Category Archives: Pari Noskin Taichert

Bless you all

by Pari

Oh, so many thoughts, so many ideas. I wanted this to be a profound last post. Instead, let me tell you a little story:

Last week I had an early morning dream. Someone asked me for my health insurance card and I couldn’t find it. Panic-stricken, I emptied all the plastic cards out of my wallet. Each one — credit, tea club, sandwich, vitamin, the kids’ insurance, gas — spilled out onto the table, but none had any writing on them. Instead all were an unattractive gray with nothing to distinguish them from each other . . .

I woke up knowing that the dream meant something important. On the surface, it was easy to decipher. The health insurance card represented my last true financial tie to my husband. From a purely self-protective stance, I’d decided not to proceed with the divorce because I didn’t want to be without coverage in case, God forbid, the results from colonoscopy/biopsied polyps had been bad. Last Wednesday night, I found out that the polyps were benign. Thursday morning, I had the dream.

Obvious, hunh?

The gray cards offered a transparent interpretation as well. With the divorce and with Murderati’s end, my identity seems unwritten again, a blurry future. You’d think that’d be scary, worrisome. So why didn’t I wake up from the dream with any sense of sorrow or fear? Why did I awake with wonder and determination? I think it’s because as long as I’m alive, I can look forward with chosen hope. That’s what I’m doing today as I say goodbye to this forum. Choosing hope.

This April many things have been said. Our regular readers have learned about some of the struggles we’ve faced as bloggers, writers, and human beings. Some. We’ve all shared what we could, how we could.

For more than seven years, this group blog has been a big part of my life. I can’t believe the time has come to really say goodbye to it. JT has been here since the beginning; without her help (and Randy’s too!) Murderati would’ve never been born. Alex has been here since almost the beginning as well. She is another hero who has dedicated so much time to the effort. Other writers have come and gone, gracing our blog with their stellar prose and unique perspectives. We’ve argued, taught, explored, cried, laughed . . .

When I first started thinking about a group blog, I did it because of the conventional wisdom at the time. Writers needed PR to sell their work. Group blogs were a great way to do it and to cross-pollinate — to find more readers who’d take a chance on lesser-known authors like me — so I pushed and invited and then we assembled the first seven writers to make Murderati a reality. In the process of opening our worlds with you, an astounding community blossomed.

And that’s what it’s all about, isn’t it? Most people I know, at the base of their beings, want to feel true connection with others. Murderati has been that connection for me, for all of us.

Thank you for sharing the precious gift of your time and voices with us. May your lives be filled with joy and wonder.

May our paths cross many times more.

_______________________________

The future

Many of the ‘Rati will be posting discussions on a new board: http://murderati.proboards.com

I’ll check out that message board format after my current family emergency settles down. I do plan to keep writing blogs somewhere, probably on Mondays — probably weekly — since I’m in the habit now. Please, if you want to stay in touch, find me on Facebook, check out my frequent gratitudes there, or look up my name online to find me in my next authorial incarnation.

Bless you all and thank you,

Pari

Pain and growth

by Pari

Title#1
Adventures in colonoscopy-land

(Are you still reading?)

If you are, you’re already doing what I wanted to write about. Though it may have been fun to take you through the bends and kinks of my innards, my main goal today is to look at when we do things we don’t want to do because we know we need to. (Yes. I’m making an assumption here that this blog is worth reading.)

Title #2
Who died and made us all Puritans?

Decisions such as undergoing colonoscopies, closing down long-running blogs, or, frankly, opening ourselves to parenting, all require faith. They rest upon the idea that putting ourselves through some kind of pain — or struggle — will ultimately result in something good.

Title #3
The Puritans were wrong

We’re not all a bunch of losers who constantly need to atone through physical hard work and emotional self-flagellation. But most of us also aren’t going to get very far without putting ourselves in a position to experience pain, sadness, or regret . . .

This last week has been a really difficult one for me. Each unhappy event can be directly traced to a decision I made voluntarily, one I knew would try my body/heart at some point:
the colonoscopy
the upcoming end of Murderati
becoming a parent

And yet in the trials of these experiences, I feel only gratitude for having made those decisions because I know I needed to — for my health, for my future writing career, for my wholeness as a human being. Stepping into risk with my eyes open allows me to embrace all the unexpected good that goes along with that action. Difficulty doesn’t equal negativity. It doesn’t always equal growth either.

