For Your Consideration

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As I have previously stated, 2015 was one hell of a year. Not only did I publish my debut novel, “Bad Citizen Corporation,” but I also got to know a ton of kind, passionate, hilarious and wildly talented writers, publishers, readers, bloggers, reviewers and podcasters along the way. I couldn’t be more thrilled about the diverse and supportive crime/mystery community I have found myself a part of.

rsz_lcc_2016As I turn my attention to my upcoming Down & Out Books novella, CROSSWISE—while also making progress on the second Greg Salem book—I wanted to put the word out that “Bad Citizen Corporation” is eligible for “Best Mystery Novel set in LCC Geographic Region” in the Left Coast Crime convention’s Lefty Awards in Phoenix—info HERE. Ballots went out last week and (I believe) they are due Jan. 15. If you are eligible to vote and you have room on your ballot (there were lots of great Left Coast books published in 2015), please consider “Bad Citizen Corporation.”

BCC will also be eligible for various other “Debut,” “P.I.,” and “Best First,” contests in the coming months. So if you read it and you liked it, please keep it mind. If you haven’t read BCC, or you need a refresher, here are a few recent reviews: CRIME SYNDICATE, DEAD END FOLLIES and OUT OF THE GUTTER.

If you want to see a list of some of the books that I will consider voting for, check out my recommended reading list for 2015.

rsz_screen_shot_2015-10-09_at_75727_amThanks for a great year either way. An award nomination of any kind would only be icing on the cake.

Looking forward to connecting with more of you in 2016!

— Steve

S.W. Lauden’s debut novel, BAD CITIZEN CORPORATION, is available now from Rare Bird Books. His novella, CROSSWISE, will be published by Down & Out Books in March 2016.

The Shorter They Come

FixMe-Final-Cover-250I am thrilled to announce that my new short story, FIX ME, is up today at Criminal Element. This is one that I am particularly proud of because it took me outside of my comfort zone in terms of the character and perspective. But it also allowed me to write about the Los Angeles I love. The filthy, congested one.

This also marks the first time that somebody else has designed original artwork for a story I wrote. I think it looks pretty awesome, particularly the colors the designer chose to bring this murderous tale to life.

The publication of this short story comes on the heels of getting two other short stories accepted recently—RANGE LIFE will be published over at Shotgun Honey sometime in May, and SCALES will be published by Spelk Fiction toward the end of June.

It is incredibly exciting and a little shocking to have a run of good luck like this. I know it won’t last, but I’m stoked it’s happening right at this moment. So far I’ve gotten one short story accepted for about every five or six I submit.

If you’re a new writer like me, go check out some short story publishers like  CrimespreeFlash Fiction OffensiveShotgun HoneyThuglitSpinetinglerCriminal ElementDark Corners and All Due Respect, to name a few. I strongly encourage you to submit.

It’s a great way to build some chops, get your head around what “short and sharp” means, develop an intimate relationship with rejection, and hopefully see your work published along the way.

Interrogation: Eric Beetner

Eric Author photo SMWho: Eric Beetner

What: Author of RUMRUNNERS, THE DEVIL DOESN’T WANT ME, DIG TWO GRAVES, WHITE HOT PISTOL, THE YEAR I DIED SEVEN TIMES, STRIPPER POLE AT THE END OF THE WORLD & the story collection, A BOUQUET OF BULLETS. He is co-author (with JB Kohl) of the novels ONE TOO MANY BLOWS TO THE HEAD and BORROWED TROUBLE and the upcoming OVER THEIR HEADS. He co-wrote the upcoming THE BLACKLIST with author Frank Zafiro. He has also written two novellas in the popular Fightcard series, SPLIT DECISION and A MOUTH FULL OF BLOOD.

Where: He lives in Los Angeles where he co-hosts the Noir At The Bar reading series.

How long have you been writing? What/where was the first thing you published?

I’ve been writing in earnest since high school, though when I started writing it was screenplays and stage plays. I had an honorable mention in some young playwrights thing for a play I wrote in high school (which was terrible) and instead of a college essay, I wrote a script. It worked, I guess, since I got in.

rumrunnersI took one screenwriting class in college, which I didn’t care for. I wrote all the movies I made in college and finished my first feature script my junior year. Since then I wrote 17 full features and even made a few bucks along the way, although nothing I wrote ever got made other than a mid-length film I directed myself which played festivals.

