Tea for Two

The 2019 Agatha Award Nominees

 

Best Contemporary Novel

Fatal Cajun Festival by Ellen Byron (Crooked Lane Books)
The Long Call by Ann Cleeves (Minotaur)
Fair Game by Annette Dashofy (Henery Press)
The Missing Ones by Edwin Hill (Kensington)
A Better Man by Louise Penny (Minotaur)
The Murder List by Hank Philippi Ryan (Forge)

Best First Mystery Novel

A Dream of Death by Connie Berry (Crooked Lane Books)
One Night Gone by Tara Laskowski (Graydon House, a division of Harlequin)
Murder Once Removed by S. C. Perkins (Minotaur)
When It’s Time for Leaving by Ang Pompano (Encircle Publications)
Staging for Murder by Grace Topping (Henery Press)

Best Historical Mystery

Love and Death Among the Cheetahs by Rhys Bowen (Penquin)
Murder Knocks Twice by Susanna Calkins (Minotaur)
The Pearl Dagger by L. A. Chandlar (Kensington)
Charity’s Burden by Edith Maxwell (Midnight Ink)
The Naming Game by Gabriel Valjan (Winter Goose Publishing)

Best Nonfiction

Frederic Dannay, Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine and the Art of the Detective Short Story by Laird R. Blackwell (McFarland)
Blonde Rattlesnake: Burmah Adams, Tom White, and the 1933 Crime Spree that Terrified Los Angeles by Julia Bricklin (Lyons Press)
Furious Hours: Murder, Fraud and the Last Trial of Harper Lee by Casey Cep (Knopf)
The Mutual Admiration Society: How Dorothy L. Sayers and her Oxford Circle Remade the World for Women by Mo Moulton (Basic Books)
The Five: The Untold Lives of the Women Killed by Jack the Ripper by Hallie Rubenhold (Houghton, Mifflin, Harcourt)

Best Children/Young Adult

Kazu Jones and the Denver Dognappers by Shauna Holyoak (Disney Hyperion)
Two Can Keep a Secret by Karen MacManus (Delacorte Press)
The Last Crystal by Frances Schoonmaker (Auctus Press)
Top Marks for Murder (A Most Unladylike Mystery)
by Robin Stevens (Puffin)
Jada Sly, Artist and Spy by Sherri Winston (Little Brown Books for Young Readers)

Best Short Story

“Grist for the Mill” by Kaye George in A Murder of Crows (Darkhouse Books)
“Alex’s Choice” by Barb Goffman in Crime Travel (Wildside Press)
“The Blue Ribbon” by Cynthia Kuhn in Malice Domestic 14: Mystery Most Edible (Wildside Press)
“The Last Word” by Shawn Reilly Simmons, Malice Domestic 14: Mystery Most Edible (Wildside Press)
“Better Days” by Art Taylor in Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine

We are pleased to announce this year’s Agatha Award Nominees. Please note this year there are six Best Contemporary Novel nominees on the ballot. Winners will be chosen by the attendees of Malice Domestic 32 (May 1 – 3, 2020). Thanks to everyone who sent in a ballot, and congratulations to all!

 

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Back in the Saddle Again

January 22, 2020, New York, NY – Mystery Writers of America is proud to announce, as we celebrate the 211th anniversary of the birth of Edgar Allan Poe, the Nominees for the 2020 Edgar Allan Poe Awards, honoring the best in mystery fiction, non-fiction and television published or produced in 2019. The Edgar® Awards will be presented to the winners at our 74th Gala Banquet, April 30, 2020 at the Grand Hyatt Hotel, New York City.

