MISS DEMEANORS

HOW DAFFODILS GOT ME TO “THE END”

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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Truth, Lies & Alice Hoffman

I came across this quote from the great novelist Alice Hoffman and it nestled in my head. You know how you get these bits of information you can’t stop thinking about? It reminded me of something my oldest son Will once said to me. I was telling an anecdote about something and I was embroidering it. As one does. Because you have to if you want to make the story interesting, and he said to me, “Mom, you’re such a liar.” I was, in fact, lying, but with a purpose. The story needed a bit of shaping. I was not going to sit there and tell a boring story without any sort of a punch line. There was truth in the story, but it needed a boost. This is the same reason I wear make-up. By contrast, when I’m writing a novel, I’m trying to figure out the truth. That sounds sort of ponderous. What I mean is that when I’m writing fiction I’m trying to understand what characters are doing and there’s no point in lying to myself, even if the characters are lying. What do you think? Please join the conversation on Facebook and Twitter?

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Any Excuse to Party

Today, Tuesday, April 27, is National Little Pampered Dog Day in the United States. Now that’s an excuse to party if I ever heard one. Her name is Emmie, and she is eight months and one week old today.

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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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Growing a Writer

We might not all write what we know, but we are all shaped by our upbringing and this bleeds into our writing whether we’re aware of it or not. I once heard an author say he believed his fans knew him better than his wife because they had read all his books and witnessed all of his little peculiarities made real in his stories.

Read on to find out how the Miss Demeanors were forged.

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Celebrate Independent Bookstore Day

Saturday, April 24th is National Independent Bookstore Day. This year, more than ever, all of our local businesses need our support. I’ve included a highly idiosyncratic personal list of nine of my favorite bookstores around the country. There’s no way to list them all, however, I’ve visited each of these, appeared as an author in most and wish them years of continued success.

If you don’t have a local bookstore, adopt one elsewhere. Let’s make 2021 the year of the book!

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I Came, I Hosted, I Laughed

Thanks to ProWritingAid’s Crime Writers’ Week conference, I can check panel moderator off the list of things I’ve never done. I hosted a Thriller Panel Discussion with Karin Slaughter, Jennifer Hillier, Lisa Gardner, Ian Rankin, and Steve Berry. Was I nervous? Heck, yeah. Should I have been? Nope. All of the panelists were charming and witty and graceful, and a fabulous time was had by all.

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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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What I learned from George Saunders

I’ve always been intrigued by the idea of getting an M.F.A. Spending a year or two focusing on my writing. Discussing writing with great minds. The push and pull of other students. It’s all so appealing, but unfortunately, when I had time, I didn’t have money. When I had money, I didn’t have time. And now I’m not entirely sure I have my wits about me. Why did I walk into that room?

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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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