Thursday, February 1, 2018

Mary Higgins Clark Award Hoopla!

HALLIE EPHRON: I'd never heard much about the Mary Higgins Clark Award until my first suspense standalone, Never Tell a Lie, was nominated for it. Then I read the qualifications:
  • No on-scene violence, strong four-letter words, or explicit sex scenes.
The protagonist:
  • Is a nice young woman whose life is suddenly invaded
  • Is self-made and independent, with primarily good family relationships
  • Has an interesting job
  • Is not looking for trouble–she is doing exactly what she should be doing and something cuts across her bow
  • Solves her problem by her own courage and intelligence
Check, check... And discovered this is (more or less) the kind of book I write. 

Hank won this award for The Other Woman (she's been nominated twice.)

I just received my FIFTH Mary Higgins Clark nomination. We have to wait until the Edgar Awards April 26 to find out who takes home the gorgeous glass doorstop. Maybe I'll win this time, but honestly it's okay if I lose because the other nominees are formidable. Really. Really. Really.
  • Lori Rader-Day, who is up for the third time (she won once) with THE DAY I DIED
  • Carol Goodman, up for the second time with THE WIDOW'S HOUSE
And first-time nominees who are both writing about wine!

  • Ellen Crosby, THE VINEYARD VICTIMS
  • Nadine Nettman, UNCORKING A LIE

I’m thrilled to welcome these authors to Jungle Red. Put their books in your queue! I'm putting them in mine.

I asked them each: tell us a little about your main character, and what is it that "cuts across her bow"? And, be honest now, did you think about this award category and go through and remove the swear words before you finalized it? 

NADINE NETTMANN: My character, Katie Stillwell, is a sommelier at a restaurant in San Francisco. She believes every bottle of wine has a story behind it and feels it’s the same with people, which is why she often refers to people in her life as wines. For example, her best friend is a Merlot because she has a tarnished reputation she didn’t deserve and her dad is a Barolo because he’s stoic and stern.

In UNCORKING A LIE, Katie is at a dinner party in Sonoma when she realizes an expensive bottle of wine is not the one on the label. She confides in a friend and he’s found at the bottom of the staircase a few minutes later. So really it’s a fraudulent wine with a side of murder that cuts across her bow.

As for the swear words, I’m generally not a person who swears a lot. I don’t mind reading it or hearing it, so don’t worry if you say it around me, but it’s just rare for me to swear so it doesn’t come out in my writing. So far I haven’t written a character that would be prone to swearing but if I did, I would probably remove the words as I want my books to be ones my mom can recommend to her friends without having to warn them about the language. 

ABOUT Nadine Nettman: A Certified Sommelier through the Court of Master Sommeliers, Nadine is always on the lookout for great wines and the stories behind them. She has visited vineyards around the world and pairs wine with every chapter in her award-nominated Sommelier Mystery Series. 

CAROL GOODMAN: I’ve always been drawn to the narrative of a courageous, independent woman taking on whatever cuts across her bow I think of my protagonists as women who are leading their lives, struggling to keep work and family balanced, and then something throws the balance off.  

Clare Martin, the protagonist of The Widow’s House, is struggling with financial troubles since her husband Jess hasn’t been able to write his second novel.  When they’re offered a chance to live as caretakers at the estate of their former writing teacher, Clare thinks this is the perfect solution.  Soon she and Jess are living in Riven House and Clare finds the atmosphere inspiring to her own writing … but also disturbing.  

Diving into the history of the area, she discovers that inhabitants of Riven House are menaced by strange forces that now seem to be targeting her and Jess.  And yes, she has to save herself through her own courage and intelligence.  

So while I wasn’t thinking about this award while I was writing The Widow’s House, I’m always thinking about the many perils that may cut across our bows and what we need, as strong independent women, to survive them.

ABOUT Carol Goodman: The critically acclaimed author of twenty novels, including The Lake of Dead Languages and The Seduction of Water, which won the 2003 Hammett Prize, her books have been translated into sixteen languages.  She lives with her family in the Hudson Valley, and teaches writing and literature at The New School and SUNY New Paltz.

