I’m so thrilled and delighted to share that my middle grade mystery, Andi Unexpected, has been nominated for an Agatha Award for Best Children’s/YA Novel. The Agathas are awards that honor the best in traditional mystery. It’s a great honor! My very first novel, Maid of Murder, was nominated for Best First Novel in 2010. That event changed the course of my writing career, so I know how monumental being nominated is. I’m so grateful for the Malice Domestic Convention that hosts the awards. I’m also thankful for my wonderful publisher Zonderkidz, my agent Nicole Resciniti, and my editor Kim Childress. The winners will be announced on May 3, 2014 during the Malice Domestic Convention.
Here’s the full list of nominees:
Best Historical Novel
Heirs and Graces by Rhys Bowen (Berkley)
Death in the Time of Ice by Kaye George (Untreed Reads Publishing)
A Friendly Game of Murder by JJ Murphy (Signet)
Murder in Chelsea by Victoria Thompson (Berkley Prime Crime)
A Question of Honor by Charles Todd (William Morrow)
Best Children’s/YA Nominations
The Testing by Joelle Charbonneau (HMH Books for Young Readers)
Traitor in the Shipyard: A Caroline Mystery by Kathleen Ernst (American Girl Mysteries)
Andi Unexpected by Amanda Flower (Zonderkidz)
Escape from Mr. Lemoncello’s Library by Chris Grabenstein (Random House Books)
Code Busters Club: Mystery of the Pirate’s Treasure by Penny Warner (Edgmont USA)
Best Contemporary Novel
Through the Evil Days by Julia Spencer-Fleming (Minotaur Books)
Pagan Spring by G.M. Malliet (Minotaur Books)
How the Light Gets In by Louise Penny (Minotaur Books)
Clammed Up by Barbara Ross (Kensington Books)
The Wrong Girl by Hank Phillippi Ryan (Forge Books)
Georgette Heyer by Jennifer Kloester (Source Books Inc.)
Mastermind: How to Think Like Sherlock Holmes by Maria Konnikova (Viking Penguin)
Not Everyone’s Cup of Tea: An Interesting & Entertaining History of Malice Domestic’s First 25 Years by Verena Rose and Rita Owen (editors) (Wildside Press)
The Hour of Peril: The Secret Plot to Murder Lincoln Before the Civil War by Daniel Stashower (Minotaur Books)
Best First Novel
Death Al Dente by Leslie Budewitz (Berkley Prime Crime)
You Cannoli Die Once by Shelley Costa (Pocket Books)
Board Stiff by Kendel Lynn (Henery Press)
Kneading to Die by Liz Mugavero (Kensington)
Front Page Fatality by LynDee Walker (Henery Press)
Best Short Story
“Evil Little Girl” in Don’t Get Mad, Get Even by Barb Goffman (Wildside Press)
“Nightmare” in Don’t Get Mad, Get Even by Barb Goffman (Wildside Press)
“The Hindi Houdini” in Fish Nets by Gigi Pandian (Wildside Press)
“Bread Baby” in Best New England Crime Stories 2014: Stone Cold by Barbara Ross (Level Best Books)
“The Care and Feeding of House Plants” by Art Taylor (Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine)
There will be three winners. Winners can choose one novel from the following:
- Murder in a Basket
- Andi Unexpected
- A Plain Death
- A Plain Scandal
- A Plain Disappearance
- Murder, Plain and Simple
To Enter CLICK HERE to visit the GIVEAWAY page on my website.
Giveaway is limited to U.S. and Canadian residents only.
There’s no New Year’s Resolutions from me this year. Typically, I make a list of them because I love making lists, and it consists of eat right, write more, travel farther, etc. This year, I’m not going to focus on accomplishments or tasks, which is new for me because I am a very driven person. Instead, I’m going to focus on five lessons of being that my mother taught me. She had a wonderful ability to live in the moment and find contentment where she was even in the most horrible of circumstances. I credit this to her strong will but more so to her deep faith in God, a faith I hadn’t realized was exceptional until it was gone from my everyday life.
