Tag Archive for: mystery short stories

An Interview with Saul Golubcow

by Paula Gail Benson

Last Monday, I introduced you to Saul Golubcow, whose Frank Wolf and Joel Gordon mysteries have just been compiled in The Cost of Living and Other Mysteries, available through Amazon and the publisher Wildside Press. As I mentioned in last week’s post, I’ve enjoyed reading each new story and been bold enough to ask Saul for more! I think you’ll find his characters and situations so intriguing it’s difficult to put a story down until the end. Saul’s been gracious enough to answer some questions about his life and how he found his way to writing fiction.

Thank you, Saul, for agreeing to be with us.

If you haven’t already been reading his work, now is a great time to start!

(1)        What made you decide to write fiction? 

Hard question as it suggests a definable or rational causality. But here goes. I think when I was much younger, feeling inside a pulse and rhythm of the English language and resonating viscerally to so much of what I read, I thought perhaps I could bring forth life through a fictional rendering. And perhaps I thought if others can do it, why can’t I? But in the same way I try to present Joel in my stories, I was immature not so much from an impulsive or know-it-all perspective, but rather as Joni Mitchell may have put it, I couldn’t see “both sides now.” It took decades of growing up to feel comfortable with myself writing fiction. Writing non-fiction opinion pieces demands much less in its two-dimensional approach to a subject. But I realized if I wanted to really depict Holocaust survivors, I had to devise a multi-dimensional way which could only be done through a fictional world of relationships, tensions, nobility, hypocrisy, loss, and vindication. I thought I was finally ready to create lives.

(2)        How did you create the characters of Frank Wolf and his grandson Joel Gordon? 

An easier question. As I mention in the “Acknowledgments” section, for one of my drawer-kept projected stories, I thought about the life and personality of my father-in-law. He had lost his first family during the Holocaust, and he arrived in the United States in later middle age following the Hungarian Revolution. He was well versed in religious practice, history, arts, the sciences, and the technologies of his time. I was also struck by his various observations of the human condition. Although he never attempted private detective work, he often spoke of “critical analyses” as an imperative for reining in impulsive and rash decision-making, the core skill of a good detective. I back then wondered, might I create a Holocaust survivor character who becomes a private detective in Brooklyn?

But also, Frank Wolf represents that spirit of Holocaust survivors that has insisted that while they suffered horrible victimization, they would not succumb to victimhood. Even before I met my father-in-law, this response to suffering was bred in my bones. I also saw it in my own family. My parents also lost whole families in the Holocaust. Grateful for the opportunity to make a living as poultry farmers in South Jersey even though they knew nothing of farming, nor later of being hotel managers in Atlantic City, they demonstrated a resilience in the midst of enduring pain, building a new life in which my sister and I were protected and a path into our future developed. My father often insisted, “I can’t give up.” These traits are infused into my Holocaust survivors’ characters, regardless of their individual and differing personalities.

As for Joel, I think my wife and I are the models for his character. Young, sometimes over-confident, sometimes self-doubting, sometimes respectful, sometimes imperious, we wrestled with our “Frank Wolf” and learned a good deal about love, trust, and respect as we did so.

(3)        Tell us a little about Frank’s background, which is unique. How did you develop it? 

As mentioned above, I took my father-in-law’s real-life background as the blueprint for Frank Wolf’s character. Before the War, though not a university professor, he was well educated in both secular and religious studies. He may have become a professor or a Rabbi or both had he, as the eldest male in the family, not been forced to take over the family business after the early death of his father. Frank Wolf before the Holocaust was the easiest task for me. The challenge was conceptualizing his life after, and seeing him as a private detective the way I present it in the stories seemed the right way to go.

(4)      How do you determine the length of a story? What length do you feel most comfortable writing? 

Intriguing question. When I am in short story conceptualization mode, I must deal with the constraints of forums accepting just so many words. So I go into “less is more” mode, and that’s ok for that particular genre. But as it occurred for me with “The Cost of Living” which was originally published as a short story, I wanted to say so much more about Frank’s background and life story that turned it into novella length. I gave myself the same leeway with the other stories (especially “The Dorm Murder”) because I wanted the reader to understand so much more about psyche, feeling, and crime solving method that I couldn’t advance in a word limited short story. I am comfortable novella length, but it’s possible my next mystery will be even longer.