BEST NOVEL

Fake Like Me by Barbara Bourland (Hachette Book Group – Grand Central Publishing)
The Stranger Diaries by Elly Griffiths (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)
The River by Peter Heller (Penguin Random House – Alfred A. Knopf)
Smoke and Ashes by Abir Mukherjee (Pegasus Books)
Good Girl, Bad Girl by Michael Robotham (Simon & Schuster – Scribner)

BEST FIRST NOVEL BY AN AMERICAN AUTHOR

My Lovely Wife by Samantha Downing (Penguin Random House – Berkley)
Miracle Creek by Angie Kim (Farrar Straus and Giroux)
The Good Detective by John McMahon (Penguin Random House – G.P. Putnam’s Sons)
The Secrets We Kept by Lara Prescott (Penguin Random House – Alfred A. Knopf)
Three-Fifths by John Vercher (Polis Books – Agora Books)
American Spy by Lauren Wilkinson (Penguin Random House – Random House)

BEST PAPERBACK ORIGINAL

Dread of Winter by Susan Alice Bickford (Kensington Publishing)
Freedom Road by William Lashner (Amazon Publishing – Thomas & Mercer)
Blood Relations by Jonathan Moore (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt – Mariner Books)
February’s Son by Alan Parks (Europa Editions – World Noir)
The Hotel Neversink by Adam O’Fallon Price (Tin House Books)
The Bird Boys by Lisa Sandlin (Cinco Puntos Press)

BEST FACT CRIME

The Ghosts of Eden Park: The Bootleg King, the Women Who Pursued Him, and the Murder that Shocked Jazz-Age America by Karen Abbott (Penguin Random House – Crown)
The Less People Know About Us: A Mystery of Betrayal, Family Secrets, and Stolen Identity by Axton Betz-Hamilton (Hachette Book Group – Grand Central Publishing)
American Predator: The Hunt for the Most Meticulous Serial Killer of the 21st Century by Maureen Callahan (Penguin Random House – Viking)
Norco ’80: The True Story of the Most Spectacular Bank Robbery in American History by Peter Houlahan (Counterpoint Press)
Indecent Advances: A Hidden History of True Crime and Prejudice Before Stonewall by James Polchin (Counterpoint Press)

BEST CRITICAL/BIOGRAPHICAL

Hitchcock and the Censors by John Billheimer (University Press of Kentucky)
Beyond the Thirty-Nine Steps: A Life of John Buchan by Ursula Buchan (Bloomsbury Publishing)
The Hooded Gunman: An Illustrated History of Collins Crime Club by John Curran (Collins Crime Club)
Medieval Crime Fiction: A Critical Overview by Anne McKendry (McFarland)
The Mutual Admiration Society: How Dorothy L. Sayers and her Oxford Circle  Remade the World for Women by Mo Moulton (Hachette Book Group – Basic Books)

BEST SHORT STORY

“Turistas,” from Paque Tu Lo Sepas by Hector Acosta (Down & Out Books)
“One of These Nights,” from Cutting Edge: New Stories of Mystery and Crime by Women Writers by Livia Llewellyn (Akashic Books)
“The Passenger,” from Sydney Noir by Kirsten Tranter (Akashic Books)
“Home at Last,” from Die Behind the Wheel: Crime Fiction Inspired by the Music of Steely Dan by Sam Wiebe (Down & Out Books)
“Brother’s Keeper,” from Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine by Dave Zeltserman (Dell Magazine)

BEST JUVENILE

The Collected Works of Gretchen Oyster by Cary Fagan (Penguin Random House Canada – Tundra Books
Eventown by Corey Ann Haydu (HarperCollins Children’s Books – Katherine Tegen Books)
The Whispers by Greg Howard (Penguin Young Readers – G.P. Putnam’s Sons BFYR)
All the Greys on Greene Street by Laura Tucker (Penguin Young Readers – Viking BFYR)
Me and Sam-Sam Handle the Apocalypse by Susan Vaught (Simon & Schuster Children’s Books – Paula Wiseman Books)

