Sunday, January 21, 2018

2018 Derringer Awards Update - January 20

Originally posted to Shortmystery January 21, 2018, 12:58 a.m. EST, by Derringer Awards Coordinator Jay Hartman:

Here's the complete list of Derringer submissions that I've received and acknowledged through 1/20. I apologize for those who submitted at the beginning of January but only received acknowledgments tonight. Technology is a beautiful thing... when it works.

Many thanks to those of you who made donations [to Cancer Research Institute] in Sandi [Tipple] and Bill [Crider]'s name!

If you don’t see your title below or spot an error, DO NOT EMAIL [Shortmystery]. Please send me an email at


Jay Hartman

FLASH (up to 1,000 words)
  • A Will and a Way
  • Alleyway Alvin
  • Altercation on Ballet Boulevard
  • An Afternoon in Lake Park
  • Disappearing Act
  • Dog Trap
  • Father Knows Bets
  • Flash Point
  • Hostage
  • Meeting the Demand
  • Slipping Into Darkness
  • Stegmann's Basement
  • The Forcier Brothers
  • The Hitchhiker

SHORT STORY (1,001–4,000 words)

  • A Death in Deep Ellum
  • A Murder in Montreux
  • A Respectable Lady
  • Antiques
  • Black Friday
  • Blood Moon
  • Bull's Eye
  • Consequences
  • Eb and Flo
  • Every Picture Tells a Story
  • Flight to the Flirty Flamingo
  • Her Father's Killer
  • Homebodies
  • It's All Litter to Me
  • Judge Jillian
  • Justice Due
  • Killing Time So I Can Dig Myself a Deeper Gravev
  • Let It Burn
  • Live at Alcatraz
  • Missing Person
  • Missouri Waltz
  • Most Evil
  • Murder in the Summer Kitchen
  • My Life in Killer Recipes
  • Napa Hospitality
  • Nut Job
  • On Like Donkey Kong
  • Shut Your Eyes and You'll Be Fine
  • The Baker's Boy
  • The Bank Job
  • The Chair Thief
  • The Girl with the Mangled Breast
  • The Hardest Part
  • The Last Train Out
  • The Perfect Patsy
  • The Queen-Size Bed
  • The Settlement
  • The Writer
  • To the Moon and Back
  • True Love
  • Voices Carry
  • You Should've Called Me

LONG STORY (4,001–8,000 words)

  • A Woman's Place
  • As Ye Sow
  • Becky's File
  • Breadfruit
  • Burning Bright
  • Burnt Orange
  • Chasing the Moon
  • Cleaning Up the Neighborhood
  • Crazy Cat Lady
  • Death and the Dancing Bears
  • Death Will Help You Imagine
  • Dixie Quickies
  • Do Not Pass Go
  • Exposed for Murder
  • Fairy Tales
  • Featuring Martin and Lewis
  • Gun Work
  • Happy Families
  • Hidden
  • Matricide and Ice Cream
  • Ominous Silence
  • Raising Bigfoot
  • Smoked
  • Snakebite
  • The Barter
  • The Darkness and the Light
  • The Last Evil
  • The Magnolia Murders
  • The Mechanical Rat
  • The Spy Who Read Too Much
  • The Thirty-Fourth Man
  • The Touch of Time
  • The Tragic Death of Mrs. Edna Fogg
  • The Widow Black
  • Too Good to be True
  • Trail's End
  • Whose Wine Is It Anyway?

NOVELETTE (8,001–20,000 words)

  • A Necessary Ingredient
  • Along the Hudson
  • London After Midnight
  • Look What They’ve Done to My Song, Ma
  • Night Class
  • The Bootlegger's Goddaughter
  • The Children of Espiritu Santo
  • The Last Heist
  • The Library Ghost of Tanglewood Inn
  • The Mechanical Detective
  • Trouble Like a Freight Train Coming
  • Windward

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

SleuthSayers: You Only Live Twice

SleuthSayers: You Only Live Twice: by Michael Bracken Though perhaps not as famous as her husband—at least not until portrayed by Courtney Love in The People vs. Larry Flynt...

Guest Post: A Quick Note About Ransom Notes by Peter DiChellis

It has been awhile, but SMFS member Peter DiChellis is back today with some thoughts about ransom notes in this technological age…..

