Tag Archive for: Leslie Budewitz

May is Short Story Month!

by Paula Gail Benson

Since 2013, StoryaDay.org has declared May
Short Story month and has set up a website (
to recommend short stories and recognize their authors.
May has been a month where short stories have been celebrated.
the first weekend in May, at Malice Domestic in Bethesda, Maryland, a
tie-winner was announced in the short story category at the Agatha Banquet.
Leslie Budewitz and Tara Laskowski’s stories were honored.
Leslie Budewitz and Tara Laskowski
Photo by Robin Templeton
That weekend also saw the announcement of the winners
of the 2019 Derringer Award sponsored by The 
Short Mystery
Fiction Society

Flash Story (up to 1000 words)

“The Bicycle Thief” by James Blakey (The Norwegian American, September 21, 2018)

Short Story (1001 to 4000 words)

“Dying in Dokesville” by Alan Orloff (Malice Domestic 13: Mystery Most Geographical)

Long Story (4001 to 8000 words)

“With My Eyes” by Leslie Budewitz (Suspense Magazine, January/February 2018)


“The Cambodian Curse” by Gigi Pandian (The Cambodian Curse & Other Stories by Gigi Pandian, Henery
And now, we have the Anthony awards to
anticipate for October.

Anthony Nominees for Best Short Story:
“The Grass Beneath My
Feet” by S.A. Cosby, in Tough
(blogazine, August 20, 2018)
“Bug Appétit” by Barb
Goffman, in Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine (November/December 2018)
“Cold Beer No Flies” by
Greg Herren, in Florida Happens (Three Rooms Press)
“English 398: Fiction
Workshop” by Art Taylor, in Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine (July/August
“The Best Laid Plans” by
Holly West, in Florida Happens (Three Rooms Press)
you read a short story lately?

A Pre-Malice Domestic QUIZ!

by Paula Gail Benson

At the end of this week, many of us will gather in Bethesda, Maryland, to celebrate the best of the traditional mystery. It will be a homecoming, family reunion, and all round party blast–wonderful in the anticipating and attending, yet over far too soon.

Let’s get the party started early with this quiz. Can you match the following words (from their stories or novels) with the authors in the Best Short Story and Best First Novel categories? Answers at the end!

1. Harvard

2. Speed Dating

3. Mermaid

4. San Juan Hotel

5. Teen-aged Brother

6. Syllabus

7. Homeless Person

8. Mission

9. A Royal Blue Gown

10. Nancy Drew

A. Art Taylor
B. Shari Randall

C. Tara Laskowski
D. Keenan Powell
E. Barb Goffman
F. Aimee Hix
G. Susanna Calkins
H. Edwin Hill

I. Leslie Budewitz

J. Dianne Freeman

Answers: 1. H.– 2. E. — 3. B. — 4. G. — 5. F. — 6. A. — 7. D. — 8. I. — 9. J. — 10. C.

WRITING MULTIPLE SERIES: Featuring Leslie Budewitz

This is
my second interview with an author who writes multiple mystery series. My guest
is Leslie Budewitz, current President of the national Sisters in Crime and a
founding member of the Guppy Chapter of SinC. Leslie is the first person to
have won Agathas for fiction and nonfiction.
Death al Dente, the first
in her Food Lovers’ Village Mysteries, won the 2013 Agatha Award for Best First
Novel. Her guide for writers, Books, Crooks & Counselors: How to Write
Accurately About Criminal Law and Courtroom Procedure
, won the 2011
Agatha Award for Best Nonfiction. Also, her essay is featured in Writes of Passage: Adventures on the Writer’s Journey edited by Hank Phillippi
Ryan (Henery Press)
, which
won Agatha and Anthony awards this year. Welcome, Leslie!

