Tag: amwriting

amwriting

Writing As Therapy

“We’re professional worriers. You’re constantly imagining things that could go wrong and then writing about them.” Novelist John Green to The Late, Late Show host Craig Ferguson. I talked to my psychiatrist the other day about poop. The conversation, like everything I discuss in therapy, wasn’t what I wanted–or had intended–to talk about. It stemmed from my attempt to excuse my lateness for our session as the result of my elderly dog not relieving himself quickly enough during the morning walk. As usual, however, the Freudian philosopher in front of me seized upon my off-hand comment, attempting to draw a connection between some unrealized-yet-deep-seated childhood trauma regarding bodily functions that might help explain my persistent anxiety. “When were you potty-trained?” I scooted a centimeter back from the edge of his couch in response. I like to park my butt on the bleeding edge of the cushion so I can bolt upright in the event of an emergency. Not that I think there will be a sudden blaze in his dim basement office located in an older home that was surely constructed before new fire codes went into effect. Or that I spend too much time pondering how quickly his decorated-to-distraction […]

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How does writing fiction change you?

No matter how much you may dislike your antagonist, you know he or she must have at least one redeeming quality. In fact, the more redeeming qualities the better because then your character becomes messier, more complicated, and fundamentally more human. My favorite writers, and I suspect I’m not alone in this, are the ones who force me to see the infinite shades of gray in life. I like being reminded that even the most odious person has a mother who loves them, and, quite possibly, a very cute dog. It’s this bit of writing characters day in and day out that has altered my real life the most. Now that I write fiction, I find myself paying attention to particularly beautiful turns of phrase. I notice elegant and unexpected descriptions of people, places, and things. Still, day to day, it’s thinking about people in my writing that has changed the way I think about real life the most. First, as I already mentioned above, there’s the so-true-that-it’s-rather-worn bit of advice that no bad guy thinks of himself as a bad guy. Beyond melodramas, most of us don’t find someone twirling his mustache as he ties his hapless victim to […]

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The Perils of Writing From Home

by Cate Holahan A man died on my dining room table. His blood seeped into the honed concrete slab becoming an indelible stain on the surface. To the untrained eye, the mark might appear red wine, sloshed on the table by some drunken dinner guest. But the spot is darker. Deeper. I see it. Anyone that has ever read The Widower’s Wife and then attends a dinner party at my house sees it too. In truth, there isn’t any stain on the table. (When I host Thanksgiving, I put plastic underneath the tablecloth like the OCD aunt that covers all the furniture). The mark is all in our minds. It got there because I staged a murder scene in that book in my actual house, and a character does die on the table. My real dining room table. Scenes from this book are set in my house. Folks say “write what you know.” Since I work from home, sometimes that entails snatching details from where I live and incorporating them into my work. My protagonist’s apartment in Lies She Told is a copy of the first place my husband and I lived as a married couple in New York City, […]

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The Book Baby Blues

Debut author Laura Kemp joins us today on Missdemeanors to discuss her reaction to the publication of her first novel, Evening in the Yellow Wood, and her approach to getting back to writing.  December 12th was a big day for me. It signified the birth of my Book Baby. I’d spent months, even years on perfecting my manuscript so that a publishing house would pick it up, and when they did I spent another chunk of time editing and re-editing so that the finished work would meet their standards.  Needless to say, everything was leading up to a point in time, a proverbial Mount Everest and when the day came the flurry of activity was intoxicating. My adrenaline took a serious hit as friends sent well-wishes, tweets were re-tweeted and posts shared. I watched my Amazon sales climb and shared my excitement with those closest to me (middle schoolers).  And then the next day came and a heaviness settled over me, a feeling of… what’s next? The adrenaline had crashed and real work began.  But what was this phenomenon? It’s was almost like post-partum depression without the baby.  And then I started researching.  Other writers have experienced this- in my own publishing house and beyond, […]

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CritiqueMatch: An interview with CEO Mike Cavaioni (and how to find your perfect writing critique partner)

Drum roll, please. Today, I’ve managed to corner Mike Cavaioni, the CEO  of Critique Match, a new platform that allows writers to find critique partners. It’s a beautiful website, but, more importantly, it’s easy to use and fills a gap in the writing universe: how to find yourself the right critique partner. Alison: Providing a community for writers to swap work is simply genius. How did you come up with the idea for CritiqueMatch? Mike: I’ve been a blogger for a couple of years now, writing ontechnical subjects, such as artificial intelligence. I can’t tell youhow many times I’ve edited a blog, passed it throughGrammarly, and yet, my lovely wife still caught errors! Irealized one always needs a second pair of eyes, someone whocan give honest, constructive feedback. Yes, one could rely ona professional editor, but a critique partner goes beyond a professional service transaction. Writing is such a solitary journey. The encouragement and companionship a partner can provide are crucial to keeping one’s momentum going. So I knew critique partnerships were crucial to writers. The next question was: where do you find the right critique partners? And how do you know if they are any good? Hence, the idea of creating a […]

