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)
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
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
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 proposal—synopsis of the first three books, first three
chapters, cast of characters, and marketing plan—poured out of me in four days.
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!
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
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
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?
Don’t ever give up. Keep studying the
craft of writing. And finish the book.
Don’t give up and study the
craft. I have stacks of rejection letters—from 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.
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).
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.
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!]
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!
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.
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!
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.
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!