Tag Archive for: Malice Domestic

Missing Malice – A Love Letter

by Sparkle Abbey

Awards Banquet Table

Malice Domestic is the annual convention that celebrates the traditional mystery and frankly it’s one of our favorites.  This year we were unable to attend and we were so bummed. From our very first Malice Domestic and multiple ones since that first one, the mystery community welcomed us. We’re so grateful for the opportunity to meet readers who have become friends. And thankful for all the wisdom shared, advice offered,  and great tips from other mystery authors. Sometimes tips about things we were too new to the business to even know we were going to need to know. We listened, we took notes, and we soaked it all in.

It was necessary but so very difficult to not be there this year. We were sad to miss getting to meet new people, see old friends, and share in the celebrations. To everyone who posted photos on social media, thank-you so much. It was wonderful to get to live a little bit of that Malice magic vicariously.  To all of the Agatha Award nominees and winners that we didn’t get to congratulate in person – congratulations! If you missed the list of Agatha winners you can find it here: Announcing the Agatha Award Winners

And if you have not yet read these books, you should. All of them.

And by the way, registration is open for Malice Domestic 2024. And we’re not missing out again. We hope to see you there!

sparkle and abbeySparkle Abbey is actually two people, Mary Lee Ashford and Anita Carter, who write the national best-selling Pampered Pets cozy mystery series. They are friends as well as neighbors so they often get together and plot ways to commit murder. (But don’t tell the other neighbors.)

They love to hear from readers and can be found on FacebookTwitter, and Pinterest, their favorite social media sites. Also, if you want to make sure you get updates, sign up for their newsletter via the SparkleAbbey.com website

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? 

Malice Magic!

 By Lynn McPherson

Malice Domestic 2022.

What a fabulous event! It was the first time I’ve been away since 2019. I was nervous and excited all at once. It blew away all my expectations. Walking through the hallway and all around the hotel, I saw author after author I admired. Maureen Jennings, Louise Penny, Sherry Harris, Rhys Bowen, and Lori Rader-Day, just to name a few. The panels were well-organized and entertaining, nevermind informative and fun. Dru Ann Love moderated one of my favorite panels on how to keep a series fresh, with great advice from panelists Edith Maxwell, Amanda Flower, Cheryl Hollon, SC Perkins, and Barbara Ross. It was fabulous. Attending an interview with Rhys Bowen by Louise Penny felt like a dream come true. I also got to meet the head of the Blue Ridge Literary Agency, Dawn Dowdle. Dawn was warm and welcoming. Each night I had the privilege of dining with fellow authors at the BRLA table.

Will I be back next year? Definitely? Would I recommend it to anyone interested in mystery? You bet!

Here are a few photos of my time away…

Getting ready to leave Toronto!

Lynn McPherson has worked for the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, ran a small business, and taught English across the globe. She has travelled the world solo where her daring spirit has led her to jump out of airplanes, dive with sharks, and learn she would never master a surfboard. She now channels her lifelong love of adventure and history into her writing,
where she is free to go anywhere, anytime. Her cozy series has three books out: 
The Girls’ Weekend Murder and The Girls Whispered Murder, and The Girls Dressed For Murder.  

Celebrating the Agathas for Best First Novel

by Paula Gail Benson

For the past two years, the
community that gathers for Malice Domestic has missed its annual reunion. From
Wednesday through Saturday, the Malice board organized and presented a series
of online panels and interviews that helped those of us missing the in-person
event to feel as if we reconnected virtually.

