Look for my first-ever story in EQMM!

My short story, “The Woman in the Briefcase” appears in the March/April 2016 issue of Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine (EQMM). The hard-copy issue hit newsstands earlier this week, but you can also grab digital issues as well.

I'm pretty excited because it's the first story of mine to appear in EQMM. I'd describe it as a forensic anthropology mystery with a twist.

You can download a single digital issue via Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Apple iTunes, Magzter, Kobo, and Google Play. Just make sure you are downloading the March/April issue shown above.

Submissions stats: I finished this story sometime in August 2014. I submitted it to EQMM that same month, and didn’t hear from them until they bought it in February 2015,  six months later. So it’s appearing about a year after acceptance, eighteen months since writing and submission. Payment was $200, plus an additional $50 prepayment against a future EQMM anthology. That came to a total of $250, or about 7 cents a word.

Yes, I will eventually release an e-book version of “The Woman in the Briefcase," which I’ll offer free to readers on my list. If you’d rather wait for the free copy, please join my e-newsletter.

I have a post appearing today on EQMM's blog

Today I'm up on Something Is Going to Happen, the official blog of Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine, talking about a childhood obsession of mine that led to my fascination with mystery and crime fiction. You can check out the article here.

In other news:

* I actually have a story appearing in the March/April issue of EQMM, out on newsstands next week, February 23. I haven't seen a copy yet, but I'm definitely excited. It's my first for that magazine.

* My children's book, Blockhead: The Life of Fibonacci, is finally appearing in stores with a cover medallion announcing its selection as an Honor Book in the Mathical Prize for math-themed children's literature. Yay! Cool to have one of those award thingies on your book cover.

* My local bookstore, Malaprop's, is now officially carrying copies of my self-pubbed fiction and nonfiction.

* If you're reading this via my Tumblr blog, please take a moment to reroute your reader to my official blog at: http://www.josephdagnese.com/blog. I will most likely discontinue the Tumblr feed in the near future. It would be smart to make the move now.

 

 

Merry Christmas, Happy New Year—and thank you!

Every year at this time my editors and clients seem to disappear, and if I’m lucky I can get in a week, maybe two, of decent work without interruptions. But I’m finding it hard to concentrate this morning, the first day back from the long weekend, hence this quick note. There’s no doubt in my mind that 2015 was an annus horribilis for our family. We lost three family members, which impacted the manner in which we celebrated Christmas this year, and the tenor of our thoughts during the entire season.

We also lost precious time in 2015. My output was severely curtailed by caregiving, estate settling, and our own move to a new home late in the year. But we got through it all. A ghostwriting client materialized in the last half of the year, miraculously boosting my own earning. 

Through it all, there were still some bright spots. The Derringer winThe appearance in Best American Mystery Stories anthology. And the belated award for my chidren’s picture book. So I can't really complain. I also managed to complete the first draft of a new novel. Yes, I realize that isn’t saying much. I’m very good at doing first drafts; I have three sitting on my hard drive that are crying out for attention. But when the ghost gig evaporates in spring, I hope to polish this new book and pass on to my agent.

I am incredibly grateful to those of you who have supported my writing and who have taken the time to stop by this blog from time to time. You are among my most loyal readers and followers. Here’s a wish that 2016 is a better year for us all.

Boucherpants, and the Speech I Didn't Give

Thanks from a grateful author.

Thanks from a grateful author.

A few hours before Denise and I were supposed to hop in the car and drive to Raleigh, NC, for Bouchercon, I found myself yelling downstairs, “Where the hell are my Boucherpants?"

I had a particular pair in mind for the con, you see. I was supposed to have tossed them in the laundry the night before, only I didn’t, so now I’d be packing without them.

Denise thought the line so funny that, for the rest of the week, we privately referred to the con itself as Boucherpants, which in our alternate universe was named after its illustrious namesake, Anthony Boucherpants.

I was in a good mood. Only a day before, the new Best American Mystery Stories 2015 anthology had pubbed. As readers here know, I have a story in that collection, “Harm and Hammer,” which pubbed November 2014 in Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine. To top it off, on the second night of the con, I’d be receiving a Derringer medal for a 2014 flash fiction story, “How Lil’ Jimmie Beat the Big C.” I got in the car feeling eager and proud.

But somehow, two days into my very first Boucherpants, I was exhausted, overwhelmed, and not a little terrified. On the four-hour ride over, Denise happened to ask, “What do you hope to get out of this weekend?” I knew I wanted to pick up my medal, see what there was to see, meet whoever I could, and have fun. Beyond that, I didn’t have much else on my personal agenda.

