Earlier this month, I attended the annual Malice Domestic Conference in Arlington, Virginia. This is a very fun fan conference dedicated to the traditional mystery genre, and it's famous as the home of the prestigious Agatha Award.
The Malice conference is also famous for an event known as Malice-Go-Round, which has been described as speed dating for authors. Take one large conference room, mix in 40 authors, add 160 readers sitting at 20 tables, and start the clock. Authors move from one table to the next, where they have exactly two minutes to pitch their latest books and pass out swag such as bookmarks, post-its, key chains and chocolate. Then the authors move to the next table and start their pitch all over again. It's exhilarating, frightening, and surely the most strenuous exercise I've had all year.
I got to know some fabulous new authors while I was there and I wanted to give a shout out to a few of my favorites:
Hannah Dennison is one of the funniest, most talented people in the world. I've actually known her awhile and love her a lot. She writes the Vicki Hill Mysteries in which protagonist Vicki (who fancies herself the new Christiane Amanpour) writes obituaries for the local newspaper in the village of Gipping-on-Plym in Devon. You won't believe some of the funny, quirky English characters and pastimes (hedge jumping, anyone?) Hannah comes up with in her charming series.
Elizabeth Lynn Casey writes the Southern Sewing Circle Mysteries. She also writes romance—yeah!—for Harlequin American as Laura Bradford. Elizabeth/Laura will be signing her latest books at the RWA conference in Orlando, Florida on July 28, so if you're there, I hope you'll track her down.
Diana Orgain (the Maternal Instincts mystery series). She's fabulous, but don't take it from me. Publishers Weekly called Diana's debut thriller (Bundle of Trouble) "charming" and "engaging." Diana is all that, as well as an excellent navigator and brilliant Tweeterer. :-)
I also can't wait for the debut novel in E. J. Copperman's new Haunted Guesthouse mystery series, coming in June (The Night of the Living Deed) and Avery Aames’s new Cheese Shop mystery series debut in July (The Long Quiche Goodbye). Love those titles!
Okay, so when the Malice conference was over, my new friends, Hannah and Diana, and I rented a car and hit the road for another event near Pittsburgh. But before we could get to the Pennsylvania Turnpike, we first had to get out of Washington D.C. I was the driver, and yes, I admit I missed an offramp or two. One of them I missed twice. I was confused!
But can you imagine the feeling of betrayal when I later found out that my good friend Hannah was sitting in the back seat, secretly tweeting about how many times we'd circled the Washington Monument?? Not helpful, Hannah! And no, I'm not kidding. You can look it up. :-)
The upside is that both Hannah and Diana are Twitter experts. They tried to teach me the ins and outs, but I’m a slow learner. However, I’m determined to become a master Tweeter, so give me a month or two, then follow me!
Despite the minor setbacks (and a flash rainstorm that scared the houie out of this California girl), we arrived in time for the annual Festival of Mystery, a one-day mystery writers' and readers' extravaganza put on by the lovely folks at the Mystery Lovers Bookstore in Oakmont, Pennsylvania. They rent out a large hall to accommodate 50 authors and somewhere between 300-400 readers, who circle the hall and peruse the thousands of books available, talk to the authors, and buy up a storm. It's always so much fun to visit with serious book lovers, and these readers are serious!
I came home utterly exhausted but I'm already chomping at the bit to sign up for next year's events!
How do you feel about attending book signing events? Would you stand in line with 300 other fans to talk to your favorite authors? Do you have a favorite bookstore? And hey, do you Twitter? How’s that working for you? What new authors have you found that you can to recommend to the Banditas?