MISS DEMEANORS

Talking About Writing Retreats

I often see author friends on Facebook renting cottages in the mountains, at lakes and at various beaches for private writing retreats. A Brooklyn friend checks into a lower Manhattan hotel from time to time for a private writing retreat. To my knowledge, these friends have spouses or partners, but none have young children. So why the need to get away?   I’ve asked authors Edith Maxwell and Anne Laughlin to discuss their retreats. Why do you retreat? Edith:  I need time away from home to get a big burst of work done.  Anne:  I’m attracted by the idea of going away and concentrating on nothing but writing, free of the minutia that fills so much of our lives. I can handle a lot of time on my own and that attracted me as well. It’s a way of honoring myself as a writer. The amount of work you can get done in two-four week residencies is astounding. Do you prefer a private or a group retreat? Edith:  I prefer private but have gone on several wonderful group retreats. Anne:  I’ve been to both and can say that in the earlier years I preferred the group and now I prefer private. Most people want to socialize […]

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Writing on the Porch

There is nothing like writing on a porch. It combines the best of two worlds. I sit on cozy furniture cushioned with piles of pillows, yet I am somehow outdoors smelling the ocean in the distance and listening to the birds serenade me. I can listen to a downpour and inhale the wetness of grass without ever getting wet.             I’ve been coming to this particular porch for the same week for more than twenty years. Even when I downsized and moved to the next town, I continued to come to my retreat on this porch. I have written portions of every book I have ever written on this porch. I have read sections aloud to trusted friends and family. This porch has become a part of me. It feels sacred and safe.             The porch changes just a little every year. The owner has the knack of decorating it and the rest of the tiny cottage with bits and pieces of Cape Cod memorabilia, which somewhere else might feel overdone but here feels perfect. There may be new curtains billowing in the breeze or an additional batch of shells on the table, but the feeling never changes. There is […]

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How do I look?

So I just got my new author photo, which I love, but it also makes me think of all the previous photos I’ve had taken and where I was in my life at that time. Author photo 2022 Here is my most recent photo and I look hopeful, I think, and friendly. This was the first time I ever had a photo taken outside, in natural light, in front of a tree. No make up, except for my regular make-up. A little dog was running around the lawn. The photographer, Robyn Field, had me get to the shoot a half hour early, so we’d have a chance to chat. This is probably why I don’t look incredibly tense and my shoulders aren’t hunched. Author photo 2017 This is my author photo from 2017. It’s way more formal. I was, and am, working on a book about Anne Boleyn, so I was trying to channel that vibe. It took about an hour to put on all the make up I was wearing. False eyelashes and so on. Author photo 2015 Then there’s this one, from 2015. This is definitely channeling a church lady vibe. I feel like I should be handing […]

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Modern Day Robin Hoods?

People who return books they’ve already read are only hurting the author, not Amazon. Here’s why.

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Developing a Writing Plan That Works For You

First a confession: I was never a model student. My early report cards always included comments like “She could do so much better if she tried” and “Getting assignments in on time would help.” Even in college I struggled with a lack of discipline. I cut way too many classes, neglected to study, and left papers until the very last minute.

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Titles, the Torture Of

suffered so much over my first title. #amstillsuffering

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Sentient AI–a Mystery or Not?

A few days ago, a Google engineer had been put on leave for publicly saying the chatbot they’ve been developing is sentient. After months of testing it, which involved trying to see if it could turn murderous or hateful, he’d come to the conclusion that it was an independently “thinking” entity. With feelings. Although this is more a story about a very smart person who clearly needs to get out more and chat with real humans, it sent me down a rabbit hole of ethical, psychological and scientific questions.

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Write What You Know

That is the advice many give to new authors. What does that mean? As a character driven author, I understood it to mean you shouldn’t write characters outside your own experience. For example, you can’t have doctor as a main character unless you have medical experience, or a detective main character unless you’ve been a police officer.  For several reasons, I’ve always ignored that advice. First, I write what I like to read. Second, other than the very first book I wrote where I thought in advance about the characters, my characters and their stories come from my unconscious. Third, I write fiction.  But. On Memorial Day Sherry and I went out to breakfast at Pier 1, an outdoor restaurant on the Hudson River in Riverside Park, that we haven’t been to since the summer of 2019 because of Covid19. Sherry went to place our order and I found us a table. And, just a few feet away was the table where Darcy and Andrea, the characters from my first romance, had dinner. I looked up and I could see the small park at the top of the long steep path down from Sixty-eighth street. Andrea stopped there before she rolled […]

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A SERIES IS BORN

My fellow Miss Demeanor, Connie Berry, posted recently on the topic of when it’s time to end a series. The timing was perfect for me to raise the opposite question. When is time to create a series?          Most often, writers know they are creating a series when they write the first book. They envision future plots that will involve the protagonist and her supporting cast. I knew when I wrote No Virgin Island that Sabrina and her bff Henry had lots of adventures in their future. I journaled as if I were Sabrina, to explore what might be going on in her mind and in her heart. I’m now beginning the fifth book in the series and finding no shortage of material. These people just can’t stop getting into trouble!          It was different when I wrote Oh Danny Girl more than a decade ago. I barely accepted I was a writer and often apologized that writing was my hobby. I didn’t dare to think a book I was writing might be published, let alone become a series. Oh Danny Girl is the story about a young lawyer who heads to court one morning for an uncontested divorce when […]

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Loglines

I spent last weekend as a workshop leader at the NY Pitch conference, listening to various editors and agents talk about the importance of the logline. Loglines, also called elevator pitches, are one-or-two sentence descriptions of a novel that are meant to hook the reader. Here’s the logline for my story that was just in Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine: Beleaguered middle-aged woman teams up with the ghost of Anne Boleyn to solve a murder. Her own. Almost every writer I’ve ever met has hated loglines, mainly because they force us to boil our 90,000 carefully written mystery novels into something you could spit out in an elevator. Where’s the nuance? However, they do sell books. So my question for my fellow Miss Demeanors was: Do you have a logline? Would you like to share it here? Or do you hate them and never want to hear about them again? Tracee de Hahn  That’s the perfect logline for your story (everyone rush out and read it now in Alfred Hitchcock Magazine)! I want to see more of Anne and her new friend, let’s hope there are more murders in their future. On to your question . . .  I had a […]

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Recent Posts

Writing on the Porch
  • June 24, 2022
How do I look?
  • June 23, 2022
Titles, the Torture Of
  • June 20, 2022
Write What You Know
  • June 14, 2022
A SERIES IS BORN
  • June 13, 2022
Loglines
  • June 10, 2022

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