neadods: (sherdoc)
I went to Malice Domestic this weekend, and it is only just now that I'm grasping the impact of David's death on my life. For those who just joined/don't recognize the name - David was the brother and last remaining family member the oldest friend I have. Seriously, he taught me how to drive that's how long I've known him. Anyway, his brother David died and M & I and others went up to help clear out his apartment. His third floor, walk-up apartment. Full of the stuff that he had hoarded.

Wow, did clearing that out give me a huge perspective on the job that is to do and why keep crap around if I don't love it, because the people after me certainly won't give a shit. Also, be organized, because it sucks to be the last family member picking through random trash and discovering valuable family mementos in the middle.

ANYWAY, I was talking about Malice, wasn't I? Bigass mystery writers/readers convention, total bookapalooza, which I usually rate by my ability to score my considerable body weight in free books.

...only this year, not so much. Free books were a bit scanty on the ground - after last year's glut (on Sunday they laid out books beyond my wildest dreams of avarice and said "make them go away") this year they'd underordered so much that before registration ended they weren't giving any books away at all with the totes, which is completely unheard of.

And I? Didn't care that much. Oh, I swapped - when I saw someone walking away from the swap table with a book I wanted I offered her two-for-one out of my swap stash. I mean, I wasn't replaced by an illiterate alien. But... I just didn't want to go through STUFF anymore, y'know? I picked up books that looked interesting, and toward the end of Saturday thought "screw this" and took all the books I had brought to trade, books that in the past I would have taken home for next year, and dumped them en masse.

Also, rather than picking up All The Flyers, I looked at what looked interesting and downloaded samples to iBooks whenever possible. I only took flyers for books that weren't in ebook/out yet. Tried to keep a cork in it with the rest of the freebies too.

...although, if I'd known that one of the Sisters in Crime pens was a combination stylus pen, I would have shamelessly taken half a dozen.
neadods: (sherlock)
A far more detailed write up when I gave a proper keyboard and not the ipad, tonight or tomorrow, but an interesting-to-me set of factoids now... I'm informed that the existence of the swap table, the lack of a disapproving self-appointed table nanny and the non-attendance of the person who collects books for soldiers are related items.

I make no apologies for wanting to walk away with as many free books I can get out of a con that costs $250 to walk into -- I'm a lifetime member of 221BCon for that price! I figure that if they're giving books to people, I'm people, so I should have an equal chance. And it's a good thing that the panels are taped, because not only is the Cnvention Law in force (they're always laughing louder in the panel on the other side of the wall), there was a stretch where every half an hour, a different Harper Collins author was signing free copies of their books.

Besides, it's probably better for my blood pressure not to be there when Laurie R King and Carole Nelson Douglas duel over Doyle.

I will be getting CND's autograph; I have her entire Irene Adler series in 1st ed. hardback, and aim to end the day with the entire series signed. The final 4 were review copies, so I didn't get the autograph when I got the books.
neadods: (Default)
The swap table is back! I have greeted it like an old friend, and will have good swaps for it tomorrow.

I've also seen some friends, done some shopping (the T-shirt saying "Relax, it's not my blood" will be shipped), and seen a great panel by the director of DC's Department of forensic sciences. He turns out to have a dry wit and a lot of good stories.

The hotel manager is walking around in full deerstalker and Inverness cape, which is a whole new level of playing along! Bad problem with the con totes, though. The design is good, but the clips on the adjustable straps are breaking right and left.
neadods: (reading)
OMG, So! Tired! And tomorrow's the mock trial, so I won't have time to rest. Panel write-up later (and trial writeup later too.)

General highlights:
- A book that I loved and regretted not having become a series is coming back into print and going to turn into a series. Even more than that, Chris Freeburn (the author) gave me a set of download codes for the free ebook. Give me a day or two to pull my head together, and I'm going to have a "first x to respond get the code" post. It's from Smashwords, which works internationally.

- I have not only bought more books, I've got an even bigger set of books to consider buying or trying from the library. If I knew that Simon Brett's Charles Paris series had so much Shakespeare in it, I'd've read it years ago.

- I got stuck in the Malice Dilemma at one panel. Stay and finish listening to an author describe the book or leave the panel early, nip to the dealer's room to pick up a copy, and try to get it signed in the mass signing right after the panel?

- Serendipity came to my rescue with all flags flying at the very end; not seeing anyone I knew at the tea (or many empty seats towards the back, I crept more and more forward, eventually sitting with a half table of lovely people up front... including The Poison Lady. Who turns out to be a huge Sherlock Holmes fan and fond of audio, so we talked podcasts and audio downloads until they threw us out.

Although I had several general "this was not done right" complaints about the con (some don't even include the letters s, w,a, or p), I did have fun. And I did keep my name on the volunteers list, *and* I signed up for next year.

We'll see after that.

Still making up my mind about Bouchercon. Not that I have a functioning mind at the moment...
neadods: (reading)
I'm caught between "I want to tell you EVERYTHING!" and "that's a shedload of typing." So let me sum up.