BEST YOUNG ADULT

Catfishing on CatNet by Naomi Kritzer (Tom Doherty Associates – Tor Teen)
Killing November by Adriana Mather (Random House Children’s Books – Alfred A. Knopf BFYR)
Patron Saints of Nothing by Randy Ribay (Penguin Young Readers – Kokila)
The Deceivers by Kristen Simmons (Tom Doherty Associates – Tor Teen)
Wild and Crooked by Leah Thomas (Bloomsbury Publishing)

BEST TELEVISION EPISODE TELEPLAY

“Season 5, Episode 3” – Line of Duty, Teleplay by Jed Mercurio (Acorn TV)
“Season 5, Episode 4” – Line of Duty, Teleplay by Jed Mercurio (Acorn TV)
“Episode 1” – Dublin Murders, Teleplay by Sarah Phelps (STARZ)
“Episode 1” – Manhunt, Teleplay by Ed Whitmore (Acorn TV)
“Episode 1” – The Wisting, Teleplay by Katherine Valen Zeiner & Trygve Allister Diesen (Sundance Now)

ROBERT L. FISH MEMORIAL AWARD

“There’s a Riot Goin’ On,” from Milwaukee Noir by Derrick Harriell (Akashic Books)

* * * * * *

THE SIMON & SCHUSTER MARY HIGGINS CLARK AWARD

The Night Visitors by Carol Goodman (HarperCollins – William Morrow)
One Night Gone by Tara Laskowski (Harlequin – Graydon House)
Strangers at the Gate by Catriona McPherson (Minotaur Books)
Where the Missing Go by Emma Rowley (Kensington Publishing)
The Murder List by Hank Phillippi Ryan (Tom Doherty Associates – Forge Books)

* * * * * *

THE G.P. PUTNAM’S SONS SUE GRAFTON MEMORIAL AWARD

Shamed by Linda Castillo (Minotaur Books)
Borrowed Time by Tracy Clark ( Kensington Publishing)
The Missing Ones by Edwin Hill (Kensington Publishing)
The Satapur Moonstone by Sujata Massey (Soho Crime)
The Alchemist’s Illusion by Gigi Pandian (Midnight Ink)
Girl Gone Missing by Marcie R. Rendon (Cincos Puntos Press)

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.

Mystery Writers of America would like to emphasize our commitment to diversity and fairness in the judging of the Edgar Awards. Judges are selected from every region of the country, from every sub-category of our genre, and from every demographic to ensure fairness and impartiality.

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It’s All Wrong, But It’s All Right

The first Saturday of the new year, and there’s no college football games today. This of course leaves an enormous hole in my day, which I should be able to fill with things like errands, going to the gym, cleaning, and (GASP) writing. One can hope, at any rate….

Yesterday was a glum, chilly, wet rainy day down here in New Orleans, and yesterday was a more-than-a-little-frustrating day at the office; Friday is my data entry day, and the website where we enter our required data for the CDC was recently redesigned…it was never the easiest data entry system (completely counter-intuitive) and this new version is…worse. When you take pride in your speed and efficiency with data entry…a slow, clumsy not-easy-to-navigate system can prove to be a crushing blow to one’s ego….like the death of a thousand cuts. And then sometimes it just kicks you out of the system, so you don’t know if the data you’ve entered actually took or not…needless to say, when I get off work yesterday I needed a drink. Or two. Or three.

Well, it wasn’t that bad, and once I got used to using it, it wasn’t completely horrible–although it took me a lot longer to get things done than it usually does; ordinarily I would have been able to get everything entered and still had some free time for filing and so forth; instead I didn’t get everything entered by the end of my shift–leaving some for another day, alas–and it certainly wasn’t as annoying as the slow, painful death of my desktop computer. Even as I sit here now, typing, I am watching the wordpress page fail to load–it’s been failing to load for nearly an hour now–while I type this on my laptop. I haven’t upgraded the desktop to the new Apple OS–remembering all too well the horror that ensued the last time I made that mistake, going up to Mojave; God only knows what fresh hells Catalina will inflect on my desktop. But I do have this lovely MacBook Air, and I suspect that at the rate the desktop is going, I’m going to probably slowly but surely be turning this bitch into my main use computer.

