Malice Domestic

The Introverted Author, the Malice Domestic Convention, and a Giveaway!

Malice Domestic 29

To (liberally) paraphrase Austen: it is a truth universally acknowledged, that we introvert authors need to come out of our writing caves from time to time and interact with our fellows.

The Malice Domestic Convention fits the bill nicely for those of us who are mystery author introverts. Malice celebrates mystery fiction written in the cozy style, aka the tradition of Agatha Christie, and has been held yearly in Bethesda, MD since 1989. With its three days of panel discussions, book signings, awards, and social receptions, the convention draws authors and readers alike.

One of many signings, after the crowd had thinned and I could move around.

When I step into the space, I feel as if I’ve rediscovered my tribe. No one bats an eyelash over you bringing your takeout lunch to Luci Zahray’s (otherwise known as the “Poison Lady”) panel on the use of organophosphates to bump off someone (characters, of course). The audience was practically rubbing its hands and cackling with glee as she detailed the symptoms, the lack of a test to detect the compound, the difficulty in reversing the effects, and the ease of access to the poison (any Home Depot or garage sale…also, apparently DDT can still be found at the random garage or yard sale because folks don’t throw out ANYTHING).

Luci Zahray, “Poison Lady.” You can’t see the rat poison and other samples she had on display from this angle, unfortunately.

For the introvert, the nice thing about a convention is you can pick and choose when you want to converse. You can get a lot out of the convention by simply attending the panels and listening (not an option if you are ON the panel, of course, but then you signed up for that, LOL).

The hospitality lounge is a nice place to get yourself some coffee or tea and browse the long tables for bookmarks and promotional goodies that authors set out. I came away with a pen, a set of sticky notes, a disposable flashlight, and a hand mirror…all kinds of cool stuff! I had brought some of my own material for the hospitality tables, too: bookmarks of my Concordia Wells series, along with a basket of peppermint patties and individually wrapped tea bags with my logo sticker/web address on the back of each piece.

It’s hard to see the stickers here, but they were really cute. *wink*

I kept refilling the basket, but there wasn’t a candy or tea bag left by Sunday morning!

In between browsing the dealers’ tables, chatting with folks, getting my books signed, and going to the Agatha Awards dinner, I attended several terrific panels that weekend (there were many more I couldn’t fit in). Here’s a partial list to give you an idea:

  • Malice Go-Round: It’s Like Speed Dating, But With Authors (Attendees sit and relax while pairs of authors come to them, distribute bookmarks–and sometimes chocolate, and describe their series and new releases. Then the moderator calls time, they rotate to another table, our table gets a new pair of authors, and so on. One of my fave events).
  • Making History: Agatha Best Historical Novel Nominees (Authors nominated for the Agatha in the category of best historical novel talk about their books, their research, etc. A fab and funny group!).
  • Murder on the Menu: Food & Mysteries (Several food-themed series authors talked about their inspiration, where they get their recipes, and the funny coincidence of growing up in households where their moms couldn’t cook all that well…maybe compensation for a deprived childhood? *wink*)
  • Poison Lady (Described above).
  • Book’em: Book-Loving Sleuths (Kind of self-explanatory, but it’s amazing how many bookshop mysteries are out there!)
  • Murder Way Back When: U.S. Historicals (Loved hearing about research challenges and successes…I continued the conversation with a couple of the authors afterward, comparing databases we use).
  • Sherlock Lives! (I love reading about the Great Detective, and it was so much fun to listen to the discussion of the current pastiches out there, and all the SH societies).

Panel for best historical Agatha nominees. Catriona McPherson won!


The most meaningful event for me personally was the Mystery Most Historical Signing, held on Friday evening. Mystery Most Historical is this year’s Malice anthology of short stories, and guess what…a story of mine is in it!

“Summons for a Dead Girl” is set in September of 1911 in New York City, months after the devastating Triangle Factory fire, and features spirit medium/con woman Maddy Cartiere. The blurb and opening paragraphs below give you an idea of the story:


This book signing was an additional thrill because I was part of a large group of authors (many of them prolific and best sellers) who were also signing. The reader turnout for autographs was amazing, and it was such a privilege to chat with mystery fans while sitting in the company of award-winning authors such as Catriona McPherson, Victoria Thompson, Carole Nelson Douglas, and Elaine Viets!

Your typical group picture: someone looking away, someone’s eyes closed, someone waving a hand or fussing with something, LOL.


