Category Archives: Pari Noskin Taichert

Is Creativity Dying?

by Pari

I love a good conversation, the kind that’s broad and blends seemingly unrelated subjects with ease. That’s one reason Murderati is so satisfying!

Last Saturday, our LCC 2011 core committee met for the last time. We ate lunch together at the Range in Bernalillo. The business portion ended quickly. That’s when the fun began.

The discussion veered from literacy to No Child Left Behind:

“It’s no less than a conspiracy to dumb down America through a systematic homogenization of thought.”

“It’s encouraging a situation where creativity, in the form of instruction and content, is being sacrificed in the name of ‘basic skills.’”

“It’s discouraging intellectual curiosity, the joy in learning for learning’s sake.”

From there the conversation wandered to what’s happening to our children in a society where we’re scared to let them roam free.

“They’re losing the opportunity to cultivate essential skills in independence.”

“If they wander in groups, merchants and policemen likely assume they’re up to no good.”

“But if you can’t spend hours finding ways to amuse yourself – outside and away from electronic gadgets – how can your imagination soar?”

“Who’s to say your imagination can’t take flight in designing a really beautiful stand of code?”

From there we jumped to U.S. cultural values:

“Creativity is dying even though we have more products and means of self expression than ever before.”

“Our culture doesn’t value innovation unless it’s tied to making money.”

“If money were the only factor, literary fiction wouldn’t win so many prizes.”

“Artists need to be paid for their efforts, not just the results.”

On and on we went:

“People in the U.S. are so passive now they just want the same pabulum repackaged again and again.”

“There are too many choices – in books, music, stories, art – with the internet. We’re hitting information overload.”

“We need gatekeepers otherwise we’ll all be overwhelmed with the incredible amount of crap out there.”

“Are you telling me you want agents and marketers – the very people who only want sure things –to be the arbiters of creativity in our society?”

At the end of three and a half hours, we didn’t have any answers. But then answers are overrated. Once you have them it’s easy to stop thinking and assume you know.

I certainly don’t.

And yet, it was a fascinating conversation and I wanted more.

So today’s questions are
1. Is creativity dying or one breath away from life support?

2. Are gatekeepers essential to keep us from drowning in a sea of sub-par products?

3. Are we benefiting from more choices than ever before or is everything starting to look the same – even when it isn’t?


I can’t wait to read what you’ve got to say.


A post of little things

by Pari

This is a post of little things because I’m making a very big dinner tonight. I started cooking last weekend and got the six dozen matzo balls out of the way. Yesterday I made the chicken soup and the butternut ratatouille. Oh, and did I mention the dozens of chocolate chip and pine nut meringues or the chocolate macaroons? Or the chopped chicken liver? Or the mock chopped chicken liver (veggie version)?

Today I’m preparing the brisket, the salmon with yogurt dill sauce, the sweet potato salad, the charoseth, etc etc.

Elijah – and my other guests – better be hungry!

Begin little things:

Spam #1: Captcha

Yes, we had to turn it back on. Alas, we had to turn it back on. One piece of spam won’t sink a blog, but close to 100 items a day tries anyone’s patience. So please take the time to type in those little letters in order to comment. We adore hearing from you. Believe me, we wouldn’t have decided to use this gateway process unless it was absolutely necessary to our sanity!

Spam # 2:  Please don’t send me your email newsletters, invites on FB, updates etc unless you know me and I’ve asked to be informed. I may sound like a grump, but it’s the accumulation of those little things that render me so.

Spam #3 Okay, so now I’ve exposed myself for the grump I am, I have a couple of questions. How does a person market ebooks w/o spam? How do you grow your virtual world w/o being utterly obnoxious?
Advice please.

Vote on my cover: This is a first mock-up of my FIRST piece of original fiction to be published only in ebook mode. Yep. I’m taking the plunge on a book that editors said was wonderful but that mystery readers wouldn’t want to read because it features a character who communicate with insects and other animals.