Saul Golubcow

Saul’s Bio:

When he is not immersed in the New York of the 1970s with his detective Frank Wolf, Saul Golubcow lives in Potomac, Maryland with his wife, Hedy Teglasi. His Jewish themed fiction centers on the complexity of and challenges Holocaust survivors in the United States have faced. His stories have appeared in Mystery Magazine, Black Cat Weekly, and Jewish Fiction.NetThe Cost of Living and Other Mysteries is his first book-length publication featuring Frank Wolf, a Holocaust survivor. In addition, his commentary on American Jewish culture and politics appear in various publications.  

The Short Story Market

by Paula Gail Benson

When I first became serious about writing short stories, I
discovered a blog called
My Little
, where author Sandra Seamans provided updates on short story
markets. Sadly, we lost
in 2019. A month after her passing, I compiled
listing remembrances and her stories.

Sandra was a past president of the Short Mystery Fiction Society
(SMFS), a group that continues to flourish today under President
Robert Lopresti. If you are at all
interested in writing or reading mystery short stories, I recommend that you join
the group. Membership is free and provides the benefits of connecting with a
large number of mystery writers, receiving information about story calls and
craft seminars, and being eligible to submit and nominate stories for the
prestigious Derringer Awards. Our Vice President, Kevin Tipple, does a
phenomenal job of publicizing markets and members’ work on the
SMFC blog and markets page as
well as his
own blog,
Kevin’s Corner. [Please note, as Kevin reminds me in a comment below, that during Derringer season, membership in the SMFS is closed. You can join after May 1.]

Recently, the SMFS membership had a vigorous online discussion
a subscription service that provides information about short story markets, and
The Submission Grinder, a
submission tracker and market database for writers of prose and poetry. Duotrope
often has a free trial period for those who wish to check it out. The
Submission Grinder compiles reports from submitters to indicate the amount of
time it takes to receive an acceptance or rejection.

In the SMFS online discussion, Michael Bracken, an
excellent author and editor of short stories, provided a list of Facebook
groups that he has joined and consulted to learn about story markets. He
pointed out that these links offer information about various genres and both paying
and non-paying markets. He cautioned authors to investigate markets before
submitting. Here is his list:

Call For Submissions :

FOR AUTHORS! Calls for

Thriller, Mystery Markets




Submission Calls for Horror/Paranormal/Mystery/SciFi Writers

Submission Calls for Romance Writers

Submission Calls for Short Story Writers

Michael Bracken has two calls for submissions, one open until
the end of February and the other open during the month of March.

Mickey Finn: 21st Century Noir, Volume 3, seeks
approximately 5,000 words stories set in a “world where the mean streets seem
gentrified by comparison and happy endings are the exception rather than the
rule.” Deadline: February 28, 2021.

More information may be found at this

Black Cat Mystery Magazine Presents Cozies is open from March 1
through March 31, 2021, for stories about 1,000 to 8,000 words “in which
sex and violence occur off stage, the detective is an amateur
sleuth, and the crime and detection take place in a small, socially intimate

For more information, check this link.

Are you a short story writer or thinking about becoming
one? Why not check out these links to learn more about the possibilities?

A Musical Trend in Crime Fiction Anthologies

by Paula Gail Benson

Recently, I’ve noticed a number of short story anthologies organized
around the songs of a particular artist, group, or time period. Here’s a list
of a few that are published or pending and two story calls:


Crime Fiction Inspired by the Music of the Go-Go’s
, edited by Holly West
(Down and Out Books, 2019) features stories by twenty-five authors, including
Lisa Alber, Susanne Calkins, Jen Conley, Lori Rader-Day, Hillary Davidson, Greg
Herren, Travis Richardson, and Holly West. The forward is written by Jane
Wiedlen, co-founder of the Go-Go’s. Net proceeds benefit Planned Parenthood.

