Sunday, June 30, 2019


Celebrating 6 months on the road!  YAY!

So where am I on this special day? I’m in Ogden, Utah!

Over on The Novel RV Journal today I have outlined the highlights of my six months as a nomadic writer.

FYI - This is a public Patreon post. You can access it without joining Patreon or subscribing. Just follow the link below and scroll down until you see it.

I apologize for not posting more here at Babble ‘n Blog, but I am having difficulties posting using my iPad on this blog site.  From time to time I will try to share smaller posts, but most of my posts are now on The Novel RV Journal.

Thursday, April 04, 2019

As The Asphalt Crumbles

A lot of you may already know this, but for those who do not, I am now a nomadic writer. I live in a van and travel around, still writing and producing books.

I’ve been living this life for 3 months, but here is a recap of my first 30 days on the road aka As The Asphalt Crumbles. This was originally written for a magazine but they decided not to publish it, so I give it to you.

Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Butter My Buns And Call Me A Biscuit

Butter my buns and call me a biscuit is one of my best friend’s sayings. Now I know the literal meaning. My buns are going to get larger if I don’t stop eating buttered biscuits!

I have been traveling in the South for about six weeks. Generally I eat the food that is in my RV, but now and then I eat out. I love a hearty late breakfast in a restaurant. When I eat that, I don’t eat the rest of the day except for a light snack later. I particularly love Cracker Barrel breakfasts because I adore their biscuits. I have a ritual. They serve two with breakfast, along with gravy. I like their gravy, but it’s really just the biscuits that I am jonesing for, and not just at Cracker Barrel. I eat one with gravy and the other with jam. Every single time.

I’m finding in my travels in the South that these doughy mounds of goodness are EVERYWHERE. Recently I stayed at a hotel that provided breakfast and they had the same biscuits on their breakfast buffet.

They have become my heroin. All served with warmth and innocence. Butter. Jam. Honey. And a big Southern: Y’all have a good day.

I’m currently camping in a state park. There are no biscuits for miles. For the next 5 days I’m going to eat just the food in my RV fridge. Healthy food, except for a few cookies. Lots of fresh fruit and vegetables.

At one of the first Cracker Barrels I visited on this trip, they weren’t very busy and a clerk followed me all around their Country Store while I browsed. Just followed me. Hovering. Pretending she was straightening shelves. I know she was worried I was going to shoplift something. REALLY?! It made me angry to be treated like any minute I was going to bolt out the door with some cutesy knickknack or vintage candy. And I nearly complained.

But she almost had it right. I have no need or desire for spatulas with pigs on the handles or mugs with witty sayings. But had there been a big basket of biscuits sitting there, I would have committed a crime, stuffing my pockets with them, even as I was handcuffed and hauled away.

My name is Sue Ann and I’m a biscuit addict.

There must be a Biscuits Anonymous somewhere.

Monday, February 11, 2019

Heigh Ho, Heigh Ho, Back To Work I Go

I am loving being retired from my paralegal career. LOVE. LOVE. LOVE.

But after about six weeks, I’m beginning to worry about my other job. The one I didn’t retire from – my career as a writer.

For years I cranked out two novels a year and held down a full-time job. One year I even produced three novels. That year about killed me. Even the other years with two books were hard on me. I was always on a computer, either at home or at work. I seldom got out with friends, unless I made a pointed effort. Long weekends were often spent holed up in my apartment alone, without ever leaving until I had to go to work. Same with holidays. I paid a price for that dedication to both my job and my writing career – weight gain, high blood pressure, depression, etc. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t regret all the sacrifices I made to establish myself as a prolific novelist. I never made much money. Few fiction writers do. But I have a loyal readership and a body of work that makes me proud.

Now that I don’t have a job, I should be writing all the time, but I’m not. I wrote more when I was working and under contract. I haven’t released a new novel in over a year. Then again, much of 2017 and all of 2018 was spent preparing for retirement. I had to get my RV. Outfit it. Give up my apartment and move into the RV. I have been writing during this time, but not with the same dedication and focus. Early 2019 was spent getting out on the road, dealing with RV issues, and setting up my new residence in Texas. I did put out a new short story in 2018 – Sh*t I’d Kill For – which was very well received.

