Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Edgar Award Nominees

Mystery Writers of America announced the Nominees for the 2020 Edgar Allan Poe Awards, honoring the best in mystery fiction, non-fiction and television published or produced in 2019. The Edgar® Awards will be presented to the winners at our 74th Gala Banquet, April 30, 2020 at the Grand Hyatt Hotel, New York City.


Fake Like Me by Barbara Bourland (Hachette Book Group – Grand Central Publishing)
The Stranger Diaries by Elly Griffiths (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)
The River by Peter Heller (Penguin Random House – Alfred A. Knopf)
Smoke and Ashes by Abir Mukherjee (Pegasus Books)
Good Girl, Bad Girl by Michael Robotham (Simon & Schuster - Scribner)


My Lovely Wife by Samantha Downing (Penguin Random House - Berkley)
Miracle Creek by Angie Kim (Farrar Straus and Giroux)
The Good Detective by John McMahon (Penguin Random House – G.P. Putnam’s Sons)
The Secrets We Kept by Lara Prescott (Penguin Random House – Alfred A. Knopf)
Three-Fifths by John Vercher (Polis Books – Agora Books)
American Spy by Lauren Wilkinson (Penguin Random House – Random House)


Dread of Winter by Susan Alice Bickford (Kensington Publishing)
Freedom Road by William Lashner (Amazon Publishing – Thomas & Mercer)
Blood Relations by Jonathan Moore (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt – Mariner Books)
February’s Son by Alan Parks (Europa Editions – World Noir)
The Hotel Neversink by Adam O’Fallon Price (Tin House Books)
The Bird Boys by Lisa Sandlin (Cinco Puntos Press)


The Ghosts of Eden Park: The Bootleg King, the Women Who Pursued Him, and the Murder that Shocked Jazz-Age America by Karen Abbott (Penguin Random House - Crown)
The Less People Know About Us: A Mystery of Betrayal, Family Secrets, and Stolen Identity by Axton Betz-Hamilton (Hachette Book Group – Grand Central Publishing)
American Predator: The Hunt for the Most Meticulous Serial Killer of the 21st Century by Maureen Callahan (Penguin Random House - Viking)
Norco '80: The True Story of the Most Spectacular Bank Robbery in American History by Peter Houlahan (Counterpoint Press)
Indecent Advances: A Hidden History of True Crime and Prejudice Before Stonewall by James Polchin (Counterpoint Press)


Hitchcock and the Censors by John Billheimer (University Press of Kentucky)
Beyond the Thirty-Nine Steps: A Life of John Buchan by Ursula Buchan (Bloomsbury Publishing)
The Hooded Gunman: An Illustrated History of Collins Crime Club by John Curran (Collins Crime Club)
Medieval Crime Fiction: A Critical Overview by Anne McKendry (McFarland)
The Mutual Admiration Society: How Dorothy L. Sayers and her Oxford Circle 
Remade the World for Women by Mo Moulton (Hachette Book Group – Basic Books)


“Turistas," from Paque Tu Lo Sepas by Hector Acosta (Down & Out Books)
“One of These Nights," from Cutting Edge: New Stories of Mystery and Crime by Women Writers by Livia Llewellyn (Akashic Books)
“The Passenger," from Sydney Noir by Kirsten Tranter (Akashic Books)
“Home at Last," from Die Behind the Wheel: Crime Fiction Inspired by the Music of Steely Dan by Sam Wiebe (Down & Out Books)
“Brother’s Keeper," from Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine by Dave Zeltserman (Dell Magazine)


The Collected Works of Gretchen Oyster by Cary Fagan (Penguin Random House Canada – Tundra Books
Eventown by Corey Ann Haydu (HarperCollins Children’s Books – Katherine Tegen Books)
The Whispers by Greg Howard (Penguin Young Readers – G.P. Putnam’s Sons BFYR)
All the Greys on Greene Street by Laura Tucker (Penguin Young Readers – Viking BFYR)
Me and Sam-Sam Handle the Apocalypse by Susan Vaught (Simon & Schuster Children’s Books – Paula Wiseman Books)


Catfishing on CatNet by Naomi Kritzer (Tom Doherty Associates – Tor Teen)
Killing November by Adriana Mather (Random House Children’s Books – Alfred A. Knopf BFYR)
Patron Saints of Nothing by Randy Ribay (Penguin Young Readers - Kokila)
The Deceivers by Kristen Simmons (Tom Doherty Associates – Tor Teen)
Wild and Crooked by Leah Thomas (Bloomsbury Publishing)