Informal swaps keep popping up. I also have encouraged several people to write in a feedback comment, and been encouraged to whine at length to someone who sympathized. (And because [ profile] beledibabe is a better person than I, there wasn't even a hint of the subtext "For God's sake, take it out on each other before I kill you both and spork out my eardrums for the sweet, sweet relief of never hearing about the subject again!")

Apparently this was a wildly unpopular decision when it was made last year... although the true depth of the issue wasn't made clear to me until I rather hopefully followed someone down the hall as she took non-regulation books to the box for soldiers. When she got there, she actually *pointed to books in the box* and said "See? We aren't giving these out. Someone brought them from home."

That there's someone at this con wrapped so tightly over the rules that she doesn't like donations from home going straight to CHARITY is worlds beyond "power trip" and into "OMG, get a gallon of therapy, you just scared the shit out of me."

There are the things that are eyecatching, and the things that effectively tempt me, and the things that make me pick up the book. Which are three separate categories.

Eyecatching but ineffective included:

  • Rubber Duckie Knights. (Seriously, the one I picked up - jousting on a little inflatable horsie - is so darling that I'm not sure that I'll be able to give it to M. However, it almost immediately popped off the card it was attached to, so it fails as advertising.

  • Lip Gloss. Not only am I a bit wary of smearing something from a murder convention on my lips, the tube is so small that it's very hard to read the title and impossible to read the author.

  • The stuffed puppy toy, the pen with the homicide outline topper, and the magnets. Individually, darling. Collectively, I realized they were all for the same book and instantly felt it must be a dog if the publisher has to work *that* hard.

  • The 6-inch ruler with a website on it. Yeah, I need rulers, but I'm not tempted to check out the site.

  • The Post-it pad with only an author's name on it.

Tempting... by which, I mean I picked up the thingie, understand what it is for, and will keep it for a while. I may or may not get the book, but I'll always see the advertising.

  • The bookmark with a pretty picture of a cat sleeping on a book

  • The bookmarks with recipes on the back

  • The Post-it "Things Accomplished" lined pad with website and series name on it

  • The publisher's doorknob hanger with the current lineup on one side and on the other "Back Soon. They asked me to solve a crime. AGAIN."

To be brutally honest, the only things that I picked up that have inspired me to run right out and actually get a book are the ones that have download codes on them - one handed to me by the author, one from Starbucks.

No, what inspires me to pick up books are the authors.

Every Media West, there'd be that vid that introduced me to a song and I'd run right out and buy it. Every Malice, there's one author I've never heard of who charms me into her stuff due to a reading/description at a panel. This year there were 2.5 of them.

1) Sarah R. Shaber has started a WWII homefront series; at the "Things We've Done for Research" panel, when they were asking the audience to vote on whether a reading was due to research, personal experience, or total fiction, Shaber read a section about a woman being hauled off to be forcibly checked for VD. ("It's not meant to be funny," she told the giggling room.) The immediacy of the scene made me go buy Louise's War & Louise's Gamble, which I then had signed.

2) I wouldn't have touched this on my own, but when it was discussed in the Paranormal panel, it was made to sound so much fun that I scooted out and picked it up: Lennifer Harlow's Mind Over Monsters in which a new FBI agent gets put in the Federal Response to Extra-sensory And Kindred Supernaturals squad. (Work out the acronym.) Before she was sent to battle a zombie uprising, the character had been a 4th grade teacher. The general consensus of the panel was that 4th graders to zombie fighting was "not a big stretch." Alas, I missed the signing to buy the book, so now I'm slightly stalking Harlow in hopes of getting an extemporaneous autograph.

.5) Bailey Cates was also on the paranormal panel, but I didn't have to buy the kickoff to her new series because it was in my tote bag. A good find too - it has *not* shown up in any of the informal swaps.

In handouts, Charles Todd was signing copies of A Duty to the Dead; the intent was that giving away book #1 of the series would pull in people to buy 2 through the just released 4. And when I said that I couldn't find a copy of Writers Gone Wild, a very kind person gave me his, which only goes to show that if you show up at a table whining often enough about there being no swap, people will do anything to shut you up there are kind souls who want to see books in the hands of those who will enjoy them.

I bought more cozies than I thought I would have a taste for (and I may prove myself right), even though I went to the con promising myself that I'd only get Holmes books. And to be honest, I've done that too:

  • All issues of The Sherlock Holmes Mystery Magazine

  • The Pirate King
  • (Laurie R King; Holmes, Mary, & Gilbert & Sullivan)
  • Michael Dirda's On Conan Doyle

  • Sherlock Holmes in America

  • Murder in Baker Street

  • A Study in Sherlock

In addition to the handout of Mystery Magazine 123 with a Holmes pastiche story, a set of magnetic bookmarks that includes the covers of The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes and Hound of the Baskervilles, and the fact that my first subscription issue of the Baker Street Journal arrived at my house.

