I will be heading to my very first Malice Domestic Conference this coming weekend. I’ve been attending writing conferences for some time, but Malice Domestic is a little different in that it’s a conference for fans—fans of cozy mysteries to be specific. My debut novel, SWIMMING ALONE, with its small beach town setting and no explicit gore (despite the serial killer on the loose), falls loosely into this category. Since the book came out last August, I thought it was about time I got myself down to Malice Domestic.
But I will admit it—I am one of those people who is extremely uncomfortable new situations. I feel like Nina from The Seagull—I never know what to do with my hands. I really am just an introverted writer who is most at ease locked in a room making up stories about people killing each other. In other words—I’m not fully socialized, and being around lots and lots of people—people I am supposed to talk to—really freaks me out!
And yet, I do like conferences. Really.
But I wanted to make sure I knew what I was getting myself into. So I recently posted a question to my fellow Sisters in Crime members asking for some advice. How could I get the most out of the conference? I was thrilled when a number of Malice Domestic veterans–and authors I admire– stepped forward to share their wisdom.
“Hang out in the downstairs bar. It’s a good place to meet people.”- Elaine Viets
“The best advice I can share came from sister Poisoned Pen Press author Charlotte Hinger (and I believe she said she heard it from someone else): Don’t spend all your time with other authors!”- Clea Simon
“The best advice, from Lori Rader-Day, is advice I will keep forever. Make it your business to meet one new person and keep up with that person after the conference. Relationships matter. Other advice? Good shoes, a sturdy bag (I’m going with an old school backpack next time), schedule downtime and the bar…never neglect the bar. Wonderful things happen there.” –Lyn Brittan
“Hang out in the bar (even if you don’t drink). That’s where great conversations occur and friendships get sealed.”- Lori Rader-Day
“Malice is terrific for making acquaintances that turn into friends. I like to carry a packet of stickies for jotting down my own memory boosts, which I then paste on business cards or bookmarks from others as soon as I can, before I forget something special about that person (because you cannot write directly on most cards). It helps to also have a sturdy #10 envelope with you in your bag where you stuff these so your notes remain intact–unless you have a perfect memory for names, faces, locations, etc.” –Chris Roerden
“It took me a few conventions to realize did not have to be attending events every single moment. As has been said, some of the best times are in the bar. And if you are not a bar type of person, the hospitality room is also a daytime spot to go to and be open to whatever happens. I’ve had some wonderful chance encounters there.” –Triss Stein
Hmmm… so it sounds like I’ll probably have to spend some time at the bar. OK, twist my arm. I will make a point of trying to channel the extrovert that lives somewhere deep inside me. Because the point is to connect with people. I have a feeling, if I keep myself open to it, I might actually make some friends. In this age where so many of my connections are on line, it will be great to spend time with some actual human beings to discuss one of my favorite things in the whole wide world: mystery novels!