Monday, March 16, 2015

Meet the Authors of the 2014 Agatha Best First Novel Nominees!



Each year at Malice Domestic, writing excellence is recognized by the Agatha awards. This year’s nominees for Best First Novel are:
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)

Today, the Stiletto Gang welcomes Annette Dashofy, Sherry Harris, Susan O’Brien, Terrie Farley Moran, and Tracy Weber. All are not only skilled and talented writers, but also charming and caring people. Thanks, Annette, Sherry, Susan, Terrie, and Tracy, for stopping by to share your work and thoughts with us!

What was the idea or inspiration that led you to write your nominated novel?

ANNETTE:
Years ago I happened to overhear a snippet of conversation regarding a local political brouhaha. The person said, “Someone should just kill him and put him out of my misery.” No one actually did, but you can’t say something like that around a crime fiction writer and not have it end up in a story! In my case, it spun out a bunch of “what if” questions that ultimately became Circle of Influence.


SHERRY:
My story is a little different. An editor in New York was looking for someone to write a garage sale series. Through a series of fortunate events the chance to write a proposal for him landed in my lap. I’ve always loved garage sales and the proposalsynopsis of the first three books, first three chapters, cast of characters, and marketing planpoured out of me in four days.

SUSAN:
I’ve wanted to be an author since childhood, and I’m not sure why. I don’t remember ever not wanting to be an author! My love of mysteries grew over the years, and by the time I was ready to write one, I was a parent. My protagonist Nicki is a mom, and I wanted her to be honest about the funny, overwhelming nature of parenting—while solving mysteries that I hope parents and non-parents will enjoy. Also, I planned to donate part of my royalties to organizations that serve missing kids and their families. It’s almost surreal to have these dreams come true!

TERRIE:
I wrote the book I wanted to read. If I could create my own world, (Oh, wait—I can) I would have my home away from home be a book store/restaurant just like the Read ’Em and Eat—all books all the time, with book-themed food served on author-themed tables. Book clubs meet there regularly, and I wondered what would happen if a beloved book club member was tragically murdered. In Well Read, Then Dead that is exactly what happens.


TRACY:
A homeless lady—I’ll call her Susan—used to hang out near the entrance to my neighborhood grocery store, and she always had a large Rottweiler mix in a crate next to her. Over time, I got to know them both, and I asked her about the crate. She told me that the Rottweiler would sometimes lunge at other dogs that walked by on the sidewalk. The crate—which she stored behind the building at night—allowed her to keep the dog with her, in spite of its reactivity.

Susan adored that dog and went to great lengths to take care of it, in spite of her own financial issues and living conditions. She was as dedicated to her pet as most people are to their children.

I started to wonder: What if her dog had an expensive health condition as well as its behavior issues? What would she do? What could she do? That’s when Bella and George formed in my head. Unfortunately, Susan disappeared from the neighborhood long before I wrote the first draft of Murder Strikes a Pose. I haven’t seen her almost two years, so I’ll probably never know what she would have thought about being my muse. I hope she would have felt complimented.


What advice would you give to writers?

ANNETTE:
Don’t ever give up. Keep studying the craft of writing. And finish the book.

SHERRY:
Don’t give up and study the craft. I have stacks of rejection lettersfrom back in the day when everything was still done by snail mail. I have two and a half books written that never sold. I kept writing, went to lots of conferences, met people, and learned. When the opportunity finally came, I was ready. Also, I wish someone would have told me that maybe it was time to move on from the series that didn’t sell and to try something new.

SUSAN:
If you believe your work is meant to be published, stay positive and don’t give up! The journey to publication can be long and difficult—yet incredibly rewarding. Keep your options open, too. I ended up working with a small publisher and an attorney (not an agent).

TERRIE:
My best advice for every writer is: Trust your own judgment. Keep on writing. Submit. Don’t wait to hear back. Write something else. Submit that. The more you write, the more comfortable writing becomes until you can’t imagine your life without pounding the keyboard or picking up the pen.

TRACY:
Don’t give up, and don’t procrastinate. Write every day. Write what you love. If you spend every day working on what you love most, even if you never get published, you’ll have had a good time. That’s what matters most.


