Thanks for asking me over, Mary Ann!
I’m excited to report that I have just a week to go until I hear some important news. My first completed murder mystery, Speaking of Murder is a finalist in a contest. The book, set in small-town Massachusetts, features Quaker Linguistics Professor Lauren Rousseau. Listening to academic blackmail and small-town intrigues, Lauren uses her ear for accents and facility with languages to track down not only her star student's killer but also crimes committed by her department chairwoman. Lauren’s sometime-boyfriend, Zach, is a video forensics expert who lends his expertise to her efforts. It is as yet unpublished, but is out with three small presses right now on its long journey through previous agent and press rejections toward publication.
I submitted Speaking of Murder to the Linda Howard Award for Excellence contest last October. The book wasn't under contract at the time and hadn't been published, so it was eligible for this competition run by the Birmingham, Alabama chapter of Romance Writers of America (RWA). I selected the category of "Suspense: Romance-based novels that include an element of mystery or suspense." There is certainly romance, mystery, AND suspense in the book.
I didn't think much about it since then, not expecting that I would have a chance. I'm not even a member of the organization, and I don't write in a southern style. Imagine my surprise when I received the email that I am a finalist, one of only five! The organizers said that category was flooded with entrants.
The final judges are an editor at a press and a literary agent from an agency. The winners will be announced at the RWA Gulf Coast chapter's Silken Sands Conference, held in sunny Pensacola, Florida on March 17. I reluctantly decided not to spend the nearly $1000 it would cost me to fly and stay there, even though I’m sure I’ll regret that decision if I win. Keep your fingers crossed and your good-luck mojo pointed my way. If I win, maybe it will help get the book published, finally.
And if it doesn’t, well, I’m headed for becoming one of the growing number of independently published authors. I’ll sign up for Amazon’s CreateSpace and get it out there on my own.
The first book in my Local Foods Mystery series, A Tine to Live, a Tine to Die, featuring organic farmer Cam Flaherty, will be published by Kensington Publishing in Spring 2013. My short stories have appeared in Thin Ice and Riptide by Level Best Books, the Larcom Review, and the North Shore Weekly, with one forthcoming in the Fish Nets anthology and another in the Burned Bridges anthology. I have also published in local newspapers and in academic Linguistics journals.
I am active in several mystery-writers' groups that provide valuable support and information, particularly Sisters in Crime and the New England chapter. I currently reside in Ipswich, Massachusetts, but am originally a 4th-generation Californian. I have two grown sons, and live in an antique house with my beau and our four cats. For my day job I write software documentation.
Look for me as Edith M. Maxwell on Facebook (and click the Like button!) and @edithmaxwell on Twitter. I blog weekly at Speaking of Mystery.
Speaking of Murder only touches on the possibilities of a linguist as an amateur sleuth. We're looking forward to seeing how else Lauren might use her skills to solve crimes in the future.
How about you? Have you won a contest? Made the first cut? Found your career boosted by a nomination? I know there are a couple of the regular bloggers here who have!