Andi Unstoppable Wins the Agatha


photo credit: Sisters in Crime

Back in January, I received a phone call from the Washington D.C. area while I was driving. I remember exactly where I was when the call came in. I was on State Route 91 in Summit County, Ohio, driving by my favorite park where I hike as often as I can. It was oddly warm day, like much of the winter had been, and the sun was shining. As soon as I saw where the call orginated I knew what it was. I knew it was a member of the Malice Domestic board and I knew I had just been nominated for an Agatha Award. I answered and the board member told that Andi Unstoppable the third mystery in the Andi Boggs series was nominated for the Agatha for Best Children’s/ YA Novel. This wasn’t my first call like this. It was fourth. I had been nominated three times before. This call wasn’t any less thrilling than it had been the first time. I squealed and thanked the board member repeatedly just as I had when my first novel, Maid of Murder, had been up for best first five years before. To be nominated, not once but four times, was a greater gift than I could ever imagine, a bigger dream than I could have conjured.

And then at the Agatha Awards banquet on April 30th, Andi Unstoppable won, and if it wasn’t for the Agatha teapot, which is the trophy for the award, sitting on my mantle at this moment, I still would have trouble believing it. When my name was called as the winner, I stood on shaky legs, and I continued to shake the entire walk to the stage, up the stairs to the platform, and as  stood at the microphone to deliver a speech I had written on a scratch piece of paper just a couple of hours before but never expected to recite.

Although not verbatim because I did ad lib some of it, here is my acceptance speech.

This is such and enormous honor. I’m so grateful to the Malice community and the readers. I wrote the Andi series because at a young age I was reading Sue Grafton, Patricia Cornwell, and Marcia Muller and I saw that there was a gap I could fill. I wrote it because it was a character that wouldn’t let me go. I never expected it to be published. I have my agent Nicole Resciniti–who is going to freak out when she hears that I won– and everyone at Zonderkidz and HarperCollins Chrisitian Publishing to thank for making that possible.

I also have to thank my family and friends, especially my brother Andy and my sister-in-law Nicole, who came all the way from Ohio to be with me tonight. And to my niece and nephew, my great joys; we call each other super besties. They support and encourage me and feed me when I am on deadline.

However, my biggest encouragers were my parents, and I accept this award in their memory. When I was a little girl and told them I wanted to be a mystery author when I grew up, they never said that was impractical, they said what can we do, how can we help and I am so very grateful. Thank you.

Like Andi Boggs, who is an orphan in the series, my parents are gone. Although, I was not twelve when they died but a young adult, the loss of them was no less great. There was much that they didn’t see, that they won’t see like this moment when I won the Agatha. That is heartbreaking, but it makes moments of pure happiness like winning the Agatha more meaningful too. To have suffered great loss makes me appreciate great joy that much more; to know deepest pain allows me to recognize greatest happiness. It has made me a better writer, a better Christian, a better person. I learn something new about myself and the world from every novel I write. Like Andi in the series I have made a conscience choice to hold on joy and seek out new adventures and challenges. God has taught me through writing  the Andi series that pure joy with no baggage to hold it here on earth is still possible. I’m so very grateful for that lesson, and so very grateful that He’s blessed me beyond measure. All I can do to show my thanks is the work I have been assigned for my time here on earth: to write books that glorify Him and bring joy to others.

Enjoy these photos from the awards and convention.

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India Got Paperback! New edition of Maid of Murder

It’s been a long time coming, but I can finally share with you the cover of the mass market paperback edition of MAID OF MURDER.  This new edition will be published by Harlequin in July 2014, just a few weeks from now and is available to purchase through Harlequin’s website. Click here to see the pricing.

I can’t tell you how exciting this is for me. MAID OF MURDER will always be the book of my heart. It’s my first baby, the one that started my career, the one nominated for the Agatha, and the one that made my dreams come true. I’m so happy that it will now have a chance to reach more readers in paperback form. Huge thanks goes to my super star agent Nicole for making this happen.