More Than Malice ended on
Saturday with the announcement of the Agatha awards. The teapots for the past
two years will be awarded when we’re all together again, but in the meantime,
today and tomorrow on Writers Who Kill, I wanted to recognize the Agatha nominees
for Best First Novel and Best Short Story. They are a wonderful group of
writers. If you haven’t discovered them yet, please consider reading their

Here are the Agatha nominees
for Best First Novel (award noted by **):

Agatha Nominees for Best First Novel

Connie Berry

A Dream of
Connie Berry (Crooked Lane Books)

Night Gone
by Tara Laskowski (Graydon House)

Murder Once

by S. C. Perkins (Minotaur Books)

When It’s Time
for Leaving

by Ang Pompano (Thimble Island Press, 2nd edition)

Staging for

by Grace Topping (Henery Press)

Tara Laskowski

Berry is one of my blogging partners at Writers Who Kill. Her first Kate
Hamilton novel was nominated for an Agatha.
Dream of Death
also was a finalist for the Silver Falchion and won the IPPY
Gold Medal for Mystery. Since then, two additional books in the series have
been released,
A Legacy of Murder
(October 2019) and
The Art of Betrayal
(June 2021).
The Shadow of Memory is
the next Kate Hamilton adventure.

Laskowski’s first novel
One Night Gone,
not only won the Agatha, but also the Macavity and Anthony awards and was a
finalist for the Lefty, the Simon and Schuster Mary Higgins Clark, the Strand
Critics, and the Library of VA Literary awards. Her second novel,
The Mother Next Door, will be published
in October 2021. She, her husband Art Taylor, and son Dash will be guests of
honor at Murder in the Magic City in February 2022.

S.C. Perkins

Perkins is a fifth generation Texan, who grew up listening to stories about her
ancestry and eating Tex Mex, experiences that contribute to her Ancestry
Detective series. Her first book,
Once Removed
, won the 2017 Malice Domestic Best First Novel competition
prior to being nominated for an Agatha.
Most Lethal
will be released July 21, 2021, and Fatal Family Ties is next book.

Ang Pompano

Pompano proves how perseverance leads to publication. In his blog post in Writers Who Kill, he describes how he kept moving the location of his novel in
order to sell it. 
When It’s Time for
takes place just outside Savannah, an evocative place that becomes
a character in the story. His next novel,
of Death
, is about a reluctant food columnist.

Grace Topping

Topping, another of my blogging partners at Writers Who Kill, became an author
after a career in technical writing and as an IT project manage. H
er Laura Bishop home staging mystery series has made her an Agatha finalist and bestselling author. Staging for Murder has
been followed by
Staging Wars and Upstaged by Murder.

Agatha Nominees for Best First Novel

A Spell for Trouble by
Esme Addison (Crooked Lane Books)

Esme Addison

Winter Witness by Tina
deBellegarde (Level Best Books)

Derailed by Mary
Keliikoa (Epicenter Press, Inc.)

**Murder at the Mena House by Erica Ruth Neubauer (Kensington)

Murder Most Sweet by
Laura Jensen Walker (Crooked Lane Books)

Tina deBellegarde

Addison, originally from Raleigh, NC, but having traveled a great deal as a
military spouse, based her Enchanted Bay Mystery series on the Polish myth of
the Mermaid of Warsaw, which she learned from marrying into a first generation
Polish family. Her second book is
A Hex
for Danger

deBellegarde has written short stories and flash fiction. Her first novel,
Winter Witness, begins the
Batavia-on-Hudson series. She lives with her husband and cat Shelby in the
Catskills where she tends bees and harvests shiitakes and vegetables.

Mary Keliikoa

Derailed, the first in her
PI Kelly Pruett books, has been nominated for the Lefty as well as the Agatha.
Denied is the second book in the series.
She also writes the Mystery Pines mysteries, the first book,
Hidden Pieces, will be coming out in
September 2022. Her experience as a legal secretary led her to write mysteries.

Erica Ruth Neubauer

Erica Ruth Neubauer’s 
Murder at the Mena House, the first of the Jane
Wunderly mysteries, received the Agatha for best first novel. The second in the
Murder at Wedgefield Manor,
was released in March 2021. Erica lives with her husband in Milwaukee,
Wisconsin, and has worked in the military, law enforcement, as a
teacher, and as a reviewer.

Laura Jensen Walker

Jensen Walker knew she wanted to be a writer since reading 103 books in
first grade.
Murder Most Sweet is the first of her
Bookish Baker mysteries. The second, Deadly
, was released in June. Hope,
Faith, and a Corpse
, a new cozy series about a pastor in a small California
town, came out in January.

