Tag: reading

reading

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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Do you write short stories?

The great author William Faulkner once said, “I’m a failed poet. Maybe every novelist wants to write poetry first, finds he can’t and then tries the short story which is the most demanding form after poetry. And failing at that, only then does he take up novel writing.”  A bold statement. Something fun to argue about. But you could certainly make the argument that writing short stories is a way to learn the craft of writing. It’s an argument that I make with my students quite often. So I turned the question over to my fellow Miss Demeanors to ask them if they had any thoughts on short story writing and whether they did it themselves, and this is what they said: Alexia: I like short stories. M.R. James’s ghost stories are my favorites. I also like Steven King’s “The Boogeyman”. That’s one of the few stories I’ve read that actually frightened me. I don’t write short stories. (I’ve tried) I envy writers who are skilled at it. And I shake my head whenever I hear someone talking about writing short stories because they fear writing a novel will be too difficult, the implication being that short stories are easy. Not. Saying what […]

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What's the Best Book You've Read Recently (in your genre)

Part of my job writing psychological and domestic thrillers is reading them. I read most of the top books in my genre every year, both because I love the genre and because reading them is necessary to understanding the market that I am in. I don’t want to write a story that will feel derivative, nor do I want to pen something so completely out there that my publisher might have difficulty getting it on bookshelves.   Most writers do the same. So my question this week to the MissDemeanors was: what book have you read recently in your specific section of the mystery/thriller community that you have really enjoyed. I know that since we all read a lot in our genres, I can trust their recommendations.  First up, my picks. A.J. Finn’s The Woman in the Window was great. Deep characterization, an unexpected but believable ending, and fantastic descriptions. It deserves the comparisons to Hitchcock. I really enjoyed Kate Moretti’s The Blackbird Season, recently, and Peter Swanson’s Her Every Fear. Moretti’s book is a twisted tale about love and friendship. Her vivid characters explore what bonds people and the stressors that can break them apart. The ending was interesting and flowed from the narrative. Also, her […]

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I Have a Question

Book clubs seem more popular than ever. Focused on a variety of themes and genres, there are as many different types of clubs as there are different books. One thing common to all clubs, members talk about. Plots, characters, broader issues raised by the story—all serve as fuel for discussion. Authors may connect with readers by visiting clubs in person or virtually and sometimes facilitate discussion by providing discussion questions. Today, some of the Missdemeanors offer questions for book clubs.  Tracee1. Agnes lost her husband and changed jobs, taking on what many would consider a higher pressure position. What do you think about her decisions and her manner of dealing with loss and family and search for personal identity? 2. Julien Vallotton is clearly romantically interested in Agnes, yet she resists. Do you think there is such a thing as an ‘appropriate’ or ‘necessary’ time to mourn the loss of a spouse or partner before taking the next romantic steps? Have you witnessed a situation where the threat of external judgment prevented the bereaved from enjoying the next years of their life?     Susan1. Maggie Dove’s new client believes her sister is evil. Have you ever met anyone you believed to be evil? 2. As […]

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Member of the Club

 Confession: I don’t belong to a book club. I’ve never belonged to one. Book clubs have become a popular way for readers to connect, to come together around a shared interest for a mutual purpose—book discussion. Club members spend time talking, learning, and socializing. Book clubs are everywhere—libraries, churches, bookstores, private homes, online. They form around specific genres, specific authors, specific age groups. Although the basic idea is the same—read and discuss a book—each group is as unique as its members. In some groups, members vote on what to read next, in others, members take turns choosing. In some, the topic is chosen by the group’s host or the place, such as a library or a bookstore, sponsoring the club. Some chose books based on the season, such as those focused on the church calendar. Some groups are fluid; members come and go. Some groups have a fixed membership roster and long-term members who attend book club as faithfully as my parents’ generation attended bridge club. Some groups, like cookbook-themed clubs, offer recipes for members to prepare beforehand and sample at the meetings. Some groups ask authors questions before the meetings and make the answers part of the discussion. Some groups invite […]

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The Power of Positive Flying

 A day after returning from Bouchercon, I sit shoehorned into an economy seat for a four-and-a-half hour flight to the West Coast to make a site visit to one of our stations. I had fifteen hours to unpack, try to salvage waterlogged books and journals from the aftermath of the apparent flood that invaded my basement while I enjoyed Toronto, repack, eat (miniature Swiss chocolate bars, a Naked protein shake, and a Starbucks latte), catch up on some blogs (a Femmes Fatales post and two posts for my Lone Star Lit blog tour), nap, shower, dress, and catch a taxi back to the airport I’d just left. The shrieking (full-on, Banshee-worthy wails punctuated by sobs akin to chainsaws. Think of the fits thrown by Mary in the Secret Garden. Think of someone being tortured by Klingons.) temper tantrums of two of my coach-mates have turned the possibility of sleep on the plane into a hope as forlorn as Miss Havisham’s wedding dress. So what to do in the face of hours of cramped elbows, sore knees, a weird numbness in my pinky, and an onslaught of relentless screaming?Focus on the positive. I picked up a magazine called “Live Happy” (seriously, […]

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Where do you read?