LORI RADER-DAY: In The Day I died, Anna Winger is a handwriting analyst who is leading a quiet little life in a small town in Indiana that reminds her of her old hometown—the town she can't go back to, because she fears for her safety and the safety of her now-teen son. And then across her bow comes a handwriting assignment from the local sheriff's office to look at a note left behind in a kidnapping/murder case, a case that looks more and more like what might have happened to Anna if she hadn't run when she did. 
I *did* take out a certain four-letter word from this book, late in the game. There was only one, and even though I've been known to dabble in the four-letter arts myself, it felt OK to take it out and make it more palatable to readers. Watch out, though, because in the book I have coming out in August, Under a Dark Sky, I left that word in. 

About Lori Rader-Day: A three-time Mary Higgins Clark Award nominee, Lori won the award in 2016 for her second novel, Little Pretty Things. She is the author of The Black Hour, winner of the Anthony Award for Best First Novel, and The Day I Died, an Indie Next Pick. Lori’s short fiction has appeared in Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine, Time Out Chicago, and Good Housekeeping. She lives in Chicago, where she is active in Mystery Writers of America and Sisters in Crime and co-chairs the mystery conference Murder and Mayhem in Chicago. Lori’s next novel, Under a Dark Sky, will be published by Harper Collins William Morrow in August.

ELLEN CROSBY: In The Vineyard Victims, Lucie Montgomery owns a vineyard on land that has been in her family for nearly 250 years so she has deep roots in small-town Atoka, Virginia. Family means everything, as do old and abiding friendships. So when former presidential candidate and beloved local philanthropist Jamie Vaughn extracts her promise to ask someone named Rick to forgive him just before Jamie dies in a fiery car crash at the entrance to her vineyard, Lucie intends to keep her word. 

What cuts across her bow is that her promise will alienate Jamie’s friends and family who don’t want Lucie asking questions asked about Jamie’s controversial past and a thirty-year-old murder. When her investigation unexpectedly leads to her own near-fatal accident ten years ago, Lucie is forced to face her own unresolved demons in a search for justice for a condemned man on Death Row.

While I didn’t consider the Mary Higgins Clark award as I was writing The Vineyard Victims, I would like to say for the record that I began writing this story before Donald Trump—who happens to own a vineyard in Charlottesville, Virginia—announced he would be a presidential candidate. Honest!

The death of a former presidential candidate in a fiery car crash at her Virginia vineyard has ties to a thirty-year-old murder as well as to Lucie Montgomery’s own near fatal accident ten years ago as she searches for a killer who now may be stalking her.

ABOUT Ellen Crosby: The author of the Virginia wine country mysteries, including The Vineyard Victims, her most recent book, featuring vineyard owner Lucie Montgomery, as well as Multiple Exposure and Ghost Image, which feature international photojournalist Sophie Medina, and Moscow Nights, a standalone mystery. Previously she worked as a freelance reporter for The Washington Post, Moscow correspondent for ABC News Radio, and as an economist at the U.S. Senate. 

And finally, ME 

HALLIE EPHRON: In You'll Never Know, Dear, the sudden reappearance of a doll that belonged to a girl that went missing 40
years ago cuts across the bow of her mother, her sister, and her grown niece. It's about finding a lost child, survivor's guilt, and what our dreams can tell us. 

And yes, since this is my fifth time to the MHC altar, yes I do think about swear words in my books. Do I really need this one, or that one? More often than not, there's a better way to dramatize the situation. And that's just good writing.

So we're opening it up for a potpourri of questions and comments! About wine, handwriting analysis, creepy houses, doll-making... and the four-letter words we keep out of our books.

105 comments:

  1. First, congratulations to all the ladies for their well-deserved nominations . . . .

    I hadn’t realized that the qualifications for the award included the stipulation about the “strong four-letter words” . . . . Although I’m don’t swear myself, I don’t necessarily mind that language in a book IF it’s in keeping with the character and the story the writer is telling and it isn’t gratuitous. I don’t know anyone who uses that sort of language in every sentence they utter, so please don’t give me a book filled with them . . . .

