Friday, May 11, 2007

First Time at Malice Domestic

From Friday, May 5, - Sunday, May 7, on my VA/PA tour, I attended the Malice Domestic conference in Crystal City, VA while staying with close friends, Roy & Marti, in Arlington. The first day was a bit overwhelming for this first-timer, but I relaxed some once I understood the lay-of-the-land of the conference facility and got used to the crowd of around 680 attendees, about 200 of them mystery authors and the rest fans.

I was dreading Malice-Go-Round, the speed-dating gauntlet for new authors at 12-2 on Friday, where teams of 2-3 new authors rotate among 20 tables filled with mystery readers and give a 90 second pitch to each one. Luckily, I paired up with Liz Zelvin, a fellow Guppy (Sisters in Crime online group for unpublished members and recent "graduates"). Her brisk New York style created a nice contrast with my laid-back Colorado style, which we both felt made us stand out more.

I spent the rest of the afternoon trolling for Guppies at the silent and live auctions and the opening reception and was thrilled to match faces to names of so many online friends. I sat in awed fascination through the presentation by Lucy Zahray, the Poison Lady. By then, I was numb with exhaustion and skipped the radio play (though I HATED to miss it) and crawled into my bed at my friends' home.

Saturday morning, I pitched A REAL BASKET CASE at the New Author's Breakfast and had a chance to meet Kate Stine and Brian Skupin of Mystery Scene Magazine and thank them for running my New Books essay in their latest issue. Then I rushed over to my 9 AM panel about "Not Too Old to Tangle: Older and Better Insured Lady Sleuths." The other panelists and I had a great time, and hopefully the audience did, too, as we discussed out mysteries. Gayle Wigglesworth and I, both with protagonists named Claire in their 40s, didn't fit the definition of "Older Sleuth," but we made the best of it.

The Guppies lunch at noon in the Underground food court, with over 20 of us, was a lovely get-together with lots of photo-ops. The interview of Lifetime Achievement Award winner, Carolyn Hart, by Nancy Pickard, was charming. After a day full of panels, signings, and chance meetings in hallways, I changed into a skirt in L.C. Hayden's room, and went off to the Agatha Awards reception and banquet. Sandy Parshall graciously introduced me to her agent, Jacky Sach, even though I'm sure she was nervous about the upcoming awards. I sat at Nancy Pickard's table, because I had gotten to know her when she was on the editorial committee for MANHATTAN MYSTERIES, the anthology in which my "Flamingo Fatality" story was published. I was thrilled when she won the Agatha for Best Novel and celebrated with her table. Also, I was SOOO happy for Sandy when she won for Best First Novel!

Sunday, after more panels, I stopped by the booksellers. Kathy Harig of Mystery Loves Company had sold out her stock of 10 copies of my book, and Tom and Enid Schantz of Rue Morgue Press had sold 3 of the 5 consignment copies I gave them. Not a bad showing, given all the other authors who had books to sell at the conference. Thanks to everyone who bought a copy!

The closing tea was delicious, and the hat contest was a riot. I got some nice photos of the two "chef ladies" who took the runner-up awards in the Most Beautiful and Most Creative categories and of L.C. Hayden, who won the Most Creative award. The day ended with a lovely dinner at my friends' home, who invited L.C. (who was driving to Pittsburgh with me the next morning) and other friends over.

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