For the Agatha banquet, what kind of shoes would you (or if you prefer, your protagonist or a character from your story) wear? [This is, after all, The Stiletto Gang!]

ANNETTE:
This is such an appropriate question since it’s one I’m currently pondering. I bought a great dress, but it’s white and all my dressy shoes are black or dark brown. I was thinking of getting taupe pumps, but lately I’m considering getting crazy and going with ruby red or animal print pumps!

SHERRY:
Ah, lovely stiletto wearing folks of the world, I envy you but I gave up heels a long time ago. I will look for a pair of snazzy flats! However my protagonist Sarah would wear something with a peep toe and a three inch heel.

SUSAN:
My protagonist Nicki and I are both uncomfortable walking in high heels. (Her next adventure actually relates to this topic!) Honestly, I wear orthotics, so I’ll probably wear my only pair of dress shoes—with a moderate heel—that accommodates them. If you see me, please understand! Thanks!

TERRIE:
Shoes!! Having grown up in the era where a lady’s shoes and purse must match, and heels were worn every day, I once owned stilettos in half a dozen colors. (We also wore white gloves on the subway, but that’s a story for another time.) Due to an ancient softball injury, compounded decades later by a broken ankle, I will be wearing a pair of very low-heeled pumps to the Agatha Banquet. But, never fear Stiletto Gang, I still have a pair of gray suede three-inch heels in my closet that I cannot bear to give away. Sometimes I put them on and hobble around the house, with my cane in hand for safety. They still look fabulous and I feel fabulous when I have them on my feet. Alas, my left ankle wobbles if I try to walk in them.

TRACY:
Given that Kate and I are both yoga teachers, we would really prefer to go barefoot. But if that won’t work, a pair of comfy Birkenstocks will work quite nicely!


78 comments:

  1. Trying one more time, hopefully it won't double comment:

    Congratulations, ladies! Fun interview today. Hope y'all are enjoying every minute of all this. :)

    Annette: My "professional" opinion is red shoes with the white dress.

    Looking forward to seeing everyone in May! :)

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    1. LynDee, great to have your comment. I love ruby red, too, but the animal print could be interesting. Decisions, decisions!

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    2. It has been a thrill and an honor to be nominated with Annette, Susan, Terrie, and Tracy! I can't wait to meet them in person at Malice!

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    3. Thanks, LynDee! (And I feel the same way, Sherry!) Can't wait to see everyone at Malice!

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    4. Thanks, LynDee. I'm quite enamored of the red shoes idea, too! And it's been a joy "competing" with these gals! Love them and their books!

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    5. We are having a lot of fun together.

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    6. Aren't we though? I can't wait to see all of you at Malice. Whoever wins is a class act.

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    7. You all are absolutely fabulous! Thanks for being with us at The Stiletto Gang today!

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  2. Thanks so much for having us, Paula and the rest of the Stiletto Gang!

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    1. Sherry, it's a delight. Thank you for taking time to answer questions and talk shoes!

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  3. Congratulations to all the Agatha nominees! So exciting!!

    As for shoes, the woman with 5.5'" heels on says RED!

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    1. Thank you, Julie! Can't wait to celebrate with you at Malice! Thrilled about your book's success!

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    2. Julie, wow! I know I would fall right off heels that high. Of course a few decades ago--completely different story.

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    3. Do they make Birkenstocks in read? ;-) Does red nail polish count?

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    4. I'd kill myself too but I want to wear them!

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  4. Congrats to all of you! Enjoy your moment! I always advise red shoes. Always. ;-) But for the rest of Malice? comfy shoes and a warn sweater of jacket--it gets very cold in some of those conference rooms. Cheers!

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    1. Thank you, Mollie! Such good advice. I'm always cold! I need a cardigan everywhere I go!

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    2. Great advice, Mollie. I do remember freezing at one or two presentations in the past. See you there.

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    3. I love red shoes and red purses! See you at Malice!

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    4. I haven't owned read shoes for decades. Perhaps this is my incentive...

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    5. So true, Mollie. The red shoes will only be on display at the banquet!

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  5. Congrats to all the nominees. I hope your Agatha Banquet experience is all the awesome that it should be!