    Hallie, after reading “You’ll Never Know, Dear,” I decided dolls could be just a creepy as clowns, but I loved the story.
    Lori, I enjoyed “The Day I Died” and am curious to know if you had to do a great deal of research on handwriting analysis for the story . . . .

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    1. After writing my book, I no longer find dolls as creepy! And I'm not going to write about clowns because that's been done... by the master.

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    2. Hi, Joan! Thank you! I did *some* research. I read a book called Sex, Lies, and Handwriting (I don't think Mary would approve) and then from there intuited how an analyst would think about handwriting she encountered outside of the job. I did find an expert after the book was written who said I got it all right!

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    3. I once had my handwriting analyzed by an 'expert' - based on my writing (nearly unreadable) she said I had difficulty completing what I started. Fifteen books later...

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  2. Congratulations to all of you wonderful writing women! You are in some great company. I'm curious about why cozy mysteries have never been considered for MHC? Most of them would check the boxes that Hallie listed, right? any thoughts on that?

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    1. Good question. My guess: I think it's because, though it's not a criteria, MHC is really known for SUSPENSE. Maybe the judges are keeping that in mind... looking for a book that not only meets the specifications but also feels like the kind of story she'd write.

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    2. Aren't Nadine's and Ellen's books in the cozy genre?

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    3. I am reading Nadine's now! I'm not sure there's a hard line between cozy and not-cozy, you know? Cozies are considered for the award, by the way. There were many in the submissions list.

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    4. Wondering... could MHC's books be considered cozies?

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    5. That's a great question and my books do fall into the cozy genre, but they also fall into the soft-boiled genre. But as Lori said, cozies are considered for the award.
      And Hallie, that's an excellent point. I wonder if they would be?

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    6. Barbara Peters calls my books "edgy cozies." I've had 3 different publishers for this series, plus audio books and foreign sales--Scribner, Pocket, and Minotaur, in the US--and everyone has their own interpretation of the story, which is reflected in the cover art. My Scribner covers definitely don't suggest a cozy book, but interestingly, Wendell Minor, the artist who designed the 6 covers for Pocket, is also Mary Higgins Clark's cover artist and has been for many years! Wendell, who is now a friend, published a book of some of his more famous book covers, including Catch 22, To Kill A Mockingbird, My Antonia, The Great Santini, and a bunch of others that are equally well known. (You can find him on Facebook or his website and learn more about him there).

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    7. Ellen, (waving at you!!) how interesting! You are certainly in good company there!

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    8. Thanks, Debs. I found the book in an antique book store in Charlottesville when I was at the Virginia Book Festival a few years ago. Wendell promised to sign it if I send it to him, but I'm holding out for meeting him somewhere someday. He's an amazing person!

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    9. I think it really is the suspense angle. I think the judges are looking for books that are in the "style of MHC." I would never say that MHC writes cozy (or even traditional) but rather suspense tales with a strong female lead. But there have been some cozies nominated over the years: Blaize Clement, Katherine Hall Page, Jerrilyn Farmer, Denise Swanson. As near as I can tell, the only male authors nominated have been Bill Floyd and Robert Crais - and of course Charles Todd, who covers all bases.

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  3. Congrats to each of you! I've read three of the five nominated books, two more to go.

    Same question as Lucy poses! Also, when you writing a situation where the character might swear (or you've removed the offending word), do you write things like "she swore" or "he cursed"? Curious minds and all that... ;^)

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    1. NO NO NO! "She swore" or "she cursed" are what I call "waffle words." Nonspecific placeholders that pack o punch. For me. In the book I'm writing now, a man calls a woman a "stupid cow".... which in my mind is even more insulting and infuriating than the four-letter c-word that could have been there. There's tons of dialogue alternatives plus a raft of gestures.

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    2. Thanks, Hallie. Agree about stupid cow! What about "she let loose a string of expletives?"

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    3. Hmmm. Still feels like telling instead of showing.

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    4. What about keyboard characters, instead of the words? Like: #@^%^*

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    5. Thanks, Edith! I'm with Hallie on this--I also think swearing is a shortcut or a lazy way to convey anger or outrage. There are so many other ways to let readers know a character is furious than using a four letter word. I'm also an Elmore Leonard fan--"said" is a perfect dialogue tag.

