This weekend, I’m attending Malice Domestic, an annual fan conference that celebrates the traditional mystery. It’s in Bethesda, Maryland.

The Agatha Awards are bestowed at the conference. As the name implies, the Agatha Awards honor authors who write traditional mysteries “best typified by the works of Agatha Christie,” and were first published in the United States by a living author during the previous calendar year.

Flashback to a Sunday night in February:

It was a bit after 9 p.m. when the phone rang. I didn’t recognize the number, but it was from Bethesda. My first thought was it was a telemarketer. But… Bethesda… Could it be? Nah. But what if? I answered. 

Good call, if you’ll pardon the pun. 

The woman introduced herself by name and said she was calling on behalf of Malice Domestic  to inform me that my debut novel, Adrift, had been nominated for an Agatha Award for best first novel. 

Yowza. I promptly forgot her name. Truth be told, I think I forgot my own. I vaguely recall her asking me which days I planned on attending the conference so that she could schedule the debut author panel. I stammered I was available anytime. Anytime, at all.

Then she hung up. Big, bad retired cop that I am, I burst into tears.


I share the honor of having my debut novel recognized with four other authors. If I’m chosen for the award, I will find myself in the company of Cynthia Kuhn (2016), Art Taylor (2015), Hank Phillippi Ryan (2007), and many other fine writers.

If I’m not chosen, I’ll join the ranks of an incredible array of authors—including Janet Evanovich, who debuted in 1994 with One for the Money, the first in her best-selling Stephanie Plum Series.

This weekend, I’ll be surrounded by authors who have inspired, entertained, and educated me in the craft of writing. That means no matter whose name is announced at the Agatha Awards banquet on Saturday night, I’ve already won.

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