A Quick Note About Ransom Notes by Peter DiChellis

Mystery writers scrutinize every angle of all types of dastardly crimes to research their stories. And after giving it a little thought (some might say too little), I’ve decided composing the ransom note would be the toughest part of a kidnapping.

You know the notes I mean: pUT tHe MOney iN a PLaiN Paper baG

Think about this from the average kidnapper's perspective: You create ransom notes like those by cutting up magazines and pasting different letters together. I suppose this prevents linking your handwriting or printer to the crime, but who has magazines lying around the house any more? So now you’ve got to make a special trip to a newsstand? And then what? You flip through every magazine in the place to see which ones have the letters you need? Seriously?

And after you buy magazines with all of the right letters in them, you still need glue. Who the hell has glue? Not the newsstand, right? So now you need to hump down to the drugstore for glue? (Fine, maybe you could have bought the magazines at the drugstore too, but who knew?)

Okay, let’s say you’ve already got scissors at home and a sheet of paper to glue the letters onto. You still have to flip through the magazines again, cut out the letters you need, and glue them onto the paper.

Sound easy? No way! First off, there’s no spell-check or auto-correct, so you’re on your own to get the spelling right. And what if some of the letters are so big there’s not enough room when you get to the end of a line? Now you’ve got to dig through the magazines again to find a hyphen? And don’t get me started on other punctuation! What if you need a semi-colon or an accent aigu? What kind of magazines do you buy to find those?
Also, if you’ve got any taste at all you have to consider how different letters’ fonts and colors will look together. Otherwise, the note becomes a disjointed eyesore and an FBI profiler will construct a really embarrassing evaluation of you: “The unsub is probably a sloppy, colorblind loser who has an unhealthy obsession with grammar and composition, knows nothing about desktop publishing, hangs around in newsstands, and has fingers covered with glue residue.” Not exactly flattering.

Sure, the movies want you to think picking up the ransom money is the toughest part of a kidnapping because the cops can stake out the pick-up spot. But think about this: The people who make movies have assistants who can put together the ransom notes for them. Ordinary kidnappers need to do it themselves.


Finally, I’m happy to announce two new stories. My double-twist crime story “Eternal Love” starts with a ransom note and ends with a tragedy. The story appears in LA-based noir standout Switchblade: Issue 4, available at discerning Los Angeles-area bookstores and on Amazon too. And my humorous mystery yarn “Listen Up” is the cover story and free to read in the new issue of Derringer rockin’ online ‘zine Flash Bang Mysteries.

Peter DiChellis ©2018

Peter DiChellis concocts sinister and sometimes comedic tales for anthologies, ezines, and magazines. He is a member of the Short Mystery Fiction Society and an Active (published author) member of the Mystery Writers of America, Private Eye Writers of America, and International Thriller Writers. For more, visit his site Murder and Fries at

Monday, January 8, 2018

2018 Derringer Awards: Lots of Entries So Far!

Originally posted to Shortmystery January 8, 12:14 a.m. EST by Derringer Awards Coordinator Jay Hartman:

Hi, everyone!

Just an update that I've been receiving lots of submissions for the Derringer and will be posting an update to [Shortmystery] of all the submitted stories (thus far) in the next few days.


Jay Hartman

Saturday, January 6, 2018

SMFS Members at The First Two Pages Blog

SMFS member Art Taylor has taken over The First Two Pages Blog series in the wake of the passing of B. K. Stevens. SMFS members participating in recent weeks were:

The First Two Pages: “The Night They Burned Ms. Dixie’s Place” by Debra H. Goldstein

The First Two Pages: “Dixie Quickies” by Michael Bracken

The First Two Pages: “Crazy Cat Lady” by Barb Goffman

The First Two Pages: “Getting Away” by Alan Orloff

The First Two Pages: R.T. Lawton’s “Black Friday”

The First Two Pages: Eve Fisher’s “Darkness Visible”

The First Two Pages: Robert Lopresti’s “The Chair Thief”

The full archive of over 130 essays published by Bonnie as well as her daughter after her mom passed can be found here.  

The full and growing archive since Art Taylor took over back in November 2017 can be found here.

Crime Fiction Market Roundup by Sandra Seamans

Sandra Seamans has posted her annual Crime Fiction Roundup at her blog, My Little Corner. As always, she has her market information broken down into separate posts for closed and new markets. Her blog is one you should check daily for market calls and other news. 