“Season 5, Episode 3” – Line of Duty, Teleplay by Jed Mercurio (Acorn TV)
“Season 5, Episode 4” – Line of Duty, Teleplay by Jed Mercurio (Acorn TV)
“Episode 1” – Dublin Murders, Teleplay by Sarah Phelps (STARZ)
“Episode 1” – Manhunt, Teleplay by Ed Whitmore (Acorn TV)
“Episode 1” – The Wisting, Teleplay by Katherine Valen Zeiner & Trygve Allister Diesen (Sundance Now)


“There’s a Riot Goin’ On," from Milwaukee Noir by Derrick Harriell (Akashic Books)

* * * * * *


The Night Visitors by Carol Goodman (HarperCollins – William Morrow)
One Night Gone by Tara Laskowski (Harlequin – Graydon House)
Strangers at the Gate by Catriona McPherson (Minotaur Books)
Where the Missing Go by Emma Rowley (Kensington Publishing)
The Murder List by Hank Phillippi Ryan (Tom Doherty Associates – Forge Books)

* * * * * *


Shamed by Linda Castillo (Minotaur Books)
Borrowed Time by Tracy Clark ( Kensington Publishing)
The Missing Ones by Edwin Hill (Kensington Publishing)
The Satapur Moonstone by Sujata Massey (Soho Crime)
The Alchemist’s Illusion by Gigi Pandian (Midnight Ink)
Girl Gone Missing by Marcie R. Rendon (Cincos Puntos Press)

The Edgar Awards, or “Edgars,” as they are commonly known, are named after MWA’s patron saint Edgar Allan Poe and are presented to authors of distinguished work in various categories. MWA is the premier organization for mystery writers, professionals allied to the crime-writing field, aspiring crime writers, and those who are devoted to the genre. The organization encompasses some 3,000 members including authors of fiction and non-fiction books, screen and television writers, as well as publishers, editors, and literary agents.

Mystery Writers of America would like to emphasize our commitment to diversity and fairness in the judging of the Edgar Awards. Judges are selected from every region of the country, from every sub-category of our genre, and from every demographic to ensure fairness and impartiality.


The Agatha Award Nominees

Congratulations to the 2019 Agatha Award Nominees!

I love seeing so many friends on this list, and am honored to know such talented people. I've read most of the books and stories nominated this year and they are all, in my opinion, worthy of an Agatha.

Best Contemporary Novel
Fatal Cajun Festival by Ellen Byron (Crooked Lane Books)
The Long Call by Ann Cleeves (Minotaur)
Fair Game by Annette Dashofy (Henery Press)
The Missing Ones by Edwin Hill (Kensington)
A Better Man by Louise Penny (Minotaur)
The Murder List by Hank Philippi Ryan (Forge)

Best First Mystery Novel
A Dream of Death by Connie Berry (Crooked Lane Books)
One Night Gone by Tara Laskowski (Graydon House, a division of Harlequin)
Murder Once Removed by S. C. Perkins (Minotaur)
When It’s Time for Leaving by Ang Pompano (Encircle Publications)
Staging for Murder by Grace Topping (Henery Press)

Best Historical Mystery
Love and Death Among the Cheetahs by Rhys Bowen (Penquin)
Murder Knocks Twice by Susanna Calkins (Minotaur)
The Pearl Dagger by L. A. Chandlar (Kensington)
Charity’s Burden by Edith Maxwell (Midnight Ink)
The Naming Game by Gabriel Valjan (Winter Goose Publishing)

Best Nonfiction
Frederic Dannay, Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine and the Art of the Detective Short Story by Laird R. Blackwell (McFarland)
Blonde Rattlesnake: Burmah Adams, Tom White, and the 1933 Crime Spree that Terrified Los Angeles by Julia Bricklin (Lyons Press)
Furious Hours: Murder, Fraud and the Last Trial of Harper Lee by Casey Cep (Knopf)
The Mutual Admiration Society: How Dorothy L. Sayers and her Oxford Circle Remade the World for Women by Mo Moulton (Basic Books)
The Five: The Untold Lives of the Women Killed by Jack the Ripper by Hallie Rubenhold (Houghton, Mifflin, Harcourt)

Best Children/Young Adult
Kazu Jones and the Denver Dognappers by Shauna Holyoak (Disney Hyperion)
Two Can Keep a Secret by Karen MacManus (Delacorte Press)
The Last Crystal by Frances Schoonmaker (Auctus Press)
Top Marks for Murder (A Most Unladylike Mystery)
by Robin Stevens (Puffin)
Jada Sly, Artist and Spy by Sherri Winston (Little Brown Books for Young Readers)

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 in Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine

 Winners will be chosen by the attendees of Malice Domestic 32 (May 1 - 3, 2020). 

