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January 16, 2009

Comments

Adam McFarlane

A Five Star book was nominated? Weren't they dropped from MWA's list of approved publishers?

Leonard T. Carruthers

With the exception of one, the short story noms this year are noticeably weak. Does anyone know how MWA chooses the judging panels?

Guyot

Congrats to Sean Chercover and Barry O'Brien, two outstanding human beings who also happen to be great writers.

Barry O'Brien is one of very few television writers who actually know what the Edgars are, and I know this means the world to him.

It's nice when a nominee is so deeply appreciative of the acknowledgment.

Bill Cameron

In my not so humble opinion, the fact that neither Sean Chercover, Marcus Sakey, nor Craig Johnson are among the Best Novel nominees is shameful.

At least some semblance of credibility is salvaged by the inclusion of Christa Faust and Tom Piccirilli on the Paperback Original list, and Sean on the Short Story list.

Naomi

A humorous novel gets nominated for the top award--very cool.

Larry Gandle

I will hold off on judgement of the actual list until I read
all of them. However, I just can't help thinking the judges
live in a vacuum in that there is not one book on the shortlists
that are mentioned in any of the best of the year lists that I am
aware of. On first glance, this does not look like an exciting list in terms of the authors ie. no Pelecanos, Block, Larsson, Atkinson

tess gerritsen


I confess, I haven't read most of the Best Novel finalists, but BLUE HEAVEN would have been on my list of the year's best, too.

(Has there ever been a year when there wasn't grumbling about the list?)

Michael

Shame on me, I guess, for having read only two of the nominated novels, both PBOs (Faust and Piccirilli). It's not fair to say this not having read them, but I'm going out on a limb here and saying I just don't believe all five of the Best Novel nominees are better than Kate Atkinson's "When Will There Be Good News?" and Tana French's "The Likeness".

Barbara

I loved The Prince of Bagram Prison by Alex Carr.

Roddy Reta

Um, CSI Miami?

David J. Montgomery

There are some good choices on there and some awful choices. A few of the books I couldn't even finish, and one of them was among the worst things I read all year.

But what do you expect? We're talking about the opinion of a handful of people. The picks would be more interesting if MWA released the names of the committee members.

Sandra Ruttan

Whoever the judges were, they represent the entire organization by compiling this list. If we knew the names of the judges the debate about the list would descend into speculation over favoritism, back-scratching, possibly even collusion because of shared agents, editors and publishers.

On the one hand, don't we all love a bit of good dirt? (And aren't most of curious about some of the choices?) But on the other hand, what worries me about starting down that road is the potential damage it does to the genre.

If those of us within the genre can't respect what's probably the best known crime fiction prize in the US, how can we expect anyone else to respect it? And while we may all champion the cause of a favourite title that did not make the lists, unless we've read all the titles that were submitted for consideration, can we really argue? I'm looking forward to Larry Gandle's annual assessments, and of course find David's comments interesting, since he's already read the books.

I think the main thing that strikes me about this list is how few of the authors are even on my radar in terms of the best first category. I'm left feeling rather ambivalent, other than being happy for friends who've been given nods.

Charles Finch

Congrats to everyone! Great list.

Bill Cameron

Since I don't respect the award, so the fact that others might not either won't cause me to shed a tear.

Greg

Bill, you're a good writer but you're setting new records for hypocrisy. You say you have no respect for the award, yet you have an endorsement from an "Edgar Finalist" right smack at the top of your website. You have it there for a reason: you believe the words lend credibility to your work. You could have simply used Julia's quote, but you specifically added "Edgar Finalist."

You submitted both of your books for Edgar consideration. You have been endorsed and supported by numerous author whose names are more recognizable due to either winning or being nominated for an Edgar, and you have used this support either on your book jackets or in other ways to help promote your work and further your career.

You have every right to say 'fuck the establishment,' but doing so while simultaneously using it to promote your own work and career is transparent. Either say you don't respect the award (as you have every right to) and don't use it in any way on your website or books--or stop complaining and understand that just because you loved certain books does not mean that other people are wrong for disagreeing with you.

Bill Cameron

Greg, whoever you are, I used the endorsement that the author in question asked me to use. Furthermore, I didn't submit my work for anything. My publishers did. I don't believe Edgar Finalist lends credibility, I believe the author's name lends credibility.