I disagree.

But back to the cover . . .

The difference between the mock-ups below is slight. As a matter of fact, it’s only the type of bee in the hand. But it’s enough to give each one a unique flavor. My question to you is which best implies the slightly mystical relationship between human and insect?

#1 — Light bee cover


#2 — Dark bee cover

End little things:

Back to my Pesach preparations. I’ve got to buy the flowers, clean the house some more, set the tables, count the dishes to see if I need to buy a few more plates and bowls . . .

But I do have one last question for you:

What smallnesses are affecting your world today?

A flash in the pan

by Pari

You lived with it – with me with it – for nearly two years. Now, Left Coast Crime 2011 is a memory. Everyone assumes that I’ve been resting, my feet up on the television table, a glass of single malt by my side.

Contrary to that lovely image, I actually came back to a full week of work. Both of my major PR clients had several big events that required my attention and presence. I still had to get dressed up and be “on,” though all I wanted to do was sit on the couch and stare into space until my eyes managed to focus again.

Since the con ended a week ago Sunday, I’ve been eating a lot of chocolate. The good news: I’ve started taking walks again. The bad news: my clothes don’t fit because of all the stress eating I did for the last three or four months.

And life continues. For those of you who know me, you know these next few months are going to signal some huge changes in my life. Some intrigue me. Others seem insurmountable. Whatever comes, comes. I’ll deal with it. C’est tout.

During the last eight days, I’ve received many thank-yous and let me tell you, they’ve been welcome. I’ve also gotten complaints about not being accommodating enough for people with disabilities, about Santa Fe’s altitude, about the convention programming, about not enough panels for would-be writers, about the layout of the hotel etc etc. 

So it goes. Pros and cons, ups and downs.

I’ll admit it. I’m pooped.

Several people have asked me if I’d do it again. Truth be told, I don’t think so. Especially not for free. I may aspire to altruism, but this was too much work; I dealt with too many big egos demanding/asserting their needs above others. And the hardest part is that after all of this effort, people have already moved on to the next shiny thing.

I knew it would happen. I just don’t like it.

On the positive side, the mantle of responsibility for the convention became quite heavy during the last few months. I expect after I’ve had a little more time to decompress that one of the benefits I’ll notice is that my spine is straighter and I’ve grown an inch or two.

That’ll be nice.

My clothes might look a bit better on me then.

For so much of the convention, I felt like an outsider at my own party. I observed but didn’t participate. I didn’t have much time to spend with friends and realized that my feelings for “the mystery community” have changed during these last two years. Having this perspective was useful – something most of us don’t get so clearly – and will be helpful as I progress in my career.

Perhaps most important of all, I also realized one incredible thing. During the entire convention, I continued to write my fiction every single day.

LCC 2011 may be a flash in the pan now, but my commitment to writing endures.



Speaking of changes, many of you have read about both Rob and Toni leaving Murderati. We wish them every success and joy.

We’re also happy to announce that two fabulous writers have agreed to join our group. We’ll have more details in the coming weeks, but I wanted to let you know that Zoë will no longer be our only international contributor. Australian writer extraordinaire P.D. Martin is coming on board! And if that’s not enough, David Corbett will be here too.

So stay tuned. Life at the ‘Rati continues to be vital and full.

Bios: Stumbling on self-intros

by PariSave & Close

Last week, I read nearly 180 short bios for the LCC 2011 program book. My job wasn’t to edit what other people wrote; it was merely to proofread before we went to press.

Sounds easy, right?


What struck me too often in those reads was how writers frequently do themselves a disservice with these pint-sized self sketches.

IMHO: A short bio — 25-100 words – should serve as a how-do-you-do. It’s the conversation starter at a nice party, the intro at a friendly table in the bar or at a lovely tea. Its main purpose is to interest the listener just enough to want to continue the interaction.