My Mother’s Lessons…
1) When choosing between justice and mercy. Err on the side of MERCY.
2) FORGIVE and ask to be forgiven.
3) Doubt in belief is not wrong. FAITHFULNESS amidst doubt leads to hope and ends in salvation.
4) LOVE, but don’t love anyone or anything more than God.
5) Focus on HOPE, hope in Christ and hope in a final reunion.
I hope and pray you have a blessed and happy New Year filled with peace, love, faith, and hope. God Bless.
I think every family has those years that changed everything for good or bad. For my family, 1987 and 2009 are infamous, and 2013 has just been added to the list. A list where you say “1987,” and everyone sighs and says, “yes, that was a bad year.”
In my writing, 2013 was an unimaginable year. I had five books release: four Amish mysteries, two written under my own name and two written under the name Isabella Alan, and my first children’s mystery Andi Unexpected. In a year, I went from an author of three books to eight. I know how unusual that is and how blessed I am.
At the same time, one of my bigger writing contracts fell apart, which was an unexpected disappointment.
Above all the writing ups and downs I had this year, the loss of my mother was the most earth-shattering event.
She was a Presbyterian minister: the first woman to graduate from her theological seminary with a master of divinity, the first woman to be ordained her in presbytery. She was my best friend and the person I was closest to in the entire world. She was the person in my life who had the closest relationship to God. He chose her to bring people to Christ, and she did with a gentle hand of love and compassion and little fanfare.
She was the one at my side when doubt ruled my thoughts. Doubt in my ability, in others, in my writing, and in God. She promised it would be all right, like every loving mother promises her child. Now, I have to believe on my own because the reassurance I always counted on is gone. Because of that, I am different, fundamentally changed, broken but with a stronger faith in God than I have ever known.
A loss so great puts life’s little disappointments in perspective, even that broken contract. There will be other book contracts. There will be other stories to tell. There will other challenges to navigate. There will be pain, joy, and a great reunion when I can tell both her and my father, who passed away before her, how my story ended and how I chose to believe because they believed for me until I was able to carry the burden on my own.
Here are the top ten lessons I learned on the trip.
1) I’ve traveled to over 20 countries now, and Spaniards are some of the nicest people I have met.
2) You can wash your hair with hand soap in a dire emergency… don’t ask…
3) The Eiffel Tower and Louvre lived up to the hype.
4) If I were to ever live abroad, Toledo, Spain would be at the top of my list.
5) 4 years of high school Spanish paid off.
6) Portugal’s beaches are beautiful.
7) The windmills of Don Quijote fame really are giant.
8) Picasso tried many different styles of painting before he found his own.
9) Tapas are delicious. I could eat eggplant with honey and goat cheese all day. Sounds weird, I know.
10) The Paris subway is nuts.
Enjoy Dead Fred’s photo journal!
An orphan starting a new life.
A hidden trunk.
And a forgotten namesake. . .
I’m so thrilled Andi Unexpected is now available to readers through bookstores, online, and libraries! For ereaders, the Kindle edition is currently selling for $3.49!
Educators can find classroom helps for the novel through my website’s “For Teachers/Librarians” Page. There I share resources about the Great Depression in the United States and Ohio. (Please note the Library of Congress links are currently down because of federal government shutdown.)
I couldn’t be happier with the activity Zonderkidz created to supplement the mystery. Since the mystery is a study of one family’s history, the activity is a family tree that children (and adults) can do.
Check it out at the links below!
Family Tree Activity
(printout activity to share with your students)
Zonderkidz was generous enough to give me a good supply of this family trees already printed. Teachers and Librarians, who would like some copies for their students, can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org to request some copies while supplies last. All I need is the number of copies and the school’s or library’s address. Please include FAMILY TREE in the subject line of the email.