Congratulations to all!

Tuesday, January 21, 2020

A family affair

Apparently, making the bed at our house takes all three of us.

Sunday, January 19, 2020

The Day I Met Don Barley Chili

(reposted from a year ago)


Because I think recipes are fun to make your own, I never follow one to a "T."

Play around, add what you want - remove what you care to.

Below the "notes" is my basic blueprint for chili.

When I was working at Georgia Tech, our office was invited by the GT Physical Plant to participate in their chili cook-off.

We won first prize.

And that was the day I met Donald Barley.

He mistakenly thought I could cook, but hung around even after finding out that my cooking skills are fairly limited.

But this chili is pretty darn good - thanks to our main chef, Georgia Tech Campus Architect, David Savini.

He'd be proud, I think, that this recipe is still around.

(Notes #1 - The original recipe had beans, but I do not like beans in my chili and neither does Donald, so you won't find them in this recipe, but feel free to add them back in.  Note #2 - This recipe can easily be halved.  Note #3 - Play with the recipe and change it around to your heart's content, I've never been one to believe a recipe needed to be carved in stone).

Bon Appétit!!!

The Day I Met Don Barley Chili


3 ½ lbs. Boneless chuck roast cut into 1/4" cubes
4 lbs. Ground chuck
3 lbs. Extra lean pork loin cut into 1/4" cubes
5 medium sized onions (chopped)
1 medium sized bell pepper (chopped)
6 cloves of garlic (minced)
1 Tbsp. Sugar
2 Tbsps. Salt
2 tsps. Ground pepper
4 dried chili peppers (chopped fine)
2 Tbsps. Cayenne
1/3 cup chili powder
2 Tbsps. Paprika
3 Tbsps. Ground cumin
2 Tbsps. Oregano
1 Tbsp. Mole paste or powder
little Worchester sauce
1 10 ½ oz. Can beef broth
1 12 oz. Can of beer
1 stick of cinnamon
Tomato sauce

Sauté each meat separately in a little butter flavored crisco or oil.  Throw away the liquid and store meats overnight in the refrigerator. 

Sauté onions and bell peppers in butter.

Place everything in a large pot, add tomato sauce to get your chili to the consistency you want.

Bring to a gentle boil, turn down to simmer.  Simmer for at least a couple hours before serving. (OR in your crockpot - that's what I do now).

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Today I learned a new word

The word ekphrasis, or ecphrasis, comes from the Greek for the description of a work of art produced as a rhetorical exercise, often used in the adjectival form ekphrastic. It is a vivid, often dramatic, verbal description of a visual work of art, either real or imagined.

I have been reading a lot of books recently about Paris; which has led me to read a lot of books about Paris in the past, including the period between WWI and WWII, including historical fiction and non-fiction.  Also including WWII, the occupation, and the resistance.  I've learned more from the rabbit hole research these books have sent me scampering through than I ever did in school.  

Being a lover, also, of historical fiction having to do with art it was only a matter of time before I stumbled across Susan Vreeland's work. 

"Lisette's List" tapped right into the category of "just right" as my own internal version of Goldilocks might say. 

After reading, and falling deeply in love with this book, I knew I'd be reading more of Susan Vreeland's work.

And I wanted to know more about her.

Sadly, Ms. Vreeland died in 2017, but she left a legacy of fine writing; which she referred to as ekphrasic literature in an interview she did with "Women Writers, Women['s} Books." 

I've been drawn to fiction linked to art and artists most of my life.  Sadly, it took me until today to realize much of it is written in a form which has a name. And, is a form of writing widely used in poetry possibly even more so than in prose.  Happily - I learned something new.

And I have an author's work I'm looking forward to reading and exploring as I'm now doing with "Lisette's List."  Here's a little about the book and the paintings she writes about

Happy Reading!

Monday, January 13, 2020

Left Coast Crime Nominees Announced

Left Coast Crime 2020, “Murder’s a Beach,” will be presenting four Lefty Awards at the 30th annual LCC convention.
The awards will be voted on at the convention and presented at a banquet on Saturday, March 14, at the Marriott Mission Valley in San Diego. 