Now here I am in mid-February 2019 and I’m ready to get busy and back on writing fiction with a heat-seeking focus. This week I got off the road and settled into a lovely campground at Gulf Island National Seashore. I know a lot of people who have stayed here and loved it. I plan on really pounding out the finish to a non-mystery novel I’ve been working on for several years. It’s almost done. But it won’t get done if I don’t make it a priority. Then I need to move on to the next Granny Apples novel and the new Odelia Grey novel. After that the third Madison Rose book. I need to put deadlines on myself. So my deadline to finish Finding Zelda is the end of February. I need to treat my own deadlines as I did when I was under contract to publishers. You can fudge a bit, but not a lot.

But all work and no play makes Sue Ann cranky. Everyday I need to exercise, do some household chores, and I also need to see the lovely places I’m visiting. It’s a balance, just like balancing the day job with the writing all those years, but not as daunting.

Going forward, every day I will be writing a few hours on my fiction. And I will be blogging on Babble ‘n Blog at least twice a month. I will also continue writing my posts on The Novel RV Journal. These are done daily and are the raw material for a travel book. You can read those at

Writing has never been a hobby for me. I have always treated it as a job, a career with deadlines. I need to get back to work!

I’m self-employed and my boss can be a real bitch!

Sunday, February 03, 2019

You Slept Where?

A co-worker gave me this hand towel when I retired. Well, it’s true. I do sleep around, and in places most would find unsavory.

The first night I owned my Travato, I slept in the parking lot of a Walmart. For the entire trip from South Carolina to California, I never once stayed in an RV park. Every night I put my head down in either a Walmart parking lot or one of the major truck stops. I always felt safe. And they were free, and conveniently located on the route I was taking.

So now I’m retired and not on a forced march across the US, but I still stay in these parking lots with my RV. Not all the time, but when it’s convenient, and I’m just looking for a cheap stopover.

My favorite such parking lots are the Flying J/Pilot truck stops. Love’s are good too, but I prefer Flying J/Pilot. They have everything a traveler could need or want, and I’m not talking gas and oil. Most of them have showers (big clean showers with hot water, fresh towels, and a nice strong water flow), laundry facilities, fresh hot food, favorite junk food, often a restaurant, and every gadget or health care item you could want. The coffee is always hot. The drinks always cold. The service always good.

Okay, I’ll admit that the parking lots can be noisy. They are often just a wall or frontage road away from an interstate, and often filled with 18-wheelers. But I’ve never found this to be a problem. I’m a good sleeper. And at the end of a long drive, I’ll fall into bed and hear nothing. I slept in one last night, and when I woke up, was surprised to find the RV on my right was gone and on my left, between my van and a big rig, was someone sleeping in their car. Never heard him pull up either. After living on one of the busiest streets in Los Angeles for over fifteen years, noise from the road is white noise to me.

If I need supplies, I will go to a Walmart for the night. Not all Walmarts allow overnight parking, so you have to check first, but it’s pretty convenient to do your shopping and turn in for the night in the same place.

Other places that often allow RV overnight parking that I haven’t tried yet are Cracker Barrel restaurants and some sporting goods chains. Also Camping World.

But are they really free? In theory, yes. But if I’m at a Walmart, I’m spending money on paper goods and groceries. At the truck stops I often buy a shower and dinner or breakfast. And how can anyone park at a Cracker Barrel and not have a meal?

The next time you’re at a Flying J, you just might see Novella.

Saturday, January 26, 2019

What Day Is It Again?

After 45+ years working in law, most of it as a corporate paralegal, I finally retired on December 31, 2018. For those of you not in the know, I now live in a Class B van full time and am traveling, currently in Texas.

But here’s the thing... I’ve only been retired 26 days and I’m already confused on the date and days of the week. Today is Saturday, but I only know that because I looked at my phone several times today to make sure. In fact, I just looked at it again. And it’s the 26th of January, but I didn’t know that without looking. I have completely lost track of the days, and I’ve completely lost track of where I’ve been. To check that I look at a map or The Novel RV Journal I keep daily on Patreon. Seriously, if you ask me what day it is without my phone handy, I’m clueless.