Now the cover…

maid of murder pbHERE LIES THE BRIDE . . .
An upscale Fourth-of-July wedding. A beyond-horrible bridesmaid’s dress. A snobbish mother-of-the-bride from hell…. If the struggling college librarian India Hayes didn’t owe ex-friend Olivia Blocken a big favor, she’d bail before the champagne is chilled. Especially since India’s brother, Mark, is still piecing his life together after Olivia’s callous rejection, and India’s family won’t forgive the not-so-beautiful bride. Now Olivia is dead in a campus fountain—and police find incriminating evidence in Mark’s possession. And even as India tries to keep her parents’ street-theater protests from sending the investigation into a tailspin, she must dig deep to uncover Olivia’s secrets. But trapping a murderer with a lot to lose won’t be a piece of eight-tiered, 24-karat-gold-frosted, crystal-decorated spun-sugar cake….


It’s so different than India’s first cover, but I do love it! I like to think India is a bridesmaid in the middle with the skull bouquet. 😉



Dead Fred Goes to Romance Writers of America 2013

P1030732Dead Fred and I traveled to Atlanta, GA last week for the Romance Writers of America National Conference. We have a wonderful time! It was great getting to meet agency siblings I’ve known for years online in person, and I definitely made some new friends. I was able convince some of them to leave the conference for a bit to hit the Atlanta attractions, including the Georgia Aquarium and the World of Coca-Cola. The most exciting moments were when Marisa Cleveland saved me from the evil skybridge (FYI, it’s closed on weekends… you can get in but you can’t get out) and when Amy Clipston and I visited the World of Coca-Cola, bonding over our love of Diet Coke. I’m looking forward to seeing my writer friends again at ACFW in September! Don’t worry, Dead Fred will be there too!

For everyone who participated in Cupcakes, Cocktails, and Critiques, thank you! The cupcake party was a hit!

Enjoy Dead Fred’s photo journal!

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Dead Fred Goes to ALA 2013

Last weekend, Dead Fred and I traveled to Chicago, IL. Zonderkidz sent me to sign advance copies of  Andi Unexpected at the the American Library Association Annual Conference. I was only there for twenty-four hours, but in that time, I got to hang out with Zonderkidz team, including my awesome editor and YA authors Carey Corp and Lorie Langdon. Carey and Lorie’s debut YA novel Doon releases in August. They are both so sweet and funny! You should check out their book!

The signing itself was amazing, and I signed 200 ARCs in 45 minutes, a personal record. 😉

Enjoy Dead Fred’s photo journal!

Cupcakes, Cocktails, and Critiques: The Submissions

Thank you to all the writers who sent us a blurb for Cupcakes, Cocktails, and Critiques. We are so pleased with the number of submissions!

Select Seymour Agency Authors will be critiquing the blurb, providing their critiques in the comments to this post between June 1 and June 15. Find out who they are here  and come back often to see what they have to say. At the same time, the Seymour Agency Agents will be reviewing the blurbs.

Everyone who attends RWA National 2013 and enters this contest will be invited to the Cupcakes, Cocktail & Critiques Party during the conference at the hotel’s bar. This party is not a pitch session but a celebration and opportunity to network with agency authors and agents. Cupcakes will be provided!logo2

Also during this time, the Seymour Agency agents and authors will be reviewing the blurbs and vote for their favorites. Brand new agent Marisa Cleveland will treat the author Agent Mary Sue chooses, the author Agent Nicole chooses, and the author with the most votes from our authors to a cocktail at the agency party at RWA!

The submissions are in order of the author’s last name. The Title of the work is given if a title was provided and the genre is that provided by the author or my best guess from the blurb. If authors would like a title added or the genre edited, they are welcome to email me. Blurbs and pitches cannot be changed at this point and were copied and pasted from the email submissions directly into this post.



Entry #1

Author: Kris Asselin


Genre: YA Contemporary

One sentence pitch: The hot new Brit, her best frenemy, or her crush Scott who won’t deny it? Someone torched the eighth green bent on destroying Kate and her family’s business.

100 word blurb: When vandals burn one of the greens at the family golf course and the cops find the “smoking blowtorch” in her crush’s car, Kate’s world goes up in flames. First Scott withdraws from her and then she finds out the now-damaged course might lose the opportunity to host a prestigious tournament. She suspects her friends, stakes out the bad guy, and gets her hands dirty to prove Scott’s innocence. But it still might not be enough if she can’t play to win.


Entry #2

Author: Brooks Benjamin


Genre: MG Fantasy

One sentence pitch: Thirteen-year-old Asher must cross over into the world behind his school’s boiler room to rescue his dad from an army of Troglins, Grimhounds, and 10,000 miles of death.