I never thought I had the patience or the eye for detail to do a novel. Plus, I was just too movie obsessed. When I wrote my first novel in 2008 I didn’t tell anyone I was doing it since I wasn’t sure I would finish and I didn’t want to be that guy. But I did and I kept going from there. (that book, however, is permanently in the drawer, never to be seen. Trust me, it’s for the best)

Your new novel, RUMRUNNERS, is out in May 2015. The publisher, 280 Steps, describes it as “Smokey and the Bandit meets Justified and Fargo…” Is that an accurate description?

I love that they came up with that, and yes, I think it suits the book. People often tell me I’m funny when I write and I think it has that gallows humor I put in very unintentionally. It just sneaks in, I guess.

And yes there are car chases and explosions of violence, so I think the description fits quite well.

Continue reading

@LA_SMB – Pork Pie Percussion

Bill LinkedIn

Who: Pork Pie Percussion

What: A custom drum company owned and operated by Bill Detamore, along with 5 full-time employees

Where: Based in Canoga Park

When: Founded in 1987

@LA_SMB is an occasional series showcasing some of the coolest small and medium-sized businesses from around the Los Angeles area.

Unless you play drums, chances are you don’t need to know much about where they are made, how they are made and who makes them.

What music lovers should know is that one of the oldest custom drum companies in the U.S., Pork Pie Percussion, is located right here in Los Angeles, and they work with the drummers behind some of your favorite bands and musicians.

That list includes Frank Ferrer (Guns N Roses), Butch Norton (Lucinda Williams), George Recili (Bob Dylan), Robin Diaz (Daughtry), Dave Klein (Agent Orange), and Marky Ramone (The Ramones).

“I have been very lucky to work with some of my musical heroes,” said Pork Pie founder and owner, Bill Detamore. “Pork Pie started in a garage and now has three buildings making the finest and most creative custom drums on the market.”

The following interview was conducted by email. Some responses have been edited.

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@LA_SMB: What was the inspiration for Pork Pie Percussion?

Bill Detamore: My inspiration started with playing drums and wanting to know how they work. I started buying old drums and customizing them for resale. I then bought a snare drum kit from a small company called The Corder Drum Company. I made that one, then bought 2, then 4 and so on.

I put a serial number on every drum I make at my shop. I am now up to 45,000 drums. I love creating things and bringing new ideas to the market. This is all driven by passion.

@LA_SMB: You still hand sign all of your drums. What are the advantages to remaining a boutique manufacturer?

B.D.: Yes I still sign all of the drums made here at my shop. I take a lot of pride in that. Being a small drum manufacturer allows me to change things on a dime and also bring new drums out with no real problems. I can also make what I want and not really be concerned with what everyone else is doing. One thing I have never actually done is be to worried about what others are doing. I make what makes me happy.

@LA_SMB: What are the limitations or advantages to making musical instruments these days?

B.D.: The only limitation to making drums these days is a struggling economy. Business has been rough since 2007.

@LA_SMB: How has the industry changed since you started Pork Pie?

B.D.: The drum industry has been bombarded with imported drum sets, but I see that trend changing. Last NAMM (National Association of Music Merchants) show, earlier this year, many dealers said they were just tired of import crap and wanted to start focusing on quality again.

@LA_SMB: Why is your business a perfect fit for Los Angeles?

B.D.: Being in LA is great because my biggest dealer, Guitar Center, is very close to my shop. I am able to make a new drum and take it to them to get business going with no real hassles. Studios being here is also great. I have studio musicians coming buy quite often to buy drums or use them for records, and also studios that have Pie kits for the house kit.

@LA_SMB: Where will Pork Pie be in 5 years?

B.D.: I will be here in my shop. I would like to grow the business to a pre-recession level and stay there. I have no ambition of taking over the world or becoming Ludwig or DW. Happy where I am right now.

Previous @LA_SMB post: BROODWORK

Steve Coulter is a marketing guy, writer and drummer living in Los Angeles.

If you have suggestions for future @LA_SMB features, please send Steve a message on LinkedIn. Include the name of the business, a short description and a link to their website. Steve is a one-man band, please keep it brief and expect a slow response.

Full disclosure: Steve is friends with and/or has worked with many of the businesses featured, at least for now. Thank you for reading to the bottom of the page.

