MISS DEMEANORS

Thought for the day.

There is nothing noble in being superior to your fellow man; true nobility is being superior to your former self. Ernest Hemingway.

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Whining Won’t Help: Research in the Time of the Plague

I’m thirty thousand words into my new Kate Hamilton book and feeling generally out of sorts because I should be in England right now….I feel like whining.

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Writers: Tough choices in Tough Times

Writers have many choices. Shall I write fiction or nonfiction? If fiction, should my story be a romance, mystery, thriller, or shall I reach for literary fiction, whatever that is? Who will star in my story, where will it be set, and when? The choices go on and on, and for most writers are part of the pleasure of writing, unless they become agonizing.

But what happens when times call for writers to write outside their chosen areas of concentration?

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NaNoWriMo Here I Come!

The first time I heard about NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) was some years ago, when I was teaching a Gotham Writers class in Greenwich Village. Teaching in the Village was a joy, and I’d always get there hours early so that I could wander around. One day I got caught in a terrible rain storm and went dashing into a little cafe and a man wearing a top hat seated me at a table. There I had the best bread pudding I’ve ever had, and I’ve had a lot, and in the years after that, I would often go to that spot, but the man in the top hat was never there again. Neither was the bread pudding all that good. That’s neither here nor there, except to say that during that class I had a student who was a good writer, except for the fact that she adamantly refused to use contractions. So finally I said, “You know, your writing would be a lot smoother if you would use contractions,” and she said, “I know, but I’m trying to increase my word count for NaNoWriMo.” I could not see the point, at the time, of forcing yourself to […]

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When it gets crisp in the fall…

Leaves trade their greens for gold, orange, and red. The chill in the air lures sweaters from closets and cabinets. The moon steals a few minutes of daylight from the sun each day. It’s autumn, my favorite season.I love autumn for its colors, flavors (there’s more to the season than pumpkin spice, y’all), fashion, weather—and spookiness. October marks the beginning of the spooky season, which lasts through January. Winter is spooky. (Telling ghost stories at Christmas is a tradition I want to see resurrected.) Ghoulies and goblins and ghosties, oh my! They feel out of place in the spring and summer. The autumnal equinox marks their return home. My viewing and reading habits shift in the fall. During the bright, sunny, warm times of the year, I seek out light, fun, breezy entertainment. My habits adopt a darker bent come fall. Bring on the horror movies, the ghost stories, the tales of the malevolent and macabre. What about you? Does your taste in books, movies, and TV change with the weather? What entertains you during these dark, chilly days?Comment here or hop over to the Facebook page to join the discussion

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Join us at Bouchercon

No, we’re not traveling to Sacramento next week. That Bouchercon went the way of Covid. However, Bouchercon – virtual edition is set to go live October 16-17, 2020. (If you’re attending, don’t forget to VOTE. Email ballots went out earlier this week. Think how happy an Anthony Award will make the winners. Let’s spread some joy!) Three of the Miss Demeanors are testing their Zoom mics. Mark your calendars and join us online – although you’ll have to toggle back and forth at times to fit everyone in. First up, bright and early at on October 16th, at 9:30 am PDT: Far Away: Building a Fictional TownMany authors will invent a place and setting for their story. How do they build a fictional town? Hear from panelists Cheryl Hollon (M), Barbara Ross, Christin Brecker, Hannah Dennison, Kaira Rouda, and our very own Connie Berry. Connie’s latest book, A LEGACY OF MURDER, takes place in the the Suffolk village of Long Barston. When a body turns up during the annual May Fair, DI Mallory leads the investigation while American antiques dealer Kate Hamilton sees puzzling parallels between the crimes and the Green Maiden legend. Can’t wait to hear Connie, and the other […]

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Read with the lights on in October

THE HAUNTING OF HILL HOUSE is a classic scary read – and no, I don’t own the first edition pictured above, but it’s an interesting contrast to the more current ones, the story of an evolution to classic and eventually (that modern touchpoint) a Netflix series. I reread at least part of Shirley Jackson’s classic nearly every year, relishing the language and the frightening parts in equal measure. In honor of Halloween, last week I selected TWELVE NIGHTS AT ROTTER HOUSE by J.W. Ocker from the October reads table at my local book store (bookstore and grocery, my two masked outings these days). I’m not a keep-the-lights-on I’m too scared to sleep reader but, I’ll confess, I liked the cover and the little note that he was an Edgar Award Winner. So. . . this scary book was invited home with me. The protagonist, Felix Allsey, is a travel writer who makes his living writing about creep destinations. Cemeteries and haunted houses are his calling, but he doesn’t actually believe in the supernatural. Spending nearly two weeks in a famously haunted house is his latest project – and he’s delighted when his best friend decides to join him. No spoilers, […]

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A Conversation with Laura Jensen Walker

I am so excited to introduce my friend and fellow mystery-writer Laura Jensen Walker, whose first cozy Murder Most Sweet was officially launched on September ninth!

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Those Damn Drafts in the Desk Drawer

Yesterday a writing colleague posted a question on social media about unpublished manuscripts she had sitting in a closet. Do you keep them or toss them out, she asked. Coincidentally, I have been working on a manuscript I wrote a number of years ago, which oddly I had made no effort to publish. It’s the story about a woman named Elise who kept whispering in my ears when I was cooking in my kitchen. I was busy working on a mystery series at the time, so I kept trying to shoo her away, but Elise would not let go of me until I wrote her story. It turned out to be a romantic comedy, a genre I hadn’t attempted before. I enjoyed Elise and the cast of characters supporting her, yet the book did not fit into my plan at the time. We all know what’s happened to plans. For me, the pandemic preceded by a couple of killer hurricanes turned my life into a chopped more than a tossed salad. So be it. You land where you’re planted and try to bloom. Elise has continued to gnaw at me since I placed her in a desk drawer. “Let me […]

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Reading to escape. . . to India.

For years my husband and I traveled to India in the winter. More recently, we have gone in the summer – mainly to accommodate the schedules of friends who wanted to join us. New Delhi during the great heat wave of 2017? Yes, we were there. Needless to say, I’d have given nearly anything to be there this year regardless of weather – at this point, heat, locusts, wind storms. Bring it on. Instead, I’ve revisited some of my favorite books set in India. Among them is the wonderful mystery series by Sujata Massey featuring the crime solving adventures of Perveen Mistry, Bombay’s first female lawyer. Her award winning novels capture the place and time, and her protagonist is a delightful mix of traditional respect and modern know how, perfect for the changing world of 1920s India. While awaiting Sujata’s next book I discovered Alka Joshi, author of THE HENNA ARTIST. Set in Rajasthan in late 1955, it is a vibrant, beautiful book about a woman earning her personal financial independence at the moment when India has declared it’s political independence from the United Kingdom. Her beautiful prose transported me immediately to the Pink City of Jaipur, where the story […]

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