Tag Archives: Barb Goffman

A day in the life of Myra Wilkinson by Barb Goffman

50-shades-of-cabernetDear Douglas,

Take this job and shove it!


Leaning back in my swivel chair, I stared at the words on my computer screen. My friend Gwen was right. It was cathartic to type them out, even if I’d never actually say them or send them. It’s silly to burn bridges, and these words would start a fire. Gwen knows. She runs the Human Resources department here at the Washington, DC, law firm we both work at, and she received a bridge-burner email a few years ago. It didn’t work out well for the sender in the long run.

I deleted the unsent email and glanced around. It was after seven p.m. on a Tuesday night, and our floor was quiet. The attorneys who were still here were busy and focused, hunkered down in their offices, writing briefs or reading case law. No one was paying attention to me, which is as it should be. As secretary to the head of the litigation department, my job was to make others’ lives easier. I arranged schedules and couriers, set up meetings and depositions, filed, typed, ordered supplies, and, most importantly, anticipated problems and solved them.

I’ve been assisting Douglas—our department head—in this manner for forty years. Some people wouldn’t like my job, always taking a supporting role, never being in the limelight. But it’s been just fine for me. In fact, up until this week, I’ve been darn happy. It’s only since I started trying to train Jessica to take over for me—I retire on Friday—that I’ve gotten aggravated enough to toy with taking a stand.

I mean, honestly, what does it say about me that my boss thinks I can be replaced by a twenty-something bimbo who clearly cares nothing about the job and is only here to land a rich husband? I tried to tell Douglas yesterday that he’s chosen the wrong person for his new assistant, but he wouldn’t hear it. As if my word means nothing.

Maybe I should tell him to take this job and shove it.

No no no. I love my job. And I love Douglas. And I only have three days left before I retire. I should focus on the positive. Maybe I could get through to Jessica before the end of the day Friday, make her see how important this job is, how she needs to focus on the details. Or at the very least, to wear longer skirts. Oh, who was I kidding? I needed to work on Douglas. Make him see reason.

Besides, I couldn’t leave before my goodbye party on Friday afternoon. I’d been planning them for years, and finally, this one was going to be for me—a public acknowledgment of all my years of dedication. There should be great food, as well as delicious wine. Organic cabernet sauvignon. We always have organic red wine at litigation department events because Douglas is allergic to the real thing. I’ll have to make sure Jessica knows about Douglas’s allergy and understands how important it is that his allergy remains a secret. He thinks if word got out, it would undermine his scary litigator persona.

Entrusting a big secret to a woman who isn’t detail oriented? What could go wrong with that?

Pick up a copy of 50 Shades of Cabernet, published March 20th by Koehler Books, to find out. This short-story anthology opens with Agatha Award-winning author Barb Goffman’s newest story—“Whose Wine Is It Anyway?”—about Myra’s last days at the law firm.

In vino mysterium is the theme for this anthology, each story blending a baffling mystery and a glass (or more) of cabernet. When eighteen mystery writers combine their talents, the result is the perfect “flight” of stories that range from the light-bodied puzzles to sparkling cozy mysteries to darker, heavier tales of deceit and murder. While cabernet is the featured wine, this anthology will appeal to connoisseurs of all varietals—in both wine preference and mystery style.

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About the author
Barb Goffman edits mysteries by day and writes them by night. She’s won the Agatha, Macavity, and Silver Falchion awards for her short stories, and she’s been a finalist for national crime-writing awards nineteen times: ten times for the Agatha, four times for the Macavity, three times for the Anthony, and once each for the Derringer and Silver Falchion awards. Her book Don’t Get Mad, Get Even won the Silver Falchion for the best short-story collection of 2013. When not writing, Barb runs a freelance editing and proofreading service. She lives in Winchester, Virginia, and blogs every third Tuesday at www.SleuthSayers.org. In her spare time, she reads, reads, reads and plays with her dog. Learn more at www.barbgoffman.com.

All comments are welcomed.

Giveaway: Leave a comment below for your chance to win a Kindle copy of 50 Shades of Cabernet. The giveaway ends March 24, 2017. Good luck everyone!

50 Shades of Cabernet is available at retail and online booksellers.

A Day With Gus, a grumpy resident of Missisquoi, Vermont by Barb Goffman

Homicidal HolidaysMay 2nd

It’s pretty rural where I live. Missisquoi, Vermont. Yeah, we have a downtown and everything, but when you drive around, there are lots of idle fields and old barns and wild animals. I’d never given the animals much thought until recently. I don’t hunt, like my pal, Bobby. And I don’t have a dog like Sally, my friend and favorite waitress at the town diner.

But for the past three months, I’ve had one animal on my mind a lot, Moe, our town’s official groundhog. Sally thinks he’s cute as a button. I think he’s the devil. Well, come to think of it, I wish he was the devil. Then it’d be warmer around here.

My problem with Moe is every freaking February 2nd, he sees his shadow, declaring we’ll have another long winter. That might not seem like a big deal to you. But then, most town groundhogs don’t actually control the weather. Here in Missisquoi, ours are different. They have special powers. Their predictions always come true, and Moe always predicts a long winter.