At the big afternoon booksigning, I went first to Claudia Bishop, aka Mary Stanton and gushed all over her about the Beaufort & Co Angelic Investigations series. (Very interesting things happen in the latest. She's really developing the universe.) It is one of the most unique things out there, and I was wibbling about how it made such a change from the "cute, cuddly, over-sweet cozy" before I realized that I was talking to Claudia frikkin' Bishop and that, like everyone else who belatedly blurts "no offense!", I'd just been offensive. (But honestly, reading all those sweet cozies for RtE gave me diabetes of the soul.) Fortunately, she took it in stride, and then she wrote my name down and raved over it, because she liked it and she needed a name for her next book. I told her I'd be thrilled, although I could imagine that after *that* bout of foot-in-mouth, the character named after me will come to a very sticky end! But she still signed Avenging Angels "To Linnea with the lovely name."

This is getting way too long again, so I'll stop. However, I have been taking notes at all the panels I attend and at some point there will be a quote list/panel description. I'm assuming that y'all want to see that.
neadods: (bleh)
Well, I apparently stepped in this year's controversy the moment I walked in the door.

As you know, I'm all about the circulating of books. I've donated dozens of boxes to the library where I grew up, dozens more to the Book Thing, and encouraged plenty of people to do the same. I want to set up a Little Free Library in my front yard. I want to participate in next year's World Book Night.

When I wrote for Reviewing the Evidence, I saved up my unwanted, gently read review books all year and brought them to the swap table at Malice. I still have a few, so I dropped them in my bag and toddled off to the con. Unable to find the usually obvious swap table, I finally asked.

And was told that there wasn't one this year. (Supposedly. The topic came up no less than three times at the welcome-to-the-con panel, apparently.) They were "too much trouble."

Shocked, I asked the obvious question: how could they possibly be trouble?

Now, if the answer had been "Well, every year there's that one author whose books pile up into mountains and it leads to hurt feelings, so we stopped" I would have said "Bummer, I'll miss them" but I would have understood.

But no! Four reasons were given:
1) People don't put a book down every time they pick one up.
2) Sometimes people take more than one of a book.
3) Sometimes people bring books from home to swap.
4) Sometimes those books are obviously old and used.

It took me a while to get over the shock and, frankly, offense, and now I have these points in return.

First, those books are offered by publishers to get readers hooked on series (it's always a second or third book in the bag to encourage you to buy #1) and advertise new authors. By taking away the swap table, they've reduced the exposure to only the books in a random tote bag selection -- which means that books aren't necessarily getting into the hands of people who'd read more books by that author. It's bad advertising.

Second, the only way to be sure about points 1 and 2 is if there is someone staring at the table for the entire damned con, making notes about who takes and leaves what when. (At my last Malice, I did run into someone who somehow didn't notice that I'd dropped a book without picking one up before a panel, but was RIGHT THERE in my face when I picked up a book later without dropping one at the time.)

Third, I fail to see how either of those is actually a *problem,* considering that the table usually has piles and piles on it. When there are 20 copies of a book up for grabs, who precisely is hurt if someone takes 2 instead of 1?

Fourth, am I the only person who sees an inherent disconnect between points 1 and 3?

Fifth, fresh blood on the table usually gets snapped up, so I'm failing to see why bringing in stuff from home is a problem. It's not like it was ever left over. (Although again at my last Malice, a table nanny -- quite possibly the same one -- had a massive bitch over People Not Getting It because someone tossed a romance on the table. I picked it up, read it, & enjoyed it. Books are books. It's not like everyone at the con only reads one genre. Hell, one of my best pickups was The Wedding Officer, which is also a romance, and *it* was a Malice giveaway!)

Sixth, lady, I am so damned sorry that my first edition signed copies of Night Laws and Shadow Laws that I brought to swap are for some reason not good enough because they've been sullied by a stay at my home. How very dare I freely offer them to other mystery readers rather than sell them to a used bookstore for ha'pennies on the dollar or take them to the general audience of the Book Thing?

Seventh, if old used books aren't good enough to give away for free, how come there are two dealers with the damned nerve to sell old, used books for good cash money in the dealer's room? And no, I'm not just talking the rare editions, I'm talking about the battered "three for $10" paperback bin. Seriously, what the fuck kind of Randian logic is it that they're good enough to sell but not good enough to give away? To people who are free to take them - and always did in my experience.

At this point, I don't know what pisses me off more - that something I consider a huge part of my convention experience isn't going to be provided, or that the reasons for not doing so all boil down to "I personally don't approve of the way you played with that toy, so I'm taking it away."

I was told that I could donate books I didn't want to the soldiers, but they didn't want hardbacks. I'm betting that the soldiers also didn't want the inevitable American Girl mystery, there being a distinct dearth of 8-year-old girls in the armed forces. No word on if old, used paperbacks were good enough for combat or not.

When I went back to state my opinion somewhat more diplomatically, the people I had been talking to were gone. In their place was a little old lady who's as wily as Miss Marple, because in short order she encouraged me to fill out the feedback form and talk about it there plus give my name and contact info to be one of the year-long volunteers, with the carrot on the end of that stick being that if a volunteer comes early on the day of pre-registration, they get to pack their own totes first... and they get to choose their books.

While I won't deny that would be a huge attraction, I'm still pissed about the swap thing. And apparently I'm not the only one, because I saw some books tucked away on a shelf down a hallway. I took a look, didn't take any then added the ones that were dragging my shoulder down. When I next checked, all the originals were gone and two more were in their place.

