Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Edity Edity Edit

by Bethany Maines

This past week has been consumed by edits for the second book in my Shark Santoyo Crime Series - Shark's Bite. There's nothing like a keen eyed editor to make you realize how many times you use the word "shrug." Or nod.  Or dear God, how many times will my characters smile.  So many times.  Is there another way to say "smile" without actually using the word "smile"?  I may go mad looking up "grin" in the thesaurus.

When I get a manuscript back from an editor I make multiple passes through to make the requested changes and to make any changes to answer questions or fix problems an editor may have pointed out. The first time I make it through the manuscript I think I'm so clever. Then I actually read it and I think, "uh, I wrote that?" The word repetition, the sameness of gestures! And what about scene setting? The third time through I think... "Not bad, except for that one part.  That needs work."  Then by the fourth and fifth rounds I'm hunting for typos and hoping like hell I haven't put any fresh ones in with my changes. Finally, when I think I'll go blind staring at it and I can't think of one more thing to change, then back to the editors it goes. Then it comes back and I agree to fix all the terrible typos I managed to miss in the previous five rounds of read-throughs and then, finally, finally, off to layout it goes.

And after all of that, it's still a fairly sure bet that someone will still find a typo.  And that's when I make this face:

Bethany Maines is the author of the Carrie Mae Mystery Series, Tales From the City of Destiny, San Juan Islands Mysteries, Shark Santoyo Crime Series, and numerous short stories. When she's not traveling to exotic lands, or kicking some serious butt with her fourth degree black belt in karate, she can be found chasing her daughter or glued to the computer working on her next novel. You can also view the Carrie Mae YouTube video or catch up with her on Twitter and Facebook.

Monday, March 26, 2018

Looking Forward to Mystery Short Story Award Season

by Paula Gail Benson

The time is quickly approaching for recognizing short story excellence in the mystery field. The following authors have been nominated for Agathas for their short stories, an award presented at the Malice Domestic conference at the end of April:

Best Short Story

Double Deck the Halls by Gretchen Archer (Henery Press)
Whose Wine is it Anyway by Barb Goffman in 50 Shades of Cabernet (Koehler Books)
The Night They Burned Miss Dixie’s Place by Debra Goldstein in Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine (May/June 2017)
The Library Ghost of Tanglewood Inn by Gigi Pandian (Henery Press)
A Necessary Ingredient by Art Taylor in Coast to Coast: Private Eyes from Sea to Shining Seat (Down & Out Books)

Please notice that each of the nominated stories has a link that will allow you to read it. Let me assure you that you’ll enjoy each one. Next month, we’ll have an interview with the authors.

In 2013, I surveyed the awards given to mystery short stories in a post for Writers Who Kill. Here’s a link to that post: http://writerswhokill.blogspot.com/2013/08/awards-for-writing-mystery-short-stories.html

For a comprehensive list of crime fiction awards given internationally, please click on this link.

Here’s an update of national awards given to mystery short stories:

The Agatha Awards have been presented since 1988 by Malice Domestic at its annual conference. The awards recognize the traditional mystery written in the style of Agatha Christie, having no explicit sex, excessive gore, or gratuitous violence.

Nominees are selected by ballot from persons registered for the conference by December 31.

Nomination forms are tallied by the Agatha Committee. The top five choices in each category are placed on the ballot. Attendees vote by secret ballot at the conference and the awards are presented at the banquet. The awards are porcelain tea pots.

The Anthony awards, named for Anthony Boucher (writer, critic, and a founder of the Mystery Writers of America) have been presented since 1986 at the annual Bouchercon World Mystery Convention. The Anthonys feature a Best Anthology category as well as best short story. In Toronto, the Anthonys included a category for Best Novella for a work of 8,000-40,000 words. B.J. Stevens posthumously won the inaugural award for “The Last Blue Glass.”

Nominating ballots are emailed to the registered attendees. Awards are determined by the persons attending Bouchercon.

