Monday, April 30, 2012

Malice 24

Or as far as I'm concerned Malice 1.  It was my first time in Bethesda, MD, hanging out with the traditional mystery crowd and I loved it.  Absolutely loved it.  Can't wait til next year already.

On Sunday morning, I was on a panel with Donna Andrews, Elena Santagelo, Mike Befeler and Avery Ames.  Occupy Malice.  Look - there's a picture and everything.

Then there was the panel - Elvis and the Commies - that I was moderating and once again I forgot to take any pictures at all.  So once again againI had to stalk and pounce at the signing session.  Here they are and here's me, Forrest Gump.  First, Joelle Charbonneau (blues suede shoes just out of shot)

Deborah Sharp (watch those racoons scatter)

Lane Stone (bless her heart and butter her butt)

And Lois Winston (we weren't auditioning for a cartoon job, despite the fact that we both look as if we've just been hit with an anvil)

Cathi Stoler and I paired up for the mind-frying experience of Malice-go-round, speed-dating 200 readers in two minute bursts of 8 at a time.  By the end of the session Dandy Gilver and Joey "Bones" Biscottini seemed like much the same thing.  Here's Cathi, completely recovered, at the Agathas banquet, standing between lovely Vicki Doudera and silly Jessie Lourey

I am so tired now that if someone pinched me I would cry.  Partly it was staying up late to watch Sharktopus   on Friday; partly setting up a breakfast meeting with my editor on Saturday for 7.30am EST which was 4.30am real time for me.  But mostly it was because of Jessie Chandler and Terri Bischoff:

Terri (in the blue) gave away Midnight Ink books at the banquet, and Jessie (in the green) wrote the one that kept me reading until half-past three after I'd been a good girl and gone to bed just after midnight.  Tchah!  Mind you, it's just as well I was exhausted on Sunday, because brand-new writer Michelle Sandford's work-in-progress sounded so delicious that if I'd been firing on all cylinders I might have been tempted to steal it.  It was especially great to meet Michelle because it's not every day you find another person who loves Dorothy L Sayers and Stephen King.

Now it's back to the grind.  I edited 132 pages between the two flights, 171 to go, but at least my desk is bigger than a cattle-class tray-table and the coffee's a lot better too.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Felted head-wreck

Since I'm heading off to my first Malice Domestic tomorrow, and it's by all accounts pretty craft-tastic, and since I just today finished Dandy Gilver No. 8 (working title Dandy Gilver and A Goodly Measure of Brimstone) so am in a wow-8-really? kind of mood, I thought I'd look back over the last seven covers as re-imagined by my pal Louise who has been making unsettling crafts to go with every new book since 2005.

It started innocently enough with the cover image of After the Armistice Ball on a felted cushion.

For Book No 2, The Burry Man's Day, she went 3D with a Dandy Dolly.  Now, dolls always creep me out a bit, especially when you walk into a room and they slowly turn round and stare at you, but this one was quite harmless, with her pink flapper dress and her long beads.

Then came Bury Her Deep and the spookiest finger puppets ever felted.  One of my nephews reached out for one at the launch party, then though the better of it and ran away.

Another change of pace for The Winter Ground, with a big-top desk-tidy for keeping small items like Tunnock's teacake badges safe.  (Tunnock's teacake badge model's own.)  It was cute, colourful, soft and dumpy and hardly unsettling at all.

Louise was saving up for the big one.  The odd-eyed, sock eared Dandy Dolly #2 (she's back and this time she's angry) that goes with  The Proper Treatment of Bloodstains.  DD2 doesn't even have to look round slowly at me when I go into my study to give me the heeby-jeebies.

So you can imagine my trepidation on publication day for An Unsuitable Day for A Murder.  I kind of wanted to ask the UPS guy to wait with me until the parcel was open and the contents, if necessary, locked in a cupboard.  But Louise is messing with me.  Look:

A pretty, wearable (and often worn), hearts and flowers and measuring tape brooch.

I wonder what she'll do for the next one.  Fabulous prizes if you guess.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

And we get to call it working!

So Left Coast Crime 2012 in Sacramento is over and we're all on our way home, light of wallet, croaky of voice and pink of eye.  I thought I'd avoid all three this time because I was driving back to my own bed every night.  Turns out that it's the buzz that causes the insomnia - not the hotel - and when you can put your back seats flat and fill your car with signed books you spend more than the cost of a room easily.

It was a wonderful convention - fun panels, good coffee and a sea of friendly faces wherever you turned.  Many thanks to Cindy Sample, Robin Burcell  and the Sac Sisters in Crime for the one or two little things they might have done to get it organised.

Even Sacramento itself put on a good show.  The sun shone for nearly ten minutes on Saturday:

 The rest of the time the rained poured down, the wind cracked its cheeks and mystery writers and readers stayed inside and made their own fun.  Banqueting, for example:

Here are Vicki Doudera, Shannon Baker, Keith Raffel, GM Malliet, and Jess Lourey (looking lively) and me (looking like someone who's been fished out of a river and propped up) doing just that.

Others chose to pass the time by winning awards.

Darrell James' Nazareth Child (Midnight Ink) won the Eureka! for best debut (and best acceptance speech too).

Ann Parker won the Bruce Alexander for best historical, with Mercury's Rise (Poisoned Pen) and also the best excited squeal of the weekend, despite stiff competition from the cheerleaders who were having their own convention next door.

The award-winning Donna Andrews won a Lefty award for The Real Macaw (Minotaur (yeay!)), the latest in her award-winning humourous mystery series to win an award.  This is me, fished out and propped up, trying to see if some off it would rub off.

And finally:

the lovely Kelli Stanley won the Golden Nugget for best California mystery for City of Secrets (Minotaur (woop)).  Here she is with Hillary Davidson, who doesn't need anything to rub off and so must just have been being friendly.

I don't want to leave you with the impression that it was all hugs and laughs and apple martinis.  There were scary moments like this one too:

Yes, I finally met Jacqueline Winspear and Rhys Bowen whose golden-age-style British female detectives have been intimidating me for years (as well as mopping up some awards that Donna Andrews missed).  Well, neither was actually scary of course and didn't mind sitting beside a propped-up corpse to have their photie took.

In short, four days of fascinating, entertaining, inspiring, rib-tickling communion with writers and readers and bloggers and reviewers and publishers who all love crime novels.  The highlight for me? 

Without a doubt, the vision of retro-chic that is Stacey Aaronson.  Isn't she lovely?