Tuesday, May 25, 2010

New Friends, New Adventures, and New Mysteries To Die For

By Kate

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?


Unknown said...

Is he mine today!

Unknown said...

Great post! I would love to attend a book signing and yes I would stand in line to see my favorite author! I do not twitter, so sorry!

Well there is two new authors I have found that I love and that would be Elaine Levine and Kaki Warner. They both have two books out and they are awesome reads. Elaine Levine's books are Rachel and the Hired Gun and Audrey and the Maverick. Kaki Warner's books are Pieces of Sky and Open Country, both are awesome reads!

limecello said...

I... do twitter. Quite a bit. I'm there as, surprise surprise... Limecello :P
As for standing in line 300 people in... I don't know. If it was someone I super wanted to see, probably. But then I'm all awkward and shy and it'd probably annoy me to wait so long and just say "hi" and be done. (Shy doesn't equate nice, necessarily :P Not that I'm not! Nice, that is.) Heh. Sleep deprived? Yes that.
Anyway - I went to the RT book signing and suffered. I hate crowds. Along with a butterfly conservatory, one of the worst places to drag me to is Times Square. Sooo... I don't know. Maybe if it was more than a signing and... someone crazy amazing. :X I'm just... not easily star struck I suppose?

Haha. Ok, this kill joy is going to bed. Have fun with the GR, Virginia!

limecello said...

Oh and the "smart" answers... new authors? Or new to me authors... Lydia Dare. Alisha Rai. Shelli Stevens. Marie Force. Mmm that's all I've got off the top of my head right now.

Jane said...

Congrats on the GR, Virginia.

Hi Kate,
I would have loved to attended the Malice Domestic Conference since I love mysteries. I've actually never attended a signing before, so I wouldn't how it would feel to stand in line with fellow fans and chatting about our favorite authors and books. I don't Twitter, but maybe I will eventually. I would recommend Christy Reece and Kate Brady.

Donna MacMeans said...

Hey congrats Virginia - He's heading back your way.
I'm afraid he was more of a nuisance than a help as I worked on my WIP. Tried to get him to do some gardening, but all he'd do is scratch at the ground a litte. Hope you have better luck.

Hey I know Elaine Levine. I got to award her the 2007 Golden Heart Award in Dallas!

Kate - Wanted to ask if the mystery writer Laura Bradford is the same as the agent Laura Bradford? If so, I'll be seeing her next weekend - I'll say Hi! (we seem to be running with the same folks!)

Laurie Logan said...

Malice-Go-Round sounds fun and exciting but I have to say that I'd rather participate as a reader rather than an author - way too much pressure!

Don't feel bad about getting turned around in DC - it's really easy to do. I've done it many times and I grew up around there. I've been known to go the long way around the beltway, or forget to get off Rt 66 when coming from VA and end up lost in DC.

I do like booksignings and have been to a few at Turn the Page - Nora Robert's family bookstore. It's the only Indie store I know of around here and she has some great mega author signings.

I haven't gotten into twitter. I'm afraid I'll get sucked in and find another way to procrastinate!

Some new historical authors: Beverley Kendall, Sara Lindsey, and Lori Brighton.

Kim in Baltimore said...

I stood in line for the Book Fair at RT/Daytona in 2006. I met two other readers - Mary and Sandy. We shared a room at RT/Houston in 2007. Mary and I shared a room at RWA/DC in 2009 and will again at RWA/Orlando this July.

Now I just attend panel discussions with my favorite authors at RT or RWA. I find I learn more about the author and have a higher opportunity to meet her. At RT/Pittsburgh in 2008, I attended the "author" chat with Mary Jo Putney, Patricia Rice, Mary Balogh and Nicole Jordan. After the chat, Mary Jo invited me to coffee with Pat. Mary happened to be in the coffee shop so there I was sitting with historical legends!

But readers can bump into authors in unexpected places. At RT/Pittsburgh, I was riding the shuttle bus to the overflow hotel when I met Lori Foster. I introduced myself as a volunteer with Kathryn Falk’s military charity. She offered to donate books and apparently told other authors. One week later, boxes appeared on my doorstep from Lori, Jade Lee, and Helen Rosburg.

I don't Tweet yet ... still trying to figure out Facebook! I barely have time to log onto this blog ... life gets in the way of fun!

Helen said...