@LA_SMB – BROODWORK

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Who: BROODWORK

What: A for profit, cross-disciplinary, social practice to investigate the interweaving of creative practice and family life founded by Rebecca Niederlander and Iris Anna Regn

Where: Based in Los Angeles

When: Founded in 2009

@LA_SMB is an occasional series showcasing some of the coolest small and medium-sized businesses from around the Los Angeles area.

A lot has been said about the intersection of art and commerce, but what about the intersection of art and family life?

This is the focus for BROODWORK, who have pursued this question through extensive work with creative institutions including OTIS College of Art and Design, The Santa Monica Museum of Art,  Los Angeles Forum for Architecture and Design, and the Herman Miller Company.

“The convergence of family and practice is recognized by BROODWORK as a pivotal influence to produce profound and unexpected work,” said Regn. “How do we navigate extended families, transcontinental family extensions, the aging parent, the empty nest?  Each of these stages of family life, and each way a creative person approaches them is a part of what we address in BROODWORK.”

The following interview was conducted by email. Some of the responses have been edited.

@LA_SMB: What was the inspiration for BROODWORK?

I.A.R.: The project came together when Rebecca and I were relatively new parents. For a Sundown Salon at Fritz Haeg’s called The Young Ones, visual artist Joyce Campbell and I co-organized an event about the work creative parents make for their children. I had work in the show with Tim Durfee, and also asked Rebecca to participate.

In discussions afterwards, Rebecca and I continued to examine parenthood and how it affected our professional life. We realized that we were intrigued by the influence of parenting on creative work, but specifically from the parents perspective. Those conversations were the beginning of BROODWORK.

@LA_SMB: How has your business grown and evolved since you first opened your doors?

R.E.N.: We’ve become even more clear about the importance for BROODWORK to reach audiences outside of our initial creative and familial community. Public art is a great framework for this because it allows us to bring our message to a wide and diverse population. It also allows us to actively engage with the city.

As such, we are delighted to announce our participation as part of the Los Angeles County Arts Commission’s “The Next Starts Now” pre-approved artists list for 2014-2016, so expect to see more public art in our County that reflects the family model. We are also collaborating with other like-minded artists including Christa Donner of Cultural ReProducers in Chicago and Jill Miller of ArtReach in the Bay Area in a new group called C3. We see these collaborations as critical to the furthering of our mission.

@LA_SMB: Why do so many artists find it hard to keep producing once they start families?

R.E.N.: Two things: One, because the existing models of creative practice are often all about giving 100% to the work. But I am a more productive artist now that I have a kid. I know that the time I have must be spent doing specific work. I often tell people though, that the early years are really only a tiny piece of the years of a creative practice. Once babies are in pre-school, and then kids in elementary school one has much more time.

This leads to the second thing, and a thing that BROODWORK does much advocacy for, flexible work time. The ongoing discussion we all have about work time flexibility, and the need for companies to acknowledge that telecommuting and flextime make for happier and more productive people would help creative families quite a bit.

@LA_SMB: Where will Broodwork be in 5 years?

I.A.R.: For one thing, we are working on a book. We expect to continue supporting the community we named in even greater capacity. Before we founded BROODWORK, we had – together or separately – worked with many of the City of LA’s agencies including Department of Cultural Affairs, Metro Arts, Los Angeles World Airports, Los Angeles County Arts Commission, as well as most major local museums, and many universities, colleges, high schools, and elementary schools.  BROODWORK requires the ability to negotiate multiple methodologies, and use them to solve problems.

R.E.N.: This business has always existed outside the normal parameters of either a non-profit, the regular for-profit business, and a not-for-profit social practice within the art world. We are constantly defining and exploring with others how to be both socially responsible and fiscally strong. We expect that as the larger nomenclature of how business gets done expands, our model will become more of the norm. At least that is what we are working for, as this will be better for all and allow us to continue to support our families and our communities.

@LA_SMB: Why is your business a perfect fit for Los Angeles?

I.A.R.: Los Angeles County is an incredibly open place; we both came to Los Angeles in the mid-90s, and fell in love with all of the ways in which possibility manifests itself here. This openness to new ideas and new ways of doing things, which attracted us initially, continues to inspire us today. We imagine Los Angeles like a strong teenager, full of adventure and the belief that anything is possible. We’re honored to participate in shaping the region’s future.