I think the swap table has just gone on the down low. Although because nobody saw me drop 4 tonight, I'm sure some nanny will get pissy if I dare pick up any tomorrow.

So tomorrow, in my tote along with the books to be signed, I'm sneaking in a few paperbacks to swap. Just in case. Yeah, one of 'em is old an obviously used, but to be honest, I'll be shocked to the core if there's a mystery convention and there won't be someone interested in a spare copy of Gaudy Night.

As for the rest of the con, had too-short talks with two friends, and at some point I'll write up the fan mail panel, which is always fun. Lee Goldberg turns out to be fairly entertaining as a speaker, although he's still solidly on my shitlist for his attitudes about fans and fanfiction. Simon Brett is a charmer and a darling and some of my panel decisions just got easier because I want to see more of him.

Because I've been asked about marketing, there isn't much out of the usual right now - lots and lots of postcards and bookmarks. There was some dog-related mystery that tied the card to dog bones, and there's a Cookbook Nook jar opener.

I am also horrified to discover that some author has started writing Dorothy Parker mysteries. The whole coattail-riding genre of "I'm going to pick a better author than I'll ever be and make money off of treating them like characters" disgusts me; that Parker has been used is only proof positive that there are no zombies, because if anything would rip her out of the grave to take revenge, that would.
neadods: (Default)
I'm finding myself getting quite excited about Malice Domestic con, even though I won't be fully participating until this afternoon. I've taken the day off work so I can spend this morning doing all the weekend things - laundry, cleaning, generally being an adult, but I spent last night schlepping to Bethesda to do early registration and look at the tote bag (nice, but not extraordinarily so) and the books in it (TBH, none of them have particularly caught my attention either, although there is a book in a series I panned pretty hard in the Reviewing the Evidence days.) I also took myself out to dinner at the Mongolian Barbeque down the street and note to self: your new favorite is duck, shrimp, mushrooms, corn, and bean sprouts with a sauce of 2 dips of lemon, 1 of sweet orange peel, and 1/4 of ginger. Nick an extra sauce bowl for 3-4 spoonfuls of chopped peanut and scatter that over the top of the result. BD's is probably going to be hopping for the rest of the weekend, but maybe I can go get another bowl of that for lunch today.

I notice that one of the listed author guests is Joan Hess. I haven't particularly forgiven La Hess for Damsels in Distress - and I note that Reviewing the Evidence still has my review of it up - the one where I called it "mean spirited" and told the putative readership "there is no reason for you to buy this book; you're only spending your money to be insulted" and suggested they go read Donna Andrews.

Wow. I can really be a bitch when I want to be. I'm still a bit surprised I was allowed to turn one author's review into an ad for another.

(Not that I'm still not telling people to avoid Hess altogether, because if you want a good re-enactment mystery, Donna Andrews' Revenge of the Wrought Iron Flamingos is totally the way to go. And if you want a good SF con mystery, check out her We'll Always Have Parrots.)

But anyway - Malice, not me being malicious. We have to sign permits to be recorded when we register, and I'm glad that so many of the panels are recorded, because there's a lot of tempting stuff going on. My tentative schedule is:

Friday: You've Got Fan Mail (Honored Guests Discuss Mail from Fascinating Fans) I may or may not stick around for the official opening ceremonies. This may depend on the speed of the service at BD's.

Saturday: Choice of Capitol Crimes (All Politics is Deadly) vs Lights, Camera, Murder (Mysteries that Translate to Stage and Screen). Later I'll check out the paranormal mystery panel Witches and Zombies and Ghosts, Oh My, and I'll be attending the lunchtime presentation with the Poison Lady (!). That afternoon, I'm thinking What Authors Endure in the Name of Research and round out the day deciding between the Agatha Best Nonfiction Nominees and Living With the Seven Deadly Sins (Mysteries as Modern Morality Plays). That last is a particularly tough choice!

Saturday signings include Claudia Bishop (aka Mary Stanton; I'm going to get the latest two Beaufort & Co mysteries signed) and Laurie King. I've never forgiven King for marrying Holmes off and besides, she signed my first edition of The Beekeeper's Apprentice 15 years ago but my housemate is a huge fan and I've said I'll get signatures for her. M, in return, is urging me hard to pick up my own copy of the King with Sherlock Holmes doing Gilbert and Sullivan.

Sunday has a signing with Chris Freeburn, who I think is the same C.A. Freeburn who wrote Dying for Redemption. It's always broken my heart that didn't turn into a series; I'm going to tell her that.

Sunday's events include the Agatha tea and panels on The Intersection of Religion and Murder (a pity Julia Spencer-Fleming isn't a guest), Mysteries with a Kick-Ass Heroine, and the very tough choice between the simultaneous panels of: Murder by the Book (No One's Safe in the Book Industry); Guilty Pleasures, Innocent Sleuths; Modern Gothic Mysteries; and Murder Comes to England. I have a feeling that it's going to come down to a coin flip between the last two.

How much fun I have this weekend is going to have a direct correspondence to the likelihood that I'll drive to Cleveland for Bouchercon in the fall. It's up against the 25th anniversary of an entirely different kind of a con here.

