Tag: inspiration

inspiration

Sweet Dreams Are Made of These

My subconscious is on some serious stuff. It must take it while I’m asleep.  Last night, I woke up to the frightening music of my dog’s intestinal track (if you have been fortunate enough to have a dog live past ten years, then you understand). As a result, I remembered my ENTIRE dream . I was in Jamaica, chatting with my dead grandfather. He gave me sugar bun, a Jamaican concoction that is exactly what it sounds like: a bread, “bun”, made with raisins and glazed with sugar. I then took my kids out into the backyard where he showed me rabbits dressed up in human clothing, much to my children’s delight. My husband insisted that he had to go because hanging out with dead people was giving him the willies. I let him go and ate the bun.  This will make it’s way into a story–mark my words.  The story for my last thriller, Lies She Told, came to me in a dream–partially. I went to bed, after a glass of red wine, thinking about where I would get my next thriller idea from and I had a nightmare about this woman in a seedy Brooklyn apartment with blood on her hands. I felt that I was watching […]

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Welcome to Jeff Soloway

Please welcome Jeff Soloway to the Miss Demeanors. Jeff was formerly an editor and writer for Frommer’s travel guides, Jeff Soloway is now an executive editor in New York City. In 2014 he won the Robert L. Fish Memorial Award from the Mystery Writers of America. His Travel Writer mystery series is published by Alibi, Random House’s digital imprint for crime fiction. The third novel in the series, The Ex-President, about the resignation and mysterious comeback of America’s new billionaire president, is just out.   I’m very happy to join the Miss Demeanors as a guest blogger! Like Susan Breen, I publish a mystery series for Alibi, Penguin Random House’s digital imprint for crime fiction. My latest installment, The Ex-President, is my first foray into political fiction. I think it’s the best thing I’ve ever done. But writing it almost drove me insane.     My plan, hatched way back in late 2015, was to write a Trump novel. At the time, Donald Trump was one of 18 Republican candidates for president, an outrageous goofball with hilarious delusions of national importance. My story would feature a similarly outrageous character named Carlton Chomp, who was sponsoring a Caribbean cruise in order to raise money […]

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Have Laptop Will Travel

I have lived in the same two states my entire life: New Jersey and New York. More specifically, I have lived in Manhattan or within ten miles of it for my entire childhood and adult life (save for four years of college in Princeton, NJ, which wasn’t really that much farther).  I set many of my books in these two states because I’m most familiar with them. After a decade in the city, I feel like I have a handle on the culture of Manhattan and, even more so, its suburban environs where I live and grew up. As a writer and a person, I’m comfortable in my area.  But that very comfort is the reason why I must travel. I need to see other places to gain perspective on the location that most often serves as the backdrop to my stories. When I don’t visit other places for awhile, I can become so immersed in my home that I can’t recognize anymore what’s unique or strange or beautiful or nutty about it. Writers need the ability to see a place as both an outsider and an insider. We need to have the accuracy that comes from immersion but also the distance to point out what makes a place […]

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An Artist’s Date: Vallarta Botanical Garden

    Let me take you on what Julia Cameron, queen of creative inspiration, calls an Artist’s Date. The last time I took you for one, we twirled around Italy, the ultimate artist’s date. Today, we’ll visit the Vallarta Botanical Garden in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, where I am spending eight glorious weeks writing, reading, and eating and drinking. More on the eating and drinking another day, but let’s leave it for now that I am never hungry here.              Just to remind you, an Artist’s Date is an excursion, preferably solo, to a destination intended to expand your creative resources. They are intentional and sometimes self-indulgent, but never to be suffered with guilt. You might meander through a yarn shop, even if you have never picked up a knitting needle in your life, just to absorb the colors and textures around you. The goal is to fill the creative well within you.My well has been running a little dry lately. I have been writing a book for over a year. It’s a stand-alone mystery that I have struggled with, even though I love the story and my protagonist.  I may be guilty of overthinking this book and exaggerating the onerous duty I feel toward Olivia […]

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Traveling to India

This week I am going on an amazing adventure. I am going to India, and not just to India, but to a remote part of India which is 330 kms due East of New Delhi, just on the Western corner of Nepal, in the State of Uttarakhand.  To get there, I am flying into the Indira Gandhi International Airport in New Delhi, spending a night in a hotel, and then taking a 5 hour train ride to Halwadi, where I will be met by a driver, who will then take me another 2 hours to the Good Shepherd Agricultural Mission, which is near Banbasa. There I will meet up with Rosey, a young woman I’ve been sponsoring for some years, and I will spend a week at the orphanage where she lives.  The orphanage is a working farm, as well as being a school for children in the neighborhood, and so I suspect they will plant me in the library and ask me to read books to kids. Perhaps I will teach a few writing classes! I think it unlikely I will be harvesting grain, though who can say? Life takes strange turns.  There is so much I am looking forward to about this trip. […]

