Friends of mine who love a good book bundle giveaway: I’m partnering with several kick-ass 2019 debut authors to give away copies of our new books to one lucky entrant.
The books included are:
SOPHIE LAST SEEN by Marlene Adelstein
PAST PRESENCE by Nicole Bross
LITTLE LOVELY THINGS by Maureen Joyce Connolly
ONE NIGHT GONE by Tara Laskowski (That’s me!)
COME AND GET ME: A Caitlin Bergman Novel by August Norman
HER DAUGHTER’S MOTHER by Daniela Petrova
The contest runs from May 25 through June 15, 2019. To enter, just fill out the form here at this link. Entering gives you a chance to win all six titles, plus you’ll be subscribed to our author mailing lists*, which will give you more scoop on our books and other giveaways and news.
This past weekend I attended my first Malice Domestic convention in Bethesda, Maryland. I’d been to the Agatha Award banquet dinners in the past — cheering on my husband Art Taylor as a nominee (and four-time winner!) of the Agatha, but this was my first time attending the full conference.
I’ve heard often from regular attendees that Malice is a family, but I never truly understood what they meant by that until this weekend. So many wonderful people have been so kind to me in small and big ways, and that generosity is so amazing. Like all families, there are, of course, some moments of disagreements or bickering, but overall, Malice has always felt very warm and welcoming, and as a debut writer, I’ve never appreciated that more.
Art and I brought our son Dash with us, and while he wasn’t the only child there, he was certainly in the minority, and yet everyone eagerly accepted him into the fold. We had a babysitter (THANK YOU, AVERY!) watching over him, but at times it felt as though we had hundreds of people watching over him. And us, too! During one panel, Art got a text message from someone saying, “I have your name badge!” Turns out Art had lost the name tag in his badge without even realizing it, but he had it back, safe and sound, before the panel was even over.
This year was also my first Agatha nomination — for Best Short Story — so both that was both exciting and a bit nerve-wracking, I’ll admit. And yet, once I got into the swing of things and started to feel that warmth, I realized that no matter what, everything was going to be just fine.
The weekend was a whirlwind, as all good conferences are, but here are some highlights:
My first Malice panel on short stories, with fellow nominees Leslie Budewitz, Susanna Calkins, Barb Goffman and my husband Art Taylor, moderated by the wonderful Michael Bracken. I got to talk a bit about Dash entering his first writing contest (which embarrassed and excited him, apparently).
Lunch with my Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine editor Linda Landrigan. It was so great to catch up with her. Later in the weekend, I also got to record an audio reading of my very first AHMM publication, “The Monitor,” which I’ll link to here when it goes live!
Talking with new friends and old. I’m sure I’ll forget someone, so I don’t want to even attempt to name names, but I love love love you all!
Author signing on Saturday morning, where I got to sign the very first copies of the advance readers of One Night Gone!!
The Agatha banquet! Although I spent the majority of it super nervous, it was truly an honor and a delight to find out I was tied with Leslie Budewitz as a winner of the Agatha for Best Short Story! What an amazing experience! I have my own teapot now! Also, massive congratulations to all the winners this year: Ellen Byron, Sujata Massey, Dianne Freeman, Shari Randall, Cindy Callaghan, and Jane Cleland!
Now it’s back to (boring) reality again. But, can’t wait for next year!
This week has and continues to be a whirlwind! Last Thursday, we traveled up to New York City for the Edgar Awards. We spent some time at the Dell Magazines cocktail party, where my friend Stacy Woodson was honored with the Readers Choice Award for her story “Duty, Honor, Hammett” in the Nov./Dec. 2018 issue of Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine, along with other friends Josh Pachter and David Dean rounding out second and third place.