But you make a point. Just because you, someone who can't be bothered to identify themselves in full while calling me a hypocrite says so, I will delete any reference to Edgar and the author who seemed to like my book from my web site. Nothing I can do about books already in print. And for that I humbly apologize, Greg Whoever.

The fact is, I have been dubious about awards for some time. This announcement only solidified feelings the have been developing for some time. What you, mysterious Greg, don't know, is that today I not only resigned from MWA, I also sent a letter to another award-organization for which I had been informed I was long-listed that I wanted my book withdrawn from consideration. At another web site, I even discussed my ambivalence in greater length, acknowledging that the matter was hardly as simple as "I'm right, they're wrong." I don't expect you to dig through every site so you could know that, but perhaps I could follow your lead and call you uninformed, signing only my first name.

As for you thinking me a "good writer," well, golly, thanks, "Greg." Can I put that on my web site and jacket flaps?

GD Kid

Let's not forget that on the ABOUT ME page of Bill's site, his bio reads: "Lost Dog was a finalist for the 2008 Spotted Owl and Rocky Awards."

Now there's an award that demands respect.

Funny that, eh, "Bill"?

Bill Cameron

I failed to express my disappointment, frustration, and the manner in which my own feelings have changed on the subject of awards in a way that was clear and comprehensible, but at least I did so under my own name.

Charlie Stella

Looks like a one year break from the usual nominees (except for 1 or 2) ... perhaps for the sole purpose of appearing more credible (who knows) ... but until "awards" are stripped of politics (i.e., the committees, organizations, writers, reviewers, etc. with stakes in the game picking the nominees) and handed over to the readers (preferably in some objective manner), all “awards” will remain inherently tainted.

Who is the MWA anyway? I know I belonged for a couple years but became increasingly annoyed when one of the representatives hounded me at public events for my dues (she’d become a pain in my ass so I quit). I stopped paying tribute a long time ago but at least in the old days I got something for my coin/tribute(s).

I read somewhere on their page where the MWA claims their judges sometimes read the first 50 or so pages of all the books submitted (or maybe it was more or less pages) … but does anybody really believe that crock of shit (i.e., that they read more than the titles (never mind actual pages) of EVERY nominated book)? Prior Judges who claim they did in fact read everything save it, I won’t believe it.

Does anybody really look beyond some of the same names appearing year after year and so much so that those nominations seem to have eclipsed the career nominations of some of the legendary names in the business (i.e., more nominations in just a few years than some of the legends during their entire careers)? Are those names that keep appearing and reappearing really that good or really that “involved” in the organization/process itself?

I’m glad (for them) when friends of mine are nominated and/or win but I’ve been backhanding the Edgars (and every other award) going back a few years (after I attended one to support a friend). I knew nothing about it beforehand so when I heard the number of MWA officials nominated (regional this, regional that, former VP, President, etc.) in the prelude to their names when they were announced at the ceremony … well, as slow as I can sometimes be (my 2nd Bush vote/my four super bowl bets on the Bills to cover the spreads), I caught on quick enough.

If it’s a small group of people who do the actual nominating and they are writers, then the process itself is asking for it. Having them remain anonymous is a double fugazy and for obvious reasons. First, how can anybody read all those books (never mind be expected to) and if they have friends in the business (and we all do) how can they possibly be objective (or expected to be objective)? And if they aren’t reading all the pages in all the books nominated … well, shouldn’t the award itself mention that? (i.e., Best Novel of the books read from front to back minus the 400 books rejected after the first 50 (more or less) pages, minus those rejected after 10 pages, and so on .…)

It does get silly.

I only read a dozen or so crime novels a year these days and none of my favorites made this year’s Edgar nominee list. Frankly, my list is a much tougher list to make (but mostly because I actually read all the pages of the books I choose to read unless I come across something I just can’t get through ... AND my list is tougher because I don’t know very many of the players anymore these days). Therefore my “best of” list would have to be a very qualified one--i.e., “Charlie’s Best of the dozen or so crime novels he read this year”).

That said, I’m sure each of the nominated books this (and every) year (in whatever award in whatever category and for whatever purpose) are fine and dandy books (and who knows, some might actually be the “best ofs” … I know I sure did like it when Citizen Vince was nominated and won a couple/few years ago). And I doubt anything even a small collection (or committee) of readers deemed garbage could make it through the process.