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    6. Speaking of four letter C words, I just finished reading a book for a review that was set in 1973 Glasgow and that particular word was used like the word "the".

      My initial thought was "Well, this is not a book that will get recommended by a feminist group that's for sure!"

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  4. It always seems funny to me when there is an aversion to swearing in the books or when it wasn't allowed in TV either. Though I understand the need to edit yourself. I obviously couldn't swear when I was coaching kids, no matter how much they made me want to. :D

    I'm fluent in two languages. English and profanity.

    Congratulations to all the nominees.

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    1. Nice to know that you didn't take the Errol Flynn/Robin Hood route and learn to speak treason fluently, too, Jay!

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    2. Thanks, Jay! (I see you escaped the SPAM folder today!! I think that photo was the FIX.

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    3. But now we know why Jay (and I) frequently end up in the spam folder.

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    4. Gigi, never had a reason for that as of yet. Seems like far too much work for little reward.

      Hallie, yes I guess the photo makes the difference. Who knew me in a loud Hawaiian shirt would cure all ills.

      Ann, yaay for my fellow spam folder escapee!

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  5. Congratulations to all of you! I've read Hallie's wonderful book, but the others sound intriguing, too. It's nice to be recognized as bright spots in the sea of new mystery novels that come out each year.

    As for profanity, well, I have more or less grown up in the high-pressure atmosphere backstage and, since I don't drink, smoke, or sleep around, profanity is the only common vice I have left. I swear. A lot. But I don't think it's a necessary component in any character's makeup. Although, I have to say, if something cut across my bow the way it does for all these ladies in the nominated books, the air would be blue all around me.

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    1. Oh gosh (ahem) I swear, too. And when my grandchildren are here my daughter has been known to ask me to muzzle it.

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    2. I was once introduced to a young man who had spent his Army service as a tank driver. He was gleefully generous in sprinkling profanity throughout every sentence he uttered. I was fascinated. I'd never heard anyone curse that way before. It was almost as if he randomly substituted profanity for any noun, verb, or adverb with the same number of syllables. I listened closely, trying to figure out how he did it so I could use it in a story if I needed to until the gentleman who had introduced us reminded my new friend that there were ladies present. I wanted to howl in protest, but the tank driver moderated his language and never spoke that way in my presence again.

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    3. I definitely swear in real life. In my first book, I dropped a few f-bombs, but then went back and tested each one, to see if it was necessary. None of them were. In my next book, I did leave one, because I just couldn't find a way around it. And then I added another one earlier in the book, so that no one would be surprised with the necessary one landed. I PLANTED an f-bomb.

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    4. Not a bad epitaph: She PLANTED an f-bomb. :-)

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    5. Lori, I love that you planted an f-bomb.

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    6. On the subject of swearing, here's my story: the first editor to acquire my wine country series (which started out as only one book, i.e. I thought I was writing a standalone) was Sarah Knight, who was working for Colin Harrison, a senior Scribner editor. (He's also a terrific thriller writer and won a Hammett Prize). Sarah left Scribner a short while after acquiring me and worked for a number of publishers until she quit editing all together and started writing her own books. They are: The Life-Changing Magic of Not Giving a F**k, Get your S**t Together, and--most recently--You Do You. They've been published in multiple countries (I've lost track), she's now an international best-selling author, has given a TED talk, and is called "the anti-guru." If anyone has read her books, they are as scatological as the titles suggest, or, as Sarah says, "potty-mouthed." And they are a Huge Success. The title of her 3rd book had no profanity in it because she was tired of a certain publication not listing her on their best seller list because of her titles. Since her books have come out, I've started noticing other book titles with the F-bomb asterisked out in them--has anyone else?

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    7. I have noticed it. And I think like everything else (explicit sex, violence, recipes...) there's a place for it. When everyone's doin' it, I don't think it stands out. (The first time I saw it was "Go the F**ck to Sleep" a bedtime book for parents.)

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    8. I saw that book, too. It's becoming a trend like all the books that suddenly had to have the word "girl" in the title after "Gone, Girl" came out.

