Malice Domestic, Schmoozing, and Turkeys

Treason has done his worst; nor steel nor poison,
Malice domestic, foreign levy, nothing
Can touch him further.

~ William Shakespeare, Macbeth

I’m leaving for Malice Domestic in Bethesda, Maryland. I have no business sitting here writing or doing anything else. I should be upstairs packing. But the suitcase has reached critical mass, the point at which it’s critical I get the rest of the stuff I’d forgotten about in with the mass already there. Some things are best left till the last minute, so here I sit.

English: Bethesda Ave at night, Bethesda, MD L...
English: Bethesda Ave at night, Bethesda, MD Looking down the sidewalk by the Barnes and Noble. by G. Edward Johnson (Photo credit: Wikipedia). By EnLorax (Own work) [CC BY 3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons
The washing machine is going full-tilt, if that’s worth any points.

Malice Domestic is a mystery fan convention held every year in Bethesda. It celebrates the traditional mystery–books best typified by the works of Agatha Christie. The genre is loosely defined as mysteries which contain no explicit sex or excessive gore or violence. Its name is based on the lines from Macbeth quoted above.

Friends who have been to Malice say it’s fun. They talk most about schmoozing in the bar. I’ve never been much of a schmoozer,  but this is my chance to see how it’s done. At this conference, I won’t feel guilty for missing some of the sessions and not scribbling down notes. Schmoozing is allowed. This one is just for fun.

There will be fans of mystery, both fiction and nonfiction, and there will be authors–Rhys Bowen, Carol Nelson Douglas, Margaret Maron, Sara Paretsky, Kaye George – Janet Cantrell, Laura Oles, and more. Kaye George and Laura Oles are members of Austin Mystery Writers and contributed to AMW’s anthology, MURDER ON WHEELS.

At the banquet on Saturday night, Agatha Awards will be presented for Best Historical Novel, Best Contemporary Novel, Best First Novel, Best Short Story, and so on.

If you’re in a reading mood, here are links to the nominated short stories:

Best Short Story:

“The Odds are Against Us” (PDF) by Art Taylor, Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine, Nov. 2014
“Premonition” by Art Taylor, Chesapeake Crimes Homicidal Holidays (Wildside Press)
“The Shadow Knows” by Barb Goffman, Chesapeake Crimes Homicidal Holidays (Wildside Press)
“Just Desserts for Johnny” (PDF) by Edith Maxwell (Kings River Life Magazine)
“The Blessing Witch” (PDF) by Kathy Lynn Emerson, Best New England Crime Stories 2015: Rogue Wave (Level Best Books)

In addition to Malice, there’s something else I’d like to see in Bethesda: turkeys that engage in parthenogenesis. My genetics professor mentioned they were raised in Bethesda. That was in 1972, but I don’t see why the turkeys wouldn’t still be there. I googled them and found reference to haploid turkeys, but nothing to connect them to Bethesda. I won’t be there long enough to see anything but the inside of the hotel anyway, but I’d sure like to find those turkeys.

Well, the time draws near. I must deal with the critical mass.

Watch this site for more news about Malice Domestic, schmoozing, and, if I find them, haploid turkeys.

W is for Weather

At Writing Wranglers and Warriors, I’m writing about weather–without whingeing even once.

Writing Wranglers and Warriors


Posted by Kathy Waller

My letter for today in this April A to Z Challenge is W.     Post A-to-Z Road Trip [2013]

The topic for today is weather. 

The topic for today was going to be writer, but while I was working on the post last night, there came a sudden rumbling and crashing and flashing of light, and suddenly there was no topic at all. I ran around the room unplugging cables and cords, and my husband woke and stumbled downstairs to make sure I’d unplugged the right things.

I don’t know how long it lasted–I gave up and went to bed myself before finding out. If I’d been afraid, I’d have sat up until I knew whether I was going to end up in Oz. I don’t like surprises. And I don’t like the idea that I might wake up to find myself standing in the yard wearing just my jammies and lacking the…

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Murder on Wheels: 11 Tales of Crime on the Move

murder on wheels largeMURDER ON WHEELS, Austin Mystery Writers’ first crime fiction anthology, has been released by Wildside Press.

Since it appeared, the Writers have been difficult to live with. We’ll get over it, but only after a decent interval of frolicking.

The cover copy reads–

“The eleven stories in MURDER ON WHEELS put the pedal to the floor and never let up! Whether by bus, car, tractor, or bike, you’ll be carried along at a breakneck pace by the talented Austin Mystery Writers. These eight authors transport you from an eighteenth-century sailing ship to the open roads of modern Texas, from Alice’s Wonderland to a schoolbus yard in the suburbs of Dallas.”

For a sample of what’s between the covers, see below.


INTRODUCTION, by Kaye George

A NICE SET OF WHEELS, by Kathy Waller

FAMILY BUSINESS, by Reavis Wortham

ROTA FORTUNA, by Valerie Chandler

MOME RATH, MY SWEET, by Gale Albright


BUON VIAGGIO, by Laura Oles

APORKALYPSE NOW, by Gale Albright

HAVE A NICE TRIP, by Kaye George


HELL ON WHEELS, by Kathy Waller

RED’S WHITE F-150 BLUES, by Scott Montgomery

Reavis Wortham and Earl Staggs aren’t Austin Mystery Writers–they’re Texas authors who kindly contributed stories to the anthology. We’re pleased they joined us.

Kaye George, a former member, now lives in Tennessee, but she hasn’t managed to escape the AMW. Before she left, we named her Grand Pooh-Bah Emerita. Now we email every day. (See Kaye’s certificate, here.)

