Tag Archive for: Alexia Gordon

Short Story Month and a Diabolical Treat

by Paula Gail Benson

In World News ERA, Ashleigh
Durden wrote an article
is May Short Story Month?”
that delves into the history and practices to
celebrate short fiction. She traces declaring May short story month to Dan
Wickett, the founder and editor of the Emerging Writers Network (EWN), who on
April 7, 2007, posted an article suggesting a short story month, just as April
had been designated National Poetry Month. That following May, Wickett read and
reviewed a short story a day. Due to reader enthusiasm, the next year it
increased to two stories a day and in the third year to three stories a day.

Meanwhile, writers were urged
to set a goal of the number of stories they would write during the month.
StoryADay.org continues
this tradition with suggestions for short stories to read and prompts and advice
about writing short stories.

Earlier this month, on May 9,
Malice Domestic released its latest anthology,
Mystery Most Diabolical, published by Wildside Press and edited by
Verna Rose, Rita Simmons and Shawn Reilly Simmons.

Art Taylor featured three of
the stories in his The First Two Pages:
in the Planning”
by Marco Carocari, “There
Comes a Time”
by Cynthia Kuhn, and “Fly
Me to the Moon”
by Lisa Q. Mathews.

In addition, Barb Goffman, winner of the Agatha Award twice as well as the Macavity,
Silver Falchion, and 2020 Readers Award given by 
Ellery Queen’s Mystery
, described her story, “Go Big or Go Home,” in her Sleuthsayers post “Everything
is Fodder”
, where she explains how almost any irritation can lead to a
mystery short story.

Contributors to the anthology
include editor, Edgar nominee, and Derringer award winner Michael Bracken; Agatha
and Thriller award winner Alan Orloff; Agatha nominees Alexia Gordon, Cynthia Kuhn, and Keenan
Powell; Al Blanchard award winner Mary Dutta; and Margaret Lucke who wrote an
excellent craft book,
Schaum’s Quick Guide to
Writing Great Short Stories

I’m proud and humbled to have
my story included with those of many accomplished and distinguished writers.
Here’s a complete list:

Leah Bailey · “A Killer in the Family

Paula Gail Benson · “Reputation or Soul”

M. A. Blum · “Little White Lies”

Michael Bracken · “Locked Mesa

Susan Breen · “The Demon Valentine”

Marco Carocari · “All in the Planning

Mary Dutta · “Devil’s Advocate”

Christine Eskilson · “The Reunion

Nancy Gardner · “Death’s Door”

Barb Goffman · “Go Big or Go Home

Alexia Gordon · “Happy Birthday”

B. J. Graf · “Servant of the Place of Truth

Maurissa Guibord · “Into the Devil’s Den”

Victoria Hamilton · “Reunion with the Devil”

Kerry Hammond · “Strangers at a Table”

Peter W. J. Hayes · “The Ice House”

Smita Harish Jain · “Keeping Up with the Jainses”

Cynthia Kuhn · “There Comes a Time”

Margaret Lucke · “The Devil’s-Work Ball”

Sharon Lynn · “The Professor’s Lesson”

Tim Maleeny · “A Cure For Madness”

Lisa Q. Mathews · “Fly Me to the Morgue”

Adam Meyer · “Crime Rate”

Alan Orloff · “There Once Was a Man Named Larue”

Keenan Powell · “Miss Millie Munz”

Graham Powell · “A Rough Idea”

Lori Robbins · “Accidents Happen”

Cynthia Sabelhaus · “Exegesis”

Nancy Cole Silverman · “The Case of the Sourdough

Shawn Reilly Simmons · “The Devil’s in the Details”

C. J. Verburg · “A Terrible Tragedy”

Andrea Wells · “Taking Umbrage

Here’s a little about the
background for my story, “Reputation or Soul.” When I saw the call for
Mystery Most Diabolical, I looked up “diabolical”
in the online Merriam-Webster Dictionary. It had a note about the origins of
the term, from the Greek “diabolos” that means “slanderer.” Usually,
“diabolical” is associated with the devil. I began thinking about a trade off:
if given a choice, which might a person be willing to live with–losing a soul
or having a maligned reputation?

I started with an image
of a jilted bride, sitting in a turret room in the church, knowing with certainty
that her groom had skipped the ceremony as well as stealing a substantial sum
of money. I was certain the bride remained calm about this occurrence and
equally certain that her younger brother, the narrator of the story, was
completely puzzled about her response.

