Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Maggie does Malice

Maggie, left, with Barbara Graham
This was my second year of attending Malice Domestic as a published author. For those who aren't familiar with this event, it's a mystery fan conference, which is a great treat for mystery writers.

Canadians RJ Harlick and Vicki Delany
Like 2011, the conference was held at the Hyatt Regency in Bethesda, Maryland. For intrepid travelers, it was a stop off the DC Metro. For the rest of us, it was a shuttle ride from the airport or a threading-the-Beltway adventure by automobile.

My roommate Barbara Graham shares the same publisher, Five Star Cengage with me, and we're both members of Sisters in Crime and members of our respective Mystery Writers of America chapters. You might think a gal from Cody, Wyoming would have little in common with a gal from Darien, Georgia, but we both speak "writer" so all was good.

From our breakfast with the Canadians and a very nice fan named Lexa, to the popular Malice Go Round, Friday morning passed in a blur. The ladies from breakfast became familiar faces that we would meet and dine with throughout the conference.

Barbara Graham, center
Malice Go Round is a speed-dating format where authors get two minutes to pitch their book to tables of fans. There were 20 tables and 40 authors, so it was an intense hour and some change. I partnered with Barbara, and by the midway point I could have pitched her Murder by Music and she could have hit all the high points of my Death, Island Style.

We went right from Malice Go Round to the Guppy lunch over at Booeymongers. How fun to connect with this group of friends from the Guppy chapter of SINC.

Erika Chase, Janet Bolin, Maggie, and Barbara
There was all kind of stuff going on at the conference in the afternoon, but I was toast. Being on grandma duty for the two weeks prior to the conference had taken a toll on my energy reserves. I emerged for dinner, but I wasn't good for much else that day.

Saturday was an easy day for me because my panel wasn't until the next day. We went to the new authors breakfast and enjoyed hearing about their books. I spent the morning and part of the afternoon chatting with authors, shopping in the bookstore, and enjoying the author panels. Barbara earned a gold star for doing everything, including donating an item for the charity raffle and staying all the way through the Agatha Tea on Sunday.

Guppies - Maggie and Liz Zelvin
The conference offered box lunches on Saturday. Barbara and I grabbed ours and joined the throng listening to the Poison Lady. She offered insider knowledge on ways to kill people - in books. The astonishing thing is that she was able to purchase an item at the dollar store for under $2 that would have been enough liquid to wipe out more than a dozen people. Because I don't want anyone to get the wrong idea about this, I'm not mentioning the item. Suffice it to say that this was an eye-opening session.

We enjoyed a nice walk outside prior to the banquet. Luckily, we wore our rain jackets because it started raining during our walk.

Lisa Wysocky, Maggie, Nancy Cohen
The banquet was lovely. We enjoyed the company of Canada's RJ Harlick, who sponsored our table. She handed out favors, and I was lucky enough to receive a dreamcatcher, which I've added to the pull of my office ceiling fan. Award winners on this night included Chris Grabenstein, Best YA; Dana Cameron, Best Short Story; Leslie Budewitz, Best nonfiction; Rhys Bowen, Best Historical Mystery; Sara Henry, Best first novel; and Margaret Maron, Best Novel.

Sunday morning I realized I'd forgotten to sign up for the SINC breakfast, so it was breakfast on my own, panels, and networking. Right before my 11:10 a.m. panel, I realized I needed a snack. Lisa Wysocky had the same idea. We were eating and chatting and I lost track of the time, dashing off to my panel at the last minute.

"Down the Shore" panel at Malice 2012 - I'm second from left!
I was so rattled. The entire panel was assembled and there I was, dead last! Fortunately our moderator for "Down the Shore," Trish Carrico, had sent her questions ahead of time, so I had written out my answers in very large print, which I placed on the table before me.

Maggie, Michelle L. Johnson, Trish Carrico
Have you ever noticed how hard it is to sound coherent when you're rattled? I had 100 proof adrenaline surging through my veins and no telling what was coming out my mouth. Thank goodness for my speaking notes or I would have gotten completely off track.

I was especially nervous about the special question Trish had planned for each of us. Through time I've realized I don't do "unplugged" very well, and I approached this question with all the enthusiasm one has for a pop quiz.

But my fears were soon alleviated. Trish asked me about my stream of consciousness style of writing for MaryBeth, my protagonist in Death, Island Style. She said how engaging that style of writing was to her. I was elated that I knew the answer. Even better, people in the crowd nodded their heads in understanding. Thank you, Trish, for being so kind.

After the booksigning time, we had lunch at la Madelaine, and it was time for me to go. I said goodbye to my roommate and good friend, and headed to my daughter's house to see that precious grandbaby again before the long trek back to Georgia.

You know what? I'm already looking forward to next year.

Maggie Toussaint
like my Facebook page! http://www.facebook.com/MaggieToussaintAuthor#

32 comments:

  1. How wonderful to read this, Maggie, and to see the photos. You made me feel as if I were actually there. Hope I'll be able to attend next year, would love to meet all of the wonderful authors and perhaps participate in the event.

    Thanks for the great post.

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    1. Hi Brenda,

      Thanks for stopping in at Mudpies. Malice is a great place to make friends in the writing community. I have to say it's one of the friendliest conferences out there. Hope to see you there next year!

