Saturday, December 31, 2016

Society Members' News: December 2016

The members below reported their publishing successes this month: 

BJ Bourg, “Thief in the Night” at Over My Dead Body! (December 2016).

Craig Faustus Buck, “Bunker Mentality” at Flash Bang Mysteries Issue 6: Winter 2017 (December  2016).

Sati Chock, “Soon Night Will Press Upon You" in the Candlesticks and Daggers: An Anthology of Mixed-Genre Mysteries, CreateSpace (December 2016) as well as “The Eye of The Beholder” in After the Happily Ever After: a collection of fractured fairy tales, Transmundane Press (December 2016).

Jan Christensen, “The Game’s Afoot” at Mysterical-E: Fall 2016 Issue (December 2016).

Herschel Cozine, “The Numbers Game” at Over My Dead Body! (December 2016).

Peter DiChellis, “The Pinnacle Diner Murder” at Over My Dead Body! (December 2016).

Barbara Eliasson, “Mean Girls” at Flash Bang Mysteries Issue 6: Winter 2017 (December  2016).

Gail Farrelly, “Santa and the Poor Box” in The Yonkers Tribune as a five part serial from December 19-23, 2016.

John M. Floyd, “Unsigned, Sealed, and Delivered,” in Flash Bang Mysteries: Winter/January 2017 Issue (December  2016).

Richie Narvaez, “Merry Xmas from Orchard Beach” at Spinetingler (December 14, 2016).

Jude Roy, “The Imagineer” at Mysterical-E: Fall 2016 Issue (December 2016).

Jacqueline Seewald, “Genesis" at Over My Dead Body! (December 2016) and “Dinosaur Digs” at the kids magazine, Bumples. Jacqueline also has a short story, Marriage Counselor, in A Bit of a Twist: Read on the Run Anthology, Smoking Pen Press (December 2016).Also out this month is The Inheritance from Intrigue Publishing (December 2016).

Nupur Tustin, "The Christmas Stalker" in Heater, Vol 4, #11 (December 2016).

Victoria Weisfeld, "A Slaying Song Tonight" in Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine (January/February 2017).

Elizabeth Zelvin, “Elvis and the Shifter: A Christmas Mystery/Fantasy Short Story” at King’s River Life Magazine (December 13, 2016).

When and only when he makes the call onlist, email news for next month's post to SMFS President Kevin R. Tipple (KEVINRTIPPLE at VERIZON dot NET).

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Derringer Awards Procedure

2017 Derringer Awards Coordinator Dan Persinger



Since 1998, the Short Mystery Fiction Society has awarded the annual Derringers—after the popular pocket pistol—to outstanding published stories and people who've greatly advanced or supported the form.

As of 2004, an annually-elected Derringer Coordinator administers the regular Derringer process. Detailed below, the process runs January 1–April 30, recognizing stories published the previous year.

The current regular Derringer Awards are:
  • Best Flash Story (Up to 1,000 words)
  • Best Short Story (1,001 to 4,000 words)
  • Best Long Story (4,001 to 8,000 words)
  • Best Novelette (8,001 to 20,000 words)

As of 2009, a committee of the sitting SMFS Officers, Derringer Coordinator, and two regular members selects a living writer whose outstanding body of short fiction merits the Society's Edward D. Hoch Memorial Golden Derringer for Lifetime Achievement.

In addition to the May 1 winners announcement, as of 2009, winners also receive physical medals at a presentation during Bouchercon, the World Mystery Convention. To donate toward the medals, contact Vice President Larry W. Chavis.

Further reading:


SUBMISSIONS (January 1–30, 2017)

Who can submit?

With the exceptions of the Society President and Vice President, who have no Derringer eligibility or authority over the Derringer process, and the Derringer Awards Coordinator, who has authority over the process but no Derringer eligibility,

Shortmystery members who joined by December 31, 2016 can submit eligible stories written by anyone, including themselves


Editors of venues featuring mystery or crime short stories can submit eligible stories published in those venues.