100 word blurb: Asher would do anything to see his dad again. And when a sword-wielding wall of pecs named Gareth saves him from a bloodthirsty Grimhound, the moppy-haired seventh grader gets his chance.

Asher discovers his dad’s not really dead. He’s being held prisoner by Lord Balor – a madman who’s stowed away in Eden Worn, the world hidden behind the middle school’s boiler room.
Along with Gareth, two loony enchanters, his best friend and the girl of his dreams, Asher launches a truly epic rescue mission. If he fails, he can kiss seeing his dad – and his own world – goodbye.


Entry #3

Author: Susan Bradley

Genre: YA mystery

One sentence pitch: Math whiz Autumn is part of a high school forensic dream team helping the local police investigate a series of kidnappings that are part of an online survivor game.

100 word blurb: Last year, sixteen year old, Autumn, solved her sister’s murder. This year, she is part of a high school forensic dream team who assists the police when teens get kidnapped. When it’s discovered the kidnappings are part of a secret online survivor game, the police and team focus on the game maker-the man behind the game. The focus of the investigation shifts when Autumn is singled out and becomes the target of the Game Maker’s sick game.  Through encrypted messages hidden in steganographs, Autumn must discover who the last kidnapping victim is, if she’s to save him in time.


Entry #4

Author: Julia Broadbooks

Genre: Romance

One sentence pitch: A widowed socialite needs the help of soldier-turned-mechanic to hide a secret worth killing for.

100 word blurb: Enlisting in the army offered Cal a way out of his impoverished, dead end childhood, but he chucks it all to return home when the lives of the only people who’ve ever loved him are put in danger. Widowed socialite Vivian will protect her family at all costs…and keep the secret her husband was murdered for. Until Cal’s investigation leads him to Viv’s door. Will they be able to work together to shield their loved ones? Or will the mysteries of Viv’s past tear them apart before Cal can teach her to believe in love one last time?


Entry #5

Author: Jim Cangany

Genre: Romance

One sentence pitch: Can a disgraced coach and a devastated advisor put aside their differences to find success, and love, on the hardwood?

100 word blurb: After getting caught up in a grade fixing scandal, men’s college basketball coach Greg Miller is thrown a lifeline when old friend Sharon Leonard offers him a spot on her staff coaching the Irving University Lady Crusaders. Heartbroken Academic Advisor Ciara Monaghan wants nothing more than to protect Irving’s reputation, and repair her own, by seeing to it that Greg’s stay at Irving is short. The last thing either of them wants is the attraction they can’t deny. Can a struggling student bring them together to see how wonderful a second chance at life, and love, can be?



Entry #6

Author: JG Faherty


Genre: Urban Fantasy

One sentence pitch: THE CURE is a supernatural thriller in which a young woman must let loose the darkness inside her in order to save herself and the man she loves from enemies who want to use her as the ultimate murder weapon.

100 word blurb: Leah DeGarmo has the ability to Cure with a touch. For years she’s lived a lonely life, hiding her powers and using them only to Cure animals in her veterinarian practice. Now the wrong people have found out and they’ll do anything to gain her powers for their own deadly purposes. When they murder the man she’s finally fallen in love with, Leah learns she also has the power to Kill. Transformed into a demon of retribution, Leah resurrects her lover and sets out to destroy her enemies. But does she control this new power, or does it control her?


Entry #7

Author: Piper Huguley


Genre: Historical

One sentence pitch: Sparks fly in 1866 Georgia as an illiterate tortured Hero blacksmith feuds with a well-meaning missionary schoolteacher over the education of his formerly enslaved young daughter.

100 word blurb: In 1866, Amanda Stewart promised her dying father she’d uplift their race and educate newly freed slaves. When she arrives in Milford, Georgia, handsome blacksmith and town leader Virgil Smithson tells her she is not needed. But Virgil made his own promise—he told his dying wife that their daughter would learn to read and write, despite his own illiteracy.  In Amanda, he finds a woman whose will is as strong as the iron he fashions. These combatants must put aside their personal feelings to understand God has his own plan in the promises they made to their loved ones.


Entry #8

Author: Kristi Anna Hunter


Genre: Inspirational

One sentence pitch: A forgotten ward is thrown into the path of a jaded but newly saved aristocrat by the well-meaning servants of London’s elite, but he must choose between marrying her and saving her reputation.

