Coming Home

   Five months can be a long dry spell. I’m not talking about writers’ block. I’m describing five months of unintentional isolation from my tribe, the people who share with me the same inexplicable passion for writing. After attending the fun-filled, event-jammed New England Crime Bake in November, which I also co-chaired, I was ready for a little solitude. But not five months.         Through circumstances not of my choosing, namely two monstrous hurricanes, I found myself on Outer Cape Cod, Puerto Vallarta, and St. John in the U.S. Virgin Islands. I am not complaining. Those are destinations where any writer could find inspiration and I did. But did I ever miss my tribe, the folks who still like to debate the Oxford comma and know what I am talking about when I am at a conference and excuse myself from an event because “I am peopled out.”         By the time I arrived at Malice Domestic XXX on April 26th, I was ravenous for the company of other writers. I wanted to talk about rejection, setting, character development, publishing trends, and soak in what others had to say. Because I was so hungry, I attended almost every event at the conference. I watched a new episode of Vera while munching on a real Cadbury candy bar from the U.K., wondering was there a limit to the plot turns Ann Cleeves can conjure in a single story. I went to the opening ceremony, the closing Agatha Tea with scones and real clotted cream, and just about everything in between. I listened to panel after panel, interviews with Louise Penny, Ann Cleeves, Brenda Blethyn, Nancy Pickard, and Catriona McPherson, hanging on to every word. I celebrated the victories of those who won the Agathas at the banquet as well as those who had received nominations. I was honored to moderate a panel on “Unique Settings,” thinking how lucky am I to get to ask these fine writers questions. It was one of the best conferences I’ve ever attended. My creative well was refilled. I had time with my peeps and I was all better.           I drank it all in from the moment when Malice Toastmaster Catriona McPherson said, “Welcome to the mother ship.” I knew then that I was home.   

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