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  6. Looking forward to all of these! As for four letter words I just don't think they really add much to a story. However, sometimes that's part of a character's make-up and so a few well chosen words might be necessary. I am reading a book now where certain word has appeared on a page several times. Seems overdone to me.

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    1. I think that's the key. When the reader NOTICES them, then they're not organic to the storytelling.

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    2. I agree. When I start to notice them, that's when I feel they don't belong. I loved a friend's book and when I told her how much I enjoyed it, she asked if I was okay with the swearing. My comment back, "There was swearing?"

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    3. But also when you notice the LACK of them. Say, in realist police procedurals... those guys are pretty well known for the language.

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  7. Congratulations to you all! A talented bunch! Does Mary still come to present the award? I've been the chair a couple of times when it was presented before the banquet by Mary. Such a sweet lady. Hallie, fifth tim's a charm, Id say!

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  8. Oh my. The only one of these that I've read is Ellen's, which was great. Y'all are making sure my list never runs short! Congrats to all the nominees.

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  9. Many congratulations to all of you! I am so impressed with myself - for once, I've read 3 of the 5 nominated already. I haven't read either of the wine books, but they are on my list. Read and loved Lori's book, Carol's book, and Hallie's book. Creepy dolls, creepy houses, and creepy people and handwriting. It is all good! Wish each of you could get an award!

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    1. Thank you so much, Kay! Good company, indeed.

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    2. Thanks,Kay -- I'll be at Sleuthfest this year teaching a workshop which, coincidentally, is entitled WRITING CREEPY

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  10. Congratulations to all the nominees. Some excellent reading choices here.

    I had no idea that the MHC Award was so specific in its requirements, especially the part pertaining to the main character and HER background and circumstances. And I wonder why that has never been controversial, in light of the hullabaloo around the recent award announcement for books without a murdered woman. Personally, I don't see anything wrong with either of these stipulations, but the second award has kicked off a firestorm of fury, at least on Facebook.

    How do we choose from so many wonderful books? These book competitions are so much harder than voting in local and national elections!

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    1. My impression was that MHC was something of a feminist groundbreaker in her time. Her novels featured women saving themselves rather than relying on men to save them. Radical stuff back then. I always thought that was why the specific requirement for a strong female protagonist.

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    2. I wondered about this, too, Karen. Maybe not that many people know that the MHC comes with these stipulations? I guess this award was announced in simpler, non-Facebook times. Thank you!

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    3. All the entries are fantastic - I emailed Hallie it's going to be hard to root for just one!

      Also, I once figured out the opening line of the ultimate non-MHC novel:

      "F*$# you, Mother!" Vanessa shouted, as she slammed out of her fortieth birthday party on the hunt for trouble.

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    4. Brilliant, Julia!!
      Karen, you wrote "And I wonder why that has never been controversial, in light of the hullabaloo around the recent award announcement for books without a murdered woman. " - I missed this. Email me, would you, what this is about. BTW my book does not have a murdered woman in it. In fact, several of my MHC-nominated books have no murder at all.

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    5. Julia, you made me snort my coffee!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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    6. Hallie, I sent it to you via Messenger.

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  11. Just yesterday, one of my nephews showed me an article about a book whose authors present the results of research which indicates that swearing is good for you. In the novels, I read, I only notice the language if it diverts my attention from the story--so, if it's in character, I don't pay any attention.

    For the MHC award, congratulations to all the nominees this year! When Mary Higgins Clark began her writing career, I think there were a number of terrific, successful female authors--none of whose writing used much, if any, profanity--and those books still stand as examples of excellence today. And, Hallie, wow! Five nominations?! To consistently achieve such a high level of excellence is like, %$@&*!# awesome!!!

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    1. I've had the occasional reader threaten to stop reading my books unless I SWEAR not to use any more four-letter words. I don't think my characters swear gratuitously. But they are police officers, for heaven's sake, and when they find a body or learn something shocking, they are likely to say **#@, etc. "Bloody" and "bugger" do come in handy as they're not as offensive to Americans...

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    2. Deborah, like Nadine's comment earlier, I'd have to say: 'What swearing?' in your books? If it's in character, I really don't pay attention.