R.E.N.: Since we are both transplants to Los Angeles, neither of us have any extended family within even this time zone, so we have worked to make a community amongst trusted friends and neighbors. Our experience is a common one here, where immigration is the norm and urban streets are often named for the crops that grew there as recently as 50 years ago. When we say we see city as an extension of family, it is about inspired connections amongst former strangers.

As a practice that continually explores the relationship between the professional life and the personal, BROODWORK continues to learn from how Angelinos navigate this terrain. We don’t think we would have invented this practice anywhere else.

@LA_SMB: What unique challenges does BROODWORK face?

R.E.N.: BROODWORK has now existed for five years influencing and encouraging this familial connection, and fostering an advantageous communal space that will stimulate innovation in others. Given the breadth of what we do, we find that a multi-layered community-based model that includes talking, blogging, designing, site-specific object creation, event-making, and curatorial installations works well. The diverse modalities of this project provide BROODWORK with a unique ability to bring together disparate communities through this lens of Family.

I.A.R.: BROODWORK is founded in the notion that family has a distinct place in making creative work. We see what is off-handedly referred to as an impediment to making good work as an inspirational and democratic impetus to creativity. Our works is focused primarily on adults and we are correspondingly family friendly, a fact which sometimes gets misunderstood as programming for children.

REN: Indeed! We often get requests to do programming just for children, and we usually decline those.  When a proposal is about promoting the intergenerational community, then we get excited!

Previous @LA_SMB post: Jeffrey Weber – Stark Raving Group

Steve Coulter is a marketing guy, writer and drummer living in Los Angeles.

If you have suggestions for future @LA_SMB features, please send Steve a message on LinkedIn. Include the name of the business, a short description and a link to their website. Steve is a one-man band, please keep it brief and expect a slow response.

Full disclosure: Steve is friends with and/or has worked with many of the businesses featured, at least for now. Thank you for reading to the bottom of the page.

The Writing Process Blog Hop

Anthony Award nominee Travis Richardson tagged me to join “The Writing Process Blog Hop.” In addition to me, Travis also tagged Patricia L. Morin.

At the end of this post I will tag a few authors who will hopefully post about their writing process next week: Martin Langfield and Ken Layne. You can read about them and find links below.

Each of the authors will respond to the same four questions on the writing process below:

1. What am I working on?

I have been putting the “finishing touches” on my debut mystery novel, “Bad Citizen Corporation,” for several months now. I am lucky to have talented friends who are helping me edit and revise.

I have also been writing a series of short stories based on some of the same characters from the novel. I believe (hope?) that creating these backstories for my characters will help me flesh out their personalities in the novel.

I am stoked to announce that Akashic Books has agreed to publish one of my short stories, “Swinging Party,” as part of the “Mondays Are Murder” short fiction series in August.

2. How does my work differ from others of its genre?

My writing draws heavily on my experiences growing up in Southern California, and my life as a rock musician. I have met a lot of colorful characters in unique situations. When everything is working properly, the dual filters of a faulty memory and vivid imagination help me twist those experiences into a leaping off point for my fiction.

3. Why do I write what I do?

I want to write because I love to read.

My fascination with fiction started in my late teens, mostly thanks to Kurt Vonnegut, Raymond Chandler and Charles Bukowski. In the last five years I have really fallen for crime/detective/mystery fiction by Ian Rankin, Jo Nesbo, Arnaldur Indridason and others. Also, rock biographies and dystopian YA.

4. How does my writing process work?

I wrote my first novel a decade ago (mercifully unpublished) and it was a manic dash from word one to word 120,000. Then I talked about writing a second novel for nine years. Then I sat down and actually wrote a second novel for a year.

With “Bad Citizen Corporation” I started by creating a timeline of events and brief character sketches. The events in the novel morphed and changed, and the characters evolved, but I found it helpful to understand the basic parameters of the universe I was attempting to create.

My editing strategy has been to transfer the story from my head to the page before making several revisions myself. Then I let the people around me provide feedback about what is and isn’t working. Sometimes that process means giving the manuscript a rest for a week or two myself, and then reviewing it again with fresh eyes and a new perspective.

For short stories I tend to fly by the seat of my pants, usually starting with a hook and building around it.

