Twisted

Ah, Tuesday morning and back to the office. I slept decently last night–woke up a couple of times, always able to go back to sleep–so I feel somewhat better this morning than I usually do on Tuesday mornings, but then again, we’ll just have to see how the rest of the day/week goes. I did my work at home duties yesterday, some chores and errands, and last night we started watching the new season of Stranger Things, which I think is the final season. The first episode was a bit off to me, but it certainly started picking up speed in the second and now we are all in after the third. I didn’t write or read much last night after work, but I do have some things i need to get finished today–quite a few things, actually–but I feel rested and maybe when I feel more awake than I do now, it might not be a problem getting everything done today that needs to get done. Stranger things, indeed.

I do have things I need to get ordered on-line today, too–and we need to go to Costco again at some point, perhaps this weekend. It’s always something.

I’m still, to be honest, coasting a little on the high from this past weekend in Florida, if I am being completely honest. I’m still feeling connected to my writing, which is lovely, even if I have to figure out a few things and get a few things pulled together. I also can’t believe it’s July already–and we’re almost halfway through the month, at that. Crazy, you know. But this year is already have over as well–what the hell? And then the next thing you know it’s football season. The twitter accounts for both LSU and the Saints are counting down the days until the season starts. It’s a new era for both–new coaches, essentially new teams, for that matter–so it will be interesting to see how the season goes for both. I also have a book to write during football season (as ever yet again), which will be challenging of course, as it is always is, and then it’s Christmas and New Year’s and BOOM. Carnival time again! #madness

Oh, and I have a book coming out in December right around the time my next Scotty manuscript is due, so as always, the promotion of a new book will have to occur (or start occurring) around the same time as I have to finish another. Now, there’s the workshop I would like to attend: how do you stay focused when you are finishing a book at the same time you are promoting a new release without going completely insane? That’s the part they never tell you about in creative writing classes and workshops–although I suppose those who have agents probably have the agent to walk them through that part (although sometimes I do wonder if I over-romanticize what it’s like to have an agent, since I’ve never had one? Oh if I had an agent they’d take care of this for me–I suspect that’s all too often not accurate. I also suppose that if and when I do ever land one, I will inevitably be disappointed with what they don’t do for me). Someday, I suppose, I’ll find out one way or the other.

And on that note I am going to head into the spice mines. Have a lovely Tuesday, Constant Reader.

Wild Heart

I can’t remember where or when I had this conversation, but I do remember once asking Megan Abbott that “is there anything more noir than the suburbs?” I know it had to do with her brilliant novel The End of Everything, but I don’t remember if it was a bar conversation or if we were on a panel or what. I spent four and a half years living in an actual suburb when I was growing up–grades six through sophomore in high school–and while my family has always been loners (not getting involved in neighborhood groups, barely knowing the neighbors, keeping mostly to ourselves), so we didn’t get the full experience of the cattiness, the bitchiness, or the “keeping up with the Joneses” mentality that are such a rich mine for crime fiction.

On the other hand, we really couldn’t keep up with the Joneses. In our suburb, we were on the lower end of the economic scale than most of the kids my sister and I went to school with, and the longer we lived there, the higher that economic scale continued to go. And there was a lot of strangeness in our suburb–I really do need to write Where the Boys Die and You’re No Good, the two books based on the suburb in which we lived–murders and drugs and undoubtedly affairs and so forth. A famous wife-killer was from our suburb, Drew Peterson. When I was a freshman in high school a junior boy and his girlfriend–a senior–murdered someone over drugs.

And that doesn’t take into consideration all the crimes that were probably going on at the time that no one thought anything about–date rapes and sexual assaults, child abuse, etc.–because nobody talked about them (I found out, for example, that one of my classmates–someone I knew and liked an awful lot–was being sexually and emotionally abused by her father; I never knew until about twenty years later).

Yikes.

Tara Laskowski’s second novel (and Anthony Award finalist!) The Mother Next Door is more evidence that I was right about suburbs being a dark place.