The Beat of Black
Wings: Crime Fiction Inspired by the Songs of Joni Mitchell
, edited by Josh
Pachter (Untreed Reads, 2020) has contributions from twenty-eight authors,
including “Both Sides Now,” the first literary collaboration by husband and
wife Art Taylor and Tara Laskowski, both multiple award winners, and Donna
Andrews, Michael Bracken, Brendan DuBois, Edith Maxwell, Alison McMahan, and Stacy

I’ve read that Josh Pachter also is working on an anthology
featuring Billy Joel’s songs.

Peace, Love, and
Crime: Crime Fiction Inspired by Songs of the ‘60s
, edited by Sandra Murphy
(Untreed Reads, 2020) contains twenty-three stories by well-known short story
authors including Earl Staggs (to whom the book is dedicated), Terrie Farley
Moran, Merrillee Robson, Claire A. Murray, Michael Bracken, Maddi Davidson,
Josh Pachter, and John Floyd.

Calls for

Fahrenheit Press is putting together Gabba Gabba Hey: A Ramones Anthology. The deadline for submissions
is February 28, 2021. For more information, click on this

Sisters in Crime (North Carolina Chapter) has a call for submissions for its
new anthology Carolina Crimes: 20 Tales of Rock, Roll, and Ruin. To enter, you
must be a Sisters in Crime member and resident of North Carolina or South
Carolina. The deadline is April 1, 2021. For information, click on
this link. 

Remembering Earl Staggs

by Paula Gail Benson

When I became serious about writing short stories, I started seeing the name Earl Staggs mentioned frequently. From his website, I learned that he devoted himself to fiction writing after moving south from Baltimore, Maryland, finally settling in Fort Worth, Texas. As a member of the Short Mystery Fiction Society, he served as Vice President and President as well as twice receiving the Derringer Award for Best Short Story of the Year.

Sadly, Earl passed away on January 3, 2020. He left a significant body of work, including a collection of his short stories and two novels, which received a list of 5-star reviews. He had been Managing Editor for Futures Mystery Magazine and contributed to the blogs Make Mine Murder and Murderous Musings.

I never had the chance to meet Earl in person, but I experienced his kindness on two occasions. First, in November 19, 2013, I wrote a blog message for Writers Who Kill comparing Christmas mystery stories that he, Barb Goffman, and B.K. Stevens had written. All had used similar elements, yet come up with very different plots and characters. Here’s Earl’s comment to the post: “I’m honored, Paula, to see my story included with Bonnie’s and Barb’s. They’re two of the best short mystery writers around. I love writing the short stuff and if–make that when–my novels sell in the millions, I’ll continue to write short stories. Thanks for this mention and best regards to you.”

The second occasion occurred a few days later, November 26, 2013, when my story “Only the Sacrifice Knows” was published online in Kings River Life. Earl gave me this comment that I still treasure: “Good work, Paula. I had several ideas as to how it would end. All of them wrong. I love it when that happens. Thanks for a fun and interesting read.”

I remain grateful for Earl’s wonderful stories and kind words of encouragement. He has left an enduring legacy.