Trying to cram every detail about the story line of your book into that short space
        This tactic rarely works. There’s no way to avoid non sequiturs and the text becomes choppy and harsh. It’s like hearing someone’s elevator speech after he’s stayed up for two days and only eaten pork rinds.

Message to reader: Bad breath and boorish.

Trying too hard to be funny
        Several of the bios I read seemed like they were auditioning for America’s Next Comic. Some relied heavily on shock value. But comedy is a touchy thing. Most jokes require a bit of set up and when you don’t have time – or print space – to do that, they fall flat.

This isn’t to say that humor should be avoided. Au contraire! But forcing it, squeezing it into every sentence, just doesn’t work.

Message to reader: Bad breath, boorish and obnoxious.

Losing track of the narrative
        It’s useful to know what you’re going for when you write a bio. Do you write funny books? Well, then a little humor might be good in those 25-100 words. Do you want people to be intrigued with you as a person? Maybe putting out a fact that stuns the reader (in a good way) is the ticket. Do you want to convey warmth, aloofness, mystery, allure? You can do any of this, if you think about it ahead of time.

Often a bio starts off with one tone or note and then quickly veers into a completely different scale – I’m not talking octaves here, I’m referring to pentatonic as opposed to atonal scales. And even though the tune might be short, it still hurts the ears.

Message to reader: Ditzy, unprepared, unprofessional, cacophonous.

Convoluted sentences
        I’ve read bios that are close to 75 words long and are only one or two sentences. Unless you aspire to be Proust, I wouldn’t recommend this strategy.

Message to reader: Hunh?

I readily admit that I’m not the Queen of Bio Writing. I’ve stumbled and scraped my knees just like everyone else. But I did get that crash course and it was plenty instructive.

There are certainly more pitfalls than I’ve discussed here. I hope you’ll mention the ones that you’ve noticed in the Comments today.


A note: I’ll be around this morning for the conversation, but come this afternoon I’m out of pocket for the next week.

Wish me luck with LCC 2011.

I can’t wait to see those of you who are coming.

(And I pity those of you who aren’t.)



Seven things I wish people knew about PR

by Pari

Tomorrow morning a high school student is going to join me for a week to learn about public relations and marketing. Today as I looked around my messy office and contemplated what I hoped she’d take away from the experience, I realized that there were a few things I really wanted her to know.

1. Public relations is about relationships with your publics.
Oh, I know I’ve said this before. But it bears repeating because everyone gets so caught up in getting publicity – free interviews on television or the Web, mentions in the newspapers, book reviews – and, frankly, I think a lot of that is a waste of time.

I know for a fact that you can be highly successful without a single intentional media hit.

2.  Word of mouth is still the best form of PR there is.
Of course there are experts who work hard to create “buzz,” to manipulate the public psyche and make the next big thing. They do it through multiple media and with a lot of money and strategy. But the truth is, what they’re really doing is manufacturing word of mouth. The more people talk about something the more interesting it seems.

Here’s the reality: Whether you generate buzz through money spent on advertising and media hits or through getting people you know to be your marketing foot soldiers, the principle is really the same. Get ’em talking about what you want them to talk about.

3. Public Relations is about the truth
You read that right. It applies across the board.
Don’t mislead. Don’t lie. If you do, it’ll bite you in the butt.

I wish more people understood this one.

4. What you think is newsworthy – especially if it’s about you – probably isn’t.
Think in terms of your audiences and know what your audiences need . . . not what you want them to need.

Really. We’re not nearly as interesting to others as we are to ourselves.

5. Be sincere.
I think information consumers today are quite sophisticated. They hate feeling like they’re being used. And they can smell a fake. Don’t give them a reason to plug their nose.

6. Pick the PR methods that make you the happiest.
There are countless ways to do public relations – to get your message out. So there has got to be at least one or two that you’d enjoy doing. Why spend energy on things that make you miserable? Life is too damn short . . . isn’t it?