I mean, it fucking works and doesn’t make me wait for an hour to load a webpage, so there’s that. I am slowly but surely going from an Apple fan to an Apple hater, quite frankly.

Anyway, after the annoyance that was work yesterday, I stopped at Jean’s for our annual office holiday party, which was lovely, and then swung by Rouse’s on my way home so I don’t have to go this weekend. I also picked up Paul, and then we came home to watch the LSU gymnastics meet against Arizona (LSU has one of the top gymnastics teams in the country every year–did you know that? They are currently ranked #2 in the country and finished second at the Nationals championship meet for the last two years running; they’ve finished in the top six for quite some years running now), and after that, we watched the second episode of Dare Me, which is absolutely amazing. It’s incredibly cinematic, in the way Big Little Lies was, and the story is just so compelling, and the way it’s told…you can’t stop watching. It’s absolutely mesmerizing, and now I want to read the book again. As I watched last night I absolutely was thinking I need to put Megan Abbott on my Reread Project list. (I’ve given up on the desktop ever loading the blog page and have asked it to restart, which also takes forever.)

Today yawns open and free ahead of me; Paul is going to the office to work thus afternoon, so I have the entire day here to myself, with absolutely no excuse to get nothing done. I am currently laundering the bed linens, and have a load in the dishwasher, so as I wake up this morning with my coffee, I think I am going to continue to clean and organize; once that’s finished I am going to head over to the gym I think, get in a nice, ease-my-way-back-into-it workout, and then head home to shower and get down to serious work on writing. I want to get back into the swing of writing on the weekends, particularly with football season coming to a close as we speak, with my weekends free from it all, there’s no reason why I can’t get my shit together again. And this next year is going to be a busy one for me; I definitely need to be structuring my life and planning it out to the nth degree else I won’t get anything done.

I’ve also been sleeping really well lately, too–which also helps with the mood and so forth.

And on that note, I’m going to head back into the spice mines. Have a lovely Saturday, everyone.

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Blank Space

Well, that’s over, and there’s a sort of slight return to some semblance of normalcy this morning. I have to work today and tomorrow before the weekend starts up again–and of course, next week is a shortened week in much the same way. I didn’t want to get up this morning because the bed was feeling all kinds of comfortable, but I dragged myself out of bed and am on my first cup of coffee thus far. We’ll see how it goes.

We drove out to Elmwood to see The Rise of Skywalker yesterday, and I enjoyed it. I know there are people up in arms and angry about it–because we can’t, of course, just enjoy anything for the sake of enjoyment anymore without some segment of a fan base getting their balls retracted and their sphincters tightened–but I thought it brought everything to a nice close and the entire film itself was fun. I’ve never understood the toxic parts of fandom, but it definitely exists, and social media has given it much more of  a voice. I never thought The Last Jedi was the worst thing that ever happened to the franchise, and I loved The Force Awakens.  But even Nancy Drew fandom has toxic elements to it (If I have to read one more whine about someone’s fucking childhood being “ruined”…newsflash: your childhood wasn’t ruined and neither were your memories. And if you think they were, well, you might need to seek professional help) and the Star Wars fandom is probably one of the most toxic. But it was a lot of fun, it had a lot of action and some absolutely spectacular visuals, and it did what Star Wars was designed to do–not to make you think, but to thrill to an exciting adventure. I do think The Mandalorian might have taken some of the wind out of its sails, but I am terribly excited to see what else Disney Plus intends to do with television series in that universe.