The moms were having a party. I watched from across the street, through my living room window, as aI ate my dinner of chicken piccata on the couch, sipping a hefty glass of merlot.

At dusk, they arrived one by one from the houses around the cul-de-sac, the glow of their phones like fireflies in the dying light. Dressed stylish but casual, ponytails and makeup, jeans and heels.

Viciously, effortlessly powerful.

The blonde mom was hosting. The one I’d noticed walking an oversize dog around the cul-de-sac, cell phone to her ear. She seemed to know everyone, always paused by one porch or another while her dog sniffed in the grass. Yes, my new neighbors were social butterflies. I observed their fluttering hugs as they converged in front of the house. My view inside was limited–a hallway beyond the screen door, painted red, like the inside of a mouth, and at the end, the corner of a giant island in the center of the kitchen where I imagined they set their Tupperware trays and booze.

The Mother Next Door is set in a toney, elite suburb of the Washington DC metro area known as Ivy Woods. Our primary point-of-view character, Theresa, has just moved into a lovely cul-de-sac with her daughter and her husband of a year, who has been hired as principal at Woodard High School–a very top level school, which makes Theresa an appealing target for friendship by the highly competitive moms at the school. Theresa went to college locally, and is now returning, using her connection to one of her professors–they had an affair when she was a student–whose father is school superintendent, to land her husband his job. Theresa has a secret–as do the other four moms who live around the same cul-de-sac–known as the Ivy Five (although there were only four until Theresa moved in and became one of them). Theresa trying to negotiate this strange new world for herself–as well as keeping her secrets, always afraid someone else in the group is going to stumble over one of them.

But the other moms also are hiding a terrible secret–one alluded to in emails and private messages from a mysterious account called “Ivy Woods”–making threats to expose them all and “what they did.” Halloween is approaching, and the Ivy Five are very well known for their massive Halloween block party…so as they try to figure out costumes and decorations, they are also trying to figure out who they can trust, who they can’t, and who could possibly know all their secrets. Our other point of view character is Kendra, the alpha of the group (think Madeline from Liane Moriarty’s Big Little Lies, which this reminded me of a lot), with her great job, her ruthless efficiency, and her mad organizing skills.

There’s also an urban legend about the woods behind their houses–Ghost Girl, who fell to her death from a bridge over a railroad track and who now haunts the woods at Halloween, the night she died.

It’s quite the concoction Laskowski has pulled off here, and the way she manages to humanize all of her characters–despite their weaknesses and their really (in some cases) deep flaws–makes the reader engage with and care about them, and the deeper you get into the book, the harder it is to put it down for even just a moment to get something to drink or to go to the bathroom.

Highly recommended.

Theme from Shaft

Congrats to the 2022 ITW Thriller Award Winners!

During a gala banquet and celebration held on Saturday, June 4th, at the Sheraton Times Square in New York City, the International Thriller Writers announced the winners of the 2022 Thriller Awards.

BEST HARDCOVER NOVEL
S. A. Cosby – RAZORBLADE TEARS
(Flatiron Books)

BEST FIRST NOVEL
Amanda Jayatissa – MY SWEET GIRL
(Berkley)

BEST AUDIOBOOK
S. A. Cosby – RAZORBLADE TEARS
Narrated by Adam Lazarre-White
(Macmillan)

BEST PAPERBACK ORIGINAL NOVEL
Jess Lourey – BLOODLINE
(Thomas & Mercer)

BEST SHORT STORY
Scott Loring Sanders – THE LEMONADE STAND
(Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine)

BEST E-BOOK ORIGINAL NOVEL
E.J. Findorff – BLOOD PARISH
(E.J. Findorff)

BEST YOUNG ADULT NOVEL
Courtney Summers – THE PROJECT
(Wednesday Books)


Congratulations to all the finalists!