100 word blurb: Amelia Barnett’s efforts to help an ailing maid get her into trouble when she’s caught cleaning the study of the infamous Anthony Pendleton, Marquis of Raebourne. She plans never to see him again. Anthony has other ideas. Having repented of his rakish lifestyle, he wants to settle down and can think of no one but Amelia.

Amelia’s only friends are servants and they want to help her back into society. Mistaken identities, jealous ladies, and vicious rumors are no match for the servants of London’s elite. But unless Anthony and Amelia believe God’s acceptance, past insecurities will destroy their chances.


Entry #9

Author: Desiree Jones


Genre: New Adult/ Fantasy

One sentence pitch: In a world where magical Talent means everything, her eyes mark her as dangerous.

100 word blurb: Princess Adilynn is an outsider because of a rare and feared ability to take on the magical Talent of others. She is tortured for weeks as her captor manipulates her powers in order to increase his own, leaving her with a dramatically altered appearance –spells carved into her skin, white hair, purple eyes and an addiction to dark, powerful magic.

Ethan is her rescuer and abductor’s brother. Drawn to one another for unexplainable reasons, he helps her heal and they discover her powers (and their attraction) are out of control as they hunt for the man who changed her life.



Entry #10

Author: Becky Lower

Genre: Romance

One sentence pitch: A 40-something woman is embarking on the second impetuous thing she’s ever done, and it might be her undoing—or her salvation—when she comes face to face with the cowboy of her dreams

100 word blurb: Juliette St.James has only done two impetuous things in her life, and the first resulted in her becoming a single parent at age 18. Now, she’s embarking on a cross-country trip to celebrate becoming an empty-nester. Not sure of what she will do now that she’s flying solo, she comes face-to-face with a cowboy—one of her fantasy dates.

Cyclone Kelley is a former rodeo cowboy who has broken one too many body parts to continue on the rodeo circuit. But the one body part that can’t be fixed by putting it into a cast is his heart, which was broken when his wife died. He wasn’t home to save her, and feels he’s unworthy for any kind of lasting relationship with a woman, so his life has been a meaningless string of one-nighters.

One broken car and an equally broken cowboy later, they must decide if they want to return to their old lives or venture into new uncharted territory together.


Entry #11

Author: CJ Michaels

Genre: Romance

One sentence pitch: Single mother Annie York struggles with attention deficit disorder and has given up on love in her small town and things get worse because confirmed city boy and bachelor Caleb Galloway’s dog trips her, but in his need to make amends, he shows her that she’s perfect as she is and his family farm may just be the place where they all belong.

100 word blurb: Single mother Annie York fears her attention deficit disorder makes her unlovable. Caleb Galloway needs to have every detail in place, which cost him his girlfriend and convinced him to give up on love. Annie lands in Sweet Creek with her 8-year-old daughter and helps at the family diner as the server for the lunch meal at the 1,000-acre Galloway Farms. Caleb returns to convince his father to retire, and his huge dog sweeps Annie off her feet—literally. Out of guilt, he helps her recover, and falls in love with the unexpected through Annie, and appreciates the family homestead.


Entry #12

Author: Lynn Montagano


One sentence pitch: Lia Meyers thought her Scottish vacation would be the perfect cure for a bad break up, until one uncharacteristic moment of clumsiness lands her in the arms of a dangerously attractive Englishman.

100 word blurb: “I should get back to the hotel.”


“Because I didn’t come here looking for this,” I snapped, my voice rising. “If anything, I want to get away from it.”

“My kitten has claws.” His smug grin irked me. 

“I’m not your kitten. I don’t want whatever it is you’re offering,” I grumbled.

Staring at me for several seconds, he stroked the curve of my cheek. He dipped his mouth close to my ear. 

“Your body betrays you, Lia.” 

Desire ran thick through my veins as he slowly moved his hands down my neck, over my shoulders and onto my waist.


Entry #13

Author: Emmy Neal

Genre: NA Sci-Fi

One sentence pitch: A Rapunzel-inspired romance meets The Walking Dead in The Tower, the first novel in a New Adult science fiction trilogy.

100 word blurb: Fifteen years since the outbreak of Z1, a virus that turns people into walking corpses, the few survivors are beginning to give up hope.  Twenty-three year old pathologist Florence Shu works under quarantine in the Tower’s lab, determined to find the cure for the infected. When her ex-lab partner and lover returns to the Tower, they discover quarantine isn’t a safe haven at all. When Flor conquers her agoraphobia and flees, they uncover a conspiracy that starts before the outbreak. Every scientist close to finding a cure has died, and the people running the Tower aren’t letting Flor go easily. 