Then there seem to be new awards that spring up each year and most often with judges that seem to have their own agenda … or is it really all one big coincidence?

Hey, you know what? Forgetaboutit … life is too short to sweat this stuff … whether your choice for “best of” made it or not is out of your hands (unless you’re one of the “committee”) … crazy Mickey Rourke is back (a beautiful thing in itself) … the cheaterfaces from New England are out of the playoffs (with an 11-5 record) and although my beloved new york state buffalo bills may be moving to Toronto, I haven’t lost either of my two jobs yet …

The point being … what Sandra said, “If those of us within the genre can't respect what's probably the best known crime fiction prize in the US, how can we expect anyone else to respect it?” I think the reality is that some (of us) do and more (of us) probably don’t … but hardly anyone outside the genre give(s) a flying fock. And I don’t think lacking respect for the award equates to lacking respect for the books/authors nominated. I think it has more to do with the nomination process that remains difficult to swallow; how some of the more involved seem to get the nod over the entire rest of the field(s) over and over is more than suspect.

Bill Cameron has a pair of balls. I say that in a good way. Bravo to Bill for speaking his mind and for walking away from big brother (MWA) for whatever reason.

I’ll post this in one other place just for the hell of it and for Bill--whom I’ve never met but sure do tip my hat to for joining team ex MWA members.

To paraphrase the next Royal Senator from the Great State of New York: I guess now, um, Bill, we’re, um, like, you know, um, a team of, um, our, um, you know, um, own.

stevemosby

Isn't everybody missing the key point here? Surely the ridiculous thing about the Edgar nominations is that all crime fiction's just a right load of old rubbish anyway?

(Ducks)

Sandra Ruttan

"The point being … what Sandra said, “If those of us within the genre can't respect what's probably the best known crime fiction prize in the US, how can we expect anyone else to respect it?” I think the reality is that some (of us) do and more (of us) probably don’t … but hardly anyone outside the genre give(s) a flying fock. And I don’t think lacking respect for the award equates to lacking respect for the books/authors nominated. I think it has more to do with the nomination process that remains difficult to swallow; how some of the more involved seem to get the nod over the entire rest of the field(s) over and over is more than suspect."

Yeah, I agree. Sad thing is, other than the rapidly decreasing number of mystery independents, booksellers are also, technically, outside the genre. I know some elsewhere have been trying to get the bookstores to promote award-nominated and award-winning titles with favoured display space. I can only imagine that if I was thinking about making such a deal (especially with no or minimal money involved, and it might mean carrying some rather obscure titles that I might otherwise not stock) and I googled the award and found that all the people who write in the genre were griping about it, suggesting it's rigged, I'd think twice.

Whatever I think about any award and it's fairness or lack thereof, an award win can - all stars aligning - make a career. At least, once upon a time, it could. Not sure if that's the case anymore.

We've already come to a place where devoted readers of the genre distrust blurbs. I wonder what marketing tools we're leaving ourselves with if we discredit award nominations and wins. Lord knows it's increasingly up to the authors to find some way of distinguishing their work and marketing themselves. Flawed as the system may be (and truly, there's no way the judges read all the books) we're shooting ourselves in the foot here, aren't we?

Jimbo

How's that weekend update going?

Sarah Weinman

It's a long weekend, even longer if you count the inauguration. But there'll be a new post up tomorrow.

Charlie Stella

Sandra wrote: “We've already come to a place where devoted readers of the genre distrust blurbs. I wonder what marketing tools we're leaving ourselves with if we discredit award nominations and wins. Lord knows it's increasingly up to the authors to find some way of distinguishing their work and marketing themselves. Flawed as the system may be (and truly, there's no way the judges read all the books) we're shooting ourselves in the foot here, aren't we?”

I guess I disagree. It seems to me the “collective we” would be shooting our feet off if we accept what institutions and other award grantors offer us … the smaller the circle the bigger the prize, yes … but the smaller the circle the greater the power … and the results become (and in some cases already are) obvious. Accepting the status quo, to quote one former Edgar nominee, is “playing the game”.

