MISS DEMEANORS

January Giveaway

 

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What Joan Didion Was To Me

Some writers you read because you like their plots or their dialogue. Others because you connect with their spirit. This was what Joan Didion was to me. When I was a young woman, of course, I was awed by her writing. Later, when I adopted my oldest son, I loved reading what she wrote about her adopted daughter, Quintana Roo. She had an entry in a children’s book about adoption and we used to read that every night. Her daughter died in 2005 and two years later my son died. Then she became for me a touchstone. I looked to her for grace and wisdom and honesty. Always honesty. When Joan Didion died in December, I mourned her as I would a friend. A writer can’t ask for more than that. Joan Didion wrote so many wise things, but here are a couple of my favorites: “We tell ourselves stories in order to live.”― Joan Didion, The White Album: Essays “I think we are well advised to keep on nodding terms with the people we used to be, whether we find them attractive company or not. Otherwise they turn up unannounced and surprise us, come hammering on the mind’s door at 4 […]

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I often wonder about other writers’ snacking habits while we’re hard at work. We hear so much about a cup of tea and a cat, but neither of those work for me. I’m allergic to cats and I hate tea, so there’s that.

Besides, I concentrate so hard when I’m working that I don’t think about food until I come up for air. I even forget to drink water, although I always have a glass on my desk. My hands are busy, so I couldn’t snack anyway, but honestly, I rarely think of eating unless I take a break. Before I got Molly and my Apple watch, I would sit at my desk, fingers flying, for six or more hours without moving. Alas, I often made up for it by snacking before and after dinner. Now that Molly and Apple have teamed up to remind me to move every hour or so, I find I snack more. My weakness is anything small and easy to eat. A cookie. A handful of nuts. A piece of candy or a couple of M&Ms. The fit of my clothes is a testament to the ill effects of my newfound snacking habit. So, my fellow Miss Demeanors, I’m interested in what you have to say. Do you snack while you work, and if you do, what’s your snack of choice? Michele: I rarely snack while I write. I barely remember to sip water or my cold cup […]

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What Saved Me From a Spot on Hoarders

I come from a family of hoarders. Okay, not the kind that gets you on TV, the kind who leaves dirty dishes, take-out containers, and trash lying about. My parents’ house was always clean, Just crowded. Very crowded. With a double dose of hoarder in my DNA, what saved me from the hoarding hall of fame? Read on…

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Ethical Lawyers, Really?

Ethical Lawyers, Really? Really, really! There are rules. Read on.

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How characters evolve

Fictional characters regularly hit life’s highs and lows. They evolve through experiences so off the chart most of us will never experience them; and hopefully not in the space of a few days. Lost your job, your husband left you, your child is a troublemaker AND then the story starts.

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Ask Me Almost Anything

Needed: questions for our Friday feature, Question of the Week. What have you always wanted to ask us but never thought you’d get the chance? Post your questions on the blog or on social media.

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A HOUSE IS A NOT A HOUSE

A house is not a house to this writer. To me, a house is a story, maybe many stories. I am fascinated by houses, not just in the sense, “Oh wouldn’t I love to own that contemporary overlooking the ocean.” I rarely take a ride without passing by a house and wondering who lives there. Is it a family with young sloppy children who hate vegetables or an older couple with two cats and a smart TV they don’t know how to work? If I’m alone and can prolong my fantasy, I might wonder if the kids are fresh and spend too much time on their devices, or if one of the spouses has dementia and the other is barely hanging on.             People who ask where writers get their stories must not know people like me with overactive imaginations. I have a few favorite houses I pass by in my daily travels where I have indulged my fantasies. I think of the windows as the eyes of the house that let me peek in like a voyeur. I not only imagine who lives in the house now, but also who inhabited it in years, decades, or even centuries earlier. […]

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That Time I Threw a Book At the Wall

I don’t generally throw books against the wall, but when I read Tana French’s book the first time, I was so aggravated by the ending that I tossed it. The story was engrossing. The characters richly detailed. The book won an Edgar when it was published, in 2007. But the ending drove me crazy because it left something important unresolved. I actually thought I’d got a misprinted book that had lost the last twenty pages.

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The Evolution of a Mystery Novel

Finding a premise Since I’m pretty new here I thought I’d focus my first few blogs on helping you get to know me, and one of the best ways to do that is show you how I work. Today, I’m going to discuss how I made my way from a blank slate to In Deep, my first published mystery novel. I had been working on another mystery series for several years, and finally realized that it wasn’t ever going to work. The whole premise needed to be put aside—at least for a while.  So I needed to come up with a new idea. Usually I work in my office. In addition to writing mysteries and thrillers, I run a freelance writing and editing business, so I have a terrific home office. It’s quiet and since it’s full of technology stuff, it’s very conducive to writing about technology, which is what my business specializes in. But not really set up for brainstorming. So I picked up a notebook and my favorite pen, grabbed a snuggly blanket, flipped on the fireplace, and let Molly, my long-haired miniature dachshund, sit on my lap. Now I was in the zone. Since I write in first […]

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Six Book Clubs That Are Looking For You

What could be better than curling up in an overstuffed chair with a steaming mug of tea and immersing yourself in the world of a book? Nothing in my opinion. But a close second might be discussing that book with a circle of friends in a book club. Who was your favorite character? Why do you think Aunt Bertie locked him out? Did you guess the outcome? Have you experienced something similar? I love book clubs. Mine, like so many others during Covid, has been meeting on Zoom. It’s not the same as meeting in person (no wine, no treats), but at least it’s accessible. Yesterday I was the guest author at an online book club. One member Zoomed in from Florida; two others joined from somewhere on their phones. Are you in a book club? I know one that has been meeting for almost fifty years. They have a waiting list. Instead of waiting for an invitation, why not try one of these book clubs? They’re looking for you! 1 BOOK-OF-THE-MONTH CLUB This one is the classic, founded in 1926. My mother was an avid member when I was in high school, and I still remember seeing the latest […]

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