On Monday, August 29, Driven: A Rita Mars Thriller, took the Silver Award in the Fiction, LGBTQ category. I want to thank all my readers who took the time to review my work, who sent messages of encouragement and who rolled up their sleeves to help get my book produced and promoted. I could not have asked for more caring support.
About the EVVY’s
The CIPA EVVYs™ is one of the longest-running book award competitions on the Indie publishing scene, running for nearly 28 years. This annual contest is sponsored by the Colorado Independent Publishers’ Association (CIPA).
The CIPA EVVYs™ was founded by Evelyn Kaye twenty-eight years ago. Ms. Kaye was instrumental in bringing independent aspiring authors recognition for their literary endeavors. It is open to all types of independently published books from small presses that are too often overlooked by the giant publishing houses. The contest has grown to receive entries from as far away as England, Belgium, South Africa and Dubai. This year alone, the competition drew more than 400 entrants.
There are over 50 categories eligible to compete which allows a wide range of genres. The panel of judges is comprised of teachers, business leaders, critics, editors and, of course, readers. In this competition, judges must follow strict CIPA qualification process.
Awards are given to the top three highest scorers in each category. To achieve an award is certainly an honor.
The CIPA EVVY’s continue to be a leader in providing a pathway for independent authors to gain recognition for their work.
Congratulations to my Sisters in Crime fellow writers! Here are the Colorado Killer Nashville Silver Falchion Award Finalists!
Best Action Adventure Finalist: Murder at Buckskin Joe by JvL Bell
Best Investigator Finalist: At First Light by Barbara Nickless
Best Attendee Thriller Finalist – Fallen Star: The Divine Devils Book 2 by R Weir
Best Investigator Finalist: Striking Range: A Timber Creek K-9 Mystery by Margaret Mizushima
I have read these authors and recommend you give them a try if you haven’t already. Well worth your reading time.
Engaging stories have three elements: mystery, thriller, and suspense. Since 2008, the Killer Nashville Silver Falchion Awards have recognized the best stories from the previous year told through various media. Judges are professional writers, book reviewers, librarians, academics, and—in specialized cases—specific industry peers. Focus is on quality, not popularity.
Winners will be announced at the Killer Nashville Awards Dinner on August 20, 2022 in Nashville, Tennessee.
Each year InD’tale Magazine honors the very best books in the Indie and Small publishing industry by awarding their RONE award. Not offered lightly, any contending book must go through one of the most rigorous processes in publishing, with the three distinct areas of focus that are required to make a book successful in the publishing world. Here are the magazine’s details about award eligibility:
- The Review Round: All books in each given year (January 1st – December 31st) must have been read and reviewed by our professional staff of reviewers and be given a 4.5 – 5.0 star rating. All eligible books must be originally published and submitted within that qualifying year. Those books that meet those qualifications will become the nominees and progress to the second round of voting.
- The Reader Voting Round: In the second round, all nominees must be voted on by the reading public. The books with the highest number of reader votes will progress on to become finalists. There is a one book limit in this round, however. If an author has more than one book that has received high ratings, that author will choose which book should continue. This rule gives authors the very best chance of success in this round.
- The Judges Round: Each book in the finalists will then be read by a group of industry professionals consisting of editors, writers, professors etc. and be judged on a one to five scale from a specific list of requirements such as characterization, technical writing, overall arc, editing etc. Those scores will then be tallied by a professional accounting firm unrelated to InD’tale or its employees to determine the winner of the coveted RONE award, along with the honorable mentions.
- Rules and genres are subject to change without notice depending on numbers in each genre.
All awards are announced at the annual RONE award gala where winners are presented with the Crystal RONE award.
I was recently interviewed by Many Books. I am sharing a few insights here with a link to the complete Q&A at the end of this post.
What inspired you to write about someone who loses an old friend to what appears to be suicide?