I’ll read anywhere, though I particularly enjoyed reading during my last vacation. I went to St. Lucia and finished Liane Moriarty’s Big Little Lies, which I truly enjoyed. The hype is worth it.  So is the hype about St. Lucia. Here I am reading my own book in this picture because The Widower’s Wife is coming out in paperback and, you know, marketing.Most of the time, I was actually reading Big Little Lies, though.  Inspired by my vacation reading, my challenge for The MissDemeanors this week was to show themselves reading in a favorite place. See their photos below! Tracee de Hahn: I love to read in cafes and particularly in cafes in cities, and even better in a cafe in Paris near a bookstore where I have bought a new book. I’ve spent many many hours and days reading at one of the cafes at St Michel, just across from this Gilbert Jeune bookstore. As a testament to this, I have many many books in French which I apparently couldn’t live without. Most histories. Surely one day I will read them all! (Cate: Tracee, C’est magnifique! J’espere qu’un jour je pourrai aller visiter les librairies Francaises.)  C. Michele Dorsey: I have loved reading at the beach since I was old […]

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Six Things I'm Thankful For

The theme of my posts this week seems to be the things I am most thankful for as a writer. Perhaps that’s because I have a book coming out soon and am feeling that familiar mix of terror and relief that makes you want to hold all the things you love dear.  So, here are the top five–a few of which have gotten their own posts this week.  #1. My familyI could not be a writer if it weren’t for the support and love of my family. When I submitted my first fiction short story at age seven to scholastic, and was rejected, my mom told me to keep going. She’d encouraged me to submit it in the first place, saying that she believed I had a special talent. When what you make is for mass consumption, it helps to have someone who tells you that your work is worth it.  My husband is the person who most often emotionally supports me now. He assures me that my books deserve to be read and will prove all the work that I put into them, even when I am frustrated about a rewrite, furious with myself for not knowing what to do next, or bummed about […]

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The Little Reader

 I was just sitting on a neighbor’s porch late one lazy Saturday afternoon this summer with a group of other neighbors. We were chatting, watching people saunter by when a young girl, around eight or nine years old walked down the lane carrying a book half the size of her. People who are lugging books around with them always interest me, but a child this age intrigued me. I was tempted to call out, “Hey, what are you reading?” but then I noticed she kept turning around, as if she was waiting for someone to catch up with her. Remembering how my own children didn’t like to be the focus of adult attention at that age, I reconsidered saying anything to her that might embarrass and discourage her admirable reading habits. She turned the corner and I was satisfied just to know there was at least one budding reader out there.            I went back to the adult conversation, lost in the banter about the latest political folly, when I heard the barrel deep voice of a man thundering outside. “Zoey! Zoey, you come right back here. Right now. This minute.” I crooked my neck to see a large middle-aged man […]

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I Can't Go For That, No, No Can Do…

   I read a blog post a few weeks ago about a novel that had celebrated—or notorious, depending on which side of the debate you fell on—twist ending. Comments on the blog lined up in one of two columns—loved it or hated it. The haters complained the book had run afoul of one of their pet peeves: cop-out/too-convenient endings, genre switching, unconvincing characters, etc. The reactions to that novel prompted me to ask my fellow Missdemeanors:  What do you hate most in fiction writing, mystery or otherwise? What’s your pet peeve? Alexia: I hate it when a mystery author conceals a fact from readers when that fact is critical to solving the puzzle, then has the sleuth produce the fact out of nowhere, leaving readers saying, “Where’d that come from?”. For example, Snuffy Smith’s long-lost identical twin is revealed as the murderer but his twin was never, even once, mentioned/hinted at/alluded to–not even the suggestion of the possibility Snuffy might have a twin–before the big reveal.  That’s cheating. To paraphrase the rules of the Detection Club, a detective can’t have out-of-the-blue hunches that turn out to be right, can’t withhold clues from the reader, the solution to the crime can’t be chalked […]

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