Here’s my advice (even if your publicist tells you different): if you despise speaking in public, don’t do it. Write emails. Conduct online contests. Do blog tours. If you love being on television or radio, go for it. Make yourself — or your pitch — irresistible to those media outlets. If you like attending conventions, have a blast and enjoy yourself.

7. Do unto others as you’d have them do unto you.
In other words, be nice.
Do your homework.
Be respectful.
Remember to be grateful — and to express that gratitude.

Is there anything I’ve missed? Let me know. I’ll share your pearls of wisdom with my intern . . .

ADWD: The new epidemic

By Pari

We interrupt our regular blog to bring you this important public service announcement:

Hello. My name is Pari Noskin Taichert. You may know me as a novelist, an award nominee, a convention chair, a features writer, a public relations pro. Some of you have met me in my capacity as a wife, a mother, a cellist, a dog owner . . . but that’s not why I’m here today.

I’m speaking to you on behalf of the CWDC.

For those of you unfamiliar with the Centers for Writer Disease Control (CWDC), ours is a small organization – perpetually ill-funded (but that’s mostly okay) – but dedicated to the health and welfare of our nation’s literature-creating trust. This is no small task. Each year, hundreds of thousands of writers – maybe millions (who’s to say?) – suffer the ravages of
*  MOD (Marketing Overwhelment Disorder)

*  WBS (Writers’ Block Syndrome)

*  EM (EllipsiMania)

*  TMD2 (Too Many Details Disorder)

*  SSER (Strident Self-Editing Reflex)

*  its corollary: NE2R (Non-Existent Editing Reflux)

and other debilitating diseases.

But that’s not why I’m here today.

It has come to our attention (well, my attention since CWDC is really, really small, so small in fact that sometimes it totally disappears and then someone else has to come in with intravenous lattes to revive its director . . .

 . . .  but that’s not why I’m here today . . .)

Let’s start over. Okay?

It has come to our attention that a new disease is on the rise:

ADWD: Attention Deficit Writing Disorder

(Excuse me? Is that drink for me? Why . . . thank you.)

Symptoms include an inability to focus on . . .

(What? No! I didn’t ask for a soy chai. I wanted a latte.)

 . . . on any writing project for more than a  . . .

(Get that needle away from me!)

. . . a few minutes at a time.

Writers with this disease are often . . .

(Ow! Really?! Was that necessary?)

 . . . spotted with their laptops trying to grab a couple of minutes’ writing in  . . .

(Oh, man, I don’t feel so good.)

 . . . moving vehicles (which they’re often driving) or at cafes while ostensibly talking with friends.

In other words, not only are they completely unable to focus on projects in their own homes, they also try to work in inappropriate  . . .

(Is it hot in here? My tongue feels funny, kinda furry.)

 . . . places.

Combined with other conditions, this dangerous disease can result in disjointed plotting, abandoned stories, nonsensical segues. If you supectt ssomeonnnne you know hass thissss dissssorderrrr, plleeeazzz calllllll thisss nummmbbb . . .


The preceding was a public service announcement from CWDC. To donate to the Center, please send money directly to Pari Noskin Taichert. Go ahead. Just wire it right on over. Really. Credit Cards. Checks. Money transfers. She’s set up for PayPal too.

It’s for the Center, after all.



Meet Joshua Graham

by Pari

I met Joshua Graham a little more than a year ago at the life-changing master class in Oregon. I was incredibly impressed with his discipline, creativity, ability to come up with the big ideas, and just how nice he was. The fact that he’d worked as a professional musician also gave him insights into the realities of what it takes to make it as an artist. In the months since then, I’ve only become more of a fan. Please join me in welcoming this up-and-coming writer who has embraced electronic publishing and is really using it to succeed in his writing career.

Tell us a little about your education and experience as a musician.
I hold a Bachelors and Masters Degree from Julliard and my Doctorate from Johns Hopkins University in music.  As a professor of music I’ve taught at Western Maryland College, Columbia Union College and Shepherd College. 

