Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Links to Malice Domestic's Agatha Nominated Short Stories

Gigi Pandian's 2017 Agatha
One of the delightful aspects of mystery awards season is reading the nominated works. The 2019 Agatha short story nominees provide a range of time periods and characters to contemplate and savor. Here are the links to each story:

"All God's Sparrows" by Leslie Budewitz (Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine)
"A Postcard for the Dead" by Susanna Calkins in Florida Happens (Three Rooms Press)
"Bug Appetit" by Barb Goffman (Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine)
"The Case of the Vanishing Professor" by Tara Laskowski (Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine)
"English 398: Fiction Workshop" by Art Taylor (Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine)

Please read and enjoy!

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

News of a 2019 Bouchercon Anthology!

The Bouchercon Dallas Committee and Down & Out Books proudly announce a call for submissions to the 2019 Bouchercon anthology to honor Bill Crider’s memory. All proceeds from sales will benefit LIFT, Literary Instruction For Texas, which works to enhance and strengthen communities by teaching adults to read.

Stories must be original works (no reprints) of less than 5,000 words. The theme is the conference slogan: Denim, Diamonds, and Death.

The deadline for submissions is June 1, 2019. Please send submissions to rick@downandoutmagazine.com.

A Bill Crider Contest entry may be submitted, but if selected must be withdrawn from the Contest.

Thursday, March 14, 2019

2019 Edgar Short Story Nominees

Annually, the Mystery Writers of America present Edgars, for Edgar Allan Poe, to recognize excellence in mystery writing and special achievement.

This year’s 73rd celebration will be April 25, 2019 in New York City.

Following are the Edgar Best Short Story nominees:

“Rabid – A Mike Bowditch Short Story” by Paul Doiron (Minotaur Books).
“Paranoid Enough for Two” – The Honorable Traitors by John Lutz (Kensington Publishing).
“Ancient and Modern” – Bloody Scotland by Val McDermid (Pegasus Books).
“English 398: Fiction Workshop” – Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine by Art Taylor (Dell Magazines).
“The Sleep Tight Motel” – Dark Corners Collection by Lisa Unger (Amazon Publishing).

Friday, March 8, 2019

Malice Domestic 31

Malice Domestic, a conference for writers and readers of Christie-style mysteries, is scheduled for May 1 through 3, 2019, in Bethesda, Maryland. Donna Andrews is the Guest of Honor with Chris Grabenstein as the Toastmaster and Parnell Hall recognized for life achievement. The Agatha nominees (awarded at the Malice Domestic banquet to celebrate excellence in the traditional mystery) include many friends. In addition to Leslie Budewitz, Susanna Calkins, and Barb Goffman, Art Taylor and Tara Laskowski, husband and wife marvelous writers, find themselves competitors for best short story, a first in Agatha history. Art describes their “rivalry” in this article.
Art Taylor, son Dash, and Tara Laskowski

Saturday, March 2, 2019

Enraging the Enchantress

This is from the Beast's antagonist.

So Easy to Displease, Part Two by Paula Gail Benson
You could be another Prince Charming
If your manners weren’t so alarming,
And you treated others with simple respect.
But, being so self-absorbed,
Arrogantly the center of your own world,
Made me decide to shock you into retrospect.
I turned the monster from inside
Outward, giving the beast no place to hide
So all would view you with terror from the start.
Forced to make a human connection,
Armed with a mirror having no reflection,
You had to come to understand the heart.
Once you decided to concede
You lost the evil need
Proving through love you could become smart.

© Paula Gail Benson, all rights reserved

Sunday, February 24, 2019

The Magically Maligned

Consider from the perspective of that forgotten fairy godmother, who arrived late to Sleeping Beauty's christening.

