MISS DEMEANORS

I Am A Nasty Woman

In the fall of 2018, my friend and fabulous noir crime fiction author, Kelli Stanley, and I were on the faculty of the Mystery Writers Conference in Corte Madera, California. Kelli had just founded Nasty Woman Press, in response to current events. She wanted to bring the writing community together to produce an anthology that spoke to the theme of women’s empowerment and support Planned Parenthood. That’s the day that I, and so many authors I admire, including Heather Graham, Cara Black, Hallie Ephron, Rachel Howzell Hall, and Anne Lamott, became a Nasty Woman. Kelli’s vision is available today. Shattering Glass is the first Nasty Woman Press anthology, featuring short stories, conversations, interviews, and essays. It’s a unique experience unlike anything I’ve ever read. I couldn’t be more proud to be a part of it.

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Pure Word Music

I was about thirteen, an impressionable age, when among the stacks in my small hometown library, I stumbled upon the novels of P. G. Wodehouse (pronounced “Woodhouse,” by the way). For the first time in my life I realized that a story could be brilliant, not only for what was said but also for how it was said.

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Many Voices, Many Stories

Voice isn’t content; it’s the way that content is translated onto the page. Voice is easy to recognize in music. Take the same song lyrics sung, for example, by Ray Charles, Frank Sinatra, Dolly Parton, and Little Richard. You’d never mistake one for the other. In the same way, you’d never confuse Charles Dickens with J. R. R. Tolkien or Hawthorne with Louise Penny. Your voice as an author is yours alone. Developing your authorial voice takes time.

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On The Short Side

“Surely, moving to Columbus is all Gerald and Annette Reed need to start a new life and escape their demons…”
Mercedes King is the author of “An Agreeable Wife For A Suitable Husband,” one of the stories in the newly published Columbus Noir anthology by Akashic Books. Columbus Noir was the 101st installment in the series—and the first for Ohio.

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Taking Your Own Path in Publishing

We all know there are different paths in publishing. Some writers love not only the actual writing but also the full production of a book, from formatting the pages, producing cover art, and developing publicity materials to setting pub dates and generally seeing things through from plotting to launch and beyond. Eileen Curley Hammond is such a person.

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What On Earth?

The earth is a treasure of biodiversity. Each living thing, each culture, each individual human being, has its place in the grand scheme of things—a gift to be nurtured, protected, and celebrated.

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Mystery Writers of America

Last year, I had the honor of chairing the Best Novel committee for the Edgar Awards. I read many books and did many things I can’t talk about, but one of the great pleasures was getting to know the people who run MWA. They are an unflappable and generous crew. Yesterday the MWA released a statement that I found powerful. Here it is: A Statement from Mystery Writers of America BY MWA · JUNE 3, 2020 How to Help Mystery Writers of America does not support or tolerate discrimination of any kind. We stand proudly with our Black members, and implore our entire membership to start listening, speaking out, and amplifying the voices that have been silenced for far too long. Listening leads to understanding, and action leads to change. We cannot move forward as a society or culture without recognizing the disparities that permeate both. As Chester Himes said, “Democracy is not tolerance. Democracy is a prescribed way of life erected on the premise that all men are created equal.’” If you’re looking for a way to get involved, to educate yourself, or to expand your perspective, here are some places to start: Black Lives Matter:  https://blacklivesmatter.comCampaign Zero:  https://www.joincampaignzero.orgFair Fight:  https://fairfight.comThe Bail Project:  https://bailproject.orgNAACP Legal […]

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Devil in a Blue Dress

This spring semester, for my Gotham Writers novel class, I decided to use Easy Rawlins for our character study. Usually I use Jane Eyre, who I love, but I figured I might branch out. Devil in a Blue Dress was published in 1990, and set in 1948 Los Angeles, but really could be set today. Easy Rawlins is a World War II veteran, who fought for the U.S., came to Los Angeles to get a job, was fired for not being respectful enough of his white boss, and winds up getting a job working for a really dangerous man. One of the things that becomes clear as you read the book, is that racism is a daily indignity. Easy almost gets killed when a young white girl starts up a conversation with him. He tries to back away from her, but she’s relentless, and clueless. At another moment he goes to an office to talk to the white man who’s hired him, but when he’s asked who he’s looking to see, he starts to stutter. “It was a habit I developed in Texas when I was a boy. Sometimes, when a white man of authority would catch me off guard, […]

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From Kellye Garrett

This is my week to manage the Miss Demeanors blog, yet I’ve found myself struggling to find words. Or the right words. Yesterday I read this post by Agatha, Anthony, Lefty and IPPY award winning author Kellye Garrett. I thought it so profound, and she was kind enough to say that I could repost it. My Guide for Non Black People Upset about Racism and Prejudice in America. This is all my opinion. I don’t represent all black people. I guarantee there will be black people with a different opinion. So I’ve been getting a few messages of support from nonblack people. And though I know you’re doing it with good intentions, there are other ways for you to handle what’s going on and deal with your own feelings about it. I’ve been black in America for almost 42 years now. Assume I’m upset about what’s going on and feeling overwhelmed. If you truly are upset and truly want to see change, instead of apologizing to your black friends, there are things you can do to truly help. Speak up. This happens to me personally a lot when I speak up on crime fiction issues. I get people who privately […]

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Finding words

I planned to devote my time on Miss Demeanors this week to writing about words that intrigue me. But in the wake of last week’s tragedy and violence, I found my words failing. But then I happened upon a Facebook post by Cate Holahan, a founding Miss Demeanor and fabulous writer, and she kindly agreed to let me re-post. So here’s what she had to say to her children: A few days ago, I pushed homeschool by a couple hours to have a hard conversation with my daughters about racism and White privilege. My girls are a quarter Black but they are perceived by most people as White because they came out fair, blond, and blue-eyed. We talked about how the way they look would make some people more likely to trust them or give them preferential treatment. We discussed how they had to be vigilant to make sure that they were never used to further anyone’s racist agenda and that they never took advantage of their privilege by allowing themselves to be unfairly elevated over another person. We talked about the woman in Central Park, George Floyd, and institutional racism. My youngest kept telling me, horrified, that some individuals […]

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