Together, they went to
visit their abusive father, now confined in a nursing home. The father berated
them, but the sister spoke kindly to him without telling him about the runaway
groom. Then, the sister asked her brother to go with her on her honeymoon trip,
to a location where she expected the groom might resurface.

Whose action will hurt
most? In a scenario where almost everyone has a reason to seek revenge, will it
occur and what will be the consequence?

There are still a few more days left in the
short story month of May 2022. Why not check out the stories in
Mystery Most Diabolical? 

Mystery in the Midlands ONLINE and FREE!!!! Saturday, July 25, 2020

by Paula Gail Benson

For the last two years, the Palmetto Chapter of Sisters in Crime and the Southeast Chapter of Mystery Writers of America have sponsored a mid-summer conference for readers and writers in “famously hot” Columbia, S.C. While we had to cancel our in person gathering due to Covid 19, our third venture as an online conference, to be held on Saturday, July 25, 2020, looks to be a charm with a terrifically HOT lineup and a program offered free of charge (thanks to Sisters in Crime and Mystery Writers of America for generous support). Anyone can attend. You don’t have to be a member of Sisters in Crime or Mystery Writers of America to join in the fun!

All you have to do is register at this link, then click through to the Crowdcast link to save your spot.

Here’s the link again:

Today, Monday, July 20, 2020, is the last day to register! You don’t want to miss this fabulous program hosted by Dana Kaye with books available through Jill Hendrix’s Fiction Addiction Bookstore in Greenville, S.C.

Here’s the schedule for Mystery in the Midlands, on Saturday, July 25, 2020:

10:00 am to 10:15 am EST   Welcome
Kaye (moderator), Debra Goldstein (SEMWA), and Paula Gail Benson (Palmetto
Chapter SinC)

10:30 am to 11:15 am EST   Slip into Some Shorts
Dana Kaye (moderator) – John Floyd, Tara Laskowski, and Art Taylor
11:30 am to 12:00 pm EST  Mystery Writers Are Always Hot! Keynote
12:15 pm to 1:00 pm EST       Spectres
Rather Than Heat Mirages
Kaye (moderator) – Alexia Gordon, Toni L.P. Kelner, and Gigi Pandian
1:15 pm to 2:00 pm EST      Pages Burning Their Way to the Screen
Kaye (moderator) – Dana Cameron, Jeffrey Deaver, and Charlaine Harris
2:15 pm to 2:30 pm EST      Everybody in the Pool!

Dana Kaye
(moderator), Debra Goldstein (SEMWA), and Paula Gail Benson (Palmetto Chapter

Here’s some information about our fabulous authors:

