Malice 2014 Live Blog

malice domestic

May 9, 5:55 pm

I never finished this blog!

Sunday morning I spent in Author’s Alley, listening to some writers and then taking center stage for my own fifteen minutes with Elaine Douts and Polly Iyer.  Then a few minutes at the Wildside table to sign copies of Carolina Crimes before Ruth and I packed up and lugged our bags to the Metro Station right next door to the hotel.  The subway took us right to Union Station, and on the train  I spent the entire ride home reading  Julia Spencer Fleming’s One Was a Soldier. Oh, she’s such a good writer, I despair of ever coming close.

Some good online places to imbibe the flavor that is Malice: Robin Templeton took a lot of pictures.  There are blogs by Gigi Pandian, Toni Kelner, Maggie Sefton, and Kaye Barley, to name a few of the hundreds you can find online.

To recap:  I talked, I listened, I learned and absorbed. Malice is a great place to meet every mystery writer you ever heard of, a friendly, funny, sociable bunch.

It was also exhausting, but a good night’s sleep and a walk in the Carolina sunshine and I was good as new on Monday.



May 3, 10:32 pm

Back from the banquet. I took notes! Sat at Barb Goffman’s table – she had two stories nominated. Quite an achievement.

The banquet, speakers and presentations went smoothly. Malice is a well-oiled machine, thanks to 26 years of practice and a great Board and set of volunteers.

Agatha Awards went to:

Best Contemporary Novel:
The Wrong Girl by Hank Phillippi Ryan (Forge Books)

Best Historical Novel:
A Question of Honor by Charles Todd (William Morrow)

Best First Novel:
Death Al Dente by Leslie Budewitz (Berkley)

Best Short Story:
“The Care and Feeding of House Plants” by Art Taylor, Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine, March/April 2013

Best Nonfiction:
The Hour of Peril: The Secret Plot to Murder Lincoln Before the Civil War by Daniel Stashower (Minotaur Books)

Best Children’s/Young Adult Novel:
Escape from Mr. Lemoncello’s Library by Chris Grabenstein (Random House Books)

Congratulations to these winners, all lovely writers.

Now back to my book . . .


May 3, 4:41 pm

Back in the room for a lie-down, with a book of course. Next function – pre-banquet cocktail party. It’s a tough job, this con.


May 3, 2:16 pm

Sitting with Martha Reed and Fedora Amis at the Sisters in Crime table in the dealers’ room. EVERYONE stops by. Fun.


May 3, 12:44 pm

The final Author’s Alley speaker is Terry Irving, author of Courier, about a man who rides his motorcycle very fast, carrying film be developed for the evening news. (Before the digital era obviously.)  The courier picks up the wrong film one day, and we’re off!


May 3, 12:30 pm

Still in Author’s Alley.  John Billheimer is talking about the pleasures and perils of writing two series! First series was about scams in West Virginia, outrageous scams that actually, he finds, sometimes turn out to happen in real life.  New series is about a midwest baseball writer, Field of Schemes,out from Five Star. We love Five Star! And that’s a great title.


May 3, 12:07 pm

Now in Author’s Alley, John Betancourt.  I know him as Wildside’s man, the publisher of Carolina Crimes.  He’s published 40 books and hundreds of short stories – in science fiction.  After he met Linda Landrigan, Alfred Hitchcock’s editor, he switched genres, to mystery.  LL bought his first three stories! That’s something for the record books. He writes one story a year now that Wildside has taken over his life! He mentions Carolina Crimes, thanks, John!


May 3, 11:46 am

Author’s Alley, where an author gets to talk for 15 minutes.  I’m doing it tomorrow, so I want to sit in on a few today to see what works. First up, Daryl Anderson, whose first book, Murder in Mystic Cove, was just puvlished by Carina Press as an e-book. Her cover is displayed, 11 x 15, framed, looks nice. She hands out bourbon balls.  Datura is on the cover – a poisonous plant, must be a clue!