If that wasn’t enough mingling for this introvert, I’m now looking ahead to this coming weekend and the Malice Domestic convention in Bethesda, MD. I’ll be on a panel at 2 p.m. on Friday, 5/3, with the other Agatha Award nominees for Best Short Story–Leslie Budewitz, Susanna Calkins, Barb Goffman, and Art Taylor. You can read all our stories here if you want to check them out!
I’ll also be doing an author signing from 10-10:30 a.m. on Saturday, 5/4, and I’m told there will be galleys of One Night Gone out in the wilds of the conference (or stuffed into registration bags), so if you happen to snag one, come see me so I can practice signing my novel. AHHHHHH!!!!
Surprise! Just when you thought I had a cover….I have a new cover.
The smart, lovely team at Graydon House/Harlequin decided that my original cover didn’t quite speak enough to the suspense/thriller genre that my book really fits in. So they gave it a facelift! And a beautiful one at that.
For those of you who were fans of the creepy house in the original–good news! It’s still there. But we’ve shifted focus slightly to the stormy night sky instead of the sandy beach, giving the overall look one with more menace and intrigue. Check it out!
Everyone has a reality show these days—housewives, house
hunters, doctors, singers, sword-swallowers. I’ve always thought it would be
the most boring show in the world to watch writers write.
And yet, about 60 people showed up last week in Old Fairfax Town Hall to do just that—watch writers write. Well, to be fair, we went into a different room to do the actual writing, but the purpose of the evening was to see what three writers could do with the same first line and same last line and twenty minutes in between to craft a story.
I was pleased to be one of the three writers, along with Zach Powers and Colleen Kearney Rich. I will admit—I was terrified leading up to this event. I’m generally a fast writer, but writing under pressure? I wasn’t sure I’d be able to come up with something—anything—coherent.
Luckily, the audience was great, and the lines they chose
were just interesting enough to be interesting, but not so crazy weird that we
couldn’t come up with anything. Here were our first and last lines:
Grandma’s cookbook is worn and torn, a living record of splotches, comments and comfort.
When the plane lands eight hours later in Rome, the airport is completely deserted.
My first thought—zombies. So I went with it. I am actually proud of the story I came up with, though I’m not going to share it here since I want to work with it some more and maybe, at some point, submit it. But we’ll say that it was not so bad that I was embarrassed to read it aloud, so I consider that a win.
In fact, I was impressed with all three of the stories—all different
in tone and plot despite having the same starting and ending point. It was
fascinating to hear them all and see the audience response.
A really great event overall. Thanks so much to Fall for the Book, George Mason University, and the City of Fairfax for hosting us. I had a blast!
It’s been a wonderful writing week. I turned in my final book edits for ONE NIGHT GONE on Sunday…and then found out that my story “The Case of the Vanishing Professor,” which was published last year in the May/June issue of Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine, was named a finalist in the Best Short Story Award for the Agathas!
I first started writing the story about 12 years ago, when I got the idea of writing about a woman named Nancy Drew who really hated being named Nancy Drew. For a long time, though, I couldn’t decide what her story would be beyond that—so I kept writing a bit, then putting it away for a long time, then bringing it back out again. Finally, it came together when I put Nancy at a cheesy murder mystery dinner. It soon becomes clear that other suspicious things are going on besides the story on stage—and Nancy, like it or not, gets sucked into solving the mystery.
And, as if getting the nomination wasn’t enough, I’m also thrilled to be sharing the honor with my husband, Art Taylor, who is also a finalist with his short story, “English 398: Fiction Workshop.” And we are both thrilled to share the slate with the fine writers Leslie Budewitz, Susanna Calkins, and Barb Goffman.
Thank you so much to Linda Landrigan and all the wonderful folks at Dell Magazines.
Let the partying begin—we’ll be celebrating this victory up until the Agatha banquet dinner at Malice Domestic in May. Whee!
On New Year’s Day 2018, my son Dash and I had an inspiration. Dash had gotten a LEGO minifigure for Christmas that came with a little passport showing a few of the figure’s “travels” and adventures. We decided we were going to give this minifigure an adventure each day of the year. Dash named him Carl—and thus, #365DaysOfCarl began.
