Thursday, February 2, 2017

It's Award Season! a guest post from Lynn Chandler Willis

 Grace Koshida is the winner of Tracee de Hahn's Swiss Vendetta! Grace, please contact Tracee at tldehahn at Yahoo.

In addition, we're offering one lucky commentor a FREE copy of Tell Me No Lies by today's guest, Lynn Chandler Willis!

JULIA SPENCER-FLEMING: Lynn Chandler Willis knows a bit about awards. Her novel, Shamus-Award finalist, Wink of an Eye, won the St. Martin's Press/PWA Best First P.I. Novel, making her the first woman in a decade to win the national contest.And we all know winning a St. Martin's Press contest is a guarantee of (ahem) excellence.

Lynn decided to move her setting from Wink, Texas to her home state of North Carolina - and use her own history as a small-town newspaper owner - for the debut of her new series, TELL ME NO LIES.

Ava Logan, single mother and small business owner, lives deep in the heart of the Appalachian Mountains, where poverty and pride reign. As publisher of the town newspaper, she’s busy balancing election season stories and a rash of ginseng thieves. And then the story gets personal. After her friend is murdered, Ava digs for the truth all the while juggling her two teenage children, her friend’s orphaned toddler, and her own muddied past. Faced with threats against those closest to her, Ava must find the killer before she, or someone she loves, ends up dead.
I could quote you the good reviews TELL ME NO LIES got from Kirkus, Publishers' Weekly, and Margaret Maron, but my favorite is a Goodreads reviewer: "Clever mystery with several viable suspects. Romance, children and a dog add to its charm." 

Forget hype and plaudits - that gets right down to what REALLY makes a book we want to read!

The Golden Globes were handed out a few weeks ago. I didn't watch—I happily cut the cable when the monthly bill became my single largest utility bill and my little antenna doesn't pick up our local NBC affiliate. Although I didn't watch, I read all about the awards on line and the overwhelming thought from many was “I haven't seen any of these movies!” And there lies my problem.

What constitutes Best Movie in our minds doesn't always jive with the voting board's opinion. Why? Because we're commoners. If we were to appear in an episode of Downton Abbey, we'd be the downstairs help while 'the board' rambles around upstairs oblivious to the common folks likes and dislikes.

By the time this post runs, the Academy Awards nominations will have been announced and chances are, you may not have seen any of those movies either. That's not to say the movies aren't good or even award worthy. They're just not the popular choice for weekend date night with the commoner.

Look at some of the titles of box office record breakers: Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Jurassic World, Marvel's The you see any Best Movie nominees in there? Yeah, me neither.

So my problem with the elite of the elite award shows is I feel like I'm being talked down to because I enjoyed Marvel's The Avengers. It's snobbery. Pure and simple. I will proudly stand up for all those high-grossing, special effects laden, escapism movies. It's like...shhh....we must whisper this part...writing or reading genre fiction.

Sure, our traditional and cozy mysteries, our thrillers and romantic suspense, our private eyes and amateur sleuths may never bring home a Pulitzer but they can sure collect an Anthony, an Edgar, an Agatha or a Shamus. And those awards, as a commoner, are awards I can relate to.

My grandson Casey isn't so sure about his twin sister Ireland's singing abilities
Several years ago I got caught up in the hype of a certain movie. It was the “must see” movie of the decade. It was a remake of a remake of a remake, based on a breath-taking classic novel considered to be one of the best of all time, a movie based on the record-shattering box office musical play. My daughter and I went and sat in the packed theater watching Hugh Jackman suffer, and sing. My daughter leans over and whispers to me, “Wolverine's singing.”

And that started the giggles. And we couldn't stop. While the entire theater (minus the two of us) wept and jumped to their feet in a standing ovation shouting BRAVO! BRAVO! my daughter and I giggled. The more we tried to suppress it, the worse it became until we couldn't catch our breath while our shoulders shook with silent laughter.

It wasn't the movie, or Hugh Jackman—or Russell Crowe!—singing. It was the pretentiousness of it all that got to us. Give me an Agatha or an Edgar or an Anthony or a Shamus award any day.

Have you ever seen a “must see” movie, or read a “must-read” book you just didn't get? 

Discover more about Lynn Chandler Willis and TELL ME NO LIES at her site. Discuss books on Goodreads, friend her on Facebook, or follow her on Twitter as @LynnCWillis


  1. Well, I’m definitely checking out “Tell Me No Lies” --- mystery, romance, children, and a dog . . . sounds perfect to me.
    As for the rest, I’ve hardly ever seen the films that win all the awards or the “must-see” film of the moment. And when it comes to the “must-read” books, “The Girl on the Train” didn’t live up to all the hype for me . . . .

  2. Oh, the "must see" or "must read." Says who? I'm with you, there are times I just don't see the fuss.

    I stayed away from that movie because I don't think I could have stopped giggling either.

    I'm sure you can tell I have no problem with the summer blockbuster-type movie either, nor genre fiction. Congrats, the book sounds fabulous!

