“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.