Black Orchid Novella
Entries of 15,000 to 20,000 words submitted by May 31 are eligible for the Black Orchid Novella Award. The winner is announced at the The Wolfe Pack’s (a society devoted to Nero Wolfe) Annual Banquet. The award winning story has often been published in Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine.

The Derringer Awards, named after the palm-sized handgun, have been presented since 1997 by the Short Mystery Fiction Society (SMFS). Presentations are made in March. Members and editors may submit stories for an initial blind consideration by volunteer judges who select five nominees in each category. To be eligible to vote for the awards, a person must join the SMFS by December 31.

The awards are presented by category: (1) best story of 1000 words or less; (2) best story of 1001 to 4000 words; (3) best story of 4001 to 8000 words; and (4) best story of 8001 to 17,500 words. 

Best Flash Story (Up to 1,000 words)
Best Short Story (1,001 to 4,000 words)
Best Long Story (4,001 to 8,000 words)
Best Novelette (8,001 to 20,000 words)

See the following web page for the complete selection procedure: https://shortmystery.blogspot.com/2008/08/smfs-derringer-awards-procedure.html 

The Edgar Allan Poe Awards have been presented annually since 1946 by the Mystery Writers of America. Authors who submit their stories for consideration must meet the requirements for active status in the MWA whether or not they are members of MWA. For more information, see:

Short stories are considered works up to 22,000 words from approved magazines, periodicals, anthologies, and websites. Submissions meeting the requirements may be made online at:

The Robert L. Fish Memorial Award is presented for the best first published mystery short story by a previously unpublished author.

Each year since 1987, members of the Mystery Readers International organization vote and present the Macavity awards in four categories. The Macavity award is named for T.S. Eliot’s  "mystery cat" in the Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats. For more information, see: http://mysteryreaders.org/macavity-awards/

Honoring publications since 1981, the Shamus awards, created by Robert J. Randisi, have been presented by the Private Eye Writers of America. PWA committee members select the nominees and winners in a manner similar to the Edgar selections. A “private eye” is considered the protagonist of a mystery who is a professional investigator, but not a police officer or government agent. For more information, see: http://www.privateeyewriters.com/shamus_awards.html

Silver Falchion
For the last two years, an award for the best anthology or collection has been presented at Killer Nashville, which honors recipients with the Silver Falchion. For more information, see: https://killernashville.com/awards/silver-falchion-award/


Presented since 2006 by the International Thriller Writers, the Thrillers are announced at the annual Thrillerfest conference. Short stories of up to 35,000 words are considered so that novellas qualify for submission. An entry must be published in print or e-zine format during the previous year. For more information, see: http://thrillerwriters.org/programs/award-nominees-and-winners/

Friday, March 23, 2018

Creativity--Where Does It Come From? by T.K. Thorne



      Writer, humanist,
          dog-mom, horse servant and cat-slave,
       Lover of solitude
          and the company of good friends,
        New places, new ideas
           and old wisdom.

To be a writer requires the ability to tap into creativity. It is the sine quo non, the foundation of  being novelist or a poet. This is not to denigrate the years of learning and work that go into the writing craft. But without the essence of story, craft and skill are tools without a job. 

What is creativity?  How does it work? How do we turn it on? 

Photo by Praveesh Palakeel on Unsplash

Let’s start with what it is. According to the dictionary, creativity is originality, progressiveness or imagination, more specifically, the ability to “transcend traditional ideas, rules, patterns, relationships, or the like, and to create meaningful new ideas, forms, methods, interpretations.” 

Scientists like Dr. George Land, who has spent his career investigating the enhancement of creativity performance, have determined that there are two kinds of thinking. One he calls divergent and the other is convergent. Divergent thinking is when our brain is coming up with new possibilities. Convergent thinking is where the brain is making a judgment, testing, criticizing and evaluating. Although the two sides of our brains (left and right) have specialized areas that contribute to these types of thinking, much more of the whole brain is involved when a person is using their imagination than when using convergent thinking or analyzing. 

