For the last decade, since my first novel was accepted by a publisher, the last days in April and first days of May have been reserved for the Edgars and Malice Domestic.
The Edgar Awards — yes, named for Mr. Poe — are sponsored by the Mystery Writers of America, and are the Oscars of the mystery world. Each of 9 categories is judged by a separate committee of mystery writers. The awards are great fun in a laid-back and witty evening. And you don’t have to show cleavage and be under 40 to get your picture taken!
She gave me my first cover blurb, saying of A Good Knife’s Work “Sheila York combines glamour, humor and the late 1940s in a clever and challenging mystery.” I was a total newbie and she gave me a blurb. It was so kind of her.
See the full list of this year’s nominees and winners here.
By happy accident, at my table were two of the staff of the Edgar Allan Poe Museum in Richmond, Virginia: Jaime Fawcett, the executive director, and Chris Semtner, the curator. They're young, eager, and super enthusiastic about their jobs. I snapped a picture of them, but while it looked great in the darkened banquet room, I had cut off half of Chris’s face (a Poe-esque touch). A new cell phone. I hate learning curves.
Then a group of us went to the after-party hosted by the legendary editor Otto Penzler, also owner of the famous Mysterious Bookshop, and after that, slid over to an Irish bar across the street.
I collapsed into my hotel-room bed about 3:00am, then was back up at 7:00am to catch the train for Washington DC and Malice Domestic.
Malice Domestic is a writer/fan convention dedicated to traditional & cozy mysteries.
Congrats to my buds Charles Todd (actually Charles and Caroline Todd, who write as a team) and Chris Grabenstein for their Agatha Awards wins — respectively, Best Historical Novel and Best Children's/Young Adult Novel.
The best moment for me might have been on a quiet ride up in a packed elevator. Just as she got out, a woman turned to me and said, “I just love your books.” And the doors closed. In unison, everybody else in the elevator turned to me and examined my name tag to see who the heck I was.
Way too quickly, it was time to go home. Red Caps are the best-kept secret (and let’s keep it that way, all right?) in travel. You check in at the Red Cap station, then when the train is ready, you’re escorted (unencumbered by bags) to the train, boarded before the other passengers. Your bags are stowed in a convenient and empty space — no elbows, no fisticuffs — and then you get to pick your seat (mine’s always in the quiet car). You settle in, relax. Let the other people search, dragging their bags behind them, for the last empty seat on the train. All for a tip. I’m $5 a bag, unless it’s full of books that I’ve greedily acquired at an awards celebration and a convention, then the Red Cap gets hazardous duty pay.
But may be best to avoid asking Amtrak's virtual chat lady for any help. Last month, when I was making my reservations, I typed in "Senior Discounts" and I got hits on how to get information in Spanish. Golly, I hope that was a tech glitch.