Also receiving special recognition during the ThrillerFest XVII Awards Banquet:

2022 ThrillerMasters Frederick Forsyth and Diana Gabaldon
2022 Spotlight Guest Joseph Finder
2022 Spotlight Guest Veronica Roth.
2022 Thriller Legend, Writers House
2022 ThrillerFans Theresa Lee and Rosie Stroy.

Ain’t No Sunshine

I am not a huge fan of public speaking. It causes me horrible anxiety and stress, because I suffer from a really horrible case of stage fright. I’m not sure why that is–probably a side effect of being horribly shy and self-conscious–but it is what it is. Moderating panels, even being on them, are difficult for me; let alone having to get up in front of a room full of people and trying to sound eloquent and smart. Being on a panel isn’t nearly as stressful as moderating one, of course; but the worst is having to get up in front of a room full of people and speak. If there is a hell of any kind, regardless of spiritual beliefs and values, mine would be having to stand in front of a room full of people and having to speak, endlessly on a loop. That would be my personal hell.

I had to speak at the Lefty Awards banquet, since Mystery Writers of America sponsored the banquet. Stan and Lucinda, who organize Left Coast Crime, asked me to get up and speak a little bit about MWA. All week leading up to it I agonized over what to say, and how long I should be up there. I made notes, practiced, thought about it and agonized and then finally, they called me up to the stage and I had no idea what to say as my mind went completely blank. I tried to grab hold of the podium so my hands wouldn’t visibly shake but naturally, at one point started talking and gesturing with my hands…which were shaking. I do remember saying that we are currently living in a golden age of crime fiction–and that a quick glance at all the nominees for Best First over the past few years for every award in the genre would show that the future of the genre is in very good hands.

One thing I’ve really enjoyed throughout my life as a reader is the discovery of debut authors, and watching their careers take off due to their hard work and talent.

And keep your eye on Wanda M. Morris.

The three of us–me, my brother, Sam and Vera or Miss Vee as everyone in Chillicothe called her–looked like a little trio of vagabonds as we stood in the Greyhound Bus Station, which, in Chillicothe, meant a lean-to bus port in the parking lot of the Piggly Wiggly. By God’s grace, we’d survived summer’s blazing days and humid nights, the fire ant stings and mosquito welts, and all the side-of-the-mouth whispers that floated around town. What happened? What did those young’uns do? Why is Ellie Littlejohn really leaving town? Even though I was headed to Virginia on a full-rde scholarship to boarding school, it didn’t stop some people from around town from talking in hushed tones and asking meddlesome questions.

The morning sun sizzled across the black asphalt parking lot scattered with a few dented cars and an old Ford pickup. But we were the only ones waiting for the 7:15 bus headed north. I wore a tie-dyed T-shirt and a pair of jeans Vera had cut off at the knees when they got too short. She hadn’t gotten to the jeans Sam was wearing because they were about two inches above his ankles. His yellow T-shirt still bore the cherry Popsicle stain from the day before. And from the looks of it, he hasn’t combed his hair, either.

Wow, where to start with this rollercoaster ride?

I guess the easiest place to start is with how authentic Ms. Morris’ representation of small rural Southern towns in the 1970’s is. As someone who spent time in the deep south in a small rural town (and the country) in the 1970’s, Morris brought Chillicothe to life realistically and so well I could completely visualize it–from the lazy flies and the mosquito bites and how box fans just push the hot air around. Vivid images of my own past flashed through my mind every time Morris took us back to Ellise’s childhood in Chillicothe, where all her dark little secrets were first born and hidden away. She masters two separate timelines in this masterful work–Chillicothe back when she was a child, and her life in modern day Atlanta. That poor little girl got scholarships and worked her butt off to become a lawyer, and now works for a large corporation in Atlanta–a corporation currently being accused of racist hiring practices, along with protestors outside the building. One morning Ellise comes to work to meet with her married boss–with whom she has been having a rather long-term affair with, following him from a job with a legal firm to this company–early in the morning, only to discover his dead body in his office, shot through the head. Ellise immediately backs out of the office and heads back down two floors to the legal department, and doesn’t call the police, doesn’t say anything to anyone–and fortunately, there are no security cameras up on the twentieth floor to capture her tell-tale image for the police or anyone who wants to go looking for what went on up there when the man was murdered.

