Tag Archive for: Carol Puckett

The Bill Crider Prize for Short Fiction

by Paula Gail Benson
Portions of this post
appeared in the November 19, 2019, post for Writers
Who Kill
. However, this great news deserves to be shared more than once!

I was delighted to be asked by Carol Puckett and Kendel Lynn to be the contest
coordinator for the Bill Crider Prize for Short Fiction, debuting this year at
the Dallas Bouchercon. The contest honored the memory of revered Texas writer
and reviewer Bill Crider. Open to any writer in the world, stories had to be
between 3,500 and 5,000 words and deal with the theme “Deep in the Heart.”
Jim Jackson, who was experienced working on anthologies, agreed to
be the submissions coordinator, without knowing what that task might entail.
Sixty-three stories were blindly submitted. Thirty-seven advanced to the second
round and eleven were selected as finalists for the following prizes:
·         First Place:      $1000
·         Second Place:  $750
·         Third Place:     $500
·         Bill Crider Memorial
Scholarship:      Registration to Bouchercon 2020
We were so fortunate to have excellent short story writers and
editors to agree to judge the preliminary rounds. They were: Carla Coupe, Kaye
George, Barb Goffman, Debra H. Goldstein, Tara Laskowski, Robert Mangeot, Karen
McCullough, Warren Moore, Terrie Moran, and Beth Terrell. I cannot thank these folks
enough for taking on the difficult task of determining which stories would go
Janet Hutchings, editor of Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine,
and Linda Landrigan, editor of Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine,
graciously agreed to serve as judges for the final round.
The eleven finalists were:
“Long Overdue” by Jaap Boekestein
“Trust Me” by Douglas Dorow
“Mi Corazón, Sin Cartero, Sin Timbre de las Puerta (My
Heart, Sans Postman, Sans Doorbell)” by Dixon Hill
“Resuscitation” by Ann Kellett
“Cahoots” by C.C. Guthrie
“The Texas Justice Project” by James L’Etoile
“Lambs and Wolves” by Robert Lopresti
“Death and Texas” by Lissa Marie Redmond
“Dead Armadillos Don’t Dance” by Kari Wainwright
“The Last Man in Lafarge” by Joseph S. Walker
“Armadillo by Morning” by Stacy Woodson
And, the top four prizes were awarded to:
·         First Place:     
Joseph S. Walker
·         Second Place:  Jaap Boekestein
·         Third Place:     Douglas
·         Bill Crider Memorial
Scholarship:      Dixon Hill
We were delighted to have three of the four prize winners (Joseph
S. Walker, Douglas Dorow, and Dixon Hill) at the ceremony hosted by Hank
Phillippi Ryan. In addition, a number of the participants and judges attended
and we took a “class” photo.

Although publication was not part of the prize for this contest, I
firmly believe you’ll be seeing these stories and their authors’ names in
print. So, be watching for them.
Following Bouchercon, Joseph S. Walker attended New England Crime
Bake, where he was honored with the Al Blanchard award. Way to go, Joe!

Many thanks to all who
participated as entrants, judges, and planners of this contest. I hope it might
be a tradition that continues to other Bouchercons.

My First Bouchercon Panel

by Paula Gail Benson

Carol Puckett with her husband Jim

While there are many special things I’ll remember about this year’s 50th anniversary Bouchercon, celebrated in Dallas, Texas, one in particular will be that this year marked my first to moderate and serve on a panel at the world mystery conference. I’d already felt privileged to get to know and work with the organizers on the Bill Crider Prize for Short Fiction (more on that in my post tomorrow on Writers Who Kill). Thank you to Carol Puckett, local committee organizer, for not only collecting historical memorabilia from the past 50 Bouchercons as well as honoring Bill Crider, a beloved Texas writer and reviewer, but also for recognizing the interest in different lengths of mystery stories, novellas, and novels. Carol told me that some people asked about the number of panels devoted to short mystery fiction, but that she and the organizers had heard attendees ask about different story formats and responded to it.

I moderated a panel called “Does Length Matter?” While the subject may sound titillating (I warned audience members if they came to hear a discussion about measuring body parts, they might be disappointed to learn we would be talking about word count), it’s actually one about which I often hear writers speculate. For example, some of the questions we considered were: (1) have readers’ attention spans narrowed? (2) is it better to write two short novels in a year rather than one lengthy one? (3) can writing short stories between novels keep a reader interested in a series or characters? and (4) how do you know if an idea is better suited for a novel or short story?

Sandy Steen, Mary Stojak, Becki Willis, Bess Carnan, Mad Hildebrandt, Angela Zeman, me, and Rhonda Gilliland
(Photo by Rhonda’s husband Fr. Basil Gilliland)

We had a terrific group of panelists, some novelists, some short story authors, and some who had written both. Now that I’ve met them in person, I know I have many titles to add to my reading list (and I would encourage you all to check out their work).

Our two Texans were Sandy Steen and Becki Willis, both novelists. They each have written in several genres. Becki has independently published several series.

Mad Hildebrandt has written cozy mysteries, humorous romantic suspense, and dark gritty mysteries. She told us that she often writes a novel straight through in seventy-two hours, a rigorous stretch to produce the draft, but one that she found to work best for her. Angela Zeman also has written in diverse genres and has one character, Mrs. Risk, who started out in short stories before appearing in a novel. Mary Stojak has a solid reputation for writing short stories and is working on a novel.

Bess Carnan, this year’s winner of the William F. Deeck-Malice Domestic Grants Program for Unpublished Writers, said that her first drafts are short, then she lengthens them through rewrites. Rhonda Gilliland, who I’d served with on a panel before at Killer Nashville, has written stories as well as served as an editor for a successful series of mystery culinary anthologies.

Many thanks to Carol Puckett and the 2019 Bouchercon organizers for the opportunity to talk about story formats and to get to know these fine writers better.

(Photo by Rhonda’s husband Fr. Basil Gilliland)

Do you prefer short stories or novels?