I do know that I have to be out of the campsite I’m currently in on Tuesday morning by 11:30 am. I guess I’d better put a post-it up Monday night. That’s tomorrow, right. Oh, no. Tomorrow is Sunday. I still have 3 nights left in this campground.

When I was working I would often wake up thinking it was Friday, only to discover it was only Thursday. But this is different. Now my days flow one into the other. The weekends are no different than weekdays, except by what is open and what is not, and how heavy traffic might be.

I know a lot of full-time RV’ers who keep a clock with the date hung on a wall where it is handy. I might have to get one of those. If not, in a few months, I might not even know what year it is!

Wednesday, January 09, 2019

In Praise of Jammies

 I have fallen in love with my new jammies. For years my idea of pajamas were cotton night shirts or nightgowns in a t-shirt style, or even t-shirts themselves. I’ve worn these for years. I have never liked pajamas with tops and bottoms, at least not since I was a kid.

I’m currently at the start of my life as a nomadic writer, traveling in a Winnebago Travato. Before I left on my journey, I bought a set of flannel pajamas, just in case it got cold. These are serious jammies, complete with elastic cuffs at the bottom of each leg to keep in the warmth. I stuck them in an overhead bin, thinking I might never need them.


A few days into my journey, my propane tank failed to fill. Since I would be boondocking in the middle of nowhere, there went my heat source. Next my electrical system went haywire, so now I had no heart or electricity.  Out came the flannel james and every blanket I had on board. That night I slept in those flannel jammies, a sweater, heavy socks, and a hoodie. When I got up in the norning, it was 28 degrees inside my van.

Let me repeat that ... 28 degrees INSIDE my van.

I left Quartzsite that morning in search of repairs and ended up back in California, where the electrical issues were fixed by my friend and former owner of the rig.  At least now I could plug in and get heat. And all was well, until my plug in power got touchy with the heating system. Another night of super cold sleeping, although not near as cold as in Quartzsite. Another night of bundling up in those flannel jammies.

They are now my FAVORITE jammies.

I’m thinking I need at least another set!

Wednesday, December 26, 2018

My Favorite Books of 2018

I fell a few books short of my reading goal for this year, completing only 32 of the 40 I pledged to read.  But then I've been busy getting ready for retirement and travel.  If not for the long commute to work and audio books, I probably would not have even come this close.

My last book read this year was Michelle Obama's autobiography Becoming. It is simply marvelous! Starting with her life growing up in the south side of Chicago, it takes you through her childhood, education, meeting and marrying her husband and starting a family, right through her time as First Lady. It is not a book about Barak Obama, but about her and her struggles raising a family in the public eye.

I read a lot of non-fiction, mostly biographies, and this year was no different. This year I read eight non-fiction books, including two about the Trump White House. But my favorite non-fiction book of the year was Blue Highways by William Least Heat-Moon, first published in 1982. I'm sure my love of this book is due to my soon to be nomadic life, but even if I wasn't travelling, this book was just so genuine in its portrayal of the people found throughout out country. When push came to shove, it squeaked out ahead of Michelle Obama's book for my favorite non-fiction read of the year.

Being a writer, I have a lot of writer friends, and this summer was the summer of my friends, catching up on some of my favorite series written by some of my favorite people such as Matt Coyle, James Ziskin and Glen Erik Hamilton. All worth reading. I'm all caught up now on their wonderful series, except for the very latest.

I also read a lot of short fiction this year, such as short story anthologies and novellas. My favorite short fiction for 2018 was the novella Cleaning Up Flynn, written by my friend Sarah M. Chen.

And now on to full-length fiction. Two novels really stood out from the others. One was She Rides Shotgun by Jordan Harper. The other Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds. So different from each other, yet both powerful in their own right. For the winner in my favorite fiction read of 2018, I must go with Long Way Down. This book, written in verse, is haunting and amazing in its depth and simplicity. From the moment I read it, I knew it would make this list.

Wishing you all a 2019 filled with favorite books. Or maybe discover some new authors.

So many books, so little time!

