If you are interested in blogging or want to promote your book, please contact E. B. Davis at writerswhokill@gmail.com

Our July author interviews: Ellen Byerrum (7/5), Day of the Dark anthology authors (7/12 and 7/19), and Nancy Cole Silverman (7/26).

Saturday Guest Bloggers in July: 7/1--Fran Stewart, and 7/8--Nancy Cole Silverman. WWK Saturday bloggers write on 7/15--Margaret S. Hamilton, 7/22--Kait Carson, and 7/29--E. B. Davis.


“May 16, 2017 – The Women’s Fiction Writers Association (WFWA) today announced the finalists of the second annual Star Award, given to authors of published women’s fiction. Six finalists were chosen in two categories, General and Outstanding Debut. The winners of the Star Award will be announced at the WFWA Retreat in Albuquerque, New Mexico on September 23, 2017.”

In the general category, WWK’s Carla Damron was one of three finalist for her novel, The Stone Necklace. Go to Carladamron.com for more information. Congratulations, Carla!

Congratulations to our writers for the following publications:

Warren Bull's new Lincoln mystery, Abraham Lincoln In Court & Campaign has been released. Look for the Kindle version on February 3.

Shari Randall's "Pets" will be included in Chesapeake Crimes: Fur, Feathers, and Felonies anthology, which will be published in 2018. In the same anthology "Rasputin," KM Rockwood's short story, will also be published. Her short story "Goldie" will be published in the Busted anthology, which will be released by Level Best Books on April 25th.

In addition, our prolific KM will have the following shorts published as well: "Sight Unseen" in Fish Out of Water, Guppie (SinC) anthology, just released, and "Making Tracks" in Passport to Murder, Bouchercon anthology, October 2017.

Margaret S. Hamilton's short story, "Once a Kappa" was published as a finalist in the Southern Writer's Magazine annual short story contest issue. Mysterical-E published her "Double Crust Corpse" in the Fall 2016 issue. "Baby Killer" will appear in the 2017 solar eclipse anthology Day of the Dark to be published this summer prior to the eclipse in August.

Linda Rodriquez has two pending book publications. Plotting the Character-Driven Novel will be released by Scapegoat Press on November 29th. Every Family Doubt, the fourth Skeet Bannion mystery, is scheduled for release on October, 18, 2017. Look for the interview by E. B. Davis here on that date!

James M. Jackson's 4th book in the Seamus McCree series, Doubtful Relations, is now available. His novella "Low Tide at Tybee" appears February 7 as part of Lowcountry Crimes: Four Novellas, which is available for order.

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Tuesday, September 13, 2016

An Anniversary Prompts Reflections

by Art Taylor

When KM Rockwood offered me the chance to contribute a guest post today to Writers Who Kill, I jumped on the opportunity—for reasons she herself might not have recognized.


Winner of the Agatha Award
for Best First Novel 2015
This week marks the one-year anniversary of my first book publication; On the Road with Del & Louise officially debuted on September 15, 2015. And in an even closer tie to the website here, we’re also just a little over a year from my first official interview about that book…which appeared on this same blog, a chat hosted by E.B. Davis. You can read it here.

In the year since those milestones… well, what an unexpected road that year has been both for my book and for me. This past spring, On the Road won the Agatha for Best First Novel at Malice Domestic. It’s currently in contention for the Anthony and Macavity Awards in the same category (both to be decided/announced at Bouchercon later this week). And next month, the first section of the book (it’s a novel in stories) will appear in this year’s Best American Mystery Stories anthology, edited by Elizabeth George and Otto Penzler.

Each of these honors has been a great surprise (I was on the road myself when I got the email about the BAMS selection, had stopped briefly for lunch, and I had to read it several times before I could believe it; in fact, I’m still waiting to see the final book before I’ll be fully convinced). I’m thrilled and humbled even to be listed among the other writers also nominated for these awards and included in that anthology.

From the vantage point of this anniversary week, it’s clearly been a wonderful year.

But it’s also been a year of learning—and so, as with any anniversary, a few reflections.