I performed as a soloist and principal cellist with orchestras throughout the United States, South Africa, Egypt, Jordan and Israel. Domestically, I’ve performed on the stages of Carnegie Hall, Avery Fischer Hall.

Being a musician is different from being a writer, but being a professional is the same no matter what the profession.  Give your best work, on time, treat people with respect, and always remember what a small world it is. You never know whose help you will need in the future, so treat people the way you like being treated today.

Like other creatives, have you also held bread-and-butter jobs?
Believe it or not I’ve worn many different hats.  I worked over a decade in the IT field, but before that I worked as a sales representative for Honda, and I’ve owned and operated a small local computer repair store in Brooklyn, NY.

How long have you been writing?
Literally since the 1st grade. Writing has always been a great love of mine, whether it’s stories, plays, or scripts. I made my first sale in 2005 to Pocket Books, and that’s when I first considered myself a professional writer.

You’ve embraced electronic publishing — why?
Ah yes!  Ebooks are great.  I still love the feel, smell, and look of opening a beautiful new hardback, but ebooks are convenient in that you can carry an entire library on one device. Another advantage is instant gratification. You can download an ebook and start enjoying it in seconds. Whereas with paperback/hardcover books, you have to either go to the bookstore, library or order them online and wait for delivery.  Ebooks are also good for the environment. I’m not known for standing on this soapbox, but it’s true.

There are many advantages for writers too. One of the biggest is the turnaround time from final draft to going on sale. Instead of months, it could literally take hours to two days. And if you are an independent author, your royalties are significantly higher than what you’d earn from a traditional print publisher.

How many works do you have up right now and where are they?
I have 10 titles available right now. They are available at Barnes & Noble and at

My best known book, BEYOND JUSTICE, is available in both trade paperback and ebook (Amazon) and for Barnes & Noble nook/nook color and in formats for iPad, SONY Reader, and Kobo as well.

Do you work with an editor? A critique group?
Yes, I work with editors and a fantastic writing group that meets a couple of times a month.  It’s been a lifesaver to work with professionals who know the craft and business of writing.

Are you still interested in traditional publishing?
Of course! Traditional publishers have many resources independents don’t, such as sales and marketing and art departments. But most of all, publication by one of the big 6 helps with a certain degree of credibility. That said, I don’t think it the best plan for professional writers to limit themselves with only one or the other. One need not wait to be traditionally published before developing a following and a platform, which you can do as an independent author. If you are traditionally published, your readers will follow you and read your independently published works as well.

Tell us a little about some of the things you’ve written . . . what interests you as a writer?
I have written in several genres.  Actually, I started off in Science Fiction, but have written mostly suspense thrillers and fantasy.  The bottom line is that I am interested in great characters and their stories.  What interests me is a story where characters develop and go through a journey of irrevocable change.  I also want to challenge my readers to think about various issues from new perspectives.

My novel BEYOND JUSTICE was a semifinalist in the first Amazon Breakout Novel Award Competition, and was awarded Suspense Magazine’s BEST OF 2010.  It has been on mutliple Amazon bestseller lists and even hit #1 the on Barnes & Noble bestseller list for legal thrillers just weeks after its release. 

As gratifying as those acheivements have been, the greatest reward has been receiving emails and letters from fans who tell me how my book has changed their lives.

What advice do you have for people just getting into electronic publishing?
Don’t be intimidated.  There are plenty of resources out there to help you get into it. Just about any technical question  — and answer — can be found online or through Google. There are many independent contractors who have years of experience in the publishing field who can help you with editing, cover art, ebook formatting., etc.

But the most important thing, first and foremost, is to write a great book, because no amount of knowledge in the technology will keep readers reading.  It’s all about the book.

What advice do you have for writers in general?
The hardest thing is getting started. Push past self-doubt, dare to write something that might not be “good enough.” You can always improve a flawed manuscript. You cannot improve a blank page by any other way than writing something.