  3. Lynn, the book sounds so enticing and your granchildren (twins!) are adorable. I didn't see the movie in question and I suppose that's a good thing LOL. I have to agree with Joan about GIRL ON A TRAIN. It did have incredible suspense, but the characters were so unlikeable!

    In Key West we have a wonderful independent theater so going to the movies is easy. We've seen a number of the nominated titles, but so far my fave is MANCHESTER BY THE SEA. Gritty and sad, but the characters are stunning, as is the setting and the story.

  4. Many books and movies! Sometimes I wonder what gives, until I remember that the movie business is dominated by thirty-something males. Explains a lot, doesn't it?

    Books like Junot Diaz's Brief and Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao getting Pulitzer prizes bother me a lot. As far as I'm concerned the best part of that book was the title.

  5. I agree, and now you have me laughing too! I can just picture that scene… Which I did not see either!

    Did you see that Saturday night live skit where it or traded a guy being arrested because he did not like La La Land? It was pretty funny…

  6. Welcome, Lynn -

    I've wanted to see La La Land since I saw it reviewed during Sundance. And I like both commercial favorites (loved the new Ghostbusters; the new Star Wars not so much) as well as award nominees. I did not get (okay, old I know) Umbrellas of Cherbourg. These days I have less patience for movies that are depressing, preachy, violent.

    I loved most of the movies that have won Oscars for best picture since 2000... including A Beautiful Mind, Chicago, Lord of the Rings, Million Dollar Baby, Crash, Slumdog Millionaire, The King's Speech, The Artist, Spotlight... and they strike me as a particularly varied selection not at all that hoity-toity.

    (And hey, compared to Downton Abbey we're all commoners.)

    I have noticed that when there are raves about how great something is, it raises expectations and there's a backlash... because nothing can seem THAT good to everyone.

  7. Remember Dances With Wolves? That was my first WTF movie.

    And then...Titanic. Gag. It might have been okay if they'd spent a buck or two on a decent script, but story line was laughable. And not in a good way.

    By the way, I had to Google Hugh and Russell to find out what movie they were both in. Dodged that one.

  8. I tend to ignore most highfalutin' movie reviews and read the summary instead--like Hallie, I don't go in for violent, preachy, depressing movies, no matter how great the acting, etc. The same for books--I don't like really dark, violent stories. There are enough serial killers in the headlines--I don't want to read about them and I especially don't want to be let inside their minds.

    This new series, Lynn, sounds right up my alley--adding to my list! And not least because your adorable grandson Casey? He's a dead ringer for one of my nephews at that age!

  9. I am all about the big dumb commercial films - when Ross and i pop for $22 plus soda and candy, we want enjoyable escapism. There are certainly exceptions - we want to see HIDDEN FIGURES, and I'll see anything by Wes Anderson as soon as it comes out, but generally, I save serious (aka sad and painful) films for dvd or Netflix. For instance, MANCHESTER BY THE SEA sounds as it it's very well-written and well acted, but I don't want to spend my Saturday afternoon getting depressed!

    Bring on the romance, children and dogs, I say!

  10. I am so with you on awards shows. I don't watch as many movies these days as I used to, but I watch a ton of TV. And it is so rare that anything I like even gets nominated, much less wins. And they are some great shows, but they are genre shows (more fantasy and superhero than mystery for TV). I don't watch the awards shows as a result. I have better things to do with my three to four hours than watch people I don't know win for things I don't care about. Better things like watch the shows I do enjoy and read books I enjoy.

  11. This post warms my heart! Mostly, because I am a genre girl (hey, Shakespeare wrote for the masses!) but also because there are just so many award shows. It's like movie people have to give out participation trophies or something. Seriously, off the top of my head you have SAG, Oscar, People's Choice, Emmy, MTV awards, BAFTA, Critic's Choice, Teen's Choice, Kid's Choice, American Film Inst, etc. Need I go on? Honestly, they aren't curing cancer do they deserve this many awards? Okay, end of rant. And, frankly, I would much rather watch any Avenger movie than a movie that makes me cry. I can pretty much guarantee if it looks like I"m going to need a tissue, I am not going to watch it. Ever. Most hyped movie I didn't get - Titanic - there was totally room for him on that blasted door and it made me cry. Dang it.

    TELL ME NO LIES had me at mystery, romance, and a dog! Looking forward to reading it!

  12. I'm very much a genre person. I like comedies and mysteries and rom-com. I like genre in my books too. Too much of the "must read/see" is someone else's idea of important or impressive. Great. But what do I care about what some reviewer thinks is a ground-breaking work of sublime sophistication? Why should his opinion matter? Because some media conglomerate pays him to share his opinion? Just because someone gets paid to do a job doesn't meant they're good at it. I've never seen someone conclusively prove that dollars in always equals quality out.