When Austin Mystery Writers was formed twelve years, members had no intention of publishing anything together. They (and we) simply wanted to improve their writing.

The idea for MURDER ON WHEELS came from banter via email late one night.

In the midst of our silliness, we began naming as many vehicles as we could think of. Then we switched to using them in titles for mystery novels:

Crime in a Convertible; Victim on a Velocipede; Garrotted in a Gas Guzzler; Whopped in a Wheelbarrow, Bumped Off in a Barouche-Landau…

Then Kaye said, “Let’s put together an anthology.”

So we did.

Ramona DeFelice Long edited the manuscript. Wildside Press published it.

Modified rapture! And now we frolic.

The moral–must be a moral!–of the story is this: Creativity begins in play.

This morning another group email arrived: When will we begin the next anthology?

Well, one thing does lead to another. . .

Barnes & Noble




The Writing Process: The Wisdom of Darrell Royal and Lessons from a Jack Russell Terrier

Everything I know about the writing process, part 1.

Austin Mystery Writers

Most people don’t believe it, but I was almost thirty years old, and had been teaching English for seven years, when I discovered I possessed a writing process. I learned about it in a special summer program for teachers of English at the University of Texas – Austin–the Hill Country Writing Project.

Author Anna Castle addressing SINC ~ Heart of Texas Chapter, March 2015 Author Anna Castle addressing SINC ~ Heart of Texas Chapter, March 2015

A certain writer of fiction for middle grade who spoke at the Texas Library Association’s Bluebonnet luncheon several years ago was even older than I when she found out about hers. I won’t mention her name, although I’ve just discovered she lives in Austin and am wondering whether she might accept an invitation to speak at one of my Sisters in Crime chapter’s meetings–But I digress.

This author said children she met at school visits started asking, “What is your writing process?”  When they explained to her what that was, she thought…

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What I Learned from Ernest Hemingway, Plus a Photo of Gregory Peck, Plus Snakes

What if soy milk is just milk introducing itself in Spanish?*


To Write, etc., has been dormant for a while because I’ve been (a) playing spider solitaire, and (b) working on two pieces of literature:

(1) a story entitled “When Cheese Is Love,” which needs to be 5,000 words but is currently 6,200 words, necessitating radical surgery and the murders of a few darlings; and,

(2) a post for the Austin Mystery Writers blog that would have been online last Monday had I not suffered at tiny fall (and, no, I’m not going to tell how it happened), which rendered me indisposed for just long enough to figure out the post wasn’t coming together as I wanted because I was trying to write about two different topics at once.

I can’t complain about an indisposition that allows me time to realize the first half of a post I’ve drafted says one thing and the second half contradicts it.

My next project will appear right here on To Write, etc. It is tentatively entitled “Snakes I Have Known.”

I spent this evening telling snake stories on Facebook and suddenly realized–it’s like that chapter in For Whom the Bell Tollsno, it’s in “The Snows of Kilimanjaro,” actually–where Hemingway wastes a lot of material writing about what his character would never write:

Now he would never write the things that he had saved to write until he knew enough to write them well. . .


He remembered the good times with them all, and the quarrels. They always picked the finest places to have the quarrels. And why had they always quarrelled when he was feeling best? He had never written any of that . . .


No, he had never written about Paris. Not the Paris that he cared about. But what about the rest that he had never written?

What about the ranch and the silvered gray of the sage brush, the quick, clear water in the irrigation ditches, and the heavy green of the alfalfa. The trail went up into the hills and the cattle in the summer were shy as deer. . . 

About the half-wit chore boy who was left at the ranch that time and told not to let any one get any hay, and that old bastard from the Forks who had beaten the boy when he had worked for him stopping to get some feed. The boy refusing and the old man saying he would beat him again. The boy got the rifle from the kitchen and shot him when he tried to come into the barn . . . 

So there it is. Hemingway threw away all those stories by putting them inside of a dying character thinking about the stories he will never write.

And Hemingway never wrote them either. He wrote about them. What a waste.**

Heaven forfend that I should meet a similar fate. I’m not going to write about those snake stories. I’m going to write them.

So watch this space.

In case you don’t care for snakes, don’t worry–I won’t include pictures of them. And no one will be bitten. All my snake stories are true, but I kept my distance while they were happening.


*The question is rhetorical and appears only because I’m feeling whimsical. And because this is  my blog and nobody’s grading it and I can do whatever I please. So there.

**For most of this post, my tongue is firmly planted in my cheek, but this paragraph comes from the heart. It’s sad that Hemingway left stories untold. It’s sad that any writer does that. And I guess they all do.

40 Days of Book Praise – Reading List

A new reading list from Ramona DeFelice Long. To read Ramona’s comments about each book in sequence, start here at Day 1: This is my reading list for the rest of the year, starting with Daphne DuMaurier’s The Rebecca Notebooks. Hours and days of fine reading here.

Ramona DeFelice Long

RamonaGravitarFor 40 days, I chose books by and about women from my personal book shelf and wrote brief reviews with a plot summary, plus why it was a good reading choice for women.

Below is a full list of the 40 books I reviewed. Each includes a short description–a log line–to tell each title’s genre and capture what it is about.

40 Days of Book Praise – Reading List

Joan Blos’ A GATHERING OF DAYS is a middle grade epistolary novel chronicling the hardships and joys of fourteen-year-old Carrie and her farm family in 1850s New England.

Anne Carroll George’s THIS ONE AND MAGIC LIFE is a Southern novel about a family that gathers for a funeral where the deceased’s last wish uncovers a terrible secret.

Elinor Lipman’s THE DEARLY DEPARTED is a women’s novel about returning home, and how the sudden death of two parents allow two children to…

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