May 3, 10:23 am

Next panel – When Business Means Murder. I don’t know any of these writers so this will be a chance for me to learn. Christina Freeburn’s character’s owns a scrapbooking store. Linda Joffe Hull’s is a frugalista who blogs about saving money and couponing. Barbara Graham is a quilter so naturally her sleuth quilts, and Annie Knox’s character owns a pet boutique. These writers are funny ladies. Guess that’s why they are write cozies.

I’ve decided that generally speaking writers are witty.


May 3, 10:10 am

Brain so foggy this morning I forgot the SinC breakfast. Woke up surrounded by books in a quiet hotel room – what would you do? Read in bed, no?

Just attended a great panel consisting of the Agatha short story nominees. Gigi Pandian, Barbara Ross, Art Taylor, Barb Goffman – moderated by BK Stevens. They talked about technical issues like point of view, where their stories came from, multiple characters, whether stories can evolve into novels. They all deserve to win and I have no idea which I will vote for. A tough one.

Also forgot to put on my colorful scarf, so I’m wearing denim and brown. Will be good when I spill coffee on myself.


May 2, 8:27 pm

Retired to my room to read for an hour –  my bed is covered with books. Then Ruth & I had dinner at La Madeleine, our new favorite restaurant. Back at the hotel now, and next up — the charity auction.  At 9 pm there’s a welcome reception. Will you forgive me if I skip it? Jammies beckon.


May 2, 5:03 pm

Still Simply the Best panel continued . . .

None of them are able to read for pleasure, they say, unless the book is so good they can turn off their analytic editor.  Universal love for Ordinary Grace by William Kent Krueger, which won the Edgar last night.  Must read . . .

All mentioned new books coming out, or that they’re working on.  Good luck to you all! Winner will be announced at the banquet tomorrow night.

Louise Penny’s How the Light Gets In is also a nominee.


May 2, 4:52 pm

SRS: What is your writing practice?

 BR: 2-8 PM

HPR: 9-11 at night, strives for word count

GMM: 6 days a week, uses a spreadsheet to track progress

JSF – every day

They are disciplined!


May 2, 4:49 pm

Still Simply the Best Panel

SRS: when did you give up your day job to write full time, and what was it?

BR: worked in IT for higher ed, quit to become a publisher at Level Best Books.

HPR: first job was at Dairy Queen. Later worked for a radio station, is now an investigative reporter in Boston.

GMM: for a long time, she wrote from 4 – 8 AM; quit her day job when she got a 3 book contract.

JSF – was a personal injury lawyer, quitting when she got a 2-book contract.



May 2, 4:44 pm

My first real panel. Simply The Best comprised the authors of the Agatha nominees for Best Contemporary Novel.  Julia Spencer Fleming for Through the Evil Days, Barbara Ross for Clammed Up, Hank Phillip Ryan for The Wrong Girl, and G. M. Mallet for Pagan Spring.  All smart and funny. The moderator, Shawn Reilly Simmons, had gathered questions from the twitterverse.

SRS: Tell us an interesting thing about yourself.

BR – her agent said her book should have recipes. But she doesn’t cook! Her husband furnished them

HPR – she grew up in the rural midwest, rode her pony to the library, came home with books in her saddlebags.

GMM – worked in intelligence

JSF – is barefoot.

to be continued . . .


May 2, 1:52 pm

In the hotel lobby where all the social action is.  Julia Spencer Fleming, Jim Jackson, Kate Flora, Jan Rubens, Barbara Ross – gathering around my little table where I’m typing for lots of talk.  Julia’s up for an Agatha – Best Contemporary!  Barbara too! Royalty.


May 2, 1:48 pm

I was quiet this morning online but not in person – Malice Go Round saw me talking to nineteen different tables, ten fans & writers each, for two minutes at a time. With another five Star author, Tempa Pagel, we scampered from table to table, choreographed by a man with a watch.  Then went to lunch with Elaine Douts (E. B.Davis) at Booeymongers. The joint was full of mystery writers, no surprise.



