Please contact E. B. Davis at for information on guest blogs and interviews. Interviews for November: 11/2 Lois Winston 11/9 Christin Brecher 11/16 Laurie Lowenstein 11/23 M.V. Byrne

Saturday, May 10, 2014

A Report from Malice Domestic 2014

The 26th Annual Malice Domestic, a conference celebrating mysteries in the tradition of Agatha Christie, was held on May 2-4, 2014, at the Hyatt in Bethesda, Maryland. WWK bloggers Gloria Alden, E.B. Davis, Jim Jackson, Shari Randall, KM Rockwood, and I attended. This is our combined report about the activities.
WWK Bloggers and Friends (Photo by Godi Serge)

Gloria Alden

This year was my eighth Malice Domestic and what a difference it was from that first year back in 2007. That year I went as an unpublished author not knowing anyone. I’d never heard of Sisters in Crime or the Guppies. My best friend and two cousins went with me but only to tour Washington D.C. while I attended the conference. I joined Sisters in Crime and the Guppies. I also made friends that first year, some with whom I have remained close. One is Josephine Wagner, a mystery fan I correspond with through letters and cards during the year and meet in person every year.

This year was my third year of being published. Two years ago it was in the Guppy first anthology, FISH TALES. One year ago for a short story in FISH NETS, the Guppy second anthology and my first two books in my mystery series plus a middle-grade book. This year I had another book out and also worked as a volunteer. Like last year I had a stint in Authors Alley and for the first time ever, after never missing the Malice Go Round as a mystery fan, I got to be in it as an author with Judy Hogan as my partner. That was stimulating, fun, and tiring, too, but a happy tired. Like last year I also had a book signing, but last year I signed only one or two books. This year, I signed many more and credit it to Malice Go Round.
Guppies at SinC Breakfast (Photo by Lisa Fernow)

It was especially nice to get together with my fellow bloggers who attended and to sit in on as many panels as I could. On Saturday, the Sisters-in-Crime breakfast had many Guppies wearing feather boas – or, in my case, a lei. Even Jim Jackson wore a boa. On Sunday, the new author breakfast was enjoyable, too, as we listened to a brief speech by each new author.

But the best part of any Malice I’ve attended is the camaraderie between mystery writers and mystery fans. We have to be the friendliest large group of people anywhere to be found. I look forward to meeting these people again next year. And, I think if I’d never taken the chance to attend Malice that first year, I most likely would still be an unpublished author or published maybe, but without the large circle of writer friends I’ve acquired.

Paula Gail Benson

Each Malice seems to get better. My eleventh was a true joy.
Aziz Rakla (Photo by PGB)

Taxi driver Aziz Rakla, who I met a few years ago when he assisted several of us in taking an author to the hospital and who has become a good friend, met me at the airport and transported me back and forth to the hotel. On Friday evening, I had a grand time dining with my fellow WWK bloggers at La Madeleine (where manager Godi Serge took our picture). 

Saturday began with the Sisters in Crime breakfast. Lisa Fernow, who writes a series about Tango dancers, took the picture of Guppies in boas. 
Lisa Fernow (Photo by PGB)

Saturday afternoon, I moderated my first Malice panel, “Three Heads are Better Than One,” about sleuths who solve mysteries as a group. The panelists were the wonderful Sally Goldenbaum, Liz Stauffer, B.K. Stevens, and Wendy Tyson.

At the banquet, I sat at Art Taylor’s table and celebrated with him and his lovely wife Tara Laskowski when he was awarded the Agatha for Best Short Story.

Toni L.P. Kelner, also sitting at Art’s table, was named Toastmaster for next year’s Malice. I’m grateful for the opportunity I had to meet new folks and spend time talking with friends. I’m already looking forward to returning in 2015.

Toni L.P. Kelner (Photo by PGB)
 E.B. Davis

Although many writers aren’t extroverts, we are interested in, fascinated by, and care about people. In fiction, that interest focuses on creating and developing our characters and their arcs. In the real world, we are interested in each other’s development as writers and how writers’ backgrounds and life situations contribute to their fiction. We like each other’s work. We commiserate when an obstacle in our lives blocks career advances. In short—we’re curious, if not a bit morbid. Perhaps it is due to the solitary method of our craft, but the welcoming of the authors toward each other struck me as significant. I watched those attending the conference hug one another like kindred spirits and friends.

I could tell you about the four panels I attended. My panel attendance seems to decrease with each Malice I attend as each year my participation in private groups and individual discussions increases. The discussions outside of the conference’s organized events become more important to me. I mainly attend panels in which friends and/or authors I admire participate. And although they are interesting, I find my conversations with other writers more interesting. We share tidbits about publishers, which one is looking for what manuscript, and other authors’ work that shows promise.
Photo from Polly Iyer

I found myself womaning the SinC Booth in the Dealers’ Room on Saturday morning with SinC Board of Directors Julie Hennrikus (Publicity), Martha Reed (Chapter Liaison), and Guppy Polly Iyer. Julie and I got into a lively discussion of modus operandi and our favorite murder methods. Martha and I shared a common interest in the chapters’ anthologies. Polly and I discussed publishing issues in a transitioning marketplace. I’m sure similar discussions took place among authors throughout the conference.

Diane Vallere complimented an interview I’d done for WWK. It meant a great deal to me to hear that remark. Often we bloggers wonder if anyone reads or cares about our work. It’s not fiction, but promotion is part of the entire publishing package we must undergo as authors of fiction. The small kindnesses we remember, which make the process of creating fiction worthwhile. To know that even if our work reaches few of the reading public, we read and appreciate each other.