Well done Virginia have fun with him

Great post Kate sounds like you had a ball.
And yes I have stood in a line of about 200 hundred ladies to go to a book signing and it was awesome talking to all of the Ladies in the line then getting to talk to some of my favourite Authors this was at the ARRC in Melbourne last year and there will be another one next year can't wait.
As for bookstore I get most of my books from Everafter it is about 1 1/2 hours drive from my place so I do most of my ordering on line but I have been down there and Lucy who owns it is fab and there is something so special about standing in a romance bookstore.
And no I don't twitter too much for me to learn LOL and I have a very old mobile phone LOL.
As for new authors I am sure that most of my recomendations come from here so you know them all LOL

Have Fun

hrdwrkdmom aka Dianna said...

I don't Twitter, and the new authors were found here in the lair. I would stand in line to talk to my fav authors, not a problem.

Trish Milburn said...

Sounds like a fun trip, Kate. I think my sister would love one of those mystery reader events as she's a big mystery reader. I just suggested your books to her.

Oh, and having cussed out a traffic circle or two in D.C., I can sympathize with your getting where you're going woes.

Trish Milburn said...

Oh, and I do Twitter. Really making an effort to do more of that and to be remotely interesting. :)

Anna Sugden said...

Congrats, Virginia!

Great post, Kate. Some great new authors to check out (darn it!) I'm in awe of your efforts at Malice Domestic and driving in DC!

I love book-signings and I'm a huge fan-girl. I've done the big lines for Nora and Tess and Suz Brockmann and Robert 'yummy' Crais *g*.

I think meeting my favourite authors is sooo cool and I love how down to earth they are (yes, even Nora). I always remember the first time I met a favourite author. It was at my first RT and the author was Carole Nelson Douglas - famous for her fabulous Midnight Louie mysteries - she was just sooo nice and made me feel like I was the one doing her the favour!

Even was a writer, book-signings are the best way to catch with people you haven't seen for a while.

Sadly, my favourite bookstore in NY, The Black Orchid, has closed. Now, I get my stuff from Amazon or The Book Depository. I love coming over to the US and going to B&N and checking out local bookstores.

As for Twitter - I have a Twitter account, but don't know what to do with it (except for follow hockey *g*). So, when you learn - let me know!

I'm so far behind that I don't have any new authors to recommend - I'm trying to catch up with the last lot of recommendations! But, if people like hot baseball players (not looking at any Banditas in particular) I can recommend Kate Angell's Bat Pack series. And if you want to check out some hockey hunks - try Deirdre Martin or Rachel Gibson.

Kate Carlisle said...

Good morning, y'all!!

Yay, Virginia! Put the GR to work today, will you please? He's got to work off his winter weight so he'll look svelte this summer. :-)

I'm going to have to look out for the new authors you recommended. They both sound like fun!

Kate Carlisle said...

Hi Lime! I'll have to look you up on Twitter ... as soon as I figure it all out. :-)

I'm a bit of a crowd hater, too, but it was a little different this time, sitting on the "author" side of the table! Actually, it was really fun and exciting! But waiting in that line? Whew. But you know, it looked like everyone was having a blast, so thanks goodness for that! I'm just grateful there are so many diehard book lovers and fans out there!

Kate Carlisle said...

Hi Jane, the thought of waiting in those long lines is weird, and yet I've done it for years at the RWA literacy signings. But it's always been fun. Everyone's excited so the conversations fly. I've met librarians and agents and other readers and fans while waiting, so we always have something to talk about. And once they open the doors, the lines move fast! :-)

Kate Carlisle said...

Hi Donna! Sorry you couldn't get the GR to do some work for you. I hope Virginia has better luck!

Laura and Laura are not the same person! I've met agent Laura a number of times and she's lovely. In fact, I first met her a few years ago in that very line going into the Literacy signing! But I also see her fairly often at my local RWA meeting, and she's always got good information for us. :-)

Author Laura is delightful! I sat next to her at the Festival of Mystery (where she was Elizabeth Casey - right next to Carlisle, lucky me!).

Kate Carlisle said...

Laurie, Malice-Go-Round is not for sissies! I thought I'd be attending as a reader because I signed up too late, but then they had someone drop out and I was the next lucky author in line.*g*

I'm so glad I'm not the only one who gets lost around DC! I swear, we all stared at the offramp sign as we drove right past it. The problem is, it's not so easy getting back, once you cross the bridge into DC ... well, apparently you can read all about it on Twitter! LOL!

Kate Carlisle said...

