Wednesday, May 21, 2014


As I reported in last week’s post, the Rita Awards (Romance Writers of America) will be handed out at the RWA Conference in July. To be accurate, it will be during a black-tie event on July 26th in San Antonio, Texas. However, this week the 77 finalists in nine categories were announced.

Whereas, in the Edgar and Agatha awards, finalists were limited to five per category, RWA has varying numbers. For instance, only two finalists are listed for Inspirational Romance, three for Erotic Romance and four for Romantic Suspense. On the other hand, Contemporary Romance has 18 finalists, Historical Romance has 17, and Paranormal Romance has 13.

Although I was a judge for the Ritas a year ago, I wasn’t this time, so I don’t know how they decided on those numbers. I’m assuming it was because of the number of submissions in each category. More romance authors are apparently working in those genres. Sounds fair.

The big news, however, was that this year, for the first time in its 33-year history, self-published books were allowed, and six of the 77 finalists were self-published. In the Romantic Suspense Category, two of the four finalists were self-published. That’s 50%! In addition, 20 finalists were from small presses, that is, not the Big-5 or Harlequin. They are Entangled, Source Books, Kensington and Montlake, along with Barbour, Omnific, Samhain, David C. Cook, and Tule Publishing. That’s 34% of all finalists. Plus, for the first time, Harlequin didn’t dominate the six-book Short Contemporary Category. Entangled had one.

Another interesting tidbit is that both Nora Roberts (the Romance Queen at Penguin, one of the Big-5) and Bella Andre (a best-selling self-published author) are finalists in the Contemporary Category. Who will win? I can’t wait to find out.

With all this good news, I might enter a book in the Ritas next year. Meanwhile, I’m taking a week off from this Blog because my old computer has decided to pretend it doesn’t know me and is treating me like a virus. I’m getting a new computer tomorrow, and I’ll be back as soon as I manage to convince it who’s boss.

Nora Roberts
Bella Andre

Wednesday, May 14, 2014


Like the Edgar Awards, the Agathas are also given out this month. This year the presentation was made on Saturday, May 3rd, by Malice Domestic 26, whose members vote for the five nominees in each category.

Named in honor of Agatha Christie, the awards are for the best “traditional” mystery. That is, books best typified by the works of its namesake. The mysteries should contain “no explicit sex and no excessive gore or gratuitous violence.”

And the winners are:

Best Contemporary Novel - THE WRONG GIRL, by Hank Phillippi Ryan - Published by Forge Books.

Best Historical Novel - A QUESTION OF HONOR by Charles Todd - Published by William Morrow.

Best First Novel - DEATH AL DENTE by Leslie Budewitz - Published by Berkeley.

Best Short Story - THE CARE AND FEEDING OF HOUSE PLANTS by Art Taylor - Published in Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine.

Best Nonfiction - THE HOUR OF PERIL: THE SECRET PLOT TO MURDER LINCOLN BEFORE THE CIVIL WAR by Daniel Stashower - Published by Minotaur Books.

Best Children’s/Young Adult Novel - ESCAPE FROM MISTER LEMONCELLO’S LIBRARY by Chris Grabenstein - Random House Books

* * *
Those who read my blog post last week will recognize the Non-fiction winner, Daniel Stashower, who also won the Edgar. Nice going, Mr. Stashower.

Also, as I did last time, I’ve counted the number of men and women authors. Of the 30 Finalists, at least twenty-one are women. That number could change, depending on if  “G.M.,” “J.J.” “Leslie,“ or ”Chris,” (whom I did not count) are women or men.

Among the novels, a few small publishers (Untreed Reads, Henery Press, and Wildside Press were finalists, but no self-publishers that I’m aware of, made the cut. One can only hope that the Anthonys, to be awarded in November, and the Shamus Awards, also in the fall, will have a few. Likewise the Daphne du Maurier Awards, to be presented in July.

Forge Books
William Morrow
Random House
Untreed Reads
Henery Press
Wildside Press

Wednesday, May 7, 2014


Last Thursday, May 1st, the Mystery Writers of America Edgar Awards Banquet was held. The Edgar is the “Oscar” of mystery writing, is awarded every year and is named for author Edgar Allen Poe. The event was held at the Grand Hyatt hotel in New York City and was “Black Tie Preferred.” Wish I could have been there. All I have to do is write a fantastic mystery novel, get it published and then nominated for “Best Novel” or “Best First Novel.” Oh, yeah. Piece of cake.

The categories and winners were:

Best Novel: ORDINARY GRACE by William Kent Krueger, published by Simon & Schuster’s Atria Books.

Best First Novel: RED SPARROW by Jason Matthews, from Simon & Schuster’s Scribner division.

Best Paperback Original: THE WICKED GIRLS by Alex Marwood, published by Penguin Books USA.

Best Fact Crime: THE HOUR OF PERIL: The Secret Plot to Murder Lincoln before the Civil War, by Daniel Stashower, published by St. Martin Press, Minotaur Books.

Best Critical/Biographical: AMERICA IS ELSEWHERE: The Noir Tradition in the Age of Consumer Culture, by Erik Dussere, published by Oxford University Press.

Best Short Story: THE CAXTON PRIVATE LENDING LIBRARY AND BOOK DEPOSITORY, by John Connolly, Mysterious Bookshop.

Best Juvenile: ONE CAME HOME, by Amy Timberlake, published by Random House Children’s Books.

Best Young Adult: KETCHUP CLOUDS, by Annabel Pitcher, published by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers.

Mary Higgins Clark Award: COVER OF SNOW by Jenny Milchman, published by Random House, Ballantine.

Robert L. Fish Memorial Award: THE WENTWORTH LETTER by Jeff Soloway, published by St. Martin’s Press.

Each award, except for the last, had five nominees, and although  most of the winners were written by men, I was happy to see  twenty women’s names (and an initial which might be) among the forty-five finalists. Not exactly half, but getting close.

I was also glad to see two finalists were published by Thomas & Mercer, the Amazon mystery imprint. Maybe next year self-published books will be included. One hopes that RWA’s Rita Awards, which opened to self-pubs this year (results in July), will open the door.

Now, pick a winner from the above, stash some chocolate in a handy place and enjoy.