Saturday, 30 January 2021

It should come as no surprise to mystery readers that Sisters in Crime would be the first to launch an award geared toward LGBTQIA+ writers.

The organization has always been at the forefront in supporting diversity in publishing. Sisters in Crime’s highly respected Eleanor Taylor Bland Crime Fiction Writers of Color Award has helped launch the careers of several deserving authors since the award has been given annually since 2014.

Registration is now open for its inaugural Pride Award for Emerging LGBTQIA+ Crime Writers.

A $2,000 grant will be awarded to an up-and-coming writer who identifies as part of the LGBTQIA+ community. I would also hope that publishers would pay attention to the winners of this award.

Candidates must apply by March 15, 2021.

The winner will be announced in April, 2021.

The award is being established as the legacy project of former Sisters in Crime president Sherry Harris.

“Sisters in Crime was founded more than 30 years ago as an advocacy group for women crime writers. When considering my legacy project, I knew I wanted to establish a way for us to build on our traditions of expanding inclusiveness in crime fiction publishing and helping to lift up voices that need to be heard,” explained Harris in a press release.
The grant, funded for 2021 by an anonymous donor, is intended for a crime writer beginning their career and will support activities related to career development including workshops, seminars, conferences, retreats, online courses, and research activities required for completion of his, her, or their work.

The winner and five runners-up will also be awarded a one-year Sisters in Crime membership and each will receive a critique from an established Sisters in Crime member.
The judges for the inaugural Pride award are Sisters in Crimes members John Copenhaver, Cheryl Head, and Kristen Lepionka, who have all written award-winning LGBTQIA+ crime fiction.

 “We are thrilled to have this exceptional group of authors to judge our first-ever contest,” said Grants and Award Liaison V.M. (Valerie) Burns in the same press release. “We see this as an opportunity to inspire the future of crime fiction by connecting emerging LGBTQIA+ writers with influential authors of today.”
Copenhaver added: “Representation for queer authors is key within the mystery writing community. Not too many years ago, gay and lesbian mysteries weren’t even shelved in the mystery section of chain bookstores, but in the ‘Gay and Lesbian section,’ usually at the back of the store. The award offers individual support for new voices in queer mystery and is a symbolic gesture, reminding the broader reading and writing community of the validity of our perspective and our ability to tell great crime stories.”
Sisters in Crime recognizes that not all LGBTQIA+ community members can be out, and each individual’s privacy is valued. Winners and any runners-up who wish to maintain their anonymity may do so, or they may choose to select a pen name for announcement.
Sisters in Crime (SinC) was founded in 1986 to promote the ongoing advancement, recognition and professional development of women crime writers. Today, the organization boasts 4,200 members and more than 60 chapters worldwide

In addition to the annual Eleanor Taylor Bland Crime Fiction Writers of Color Award. Sisters in Crime also offers other scholarships; grants for academic research into the roles of women and underserved voices in crime fiction; cash awards to libraries and bookstores; and surveys and monitoring projects which determine visibility and representation of women and diverse voices in the genre and across the marketplace.
Complete guidelines and the application can be found at

Sisters in Crime Launches Pride Award
Oline H. Cogdill
Monday, 25 January 2021

Mystery Writers of America announces nominees for the 2021 Edgar Allan Poe Awards, honoring the best in mystery fiction, non-fiction and television published or produced in 2020. The 75th Annual Edgar® Awards will be celebrated on April 29, 2021.

Mystery Scene congratulates each of the nominees.

Djinn Patrol on the Purple Line by Deepa Anappara (Penguin Random House – Random House)
Before She Was Helen by Caroline B. Cooney (Poisoned Pen Press)
Thursday Murder Club by Richard Osman (Penguin Random House - Pamela Dorman Books)
These Women by Ivy Pochoda (HarperCollins Publishers - Ecco)
The Missing American by Kwei Quartey (Soho Press – Soho Crime)
The Distant Dead by Heather Young (HarperCollins Publishers - William Morrow)
Murder in Old Bombay by Nev March (Minotaur Books)
Please See Us by Caitlin Mullen (Simon & Schuster – Gallery Books)
Catherine House by Elisabeth Thomas (HarperCollins Publishers – William Morrow)
Winter Counts by David Heska Wanbli Weiden (HarperCollins Publishers - Ecco)
Darling Rose Gold by Stephanie Wrobel (Penguin Random House - Berkley)
When No One is Watching by Alyssa Cole (HarperCollins Publishers - William Morrow)
The Deep, Deep Snow by Brian Freeman (Blackstone Publishing)
Unspeakable Things by Jess Lourey (Amazon Publishing – Thomas & Mercer)
The Keeper by Jessica Moor (Penguin Random House - Penguin Books)
East of Hounslow by Khurrum Rahman (HarperCollins Publishers - Harper 360)
Blood Runs Coal: The Yablonski Murders and the Battle for the United Mine Workers of America by Mark A. Bradley (W.W. Norton & Company)
The Third Rainbow Girl: The Long Life of a Double Murder in Appalachia by Emma Copley Eisenberg (Hachette Book Group – Hachette Books)
Death in Mud Lick: A Coal Country Fight Against the Drug Companies that Delivered the Opioid Epidemic by Eric Eyre (Simon & Schuster - Scribner)
Yellow Bird: Oil, Murder, and a Woman's Search for Justice in Indian Country by Sierra Crane Murdoch (Penguin Random House – Random House)
Veritas: A Harvard Professor, a Con Man, and the Gospel of Jesus's Wife by Ariel Sabar (Penguin Random House - Doubleday)

