Please contact E. B. Davis at for information on guest blogs and interviews. Interviews for November: 11/2 Lois Winston 11/9 Christin Brecher 11/16 Laurie Lowenstein 11/23 M.V. Byrne

Tuesday, July 20, 2021

Celebrating the 2019 and 2020 Agatha Nominated Best Short Stories

by Paula Gail Benson

Last Wednesday through Saturday, the Malice Domestic board organized and presented a series of online panels and interviews called More Than Malice. While those of us who enjoy gathering for our annual reunion missed the in-person event, the virtual one helped us reconnect.

More Than Malice culminated on Saturday with the announcement of the Agatha awards. For two years now, we’ve had to celebrate those nominees and winners from afar. Teapots will be awarded when we’re all together again, but in the meantime, yesterday on The Stiletto Gang, I profiled the Best First Novel nominees and listed their new and upcoming work.

Today, I’m continuing to celebrate with the Agatha nominees for 2019 and 2020 Best Short Stories. They are a talented group of authors and I feel fortunate to count them as friends. If you haven’t discovered them yet, please consider reading their work. For 2020, I’ve included the links to the nominated stories.

Here are the Agatha nominees for Best Short Story (award noted by **):

2019 Best Short Story

“Grist for the Mill” by Kaye George in A Murder of Crows (Darkhouse Books)

“Alex’s Choice” by Barb Goffman in Crime Travel (Wildside Press)

“The Blue Ribbon” by Cynthia Kuhn in Malice Domestic 14: Mystery Most Edible  (Wildside Press)

**“The Last Word” by Shawn Reilly Simmons, Malice Domestic 14: Mystery Most Edible (Wildside Press)

“Better Days” by Art Taylor (Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine)

2020 Best Short Story

**“Dear Emily Etiquette by Barb Goffman (Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine Sep/Oct)

The Red Herrings at Killington Inn by Shawn Reilly Simmons in Masthead: Best New England Crime Stories (Level Best Books)

The Boy Detective & The Summer of ‘74by Art Taylor (Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine Jan/Feb)

Elysian Fieldsby Gabriel Valjan in California Schemin’: The 2020 Bouchercon Anthology (Wildside Press)

The 25 Year Engagement” by James Ziskin in In League with Sherlock Holmes: Stories Inspired by the Sherlock Holmes Canon (Pegasus Crime)

Kaye George

Kaye George
has an amazing resume. She’s worked as a janitor, mental health center secretary, waitress, bookkeeper, short order cook, mainframe computer programmer, and nurse’s aide. She was the wife of a minister. She plays the violin and composes music. (I feel fortunate that she contributed the overture for a Sherlock Holmes musical I wrote.) She has written short stories as well as novels, including the Imogene Duckworthy, Cressa Caraway, People of the Wind (Neanderthal), Fat Cat, and Vintage Sweets series. A former blogging partner here at Writers Who Kill, she has served as Past President of the Guppies Chapter of Sisters in Crime and remains an active member of the Guppies short story critique group, where she offers sage advice to all of us struggling with the craft.

Barb Goffman
Barb Goffman’s “Dear Emily Etiquette” has been honored with the Agatha and the Ellery Queen Readers Award and is a finalist for the Anthony and Macavity awards to be given at Bouchercon in New Orleans. Her stories have received the Agatha and Macavity awards and she has been a finalist for national crime-writing awards thirty-three times. Her short story collection, Don’t Get Mad, Get Even, won the Silver Falchion. Barb gives generously of her time in talking with groups. She was a panelist this year at Mystery in the Midlands. As a member of the Chesapeake Chapter of Sisters in Crime, her stories have appeared in its anthologies, which she also assists in editing. She has her own editing service and is the proud mother of Jingles.

Cynthia Kuhn

Cynthia Kuhn
has written five academic mysteries about Professor Lila McLean. She received the Malice Domestic grant for this first novel, which also won the Agatha for Best First Novel. The other books in the Lila McLean series have been nominated for the Lefty for Best Humorous Mystery. How to Book a Murder is the first in her Starlit Mystery series. In addition, she has written academic nonfiction texts. She lives in Colorado with her family and is an English professor at Metropolitan State University in Denver, where she teaches literature, writing, and film.