Playing the game requires a lot of time, effort, money and acquiescence to the mob (the figurative mob, that is). For those so inclined, they should knock themselves out. For those disinclined, they opt out (and when there’s no work in the bin, they blog this dopey stuff). It’s up to individuals to play the game or not. It doesn’t make them bad people for doing so, but calling a spade a spade doesn’t make the critics of the process guilty of damaging the marketing process.

The market is in bad shape because too many kids have been brought up on video games, cell phones, internet chatting and text messaging … and, probably, blogging. Add to that the cost of books in an economy still searching for the bottom of the abyss (or do we really think the next hundreds of billions in “stimulus” packaging will be spent on books?) and what we have is what we have.

Charlie Stella

I don't know, one minute my post was there ... and the next it was gone.

here it is again:

Sandra wrote: “We've already come to a place where devoted readers of the genre distrust blurbs. I wonder what marketing tools we're leaving ourselves with if we discredit award nominations and wins. Lord knows it's increasingly up to the authors to find some way of distinguishing their work and marketing themselves. Flawed as the system may be (and truly, there's no way the judges read all the books) we're shooting ourselves in the foot here, aren't we?”

I guess I disagree. It seems to me the “collective we” would be shooting our feet off if we accept what institutions and other award grantors offer us … the smaller the circle the bigger the prize, yes … but the smaller the circle the greater the power … and the results become (and in some cases already are) obvious. Accepting the status quo, to quote one former Edgar nominee, is “playing the game”.

Playing the game requires a lot of time, effort, money and acquiescence to the mob (the figurative mob, that is). For those so inclined, they should knock themselves out. For those disinclined, they opt out (and when there’s no work in the bin, they blog this dopey stuff). It’s up to individuals to play the game or not. It doesn’t make them bad people for doing so, but calling a spade a spade doesn’t make the critics of the process guilty of damaging the marketing process.

The market is in bad shape because too many kids have been brought up on video games, cell phones, internet chatting and text messaging … and, probably, blogging. Add to that the cost of books in an economy still searching for the bottom of the abyss (or do we really think the next hundreds of billions in “stimulus” packaging will be spent on books?) and what we have is what we have.

Donna

I do think it's a shame that every time the 'Whatever' awards are announced, there's always a big hoo-ha. It's a shame for the authors whose books are nominated. I don't always agree with the nominations and there are always books I think SHOULD have been included and books that I tink SHOULDN'T but that's just personal taste. I feel the same about the Oscars / Nobel Peace Prize or any other awards you care to mention. It's also a shame for the committee or judges who give up a year of reading what THEY want to read, in order to read the nominees. And yes, I DO know, for example Edgar judges and CWA judges who take the responsibility very seriously and read the books that have been nominated.

No awards are without flaws. I love fan voted awards because it means that I get to vote and give something back to an author whose book I loved. They will never know about it, and it might mean nothing if they don't make the shortlist, or win, but for me it's a way to say "thanks for the reading pleasure". Awards that are based on a judging panel or committee come down to the preferences of that handful of judges. There has never been a whole shortlist of nominations for ANY category in ANY award that I have agreed with. There are books from last year that get almost universal acclaim, that just don't appeal to me. There is no "best book of the year". You ask 10 people what the best crime fiction book of 2008 was and you will possibly get 10 different answers - and you might not agree with any of them.

What awards DO do is hopefully bring crime fiction in all of its forms into wider notice, and also gives those authors who are nominated a bit of a boost in what is a tough business, and maybe garners them some new readers. I have picked up books because they were on a list of nominees. After reading it I might think "Well, that was a pile of festering crap", but, again, that's just personal preference. One woman's pile of festering crap is another person's best book of the year.

So, while I might not agree with the entire list - a huge well done to those whose books and stories are on it, and enjoy the rightly proud and happy feeling that people liked your book enough to put it on a shortlist of nominees.

Donna

Tom Piccirilli

Of course everyone involved with the awards process has an agenda, and thus it's political, and thus it's tainted to a degree.

But let's get real. The minute you wake up to take your monring squirt, you've got an agenda. That's just life. There's always going to be bias. Whether it's awards, your buddies landing you blurbs, your mother giving you the corner of the lasgna tray with the most cheese, or just who you help to carry packages in the supermarket parking lot--the 20 year old hottie with the pierced midriff or the grumpy old man with flecks of spit in the corners of his mouth--you're going to make a choice for your own reasons. Whether they're righteous or naughty or you just eenie-meenie-minie-moed them.

