A group blog featuring an international array of killer mystery, suspense, and romantic suspense writers. With premises and story lines different from your run-of-the-mill whodunits, we tend to write outside the box. We blog several times a week on all topics relating to romantic suspense and mystery, our writing, and our readers. We welcome all comments and often have guest bloggers. All our authors can be contacted separately, too, using their own social media links.

We find our genre delightfully, dangerously, and deliciously exciting - join us here, if you do too!

Julie Moffet . Cathy Perkins . Jean Harrington . Daryl Anderson . Nico Rosso . Maureen A Miller . Sandy Parks . Lisa Q Mathews . Sharon Calvin . Lynne Connolly . Janis Patterson . Vanessa Keir . Tonya Kappes . Julie Rowe . Joni M Fisher . Leslie Langtry

Friday, May 4, 2012

Malice Report

I'm home after attending the Malice Domestic mystery convention. If you're wondering what "Malice Domestic" represents, it isn’t a discussion about domestic violence or ripping your mother-in-law or the latest overhyped story. It’s a celebration of the cozier end of the mystery spectrum. The conference spotlights traditional mysteries, leading up to the Saturday night banquet and the Agatha Awards. Agatha Christie wrote character-driven mysteries with puzzle plots, very different from the conspiracy thrillers, steamy romantic suspense or gritty hard-boiled stories that populate the far side of the mystery genre – er, the end where we hang out here at Carina Press.

Mystery conferences have a different vibe than romance gatherings. The emphasis is on connecting to readers, so there isn’t the edgy, I must impress the agent/editor at my pitch session undercurrent. Instead there’s a whirlwind of names, faces, panels and chatting. A chance to connect with old friends and make lots of new ones. Time to hang out with irreverent Janet Reed or have fan girl moments when Sophie Littlefield (who is the nicest human on the planet) told me about her latest story and asked about my next book over dinner.

But the entire time, even as I chatted with librarians and tried to remember the two second summary of my book for a reader, I wondered if the expense of the conference was justified.

I factored in industry information from agents, the editor who invited me to send both my new projects to her. An historical author who generously shared tips on ways to find slang and speech patterns from earlier years. Good stuff.

Would any of it translate into sales?


Was that really the point?

Another friend with a dozen books on her list told me she doesn’t go to conferences any more. The money she spent on the conference fee, hotel and travel, she insisted, was better spent translating her latest novel into Spanish. For her, those dollars translated into actual income.

But I think each of us has to make a decision based on where we are at that particular point in time.

So I'm wondering this morning, what do you get out of conferences that you don't get out of chatting online, emailing and Facebooking?

What’s the best piece of advice you learned at a conference?

Do you have a favorite conference? One you'll never again attend? One you'll never miss? One you wish existed?


Toni Anderson said...

I met Sophie Littlefield at a Writers' conference in North Carolina. The Writers' Police Academy. That had some incredible hands on experience. I love RWA Nationals, I've been twice. I got a lot of information from the spotlights but more probably from the Kiss of Death pre-conference tours. I think there's a certain joy at hanging out with real people who understand what you do. There's a great re-infusion of energy. But it's expensive. I certainly can't afford to go this year.
Malice sounds like a lot of fun.

Rita said...

This will probably be my last Nationals. I want to connect with readers. I’m attending Lori Fosters conference writer/reader event and next year I’m intending on going to RT in Kansas City. Maybe Thriller Fest in NYC. Maybe. It’s expensive. I’m sad more NYUS authors won’t be in California.

Shelley Munro said...

I don't get to many conferences at all, mostly because I live in New Zealand. The mystery conference sounds great. Whenever I think of mystery conferences I think of TV detective shows where there is a sleuth chasing up an actual murderer. :)

Cathy Perkins said...

I'd love to go to The Writers' Police Academy - it looks like a blast - but it falls at such a bad time for me (the day job).

The KOD tour was the highlight of my RWA National conference (well, that and the Golden Heart ceremony :) )

Beyond the info gathering, I do think the energy is the best takeaway.

Cathy Perkins said...

Hi Rita -

Since I'm writing more suspense than romance, I can't justify the expense of RWA national but I'll miss connecting with people I only see at the conference.

I hear RT is fun - tell us more about Lori Foster's conference

Cathy Perkins said...

Hi Shelley

I didn't realize you were in New Zealand. Is the big RWA conference in Australia out of the question?

Are there other opportunities to connect with readers (and other writers) locally for you?

Anne Marie Becker said...

Much like Rita, I've mainly attended RWA conferences to this point...learning the craft and business as well as the chapter leadership info (since I've been president of my chapter the last four years) have all been very helpful.

But I feel it's time to shift my focus to more reader-related venues. (Plus, my tenure on the board will soon be over.) I'm seriously considering RT next year, and maybe ThrillerFest. Not sure if I could do both in one year, though.

But I love every conference I've attended because it re-energizes me and my writing. Like an instant infusion of creativity. And, it's great to catch up with friends or meet online friends in person.

Cathy Perkins said...

I'm seeing two recurring themes here. What you're looking for from a conference may change over time, reflecting where you are in your career. At every stage, though, attending the conference, being around other authors, readers, industry professionals, is energizing.

Maybe it’s not so much whether or not to spend the money on a conference, but deciding why you want to attend or carefully choosing the one that meets your current needs?

Marcelle Dubé said...

Interesting topic, Cathy. I've been to a few conferences, but they were fantasy and SF cons. While they were exhausting--so many people!--they were also energizing. I seem to be moving more and more into mystery, however, so which ones would folks recommend?

Clare London said...

I've been going to Yaoi Con, a m/m-related convention in SF since 2004. Travelling from the UK to the US, my expenses are always way over my royalty earnings! But I made such good friends that we still keep in touch. Then in 2007/8 I started trying out conventions concentrating on authors/publishers, mainly in the GLBT genre - the New York Rainbow Book Fair, GayRomLit in NOLA, con-txt in Washington. A different vibe each time but still immensely uplifting to mix with people who love and write the same things I do.

This year is the first one I'm not attending any of them in the US - too little time and money :(. But we are organising a convention in the UK this year in Sept for authors and fans of GLBT fiction. I'm on the committee and looking forward to it a lot. There's no substitute for me for meeting friends face to face.

Cathy Perkins said...

Hi Marcelle

There are several big mystery conferences you can check into. I've been to both Bouchercon and - obviously - Malice. Both are really welcoming, but neither is set up for digital books. Quite a few people who heard me speak at Malice asked where they could buy a paper copy of my book. sigh.

Left Coast Crime, Love is Murder, Thrillerfest - all on my-love-to go schedule.

I think you can get a fairly good feel for the conferences from the web sites.

Cathy Perkins said...

Hi Clare -

I think you have the right idea. Target the conferences that work best with the stories you're writing. The networking flows from that shared interest.

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