Charlaine Harris is a true
daughter of the South. She was born in Mississippi and has lived in Tennessee,
South Carolina, Arkansas, and Texas. After years of dabbling with poetry,
plays, and essays, her career as a novelist began when her husband invited her
to write full time. Her first book, Sweet
and Deadly,
appeared in 1981. When Charlaine’s career as a mystery writer
began to falter, she decided to write a cross-genre book that would appeal to
fans of mystery, science fiction, romance, and suspense. She could not have
anticipated the huge surge of reader interest in the adventures of a barmaid in
Louisiana, or the fact that Alan Ball would come knocking at her door. Since
then, Charlaine’s novels have been adapted for several other television series,
with two in development now. Charlaine is a voracious reader. She has one
husband, three children, two grandchilden, and two rescue dogs. She leads a
busy life.
John M. Floyd’s short
fiction has appeared in Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine, Ellery Queen
Mystery Magazine, The Strand Magazine, The Saturday Evening Post
, and many
other publications. Three of his stories have been selected for the
annual Best American Mystery Stories anthology (the 2015,
2018, and 2020 editions) and another was recently optioned for film. A former
Air Force captain and IBM systems engineer, John is also an Edgar nominee, a four-time
Derringer Award winner, a three-time Pushcart Prize nominee, a recipient of the
Edward D. Hoch Memorial Golden Derringer Award for lifetime achievement, and
the author of eight books. He and his wife Carolyn live in Mississippi.
Tara Laskowski’s debut
novel, One Night Gone, won the 2019 Agatha Award for Best First
Novel and was a finalist for the Mary Higgins Clark, Anthony, Macavity, and
Lefty Awards. It was hailed by Tana French as “a subtly but relentlessly
unsettling novel.” Tara is also the author of two short story
collections, Modern Manners for Your Inner Demons and Bystanders,
which The Guardian named a best book of 2017. She has had
stories published in Alfred Hitchcock and Ellery
 Mystery Magazines and has won both an Agatha Award and a Thriller
Award for her short fiction. She was a longtime editor of the flash fiction
journal SmokeLong Quarterly. Tara earned a BA in English from
Susquehanna University and an MFA from George Mason University and lives in
Northern Virginia with her husband, writer Art Taylor, and their son, Dashiell.
Art Taylor is
the author of the story collection The Boy Detective & The Summer
of ’74 and Other Tales of Suspense 
and of the novel in stories On
the Road with Del & Louise, 
winner of the Agatha Award for Best
First NovelHe won the 2019 Edgar Award for Best Short Story for
“English 398: Fiction Workshop,” originally published in Ellery
Queen’s Mystery Magazine
, and he has won three additional Agatha Awards,
an Anthony Award, three Macavity Awards, and three consecutive Derringer Awards
for his short fiction. He is an associate professor of English at George Mason
Virginia native, physician by training, author by passion, Alexia Gordon writes the award-winning
Gethsemane Brown Mysteries, with Book 5, Execution in E, being released March
24, 2020. She is a member of MWA, SinC, ITW, and CWoC; blogs at
Missdemeanors.com and with the Femmes Fatales
(femmesfatales.typepad.com/my_weblog/); and hosts the podcast, The Cozy Corner
with Alexia Gordon. Find her on social media (Facebook: AlexiaGordon.writer,
Twitter: @AlexiaGordon, Instagram: DrLex1995) and visit her website (
www.alexiagordon.net) to sign up for her
Toni L.P. Kelner/Leigh
is two authors in one. As Leigh Perry, she
writes the Family Skeleton Mysteries. The sixth, The Skeleton Stuffs a
, was released in Fall 2019. As Toni L.P. Kelner, she wrote eight novels in the Laura Fleming
mystery series and three “Where Are They Now?” mysteries. Kelner also co-edited seven urban fantasy
anthologies with New Your Times best-seller Charlaine
Harris. Under both names she writes short fiction, including recent
publications in 
Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine and a forthcoming story in Shattering Glass. Kelner has won the Agatha
Award and an RT BookClub Lifetime Achievement Award and has been nominated
multiple times for the Anthony, the Macavity, and the Derringer.

Gigi Pandian is a USA Today bestselling and Agatha
Award-winning mystery author, breast cancer survivor, and accidental
almost-vegan. The child of anthropologists from New Mexico and the southern tip
of India, she spent her childhood traveling around the world on their research
trips, and now lives in California with her husband and a gargoyle who watches
over the garden. Gigi writes the
Jaya Jones Treasure Hunt mysteries, Accidental Alchemist mysteries, and
locked-room mystery short stories.
Dana Cameron writes
across many genres, but especially crime and speculative fiction. Her work,
inspired by her career in archaeology, has won multiple Anthony, Agatha, and
Macavity Awards, and has been nominated for the Edgar Award. Dana’s Emma
Fielding archaeology mysteries were optioned by Muse Entertainment; the third
movie, based on More Bitter Than Death,
will premier on the Hallmark Movie & Mystery Channel in January, 2019. When
she’s not traveling or visiting museums, she’s usually yelling at the TV about
historical inaccuracies.

A former journalist, folksinger and attorney, Jeffery Deaver is an international
number-one bestselling author. His novels have appeared on bestseller lists
around the world, including the New York Times, the Times
of London
, Italy’s Corriere della Sera, the Sydney
Morning Herald
 and the Los Angeles Times. His books are
sold in 150 countries and have been translated into over twenty-five languages.
He has sold 50 million books worldwide. The author of over thirty-five novels,
three collections of short stories and a nonfiction law book, and a lyricist of
a country-western album, he’s received or been shortlisted for dozens of
awards around the world. His book 
A Maiden’s Grave was
made into an HBO movie, his novel 
The Bone Collector was
a feature release from Universal Pictures, and in 2019, NBC picked up a series
called “Lincoln,” based on his books. Lifetime aired an adaptation of his 
The Devil’s Teardrop.

We hope that you’ll all join us for Mystery in the Midlands, Saturday, July 25, 2020!


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.