By Barb Goffman
Malice Domestic programming chair
Two more days until Festivus, four more days until Christmas, five more days until Kwanzaa, and—here’s the biggie—ten more days before the price for Malice Domestic 26 (i.e., Malice 2014) goes up. Surely you don’t want to miss out on this rocking convention, so stop wrapping those gifts and register now at http://www.MaliceDomestic.org.
What’s that? You don’t know what Malice Domestic is? (Yes, I’m channeling the snowman narrator from Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.) Why, Malice Domestic is one of the world’s largest mystery conventions. It’s held every spring in Bethesda, MD, right outside Washington, D.C. Hundreds of authors and fans converge to talk about mysteries, have books signed, and make merry in the hotel bar. This year will be Malice’s twenty-sixth convention, and our honorees are legendary:
· Guest of Honor Kathy Lynn Emerson writes historical mysteries, contemporaries, non-fiction, short stories, children’s books, and romance! Is there anything she can’t do? I doubt it.
· Toastmaster Earlene Fowler is the author of a fifteen-book (!) western-set mystery series as well as stand-alone mysteries. She’ll be on hand to keep things lively, and if we’re lucky, maybe she’ll wear her cowboy hat.
· Lifetime Achievement Honorees Dorothy Cannell, Joan Hess, and Margaret Maron (yes, three this year!) hardly need an introduction. They’ve written more than eighty books between them and have earned a slew of awards.
· Poirot Award winner Tom Schantz and fan guest of honor Audrey Reith also will be on hand, and we will officially be remembering the late Reginald Hill.
These folks alone should be enough to have you salivating on your bookmarks. So go register now at http://www.MaliceDomestic.org before the price goes up on January 1.
What’s that? You want to know what else will be new at Malice this year? Okay, I’ll spill. We have a few changes in the works.
· In 2011 we began an Agatha Award category for Best Historical Novel, but we didn’t change the name for the Best Novel category. As a result, some people were confused. If a historical novel is outstanding, should it be nominated in the Best Historical category or does it qualify for the overall Best Novel category? This year, to clarify that we hold historical and contemporary novels at the same level of esteem, we’ve changed the Best Novel category to Best Contemporary Novel. As a result, we hope it will be clear that Agathas will be awarded to two overall best novels each year, one contemporary, one historical. (No changes have been made to the Agatha Award categories for Best Non-Fiction Book, Best Children’s/YA novel, Best First Novel, and Best Short Story.)
· Speaking of the Agatha Awards, we’re moving up the nomination deadline. Everyone who registers for Malice by December 31 of any year is eligible to submit their choices for Agatha nomination in all the six categories. In past years, those nomination submissions were due in late January or early February. But this year, the deadline will be Friday, January 17. Since submissions can now be made via email, we’re not building in as much time as we used to for the workings of the U.S. mail. (Moving things up also is helpful for behind-the-scenes programming and publications activities.)
· Beginning with this convention, authors nominated for the Agatha Award will be ineligible to participate in Malice-Go-Round, which is Malice’s version of speed-dating between authors and fans. (Malice-Go-Round, held on Friday morning, is so popular that we allot author spots by lottery each March, and each year a long wait list is created.) The Malice Board has made this change regarding eligibility to ensure that no Agatha nominee has a promotional opportunity during the convention that’s unavailable to the other nominees in that category. (P.S. If you’re an eligible author who wants to participate in Malice-Go-Round, I’ll send invitations in March. No need to reach out to me now.)
· In past years, on Fridays we’ve had a single track of programming. It made things easy. No choices to be made. Just one interview or panel etc. to attend. Well, no more. Beginning this year, we’re forcing you to make choices—that’s right, on Friday afternoon, there will be two tracks of programming. The panel for Agatha nominees in the Best Contemporary Novel category will be at the same time as the panel for the Agatha nominees in the Best Historical Novel category. What other hard choices will you have to make? Wait and see. The program schedule should be posted in March.
· The New Authors Breakfast, which highlights authors whose first mystery has been published since last year’s convention, will once again be held on Sunday morning. The buffet breakfast is open to all convention attendees.
I hope you’re as eager for the convention to arrive as I am. Only four more months! But remember the more important, imminent deadline: The registration price goes up on January 1, so head on over to www.MaliceDomestic.org and register now.
We can’t wait to see you in the spring!