Facets of a Muse

Examining the guiding genius of writers everywhere


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Winter, you need to go. Seriously.

hoarfrost 1 Since I didn’t get a fresh picture of the snow we’ve gotten over the past 2 weeks, I’ll recycle this one, which doesn’t show the foot of snow we now have. So, imagine another 10 inches of snow in the picture.

The weather people say our average temperature for this time of year should be around 30 F.

High temp today: all of 10 F.

We are now within 6 inches of the all-time snowiest February on record. As it is, we are in 4th place.

Talk about wonky weather. Yep, I’m done with it. Soo ready for spring.

As I’m shooting in the dark putting my website and email list and newsletter and everything else that comes with it together, part of me is thinking about seed catalogs. I usually take an evening and look through seed catalogs during the New Year’s holiday time off.

I have a stack of seed catalogs, and haven’t looked at a single one yet.

And the inevitable question: garden or no garden?

Then the inevitable ‘hold on there’: tomatoes fresh from the garden. ‘Nuff said.

Oh, and all the other things that taste so much better fresh from the garden, like asparagus, cucumbers, beets, peppers, kale, zucchini, green beans, cilantro, onions, etc.

And the next inevitable thoughts: Weeds. Mosquitoes. Rabbits. zoeyprowl

Effing rabbits.

And there’s Book 2, along with the 6 or 7 rough drafts in its wake. Not sure what I’m going to say to my editor when she asks when she’ll be able to see it. Or a synopsis.

So maybe I’ll take a night and look through seed catalogs. Pick out one new thing to grow. Maybe I’ll do pumpkins this year; haven’t done those for a while. Or maybe brussels sprouts–I didn’t do those last year, but I love them, especially roasted with sweet potatoes. Maybe I’ll plant marigolds around the perimeter, just to make me feel better about trying to keep the rabbits out. And maybe spinach again, since I now know that spinach seeds are only viable for a year; no wonder those leftover seeds from two years ago never came up.

I guess this means I’ll do a garden. There is something about growing plants and being in touch with the dirt that renews the soul. It will probably be neglected, because writing. And promoting. Which also reminds me I have some blog tour posts to finish and send out. If you are on my list, I’m hoping to get them to you by the beginning of the week. I’ll be in touch. (If you aren’t on my list and want to be, let me know ๐Ÿ˜€ )

Have a great weekend!

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Ta-da! #amreading #mystery #coverreveal

ferret-361577_640 Happy Finally-can-get-out-of-the-driveway Day!

The past few weeks have been a reminder that yes, it IS winter in Minnesota, and yes, it SUCKS if you have to drive anywhere. Last week we had the polar invasion of the “OMG Cold” temps and wind chills. This week was the week we got all the snow we should have been getting all season.

Needless to say, I am so glad I can work from home. Although, there is something to be said about getting out of the house for 10 hrs (8 hr shift + 1 hr commute both ways). And cabin fever has become one of my “favorite” terms this week.

Hubs finally cleared the driveway last night. We got 4-5 inches of snow in the first wave, and an additional 2-4 inches in the second wave, so he waited until both waves went through before snowblowing. Remember, we have a 1/4 mile driveway, so there was no way I was getting out until he cleared the drive. Oh, and the ground blizzard afterwards. It was like we were in one of those National Geographic episodes they film in the Arctic. Or the Antarctic. Take your pick.

So, all that time the past week I didn’t have to commute I spent working on my promo stuff. You know, figuring out how to build a website, designing FB headers, Twitter headers, waiting impatiently for my publisher to fix stuff. The usual.

Thing is, we’re within 6 weeks of release, and according to my editor, they are WAY behind. Turns out they have been enjoying the same type of lousy winter weather we’ve been having. They are out in the Northwest, and while here in MN we get some ice and a lot of snow, in Seattle they don’t get quite as cold. And hills. Lots of hills. So icy + hills = not fun. So I decided to “help”. Actually, I decided I can’t wait any longer for them to get some of this stuff done.

Are you ready?

You sure?

In case you were wondering about the ferret, you’ll have to read the book to find out. Heh. See what I did there?

You really sure you’re ready?

3 …

2 …

1 …

Ta-Da!

cover smaller

Release date: March 12, 2019

ย Sierra Bauer, aircraft mechanic, struggled against personal tragedy to reclaim control of her life and her aviation career, but when she discovers a frozen body in her inspection plane, she must prove her innocence and uncover the key to exposing a deadly aviation conspiracy before she becomes the next casualty.

Here are the links for pre-order:ย  Barnes and Nobleย ย ย ย ย ย ย  Amazon

BE AWARE there will be an ebook as well, but my publisher has not listed it yet. There will also be an audiobook that should be available at the same time; the audiobook publisher is working to match the book’s release date. I still have to add search categories to the Amazon listing, but there are some good posts around about how to do that.