Crystal ball time: Where do you think publishing is going to be in 5-10 years?
I wish I knew. Such knowledge could be really helpful. I definitely think we are going to see ebooks take on a huge market share, but traditional books aren’t going away.  I think savvy writers/publishers are going to find a way to leverage both mediums (and future ones as well) and make the most of them. I’d keep on top of all the trends to make sound decisions in the future.

Wonderful interview, Joshua. Do you have anything else you’d like to add?
Thanks so much for having me as a guest. It’s an honor to participate. In closing, I’d like to say that I really love interacting with my fans
and readers over the internet.  I hope to get to know more of them through:

my website:
twitter: @J0shuaGraham

Joshua Graham’s bestselling novel. 



In the mood . . .

by Pari

I’ve long been fascinated with the deep myths we carry about what writers are and aren’t. One of my favorites was very difficult to shed: the vision of myself in a freezing garret somewhere in Paris, circa 1920, with an espresso in one hand and a Gauloise in the other. My hair would be short, oily and wild because of the many times I grab it . . . pull at it  . . . run my fingers through it . . . The mood would be one of mad creativity and struggle – torture almost – as I midwife brilliance out of each ink-dipped quill scratch upon a thick sheet of paper.

Yeah . . . I know.

The reality of how I write is much less romantic: I turn on the Notebook, sit my butt down and go. The phone rings. The dogs need to be let out. Oh, it’s time to pick up the kids! Wow, I’ve got to get this brochure written; that media contact made for a client; call others for donations for a third; here are the fifteen emails for Left Coast Crime; need to make a decision. Is it the right one? Oops! I’ve got to make dinner. Who’s washing the dishes? Taking out the garbage?

Still I manage daily to further the fiction word count. A writer needs to write; I’m writing.

But lately I’ve been going through an extremely intense emotional time. It’s guaranteed to last beyond Left Coast Crime – maybe for the rest of my life – and I’m finding a new challenge in my work. One I’d never thought about before.

You see, my mood doesn’t match the story I want to write and I think it’s influencing my work in a way I don’t want. But I love the WIP and don’t want to abandon it right now. And the reality is that what’s going on personally/emotionally isn’t going to be a quick fix, it might never be fixed. In that case, the whole idea of postponing the work for the right time is moot.

So what do I do?

For now I’m forging ahead. I console myself with the knowledge that editing will probably be my friend in this case. Or, if I’m lucky, I’m wrong about the influence of this sadness on the story. Perhaps writing will stand well enough in spite of – or because of – this period of flux.

So my questions today are these:

1. As readers, have you ever come across a piece of fiction that felt like the storyteller wasn’t in the story? That it was somehow inauthentic – not because of skill, but precisely because of something deeper and much less tangible?

2. As writers, have you ever experienced what I’m so insufficiently trying to express: a time where your emotions just don’t mesh with the work but you’re unwilling to stop writing it?

And an apology: Because of what’s going on, in addition to work and Left Coast Crime, I’ve been very quiet on the blog . . . haven’t been participating in the conversation much at all. I see this being the pattern until early April. Please bear with me. After LCC, I’ll surely be more active here again.



Convention Costs

by Pari

Every month or so, I see a question on a mystery listserv that goes something like this: “Are mystery conventions worth it?”

It’s an important question. Going to a convention costs a lot –transportation, food, hotel, time, effort – and often we don’t see the kind of return we’d expect from any other business venture.

I long ago abandoned the idea that conventions were tit for tat, that I’d somehow make up the cost by selling enough books or making strong enough business contacts to justify the expense. I’ve learned that conventions are really about seeing friends, meeting new potential readers, building relationships, and opening doors I can’t even begin to anticipate.

All of that happens every time I attend one. If I hit the lottery tomorrow, I’d jump back on the road without hesitation.

But . . .