Here are the authors for next week:

Martin Langfield 

mugshot beer garden      maliceboxcover

Martin Langfield is the British author of two genre-bending thrillers about alchemy, time and loss, “The Malice Box” and “The Secret Fire.” Young adults around the world especially like his work. He has been a foreign correspondent and editor with Reuters since 1987, reporting from El Salvador, Nicaragua, Mexico, Peru, Cuba, Madrid, Miami and London. He now works with the company’s Breakingviews commentary team. Martin majored in French and Spanish languages and literature at Cambridge University before studying indigenous literature in Mexico for a year. He has also worked as a drummer and an English teacher. He lives in New York.

Martin’s Blog

Ken Layne

cfa14dace52c0a7f023565.L._V177997737_SX200_      Dignity

Ken Layne has edited and written for many publications, including The Awl, Wonkette, Gawker, Tabloid.net, Sploid, Prognosis, UPI, and the LA Examiner.

About “Dignity”: A packet of hand-scrawled letters found in a stranger’s rucksack tells of self-sufficient communities growing from the ruins of California’s housing collapse and the global recession. In unfinished Mojave Desert housing tracts and foreclosure ghost towns on the raw edges of the chaotic cities of the West, people have gathered to grow their own food, school their own children and learn how to live without the poisons of gossip, greed, television, mobile phones and the Internet. Encouraged by an enigmatic wanderer known only as “B,” the communities thrive as more families and workers are discarded by an indifferent system. But this quiet revolution and its simple rituals cannot stay unnoticed for long, because the teachings of “B” threaten an entire structure of power and wealth dependent upon people toiling their lives away to buy things they don’t need.

Ken’s Blog

Rock Drummer, Campfire

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This story was originally published on GreenFriar.com.

It’s not easy being a rock drummer around a campfire.

This wonderful song book appeared a couple of years ago, handed down from a friend of a friend at a three-day motel party in Palm Desert. The chords-and-lyrics book had been printed, photocopied, and tabbed—pure magic in a three-ring binder from Staples.

It has just about every grand, beloved and ridiculous song you could ever want to sing around a campfire, from “King of the Road” to “Don’t Stop Believing.”  You haven’t truly lived until you’ve seen a drunken mom belting out Pat Benatar in the orange-yellow glow of a campfire, while her filthy children dance in the shadows. 

This songbook has become a mainstay of the many California camping trips my friends and all of our families enjoy in the mountains and on the beaches. Every camp night, just as the s’morefest is winding down, the guitars come out and everybody sings along.

I’m the lone drummer in a sea of guitarists and singers. I’m not a percussionist, and certainly not one of those oh-I-also-play-seven-other-instruments-and-produce-recordssort of “drummers.” I’m just a plain old “1-2-3-4!” rock drummer. It has its place, but for most of my drumming life the campground wasn’t it.

Over the years I’ve tried everything from banging rocks together to fashioning crude drum kits from various pots and beer cans—the stuff a frontier drummer might try. I even attempted clapping along, but clapping at a campfire hootenanny is right up there with trying to whistle a harmony: not cool, and not welcome.

And then I discovered the secret: I started packing a simple egg shaker along with the rest of my camping gear.

That changed everything. When the guitars come out now, I grab one of my camping shakers and deliver a simple backbeat. It provides the guitar players with the support so often necessary to get them to finish a song they hardly know, and it gives everybody else around the fire ring even more of a reason to dance under the stars.

Most importantly, the kids love it. I’ve learned to bring an extra box of shakers, maracas and tambourines. Leave them on the assembled camping chairs and watch the insanity. The guitar players are guaranteed to have huge smiles on their faces, even as they struggle to play along with the cacophonous polyrhythm.

Isn’t that what camping is supposed to be all about?

Watch one of these videos for some quick shaker lessons. And while I cannot provide a copy of the Magic Song Book—the songs are not mine to give away—I can say that it’s easy enough to save your own lyrics-and-chords collection for private use. Song websites are everywhere, but Ultimate-Guitar.com is an established site that pays royalties to composers and publishers.

Steve Coulter is a rock drummer who writes novels and runs media operations in his spare time. Campfire photo by David Leo Veksler.

@LA_SMB – Stark Raving Group

Weber Head Shot 2

Who: Jeffrey Weber, founder of Stark Raving Group, along with three part-time employees and a dozen freelancers on a project by project basis

What: Purveyor of short novels by NY Times bestselling authors, Pulitzer Prize winners and other award winning authors

Where: Virtual offices, based in Los Angeles

When: Founded in 2013

@LA_SMB is an occasional series showcasing some of the coolest small and medium-sized businesses from around the Los Angeles area.