But was having an affair really enough justification for Ellise to NOT call the police?

Of course not…and this is where the fun begins. Ellise is also hiding a lot more than just the affair with her boss–she has run away from a traumatic childhood and now moves in rarefied air–and doesn’t want anyone in her new life to know anything about her old.

Then Ellise is promoted to replace her now-dead lover/boss, and despite asking for time to think it over, it is announced as a fait accompli, which understandably makes Ellise suspicious. Something weird is going on up there on the twentieth floor, and she is smack dab in the middle of it all–but what? Was her boss’ death a suicide, as everyone at the company desperately wants to believe, or was he involved in something else, something else that led to him being murdered?

The thrills and suspense build from the very beginning–what is going on there? What does any of this have to do with Ellise and her past? Morris expertly weaves her two tales of Ellise and her life, the two timelines, together seamlessly and it is impossible to look away or put the book down. But even more important than the story is the character of Ellise, who is at the heart of the story and without whom the reader has no buy-in to the story. Ellise is compelling, juggling her identity as a modern Black woman with no small success in her life alongside the poor little girl with the alcoholic and abusive mother, abused not just by family and the nastiness of the vicious hateful little town but also the virulent ugly racism of the times. Her brother Sam–her only living relative–has had a much harder time of it than she has, and she struggles with trying to balance helping him out when he needs it or the tough love she thinks he needs to straighten out his life–but the strength of their bond is beautifully depicted. Ellise has constructed this incredible facade to hold the world at bay, but inside she is still that same scared little girl from Chillicothe, once again–as she did when she a little girl–trying hard to survive in an incredibly hostile world not of her own making.

This is an extraordinarily strong debut novel, and I cannot recommend it enough. Wanda M. Morris is going to be a major player in our genre–you can quote me on that.

Precious Little Things

I read a really interesting interview on Crime Reads yesterday; Richie Narvaez interviewing Raquel Reyes. It struck a few chords in my head; Raquel very eloquently talked about why she writes what she does (Mango, Mambo, and Murder, click here to order) and the importance of representation; particularly how over the years publishing has undervalued non-white writers, paying lip service to diversity while not actually doing the work, while creating self-fulfilling prophecies: oh, minority voices don’t sell because there’s no market and then don’t support the books upon release, so they didn’t sell enough copies to become viable. Then they pat themselves on the back and smugly say, see? We tried but there’s no market. I hope the recent diversification of their lists and catalogues recently undertaken by many publishers isn’t just a temporary thing, especially since diverse authors have been responsible for some pretty amazing books over the last few years. I’ve not read Raquel’s book yet, but I am looking forward to it. So much depth in the old TBR pile, y’all–and I am so behind on my reading. I am probably going to do a deep dive into Alex Segura’s Secret Identity today (after I finish my chores and the editing I have to get done). I also need to get my to-do list updated once and for all, and stay on top of it. I have a lot, as always, to do.

Yesterday was a work-at-home day, with a slight break to run an errand. I managed to edit another hunk of the manuscript–I have 2/3rds done, should be able to finish the final third today–and then I fell into the wormhole of watching the news again, which I have on every night as I relax in my easy chair and scroll through social media on my iPad. It’s not the most productive use of my time but I find now that when I am finished with my work for the day I inevitably feel mental exhaustion, which then requires me to just kind of vegetate in order to relax. I slept really well last night–even slept a little late this morning, which was nice, and feel very well rested this morning, which is even nicer. The disaster area that is the Lost Apartment isn’t my favorite thing to look around and see, so I am going to have to at least try to make some progress on that this morning while I drink my coffee. (Oh, I should drop off some boxes of books at the library sale today–get them out of the house and make room for more shelf-purging. Good thinking, Gregalicious!) The weather was lovely yesterday–looks lovely today as well–so going outside might not be a terrible thing for me to do today. The Festivals are also next weekend, and I have to teach a workshop on Friday. YIKES. I guess I need to prepare…although I guess I can also trot out the ever-popular bad sex makes it literary fiction. I think the workshop is supposed to be about including sex in your work? I don’t remember–I have it printed out somewhere.

