Monday, May 28, 2012


Earl Staggs
GFWW member Earl Staggs  writes mysteries and many of his short stories are published in magazines and anthologies.His novel, MEMORY OF A MURDER, earned a long list of  five star reviews. He  has served as Managing Editor of 
 Futures Mystery Magazine and as President of the Short Mystery Fiction Society. He is a contributing blog member of Murderous Musings and Make Mine Mystery and is a frequent speaker at conferences and writers groups. He is a two time winner of the Derringer Award from the Short Mystery Fiction Society for Best Short Story of the year. This is his story of winning his second Derringer.

My story won the DERRINGER AWARD!

The Derringers are awarded by the Short Mystery Fiction Society each year to honor the best in published short stories. A team of judges selects five finalists in each category, then the members of the Society vote to select the winners.

I can’t tell you how excited I was when my story “Where Billy Died” won the Derringer Award for Best Novella of 2011.

I probably spent more time writing this story than any other. The idea came when my wife and I took a day trip to Hico, Texas. The people of Hico claim one of the most famous outlaws of the old west did not die at the wrong end of a gun at the age of twenty-one as the history books claim.

Nope, they insist, Billy the Kid lived out his final years in Hico and died there in 1950, a month after his ninetieth birthday. I visited the museum devoted to him and stood on the exact spot where they say he dropped dead of a heart attack.

We may never know for sure when and where Billy died, but I was fascinated by the legend and knew I had to use it in a story someday.

“But, Earl,” I said to myself, “you don’t write westerns.”

“I know that,” I responded. “but I’ll come up with a way to use it.”I came up with a contemporary story about a modern day bounty hunter named Jack who travels to Hico to bring back a young bail jumper named Billy Joe Raynor. Piece of cake, thinks Jack, until he discovers the chief enforcer for a New Jersey mobster has followed him to Hico. Is it because Jack beat up the mobster’s brother, or because of something Billy Joe did before he skipped town? Jack only knows he’s tangled with the hulking bruiser before and will have to again. Jack doesn’t know he’ll also get tangled up in Hico’s legend about another young outlaw named Billy and that the past and present will merge in a surprising conclusion.

I was very proud of this story when I finished it and ecstatic when Untreed Reads accepted it for publication as an ebook novella. Now, I’m doing cartwheels in the clouds because it brought home a Derringer Award.

“Where Billy Died,” is available  from for any e-reader. Vist Earl at and while you're there,  read “The Day I Almost Became a Great Writer,” which some say is the funniest story he's ever written or “White Hats and Happy Trails,” a true story about the day he spent with a boyhood idol, Roy Rogers.
 Do leave Earl a comment today and please come back friday for the story behind his novel and an excerpt of Memory of Murder.


Victor J Banis said...

Where Billy Died is an excellent story from a top-notch writer - I recommend it highly to anyone who savors a good read. Also, if you don't read it, Earl sends the big goons after you. Consider yourself warned.

M.M. Gornell said...

Always love hearing from Earl! And yes, Earl is a VERY good writer.


Marilyn Meredith a.k.a. F. M. Meredith said...

Hi, Earl, will always pop in to say "hello" when I know you are visiting somewhere.

Jan Christensen said...

Wonderful spotlight Earl is an excellent writer who richly deserved another Derringer Award. I love hearing/reading about the story behind the story. Fascinating!

Thorne said...

Thank you so much for sharing how the kernel of an idea can morph into a full fledged story. Great story.

Jennifer Spicer Bennett said...

I love hearing others stories of how inspiration comes. Thanks for sharing Earl and congrats on the award!

Kaye Barley said...

Where Billy Died is excellent and the award was well deserved. Fun to see you here, Earl! And fun to hear the story behind the story.

Anne K. Albert said...

Wherever you appear online, Earl, I'll follow. I know I'll always be rewarded with a smile and one of your (many) witty comments. Huge congrats on your award!

About Bobbi C. said...

I loved that story, too, Earl. Congratulations again on the Derringer win! Happy trails, bobbi c.

Ruby Johnson said...

Thanks so much for showing us how to do it. Now if we can win an award, we're all set.

Caroline Clemmons said...

Earl, I love that story. You didn't mention your short story ciollection, but a couple of my favorites of your stories are in the collection.

Matthew Bryant said...

Absolutely love the premise of this book, Earl. So glad you're a part of our little group.

SusieSheehey said...

Once again, congrats on the Derringer! Awesome story!

Earl Staggs said...

Okay, so I lied about the picture. What can I say? I'm a fiction writer.

Big thanks to everyone who stopped by and commented. Special thanks to the GFWW people for welcoming me into their excellent group and for allowing me to do a boast post here.

I'm still celebrating my Derringer win and compliments from writer friends makes it even more special.

My best to all.

George said...

Wow for the award, but double-Wow for letting us in on how you planted and watered this seed for story.

Thank you.

kimberlypackard said...

Ditto what Bryan said! So glad you are part of our group. Congrats on the award!

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