Tag: inspiration


Memorial Day Reading List

I was going to draw up a list of great books to read for Memorial Day, and then I happened to wander over to the American Writers Museum and saw that they had already compiled a wonderful list. So I thought perhaps I might just borrow/steal/be inspired by it.

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3 Stories & a Moral

Some years back the Mystery Writers of America had an open call for stories about odd partners. I came up with a truly fabulous idea, wrote it. Sent it in. Rejected. Usually I’m philosophical about rejection, but this one stung. Took the story and stuck it in a drawer and festered until, last year, I saw an open call for a new MWA anthology with the theme of Crime Hits Home. I remembered the old story, rewrote it, sent it in and….. But wait. Meanwhile, I was working on another story and I absolutely loved the first line. I liked the rest of the story too, but I didn’t think any part of it beat the first line. Then I saw an an open call for the Malice Domestic anthology titled Murder Most Diabolical. Something about the word diabolical took root in my mind. It gave me a way to reframe the story, and so I set to work and…But wait. Meanwhile, I spent years workshopping a mystery novel about Anne Boleyn. The people in the workshop loved my novel. My agent loved my novel, but unfortunately, after a valiant effort, it didn’t sell. So I put it aside, but […]

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What Joan Didion Was To Me

Some writers you read because you like their plots or their dialogue. Others because you connect with their spirit. This was what Joan Didion was to me. When I was a young woman, of course, I was awed by her writing. Later, when I adopted my oldest son, I loved reading what she wrote about her adopted daughter, Quintana Roo. She had an entry in a children’s book about adoption and we used to read that every night. Her daughter died in 2005 and two years later my son died. Then she became for me a touchstone. I looked to her for grace and wisdom and honesty. Always honesty. When Joan Didion died in December, I mourned her as I would a friend. A writer can’t ask for more than that. Joan Didion wrote so many wise things, but here are a couple of my favorites: “We tell ourselves stories in order to live.”― Joan Didion, The White Album: Essays “I think we are well advised to keep on nodding terms with the people we used to be, whether we find them attractive company or not. Otherwise they turn up unannounced and surprise us, come hammering on the mind’s door at 4 […]

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Writerly New Year Resolutions

I was thrilled to ask the Miss Demeanors this absolutely original and inspired question: What are your writerly New Year resolutions? Keenan Mine is to read more outside of traditional mystery. I’m currently writing a gothic psych thriller, or think I am, so as the year goes by, I will read more of them.  (I’m open to suggestions.) Completely outside of the mystery genre, I’m currently listening to Rachel’s Holiday by Marian Keyes, which is included in the Audible plan. I haven’t read anything by her before but she’s quite popular so I was curious. So far, so good. It’s women’s fiction, about a young Irish woman living in New York City who is packed off to rehab by her family. But funny in a Bridget Jones kind of way. Right now, I could use funny. Also I’m open to suggestions on funny reading. Connie Your writerly question, if not original, is at least traditional. We all make resolutions at this time of year, and most of us break them within two weeks (or am I speaking only of myself??). I am resolving this year to have a finished manuscript in three months’ time, plus a stand-alone pretty well laid […]

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We’re All In This Together

Last Sunday I returned from New England Crime Bake, my first in-person writers’ conference since the start of the pandemic. Gathering together with fellow authors was a joy. As wonderful as social media is, as wonderful as Zoom can be, we crave face-to-face with other human beings. That’s how we’re built.

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Put a Dead Body in It

I recently spent a long weekend binge-watching horror movies/series. After several hours of corpses, missing people, and mysterious figures hiding in dark corners, it hit me that, of the shows I watched, only the haunted house story felt like horror (and even that had a few whodunnit moments). The others felt more like crime fiction. People were being murdered, perhaps more gruesomely/inventively than in straight-up crime fiction, and someone else had to figure out the who and why before the whole town ended up dead. Prior to the horror movie marathon, I went on a trip and met someone who announced that they preferred “English literary novels” over crime fiction. I replied, “put a dead body in it and it’s crime fiction.” This person later conceded that Wuthering Heights was a crime novel. I argue Crime and Punishment (crime right there in the name), Hamlet, Les Miserables, and half of what Dickens wrote fall under the crime fiction umbrella. Jane Eyre stopped pretending to be lit-tra-chure and became The Wife Upstairs.  These revelations prompted me to ask my fellow Missdemeanors: What books, short stories, films, TV series, etc., that aren’t traditionally thought of as crime fiction also work as crime […]

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Business or Pleasure?

My husband and I returned last Monday from a long-awaited trip to England. The most common question we were asked was, “Are you here for business or pleasure?” We answered truthfully. “Both.”
My main purpose was to scout out locations and inspirations for the next Kate Hamilton mystery, but there’s no harm in enjoying yourself at the same time, right

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