Malice Domestic in pictures by Dru Ann Love

This week I would be winging my way to Bethesda, Maryland for the annual Malice Domestic Convention. As we are still in the midst of a pandemic, this and other major reader/fan conventions have been canceled. Today’s post is a pictorial journey of the fun times had at previous Malice Domestic conventions. . .starting with 2010.

2010 in Crystal City, Virginia – This was my first time there and I was nervous as heck. I always thank Heather Webber from nudging me to attend.

2011 in Bethesda, Maryland

2012 in Bethesda, Maryland

2013 in Bethesda, Maryland

2014 in Bethesda, Maryland

2015 in Bethesda, Maryland

2016 in Bethesda, Maryland

2017 in Bethesda, Maryland – The year I won the MWA Raven Award

2018 in Bethesda, Maryland

2019 in Bethesda, Maryland – BOLO Books and dru’s book musings first ad in the Malice Domestic program book

2020 in Bethesda, Maryland

Who’s ready for the conventions in 2021? Albuquerque, Bethesda, and New Orleans, anyone?

I know I am.

A Two Day Pre-Malice Agatha Party

by Paula Gail Benson

This year, we won’t be able to gather in Bethesda, Maryland, to celebrate the best of the traditional mystery. We’ll miss the homecoming, family reunion, and all round party blast. But, that doesn’t mean that we can’t celebrate the magnificent authors whose brilliant works have been nominated for the Agatha Award.

Last year, I offered a quiz to match words (from stories or novels) with authors in the Best Short Story and Best First Novel categories. This year, I’m expanding the game to include all the nominees. The Best Historical Mystery, Best Nonfiction, and Best Children/Young Adult categories are featured today and the rest will be in my post at Writers Who Kill tomorrow.

Why don’t you take these little tests today and tomorrow to remember some great reads or be introduced to some new authors? Match the titles (numbered) with the words (lettered) below. Answers are at the end!

Rhys Bowen

Historical Mystery
(1) Love and Death Among the
 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
Susanna Calkins


(6) Frederic Dannay, Ellery Queen’s
Mystery Magazine and the Art of the Detective Short Story
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
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
Hallie Rubenhold (Houghton, Mifflin, Harcourt)
L.A. Chandlar

Children/Young Adult

(11) Kazu Jones and the Denver
 by Shauna Holyoak (Disney Hyperion)

Two Can Keep a Secret
 by Karen MacManus (Delacorte

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)
Edith Maxwell

(A) Cartoons/Spies/Missing

(B) Denver/Crime
(C) Extended
Honeymoon/Animal Attack
(D) Females/Human/Friendships
(E) Hairdresser/Honeymoon/Murder
(F) Handkerchief/Shrink/Gangsters
(G) Medicine/Massachusetts/Faith
(H) New
York/London/Voodoo Macbeth
Gabriel Valjan

(I) Historian/Pen

(J) Cigarettes/Jazz/Photographs
(K) Reverend/Acquitted/Assassinated
(L) School/Anniversary/Detective
(M) Secrets/Homecoming/Murder
(N) Wagon
(O) Women/Victims/Wrong
Place at Wrong Time

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.

