A (Writing) Room of Her Own

Who won a copy of The Empty Chair, Murder in the Caribbean, the giveaway from Penny Goetjen’s appearance on Miss Demeanors last week. The winner is Nancy Novacek.

The Question of the week for my fellow Miss Demeanors is the question readers never seem to tire of, which is When and Where do You Write? What is your daily writing process and where does that magic take place? You are in for a real treat!

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Twitter Tips

It is a truth universally acknowledged that an intelligent woman who turns to Twitter for information will soon find herself trapped in a sinkhole of despair.  (Hieronymus Bosch comes to mind.)  However, I’ve found that, by treading carefully, Twitter is actually entertaining. Bordering on inspirational. The key thing is to be careful about who you follow. Very careful! When I first joined Twitter, ten or so years ago, I was preoccupied with accumulating as many followers as I could. So I followed everyone. Everyone followed me back. Then I began getting really weird messages and I felt like I was hanging out with some very unusual people, and not in a good way. So I began to reevaluate. Cut back. Stop worrying about numbers and think about content. I winnowed down my list to people I liked. Some of my favorite tweeters: The Monty Don   He is the host of Gardeners World and his Twitter feed is filled with beautiful pictures of gardens. Reading his posts in the morning is like breathing in fresh air.  2. Deanna Raybourn She is the author of the Veronica Speedwell mysteries, which I adore. Her Twitter feed is entertaining and just a little bit […]

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Conflict, Suspense, Terror: When Is Too Much Too Much?

Almost the first thing a budding writer learns is the importance of conflict—internal, external, situational, relational. Conflict is what creates story. As Donald Maass famously says, “The cat sat on the mat” isn’t a story. “The cat sat on the dog’s mat” is a story. Suspense is created when the outcome of conflict is unknown or delayed. This is a gross simplification, of course, but if the tension on the page isn’t felt by the reader, the conflict falls flat. Suspense taken to the extreme creates terror. I read once that out of all the living creatures on earth, human beings are the only ones who like to scare themselves. We pay money to watch horror films and buy books that scare the living daylights out of us. If you need an example, check out Emilya Naymark’s recent blog on påskekrim , Norway’s obsession with reading crime novels at Eastertime. But when is too much too much? Some years ago I discovered a thriller writer who will remain anonymous (well known, very skilled) and began reading her series featuring a female medical examiner. I knew I was reading scary stuff about violent crime and serial killers, but the writing was […]

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Crutch Words, Telling Details, #AmEditing

Crutch words: a search and destroy mission.

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Påskekrim (Easter Crime)

Now here’s a tradition I can stand behind! Apparently everyone in Norway goes over to the dark side the week leading up to Easter and reads massive amounts of crime and true crime, as well as watching every possible crime show.

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What to read this spring

What is everyone reading? There are so many good books out right now and I’d love to have your recommendations. It doesn’t have to be new, and can be the book you’re just about to start, as long as you are willing to share why.

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Wait, What Day is It?

Sticky notes on your back? Oil on the doorknob? Pranks in real life are annoying. Tricks in crime fiction are deadly.

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A Trip to the Caribbean with Penny Goetjen

Note: Please see below for a chance to win a signed copy of Penny Goetjen’s mystery The Empty Chair: Murder in the Caribbean Michele: I don’t know about you, Penny, but between a long winter and even longer time under house arrest with Covid restrictions, I sure would love a field trip to a Caribbean island where we both have set a few of our novels. Penny: I know what you mean about wanting a getaway. And what better place, in the middle of winter, than the Caribbean with its warm, seductive breezes and alluring, white sand beaches? Michele:  What was it that first drew you to the islands and when did you know you wanted to set a novel there? Is your island real or imagined? The islands in The Empty Chair and its sequel Over the Edge are the U.S. Virgin Islands, St. Thomas in particular. And what drew me to them and continues to draw me is the stunning turquoise water. It just never gets old. Neither does year-round summer, balmy tropical breezes, or spending most of the time outside. The inspiration to write The Empty Chair came during one of my trips to St. Thomas. At […]

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How trees help me write

What is this tree saying?

How trees help me understand people better.

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Do You Follow Instructions?

Following directions has never been my strength. Cooking, for example. I rarely use a recipe, and when I do, I almost always vary it in some way. In the interest of full disclosure, I’m not a great cook. Changing the recipe is risky business. Ask my family sometime about Thanksgiving Dinner 2012. The same thing goes for a new product purchase. Following those incomprehensible printed instructions is annoying. I already know I should open the box before eating the pizza. And I’m not likely to use my new hairdryer while sleeping.  One place I do follow directions is knitting. Going rogue in knitting is likely to result in a garment no one could wear—or want to. I learned about knitting from my Norwegian aunts who knitted for the arts and crafts store Husfiden (Oslo) as a way to earn income while raising their families. Each year as a child I would receive a new pair of handknitted Selbuvotter, Star Mittens, usually red and white or black and white, in the traditional patterns developed in the 1800s. I marveled at the tiny stitches and imagined that I would learn to knit one day. I did learn—from my mother, who taught me […]

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