So Easy to Displease, Part One by Paula Gail Benson

How much trouble could it be,
To prepare for an unexpected fairy?
Their protest that they thought me dead,
Left them with something horrific to dread --
A death sentence upon the new baby!
When? Who knew? Wait and see.
My spell, once cast, could not be rescinded,
However, a meddling godmother tried to mend it.
Rather than death, the kingdom would sleep,
Waiting for a true love to creep
Through the brambles and past the slumbering,
To cure with a kiss the family’s bumbling.
In a hundred years, they’d awake in joy
To celebrate the curiosity of an intrepid boy.

© Paula Gail Benson, all rights reserved

Monday, February 18, 2019

Witches of the Woods and Waters

Here are the thoughts of two witches, one who imprisoned Rapunzel and the other who made a deal with the Little Mermaid.

The Vexing Hexers by Paula Gail Benson

Malignancy blooms best in darkness,
Fostered by starkness
Producing rage.
If fury rises to the surface,
Generated by an internal purpose
An impending eruption is difficult to gauge.

When my garden was invaded
My anger was abated
By an infant given to me.
I hid her in a tower
Hoping to keep her in my power
But our seclusion was not to be.

I lingered in the depths of the ocean,
Plotting with minions and potions,
Waiting ‘til the mermaid sought my spell.
But, magic comes with a price,
And mine wasn’t so nice,
Depending on the story you tell.

© Paula Gail Benson, all rights reserved

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Here's to the Troublemakers!

In this month of hearts and flowers, when amorous relationships are celebrated, let’s not forget those who help drive the lovers into each other’s arms: the villains or at least those whose malevolent motives cause the chaos the charmed couple must surmount to be together. February’s Drabble (100 word stories) of “Ferreted Out Fairy Tales” feature the “Malicious Menacers,” beginning with the step families in Cinderella and Snow White’s sagas. Oh, and to keep the spirit of the month, the February Drabble will be in rhyme!

 The Steps’ Laments by Paula Gail Benson

What should have been our dream come true,
Was marred by you--adorable you!
We thought ourselves so very smart
To wheedle our way into his heart.
But, when we arrived in your world,
Our fury ignited and anger unfurled.
Next to you--favored, pampered, prized--
We dwindled to nothing in his eyes.
Seeking to displace your favor
Gave us diabolical thoughts to savor.
Cindy and Snow, soon you came to realize,
How much your presences were despised!
Yet, whether worked to the bone or driven away
Somehow your influence continued to stay,
Regretfully, even to this day!

©  Paula Gail Benson, all rights reserved

Wednesday, February 6, 2019

Bouchercon Dallas Bill Crider Short Story Prize

I’m delighted Carol Puckett and Kendel Lynn of the Bouchercon Dallas committee asked me to be the Contest Coordinator (with James M. Jackson serving as Submissions Coordinator) for the inaugural Bill Crider Prize for Short Fiction, to be awarded by Hank Phillippi Ryan at Bouchercon this October. The contest offers significant monetary and scholarship prizes, and the final round will be judged by Janet Hutchings (editor of Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine) and Linda Landrigan (editor of Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine)! Here is the link to find the details. Deadline is March 1, 2019, and theme is “Deep in the Heart.”

Thursday, January 31, 2019

The Ocean's Gift

A Dream in a Bottle
by Paula Gail Benson

I promised my parents to marry my rescuer, the lovely princess who studied at the temple by the beach.

After my ship capsized beneath the treacherous waves, hers was the face I saw as I regained consciousness.

But, I have no memory of her saving me.

Tonight before my wedding, I wake from dreams of a mute dancing girl, whose talent charmed although each step brought her searing pain.

A message drifting over sleep waves, conjured during my time in the roiling depths?

Silent one, if this is your missive, let me slumber forever so our souls may be conjoined.

©  Paula Gail Benson, all rights reserved

Friday, January 25, 2019

A Station Held by Myself or Someone Else?

Mirror Image by Paula Gail Benson

Am I to be the hero of my own life? Villain seems more appropriate. I take blame for my circumstances.

My own selfishness caused me to live in beastly form with my castle staff reduced to furniture and fixtures.