Catherine Dilts Reviews: Short Story Review: New Year's Eve story

Catherine Dilts Reviews:  Short Story Review: New Year's Eve story 

SMFS Member Publication News: Robert Peyto

SMFS Member Robert Peyto's short story, "Sacrifice" appears in Pulp Modern: Volume 2, Issue 2. The issue was released in December 2017 and is available in both print and electronic versions at Amazon and elsewhere.

Friday, January 5, 2018

2018 Derringer Submissions are Now Open

On January 3, 2018, Derringer Awards Coordinator Jay Hartman posted to Shortmystery a suggestion that those submitting for the Derringer Awards also consider a donation to cancer research as a way the SMFS can give back to our communities. In the same Shortmystery post, Jay set boundaries for onlist discussion of the current Derringer process.

At Jay's request, I, a regular member and blog admin, am excerpting Jay's points here as a reminder. Any questions about these points or the Derringer process should be addressed to Jay himself at

...There is never a fee for entering the Derringers. However, I think that this year the Derringer Awards should have a giving-back element to them due to several crises that members have experienced. I would ask that if you are submitting an entry for consideration you make a donation to the Cancer Research Institute in the name of Sandi Tipple or Bill Crider. CRI is considered one of the top three cancer charities, where roughly 85% of all donations go directly to programs. Making or not making a donation will in no way affect your chances of receiving an award and is not a requirement for submission. This is about doing good. However, if you do submit proof of a donation with your entry, Untreed Reads will send you a coupon code for a free ebook of your choice from as a thank-you for making the world a bit better and for honoring two people who mean/meant a lot to all of us. Total dollar amount raised will also be announced at the presentation of the Derringer Awards in September at Bouchercon.

...Long, protracted arguments and battles about the Derringers will not be engaged or entertained and there will be no tolerance of public mistreatment of individuals for differing opinions...I simply won’t allow either myself as Derringer Coordinator or authors to be attacked in any way. Personal and/or public attacks on others may result in disqualification. Keep it civil!

Looking forward to a great Derringer season with everyone!

Jay Hartman

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Derringer Awards Procedure

2018 Derringer Awards Coordinator Jay Hartman



Since 1998, the Short Mystery Fiction Society has awarded the annual Derringers—after the popular pocket pistol—to outstanding published stories and people who've greatly advanced or supported the form.

As of 2004, an annually-elected Derringer Coordinator administers the regular Derringer process. Detailed below, the process runs January 1–April 30, recognizing stories published the previous year.

The current regular Derringer Awards are:
  • Best Flash Story (Up to 1,000 words)
  • Best Short Story (1,001 to 4,000 words)
  • Best Long Story (4,001 to 8,000 words)
  • Best Novelette (8,001 to 20,000 words)

As of 2009, a committee of the sitting SMFS Officers, Derringer Coordinator, and two regular members selects a living writer whose outstanding body of short fiction merits the Society's Edward D. Hoch Memorial Golden Derringer for Lifetime Achievement.

In addition to the May 1 winners announcement, as of 2009, winners also receive physical medals at a presentation during Bouchercon, the World Mystery Convention. To donate toward the medals, contact Vice President Larry W. Chavis.

Further reading:


SUBMISSIONS (January 3–February 3, 2018)

Who can submit?

With the exceptions of the Society President and Vice President, who have no Derringer eligibility or authority over the Derringer process, and the Derringer Awards Coordinator, who has authority over the process but no Derringer eligibility, and any Untreed Reads authors who had works published by Untreed Reads during the eligibility period,

Shortmystery members who joined by December 31, 2017 can submit eligible stories written by anyone, including themselves


Editors of venues featuring mystery or crime short stories can submit eligible stories published in those venues.


Story eligibility

To be considered for the 2018 Derringer Awards, a submission must be:

a) a mystery or crime story up to 20,000 words,

b) in a paying or non-paying venue,

c) which may be an irregular/single publication, periodical, collection, or anthology,

d) in print or electronic form,

e) originating from any country or location,

f) published in English for the first time in 2017 as determined by the the venue's cover/front page date or story's timestamp ending in 2017 (e.g. Dec. 2016-Jan. 2017, March 2017, etc.),

g) with the story's appearance decided by the venue's editor(s), not the author (i.e. neither self-published nor submitted to a non-edited venue).


