Now in Paperback: DEATH ON TOUR

Our other big on-sale announcement of the day: Austin author Janice Hamrick’s Death on Tour is now in paperback! This novel, about a Texas high school teacher who works to uncover the mysterious death of a fellow tourist while on vacation in Egypt , won the 2010 Mystery Writers of America/Minotaur Books First Crime Novel Competition. The next book in the series, Death Makes the Cut, goes on sale July 17th. We’ll have Janice here to celebrate the release on Friday, July 27. Mark your calendars! And start reading these books, Janice is a wonderful writer (take a look at her previous posts on this very blog for the proof).

Malice Domestic – Not just the feeling you get when your kids won’t take out the trash

~Guest Post by Janice Hamrick, author of Death On Tour and Death Makes the Cut

Contrary to what its name might suggest, Malice Domestic is an annual fan convention “saluting the traditional mystery”. Think Agatha Christie, Mary Higgins Clark, or Elizabeth Peters, and you’ve got it. Held every year in Bethesda, Maryland, Malice Domestic is a chance for fans and writers to get together, find out what’s new, compare experiences, and talk about the books we love.

For me, going to Malice is a little like being a kid in a candy store. The convention starts off bright and early on Friday morning with Malice Go Round –sort of like speed dating for writers. Sitting in comfort at a table, I listened with delight as authors presented me with synopses of their latest works. I came away with a fistful of bookmarks, candy, and other literary swag and a list about a mile long of new novels I could not wait to read. The convention was barely an hour old, and I was already calculating how many books I could stuff into my suitcase without tipping the scales at the check-in counter. After that came the panels – and the hardest thing of all was deciding which one to attend out of the four or five scheduled for the same time. Imagine trying to choose between hearing Hank Phillippi Ryan, Laurie R. King, and Beth Groundwater for example. And that was in just one session.

Then there are the moments of serendipity – running into friends, meeting new authors, seeing authors whom I’ve revered for years. I passed Carolyn Hart in a hallway, and I’m sure I impressed her with my slack jawed expression and stuttered greeting. (She, of course, was completely charming.) Before my panel (If It’s Tuesday, This Must Be Belgium: Travel Mysteries), I met a reader who not only read my novel Death on Tour, but said she had preordered my second novel Death Makes the Cut and couldn’t wait to read it. It was amazing to hear something like that from anyone who has not given birth to me. (Unless, of course, she was my mom wearing a very clever disguise…but no, I don’t think so.)

One of the highlights for me came during the session given by The Poison Lady, Luci Zahray, who is an extraordinarily knowledgeable Texas pharmacist and toxicologist who provides information to mystery writers about common and easily obtainable poisons. As she explained just how deadly antifreeze can be, her two hundred plus listeners (instead of being both alarmed and appalled) frantically took notes and interrupted her with questions about symptoms and timeline to death. And I thought …yes, these are my people.

Malice Domestic has been celebrating mysteries for the past 24 years, and although this was only my second, a few intrepid fans have attended every single year. Someone asked me if I planned to come back next year. Let me think….a convention for intrigue, betrayal, murder, and the people who love them. Darn right I’ll be coming back!


Janice Hamrick’s first novel, Death on Tour, was published after winning the Mystery Writers of America/Minotaur Books First Crime Novel award. The second Jocelyn Shore mystery, Death Makes the Cut, is now on shelves and she’s working on the third. Janice lives in Austin.

An Award to Remember…..

~Guest Post by Janice Hamrick, author of Death On Tour and Death Makes the Cut

The MWA Agents and Editor’s Cocktail Party is one of the many events making up the Edgar Awards festivities in New York City each April, and this year I got to go. I could lie and be all blasé about it, but it was pretty much as fascinating as it sounds – a room full of writers, editors, agents, and publishers at every level of experience and success sipping wine and sampling an impressive variety of bite-sized hors d’oeuvres carried by wait staff who were a great deal better dressed than I. I’m pretty sure I sampled them all – the hors d’oeuvres that is, not the wait staff. (Anything that fits in your mouth without the need to unhinge your jaw is too small to be counted as calories, right?)

This cocktail party was no evening soiree filled with tuxedoed gents and bejeweled ladies in cocktail dresses, but rather a festive business casual happy hour. Instead of a darkened glamorous room filled with hushed voices and the quiet tinkle of ice cubes floating in gin, this setting was exuberant, filled with laughter and the pearly gray light of a New York April evening. It was the kind of party where the participants stand in intimate little knots leaning toward each other with bent necks and cocked heads because it is too noisy to do otherwise. All around, little groups form and pause before breaking, swirling, and regrouping into new formations like the best kind of kaleidoscope. It’s the kind of party where friends who’d seen each other yesterday hugged, where acquaintances who hadn’t seen each other since the last Edgar Awards caught up with the happenings of a busy and fruitful year, and where strangers met for the first time, often with cries of recognition: “I’ve heard so much about you!” The energy and excitement were invigorating and…did I mention the wine and snacks?

Of course, the crowning moment of the evening was the presentation of the Mary Higgins Clark award by Mary Higgins Clark herself. The award is for a traditional mystery featuring a female amateur sleuth. This year, the nominees were

Now You See Me by S.J. Bolton
Come and Find Me by Hallie Ephron
Death on Tour by Janice Hamrick
Learning to Swim by Sara J. Henry
Murder Most Persuasive by Tracy Kiely

Yes, that’s my name there in the middle, and I’ll end the suspense: Learning to Swim was the deserving winner, and although winning would have rocked, I was truly honored to be among such a wonderful group of nominees. For one thing, being nominated gave me an excuse to go to New York. For another, it gave me a chance to meet and speak with some of my fellow writers. As always, I found myself both pleased and startled to observe how truly nice they all are. For a group who spends a sizable portion of their time devising ways to kill other people, almost all my fellow writers are exceptionally kind and supportive. I say “almost all” only because I haven’t met all of them and surely there are one or two bastards out there. So far, though, I’ve never come across one. (Hmmm…maybe that means it’s me.)

In any event, the party made one of the best and brightest memories in my writing career so far. Getting to meet Mary Higgins Clark and my fellow nominees didn’t hurt. Getting to go to dinner with my fabulous agent David Hale Smith and editor extraordinaire Matt Martz didn’t hurt either. They have my heartfelt thanks for creating an evening that a very new writer will treasure forever. My next stop is the Malice Domestic mystery writers conference held in Bethesda. I’m looking forward to another few days of intrigue and suspense. Wonder if there will be wine and hors d’oeuvres…


Janice Hamrick’s first novel, Death on Tour, was published after winning the Mystery Writers of America/Minotaur Books First Crime Novel award. The second Jocelyn Shore mystery, Death Makes the Cut, is now on shelves and she’s working on the third. Janice lives in Austin. 

The Mary Higgins Clark Award

The Mary Higgins Clark Award is given out at a special party the night before the Mystery Writers Of America’s Edgar Awards, which are given to suspense writers. I’m very happy to announce that two friends of ours (who we had the honor of hosting with their debut novels) made the list.

Sara J. Henry with Learning To Swim – This is a great cross between Du Maurier’s Rebecca and your favorite Harlan Coben thriller. Just released in paperback.




Janice Hamrick with Death On Tour – This is a very funny mystery about a murder on a discount Egyptian tour. Janice is an Austin author who not only won the MWA/St. Martins First Crime Novel Prize, but also wrote a chick lit style mystery an affirmed hard boiled fan like myself can love.


Congratulations ladies!