The novella may not be a dominant literary art form these days, but Jeffrey Weber is aiming to change that.

A successful music producer and avid reader, Weber founded Stark Raving Group in response to a couple of big challenges that he sees facing the publishing industry – books are too expensive and consumers have less and less time to read.

“Regardless of what publishers and authors will tell you about publishing, the public has their own opinions. And they differ markedly from the publishing industry,” Weber said. “The public may love to read, but who has time to sit down and read four hundred and fifty pages.”

Stark Raving sells all of its 25,000-35,000 word novellas for $2.99 each and today boasts a roster of eighty-five authors. Weber believes that this approach will help to “re-ignite the love and thirst for reading” by offering quality writing in several genres including mysteries, crime fiction, action/adventure, thrillers, suspense, science fiction, fantasy, horror, women’s literature, romance and non-fiction.

“We treat the authors with respect, dignity and value their input. We’re partners in the truest sense of the word,” Weber said. “By 2020, we expect to have close to one thousand authors on our roster and will be publishing more than 200 books per year.”

The following interview was conducted via email. Some responses have been edited.

@LA_SMB: Why novellas and not novels?

J.W.: Novellas can supply the entire arc of the reading experience in a shorter time frame – one that’s designed to fit into the lifestyle of today’s society. The great thing about a novella is that once you complete a novella, you want to jump right into another one. When you finish a lengthy novel, you are satisfied, to be sure, but you want to catch your breath and take a breather. With a novella, you can pack all the intrigue, romance, capers, and action into an hour or two and feel re-energized. You’ve just gone on a mini vacation.

@LA_SMB: Why is cover design such an important part of your business?

J.W.: I have specifically commissioned illustrators that work, for the most part, outside the book industry. Our covers are bold, colorful, over the top, compelling, in your face, aggressive, and yet inviting. We have illustrators from Madison Avenue, the music industry, the comic book world and many of our illustrators are simply legends. The purpose of the cover is to make a consumer stop in his tracks and focus on the book long enough to pick it up or find out more about the title. That we are publishing ebooks only makes the impact of a cover even more important. The cover represents the front door of our house. If the front door of our house looks terrible, it’s a good bet that the rest of the house looks like crap.

@LA_SMB: How has your experience as a music producer informed your approach to publishing?

J.W.: What I have taken from my experience from the music industry is the need to activate the peer to peer recommendation engine. That has become the only way to sell music, and by and large it is becoming the only way to sell books. As with the music industry, you can have your book available to anyone on the planet with a smart phone or computer within three weeks. You don’t necessarily need a publisher. That’s not the battle anymore. The war is to rise above the “noise” (32 million songs on iTunes and who knows how many millions of books are available on Amazon) and grab the attention of the consumer to somehow convert his attention, his interest into a purchase.

@LA_SMB: What are the similarities and differences between the music and publishing industries?

J.W.: Music and books are products of a creative mind and designed to take the participant on a journey. Both take extravagant amounts of time to create and often the road to their creation is tortuous and yet cathartic at the same time. A great song can be listened to hundreds of times, and to a lesser extent, so can books. There is a certain rhythm to all music, and the reason we love a specific type of music is that the rhythm of our bodies is sympathetic to the rhythm of the songs we love. There is also a rhythm to writing, and if that rhythm matches the rhythm of the reader’s imagination, then the journey of the reader and the writer merge and are propelled to intense satisfaction.

@LA_SMB: What challenges is your industry facing?

J.W.: Awareness is our biggest challenge. Competition for the time, energy, focus and money from the consumer is all encompassing, and in order for us to succeed, we have to be aware of the fact that we have become a niche based society. Within that niche is a very powerful community, and within that community is purchasing power. Awareness and access represent our challenges.

@LA_SMB: Why is your business a perfect fit for Los Angeles?

J.W.: Because we fit in with the pace of L.A. Lots of choices, quality at every turn, and extremely cost effective.

Previous @LA_SMB post: Greg Danylyshyn – Go Big! Entertainment

Steve Coulter is a marketing guy, writer and drummer living in Los Angeles.

If you have suggestions for future @LA_SMB features, please send Steve a message on LinkedIn. Include the name of the business, a short description and a link to their website. Steve is a one-man band, please keep it brief and expect a slow response.

Full disclosure: Steve is friends with and/or has worked with many of the businesses featured, at least for now. Thank you for reading to the bottom of the page.

