Tag: writing

Silver Linings

Yesterday evening at 8pm, just as the sun in central Ohio was sinking below the horizon and the cicadas were considering the merits of silence at last, I logged onto Poisoned Pen Bookstore Facebook Live for a conversation with well-known bookstore owner Barbara Peters and the amazing writer and teacher Jane K. Cleland. What a privilege for a relative newcomer like me to be talking about writing mysteries with such kind and generous women. Barbara, editor-in-chief of Poisoned Pen Press and owner of The Poisoned Pen Bookstore in Scottsdale, Arizona, is a well-known advocate for writers. Her store has a worldwide clientele. She reads more books in a year than most people read in a lifetime and still finds time to host an incredible number of interviews and events. She does it all, as it turns out, not for profit but for the love of good books. Both Jane and I write stories about American antiques dealers who solve crimes on the side. I’m a relative newcomer. My protagonist, Kate Hamilton, owns an antiques shop in Jackson Falls, Ohio, but has been spending most of her time recently in a small Suffolk village called Long Barston. The third in the […]

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What do you mean when you say Surreal?

The other day I noticed an ad for a collection of short stories about the pandemic. According to the blurb on the cover of The Decameron Project, “When reality is surreal, only fiction can make sense of it.” That made me think of how often I’ve used the word “surreal” since the pandemic started. When I say something is surreal, what I mean is that it’s unbelievable. Or strange. But I began to wonder about what the word actually means. In the deepest sense. So I popped over to the Museum of Modern Art. Everything you’d ever want to know about surrealism is explained there, and I was intrigued by the definition. Influenced by the writings of psychologist Sigmund Freud, the literary, intellectual, and artistic movement called Surrealism sought a revolution against the constraints of the rational mind; and by extension, the rules of a society they saw as oppressive.  Our country has spent a lot of time over the last year discussing the rules of our society, and what they mean, and who they apply to. It’s our job as mystery writers to push people to the breaking point, and see how they respond when a rule stands in their way. […]

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Do you read a book for its cover?

The other day I was scrolling through Facebook and I came across a photo of the cover of Mia Manasala’s new book, Arsenic and Adobo. I was intrigued immediately. The bright colors pulled me in. So did the dog. It just had the vibe of a book I would enjoy reading. I’ve certainly read books with unappealing covers (probably), but I do find that if I like a cover, I’ll often like a book. So I asked my fellow Miss Demeanors how that felt on the subject.

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Truth, Lies & Alice Hoffman

I came across this quote from the great novelist Alice Hoffman and it nestled in my head. You know how you get these bits of information you can’t stop thinking about? It reminded me of something my oldest son Will once said to me. I was telling an anecdote about something and I was embroidering it. As one does. Because you have to if you want to make the story interesting, and he said to me, “Mom, you’re such a liar.” I was, in fact, lying, but with a purpose. The story needed a bit of shaping. I was not going to sit there and tell a boring story without any sort of a punch line. There was truth in the story, but it needed a boost. This is the same reason I wear make-up. By contrast, when I’m writing a novel, I’m trying to figure out the truth. That sounds sort of ponderous. What I mean is that when I’m writing fiction I’m trying to understand what characters are doing and there’s no point in lying to myself, even if the characters are lying. What do you think? Please join the conversation on Facebook and Twitter?

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Any Excuse to Party

Today, Tuesday, April 27, is National Little Pampered Dog Day in the United States. Now that’s an excuse to party if I ever heard one. Her name is Emmie, and she is eight months and one week old today.

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Growing a Writer

We might not all write what we know, but we are all shaped by our upbringing and this bleeds into our writing whether we’re aware of it or not. I once heard an author say he believed his fans knew him better than his wife because they had read all his books and witnessed all of his little peculiarities made real in his stories.

Read on to find out how the Miss Demeanors were forged.

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What I learned from George Saunders

I’ve always been intrigued by the idea of getting an M.F.A. Spending a year or two focusing on my writing. Discussing writing with great minds. The push and pull of other students. It’s all so appealing, but unfortunately, when I had time, I didn’t have money. When I had money, I didn’t have time. And now I’m not entirely sure I have my wits about me. Why did I walk into that room?

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Every story starts with What If.

What if someone goes missing? What if a house burns down mysteriously? Or a will is destroyed or a war starts or a pandemic begins. What if you are able to spend a night or two in a place usually off limits to the public? That’s my ideal What if in real life.

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Recent Posts

Silver Linings
  • June 15, 2021
Happy Solstice!
  • June 14, 2021
Brothers and Sisters
  • June 11, 2021
Where’s the dog?
  • June 10, 2021
The Art of Betrayal
  • June 8, 2021
Time To Dream
  • June 4, 2021

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