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:

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: 

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:

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:

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:


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:

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for the shout-out here to the Agatha finalists—so much appreciate! And for the great run-down of award possibilities. A rich field indeed! Hope you're doing well. :-)