Eleanor Taylor Bland’s Award for Writers of Color


Photo by Marcia Wilson, taken at the 1st Harlem Book Fair, July 1999

I’m stealing a lot of verbiage below from the Sisters in Crime website, which has even more detail about The Eleanor Taylor Bland Crime Fiction Writers of Color Award than I’ve got here. You may know that I lived awhile in and around Chicago. That was where I joined my first Sisters in Crime chapter. And Eleanor Taylor Bland was one of our members from Waukegan, a town outside Chicago. If you’ve ever been there, you soon realize that the tentacles of semi-connected towns crawl north, from the heart of the Loop, up the lakefront to the Wisconsin border (near where Eleanor lived). They also creep down south around the bottom curve of the lake Michigan to bump into Gary, Indiana. The population also sprawls west along the prairie (and I-80/88), not quite to Iowa, but by now, there are probably people in the Mississippi River-hugging Quad Cities who describe themselves as living in a Chicago suburb.

Windy-City-Dying-by-Eleanor-Taylor-BlandGeographical digressions aside, I met Eleanor when I hadn’t even written a crime short story, and I was only playing with the idea of a manuscript. (My first MS, true closet-fodder, was eventually about a Chicago fixer and institutionalized corruption–where do I come up with this stuff?) I have this title of hers as a signed hardcover, and it was already the 10th in her series! Eleanor’s procedurals about a female homicide cop juggling cases and family life in a disguised Waukegan called Lincoln Prairie were an inspiration. Detective Marti McAlister had to get assertive at times, but I have no idea if Eleanor ever raised her voice, because in my witness, she was always refined and self-possessed. Relentlessly kind and encouraging, too, just the thing a desperately insecure new writer needs and craves. Besides her service and support to the SinC chapter, I know she took a strong interest in mentoring young writers in other venues, and it’s wonderful that there’s an award in her honor that continues helping to support new writers in their work. Now, onto the cash!

The Eleanor Taylor Bland Crime Fiction Writers of Color Award is an annual grant of $1,500 for an emerging writer of color. An unpublished writer is preferred, although publication of one work of short fiction or academic work will not disqualify an applicant. This grant is intended to support the recipient in activities related to crime fiction writing and career development. She or he may choose from activities that include workshops, seminars, conferences, and retreats; online courses; and research activities required for completion of the work….

Eleanor Taylor Bland was a pioneer in crime fiction. In 1992 the first in a series of crime fiction novels that feature Marti MacAlister, an African American female police detective who works and resides in a Midwestern American town that closely resembles Bland’s own adopted home town, Waukegan, Illinois, was published. Bland also published several works of short crime fiction and edited a collection titled Shades of Black: Crime and Mystery Stories by African-American Authors (2004). When she passed away in 2010, she was one of the most prolific African American authors in the genre. With Marti MacAlister, Bland created an enduring and much beloved heroine who went against the grain of perpetuated stereotypes related to African American women in much of U.S. popular culture.

Although Bland focused primarily in her work on stories about African American characters and their lives, bringing both complexities and comforts of familiarity to her readership, she also included in-depth interactions with other kinds of characters that reflect the broad spectrum of identities that is U.S. society. Bland saw crime fiction as an especially accessible literary vehicle for bringing into the genre characters that before her work had been peripheral to or simply missing from the genre. She understood that crime fiction could continue over time broadening its appeal to new reading audiences by opening its doors to the kinds of characters, societal situations and perspectives, and potential for creativity that authors of color would bring.

Deadline for applications: July 5, 2015. The winner will be selected and announced in the fall of 2015. They’re looking for “writers of color with an unpublished work of crime fiction, written with an adult (rather than YA or children) audience in mind, which may be a short story or first chapter(s) of a manuscript in-progress, 2,500 to 10,000 words.” If that’s you, please check out the details and apply!

Agatha Award Best First Novel

I am delighted to announce that Well Read, Then Dead won the Agatha Award for Best First Novel. Think I am kidding? Here’s the proof–right in my dining room.


It would be a grievous understatement to say that I was more than a wee bit surprised to emerge from such a fine field of nominees, including Sherry Harris, Susan O’Brien, Annette Dashofy and Tracy Weber. I am forever grateful to all the readers who enjoyed Well Read, Then Dead and voted for it.

