MISS DEMEANORS

Maggie Dove and the Lost Brides

 

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What’s Your Holiday Tradition?

I love Christmas. And I start preparation the day of Thanksgiving. Long before it was known as Black Friday, I used to pack up the kids, go to a toney café for hot chocolate and baked goodies and then go shopping for one new Christmas ornament for each of us. That way, they would have enough to decorate their first tree after they grew up and moved out. Here’s a photo of the ornament my grandson picked out a couple of years ago. So I asked the Miss Demeanors: If you celebrate the holidays, what is the first thing you do after Thanksgiving in preparation for the season? Connie Keenan, that’s a tricky question for me because I am terrible at planning ahead. The most organized thing I do after Thanksgiving is make turkey soup. I would love to get my tree up and decorated the day after Thanksgiving. I’d also like to get in on all those Black Friday sales. But what I usually do is nothing. Then, when the pressure builds, I go out and buy gifts.  Tracee I love your ornament tradition! What a nice memory.  In our household, the weekend of Thanksgiving we decorate for Christmas. […]

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Save a Plate

Giving thanks to those who spend their holidays serving society. Police officers, firefighters, nurses, doctors, EMTs, the bartenders and waiters who will serve people who don’t have a family or who need an escape, the gas station attendants who will make sure everyone gets to their destinations, the pilots and flight attendants. Yes, they all chose their jobs, but it doesn’t take the sting out of being away from their loved ones on a holiday.

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How Thanksgiving resembles a book

Preparing for Thanksgiving reminds me of planning a book. You know the general sense of the meal, when it will be served, and have personal high points in mind. Same thing with the idea for a book.

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The Great Cranberry Controversy

Traditionally I post “In Defense of Parsnips” during Thanksgiving week, offering praise for the underrated delicious root vegetable, but since I included it in Emilya’s question of the week, I won’t push my luck by repeating it. Instead, I will focus on the unspoken conflict sitting on the table of most Americans during Thanksgiving dinner: THE GREAT CRANBERRY CONTROVERSY.             You are likely to have tasted the cranberry, probably in the form of juice or fruit drink or perhaps as cranberry bread, a loaf filled with cranberries and nuts. And if you enjoy turkey for Thanksgiving, there is a strong likelihood a bowl or serving dish of some kind containing cranberry sauce will accompany it. So far, so good. What’s controversial about a small side dish?             The rub is the form in which the cranberry arrives at the table. Ocean Spray, a company cranberry collaborative located in Plymouth, Massachusetts, and other companies, make canned cranberry sauce that comes jellied or as whole berries. Here’s where the conflict starts. Some want to carve their jellied cranberry sauce just as they carve their turkey. They remove it from the can, place it either sideways or upright in a small serving dish […]

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What does it mean to be a Miss Demeanor?

Finding a good illustration for a post about friendship is not easy, but, as always, the trees led the way. What better way to show what the Miss Demeanors mean to me than to show this picture of three strong and beautiful trees. (In a perfect world there would be seven trees in the picture, but oh well.) The Miss Demeanors have now been a formal group for about five years. Our membership has shifted around, but most of us are connected through our fabulous agent, Paula Munier. It’s been an eventful few years, filled with publishing contracts and awards and disastrous news and discouragement and oh, a pandemic. Through it all we’ve dragged each other along. When I was recently in the hospital, my fellow Miss Demeanors sent me a plant that is actually the size of a tree. Several of us were at the recent Crime Bake conference (and missed those who weren’t there) and we later went out to dinner and I was thinking about what a pleasure it has been to be a Miss Demeanor these past few years, and how much I enjoy everyone’s company. So my question of the week is, what does it […]

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We’re All In This Together

Last Sunday I returned from New England Crime Bake, my first in-person writers’ conference since the start of the pandemic. Gathering together with fellow authors was a joy. As wonderful as social media is, as wonderful as Zoom can be, we crave face-to-face with other human beings. That’s how we’re built.

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The Holidays, Translated by Catriona McPherson

I’ve been discussing holidays with friends online recently. Partly that’s because I planned a trilogy of books ( the Last Ditch Motel series) that all opened on US holidays – book one the 4th of July, book two Halloween, book three Valentine’s Day – only I’ve just signed the contract for books five and six (of a trilogy) and I’m scared of running out. But partly it was sparked by the fact that THE MIRROR DANCE begins as Dandy Gilver is headed to a park with her female servants in tow on the afternoon of the August Bank in 1938. They’re going to watch a Punch and Judy show and eat buns. Guess whether the performance goes smoothly and they’re all home in time for supper or whether the puppeteer is murdered in his booth with fifty people watching and no way for the murder to have arrived or left again. Go on, guess. Anyway, I was talking about it and an American pal (anonymous for reasons you will find out in a bit) said, “August Bank? Didn’t he win a Tony award last year?” which made me laugh hard and feel grateful all over again for having funny friends. […]

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Locked Room Mysteries

Locked room mysteries are awesome because they usually present the environment as an oppositional adversary. It’s easy to imagine oneself trapped with a killer, and how delicious to burrow under a blanket and know you’re safe, while reading about people who most certainly aren’t.

So, here are three locked room mysteries I’ve read lately that are chilling, thrilling, and all around awesome.

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M. K. Graff’s latest book: The Evening’s Amethyst.

I was thrilled to sit down (remotely!) with M. K. Graff and get an inside look at the fifth installment in the Nora Tierney books. Here’s what she had to say.

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Put a Dead Body in It

I recently spent a long weekend binge-watching horror movies/series. After several hours of corpses, missing people, and mysterious figures hiding in dark corners, it hit me that, of the shows I watched, only the haunted house story felt like horror (and even that had a few whodunnit moments). The others felt more like crime fiction. People were being murdered, perhaps more gruesomely/inventively than in straight-up crime fiction, and someone else had to figure out the who and why before the whole town ended up dead. Prior to the horror movie marathon, I went on a trip and met someone who announced that they preferred “English literary novels” over crime fiction. I replied, “put a dead body in it and it’s crime fiction.” This person later conceded that Wuthering Heights was a crime novel. I argue Crime and Punishment (crime right there in the name), Hamlet, Les Miserables, and half of what Dickens wrote fall under the crime fiction umbrella. Jane Eyre stopped pretending to be lit-tra-chure and became The Wife Upstairs.  These revelations prompted me to ask my fellow Missdemeanors: What books, short stories, films, TV series, etc., that aren’t traditionally thought of as crime fiction also work as crime […]

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