How did your 2023 go? Mine went something like this.


I won the 2023 Silver Falchion award for Best Historical at the Killer Nashville International Writer’s Conference this year. The award banquet was Saturday evening, after 2.5 days of non-stop seminars, workshops, serious discussion and working lunches. So far I’d given a talk on Digital Deception and hosted the Author Speed Dating event. My name was fairly well known at that point.

When Master of Ceremonies Clay Stafford read my name as the winner in that category, the room erupted in cheers so loud that no one heard him read the title of the winning book, MURDER AT THE GALLIANO CLUB.

Award for Murder at the Galliano Club Killer Nashville 2023

That so many author peers were so supportive made the win doubly meaningful. I’m so grateful to the Killer Nashville community. What a great group pf people.


Sadly, my 2023 low goes hand-in-glove with the high.

Writing the Galliano Club books during the Covid lockdown gave my mother something to think about. Every evening I’d call her and get her to tell me stories of growing up in Rome, NY, which became the model for the city of Lido in the books.

She’d constantly say how excited she was to read the books when they were finally published. But dementia has claimed her now and she is no longer able to read nor recall those conversations.

Turning Point

I want to know “What positive action can I take based on the information?” As an former intel officer, “actionable” is always what I’m looking for.

Always look for the details that can prompt forward motion.

Can we look over the past 12 months and recognize the moments that set us in a new direction? A decision that led to something fresh and unexpected?

Did it lead us in the right direction?

Sometimes these moments are lost in the clutter of everyday life. Or they happened so gradually that it seems like the new direction took shape naturally, without any conscious effort.

Most importantly, can we embrace the positive turning point and replicate it? Can we recognize the negative turning point and avoid another?

  • My first turning point in 2023 came when I discovered that the blogging platform is an amazing repository of marketing ideas. While this content is not specific to mystery authors, I can adapt this wealth of ideas from Australian writer Tim Denning, Alex Llull from The Steal Club newsletter, and Sharon Woodhouse, owner of the Conspire Creative agency, to name just a few.

Adopting a student mindset, I hope to expand my author business with fresh ideas from those experts and others in 2024.

An aside re I initially saw it as another stream of writing income. But after a few weeks, I realized that gaining traction there would take up too much time and energy away from fiction. No one is asking for my writing advice on Medium. They are, however, emailing to ask when the next Detective Emilia Cruz novel comes out.

  • In 2023, a second turning point was taking advantage of local sales opportunities. For the first time, I sold books at the Southern Festival of Books and at a fall craft market in my town. The latter event led to a partnership with 3 other small business owners to create the Literary Crime Club, a collection of exclusive quarterly soirées.

Crime Club logo

Each ticketed evening event will offer a unique literary activity plus snacks and adult beverages, as well as a thoughtful takeaway gift and a few surprises like raffles. Our first event of 2024 will be a Literary Scavenger Hunt!

So cast your mind back through 2023

  • Congratulate yourself on the highs and let go of the lows.
  • Find the turning points.
  • Learn from both the positive and negative.
  • Identify the actionable.
  • Grow the good.

Top Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay | Literary Crime Club image copyright Lebanon Sisterhood. May not be used without permission.

Author Carmen Amato

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