It’s just not fun.

However, I do believe that a certain amount of pain is necessary in a fully lived life. The urge to protect myself from it is powerful, but the urge to grow and learn is stronger. And I’m very grateful for that.

Questions:
1.  Do you remember a moment you decided to do something you knew would be difficult/painful, but you did it anyway?
2.  Was it worth it?

Spring Winds

by Pari

It’s spring in New Mexico. For some parts of my large state, that means mercurial shifts in temperature with low 80s one day and upper 40s the next. For the southern part of the state, it’s a breath of beauty before scorching summer sucks what little rain might have fallen back into the air before it ever hits the earth.

However, there’s one thing that spring means for everyone and everything in NM:  hellatious winds. We’re talking all the levels of Dante’s hells combined into one. Daily gusts from 60 or 75 mph. Winds that strip fruit trees of their fragile whites and pinks. Blizzards of petals slapping sand-blasted faces and swirling into banks at sidewalk curbs. Highways closed due to zero visibility. Soil transformed into angry clouds of murky brown.

I can’t sleep this time of year. Winds roar at night. It’s not the weird banging of branches against my bedroom walls, it’s the unsettledness of the world that gets to me . . . The lifting up of things better left on the ground, the battering of new plants just trying to set in before the ravages of drought-ridden summers . . . It’s the horrid knowing that someone’s smoldering cigarette butt, carelessly cast out of a car window, will destroy mountainside forests that took centuries to grow.

This year, I’m thinking more about the winds than usual. They usher in a new season, presage change. When I take my long walks after work, the violent movement of air forces me to keep a stronger center so that I don’t get pushed off the sidewalk into the street. There’s powerful symbolism in that for me. So much of my life is changing drastically: A long marriage facing its end, shifts in culture and responsibilities at work, the end of posting on a blog I’ve loved and nurtured for seven years.

And yet I feel much less adrift in the middle of all this flux than I ever have before. With my knees bent and my body lowered against the gusts, I’m building in a certain — new — ability to sway rather than break.

I don’t like when people tell me that with one shut door, others open. But in typical contradictory style, I also do feel the optimism intrinsic in movement, the blessed knowledge that the only constant is, indeed, change. I’m sad with the end of my marriage, of Murderati as we know it, of what I thought I knew about myself on some levels. Yet I look bright-eyed to the future, to possibilities in these most windy of life days.

Questions for today:
1. What is spring like where you live?

2. Have you ever noticed a sense of internal centeredness when you would’ve expected otherwise?

(And yes, I know this is the long goodbye this month, I just had to give everyone a break with a more general post.)

The long goodbye . . .

Dear Friends of Murderati,

April marks seven years since we started this adventure. So much has changed. We’ve lost dear friends. Met new ones. Survived makeovers and transitions. Gotten publishing contracts. Stopped writing. Started again.

The writing industry, publishing, marketing, public relations – all have changed too. So has the way people stay connected and buy books. As the world becomes faster, time becomes even more precious. All of these factors – and many others — have weighed into our decision to say this long goodbye.

During this month, we’re inviting former contributors back for final posts (Naomi Hirahara has already responded!). At the end of the month, JT and Pari will post their final entries. After that, JT is going to work on a Murderati makeover to create a useful archived site so that none of our posts will be lost and all can be used as resources/inspiration for the people we’ve touched –through our words — and will continue to touch in the future.

Most importantly, we don’t want to lose touch with you. You’ve been the driving force behind the Murderati community. So we ask each and every one of you to join our Facebook page where the authors of Murderati will post to share news, new releases, and deep thoughts. That way, too, you can still interact with us. 

Many blessings on all of you. It’s been a wonderful 7 years. 

Murderati

 

Sometimes . . .

by Pari

Too much to do
Too much going on
Too much to manage
Too much to feel

Each day a chasm of shoulds and oughts
Each day a trial born of sorrows and nots
My heart a platter of food run cold
My body sensing each cell grown old

And yet, in a moment, of unforeseen clarity
A thought, still nascent, nurtures a true soul charity
Could it be?
Will it I rue?

Pari, do it now. Go to the zoo!


I search the hours of vacation time earned.
I finish one project, avoid starting two.
I sigh, my fingers bent round the ergonomic mouse.
What folly this? To what insanity succumbed?