Oh, Laurie, forgot to say, I can't wait to read Beverley Kendall!

Anna Sugden said...

Forgot to say - Jane, we're in NY next year for RWA Nationals. Hope we get to see you then!

Christie Kelley said...

Great post, Kate! That sounds like a fun conference.

I did laugh at driving in DC. I hate it! Thankfully, I always have my GPS with me, which helps a little until it tells me to take an exit ramp in the middle of the Woodrow Wilson bridge (not kidding).

I have a Twitter acct but I really don't tweet. I prefer Facebook.

New authors--I'm having a hard enough time keeping up with the bandita books lately.

Hellie Sinclair said...

I'm not big on crowds. *LOL* But I did go to a literacy signing at a Spring Fling and bought (and re-bought and re-bought) books from my favorite author. And then because I felt so guilty, I bought the book from the woman next to her, even though I wasn't really interested in her book.

So I probably won't do that again. *LOL*

I'm going to restrict myself to buying my books from bookstores.

My local chapter did have one of my favorite authors, Betina Krauhn, give a presentation and she signed books after. I bought her newest to be signed; and I brought my old, battered, most favorite book of hers and she signed that too. She was extremely gracious.

I don't Twitter. Facebook is about the extent of it.

Love the mysteries--I'm going to have to check them out! I love eccentric British pastimes!

Unknown said...

Kim, we're so glad you take the time to visit us here in the Lair!

It's very cool that you've met people in the line who are now your friends and roommates! I have yet to experience the huge RT book signing, but their convention is coming to Los Angeles next year, so I think I'll be there. :-)

Hearing about your chance meetings with authors is really inspiring. You've obviously been in the right place at the right time. I hope we'll all have a chance to "bump into you" in Orlando!

Jeanne (AKA The Duchesse) said...

Hey Kate!! I'm sorry you had trouble on the DC beltway....not that we don't ALL have trouble on the DC beltway. Grins.

Hey Virginia! Congrats on catching the bird. Grins.

Jeanne (AKA The Duchesse) said...

Ooops, forgot to answer the questions. I'd stand in line for my fav authors and ALL my Banditas. Grins. Heck, I'd stand in line now, for most of the guests we've had on. Loooovvvve it!

There's somethign about getting to know an author from this blog or some other way that makes me more inclined to both buy and to go and talk to that author at a signing event.

Twitter...yes. And no. I keep forgetting about it, and don't post things. I keep up with Facebook, but Twitter continues to elude me.

Unknown said...

Hi Helen! Every time you talk about your big ARRC conference, I want to go. It sounds like so much fun! I must put in on my calendar and see if I can possibly make it next year. :-)

You're so lucky to have an actual romance bookstore you can go to occasionally! We used to have a few places in Southern California but now they're gone and everything is online. But I loved driving out to one place in particular. It was an old house and you could spend all day, wandering from room to room. I always discovered new treasures there.

Kate Carlisle said...

Hi Dianna, great to see you! We do have a lot of great authors visiting the Lair, don't we? I get most of my recommendations here, too. :-)

Kate Carlisle said...

Hey, I was signed on to a different account, so "Kathleen's" comments above are ME! Only my mother calls me Kathleen. I thought I was in trouble. LOL

Kate Carlisle said...

Hi Trish! Hey, thanks for mentioning my books to your sister!

I'm glad I'm not the only one who has DC traffic issues. The funny thing was, another writer gave me specific directions and deliberately mentioned this one turnoff and how tricky it is. She's missed it three times now, so she was very exact. Sure enough, we missed it. *g*

I'll look for you on Twitter!

Hannah Dennison said...

I'm still chuckling over our road trip from Malice to the Festival of Mystery and I swear, it was just few tiny tweets about passing the Washington Monument X number of times. I have many fond memories of this particular Malice and my first Festival of Mystery. Diana taught us so much about tweeting - although I still feel an utter loser about only have 149 followers and she has er ... over 4,000 ...
Great post Kate - so it seems you don't mind my sleeping habits so much after all.

Kate Carlisle said...

Hi Anna! Hey, Carole Nelson Douglas will be the Guest of Honor at next year's Malice conference! She spoke on one of the panels I went to this time. She's very quirky, but fun!

Sorry about the Black Orchid. I hate when beloved bookstores close. :-(

Just finished the two new Rachel Gibson hockey books. Fun!! And I bought two new Deidre Martins. They're not her hockey books but they look fun, too.