May 2, 7:54 am

We wander outside to find breakfast. Around the corner, La Madeleine, a cute little French cafe looks promising. Scrambled eggs and a delicious croissant and I am ready for Malice’s version of speed-dating, Malice-Go-Round.

I’ll talk for two minutes to a table of 10, wait while my partner (yet to be named) does likewise, then on to the next table. Choreographed. 90 minutes.

Solved the sticky-tape issue. So I’ll be handing out chocolate hearts stuck to Carolina Crimes cards. Up till midnight, made 200, hope that’s enough!


May 1, 9:03 pm

I registered and was given a bag of books! Signed up to sit at Barb Goffman’s table at Saturday’s banquet. She’s up for an Agatha for a short story, and she blurbed Carolina Crimes. And I loved her short story collection, Don’t Get Mad Get Even.



May 1, 8:56 pm

Fun drive in rush hour traffic from DC Union Station to Bethesda.  Limo driver earned every penny of his fifty bucks.

The Hyatt is hopping with mystery writers.

Walked to Safeway to get a salad. Safeway, you are well hidden. An hour later, found it!

Now sitting in Hyatt bar sipping a glass of white, using free wifi. Must solve sticking-hearts-on-cards problem, soon. Thinking . . .



May 1, 2:49 pm

Just crossed the James River south of Richmond. Very high on its banks. Not like last summer, when my grandson Jamie spent a morning climbing on its rocks. Today, all submerged under rushing water.P1000531


May 1, 1:49 pm

Ten reasons I love the train.

  1. Pleasant uncrowded waiting room.
  2. Michael brings us coffee and tea and juice.
  3. And a pillow.
  4. No queues.
  5. No TSA.
  6. Wide seats with foot rests.
  7. I can get up and walk around.
  8. Cafe car.
  9. Wifi.
  10. All those backyards to look into.

May 1, 12:31 pm

Molly brought pimiento cheese sandwiches. Her own recipe on whole wheat bread.  Yum.


May 1, 12:25 pm

On the train for six hours-an opportunity to stick chocolate hearts to my Carolina Crimes cards. In the minutiae department: double-sided sticky tape is IMPOSSIBLE to work with.  It took me two minutes to peel off the protective tape for one heart. Times 250. I don’t think so.



May 1, 12:13 pm

Cary NC train station with Ruth Moose. Can’t believe all the crap stuff we are hauling to Bethesda.  Is that the voice of Molly Weston I hear? Oh good, she has a lot of crap stuff too!



May 7, 10:41 am

To close my Malice blog with Sunday. . .

After the new author’s breakfast at 7 AM,  attending two panels then my own, signing at 12:15 and in spare moments running up to my room to cram forty pounds of books into my suitcase, there wasn’t a blogging second to spare.

We scrambled to Union station, ate a hurried lunch, and got onto the wireless train.  Head buzzing,  processing what it all meant. Remembering faces, mostly –  faces of authors I’ve know and admired for a long time, like Laurie King, Laura Lippman, Harlan Coben. Attaching faces to names from the Guppy list – Kaye George, Elaine Douts, Krista Davis.  Faces of the writers who shared my panel: Vicky Delaney, Ann Cleeves, and Michael Sears.

It was an exhausting, inspiring, exciting three days.

[Posting Tuesday because Monday I had to work at my B&B, volunteer at the cat refuge, cook dinner, go to my meditation group, and, finally, sleep.]



May 4, 10:26 pm

#Malice25 banquet was the best banquet I’ve ever attended. Laura Lippman, the Toastmaster, adorable. Honored guests speeches – short, funny, gracious.  Agatha award winners, surprised and grateful. Congratulations to Penny Warner, Dana Cameron, John Connoly/Declan Burke, Susan Boyer, Catriona McPherson, and Louise Penny!