 

@LA_SMB – Table One Marketing

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@LA_SMB is an occasional series showcasing some of the coolest small and medium-sized businesses from around the Los Angeles area.

Who: Table One Marketing – Carrie KommersPresident

What: A one woman culinary marketing consultancy

Where: Los Angeles

When: Founded in 2011

Clients: The Culinary AgencyVisit CaliforniaChefsInsight.com

Carrie Kommers wanted to have her cake and eat it too.

Image“I love the food world in a big way and wanted to be a part of it without working nights and weekends,” she said.

A former pastry chef and caterer, Kommers set off on a marketing, brand management and PR path early in her career. In 2007 she became the founding Director for the Los Angeles Tourism & Convention Board’s dineLA program, where she stayed until she opened Table One Marketing in 2011.

These days, Kommers enjoys a healthy stream of referral business while always prospecting for new opportunities.

“Over the last few years I’ve been able to better target initiatives and companies that intrigue me, and pitch my value in a way that allows me to do the work that I’m most interested in,” she said. “I think the universe has an idea of what I love and just keeps it coming.”

The following interview was conducted via email. Some responses have been edited.

@LA_SMB: Why is Table One Marketing a perfect fit for Los Angeles?

Carrie Kommers: Los Angeles is a food city. It’s one of the things we do best. And the culture is deepening beyond just restaurants and events. Who wouldn’t want to be a part of this growth? It’s thrilling.

@LA_SMB: What is the most unique thing about your business?

C.K.: The “culinary marketing” space is slowly becoming more crowded, but I feel like I was at the front of it in LA. My business is me – my relationships, my perspective, my creativity. There may be others wanting to serve the same needs, but there’s only one of me. It’s up to the client to decide if that’s valuable or not.

@LA_SMB: Who are your partners?

C.K.: Great question. Collaboration is huge in what I do and “clients” often end up being other agencies or freelancers who need to diversify and add fire-power to their deliverables. My most valuable partners are those who are curious to see what else is possible and like to try new things.

@LA_SMB: What is the most gratifying thing about being a small business owner

C.K.: Spending most of my time in jeans and sneakers. That and being able to make choices about the nature of work I want to do and the people I want to do it with. At the end of the day I’m ultimately responsible for my own happiness and that’s pretty cool.

@LA_SMB: What is the hardest thing about being a small business owner?

C.K.: Always cultivating new prospects, regardless of how slammed you are.

@LA_SMB: Where will Table One Marketing be 5 years from now?

C.K.: In five years there will be more structure to the Table One brand. There will be one, possibly two, internal business entities that Table One will develop and own on a b2b platform.

@LA_SMB: What challenges is your industry facing?

C.K.: Too many options. Restaurants, food festivals, you name it. LA is saturated in culinary culture right now. It’s great for consumers, but tough for operators and promoters who need to capture and HOLD attention. In LA many diners consider themselves “regulars” at a restaurant they may only actually patronize a few times a year. There are just so many choices. I feel like the evolution of local restaurant concepts have shifted to address this – smaller, more accessible and more tied to a neighborhood than a city. Hyper local. On a different note, the state’s drought is killing operators when it comes to food costs. Profit margins have always been slim in this business, but it’s going to be interesting to see how most adjust to stay afloat.

@LA_SMB: What’s next for you?

C.K.: A b2b initiative that I’ve had in my heart since I left dineLA in 2011. It’s the reason I went out on my own and it’s been a bear to build. I’m not giving up though.

Previous @LA_SMB post: Ed Donnelly – Aderra Inc.

Steve Coulter is a marketing guy, writer and drummer living in Los Angeles.

If you have suggestions for future @LA_SMB features, please send Steve a message on LinkedIn. Include the name of the business, a short description and a link to their website. Steve is a one man band, please keep it brief and expect a slow response.

Full disclosure: Steve is friends with and/or has worked with many of the businesses featured, at least for now. Thank you for reading to the bottom of the page.

@LA_SMB – Aderra Inc.

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@LA_SMB is an occasional series showcasing some of the coolest small and medium-sized businesses from around the Los Angeles area.