I run to the car ere my mind might change,
My face the red of a woman deranged.
Quick unlock the lock and click the belt!
Hands gripping a steering wheel the sun yearns to melt.

Will this risk leave me burned
Work piling higher, tasks undone, unconfirmed?
Oh! So much to think!
Oh! So much to do.

But sometimes, I just have to go to the zoo!

 

Today’s questions:

What do you do to relax on a beautiful day?
When was the last time you gave yourself a break?

Do writers have stances?

by Pari

This week I’ll finish the second half of my training in basic mediation. The experience so far has forced me to examine some of my hitherto subterranean assumptions about conflict, motivation, communication . . . and my writing. As a result, I’m currently working on an idea that remains woefully incomplete, but that might interest the ‘Rati.

The role of mediators is to help people in conflict come to mutually acceptable solutions. If mediators are good at their job, those solutions are generated by the “disputants” themselves. Whatever the mediators think of the individuals involved, the goals remain the same. Basically, mediators are the guardians of a process; they hold it foremost in their actions and words to create a space of trust and hope, so that the conflicting parties can move forward from their seemingly stuck positions.  The mediators’ fundamental stance is one of respect for their clients and a belief that the clients can come to solutions.

Some writers do this too. They honor the process of writing to the point where they spend their time discovering “what their characters want to do” within the story to make it whole. They may guide the process, but give the characters permission to expand beyond what may be been first planned.

Other writers are more like architects. From the moment they begin thinking about a story and their characters, each component is defined and part of a sound structure that might, possibly, be flexible enough to withstand high winds, but that already has shape before the first word is typed.

Freeform writers don’t dare have a goal — unlike mediators who absolutely do — and just want to explore, explore, explore. They may go back and polish or change after the fact, but their initial approach is all about the discovery.

Are there other predictable writing stances?

Egoists? Do they think their stories and characters are all about them?

Sadists? Do they put their characters into impossible situations just to see them suffer?

Masochists? Do they kill off beloved characters and cringe during the entire writing of the story?

Bosses? Are there a group of writers that demand their characters work hard and get the job done efficiently?

I don’t know! I’m just playing with an idea: Do writers have predictable approaches to their writing? And, if so, do readers sense these fundamental stances and, unconsciously, select the ones that are most copacetic with their own fundamental life stances?  

What do you think?

 

 

Questions for you

by Pari

How are you?
Recovering from the Stupor Bowl?
Feeling self-righteous because you didn’t watch it?
I’m in a philosophical mood today, starting this blog for the 3rd or 4th time in two weeks. It’s not that I lack inspiration or subject matter. It’s that I’m not quite sure how to verbalize my latest train of thought. You see, I’ve been thinking about
competitions
winning awards
pushing toward goal after goal
judging others’ work.

And I haven’t come to any conclusions. I simply have several colorful — and related, I think — skeins of yarn that might, someday, knit into a nice something.

Skein 1:  During the last few weeks, I’ve been reading novels for a statewide contest. Having been on the other end of this type of activity, I know what it means to have bragging rights as a nominee for an award. But did those bragging rights really give me anything but pride or internal validation? And, nowadays, there are so many awards for just about everything that I am not sure they have the same power they once did. And who am I to judge anyway?

Skein 2:  I’ve been working to lose weight per doc’s orders (thank you, ldl — you bad cholesterol, you). When I reach one goal, I immediately think, “Wow. I could lose more!” What’s with that? The same thing happens with exercise, because achieving the same thing day in and day out seems somehow like a waste (and it’s not efficient for fat burning/cardio, now is it?)

Skein 3:  How does all of this relate to being here now? How can a person remain in the present or appreciate the present when all focus is on constant improvement, winning, pushing forward etc. etc.?

This isn’t existential angst at all. I’m merely continuing my journey of examining absolutely everything. Every. Damn. Thing.

So, what’s your take?
Are writing/literary contests meaningful?  
How does a person reconcile wanting to constantly improve with wanting to live in the Now?
When does a person gain enough expertise to judge another’s work?

