Unhappy camper, and finding your tribe

Lots of authors and readers are gearing up for their annual pilgrimage to Bethesda, Maryland for Malice Domestic this week. Many have posted on social media how much they’re looking forward to seeing old friends and meeting new ones, and how attending their first Malice was like finding their tribe. Kindred spirits.

I felt that way, too. In fact, it was at my very first Malice Domestic that I first connected in person with the Chicks on the Case. Malice Domestic is a magical place – like camp for book nerds. Unfortunately, I can’t make it this year because I’m still rehabbing from an injury. I’ll be okay, but I’m not yet up to the sprint through the airport and trekking through a large conference hotel. So, I’m standing on the curb, waving good-bye to the Chicks and other author pals as they board the bus to Camp Malice. *Sniff*

As a kid, I hated camp. At Malice everyone loves mysteries, understands Nancy Drew allusions, and casually points out places you could hide a body. These are my people.

It was not so at summer camp. I met a girl I thought I could be friends with, only to discover she’d never read Nancy Drew. Didn’t like to read at all.

I had slipped a book into my suitcase, against my mom’s orders, and finally found a chance to sneak off, sit under a tree and read. I was just getting to the best part when a camp counselor yelled at me for wandering away from the group. She confiscated my book and told me I could either go play tetherball or go to the arts and crafts pavilion.

tree reading
source: pixabay

So, as I sat in the arts and crafts pavilion painting a rock (true story), I wondered: Why does the camp counselor hate me? And why aren’t we allowed to read?

Partly because I’ve never been before, and partly as a consolation gift for having to miss Malice, I’m planning to attend Bouchercon this October in Dallas. Yay! I’m looking forward to seeing old pals — some of the Chicks will be there — and meeting new friends. I hope to see some of you there. Bouchercon starts on Halloween, so I’m thinking hijinks. Amiright?

To all of you attending Malice this week, safe travels and please post lots of pictures for those of us wishing we could be there. (Be sure to say ‘hi’ to the Chicks, and if you’re lucky you may score a Chicks on the Case pin in your attendee’s book bag.) And have a great time, everyone!

What’s the best conference you’ve ever attended? And will I be seeing you at Bouchercon? Please share in comments.


40 thoughts on “Unhappy camper, and finding your tribe

  1. Vickie,
    Fabulous post. I totally can relate to this. I didn’t do well in camps either. Even as an active Girl Scout, I had trouble trying to do things to get the badges for my sash, because I didn’t want to be there. I could do the pup tent (alas no longer), but the outdoor activities? Archery? Forget about it! Swimming? No way. Hiking? Nope. Obstacle course? Not happening. Now if we had a cooking camp when I grew up, that would be a different story.
    I will be at Malice, wearing the Chick pin I own proudly. No wait, it won’t go with my costume! Aw screw it, I’ll wear it anyway, somehow.
    Yes, I will be saying hello to each of the Chicks, as I’m lucky enough to sit at a Chick banquet table. And this will take my “non-met” Chicks down to 2.
    I’ll try to post pictures, but we will have to see. My phone doesn’t go with the costume either! Grr!

    Liked by 5 people

  2. Wait! They wouldn’t let you read??!!? I’m so very glad I never went to camp! Clearly inhumane treatment. I’d never have survived given that even now, as I revise my packing list for Malice, I’m still listing books to take knowing full well I’ll be surrounded by them there.

    Here’s to the tribes of our own choosing!

    Liked by 5 people

  3. I never went to summer camp but around 1999 or so I started going to the Pikes Peak Writer’s Conference, one of the best in the country, and right in my back yard! At the time, I’d self-published my first book — long before amazon made it easy. I was as green as Kermit the frog, but not nearly as poised. Never once did anyone at the conference sneer or scoff at my self-pubbed book or journey. A writer is a writer is a writer. (And if you can believe it, in this day and age, there are STILL writer’s conferences not nearly as enlightened who still segregate indie authors from traditionally published!) PPWC was always, and remains, very welcoming to every writer, no matter their genre, no matter their publishing path, no matter their gender, no matter their age/race/creed/color.

    I went to the conference every year, greedily lapping up knowledge, networking and making some of my best friends to this day. Eventually it was time for me to give back to this fantastic organization and I began teaching workshops, long and short, and eventually became the conference emcee.

    Unfortunately, when I started writing cozies, and got more plugged into that community, I began attending Malice Domestic, which, for the last few years at least, has fallen on the same weekend, forcing me to choose. But really, my editor and agent kinda chose for me, since Malice is a reader convention and I needed — and wanted — to meet my readers!

    So, if you’re a writer, join Pikes Peak Writers (it’s FREE!) and get yourself to one of their conferences. If you’re a reader, my two favorite conferences are Left Coast Crime and Malice Domestic. Get on their mailing lists, too!

    I’ll miss seeing you at Malice, Vickie!

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Becky, have a great time — so wish I could be there! Pike Peak sounds awesome, but going up against Malice is tough. Hopefully, they’ll sometimes be on different weekends, so you can do both. If I come, can I room with you and Cynthia?

      Liked by 2 people

  4. Oh, I so loved this post, Vickie! I spent a few summers in Maine at a girls camp my sister had attended 15 years earlier. Apparently my mom called to “check up” and the camp director told her she didn’t know what to do with me, because I was always reading (not true). But I discovered Nancy Drew that first summer, and every night after Taps shared the plots with a Canadian bunkmate who only spoke French. My elementary-school French wasn’t the best, I’m sure, but we had fun, anyway! Who knows what I told her.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thanks, Lisa! You got to read at camp?! I’m so jealous — it sounds like a very civilized camp! My elementary school French consisted of bonjour (my college French wasn’t much better), so it would’ve been an interesting conversation!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I only attended camp once–Girl Scout Camp up in the Big Bear Lake region outside of LA. I loved everything but the daddy long legs spiders. Still hate spiders to this day.

    So bummed you won’t be at Malice, V, but we will fill you in on all our hijinks and drink a toast (or six) to ya, girl! And next year, we’ll drink those toasts together!

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Spiders and bunk beds, and cranky counselors — some of the many things I didn’t like about camp! Have a blast at Malice. Wish I was sitting at the banquet table with you and Becky — and Hestia! Cheers!

      Liked by 3 people

  6. I loved camp as a teen. And I love conventions.

    Sadly, I’m sitting out Malice again this year. And Bouchercon. But I am signed up for Left Coast Crime in 2019.

    Liked by 3 people

  7. A lot of people did enjoy camp. My gregarious sister would have stayed at camp all summer! Mark, I’m sorry you’re sitting out Malice — and disappointed I won’t get to see you at Bouchercon! But LCC is always a fun conference, and some of the Chicks will be there for sure!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Marla, I hear you–hoping the cons will come to Denver again. Apparently, both LCC and Bcon were here before I started writing mysteries! 🙂 Hopefully we’ll have a chance to hang out at a conference before too long.

      Liked by 2 people

  8. Sorry you won’t be at Malice, Vickie. I never went to camp until I went to Navy bootcamp, and that was an entirely different experience!!

    Liked by 3 people

      1. Sorry, Vickie, I can’t take too much credit. Bootcamp for women in those days isn’t what it is today. I probably wouldn’t have done very well if going in now.

        Liked by 2 people

  9. I only attended a few summer camps in my youth, but did go on a LOT of marching band trips,which felt very camp-esque. The verdict: I wasn’t wild about archery or bugs but did find my niche playing Hang On Sloopy and Rock You Like a Hurricane. On my flute.

    Oh how I love Malice! I went for the first time three years ago, didn’t know anyone, and was terrified out of my tiny little mind. I knew I found my tribe when a fellow elevator passenger and I exchanged ideas about the best murder methods when you wanted to finish the job (neatly) before reaching the first floor. Plus everyone was SO kind and welcoming. I made wonderful friends including my Chick family. ❤

    Vickie, you will be VERY missed. We'll loop you in, hoist our glasses in our honor, and look forward to next year!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Aw, Kathy, I look forward to going to Camp Malice with you next time! And if you can make it to Bouchercon this fall — even better! Oh, and next time I see you bring along your flute. I’m putting in my request now for a performance of “Rock You Like a Hurricane!” *holds up lighter with flickering flame*

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Ha ha! You’re on!! And didn’t Becky promise us some kind of tap-dancing performance if I play Eye of the Tiger? Maybe she do an encore for Hurricane. (Whaddya say, Becky?)

        I plan/hope to attend Bouchercon!!

        Liked by 1 person

  10. Love that you snuck a book to camp! I went to Camp Onanda on the edge of Canandaigua Lake for several summers. It was lovely. We did archery, crafts, water sports, horseback riding, rock sliding, and talent shows. Also: we sang. We sang songs all the livelong day.

    And I love love love the mystery conferences, especially Malice. Although I feel super shy sometimes, the mystery community is so very generous and welcoming! It’s like attending an extended family reunion. ♥︎♥︎♥︎

    And I’m signed up for Bcon, V! Can’t wait to see you and all the Chicks.

    But we will miss you, Marla, and Kellye very much at Malice…you KNOW we are carrying you with us in our hearts.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Cynthia, have a marvelous Malice! And YAY for Bouchercon — can’t wait! And since Kellye, Marla, and I (all the Chicks who are MIA for Malice) are booked for B’con, you will get to see ALL the Chicks live and in person at some point this year!

      Liked by 2 people

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