      Maggie

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  2. Maggie--yes, you look stunningly professional! I like you in red and black--looks really good. I've learned that lovers of mysteries pretty much only read mysteries. Remember the year I had gotten In for a Penny for our library? I went there to make sure it was on the New Book Shelf. A stranger walked up beside me to study the books--the width of the shelves are about 15 feet, with I think seven shelves--lots of new books all the time. Anyway, I was holding yours and she chose a mystery--they're marked with a red skull on the spine--which I don't like because it seems like horror, to me. Anyway, I had asked her if she liked mysteries, and at the same time another woman walked up to listen. She said yes, I held your book toward her, and said this is a cozy mystery by one of my author friends (neither cared that I said I was an author)--and both women reached for it. A tiny tug-of-war ensued, but the original woman won. I still think that was funny.
    Good job on the post--I love photos.

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    1. Celia,

      I've always admired your moxie. I remember this story too. I'm thrilled that you brought such attention to my mystery. We're all trying to get the word out about our books, but it's hard to reach everyone.

      Thanks for your comment, and I'm glad you enjoyed the post and pics.

      Maggie

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  3. Maggie,
    What fun. The conference looks like fun and you look very much in the thick of things. I'm glad you had a good time.

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    1. Thanks for your comment, Keena. I was definitely in an eddy and not in the mainstream throng, but that's okay with me!

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  4. Hi Maggie, you look like you had a great time. I'm glad you enjoyed the conference and hope it was useful to you.

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    1. Mona, It was a fun conference. What I enjoy the most is that there is no sense of I-must-do-this or I won't get my money's worth. This is a well-run leisurely conference for writers.

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  5. Maggie, I've yearned to attend Malice Domestic and other mystery conferences. Glad you were able to attend and I could read and attend vicariously.

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    1. Hi Caroline,

      I hope you get to a mystery conference one day. I've found them to be different from romance conferences - a different kind of energy altogether. Some of that is gender differences, but not all of it. I appreciate the comment!

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  6. Maggie: Enjoyed meeting you at Malice, enjoyed your comments about the conference, and as you can see from the picture you posted above, where Barbara is noted as being in the center, I listened intently as I'm the one on the right. Debra

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    1. Hi Debra! I'm so glad you identified yourself in the picture. When I post them on my author page on FB in a bit, I'll tag your pic along with the others. Hooray for Malice! Maggie

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  7. Maggie, your blog post is almost as good as being there. I'm enjoying all the Guppy posts and pictures.

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    1. Hi Norma, This was fun, going to Malice and now talking about it. I didn't get to meet and network with as many people as I would have liked, but I did my best. These big crowds are hard on us introverts. Maggie

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  8. I wished I met you at Malice. I did go to the "Down the Shore" panel, and let me assure you--you did very well. Maybe next year we'll meet.

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    1. Hi E.B., I wish we had formally crossed paths as well. Next year, okay? And thanks for saying I wasn't a total blatherer on the panel.

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  9. It was great meeting you, Maggie. Hope to see you again next year.

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    1. Hi Vicki, I enjoyed meeting you as well. Looking forward to next year already!

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  10. It was great meeting you, Maggie. Hope to see you again next year.

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    1. Deja Vicki. I've had these blogger moments too, the ones where you are sure it ate your post. Regardless, I'm double happy to have made your acquaintance, Vicki!

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  11. great photos, Maggie. I'm so sorry I missed Malice this year, but it was for a good reason. I attended a weekend family reunion, our very first. I plan to go to Malice in 2013.

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    1. Thanks for the comment, Marilyn. I've had family stuff keep me from attending conferences before and I always feel guilty for wanting to go to the conference anyway. But family is important. Next year will roll around before we know it. Hope to meet you then!

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  12. Thanks for sharing this with the rest of us. It helps us know whether going is the right thing for us now - or later. I loved hearing about the little things as well - trepidation with unexpected questions, and hearing that your character uses stream-of-consciousness. Must have been fun to write, harder to "tighten" - or it would be for me, hee hee. Love your blog title, btw, "Mudpies and Magnolias" - you sound like my kinda gal.

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    1. Hi Di Eats the Elephant, I struggle with knowing which conferences to go to. In a perfect world, I'd zip in and out of all of the applicable ones, but the cost and the time commitment is too high. For me, its 2-3 conferences a year, and the more of them within driving range the better. You'll know when you're ready. Thanks for coming by. Maggie

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  13. Very nice :-) I love your post title!

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    1. Hi LK, Its a play on words with something not quite appropriate for this PG-rated blog. I only know of the other title because of hearing about it through the grapevine, mind you. Good times. Maggie

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  14. What a great post! What a wonderful time you had! You look terrific on the panel. What an honour! Gee Maggie, late for a panel appearance - now that's what I call cool, really cool. Most of us would trample our grandmother to be first on that dais.lol.

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    1. Wendy,

      I didn't mean to be late at all. After all, being on the panel was one of the main reasons for coming. I just got involved in a conversation and lost all track of time. However, I arrived two minutes before it started, so it only felt like I was late because everyone else had arrived early and was all settled in. I felt awfully conspicuous and made a vow to myself to never do that again!

      Thanks for the comment. Maggie

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  15. Maggie, thanks so much for your account of the conference and the pictures. I like to hear your conference stories because it's so hard for me to get out. It sounded like you had a bunch of fun, and yes, it's hard to sound coherent when you're rattled. You look great!

    Smiles
    Steph

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    1. Hi Steph, Thanks for the comment. You already do a lot with your family and your day job and writing. If you had time for conferences too, all of us would want to borrow your Wonder Woman suit! Maggie

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  16. Nice pix and write ups. It was great to meet you in person at Malice. I'm just getting around to reporting on the sessions I attended.

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    1. Hi Nancy, I enjoyed chatting with you as well. The conference went by so fast, and I wish I could have squeezed twice as much networking in, but there's only so much time in the day. I'm already looking forward to next year. Maggie

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