by K.B. Owen
To (liberally) paraphrase Austen: it is a truth universally acknowledged, that we introvert authors need to come out of our writing caves from time to time and interact with our fellows.
The Malice Domestic Convention fits the bill nicely for those of us who are mystery author introverts. Malice celebrates mystery fiction written in the cozy style, aka the tradition of Agatha Christie, and has been held yearly in Bethesda, MD since 1989. With its three days of panel discussions, book signings, awards, and social receptions, the convention draws authors and readers alike.
When I step into the space, I feel as if I’ve rediscovered my tribe. No one bats an eyelash over you bringing your takeout lunch to Luci Zahray’s (otherwise known as the “Poison Lady”) panel on the use of organophosphates to bump off someone (characters, of course). The audience was practically rubbing its hands and cackling with glee as she detailed the symptoms, the lack of a test to detect the compound, the difficulty in reversing the effects, and the ease of access to the poison (any Home Depot or garage sale…also, apparently DDT can still be found at the random garage or yard sale because folks don’t throw out ANYTHING).
For the introvert, the nice thing about a convention is you can pick and choose when you want to converse. You can get a lot out of the convention by simply attending the panels and listening (not an option if you are ON the panel, of course, but then you signed up for that, LOL).
The hospitality lounge is a nice place to get yourself some coffee or tea and browse the long tables for bookmarks and promotional goodies that authors set out. I came away with a pen, a set of sticky notes, a disposable flashlight, and a hand mirror…all kinds of cool stuff! I had brought some of my own material for the hospitality tables, too: bookmarks of my Concordia Wells series, along with a basket of peppermint patties and individually wrapped tea bags with my logo sticker/web address on the back of each piece.
I kept refilling the basket, but there wasn’t a candy or tea bag left by Sunday morning!
In between browsing the dealers’ tables, chatting with folks, getting my books signed, and going to the Agatha Awards dinner, I attended several terrific panels that weekend (there were many more I couldn’t fit in). Here’s a partial list to give you an idea:
- Malice Go-Round: It’s Like Speed Dating, But With Authors (Attendees sit and relax while pairs of authors come to them, distribute bookmarks–and sometimes chocolate, and describe their series and new releases. Then the moderator calls time, they rotate to another table, our table gets a new pair of authors, and so on. One of my fave events).
- Making History: Agatha Best Historical Novel Nominees (Authors nominated for the Agatha in the category of best historical novel talk about their books, their research, etc. A fab and funny group!).
- Murder on the Menu: Food & Mysteries (Several food-themed series authors talked about their inspiration, where they get their recipes, and the funny coincidence of growing up in households where their moms couldn’t cook all that well…maybe compensation for a deprived childhood? *wink*)
- Poison Lady (Described above).
- Book’em: Book-Loving Sleuths (Kind of self-explanatory, but it’s amazing how many bookshop mysteries are out there!)
- Murder Way Back When: U.S. Historicals (Loved hearing about research challenges and successes…I continued the conversation with a couple of the authors afterward, comparing databases we use).
- Sherlock Lives! (I love reading about the Great Detective, and it was so much fun to listen to the discussion of the current pastiches out there, and all the SH societies).
The most meaningful event for me personally was the Mystery Most Historical Signing, held on Friday evening. Mystery Most Historical is this year’s Malice anthology of short stories, and guess what…a story of mine is in it!
“Summons for a Dead Girl” is set in September of 1911 in New York City, months after the devastating Triangle Factory fire, and features spirit medium/con woman Maddy Cartiere. The blurb and opening paragraphs below give you an idea of the story:
This book signing was an additional thrill because I was part of a large group of authors (many of them prolific and best sellers) who were also signing. The reader turnout for autographs was amazing, and it was such a privilege to chat with mystery fans while sitting in the company of award-winning authors such as Catriona McPherson, Victoria Thompson, Carole Nelson Douglas, and Elaine Viets!
To celebrate the release of the anthology, I’m holding an:
I’ll be giving away five (5) signed paperback copies of Mystery Most Historical!
To help with logistics, I’m using the Gleam giveaway service to keep things organized and randomly select the winners. All you have to do is visit the giveaway page HERE to see your options for entering the drawing. Multiple entries increase your chances:
I’ll notify the winners no later than May 31st, and ask for your street address to ship the book to you. Good luck!
Do you enjoy attending conventions, or do you find them a bit overwhelming? I’d love to hear from you.
Until next time,
Posted by K.B. Owen, misterio press author.
K.B. Owen taught college English for nearly two decades at universities in Connecticut and Washington, DC, and holds a doctorate in 19th century British literature. A mystery lover ever since she can remember, she drew upon her teaching experiences in creating her amateur sleuth, Professor Concordia Wells. Unlike the fictional Miss Wells, she did not have to conduct lectures in a bustle and full skirts. Thankfully. Learn more about her historical mysteries at her website, Chasing the Cozy Thrill.
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Shannon EspositoMay 9, 2017 at 9:38 am
Huh, I didn’t know that Malice put that much emphasis on cozies. Looks like you had a great time. And congrats on being in the Malice anthology, what an honor!
K.B. OwenMay 9, 2017 at 11:05 am
Thanks so much, Shannon! I was kinda blown away by that.
Yes, there’s quite a focus on the cozy subgenre, but many of the honorees (past and present) don’t quite fit the “cozy” category: Hank Ryan and Sue Grafton, for example.
Kassandra LambMay 9, 2017 at 11:07 am
This conference is definitely on my short list now for next year. Sounds like loads of fun and some good learning opportunities. But the best thing I like about conferences is that I come home really fired up to write.
Big congrats for getting into the anthology, Kathy!!
K.B. OwenMay 9, 2017 at 1:29 pm
Thanks so much, Kass! Let me know if you blow into town!
Vinnie HansenMay 10, 2017 at 3:26 pm
I loved hearing about your experience at Malice. Congratulations on the story in the anthology!
If I wrote cozies, I’d make more of an effort to get to Malice. The event definitely receives a lot of publicity, and it sounds like you made great contacts in spite of your introversion.