 

No excuses

by Pari

This is being written in real time. Two, maybe three, minutes without editing. At least as much as I can do without editing. You see, people always talk about how they can’t find the time to write. Hell, I complain about it all the time, especially since I started working full time and am so tired when I come home from work. Mornings are out because I have to get up earlier than I’d like in the first place so that I can exercise. But writing, ah, writing, it’s exercise for the creative body and it needs its expression too. So, how long does it take to write, say, 100-500 words. I don’t know. I’m writing this as one of my kids goes to the bathroom ( I know, it’s not very glamorous that, but that’s the test I set up for myself), just typing as quickly as I could without editing until my kid gets out of the bathroom and we head to the store. It’d been two minutes now . . .and the door is opening. 178.

Day two: I wanted to make a point with this speed written blog. Namely, that it’s important to power through excuses because, most of the time, excuses are the stuff of fear. Of what? Of not being good enough, of not being profound enough, of not being able to hide from the fact that we’re never satisfied as creative with what we’ve created. The truth is, that’s a good thing. To be self-satisfied is to kill creativity. At least, that’s what I think. So here’s the blog. I’m going to type until I reach two minutes and then I’ll spend three or four to edit and then that’ll be it. I’ve already completed the equivalent of one double-spaced page and that was in  123: 2 minutes exactly
______________________________________________________________________

I wrote the first two paragraphs of this blog in a very short time . . . and decided not to edit. They’re not brilliant, I’ll grant you that. But they’re evidence of something that I have to face myself. There is always time to write! I noticed two things while trying to go as fast as I could:

  1. I couldn’t stand to make typos. I had to correct them and that took time I could’ve been creating.
  2. I wanted my writing to make sense and it was such a struggle not to go back and edit small phrases and punctuation while in the writing process. However, I only paused a few times, only corrected a few errors, too.

There’s no real profundity here, just a test that I’m sharing with you this week. I had originally thought about writing a blog about prejudice or something commemorating Dr. King, but this topic intrigued me.

After all, Dr. King didn’t let excuses or fear stop his mission, did he?

So today, why don’t you try this experiment too? Set a timer and go for 1-2 minutes in the comments and see what you come up with. It might be fun. It might reveal something interesting to you. Or don’t share the test with us . . . but do leave a comment. I’m actually home today and can answer.

By the way, this last segment — with its self-consciousness and spell checking in real time — took me 4:29 to write.  249 words.

 

Fun with blenders

by Pari

Writers need to stay healthy, right? While some are able to determine their days and schedules, the whens of
getting up
getting to work
eating
exercising,
many, like me, work 8 – 5 gigs that have requirements out of our control like when we have to:
get up
get to work
eat in order to get up/get to work.

And the times we can exercise must somehow fit within those other external musts.

So, as part of my ever-increasing efforts to keep healthy, I decided to buy a good blender during the holiday season. I had heady images of making my own soy and almond milks, mixing extraordinary concoctions that would burn fat, give me energy and take off 20 years from my wonderful — but older — body.

I didn’t want a juicer because I feel like the fiber in foods is healthy for us and should be consumed, but I wanted a way to incorporate more fresh veggies into my life without having to eat more salads. (I bring large salads to work almost every day for my lunch.)

At first I looked at the Kitchen Ninja and VitaMix blenders. From the packaging, I got the impression that these machines  — if purchased — would probably massage their owners after a hard day’s work and burp them after overeating at that Super Duper Tapas buffet. In addition to the off-putting price tags, I felt uncomfortable beginning a relationship with machines that promised so much.

Who wants to be disappointed?

With my 20 percent off coupon in hand, I walked the store’s aisle envisioning my life with each powerful tool. After too much consideration of too many choices, I decided to buy a five-speed (including “ice crusher”), dependable, plain old KitchenAid. Nothing fancy. A blender that would basically pulverize the food I wanted in the way I wanted it to be done.

Now I’m inventing odd recipes. Today’s breakfast was a concoction of frozen berries and cherries with fresh apple, cucumber, celery, avocado and chia seeds . . . and soy milk. Yeah, I know. It sounds weird and tasted a bit different than a chocolate milkshake, but I liked it. My kids even tried it, though they added sugar to the mix.

The main thing is my $85 purchase is, indeed, living up to its promise. And I’m pleased rather than remorseful with the purchase.

So today’s questions are:

  1. Do you have any wonderfully healthy — and tasty — recipes for blended drinks or treats?
  2. Do you have a kitchen appliance that you adore?

