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Sunday, March 15, 2020

Why I LOVE My Colleagues


by Kaye George

 I’m a part of the mystery community. It consists of writers, readers, editors, publishers, agents, book sellers, cover designers, formatters—I’m sure I’m leaving some people out.

These members of that community did themselves proud this last week—conference organizers. They always have a hard job. And always pull off conferences to be proud of, even when there are glitches.



Left Coast Crime was in San Diego last weekend. This conference could not have happened at a more inauspicious time, though no one knew it until the very last minute. Hundreds of writers signed up—it’s a rather large conference that changes location every year, just to make it that much more challenging. Local people put it on, so the organizers always include people who haven’t done this before.

This year of course, the extra challenge was COVID-19, the disease that can be caused by the latest edition of coronavirus. I’m sure you know some of all of this: the most susceptible people are older and have comprised lungs. The former applies to a whole heck of a lot of us. Mysteries appeal to our generation. The former and the latter apply to me. I reasoned through this. I could go, get sick, and most likely get better. But, if one person at the hotel tested positive for that strain of virus, we would all be quarantined there for two weeks, and with good reason. (We MUST contain this or we’ll end up like Italy.) For those reasons, and because my children were urging me to stay home, I cancelled.

I think about half of those who registered showed up, 400 people, just as the situation was ramping up and changing almost hourly. The first night, the county declared that meetings of more than 250 were prohibited. The conference was then officially disbanded. Some elected to stay on, some were able to leave. But it’s the response to the announcement at the conference that evening that touched my heart.

Here’s what the lovely and talented Ellen Byron had to say about her experience there. (Copied with permission.)

Regardless of what anyone feels about the virus over-reach or under-reach, here's what I can tell you. The LCC committee had to wait until the hotel acknowledged it was a force majeur situation before pulling the plug or the costs they would incurred would have bankrupted them. Not just the organization, but for the chairs and committee members of this all-volunteer organization who personally sign contracts that put them on the hook as well.  (Also true of Bouchercon.) The San Diego committee has been planning this event for three years, putting their heart, soul, and time into it. I cannot tell you how heartbreaking it was to see one of the chairs weeping as she saw all her dreams and efforts wiped away in literally one fell swoop.

After Lucinda read the statement they'd written to explain the cancellation, she asked if there were any questions. The first question was, "Will there be a way NOT to ask for a refund so that the money stays with LCC to support it?" The room burst into applause. The second person who raised their hand didn't have a question. She just wanted to acknowledge all the committee members and volunteers who worked so hard to create what was - for one day - and what would have been an amazing conference. More applause. The love and support of the mystery community was overwhelming. By 5 p.m., people who weren't changing their flights were in the bar and restaurant. Many of those who adjusted their travel plans joined us after. We agreed that if nothing else, the day gave us a chance to see dear friends in the community and give each other elbow, jazz hands, foot bump, and other creative greetings.

Unless things get worse and more bans are put in place, I'm going to Malice. Any decision on whether or not to cancel the Malice committee makes to cancel the convention will be based on what comes down from the MD Health Dept. Whatever decision they make, I will support, emotionally and financially.



I am happy to let my registration fee ride so this conference can continue next year in Albuquerque. So proud of my community!

Photos from



11 comments:

Ellen Byron said...

Kaye, this was beautiful. I'm honored!

So proud to be part of this incredible community.

Kait said...

Incredible post, Kaye and Ellen. It's an honor to be a member of this community.

KM Rockwood said...

Thanks.

I'm afraid conferences are taking a real hit. There's really no substitute for meeting people in person, but we'll just have to make do.

Here's how one conference is coping (despite the wording, you can register now. The conference is on March 21.)

our SINC-National president, Lori Rader-Day has arranged for Chicago's mystery conference, MURDER AND MAYHEM to be offered online. Registration is free and will be available on Saturday, March 21.

A link to details and registration is here:
https://www.crowdcast.io/e/murder-and-mayhem-in?utm_source=profile&utm_medium=profile_web&utm_campaign=profile&fbclid=IwAR0zN-njk_cBAvFn45A8qgeOcbNyBKKc6i_Q0H2McvqXkcxU4cXyEfHldR4

Kaye George said...

The mystery community is handling this so well! We're setting a good example. Thanks for the details. KM! What a great solution, M&M came up with.

Keenan Powell said...

I feel privileged to belong to a community that is so supportive of the conventions. I've been following another convention that was canceled and some of the responses were incendiary. Looking forward to B'con in the fall and Left Coast Crime next year.

Kaye George said...

Amen, Keenan. I just saw someone angrily post that they should cancel a sports app since so many sports have been cancelled. Angry that the app didn't cancel itself. No thought at all of maybe wanting it again some day!

Kaye George said...

Have I thanked Ellen adequately enough for allowing me to use her words? I don't think I can, but THANK YOU!!!

Margaret S. Hamilton said...

Thanks, Kaye, for expressing the collective response of the mystery-writing community.

Kaye George said...

Any one of us could have written this!

Kathy Waller said...

Thanks for giving us one more example of the professionalism and the generosity of those in the mystery community.

Kaye George said...

Certainly! You're welcome.