Right now I’m on the other side of that question. Rather than asking what a convention can do for me, my concerns are: What do I wish I could give our LCC 2011 attendees? What can we really afford? Where can we cut, if we need to? And . . . well . . . How the hell am I going to do this?

Two years ago, when I agreed to do take on this volunteer job, one of the first decisions I had to make was the basic convention registration fee. Talk about feeling unequipped for the job! How can anyone predict expenses two years out when expenses are mostly contingent on how many people attend?

And yet that was what I had to do.

I knew I wanted the event to be at La Fonda – one of the more expensive hotels in one of the more expensive cities around – because it would give attendees a New Mexican experience they just couldn’t get anywhere else. I also knew I had to keep the fee reasonable so that we could attract enough attendees to avoid a financial disaster.

On faith, I set the early bird fee at $195; this was in keeping with other recent LCCs. As of January 1, the fee has gone up to $225.

The more I think about the money side of this animal, the more I’m convinced that all not-for-profit convention-goers should get a glimpse into where their registration fees go.

So, bear with me. I’m going to give you a sense of what goes on financially behind the scenes.

First of all, NONE of your committee is being paid a penny. We all registered for the convention and paid the regular price. I get a “free” room at La Fonda because I’m going to have to live there for a week to put this convention on. That’s the only freebie. Period. And it comes with a high price.

As of this moment, we have a round 380 full-pay attendees. The number will fluctuate but I suspect we’ll end up with around 400+ people in the long run.

This is biggest single cost of most conventions.

2 Continental breakfasts: $18/person + $5.43/person for taxes and service charges =
$23.43 x 2 = 46.86/person

Hors d’oeuvres on Friday night: $15 + $4.53/per person =$19.53.

Banquet: $30 + 9.09 = 39.09/person

Plus at least 4 no-host bars @ approx. $216/each ($864/380 = $2.28/person)

Maybe – snacks, coffee or other beverages in the hospitality room ($1200/380 = 3.16/person)

Add a few bucks in there for unforeseen expenses and we’ve got about: $115/person for food alone

We had far more early bird registrations than any other, so: $195-115 = $80/person
Multiply that by 380 = $30,400.

It sounds like we’ve got a lot left, right? Below are just a few of the expenses for which we’ll be responsible. They don’t include unforeseen costs such as if we don’t make our contracted quota of room nights at La Fonda or if we don’t spend enough on food/drink:

In order not to flood you with too much info, I’m only going to name the items.

*Pay back seed money

*Percentage payments to PayPal and Event Brite for every single online registration

*Hotel labor to move boxes of books (those books in your convention bags have to be delivered somewhere and then moved somewhere else for packing into your bags)

*Additional tables/electrical set up for registration and book room (cost not yet known)

*P.O. Box

*Logo design/custom artwork

*Promotional materials & shipping to other conventions, mailing

*Transport, board and daily food for our Guests of Honor:

            round trip plane tickets – amount unknown

            additional food/expenses

*GoH presents

*Book tote bags

*Program books & mini-program books

*Audio Visual equipment (every mic, every room, 4 days + speakers, sound boards, + special equipment)

*Contracting with Shipper for goers to send books home (I hope this doesn’t cost anything)

*Lanyards and name badge holders

* The actual name badges/ card stock for ID tents (for panels and signings)

*Native American Dancers for our welcoming ceremony on Friday night

*Additional signage in the hotel


*Possible framed momentos for nominees



My rough estimate right now of what we’ll spend on what I do know about runs to $22,755 of that $30400 I mentioned before . . . So I’ve got about $7600 to cover expenses such as getting our GoHs to Santa Fe, providing a little something/treat in the book bags for all LCC attendees . . .  on and on and on.


Left Coast Crime isn’t about making money; it’s a not-for-profit. But that doesn’t make me worry any less; I’ve put on enough events to know there are going to be last-minute expenses I couldn’t predict if I tried. 

Still, I thought it would be instructive for you to get a small idea of what it takes just to manage the money part of a convention. And that’s only a tiny piece of what goes into the whole.

