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!  (MORE)


by Alexandra Sokoloff

There’s nothing like packing for Denver in March to make you realize you have no clothes suited to temperatures under seventy degrees.

Nevertheless, conference season is kicking in and I’m off to Left Coast Crime this week (with a suitcase full of clothes much more appropriate to cruising the Caribbean.) Setting aside that I’m jonesing for some author company and for some serious dancing, which actually is on the menu this year, I have been wondering why exactly I decided to go again so soon. And then I remember that there’s a special occasion simultaneous to the conference which makes the whole thing make sense.

Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love Left Coast Crime – it’s a big conference for a small conference and one of the absolute friendliest out there. But the business has changed so much, I have to wonder if conferences as we know them are on their way out.  When you can reach tens of thousands of readers and sell thousands to tens of thousands of books with one free Amazon Kindle promotion, and when you can reach thousands to tens of thousands of readers with some concentrated Facebook posting, all pretty much for free, then how much sense does it really make to take five days to a week (what with packing and all the attendant readying, pedicures, pet sitting and all) away from time that you could be writing or promoting on line? Even the upcoming LA Times Festival of Books – I’m thinking that that day would be better spent just working it on Facebook – I’d sell more books and make more money from the books I sold.  Without having to fight traffic, either.

Now, I know, online connections will never be as meaningful as the personal contact you can make with a reader in person. But do I really mean that?  Really?   (MORE)


by David Corbett

For much of today, I’ll be en route to Colorado Springs for this year’s Left Coast Crime (where eventually I’ll be joined by fellow current or past Murderatis JT Ellison, Simon Wood, and Alexandra Sokoloff, who posted here about the conference yesterday).

I’ve made myself scarce the last few years on the conference circuit, being preoccupied with other, well, preoccupations, but co-chairs Christine Goff and Suzanne Proulx very graciously (if unwisely) asked if I’d serve as toastmaster, and how could I refuse?

Just one question, I said timidly. What exactly does a toastmaster do?

The answer: Nobody knows

I even asked last year’s toastmaster, Harley Jane Kozak, and she replied: “You just get up and make people happy to be alive, restore sight to the blind and the will to live in those who are depressed. It helps if everyone’s drunk to begin with.”

Oh. That.

Piece of cake.  (MORE)


by Zoë Sharp

They say the best recommendation is word of mouth—a personal tip from someone you know and whose judgement you trust. But increasingly these days we find ourselves connecting with people in a less personal way as more and more of us take to shopping online.

Global economies are tanking as the rich get richer and the rest of us have to cope as best we can. It all boils down to the price of everything without taking the cost into account. We buy online because they don’t have high street overheads and it’s invariably cheaper, and because the high street is losing out on sales it becomes a sad collection of boarded-up windows, charity shops and bargain basements. Personal service seems to be a thing of the past. Soon we won’t have to speak to another real human being during our daily lives at all.

After all, we can order just about anything including our groceries over the internet. Our books, our music, buy insurance, search for a house. And if we do choose to go out we withdraw money from the cashpoint machine without going into a bank. If we do venture inside we’re being encouraged to use the automated deposit slots instead of waiting for a cashier window to become free.  (MORE)


by Stephen Jay Schwartz

There are parrots in Hermosa Beach and they live in the leaves of the giant palm trees on Pier Avenue. Nothing here is indigenous but the sand and sea. I’ve been here a long time, not as long as some, but longer than others.

I remember when this stretch of street was a street with cars and rugged, sailor bars and angry teenagers smoking dope. I was here for the gentrification, when the street was paved and became a pedestrian-only walkway, when the giant palm trees were brought in and planted by giant cranes, when the high price of rent pushed out the local pubs and the high-end restaurants and nightclubs moved in.

And the Either/Or Bookstore closed down. My favorite bookstore in the city. After 30 years in business. It was where I went after graduating college, to spend the $116 I had in my pocket. I bought as many paper book classics as I could.

And the Bijou theater closed down. (MORE)