The Wildcard Tuesday New Year Interrogation

Zoë Sharp

The first moon of 2013

Welcome to the first Wildcard Tuesday blog of 2013, and an enormously Happy New Year to you all. For this I asked a few lighthearted questions of fellow ‘Rati past and present, and below are their answers. I hope you find them worthy of a giggle.

(As a small aside, I started off searching for sensible author pix, but what I’ve actually ended up going for are the silliest pix that came up on the first page of a Google Images search on that author’s name.)

ALLISON BRENNAN

Where did you choose to celebrate the holiday season this year?

Home, as usual.

What would have been your ideal location?

Home! (Though, I would have liked to have gone to Disneyland right after Christmas … maybe next year!)

What was the best—or worst—gift you’ve ever received?

My husband once gave me an electric grout cleaner. Needless to say, I never used it.

The best—or worst—meal or item of food you’ve been served—or served to others?

The absolute best Christmas dinner we’ve had was when I decided to cook prime rib instead of the standard turkey or ham. It was pricey, but oh-so-delicious! I think that was back in 1997 …

What’s your idea of the Christmas From Hell?

Traveling for Christmas.

Looking back, what was your favourite moment from 2012?

Watching my oldest daughter graduate from high school—and hearing her and the Seraphim Choir sing the National Anthem. They were amazing.

I’m not going to ask about New Year’s resolutions, but do you have one ambition, large or small, you’d like to achieve in 2013?

Walk daily, meet my deadlines, don’t sweat the small stuff.

And finally, what book(s) have you brought out this year?

Two Lucy Kincaid books from Minotaur/SMP—SILENCED and STALKED; a short story in the anthology LOVE IS MURDER; an indie published novella MURDER IN THE RIVER CITY.

And what’s on the cards for the early part of 2013?

A Lucy Kincaid novella in March (RECKLESS), and two more book STOLEN and COLD SNAP. Plus a short story for the NINC anthology and maybe another indie novella. If I have time.

 

DAVID CORBETT

Where did you choose to celebrate the holiday season this year?

Home alone, if “choose” and “celebrate” are the correct verbs. Mette arrives on the 28th, so things should get merrier at that point.

What would have been your ideal location?

Buenos Aires. Ireland. A beach in Mexico.

What was the best—or worst—gift you’ve ever received?

Best gift I ever “received” was one I gave. As a gag gift I bought my late wife a red flannel union suit with a button seat flap that she absolutely loved. Slept in it all the time. Cozy as hell. Damn, she was happy.

The best—or worst—meal or item of food you’ve been served—or served to others?

When I was a kid one of my classmates’ families came over during the holidays and brought cookies that literally made me gag. I picked one up, sniffed it like a cocker spaniel, recoiled, and put it back. My brother started bellowing, “You touched it, you have to eat it.” Unfortunately, King Solomon (my father) agreed. I almost upchucked trying to get it down.

What’s your idea of the Christmas From Hell?

Oh, let’s not go there.

Looking back, what was your favourite moment from 2012?

A weekend in San Antonio for the wedding of one of Mette’s dearest friends, when I got introduced to the inner circle. Also, the moments when I read the cover quotes I received for THE ART OF CHARACTER. I was incredibly humbled and grateful so many writers I respect said so many kind and generous things.

One ambition, large or small, you’d like to achieve in 2013?

Make the new book a success, and wrap up the novel I’m working on to my own persnickety satisfaction.

And finally, what book(s) have you brought out this year?

Open Road Media and Mysterious Press re-issued all four of my novels in ebook format in 2012, with a brand new short story collection titled KILLING YOURSELF TO SURVIVE.

And what’s on the cards for the early part of 2013?

The new book, THE ART OF CHARACTER, comes out on January 29th, 2013 from Penguin.

 

ALEXANDRA SOKOLOFF

Where?

New Orleans.

Ideal location?

It’s hard to top New Orleans.

Best/worst gift?

Well, there’s this pretty spectacular amethyst necklace…

Best/worst food?

I’ve served many a bad meal to others. For everyone’s sake I stopped trying to cook long ago. Personally I don’t care much what food gets served, but I do remember one Christmas morning in London with blackberry jam on waffles and whisky for breakfast. The blackberry jam ended up all sorts of places and it was all very lovely.  I could do that again.

Christmas From Hell?