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    1. Thanks, Kristopher! Looking forward to meeting you in person! Thanks for all you do. Everyone should know about BOLO Books.

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    2. Aw, Kristopher, you are a sweetie. We already know we are going to have a fabulous time because we are having a fabulous pre-Banquet celebration that is lasting for months. Wonderful group of nominees--such fun.

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    3. Thank you, Kristopher. We're already having a ton of fun. I can't imagine that it will be anything other than better in person!

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    4. Thanks, Kristopher! What a great group of women and writers.

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  6. So excited for you all! We recommended something sparkly. :-)

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    1. And who knows Sparkles better than you?

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    2. Does sparkly in a glass count? If so, I'M IN!

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    3. Ha! Tracy, I do like the way you think!

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  7. Stay tuned on the red shoes issue. I plan to shoe shop later this week! Look out Malice, Team Best First Novel is coming your way!

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    1. I am obviously going to have to go shoe shopping before Malice.

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    2. Can''t wait to see your selections! Go red go!

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    3. I did some online looking this morning until I reminded myself I should be writing!

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  8. Thanks so much for inviting us. It is a joyful experience to hang out with the well-heeled Stiletto Gang.

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    1. Thanks, Terrie. It's great having you here to talk about writing and shoes!

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  9. Let me add my thanks for hosting us here today. So much fun!

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  10. Very fun post! Congrats to all nominees and thanks for sharing your stories and advice.
    I would wear red leather flats and so would my protag.

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    1. Thanks, Ramona. I'm with you. Red flats forever!

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    2. I will have on flats -- color to be determined!

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    3. Thanks, Ramona. Now I'm beginning to think I may need to actually buy a dress. (I don't own one!)

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    4. Go for it, Tracy! If I can do red shoes, you can do a dress. And hi, Ramona! Any chance we can coax you into coming to Malice this year???

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    5. Thanks, Ramona! Good for you about the red! Tracy, I wore a pantsuit last year. :)

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    6. This thing needs a like button. ;-)

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  11. Congratulations to all of you. I'll be at the Malice banquet cheering you on and checking out your shoes.

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    1. Thanks so much, Maryann! Be sure you introduce yourself to us!

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    2. Can't wait to see you, Mary Ann!

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    3. Well the Queen of England has her special hand wave. I guess we better start practicing our special foot wave. (Good grief, I just had a flash of me--raising foot to be funny and landing on the floor.)

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  12. Thank you for inviting us, Paula and The Stiletto Gang! Hope to see all of you at Malice!

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    1. I am looing forward to this more every minute!

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    2. Yes, thanks so much, Paula! This has been great fun! Such an honor to be included with this group of ladies.

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    3. You all are terrific. Thanks so much for participating!

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  13. What a fun group of authors! I wish you could all win. ;^) Thanks for sharing your stories.

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    1. Me, too, Edith. We have so much fun together online. Meeting in person will be a blast. Annette is right when she calls us "Team Best First Novel." Thanks for joining the party! :)

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    2. Thanks Edith! We're having a great time!

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    3. Hi Edith, we are having lots of fun hopping around the blogosphere as a group which makes the entire experience that much more enjoyable.

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    4. Thanks, Edith! I think we all have won -- getting nominated and getting to know each other!

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    5. Edith, I have to add that I just read your short story--also a nominee--today. What a winner! :)

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  14. Loved the interview! I have only read three of the books but I see I need to check out the others. Flats, no dress! Not even for this awesome event. I don't see animal print with a white dress, off-white yes but not white. Have a ball ladies!

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    1. Thanks, Billie! Hope we'll see you there!

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    2. Thanks, Billie! I hope you love all 5 books!

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    3. Thanks Billie. We will see you there. You'll recognize us, we will be the five women glued together because we have spent so much time together over the pre-banquet weeks.

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    4. Thanks, Billie! A great group!

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  15. Congrats to all of you, a couple I have read, some not yet but I find I never go wrong with discovering books in this category!

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    1. Thanks! I haven't finished all of the books yet, but I'm at least half way through. So far I can say they are all great!

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    2. Thanks so much! I'm enjoying Tracy's book right now!

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    3. Thanks, Susan! I loved yours!

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  16. Congratulations to all the nominees. You're all winners in my book

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