Thanks, Paula, for
including me in this series!
How did you initially
decide to write fiction?
I started writing at 4,
on my father’s desk. Literally – I did not yet grasp the concept of paper.
Fortunately, my parents were understanding, and kept me readily supplied with
pens and paper. Though while I always wanted to write, I didn’t think it was
something you could really do. But I was an avid reader, of course, and
someone was writing those books. In my mid-30s, during a difficult time, I
realized that someone could be me. I wrote the first chapter of my first novel
one afternoon in my firm’s law library. But the process of becoming a fiction
writer is a continual series of decisions – to keep writing, to work on the
craft, to learn about the business, and to persevere. So glad I did!
Now, I’m writing two
light-hearted or cozy mystery series. No graphic sex or violence, lots of
graphic food. In the Spice Shop Mysteries, Pepper Reece never thought she’d
find solace and comfort, let alone employment, in bay leaves, but running a
spice shop in Seattle’s famed Pike Place Market gives her a new zest for life –
until murder ends up in the mix.
The Food Lovers’ Village
Mysteries is set in NW Montana, where I live. After years away, Erin Murphy’s
come home to Jewel Bay, a tourist community on the road to Glacier National
Park. She remakes her family’s hundred-year-old grocery into the Merc, a
specialty local foods market and commercial kitchen used by the village
chocolatier, the jam maker, and other producers, including Erin’s mother,
Fresca, who makes pastas and sauces that Erin sells. While pursuing her passion
for pasta and huckleberry chocolates, Erin discovers a talent for solving
You have published
short stories. How did those help and continue to influence your career?
Honestly, I never thought
I could write a short story. They daunted me. How could I could tell a story in
less than 80,000 words? But I had a couple of ideas that were clearly short
stories, not novels, and when they came together, and then were published, they
gave me the sense that despite a lot of discouragement, I actually could write
fiction. At about that same time, I wrote my nonfiction book, BOOKS, CROOKS
PROCEDURE (Quill Driver, 2011). In the process, I realized that as much as I
love helping other writers, I wasn’t through telling my own stories. And so, I
recommitted – that decision-making process again – and started my Food Lovers’
Village Mysteries.
Who publishes each of
your series and how did you begin writing each series?
I wanted to create a cozy
series and knew that food themes are popular. Mr. Right and I love to cook and
try new recipes, so I thought we had the culinary chops. The Food Lovers’
Village mysteries introduce readers to a surprising little village very much
like my own – a small town in a gorgeous setting with tremendous food, art, and
theater that delights the many visitors who have a very different idea of what
small-town Montana will be!
When I decided to start a
second series, I wanted a completely different setting. As a student at Seattle
University and later as a young lawyer, I fell in love with the Pike Place
Market and spent many happy hours eating my way through it. When I worked
downtown, I bought most of my produce, cheese, and baked goods there, along
with other treats. It’s a terrific setting for an urban cozy – a city within a
city – and readers seem to enjoy the trip as much as I do. Of course, I have to
go there regularly for research – by which I mean “eat.”
So while both series are
light-hearted, and feature women who work in food-related retail, the settings
are total opposites. I’ve worked hard to make the two women and the other
characters distinctive as well.
Both are published by
Berkley Prime Crime. And I must say, I would not have been able to make the
contacts to get the contracts without the support and encouragement of friends
I met through the Sisters in Crime Guppies chapter.
How many books do you
write in a year and what is your publication schedule?
This year is a bit of an
anomaly: By the end I will have written four books and published three. I hope
in future years to write and publish one a year in each series, giving me time
for a few more short stories and another project I have in mind.
Do you write under
more than one name? If so, was that by your choice or a publisher’s request?
What “relationship”
do you have as author with each of your series’ protagonists?
Erin Murphy, the
protagonist of the Food Lovers’ Village Mysteries, is a lot like me in many
ways – she left her native Montana, then returned in her early 30s. She spouts
off snippets from plays and poems with little provocation. Jewel Bay, her
hometown, is a lot like the community where we live, so she lets me dive into
that theme of coming home, only to find that both you and the place have
changed more than you expected. I also get to share my love of this wonderful
state and a town that never fails to surprise visitors!
Pepper Reece, the owner
of the Spice Shop, is a Seattle girl through and through. She lets me indulge
and explore my love of the Emerald City. We both fit the “life begins at 40”
cliché, and as with Erin, I find it a lot of fun to explore an aspect of my own
life through the life of a younger woman with her own talents, quirks, and
Both love to cook and
eat, and that makes us all great companions!
Setting has an
important role in each series you write. What is your approach to developing a
setting that fuels the story and draws in readers?
It’s all about the details
– finding the right ones that create a picture and evoke a mood and flavor for
readers who may never have been to the place you’re describing or one like it.
And you’ve got to know when enough is enough – don’t describe a place unless
it’s actually important to the story. Setting a book in a real city – Seattle –
is challenging because I want to get it right, and darn it, it keeps changing,
as cities always do. Many people know Seattle – 10 MILLION people visit the
Pike Place Market every year. So I do a lot of research. I keep maps on my wall
and guides to the city close by. I read Seattle newspapers and blogs, and
consult friends who still live there.
Jewel Bay is an easier
place to write about because while it’s modeled on a real village, it is ultimately
a place of the heart.
Is it a challenge to
keep coming up with original and inventive plots? How do you do it?
Drink wine and eat
chocolate. Seriously, I can only hope that I don’t repeat myself or draw too
heavily on the conventions of the genre. Ultimately, plot comes from the
characters – what do these people want, and what will they do when they don’t
get it. The people are the heart of the story.
Since at The Stiletto
Gang we like to delve into shoes and accessories, what are your protagonists’
favorite foot or carrying apparel? (Pictures are welcome!)
Erin counts on her lucky
red boots, and Pepper her pink shoes. I don’t actually own either pair – they
are their own women, after all – but I envision Erin’s boots like these pictures.

Painting by Leslie’s friend, Bigfork artist Nancy Dunlap Cawdrey

Thanks for having me at the Stiletto Gang today. I’d be delighted to give a
copy of GUILTY AS CINNAMON and an adorable gingerbread man tea infuser to a


A Montana native, Leslie graduated
from Seattle University and Notre Dame Law School. After practicing in Seattle
for several years – and shopping and eating her way through the Pike Place
Market regularly – she returned to Montana, where she still practices law
part-time. Killing people – on the page – is more fun.

loves to cook, eat, hike, travel, garden, and paint
not necessarily in that order. She lives in
northwest Montana with her husband, Don Beans, a singer-songwriter and doctor
of natural medicine, and their Burmese cat, Ruff, a book cover model and an
avid bird watcher.