Entry #14

Author: Page Pennington


Genre: PNR

One sentence pitch: A reluctant witch wants a normal life, but when her cat turns into a handsome/sexy man, she must learn to harness her power to save him from returning to his cursed feline life.

100 word blurb: Kristen Morgan, a reluctant witch just wants to be normal, with the whole white picket fence dream. Until a wish transforms her sleeping cat into a handsome naked man and reopens the door to her powers.

Nash Reeves might be attracted to the saucy witch but can he trust that her motives are true? He trusted another witch 100 years ago and look where that got him. Cursed to be a familiar until Kristen accidentally released him.

They have until the full moon to save Nash from returning to his cat form, permanently.  


Entry #15

Author: Dianna Shuford


Genre: Inspirational Suspense

One sentence pitch: An unwilling alliance, a dangerous plan, and one man’s horrific mission collide in a race to deceive a killer.

100 word blurb: A dangerous plan or a fatal mistake?

A killer, hunting women who serve their community in Atlanta, has targeted Addison Parker, homicide detective, as his next quarry in this deadly scheme. Joe Vaughn, a news reporter, provides the only link between the murders: his articles. Evidence that at first implicates Joe leads to a necessary alliance aimed at drawing out the killer: Jackdaw.

Together they lay a trap to catch the elusive Jackdaw, but become ensnared by each other in the process. Can they find the killer before it’s too late?  Can they accept their budding relationship as God’s gift?


Entry #16

Author: Christy Lashea Smith


Genre: Inspirational

One sentence pitch: A connected past threatens to destroy a promising future.

100 word blurb: Aimee Mason wants to give her eight year old son Luke, who’s battling aplastic anemia, every desire of his heart.

At the height of his career, Seth Garrett’s thoughts of leaving football to become a missionary seem ludicrous. When the Bone Marrow Registry notifies Seth he’s a match, he sees this as God’s intended mission.

When Luke’s favorite team visits the hospital, Aimee can’t deny her attraction to the famous quarterback. But her past is connected with Seth’s. They want to forget this past pain. Can they cross the bridge between love and forgiveness to find happiness, together?


Cupcakes, Cocktails, and Critiques-Blurb Submissions Open!

logo2Going to the Romance Writers of America National Conference in Atlanta in July? The agents and authors from the Seymour Agency want to meet you there!

Enter, Cupcakes, Cocktails & Critiques, the Seymour Agency’s novel blurb and elevator pitch contest, to have you work crtitqued by authors and considered by top-selling agents.

Submissions are open from May 13-May 25, 2013. I will post the blurbs here on my blog on Tuesday, May 30th. The Seymour Agency authors and agents will critique and comment on those blurbs from June 1st-15th. Visit Seymour Agency Agent and Author Marisa Cleveland’s blog on Wednesday, May 15th to learn about the authors who will be critiquing the blurbs.

Everyone who attends RWA and enters this contest will be invited to the Cupcakes, Cocktail & Critiques Party during the conference at the hotel’s bar. This party is not a pitch session but a celebration and opportunity to network with agency authors and agents. Cupcakes will be provided!

Also during this time, the Seymour Agency agents and authors will be reviewing the blurbs and vote for their favorites. Brand new agent Marisa Cleveland will treat the author Agent Mary Sue chooses, the author Agent Nicole chooses, and the author with the most votes from our authors to a cocktail at the agency party at RWA!

However, you do not have to attend the conference to have your blurbs critiqued by the agency authors and agents. Even if you are unable to attend RWA, this is a wonderful opportunity to get your work in front of bestselling agents and maybe even get signed!

The Agents:

Mary Sue Seymour, Founder of the Seymour Agency and the #1 Top Selling literary agent in Inspirational Fiction.

Nicole Resciniti, Senior Agent, one of Publisher Marketplace’s Top Dealmakers, and ACFW’s Agent of the Year 2012

Marisa Cleveland, Associate Agent and Romance Author with Entangled Publishing

How to enter and rules:

Email your blurb (100 word limit) and one sentence elevator pitch for your book to

Submissions close on Saturday, May 25th. Submissions will be posted here on my blog on Friday, May 31st. Authors and Agents will review and votes on the submissions June 1st-June 15th. Winners will be announced Monday, July 1st on Marisa Cleveland’s blog.