I realized this past Groundhog Day that if I wanted things to change around here, I’d have to get rid of Moe. It should be easy. He lives in a large chain-link pen in a sanctuary a few miles from my house. It’s at the edge of some woods, which should provide cover while I’m hightailing it back to my truck. I’ve been casing the joint for the past three months, waiting for my chance to grab him.

Of course every time I’ve been about to tiptoe into the cage, someone has come by at the last second, foiling my plot. But eventually, my plan’ll work. It has to.

What could possibly go wrong?

To learn how Gus’s plan works out, read The Shadow Knows by Barb Goffman in Chesapeake Crimes: Homicidal Holidays, published October 7th by Wildside Press. Homicidal Holidays is the sixth volume in the Agatha, Anthony, Macavity, and Derringer award-winning Chesapeake Crimes series. In addition to Groundhog Day, the anthology has stories set on Halloween, Christmas, Valentine’s Day, Presidents’ Day, St. Patrick’s Day, and last, but definitely not least, Talk Like A Pirate Day. Arrr.

GIVEAWAY: Leave a comment by 6 p.m. eastern on October 22 for the chance to win a copy of CHESAPEAKE CRIMES: HOMICIDAL HOLIDAYS. The giveaway is open to U.S. residents only.

Meet the author
Barb Goffman likes her crime short and sweet. Well, maybe not that sweet. She’s the author of DON’T GET MAD, GET EVEN, a short-story collection published last year by Wildside Press that recently won the Silver Falchion Award for best single-author mystery collection published in 2013. Barb also won the Macavity Award last fall for best short story of 2012, and she’s been nominated multiple times for the Agatha, Anthony, and Macavity awards for her short fiction.

Her next story to be published, “It’s A Trap!,” will appear in an anthology of funny Thanksgiving crime stories, THE KILLER WORE CRANBERRY: A FOURTH MEAL OF MAYHEM, due for release later this month by Untreed Reads Publishing. To support her short-story habit, Barb runs a freelance editing service, specializing in crime fiction. She also serves as secretary of the Mid-Atlantic chapter of Mystery Writers of America. Learn more at www.barbgoffman.com and www.goffmanediting.com.

Gabfest With Cathleen by Barb Goffman

The Killer Wore CranberryI downed my glass of wine and glared at the article on my iPad again. There it was, in black and white, but I still could hardly believe it. My own cousin Janet, who had always been more like a sister to me, was throwing me under the bus. She wanted to leave our cable show, “Cooking Cousins,” and move on to greener—$$$—pastures. In the process, she was blaming me, saying I had cheated on our show and actually couldn’t cook a darn.

That bit—


Startled, I gazed up. I’d been so lost in my anger that I hadn’t even heard my old friend Dru Ann approach the café table. I jumped up and hugged her.

“How are you?” I asked. I hoped she felt as great as she looked. Granted, Dru hadn’t lost all the weight after the last baby, but she appeared happy, and really, what else mattered?

“I’m just fine, honey.” She pulled back and nodded at my empty wine glass. “But it looks like you’re not. It’s not even 3 p.m.”

I sighed and flopped back in my chair.

“Ooh, boy, this already sounds like a doozy,” she said, sitting down. “Fill me in.”

So I told her all about Janet calling me a cheat in the media and trying to dump me. In the middle of my tale, Dru ordered her own glass of wine, which made me smile for the first time all day.

I hadn’t seen Dru Ann in more than a year. She moved down to Miami right after college about twenty-mumble-mumble years ago, and only returned home occasionally, like now, for Thanksgiving, which was in three days. She has three adorable kids, but I was glad they were visiting with relatives this afternoon so Dru and I could have a good old gab fest.

She shook her head as I finished talking. “This seems out of character for Janet.” Dru knew my cousin, too. “So, what are you going to do about it?”

“Well, I’m certainly not going to just sit here and take it.”

Dru Ann laughed. “I never thought you would.”

I leaned forward. “The girls and I have devised a plan to get revenge,” I said, referring to my three teenage daughters. “We’re calling it Operation Knock Her Down a Peg. Janet is having some network exec over to her house for Thanksgiving. Let’s just say I’m going to make sure that dinner doesn’t come off quite the way Janet hopes.”

Now Dru Ann roared. “I’ve always appreciated your spunk, Cathleen.” She paused and frowned. “It’s so much better than taking everything.”

Dru Ann had never lacked a backbone. “What are you talking about?”

“I have this friend at work, Lizzie. That poor girl. She’s perfectly lovely. Mid-twenties. Beautiful long, dark hair. Pretty face. Nice figure. But she’s friends with all these size-zeroes who make her feel like a big, fat zero herself.”

I wrinkled my brow. “That’s terrible.”

“She’s finally found a nice guy, but these girls don’t like him because he doesn’t have any money.”