Memories of Malice Domestic 27

Memories of Malice Domestic 27 by Debra H. Goldstein

Not enough sleep as toastmaster Toni L.P. Kelner urged all of us to get during the weekend, but there definitely was plenty of fun, friends, and sharing of stories, beverages, and new experiences at the 2015 Malice Domestic Convention that now is in the history books.  Held in Bethesda, Maryland, Malice is billed as a fan conference.

Since I began attending in 2012 when I was on the Academic Panel talking about my mystery on the University of Michigan’s campus, Maze in Blue, I haven’t been certain who the fans really are because I think the writers and the non-writers equally qualify as fans.  I know I am thrilled when the two non-writers who met me at the 2012 New Authors Breakfast make it a point to find me and tell me that they have followed my career this year (For their loyalty, they both will receive free copies of my new book, Should Have Played Poker: a Carrie Martin and the Mah Jongg Players Mystery, when it is published by Five Star in February 2016). But, the truth is that I am personally excited to meet writers I have held in esteem for years and newbies that I can’t wait to follow. See if you recognize a few of both in these pictures that capture some of my Malice Domestic 27 memories:

2015 Academic Mystery Panel – Susan Van Kirk, Lori Rader-Day, DHG, Triss Stein, Neil Plakcy

Jungle Red Writers Game with Hallie Ephron, Rhys Bowen, Charlaine Harris, Roberta Isleib/Lucy Burdette, Hank Phillippi Ryan and the game players including DHG

Picture One:  Nikki Bonnani, Susan Van Kirk, Marilyn Levinson, Grace Topping
Picture Two: DHG, Catriona McPherson, Barb Goffman
Picture Three:  Maggie Toussaint, Nancy J. Cohen, Maggie King, DHG
Picture Four:  Terrie Fairley Moran & DHG
Picture Five: Kathy Waller & DHG
Picture Six:  Edith Maxwell & DHG
Picture Seven:  Leslie Budewitz & DHG
Look at my grin — who says writers aren’t fans?  Do you admit it, too?

My Writing Vacation – Or Books I Enjoyed When I Let Myself Read for Fun by Debra H. Goldstein

Many of you know I stepped down from the bench a year ago to give myself the freedom to write during the day.  The results were mixed.  In the beginning, I couldn’t get disciplined enough to do much more than organize my daughter’s wedding, travel, and watch every possible episode of How I Met Your Mother and NCIS. I finally found my writing “legs” and finished a novel that beta readers are now reviewing and wrote and submitted a number of short stories.  Four of them, “A Political Cornucopia,” “Who Dat? Dat the Indian Chief!,” “Early Frost,” and the “Rabbi’s Wife Stayed Home,” were published by Bethlehem Writer’s Roundtable (November 2013), Mardi Gras Murder (2014), The Birmingham Arts Journal (April 2014) and Mysterical – E (April 2014), respectively. At the same time, my 2012 IPPY Award winning mystery, Maze in Blue, was re-released by Harlequin Worldwide Mystery as a May 2014 book of the month.

When I received notice that Maze was reissued and the fourth story had been accepted for publication, I

decided to take a two week vacation from writing and rejoin the world of being a reader.  Some of the books I could have done without (diet books – I’ve gained weight since I decided to write), some were simply okay (a biography of Barbra Streisand), but some proved to be pure fun.  One of the exciting things to me, is that many of the books I really enjoyed were written by authors I have met at various conferences and who, in many cases, have written guest blogs for “It’s Not Always a Mystery.”(http://debrahgoldstein.wordpress.com)

For a good suspense read, let me recommend Hank Phillippi Ryan’s Agatha winning The Wrong Girl.  I read her Mary Higgins Clark MWA winning The Other Woman last year and eagerly was awaiting this book.  Then, I picked up the third book in the Skeet Bannon series written by Linda Rodriguez.  Every Hidden Fear was published the week I took my reading vacation, I couldn’t put it down – each book only has hooked me on Skeet since Linda won the Malice Domestic Best First Traditional Mystery Novel Competition for Every Last Secret.

I wanted to get a little food and farm reading in so I turned to Edith Maxwell’s A Tine to Live, A Tine to Die which I followed with Leslie Budewitz’s Agatha winning Death al Dente. Food wasn’t my only companion during my reading excursion.  I added a little comedy and romance with Kendel Lynn’s Board Stiff.

Much as I enjoy mysteries, I needed to spice up my life with a few good looking men so my bedtime reading was Robert Wagner’s Pieces of My Heart.  Tonight, I’m snuggling up with Rob Lowe’s book, Love Life.  I plan to read fast because tomorrow I’m giving myself back to writing.