Guess I should probably find that, huh?

And April is just around the corner. April, with my trip to Albuquerque for Left Coast Crime, and my trip to New York for the Edgars. Lots of Gregalicious traveling there, after not going anywhere for quite some time. It’s going to be interesting being at an event like Left Coast, which I’ve never attended before; Crime Bake in November was a very nice taste of being around writers in smaller groups again, as were the Alabama events in January. But LCC is a bigger event…I guess the Festivals next weekend will give me a chance to get more used to bigger crowds of people, as well as being in the Quarter for the first time in a long time…I don’t think I’ve been to the Quarter since our office moved from Frenchmen Street to its new location; although I think I probably did some condom outreach in the before times; I don’t remember. I think I took parade season off in 2020, so maybe the last time I passed out condoms in the Quarter was in 2019?

So, with all the travel and all the volunteer work and the day job, when am i going to find time to write going forward? A very good question, Watson. I know that I will because I love to do it–I really should spend some time this weekend writing, frankly–and one of the great frustrations of my life has always been there’s always other things to do that get in the way of relaxing into my writing. I’ve been alternating between panic attacks and confidence about the manuscript I just turned in; literally, I’ll go from hey I think it’s not bad to oh my god my editor is going to think I am a complete idiot and I am going to have to throw the whole thing out and start over from scratch or they’ll want their money back…yeah. My mind is always a non-stop thrill ride; make sure you keep your arms and legs inside the ride at all times or we can’t be responsible for what happens to you.

Sigh.

And on that somber note, methinks I shall head into the spice mines. I need some more coffee, the sun is out and bright and shiny, and I can see dust everywhere. Have a lovely Saturday, Constant Reader, and I’ll talk to you again tomorrow.

There’s No Stopping Us Now

I make no bones nor apologies for loving Joe Burrow–or as I call him to myself, Joey B (which is also his twitter name and how he signs his name). I have said it before–and will say it again–I really do not pay much attention to the NFL outside of the Saints. I watch the Saints games and that’s really always been about it for me (I might watch the Super Bowl if nothing else is on, but it’s usually just background noise while I read–sometime it’s a good game and I’ll watch, but I generally don’t care very much who wins or loses if the Saints aren’t involved). It’s hard for me to root against teams that have players who played for LSU, for example, but at the same time they are on SO many teams I can’t keep track of them and I certainly am not going to invest in watching all those games. But it’s nice to see players from LSU–like Tyrann Mathieu, Leonard Fournette, Odell Beckham Jr, et. al–doing well in the NFL; I am always pleased to see their names in the sports news.

But…that 2019 LSU team was so damned special, I find myself looking for highlights of players who were on that team alot, and being really happy for them as they make names for themselves in the pros.

And then, of course, there’s my hero, Joe Burrow.

It’s probably untoward for a sixty year old gay man to worship an athlete the way I love this kid (in fairness, I felt that way about Drew Brees for a very long time, and I will always be grateful to Brees for what he did, not only for the Saints but for post-Katrina New Orleans), but I do. I really like this kid a lot, and not just because he led the Tigers to only their second-ever undefeated season and fourth national title, either. He seems like a genuinely good guy–or he is one hell of an actor. Even at LSU, as he was breaking national records, making headlines and the cover of Sports Illustrated, he never made anything about himself: it was always about the team, and he immediately, inevitably, always gave credit to his offensive line first. Joey B became a beloved icon in Louisiana in just two seasons with our Fighting Tigers of LSU–and the entire state cheered when Joey B and the Bengals won the AFC championship and made it to the Super Bowl in only his second year with the team.

Kind of….like how he won everything in his second year with LSU.