The bulk of the writing community doesn't get much out of this biz. We don't see big money, we don't see major sales, we have no health insurance, and Hollywood rarely comes knocking. And if it does, it's only so Wings Hauser can star in a no-budget, straight to DVD flick based on your masterpiece, and you don't even get a copy of it when it's done. So if we can get together for a night and applaud one another through the shit...if we can shake hands and put a bright light on one of our own...if we can be happy for one another instead of wanting to backstab some hardworking mope who everyone knows has less talent than the rest of us, then what the fuck, let's go for it.

There's enough jealousy, bitterness, real heartbreak and tragedy in the biz. You can sit there and stew and cry foul every time your ass gets skinned, or you can just clap for the person who takes home the little Poe head to stick on his mantel, and then go grab a beer with your buddies at the bar. I'd just as soon have a good time than turn my back on a fellow writer and decry him and his twelve minutes in the sunshine as a political pigdog.

Lighten up, you mooks. We're all brothers.

Tom Piccirilli
Edgar Award-nominated author and not even an MWA member

J.D. Rhoades

Well, sometimes publishers (and their marketing and sales staffs) care about who gets nominated for the Edgars. Sometimes. And since they're the ones who determine the paychecks, awards are important to that extent. Does the average reader give a damn? Maybe not. but the Edgar nominee or winner is more likely to reach the average reader because they're more likely to get a better push.

Charlie Stella

Tom, brotherhood … how did I miss that?

Nobody is knocking the authors or their nominated books. The knock is on the process … and since you mentioned it, we get no insurance, etc., why pay the dues? In New York, you had to be a union member to be a window cleaner (at least back when I did it). We received insurance benefits, days off, etc. and ignored the corruption because of it. When I did other stuff and had to pay tribute, it was understood how one was represented (according to the strength of the guy you were around). Pecking orders are a fact of life, but are best swallowed when there’s a quid pro quo. I’m glad to hear you’re not paying tribute. I applaud that.

As I stated earlier, I’m sure all the books nominated this year (and every year) are fine and dandy (and may well be the “best ofs”) … but for those of us who frown on the MWA (for whatever reason(s)), we choose not to sanctify them or their awards. That isn’t “decrying a fellow writer” or decrying his/her twelve minutes in the sunshine … or using him/her as a political pigdog. In fact, one could argue the acknowledgement of the lack of credibility followed by the “why can’t we all just get along” attitude is a bit of politicking in itself.

So, why say something publicly when I’ve been against public bashing of writers? First off, there’s no public bashing of any writers in my comments. Second, because I saw someone had the guts to take issue with the MWA and was publicly attacked for it. A few years ago I wrote Tess Gerritson personally to congratulate her on her nomination after she caught some flack from disgruntled commentators who felt her book didn’t belong on the nominee list. I wrote her because she was singled out and that, I thought, was in bad taste.

Dan

Obviously all the writers on the judging panels were whoring for their friends, agents, publishers, etc., or else my own friends, agents, and publishers would have been better represented.

And obviously, as many have said, these awards are meaningless and inconsequential, or else people would actually take the time to comment on the choices.

Tom Piccirilli

We could knock this around for a while longer, I suppose. Two New York Italian boys aren't likely to be too sensitive.

Charlie, it seems to me that you're fighting a two-battle front. Against the awards process and against "paying tribute" to the MWA. If you don't want to be a part of the org, for whatever reason, then don't. Seems to me the more established an author is, the less likely he is to get much out of such an org. When I was a newbie, I belonged. When I wasn't a newbie, I didn't. It's been at least ten or twelve years or so for me.

But if you think that being a member gives somebody a leg up in the awards process, I'm pulse-beating proof that it isn't the case.

As for the spankdown that "one could argue the acknowledgment of the lack of credibility followed by the ‘why can't we all just get along' attitude is a bit of politicking in itself"–well, like I said, you can't even take a piss without an agenda or somebody saying you're being political. Just not sure what you think one might be politicking here. You think if I run around singing Kumbaya and praising our lords and masters the MWA that they'll bestow knighthood on me? Or even an award? Or even give me a pass on the dues if I should rejoin? I don't know the judges, and I don't know how they do their business. But if you see me pass a wedge of long green under the table to Lee Child at the banquet, then maybe you've got some suspicious activity. Otherwise, I'm not sure what you're after. Blowing the lid off corruption? By all means, do it.

