Wednesday, 20 May 2020

As we all deal with the pandemic and how it is affecting our daily lives, 2020 also will be the year in which we also will not be attending some of our favorite conferences and gatherings.

The Mystery Writers of America's 75th anniversary of the Edgar Awards Symposium and Banquet had to be canceled.

Malice Domestic also was canceled.

While Left Coast Crime began—barely—in March, it was closed by the city of San Diego Thursday afternoon, pretty much between panels.

Now the International Thrillers Writers (ITW) is forced to cancel its annual ThrillerFest, which was scheduled to be held in July.

In a statement, ITW stated: “The health and safety of our attendees is our absolute priority, and because of the current health risks in New York City, we’re deeply saddened to announce that ITW is canceling ThrillerFest 2020. We will be providing full refunds to everyone, and you will receive those funds in approximately two weeks, as soon as Cvent (our registration provider) can process our request. We look forward to seeing everyone next year, when ThrillerFest will return in July 2021. Remember, if you have booked rooms for the conference at the Hyatt or any other hotel, be sure to cancel your reservations.”

VIRTUAL THRILLERFEST 2020 IS ONBut as with so many other events, ITW is planning an online presence for ThrillerFest:

“To help you avoid ThrillerFest withdrawal, we will be offering, in July, a virtual conference that you can enjoy from the safety of your own home. This event will include PitchFest, ConsultFest, Master Class, the Debut Author Breakfast, the Thriller Awards Presentation, and other special ThrillerFest presentations. Current registrants will have first dibs to register for these events before others are welcomed to join in the fun (if there’s still space). Details and your chance to sign up will follow soon,” ITW's statement continued.

The organizers currently are putting together the virtual panels so they will be ready for the online ThrillerFest.

Some highlights are:

FREE Debut Author Presentations
Debut authors will provide videos about themselves, with Steve Berry hosting, recorded and available on the International Thriller Writers Facebook page.

FREE ITW Author Videos
ITW authors are creating 15-20 minute videos with helpful content for aspiring writers and fans of thrillers. These videos will be available on the International Thriller Writers Facebook page.

FREE Thriller Awards Presentation
All Thriller Awards will be presented in a recorded session, with special guests and music by Daniel Palmer and Brad Parks, available on the International Thriller Writers Facebook page.

ThrillerFest also will have other events such as

Mega CraftFest & CareerFest; Price: $149
Thriller writers will discuss the craft of writing in new videos. The more than 60 conversations will feature more than 120 authors. These videos will be available on a private YouTube channel for at least six months.

Master Class & CareerFest; Price: $399
The Master Class will be held via Zoom (free download) with one instructor in a private Zoom room with up to 10 attendees. The traditional full-day class will be broken into two four-hour sessions. Eight instructors will teach, so there will be eight Zoom rooms running simultaneously. Those wishing to participate will need to submit a ten-page writing sample.

Pitching Sessions; Price: $50 per session  
Virtual pitching sessions will be held via Zoom (free download) in a private Zoom room with one attendee and one agent/editor. A tech host will be there to make sure everything goes smoothly. Those interested can purchase up to seven pitching appointments and specify the top three choices from the list of available agents.

Consulting Sessions; Price: $75 per session
Consulting sessions will be held via Zoom (free download) in a private Zoom room with one attendee and one agent/editor. These consulting sessions are for writers who are not yet ready to “pitch” a completed manuscript, but would like to discuss their synopsis, their query letters, and writing samples for 10-15 minutes with agents and editors. Those interested can purchase up to five consulting appointments.

For details on these sessions, visit Virtual ThrillerFest XV.

ITW began in 2005 and the first ThrillerFest was held in June 2006 in Scottsdale, Arizona, at which the International Thriller Writers Awards were announced.

Meanwhile, here are the nominees for the 2020 ITW Thriller Awards. 

The winners will be announced in a special presentation on Saturday, July 11, 2020 during “Virtual” ThrillerFest hosted by the International Thriller Writers Facebook page.

Congratulations to all the finalists.