Louis R. Mobley says creativity can definitely be taught and the key is asking radically different questions in a non-linear way. He also suggests that self-knowledge, giving yourself permission to be wrong, and hanging around with creative thinkers are important elements or learning to be creative. 

What kind of specific things can writers do to stimulate divergent or creative thinking and get the whole brain engaged? Here’s a partial list:

  • Bubble mapping
  • Creating artwork
  • Maintaining a journal
  • Subject mapping
  • Devoting some time to meditation and thinking
  • Building lists of questions

All these activities can trigger divergent thinking. What works for one person might not for another and vice versa.

Photo by Praveesh Palakeel on Unsplash

For me, oddly, it’s being in a car for extended periods of time, such as driving on the Interstate. I go into a “zone” where my imagination creates scenes, and characters talk to each other. 

Where did that come from?

When I was a patrol officer on the late shift--yes, sometimes all hell would break out--but often there were long, boring hours of patrol. I learned to let part of my brain be observing what I was seeing out the window while the other part was writing a novel.

Those days are long gone, and I don't drive that much anymore.  Can't write a novel based on trips to the grocery store. So I'm trying to create that zone state when I walk, but, like "falling" asleep, it doesn't happen with willpower. You can't "make" yourself fall asleep. You can only create the circumstances that make it more likely and "let go" of activities and thoughts that create an anti-sleep environment. Then sleep happens. 

It's the same with daydreaming or being in a creative state and involves giving the mind permission to wander, a kind of “letting go” that doesn’t put requirements on what I am thinking, just a repetitive nudge in the direction of my current story. Random thoughts can splatter the bubble, but often, if I bring my mind gently back on track--like returning focus to breath in meditation--valuable things happen. 

Do you have a method of getting into the creative zone? I'd love to hear from you.

T.K. has written two award-winning historical novels, NOAH'S WIFE and ANGELS AT THE GATE, filling in the untold backstories of extraordinary unnamed women—the wives of Noah and Lot—in two of the world’s most famous sagas. The New York Post’s “Books You Should Be Reading” list featured her first non-fiction book, LAST CHANCE FOR JUSTICE, which details the investigators’ behind-the-scenes stories of the 1963 Birmingham church bombing case. 

Her next project is HOUSE OF ROSE, the first of a trilogy in the paranormal-crime genre. She loves traveling and speaking about her books and life lessons. T.K. writes at her mountaintop home near Birmingham, Alabama, often with two dogs and a cat vying for her lap. She blogs about “What Moves Me” on her website, TKThorne.com.  Join her private newsletter email list and receive a two free short stories at “TK’s Korner.”

Thursday, March 22, 2018

Research and Writing Mysteries by Juliana Aragón Fatula

Bowerhouse Press

Research makes me crazy. I love researching new subjects, but sometimes get carried away and have to discipline myself to only do research for an hour and then take notes and then get back to writing. Research helps me expand my knowledge in many subjects. 

I've written about Atlanta, Georgia and had to become familiar with not only the history, the city, but also how they speak. I studied the Cherokee Trail of Tears, the plantations architecture, the speed limits in the city, the names of bridges, rivers, creeks, landmarks, and the weather. I researched serial killers in Atlanta, homicides, death penalties, and how many people have been executed. I found this fascinating. 

My research also led me to Utah and the Northern Ute. I learned about their first meeting with the Mormons. The ceremonies, language, history, and massacres. I learned about Salt Lake City
and Antelope Island. I learned about the Southern Ute in Colorado and the legends. 

I also researched how to write a murder mystery and did my homework. I studied the women writers of the Stiletto Gang Blog and learned how they work their stories. This blog has helped me so much is so many ways. It's like taking a master writing class online from the comfort of my home. I especially learned from Linda Rodriguez and her book, Plotting the Character Driven Novel. Thank you, Linda. Your book has taught me many tools that I use every day. I recommend this book to aspiring writers. 

available at Casa de Cinco de Hermanas Press

Available at

My ancestor, Phoebe Gomez Mondragon in 70's

Wednesday, March 21, 2018


By Kay Kendall

These days whenever I cast my thoughts into the future, I become tense. This is a new phenomenon for me. Previously I was more hopeful. That is to say, to some degree.