CONVENTIONAL WISDOM IS—AND ISN’T—WISEST

Way back when I was first considered building my first novel around Del and Louise’s adventures, my
Art Taylor and Barb Goffmann
with their Agatha Awards
at Malice Domestic 2015
writing group—a sharp bunch of writers, I should stress—wasn’t fully keen on the idea. Frankly, Del and Louise are criminals, and part of their concern was that readers generally want someone good that they can root for. And then from another direction came questions about the novel-in-stories structure—more common perhaps in literary circles, but would it find traction in our own chosen genre?

In retrospect, those concerns were valid.
Often—too often maybe—I hear from readers and reviewers, in person, in emails, and online, that they hadn’t wanted to like these characters or that they didn’t approve of them, etc., but that they eventually found themselves rooting for them anyway—a despite layered so regularly in those comments.

Likewise, the structure has proven problematic for some readers. Several reader reviews have begun with a disclaimer about the reviewer not really liking short stories (which made me want to point out that it’s not really a collection of stories but a novel), while at the other end of the spectrum, one reader did treat it as a novel (yay!) only to add that the chapters seem longer than she’d really like… at which point I’m at the other end of the spectrum myself: They’re not really chapters, they’re….

Well, you see how this hybrid form has been a little vexing for some readers—and then, in turn, for me.

And yet, I circle around to the kind attention that the book has received overall, which would lead me at least tentatively to champion the idea of following your own path rather than bowing to conventional wisdom…but which maybe more accurately brings me to my second reflection.

MYSTERY READERS ARE LIKE FAMILY

Here on the eve of Bouchercon and thinking back on the most recent Malice Domestic, I’m reminded of the great generosity and enthusiasm of my fellow writers and readers in the mystery community—a community that, as my friend Judy Bobalik and others have pointed out, functions much like a family.

On the Road is indeed, for the reasons above and others, an odd little book, I recognize that. But despite its admitted oddness, it’s always been welcomed at the dinner table (to keep the family theme going) and included in conversations and given a warm hug now and then….

I’ve mentioned elsewhere a comment that Lee Smith made about Southern writers—that while other writers might sometimes be fighting for a place at the publishing table, Southern writers are always saying there’s more room here, pull up a chair. The same is inevitably true of mystery writers generally. We celebrate one another’s publications and successes and—importantly—diversity: diversity of genre, of style, of approach, etc. Whether or not that other writer’s book is necessarily the kind of book we most enjoy—wherever it falls along that spectrum from cozy to noir, for example—there’s a spot at the table and a clear invitation to pull up a chair.

We’re all in this together as writers, and as readers (and we’re all readers first and foremost) we’re all united by our love of mystery fiction. That’s what family should be all about.

And related to that, a final point:

MARKETING CAN BE EASY*

Going back to conventional wisdom, I think all writers know that getting the book written is only half the battle these days—maybe less than half. Even getting it published is barely getting you where you need to be. Marketing your book—yourself—is the next step, and it’s hard work, and uncomfortable work too, I think.

But the asterisk on the heading above is an intentional one, because marketing can be easy…when you’re celebrating someone else’s work.

At the new author breakfast at last year’s Bouchercon, all of us who’d published our first books over the previous year had a couple of minutes to introduce our work to the audience—a time limit kept on a stopwatch, in fact. I felt the need to showcase my own novel, of course, but I divided my time in half so I could plug another book, a project that I was associated with as an editor but one that centered firmly on other writers’ stories: last year’s Bouchercon anthology Murder Under the Oaks.

The first minute I spoke I felt awkward and self-conscious—making a pitch for myself, striving for a sale or two—but when I transitioned to talking about the anthology, everything became smoother.

I could never say without self-consciousness that my own book is a great read, but I felt perfectly confident saying that the stories in that anthology were wonderful—not-to-be-missed.

I don’t ever like asking anyone to buy my book, but I felt over-the-moon enthusiastic about telling people to track down that other collection and show up for the reading and signing.

Art Taylor and other authors signing copies of
Murder Under the Oaks
at Bouchercon 2015
And flashing forward: I still can’t believe that On the Road has earned the attention it has, hardly believe it merits it, but I was ecstatic in unadulterated ways when Murder Under the Oaks was named an Anthony finalist for Best Anthology—because you know what? Those writers who contributed stories are top-notch, and they deserve it.

Marketing yourself sucks; celebrating other writers…that’s easy.