Story eligibility

To be considered for the 2017 Derringer Awards, a submission must be:

a) a mystery or crime story up to 20,000 words,

b) in a paying or non-paying venue,

c) which may be an irregular/single publication, periodical, collection, or anthology,

d) in print or electronic form,

e) originating from any country or location,

f) published in English for the first time in 2016 as determined by the the venue's cover/front page date or story's timestamp ending in 2016 (e.g. Dec. 2015-Jan. 2016, March 2016, etc.),

g) with the story's appearance decided by the venue's editor(s), not the author (i.e. neither self-published nor submitted to a non-edited venue).


  • Shortmystery members who joined by December 31, 2016 are allowed to submit up to 2 eligible stories.

  • Editors:

    3 editorial submissions are allowed from venues featuring up to 25 eligible stories;

    4 editorial submissions are allowed from venues featuring 26–50 eligible stories;

    5 editorial submissions are allowed from venues featuring 51–75 eligible stories;

    6 editorial submissions are allowed from venues featuring more than 75 stories.

  • For multi-editor venues, the editors split the number of submissions determined above.

    (e.g. 4 editorial submissions are allowed from a four-editor venue featuring 26 eligible stories. If one editor makes 4, the other three editors cannot make any.)

  • Editors of multiple venues:

    3 editorial submissions are allowed if they edited a total up to 25 eligible stories;

    4 editorial submissions are allowed if they edited a total of 26–50 eligible stories

    5 editorial submissions are allowed if they edited a total of 51–75 eligible stories;

    6 editorial submissions are allowed if they edited a total of more than 75 stories.

    The number of submissions allowed from any one venue remains bound by the venue's total eligible stories.

    (e.g. An editor who worked on 100 stories across 5 venues would be allowed 6 total submissions. If one of the venues featured only ten stories, the editor could submit 3 from it, but then would have only 3 submissions left to split among 90 stories and 4 venues.)

  • Editors who are also Shortmystery members, in addition to their editorial submissions, may submit two eligible stories from venues other than their own.

    An editor may decide not to submit his/her venue's stories. S/he cannot prevent other Shortmystery members from submitting them UNLESS s/he acquired such controlling rights over the stories.


Format and Address

To make the judges' jobs as easy as possible, and to prevent having to reformat an assortment of submission layouts, there has to be a standardized format for submissions. The 2017 Derringer competition uses William Shunn's more-or-less industry-standard layout linked to below, except that (a.), the manuscript should use 12-point Times New Roman font, and (b.), the personal contact information normally included at top left of page 1 may be omitted.

William Shunn's short-story formatting page can be found here. Remember, the personal contact information at top left is not required for Derringer submission. If inadvertently included, it will be deleted before forwarding to the judges:

William Shunn : Manuscript Format : Short Story

As a formatting aid, a simple preformatted .doc template with text prompts replaceable by actual content, with the non-required personal contact information already omitted, is available here.

An example Derringer submission ms using the template above is available here.

Submit your entry as an email with attached submission manuscript to

In the email body, include a cover letter indicating:
  • whether you are submitting as an SMFS member, a publication editor, SMFS member, publication editor, or are both;
  • the story title, author's name, and, if applicable, the pseudonym used for the story;
  • where and when the story was originally published in 2016; and
  • the URL to the published story if applicable.
Anyone submitting someone else's work must have and is presumed to have acquired the proper permissions from the author. By submitting someone else's work, a submitter assumes responsibility for having the proper permissions.

The Coordinator posts updates of the stories received throughout the January submission period. This avoids duplicate submissions and serves to check that stories submitted are received. If any story submitted does not appear in an update and you have met the listed eligibility requirements, follow up with the Coordinator.

All submissions must be in by January 30.

January 31 is reserved for the Coordinator to collate submissions for forwarding to the judges.

All identifying author or publisher information will be removed from submitted manuscripts prior to forwarding to the judges.