I estimated that the world had until, say, about the year 2050 until conditions became unbearable. That was when I figured all the usual horrors of modern life that seem to threaten our collective future would hit and hit hard: climate change and its many evils, the threat of nuclear war, plagues that could decimate humanity, overwhelming pollution of land, sea, and air. And so on. I feel as if I missed something awful in that list, but I think you can get my drift.
But here lately I am no longer able to push the crisis date out as far as 2050. Instead I expect the decade of the 2020s to be grim. There are two main things that led me to this conclusion. One is general, gleaned from news reports that I follow daily. The other is personal.
On the general level, I observe that the issues besetting my nation and my world are not being handled well. While pollution and climate change and saber rattling escalate—sometimes it feels as if they do so daily—I do not see a collective will of rational people and their leaders to sit down and reason together, to combine their wisdom and seek answers to problems that threaten to engulf us all. Everyone is mad about something. Everyone shouts at each other. The few I notice who are working quietly and rationally seem to be crying into the wilderness. The bullies rule the mass media and whip up discontent.
On a personal level, I just experienced my two grandchildren and experienced their world close up during spring break. They are in grade school, and what a difference a year has made. While last year electronics occupied some of their time, this year the amount of time and attention they covered was enormous. While both children used to be avid readers and still have many books in each of their rooms, they now just occasionally read stories. Instead they often turn to video games for their fun, even though their parents still take them to library often to check out books. The boy can reel off the history of video games and personal computers and wants a DIY laptop for his birthday. He loves to lose himself in YouTube videos about technology.
Anyone who is either a millennial or younger is living in a world overwhelmed by technology. What’s being lost? The ability to sit quietly and collect one’s thoughts, to watch a sunset without snapping a picture, to listen to waves hit a beach, to just chill and BE. I fear these quiet pursuits are getting lost in the blur of activity that is our new world.
And then when I consider what I read about artificial intelligence and how the super brainiacs among us are worried about the changes that are coming from AI . . . well, is it any wonder that I have developed an advanced stage of future tense-itis?
Humanity is being drained by lack of interaction among individuals. I want coming generations to continue to read books, paint pictures, converse well with friends, work out disagreements in a reasonable way—and to see the value in those things, rather than seeing them as hopelessly old-fashioned. These are all human-based necessities and joys that are being inundated by our tech world. I hope I am merely being a Debbie Downer, but still, I must admit, I worry. I want literature to continue to be written—and avidly read—that speaks to the humanity of us all. 

Meet the author
Kay Kendall is a long-time fan of historical novels and now writes  mysteries that capture the spirit and turbulence of the sixties. A reformed PR executive who won international awards for her projects, Kay lives in Texas with her Canadian husband, three house rabbits, and spaniel Wills. Terribly allergic to her bunnies, she loves them anyway! Her book titles show she's a Bob Dylan buff. In 2015 Rainy Day Women won two Silver Falchion Awards at Killer Nashville.
Visit Kay at her website < http://www.austinstarr.com/>
or on Facebook < https://www.facebook.com/KayKendallAuthor>

Monday, March 19, 2018

Interview with Agatha Nominees for Best First Novel!

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

Best First Novel:
Adrift: A Mer Cavallo Mystery by Micki Browning (
Alibi-Random House)
The Plot is Murder: A Mystery Bookshop Mystery by V.M. Burns (
Hollywood Homicide: A Detective by Day Mystery by Kellye Garrett (Midnight Ink)
aughters of Bad Men by Laura Oles (Red Adept Publishing)
Protocol: A Maggie O’Malley Mystery by Kathleen Valenti (Henery Press)

Today, the Stiletto Gang welcomes Micki, Valerie, Kellye, Laura, and Kathleen. Thanks for stopping by to share your work and thoughts with us!—Paula Gail Benson

What writing habits enabled you to complete a novel?