Why do enchantresses determine fates and does true love reverse spells?

A human might feel affection for an animal showing courage and protection. But, fondness and pity are insufficient to break the mirage hiding my true self.

Who’d venture here to find me? Perhaps, someone desperate enough to trade her freedom to avoid her own loss?

At heart, someone like me?

©  Paula Gail Benson, all rights reserved

Saturday, January 19, 2019

What's Your Dream?

The Shadow of a Dream by Paula Gail Benson

“The very substance of the ambitious is merely the shadow of a dream.” -- from Hamlet by William Shakespeare

While hunting through the forest, I heard about a hidden kingdom, now lost in overgrown vines and dosing subjects. All winnable by a single kiss.

Being an enterprising sort, I hacked my way through the overgrowth and entered the castle, passing by those slumped in perpetual slumber. Reaching the tower room, I found the princess lying in regal splendor, her hand pricked by a spinning wheel’s spindle resting beside her cheek.

All asleep one hundred years. All waiting to resume. What?

Princess, do you know your nap’s length? What do you expect when you wake? Might you dream of me?

©  Paula Gail Benson, all rights reserved

Sunday, January 13, 2019

Planting the Path

The Root of Evil by Paula Gail Benson

            The produce from a witch’s garden is enchanted. A pregnant woman craving a rampion (greens, but perhaps the root vegetable) led to her newborn daughter being imprisoned in the witch’s inaccessible tower.
            Only the daughter’s song, led to a prince’s discovery.
            The couple created a prison home until the witch discovered them and, in anger, exiled her transformed charge and maimed the transgressor, shoving him from the tower so he was blinded by the thorn bed she cultivated below.
            Guided by sound, he wandered. Then, once again, he heard his beloved’s song, this time as a lullaby for their twins.

© Paula Gail Benson, all rights reserved

Monday, January 7, 2019

From Glass Slippers to . . . Forest Confusion

The Huntsman’s Dilemma by Paula Gail Benson

It’s odd finding your heart’s desire in a glass coffin in the woods--her skin so white, she looks like a vampire. I wonder, did my true love kiss revive her, or was the poisoned apple dislodged from her throat when the pall bearers jostled her body on the way to her burial?

What makes me feel like Romeo in Juliet’s tomb? How did I get a happily ever after when Shakespeare’s ill-fated sweethearts faced tragedy?

And, what’s with this version where the wicked queen attends our wedding and is forced to dance to her untimely demise in red-hot shoes?

© Paula Gail Benson, all rights reserved

See: “. . . the queen arrives at the wedding to investigate and is shocked to find that the bride is Snow White. She is frozen with rage and fear, but when the Queen was about to start a pandemonium, the prince, who recognizes her as a threat to his kingdom, orders for her to wear a pair of red-hot iron slippers and dance in them until she drops dead for the attempted murder of Snow White, so that the wedding will peacefully continue.https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Snow_White

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

A New Year Brings New Ventures!

With 2019, I begin a series of Drabble (100 word stories) focusing on unexplored aspects of well-known stories. I call these “Ferreted Out Fairy Tales” and the first group “Princely Pursuits,” because they examine the tales from the viewpoints of the rescuers, who largely remain off-stage until making entrances to be heroic.

The first features Cinderella’s Prince on his journey to find his elusive dance partner.

Footfall by Paula Gail Benson

The horses’ hooves stirred up dust from the road they traveled, surrounding them with a sandy mist.

“Must we find this particular maiden?” Felix asked the Prince.

Several hundred female feet had strained to fit the glass slipper. The Prince even indulged children to place their toes where the sole of a future Princess had rested. After covering most of the kingdom without locating a match, Felix, the weary footman, longed for home.

Yet, the Prince persisted. His soul mate had the other see-through sandal, while the one he carried served as a crystal ball predicting an unparalleled future together.

©  Paula Gail Benson, all rights reserved