Who: Aderra Inc.Ed Donnelly, President and CEO, and a core team of 12 employees

What: Instant delivery of live event recordings, both concerts and conferences

Where: Previously had offices in Los Angeles and London, but went to all virtual offices in 2012

When: Founded in 2006

Clients: Tony Bennett to Metallica, Willie Nelson to Lady Gaga

Like so many great things in life, the inspiration for Aderra Inc. came at a Tom Petty concert.

“As I waved my cell phone in the air during ‘Free Fallin’’ I had the thought that it would be cool if a recording of the concert could be beamed right to my phone,” said Aderra Inc. founder, Ed Donnelly.  “This was the pre-smartphone era and as I explored the idea it quickly became clear that the mobile phone infrastructure at that time couldn’t handle what I was proposing.”

Donnelly set out to develop alternate ways to deliver the experience he was envisioning. The result was the Aderra “Live in a Flash®” USB technology that allowed his team to burn thousands of flash drives in a few minutes during live concerts and events.

“The largest event we ever tackled with this system had us burn 14,000 flash drives in a matter of minutes. From this jumping off point we developed the PushOvr™ Platform which allows us to remotely send digital content to a user dashboard that can be embedded on a computer desktop, on a flash drive or integrated with a tablet or phone app,” he said.

The following interview was conducted via email. Responses have been edited.

Image@LA_SMB: Why is your business a perfect fit for Los Angeles?

Ed Donnelly: Los Angeles is an ideal place for Aderra. The area has a perfect blend of entertainment industry headquarters, touring music resources, sponsorship opportunities, conference centers and a pool of experienced and educated potential employees.

@LA_SMB: Who are your partners?

E.D.: Over the past 8 years we have partnered with corporate sponsors like Sunkist, Sony Pictures, Orange Mobile, Ergo Phobia Clothing as well as all three of the major record labels.  Additionally we have provided remote recording services for Abbey Road Live, DiscLive and Ovation Towers. These partnerships were very valuable in that they gave us the ability to scale our business rapidly with a substantial reduction in the amount of in-house resources we would have required to assemble these projects on our own.

@LA_SMB: On the client side, do you mostly work with artists and management, or with labels?

E.D.: We work directly with all three parties. Artists need to know we are going to be very protective of what fans get to see and hear.  We do not release anything that they ask us not to, ever. Management wants to be sure that we can make money for their acts, and we do. For labels, we have found that bundling a studio record with a live recording is an amazing “win” for everyone. The label sells the record and gets SoundScan numbers for it, the fans get a great value, and the artists get to multiply the way they reach fans.

@LA_SMB: How has your experience as a musician informed your business?

E.D.: This is the secret heart and soul of Aderra. We’re all musicians and audio engineers. Most music technology companies are founded and staffed by computer programmers who try to “disrupt” the music industry. We’re the opposite. Even our two lead programmers are touring musicians who are actively releasing music.

Ultimately, being music FANS is our greatest asset. We know what fans want because we all have a love of music deeply ingrained in our souls.

@LA_SMB: What is a single project you are most proud of?

E.D.: We did a project with the LA rock band Killola that incorporated every tech element we have developed and was the ultimate fan experience that we could create. Killola is a very forward thinking band when it comes to reaching fans.

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They went on tour a couple of years ago and sold a branded USB flash drive dog tag with a user Dashboard. Through this Dashboard fans could download the new record, their entire back catalog, an HD music video and behind the scenes videos. We also recorded 20+ live shows during the tour that were sent out through the Dashboard using our PushOvr™ Platform.

When they returned to L.A. we had them Tweet to fans to insert the flash drive at 7pm on a Thursday evening. At exactly 7pm we flipped the switch and streamed a live video of the band doing an acoustic set that could only be seen through the user Dashboard.

@LA_SMB: Where will your business be in 5 years?

E.D.: Most likely all of our content will be delivered through mobile apps. Our projection is that Apple will remove the USB ports from their laptops in the next 3 years. When they do, flash drive delivery will be dead and gone.

As Aderra is coming up on the end of its first decade I have been carefully scanning the horizon for additional opportunities that I can leverage all of the lessons learned here and use them to help drive something new to success.

Steve Coulter is a marketing guy, writer and drummer living in Los Angeles.

If you have suggestions for future @LA_SMB features, please send Steve a message on LinkedIn. Include the name of the business, a short description and a link to their website. Steve is a one man band, please keep it brief and expect a slow response.

Full disclosure: Steve is friends with and/or has worked with many of the businesses featured, at least for now. Thank you for reading to the bottom of the page.