  • Shortmystery members who joined by December 31, 2017 are allowed to submit up to 2 eligible stories.

  • Editors:

    3 editorial submissions are allowed from venues featuring up to 25 eligible stories;

    4 editorial submissions are allowed from venues featuring 26–50 eligible stories;

    5 editorial submissions are allowed from venues featuring 51–75 eligible stories;

    6 editorial submissions are allowed from venues featuring more than 75 stories.

  • For multi-editor venues, the editors split the number of submissions determined above.

    (e.g. 4 editorial submissions are allowed from a four-editor venue featuring 26 eligible stories. If one editor makes 4, the other three editors cannot make any.)

  • Editors of multiple venues:

    3 editorial submissions are allowed if they edited a total up to 25 eligible stories;

    4 editorial submissions are allowed if they edited a total of 26–50 eligible stories

    5 editorial submissions are allowed if they edited a total of 51–75 eligible stories;

    6 editorial submissions are allowed if they edited a total of more than 75 stories.

    The number of submissions allowed from any one venue remains bound by the venue's total eligible stories.

    (e.g. An editor who worked on 100 stories across 5 venues would be allowed 6 total submissions. If one of the venues featured only ten stories, the editor could submit 3 from it, but then would have only 3 submissions left to split among 90 stories and 4 venues.)

  • Editors who are also Shortmystery members, in addition to their editorial submissions, may submit two eligible stories from venues other than their own.

    An editor may decide not to submit his/her venue's stories. S/he cannot prevent other Shortmystery members from submitting them UNLESS s/he acquired such controlling rights over the stories.


Format and Address

To make the judges' jobs as easy as possible, and to prevent having to reformat an assortment of submission layouts, there has to be a standardized format for submissions. The 2018 Derringer competition uses William Shunn's more-or-less industry-standard layout linked to below, except that (a.), the manuscript should use 12-point Times New Roman font, and (b.), the personal contact information normally included at top left of page 1 may be omitted.

William Shunn's short-story formatting page can be found here. Remember, the personal contact information at top left is not required for Derringer submission. If inadvertently included, it will be deleted before forwarding to the judges:

William Shunn : Manuscript Format : Short Story

Submit your entry as an email with attached submission manuscript to

In the email body, include a cover letter indicating:
  • whether you are submitting as an SMFS member, a publication editor, SMFS member, publication editor, or are both;
  • the story title, author's name, and, if applicable, the pseudonym used for the story;
  • where and when the story was originally published in 2017; and
  • the URL to the published story if applicable.
Anyone submitting someone else's work must have and is presumed to have acquired the proper permissions from the author. By submitting someone else's work, a submitter assumes responsibility for having the proper permissions.

The Coordinator posts updates of the stories received throughout the January submission period. This avoids duplicate submissions and serves to check that stories submitted are received. If any story submitted does not appear in an update and you have met the listed eligibility requirements, follow up with the Coordinator.

All submissions must be in by February 3rd, 2018. February 4th will be used to prep submissions to be sent to the judges.

Please direct any questions or issues to Jay Hartman at Please do not post them to Shortmystery or at Jay's regular email address as they are likely to be missed. Please allow up to 72 hours for any responses from Jay. Confirmation of receipt of entries will happen within 48 hours of receipt.

All identifying author or publisher information will be removed from submitted manuscripts prior to forwarding to the judges.


JUDGING (February 5–March 30, 2018)

The Coordinator assigns eligible submissions to award categories by length:
  • Best Flash Story (Up to 1,000 words)
  • Best Short Story (1,001 to 4,000 words)
  • Best Long Story (4,001 to 8,000 words)
  • Best Novelette (8,001 to 20,000 words)

Each category requires three primary and one alternate SMFS members to judge the category down to five finalists. To protect their identities and the privacy of the judging process, members sign up to judge by contacting the Coordinator directly by January 31st, 2018.

Volunteers can specify which category they wish to judge, subject to availability, but they cannot judge categories including stories they wrote or published as editor. The Coordinator keeps this in mind when assigning judges, but any erroneously-assigned judges should inform the Coordinator, who decides how to rectify the error.