Malice Domestic is a super fun conference of readers and writers alike. Women of Mystery Triss Stein and Deirdre Verne were also there and it was a pleasure spending time with each of them. Former Women of Mystery member Elaine Will Sparber gets a special shout out. She was the editor, along with Hank Phillippi Ryan of the non-fiction winner Writes of Passage.

The Agatha Banquet was a joyful event and I was delighted that both my agent, Kim Lionetti from Bookends and my editor, Michelle Vega from Berkley Prime Crime were able to attend. As much as a book is a result of many solitary hours tapping the keyboard, there is an undeniable element of teamwork, and I had the right team in my corner.


        Michelle, Terrie, Kim

Michelle, Terrie, Kim

And there is always a great joy in having old friends present when really good things happen and I was delighted to spend the evening with so many people who’d been part of my writing life for the past decade.

On to the future.



Hint Fiction Contest


jpg_5936_Royalty_Free_Clip_Art_Happy_Pencil_Cartoon_Character_Holding_Golden_Trophy_CupThe West Hartford Libraries in Connecticut are holding a Hint Fiction contest.

According to their website: Hint Fiction Contest stories should be entertaining, thought-provoking, and evoke an emotional response. Stories both light and dark are appreciated – in 25 words. A positive, happier story just might stand out! 

Forty finalists will be selected by the staff of West Hartford Libraries. From the forty finalists, the Top Ten winners will be selected by three library-sponsored writing groups – West Hartford Fiction Writers, Connecticut Screenwriters, and the Faxon Poets.

PRIZES: Each of the top ten winners will receive a $25 CASH AWARD (provided by the library’s Thomas Kilfoil Bequest).

All 40 Finalists and Top 10 Winners will be notified via email on June 25, 2015jpg_letter4cash awards will follow by mail within three weeks. The return of any notification as undeliverable will result in disqualification and an alternate winner will be selected. No substitution or transfer of a prize is permitted.

Entries will be accepted until May 25, 2015. No more than three entries may be submitted per person – entries may be grouped together in one submission. All entries must be original, unpublished, and must not have been submitted elsewhere for any purpose. Participants must be at least fourteen years old on the date of submission.

Should you go for it, let us know ~ and good luck!


Follow me on Twitter @katcop13.

Derringer Awards Announced, Congrats to Our Cathi Stoler!

SMFSLogo-10sq-300dpiEarlier this month, we congratulated all the wonderful writers who were nominated for the 2015 Derringer Awards for short fiction in 4 different categoies, including one author who we know rather well here at Women of Mystery.




Well, we now have the especial joy to announce that the winner for Best Short Story (1001-4000 words) is our very own talented WoM Cathi Stoler, author of “The Kaluki Kings of Queens!” This story, about a young man who learns more than a game from his elders over cards, appeared in the anthology Family Matters, edited by this blog’s own Anita Page, and was published by Glenmere Books in partnership with the New York/Tri-State Chapter of Sisters in Crime, the local organization where all of us who’ve ever posted here met. You see why it’s so special?! Besides Cathi, this year, the Short Mystery Fiction Society’s Derringer Awards honor the following—

Best Flash: Joseph D’Agnese, “How Lil’ Jimmie Beat the Big C” (Shotgun Honey, May 12, 2014)

Best Long Story: Hilary Davidson, “A Hopeless Case” (All Due Respect #4, September 2014)

Best Novelette: Doug Allyn, “The Snow Angel” (Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine, January 2014)

The Edward D. Hoch Memorial Golden Derringer for Lifetime Achievement: James Powell

A public presentation of the awards will be made at the 2015 Bouchercon Convention in Raleigh, North Carolina in October. Congratulations to all!

Best First Novel Agatha Nominees

So as you already know because I shouted from the roof tops, Well Read, Then Dead has been nominated for an Agatha Award for Best First Novel. The Awards will be present at the Agatha Banquet which is the highlight of Malice Domestic, the premier conference for traditional and cozy mystery readers and writers.