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

The Lady With The Book Tattoo

I have a bucket list. It's not written down. It's fluid and always changing. Over time items get added to it and items get checked off. This year several items were checked off: 1) I finally got to Yosemite; 2) I finally got to the Alabama Hills; 3) I got a tattoo.

I'd been wanting a tattoo for more than fifteen years, but I wasn't sure exactly what I wanted. I just knew that it had to mean something to me if I was going to wear it for eternity. A few years ago I finally decided what I wanted inked onto my body, but I had trouble finding a tattoo artist who saw my vision. Usually they saw something bigger, grander, more expensive.  Originally, I wanted it on my leg, then changed my mind to my arm. Time went by and I kept putting it off.

Finally, one evening in early October, as I was driving home from work, I told myself that tonight's the night! I found a tattoo artist near where I live and he knew exactly what I wanted. The rest is ink history.

And, yes, it hurt.  But I'm thrilled with it!  And just so you know, I doubt I'll get any more.

Recently, I went into a diner near my home. It's a place I go off and on. After I took my seat in a booth, a waitress came up to me and said, "There you are! I was just asking one of the other waitresses if she'd seen the lady with the book tattoo lately."

So, Lisbeth Salander, keep your stinkin' dragon tattoo. I've got books!

Monday, December 10, 2018

T Minus Whatever...

My life is spiraling out of control. It's caught up in the countdown until retirement. Each turn of the calendar page is a march toward something that both excites and terrifies me. Retirement means I'll be hitting the road as a full-time van-dwelling traveler.  My first stop will be Joshua Tree National Park on December 31st.  I want to spend New Year's Eve already engaged in my new life, staring at the desert stars while enjoying some crisp wine.

In the many weeks since I've blogged here, I have signed up for Social Security and Medicare, had a physical, got new glasses, put some of my short stories into wider release, continued writing on a current work in progress, and even cut a convenient hatch in one of the bed platforms in my van. I've also started training my replacement at the law firm.

So many things to do before the 31st. So little time...

This weekend I tackled another big item on my To Do List: I set up my Patreon page for The Novel RV Journal!

I am using the Patreon platform for this because The Novel RV Journal will only be available via a subscription. But from now until January 1st, you will be able to view it for free using the link below. The reason for the subscription site is that The Journal will be a daily detailed account and the raw material for a travel book. Your subscription helps me continue as an indie author, while creating this new book, and others.

However, should you not want to subscribe, don’t worry, I’ll still be posting on Facebook and on Instagram, and on Babble 'n Blog, just not as often or in as great detail as on The Journal.

I invite you to take a look at The Journal on Patreon. I think you'll like it.

Thursday, October 25, 2018

Gators, Scorpions, and Bears - OH MY!

Gators, Scorpions, and Bears! Oh my!
It has been four months since I've blogged at Babble 'n Blog. Time flies when you're preparing to retire from your day job and hit the road full-time in a van!  The van is already my home and has been for seven months, but I'm still counting down the days until I make the highways of this country my home.

During these past seven months, I've been very busy learning as much as I can about my Travato and how to live as a civilized nomad. I belong to a lot of groups on Facebook. Some are for van life in general. Some are just for Travato owners. Some are only for women or for campers over a certain age.  In all of them there is often discussion of wildlife.  Not wildlife as in drinking and carousing, but as in creatures who live in the areas I'll be visiting.

Back in May I went camping in Yosemite for the first time.  I loved it, but for weeks before I was worried about bear attacks. I was sure a bear was going to break into my RV and eat me and my Oreos. I never saw a single bear, even when I went for a long walk by myself (brave of me, right?).

Throughout the year in these groups, people talk about the wildlife they encounter. Bison in Yellowstone is a popular one. Sightings of grizzlies in Alaska. Alligators roaming around watering holes on the outskirts of RV parks in Florida. Rattlesnakes in campgrounds in the desert. Of course there are also the tales of spotting sweet deer, the occasional moose, and magnificent birds. Even wild horses. But today one of the forums was abuzz with talk of scorpions.

Yes, I said scorpions. Scorpions in shoes. Scorpions in beds. Scorpions seemingly everywhere.