Howdunit: A Masterclass in Crime Writing by Members of the Detection Club edited by Martin Edwards (HarperCollins Publishers – Harper360/Collins Crime Club)
Phantom Lady: Hollywood Producer Joan Harrison, the Forgotten Woman Behind Hitchcock by Christina Lane (Chicago Review Press)
Ian Rankin: A Companion to the Mystery & Fiction by Erin E. MacDonald (McFarland)
Guilt Rules All:  Irish Mystery, Detective, and Crime Fiction by Elizabeth Mannion & Brian Cliff (Syracuse University Press)
This Time Next Year We'll be Laughing by Jacqueline Winspear (Soho Press)
"The Summer Uncle Cat Came to Stay," Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine by Leslie Elman (Dell Magazines)
"Dust, Ash, Flight," Addis Ababa Noir by Maaza Mengiste (Akashic Books)
"Etta at the End of the World," Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine by Joseph S. Walker  (Dell Magazines)
“The Twenty-Five Year Engagement,” In League with Sherlock Holmes by James W. Ziskin (Pegasus Books – Pegasus Crime)
Premeditated Myrtle by Elizabeth C. Bunce (Workman Publishing - Algonquin Young Readers)
Me and Banksy by Tanya Lloyd Kyi (Penguin Random House Canada - Puffin Canada)
From the Desk of Zoe Washington by Janae Marks (HarperCollins Children's Books - Katherine Tegen Books)
Ikenga by Nnedi Okorafor (Penguin Young Readers – Viking BFYR)
Nessie Quest by Melissa Savage (Random House Children's Books - Crown BFYR)
Coop Knows the Scoop by Taryn Souders (Sourcebooks Young Readers)
The Companion by Katie Alender (Penguin Young Readers – G.P. Putnam’s Sons BFYR)
The Inheritance Games by Jennifer Lynn Barnes (Hachette Book Group – Little, Brown BFYR)
They Went Left by Monica Hesse (Hachette Book Group – Little, Brown BFYR)
Silence of Bones by June Hur (Macmillan Children’s Books – Feiwel & Friends)
The Cousins by Karen M. McManus (Penguin Random House – Delacorte Press)
“Episode 1, The Stranger” – Harlan Coben’s The Stranger, Written by Danny Brocklehurst (Netflix)
“Episode 1, Open Water” – The Sounds, Written by Sarah-Kate Lynch (Acorn TV)
“Episode 1, Photochemistry” – Dead Still, Written by John Morton (Acorn TV)
“Episode 1” - Des, Written by Luke Neal (Sundance Now)
“What I Know” – The Boys, Written by Rebecca Sonnenshine, based on the comic by Garth Ennis and Darick Robertson (Amazon)
"The Bite,” Tampa Bay Noir by Colette Bancroft (Akashic Books)
Death of an American Beauty by Mariah Fredericks (Minotaur Books)
The Cabinets of Barnaby Mayne by Elsa Hart (Minotaur Books)
The Lucky One by Lori Rader-Day (HarperCollins Publishers – William Morrow)
The First to Lie by Hank Phillippi Ryan (Forge Books)
Cold Wind by Paige Shelton (Minotaur Books)

The Burn by Kathleen Kent (Hachette Book Group – Mulholland Books)
Riviera Gold by Laurie R. King (Penguin Random House – Ballantine Books)
Vera Kelly is Not a Mystery by Rosalie Knecht (Tin House Books)
Dead Land by Sara Paretsky (HarperCollins Publishers – William Morrow)
The Sleeping Nymph by Ilaria Tuti (Soho Press – Soho Crime)
Turn to Stone by James W. Ziskin (Start Publishing – Seventh Street Books)
Jeffery Deaver
Charlaine Harris
Malice Domestic
Reagan Arthur, Publisher – Alfred A. Knopf

2021 MWA Edgar Award Nominees
Oline H. Cogdill
Thursday, 17 December 2020

Last summer, author Owen Laukkanen started Project Puppies. The plan was that he and a friend would drive across Canada, finding dogs that needed rescuing with the goal of finding them forever homes.

But summer turned into winter and now Project Puppies is a year-round mission.

To date, Project Puppies has rescued 71 dogs and one cat. That includes four or five litters of puppies and one pregnant dog who gave birth shortly after the rescue mission. They have all found homes or are in the process of being homed.