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  12. Congratulations to you all. What a field!

    As to swearing, I'm partial to the dropping of the odd F bomb. And I've been known to use it myself, daily. It's important to me that the author writes to the character, the culture, the times. But like gratuitous violence, gratuitous swearing is off-putting. I love the way Louise Penny inserts "tabernac" and "sacrament" in her books, examples of Quebecois sacre, deliciously evil curses.

    Shall we start a pool for the MHC winner? Maybe a buck a square?

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  13. I didn't realize how strict the stipulations were for the MHC until I served on the committee a few years ago. I now have even more regard for the nominees. And I love the fact that the heroine is not a victim, and that she has to solve the issues that confront her without being rescued.

    I've read Hallie's book and Ellen's book and they are both terrific. Now I can't wait to read the other three! Congrats to you all!

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  14. Congratulations, all!

    I just took all the f-bombs out of my manuscript and either replaced them with other words or rewrote the dialog somehow. Why? Because my 90-year-old great aunt wants a signed copy of the book when it comes out and I CAN NOT have my 90-year-old great aunt reading that language! Not that she'd mind (probably), but...just no. =) I did, however, leave the...less severe words (sh!t, d@mn, etc.).

    Hallie, interesting that you define those as "waffle words." It's the most common advice I hear when I discuss alternatives to heavy swearing.

    Mary/Liz

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    1. Lee Child doesn't use them in his books. Consciously. I asked him about it and he said they're just not necessary.

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    2. I took out all the f-bombs in my first book after my dad told me he'd announced my book deal...to his church. They weren't necessary, I realized. If they'd been necessary, I would have left them.

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    3. Lori, I realized the same thing when I went back through the mss.

      Mary/Liz

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  15. Today's topic illustrates to me that if I ever got off my duff and wrote a book, it would definitely NOT qualify for the MHC award.

    The language part would definitely get me disqualified. The reason I liked NYPD Blue so much was how they let the cops sound like cops. You don't get shot and say "Gee Whiz Golly Gosh Darn".

    The "onscreen violence" might be hard to get around because I think I'd have my character (which is a cop if you must know with what I think is a cool sounding name) involved not in only finding the victim but in tracking down the perp too. And that doesn't usually lead to hearts and flowers.

    I'd be safe on the third qualification. I have a hard enough time finding someone to participate in "explicit" sex with, much less trying to write about it in such a manner that it doesn't win one of those literary worst sex scene of the year awards.

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    1. Jay, it's always interesting to read older novels where even the mild epithets you noted are met with by cold derision and scorn. There was a time when "darn" and "gosh" were almost as ill-favored as the more scatological and anatomical four-letter words of today.

      Social discourse has really degraded, and I can't help but wonder if entertainment media doesn't have a lot to do with that.

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  16. I love all of the nominated authors, and I look forward to celebrating with you all at the at the Edgar Awards. You are all winners in my book!

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    1. We'll be cheering you on, Kristopher, when you pick up your RAVEN AWARD!

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    2. Aww, thank you! And huge congrats for the Raven!

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    3. Thank you, Kristopher! Can't wait to see you in April and congrats again on the Raven award!

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  17. Congrats to all of you!

    For the record, I prefer my books with a minimum of four letter words. Like four. And word. ;)

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  18. I've got to get busy here. Ellen's is the only one whose nominated book I've read. In fact Ellen, I emailed you a fan note about that book. Never heard back but perhaps it dropped in a spam folder. I think it ended with "Really???" No spoilers. As for language, blue doesn't bother me. Both the military and law enforcement drop f-bombs with abandon. I think it helps de-stress situations. I used to be a mild-mannered person but my language now could rival a sailor, I do believe. It is a combination of stress and anger and the feeling that I can't do a darn thing about certain situations. Oh well. Reading is a wonderful escape!

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    1. Sometimes naughty words are the right words, right?

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    2. Oh, no, Pat! I answer--or try to--all my fan mail. I apologize for not replying to you, but it may be that I didn't receive your e-mail. I've been having e-mail problems ever since Verizon decided to stop being a service provider and deleting those accounts has screwed up my outgoing servers for some reason so perhaps my reply was never sent. I hope you'll forgive me! And thanks for being a fan.

