Posts in "Awards" Category

The Weekend Retreat is a finalist for the Agatha Award!

I’m thrilled to announce that my third novel The Weekend Retreat is one of five finalists for the Agatha Award for Best Contemporary Novel. Agathas are presented each year at the Malice Domestic convention in Bethesda, Maryland.

This is particularly exciting because I share this honor with four amazing writers–Ellen Byron for Wined and Died in New Orleans; Annette Dashofy for Helpless; Korina Moss for Case of the Bleus; and Gigi Pandian for The Raven Thief.

The Agathas winners will be announced on Saturday, April 27 at Malice Domestic.

Boucheron 2020–Virtual and spectacular!

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.

My awesome research panel at Bouchercon 2020!

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.

“The Long-Term Tenant” Wins Thriller Award for Best Short Story

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.

Congratulations to all the winners! Check out the full list of winners here.

You can also hear me read the story on the Ellery Queen podcast!

“The Long-Term Tenant” is a finalist for a Thriller Award!

I was super excited to get the email that my story “The Long-Term Tenant,” published last year in the July/August 2019 issue of Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine, is a finalist for International Thriller Writers’ 2020 Thriller Award for Best Short Story.

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.

If you’d like to read the story, you can buy a back issue of EQMM (while you’re at it, subscribe!) or you can hear me reading it on the EQMM podcast right here!

Thank you to ITW and to the judges for this honor, and congratulations to all the finalists in all categories! I look forward to tuning in for the winners in all the categories in July.

One Night Gone a finalist for the Mary Higgins Clark Award!

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.

Check out the full list of nominees right here. Pleased to see so many friends on here, and also a bit panicked to add yet more reading to my pile. So many books, so little time.

One Night Gone is a finalist for the Agatha Award for Best First Novel

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!

You can see the full list of finalists right here! The winners will be announced in early May at the Malice Domestic convention in Bethesda, Maryland.

One Night Gone nominated for a Lefty Award

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.

My first Malice—A recap.

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.

That’s family.

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).
Short story panel!
  • 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!!
So happy to be signing my first novel!
  • 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!

“The Case of the Vanishing Professor” named an Agatha Award finalist!


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.

Read the full story below. You can use the arrows and controls at the bottom of the embedded PDF to navigate through the story. You can also download the file to print and read offline. Presented with permission of the publisher.

Laskowski_Case_of_the_Vanishing_Professor

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!

Check out the full list of nominees here. Congratulations to all!

Bystanders Wins the Balcones Fiction Prize!

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.