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Passage to India

Yesterday I got my visa to go to India. That means, on Jan. 3, I will be catching a plane to Delhi, and then another plane to Pantnagar, and will then drive (or better to say, be driven) for two hours to Bambasa, which is where the Good Shepherd Agricultural Mission/Orphanage is located.  (The picture below is from their Summer Games.) There I will finally have a chance to meet Rosey, a young woman I’ve been sponsoring for the last few years. She’s just turning 17, speaks fluent English and dreams of being a journalist. She’s also endured some very tough things in her life and she’s a very inspiring and loving spirit. I’ll be there for a week. Usually they have visitors help out with the farm work, though I can’t imagine I’ll be of much use in a rice paddy. Perhaps I can give some writing lessons. Or help with the library. Rosey has promised me I will not be bored and I believe her absolutely. Only a few weeks ago, they found a python on their grounds, and I believe there’s been an elephant wandering around. Rosey said they’d teach me how to cook some Indian food, and her […]

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Of Cockapoos and cars

When I was young, I desperately wanted a Peugeot sports car. I kept talking and talking about it until finally my dear friend said, “You don’t even know what a Peugeot is. You just like the name. “   She was right, and I thought of her when I acquired two cockapoos, for much the same reason. How could you not want something called a cockapoo? Every time I say the word, I laugh. My phone keeps auto-correcting it to cockatoo, which I don’t think is nearly as funny. So I have two of these silly dogs. The oldest, Buster, is very nervous. He’s a very gentle soul, but watchful. He keeps his head still and his eyes just follow me wherever I go. He’s also very flexible, and when he’s tired, he stands like a tripod and slowly sinks to the ground. He also tends to tilt. He always makes think he looks like he’s on the Titanic, sinking. He’s the sort of dog who’s perfect with kids. You can do anything to him, and my son has, and he doesn’t get upset. He just looks forlorn, as though in a perfect world, such things would not happen. My younger dog, Bailey, is much […]

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Meeting heroes

I can date the moment I became interested in Tudor history. It was back in the 1990s, when I was a young mother and happened to pick up Alison Weir’s book, The Six Wives of Henry VIII. Enthralled is not too strong a word to use to describe my reaction. Since then I’ve read all her books, and for the last two weeks, I’ve gotten to spend time with her as I traveled around England as part of her Tudor tour. I’m happy to report that she’s just as lovely and smart as I would have hoped, but that led me to ask my fellow Miss Demeanors: Have you ever met any of your heroes? How did that go? And this is what they said: Tracee: I can’t say that I’ve met one of my heroes – perhaps I don’t have a concrete fix on who they would be! I’ve certainly met people I admire and I’ve never had a bad experience. In fact, I’ve always been amazed that they are in fact nice ordinary people despite their ‘day jobs’ or worldwide fame. In particularly I had this experience when I met Juan Carlos of Spain. I was struck by how difficult it must […]

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B.O.A.T.S. (Based on a True Story)

 I heard information today at work that made me say to myself, “That would make a great movie.” (No details here–it’s an active project.) It got me thinking about other true stories that would make gripping fiction. The art world provides a plethora of material suitable for a ripped-from-the-headlines thriller. Art isn’t nearly as sedate as those 6th grade field trips to dim, musty museums led you to believe. A search of Artsy turned up an article about an agoraphobic photographer who uses Google Street View to take screenshots of the people and landscapes she encounters in her virtual world travels. What if she grabbed a screenshot of a crime committed thousands of miles away? What would this homebound woman do? A deeper dip into Artsy’s archives turns up several articles on the hunt for, recovery of, and restoration of Nazi-looted art. What’s been described as the world’s greatest art theft has already inspired novels, movies, and TV shows: Portrait of a Woman in White, Girl in Hyacinth Blue, The Woman in Gold, and episodes of Law and Order: Criminal Intent, Father Brown, and Agatha Christie’s Marple, to name a few. Newspapers and magazines often feature stranger-than-fiction stories. The Telegraph and Business Insider report […]

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Rosie

Some years ago I was working on a novel and needed to set a scene in an Indian orphanage. It wasn’t a big scene, but I wanted details to bring it alive. So one afternoon I went scrolling around Indian orphanage sites and one thing led to another and I wound up sponsoring a young woman named Rosie.  Rosie lives in a small village on the very northernmost part of India, close to Nepal. So she is physically about as far from me as it’s possible to be. And yet one thing I’ve discovered, as we’ve exchanged letters every month or so, is that we have so much to talk about.(Her English is excellent. Far better than my Hindi. I was taking Hindi classes for a while, and she was so supportive of me. Praying for my success, though those particular prayers were vain.) She is fascinated by the arrangements for my daughter’s wedding. She loves all the details about the dresses and the food. She’s also very well-read. What I find surprising is that so many of the books she reads are the same as the ones American girls her age are reading, such as Hunger Games. She is in some […]

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