And now I have to catch up from being offline for a day and then be an adult and mop the floors. :P
neadods: (Default)
It's been an absolute whirlwind weekend - this is the first time I've been online in 72 hours! (The withdrawal symptoms have almost passed...)

I'm tired and I want to catch up, so just highlights, starting with Notable Quotes:

The T-shirt I couldn't resist buying: "...And then Buffy staked Edward. The end."

The Poison Lady (Lucy Zahray) whose speech was as always, fascinating, informative, and fun: "Just because it's organic doesn't mean it's safe... my best shopping [for deadly poisons] is at organic stores."

Also the Poison Lady, discussing people being overcome by poisonous gas and then their rescuers dying as well. "The record is five. Five! If I saw three men lying dead, I wouldn't run in there to save them!"

Maria Lima ([ profile] chickwriter) on horror and the supernatural (aka "woo woo"): "Horror doesn't have to be woo woo. The scariest thing I ever read was The Lottery and there's no supernatural in it."

Mary Stanton on notable things that have happened at signings: a nine-year old slapping one of her books down and saying, "Can you make these more interesting?"

Elaine Viets on discovering the kink of "pedal pushing" little films of women pumping gas pedals in high heels: "I thought y'know, they're paid $3,000 for this and royalties are down..."

Carole Nelson Douglas (in character as Irene Adler) being asked: "You're Sherlock Holmes' 'Only Woman.' In your association with him, have you run across that slut, Mary Russell?"

Parnell Hall (in full drag as his sleuth character, asked if he wore funny clothes at home): "What funny clothes? (He would go on to do his signing without changing.)

I enjoyed... )

It was a good con. A quiet one, with the economy - some of the people who haven't missed in years weren't there - and next year may well be quieter. (I simply could not afford the membership, even at the preregistration discount.) But in a couple of years, if it's still around, I'll be back like a shot.

(And the Poison Lady has given me some story ideas...)

Oh, and to round out the mystery theme, my review for the audiobook of Afraid is up on Reviewing the Evidence.


Apr. 26th, 2008 06:44 pm
neadods: (Default)
Surprisingly little to report on Malice. The panels are good - every session, it's a hard choice between them - and the giveaways are good, but otherwise, things are much subdued. Jeanette (y'all know Jeanette: African Tudor. That Jeanette) thinks it's the greying of mystery fandom, but I think it's the economy. More of the raffle baskets are no frills; there are virtually no fancy book teasers, just bookmarks and postcards; several regular dealers are missing. Oddly, of the ones who remain, they're all focusing on high-end stuff: collectible used books and jewelry. Only two US bookstores are represented, and the UK one, who is suddenly offering a lot of used books.

[ profile] tchwrtr, I've got a Sefton knitting mystery for you.

From I think [ profile] fyrdrakken someone who sums up the Open Source Grope Project vs. Rennfaire Community far better than I did. With a bonus pertinent side comment about the kink community.

I was surrounded by people who were touch-positive, by people who didn't feel it was weird or unacceptable for me to want to display my body, by people who understood and accepted that it was my right to set my own boundaries about what I wanted to show and what I wanted to do. It was the first time I ever experienced an environment where the concept of "showing my body does not give you an implied license to touch my body" lived hand-in-hand with "explicitly permitting you to touch my body does not give implied license to perform sexual acts with me"....

No comments on tonight's Who because I don't like commenting halfway through a story unless I'm beta-ing it. Otherwise, there are too many unknown factors. However, I can say without spoilers that a couple of people who made a prediction based on a leaked photo are congratulating themselves tonight.

Although, I have to say one comment: Who on Earth in the English-speaking world doesn't know the line "In case of trouble, break glass"? I'm just sayin'.
neadods: (Default)
At least, all the people who have memberships in Malice Domestic.

I headed downtown for early registration tonight, so that I may coo and cuddle and play with my toys. Malice always has the most fabulous bags and this year they were particularly generous - a good-sized tote with three outside pockets and a special pen pocket plus a backpack-style purse that is going to have a long future as a knitting bag plus a very nice, oversized badgeholder with a zipper and pen pockets that I'm probably going to get a lot of use out of now that so many cons have a badge too big for the Bodiband. (Which I still prefer because it's not hanging in front of whatever T-shirt design I have on.

Not to mention the dozen books. Two of them are recent publications; I was planning on reviewing one, but was turned off on page 4 when a character's eyes were described as "the special blue of a summer sky." The other one, grittier and harder punching (by page 20 at least) and from a series I've been curious about, may yet be reviewed before the con ends. However, there's one in the queue that I've really got to write up tomorrow, mostly so I can dump the dog on the swap table come Saturday.

I must say, after a few years reviewing, your entire relationship to the signings changes. The first year, it was all "SQUEE! She's there! I'll take all her books and get a few signed every day! And he's... and she's... and... SQUEE!"

