I needed to learn how to act like an author…and quickly! But how?
Before I finished my first novel, I thought that publication was the end the journey. I rejoiced, I celebrated, I did the happy dance (and trust me, you don’t want to see the happy dance). However, eventually euphoria wore off and it slowly dawned on me – I had no idea what to do next. I knew how to write. Now I needed to learn how to be a writer…and quickly. But how? I started asking around, and finally I heard three simple words: “Go to Malice.”
So I went. Malice Domestic is a mystery writers and fan conference that “salutes the traditional mystery” (for example, Agatha Christie novels). I arrived at the Hyatt Regency Bethesda fairly late and the Malice registration desk had closed for the evening. On a whim, I decided to go to the hotel bar and have a glass of wine. And that’s when the magic of Malice began for me. Within five minutes of climbing onto that bar stool, two Malice attendees approached and asked me to join them. The next person to walk up was Kaye George, a member of my own Sisters in Crime chapter in Austin – someone I knew only through email and couldn’t have found by myself if I’d searched all evening. Malice is full of such moments of serendipity.
The next days were even better. From Malice Go Round (speed dating for authors and fans) to fascinating panels where authors described their experiences, I started to learn what I needed to know. In the halls and in conference rooms, I met authors who offered tips and encouragement and who answered my questions about things from social media to signing autographs. They gave me a solid glimpse of what waits for me, and I now have at least an inkling of ways to avoid the pitfalls and seize the opportunities. I also was privileged to meet the most wonderful fans – people who love to read mysteries and who work tirelessly to support the genre and reading in general. I’d arrived at the conference alone and wound up as part of an amazing community.
I came away from Malice with all my questions answered and with connections and friendships that I hope will last a lifetime. I could hardly lift my suitcase because it was so full of the books written by the fascinating people I’d met. New authors, experienced authors, friends, and fans. And I’m already looking forward to my second Malice – April 27-29, 2012 in Bethesda, MD.