Anthony Award Nominees from Down & Out Books talk about their nomination.

As Down & Out Books celebrates its sixth anniversary, six D&O authors are also in celebratory moods because of their respective Anthony Award nominations. In this fun roundtable for Suspense Magazine, Eric Beetner, Angel Luis Colón, Jen Conley, Greg Herren, S.W. Lauden, and John Shepphird discuss how they found out about their nominations, reveal if they have already started writing acceptance speeches, and share what readers can expect next.



How did you find out about your nomination?

Jen Conley: I got an email from Bouchercon. I was very excited and then I read that I had to keep it to myself for two days until they made the announcement.





John Shepphird: The Awards Chair emailed me. BEWARE THE SHILL is my second Anthony nomination. Two years ago (Bouchercon Raleigh, NC) I was nominated in the short story category for OF DOGS & DECEIT (the second in my private eye series published in Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine). I didn’t come home with the hardware but it didn’t matter because it was such a thrill to be embraced by such an incredible community. The first in the PI series, GHOST NEGLIGENCE, won the Shamus Award. The forthcoming third, ELECTRIC BOOGALOO, is set for publication to coincide with Bouchercon Toronto.  


Angel Luis Colón: The initial email got buried in a junk inbox, so I didn’t find out about the nomination until another author DMed me. I wasn’t able to confirm, so I totally thought he was busting my chops since most of us pretend not to care about the nominations but absolutely care. Thankfully, the incoming flood of texts, emails, and messages confirmed it.


Eric Beetner: They send out emails early in the week of nominations so you actually find out a few days before it is made public. When I got the email there were two, obviously, and they showed up in my email as one email so I read the nomination for LEADFOOT and it took me a while before I noticed there was a second attachment. Imagine my surprise when the anthology I created and edited was also nominated. Having UNLOADED get the nod was in some ways the bigger thrill.



S.W. Lauden: The morning the nominations were announced I was getting ready for work. I answered some emails and checked Facebook and Twitter before getting into the shower. When I got out 10 minutes later my inbox and social pages had blown up with all of the congratulations posts and comments flying around for all the nominees. It’s really something to witness the incredible support and mutual respect in the crime and mystery community. That whole day turned out to be pretty hectic in the best possible way.

Greg Herren: When I woke up that morning, the screen of my phone had so many Facebook and Twitter notifications! I can’t remember who was the first person to actually tag me or tweet at me, but I think it was Laura Lippman, which was SO COOL.



Who was the first person you told?

John Shepphird: My wife. I had to justify the expense of my flight and hotel, even in Canadian dollars.

Angel Luis Colón: My wife. It’s always best to tell the person who has to deal with you as a writer that you’re not just banging away at the keyboard like a monkey.

Greg Herren: My partner heard me gasp loudly enough to wake him up!

Eric Beetner: I knew we were sworn to secrecy but I couldn’t resist letting the publisher of UNLOADED and soon-to-be publisher of LEADFOOT, Eric Campbell of Down & Out Books, know the good news. As it turns out that got me in a little hot water with my wife for not telling her first.

Jen Conley: My fiancé, Jay. I sent him an email because we were both working. He was very happy for me.

S.W. Lauden: The first person I told was my wife, Heather. She was extremely happy for me as her husband, but had no way of understanding what it meant to me as a writer. How could she? It wasn’t until I shared the news with my agent, publisher and a few close writer friends that I got the kind of over-the-top response I was looking for. That high-five session was short-lived, but still pretty awesome.

Please share a bit about your nominated work.

Eric Beetner: LEADFOOT is the second in my series about the McGraws, a family of criminal drivers in the Midwest. RUMRUNNERS was the first novel in that series and the 80-year-old Calvin was the breakout star from that novel with the way he kicked ass and took names while on the hunt for the men who killed his son. I had a trilogy planned out but the publisher suggested I think about a prequel so we could push Calvin front and center. It turned out to be a great idea.

Now I’m in a unique situation because that publisher decided to shut their doors quite unexpectedly, leaving LEADFOOT out of print. Eric and the D&O team quickly swooped in and picked up the books. Then the nomination came. We hope to have them back out for people to check out in plenty of time before the awards ceremony.

UNLOADED was a passion project of mine. It’s a collection of crime short stories with all the thrills and excitement you know and love about the genre, but without any guns. It’s a small statement and an attempt to start a conversation within the crime fiction community about the use of guns and to show that if we take them out of the stories, the world doesn’t fall apart. Maybe, in some small way, we can show that this is possible in real life too.