Now? I'm looking at the list thinking, "Did I like the last book enough to want an autograph?... I know I didn't like hers enough for one... Think I could get away with slipping her a copy of 'Is Your Character A Mary Sue'?... y'know, we've been friends for a while, I really should read one of her books... Ouch, I hope she doesn't notice that I'm putting her only book on the swap table... we've been friends even longer, I REALLY must buy something she's written... autograph? I wouldn't spit on that woman if she were on fire!"
neadods: (Default)
Sunday Seven
I'm counting the two stuffed-to-capacity bookbags of Bookcrossing and rejected/disliked review books and ARCs as my Sunday 7; I must have dropped 30 or more on the Malice swap table. Most of them were snapped up instantly (it's like throwing red meat among piranas, really.) Hunt for Red October managed to linger for slightly over two hours.

For people who weren't reading last year and might be a bit put off by my casual references to "malice," it's Malice Domestic, a mystery readers/writers convention second only to Bouchercon (which is sort of the mystery worldcon). This one focuses on cozy mysteries mostly; the kind where it's an amateur detective, predominately female. (Think Christie instead of Hammer.) The con is most known for giving you a kickass totebag (always different, always already full of books) and handing out the prestigious Agatha awards. It ends today with a huge formal tea and hat contest (my personal favorite from last year being a full recreation of a village, complete with a train that moved around the brim as the wearer cocked her head).

The freebies and giveaways are a bit down this year, or maybe they were just all gone on Friday, which I didn't attend. Often there are chocolates and magnets and pens along with the bookmarks and postcards urging us to buy books; this year there weren't, although there were a few daisy-shaped keychains. (I had thrown a pen in my bag just in case they weren't handing out others to write with; when I got there, I realized *it* had been a freebie from a security company with the extremely inappropriate motto "Better shred than read" written on it.)

The dealer's room is small, and this year there were runs on a couple of books. I was fairly distressed that one I had had in my hands had been sold out by the time I came back from the next panel, although not half as distressed as the people who had promised their daughter a signed copy of Charlene Harris' latest, which had also sold out.

In a way, I love the celebration of books. In another, they almost start to feel devalued: when you're handed a bagful, and then you swap them all weekend long, and THEN publishers start burning off old stock by literally pouring several boxfuls out on tables for the taking... well, you stop thinking "Oh! A Book! For me, for free!" and start thinking "I'm going to have a boxful I don't know what to do with in a month, aren't I?"

In the meantime, my review queue is stuffed to bursting and I was bad and went to Amazon to get - at a discount, yet! - some of the others. Because until I have that boxful I don't know what to do with, it's books, glorious books!

Doctor Who
Loved the episode last night! Although I think I get a bigger charge out of the old-school homages than the new-school ones; new-school ones seem more like variations on a theme than a continuation of longer canon. And speaking of which: very nice rundown of character canon, with clips. I find the subtitling a bit distracting and the half-human thing is one of the hotter arguments, but it's a nice intro of all the bits about the Doctor's background.

Plot-wise, it was exciting and action-packed and scenic and all in that wonderful Whovian "behold the power of cheese" way, but I kept thinking about a comment Neohippie made about New Earth: "My biology degree! It burns!" (ETA: turns out, she thinks the concept was just grand. Shows me!)


Apr. 23rd, 2006 05:50 pm
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I managed to give myself food poisoning last night, so I wasn't in a very perky mood at Malice today. Still, the forensics panel was wonderful, with an ex-cop giving his opinion of most hardboiled novels ("I don't have cop angst. Y'know in those books? I just like my job. No horror, no dread, no deep pain. Oh, and no drunks. We run acoholics out fast."), CSI ("I can't watch because my wife - she did fingerprint analysis in the lab for years - is in low Earth orbit in minutes") and police work ("The good cops never get higher than sergeant. It's the people who are terrible on the street who get higher.")

The best part was when he talked about being a hostage negotiator. "It's my job to convince the hostage taker that the SWAT team is a bunch of Hitler Youth that is just itching to shoot him full of holes which is really... true, actually."

Other than that, I talked Dr. Who with [ profile] chickwriter and [ profile] belidibabe, hung out with a new friend, and (as I always tend to do at every convention), hear a writer speak and then run to the dealer's room to pick up all her books, in this case, the Masie Dobbs series.

The tea was lovely, but I didn't stay long. Now to catch up on email, and then go through all the handouts and figure out which upcoming books I'll want to pick up.
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The swap table isn't much of a swap this year, as it's mostly covered in copies of Donna Andrews' two books. Anything new gets snapped up right away. (Nevertheless, I've managed to make it home with a staggeringly heavy load of giveaways and bought books...)

I went to several panels, the best of which was Tea and Strumpets. When the author of the Southern Vampire series tells you she actually checked if you could have sex in a coffin... and then compared it to the back seat of a Buick... well, the day starts with a bang. Other notable quotes from the panel include "The seven steps of writing are "anger, denial, bargaining, depression, galleys, proofreading..." and someone who actually read out loud the line "His piercing pagoda of passion."

One of the authors said that she's getting a sharp spike of emails asking if her books are clean enough to read. ("They worry about the language and not the murders?") She said her usual response was "Shit, yes!"

The money line from crossing genres was "The first paragraph sells the book, and the last paragraph sells your next book."