May I present the Agatha nominees for Best First Novel:

Circle of Influence by Annette Dashofy (Henery Press)

Tagged for Death by Sherry Harris (Kensington Publishing)

Finding Sky by Susan O’Brien (Henery Press)

Well Read, Then Dead by Terrie Farley Moran (Berkley Prime Crime)

Murder Strikes a Pose by Tracy Weber (Midnight Ink)

With all the excitement of the nomination and the banquet, I can assure you these writers are still working hard to produce excellent mystery fiction. And because inquiring minds want to know, we asked the nominees to talk a little bit about the next book in their series.

Circle of Influence Cover FrontHere’s Annette Dashofy, author of Circle of Influence:

“My second book in the Zoe Chambers mystery series, Lost Legacy, came out in September. In it, Zoe responds to a call involving a body hanging from the rafters in a hay barn on a sweltering summer afternoon. What’s worse, Zoe has vague memories of a similar hanging—involving her own family—decades earlier in that same barn. As the story progresses, we learn about a string of mysterious deaths spanning over forty years linked to this recent case, and all have ties to Zoe. The secondary story, however, involves Chief Pete Adams’ father Harry, an Alzheimer’s sufferer, who Pete’s care-giving sister deposits unannounced on his front door so she can take a much needed respite. My own father lived with Alzheimer’s, which is a sad, ugly disease, so I struggled to make Harry “real” yet endearing enough to make readers want to stick with him through the entire book. I borrowed a number of my dad’s quirks, and Harry quickly become very close to my heart. The book is dedicated to my dad’s memory, and I am donating a portion of my royalties from its sale to the Alzheimer’s Association.”

Tagged for Death mech.inddSherry Harris, author of Tagged for Death has still more proof that garage sales can be murder.

“In The Longest Yard Sale my protagonist, Sarah, turns Ellington, Massachusetts, into New England’s largest garage sale for a day. It’s the small town’s biggest event since the start of the Revolutionary War — but without the bloodshed — she hopes. During the garage sale a valuable painting goes missing and the lifeless body of a government employee is found in Carol Carson’s painting studio, his face perfectly framed with the murder weapon—a metal picture frame. Sarah is mad as heck that someone used her town-wide garage sale to commit a crime and frame her good friend Carol. She is definitely on this case, but it’s not easy rummaging through increasingly strange clues that point to a cage fighter, a suspicious town manager and even the mob. Sarah will have to be very careful if she wants to live to bargain another day.”

FINDING SKY front under 2mb-2Susan O’Brien, author of Finding Sky is a little more reticent since she has to wait to hear from her editor, still we are all glad to know that P.I. Dean will still be around for us to ogle, er, read about.

“I can’t say much about book two (Sky High) because I just submitted it to Henery Press, and I’m waiting for my editor’s feedback. I can say, however, that Nicki Valentine is now a full-fledged private investigator, and she’s still involved with her smokin’ hot P.I. colleague Dean. Together, they search for a missing groom who was planning much more than a wedding.”


Murder Strikes Pose full sizeTracy Weber, author of Murder Strikes a Pose has this to say:

“In my second book, A Killer Retreat, yoga teacher Kate Davidson has been given the opportunity to stay at Elysian Springs—a vegan resort on picturesque Orcas Island, Washington—in exchange for teaching yoga to the wedding guests of the center’s two caretakers. The trip seems like a perfect, much-needed vacation until her boyfriend Michael starts hinting that he’s ready to pop the question and her best friend shows up unannounced and hiding a secret. Then there’s the loud, public—and somewhat embarrassing—argument Kate has with Monica, the bride-to-be’s stepmother. When Monica’s body is found floating face-down in the resort’s hot tub, Kate becomes the investigator’s number one suspect. Kate will have to solve Monica’s murder quickly, or her next teaching gig may last a lifetime—behind bars. Of course, Bella will be along too, literally dragging Kate into trouble any chance she gets. It’s a lot of fun.”

WellRead_2And what you ask, will I present as the follow up to Well Read, Then Dead? I’ll tell you:

“Here’s the scoop on Caught Read-Handed. Always happy to lend a hand to her fellow bibliophiles, Sassy visits the Beachside Community Library with a box of book donations for their annual fundraising sale.  Unfortunately, she finds the usually warm and welcoming readers’ haven in turmoil, when a heated argument erupts between one of the patrons and  Tanya Lipscome, a new volunteer – also known as “Tanya Trouble” — who isn’t exactly known for her people skills, but the community is shocked when she’s later found murdered in her own hot tub.