He also is chronicling the rescues in the blog Project Nomad.

“The germ of this first trip came when my friend Alexis Tanner and I learned that animal welfare agencies in our area were having a hard time accessing dogs in need of rescue,” Laukkanen wrote in an email.

“The agency from whom I adopted my dog Lucy, Raincoast Dog Rescue Society, typically brings animals from across Canada and the United States, as well as Mexico and as far away as Lebanon and Africa. But due to travel restrictions around the coronavirus situation they were unable to fly with dogs,” added Laukkanen.

“Sensing an opportunity for adventure, and to do something good in the midst of the pandemic, we half-jokingly offered our services as drivers,” Laukkanen said.
Raincoast Dog Rescue Society “to our surprise and delight agreed.”

Laukkanen is proud to note that the rescue agency said this has been the most successful year in Raincoast's history.

“There has been just incredible interest in all of our dogs,” he said.

Project Puppies began at the end of May as the two friends planned a rescue mission to remote northern Saskatchewan, 1,150 miles from their home.  

Their destination was the Little Red River Reserve near Prince Albert, Saskatchewan, where they met with a team of local animal rescuers. There, they rescued their first seven dogs. Subsequent dogs have come from native communities across northern Saskatchewan and also Bella Bella, British Columbia.

They partnered with First Nations communities and with frontline rescue workers to find at risk dogs and get them homed. They also arranged for spay/neuter and return programs where they will take family pets from those northern communities and get them fixed at no cost to the owner and brought back to prevent more unwanted puppies being born. They also distributed multiple bags of dog food to families in need.

“It goes without saying that we couldn’t have done any of this without the partnership of the Little Red River Cree Nation, whose members welcomed us onto their land and helped us look for animals in crisis,” Laukkanen said.

Working on the reserve for about six hours, they packed their truck with seven dogs and one cat and immediately set out to drive back to Vancouver. “We drove nonstop through the night, and after about 24 hours on the road and a few chaotic potty/meal breaks, we’d arrived back on the coast and were delivering the dogs to Raincoast,” Laukkanen said.

Each of the animals they transported were dealing with a number of health issues from fleas and (many, many) ticks to upset tummies to broken bones and signs of abuse. “But, they were all heartbreakingly lovely, tender and trusting dogs who warmed to us very quickly, despite the hardships they’d obviously suffered.

“It is truly, truly overwhelming to watch dogs you’ve seen crippled by fear and pain start to flourish and come into their own as happy, carefree animals, and I’m so grateful to have the opportunity to take part in this mission,” said Laukkanen, adding that those animals quickly received medical attention and were places in foster homes. The dogs are either now with permanent families, or awaiting adoption.

Lone Jack Trail

Laukkanen’s pet project coincided with the publication of his newest novel Lone Jack Trail, the second in his excellent series about former Marine Jess Winslow, ex-convict Mason Burke and Lucy, Jess’ rescued service dog who is the glue that holds together the couple.

Set in Washington State, the series delves deep into these fragile characters with action-packed plots about redemption, survival, fresh starts and sacrifice.

In my review, I also said “Lone Jack Trail is rich storytelling at its best—and with a really great dog. This is a series that will only get better.”

The Jess/Mason/Lucy novels will be continuing and the rescue project has given Laukkanen fodder for the series’ third installment. “I do plan to set the next Deception Cove/Lucy book around a rescue mission like the ones I've been going on!” he said.

“The dog stuff has taken up a lot of my writing time, as has just general 2020 distraction, but I have a young adult novel coming out in January and after that I'm planning to set my course on another Lucy book,” he said.

Special dogs
Some of the rescues are memorable, such as Toby, who had an injured leg that had to be amputated. “But Toby has been adopted into a wonderful home and seems to like being a tri-paw just fine,” Laukkanen said. And then there was Rosie, who was days from death with severe mange. “I had to feed and water from my hand and who is now recovered, happy and energetic and currently up for adoption,” he added.

And a couple of dogs ended up in homes Laukkanen personally knew. His best friend, Alexis, adopted a dog named Bentley from their first rescue mission. Bentley had health issues but is now thriving and has become best friends with Laukkanen’s Lucy who is also a Raincoast alum.

So far, Laukkanen has resisted adopting a second rescue. “I don't know how I haven't adopted a bunch of our other rescues myself; every batch there is at least one where I seem to fall in love,” he said.

Of course, there’s still time for him to add another dog to his home.  

Project Puppies will get started on more missions in January. “We already are planning our next rescue mission; we’re addicted now,” Laukkanen added.

“There are no shortages of dogs who are still needing rescuing, especially in the cold winter months,” he added.

For more information on Raincoast, visit the web site, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram

Photos: Top, Owen Laukkanen with Lucy, puppies rescued. Photos courtesy Owen Laukkanen

Owen Laukkanen's Pet Project
Oline H. Cogdill