Once we made it back home, we started streaming The Witcher on Netflix. Paul wasn’t very into it, and it seemed kind of slow to me, but I’m intrigued enough to continue watching.  I did wonder about the wisdom of hiring one of the hottest, handsomest, and sexiest actors working today and then trying to make him look as ugly as possible–and in the two episodes I watched, no shirtless Henry Cavill either. I’m not certain whether Paul will want to continue watching or not, but I thought it was interesting enough, if a little slow. Continuing won’t be a huge priority, but can we just stop calling every new fantasy series “the new Game of Thrones” or whatever network’s “attempt at Game of Thrones”? Game of Thrones was its own thing; a unique, incredibly layered and complicated series with a massive backstory and an enormous world to pull from and so many, many characters; The Witcher is practically an interior show in comparison. And building up audience expectations is always a fool’s game. Nothing is going to be, or will ever replace, Game of Thrones.

I also started rereading The Talented Mr. Ripley yesterday and have some thoughts about it as well, but they will keep until I finish reading it–but it has to do with unlikable characters and why we are so drawn to them.

And now, back to the spice mines.

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Midnight Blue

I am debating as to whether I should sign up for Disney Plus.

really want to watch The Mandalorian, as a lifetime Star Wars aficionado, plus they have all that other cool Star Wars and Marvel stuff, not to mention all the old Disney movies. (Wouldn’t it be fun to rewatch all those cheesy Kurt Russell as a teen star Disney movies?) I can also bundle my ESPN subscription with it, and since Hulu Live is raising its prices….I may have to bundle Hulu in with it and only subscribe to live-watch services during football season.

It’s interesting how streaming has changed the way we watch television, isn’t it?

I recently added Apple Plus to our apparently never-ending collection of streaming services that we pay for, but you know what? I still am paying less than I did for cable.

Fuck you, Cox.

We started watching Octavia Spencer’s new show, Truth Be Told, on Apple Plus last night, in which Spencer plays a former journalist whose big break came writing about a murder twenty years ago–only now evidence supporting the fact that the convicted killer might have been wrongfully convicted has shown up, so she wants to get to the truth now. She’s no longer a reporter, but rather has a true crime podcast (very modern take on the crime-investigating reporter, actually), and so she starts looking into the case again. The killer, who was sixteen when he was sent to prison, is now played by Aaron Paul.  The writing was a little clunky, but Elizabeth Perkins is also cast in a supporting role, and so Paul and I are writing off the issues with the first episode as “set-up-itis” and will continue watching.

I just cannot make up my mind about adding Disney Plus to our life. I also am not certain what all streaming services I am paying for right now; and I need to get that straightened out before I go adding something new to the monthly billing.

Still–paying far less than I did with Cox. Hulu’s cost is going up about fifteen dollars–ironically, I got another thing in the mail begging me to come back to Cox–for the new price Hulu will be charging. But it’s only for twelve months–and you know once that twelve months is up Cox will go back to their absurd gouging prices again. I need more information on Disney Plus, and what all comes with it, and whether their bundling with Hulu and ESPN is worth it. (You can’t get live Hulu, which is problematic during football season, but the rest of the year it doesn’t seem to matter as much; although it will be necessary to have live streaming options once the summer Olympics roll around again next summer–can you believe it’s already been four years since the last summer Olympics? Madness.)

Heavy heaving sigh, I hate making adult decisions.

But the inbox is getting emptier–that’s the primary goal for today–and maybe, just maybe, I might get some writing done today.

And on that note, it’s back to the spice mines.

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I Just Died in Your Arms

GEAUX TIGERS!

I worked on “Never Kiss a Stranger” yesterday, and started feeling the main character more than I did. Before when I worked on the story I could picture him perfectly in my mind, but I didn’t know who he was as a person; I didn’t feel him yet as I worked on the story. Yesterday I tapped into his mind finally, which is always a relief when you’re working on a story. Characters are one of my favorite parts of writing, if not the favorite; I love discovering who these people are, figuring them out, and getting to know them in ways I’ll never really know a real human being.