Whew. Okay, I feel better now. Sort of. There is still a lot to do and not a whole lot of time in which to do it.

The next thing on the list is lining up compadres who would like to help spread the word on release day. Give me a shout if you want in: jmgoebel (at) outlook (dot) com (don’t ask. really.) or use the contact form on my About page. I already have a few takers. Still working on those release posts ๐Ÿ™‚

I hope to unveil my author website soon, with a cool countdown to the release.

This is getting both exciting and scary.

Okay, back to work. Have a wonderful weekend all!

Zoe2_cr


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Getting closer … #amreading #mystery

Wave if you survived the deep freeze *waves*ย  This weekend will be above freezing according to the weather people. Yippee–until the freezing rain hits on Monday. And the cold returns (but not as brutal as this past week).

Hoo-boy. Or as they say in the Great White North–uff da!

I’ve been working on all that marketing and promo stuff that goes along with a book release, like planning the cover reveal, writing posts for a release tour, waiting impatiently for the book listings to be completed …

I’ve been paying attention and taking notes on the stuff some of my writer blogging friends do for their book releases. Now that I’m doing it, I wonder how on earth they find the time. And writing besides.

Did you figure out how to get more hours in the day? I mean, seriously.

Then again, I’m spending a lot of time with Canva to put some promo stuff together and a lot of time poking around WordPress to set up my author site. I have a landing page–woo-hoo! Sure, it says it’s under construction, but there’s a button that comes here to the blog, and another button that lets the visitor sign up for my newsletter–I just got that working. Woo-hoo!

Wait. Now I have to figure the whole newsletter thing out. Plus start setting up events. Plus order bookmarks and other swag through my publisher. Plus pray I can get physical books by the first weekend in April in time for the Writers’ Institute.

Oh, and I need to plan the workshop I’m conducting in March for our local Sisters in Crime chapter. Oh, yeah, and the two presentations for the Writers’ Institute.

And it’s February already?! Where did I put my duplicator?

calvin-and-hobbes-duplicator

I have my cover, and I just caught this great post on Terry Odell’s site. So, cover mockup it is. Pretty cool, actually. Thanks, Terry!

Heh. You didn’t really think I would show you, did you? Well, I was going to, but that unfinished listing still bugs the crap out of me. And I don’t have images ready to put up everywhere yet. Now that I have my nifty 3d cover mockup, guess what I’ll be doing this weekend.

I went through the galley proof this week as well. Another step closer.

Six weeks and counting. And my publisher still hasn’t finished the Amazon listing. *grumble* Since it is Amazon, and I have an Author Central account now, I’m going to ask my agent if it would be kosher for me to at least add the cover and the search terms. On the bright side, the BN listing is almost complete. Still missing the ebook on both sites. Just. Frustrating.

So, another teaser to tide you over (and I thank Staci for giving me the idea of these little tidbits (check the comments for last week’s post if you’re curious)) Why do I feel like rubbing my hands together and saying “mwahahahaha”?

teasers(2)

Getting closer.

And of course:

zoey1


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Almost there …

checklist-2077020_1280

So many things to think about, get prepped, and design. And time seems to slip away. Maybe I need to take a sabbatical. Or maybe just a weekend with nothing else going on. No kids home from college, which always throws extra energy into the routine, and usually means I don’t get a whole lot done.

I do have an excuse to hunker down for the next week: it’s going to be freaking cold. I mean, below zero cold. For the high. We’ve been so spoiled this winter, and now when the hard stuff gets here, it’s almost nostalgic. You know, the ol’ “I remember when we had -40 windchills. For days.” Yep. This is nothin’ when you think about it.

It’s Minnesota, after all.

“I thought you were going to do a cover reveal, love.” My Muse settles a hip on my desk beside me. “You have the image.” He’s doing the flannel thing, with an appropriate thermal shirt underneath his black- and red-checked flannel, sleeves rolled halfway up his forearms. Worn jeans and hiking boots complete the lumberjack flair. “So share it. Everyone’s waiting.”

I lean back in my chair. “Except when I share it, everyone is going to want to see the listing. And the listing isn’t complete.” I just sent an email to my publisher asking them to please complete the listing. A half-finished listing is not professional. I think I would be disappointed if I went to look up an author’s book and the listing didn’t even have the cover the author just revealed.

“The ebook isn’t even on the listing yet.” And we’re in the red zone in terms of book release. I mean, seriously. I’m trying to be patient. I really am. It’s just frustrating. My agent suspects it’s fallout from the merger. She’s probably right, but that doesn’t make things any easier.

My Muse sighs. “Everyone knows a cover reveal is just that. The cover. No one expects the listings to be complete.

“Yes, they do. I mean, how many times have I gone and put in a pre-order after the author has done a cover reveal?”

“How many?”