I have no issue with Bill Cameron, or you, or anybody who doesn't want to belong to an org. Or who doesn't give a nod to the Edgars. At the same time I think it's a little silly to pull an empassioned breast-beating pose and take your own name off an awards list or quit the MWA in a huff or throw around words like "sanctified" just because you find the process flawed. Especially if you stick something called the "Spotted Owl and Rocky Awards" in your bio. (Sounds like a cool cartoon though). What, the judges of the Spotted Owl and Rocky Awards are incorruptible? I think not. I think the judges of the Spotted Owl and Rocky Awards aren't above being bought off for a shoebox full of twenties. I think some serious dirty cash goes into the Spotted Owl and Rocky Awards judges' children's college funds.

I also find it silly that if I or anyone should poke fun at the Spotted Owl and Rocky Awards that said author would immediately change his bio. If it made you proud, then it made you proud. If you felt it gave you a leg up in the world, then maybe it did.

Would it be better not to have any awards since, by everyone's admission, they're flawed? Would life be better off without the Oscars, Golden Globes, Grammys, Hugos, Nebulas, World Fantasy, Stokers, Edgars? I doubt it. I bet your wife watches the Oscars and shares in the glory of the moment, same as my wife does. Are they completely meaningless? Maybe. But I admit that I personally got a thrill and felt a kind of validation by getting the nod. A lot of people congratulated me. I glowed for a few moments. I most certainly even beamed. I may have even wah-hooed. It made the slog to the keyboard and staring at the empty page a little easier that night.

Not just because my peers found my novel worthy of being on a list that is very subjectively called "the best." But because the awards themselves go back to the likes of Woolrich, Ellery Queen, Fredric Brown, William P. McGivern, John Dickson Carr, Ross MacDonald. Because they have a serious and weighty history, whatever you think of their present incarnation. Because in whatever small way they help to connect me to the grandness of the literature that made me want to be a writer in the first place.

You were a window cleaner? Hats off, man, those guys are the coolest. Seriously. Hardcore, climbing up the sides of skyscrapers.

Bill Cameron

I would like to take a moment to clarify my own position. First, I was frustrated by the list not because I think there is something wrong with the books or the authors on the list, but because the books I felt deserving were left off. It was churlish and childish of me to express that frustration here, in the manner that I did.

But the fact remains, over the last few years, I have grown increasingly uncomfortable with awards, not because of what wins or is nominated, but because of what isn't. The process, no matter how well-designed and no matter how thoughtful the judges, can't possibly due justice to the work out there. And so, what good is it? Tom thinks the world is a better place for the awards we give. I do not. And yet, I was happy to see his book on this year's list, a book I loved (among so many others).

In this thread, I was mocked for my own use of my modest awards as a marketing tool, and of course challenged for my own books being submitted for Edgar. As someone trying to sell books, I'm like so many others, trying to find a way to reach readers. (I had to laugh as being called a good writer who set new records for the height of hypocrisy in one sentence; talk about getting fucked without getting kissed first: ouch.) I list my modest achievements on my web site same as most, in hopes that a book might sell, not because I'm proud of awards I didn't win. It's damned hard enough as it is.

Here's something that you may or may not believe. When my book appeared on that Rocky list for LCC last year, I panicked. I did not like being on the list, I did not feel I belonged there. I read every other book nominated, and had no doubt I was an outlier, a pity lay. My biggest fear in Denver was that I might win. Fortunately, a much better book by a much more talented author won. Then, when I made the Spotted Owl list, my feelings were similar, relief that I wasn't higher up the list, anxiety that I appeared as high as I did. I am a fraud and a hypocrite though, because despite my misgivings, I used those awards that so sarcastically "demand respect."