It’s hard to narrow that down, actually. Endless scenarios spring to mind. I hate being cold, though, so winter is perilous.

Favourite moment from 2012?

For public consumption, you mean? The general reader response to HUNTRESS MOON has been a real high.

One ambition in 2013?

I’d like to find a really wonderful place to live.

Books this year?

My crime thriller HUNTRESS MOON, a boxed set of three of my supernatural thrillers called HAUNTED, a novella called D-GIRL ON DOOMSDAY in an interconnected anthology with three other dark fantasy female author friends: APOCALYPSE: YEAR ZERO. And I got several backlist titles back and put them out as e books at wonderfully affordable prices: THE UNSEEN, BOOK OF SHADOWS, THE HARROWING and THE PRICE.

And for 2013?

The next book in my Huntress series comes out in late January:  BLOOD MOON. My next book in the paranormal Keepers series, KEEPER OF THE SHADOWS, comes out in May.

I’m selling my house in January and buying another as soon as possible, probably in California.

 

PD MARTIN

Where?

Every year we have Christmas Day at our home (in Melbourne) and then go down to the Mornington Peninsula (seaside) for most of January. It’s the hottest time of year here in Oz, so it’s great to be near the beach. We stay in a 1970s holiday house my grandparents bought in 1972, and given I spent summers down there as a kid it’s particularly special to now be going down there with my children.

Ideal location?

The Peninsula is pretty good 🙂 Although we’ve always said that one year we’ll do a white/winter Christmas in New York or something.

Best/worst gift ever received?

Best gift I ever received was actually for my birthday this year—my Kindle. I’m a complete convert to the point where I can’t imagine ever reading a ‘real’ book again. I prefer the Kindle reading experience for some reason.

Best meal?

I am biased, but I make a mean Tira Misu. I got the recipe from a chef and it’s divine! And great because you make it a day or two before, so it’s one thing to cross off the food preparation list early.

Christmas From Hell?

Mmm….I guess having to run around. You know, multiple visits. We do that a bit on Christmas Eve, but I enjoy the fact that then on Christmas Day we just kick back. We start with oysters at midday, then it’s prawns (yes, on the BBQ), then an Asian style salmon fillet dish then Tira Misu (at about 4pm). Then a movie!

Favourite moment from 2012?

That’s easy for me—picking up our son, Liam, from Korea and making our family of three a family of four 🙂

One ambition, large or small, for 2013?

I’ve got a few books I’d like to finish. And hey, a best seller or a lotto win wouldn’t go astray either.

Book(s) this year?

THE MISSING (two short stories), WHEN JUSTICE FAILS (two short true-crime pieces), HELL’S FURY (new book in spy thriller series), and two novels for younger readers that I’ve released under the pen name Pippa Dee—GROUNDED SPIRITS and THE WANDERER.

What’s next?

Probably what I’ve been doing the past few months—juggling motherhood and writing…and feeling like I’m going to crack under the pressure! 

 

JT ELLISON

Where?

Nashville and Florida.

Ideal location?

A family trip to Italy would have been fun.

Best gift you’ve ever received?

I got engaged during Christmas 1994, so that ranks up there….

Worst meal?

Italy, Cinque Terre, a large full fish the size of a cat, with its baleful eye staring up at me… I swear the thing was still breathing. Ugh! 

Christmas From Hell?

There’s no such thing. I love Christmas.

Favourite moment from 2012?

Seeing my DH in his gorgeous new kilt for the first time. *fans self*

One ambition, large or small, for 2013?

I want to learn how to paint. In oil, large canvas abstracts. 

Book(s) last year?

A DEEPER DARKNESS, EDGE OF BLACK, STORM SEASON

And for 2013?

Writing, writing and more writing. Deadline January 30!

 

 MARTYN WAITES (half of Tania Carver)

Where?

At my in-laws. The kids wanted to go to see all their cousins. They love a big family get together. As for me, I’m pretty bah humbug about it. I don’t care where I go or what I do or whether I get any presents or not. As long as I get to see Doctor Who, I’m happy.

Ideal location?

Somewhere abroad. Morocco would be good. If they were showing Doctor Who.

Best/worst gift ever received?

I’ve been lucky enough to get plenty of presents. I can’t think of specifics in terms of best or worst, but for me the worst kind of gift is the thoughtless kind that someone has put no effort, time or care into. The best ones are the ones you absolutely want. Even if you don’t know you do until you get them. I was lucky enough to get one of those this Christmas.