JUDGING (February 1–March 30, 2017)

The Coordinator assigns eligible submissions to award categories by length:
  • Best Flash Story (Up to 1,000 words)
  • Best Short Story (1,001 to 4,000 words)
  • Best Long Story (4,001 to 8,000 words)
  • Best Novelette (8,001 to 20,000 words)

Each category requires three primary and one alternate SMFS members to judge the category down to five finalists. To protect their identities and the privacy of the judging process, members sign up to judge by contacting the Coordinator directly by December 31, 2016.

Volunteers can specify which category they wish to judge, subject to availability, but they cannot judge categories including stories they wrote or published as editor. The Coordinator keeps this in mind when assigning judges, but any erroneously-assigned judges should inform the Coordinator, who decides how to rectify the error.

Before sending the Derringer submissions to the judges, the Coordinator ensures the manuscripts show neither the author's name nor the details of publication. This is not to mandate blind judging, but to encourage open-minded judging. Judges may recognize authors and publication details but are nevertheless expected to score all stories in their rightfully assigned categories regardless.

The Scoring Guidelines below have been used for over a decade as a way of encouraging a measure of commonality among different judges' approaches. They are not litmus tests to be applied in a cookie-cutter manner by all judges to all submissions, but are rather a source for general areas of consideration that can be used to the extent considered appropriate in conjunction with a judge's individual experience, acumen, and skills.
Using the Scoring Guidelines below as desired, each judge rates each of the four larger general areas of:
A judge assigns each of these areas a score of 1 to 10. The judge should note these individual scores but need not formally record them. The judge then adds the four individual areas' scores together to arrive at a cumulative score of 4 - 40. For each submission, each judge in the category reports this single, cumulative score on the scoring sheet provided by the Derringer Coordinator.

If, at any point during the reading of any entry, a judge concludes that the impression formed thus far is final and without reasonable expectation of change regardless of what remains to be read and evaluated, the judge is not bound to continue reading that entry.

  • How well does the writing grab and hold your attention?
  • Do the prose style and dialogue serve the story well?
  • Does the story's setting or overall atmosphere draw you in?
  • Does the story rise above others in the category for the way it's written?

  • Are they well developed and convincing?
  • Is there good interaction between characters?
  • How well does the writer handle viewpoints or inhabit each character?
  • Do the characters serve the story well?

  • How well are the story events structured from beginning to end?
  • Does the story rise above others in the category for its plot?
  • Does the story set up and then meet or cleverly subvert expectations?

  • Did you have a good reaction to the story not described by the other elements?
  • How memorable was the story?

The alternate judge in a category is called if one of the primary judges is unable to serve to completion for some reason. The alternate will be asked to read and evaluate only the portion of the category's entries that the primary judge was unable to get to.

All stories must be scored and returned to the Coordinator by March 30.

March 31 is reserved for the Coordinator to verify the outcome of scoring. For each Derringer category, the five stories with the highest averages become the Finalists.



On April 1, the Coordinator announces the Finalists on Shortmystery and announces them publicly here on the blog.


VOTING (April 1–29, 2017)

On April 1, the Coordinator uploads the finalist manuscripts to the Files section of the 2017 Derringers Voting Site group and opens voting in its Polls section.

Shortmystery members who joined by December 31, 2016 subscribe to the voting group to read the stories and vote for the winner in each category. Voting ends April 29.

Important: To expedite verification of your voting eligibility, be sure to subscribe to the Derringers voting group with your existing Shortmystery Yahoo! ID. Otherwise, your Shortmystery membership cannot be verified, your voting group membership will be denied, and you won't be allowed to vote.

April 30 is reserved for the Coordinator to verify the poll results and prepare the announcement of winners. The Coordinator then deletes the manuscripts from the voting group's Files section.



On May 1, the Coordinator announces the Winners on Shortmystery and announces them publicly here on the blog.



