Tuesday, August 11, 2015

The Daphne du Maurier Awards

Every year the Mystery/Suspense chapter of the Romance Writers of America (affectionately called the “Kiss of Death” chapter) holds two contests for romantic-suspense novels. One is for unpublished writers (and that means unpublished in any genre, not just mystery) who may enter manuscripts, and the other for published writers who may enter their novel published in the preceding year.

Awards are handed out at a party (called “Death by Chocolate) at the RWA Conference (this year on July 22-25 in New York City) In each of six categories, there were four finalists and one winner, and this year they were (drumroll please):

1. Category (Series) Romantic Mystery/Suspense
Natalie Charles, WHEN NO ONE IS WATCHING, Harlequin
Delores Fossen, RUSTLING UP TROUBLE, Harlequin
Karen McCollough, THE DETECTIVE’S DILEMMA, Kensington Lyrical
Bobbye Terry, THE WIDOW JAMES, Black Opal

Winner: Lena Diaz, TENNESSEE TAKEDOWN, Harlequin

2. Historical Romance Mystery/Suspense
Anthea Lawson, MISTRESS OF MELODY, Fiddlehead Press
Brenda Novak, A MATTER OF GRAVE CONCERN, Montlake Romance

Winner: Amanda DeWees, WITH THIS CURSE, Self-published.

3. Inspirational Romantic Mystery/Suspense
Elizabeth Camden, WITH EVERY BREATH, Bethany House
Irene Hannon, DECEIVED, Revell
Katy Lee, GRAVE DANGER, Harlequin-Love Inspired
Dani Pettrey, SILENCED, Bethany House

Winner: Debby Giusti, THE AGENT’S SECRET PAST, Harlequin

4. Paranormal (Fantasy, Time Travel, etc) Romantic Mystery/Suspense
Margo Bond Collins, LEGALLY UNDEAD, World Weaver Press
Angie Fox, BEVERLY HILLS DEMON SLAYER, Self-published
J. T. Geissinger, DARKNESS BOUND, Montlake Romance
Rebecca Zanetti, MARKED, e-Kensington

Winner: Liah Penn, PURE DEATH, Etopia

5. Single title Romantic Mystery/Suspense
Melinda Leigh, HOUR OF NEED, Montlake Romance
Tamsen Schultz, WHAT ECHOES RENDER, BookTrope
Michele Sharp, DREAM HUNTRESS, Self-published
Leslie Tentler, FALLEN, Left Field Press

Winner: Kendra Elliot, VANISHED, Montlake Romance

6. Mainstream Mystery-Suspense
Traci Andreghetti, LIMONCELLO YELLOW, Gemma Halliday Publishing
Carey Baldwin, JUDGMENT, Harper Collins-Witness Impulse
Kylie Brant, 11, Cedar River Press.
Libby Fischer Hellmann, NOBODY’S CHILD, Red Herring Press

Winner: Sandra Parshall, POISONED GROUND, Poisoned Pen Press

OVERALL DAPHNE WINNER: Kendra Elliot, VANISHED, Montlake Romance

As I’ve done in the past, I’ll point out which books were published by the BPH (Big Publishing Houses). This list includes Harlequin, since it’s still the best-known romance publisher, (only six titles, when in previous years it often won almost all). And I was being generous. Besides the well-known names (Penguin, Harper-Collins, and Poisoned Pen Press) I also included Kensington and the two inspirational presses, Bethany and Revell, giving them a total of 14. Therefore, it was only fair to put Montlake Romance (Amazon imprint) with small presses and self-publishers, which gives them a total of 16.

Not only did small presses and self-publishers fare better than the BPH, a self-published book, WITH THIS CURSE, was voted best Historical, and Montlake’s VANISHED was voted the Overall Winner. It will be interesting to see how the Ritas fared. Tune in next week.


  1. Phyllis,

    I don't know whether I'd put Montlake in the medium press category (Entangled) but excellent article. I do hope the self pubs do better all around next year. I don't think they did so well this year in the Ritas which I entered and judged. Maybe you can enlighten us on that.

    Thanks always for your Phyllosophy,

    Susan (S.B.K. Burns)

    1. Thank you, Susan. In my opinion, Montlake is a Small Press because it always has a narrow slot in the pie charts at Do you follow that? I hope they put out another Report in September. It always gives me hope, even though I'm not a best seller. Have a good weekend.

  2. Kiss of death - death by chocolate...sounds so much fun. I'm writing a mystery/rom now and will definitely give it a whirl.


    1. I find writing mysteries much fun, although it's sometimes difficult to make a crime seem realistic and the sleuth able to solve it. My mysteries are dominating my writing now. The three Sherlock Holmes novellas are on Amazon and Smashwords, and I'll soon have e-books and paper copies of my cozy mystery, DEAD IN THE WATER (October 6) and the one Carole and I wrote together, EYEWITNESS, (October 15). Good luck with your Rom/Sus.


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