Mystery author Beth Groundwater writes the Claire Hanover gift basket designer series (A REAL BASKET CASE, 2007 Best First Novel Agatha Award finalist, TO HELL IN A HANDBASKET, 2009, and A BASKET OF TROUBLE, 2013) and the RM Outdoor Adventures series starring river ranger Mandy Tanner (DEADLY CURRENTS, 2011, an Amazon bestseller, WICKED EDDIES, 2012, finalist for the Rocky Award, and FATAL DESCENT, 2013). Beth lives in Colorado, enjoys its outdoor activities, and loves talking to book clubs.
Monday, February 08, 2010
My mystery author guest: Sue Ann Jaffarian
Sue Ann Jaffarian's February release is Corpse on the Cob, the fifth book in the Odelia Gray mystery series published by Midnight Ink. Isn't that the cutest cover you've ever seen? I can't wait to read the book myself. Here's how Sue Ann describes the book:
What do you have to lose when you go searching for the mother who walked out of your life thirty-four years ago? I mean, besides your pride, your nerves, and your sanity? Odelia finds herself up to her ears in trouble when she reunites with her mom in a corn maze. For starters, there’s finding the dead body in the cornfield—and seeing her long-lost mom crouched beside the corpse with blood on her hands.
Now, here's Sue Ann's guest blog post:
I see dead people. When Haley Joel Osment uttered those now iconic words a decade ago in The Sixth Sense, little did I realize I was hearing what was to become my life and passion.
I see regular dead people. I see the ghosts of dead people. I see vampires, which are undead dead people. What I’m trying to explain is that I write three very specific amateur sleuth mystery series. The Odelia Grey series features a middle-age plus size paralegal stumbling over bodies much to the chagrin of her friends and family. The Ghost of Granny Apples series joins a 100-year-old ghost with her great-great-great granddaughter to solve the murders of ghosts. And my most recent entry, the Fang-in-Cheek mysteries, teams up a young edgy woman with a community of vampires to solve murders that threaten to expose the vampires’ existence. The first book in the vampire series, Murder In Vein, will be released September 1st.
One of the most asked questions I get these days is how do I keep these three different series straight in my head. Truth is, I’m not sure, but so far it hasn’t been an issue. But part of that success is that although all three feature amateur sleuths, they are very different from each other in tone. For starters, the Odelia Grey mysteries are written in first person, the other two in third. If I were measuring them with the cozy vs. hard boil measuring stick for sex and violence, the Ghost of Granny Apples mysteries would be considered cozy or PG-rated, while Odelia Grey books would be soft-boiled or PG-R rated. The vampire mysteries would be labeled medium boiled or given a soft R-rating. The body count and violence is definitely ramped up in the vampire books. What they all have in common, besides the author, is that all take place in Southern California and all use humor to leaven the horror of murder.
The next question I get asked a lot is why did I sign on to write three different series, which boils down to writing three books a year. That question has several answers. The consensus is that I’m insane. Maybe. But maybe I’m also crazy like a fox. In today’s unstable publishing world, it’s difficult to get published and just as difficult to stay published. Having three solid series helps build my reader base throughout the year, instead of a once a year book release hopeful stab. Having three very different types of mysteries also exposes my work to readers with different tastes – readers who may discover my other series after enjoying the one they are drawn to initially. Writing is about words. Publishing is about numbers. Writing more than one series can help build a writing career faster and keep your publisher happier longer.
Another reason I write three series, is that I simply want to do it. I love writing each of the series and they force me to discover and hone very different skills. While the Odelia Grey series is based on a more normal lifestyle, the vampires allow me to explore fantasy. It’s a kick as a writer to flex my different make-believe muscles.
As for juggling the three series time-wise, together with my personal life and my full-time career as a paralegal, it does take a lot of discipline and sacrifice to meet the various deadlines thrown at me with regularity. It seems if I’m not writing or editing, I’m promoting or plotting. There is seldom any down time from the writing world. But I love what I’m doing, and that is what makes the long hours at the computer or attending conferences and book events fun and satisfying.
Whenever I feel I can’t write another word, let alone another book, I hear Tim Gunn of Project Runway fame whisper in my ear: “make it work.”
Everyone should be sure to check out Sue Ann Jaffarian's website to get more information about her books. Okay, readers, fire away! What do you want to know about Sue Ann? Want more information on her paranormal visitors? :) Got anything else to say or ask?