One of the things I always stress when I teach workshops on character is how we all create characters every day–everyone we know basically is a character we’ve created in our heads, because we can never really know everything there is to know about someone else. When we meet someone, get to know them, we are basically creating a character in our heads; a persona based on the things they say, the things they do, the way they react, and what they tell us about themselves and their lives and their pasts. This is why people’s behavior will always surprise us, why people act in ways we never imagined they would, because we don’t really know them as well as we imagine or believe we do; we can’t, because everything that happens to someone, every experience of every day, in some way influences and affects who they are as a person, and we’re never ever going to know all those little details.

I slept long last night, almost ten hours, although I wasn’t asleep the entire night. I woke up at three, five and seven, remaining in bed and somehow managing to fall back asleep again every time. I probably should have gone ahead and gotten up at seven, but the bed was comfortable and it’s Saturday, so I thought why? Why not stay in bed as long as you want to? So I did. I’m a bit lethargic and slow to come fully awake as a result, but there it is, you know.

Last night we watched this last week’s episode of American Horror Story: 1984, and it kind of went off the rails a little bit (oh, who am I kidding? It went off the rails a lot). The idea was to have all these surprise twists, I’m sure, but the result kind of turned the plot into a mess, which means of course there’s probably a big change coming for the entire season. Great.

Also, Big Mouth, the hilarious Netflix animated show about junior high school kids going through puberty, is back. We binged four episodes last night, howling all the way through. I also like that Big Mouth isn’t afraid to have a gay tween character, Andrew, who is probably one of my favorite characters on the show–he and the sex-obsessed Jay, who is hilarious.

I have a few hours to get some things done this morning before the LSU game starts at eleven, so I guess I should head back to the spice mines. Happy Saturday, Constant Reader!

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I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For

Monday morning. I don’t feel tired this morning; we’ll see how long that lasts, won’t we? The Saints won a squeaker last night, 12-10, but they did end up winning the game despite scoring no touchdowns–when was the last time that happened?–and I went to bed shortly thereafter. We continued watching The Politician, and predictably, it’s plot has became more scattered the deeper into the season we get, like so many other shows from Ryan Murphy. We’ re still watching because it’s entertaining enough, and the acting is top-notch, and we only have a few more episodes to go before it’s finished.

I also am almost finished reading James Gill’s Lords of Misrule, which will probably be finished tomorrow. I haven’t decided what my next fiction read will be just yet–I started pulling James Dickey’s Deliverance down from the shelves last night, but couldn’t make myself start reading it. I was quite young when I saw the movie–we saw it at the drive-in, and I don’t remember what the earlier feature was, but I do remember I fell asleep while it was playing and only woke up near the end, not knowing what had happened. Deliverance was one of those movies whose plot became a part of the zeitgeist; people today may not completely know where the reference comes from, but any time someone mentions being somewhere so rural “you can almost hear the banjoes”–it’s a reference to Deliverance. It also may be James Dickey the poet’s only work of fiction; I don’t know how true that is or isn’t, but it certainly used to be true.

I also finished watching episode three of Murder in the Bayou yesterday, which has also given me some ideas (along with the thinking about Deliverance) for my own book, Bury Me in Shadows, which is what I actually think I’m going to work on for the month of October. The Kansas book is still messing with my head. I can’t figure out what to do with the plot and there are so many different ways I could revise that story that I think it might be best to leave that mess alone for now. I still want to get it finished and out of my hair, but if I can’t decide precisely how to move forward with it, well, that makes it a little more difficult to get it finished.

I need to revise my short story today, and then give it some polish tomorrow before turning it in. It’s kind of a mess right now, but I am confident once I reread it today and make some notes, it’ll all fall into place for me. The pieces are all there, but they aren’t in the right place as of yet, and that’ll have to result in some moving of shit around to make the story more cohesive. I also need to work on that other story; I think I need to change its ending in order to make it more powerful.

And now it’s off to the shower to get ready for my day. It’s a long one, alas; but I am confident I can make it through to the other side.

Like there’s a choice or something. 😉

Happy Monday, Constant Reader!

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