The Bouchercon World Mystery Convention was supposed to be in Sacramento, California, this year. I should be on a plane right now, in fact, flying home with a suitcase full of books (and a mild hangover).
Instead, Bouchercon came to our living room this year. Great panels and interviews, and a live Anthony Awards celebration. Thanks so much to all the committee members for their incredible work transitioning to a virtual conference and making it special for all involved.
One Night Gone was a finalist for the Macavity Award and the Anthony Award for Best First Mystery, and I’m thrilled to say it won BOTH AWARDS! I had to give the Anthony acceptance speech live, and I was incredibly nervous, so I forget everything I said but hopefully something nice was said in there somewhere. I’m still in shock, honestly. My fellow nominees for both awards–Angie Kim, Tori Eldridge, Samantha Downing, J.P. Pomare, Lauren Wilkinson, John Vercher–wrote some of the best books last year. Read them all.
It was also a delight to discuss research with my fellow panelists Terry Shames (moderator), Cara Black, Ann Parker, David Schlosser, and Linda Townsdin.
Thank you to everyone who read One Night Gone, reviewed it, emailed me pictures of it in Target, and did anything at all to support the book, big or small. It is much appreciated, and a very bright light in this otherwise dim, scary year.
I was so pleased to hear that my short story “The Long-Term Tenant,” originally published in the July/August 2019 issue of Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine, won the 2020 Thriller Award for Best Short Story. Thanks so much to the judges, to International Thriller Writers, and to my fellow nominees.
Kudos to EQMM, which has four stories on the list of finalists! Here’s the list:
Hector Acosta — “Turistas” (Down & Out Books)
Michael Cowgill — “Call Me Chuckles” (Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine)
Tara Laskowski — “The Long-Term Tenant” (Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine)
Lia Matera — “Snow Job” (Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine)
Twist Phelan — “Fathers-in-Law” (Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine)
I don’t often like my short stories after they’ve been published–I mean, I like them ok, but I mostly just see errors or things I could’ve fixed. But I’m particularly proud of “The Long-Term Tenant,” and I’m so pleased that it’s been recognized in this way. It was a really fun story to write–I’ve always found the desert a spooky place where anything can happen.
So, um, I’m having a week. On Wednesday morning, upon opening my email and seeing my name listed as a finalist for the Mary Higgins Clark Award, given out at the Edgars, I started to cry. Not just because I was a finalist, though that’s super exciting, but because the other authors on the slate are so magnificent. CHECK IT OUT:
Carol Goodman (THE NIGHT VISITORS)
Catriona McPherson (STRANGERS AT THE GATE)
Emma Rowley (WHERE THE MISSING GO)
Hank Phillipi Ryan (THE MURDER LIST)
I adore these women. I adore their writing. I read their books and aspire to be like that someday, and so to have my book snuggled up next to theirs for such a prestigious award–well, of course I got a little emotional. (I mean, I also cry when I watch dog food commercials, so I have a low threshold for emotional stuff, people.)
Anyway, I’m quite excited to go to the Edgars again (my husband, Art Taylor was up for–AND WON–an Edgar last year, so we get to go two years in a row, lucky us!).
If anyone wants to go dress shopping, let me know.
How exciting to announce that One Night Gone is a finalist for the Agatha Award for Best First Novel! I’m thrilled to be in the company of these fine debut novelists: Connie Berry, S.C. Perkins, Ang Pompano, and Grace Topping.
Also, massive congratulations to all the other finalists, many of whom I call friends. One special shout-out: My husband, Art Taylor, is a finalist in the Best Short Story category for his story “Better Days,” which appeared in Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine last year. Yay!
So pleased to find out today that my first novel, One Night Gone, is a finalist for the 2020 Lefty Award for Best Mystery Debut Novel from Left Coast Crime. What an honor to be recognized, especially in the company of fellow debut authors Tori Eldridge, Angie Kim, John Vercher, and Carl Vonderau.
Much congratulations to the other finalists as well, many of whom I’m lucky to call friends. To see the full slate of finalists and categories, see the LCC web site.
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!
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!
I am thrilled to announce that Bystanders has won the Balcones Fiction Prize, which is awarded by Austin Community College to an outstanding book of fiction published in 2016. My book was among stellar finalists–Brightfellow by Rikki Ducornet, Grief is the Thing with Feathers by Max Porter, Heirlooms by Rachel Hall, Landfall by Julie Hensley, and Sleeping on Jupiter by Anuradha Roy–and I’m humbled to be in their company.
Final judge Amanda Eyre Ward had this to say about Bystanders:
“Her stories pulsed with energy and excitement, like small lightning storms on the page. I was constantly surprised by her characters, and finished the book wishing there were more. I think she is a real talent–original and vibrant–and I’m excited to celebrate her work.”
Past winners of the prize have included Margaret Malone’s People Like You, William Giraldi’s Hold the Dark, Douglas Trevor’s Girls I Know, Hanna Pylvainen’s We Sinners, Katherine Karlin’s Send Me Work, and Linh Dinh’s Love Like Hate.
Thanks so much to Joe O’Connell and everyone in the creative writing department at ACC for your support. Thanks also to SFWP publisher Andrew Gifford for taking a chance on Bystanders.
I’m looking forward to visiting Austin next year, where I’m told the Museum of the Weird is a must-see destination for those of us who appreciate all things creepy.
Last year when we opened up application submissions for the Kathy Fish Fellowship at SmokeLong Quarterly, we asked writers to send a brief essay about why they like flash fiction and what they hope to get out of the fellowship if they win. We got a lot of really great responses to this question, and many many metaphors for what flash is like. After reading hundreds of these essays, though, my brain started to fire in different ways—namely in that ‘twelve-year-old-boy-sense-of-humor’ kind of way.
We’ve done away with that question for this year’s round of applicants, replaced by a few other more targeted questions. But in homage to all the great responses we got last year, I present to you excerpts from a few essays with “flash fiction” replaced with “sex”:
Sex provides pressure, a quick release of energy.
I thrive in these tight spaces.
Sex appeals to me because I can do so in one sitting, on a device like a laptop or smartphone, and because I often find that it makes me think about the nature of storytelling.
I love that sex is palpable, always in bite sized pieces and how it never leaves me with a sense of wanting more or less.
I like sex that is quick, visceral and unapologetic.
My strongest sexual encounters have been the ones where I didn’t sit down with a plan and a goal.
Sex is a bursting blossom from a poetic bud.
The kick in the teeth lures me as much as the wonder I experience when I have sex.
With sex, a single word can make or break the emotional tone overall.
I’ve had an appetite for sex since I was fourteen.
In the same way the straw wrapper winds up an accordion on the diner’s table or my wife touches each knob on the stove exactly once before leaving, I have sex.
One of the best parts of sex is knowing I can enter someone’s reading space, tell them a humorous anecdote or swiftly punch them in the gut, and then leave them comforted or haunted long after I’ve left.
There you go! By the way, application submissions for the 2017 Kathy Fish Fellowship open on July 15, 2016. For more information on the prize and guidelines, check out this page.