the news and pay close attention. I will do what it takes to fight this travesty.

I may be a fat old woman, but I will not be silent or still.  There's too much at stake.

I'm sure I'm going to get hate posts and e-mails about this blog, but so be it. And if any of you still think Trump is the best choice for this country, just know that I'm going to be marching against you too.

Saturday, January 07, 2017

A Hope Chest for Retirement

When I was a girl, young women had hope chests. These were long wooden storage containers, usually lined with cedar. Some were fancy, some plain, but all were real solid furniture.

The idea behind a hope chest was for young women to collect household items they would need once they got married. Some of this gathering started after a woman was engaged and some started in high school in high hopes of getting married one day.

HOPE chest - get it? Since I never married, I guess I just didn't have enough hope, although I am a rather hopeful sort.

I remember some of my older cousins showing off items they'd purchased or were given to add to their hope chests. Although I never had a hope chest, even at a young age I'd received a few handmade items for it.

As I started cleaning out my belongings to downsize for life in an RV, I found the only two hope chest items I still have. One is a quilt top that was made for my mother when she was only about 12-13 years old. It had been made for her hope chest. The butterflies on the quilt are made from scraps of her old dresses and one square contains her initials and the date the quilt was made - 1937. It had never been finished off and she'd passed it down to me when I was in my early twenties. I decided to finally have it finished off into a quilt to use in the RV as a bedspread and blanket. It will be larger than I need, but will be a lovely memory of my mother in cramped quarters. And certainly cheerful!

The other hope chest item I found in the back of my closet was an old thin white box containing two embroidered pillow cases. (Remember when people actually added lace and embroidery to pillow cases?!) There's even a card in it saying it's a gift for my hope chest. I'm not sure yet what to do with these. They are yellow with age, but so sweet. Maybe I should wash them and use them in my RV too, but they are 100% cotton and will require ironing. Sheesh, I don't iron now, let along do it in an RV! I'm not even taking my iron with me.

As I ready myself for retirement, I have started a "hope chest" of things I'll need for life on the road. It's not made of cedar but is a lowly cardboard box with "RV" scrawled on the side in thick black marker. The quilt will go in there, along with a few other items I've picked up along the way or have received as gifts.

Right now my RV Hope Chest contains a set of Corelle dishes and matching plastic glasses, two collapsible lanterns, a cell phone holder, collapsible measuring cups and spoons, battery operated can opener, a hand operated food chopper, wind chimes, a cute personalized message board, and some items for organizing clothing. I've also received over $100 in gift cards to purchase RV-related items. Most of these were given to me during my last birthday and this past Christmas. A lot of items from my apartment will also be able to go with me, though most won't make the trip, like my beloved Ninja Kitchen System or my Keurig machine. But the Instant Pot definitely goes!

Hmmm, a hope chest for retirement. Could become a thing! Could an RV or retirement gift registry be far behind?

FYI - I could use a sewer hose fitting and a water regulator. A collapsible bucket, drinking water hose, and nesting cookware would also be nice. Believe me, I have a long list and it's getting longer by the day as I read up on accessories that will make my life easier on the road. Oh, and let's not forget some bear repellent.

Wednesday, January 04, 2017

365 Days of Smiles

A lot of people would agree with me that 2016 was full of negativity. Hate speech, hateful behavior, and fights broke out everywhere, for real and online. I put this squarely on the election, specifically on Donald Trump, who I have come to despise and fear. I have never seen any one person whip people up into such emotional turmoil in my life, both for him and against him.

Who knows what in the hell 2017 will bring with him at the helm of our government. I shudder to think...

Which brings me to my personal little world.

I am still depressed and angry over the election. And don't you DARE tell me to "get over it."

But I do recognize that I am responsible for my well being and outlook on life, so I plan on tackling 2017 by looking at the simple things in life and celebrating them. One each day. Even if my day has been terrible. Even if the news is horrific. Each day in 2017, I plan on posting on my personal Facebook page something that made me smile that day, whether it be as simple as my cat sleeping, or a good meal, or a friend's gesture.

Each and every day, I will find something good in the day. And I will feel better for it.

I'm sure there will be days with lots of really great things, just as I'm sure there will be days with few. That's life in general, not just post-election life.

So come visit me online at my Facebook page to see what small slice of my life I'm celebrating that day. And if it makes you smile a little or a lot, it's a bonus for me.

BTW, I do monitor all comments, and snotty, negative and hateful comments will be deleted.

Sunday, January 01, 2017

Bring It On, 2017!

Making 2017 Count is my battle cry for this new year. 2016 seemed rife with negativity, not necessarily in my personal life, but in general. I blame the US election for that and the rise in global terrorism. But I can't control those things. I must live with and through them. I must be willing to take a stand when necessary in a positive way.  But I can be responsible when it comes to my own year's activities.

On a personal level, 2016 was not a bad year:

  • I decided how I wanted to spend my retirement and started making plans toward that.
  • I cleaned up a lot of personal debt, am in a good stable place, and am saving more.
  • I wrote 3 novels.
  • I'm healthy, and while I didn't lose any weight, I didn't gain any. Seriously, my weight is almost to the ounce the same as on January 1, 2016.
  • I made a lot of new friends. Many new people came into my life this year, mostly through my new RV connections, and I have become personal friends with many of them. A gal can never have enough friends.

So, what's up for me for 2017?

Glad you asked. Here are my goals for this year:

  • Successfully co-chair the 2017 California Crime Writers Conference.
  • Complete my 2017 miles in 2017 challenge, which goes hand-in-hand with more exercise.
  • Lose at least 50 lbs. 
  • Downsize my apartment for retirement aka minimize the crap I own. Someone posted on Facebook about disposing of 5 items a day, big or small. I like that. So most days, I will either toss, put in Good Will pile, or in the sell or save piles, 3-5 items a day.
  • Finish Odelia Grey novel #12 - a major priority since it's already tardy
  • Finish Winnie Wilde novella #3
  • Begin Granny Apples novel #10
  • Finish my novel Finding Zelda, which I've been working on for several years here and there.
  • Read at least 40 books in the Goodreads 2017 Reading challenge. Yeah, I know a lot of people read more, but remember, I'm also writing books, and by the time a book is done, I have read it at least 10 times and don't count that.
So bring it on 2017, I'm ready for ya!