This weekend, when I wrote the letter to the award chair who'd informed me I was long-listed that I wanted to withdraw from the competition, it was both easy and hard. Easy, because I'm relieved to be out of a competition that I'm uncomfortable with, but hard because what might an award nomination do for my sales? Nothing? A lot? Who knows? (The only thing we know about marketing books is no one has a clue what works.) Did I damage my relationship with my publisher? Am I simply an idiot? Who knows, though certainly plenty of people haven't been shy about sharing their opinion with me. I feel like I'm standing up for something I believe in, but that kinda sucks. Except I feel like it would suck even more to roll over and pretend I'm okay with a system that I don't think is right.

And yet somehow I have to sell books. I enjoy writing, or rather enjoyed it before becoming a part of the business and learning how cutthroat and bitter it all is. The mystery community is renowned for its warmth and support, and to some degree that is true. For me, there has been nothing better than hanging out in the bar at a conference and chatting with writers I admire so much. But dare to challenge the status quo and God help you. Anybody available to help me clear the venom out of my in box this morning? No? Didn't think so.

Yes, I've resigned from the MWA, but less because of the awards than other issues. Some of you will say it's because I'm a baby who didn't get his way (the nice thing about so many of you being writers is your use of language when you tell me to go fuck myself is so creative and colorful). But the fact is, the awards served as my tipping point. For me there were other, larger issues, but there is no point is bringing them up, because for my trouble I will receive more mockery and derision.

Yep, great community we have here. At least you're all fun to drink with.

Tom Piccirilli

Thanks for the generous compliments on the work, Bill, much appreciated. And if we ever do show at the same con, step up and say hey, I'll buy you a brew.

Charlie Stella

Tom wrote: Charlie, it seems to me that you're fighting a two-battle front. Against the awards process and against "paying tribute" to the MWA. If you don't want to be a part of the org, for whatever reason, then don't.

Charlie: Tom, I’m not. Haven’t been for a few years now. Next …

Tom wrote: Seems to me the more established an author is, the less likely he is to get much out of such an org. When I was a newbie, I belonged. When I wasn't a newbie, I didn't. It's been at least ten or twelve years or so for me … But if you think that being a member gives somebody a leg up in the awards process, I'm pulse-beating proof that it isn't the case.

Charlie: That isn’t what I said or implied. Next …

Tom wrote: As for the spankdown …

Charlie: One might read that as an attempt at being politically correct (i.e., playing both sides of the fence). If it wasn’t, it could be read that way. (more below)

Tom wrote: that "one could argue the acknowledgment of the lack of credibility followed by the ‘why can't we all just get along' attitude is a bit of politicking in itself"–well, like I said, you can't even take a piss without an agenda or somebody saying you're being political. Just not sure what you think one might be politicking here. You think if I run around singing Kumbaya and praising our lords and masters the MWA that they'll bestow knighthood on me? Or even an award? Or even give me a pass on the dues if I should rejoin? I don't know the judges, and I don't know how they do their business. But if you see me pass a wedge of long green under the table to Lee Child at the banquet, then maybe you've got some suspicious activity. Otherwise, I'm not sure what you're after. Blowing the lid off corruption? By all means, do it.

Charlie: The above is all very dramatic. What’s your point? I stated more than once what I was “after” (defending someone attacked for speaking their mind—whether Bill now sees it as childish or not, I chose to defend his displeasure with the MWA).

Tom wrote: I have no issue with Bill Cameron, or you, or anybody who doesn't want to belong to an org. Or who doesn't give a nod to the Edgars. At the same time I think it's a little silly to pull an empassioned breast-beating pose and take your own name off an awards list or quit the MWA in a huff or throw around words like "sanctified" just because you find the process flawed. Especially if you stick something called the "Spotted Owl and Rocky Awards" in your bio. (Sounds like a cool cartoon though). What, the judges of the Spotted Owl and Rocky Awards are incorruptible? I think not. I think the judges of the Spotted Owl and Rocky Awards aren't above being bought off for a shoebox full of twenties. I think some serious dirty cash goes into the Spotted Owl and Rocky Awards judges' children's college funds.

Charlie: I chose sanctified. You choose whatever word you like. Judging from what some have done to get nominated, my guess is someone must think it’s holy.

Tom wrote: I also find it silly that if I or anyone should poke fun at the Spotted Owl and Rocky Awards that said author would immediately change his bio. If it made you proud, then it made you proud. If you felt it gave you a leg up in the world, then maybe it did.