Jim Jackson

It was my second year at Malice and I felt more comfortable knowing what to expect. I had a blast doing Malice Go-Round, pairing with Krista Davis to give our two-minutes spiels. I enjoyed going to the Debut Authors' breakfast and listening to the next class of authors make their two-minutes pitches. I made a spectacle of myself wearing my pink boa to the Guppies Steering Committee meeting at the bar and to the Sisters in Crime Breakfast where the Guppies in their boas made up a large portion of the gathering.

Extra special was sitting at Hank Phillipi Ryan's table when she won the Agatha for Best Contemporary Novel. Let me tell you, even the veteran award winners can get excited winning a new award.

My final acts at this Malice were participating on a bad weather panel with Jenny Milchman, Annette Dashofy, and our own Kathleen Rockwood. Check out the hats.

Shari Randall

I do not even know where to start with highlights of my Malice experience. I even got to go shopping with Sherlock Holmes!

One of the best things about Malice was meeting up with my fellow bloggers. Seeing their impressive appearances on panels (Jim and KM aced theirs and did it while wearing silly hats) and moderating panels (Paula's panel was a master class in how to generate good conversation).
It was wonderful to see the writing passion and good humor in Real Life as opposed to just On The Page.

What else? Meeting writers I've admired for years (Dorothy Cannell probably thinks I was drunk at 11 a.m. - I was that tongue-tied and incoherent meeting her) and some fine new authors (short story writer Meg Opperman). Drinking chocolate wine and talking hockey with the Wickeds.

Making new friends and seeing old, well, more established friends. Finding that the librarian radar still works. The Guppy Lunch. The Malice Banquet. And did I mention the dessert reception?
Photo from Shari Randall


Warren Bull said...

Thanks for the reports!

Gloria Alden said...

Paula, thanks for putting this together. I was sorry to miss the panel you moderated, but I was volunteering at another panel at the time. Like E.B. I didn't get to attend as many panels this year. The one Jim and KM were on was a very good and funny one. I'm looking forward to next years Malice.

Paula Gail Benson said...

Thanks, Warren and Gloria. So much is packed into the weekend that it's hard to get to everything you would like to do. It was wonderful to see so many friends and to meet new writers. I truly enjoyed getting some face-to-face time with my WWK buddies. Thanks everyone for a terrific weekend!

Jacqueline Seewald said...

Hi, Paula,

It sounds like a great experience! I enjoyed your take on the conference.

Art Taylor said...

Thanks for the joint report covering this great get-together. And thanks for including me and Tara in your own account, Paula! So nice spending time with you--and still have your email to respond to. Lost in grading right now, but will catch up soon!

Unknown said...

Thanks, Shari! It was wonderful meeting you, too. It was such a fun time. And thanks to Paula for putting this together -- so nice to hear about Malice from several viewpoints.

Kara Cerise said...

It sounds like a wonderful experience! I enjoyed the joint reports and pictures. (Great hat photo.)

Barb Goffman said...

So glad everyone had a good time!

Kaye George said...

Terrific post and pictures! Thanks so much.

Grace Topping said...

It was such a pleasure meeting all of you at Malice and now being able to put a face with a name. It makes me really look forward to next year's Malice.
Grace Topping

E. B. Davis said...

Grace it was terrific to see you again. Maybe one of these days I'll get to a meeting!

Julie, such a pleasure to meet you.

Kaye, Barb, Art, Polly, the Guppy SC, the WWK bloggers and Jan--I was so glad to finally be able to meet and sit down to talk with you all. Thanks!, until next year...

Shari Randall said...

So nice to "see" you here, Meg! Thank you, Paula, for putting this together...It's like reliving the fun again. Can't wait for next year.

Leslie Budewitz said...

Thanks for the recap -- I feel like I'm back there right now! So good to see each of you. Like Elaine, I find myself more focused each year on the conversations with friends -- old and new -- than the scheduled events, excellent as they are. Never enough time at Malice!

Marilyn Levinson said...

I enjoyed reading about everyone's Malice experience. I had a wonderful time. The best part for me, was seeing friends, some of whom I'd never met before in person. Malice is a warm and welcoming convention, for everyone who attends.

Paula Gail Benson said...

So good to hear from everyone. Malice was a wonderful joy. I had a wonderful time being with all of you and look forward to our future adventures!

Susan O'Brien said...

Thanks for such a great post! This was my first Malice, and I can relate to many of the experiences mentioned here. Paula, I loved meeting you and look forward to keeping in touch. I am already looking forward to Malice 2015, too!

Polly Iyer said...

I was so lucky to spend time with all the reporters except Shari. Where were you, girl? I'd met Paula a couple of times, and enjoyed seeing her again, but I'd never met Elaine, with whom I've shared many emails. It was like meeting an old friend. Well, not old, you know what I mean. It's always fun meeting Jim, and this time I got to know Jan. Gloria, dear Gloria, was the only one who bought one of my books in the bookstore. I love Gloria, and she's as sweet and cute as her pictures. Hope to meet you all again soon.

Annette said...

It was great sharing my first Malice panel with you, Jim. And nice getting to meet so many of you! Great report.

Annette said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Unknown said...

Great summary! And EB, I know putting together a blog is a lot of work, and the WWK team does a great job with it. The whole Malice weekend went by so quickly I didn't have time to say hello or chat with nearly as many people as I would have liked to. Next year!

KM Rockwood said...

Great conference. I was so glad to be able to paricipate.

Thanks for the blog and the pictures!