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    3. Thanks Lori! My father-in-law famously tried to replace swear words with jackrabbit! But there was just no satisfaction in that substitute. And no worries Ellen. The internet has had it in for me the past few months so no forgiveness is needed.

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    4. I just saw a thing going around FB with a list of words to sub in for swears. Some of them are really funny. In fact, I had to go looking for some words like that for my next book, because one of the characters in it wouldn't say sh!t if she had a mouthful (as the saying goes). I had a lot of fun with it.

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    5. Lori, I want to see that list. That sounds fun!

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  19. A round of applause for all the nominees! I didn't realize the criteria for the category, but it's interesting because having read both Hallie and Lori, I didn't realize there were no f-bombs. Had you asked me yesterday if their books used swears, I would have sworn they did. By which I mean, their character development and word choice were clearly spot on. Does this make sense? I'm a little under the weather today, but I promise it's a compliment!

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    1. Here's to your quick recovery!

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    2. I like that you would have said we HAD used the words. Makes me feel a little naughty. Don't tell Mary.

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  20. I found internet! Yay to all of you! Such a joy! Hurray!!!!!!

    And yes, MHC is the queen of us all. I almost fainted when I won for The Other Woman—a story for another day. Say Mo More lost to the Todd’s....sigh. But they are so wonderful.

    Good luck to you all! Whoo hoo! I love that they announce the nominations in advance so for a few months, anything is possible!

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    1. I remember your acceptance speech when you won. Totally classy.

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    2. I remember your speech when you won. So classy!

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  21. Congratulations to you all!!!! That's a high honor, indeed.

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  22. Police officers do paperwork as well as swear but we don't see that on TV or in the movies. I don't mind a little swearing (I do some myself) but would rather not read or hear it. When people watch Gone with the Wind now, I'll bet they have no idea of the impact of "Frankly my dear, I don't give a damn". When everyone says it, there's no bite to it anymore.

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  23. Lori's and Hallie's books were two of my favorites from last year's reading, both so worthy of this award. In reading about the other nominated authors and their books, I can say that I'm glad I don't have to make the decision on who receives the award. Ellen, Carol, and Nadine, I have put your books on my TBR list. I wish you each could win.

    Hallie, have you seen my current profile pic on FB? It's of me as a little girl with my Littlest Angel doll, whose eye has gone wonky. People keep commenting on how creepy she is, but to me she was a sweet, precious doll. Poor thing, she's the one I cut her hair after I got her on Christmas Day. It's the only time I ever attempted to alter a doll's appearance. I don't remember what made her eye go wonky, but I think it just got stuck from time to time.

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    1. Kathy, going to look at it now...

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    2. Thanks, Kathy! We all do get to win---the nomination is the real prize. It comes with new friends.

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    3. Thank you, Kathy! And I 100% agree with Lori's comment. So true :)

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  24. I don't find it realistic to have all your characters NEVER swear (particularly if they're of a certain age group), but I do agree with using them judiciously. I'm going over my MS now, weighing which ones need to stay and which could easily be swapped out. There's at least one F-bomb I refuse to take out, but that's because my MC uses that word in a passive-aggressive move to antagonize someone. There's a reason for it.

    More than the swearing, the requirement I don't care for is the stipulation that the MC has to be a "nice" young woman. What does that even mean? And why? The need for women (IRL and in fiction) to be "nice" and "likeable" is, to put it mildly, really freakin' annoying.

    To end on a happier note, I loved Lori and Nadine's books, and picked up Hallie's at Bcon last year but haven't had a chance to read it yet. I should probably remedy that soon. Good luck, everyone!

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    1. Thank you so much, Mia! And I never mind the swearing if there is a reason for it.

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    2. What Mia said about swearing and "nice."
      As the mother of two girls, I agree 100 percent.

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  25. I think the "nice" part might be fungible, since all three of my novels have been nominated for this award. Some of my gals have not been "nice." Thanks, Mia!

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  26. great list. Thank you. I think I met many of you at Malice Domestic 2016 and Bouchercon 2017.

    Congratulations to everyone!

    Diana

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