Short story author Keenan Powell was signing on my left. Such a nice lady!


The volunteer photographer got my blurry side, LOL. I never looked so good.

So, to celebrate the release of the Malice anthology (and my birthday, hubby’s birthday, Mother’s Day…so many excuses), I’m holding a…

Giveaway Drawing

May 9th-23rd

I’ll be giving away five (5) signed paperback copies of Mystery Most Historical!

To help with logistics, I’m using the Gleam giveaway service to keep things organized and make the random selections. All you have to do is click below to see your options for entering the drawing (you can enter multiple times, if you wish):

Anthology Giveaway!

Once the contest is over and the winners are notified, I won’t keep your email info for any reason. I respect your privacy.

However, if you’re interested in signing up for my author newsletter (sent out approximately 4 times a year to announce sales, giveaways, and book releases), I would love to have you on board! Here’s the sign-up for that:


Sign up today, and receive a FREE novelette!

Thanks for signing up! Your email is in good hands, I promise. Once you have confirmed your subscription you’ll receive a thank you email with a link to my FREE novelette, NEVER SLEEP!

Whew! This was a longer post than I usually write. Thanks for reading, and good luck with the contest!


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Fashion Friday: life’s a beach!

Hi, everyone!  I’m off to the Malice Domestic Convention this weekend, reveling in the multitude of panel discussions of murder and mayhem, including the latest poisons that Luci Zahray, otherwise known as “the Poison Lady” has to share with us (over lunch, LOL).  In addition, I’m looking forward to meeting cozy mystery writers galore, and mingling/ networking/chatting about all the books we love.  Rumor has it that there will be food and libations involved, too.

But I’ll miss you!  While I’m gone, here’s a post from last spring, about Victorian bathing suits.  Enjoy!


The Land’s End catalog arrived in my mailbox yesterday.  Why is that noteworthy?  Because it’s the issue that, each spring, strikes fear in the heart of every female who’s been stuffing her pie-hole with Doritos while parked on the sofa watching re-runs of “The Office” all winter long:

Swimwear Headquarters

…is now open!

Looks like flower hair adornments are in. Won't draw too much attention from the suits, though.

Uh-oh. Give me a minute to wipe the powdered donut sugar from my hands and lace on my sneakers.  It’s time for a run.

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Return from Malice Domestic: full suitcase and memories

Malice Domestic 23: what made it special?

Was it the planning, the cool panel topics (check Wed’s post for some highlights), the book riches, the hotel accommodations?

While all of these helped make it an enjoyable convention, Malice Domestic would have been nothing without the wonderful people who attended.  I was fortunate to meet a good number of them, and wanted to highlight a few here, along with some terrific mystery writer groups/resources.  Clicking on their names will take you right to their sites, so you can check them out for yourself.

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ISFJ Writer Hits the Road for the Malice Domestic Convention, part 2

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:

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Nancy Drew: girl detective, Master of Mystery


Welcome to Masters of Mystery Monday, where each week we feature a fictional detective and examine his or her unique contribution to the mystery genre.  You are invited to challenge yourself with a short detective quiz, and see the answers to the previous week’s quiz.

I’ve just returned from a wonderful weekend at Malice Domestic, a convention for lovers of cozy mysteries.  I’ll be blogging about that on Wednesday.  In panel discussions and general chit-chat this past weekend, guess which detective came up most often as the original influence for these cozy mystery writers and readers?   (Sherlock Holmes was second, by the way).

Nancy Drew


She turned 80 last year, but you have to admit the old gal looks great for her age.

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ISFJ Writer Hits the Road for the Malice Domestic Convention

Malice Domestic 23 is this coming weekend…

…and as a first-timer (to any writers’ convention), I’m a bit nervous.  Out come the lists and the advance preparations: what to wear, what to buy to wear, what to read ahead of time so I can talk intelligently with authors.  Laptop?  Business cards?  (Do I put “writer” on them even though I’m not published yet?)

But the advance planning doesn’t bother me.  The problem is that I’m *gulp* an introvert.  Yeah, I’ll bet you already guessed that one.  But I’ve heard about how terrific and community-building these conventions can be for aspiring authors, and I’ve always wanted to meet writers from my favorite genre, mystery.

I’ve also heard the stories about attendees making sparkling conversation with their favorite captive author in an elevator.  Would that work for me?  I don’t know…

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