Winners will be presented with Derringer medals during Bouchercon 2017 opening ceremonies Thursday, October 12, 7:30 P.M. at the Sheraton Centre Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Any unable to attend will receive their medals by mail.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Guest Post: Five Reasons To Love Reading Short Mystery Stories by SMFS Member Peter DiChellis

After reading Debra H. Goldstein's post earlier this week about the Sisters in Crime "We Love Short Stories" Initiative, Peter DiChellis was inspired to contribute the below post. He also caused a bit of a nasty flashback for me regarding High School English class each year.

Guest Post: Five Reasons To Love Reading Short Mystery Stories by Peter DiChellis

I’m a dedicated mystery reader who cringes at the term “short story” because it prompts memories of slouching in a high school classroom, gazing out the window, waiting for a bell to signal escape. We weren’t allowed merely to read short stories. We had to study them! Teen torture. (Okay, you caught me. My high school years were hardly my most ambitious.)

Despite those ancient scars, I love reading short mystery stories. Here’s why:

1. It’s like going on a treasure hunt. When I open a mystery anthology or magazine, or click through a top-notch ezine, I always discover new authors, new stories from favorite authors, new characters, and new writing styles. I can never predict what gems I’ll find on these adventures. I love the surprise.

2. Short mysteries gimme a break! Like most mystery readers, I enjoy novels. Short mysteries provide a perfect, quickie break after finishing a long or intricate book. I’ll plunge into another 400-page commitment soon enough. Gimme a short break first!

3. I love taking lots of quick, tasty bites. Reading short mysteries reminds me of attending a food fair with booth after booth offering tasty samples. I can try a variety of unique flavors, one after another, one bite at a time.

4. Short mystery stories pack remarkable creative punch. Good mysteries require first-rate plotting. Good shorts require airtight writing. Tough to do both at once. I love seeing it happen.

5. Short mysteries deliver wall-to-wall wow. Creative punch isn’t simply what writers put into a story; it’s also what they cut out. Shorts, to channel Elmore Leonard, leave out the parts people skip. Pure story, no filler. Wall-to-wall wow.

If you share my love of short mystery stories, please spread the word! But if you’re still not convinced, try this: Next time you’re in the library, check out a mystery anthology or magazine. (If you can’t wait until then, click through one of these online ezines right now.)

Here’s my guarantee: Trying a few short mysteries through the library or internet won’t cost you a dime. You’ll enjoy a diverse and entertaining reading break. You’ll find at least one story that absolutely wows you and discover at least one author whose work you’ll want to explore further. And you might even fall in love with short mystery stories. Is that a sweet deal or what?

Peter DiChellis ©2016

Peter DiChellis concocts sinister and sometimes comedic tales for anthologies, ezines, and magazines. Peter is a member of the Short Mystery Fiction Society and an Active (published author) member of the Mystery Writers of America, Private Eye Writers of America, and International Thriller Writers. For more, visit his site Murder and Fries at

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Friday, December 9, 2016

SMFS Member Guest Post: An Explanation of the Sisters in Crime “We Love Short Stories” Initiative by Debra H. Goldstein

Earlier this week, I referenced the latest issue of the Sisters In Crime Magazine and how there were pieces in it from Jan Christensen and Debra H. Goldstein. Debra contacted me and asked to write about the SIC short story initiative for our SMFS blog and I eagerly accepted. The result of that conversation led to her guest post below.

An Explanation of the Sisters in Crime “We Love Short Stories” Initiative by Debra H. Goldstein

After Bouchercon 2015, then Sisters in Crime President Leslie Budewitz commissioned an ad hoc committee to address concerns being expressed about the health of short story markets. As she noted, many SinC members “got their first publishing credits with short mysteries.  They remain a tremendous avenue for new writers to break in; for published authors, they provide an opportunity to tell stories that would not support a novel or to hold reader interest between books. Other authors simply prefer the form. They’re fun to write, and fun to read.”

The committee, comprised of Debra H. Goldstein (chair), Art Taylor, and Deb Lacey, explored the different markets and found that:

1)         The paying market for short stories has been shrinking,
2)         The print publications traditionally publishing short stories have experienced a major decrease in circulation numbers, and
3)         Online markets, many of short duration, have increased, but few provide paying opportunities for writers.

