Wednesday, April 1, 2009

"Dead Even" a Derringer Finalist

I'm happy to announce that my short story "Dead Even" is a finalist for the Short Mystery Fiction Society's Derringer Award.

The Short Mystery Fiction Society (SMFS) is exactly what it sounds like: a conglomeration of readers, writers, editors and others centered around crime/mystery short fiction. At last count, there were well over a thousand members. The main forum is a Yahoo group and it is a very active group.

The Derringer is the award that the SMFS presents to the best short story of the year. There are actually four categories, divided by length. This is a good thing, because especially with shorter fiction, story length can really be a matter of apples and oranges. Is an 800 word piece that captures all the mystery, tension and character of a story better than an 8000 word piece that packs all the elements of a novel into that tight package? No, they're different. Thus, the four different categories.

"Dead Even" is a finalist in the 4001-8000 word category. It is up against four other great stories. These five were selected from about 33 nominations in blind readings by judges. The next step is for the SMFS members to read the five finalist stories and vote for their favorite in each category. This takes place throughout April, with the winners announced on May 15th.

"Dead Even" was eligible because it was published during 2008. The story appeared in the Red Coyote Press anthology, Medium of Murder. This anthology is still available from the publisher or any book outlet (Amazon or bookstores).

This is the third time one of my stories has been a finalist for this award. In 2007, my story "The Worst Door" was a finalist and in 2006, it was my longer piece, "Good Shepherd." Neither won, but it was still a personal thrill for me to have been nominated and selected as a finalist.

I will keep you posted once the results are in.

By the way, if you like short mystery fiction, anyone can join SMFS. You don't have to be a writer or an editor, just a reader who is interested in the topic. They frequently mention new markets where good mysteries appear and although there isn't discussion about novels, the writers are allowed to mention when theirs come out.

I'm not telling you this so you can go join and vote for me. For one thing, you can't. Only members who were members during 2008 are allowed to vote. This keeps people from stuffing the ballot boxes, which I wouldn't want to do anyway. The SMFS rules for eligibility and voting make it a much truer measure of which story is (subjectively, at least) the best of the finalists. I say this with full sincerity, even though my stories came out on the short end of the process the last two times. It's a good system and a fair system and that, I believe, makes the finalist achievement and the ultimate award far more meaningful.

If you do join, though, you can still read all the finalists and get a good taste of some great crime fiction. Be prepared for diversity if you do. SMFS is all over the map, from cozies to procedurals to whodunits to hardboiled and more.

Give it a try...and check out Red Coyote Press, too. In addition to Medium of Murder, they have Map of Murder (my story "In the Shadow of El Paso" is in this one) and Medley of Murder.

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