The man last seen arguing with the victim was Alan Mersky, who also happens to be the brother of Sassy’s former boss.  He’s soon arrested, but while the veteran suffers from PTSD, he’s no murderer. Now it’s up to Sassy and Bridgy to clear Alan’s name and make sure the real killer gets booked.”


So there you have it. These five award nominated authors are hard at work to continue to bring you captivating mysteries for years to come.

Congratulations and good luck to all. Our journey around the internet is great fun and I never know where we are going to show up next but one thing is for sure, we’ll be together.


Derringer Nominations! Congratulations to Cathi Stoler!

SMFSlogoThe Short Mystery Fiction Society has posted its 2015 Derringer Award nominations, and Women of Mystery’s own Cathi Stoler has been shortlisted in the category of Best Short Story!




For Best Flash (Up to 1,000 words)

For Best Short Story (1,001–4,000 words)

  • B.V. Lawson, “The Least of These” (Plan B Magazine, June 6, 2014)
  • William Burton McCormick, “Killing Sam Clemens” (Sherlock Holmes Mystery Magazine #13, July 2014)
  • Britni Patterson, “The Bad Son” (Carolina Crimes: 19 Tales of Lust, Love, and Longing, March 2014)
  • Mary E. Stibal, “A Friend in Brown” (Best New England Crime Stories 2015: Rogue Wave, November 2014)
  • Cathi Stoler, “The Kaluki King of Queens” (Murder New York Style: Family Matters, August 2014)

For Best Long Story (4,001–8,000 words)

  • M.H. Callway, “The Ultimate Mystery” (World Enough and Crime, October 2014)
  • Angel Luis Colón, “Separation Anxiety” (All Due Respect #3, May 2014)
  • Hilary Davidson, “A Hopeless Case” (All Due Respect #4, September 2014)
  • James T. Shannon, “The Missing Money” (Best New England Crime Stories 2015: Rogue Wave, November 2014)
  • Cathy Wiley, “Dead Men Tell No Tales” (Chesapeake Crimes: Homicidal Holidays, October 2014)

For Best Novelette (8,001–20,000 words)

  • Doug Allyn, “The Snow Angel” (Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine, January 2014)
  • Doug Allyn, “Hitler’s Dogs” (Fiction River: Crime, March 2014)
  • Vicki Delany, “Juba Good” (Orca Books Rapid Reads, April 2014)
  • Trey Dowell, “Infernal” (Untreed Reads, June 2014)
  • Richard Helms, “Busting Red Heads” (Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine, March/April 2014)

Participating members of SMFS nominate the stories, then a panel of judges whittles it down to the shortlist, then turn it over to members again, who’ll vote by month’s end to decide the winners. This year, as always, there’s a fantastic assortment of authors and stories. It’s an honor to be among them, one which we happen to think, immodestly perhaps, Cathi richly deserves. We’d also like to offer our kudos to WoM Anita Page, who–most excellently, obviously–edited the anthology where Cathi’s story appears.

The group vote to determine the winners takes place March 1–30th. Winners will be announced March 31st.

Congratulations to all the Derringer nominees!

Robert B. Parker’s BLIND SPOT by Reed Farrel Coleman

Reed F Coleman

If you hadn’t heard the news yet, the multi-talented, award-winning authorReed Farrel Coleman, has “become” Robert B. Parker when it comes to the New York Times Best-Selling Jesse Stone series.

Reed is a prolific writer of novels, short stories, and poetry. Check out this overview of Robert B. Parker’s Blind Spot.

Reed Farrel Coleman will be appearing at The Mysterious Bookshop, 58 Warren St., New York City, on Monday, September 8, 2014, from 7-9 pm. 


Throughout September and October 2014, Reed will be appearing at various bookstores around the country ~ check out his upcoming BLIND SPOT signings.

Congratulations, Reed! Best wishes as you embark on your exciting BLIND SPOT tour.

Follow me on Twitter @katcop13

More Malice, More Pictures

The Agatha Banquet is always the most exciting part of the Malice Domestic Conference. Here is Art Taylor winner of the Agatha for best short story and his positively beaming editor, Janet Hutchings of Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine.