Before sending the Derringer submissions to the judges, the Coordinator ensures the manuscripts show neither the author's name nor the details of publication. This is not to mandate blind judging, but to encourage open-minded judging. Judges may recognize authors and publication details but are nevertheless expected to score all stories in their rightfully assigned categories regardless.

The Scoring Guidelines below have been used for over a decade as a way of encouraging a measure of commonality among different judges' approaches. They are not litmus tests to be applied in a cookie-cutter manner by all judges to all submissions, but are rather a source for general areas of consideration that can be used to the extent considered appropriate in conjunction with a judge's individual experience, acumen, and skills.

Using the Scoring Guidelines below as desired, each judge rates each of the four larger general areas of:


A judge assigns each of these areas a score of 1 to 10. The judge should note these individual scores but need not formally record them. The judge then adds the four individual areas' scores together to arrive at a cumulative score of 4 - 40. For each submission, each judge in the category reports this single, cumulative score on the scoring sheet provided by the Derringer Coordinator.

If, at any point during the reading of any entry, a judge concludes that the impression formed thus far is final and without reasonable expectation of change regardless of what remains to be read and evaluated, the judge is not bound to continue reading that entry.

  • How well does the writing grab and hold your attention?
  • Do the prose style and dialogue serve the story well?
  • Does the story's setting or overall atmosphere draw you in?
  • Does the story rise above others in the category for the way it's written?

  • Are they well developed and convincing?
  • Is there good interaction between characters?
  • How well does the writer handle viewpoints or inhabit each character?
  • Do the characters serve the story well?

  • How well are the story events structured from beginning to end?
  • Does the story rise above others in the category for its plot?
  • Does the story set up and then meet or cleverly subvert expectations?

  • Did you have a good reaction to the story not described by the other elements?
  • How memorable was the story?

The alternate judge in a category is called if one of the primary judges is unable to serve to completion for some reason. The alternate will be asked to read and evaluate only the portion of the category's entries that the primary judge was unable to get to.

All stories must be scored and returned to the Coordinator by March 30.

March 31 is reserved for the Coordinator to verify the outcome of scoring. For each Derringer category, the five stories with the highest averages become the Finalists.



On April 1, the Coordinator announces the Finalists on Shortmystery and announces them publicly here on the blog.


VOTING (April 1–29, 2018)

On April 1, the Coordinator uploads the finalist manuscripts to the Files section of the 2018 Derringers Voting Site group and opens voting in its Polls section.

Shortmystery members who joined by December 31, 2017 subscribe to the voting group to read the stories and vote for the winner in each category. Voting ends April 29.

Important: To expedite verification of your voting eligibility, be sure to subscribe to the Derringers voting group with your existing Shortmystery Yahoo! ID. Otherwise, your Shortmystery membership cannot be verified, your voting group membership will be denied, and you won't be allowed to vote.

April 30 is reserved for the Coordinator to verify the poll results and prepare the announcement of winners. The Coordinator then deletes the manuscripts from the voting group's Files section.



On May 1, the Coordinator announces the Winners on Shortmystery and announces them publicly here on the blog.



Winners will be presented with Derringer medals during Bouchercon 2018 opening ceremonies Thursday, September 6 at the Vinoy Renaissance hotel in St. Petersburg, Florida. Any unable to attend will receive their medals by mail.

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

SMFS Members Published in Flash Bang Mysteries: January/Winter 2018 Issue

The January/Winter 2018 Issue of Flash Bang Mysteries is now available online and features the work of four SMFS members. The four members with published stories in the issue are:

Vy Kava with "All In A Day's Work."

Herschel Cozine with “Gone For Good.”

John M. Floyd with “Lights Out.”

Peter DiChellis with “Listen Up.” Peter’s story was also selected for the cover.

SMFS Member Publication News: Carlos Orsi

SMFS Member Carlos Orsi has announced to the list that his short story, "The Adventure of the Dead Frog" appears in the Mystery Weekly Magazine: January 2018 issue. He describes his tale as "a locked-room mystery with a touch of humor." The issue is available at the publisher website, Amazon, and elsewhere.

SMFS Member Publication News: Gail Farrelly

SMFS member Gail Farrelly announced to the list that her four part serial, "The Times Square Terrorist" recently appeared at the Yonkers Tribune starting on December 24rth with Part One.

Part Two appeared on December 27, 2017.

Part Three appeared on December 29, 2017.

The concluding Part Four appeared on December 31, 2017.