Dash sort of lost interest in this project fairly quickly, I’ll admit, but I found it kind of fascinating and fun. At times, it was more about the challenge of finding something cool or fun or different for Carl to do, about looking at all the stuff in our house in a very different way. At other times, the project was a fun release from the stress and anxiety in life–one creative burst to focus on and share. And when those anxieties and stresses got very overwhelming, sometimes #365DaysOfCarl got to feel like a burden–but I persisted. I’m a completist at heart, so I knew once I got past Month 1, I was going to see this through.
Now here we are in December, and I’m on the final stretch. Carl’s become a regular figure in our household at this point. I carry him and his friends and a few props around with me in my purse. He’s gone with me to Texas, Maryland, North Carolina, Florida, and Pennsylvania. He cheered the Philadelphia Eagles on to a Super Bowl victory. He’s nearly died a few times from getting into precarious positions. He’s found love, broken up, and found love again. I think I’ll miss him when this project is over. It’s certainly been an adventurous, ridiculous year.
To celebrate #365DaysOfCarl, I’m giving away a 2019 wall calendar of some of Carl’s adventures to one lucky person who signs up for my author newsletter before December 19, 2018. You can sign up here for the newsletter, which I send out a few times a year to announce fun book news (such as my upcoming thriller One Night Gone!), other giveaways, events, reading recommendations, and more.
If nothing else, Carl is a reminder to not take ourselves—or life—too seriously. Remember that as we plunge headfirst into the wilds of 2019. And happy holidays, everyone.
One sultry summer in the 1980s, a teenage girl arrived in the wealthy vacation town of Opal Beach to start her life anew—to achieve her destiny. But before the summer was up, she vanished.
Decades later, when Allison Simpson is offered the opportunity to house-sit in Opal Beach, it seems like the perfect chance to regroup and start fresh after a messy divorce. It’s the off-season, after all, which means peace and quiet, and more importantly for Allison, safety.
But when Allison becomes drawn into the story of a girl who disappeared from town thirty years before, she begins to realize that Opal Beach isn’t as idyllic as it seems. Beyond the walls of the gorgeous homes hide dark secrets. And as Allison digs deeper into the mystery, she uncovers not only the shocking truth, but finds herself caught in the middle of a twisted plot.
Part electric coming-of-age story and part breathtaking mystery, One Night Gone is an atmospheric, suspenseful novel about power, privilege, and ultimately, sisterhood.
I’m excited to be working with the editorial team at Harlequin/HarperCollins on this book, especially my excellent editor Melanie Fried. Thanks most of all to my wonderful agent Michelle Richter and the team at FUSE Literary for believing in this book and finding what I believe is the best home for it!
My story “Coal Girl” was published at Jellyfish Review as part of the Stories for the Dead special issue. It’s about ghosts and teenagers and coal banks. At its heart, it’s a love story, despite it’s weird creepiness.
I was thinking about all this yesterday when my husband and I were at our favorite coffee shop in the area, De Clieu, where I ordered one of their specials–a delightful drink called Honey Charcoal Latte. When it arrived, the first thing I thought of was, well, my story:
The digestive charcoal bits look like coal, and the white foam and mug reminded me of ghosts. And, of course, when I tasted it, it had an underlying sweetness like the love story that emerges out of the darkness. It was dark and delicious and a tad sweet, just like I hope my story is.
I love the idea of pairing drinks with stories, such as Deborah Lacy does with her Drinks with Reads column at Mystery Playground. When Bystanders came out, we invented a drink to go with it (The Bystander, which is basically a whiskey sour with a little bit of red wine drizzled on top.) But a pairing has never come so easily or naturally as this one, and I’m still a little spooked by it, to be honest. Seems like a little magic on what was a dreary rainy day. I’ll take it!