Posted by Beth Groundwater at 6:00 AM
Labels: author, Corpse on the Cob, Midnight Ink, mystery, Sue Ann Jaffarian
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Thanks for having me, Beth! I'll be stopping by throughout the day to answer any questions or comments folks might have.
Very interesting "talk" with Sue Ann. She is amazing, isn't she? I am always challenged and inspired by her. (She was responsible for me first joining Sisters in Crime, and tangentially for becoming a book reviewer!).
I loved her "writing is about words; publishing is about numbers." Ain't THAT the truth. Well, keep typing those words, Sue Ann, and hopefully the numbers will keep multiplying.
And thanks, Beth for hosting her today!
Beth - Thanks for hosting Sue Ann! How fascinating!I know what you mean, Sue Ann, about seeing dead people, too. In an odd way, I do the same thing. I truly admire you, by the way, for taking on the challenge of writing multiple series. I don't think I could do that, at least not now in my life.
You must be very disciplined. I have trouble with one series! And even then I get myself into trouble meeting a deadline. Good for you!
Thanks, Jackie, Margot, and Leann, for your comments! Now I have some questions for Sue Ann. You've been with Midnight Ink for quite awhile and have published many books with them, while I'm a newbie, with my first one due out in early 2011. Were you one of their first mystery authors? What do you think of the press? How have you seen them grow and change?
Crazy like a fox, maybe. But crazy for sure. Keep up the great work, Sue Ann.
Beth, I wasn't in Midnight Ink's first catalogue, but I believe I was in their 2nd, so I was one of their first authors. Like most start-up imprints, MI had its problems and growing pains, most of which seem to be behind them. Over the past several years, their distribution has grown remarkably and many of their books have gone on to receive nominations for, and even win, major mystery awards. Their covers ROCK and they produce an excellent product. I'm very happy to call them my publisher.
Great to get to know Sue Ann Jaffarian on your blog, Beth! Thanks for the kick in the pants, Sue Ann. You are an inspiration. I look forward to reading the books!
Hi Sue Ann (hi Beth). I've got a question: Can you update us on any film/TV projects that might be in the works?
(You've got to have something to do in your spare time!)
Wow! Sue Ann, you are an inspiration! I grouse about working full time and getting my writing deadlines met... and reading your post is just the kick in the pants I needed!
I also love humor with my murder, whether writing, reading or doing it. :-)
Alan, the only TV/film project in the works is for Too Big To Miss. It was optioned by producer Brad Wyman last spring. I've heard there is a well-known actress attached to the project, but so far there doesn't seem to be any solid TV series or film deals. This is the second time Too Big To Miss has been optioned. We've had some nibbles on Ghost a la Mode, but just nibbles.
With all these references to "kick in the pants," how do you stay motivated, Sue Ann, when you just don't feel like writing or writer's block hits?
Three series. Wow! Do you ever feel tempted to do crossover stories or do you keep them completely separate?
Corpse in the Cob! Very clever. Another book (and series) to add to my reading list.
Okay, now that you've made us all feel like slackers. . . kudos, Sue Ann!
See you at Left Coast Crime, the ONLY time you seem to get to relax. HA!
Just to let you know what folks are saying on Facebook:
Kate Thornton: "Sue Ann is the best!"
Jackie Houchin: ""Writing is about words; publishing is about numbers." Love it, and so accurate. Good blog, Sue Ann...your crazy foxy lady."
Wow, such lovely comments! Now I have to live up to them. GULP!
Beth, I seldom have "writers block." If my brain clouds over while writing, I get up from my desk and do something physical like vac'ing the apt. or cleaning the bathroom. I find the movement often loosens the rocks in my head (and cleans the house!). As for motivation, deadlines breathing down my neck and the satisfaction of a job well done, motivates me plenty.
Sheila - so far none of the series have crossed over, but look for Emma Whitecastle (of Granny Apples) to have a scene in Odelia #6, which I'll start writing this week. However, I plan on keeping the new vampire series entirely separate from the other two since it is a total fantasy.
Now it all makes sense to me. You love what you're doing, so it's not a sacrifice. We are all so proud of you, nonetheless.
Beth, if you get a chance, check out my blog today. I have an award for you.
I enjoyed the post, and am in awe of your productivity!
As an upcoming Midnight Ink author (October, 2010), I look forward to meeting you both, Sue Ann and Beth, and other MI authors as well. Perhaps at Malice?
Both Sue Ann and I plan to attend the Malice Domestic conference this year. We'll definitely have to have a Midnight Ink author meal sometime!
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