So, now I kind of follow the Cincinnati Bengals because I love this player so much and want to see him continue to succeed. I do wonder about this attachment from time to time; just as I wonder about the whole concept of fandom in general–like when I think about how amazing an experience it is being in Tiger Stadium on a Saturday night for a big game. Joe Burrow’s story is everything you’d want in a sports story–the kid no one really recruited much and didn’t get many offers; who didn’t succeed at his first, chosen university so he graduated early and went elsewhere and in two years had the greatest season ever by a college quarterback, including a national championship and the Heisman Trophy and drafted Number One for the NFL by a team that hadn’t won in decades and had slipped to the level of the pre-Drew Brees Saints; and then got injured his first season only to come roaring back in his second to take them to the Super Bowl. This kid is special, he’s funny and quirky and introspective and not really into the whole “star” thing (although I do love the gold chain with “JB9” he has taken to wearing to press conferences, and when asked if it was real, replied, “I make too much money for it to be fake.”). I will forever be grateful that I got the opportunity to see him play in person several times, and the 2019 LSU-Florida game is one of the most fun experiences I have ever had watching a college football game live.

The Bengals and Joey B may not win the Super Bowl tonight–but one thing I do know from watching him play for four years is that Bengal fans need not fear should the Rams win tonight. I will promise you–Joey Burrow may lose his first Super Bowl, but he will not lose his second.

And my money would be on a win next year if they lose tonight.

He’s that kind of player.

GEAUX JOE!

Baby, Baby, Wo Ist Unsere Liebe

Congrats to the Lefty Award finalists!

Lefty for Best Humorous Mystery Novel. The nominees are:

  • Ellen Byron, Cajun Kiss of Death (Crooked Lane Books)
  • Jennifer Chow, Mimi Lee Cracks the Code (Berkley Prime Crime)
  • Elle Cosimano, Finlay Donovan Is Killing It (Minotaur Books)
  • Cynthia Kuhn, How To Book a Murder (Crooked Lane Books)
  • Raquel V. Reyes, Mango, Mambo, and Murder (Crooked Lane Books)
  • Wendall Thomas, Fogged Off (Beyond the Page Books)

Lefty for Best Historical Mystery Novel (for books set before 1970). The nominees are:

  • Susanna Calkins, The Cry of the Hangman (Severn House)
  • John Copenhaver, The Savage Kind (Pegasus Crime)
  • Naomi Hirahara, Clark and Division (Soho Crime)
  • Sujata Massey, The Bombay Prince (Soho Crime)
  • Catriona McPherson, The Mirror Dance (Hodder & Stoughton)
  • Lori Rader-Day, Death at Greenway (William Morrow)

Lefty for Best Debut Mystery Novel. The nominees are:

  • Alexandra Andrews, Who Is Maud Dixon (Little, Brown and Company)
  • Marco Carocari, Blackout (Level Best Books)
  • Zakiya Dalila Harris, The Other Black Girl (Atria Books)
  • Mia P. Manansala, Arsenic and Adobo (Berkley Prime Crime)
  • Wanda M. Morris, All Her Little Secrets (William Morrow)

Lefty for Best Mystery Novel (not in other categories). The nominees are:

  • Tracy Clark, Runner (Kensington Books)
  • S.A. Cosby, Razorblade Tears (Flatiron Press)
  • Matt Coyle, Last Redemption (Oceanview Publishing)
  • William Kent Krueger, Lightning Strike (Atria Books)
  • P.J. Vernon, Bath Haus (Doubleday)

I Hear a Symphony

January 12, 2022 —New York, NY—Today Mystery Writers of America (MWA) announces the recipients of its special awards. The board chose Laurie R. King as the 2022 Grand Master, the 2022 Raven Award recipient is Lesa Holstine, and Juliet Grames will receive the Ellery Queen Award. They will accept their awards at the 76th Annual Edgar Awards Ceremony, which will be held April 28, 2022, at the Marriott Marquis Times Square in New York City.