Lefty for Best Humorous Mystery Novel
The nominees are:
Ellen Byron, Fatal Cajun Festival (Crooked Lane Books)
Leslie Karst, Murder from Scratch (Crooked Lane Books)
Cynthia Kuhn, The Subject of Malice (Henery Press)
Catriona McPherson, Scot & Soda (Midnight Ink)
Wendall Thomas, Drowned Under (Poisoned Pen Press)

Lefty for Best Historical Mystery Novel for books set before 1970. 
The nominees are:
Susanna Calkins, Murder Knocks Twice (Minotaur Books)
L.A. Chandlar, The Pearl Dagger (Kensington Books)
Dianne Freeman, A Lady’s Guide to Gossip and Murder (Kensington Books)
Jennifer Kincheloe, The Body in Griffith Park (Seventh Street Books)
Sujata Massey, The Satapur Moonstone (Soho Crime)

Lefty for Best Debut Mystery Novel
The nominees are:
Tori Eldridge, The Ninja Daughter (Agora Books)
Angie Kim, Miracle Creek (Sarah Crichton Books)
Tara Laskowski, One Night Gone (Graydon House)
John Vercher, Three-Fifths (Agora Books)
Carl Vonderau, Murderabilia (Midnight Ink)

Lefty for Best Mystery Novel (not in other categories). 
The nominees are:
Steph Cha, Your House Will Pay (Ecco)
Tracy Clark, Borrowed Time (Kensington Books)
Matt Coyle, Lost Tomorrows (Oceanview Publishing)
Rachel Howzell Hall, They All Fall Down (Forge Books)
Attica Locke, Heaven, My Home (Mulholland Books)

This year’s Guests of Honor are authors Rachel Howzell Hall and T. Jefferson Parker. 
Mysterious Galaxy Bookstore is the Fan Guest of Honor, and author Matt Coyle will serve as Toastmaster.
For more information on Left Coast Crime 2020, please visit

Saturday, January 4, 2020

Earl Staggs. Rest in peace, my friend

Last night I read some news on Facebook that rocked me.  

My friend Earl Staggs was gone.

My last note from Earl was reminding me to send him an autographed copy of the book he recently edited for me.  And the note was signed, as was every note he ever sent me, with "Heapsa Hugs."

Earl spent two years on an almost daily basis helping me write "Whimsey."  He was the best writing class anyone could ever hope to take.

He edited every short story, every essay I ever submitted and was constantly telling me I should do more.  

As many of you may have figured out by now, I do dearly love Mr. Staggs.

I met Earl several years ago at DorothyL and we became fast friends. We both grew up in Maryland - Earl in Baltimore, and me in a small town on the Eastern Shore of Maryland named Cambridge, which is the home of my heart. 

While Earl and I were getting to know one another, sharing Maryland stories we discovered a mutual love of Ocean City.

Ocean City, MD is where Marylanders go, and have gone for years and years. It's  still, in some ways, an old fashioned beach town, old boardwalk included, with all the requisite boardwalk type shops, and carnival type games and rides. And while we talked about the things no longer there, we were also both pretty happy with the fact that there's a lot about that boardwalk that is exactly the same now as it was when I was a little girl. There are also beautiful white sandy beaches, and great restaurants. I love Ocean City.

Years back, Donald and I borrowed a girl friend's condominium in Ocean City.  This little condo of hers was perfectly situated just at the very end of the boardwalk, and a block back from the ocean with nothing but sand between it and us. We could sit on our balcony and watch the dolphins play. We could watch the surfers. And we could witness gorgeous sunsets.  

This condo is also in the exact same spot that Earl Staggs' protagonist, Adam Kingston, lives in his MEMORY OF A MURDER, a book I love.

Earl can also take credit for being one of the people most accountable for me being here at Meanderings and Muses, blogging away about anything and everything. He and I taking those walks down Maryland Memory Lane nudged something in me. The love I have for Cambridge and the memories I have of growing up there just started bubbling up; begging to be remembered. And shared.

I will miss Earl Staggs and those conversations.

I will miss his wisdom, and his wit.

I will miss sending him the occasional box of peanut butter fudge from Dolle's on The Boardwalk.   

Earl graciously participated in my Meanderings and Muses author spotlights from 2009 through 2014.  He was always the first to respond when I sent out the annual invitation.  

You can read his pieces here -

Wednesday, January 1, 2020

The New Year

Donald and I did our traditional New Year's Eve.

We stayed home.