And I overheard "I found out how good and decent most devil cults are" but I'm not sure how that fits in anywhere!

Two notable items from the raffle - a notepad bundled with a hand-made wooden pen, labelled "The original laptop" and the prize I won - several books by Elena Santangelo and a Christmas stocking labelled "Dear Santa - Please bring books and chocolate."

I'm home instead of at the banquet, so Agatha news tomorrow.

In the meantime, for the Who fans:

"Rose moaned as Jack reached down to (be continued...)"
neadods: (Default)
For the Knitters:
I have found a yarn store about 11 minutes from work, and went there yesterday to get yarn for the weekend. The winning yarn was Svale, which has the softness of cotton and the deep color of silk without being a budget-buster like the fancy $30-a-skein hand-dyed linen. The plan is to knit a crazy quilt in the log cabin style from Mason-Dixon Knitting, although I'm discovering that it's not as easy as it looks in the pictures! D has talked me into painting my bedroom lavender, so the yarn is in shades of bright copper, seafoam, dove grey, cream, mauve, and faded chambray. Even if my knitting isn't up to par, the yarn should look fancy enough.

For the Mystery Fans:
The first year I went to Malice, I got a tote. The second year I went to Malice, I got a zip bag/tote that would serve as an overnighter. This year, they're giving out full weekender-sized luggage, with a cheap red tote inside to hammer home the point. A really nice weekender, with two mesh pockets and one large zipper one on the outside, internal flap pocket, and slot for a business or ID card. No pen pockets, though. I miss the pen pockets, which would be good for both pens and knitting needles.

No hardbacks in my mix, which surprises me. There's usually at least one lurking in there. There were two Donna Andrews books (yay!) which I unfortunately already had (boo!) I gave We'll Always Have Parrots to [ profile] maureen_the_mad because it's such a great sendup of conventions. (It's totally accurate but not mean... sort of the Galaxy Quest of books.) I'll find a reenactor to give Revenge of the Wrought-Iron Flamingos. Other books in the bag were Pretty Poison by the Lavines (looks like generic gardening-themed cozy), Million Dollar Baby by Meade (1935 cozy), an American Girl mystery, The Donkey-Vous by Pearce (vintage Egypt mystery), and Oblivion by Abrahams, which is one of those books that has more blurbs than background printed on it, so I can't tell you what it's about.

I'm going to skip tomorrow's festivities and return on Saturday morning, in time to hit up the swap table before the "Tea and Strumpets" panel on sex in cozies. Then I have to figure out if I want to go to the 10:00 Crossing Genre panel (which I want to do) or getting Donna Andrews to sign my hardback of Parrots (which I also want).

For the Dr. Who Fans:
The Doctor trembled slightly as Rose... (to be continued)
neadods: (Default)
I'm going to get business cards printed up that say "Another Day, Another Scathing Review." I've been reading a book a day as I commute to the con and drafting reviews at idle moments. Out of 4 books, one good review.

Someone put out a couple cases of Susan Kandel's I Dreamed I Married Perry Mason, so I swiped copies for me and for the TW raffle. I got the opera books signed - as well as the next set of "went to the panel and got sucked into buying the books" - Wheeler's Murder at Plymouth Plantation (self explnatory) and Shaber's Simon Said and The Bug Funeral (modern body in an archeological dig and woman saying she was murdered in a past life... and the evidence suggests she's telling the truth).

Also picked up Stackhouse's Stream of Death from the swap table and bought a used copy of The Doctor Makes a Dollhouse Call because I'd looked at it every day. I dallied over signed copies of Sit, Stay, Slay but decided against buying it again; if I like it and the upcoming ferret book that much, I'll get 'em signed at next Malice or Bouchercon.

I stayed for the tea and hat contest this time, and so ate chocolate covered strawberries and mini chocolate teacups filled with mocha cream while looking at hats. I thought the one with the entire town of Maggoty (including Civil War re-enactment) and the poisons one (with the spider hanging down like Minnie Pearl's price tag) were the best.

Also, I'm being pimped even harder into Chesapeake Sisters in Crime. Apparenty, there's a book swap every meeting...

When I got home, I went through the AAUW donation boxes, pulling out mysteries for future TW raffles, Malice swaps, and Chesapeake meetings, along with romances and some theme books (renaissance history, angels) for future TW basets. I'm going to see how the 4 I donate to MSFB go over before I get too carried away, but if they are a success, I can do more for Pyrate feast.

And now I'm exhausted and catching up on email while waiting for the Simpsons to start. Fortunately, I dodged the jury duty bullet and so can get back to my normal routine tomorrow.
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Took notes on Watson all day. Too tired to upload. Highlights:

Supernatural panel, where one author's description of her book sent me rushing to the dealer's room. Chris Freeburn's Dying for Redemption, about a ghost detective who set up shop in Limbo so the recently murdered can get their own deaths solved. One woman summed up the opening of the new supernatural romance and mystery subgenre market with "God bless Joss Whedon and the ground he walks on or I couldn't do this." Note more than a little bashing of the SF/F crew, even by avowed members. (a-HEM!) On the question "do you find it harder to get SF fans to read a mystery or mystery fans to read supernatural," I launched my hand in the air and announced "There are plenty of us who read both in the first place."