This final revelation may seem an ironic one, given how much me, me, me I see looking back over my draft here—but ending with this does give me a chance to thank Kathleen for doing exactly what I’m talking about here, providing space and opportunity to celebrate someone else.


It’s an opportunity that I appreciate her giving me and one that all of us should pay forward whenever we can.

18 comments:

Warren Bull said...

Thanks for sharing on WWK

Margaret Turkevich said...

I enjoy Del and Louise in the same way as Daniel Silva's Gabriel Allon or Lee Child's Jack Reacher. Though they're breaking the law, their reasons are so compelling that the scenario makes perfect sense.

Art Taylor said...

Thanks, Warren and Margaret! And thanks for the support, Margaret. I actually enjoy reading about characters on the edges or in some morally complex territory myself, and appreciate the comparisons here—and the company you're putting me in. Yowsa!

Thanks to Kathleen again too for hosting me here. Love this blog always. :-)

June Shaw said...

Art, I enjoyed reading about your book and how even if the main characters are far from perfect, your work has garnered so much attention. I'll need to read it. Good luck this weekend. Just being nominated is amazing!

Art Taylor said...

Thanks, June--and I hope you enjoy if you do get the chance to pick it up! And yes, I am fortunate in so many, many ways--grateful always. :-)

Thanks for the encouraging note!

Jim Jackson said...

Hey Art, welcome back to WWK where we are completely willing to take credit for your success if you don't want to do it yourself!

Seriously, what you have done is to prove what I have always maintained: when you write a compelling story, people don't care whether it's first person or third, past tense or present, linked stories or novel, whatever or whichever. They become engaged with the characters and they want to know what happens.

Congrats on all your past success and your future success.

~ Jim

Art Taylor said...

Jim — Thanks for the note here--and yes, I think that's true! The novel, I've always maintained, can be a remarkably flexible form--and the short story too. Rules are rules, certainly (or guidelines are there for a reason, maybe that's a better way of putting it), but there's room to do something different, and if the storytelling itself is good....

Well, I never have much perspective on my own work, but it's mean to much to have readers appreciate Del & Louise and their adventures.

And I'll give lots of credit to WWK--a terrific site and a generous group of folks here who've always been so supportive of me and of so many others. Credit where credit is due!

:-)

Grace Topping said...

Congratulations, Art, and happy anniversary. You've had quite a year to look back on. Wishing you continuing success.

Grace

Art Taylor said...

Thanks, Grace. I so much appreciate this! And so good seeing you recently. Hope all is going well!

Kait said...

Congratulations, Art. On the Road is a wonderful book. I've got my fingers crossed for you at B'con. As they say in NOLA: Laissez les bons temps rouler your success is well deserved!

Alan Orloff said...

Art, you and your writing deserve every last accolade and award you and it receive. Heck, I'd even read the tax code if you wrote it!

Shari Randall said...

Hi Art,
So excited that "Rearview Mirror" will be included in BAMS! On the Road - call it a hybrid, linked short stories, novel in stories - felt fresh and original. As a reader I enjoy work that shakes things up a bit and as a writer I love seeing what's possible. Keep up the good work, Art, and laissez les bon temps rouler!

Art Taylor said...

Hi, Kait, Alan, and Shari — Thanks for chiming in and for all the kind words about Del & Louise! I appreciate the enthusiasm and encouragement. :-)

And Alan, in fact, I'm now writing the tax code--or something equally numbing the way it looks on the page these days. I'll put you down for an advance copy! ;-)

Julie Tollefson said...

Congratulations on a stellar year, Art. May the good times continue in NOLA!

KM Rockwood said...

Thank you to Art for sharing his adventures and experiences with us. And thanks to everybody who read and/or commented on it!

Art Taylor said...

Thanks again, Kathleen, for including me here—and thanks, Julie! Sorry I missed your post earlier yesterday!

Cynthia Kuhn said...

You were so wonderful at the new author's breakfast (if you felt awkward, it sure didn't show). Congrats on your many successes...you deserve ALL of the kudos. Have fun at NOLA!

Art Taylor said...


Cynthia, you're too kind always! Wish you were going to be in New Orleans, but look forward to seeing you soon—and to staying in touch online in the meantime. :-)