May 4, 12:04 pm

#Malice25 Busy morning at two panels. “When Secrets and Lies Snowball into Murder”  (my kind of motive) and “Make It Snappy: Agatha Short Story Nominees.” All the writers hum a similar tune – dislike of the serial killer genre (though some do it well), explicit sex makes them giggle, the mystery genre is a broad tent with something for everyone, my ideas come in the shower. I especially liked hearing Barbara Fradkin, a psychologist, tell how no one ever gets the psychopathic killer right – if they did, be very worried about that writer.


May 4, 8:59 am

#Malice25 Sisters in Crime breakfast – attended by maybe 75? Hank gave an overview of SinC activities. She’s a great speaker, natural and funny. I don’t know how she keeps going at such a pace, coming here from the Edgars (where her book won the Mary Higgins Clark award) then two big events here yesterday, the interview with Laurie King and last night’s auction.


May 4, 6:35 am

#Malice25 Up early for the SinC breakfast. All quiet in the Hyatt lobby but not for long.


May 3, 8:53 pm

#Malice25 Oh that Hank Phillipi Ryan, so quick on her funny feet, interviewing Laurie King, who’s had an amazing career as a mystery writer. Both are inspirational.


May 3, 3:39 pm

#Malice25 After a lively lunch at Booeymongers with sister Guppies Kaye George, Susan Boyer, and Elaine Douts, I headed to one of the ballrooms to hear Louise Penny interview Peter Robinson, the International Guest of Honor.

Louise interviews Peter.

Louise is tall, striking, and bright, and her questions inspire an interesting conversation with Peter, who is also tall and bright and seems very nice, with a charming Yorkshire accent.  Though he grew up in a “two over two” with outdoor plumbing, he has a PhD in literature and his Inspector Banks series is internationally famous, a BBC series that will air on PBS this year. I’m doubly delighted – to discover a writer I must read, and a new British crime production.


May 3, 10:27 am

Dealer’s room where I score a copy of Barb Goffman‘s short stories from Wildside Press. #Malice25

Buying a book in the Dealer's room

Wildside table in the Dealer’s room.


May 3, 9:33 am

Late train, late dinner. Can you believe this chicken pot pie, served at the Daily Grill? #Malice25

Pie at the Daily Grill

Noel Weston getting ready to dig into a chicken pot pie.

He and Molly highly recommended it.


May 2, 11:23 am

#Malice25 21 Reasons I love going to Malice on the Train.

  1. No seat belt sign.
  2. No seat belts.
  3. Wide seats.
  4. Wide aisles.
  5. Seat back up? Down? No one cares.
  6. Trays up? Trays down? No one cares.
  7. Leg room.
  8. The foot rest.
  9. Keeping my shoes on.
  10. No scanning or wanding.
  11. No TSA.
  12. Carrying my bottle of water.
  13. Helpful guy at the train station window.
  14. Gracious porter in the train car.
  15. No safety film about lifejackets and oxygen.
  16. Cafe car.
  17. Really good free coffee.
  18. None of those momentary free-falls that stop my heart.
  19. Sway, rumble, vibrate – perfect for napping.
  20. Plug for the laptop.
  21. Train whistle.

May 2, 10:21 am

Waiting for the Malice Express. . . the train is late . . . Ruth Moose, Molly and Noel Weston

At the Cary, NC train station.  Train is 50 minutes late!  Hope we get there by 7 in time to register. . . #Malice25 #SinC


Apr 27, 2:35 pm

It works!  Okay, my live blog will go dormant for a few days while I make some Very Important Decisions – what to wear at #Malice25!


Apr 27, 2:33 pm

Testing, testing 1-2-3? Always iffy, using a new technology – in this case, a WordPress plugin. Setting up to live-blog #Malice25!



2 comments to Malice 2014 Live Blog

  • I am looking forward to following your coverage of Malice. Thank you for live blogging!

  • Radine Trees Nehring

    Wow! Thanks SO much for this. (I am at Oklahoma Writers Federation Conference. Several hundred writers from around mid USA attend this first May weekend every year, and I always yearn for far away Malice.) Will love your sharing. Radine

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