Bought some earrings and the books I mentioned. Dropped 9 books on the swap table and picked up more; will have a baker's dozen of paperbacks for Team Wench and have a couple more for me. Will get the castrati books signed Sunday; if I don't like them, they'll be more valuable for future TW auctions. (I'm gonna be gobsmacked if these book baskets don't do well in the raffles, I really am.) At this point have 4 basket's worth of books for MSFB (dozen romances, baker's dozen mysteries, half dozen F&SF hardbacks, and fairy tale assortment) and am working on possible baskets for Boobies #5, depending on the reception at MSFB.

Met my RtE boss and another reviewer, who has offered introductions to another review site that he also works for. Have read two books and drafted reviews while travelling to and from con.
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I checked into Malice last night (couldn't wait to see the books!) and discovered that they changed the totebag design. That it's larger and has a zipper on the top is good; that it doesn't have pen loops is an act of madness.

Today I went in to do shopping, check out the silent auction, and hover over the book swap table like a vulture. The auction has a bunch of nice things; I put a bid on one basket of vintage mysteries and lusted after a bunch of other baskets. (Not necessarily the contents, there were some great baskets there!)

The take, between the giveaways, the swaps, and the shopping is:

Cat in a Neon Nightmare (I feel for Carole Nelson Douglas; it's by far *the* book abandoned on the swap table.)
May the Best Man Die by Donelly (I fell for the publisher's dastardly plan; they gave away book #1 last year and this was book #3; so I bought #s 2 & 4)
If Looks Could Kill by White
Better off Wed by Durham
Death by Inferior Design by Caine
Murder Between the Covers by Viets (that was handed straight to me by [ profile] belidibabe)

I'm thinking of picking up Sit, Stay, Slay by Johnston, in part because I liked the sample chapter on the freebie table and partly because book #2 in a couple months will be called Nothing to Fear but Ferrets. I'm also seriously thinking of picking up the two baroque mysteries with the castrati detective; they're expensive, but flipping through them looks interesting.

I looked at used books too before I sternly reminded myself of my TBR numbers. Did a count when I got home; fortunately, the bloodbath on my romances means that the overall number hasn't gone up much.

It wasn't all books. I bought two t-shirts, even though I have too many of those too. Couldn't resist these. They were embroidered, which will hold up better over time than heat transfer. One is black and says "It was a dark and stormy night..." and the other is purple and says "Meet me in the conservatory, Professor Prune."

Tomorrow will be actual panels, the end of the silent auction, and meeting folks. I'm also hoping to get my Molly Murphy books signed.
neadods: (reading)
More March Stuff
The Post had a fantastic article Sunday called "Why We Crave A Real Number" talking about why it's so important to people to know how many protesters sign up for marches, and why it's so hard to get a real number. I'd link to it, but I can't seem to find it on the site, darnit.

One of the best paragraphs was the section about how the National Mall functions as one of those "thermometers they fill in with red to show donations" and that the real function - and payoff - of a successful march is the day-after picture of the Mall seething with life; the fuller the Mall, the more successful the march.

It also had a bit on how this is probably the only country on earth where millions of people can gather in protest, much less take that protest on a walking loop around the Capitol buildings, without there being fears of insurgency.

Great article. Wish I could link it!

Malice Domestic

What a fantastic convention! I've already signed up for next year. (With a wistful sigh of regret regarding my favorite Greek festival in Bethesda, which I may never make it to again, now.)

So many things to say, so little LJ space to put them... )

Current book: Murphy's Law, Rhys Bowen. The first of the 1901-set Molly Murphy series. We haven't got a lot of mystery yet by page 54, but the authorial voice is so strong I can hear the brogue, and the description of the steerage passage to America is even more evocative than the visuals in Titanic.
neadods: (reading)
This is the first time I've gone to Malice Domestic, a 16-year-old mystery con in Virginia.

Wow, what I've been missing!

I signed up this year because Marion Babson is a guest, and I love her stuff. Once I had signed up, I started drooling at the panels listed on the website - How to Write a Short Mystery, Historical Mysteries, Crossing Over (authors who write protagonists of the opposite gender), etc., etc., etc. (Go to the website to check them all.)

I didn't stay long today; just long enough to register, shop, and sell my Dresden Files books to [ profile] carlacoupe. Like WFC, registration is one of those "here's your badge and stuffed bookbag deals."

And what a bookbag! Nevermind what's in it, we've got hand and shoulder straps, full-length side zip, pen pocket and a cell phone bay.

Unlike WFC, there were fewer books (only one hardback for example). And the general attitude about them was different too. At WFC, people picked through them silently, or dumped what they didn't want on a table and walked off.

At Malice, which is a cozy con (they meant the genre, but it also describes the attitude), women sat around the hotel lobby trading. Although there was the moment when I told someone who had just sat down across from me "I'm trading books! Interested?" only to get the small, nervous response "I hope you're not giving away mine!"

Fortunately, I hadn't even seen her book, much less given it away. So I traded something else for one of hers. Autographed!


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