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Reading on a Jet Plane

Alexia Gordon I just had time to unpack from Crime Bake before I hit the road again, this time traveling for my day job. Between waiting to board the plane, waiting for the plane to take off (I think I spent more time taxiing on the runway than I spent airborne), and the actual flight (which I spent crammed into an “upgraded” seat so cramped if I’d puffed out my cheeks I’d have hit my seatmates) I had plenty of time to get some reading and writing done.Pen and paper are my go-to travel writing tools—much easier than a laptop to whip out at a moment’s notice, no danger of equipment failure (I suppose my pen could run out of ink but I can fit a dozen pens into less space than a power cord), no need to search out a power outlet, and no need to stow for take-off and landing. My travel reading varies. It’s almost always paperback, lighter weight than hardback, and no need to power it on or plug it in or put it away when the flight attendant passes down the aisle checking seatbelts and seatback uprightness. Size matters—it has to fit in my personal item. […]

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Note to self

When I asked my fellow Miss Demeanors what advice they’d give their younger writing selves, the answers came quickly. I don’t know that I have anything to add, but I’ll share my thoughts any way. If you want to write, write. Don’t let fear of rejection or failure get in the way. The more you write, the better a writer you’ll be. Whatever happens, pay attention. You can always write about it. Cate: Quit your day job sooner. Better to starve (when you’re single) and do what you’re passionate about. Tracee: I agree with Cate. Get a good education, then try to live your dream…. maybe get some life experience. No better time to volunteer with a NGO and see the world. I used to see the UNHCR cases with their handlers on the train outside Geneva and wonder where they are going….. looking back I should have gone along. Susan: That’s a great question, Alison, and I think about stuff like that all the time, except that I’ve come to realize that most of the really stupid things I’ve done have led me to a better understanding of why I, and others, do stupid things, which is a useful thing to think about, especially when writing mysteries. So […]

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Oh, the Places You'll Go

Warning: These photos of the places that inspire my fellow Miss Demeanors will cause longing and dreaming (and, we hope, a little fear about the darkness lurking beneath all that beauty). The only remedy is to open up a book. Tracee: First off, I start with Switzerland! Everything about it is special. Kidding aside, when I develop my story I think about places in Switzerland that are special – meaning there is an element of unique to that place. A castle on the shore of Lac Leman? An elite boarding school set in a chalet? The world’s leading watch show? The task is to share these with readers without too much description. What is the essence of the place? Perhaps the people who are there (their behavior, clothing, actions); the smell (fresh air, smell of cows, chocolate); the architecture (new concrete, historic stone). I find myself diving in and then trimming the description, and trimming. People need enough to understand the atmosphere but not build the building. Paula: I fell in love with Vermont many years ago, and so I set A Borrowing of Bones there simply because Iwanted to visit this wonderful place in my mind as often as I could. The research trips where I get to go […]

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Not Killing My Darlings

 Every now and again, as a writer, I pen a paragraph or phrase that I REALLY, REALLY like. The words flow in a way that I find personally poetic. The idea conveyed seems deeply honest. The descriptions work…  And, invariably, I wonder if I should delete it.  Surely, it comes across as too writerly, I’ll think. The prose is probably borderline purple. It betrays my own feelings too explicitly. It’s self-indulgent to leave it. I can say whatever it is in a simpler, direct fashion. My journalism training returns: just the facts man, leave your editorializing and flowery language out of it.  Many times I listen to myself and delete it. Sometimes, I try to sneak it in, and my editor suggests that I take an ax to it. Once in awhile, though, I’ll get to keep it. This paragraph (pictured) in Lies She Told is an example of it. I’m happy that I kept it. It’s my favorite in the book. It’s my darling. And I’m glad I didn’t delete her.  Do you kill your darlings or do you try to keep them?  

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Marketing Mania

One of the worst parts of publishing a book, in my opinion, is marketing said book. When writing, I feel in control. I know the target length for my novel. I know roughly how to tell the story that I want given the desired word count and deadline. I know whom my characters are and the kind of things they would realistically do. I can figure out how to handle edits and I feel relatively confident in my ability to change the story given my editors’ and early readers’ suggestions.  As a journalist for over a decade, writing and editing are familiar to me. Marketing is anything but. What should I do in addition to the online blog tours that my publisher sets up? How should I spend my personal marketing budget?  Ads on Facebook or GoodReads. Effective or no? And, if I do buy them, how much should I spend and what target audience should I select? Should I fill up my gas tank and travel to area bookstores? If so, which ones? Should I pitch articles tangentially related to my book or discussing the research that went into it? And, if so, what publications should I target and why?   And, given that all […]

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