Janet Hutchings and Art Taylor

Janet Hutchings and Art Taylor

Here we have Hank Phillippi Ryan and our very own Elaine Will Sparber presenting at the Sisters in Crime breakfast.

Hank Phillippi Ryan and Elaine Will Sparber

Hank Phillippi Ryan and Elaine Will Sparber

And yes I got to hang around a bit with my pals and pose for pictures. Deb Lacy of Mystery Playground took this one of me with Dana Cameron.

Terrie Farley Moran and Dana Cameron

Terrie Farley Moran and Dana Cameron

And I know you remember we had a discussion here about Mollie Cox Bryan‘s book, Death of an Irish Diva. Well here I am with Mollie and a mega sized cover of the very same book.

Terrie Farley Moran and Mollie Cox Bryan

Terrie Farley Moran and Mollie Cox Bryan

And a grand and glorious time was had by all.


Celebrating Girl Trouble, Bullitt, and Robert L. Fish

Cover-MO-Girl-Trouble-100Mystery Writers of America holds annual awards (called The Edgars after you-know-who) for best crime stories (in long, short, paperback, even teleplay), for juveniles and young adult, also in critical/biographical works. This year’s nominees have been announced, and in an unexpected thrill, The Malfeasance Occasional: Girl Trouble‘s story, “The Wentworth Letter” by Jeff Soloway, which was announced not as a nominee, but as the winner of the Robert L. Fish Memorial Award for Best First Short Story by an American Author!

I worked on the backstage of this collection, as did our own Laura K. Curtis, and it’s tremendously exciting news! Follow the link above for more information about the story, a contemporary and witty tale of sordid academics, grasping aficionados, and a lost Jane Austen letter. (And during the loooong haul from the story’s selection to publication, Jeff Soloway was signed to a 2-book deal with Random House’s digital crime imprint Alibi Books with his debut to come later this year, I believe.)

On this occasion, I thought it would also be nice to talk more about Robert L. Fish (who also wrote as Robert L. Pike, A. C. Lamprey–get it?–and Lawrence Roberts), a name and career which isn’t as often disucees today as thirty years ago, in 1984, when his estate originally sponsored the annual prize to be awarded by MWA. Fish was educated and trained as an engineer, perhaps a less-usual occupation for a fiction writer, but his international work as an consultant took him to many inspiring venues and must’ve put him in contact with loads of interesting people.

Among his other stops, he spent a decade living in Rio de Janeiro, and it was Brazil that featured in his first novel, The Fugitive (bottom left below), which won him the 1962 Edgar for Best First Novel: Hans Busch, an infamous Nazi propagandist, arrives in Rio de Janiero with two million dollars in cash, causing the Nazi sympathizers in that country to grow eager with anticipation. Here, finally, is the money they need to rebuild their tattered party. What they don’t know is that Busch’s real name is Ari Schoenberg and that he is a Holocaust survivor whose mission is to infiltrate the burgeoning movement and put an end to it.

Fish would eventually publish more than 30 novels and many short stories (a mere sampling appears below). Considering he submitted his first short story to Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine in 1960 at the age of 48, then had major heart surgery to kick off the 1970’s, and passed away too young at the age of 68, we’re looking at a very hard-working and prolific writer.

Fish-NovelsAmong his projects, he was hired by Jack London’s estate to finish The Assassination Bureau, Ltd. (top left) which loosely became a 1969 movie with Oliver Reed and Diana Rigg. Also note the cover (center bottom) which was a tie-in for a 1965-1966 TV series, The Trials of O’Brien, starring Peter Falk as a Shakespeare-quoting trial lawyer with Elaine Stritch as his secretary and a Who’s Who of guest stars. (It’s in the Wikpedia link–but without citation–that Falk often said he preferred this role to his later one as Lt. Colombo.)

Fish-steve-mcqueen-bullittFinally in our little selection, is Mute Witness, a 1963 novel (center right) which became the basis of the classic 1968 film with Steve McQueen, Bullitt. How cool is that? Stone-cold. Fish also served as MWA’s president in 1976. According to reports, when he died, he was found in his study in Connecticut, pen in hand, the model of a dedicated writer.


Thanks for your many works, Robert L. Fish, and congratulations again to Jeff Soloway for winning an award with such a prestigious heritage!