The Story Behind The Best Laid Plans: 21 Stories of Mystery & Suspense (edited by Judy Penz Sheluk)
November 22, 2014. That’s the day The Whole She-Bang 2: 24 Stories by Sisters in Crime Canada launched at The Sleuth of Baker Street, an independent bookstore in Toronto, Canada. My short story, “Plan D”, had been included in the collection, judged in a blind submission process. While I’d been a freelance journalist and editor since 2003, this was my first publication credit in the mystery genre, and to say I was over-the-moon excited would be understating my mood.
A lot has happened between then and now. In addition to a few more short stories, I’m the author of two mystery series and four—soon to be five—novels. I’ve been traditionally published and, in February 2018, set up my own publishing imprint, Superior Shores Press.
From the moment I set up Superior Shores Press, I knew I wanted to publish a multi-author anthology of short crime fiction, to recreate in some small way the buzz of excitement I’d felt with She-Bang 2. I’d had some experience with the vetting process, having been the intake coordinator for Passport to Murder, the anthology for Bouchercon Toronto 2017, and my background as a magazine editor would also come in handy when it came to editing and compiling the collection. And so, in October 2018, after calculating the financial risks and taking several deep breaths, I sent out the Call for Submissions and spent a sleepless night worrying: What if no one responded the call?
I need not have worried. In all, seventy-two submissions were received. Countries represented included the U.S., Canada, England, Norway, Italy, Australia, and Argentina.
Reading seventy-two stories with a view to accepting twenty (I planned to include “Plan D”) was far more difficult than I’d anticipated, but after two weeks and multiple reads I came up with a long list of about thirty-five. Culling those down to the final twenty took another two weeks, and many more reads.
The stories within The Best Laid Plans are faithful to the underlying theme of the best-laid plans, albeit in very different ways as interpreted by twenty-one very different authors. My own “Plan D”, for example, tells the story of an unhappy wife who dreams up ways to kill her under-employed husband, while in “The Stonecutter”, Wickeds author Edith Maxwell shares a tale of a widowed, middle-aged librarian who falls desperately in love with a married man whose wife struggles with schizophrenia. In both cases, the protagonists’ best-laid plans come back to haunt them…and not in a way that anyone could have predicted.
Readers: Now time for you to ’fess up: Do you have a best-laid plan that went awry?
Synopsis: Whether it’s at a subway station in Norway, a ski resort in Vermont, a McMansion in the suburbs, or a trendy art gallery in Toronto, the twenty-one authors represented in this superb collection of mystery and suspense interpret the overarching theme of “the best laid plans” in their own inimitable style. And like many best laid plans, they come with no guarantees.
Stories by Tom Barlow, Susan Daly, Lisa de Nikolits, P.A. De Voe, Peter DiChellis, Lesley A. Diehl, Mary Dutta, C.C. Guthrie, William Kamowski, V.S. Kemanis, Lisa Lieberman, Edward Lodi, Rosemary McCracken, LD Masterson, Edith Maxwell, Judy Penz Sheluk, KM Rockwood, Peggy Rothschild, Johanna Beate Stumpf, Vicki Weisfeld, and Chris Wheatley.
The Best Laid Plans: 21 Stories of Mystery & Suspense, releasing June 18, is available on Kindle and in trade paperback at all the usual suspects, including Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Chapters.Indigo.