Hugh Holton Award!

holton Last month, the Mystery Writers of America Midwest Chapter announced winners of its annual Hugh Holton Contest for unpublished crime fiction manuscripts, and…my work in progress, In the Shadows, won in the member division!

The contest is open to unpublished writers, member or not, who live in Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota, or Wisconsin.

Guest judges for the member category this year were Danielle Egan-Miller and Joanna Mackenzie from Browne & Miller Literary Associates.

The MWAMW announcement about the award said this:


Prize money well spent — something pretty to celebrate the award.

Browne & Miller chose Tollefson’s excerpt based on its “atmospheric and well-composed opening scene,” “noticeably elevated writing,” and “rich, lyrical descriptions.”

Wow. I’m overwhelmed and soooo thrilled to receive this award! Many thanks to the judges for their kind words and for giving their time to judge the contest.


Excerpt: In The Shadows

Detective Jameson Brunson examined the scene as he would an Old Master painting. In a dark palette of muted browns and grays, damp tree trunks crowded the site. Early morning light, weak and tentative, filtered through branches still barren of leaves, though the swollen buds at their tips hinted at the coming spring. The air, too, smelled of spring, that peculiar mix of dew and decay that, if odors were colors, would be a shadowy “almost green.”

One tree, a sycamore, stood out from the rest. Beneath its peeling bark and white trunk, the still form of the girl lay on her back, fully clothed, legs straight, hands folded on her chest. Her long blonde hair, tipped in red, fanned out from her head like a golden halo in a renaissance portrait of the Madonna. She looked peaceful, Snow White in the forest. Except Snow White lived happily ever after, and this girl would never laugh or love again.


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