Micki Browning
Micki Browning:  The word habit suggests I have a routine, and sadly, that just isn’t the case. I’m a freestyle writer who works best when there is a looming deadline. I’m a somewhat recent convert to outlining. I’ve found that plotting the milestones ensures I don’t get lost along the way. But by keeping the outline spare, it doesn’t stifle my ability to take the occasional road less traveled to get to where I want to go. 

Valerie Burns:  I set a weekly goal of writing between 7,500 to 10,000 words per week. If I write 1,000 to 1,500 per night, then I can easily make my goal. 

Kellye Garrett
Kellye Garrett:  I wish was one of those writers who got up at 5 am every morning and pounded out 1,000 amazing words before I even had a dose of caffeine. I am not. My favorite quote is from Dorothy Parker: “I hate writing. I love having written.” For me, I write after there is literally nothing else for me to do. Like I will clean my toilet and yours before I write a single word. For me, the key is having a detailed outline. I may go a bit overboard. (My 25-plus page outlines are legendary among my friends.) But the blank page scares me as much as a good horror movie villain. So I like to know exactly what I need to write and what comes next. I also allow myself to do a “vomit draft” where I just throw things on the page to clean up in later drafts. My books aren’t anywhere near decent until around the draft number three.  

Laura Oles:  I was fortunate in that I spent many years writing for digital photography magazines and publications, so the writing practice had been part of my regular routine.  I managed deadlines and worked with editors, and I came from the perspective of writing being not only craft but also a business. Still, writing fiction is completely different and I had a great deal to learn.

My critique group, Austin Mystery Writers, has also been a huge support.  AMW is truly focused on helping each member produce the best work possible.  Writing can be such a solitary pursuit, so having other authors to bounce ideas off of has been a wonderful thing.

Kathleen Valenti
Kathleen Valenti:  The single best piece of writing advice came from a romance novelist in my hometown. When she saw how much (little?) I had on the page after writing for longer than I care to admit, she gave me some tough author love: stop fannying about and write. (Okay, so maybe she didn’t say “fannying about,” but sometimes my bookish memories have an English accent.)

She taught me about the importance of word counts and to meet them daily, come hell or Dateline marathons. Her advice proved invaluable. Not only did making (and meeting) word count goals help me move from page one to page 300, it helped me silence the internal editor that kept me polishing the same phrase again and again without moving forward. This habit of writing toward a goal helped me finish my second book ahead of its deadline and have the confidence to realize that even when plots or characters don’t seem to cooperate, I’ll get there, one word at a time. As other wise novelists have pointed out, sometimes you have to let the rusty water out first for the good stuff to run clean.  

Is your debut novel part of a series or a stand alone?

Micki Browning:  Adrift is the first of the Mer Cavallo Mysteries. Book two, Beached, launched in January. I’m currently writing a stand-alone police procedural, and then it’s back to Mer with Chum. 

V.M. "Valerie" Burns
Valerie Burns:  My debut novel is part of The Mystery Bookshop Mystery series. 

Kellye Garrett:  It’s a series, which is a good thing since Hollywood Homicide ends on a bit of a cliff hanger. The second book, Hollywood Ending, comes out in August 2018 and features three of my favorite things: gossip blogs, blind items, and fancy award shows. The third book will be out sometime in 2019.

Laura Oles

Laura Oles:  Daughters of Bad Men is the first book in the Jamie Rush mystery series. Jamie Rush is a skip tracer working in the coastal town of Port Alene, Texas.  Jamie and her partner, Cookie Hinojosa, take on the emotional task of finding Jamie’s missing niece. Accepting Kristen’s case isn’t an easy ask.  Jamie’s relationship with her family is a complicated one.  She doesn’t trust them, and for very good reason. Still, when Kristen goes silent, she agrees to take the case because…well, she’s family.  You don’t turn your back on family.

Kathleen Valenti:  Protocol is the first of the Maggie O’Malley mystery series. The second book, 39 Winks, releases May 22nd.

