Author: Cate Holahan

Public Speaking Pro Tips

In less than a month, I will be speaking at a country club about the stories behind my stories. The engagement is a benefit to support services for seriously ill women at Englewood Hospital. I’m the entertainment. In exchange for speaking for an hour, the hospital is giving everyone a copy of The Widower’s Wife. My usual anxiety level is probably around a six out of ten. But this event has put it at an eleven. I want people to have a good time. I want them to enjoy the speech enough that they feel particularly good about opening their wallets to support a good cause. I also am hoping that maybe some people will like me enough to read my books. So I reached out to the MissDemeanors, many of whom speak in front of classes and conferences regularly, to ask for tips. Here’s what they recommend. Alexia Gordon: I just finished one 30 minutes ago. I’m a faculty author at Sleuthfest in Boca Raton this year. Never before have I had to lead workshops at a writers conference. Never before have I been faculty or a “featured author.” I’ve been on author panels, but only as a panel member, […]

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Writing As Therapy

“We’re professional worriers. You’re constantly imagining things that could go wrong and then writing about them.” Novelist John Green to The Late, Late Show host Craig Ferguson. I talked to my psychiatrist the other day about poop. The conversation, like everything I discuss in therapy, wasn’t what I wanted–or had intended–to talk about. It stemmed from my attempt to excuse my lateness for our session as the result of my elderly dog not relieving himself quickly enough during the morning walk. As usual, however, the Freudian philosopher in front of me seized upon my off-hand comment, attempting to draw a connection between some unrealized-yet-deep-seated childhood trauma regarding bodily functions that might help explain my persistent anxiety. “When were you potty-trained?” I scooted a centimeter back from the edge of his couch in response. I like to park my butt on the bleeding edge of the cushion so I can bolt upright in the event of an emergency. Not that I think there will be a sudden blaze in his dim basement office located in an older home that was surely constructed before new fire codes went into effect. Or that I spend too much time pondering how quickly his decorated-to-distraction […]

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What Dave Chappelle taught me about Public Speaking

I think faster through my fingers. This is how my brain works. Behind a screen, words flow through me. My stories become entertaining, my descriptions visual and apt, my ideas clear and concise. Post editing, even more so. In person, I fear I’m not nearly as eloquent. My biggest failing is verbosity, which follows from my fear of awkward silences. But I have others. I make jokes and then spend hours afterward wondering whether they were truly funny or, worse, potentially offensive. I get passionate and repeat the same previously expressed idea without adding anything new. I say so many self-deprecating things in an effort to be entertaining that I start to seem like I am putting on an sad comedy performance. Queue pity claps. These were more sarcastic than pitying. Unfortunately, public speaking is a necessary component of all jobs, particularly that of a published author. There are book signings and readings, which no one attends to hear anyone simply read. There are engagements, like the one I will be helming on April 11 (shameless plug), in which I am supposed to be entertaining. But I have learned a way for me to be better in these events thanks […]

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The Perils of Writing From Home

by Cate Holahan A man died on my dining room table. His blood seeped into the honed concrete slab becoming an indelible stain on the surface. To the untrained eye, the mark might appear red wine, sloshed on the table by some drunken dinner guest. But the spot is darker. Deeper. I see it. Anyone that has ever read The Widower’s Wife and then attends a dinner party at my house sees it too. In truth, there isn’t any stain on the table. (When I host Thanksgiving, I put plastic underneath the tablecloth like the OCD aunt that covers all the furniture). The mark is all in our minds. It got there because I staged a murder scene in that book in my actual house, and a character does die on the table. My real dining room table. Scenes from this book are set in my house. Folks say “write what you know.” Since I work from home, sometimes that entails snatching details from where I live and incorporating them into my work. My protagonist’s apartment in Lies She Told is a copy of the first place my husband and I lived as a married couple in New York City, […]

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Better, Faster, Stronger…

by Cate Holahan Welcome to the new and improved MissDemeanors site, powered by WordPress. Our goal here is to provide mystery readers and enthusiasts a behind the scenes look at how writers create novels in the genre. We share sources of inspiration, blogs we are reading, walks we are taking, and things we are thinking about. Daft Punk … Inspiration of the day We also have plenty of conversations about craft. How much backstory is too much? How can an author effectively vary language without seeming as though she was combing through a thesaurus? What makes a character compelling? How much of the mundane aspects of living should stories include for characters to be believable? How unlikable can a character be for an individual sub-genre? What makes a plot interesting? Red herrings–how to do them right. We’ll provide our opinions, and we’d love to hear yours. But why should you care what we think? Who the heck are we, am I right? Every regular writer and contributor to this site is a traditionally published author that pens mysteries. We run the gamut of sub-genres: intense cyber thrillers, plot-twisting psychological suspense novels, character-rich supernatural tales, emotional mysteries, and laugh-out-loud cozies. There […]

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