Meet the Authors of the 2016 Agatha Best First Novel Nominees!

year at Malice Domestic, writing excellence is recognized by the Agatha awards.
This year’s nominees for Best First Novel are (in alphabetical order by first
Best First Novel:
Terror in Taffeta by
Marla Cooper (Minotaur)
Murder in G Major by
Alexia Gordon (Henery Press)
The Semester of Our Discontent
by Cynthia Kuhn (Henery Press)
Decanting a Murder
by Nadine Nettmann (Midnight Ink)
Design for Dying by
Renee Patrick (Forge Books)
the Stiletto Gang welcomes Marla, Alexia, Cynthia, Nadine, and Renee (
the pseudonym for married authors Rosemarie and Vince
. Thanks for stopping by to share your work and thoughts
with us!—Paula
Gail Benson
What writing habits enabled you to
complete a novel?
never been one of those writers who gets up two hours early every day so she
can have dedicated writing time. But I did find a handy way to trick myself
into a consistent writing practice. For me, getting started is the hardest
part. So when I’m writing a novel, I make myself sit down and write 50 words
every day. That’s all. Just fifty little words. They don’t even have to be good
words. Most days, I end up getting into my groove and writing a whole lot more
— but just getting myself past the resistance makes all the difference.


Having deadlines helps
me. I hate to disappoint (one of my hang-ups) so being accountable to another
person for turning in pages prompts me to get the pages written.


thing that’s helped me is to allow the entire first draft to be a kind of a
joyful keyboard pounding, in which I don’t evaluate or second-guess anything; I
just write until I have a complete story. Then comes the deep and intensive
revision phase, in which there is not only second-guessing, but also
third-guessing and fourth-guessing and so on…times infinity (or so it feels).
the fear of regret, which isn’t really a habit but it feels like one, I would
do writing sprints with a friend. We would text to set a start time and then
write for thirty minutes, checking in with each other when we were done. It was
a great way to hold each other accountable and we both would often keep writing
past the thirty minutes. Currently, I’m trying to do Magic Mornings where I
wake up and write first thing without checking the Internet or my phone. It’s
still an effort but I’m hoping it will become such a habit that I never miss a
morning. I might be hoping for a while as it’s very tempting to look online
when I wake up.
RENEE (Rosemarie and Vince):
were both raised Catholic, so we each have two powerful motivational tools on
which we can rely: guilt, and the fear of guilt. They power us through every
endeavor, but when combined they are nigh upon unstoppable. To any and all
aspiring writers out there, we say find yourselves a co-author. Knowing that
you will have to answer to a trusted friend or loved one for missed deadlines,
mixed metaphors and botched jokes will keep you typing until your fingers ache.

What shoes would you, your protagonist, or
another character from your novel wear to the Agathas banquet?


about the shoes: As a destination wedding planner, my main character Kelsey has
to sacrifice style for practicality since she sometimes is on her feet for up
to 8 hours at a time. But for the Agathas, she’d have the night off from
playing party planner, so she’d probably break out the Laboutins in the back of
her closet. (She inherited from a bride who bought them in three different
colors “just in case,” but couldn’t be bothered to return them.)


Gethsemane would wear some bad-ass high-heeled boots. Because I
can’t wear them and Gethsemane was born out of wish-fulfillment. 


would be planning to wear her favorite black Doc Martens lace-up boots, but her
cousin Calista would talk her into some still-in-the-box Jimmy Choo pumps, a
gift from Lila’s mother that has been languishing in her closet.


for shoes, I’ll choose Tessa for this question as she loves clothes and fashion.
In Decanting a Murder, Tessa wears a pair of navy blue Manolo Blahnik heels but
I think for the Agathas banquet, she would go for a bright red pair that were
several inches high. Katie Stillwell would probably wear very small heels,
unless Tessa talked her into some tall ones again.

RENEE (Rosemarie and Vince):

Frost would choose a high-heeled sandal in sparkling silver but Edith Head
would suggest a more practical black kitten-heeled pump. And thank you for the
invitation but Edith couldn’t possibly attend, she’s much too busy.
5 replies
  1. C. T. Collier
    C. T. Collier says:

    LOL! I identify with Alexia– I can't wear badass high-heeled boots either, but I sure would love to! Still, Lillian's silver high-heeled sandals sound divine 🙂 –kate

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