Let me say this right now, so there's no misunderstanding: I am a city-raised wussie!

Yes, I managed to see Yosemite without being eaten or losing my Oreos.

But still ...

The first quarter of 2019 I'll be spending a lot of time dry camping in the desert, the natural habitat of scorpions and snakes. True, I'll be in a van. But I'm still breaking out in premature hives. What if I encounter said snakes and scorpions? Many people in the forum said it will be winter and the critters will be hibernating. Then someone else will counter with a tale of finding such creepy crawlies in the winter when they slither into people spaces looking for warmth.

Okay, Sue Ann, get a grip! You're not going to let a few snakes and gators spoil your plans, are you?

I'm thinking. I'm thinking.

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Laughing In the Slow Lane

People always ask me: What do you miss most now that you're living in a van.

I miss two things: my queen-size bed and my former 15 minute commute to the office.

My Winnebago Travato has twin beds and they are narrow twin beds. It's also the model year before they added the ability to turn the twins into a full size bed. Even so, that feature has its drawbacks, like having to crawl over the bed to get to the bathroom, and having to dismantle the bed every morning, instead of just making it. It took me a few months, but I've finally adapted to sleeping in a twin bed.

One of the biggest downsides of having downsized from a large apartment to a van is I went from a 15 minute commute to my office to a 90 minute commute. Unfortunately, the closest RV park I could find to make home until I retire was in Van Nuys. It's not that far from Century City, only about 15 miles, but during weekday rush hour mornings, I might as well be driving to Vegas.

On really bad traffic days, the commute can stretch to 2 hours or more, depending on whether some dumbass caused an accident along the already overcrowded 405 Freeway in Los Angeles. Without accidents, it takes me about 90 minutes to get to work and about 60 minutes to get home. The shorter travel time home is mostly due to my not leaving the office until after 7pm, when traffic is a bit lighter. However, several months ago there was a horrific accident involving a big rig that made my commute time home over 3 hours.

This is why true Angelinos pee out every last drop before starting their commute.

My usual morning view.
One of my favorite things to do during my commute to work is listen to audio books.  On the way home, I'm more likely to listen to the news. This morning I almost finished Calypso by David Sedaris. I love listening to audio books, especially interesting autobiographies read by the author. Sedaris's books are a series of essays about his life and observations. They are hysterical.

This morning I was in the usual bumper-to-bumper traffic, listening to the chapter titled I'm Still Standing. As the chapter began,  I had just taken a big gulp of coffee. With the first belly laugh, I nearly sprayed it all over my windshield. The entire chapter was that way, so I put a hold on the coffee and just enjoyed the wild ride that is David Sedaris.  I was laughing so hard, tears were running down my cheeks. By chance, I glanced to my left to see the man in the car in that lane watching me and laughing.

He was laughing at me laughing.

Now that's the way to start a Wednesday.

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Not That I'm Keeping Track Or Anything

Well, I did it! I gave my law firm my date for retirement. It's January 11, 2019. Just 212 days away!

Holy Crap!

This just got real!

I have 212 days to:

Update my dental work
Get new glasses
Get a passport
Sign up for both Medicare and Social Security
Update websites
Make sure Novella is in tip-top shape
Write my fat ass off and get things ready for publication

I'm in the process of taking care of most of these items, and recently created The Novel RV website and updated the Sue Ann Jaffarian website. Medicare and Social Security will need to wait until I'm closer to retirement, and I'm learning more about Novella all the time and am growing more secure in my ability to take care of my van.

The one thing I really need to focus on is my writing. I've been writing here and there since the beginning of the year, but not nearly at the pace I'm use to writing. Of course, I had to put writing on the back burner a bit while I bought and set up Novella and learned to live in a van. But now I'm back in my writer's groove and ready to produce all kinds of fun things.

Why January 11th?

I can tell you that I didn't pull that date out of a hat. Careful and deliberate planning went into choosing it. Mostly due to finances. You see, I have to be at my job on December 31st to be eligible for pension distributions, not to mention there's the year-end bonus, and I don't turn 66 until the end of December either. So it all works out just fine.