Shawn Reilly Simmons

Many of us know and are grateful to
Shawn Reilly Simmons for her work as a Malice Domestic board member, and her being a co-owner/publisher and editor at Level Best Books. She edited Malice Domestic 14: Mystery Most Edible, which includes her Agatha award-winning story. In addition, she received the Anthony for editing that anthology. Along with writing and editing short stories, she is the author of seven novels in the Red Carpet Catering Mystery series featuring Penelope Sutherland, chef-owner of a movie set catering company. She lives in historic Frederick, Maryland, with her husband and son, Russell.

Art Taylor

Art Taylor’s
On the Road with Del & Louise: A Novel in Stories won the Agatha for Best First Novel and was a finalist for the Anthony and Macavity awards. His “English 398: Fiction Workshop” won the Edgar. His short fiction has received three Agatha awards, an Anthony award, four Macavity awards, and four Derringer awards. Murder Under the Oaks, which he edited for the Raleigh Bouchercon, received the Anthony award. Like Barb, Art has appeared in numerous virtual presentations, including serving on the short story panel with his wife Tara Laskowski and John Floyd at the 2020 Mystery in the Midlands. In February 2022, he, Tara, and son Dash will be guests of honor at Murder in the Magic City.

Gabriel Valjan

Gabriel Valjan
is the author of three series: (1) Roma (a prequel and five novels); (2) Company Files (the second book received Agatha and Anthony nominations), and (3) Shane Cleary PI Mysteries published by Level Best Books. His short stories have appeared in numerous anthologies and been listed for the Fish Prize (three times), the Bridport Prize, and Honorable Mention for the Nero Wolfe Black Orchid Novella in 2018. Art Taylor is the editor for California Schemin’, the Bouchercon anthology that contains Gabriel’s nominated short story.

James Ziskin

James Ziskin
lives in Boston, but has spent a life working around the world. He trained to be a linguist at the University of Pennsylvania. He’s worked in New York as a photo-news producer and writer, then as Director of NYU’s Casa Italiana. For fifteen years, he ran large international operations concerning subtitling/localization and visual effects in Hollywood post production. He has worked and studied in France, Italy, and India. His Ellie Stone Mysteries have won the Anthony and Macavity and been finalists for the Edgar, Barry, and Lefty awards. “The 25 Year Engagement” has been named a finalist for the Edgar, Agatha, Anthony, and Macavity awards.

If you are not already a fan of short mystery fiction, these authors’ stories are a great way to get hooked. Why not check them out? 


Margaret S. Hamilton said...

Nice round-up.

Barb Goffman said...

Thanks for focusing on short stories today, Paula, and on the Agatha best first nominees yesterday.

E. B. Davis said...

As you know, Paula, I love short stories, too! Thanks for the write up.

Art Taylor said...

Thanks for the shout-outs here! And yesterday too!

Kaye George said...

Paula, thank you so much for your kind comments, and for your friendship over the years. This is an awesome idea for a post. It's wonderful to have my name among these other excellent short story writers!

Molly MacRae said...

Thanks for the links and the shout out for short stories, Paula.

Kait said...

What a wonderful post. Congratulations to the winners, of course, but each of the nominees deserve kudos for excellent stories!

KM Rockwood said...

I love short stories, and you've certainly picked some of the best authors in the business!

Marilyn Levinson said...

An important post that brings attention to some great short story writers and their stories. I look forward to reading them.

Polly Iyer said...

Great post, Paula. How nice to feature such wonderful writers.

Paula Gail Benson said...

Thank you to everyone who stopped by to read this post. Many thanks to the nominated short story authors whose work continues to inspire and entertain. May you continue to prosper in your craft!

James W. Ziskin said...

Thank you, Paula! What a lovely thing to do. Deeply appreciated.

If any readers are interested, here’s the link to the stories nominated this year. Look about halfway down the page for the links. Sorry, I don’t have last year’s links.


Diane (aka Maddi) Davidson said...

Thank you for featuring such a terrific group of authors and stories.