When journalists get too close to exposing corrupt government officials, their lives are in peril. The inspiration for Rita evolved from a 1970’s unsolved murder near Washington, DC with events from more recent journalist murders in Mexico and Slovakia woven in. In all the cases, colleagues took on investigating the killings as personal; they became crusades.
Tell us more about Rita Mars. What makes her tick?
Rita Mars has been an investigative reporter. She’s quick and she’s smart. She does not tolerate fools. She can be abrasive. She’s the daughter of a policeman, a Viet Nam vet with definitive rules. While she rebelled against the rigidity, the lessons learned prepped her perfectly for her role. As she got older, she wanted more a hand in the justice she sought as a reporter, hence her leap from writing about wrongs to having a hand in “righting” those wrongs.
You used to work as a crime reporter. How have your real-life experiences in crime reporting influenced your work?
Immediately out of grad school, I became a reporter for the Fort Smith Times-Record on the Arkansas-Oklahoma border – home of the famous “hangin’ judge” Charles Parker of the movie True Grit fame. There were several murders, including one that remains unsolved today, but the highlight of my stay there was my getting to meet and interview Sam Ervin, Senate lead on the Watergate investigations. I was hooked then on writing about the back-channel manipulations of underhanded politicians.
Learn more about Valerie Webster, her current work and her new book, Objects of Desire, coming in the fall of 2022.
Jersey Girl Book Reviews: In her debut thriller novel, Driven: A Rita Mars Thriller, author Valerie Webster transports the reader to the locales of Harpers Ferry, West Virginia, Baltimore, and Washington D.C., for an intriguing thriller that will keep the reader guessing and turning the pages.
The story centers around Rita Mars, ex-investigative journalist turned private investigator, who is determined to find the killer of her friend and ex-journalist co-worker, Bobby Ellis. Rita was supposed to meet up with Bobby at a Harpers Ferry hotel, but when she got to the hotel, Bobby was found hanging by the shower rod by a hotel maid, and the coroner concludes the cause of death as a suicide. Rita knows that Bobby didn’t kill himself, so she embarks on an investigation that will lead to the halls of Congress, determined to piece together what Bobby had been working on, and who would shut him up permanently before he could reveal what he knew in a newspaper article. Rita also has a new client, Karin Van Dreem, a PR Consultant, who hires her to provide security because of her psychotic ex-husband, Dr. Douglas Servier, who has been stalking her, and she’s afraid that he’s going to kill her. And if that isn’t enough, Rita is dealing with her own personal issues that continue to haunt her. Can Rita find who killed Bobby while keeping Karin safe from the psychotic ex-husband, or will this driven private investigator put herself in danger as well?
In her debut thriller novel, author Valerie Webster weaves a slow-building and suspenseful tale written in the third person narrative that follows Rita’s investigations into Bobby’s killer and Karin’s psychotic stalker of an ex-husband. As the reader follows Rita’s investigations, incidents occur and flashbacks to her traumatic past reveals an interconnection that has a lot of drama, tension, and a threat of danger around every corner, and where everyone is considered a suspect.
The reader is easily drawn into this well written story with its richly descriptive plot and setting. It is filled with enough family drama and secrets, motives, possible suspects, action, and intriguing twists and turns that definitely keeps the reader guessing until the surprising conclusion.
This was a really interesting story to read! The author does a wonderful job of providing enough clues to engage the reader, and I found myself so caught up on trying to figure out who is behind Bobby’s murder, and the craziness behind Karin’s stalker. I loved how Rita used her expertise as an ex-investigative reporter to put all the pieces of the puzzle together. I was absolutely stunned by the conclusion, I never saw it coming! I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that I was also intrigued by Rita’s backstory, she is a broken person who is still trying to overcome her traumatic childhood and ex-relationship issues. I look forward to reading Rita’s next investigative adventure.
Driven: A Rita Mars Thriller will definitely take the readers on one heck of a thrilling roller coaster ride.
RATING: 4 STARS