Kate Carlisle said...

Hi Christie! Hey, next time I'll order a car with GPS. But then I'll probably try to take that exit off the bridge. Yikes!

I hear you on keeping up with the Bandita books. I try to pre-order so I don't have to worry that I've missed something. In fact, I'm hoping to get a delivery today ... Anna Campbell's latest ... oh boy!

Kate Carlisle said...

MsHellion, I always used to feel guilty buying one person's books and not the other's! That's so funny! I guess everyone feels that way.

But you know, now that I've sat on the author side a few times (it doesn't get old saying that *g*), I'm usually having way too much fun, just talking and yakking to the other authors and readers that I don't really care if anyone buys my books. Well, I care, but I don't get bent out of shape or anything, because I've also signed at a few places where I was the one with the line and the person next to me didn't have too many people.

So, I don't think anyone should feel guilty about it anymore. Okay? 'kay! :-)

Kate Carlisle said...

Hi Hannah!! (Sure, she says she was sleeping, but she was tweeting the whole time!)

We really did have the most fun, didn't we? I hope we can do it again next year.

And Diana is a wonder at tweeting. I'm still in awe of her!

We only circled the Monument, what, three times? Four? But it is lovely, isn't it? ;-)

Beth Andrews said...

Kate, I'm so envious of all the fun you had! Sounds like a great time *g*

I'm actually very patient about lines and waiting so I'd definitely attend a book signing!

I'm just bummed I didn't realize how close you were to me for a brief period of time. I could've driven down to Pittsburgh and seen you *pout*

Pissenlit said...

I love book signing events! Though, I'm not so sure about standing in line with 300 other fans...unless maybe I'm closer to the front of the line than the back. lol!

Favourite bookstore? Bakka-Phoenix Books, Canada's oldest science fiction bookstore, for my sci-fi and fantasy needs and for all other genres, I love going to the World's Biggest Bookstore(currently owned by Chapters Indigo).

Nope, I don't have a Twitter account.

Recently, I discovered and blew right through the eleven existing books in the gaslight mystery series of Victoria Thompson. I love the chemistry between the two main characters, Detective Sergeant Frank Malloy and the widowed midwife Sarah Brandt. I can't wait for the 12th book which comes out next month!

Kate Carlisle said...

Beth, I didn't know you were close to Pittsburg! I'll be sure to tell you when I go next year. Cool!

Kate Carlisle said...

Hey Pissenlit! I've been wondering about the gaslight mysteries. I almost bought one but then I didn't. Don't remember why. So thanks for your recommendation. Now I'll have to find them and start reading.

Your bookstores sound awesome!

Lady_Graeye said...

Great post!! Oh yeah I would attend a book signing. Definitely yes I would stand in a huge line to see my favorite author. I do belong on twitter but I'm not on there alot. I do facebook more.

New authors to me~Mary Sharratt and Silver James. Both ladies are rocking great authors!


Louisa Cornell said...

Late again. Good job, Virginia! Get him to do some WORK !! He needs to slim down for his fans at Nationals.

How cool that you got to go to Malice!! My favorite bookstore here in town closed. :( I hate it because it really was the coolest little place. However, the owner and I are big buddies. In fact she came to RWA Nationals with me in San Francisco and DC and she is coming to Orlando with other members of our writing group. I know she has attended Malice a couple of times and loved it!

I have stood in line at several book signings and have no problem doing so to meet my favorite authors. In fact I stood in line to get signed books from several of the Banditas in SF and DC and I know I will in Orlando too!

I discovered a great new mystery writer through LibraryThing. They receive review copies of books and members apply to receive them. I received a copy of Mel Starr's medieval mystery A Corpse at St. Andrew's Chapel. I thoroughly enjoyed it! It takes place in a 14th century English village and is a sort of cozy mystery with a twist. Great book!

Kate Carlisle said...

Hi Lady Graeye, I'm sneaking in late, sorry! I spend more time on Facebook, too, but I swear I'm going to get up to speed on Twitter very soon. :-)

Thanks for mentioning Silver's new book. I'm looking forward to reading it.

Kate Carlisle said...

Hi Louisa! Hey, I wonder if I've met your Malice friend. Maybe you'll introduce us in Orlando. I love being able to recognize people at conferences. It makes me feel a little less isolated. :-)

I'm completely intrigued by your recommendation of Mel Starr. I'm going to go find the book right now. Thanks!