Of course he would have to ask. “Okay, I don’t know exactly, but it’s a lot. And I have to figure out my author website, and my newsletter.” Which I have been working on.

“The site will go through changes, love. Everyone’s site gets refined over time.”

“Thanks, but that doesn’t do much to reassure me. My publisher doesn’t even have my book listed on their ‘Coming Soon’ page yet.”

“It’ll work out, love.””

“Nice thought. I’m just not seeing it yet.” On the bright side, if I don’t have my author page finished this weekend, it’ll give my publisher more time to get the listing fixed before people see the not-quite-done one.

“Hey.” My Muse slips off my desk, takes hold of my arm, and lifts me from my chair. He turns me to face him, blue eyes full of reassurance. “You keep doing your thing. Do what you can do and don’t fret over what you can’t control.”

“Fret? Really?” No one says “fret” anymore.

A crooked grin stretches across his face. “Yes, really. Look it up.”

Sigh. Okay, here’s something to tide you over:

teasers_cr

Oh, and can’t forget Zoey:

zoey_cr

She sure looks regal here. Yep, just like a cat to think she’s in charge. ๐Ÿ˜€

O-kay. Stay tuned …


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Clueless, but trying

The back door of my writing office opens, letting in a blast of crisp winter air and a flurry of snowflakes. Despite my sweats over long johns–my winter casual wear in the house–I shiver. “Shut that. It’s cold.”

My Muse closes the door and stomps snowy boots on the doormat. He unwraps a red knit scarf from around his neck and pulls off a matching stocking cap before he tugs off his ski gloves. “Brisk. Actually, love, it’s refreshing.” He starts to cross the office, his boots thudding on the floor.

“Hey, stop. Don’t get snow all over my office. Take your boots off.”

An eyebrow arches high before he complies, leaving his boots on the mat as he peels off his leather bomber jacket. He shoves the gloves in his hat and his hat into a sleeve of the jacket before hanging it and the scarf on the coat tree beside the door.

“Nice of you to come back during the snowstorm.” I lean back in my chair and feast my eyes — er, take inventory of my Muse. A cream-colored fisherman’s sweater–looks toasty warm–and jeans, with thermal socks–wait. “Minions? Where did you find those?”

minion socks He follows my gaze to his feet. “What?”

“Never mind.” I return my attention to my computer.

My Muse drags a chair beside me. “I see you haven’t taken down your Christmas lights.”

The huge whiteboard on the wall is a perfect mount for my lights, which I draped around the perimeter. Another string of lights surrounds the door trim on both doors. “I like Christmas lights. If I wait long enough, I can call them Easter lights.” christmas lights

He groans. “Uh-huh. What are you working on, because I know for a fact that isn’t your WIP.”

I frown at the screen. “Author website. And newsletter. And cover reveal posts, although at this point I’ll just bypass the reveal and plan for the release.” *grumble*

My Muse rests his arm across the back of my chair, which means he’s leaning close. Really close. And that sweater is toasty warm if the heat radiating from him is any indication. “Aaand,” he indicated the screen, “this is which?”

“Website.”

“So what’s the problem? You used to be in IT.”

“But I never built websites. I can do it, it’s just a matter of deciding how to do it. I mean, what it should look like.” Then there’s the time suck of digging around the internet for a free theme that strikes me as the right sort to use.

Ever go on Pintrest? Yep, like that.

“Hey, you’re my Muse, so muse me. C’mon, I’m drawing a blank here. I can’t decide whether to tweak a ready-made template or create a new one. Or what it should look like. I have a landing page that basically says I’m not finished with the site yet, but I don’t know where to go from there.”

His chuckle rolls out from deep in his chest. I know, because at this range, I can feel it. “You’ll figure it out, love. You always do.”

“Fat lot of help you are.”

He looks at me, his blue eyes sparkling–with something like humor, I suspect. “You do realize I am here to help, right? With the whole channeling creative energy thing. Besides, you’re making it too complicated.”

“How so?”

“Focus on the books you know will be coming out first. You can always adjust from there.”

“So, what you’re saying is, leave my police procedural out of the equation for now.” I’m sure he’s right. They are on the back burner right now in favor of my book coming out, Book 2, and another mystery on my list to write. Well, redraft, which seems to be my thing these days.

“What is the saying? Keep it simple? Do that.”

Geez, nothing like being vague. “That’s the plan.”

So that’s my plan over the weekend, the first whole weekend since the kids went back to school. I really should clean. And take down my Christmas lights. And work on the workshop I’m doing in March for our local Sisters in Crime chapter. And I haven’t gone through any seed catalogs yet. And I’m way behind reading blog posts. And …

Anyway. It’s cold and snowy–first real snow of 2019, although I’ve been enjoying our mild winter so far.

Happy Writing!

zoey nap


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Plotting, you say?