Best/worst meal?

At Christmas? It’s all the same. I’m not a fan of Christmas dinner. Or any roast dinner for that matter. I eat it, but that’s because it’s what you do at Christmas. Like getting into water and swimming. The best meal I was ever served was at a Persian restaurant in Birmingham in 1988. It involved chicken and pomegranates and I’ve never tasted anything like it to this day. The restaurant disappeared soon afterwards in a kind of Brigadoon fashion and I sometimes wonder whether I actually went there. As for bad food . . . loads. In fact, it probably outnumbers the good food. That’s why I try to remember the good ones.

Christmas From Hell?

Being forced to spend time with people I hate. That goes for the rest of the year as well. And not seeing Doctor Who.

Favourite moment from 2012?

Well, I wrote about my favourite cultural things on the last Murderati post—Y Niwl and the Hammer films retrospective—so they would be there in a big way. But other than that, it was something very small and personal that I’m afraid I couldn’t share and that I doubt anyone would be particularly interested in.

One ambition, large or small, for 2013?

I do. I can’t say anything about it in case I jinx it, but it will be the culmination of a lifetime’s ambition. Or at least I hope it will.

Book(s) this year?

CHOKED, the fourth Tania Carver book came out in September in the UK. THE CREEPER, the second one, came out in the States. There have been other editions round the world and I think Russia finally got round to publishing my 2006 novel, THE MERCY SEAT.

And 2013?

Finishing the new Tania, THE DOLL’S HOUSE, which I’m uncharacteristically quite pleased with. Although it could all go horribly wrong. And then there’s the afore(not)mentioned secret project . . .

 

GAR ANTHONY HAYWOOD

Where?

At the family’s new home in Glassell Park, which we moved into in October.

Ideal location?

At the family’s new home in Aspen, Colorado, which doesn’t exist.

Best/worst gift ever received?

The best was a dictionary.  It was given to me many years ago by a wonderful woman who at the time was my mother-in-law to be.  She knew I was an aspiring writer and gifted me accordingly, which, oddly enough, no one in my immediate family had ever thought to attempt before.  I still own that dictionary, too.

Don’t get me started on the worst gifts I’ve ever received.

Best/worst food?

The best, far and away, is the egg nog my godfather makes over the holidays. It tastes great and man, does it have a kick to it.

Never been given a fruitcake as a gift, and I pray I never am.

Christmas From Hell?

I think I actually experienced it last year.  Attended the worst Catholic midnight Mass possible: cornball music, pointless sermon, and theatre lighting (the service was being video-taped) that would make a mole cover its eyes.  Awful.

Favourite moment from 2012?

The family’s spring break vacation in the Galapagos.  Unbelievable!

One ambition for 2013?

Completion of a manuscript that a conventional publisher buys for a tidy sum.

Book(s) last year?

Didn’t have a book published this year, though my Aaron Gunner novels were re-released as e-books by Mysterious Press/Open Road.

And for the early part of 2013?

Early?  Maybe my first book for middle-graders, which my agent is shopping now.  Later in the year?  With the grace of God, a publication deal for my first Aaron Gunner novel in almost 10 years.

 

STEPHEN JAY SCHWARTZ

Where?

Stayed at home with the wife and kids—enjoyed the beach and the beautiful Southern California weather.  Played Scrabble and hung out in cafés.  Enjoyed a big meal of matzoh ball soup and tofurky.

Ideal location?

Ireland.  Clifton or Dingle, to be precise.

Best/worst gift ever received?

I haven’t paid attention to holiday gifts for a long time.  I think the worst gift I ever got was for my bar mitzvah—it was a belt buckle.  No, actually, perhaps the worst was the beer stein my father gave me for my high school graduation.  This, instead of the car I had my eyes on.

Best/worst item of food?

Probably that tofurky we had last week.

Christmas From Hell?

Again, tofurky takes the price.

Favourite moment from 2012?

Seeing my son come back healthy and happy after a two-month hospital stay in Wisconsin.

One ambition, large or small, for 2013?

Main ambition—work to live a creative life, 24/7.

Book(s) this year?

Move along, nothing to see here.

What’s on the cards for the early part of 2013?

