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Why Do We Love Books?

Miss Demeanor’s Question of the Week: Why Do We Love Books? Keenan: I love books because they transport me from real life and give me a chance to see the world through someone else’s eyes. Susan: I love books because they reassure me that I’m not the only lunatic out there. I’ve found some of my best friends in books. (Jane Eyre comes to mind.) They comfort me, inspire me, teach me and show me the world. Recently I was reading Julia Philips novel, Disappearing Earth, which is set in Siberia, and I thought, I’m in Siberia! Emilya: Well… yeah. I can’t imagine not reading. I don’t think more than a day has ever passed in my life after the age of 8 when I didn’t read for pleasure. Escapism, education, you name it, books do it for me. In that vein, I especially appreciate books written by authors from environments completely different from mine, whether it’s other countries, other genders, class, background, etc., etc. Connie: “The books transported her into new worlds and introduced her to amazing people who lived exciting lives. She went on olden-day sailing ships with Joseph Conrad. She went to Africa with Ernest Hemingway and […]

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Mexican Gothic

It’s Cinco de Mayo, Mexican Independence Day. When I was living in California, that meant Corona beer and chile rellenos. (I never figured out how to eat a taco without everything falling out.) This year, I’m celebrating by reading Mexican Gothic, which I just purchased last night. New York Times bestseller. Zillions of Amazon, Goodreads, and Audible reviews. Have you read it? What did you think? Join the conversation on Facebook or Twitter.

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When the ground is frozen, hard, dry, and brown, I try to imagine them as they were in their majesty the previous April. I pass by day after day, shaking my head over the improbability that they will rise again. My pessimism is reinforced by the winter grey and brown thicket of branches that serve as their backdrop. They are all dead. There is no hope.             But I am a mere human fool. I cannot give up on the daffodils. I am tortured at my own hands, forcing myself to search for any sign of life. What would have the audacity to spring out of this deadly mess?             And then on a frigid afternoon, I see a barely perceptible sign of life. A little green point is poking through the dirt. My heart quickens, not daring to believe or hope. When I return several days later, I am excited to see the green point has become an inch of emerald showing off to its jealous surrounding thicket. The daffodils have survived.             My gratitude is short-lived. I am an impatient human. I scold the daffodils about how long it is taking for them to grow. “Come on, show […]

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Who is Your Favorite Sherlock?

May 22 is Arthur Conan Doyle’s birthday. In celebration, tell us who your favorite Sherlock is! For a long time, Jeremy Brett was the only one for me. But Benedict crept into my heart, how can he not? As much as I adore Robert Downey Jr, sorry to say he’s my third choice. Is your favorite one of these three or do you have another? Join the conversation on Facebook or Twitter.

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Why We Write and Read about Crime

While I share online event fatigue with many of you, there is no denying Zoom has saved the day or now, the year. This was evident to me during the fabulous MURDER AND MAYEM online conference, the brainchild of Dana Kaye and Lori Rader-Day, which was on Crowdcast this past weekend, when a single comment created value for me that transcended all else on the schedule. One advantage of an online event comes in the form of a sidebar that appears next to the main presentation, where a contemporaneous conversation among attendees takes place. Among the chatter about how much we all miss one another, little gems will sparkle. Brilliant comments or provocative questions appear that never would be available to everyone who attended an in-person conference. Someone (forgive me for not remembering who, but the scroll fires as rapidly as the synapses in the attendees’ brain cells) posed the question about whether writers who write about crime, most often murder, are ever troubled that they are essentially entertaining people with tales at the expense of the pain that real crimes bring. People chimed in, revealing they also had been troubled by the question. The fascination with crime can feel […]

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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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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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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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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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