“Mystery Writers of America is thrilled to honor Laurie R. King as MWA’s 2022 Grand Master,” said MWA President Alafair Burke. “For more than a quarter century, King has entertained readers around the world with her writings, which range from historical fiction to contemporary police procedurals to gripping standalones and scores of anthology contributions. She is also a generous supporter of readers and fellow writers and a leader within the literary community. She exemplifies the excellence that defines the Grand Master Award, and we are delighted to recognize her achievements.

MWA’s Grand Master Award represents the pinnacle of achievement in mystery writing and was established to acknowledge important contributions to this genre, as well as for a body of work that is both significant and of consistent high quality. Laurie R. King is the bestselling author of 30 novels and other works, including the Mary Russell-Sherlock Holmes stories, beginning with The Beekeeper’s Apprentice (named “One of the 20th Century’s Best Crime Novels” by the IMBA.)  She has won the Agatha, Anthony, Edgar, Lambda, Wolfe, Macavity, Creasey dagger, and Romantic Times Career Achievement awards, has an honorary doctorate in theology, and is a Baker Street Irregular.  Her recent books include Castle Shade and How to Write a Mystery (co-edited with Lee Child.) She has been a member of Mystery Writers of America since 1993 and served on the NorCal and National boards.

On being notified of the honor, King said, “I am sure I’m not the only person who greeted the announcement that they had been given this extreme honor of the mystery world first with silence, then with, “Really?  Me??”  I mean, any list that begins with Agatha Christie and touches on such gods as Ross MacDonald and Daphne du Maurier, Ngaio Marsh and John Le Carré, Tony Hillerman and—well, you get the idea. ‘I am honored’ is an inadequate response (You are sure you counted the votes, right?) when what I mean is, ‘I am stunned, dumbfounded, gobsmacked.’ And honored too, of course—intensely, humbly, and gratefully.”

Previous Grand Masters include Charlaine Harris, Jeffery Deaver, Barbara Neely, Martin Cruz Smith, William Link, Peter Lovesey, Walter Mosley, Lois Duncan, James Ellroy, Robert Crais, Ken Follett, Martha Grimes, Sara Paretsky, James Lee Burke, Sue Grafton, Stephen King, Mary Higgins Clark, Lawrence Block, P.D. James, Ellery Queen, Daphne du Maurier, Alfred Hitchcock, Graham Greene, and Agatha Christie, to name a few.

The Raven Award recognizes outstanding achievement in the mystery field outside the realm of creative writing. For 2022, Mystery Writers of America selected librarian, a blogger, and book reviewer Lesa Holstine.

Upon learning she would receive the Raven Award, Lesa Holstine reacted with disbelief, “You’re kidding!” Holstine said, “I’m grateful to the MWA Board, and to mystery writers everywhere who have provided so much enjoyment over the years.”

Previous Raven Award recipients include Malice Domestic, Left Coast Crime, Marilyn Stasio, The Raven Bookstore, Sisters in Crime, and Oline Cogdill.

Holstine has worked in public libraries since she was 16. For almost 50 years, she’s shared her love of books, especially mysteries, with library patrons, and is presently the Collections Manager at the Evansville Vanderburgh Public Library in Evansville, Indiana. She is in the 18th  year of writing her award-winning blog, Lesa’s Book Critiques, has been the blogger for Poisoned Pen Bookstore for over four years, and reviews mysteries for Mystery Readers’ Journal and Library Journal, where she was named Reviewer of the Year in 2018. She has received the 2011 Arizona Library Association Outstanding Library Service Award and the David S. Thompson Special Service Memorial Award. She is a member of Sisters in Crime and serves on the Left Coast Crime Standing Committee.

The Ellery Queen Award was established in 1983 to honor “outstanding writing teams and outstanding people in the mystery-publishing industry.” This year the Board chose to honor Juliet Grames, SVP, Associate Publisher at Soho Press, where she has curated the award-winning Soho Crime imprint since 2011. Her debut novel, The Seven or Eight Deaths of Stella Fortuna, was published by Ecco/HarperCollins and has been translated into ten languages.