Move along, nothing to see here either…

 

BRETT BATTLES

Where?

The first half I spent in a hot, tropical location with my feet in the water, a beer nearby, and a Kindle in my hand; the second half at home in L.A. with my kids, my parents, and my sister and her kids.

Ideal location?

Nailed it this year.

Best gift ever received?

This year I got the complete set of Calvin & Hobbs from my parents. It was perfect!

Best food?

I made a pretty awesome ham this year that was juicy and delicious. Hmmm, I’m craving leftovers right now!

Christmas From Hell?

Not being able to spend time with my family.

Favourite moment from 2012?

It was a pretty good year all around, so one event…? Going to San Diego for a week with my kids and parents was pretty damn fun!

One ambition for 2013?

Just more of the same … write, travel, and spend time with friends and family.

Book(s) last year?

2012: THE DESTROYED (Quinn #5), PALE HORSE (Project Eden #3), THE COLLECTED (Quinn #6), and ASHES (Project #Eden #4)

And for 2013?

At least four more novels (hopefully five), including a secret collaboration I can’t quite talk about yet.

 

TESS GERRITSEN

Where?

At home. With family.

Ideal location?

Exactly the same place.

Worst gift you’ve ever received?

An orange pantsuit.  I mean, really. My husband has not bought me anything orange ever since. (I’m guessing it didn’t look like this, then, Tess? ZS)

Best/worst meal?

For Christmas?  Not one bad meal sticks out.  On Christmas, everything tastes wonderful.

Christmas From Hell?

Being stuck in an airport. Far from family.

Favourite moment from 2012?

Standing on the Great Wall of China, with my husband and sons.

One ambition, for 2013?

To finally plant a vegetable garden that the deer can’t demolish.

Book(s) out last year?

LAST TO DIE was published this past summer.

And what’s on the cards for 2013?

Early 2013, I am headed to the Amazon River.

 

PARI NOSKIN TAICHERT

Where?

At home in peace. No requirements, no expectations. I just let myself be.

Ideal location?

The only other place I can imagine being this calm and relaxed would be Antibes . . .

Best gift?

Probably the best gift I’ve received so far is an essay my younger teen wrote about a difficult incident we shared last year and how it has taught her empathy. Made me cry, it touched my heart so.

Best/worst meal?

The best meal remains one brunch I had in Puerto Rico: fresh flying fish brought in that morning from a catch in Barbados, steamed bread fruit, Barbadian yellow hot sauce, fresh mangos picked minutes before from a tree just steps from where we ate.

Christmas From Hell?

I think it would be one filled with efforts to make it perfect, so many efforts that they’d hit the tipping point and tumble down to the other side of happiness.

Favourite moment from 2012?

The one where I finally realized I’m going to be all right, that the trials of this last year may continue . . . but they’re not going to pull me down into the depths of despair anymore.

One ambition, large or small, for 2013?

Yes.

1. I’d like to e-publish the book that “almost” sold to NYC. It’s the first in a new series and I’d like my character to meet readers and vice versa.

2. To continue to explore my creativity in whatever ways it’s now manifesting, to give myself permission to let it fly.

Book(s) last year?

Nothing in 2012. I’ve been in hibernation for many reasons including the whole copyright issue and the divorce.

And for 2013?

To begin writing again and to enjoy it . . .

 

ZOË SHARP

As for me, I also spent Christmas this year with my family, which was where I wanted to be.

My ideal would probably have been a ski-in/ski-out chalet somewhere with plenty of snow. Not necessarily for skiing, but definitely for sculpting. I never did get to finish that Sphinx …

As for my ambitions for 2013, to find a life/work balance and to continue to improve my craft.

And books? In 2012 I brought out two e-boxed sets of the first six Charlie Fox novels, plus several short stories, and of course, DIE EASY: Charlie Fox book ten.

In 2013, DIE EASY is hot off the press in the States. I’m also editing two new projects—a supernatural thriller called CARNIFEX, and a standalone crime thriller called THE BLOOD WHISPERER, as well as working on the first in a new trilogy, the first in what I hope will be a new series, a novella project I can’t say too much about yet, and—of course—Charlie Fox book eleven. That should keep me going for a bit 🙂

So, it only remains for me to wish you all an incredibly Happy New Year, and to thank you for your comments and your feedback during 2012.

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