Charlie: N/A (not applicable) My only award is also on my webpage … in the blurb section … and there’s nothing fugazy about it. 6 pounds, 1 ounce in 14 minutes, 32 seconds (when I was more than 120 pounds lighter than I am today).

Tom wrote: Would it be better not to have any awards since, by everyone's admission, they're flawed? Would life be better off without the Oscars, Golden Globes, Grammys, Hugos, Nebulas, World Fantasy, Stokers, Edgars? I doubt it. I bet your wife watches the Oscars and shares in the glory of the moment, same as my wife does. Are they completely meaningless? Maybe. But I admit that I personally got a thrill and felt a kind of validation by getting the nod. A lot of people congratulated me. I glowed for a few moments. I most certainly even beamed. I may have even wah-hooed. It made the slog to the keyboard and staring at the empty page a little easier that night.

Charlie: I just came back from picking my wife up from the doctor’s office, where I asked if she had watched the Oscar’s last year (I read your comments before I left to get her). Apparently not for the last few years was the answer. But … I was happy for Mickey Rourke to get recognized at the Golden Globes and I hope he gets an Oscar nod. Does that mean I think the golden globes or Oscars aren’t fugazy? Sorry, no. Of course they’re fugazy. I’m happy for the writers, actors, etc., not the organization behind the awards (or the awards). In fact, Tom, I’m happy for you (and everyone else nominated). My beef isn’t who or what book (for the 3rd or 4th time now), it’s the process. You seem to be confused about this (getting excited with a lot of “kumbaya hyperbole” in the process).

Tom wrote: You were a window cleaner? Hats off, man, those guys are the coolest. Seriously. Hardcore, climbing up the sides of skyscrapers.

Charlie: 10 years, brother. 50 story house rigs and ten story portables; belts and 6-piece ladder work … check it out on my “blurb” page. I type and do windows.

http://www.charliestella.com/Blurbs.html

And Tom … congratulations.

Tom Piccirilli

Seems like, by and large, we're pretty much on the same side of all the major points. Nothing I said was meant to be overly dramatic or hyperbolic. I was just trying to be a little lighter-hearted about it all, and throw in a touch of humor. As usual, I hit left of center. I've always had a bad pitching arm.

"And Tom … congratulations."

Thanks, brother!


Bill Cameron

Tom wrote: I also find it silly that if I or anyone should poke fun at the Spotted Owl and Rocky Awards that said author would immediately change his bio. If it made you proud, then it made you proud. If you felt it gave you a leg up in the world, then maybe it did.

I don't respond reasonably or rationally to mockery. I think I explained my ambivalence and changing feelings above. Or didn't. Frankly it's hard to keep track of it anymore. As this situation ably demonstrates, the only I do well is make an ass of myself. At least some guy named Greg thinks I'm a good writer. Thanks, Greg! Sorry about being a hypocrite too. I'll try to do better.

Bastian

This is a response to Sandra Ruttan's comment , and also Donna's. Of course i distrust blurbs, for the simple reason there is not such things as 'bad blurbs'. Will the publisher print :"This is the most awful book of the year" or anything like that? Most blurbs use the same tired sentences like :"hair-raising and spine-tingling thriller", "Riveting, Nail-biting and engrossing", "The author has surpassed himself","This is the crime writing at its best".

The more creative blurb sounds ridiculous sometimes :"the story stays coiling and hissing, like a snake in cave" or "the plot that sweeps the rug under your feet each time you think you are on firm ground"

As for the award, i don't care how the selections are made. But i'm always excited for 2 of the most credible awards in crime fiction, the Edgars and the Daggers. I'm always looking forward to discover the authors that i never read before. Of course, there always have been some disagreement, and dissapointment (just like when i'm watching Grammy, Emmys, Socars or Miss World). But in the end, the fun of discovering 'new' authors is the one thing i cherish the most.

And what would crime genre be without those awards ? it would be boring. Just new releases and reviews. Where's the competition ? Where's the recognizition ?

Bastian

Hi again everybody, i made myself a blurb for the next Ruth Rendell novels without actually reading them. Here it goes :

"The Grandmaster of psychological suspense did it again ! Beautifully drawn and convincingly real characeter, atmospheric setting of the dark side of London and two carefully entwined plot that leads to an unexpected ending. This story will have you on the edge of your seat"

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