One Good Deed, by David Baldacci (Grand Central Publishing)
Rag and Bone, by Joe Clifford (Oceanview Publishing)
Recursion, by Blake Crouch (Crown)
They All Fall Down, by Rachel Howzell Hall (Forge Books)
The Chain, by Adrian McKinty (Mulholland Books)
Conviction, by Denise Mina (Mulholland Books)
My Lovely Wife, by Samantha Downing (Berkley)
Miracle Creek, by Angie Kim (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)
The Good Detective, by John McMahon (G.P. Putnam’s Son)
The Silent Patient, by Alex Michaelides (Celadon Books)
American Spy, by Lauren Wilkinson (Random House)
Girl Most Likely, by Max Allan Collins (Thomas & Mercer)
Never Look Back, by Alison Gaylin (William Morrow Paperbacks)
Jihadi Bride, by Alastair Luft (Black Rose Writing)
The Scholar, by Dervla McTiernan  (Penguin Books)
The Bird Boys, by Lisa Sandlin (Cinco Puntos Press)
Such a Perfect Wife, by Kate White (Harper Paperbacks)
“Turistas,” by Hector Acosta (Down & Out Books)
 “Call Me Chuckles,” by Michael Cowgill (Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine)
 “The Long-Term Tenant,” by Tara Laskowski (Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine)
 “Snow Job,” by Lia Matera (Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine)
 “Fathers-in-Law,” by Twist Phelan (Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine)
Seven Ways to Get Rid of Harry, by Jen Conley (Down & Out Books)
Catfishing on Catnet ,by Naomi Kritzer (Tor Teen)
We Speak in Storms, by Natalie Lund (Philomel Books/Penguin Young Readers)
Patron Saints of Nothing, by Randy Ribay (Kokila/Penguin Young Readers))     
Keep this to Yourself, by Tom Ryan (Albert Whitman & Company)
Night Man, by Brett Battles (Brett Battles)
The Deep Abiding, by Sean Black (Sean Black)
Murder Board, by Brian Shea (Severn River Publishing)
Leave No Stone, by LynDee Walker (Severn River Publishing)
Close To You by, Kerry Wilkinson (Bookouture)

(The way, book covers chosen for this column were picked randomly.)

2020 ThrillerFest Conference Canceled; Online ThrillerFest Planned
Oline H. Cogdill
Saturday, 16 May 2020

The partnership of Minotaur Books and Mystery Writers of America has a given readers some provocative new authors to enjoy with its First Crime Novel Competition.

The annual First Crime Novel Competition provides a previously unpublished writer an opportunity to launch his or her career with the Minotaur Books imprint. The winner will receive a one-book, $10,000 contract.

The contest became in 2008 with Stefanie Pintoff, whose In the Shadow of Gotham went on to win MWA’s Edgar Award for best first novel by an American Author.

The winner of the 2020 competition is Rebecca Roque, left, a nurse working in Phoenix, Arizona. Her winning novel, tentatively titled Till Human Voices Wake Us, will be published in 2021.

According to the press release, Roque’s novel opens when Alice, the best friend of 17-year-old Silencia “Cia” Lucero, is found dead from a supposed suicide. But Cia knows three things must be true: Alice is dead, Alice could not have killed herself, and Alice, a budding journalist, must have found something. Cia is determined to solve the mystery Alice left behind.

Roque’s winning novel certainly will have a higher readership than her first venture in publishing. She sold her first book at age five to her mother for some red Skittles. Roque’s resume includes an intensive care unit at a busy metropolitan hospital, a juvenile detention center, a comic book shop, and several craft beer bars.

The press release added that Roque “is constantly inspired by the lived stories of people from all walks of life, and believes in the power of tattoos and stories to bring down walls between people.”

In announcing the winning novel, Kelley Ragland, Vice President, Associate Publisher for Minotaur Books, stated “With a remarkable voice and a diverse cast, the book is an engaging mystery about the life of a town as well as the life of one teenage girl. And when we found out that Rebecca is also a nurse currently working on the frontlines of the COVID crisis, we were even more honored to be able to work with this amazing writer on her debut novel.”

While the first novel competition is an annual event, there have been a couple of years during which a winner has not been named, making the final choice even more coveted. And this competition has produced some terrific writers.

Previous winners include The Vanishing Season by Joanna Schaffhausen (2016 ); The Drowned Land by John Keyse-Walker (2015); The Man on the Washing Machine by Susan Cox (2014); The Impersonator by Mary Miley (2012); A Simple Murder by Eleanor Kuhns (2011); One Man's Paradise by Douglas Corleone (2009); In the Shadow of Gotham by Stefanie Pintoff (2008).

Minotaur is currently accepting submissions for next year’s award. For more information, visit

Rebecca Roque wins MWA-Minotaur Books 2020 First Crime Novel Competition
Oline H Cogdill
Wednesday, 13 May 2020

Each year the Crime Writers of Canada honors the country’s authors with the Arthur Ellis Awards.

The 2020 Arthur Ellis Awards for Excellence in Canadian Crime Writing will go on again, but, like with other organizations, in a different format.

Because of the pandemic, the annual gala had to be canceled. That was to have been May 21.

Instead, Thursday, May 21, will be the day the winners are announced. The organizers are giving themselves an extra day on either side of May 21 in case there is a problem. So check with the Crime Writers of Canada’s web site.

Many of Canadian mysteries are well read in the U.S.