The committee proposed and the national board adopted the creation of the SinC “We Love Short Stories” initiative. “We Love Short Stories” was launched at Malice Domestic 2016 via an announcement from President Budewitz, followed by an e-mail blast and an article in the inSinC discussing the importance of short stories. To further effectuate this initiative, partnerships were established with several publishers and corporations to provide discounts and other subscription incentives to SinC members. 

It was also decided that articles should appear in each issue of inSinC on writing short stories, finding markets, promotion, understanding what editors want, differences between single and multiple author anthologies, and how to publish stories traditionally and independently. Articles published during the past year include “Why I Write Short Stories” (Ruth Moose), “Ellery Queen Magazine Turns 75” (Art Taylor), “Why Write Short Stories” (Debra H. Goldstein and Mary Jane Maffini), “Success With Short Stories” (Dale T. Phillips), “Short Story Mystery Anthologies” (Debra H. Goldstein), and “Short Mystery Fiction Society” (Jan Christensen). 

Materials were shared with local SinC chapters suggesting programs or activities that could be done to demonstrate “We Love Short Stories.” For example, the Atlanta Sisters in Crime Chapter recently sponsored a community-wide one day day short story workshop taught by four recognized short story writers. In addition to general topics related to craft, skill, and markets, attendees were introduced to the existence of groups, including the Short Mystery Fiction Society. 

Sisters in Crime hopes that promoting short stories through varied opportunities, including workshops, articles, and discounts, will engage readers and writers to take an active role in supporting the short story. Why? – because “We Love Short Stories.”

Debra H. Goldstein ©2016

Judge Debra H. Goldstein is the author of Should Have Played Poker: a Carrie Martin and the Mah Jongg Players Mystery (Five Star Publishing – April 2016) and the 2012 IPPY Award winning Maze in Blue, a mystery set on the University of Michigan’s campus. Her short stories and essays have been published in anthologies including Mardi Gras Murder and The Killer Wore Cranberry: a Fourth Meal of Mayhem as well as in The Birmingham Arts Journal, More Magazine Online, Bethlehem Writers Roundtable,, Kings River Life Magazine, Over My Dead Body! and Mysterical-E. . Debra serves on the national Sisters in Crime and Guppy Chapter boards and is an MWA member. She lives in Birmingham, Alabama with her husband, Joel, whose blood runs crimson.

Sunday, December 4, 2016

SMFS Flash and Bang Anthology Mention

Over on the Crime Fiction Lover website in the post  "NTN: How to find new crime authors" the SMFS Anthology Flash and Bang is mentioned as one of a number of good sources to look at for new authors. The November 16th post has anthology suggestions in alphabetical order putting the SMFS approximately in the middle of the page if you go to the website.

My thanks to Sarah M. Chen for bringing this to our attention.

Available in both print and eBook formats the anthology can be purchased at the publisher, Untreed Reads, Amazon, Barnes and Noble and other fine bookstores.

Kevin R. Tipple

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Short Mystery Fiction Society in the inSinC- December 2016

Past President Jan Christensen has an article in the December issue about SMFS. She explains a little bit about the group and how she became involved in it. The interesting piece is on page 16.

Also in the issue just before that is a two page article from SMFS member Debra Goldstein on "Short Mystery Anthologies." This piece is the first of a two part interview article with editors Michele Slung, Jon Betancourt, and Jay Hartman. Debra also is the Head of the SinC Short Story Initiative adopted by the group under the moniker, "We Love Short Stories."

You can read the December issue of inSinc: The Sisters in Crime Quarterly at:

Lots of good stuff to read so make sure you take a look.

Thank you to Jan Christensen for providing the link to the issue.

Kevin R. Tipple

SleuthSayers: "Writing What I Knew" by SMFS Member John M. Floyd

SleuthSayers: Writing What I Knew: by John M. Floyd How many times have we, as writers, heard that we should "write what we know"? I'm not sure I always agr...