Tag Archive for: Tara Laskowski

Fabulous Books to Be Released this Fall!

by Paula Gail Benson

This fall a number of great
authors are making their debuts or continuing their publishing success with
some fabulous reads for the season. I selected the following four to highlight
because of my connections with each writer: Yasmin, Tara, and Hank have become
close personal friends and Wanda and I are both attorneys and graduates of Lori
Rader Day’s instruction at the Yale Writers’ Workshop. I hope you’ll have a
chance to check out each of these novels. I know I’m looking forward to reading
them all!

Yasmin Angoe

Yasmin Angoe
is the Secretary for my local Palmetto Chapter of Sisters in Crime and the 2020
Sisters in Crime Eleanor Taylor Bland award winner. Her debut novel, Her Names Is Knight, will be released in
November 2021. The story features Nena Knight, who was stolen from her Ghanaian
village as a child and has become an assassin for the Tribe, a powerful
business syndicate. After saving a life while on assignment, Nena hopes to take
a new life direction, but then she discovers a new Tribe council member is the
man who destroyed her village, murdered her family, and sold her into
captivity. She cannot begin anew without taking him down first. Not only is
Yasmin looking forward to the launch of her novel, but also she is anticipating
working with Endeavor Content and Ink Factory who have purchased the rights to
develop Nena’s story into a series.

Tara Laskowski

Crimereads calls Tara Laskowski: “A lyrical new voice in
the world of gothic storytelling and suspense.” Tara’s novel
One Night Gone won the Agatha, Anthony,
and Macavity awards as well as being nominated for the Mary Higgins Clark
award, Left Coast Crime award, Strand Critics award, and Library of Virginia
Literary award. Her new book,
The Mother
Next Door
, will be released on October 12, 2021, and tells the story of the
Ivy Five, a group of four neighborhood moms who plan the annual Halloween block
party. When a new mom moves in, the group invites her to make them five once
more, but then they start receiving anonymous messages threatening to expose
secrets of the past. New York Times bestselling author Andrea Bartz says
The Mother Next Door is “a witty, wicked
thriller packed with hidden agendas, juicy secrets, and pitch-perfect satire of
the suburban dream.”

Wanda M. Morris

Wanda M. Morris,
a corporate attorney based in Atlanta, Georgia, has her first novel, All Her Little Secrets, debuting on
November 2, 2021. Her protagonist, Ellice Littlejohn, a corporate attorney in
Atlanta, finds her boss dead in his office, but rather than notifying the
authorities, Ellice leaves. She’s protecting a number of secrets from her past,
including those of a younger brother who has been at odds with the law. New York Times and International
Bestseller Karen Slaughter praises the novel as “
a brilliantly nuanced but powerhouse exploration of
race, the legal system, and the crushing pressure of keeping secrets. Morris
brings a vibrant and welcome new voice to the thriller space.”

Hank Phillippi Ryan

USA Today bestselling author Hank
Phillippi Ryan
is the winner of five Agathas as well as the Anthony,
Macavity, Daphne du Maurier, and Mary Higgins Clark awards for her fiction and
37 Emmys for her broadcast journalism. Hank’s latest stand alone novel,
Her Perfect Life, tells the story of
Lily Atwood, a beloved television reporter who has fame, fortune, a
seven-year-old daughter, and an apparently perfect life. Lily depends on an
anonymous source. When the source begins telling Lily secrets from her own
life, Lily fears someone is out to destroy her. Rachel Howzell Hall, Los
Angeles Times Book Prize finalist and Anthony, ITW, and Lefty award nominee,
said, “I loved this book! Reading Hank Phillippi Ryan’s
Her Perfect Life made me paranoid–who’s watching me, who’s lying
to me, who’s hiding from their prior life? My nerves were shredded by the time I
reached the last chapter of this big-hearted page turner.”

Welcome fall and hooray for these new fun reads!

Short Story Update

by Paula Gail Benson

The Palmetto Chapter of Sisters in Crime and the Southeast Chapter of Mystery Writers of America were delighted with the response to Mystery in the Midlands. We started off with a terrific panel on short stories featuring John Floyd, Tara Laskowski, and Art Taylor. Among them, those talented writers have been nominated and are recipients of the Agatha, Anthony, Derringer, Edgar, Macavity, and Thriller for their short stories. All of them have been involved with editing anthologies and preparing collections of their own work.

Listeners had many questions for this panel and links were left in the chat line to a number of excellent sources for short story writers.

Clockwise from upper right: Dana Kaye, Moderator, John Floyd, Tara Laskowski, and Art Taylor
The Short Story Panel from Mystery in the Midlands
Photo by Kathryn Prater Bomey, shared by Tara Laskowski

 A number of folks have asked to see a replay of the session. Here’s the link where you can access the entire program from Mystery in the Midlands:

Coming up in August is another great event for short story writers. Agatha winner Gigi Pandian is presenting “The Art and History of Locked Room Mysteries,” on Saturday, August 15 from 1:00 to 3:00 PM Pacific Time for the Sacramento-based Capitol Crimes Chapter of Sisters in Crime. Here’s the link to register:
Gigi Pandian

I hope you’ll be able to access these programs and enjoy!

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!


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.