Malice Domestic XXIV has ended – amazingly! As a dedicated cozy mystery reader (and writer), I have long realized that many of my favorite authors are Agatha winners and that the Agathas are awarded each year during the Malice Domestic Conference. Research, a writer’s second best tool, revealed that Malice is one of the largest fan/writer conferences. The formal agenda lists three days of informative panels, special breakfasts including Malice-Go-Round and New Authors, the Agatha Awards Banquet, an Opening Ceremony, and a closing tea. The quality of programming is top notch, but the sub-level interaction is amazing. No standoff behavior here.
Often, it is impossible to tell who is a fan and who is a writer. The smiling woman you start talking to in the elevator or while having coffee might as easily be a fan from Milwaukee as Margaret Maron or Charlaine Harris. Authors at all levels of their careers could be found sharing tips, encouragement, or “you wouldn’t believe” stories in the hospitality room, the bar, or anywhere a conversation could be held. The common thread throughout the weekend was that it didn’t matter if one was a reader, an established writer, a newbie, or a wannabe.
As a member of Sisters of Crime, I particularly enjoyed the Sunday morning breakfast and the times that the Guppies got together. It was nice to put faces with names that I have exchanged messages with through the listserve.
There was a special excitement to have so many of them nominated for Agathas for their short stories, first books, fiction, and non-fiction. All of the Guppies jumped out of the pond when Leslie Budewitz won an Agatha for Books, Crooks & Counselors…
I also was very moved by the words and the look on her face when Sarah Bewley, whom I previously met when Carolyn Haines and she ran Daddy’s Girls’ Weekend (another fine conference), spoke after being announced as the winner of a scholarship to Malice awarded annually based upon a partial manuscript. Bet we see Sarah onstage again as a future Agatha winner.Personally, I was excited that not only was this my first Malice, but I was permitted to be a participant in two events. I was one of the twenty-four authors who hosted a table at the New Authors breakfast and was allowed to speak for two minutes to the entire room – and yes, give me a microphone and I had them laughing J. My turn on the “Well-Schooled Panel” was more serious, but introduced me to five wonderful writers: Judy Hogan, Linda Rodriguez, Frankie Bailey, Robert Spiller and Ada Madison aka Camille Minichino.
I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the operations behind the conference — all of whose names I apologize for not knowing – but that is because this conference is put on by volunteers for the love of mystery writing. But thanks to a special few: Barb Goffman (whose touch and she herself was everywhere), Ann Murphy (loved that librarian voice), Rita (your control center blew me away as I helped Velcro signs),Verena Rose, and of course, toastmaster and writer extraordinaire Dana Cameron.
Would I go back again? In a heartbeat – because that is the true measure of the love between the fans and writers who attended Malice XXIV.