New Things

by Bethany Maines

Yesterday was the first day of Kindergarten for my
daughter.  She looked a little bit
nervous, but mostly seemed to be taking it in stride. Many of the other parents
weren’t.  Someone kindly went around and
passed out tissues.  My husband and I
made it through without tears, but we did feel a bit glum about our baby not
being a baby anymore.  And like many
events that are symbolic markers of something new, even when we poo-poo it as
“just another day,” there is still the sense that it is the time to begin a
project and shake up the routine.
Toward that end, I took a stab at cleaning my office.  It was a very small stab.  Sort of a paring knife kind of stab rather
than a meat cleaver, but efforts were made.  Then I started a new short story because,
let’s face it, I’ll do anything to avoid cleaning my office.  This one I think will be a reverse Miss
Marple (the old lady is the killer). 
We’ll have to see how it turns out.  I also started a Facebook Group called the Reader B’s.  Facebook groups add greater interaction and flexibility than pages, making them more equivalent to conversations.  If you would like to belong to a group
dedicated to readers and authors, please do join.  I’ll have posts about books, book reviews, posts
from other authors and discussions about all of my books and short stories.
My next novel, The Second Shot, is releasing October 24 and is now a finalist in the Pacific Northwest Literary Contest.  If you have a netgalley account and want to read a great new book for #free, check out this blogger/reader sign-up!  Don’t want to be officially a part of the excitement, but want to keep tabs on all the news? Add The Second Shot to your Goodreads list or pre-order for iBooks today.
💌 Sign up today:
📚 Add to Goodreads:
Pre-Order: Apple Books: https://apple.co/32sL3vV
Bethany Maines
is the
award-winning author of the Carrie Mae
Mystery Series
, San Juan Islands
, Shark Santoyo Crime Series,
and numerous short stories. When she’s not traveling to exotic lands, or
kicking some serious butt with her black belt in karate, she can be found chasing
her daughter or glued to the computer working on her next novel.
You can also catch up with her on Twitter, FacebookInstagram, and BookBub.

Short Story Nominees for Macavity and Shamus Awards

by Paula Gail Benson

Two more award lists, with presentations to occur at Bouchercon 2019 in Dallas, have been announced and include some familiar names and titles for short story finalists. The Macavity nominees, presented by the Mystery Readers International (MRI), subscribers to Mystery Readers Journal and members and friends of MRI, are:

Gigi Pandian

“Race to Judgment” by Craig Faustus Buck Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine Nov/Dec 2018

Craig Faustus Buck

“All God’s Sparrows” by Leslie Budewitz Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine May/Jun 2018
“Bug Appetit” by Barb Goffman Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine Nov/Dec 2018
“Three-Star Sushi” by Barry Lancet Down & Out: The Magazine Vol. 1, No. 3
“The Cambodian Curse” by Gigi Pandian The Cambodian Curse and Other Stories (Henery Press)
“English 398: Fiction Workshop” by Art Taylor Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine Jul/Aug 2018

Art Taylor

Art’s story won the Edgar for best short story and has been nominated for the Agatha and Anthony.

Leslie Budewitz

Barb’s story also is an Agatha and Anthony nominee.

Gigi’s story won the Derringer (from the Short Mystery Fiction Society) for best novelette.

Leslie’s story won the Agatha (a tie with Tara Laskowski, Art’s wife). Another of Leslie’s stories “With My Eyes” Suspense Magazine Jan/Feb 2018 won the Derringer for best long story.

Barb Goffman

With the Macavity nod, Barry Lancet’s “Three-Star Sushi” also is nominated for a Shamus award, given by the Private Eye Writers of America. Here is the complete list of Shamus short story finalists:

Barry Lancet
Twist Phelan
Elizabeth McKenzie

“Fear of the Secular” by Mitch Alderman Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine
“Three-Star Sushi” by Barry Lancet Down & Out: The Magazine Vol. 1, No. 3
“The Big Creep” by Elizabeth McKenzie Santa Cruz Noir
“Game” by Twist Phelan Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine
“Chin Yong-Yun Helps a Fool” by S.J. Rozan Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine

S. J. Rozan

Congratulations and best wishes to all these nominees! What a terrific group of writers and stories for summer reading!

Leslie Budewitz and Tara Laskowski

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!

Looking Forward to Mystery Short Story Award Season

by Paula
Gail Benson
The time
is quickly approaching for recognizing short story excellence in the mystery
field. The following authors have been nominated for Agathas for their short
stories, an award presented at the Malice Domestic conference at the end of

Short Story
Double Deck the Halls by Gretchen Archer (Henery
Whose Wine is it Anyway
by Barb Goffman in 50 Shades of Cabernet (Koehler Books)
The Night They Burned Miss Dixie’s
by Debra Goldstein in Alfred Hitchcock’s
Mystery Magazine (May/June 2017)
The Library Ghost of Tanglewood Inn
by Gigi Pandian (Henery Press)
A Necessary Ingredient
by Art Taylor in Coast to Coast: Private Eyes from Sea to Shining Seat
(Down & Out Books)

notice that each of the nominated stories has a link that will allow you to
read it. Let me assure you that you’ll enjoy each one. Next month, we’ll have
an interview with the authors.