What shoes would you, your protagonist, or another character from your novel wear to the Agathas banquet?

Micki Browning:  Mer is a flip-flop and bare feet kind of gal. She’d dig around in the back of her closet until she located the pumps she’d worn when she defended her dissertation--black, no nonsense, perfectly serviceable. And she’d kick them off under the banquet table when no one was looking.

Valerie Burns:  Irma, one of the sleuthing seniors who helps Samantha in the series is very fond of six inch hooker heels. She’d rock these shoes. 

Kellye Garrett:  In Hollywood Homicide, my main character Dayna covets a pair of Pink Panthers, described as “a hot pink stiletto with panther spots that was the shoe of the moment.” She wears them the entire book, including when chasing a suspect. They play such a big role in the story that we even had her wearing them in an early version of the cover. So she’d definitely proudly rock her Pink Panthers to the Agathas.

Laura Oles:  Jamie would wear Chuck Taylor Converse. Burgundy since it’s a special occasion.  But she would make sure to pair them with a jacket and dark jeans.  It’s about as dressed up as she gets.  Formal gowns make her nervous.

 Kathleen Valenti:  Maggie is the antithesis of the girly-girl. While I’d gladly don cute sling-backs or a kitten heel for the Agathas banquet, Maggie would show up in running shoes, even if she were forced to shimmy into a ball gown. Since she’s a new college grad on a serious budget, she’d be sporting Court Classics rather than, say, Nike or New Balance. And because she doesn’t care about her appearance—or anyone else’s opinion—she’d wear those bright white kicks with pride.

Here’s more information about these novelists and their work. Check them out!

Micki Browning
A retired police captain, Micki Browning writes the Mer Cavallo Mystery series set in the Florida Keys. In addition to the Agatha nomination for Best First Novel, Adrift, has won both the Daphne du Maurier and the Royal Palm Literary Awards. Beached, her second novel, launched January 2018. Micki’s work has appeared in dive magazines, anthologies, mystery magazines, and textbooks. She lives in South Florida with her partner in crime and a vast array of scuba equipment she uses for "research." Learn more about Micki at MickiBrowning.com
Marine biologist-turned-divemaster Meredith Cavallo thought adjusting to a laid-back life in the Florida Keys would be a breeze. But when the host of a ghost-hunting documentary crew hires her as a safety diver and then vanishes during the midnight dive, Mer’s caught in a storm of supernatural intrigue.
Determined to find a rational explanation, Mer approaches the man’s disappearance as any scientist would—by asking questions, gathering data, and deducing the truth. But the victim’s life is as shrouded in mystery as his disappearance. Still, something happened under the water and before long, she’s in over her head. When someone tries to kill her, she knows the truth is about to surface. Maybe dead men do tell tales.

Valerie Burns:
V.M. (Valerie) Burns was born in Northwestern Indiana and spent many years in Southwestern Michigan on the Lake Michigan shoreline. She is a lover of dogs, British historic cozies, and scones with clotted cream. After many years in the Midwest she went in search of milder winters and currently lives in Eastern Tennessee with her poodles. Receiving the Agatha nomination for Best First Novel has been a dream come true. Valerie is a member of Mystery Writers of America, International Thriller Writers, and a lifetime member of Sisters in Crime. Readers can learn more by visiting her website at vmburns.com.
The Plot is Murder~
Samantha Washington has dreamed of owning a mystery bookstore for as long as she can remember. And as she prepares for the store’s grand opening, she’s also realizing another dream—penning a cozy mystery set in England between the wars. While Samantha hires employees and fills the shelves with the latest mysteries, quick-witted Lady Penelope Marsh, long-overshadowed by her beautiful sister Daphne, refuses to lose the besotted Victor Carlston to her sibling's charms. When one of Daphne's suitors is murdered in a maze, Penelope steps in to solve the labyrinthine puzzle and win Victor. But as Samantha indulges her imagination, the unimaginable happens in real life. A shady realtor turns up dead in her backyard, and the police suspect her—after all, the owner of a mystery bookstore might know a thing or two about murder. Aided by her feisty grandmother and an enthusiastic ensemble of colorful retirees, Samantha is determined to close the case before she opens her store. But will she live to conclude her own story when the killer has a revised ending in mind for her?