Serving as chair of this convention has been fascinating so far. We’ve got just a little more than two months before all of our work comes to fruition. Some days I want to throw in the towel. Other days I’m extraordinarily aware of how lucky I am to have my fabulous convention committee. Overall I’m excited and happy to be doing this for a community I hold so dear.

But let me tell you this:
I’ve got my seatbelt on . . .
From here on out, I know it’s going to be one hell of a ride!


1. Does anyone have a great source for name-badge holders/lanyards?

2. Have you ever put on a convention or large event like this? What did you like about it? What didn’t you like?

3. After reading this, do you have a new understanding about where your fee goes? Does it matter to you?

Kinder, gentler resolutions

by Pari

It’s late night, the time when I thank God for the remote. Flipping through the now limited channels of our basic cable . . .  past the evangelists preaching last-minute salvation, the telenovelas with characters that definitely need saving, and the news shows that make me wonder if anything holy exists  . . . I can’t help but notice a change in the timbre of the commercials.

Yes, folks, it’s resolution time. The time when we shake our heads and ask,
“What the hell happened to last year?”
“What do you mean it’s almost 2011?”
and “Hunh?”

Last year, on December 31st, I taped my resolutions to the inside back cover of my daily calendar. Smart, hunh? Well . . . not really. It’s amazing how skillful I became at opening the thing so that I didn’t have to look at them.

I think I’ll take a look now . . .
Why’s this clip here?
What’s that glue for .  . . 

Actually, I’d completely forgotten that I only posted the “writing goals” for 2010 in my working calendar. That was a good idea. No additional emotional trauma about gained weight, missed exercise or being a horrid mother and spouse. I’d have to go to the complete list of resolutions I typed up on the computer for that and, well, I don’t even remember what I filed them under.


But let’s look at those writing goals:

1. Write at least two pages of fiction daily.

2. Write and mail at least one short story per month.

3. Write and propose/mail at least two original novels.

4. Reach 10 items in the mail at one time.

Um . . . not bad. Manageable. Humble. Achieved?


I have no clue if I’ve been writing anything close to two pages a day, but I’d bet I haven’t. (More on that in a minute.)

I’ve sent/queried maybe six stories this year. Maybe less. Though I’ve written a YA novel and a novella, I haven’t even begun to edit them or to think about potential markets. And, at most, I had four or five items in the mail at one time. So I’m majorly behind on that curve.

Knock, knock.

Who’s there?


Guilt, who?

Guilt that helps you hammer your ego into oblivion, causes paralysis, and makes your inability to write feel totally justified because it feels sooooo good to feel bad.

Um. Gee. Thanks, but I already gave at the office . . .


Really. I look at that moderate list of resolutions and I’m not sweating the fact that I didn’t meet those expectations. You know why? It’s because I’m in a better place creatively than I’ve been in in long long time.

And I’m more consistently productive than I’ve been in years.

You know why. No trick. No smoke or mirrors. I’m just writing fiction every day. Anyone who follows my little fan page on FB knows some days I only get to 100 words or so. Other rare days my word count is up in the thousands. But call me “Turtle,” because, baby, those words add up.

So what for the New Year? The same list of resolutions? A shorter one? A more ambitious one since, come on, really, a writer who wants to be read does have to get her work out instead of hording it.

Okay, okay. I think I can do this . . .

Here goes:

1. Write fiction every day.

2. Send a work of fiction I’ve written out into the world to be read. (That gives me great squiggle room; I can post on Smashwords, try to sell someting etc etc etc. Yeah, I like that one almost as much at #1.)

Success breeds success, right?

In that case, I’ll have good news in December 2011.

How about you?

Do you make resolutions?

Want to share one or two with the ’Rati?

Thank you to all the wonderful members of Murderati — the writers and our community here — for a truly beautiful, supportive, and intellectually motivating year. I hope 2011 brings joy, health and success to us all.