I survived Malice Domestic.

Sounds like it should be a t-shirt from an amusement park’s thrill ride, doesn’t it?  In a way, it was a thrill ride (not including the lurching, glass-walled hotel elevators that made me a little woozy).  I met big-time authors, brand-new authors (there’s a special breakfast for them to introduce themselves and talk about their debut novel), fans, and folks everywhere in between.  And the coolest part of all:  we were lovers of mystery novels, getting together and sharing jokes and experiences unique to us.  You can tell by the titles of some of the panel topics:

The Poison Lady presents:  Death by the Periodic Table

Happy Holidays?  Festive Days Marred by Murder

Shot at, Robbed, Hypothermic and More: Travails Authors Endure to Get It Right

Here Comes the Corpse: Wedding-Themed Mysteries

Fatal Fashionistas

Tea, Scones and Death

The above panels are just a sampling of the many offered this past weekend, but it’s enough to give you an idea of the odd mental state of mystery writers and fans.  We were practically cackling and rubbing our hands together in glee over all the possibilities the Poison Lady, Luci Zahray, opened up for us.  And corpses at weddings, deadly scones, criminal Christmases – what’s not to love?

But perhaps “What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas” should apply to some of these topics, so I’ll move on.  For those interested in learning more about Malice Domestic, click here for their website.

Going to a convention?  Tips for newbies:

Apparently, I’m not the only ISFJ-ish convention attendee out there.  I’ve already had a few questions from others feeling a bit tentative, along with extrovert newbies who just aren’t sure what to wear.  Here are my top 5 tips:

1. Prepare business cards in advance.

Note: put more than a squiggle on them. Hand sold separately.

Many thanks to Jill Kemerer, who gave me a blow-by-blow list of what to put on my cards, after I frantically e-mailed her the day before I left for the convention.  Also thanks to my hubby, Paul Owen, who helped put together the graphics and printing of the cards.  I am not printer-layout savvy.  Per Jill’s advice, make sure you include the following on your card:  your author name (brand), short tagline to explain what type or series you write, titles of recent books you’ve published, blog address, Facebook address or username if you’re lucky enough to have one (I don’t have enough followers yet), twitter name, and e-mail address.  Some cards I saw had the agent’s name, too, but I didn’t put mine down.  There weren’t publisher reps there drumming up business, so why have it.  How many cards?  We printed 48 and I gave out 30 (I started getting over my shyness fairly quickly, yay!).  The convention had close to 500 attendees and lasted three days.  So, if you’re an extrovert, or are attending a larger/longer convention, print more.  When you exchange business cards/bookmarks with someone, scribble a note on what they give you about where you met and what you talked about.  You’ll be surprised how quickly you forget when you talk to so many people.

2. What to wear:  business casual for day-time. For me that meant dress slacks, dress blouse with scarf (love scarves), and nice shoes.  Most of the men were wearing dress slacks and open-collar or polo shirts.  A few people wore khakis or jeans.  In the evening, everyone dressed up, and men wore jackets.  We clean up fairly well, don’t we?  A note on shoes (women):  there’s a lot of standing around and chatting that goes on, so make sure you’ve got the shoes to do it in.  I had a pair of black heels that were killing me all day Saturday.  They looked great, though 🙂  And thanks to Elizabeth Spann Craig, who answered another frantic night-before-I-left question about what to wear!

3. Be prepared to schlep books. I was squealing in delight and doing the book-aphile’s happy dance when I opened my convention tote-bag to discover 12 free novels!  Then I went out and spent another $100 more on books.  Even though I was going to be driving back home, it was still a lot to lug to the car.  Attendees traveling by plane will want to ship theirs; otherwise, prepare for extra fees and bomb-sniffing dogs.

4. Stay out of your room as much as possible. As tempting as it sometimes was to go up to my room and take a nap or eat or just decompress, I never regretted opting to stay where the action was, even between panels.  To that end, I packed everything I would need for the entire day in my convention-supplied tote bag.  After the first day of experiencing how slow the elevators were, and how much time it took to get back to my room in order to grab something I forgot, I packed as if my room was located in rugged terrain.

5. Talk to people. I know, duh, but really, I needed to be prodded sometimes.  There are so many opportunities:  elevators (captive audience), meals (mouths-full audience, great for listening to you), and the bar (loosened-up audience).  For me as the introverted type, I kept in mind the advice of  Jenny Hansen and Laura Droege, who suggested I start by using my natural inclination to listen to others.  So, I only had to ask a simple opening question, such as “Are you an author?” or “What do you write?”  Then I’d learn the most interesting things and meet some cool people, who asked about me, too.



And speaking of cool people, I’ll be posting about who I met on Friday.  My usual “Fashion Friday” will return next week, promise.

What have your convention experiences been like?  What tips would you add to the list?

Thanks for stopping by!


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