May 4, the last day of the Malice Domestic traditional mystery convention, was my opportunity to transition from the fan role to that of an author.
The night before, my husband graciously assisted me long distance with my two-minute spiel. I set out everything I needed for the next day, and tried to get to sleep early. After tossing and turning for what seemed hours, I finally dozed off.
The alarm sounded. I was certain there was some mistake. No, it was really six am Maryland time. To my brain, still operating on Colorado time, it was four am. The New Author Breakfast was scheduled for seven am, which was really five. My head was spinning with time zone confusion. All I really wanted to do was crawl back under the covers. And then it hit me. I was sick.
I didn’t come all the way from Colorado just to bail on my chance to introduce my book to hundreds of prospective readers. I hauled myself down the elevators to the New Author Breakfast. I staked a claim on a table and distributed my author postcards and goodies.
Linda Landrigan, editor of Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine, sat at my table. One look at my green face might have caused her to wish she’d sat elsewhere. Under different circumstances, it would have been wonderful to have breakfast with Linda. Patricia, the Canadian professor I met the first day, sat beside me and taught me breathing techniques. My head hurt, my stomach was queasy, and I’m sure I was incoherent.
Two authors delivered what amounted to stand-up comedy routines with ease. Fellow AHMM author Michael Nethercott was charming and funny. Others spoke enthusiastically and off-the-cuff about their stories. The emcee called my name. On wobbly legs, I climbed on the stage. I shamelessly read from my notes. Linda and Patricia assured me I’d done a great job. “Great” at this point meant not passing out on stage. I had survived the first event of my Big Day.
My next appearance was on the panel North, South, East, West, Which Setting Is the Best? I shared the stage with three authors and a moderator to discuss how setting affects story. I had been on a short story panel before at Left Coast Crime 2013. I was reasonably certain I could handle this.
Leone Ciporin moderated a lively discussion that included fun audience questions. Christine DeSmet represented North, with her novel First-Degree Fudge, Penny Clover Petersen the East with Roses and Daisies and Death, Oh My!, and Diane Vallere the South with Pillow Stalk. My novel is set in Colorado, so I represented the West with Stone Cold Dead – A Rock Shop Mystery. About half way through, I really began to enjoy the panel. The time was up all too soon.
Then a reader approached, bringing my novel. I may have squealed. I autographed the book. Suddenly, dragging myself out of bed at four in the morning and pretending I wasn’t sick as a dog was all worthwhile.
I thought I had squeezed all the drama and excitement out of Malice Domestic that I could. As I wandered through the dealer’s room, picking out a few books I couldn’t live without, and buying souvenirs for the grandkids, I struck up a conversation with Christina Cowan. Her Undiscovered Treasures booth was a delightful mixture of jewelry, beaded purses, and ROCKS!
Needless to say, we talked rock shops, fossils and minerals. I made my purchases and prepared to leave. Christine stopped me. She had to buy my book about rock shops.
So I autographed another book. My cup runneth over.
I survived three days of Malice Domestic, stepping way out of my comfort zone, meeting dozens of readers, writers, editors, fans and authors. I left exhausted and exhilarated, drained and recharged. Mystery fans are amazing people. And I’m proud to count myself one of them.
Undiscovered Treasures: 9619 Pierrpont Street, Burke, VA 22015