MISS DEMEANORS

Are You Ready For A Change?

Spring has definitely arrived in my part of world. Not a moment too soon. Leaves are unfurling. Birdsong fills the air. Violets bloom along the perimeter of the woods. The temperatures are usually warm enough to sit outside in the evenings—even if I have to slip on a warm jacket. I love spring. Actually I love every season in its turn—spring with its promise of new life; warm summer days at the lake; autumn’s glorious hues and the bounty of harvest; winter’s snowfall and blazing fires in the hearth. I’m one of those people who can’t imagine living in a place where there aren’t four distinct seasons. We all have our preferences, but for me, the joy of the seasons is change. We had a rough, cold winter this year, which makes spring all the more welcome and delightful. And who in the cool, rainy weather of March and April doesn’t look forward to long summer days—picnics, biking, jumping in the lake? And then just when I’m done with the heat and humidity, along comes autumn with its brisk temperatures and gorgeous colors. Even winter is welcome—the first snowfall, the holiday season, winter sports. I agree with Charles Dickens, who […]

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To Cut or Not to Cut #amediting

I’ve been rolling through the first revision of my WIP (work in progress) for a week or so, tweaking forty pages a day, when I hit a problem. I had a couple of sequential scenes that, when written, felt intrinsic to the story and quite plausible but on this pass weren’t working. I didn’t know what the problem was. Should I cut them? I didn’t want to but I couldn’t articulate a reason why. Should I revise them? How? I didn’t know what was wrong with them. So I decided to sleep on it. My reward was weird dreams. In one dream, I’m watching a man being dragged down a river by a sea bass that he had hooked. It was a thing he liked to do, like sea bass charioting. Eventually the fish got away and he had to trudge back up the river, which was only waist-deep, to stake out his favorite sea-bass catching spot. In another dream, I deftly revised a scene in a thrilling chase story, like North by Northwest, and just before I was to send it out to the betas, I realized there was no McGuffin – no reason for the bad guys to […]

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The Magic of Audiobooks

I’m a new convert to audiobooks, and as all new converts, I’m now a zealot. Oh, sure, years ago there were “books on tape” and then on CD, but it was just somehow not the same.

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Every story starts with What If.

What if someone goes missing? What if a house burns down mysteriously? Or a will is destroyed or a war starts or a pandemic begins. What if you are able to spend a night or two in a place usually off limits to the public? That’s my ideal What if in real life.

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Perfect! Well, Maybe Not…

My first time moderating a panel. Whoo boy. I know I won’t be perfect, but I’ll do my best to be good.

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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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