I decided to dribble into the new year for specific reasons also. The last few weeks of the year and first week of the new year can also be extremely busy at my job and I didn't want to leave them in a lurch in case they didn't have my replacement lined up yet.

So When Are New Books Coming Out?

There was also a lot of consideration of when to publish new books. I will be writing like a mad woman and getting new books ready for publication in the next 7 months. After all, I'm mostly an indie author now. But since I am so close to retirement, WHEN to publish them became important because of tax reasons, I will not be releasing new books until 2019, when my personal tax base is much lower.  I will be releasing a new short story soon, but no new novels until 2019.

In addition to the above chores, between now and January 11th, I'll also be taking a couple of camping trips, as Novella and I become better acquainted. So far, we doing great together, and every day I'm sure this was the right decision for me.

Novella and my new office.

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

The Novel RV Lives!

Novella and Me, Together At Last!
I have not updated Babble 'n Blog in three months, but in my defense, I have been very very busy.

You may recall that I was planning on buying a Winnebago Travato, downsizing all my stuff, and moving into the van full-time in preparation of retirement. Well, guess what? That's exactly what I've been doing!

I started getting rid of all my extra belongings in mid-February and didn't stop until it was all gone. Some went to charity, some were sold, much of it was given away. Most of it I didn't care about. The stuff I did went to friends and family. All my books went to a local library and a senior center. The biggest pain in the butt were my clothes. I purged and purged and purged, and I still had way more clothing than I could fit into the van. I gave away even more, and finally I had my wardrobe pared down to the clothing I really did need and little more. The same went for my shoes and handbags. Even my jewelry.

On March 17th, I flew to North Carolina and took possession of a 2016 Winnebago Travato 59K Touring Coach, which was purchased from a friend. That same day, after he gave me a thorough crash course in the vehicle, I hit the road for the long drive back to California. My first stop for the night was a Walmart parking lot, where I not only camped for the night, but also spent a nice wad of cash on things like sheets, blankets, a mattress pad, shelf liner, soap, and food.

The trip wasn't without its mishaps, but all were small and manageable. The largest being when my black tank overflowed because I left the water pump and a faucet on one day while driving. Trust me, you haven't lived until you are stopped in a rest stop wearing rubber gloves and scouring sewer water from your tiny bathroom/shower.

In fact there were a lot of things I did along the way that I never thought I'd ever do:

  • Scrubbing sewer water from my bathroom somewhere along a highway
  • Washing my panties out in a rest stop ladies room because I didn't pack enough (Yeah, I know, I should have added those to my Walmart shopping list.)
  • Taking a shower at a truck stop
  • Sleeping in parking lots of Walmarts and truck stops. (Only one night was spent at a friend's home, all the others were spent in parking lots.)

Once I got back to California, I parked Novella at an RV park at Dockweiler Beach and went back to work, living in the semi-set up van while continuing to empty my apartment mornings and evenings. A week later, the apartment in my rear view mirror, I moved to my semi-permanent spot in an RV park, where I'll stay until I actually retire from my job in less than a year.

Novella is all set up now. She's decorated inside and my stuff is pretty well settled. I really enjoy living in her. She's cozy and cute. We even took our first camping trip. It was to Yosemite for four days to meet up with other Travato owners. Next week, we'll take another trip. The plan is to take long weekend camping trips to get use to it until it's time to hit the road permanently.

If you would like to follow the adventures of  The Novel RV, Novella, and me, you can do so on Instagram (thenovelrv), The Novel RV Facebook page, and The Novel RV website (which is still under construction.) The full story of my maiden trip from North Carolina to California is posted on The Novel RV Facebook page.  Please stop by and catch yourself up. There are also lots of photos of the van inside and out.
* * * * *

In all this there was one major change that wasn't fun, but expected. B, my beloved sweet cat, had to be put down. She was 19-1/2 years old. She had feline dementia and was starting to really fail. She did manage to get moved into the van with mixed reviews on her part. As long as the van was still, she seemed to be okay. When it moved, she lost her mind. I was worried she would die while I was on the road from North Carolina and she was under the care of a friend, but she lasted a few more weeks. She died with me by her side rubbing her belly.