Mystery Short Story Nominations

by Paula Gail Benson
This time of year, it’s great to be able to celebrate some of the
best in mystery short stories with the nominations for recognition by the
Mystery Writers of America (which presents the Edgar awards, named after Edgar
Allan Poe) and Malice Domestic (which presents the Agathas, named after Agatha
Christie). The Edgars are determined by MWA member judges and presented at a
Gala Banquet, held this year at the Grand Hyatt Hotel in New York City.
Following are the 2019 Edgar Best Short Story nominees:
“Rabid – A Mike Bowditch Short
 by Paul Doiron (Minotaur Books).
“Paranoid Enough for Two” – The Honorable
by John Lutz (Kensington Publishing).
“Ancient and Modern” – Bloody Scotland by
Val McDermid (Pegasus Books).
“English 398: Fiction Workshop” –
Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine
 by Art Taylor (Dell Magazines).
“The Sleep Tight Motel” – Dark Corners Collection by
Lisa Unger (Amazon Publishing).
Gigi Pandian’s 2017 Agatha Best Short Story Award
The Agathas are nominated by
persons registered to attend the annual Malice Domestic conference in Bethesda,
Maryland, and will be selected by a ballot of those who attend the conference. The
awards will be presented at the banquet on May 4, 2019.
year’s nominees provide a range of time periods and characters to contemplate
and savor. For the first time, a wife and husband (Tara Laskowski and Art Taylor) have been nominated for the award. Here are the links to each story:
God’s Sparrows”
 by Leslie Budewitz (Alfred
Hitchcock Mystery Magazine)
“A Postcard for the Dead” by
Susanna Calkins in Florida Happens (Three Rooms Press)
 by Barb Goffman (Ellery Queen Mystery
“The Case of the Vanishing Professor” by
Tara Laskowski (Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine)
“English 398: Fiction Workshop” by
Art Taylor (Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine)
read and enjoy!

A little of this, a little of that

It’s my turn to write a post and I really have nothing.

Next week will be a busy one as Malice Domestic convention is upon on. Some will trek to Bethesda, Maryland to attend panels and listen to honored guest and be one with the reading/writing universe. I look forward to attending this convention as it was the first one I ever attended.

I will also be attending the memorial for Sue Grafton on Tuesday. Later that evening I will be at the Mysterious Bookshop for the 2018 Edgar Awards celebrations where I will be hobnobbing with 2018 Edgar Award nominees, authors, and people in the publishing industry.

That’s all I have. Oh wait, did you know that there are five separate areas on my blog? From Monday – Saturday and sometimes Sunday, my “day in the life” feature is showcased. I save the Saturdays for non-cozy titles. Sundays are for cover reveals (although lately I had a couple in the middle of the week), reviews, and releases.

You can check out my blog at drusbookmusing.com.

Travel Plans aka Adventures

by Sparkle Abbey

What’s that saying about the best laid plans? Oh, right…the full quote is “The best laid plans of mice and men often go awry.” From the Scottish poet, Robert Burns.

It seems that particular quote is often true for us. And especially when it involves travel plans. Or as we like to call them travel adventures.

More times than we can count we’ve had flight delays, road construction delays and bad weather (ice, snow, thunderstorm) delays. Heck, we’ve even had a tumbleweed delay on a flight into Denver. Now, there have been a few times when the travel plans gone awry, were out own fault. We may or may not have missed a turn and ended up in Michigan. Twice.

Has anything like that ever happened to you?

We have, more than once, completely missed mystery conferences or apperances because our rebooking couldn’t get us on-site in time. Not good. So you can understand our trepidation as we booked our flight for the Malice Domestic conference at the end of this month. We love attending Malice Domestic. We love meeting readers, reconnecting with friends and fellow authors, and hanging out with book people. So, we’re thinking positive travel thoughts and hoping for smooth sailing…er…flying.

If you’re planning to be at Malice we look forward to seeing you there. In fact, if you see us at Malice we’re happy to share a cocktail or a coffee and hear some of your travel adventures. Or perhaps you’d like to share here?

Sparkle Abbey is the pseudonym of mystery authors Mary Lee Woods and Anita Carter. They’ve chosen to use Sparkle Abbey as their pen name on this series because they liked the idea of combining the names of their two rescue pets – Sparkle (ML’s cat) and Abbey (Anita’s dog).

The authors co-write the best-selling Pampered Pets Mystery Series which focuses on the wacky world of precious pedigrees, pampered pooches, and secrets in posh Laguna Beach, California. The main characters and amateur sleuths are Texas cousins, Caro Lamont, a pet therapist, and Melinda Langston, a pet boutique owner. The two would join forces and work together if they were speaking, but they’re not.  Midwest Book Review calls the series “A sassy and fun mystery!”

At Malice Domestic this year Sparkle Abbey (aka Anita and Mary Lee) will be on the Murderous Wit panel at 3:00 PM on Saturday along with Paula Gail Benson, Ginger Bolton and Lida Sideris.