Dru nodded. “She has the same problem you do, honey. She’s put her trust in the wrong people. She should dump those … witches. Although, now that I think about it …”


“Well, Lizzie does have terrible taste in friends. And I’ve never met this boyfriend. Just heard her talk about him. Maybe he’s too good to be true.” She finished her wine. “I’d hoped this was her happily ever after, but what if it’s the beginning of something worse. Something far, far worse.”

Oh Lord. “It’s a short plane ride from here to Miami. And it looks like I’m going to be out of a job in a few days. Maybe I’ll fly back home with you and give Lizzie a few pointers in sticking up for herself.”

“She could use it,” Dru Ann said. “Now, what exactly do you have planned for your cousin for Thanksgiving?”

I rubbed my hands together in glee. “Let’s just say you’d want to avoid the turkey. And the green-bean casserole. And the pumpkin soup. And the …”

All Hallows EvilLearn more about Lizzie’s story in “Dead and Buried Treasure,” which appears in the new Halloween crime anthology All Hallows’ Evil (published in trade paperback and as an e-book by Mystery and Horror, LLC.) Does Lizzie get her happily ever after? Or do her hopes and dreams end up dead and buried?

And learn more about Cathleen’s Thanksgiving revenge in “Operation Knock Her Down a Peg,” which appears in the new anthology The Killer Wore Cranberry: Room for Thirds (published as an e-book by Untreed Reads Publishing). This anthology is filled with humorous crime stories set at Thanksgiving.

Meet the Author
Like your crime short and sweet? So does Barb Goffman. She’s the Macavity Award-winning author of Don’t Get Mad, Get Even, a short-story collection published in April 2013 by Wildside Press. In September, Barb won the Macavity Award for her story “The Lord Is My Shamus,” which is available in her collection. She’s been nominated multiple times for the Agatha, Anthony, and Macavity awards for her short stories, as well as once for the Pushcart Prize. Her stories run from funny to dark, and from amateur sleuth to police procedural.

Barb works as a freelance crime-fiction editor. In her spare time, she serves as a co-editor of the award-winning Chesapeake Crimes series, as program chair of the Malice Domestic mystery convention, and as secretary of the Mid-Atlantic Chapter of Mystery Writers of America. She’s a past president of the Chesapeake Chapter of Sisters in Crime.

Learn more at www.barbgoffman.com and www.goffmanediting.com.

A Day In The Life With Robbie The Elf by Barb Goffman

Don't Get Mad, Get EvenThe cold is slithering inside my coat, winding around the tiny gaps by the buttons, crawling up my sleeves, searching, searching for bare skin. Brrr. Shivering, I stamp my feet on the snowy trail and pull my earmuffs closer to my head, trying both to warm up and—even more important—to drown out the caroling that seems to float on the wind up here.

It’s not easy being an elf who hates the cold, hates Christmas, heck, hates everything about Christmas Town. It’s especially not easy being the prodigal elf, returning home from the great big world out there. But that’s who I am, Robbie the elf, and I’m about to apply for a job at Santa’s workshop.

To be honest, I’m a little nervous about the interview. Chances are, they’ll hire me without doing any background check. Because I’m an elf. Because it’s the busy season, two months before Christmas. Because, ultimately, they know me.

Or at least they think they do. They know the Robbie who was a mediocre student as a teenager, who didn’t pay much attention in elf class, who was itching to see the world. But they don’t know who I became in that outside world. Robbie the burglar. Robbie the ex-con. Robbie the elf bent on revenge.

I really hope I’m right and they don’t check on me before giving me a job, because I need a job in Santa’s factory in order to find my old girlfriend. After I got out of the joint, I wanted to thank her for squealing on me to the cops. But I’m no detective. Couldn’t find her anywhere. But Santa will know where she is. He can find anyone. I just need an in, and this job will give it to me.

I pull open the door to the workshop’s human resources office, gag as the smell of gingerbread assaults me, and head inside, hoping for the best. What happens next? You’ll need to read my story to find out.

Barb Goffman is giving away one (1) copy of DON’T GET MAD, GET EVEN. Leave a comment to be included in the giveaway. The book will be shipped directly from the author. Contest ends June 17; U.S. entries only.

Meet the author
Barb Goffman is the author of a bunch of crime stories, mostly about families, collected in the recently released book Don’t Get Mad, Get Even (Wildside Press). Barb’s short stories focus on families because the people you know best are the ones you’ll most likely want to kill. Or, at least that’s been her experience. Don’t Get Mad, Get Even contains fifteen stories, ranging from funny to dark, from amateur sleuth to police procedural. It has all of Barb’s award-nominated stories and five new ones, including one about Robbie the elf (does he get the job?).

Barb has been nominated for the Agatha Award five times, the Anthony Award twice, and the Macavity Award once. Her story “The Lord Is My Shamus” (available in Don’t Get Mad, Get Even) is currently up for the Anthony Award, to be given out at the Bouchercon mystery convention in September. In her spare time, Barb serves as a co-editor of the Chesapeake Crimes series (Wildside Press) and as program chair of the Malice Domestic mystery convention.

She’s an avid reader and a doting mom of a very cute dog. You can learn more about her and her stories at www.barbgoffman.com.

Books are available at retail and online booksellers.