The Arthur Ellis Awards was established in 1984 and named after the nom de travail of Canada's official hangman.

Here are the nominees for published works released in 2019. Mystery Scene sends our congratulations.

Best Crime Novel sponsored by Rakuten Kobo with a $1000 prize
Michael Christie, Greenwood, MacClelland & Stewart
Ian Hamilton, Fate, House of Anansi Press
Nicole Lundrigan, Hideaway, Penguin Random House Canada
Marissa Stapley, The Last Resort, Simon & Schuster Canada
Loreth Anne White, In the Dark, Montlake Romance

The Angela Harrison Memorial Award for Best Crime First Novel sponsored by Maureen Jennings with a $500 prize
Philip Elliott, Nobody Move, Into the Void Press
Denis Coupal, Blindshot, Linda Leith Publishing
Nicole Bross, Past Presence, Literary Wanderlust

Best Crime Novella sponsored by Mystery Weekly with a $200 prize
Barbara Fradkin, Blood Ties, Orca Book Publishers
Brenda Chapman, Too Close to Home, Grass Roots Press
Melodie Campbell, The Goddaughter Does Vegas, Orca Book Publishers
Devon Shepherd, The Woman in Apartment 615, Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine    
Wayne Arthurson, The Red Chesterfield, University of Calgary Press

Best Crime Short Story sponsored by Mystery Weekly with a $300 prize
Y.S. Lee, In Plain Sight, Life is Short and Then You Die, Macmillan Publishers
Peter Sellers, Closing Doors, Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine
Zandra Renwick, The Dead Man's Dog, Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine

Best French Crime Book
Louis Carmain, Les offrandes, VLB Éditeur
Andrée Michaud, Tempêtes, Éditions Québec Amériques
Martin Michaud, Ghetto X, Libre Expression
Guillaume Morrissette, Le tribunal de la rue Quirion, Guy Saint-Jean Éditeur
Félix Ravenelle-Arcouette, Le cercle de cendres, Héliotrope

Best Juvenile or YA Crime Book sponsored by Shaftesbury with a $500 prize
Liam O'Donnell & Mike Dean, Tank & Fizz: The Case of the Tentacle Terror, Orca Book Publishers
Jo Treggiari, The Grey Sisters, Penguin Teen
Tom Ryan, Keep This to Yourself, Albert Whitman & Company
David A. Robertson, Ghosts, HighWater Press

Best Nonfiction Crime Book
Katie Daubs, The Missing Millionaire: The True Story of Ambrose Small and the City Obsessed with Finding Him, MacClelland & Stewart
Kevin Donovan, The Billionaire Murders, Penguin Random House
Debra Komar, The Court of Better Fiction, Dundurn Press
Vanessa Brown, The Forest City Killer: A Serial Murderer, a Cold-Case Sleuth, and a Search for Justice, ECW Press
Charlotte Gray, Murdered Midas: A Millionaire, His Gold Mine, and a Strange Death on an Island Paradise, HarperCollins Publishers Ltd

The Unhanged Arthur Award for Best Unpublished Crime Manuscript sponsored by Dundurn Press with a $500 prize
B.L. Smith, Bert Mintenko and the Serious Business
K.P. Bartlett, Henry's Bomb
Max Folsom, One Bad Day After Another
Liz Rachel Walker, The Dieppe Letters
Pam Barnsley, The River Cage

Grand Master
The Grand Master Award is presented biennially to recognize a Canadian crime writer with a substantial body of work who has garnered national and international recognition.

This year, the Grand Master Award is presented to Peter Robinson.

In announcing the Grand Master award, the Canadian Crime Writers stated: “Since Peter Robinson’s first mystery, Gallows View, appeared in 1987, his growing readership has eagerly waited for each encounter with Detective Chief Inspector Alan Banks. Now with 27 of these moody and layered police procedurals, fans around the world have become attached to the complex, music-loving DCI Banks and his always-intriguing colleagues in the fictional town of Eastvale in North Yorkshire.

“They’ve followed Banks, his twisty cases, his career challenges and the ups and downs of his personal life with interest and affection. The series has also been adapted to television by ITV.

“Peter has a shelf full of Crime Writers of Canada Arthur Ellis Awards for both best novel and for best short story. Internationally he’s been honoured by Le Grand Prix de Littérature Policière (France), the Martin Beck Award (Sweden), the Palle Rosenkrantz (Denmark), the CWA Dagger in the Library (UK) and the American Macavity, Edgar and Barry awards. In 2010, he was presented with the Crime Writers of Canada Derrick Murdoch Award for contributions to the crime genre.,” according to a release from the Crime Writers.

2020 CWA Arthur Ellis Award Nominees
By Oline H Cogdill