As a kid, I used to be fairly shy, timid, even. But I don’t really think of myself that way any more. Years of journalism work, book talks and signings, have largely erased my fear of socializing and public speaking. But on the ground in Raleigh, I regressed. I didn’t know how to get up the nerve to introduce myself to people, let alone carry on a decent conversation. I kept critically judging every word that left my mouth. What an idiot. How could I have just said that? I suspect that the closer you are to the thing you love—in this case, the mystery community—the more vulnerable you become.

Then came the awards Thursday night. I hadn’t prepared an acceptance speech because I’d heard through the grapevine that there typically wasn’t time for such things. And really, how much of a speech was I going to make? Uttering even a few hundred words on behalf of a 684-word flash fiction story seemed indulgent. But come Thursday, every single author who won an award gave an acceptance speech, even those who weren’t in attendance.

The Derringers were announced at the very end of the opening ceremonies. By then, the crowd had been promised some tasty Carolina BBQ. Tender, delicious meat was waiting in the wings...

As I watched those speeches, my heart sank. I thought about jotting down some notes, but I know myself well enough to know that I needed time to polish those words. I could extemporize, but I risked making a fool of myself. I couldn’t do it. The crowd looked larger than any I'd ever addressed, not to mention ravenous. In the end, I accepted my medal and sailed wordlessly off the dais. Presenter Art Taylor nimbly covered for me. (Bless you, Art.) Denise filmed the whole thing. Watch.

Only later did I realize that what needed to be said was altogether brief. If I had spoken, I might have said this:

Thank you to my editors at Shotgun Honey.

Thanks to my colleagues at the Short Mystery Fiction Society.

I'm very grateful.

I could go on, but I won’t, because I live in North Carolina, and I respect barbecue way too much.

By Sunday, I had calmed down and managed to meet quite a few people at the bar. No doubt we’ll meet again at some future con, where I resolve to be more sociable and to wear my lucky pants.

My Quirk book's on sale for Constitution Day

Today, September 17th, is Constitution Day in the United States. It’s not nearly as well celebrated as Fourth of July, but it’s arguably more significant. Two hundred and twenty-eight years ago, 39 men in Philadelphia signed the document that would soon become the U.S. Constitution. You can take a fun quiz here at the Washington Post to refresh your memory on those events.

My publisher, Quirk Books, is running a sale on my book about that event. Right now the e-book version of Signing Their Rights Away is under $4 across all platforms—Amazon, B&N, Apple, and Kobo. (Predictably, Amazon is the cheapest last time I checked: $3.01.)

Of all the books I’ve done with Quirk, Rights is my favorite. It’s the best written, the best designed, and the best illustrated. I had a lot of fun writing it. I don’t know how long the sale is running, but definitely check it out if you’re at all interested.

Moving!

View of the patio. 

View of the patio. 

It's crazy but true: we bought new house in the same town. More space, a better office for both of us, and some really nice garden spaces to keep us sane in between. We haven't scheduled a moving-day per se, but are choosing to move piecemeal from our old place, so we can purge unneeded possessions along the way. I'm not quite up and running at the moment, but look forward to being productive in a cool new space. Yay.

Look for My Story in the Nov 2015 Issue of Hitchcock's Mystery Mag

Look for my short story, “The Truth of What You’ve Become,” in the November 2015 issue of Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine (AHMM). The hard-copy issue hits newsstands tomorrow, Tuesday, September 15, but digital issues are already available.

I’d describe “The Truth...” as a Good Samaritan story gone wrong.

You can download a single digital issue via Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Apple iTunes, Magzter, Kobo, and Google Play. Just make sure you are downloading the November issue shown above.

Submissions stats: I finished this story sometime in November 2013. I submitted it to AHMM in February 2014, and didn’t hear from them until they bought it in September 2014, nearly eight months later. So it’s appearing a year after acceptance, nineteen months since writing and submission. Payment was $208, plus an additional $52 prepayment against a future AHMM anthology. That came to a total of $260, or about 8 cents a word.

Yes, I will eventually release an e-book version of “The Truth of What You’ve Become," which I’ll offer free to readers on my list. If you’d rather wait for the free copy, please join my e-newsletter.


Oliver Sacks: Farewell and Thank You

I was saddened to hear of the passing of Oliver Sacks, whose work made a big impression on me during the handful of years I was writing for science publications. He and I had never met, but he did one thing for me that I’ll always be grateful for. He chose one of my nonfiction articles for the Ecco/HarperCollins annual anthology, Best American Science Writing 2003. It was my second appearance in that collection, and I was just as surprised the second time around as I was for the first. So thank you, Dr. Sacks. Hail and farewell.

The story he picked was the one I did on sanctuaries for retired lab chimps. You can read it here.