    Of course, I'm the rebellious punk who hates It's a Wonderful Life so maybe you don't want to listen to me either. ;)

  13. Heh, Aimee Hix - I don't really like It's a Wonderful Life either. We can be rebellious punks together.

  14. Why Wink, Texas? It's near Notrees and Muleshoe if I remember right. But I have to say North Carolina would definitely be prettier than the Panhandle. I had a buddy years ago who would go with me to the movies. We saw a lot of good ones and some not so much. Remember The Piano? We were so unimpressed. There wasn't a keeper in that cast of characters. Then there was the Albert Brooks' movie Lost in America that was supposed to be soooo funny. Humph. I'm with you Julia. I am not going to shell out to watch a depressing movie that will make me cry. I wait until it is on tv and sob in private. Like War Horse and A Testament of Youth.

  15. Remember the Seinfeld episode where Jerry was trying to sit through Schindler's List?

  16. Lynn, your twin grandchildren are adorable! And when Ireland grows up, I'll watch her sing:-)

    I've admitted before to being a blockbuster junkie. I love the Marvel movies, and Mission Impossible, and Bourne, and Star Wars, and Star Trek... And as we like to go to a very posh theater with reclining seats and food and drinks (as in cocktails) it's an expensive proposition so we don't do it very often. When we do, we want to see the ones that really need to be seen on the big screen. ACTION!

    Not that we won't watch any of the award nominees, but we'll see them at home from the comfort of our living room sofa, with bathroom breaks...

  17. Lynn, your new series sounds like a winner, whether it gets awards or not. Character and setting are very appealing to me.

    Award shows for movies and television. There do seem to be so many these days, and I usually just watch parts of The Golden Globes and The Oscars. I would like to get back into going to see movies at the theater, and if our local theater had those cushy seats like some of you enjoy (isn't it you, Debs, who has a wonderful theater near you?), I probably would. I guess I'm getting old because I got tired of inconsiderate people in the theaters, which resulted in me watching more movies on Netflix.

    The hype book that stands out for me is The Goldfinch. I know that many of you loved it, and I actually liked a lot of it, but it was 200 pages longer than it should have been. Don't misunderstand. I like lengthy books, just not when they descend into superfluousness.

  18. I had no intention of seeing Les Miserables, not because people were saying it was a must-see, but because I'd seen some bad reviews and was not a big musical fan. But my 13yo daughter insisted that she wanted to see this film, so after she'd asked (about three times), I finally took her, fully expecting to fall asleep. Anyway, the movie amazed me, and it's no understatement to say it turned my life upside down. So ... everybody has their own experience, I guess, is the lesson to me. Maybe the fact that I'd never seen any Wolverine movies before made a difference. :)

  19. Joan Emerson - I LOVED The Girl On The Train but I actually fell in love with it BEFORE all the hype. But I adore unreliable narrators :)

  20. Mary Sutton - "I stayed away from that movie because I don't think I could have stopped giggling either." I WANTED so much to like it and be swept up in the emotion of it. I was swept up alright, like Mary Richards in the Chuckles the Clown episode!

  21. Lucy - thank you! Grandaughter Ireland was actually belting out "Let It Go" from Frozen at the top of her lungs. Casey's more of a Spiderman kind a guy ;)

  22. Karen in Ohio - it DOES make one wonder, doesn't it?

  23. Hank - did not see SNL but will look up the clip!

  24. Hallie - A friend and I used to try and see each of the Best Picture nominees before the awards but then when they went to 10 titles, it got too expensive. I loved Crash. It truly WAS a breath-taker.

  25. Susan D. - Although he's talented in any role, Hugh will ALWAYS be Wolverine ;)

  26. FChurch - oh my gosh, grandson Casey - he's a natural in front of the camera. He will stop and wait for the shutter click. I keep telling my daughter she needs to make some money of that kid LOL. Check out my facebook page for more shots of him :)

  27. Be back in a little bit to chat some more!

  28. I tend to watch a lot of old movies so rarely see anything that's up for an award. I mostly watch TV anyway and will pick Sherlock or Call the Midwife over a film. I guess I prefer the potential for more in-depth characterization in a mini-series and find myself pretty disappointed with many current movies. That said, my favorite films tend to be campy like Whatever Happened to Baby Jane or totally dorky like A Marx Brothers feature.

  29. I agree with so many comments, including high-fiving Mary Sutton on "It's a Wonderful Life". I don't like to dis much on books but both the book and then the movie of "Gone Girl" left me cold. The characters were sooo unlikable, ick! And yes, I get disappointed often after "rave" reviews of any type of art, and wonder WTF?

  30. I feel the same way about the movies, Julia. I want to be entertained and enlightened but not depressed. I am looking forward to seeing Hidden Figures and La La Land but not MANCHESTER BY THE SEA. However, eventually I know I'm going to cave in and go to the latter because I live in MANCHESTER BY THE SEA and am curious about how my town looks on the big screen. Also, I'm tired of my family and friends asking If I've seen it yet. Peer pressure!

  31. Hi, Lynn--I belong to a book club. The first year I joined we seemed to read an "acclaimed" literary book every month. The writing was often beautiful, but the plots and characters were often depressing. What's more the structure was often "experimental" and hard to follow. So, we agreed to change our selection criteria, to include the tastes of the "commoners" in our book club. We now nominate books in set categories that will be featured in given months. Our categories include romance, mystery/thriller, humor, historical, etc. I'm enjoying our book club a lot more.