John Shepphird: BEWARE THE SHILL is the third novella in a trilogy. The series features Jane Innes, a likeable but hapless underemployed actress whose string of bad luck takes her ever deeper into noir. She’s been betrayed and battered by a powerful gang of swindlers. But they underestimate Jane. She uses their own tactic, the “art of deception”, to deftly right the wrong.
Greg Herren: BLOOD ON THE BAYOU is the Bouchercon 2016 anthology, with a New Orleans/Louisiana theme. We had a lot of great stories and great writers—everything from cozy to funny to dark and hard-boiled. I am very proud of the book.
S.W. Lauden: CROSSWISE is a crossword puzzle-themed crime caper nominated for Best Novella, which is thrilling because it’s a new category this year. It started out as a short story that I wrote while vacationing on the panhandle of Florida where the story’s set. CROSSWISE follows the misadventures of disgraced NYPD officer Tommy Ruzzo. Things spiral out of control when Ruzzo chases his hell-raising girlfriend to her hometown where he’s named Head of Security for a beachfront retirement community populated by wisecracking New Yorkers. Ruzzo is stranded among the local losers until the day he discovers a murdered senior citizen on the bocce ball court. The sequel, CROSSED BONES, was released in March of this year.
Jen Conley: CANNIBALS is a collection of related stories which take place in Ocean County, New Jersey, which is considered the central or southern part of the state, depending who you ask. Most of this area encompasses a wide swath of forested land called the Pine Barrens. The characters in my collection are related by history or geography—meaning they all grew up in the area. Most of the stories are centered around working class people who are trying to survive as they commit a crime, solve a crime, or just survive the hardships of what life throws you. I would say it’s almost rural noir.
Angel Luis Colón: It’s a heist novel without a real heist! NO HAPPY ENDINGS is sort of a bastard child of Thief, Bottle Rocket, and Takashi Miike’s gorier work. It’s about a legacy ex-con, Fantine Park, being forced to do one more gig to procure a bizarre score—ivy league semen. Unfortunately, anyone willing to hire someone to steal semen is an idiot and may not believe in proper planning. Double misfortune: the cryostorage facility Fan has to hit isn’t all it seems to be.
Have you already started your “thank you speech?”

S.W. Lauden: Definitely not, but I’ve heard some pretty crazy thank you speech stories from award-winning authors we’ve interviewed on “Writer Types,” the crime and mystery podcast I co-host with Eric Beetner. Not all of those stories made it onto the show, but if you want a good laugh check out episode 1 where Lou Berney talks about the night he won the Edgar Award for THE LONG AND FARAWAY GONE. I imagine any award nominee would have something prepared after hearing him tell that one.

Jen Conley: No. I think that will jinx it.

Angel Luis Colón: I would if I could actually make the ceremony! Family and day job commitments mean I’m flying back home the morning of the award presentation. Bright side: I can drink my sorrows away on the plane if I lose or I can have the time to write a heartfelt message without hiccups if I win.

Eric Beetner: I’ve been thinking about it, but haven’t written anything down yet. I will though. Better to be prepared and not need it than to be caught flat footed.

Greg Herren: I haven’t, and not really sure if I will write one, or even think of one. The four other finalists are all fantastic books, so I’m pretty happy just to have made the cut, actually.

John Shepphird: No. My gut tells me the competition is too fierce in this category. It’s going to be a toss-up. Besides I can’t prepare a speech. I’m horrible. Ever see that movie THE KING’S SPEECH? I’m no king but that’s me.

What are you working on now?

Angel Luis Colón: I’m waiting on a concept edit of a novel in progress called HITSTER, writing a literary piece without a title, working on multiple short stories, gearing up for the release of the second novella in my Song of Piss & Vinegar series; BLACKY JAGUAR AGAINST THE COOL CLUX CULT, and outlining Fantine Park’s next outing, PULL & PRAY. There will be an actual heist this time and no, it won’t be gross. Oh, and a collection of my short stories, MEAT CITY ON FIRE (AND OTHER ASSORTED DEBACLES) drops before Christmas, so I’ll probably be editing a little more there to get it all picture perfect.
As you can see, I’m lazy as all hell.
Greg Herren: I’m writing a stand alone novel about a social issue I feel very passionately about.
Jen Conley: I have a short story I need to edit. I’m also outlining a novel starring one of the characters in CANNIBALS.

S.W. Lauden: The third book in my Greg Salem punk rock P.I. series will be released by Rare Bird Books in January 2018. I’m also working on another book with all new characters that I hope will see the light of day in the next year or two. It’s an interesting challenge to write something new after spending so many years with the characters from the Greg Salem and Tommy & Shayna books. I also have a short story coming out in a Johnny Cash-inspired anthology called JUST TO WATCH HIM DIE that’s being edited by Joe Clifford.

John Shepphird: My first novel titled BOTTOM FEEDERS, a whodunit. It will be out next year.

Eric Beetner: I just handed in a new novel to my agents. It’s a bit different for me but I really like it. Hopefully everyone else does too. I’m also looking forward to the release of the finale in my Lars and Shaine trilogy, THE DEVIL AT YOUR DOOR. This is another book left orphaned by the closing down of a publisher and the culmination of a series I started a long time ago, and what I think is really some of my best work.

Where can readers go to find out more about you and your work?

Greg Herren:! My Twitter handle is @scottynola, and I can also be found on Facebook at

S.W. Lauden: My author website is a really good place to start. I also do we weekly author interviews and other fun stuff on my blog, BadCitizenCorporation. com. And, of course, there’s always Facebook at and Twitter at

John Shepphird: My website The e-book for the first novella in this trilogy THE SHILL is free on Amazon. Check it out.
Eric Beetner: and be sure to check out the podcast I host with fellow Anthony nominee, S.W. Lauden called Writer Types.

Angel Luis Colón: I’m easily found at – I’ve got links to my stories available in digital and print there. I’m also very much all over the Twitters as @GoshDarnMyLife, though beware, I do a lot of GIFs and politics (which is what 99% of us are doing, so I’m “normal”).

Jen Conley:

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