Tag: writing process

writing process

Visiting A Christmas Carol

I’ve lived in New York all my life, but up until about a week ago, I had no idea that the original version of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol was in New York City, in the Morgan Library, which is a brief walk from Grand Central.

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I did it!

This past November I’ve been on a journey to write 50,000 words in one month, and on Sunday, I hit my goal. Got a certificate and this cute little badge. I was very proud of myself because I had some monumental distractions to overcome. First of all, I have a new little granddaughter who is absorbing my brain. Then, we went on a family vacation to Cape Cod. Then there were various hair-raising visits to the doctor, all of which went well, but occupied a certain amount of mental space. Then there was Crime Bake and Thanksgiving. Oh, and on Nov. 7, my third Maggie Dove mystery, Maggie Dove and the Lost Brides, was published. So the fact that I wrote any words is remarkable. Not all 50,000 of the words I wrote are fabulous. I suspect that by the time I’m done, I’ll wind up using about 10,000 of them. But even the words I cut will have helped me to get to where I needed to go. I know what the book is about now! I know who the main characters are and what’s worrying them. I’ve got a pretty good idea of how they talk. Best of […]

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What does it mean to be a Miss Demeanor?

Finding a good illustration for a post about friendship is not easy, but, as always, the trees led the way. What better way to show what the Miss Demeanors mean to me than to show this picture of three strong and beautiful trees. (In a perfect world there would be seven trees in the picture, but oh well.) The Miss Demeanors have now been a formal group for about five years. Our membership has shifted around, but most of us are connected through our fabulous agent, Paula Munier. It’s been an eventful few years, filled with publishing contracts and awards and disastrous news and discouragement and oh, a pandemic. Through it all we’ve dragged each other along. When I was recently in the hospital, my fellow Miss Demeanors sent me a plant that is actually the size of a tree. Several of us were at the recent Crime Bake conference (and missed those who weren’t there) and we later went out to dinner and I was thinking about what a pleasure it has been to be a Miss Demeanor these past few years, and how much I enjoy everyone’s company. So my question of the week is, what does it […]

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Death at Greenway: Lori Rader-Day

I was honored to receive an advance copy of Death at Greenway annotated by the author Lori Rader-Day, which I won in a charity auction. I made myself read it slowly, savoring the experience of having the insight of the author as I read her fabulous story about Agatha Christie’s holiday home. Lori generously answered a few of my questions to share with Miss Demeanor’s readers.

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Stories, stories, everywhere

Recently I spent twelve days in the hospital. One thing I discovered is that there is actually a limit to the number of Law & Orders you can watch. But, when I turned off the TV, I discovered myself awash in some of the most profound and moving stories I’d ever heard.

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The Misses Procrastinate. Or Not.

Procrastination and writing seem to go together (though not for all of us. Read on.), and as a result many writers have very clean closets, fridges, and bathrooms, and their friends/family are often nicely outfitted with hand-knit thingies. Staring at a screen or a notebook can be so intimidating, the critic’s voice so snarky, that I, for one, will invent any project to free me from the angst. And I like writing!

So, I asked the Misses if this was a thing for them.

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Psychological Barriers

I teach a class for Gotham Writers called Novel First Draft, which is about helping writers power through a first draft. Over ten weeks, people will write anywhere from 20,000 to 50,000 words, and it’s exhilarating. Nothing more inspiring then seeing writers in the flow. But invariably, around week five, (or sometimes week two), certain psychological barriers crop up that can slow things down. Here are a few of them. Carping Critic: You’re no good. Your writing’s no good. Have you ever read Charles Dickens? Do you think he’d write a sentence like that? There are so many writers out there so much better than you. Why do you think anyone would want to read what you have to say? Arghh. How are you supposed to deal with that? By reminding yourself that you have your own unique thing to say. And it doesn’t need to be perfect. This is just a first draft. You can do it! The Betrayer: My family will hate me when they read this. My friends will hate me. How can I write something if it’s going to hurt the people I love. How to respond? This is a tough one because it can happen, […]

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The Plot

Here is the plot for the novel, The Plot. A down-on-his-luck writing teacher feels like his life has passed him by. Then, a brash student comes to him and tells him  he has an idea for a novel that is SO GOOD, it cannot fail. Whoever writes this novel will have a guaranteed best-seller. The writing teacher is dubious. Naturally. But then the student tells him his idea and, lo and behold, it is actually a fabulous idea. Years pass. The writing teacher continues on his downward trajectory. One day he’s thinking about his student and wonders why he hasn’t seen mention of his book. He does some research and discovers the student is dead. So. He thinks about it a bit, and then he steals the plot. Writes the book, and has fantastic success. He’s on Oprah. He’s wealthy. Life is good, and then he gets an e mail. I know what you’ve done. It’s a very entertaining book, and if you’re a writing teacher, as I am, there is boundless material to chew over, but I found myself wondering–Do you think that’s true? Are there some plots that are so idiot-proof that if you just write them down […]

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