The Saturday Creativity Quote — supporting the creative community

I’ve long followed Dan Blank of The Creative Shift and deeply appreciate his insights into applying our creativity to our sharing and promotional efforts, as well as his emphasis on building and supporting the creative community. So I’m sharing this recent quote from his Substack article:

“Support those who create before they are gone. Is there an author whose work you appreciate? Send them a thank you email. Is there a local bookstore you love, but you just don’t get there often enough? Take a trip this week and set the intention to spend a certain amount of money to support them. Is there a local nonprofit in the arts that you admire? Go to their website and see how you can support them, even if it is just showing up for an event or spreading the word.”

We’re big supporters of local galleries and art centers, and love going to openings — First Friday Art Walks are especially great in the summer. This week, I took Blank’s advice and wrote thank you emails to the authors of two books I recently read: Anthony W. Wood, author of Black Montana: Settler Colonialism and the Erosion of the Racial Frontier, 1877-1930, and Michael K. Johnson, author of A Black Woman’s Montana: The Life of Rose B. Gordon, the daughter of a former slave who was born in a small central Montana town in 1883 and lived most of her life there. I read both after I finished my short story collection featuring another early Black Montanan — All God’s Sparrows and Other Stories: A Stagecoach Mary Fields Collection — coming in September, so they didn’t directly contribute to the writing, but both books helped me better understand Mary’s time and era in Montana, something that will be a big part of my book talks this fall.

Will either man reply? I don’t know, and it doesn’t matter. I simply wanted to acknowledge their work, something I suspect authors of books that lean toward the academic side don’t often hear! (Wood’s book is more academic than Johnson’s, but both are excellent explorations of a little known part of Montana history.)

So what can you do this week to support your creative community — local or otherwise?

(And no, I’m not fishing for thank you notes — spread the love around!)

The Agatha Award nominations are out — celebrate with me!

cat sleeping with tea potsThe Agatha Awards are given every May at Malice Domestic, the convention celebrating the traditional mystery. It’s always fun to see the list of nominees — and to try to read as many as I can before “the con,” so I can cast my vote.

It’s even more fun to see the list when I’m on it! “All God’s Sparrows,” my first historical short story, is nominated for Best Short Story. It was originally published in Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine, May-June 2018; it’s now available, free, on my website. The authors of the other nominated shorts have also posted their stories — it’s a tradition, because so many stories would not otherwise be available — see the links below.

In 1885 Montana Territory, “Stagecoach Mary” Fields and Sister Louisine encounter a young mother and her daughter whose plight requires an inspired intervention. Mary is a historic figure who was born in slavery in Tennessee in 1832 and moved to Montana Territory to care for the ailing Mother Superior at St. Peter’s Mission near Cascade.

I’ve got a pair of Agatha teapots, for Best Nonfiction (2011) and Best First Novel (2013) — that’s Ruff, our late kitty, lounging with them in the library window sill. But honestly, that makes me even more excited, because I know what an honor a nomination is. And I’m sure you’ll agree that the other stories are terrific — I feel like we’re all winners already.

Here’s the full list, courtesy of Malice Domestic:

Announcing the 2018 Agatha Award Nominees

Best Contemporary Novel

Mardi Gras Murder by Ellen Byron (Crooked Lane Books)
Beyond the Truth by Bruce Robert Coffin (Witness Impulse)
Cry Wolf by Annette Dashofy (Henery Press)
Kingdom of the Blind by Louise Penny (Minotaur)
Trust Me by Hank Phillippi Ryan (Forge)

Best Historical Novel 

Four Funerals and Maybe a Wedding by Rhys Bowen (Berkley)
The Gold Pawn by LA Chandlar (Kensington)
The Widows of Malabar Hill by Sujata Massey (Soho Crime)
Turning the Tide by Edith Maxwell (Midnight Ink)
Murder on Union Square by Victoria Thompson (Berkley)

Best First Novel

A Lady’s Guide to Etiquette and Murder by Dianne Freeman (Kensington)
Little Comfort by Edwin Hill (Kensington)
What Doesn’t Kill You by Aimee Hix (Midnight Ink)
Deadly Solution by Keenan Powell (Level Best Books)
Curses Boiled Again by Shari Randall (St. Martin’s)

Best Short Story

“All God’s Sparrows” by Leslie Budewitz (Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine)
“A Postcard for the Dead” by Susanna Calkins in Florida Happens (Three Rooms Press)
“Bug Appetit” by Barb Goffman (Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine)
“The Case of the Vanishing Professor” by Tara Laskowski (Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine)
“English 398: Fiction Workshop” by Art Taylor (Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine)

Best Children’s/YA Mystery

Potion Problems (Just Add Magic) by Cindy Callaghan (Aladdin)
Winterhouse by Ben Guterson (Henry Holt)
A Side of Sabotage by C.M. Surrisi (Carolrhoda Books)

Best Nonfiction

Mastering Plot Twists by Jane Cleland (Writer’s Digest Books)
Writing the Cozy Mystery by Nancy J Cohen (Orange Grove Press)
Conan Doyle for the Defense by Margalit Fox (Random House)
Agatha Christie: A Mysterious Life by Laura Thompson (Pegasus Books)
Wicked Women of Ohio by Jane Ann Turzillo (History Press)

The Agatha Awards will be presented on May 4, 2019 
during Malice Domestic 31.  

(Picture of “Stagecoach Mary” Fields courtesy of the Montana Historical Society.)