“Surprise, surprise, surprise.” (Gomer Pyle)
I am not an extrovert. Forget that I look and sound like one. Trust me on this.
I was reminded about this heading to my first Malice a few weeks ago. I was confident having survived my first Bouchercon in October that I would sail through smoothly. I forgot how overwhelming a condensed weekend conference filled with events could be, no matter how much fun, how many old friends you get to see, or new ones you get to meet. For me, it can feel so over-stimulating, I may as well wear my nervous system on the outside of my skin. Upon my arrival from a tropical island to a dank and drizzly Bethesda on Thursday evening, I was offered an umbrella that would symbolize the warmth of the Wicked Cozy Authors during the entire weekend.
So here’s to the Wicked Cozy Authors, affectionately referred to by me as the Wicked Cozies, whose skirts I clung to for nearly 72 hours straight. I have known all of them for years now, some better than others. I’ve suffered through and celebrated the path to publication with them and had a lot of fun along the way.
To Julie, who gently prodded me to attend Malice, thank you for reaching out and including me in the Pre-Con dinner and for recommending I stay at a residence-type hotel two blocks away from the Marvelous Madness of Malice. When I hit a wall Friday evening and opted to order pizza in and go to bed early, I knew this respite was why she had suggested I give myself permission to take a conference time-out.
To Sherry, whose understated words of warning merely cautioned without instilling panic. Yes, avoiding the crush of the pre-Agatha Awards Banquet, was a good idea. So were so many other of her little baubles of wisdom. And Sherry, like all of the other Wicked Cozies, never failed to know who needed a friendly face in the audience during a panel.
To Jessie, with Wicked Cozy Accomplice Kimberly Gray Hurth, for joining me at my table at the New Author Breakfast at the ungodly hour of 7:00 a.m. after a wild night at the banquet, and for cheering me on, assuring me the fact that I couldn’t hear the interview questions (bubble in ear after plane ride, of course) wouldn’t matter at all.
To Barb, for volunteering that I did well in the interview, even if I couldn’t hear the question or the answer, for that matter. Barb’s direct, businesslike honesty made me believe her, and I knew she was facing a deadline, so there was no time for fluff. Encouragement is such a balm.
For Liz’s equanimity during the entire weekend. Also facing a deadline, Liz’s calmness and generosity was impressive. Sitting near her, I couldn’t help but absorb some of her serenity and chuckle at her quiet quick wit.
To Edith, whose good-natured advice about what to miss or what could be skipped, for helping me sort through the “abbreviated” 50 page “Malice at a Glance Guide.” And for the fun we had trying to figure out the check at the Lebanese tapa restaurant that foolishly declined to give our end of the table separate checks. We’re writers, not accountants.
My takeaway from Malice is that it can be a fun-filled and informative conference where new friendships are born and old ones nurtured.
But my lesson from the Wicked Cozies is even better. In a profession where self-doubt, isolationism and pressure constantly abounds, there is no better remedy than the warmth and generosity of a group of writers who understand how mutual support and encouragement breeds confidence, accomplishment and joy. The Wicked Cozies get that success comes to writers who are collaborative and inclusive.
So here’s to the generosity the Wicked Cozies bring to the writing community. May it be the gift that keeps on giving.
Readers: What kinds of encouragement and support do you most appreciate? Writers: Who has lent a helping hand along the way in your journey as a writer?
C. Michele Dorsey is the author of Sabrina Salter Mystery series. First in the series is No Virgin Island and Permanent Sunset releases October 11, 2016.
Aw, Michele, what a sweet post! It was a delight to have you with us at Malice (and at any other time, for that matter). You were already part of SINC-New England before I joined, and I’m so happy you now have a mystery out and more to come.
Your description of the Wickeds shows what comes through in their books and why we all enjoy them so much.
Thank you so much Gram!
I couldn’t agree more.
One of my biggest pet peeves is when servers assume that groups of women are okay with dividing large checks. They never, ever do that with groups of men.
Karen, I could write an entire blog about that alone! I will insist from now on and threaten to leave a restaurant if it won’t accommodate separate checks. I’ll bet Edith and my other friends at that end of the table might agree.
And here I thought you were so together! You were really just dazed? The question is, will you be at Malice next year?
