It’s a Mystery: Malice Domestic 2015


Post by Kathy Waller


Malice Domestic Mystery Convention 2015. Hyatt Regency, Bethesda, Maryland.
Malice Domestic Mystery Convention 2015. Hyatt Regency, Bethesda, Maryland.

Sunday afternoon, May 4, 2015
Malice Domestic Convention Day 4
I should go to the Agatha Tea and Closing Ceremonies. It starts in ten minutes.
But after a plane trip, a ride on the Washington, D. C. Metro,
days of intense workshopping, nights of sleep deprivation,
I am just conventioned out.
Anyway, I forgot my gloves.
So while others sip tea and engage in polite conversation,
I shall sit in the bar, on this squishy couch,
and rest, and write.

Sisters in Crime Guppy Chapter Breakfast
Sisters in Crime Guppy Chapter Breakfast

Seeing so many people in love with books–specifically, with mysteries–is exciting.
The convention has been, to employ a cliche because I’m too tired to come up with something original, a whirlwind of activity. I’ll have to look at my program notes to remember what I’ve done.
Two things, however, are burned into my memory:
I fell, and I dropped my phone in front of the elevators, just as the doors opened.

Hyatt Regency bar.
Hyatt Regency bar.

The fall I count a positive event.

Friday morning I walked into a session of Malice Go Round,
in which authors move from table to table, visiting with fans.
A group stood just inside the door, talking.
I stepped to the right so I could survey the room for an empty seat.
I did not see, on the floor to my immediate right,
a small cardboard box, a large cardboard box, and a chair leaning against the wall.
Because the session was in progress, I went down as quietly as I could.
I said, I’m fine I’m fine I’m fine,
and got up the same way,  holding to the legs of the chair.

I say the fall was positive because it meant I had disgraced myself the first day
and so was spared having to spend the rest of the weekend wondering
when mortification would occur.
Chatter filled the room, and a table hid me from view.
No one snapped a picture.
I think.
And frankly, my dear, I wasn’t mortified at all.

Dropping the phone was more negative-ish,
but I managed to replace the battery and snap the back on so it was almost secure.
Snapping took as long as figuring out which way the battery should point.
And no one stepped on the pieces and slid across the tile floor before I picked them up.

But to the convention:

I attended the following sessions:

Kaye George/Janet Cantrell holds up copies of Austin Mystery Writers' Murder on Wheels and Janet Cantrell's Fat Cat Spreads Out.
Kaye George/Janet Cantrell holds up copies of Austin Mystery Writers’ Murder on Wheels and Janet Cantrell’s Fat Cat at Large.

An Introduction to the Malice Grants
New Kids on the Block: Our Agatha Best First Novel Nominees
Simply the Best: Our Agatha Best Contemporary Novel Nominees
Authors Alley, with John Billheimer and Mollie Cox Bryan
Opening Ceremonies
Welcome Reception
Fifty Shades of Oy Vey: Religious Elements in Literature
Cozy Noir? Private Eyes
You Could Just Die Laughing: Humor in Mysteries
(with Austin Mystery Writers’ friend Nancy West)
The “Paws” That Refresh: Four-Legged Detectives and Their Sidekicks
(with Austin Mystery Writers Grand Pooh-Bah Emerita Kaye George/Janet Cantrell,
author of the Fat Cat series)
An Interview with International Guest of Honor Ann Cleeves

Nancy West, author of the Aggie Mundeen mystery series.
Nancy West, author of the Aggie Mundeen mystery series.

I also attended the Agatha Awards Banquet,
featuring chocolate mousse  in teacups of molded chocolate.
The executive chef received a rousing round of applause.
Other people at my table ate both the mousse and cup,
so I did, too.

I forgot to take a picture of dessert. I also failed to photograph Agatha winners.
I won’t list the winners here.
Later, perhaps, I’ll write about them individually.
If you can’t wait to know the winners, click

(I realize I wrote about dessert before writing about the Agathas.
You may infer from that anything you want.)

Elaine Will Sparber and Kaye George. The squishy couch is to Kaye's left.
Elaine Will Sparber and Kaye George. The squishy couch is to Kaye’s left.

I am an introverted schmoozer, if you get my meaning, but I still met some people.
The first morning at breakfast, I traded cat stories with a fan.
She has four cats. One claws the carpet.
I asked whether she yells at him. She said, Yes.
I asked whether yelling works. She said, No.
I told her yelling doesn’t work for me either.

I met, and didn’t meet, some wonderful people.
Established authors encouraged new ones.
I heard not a discouraging word.

MURDER ON WHEELS. Wildside Press table, Exhibitors' Room.
Wildside Press table, Exhibitors’ Room.

Austin Mystery Writers Kaye George and Laura Oles were here, too. We met
John Gregory Betancourt, publisher at Wildside Press, and Carla Coupe, publishing director.
Carla took a picture of us holding a copy of MURDER ON WHEELS,
Austin Mystery Writers’ recently published anthology of crime fiction.
The book looked most distinguished, stacked there beside other anthologies, one copy standing face out.
Someday, perhaps, I’ll take seeing my work in print in a public place as a normal part of life,
even find it boring.
But not any time soon.

Debra Goldstein, author of Maze in Blue
Debra Goldstein, author of Maze in Blue

I was happy to finally meet Debra Goldstein. Debra has had broad experience,
from “judge” to “mother of twins,” but says she “hates to be pigeonholed.”
She writes on her blog,

I hate to be pigeon-holed. Debra H. Goldstein, judge, author, litigator, wife, step-mom, mother of twins, civic volunteer, and transplanted Yankee writer are all words used to describe me.  “My writings are equally diverse. Maze in Blue, my debut novel, received a 2012 Independent Book Publisher (IPPY) Award and was reissued in May 2014 by Harlequin Worldwide Mysteries.  Even though Maze in Blue is a murder mystery, it is a safe bet that when it comes to my writing,  “It’s Not Always a Mystery.'” 

Debra kindly agreed to write a guest post, which will appear on my personal blog at the most auspicious time.

 That’s all I’ll say now about Malice.
Except that I’m glad I went.

Stay in touch for the rest of the story.

(If you’d like to get a jump on Malice Domestic 2016, click here.)

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Kathy Waller posts at her personal blog and periodically at Austin Mystery Writers. Two of her stories appear in MURDER ON WHEELS: 11 Stories of Crime on the Move, released in April by Wildside Press: “A Nice Set of Wheels” and “Hell on Wheels.”