Kellye Garrett
Kellye Garrett writes the Detective by Day mysteries about a semi-famous, mega-broke black actress who takes on the deadliest role of her life; Homicide Detective. The first, Hollywood Homicide, was recently nominated for Agatha, Lefty and Barry awards. The second, Hollywood Ending, will be released on August 8, 2018 from Midnight Ink. Prior to writing novels, Kellye spent eight years working in Hollywood, including a stint writing for the TV drama Cold Case. The New Jersey native now works for a leading media company in New York City and serves on the national Board of Directors for Sisters in Crime. You can learn more about her at KellyeGarrett.com and ChicksontheCase.com.
Hollywood Homicide~
Actress Dayna Anderson’s Deadly New Role: Homicide Detective
Dayna Anderson doesn’t set out to solve a murder. All the semifamous, mega-broke actress wants is to help her parents keep their house. So after witnessing a deadly hit-and-run, she pursues the fifteen grand reward. But Dayna soon finds herself doing a full-on investigation, wanting more than just money—she wants justice for the victim. She chases down leads at paparazzi hot spots, celeb homes, and movie premieres, loving every second of it—until someone tries to kill her. And there are no second takes in real life.

Laura Oles
Laura Oles is a photo industry journalist who spent twenty years covering tech and trends before turning to crime fiction. She served as a columnist for numerous photography magazines and publications. Laura’s short stories have appeared in several anthologies, including MURDER ON WHEELS, which won the Silver Falchion Award in 2016. Her debut mystery, DAUGHTERS OF BAD MEN, is a Claymore Award Finalist and an Agatha nominee for Best First Novel. She is also a Writers’ League of Texas Award Finalist. Laura is a member of Austin Mystery Writers, Sisters in Crime and Writers’ League of Texas. Laura lives on the edge of the Texas Hill Country with her husband, daughter and twin sons. Visit her online at lauraoles.com.
Daughters of Bad Men~
Jamie Rush understands what it takes to disappear because her parents taught her that long ago. Leveraging her knowledge of why and how people run from their own lives, Jamie has built a business based on bringing those in hiding back to answer for their actions. She takes pride in using her skills to work both inside and outside the law.
When her estranged brother, Brian, calls and says his daughter is missing, Jamie initially turns down the case. Kristen has always been a bit wild, frequently dropping off the grid then showing up a few days later. But Brian swears this time is different, and even though Jamie vowed years ago to keep her conniving sibling at arm’s length, she can’t walk away if Kristen could be in real trouble.
As Jamie begins digging into Kristen’s life, she uncovers her niece’s most guarded secrets. Uncovering the truth will put a target on Jamie’s back and endanger the lives of those she loves.

Kathy Valenti
Kathleen Valenti is the author of the Maggie O’Malley mystery series. The series’ first book, Agatha- and Lefty-nominated Protocol, introduces us to Maggie, a pharmaceutical researcher with a new job, a used phone and a deadly problem. The series’ second book, 39 Winks, releases May 22. When Kathleen isn’t writing page-turning mysteries that combine humor and suspense, she works as a nationally award-winning advertising copywriter. She lives in Oregon with her family where she pretends to enjoy running. Learn more at www.kathleenvalenti.com.
Freshly minted college graduate Maggie O’Malley embarks on a career fueled by professional ambition and a desire to escape the past. As a pharmaceutical researcher, she’s determined to save lives from the shelter of her lab. But on her very first day she’s pulled into a world of uncertainty. Reminders appear on her phone for meetings she’s never scheduled with people she’s never met. People who end up dead.
With help from her best friend, Maggie discovers the victims on her phone are connected to each other and her new employer. She soon unearths a treacherous plot that threatens her mission—and her life. Maggie must unlock deadly secrets to stop horrific abuses of power before death comes calling for her.