Ah, Sheila! I remember you waving your hand in front of my face after the Author Go Round to see if I was still conscious. But yes, of course I will go again!
I think a lot of writers appear to be “so together” when their inner writers are terrified. I wonder why.
Michele this is lovely! And you are right that no one would guess you are an introvert! It was great to see you. I must be a tad claustrophobic — it’s why I avoid the cocktail party before the Malice banquet.
Sherry, I’d go back to Malice just to hang out with you! I agree about the crush of the cocktail party – but others seems to love it. I’m thinking about this introvert on the inside/appearing to be an extrovert on the outside more now. I guess it’s time for me to read “Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking” before I head to Bouchercon in September in New Orleans. Now that will probably challenge my inner introvert for sure!
Quiet is a great book! Reading it before Bouchercon is probably a good investment of your time.
I will add Quiet to my TBR list as well.
What a lovely gift on this Friday. I am so glad you came to Malice, and loved spending time with you. Having our debuts in the same year meant the world. What a ride we’ve had.
The journey with fellow writers is the unexpected gift for all of the “agony” that comes with writing. Sharing ride with you has been a joy, Julie. And hanging out with The Wicked Cozies at Malice reminded me to be grateful for our writing community.
Awww, Michele! What a lovely post to wake up to after a very long week! We were so glad to have you with us! It was tons of fun spending time with you.
Thanks, Liz. I enjoyed getting to know you better. You’ve got a sense of humor that sneaks up, which I love. Here’s to more good times.
I was able to witness this (part of it, at least) first-hand and wholeheartedly agree. The support from this group is palpable. I especially enjoyed how each member of the Wicked Cozies is so unique and brings her own magic to the group.
Caroline–It was so nice to see you, too!
Thank you so much!
What a lovely post. We loved hanging out with you! You are always a source of level-headed wisdom, humorously delivered. And No Virgin Island is a great book!
Thanks so much, Barb! On all counts.
And happy anniversary, Michele!
Thanks, Edith. Back in Massachusetts, heading to the Cape with Steve to start the next chapter.
Thanks, Michele, for your kind words. It was such a pleasure getting to know you better. I am looking forward to seeing you at Bouchercon in the fall.
You were also so helpful, Kim. I appreciated your local insight and enjoyed getting to know you and sharing my first Malice tea with you!
This is exactly how I felt as a fan attending my first Malice this year.
I was so relived when Sherry messaged me a few days before the convention started- I WOULD know someone!
And you described everyone so accurately! 🙂
Jacqueline, I think the majority of us approaching our first conference of this size and which has such a long history are a tad intimidated. Isn’t it wonderful when people like the Wicked Cozies reach out to you and help put you at ease?
I remember my first Malice and going into rooms not knowing anyone, Jacki! It was so fun to spot you across a crowded room!
It was so great to see you there Jacki! Much better than flat Jacki, though she was fun too!
It was such a pleasure to be a part of your first Malice and to sit at your table during the New Author breakfast! Hope you’ll be there again next year!
Jessie, I meant to thank you for encouraging me to enjoy wearing my bright Caribbean blue colored clothes without hesitation. When you said, “Well, I wear red, a lot of red,” I thought, well why not!
Bravo to both of you!
It was lovely to meet you at Malice, Michele, even if briefly.
And I couldn’t agree more about how lovely the Wickeds are. They kept including me in activities, and I found that wonderful since it was my first Malice. Once I know someone, I will talk their ear off, but I’m always hesitant to go up and start a conversation with someone I don’t know. They kept sweeping me up into their plans and introducing me to people. It helped so much.
It was fun being able to sweep you up!
Mark, it has been a lot of fun to get to meet you in 3D life!
My first Malice as well, and it couldn’t have been better! Thank you, Wicked Cozies, for your generous hospitality! (And as Arnold once said, “I’ll be back!”)
Our paths kept crossing, but I was hopping this past Malice. Looking forward to seeing you next year, and on the blog!
It was mahvelous!
What a sweet tribute. I’ve gotten to know some of the Wickeds — Edith Maxwell the most, but also the others and getting to know them better as I attend regional meetings (Sisters in Crime New England) and, of course, New England Crime Bake. They do have such a welcoming, generous spirit.
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