I was tucked in reading an old John Grisham novel - "Sycamore Row;" have you read it?  I loved it.  I don't know why it took me so long to get to it (it was published in 2013).  It's a sequel to his "A Time to Kill."  We get to re-visit some memorable characters.  

I have some writer and reader friends who aren't big fans of Mr. Grisham's work, and I haven't always liked everything he's written.  I can say the same thing about a lot of the authors I read, however.  

Not all books are going to appeal to all readers.  

I kinda think,though, that the 4 1/2 star rating from 19,257 readers at Amazon is a fairly decent indication that I'm not the only person who liked "Sycamore Row."

Anyhoooo -  It was about 12:15 a.m. when I realized it was 2020.  Donald had fallen asleep watching a movie.  So we were a little late welcoming the new year.

My hopes for the days ahead would include good health and a more peaceful time for our country.

In 2020 I hope that we will soon be Trump free.  So mote it be.

On a personal note, I had a very nice surprise to start off this new year.

I did not know Susie Sharp back in 2014.  Susie is a librarian in North Dakota.  I've come to know her through Facebook and she's an amazingly versatile, fun-loving woman who loves books, acting and singing, Harley-Davidson bikes, her family, traveling, and life.  She lives her life fully and is an inspiration.

And back in 2014 she loved my "Whimsey."  

At Facebook this morning she had posted a list of her top 5 books for the last 10 years.

Talk about starting off my new year with a feeling of hope?  Wow.  This certainly helped with that.

Here's Susie's top 5 for 2014: 

Dollbaby by Laura Lane McNeal

Whimsey: A Novel by Kaye Wilkinson Barley

The Winter People by Jennifer McMahon

Missing You by Harlan Coben

Fear Nothing by Lisa Gardner

In other years her lists have included some favorite writers of mine, including Beth Hoffman and Sarah Addison Allen, so finding my name here is incredibly rewarding, and I am grateful.

So.  All this to say, each year comes with good and bad.  We each have struggles we get through the best we can.  Hopefully, we also have days of grace.  Days that we're reminded that there is good in the world, and in our lives.

Which we choose to focus on and dwell on is up to us all individually.

I'm going to try, very hard, to choose wisely in 2020.  Still hoping, deep in my heart, to soon be Trump free and that our country can somehow heal from all the damage he and this administration has wrought.

So mote it be.

Here's to 2020!

Tuesday, December 31, 2019

Christmas in Birmingham

Donald and I drove to Alabama the day after Christmas to celebrate the holiday with the Barley family.  It was, as usual, lovely.  

We missed two of our crew, Harrison and Ryan were hard at work while we ate very well, opened gifts and enjoyed the day.

Monday, December 30, 2019

Following a Laura Lippman tradition

She reminds me, and others, by her own example, to choose a one-word resolution for the new year. 

Before choosing my 2020 word, I went back into my Meanderings and Muses archives to find last year's word, which you can read below.  I think I did a pretty good job of keeping it close most of the year.  

I'm hoping I can do as well with this year's word.

I've chosen MOVE.

I spent a lot of 2019 being sedentary. I'm now feeling the effects - too heavy, too stiff, ugh.

Time to start moving. AND past time to start cutting back on chips and milkshakes!

Wish me luck!

Another New Year's A-comin'

Laura Lippman is a writer I admire. 

Additionally, she's a woman I admire. 

And each year she reminds me, and others, by her own example, to choose a one-word resolution for the new year. 

Reading the words that others have chosen is always something I look forward to and enjoy. 

And it's always a bit of a challenge for me to come up with a word that I might actually be able to observe and follow. 

My word for 2019 is savor. 

I want to try to remember to savor the good things in my life. 

While I will not stop fighting and speaking out against the things I do not savor, I want to be more respectful to the goodness I am blessed with.

Here's wishing you all a Happy New Year!

Wednesday, December 25, 2019

Tuesday, December 24, 2019

Christmas Eve in Meat Camp

It's a quiet day here at our house.

A few gifts awaiting the Barley family Christmas dinner and gift exchange.

Donald, after helping me get a picture of Annabelle with Santa on her head (and agreeing to do the same) has gone for a Christmas Eve ride on his bike.

Unlike a lot of years when we're having snow this time of year, today is clear and beautiful.

I have a pork tenderloin cooking for tonight's dinner, and I'm getting ready to settle down with a good book (book yet to be determined, I have several to choose from).

And a glass of Christmas cheer.

Merry Christmas, dear friends!