Author: C. Michele Dorsey

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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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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GIVING CHARACTERS CLOSURE

I began writing the Sabrina Salter series when I was on vacation in St. John ten years ago. I was sitting at the dining room table in a lovely villa looking out at the hexagonal pool and the pergola beyond it. A hammock hanging from the pergola called me, but not to come lie on it. No, I wondered what would happen if someone stormed through the periwinkle blue gate and shot a man who fell back onto the hammock. I imagined that a woman discovered his dead body and became a suspect in his murder. How Sabrina crept into my head.             That’s how Sabrina’s story began in my head. Soon I was more obsessed with Sabrina than the murder she was accused of. I began wondering what her story was. How had she come to live on St. John? What did she do for a living? Did she have a lover? Who were her friends? Did she have a pet? How was her relationship with family? What was her childhood like? Getting to know Sabrina better             Sabrina lived in the crevices of my mind day and night. Her evolution was organic. She had a painful past. She […]

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5 Reasons Why Book Reviews Matter

When readers see authors asking, sometimes begging for reviews of their books, they may wonder why are they doing this? Let me offer five reasons why. 1. Improves the Relationship Between Writers and Readers Writers and readers have an unspoken relationship based upon communication. The writer “gives” the story to the reader who “receives” it. This creates a circle of sorts. Without reviews, which can be formal or informal, depending on the form of the review and whether it is being done by a professional reader (reviewer) or a consumer of books, the writer is left in a vacuum, not knowing whether her book pleased her reader. 2. Improves the Book’s Visibility Reviews provide visibility for books and the people who write them. If readers don’t know about a book or an author, they lose the opportunity to discover both, and the writer doesn’t get to connect with the people for whom she has toiled. 3. Visibility Results in Increased Sales Sales are what support writers and reviews help create them. Like it or not, money does talk. When readers see a review that demonstrates people are so excited about a book that they stayed up all night finishing it, […]

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HOW TO NAME YOUR BOOK, OR NOT

Question of the Week for April 22, 2022 Michele Dorsey:  Titles, I want to ask about your book titles, ladies. How do you come up with the titles for your books? Or do you? Some publishers insist on naming books. I wanted my second book to be titled The Eleventh Villa, which was a story about greed and opulence. Instead, it became Permanent Sunset. How much difference does a title make? Keenan Powell:  Titles matter. Remember that marketing Rule of Seven? Someone needs to hear the marketing message seven times before they buy. A catchy title that surfaces over and over again on social media does. For instance, The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo. I’ve seen that title over and over in the past few years and was on the brink of buying it many times except I was focusing on crime fiction. And then, just when I needed a break from mysteries/thrillers, the name floated by me again. Two clicks later it downloaded onto my audio app. Susan Breen: I love titles that intrigue me. Station Eleven comes to mind, and I like The Eleventh Villa. I just saw the Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine cover for my story, Detective […]

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April Giveaway

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Writing Mysteries to Music

If you think all writers are alike, here’s a question that will prove differently: Do you listen to music while you write?             No! I say resoundingly. Here’s why. I’m sitting in my “spot,” which varies seasonally. In the summer, I can be found writing “in plein” at a table on my deck or in a beach chair with my feet in the sand. Winters, if I haven’t escaped to warmer climes where the beach location works, I am either in my Writer’s Shed or on the corner of my sofa. Regardless of where I am, you will not find music playing.             Why, you may ask. It seems logical that music would complement writing. How better to induce a mood? If you’re a writer who pens murder mysteries and want to describe the overwhelming grief of the victim’s survivors, playing a little sad music might work, especially if you’ve just learned you’re going to be a grandmother for the first time and can’t stop doing the happy dance.             I’m not saying music doesn’t influence my mood. I’m saying it does. I realized this most graphically one day many decades ago when I was in the middle of a […]

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Where to Find Ideas is No Mystery

I’d planned to write about something different today, but my insomnia gave me the opportunity to write about the age-old question: where do you get ideas for your books? I came across this story in the wee hours after doing Wordle and doom scrolling through Twitter.          The New York Times posted a story that immediately had my head spinning. https://www.nytimes.com/2022/03/28/nyregion/nyc-elevator-outage-20-exchange-place.html               A 59-story luxury apartment building, formerly the home of a financial institution, in New York City has been experiencing elevator problems above the 15th floor. Sometimes the elevators just don’t work for hours at a time. Other times, they will take a sudden drop. The tenants are understandably furious. They have missed work and other functions, been unable to get out for food and medical appointments. A nurse was forced to climb to the 48th floor after a long shift.          This isn’t just one story, my fellow writers. This is an opportunity for thousands of tales. The mystery writer in me sees a locked-room story waiting to be written. Quickly I jump to fantasizing it becoming a movie in the fashion of Only Murders in the Building. I can’t get the faces of Steve Martin, Martin […]

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In Praise of Seasoning

Thank you, Michele, and Miss Demeanors, for having me on the blog today! Let’s start with a confession. These days, I’ve been spending most of my time with older sleuths. Murder She Wrote is one of my favorite television go-tos, as are Diagnosis Murder and Matlock. All feature protagonists over fifty. During the pandemic I became a huge fan of audio books, and listened to one of my favorite (maybe my favorite) series twice through. Barbara Rosenblatt narrating the Amelia Peabody series–does it get much better for this Elizabeth Peters fan? I didn’t think so. Amelia Peabody starts the series in her thirties, and by the end she’s hovering around seventy. As anyone who’s read the series knows, she gets better with age. An “also recommends” on Audible suggested another series read by the same narrator, the Mrs. Pollifax series. I’d seen the Roz Russell 1971 movie, Mrs. Pollifax–Spy. I’d also seen the 1999 Angela Lansbury movie, The Unexpected Mrs. Pollifax. Both were–fine. But then I listened to The Unexpected Mrs. Pollifax, and the rest of the series. Dorothy Gilman was a delightful storyteller. (Truly delightful. I’ve become a huge fan.) And Mrs. Pollifax is a wonderful character–at the beginning […]

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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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