On learning she would receive the Ellery Queen Award, Grames said, “I am astonished and moved by this great honor. There is no community I could be prouder to work in: the creators in our genre are not only artists but activists and thoroughly good people. It is a great privilege to nurture and amplify their voices, and I humbly thank every author who has ever trusted me with that privilege. It is also a great privilege to work for a publisher, Bronwen Hruska, whose values—both literary and philosophical—align so perfectly with mine. This recognition belongs to them, although I am honored to be their representative.”

Previous Ellery Queen Award winners include Reagan Arthur, Kelley Ragland, Linda Landrigan, Neil Nyren, Charles Ardai, and Janet Hutchings.

The Edgar Awards, or “Edgars,” as they are commonly known, are named after MWA’s patron saint Edgar Allan Poe and are presented to authors of distinguished work in various categories. MWA is the premier organization for mystery writers, professionals allied to the crime-writing field, aspiring crime writers, and those who are devoted to the genre. The organization encompasses some 3,000 members including authors of fiction and non-fiction books, screen and television writers, as well as publishers, editors, and literary agents. For more information on Mystery Writers of America, please visit the website: www.mysterywriters.org

Grand Master Laurie R. King
Ellery Queen recipient Juliet Grames
Raven recipient Lesa Holstine.

Rock With You

Thursday and we have reached the “work-at-home” portion of my week. Yay! I don’t have to leave my house! (crowd goes wild)

I am feeling good this morning, partly because I overslept (this is becoming a thing with me; how lovely to go from chronic insomnia to oversleeping in a just a month) but regardless of whatever the reason was–the switch from cappuccinos to regular coffee, perhaps–but nevertheless, this morning Gregalicious slept late, and it felt marvelous.

I worked a little bit on Chlorine last night, but it stalled out a bit; not so much from a lack of desire to write or not knowing what to write, but primarily distractions around the Lost Apartment, which were annoying and also unavoidable, alas.

And speaking of anomalies in Gregalicious land, I didn’t finish this entry this morning before it was time for me to start working–which hasn’t happen in so long I cannot remember the last time it happened; usually I’m able to push right through the entry before leaving the house. I didn’t have to leave the house this morning, but I did oversleep, after all–definitely a problem. And now I have spent a lovely day making condom packs while catching up on Real Housewives of New York and watching some history videos on Youtube; I also had a lovely call with my editor about both Bury Me in Shadows but also a highly productive conversation about what I need to do on #shedeservedit to get it ready for publication–edits, sloppy transitions, bad bad Greg writer stuff, really–and some serious tweaks that may actually be easier than I think they’ll be; we’ll just have to see, won’t we? (And now I understand the Chlorine inertia this week; I knew I had this call scheduled and I knew I was going to probably have to put it aside for a while…breaking the chain, as it were. I think I will go ahead and finish Chapter Three and maybe Chapter Four before I dive back into my edits.)

I also had some other interesting developments occur this week, career-wise, but nothing that can be reported just yet; sorry to be so vague, but we’ll just have to wait and see how it all plays out. I am feeling better about everything these days–sleep really makes so an extraordinary difference in my life, it really is amazing–and while I am not in Greg can conquer the world mode again just yet, I have a feeling that it’s just around the corner. I am starting to feel energetic again, creative and ambitious, and more like the old Gregalicious than I have in years. Not sure what caused it, to be honest–pandemic, perhaps? I don’t know but I also don’t remember when I last felt this good about myself and everything in my life, to be honest, and it’s a lovely feeling. Now I need to get better organized; I think that is what this weekend is going to be about; me getting my shit together and getting back on top of everything again. I am going to finish reading Razorblade Tears and pick out my next read; I am going to get those chapters written and some short story edits done, and this fucking apartment and my fucking life are going to be organized and ready for the future.

And on THAT note, it’s time to get to work on everything.

Enjoy the rest of your Thursday, Constant Reader! I’m going to make mine count.