2013, I surveyed the awards given to mystery short stories in a post for
Writers Who Kill. Here’s a link to that post: http://writerswhokill.blogspot.com/2013/08/awards-for-writing-mystery-short-stories.html

a comprehensive list of crime fiction awards given internationally, please
click on this link.

an update of national awards given to mystery short stories:


Agatha Awards have been presented since 1988 by Malice Domestic at its annual
conference. The awards recognize the traditional mystery written in the style
of Agatha Christie, having no explicit sex, excessive gore, or gratuitous

are selected by ballot from persons registered for the conference by December
forms are tallied by the Agatha Committee. The top five choices in each
category are placed on the ballot. Attendees vote by secret ballot at the
conference and the awards are presented at the banquet. The awards are
porcelain tea pots.

Anthony awards, named for Anthony Boucher (writer, critic, and a founder of the
Mystery Writers of America) have been presented since 1986 at the annual
Bouchercon World Mystery Convention. The Anthonys feature a Best Anthology
category as well as best short story. In Toronto, the Anthonys included a
category for Best Novella for a work of
. B.J. Stevens posthumously won the inaugural award for
“The Last Blue Glass.”

ballots are emailed to the registered attendees. Awards are determined by the
persons attending Bouchercon.
Black Orchid Novella

of 15,000 to 20,000 words submitted by May 31 are eligible for the Black Orchid
Novella Award. The winner is announced at the The Wolfe Pack’s (a society
devoted to Nero Wolfe) Annual Banquet. The award winning story has often been
published in Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine.


Derringer Awards, named after the palm-sized handgun, have been presented since
1997 by the Short Mystery Fiction Society (SMFS). Presentations are made in
March. Members and editors may submit stories for an initial blind
consideration by volunteer judges who select five nominees in each category. To
be eligible to vote for the awards, a person must join the SMFS by December 31.

awards are presented by category: (1) best story of 1000 words or less; (2)
best story of 1001 to 4000 words; (3) best story of 4001 to 8000 words; and (4)
best story of 8001 to 17,500 words. 

Best Flash Story (Up to 1,000

Best Short Story (1,001 to 4,000

Best Long Story (4,001 to 8,000

Best Novelette (8,001 to 20,000

the following web page for the complete selection procedure:

Edgar Allan Poe Awards have been presented annually since 1946 by the Mystery
Writers of America. Authors who submit their stories for consideration must
meet the requirements for active status in the MWA whether or not they are
members of MWA. For more information, see:

Short stories
are considered works up to 22,000 words from approved magazines, periodicals,
anthologies, and websites. Submissions meeting the requirements may be made
online at:

The Robert L. Fish
Memorial Award is presented for the best first published mystery short story by
a previously unpublished author.


Each year since 1987, members of the Mystery Readers International organization
vote and present the Macavity awards in four categories. The Macavity award is
named for T.S. Eliot’s  “mystery
cat” in the Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats. For more information,
see: http://mysteryreaders.org/macavity-awards/


publications since 1981, the Shamus awards, created by Robert J. Randisi, have
been presented by the Private Eye Writers of America. PWA committee members
select the nominees and winners in a manner similar to the Edgar selections. A
“private eye” is considered the protagonist of a mystery who is a professional
investigator, but not a police officer or government agent. For more
information, see: http://www.privateeyewriters.com/shamus_awards.html

Silver Falchion

the last two years, an award for the best anthology or collection has been
presented at Killer Nashville, which honors recipients with the Silver
Falchion. For more information, see: https://killernashville.com/awards/silver-falchion-award/


Presented since 2006 by the
International Thriller Writers, the Thrillers are announced at the annual
Thrillerfest conference. Short stories of up to 35,000 words are considered so
that novellas qualify for submission. An entry must be published in print or
e-zine format during the previous year. For more information, see: