Guest Chick: Molly MacRae

Vickie, here. I’m thrilled to welcome today’s Guest Chick, Molly MacRae! Molly is special to me, in that she was the very first cozy author I ever stalked! I was at O’Hare Airport in Chicago about to board the plane to attend my very first Malice Domestic conference in Bethesda, Maryland. I had just bought a coffee and was making my way to the gate when I spotted Molly walk past me headed to the same gate. I was pretty sure it was her, but I’d only seen pictures of her in her books and on Facebook. I walked over and sat beside her with an empty seat between us. She was talking to author Sarah Wisseman, and I didn’t want to interrupt. After a couple of minutes, she looked forward and I worked up the courage to say, “Excuse me, are you Molly MacRae?! She said it was the first time she’d be randomly recognized in public and it was the first time I’d run into an author I had read and admired. She and Sarah were very kind to a very newbie author and we chatted and rode the shuttle together from the airport to the hotel. Welcome, Molly – so excited to have you visiting us on Chicks!

Molly will do a giveaway – a signed copy of the fifth book (just out!) in her Highland Bookshop Mysteries, Argyles and Arsenic, U.S. only, or an e-book to anywhere at all. One lucky winner will be drawn from the comment section below. Take it away, Molly!

Fabulous cozy author Molly MacRae, who writes the Highland Bookshop Mysteries, gives bagpipes a shot

I’m recently back home from Malice Domestic in Bethesda, Maryland, and Left Coast Crime in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Both mystery conferences were fabulous and full—full of face-to-face (or mask-to-mask) greetings and meetings, shared pandemic stories, and lots of good talk about writing and reading mysteries. 

The time leading up to Malice and Left Coast was full, too. Full of emotions, worries, and questions. Would I remember how to pack a suitcase? Would I manage to sound even remotely intelligent on a panel in front of an audience? Could I make myself talk to strangers? Would I recognize friends and remember names? Would I freak out and spend all my time in the hotel room? Could I find my way to Albuquerque and Bethesda? 

Molly is just home from Left Coast Crime and Malice Domestic, two great mystery cons

Albuquerque wasn’t a problem. My husband and I hopped in the car and drove from Illinois across Missouri, Oklahoma, the Texas panhandle and on into New Mexico. It was a long trip, but easy enough, and for part of the way we followed Route 66 (and had a few kicks). Flying to Bethesda by myself gave me the jitters, though. Not the flying part; the part about landing in Washington D.C. and finding my way to the Metro, getting on the right train, getting off at the right stop, and finding the hotel all while juggling luggage. What if I freaked out and ended up in Alexandria instead of Bethesda?

At some point just short of hyperventilating, I realized my pre-conference nerves had me feeling the same way I do every time I start writing a new book. It doesn’t matter that seventeen of my books, plus short stories, are published or will be soon. The emotions, worries, and questions threaten to undo me every single time I start again. Need proof? Look at the parallels:

Would I remember how to pack a suitcase? = Will I be able to plot and plan a coherent story?

Would I manage to sound even remotely intelligent on a panel in front of an audience? = How can I possibly write another whole book that holds together and satisfies readers? 

Could I make myself talk to strangers? = A new book needs new characters. Who are these strangers?  

Would I recognize friends and remember names? = Theme, plot, subplots, and all those new characters – so many details to keep track of! 

Would I freak out and spend all my time in the hotel room? = Will I freak out and spend all my time dusting or cleaning closets instead of writing? Oh, please, no.

Could I find my way to Albuquerque and Bethesda? = Can I navigate my way through this new story and eventually type THE END?


So what’s a traveler/writer to do? How do you make all those questions, whether they’re about a conference or a new book, turn out happily ever after? Your mileage may vary, but for me it’s to sit down, breath calmly, and prepare—look at maps, do the research, take notes, make plans, stay focused, get ready, get excited, and go! 

The Boston Globe says Molly MacRae writes “murder with a dose of drollery.” She’s the author of the Highland Bookshop Mysteries. If you ask her, she’ll tell you no, she didn’t do any experiments with arsenic for the most recent title in the series. Molly also writes the award-winning, national bestselling Haunted Yarn Shop Mysteries, and as Margaret Welch writes books for Annie’s Fiction. Her short stories have appeared in Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine and she’s a winner of the Sherwood Anderson Award for Short Fiction. Visit Molly at

How do you handle pre-travel worries and new project jitters? Did you attend Malice or Left Coast Crime recently (or ever)? If so, did you stalk Molly or any of the Chicks? (Just curious!) Please share in comments. And remember one lucky commenter will be drawn by Molly to win a signed copy of Argyles and Arsenic (U.S. only) or an e-book copy anywhere in the world! 

**CONGRATS to commenter Carol DeBaradinis (nani1953)! She is the winner of the book giveaway. Molly has contacted her and a copy of Argyles and Arsenic is now on its way to her!

34 thoughts on “Guest Chick: Molly MacRae

  1. Thanks for emphasizing how we can achieve our goals and have fun, Molly! After decades of project management, I recognized “questions” are the “answers” to getting and staying on track to complete important tasks. As Molly noted, tons of parallels between life and book writing.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. What a great way to put it, Grant – “questions” are the “answers.” I hadn’t thought of it like that, but starting a project by making a list of questions (and sub-questions) always gets me going. Thanks for stopping by today.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Your post today really hit home. Just starting to venturing out after 2 years of pandemic has been hard. Your advise is good for all situations.
    I wish I had been able to go to Malice this year but things didn’t quite work out. I am so looking forward to meeting you and the rest of my favorite authors. I have read all of the Haunted Bookshop series and am now working on the Highland Bookshop series. Being Scottish and having been to Scotland, I am really enjoying the series. Looking forward to many more.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Thank you, Carol! I’m so glad you like the books. I’ve had a ton of fun writing them. Stay well and let hope to meet at Malice next year.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I was a Malice, Molly, and was definitely worried whether I’d have anything remotely coherent on my panel. Fortunately my brain did not betray me and all went well. Cheers!

    Liked by 5 people

  4. It was so nice to meet you at Malice, Molly, and finally put a name to the face!

    It was the packing that froze me. What do I want to take? What outfits do I need? How many of them? Ahhh!

    I started simple. Get clean underwear. Once I got moving, it was easier.

    Liked by 5 people

    1. Nice to meet you, too, Liz! I like your way of starting simple. What can possibly go wrong with clean underwear? Uh oh, that sounds like a cozy plot waiting to hatch.

      Liked by 2 people

  5. What a great and relatable post, Molly! So nice to “meet” you here on Chicks—I’m sorry I somehow didn’t have the honor at Malice. I particularly empathize with dusting-and-cleaning-closets thing…

    Liked by 4 people

    1. I’ll look for you next year, Lisa! Oh, the dust. For some reason, no one did it while I was gone. Their loss. Now there’s more for me (somehow that doesn’t work out to my advantage, though, does it).

      Liked by 2 people

  6. Well, if how you comported yourself at Left Coast Crime and Malice is any sign, then I predict that your WIP is going to be fabulous, Molly, because your panels were terrific, your socks all matched, and I must have run into you about twenty times, so I know you were getting out there and meeting folks at both conventions!

    Now, back to dusting…I mean writing!

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Ha! You’re kind, Leslie. It was fun seeing so much of you. I hope you made it home without picking up the extra COVID baggage some of us discovered. Ugh.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s a weird kind of fear, isn’t it? It’s not like we haven’t traveled or written, or don’t like to travel or write. Oh well. Human nature playing with us, I guess.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Molly, thanks for being a guest on the Chicks! I went to both LCC & Malice–having them so close together this year was exhausting and exhilarating. Sorry we didn’t get to chat at Malice! All the best with your writing, and thanks for passing along your expertise!

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Wasn’t that whirlwind few weeks? Lots of fun and a great way to re-invigorate the writing. We’ll catch up with each other next year.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Molly, I’m disappointed I didn’t have a chance to run into you again in Chicago on the way to Bethesda, since I couldn’t go to Malice this time — hopefully next year! But happy you got to get back to in-person conferences!
    Thanks for hanging out with the Chicks — and for doing a giveaway!

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Vickie, thank you so much for having me on the blog today! One of my happiest Malice memories is meeting you at O’Hare. I’ll hope to see you for next Malice and maybe we’ll end up on the same plane again. Fun!

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Molly!! So great to meet you at Malice. And I love the story of how you met, Vickie!

    What a great and appropriate blog post. I feel all the same things when started a draft. I’ll read this again when the time comes for inspiration.

    Forgive my delayed response. I came home with a suitcase of books, swag, and the dreaded Covid. Hope you escaped it.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Oh no, Ellen! You too? I’m sequestered in my writing room trying not spread this to the others in the house. It was great meeting you. Get better soon and completely!

      Liked by 1 person

  10. What a clever and apt comparison. And you did do all those things, both in your conferences and your books. I found you to be confident, interesting, and thoughtful during your panel. So glad to have gotten to meet you in-person, Molly.

    Liked by 2 people

  11. Hi Molly! I was so happy to meet you in person, especially tickled that you waved at me! I wish we could’ve sat and chatted more, maybe next time.

    Great post, so relatable. Since I live so close to Malice I have the added “when do I leave the house,” and “how bad is traffic on the beltway going to be?” (Figuring out deadlines and pacing, perhaps, and naturally, what obstacles will be in my writing path.)

    See you next year!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Rosalie! It was great meeting you in person. Chatting more, next conference, is a good plan. You’re another great new addition to Writers Who Kill.

      Liked by 1 person

  12. I’m sad to say I didn’t attend either conference this year. I did get a chance to go to Bouchercon once, pre-pandemic. It was rather overwhelming for many of the reasons you mention. But I’m glad I got the chance to go. Congrats on your latest book!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you, Marla. Bouchercon is huge, isn’t it? Maybe next year the pandemic will be a thing of the past. It doesn’t seem likely, but I find it hard not to be hopeful. Thanks for stopping by the blog today.

      Liked by 2 people

  13. Hi Molly: Thank you so much for visiting us today! And I was so happy to see you at LCC, even if across the room. Can relate to the feelings–I was nervous about Left Coast, having pretty much stayed (and worked from) home the past two years. But it was wonderful and I am incredibly impressed by all of you who turned around and went to Malice too. Loved all of the pictures online! I really wanted to go but had to cancel because of scheduling. Anyway, great comparison to starting a new book! (Am very sorry about the Covid exposure and hope everyone feels better soon.)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Cynthia! I saw you across the room, too. What a whirl of excitement after so long. LCC seemed like an awfully long weekend, but there still wasn’t enough time to spend with everyone. Thanks for having me on the Chicks!


  14. I had the same nervous thoughts before I went to Albuquerque (finally learned to spell it correctly). But it was worth the jitters. I got to see friends that I hadn’t seen since 2020 in San Diego.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Isn’t it great knowing how to spell Albuquerque off the top of your head? And yup, I agree, getting there was well worth the jitters.


  15. Even during Covid, I felt very safe traveling. My only worries we’re caused when airlines stopped flying to one of the towns where we have family & my husband & I were forced to drive to attend a very special event for a granddaughter. I have never attended Malice or Left Coast Crime. I love Molly’s Yarn Shop Series & enjoy following her on Facebook.


  16. Molly, so happy to have you here! So sorry to have missed the cons and meeting you!

    What a wonderful and relatable post. My pre-travel ritual is to clean the house. My reasoning? If I’m murdered whilst vacationing, the police won’t be tripping over random things I left out as they search my house for clues!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The clean house! Yes! That works for me as long as everyone else living there comes with m. So sad when those who stay behind don’t re-clean the house before I get back. There’s some kind of lesson there, I’m sure, but I’ll probably ignore it.


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