For some reason, when I see the word “plotting”, my mind conjures up an image of a stereotypical bad guy from black and white silent films. You know, the one with the handlebar moustache and wringing hands, along with the “mwahahahahaha”.
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But when I think about plotting, it’s different. It’s a concept, the idea of a path through a story where stuff happens. Not an outline, because that seems too rigid. Of course, when I think of “outline”, I think of those reports we used to do back in school. You remember the ones: Roman numerals, paragraph topics, supporting facts, 3 x 5 inch index cards, and sources. Always had to have at least three sources (and there was no Wikipedia or Internet at the time). Back then, we had to go to the library and do our research.

I know, ancient history!

When I started preparing for my very first NaNoWriMo, I decided to write a completely new story, and not just rehash the one I had been working on up to that point. I found a great book by Karen Wiesner: First Draft in 30 Days. She has a set of worksheets she uses to put together a story, including character sketches, setting notes, timelines, fact sheets, and plot sketches. In essence, a book bible.

I created a OneNote template that had tabs for each worksheet, and they guided me through that first NaNo draft. The parts that really helped me put the story together, though, were the summary outline and the miscellaneous scene notes. Basically, a free-form exercise to walk through this is what happens, this happens next, then this, etc. There are also timeline sheets to help work out the order of events.

I ended up with a story I didn’t expect, but I enjoyed writing it. Didn’t finish it, but that’s on my list; I know how it ends, I just have to write it.

Fast-forward to now. I still use those worksheets, but I have learned that one of the best ways for me to walk through a story and get a feel for what works and what doesn’t work is to write a stream-of-consciousness summary of the story from beginning to end. By hand.

Should I call it plotting? I suppose it is, but it feels more fluid than “plotting”, yet more planned than “pantsing”. *scans the room to make sure the Muse isn’t giving me a stink-eye* I’ve been struggling with the plot for book 2, so I have been doing this process repeatedly, trying to nail down just what wasn’t working.

One of the keys, I learned, is asking “what if” questions when I run into something that doesn’t feel right to me. Initially the story opened with two characters dead–one of natural causes, the other of an unfortunate hunting “accident”. It didn’t feel right. Then I had three characters die. Nope, so back to two characters, but one that started dead in an earlier draft was now alive and another dead instead.

Better, but it still didn’t feel right. Still, I ran with it, did NaNo with that premise, and spent December writing yet another SOC plot summary. Multiple plot summaries.

And I asked, “what if”? What if there was only one dead character? What if he had the hobby the other once-dead character had? What if that airplane he was rebuilding lived in a hangar at the airport instead of a shed in the backyard? The nefarious stuff is happening at the airport, and he would be there anyway to spy–er, casually notice the goings-on, and doesn’t need an excuse to go there.

Click.

I’ve got it now. There are still a few things to work out, but once the routine is back in place after the kids are back at college and all that extraneous energy is dissipated, I’m eager to start the heavy revisions. Or maybe yet another rough draft. In any case, I feel better about this version of the story than any of the earlier ones.

Finally.

Hope your new year is starting out well. Lots of writing and all that!

And by special request (yes, B, I remembered ๐Ÿ˜€ )

zoey

Happy Writing!


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Welcome to a fresh new year

*waves* I’m back! Didya miss me? (don’t answer that ๐Ÿ˜‰ )

Another year stretches before us. So many of my fellow bloggers have done the “New Year’s Resolutions” post. They are all great posts. I especially like Hank Phillippi Ryan’s post on the Career Authors site.

Instead of resolving to do or not do things over the next year, I’m going to try intentions. Maybe by intending to do something I’ll be less likely to brush it off.

Hey, can’t hurt to try ๐Ÿ˜€

And I’ll keep my list short. Another way to trick me into keeping my intentions going. Oh, and telling you all. Cuz we all know how much we hate having to say “Er, yeah, about that. Haven’t done that for weeks.”

In 2019, I intend to:

Create a dedicated writing space. My husband has already warned our son (not that we haven’t warned him before) he should probably sort through and box up his stuff so I can start taking over. Oh, it’ll still serve as his bedroom when he comes home, but now that he’s finishing his junior year at college, I suspect he’ll be coming home much less often. Especially if he gets an internship for the summer.

Finish and polish Book 2. If you’ve been following this blog for the past few months, ’nuff said.

Write every day. I can’t accomplish the previous intention without this one. I got back into the habit during NaNo, then the holidays and all the family stuff, and doing all the stuff to prep for when my book comes out (website, teasers, newsletter, etc), I’ve strayed yet again. Another self-imposed NaNo? Perhaps.

Nurture connections with other writers. There is something energizing about connecting with others who are as passionate about writing as we are. Not only can we encourage each other, but we can work with each other as critique partners, beta readers, even network with each other regarding agents, editors, and publishers. First and foremost on my list of writerly connections is my treasured Writing Sisters. I continue to feel blessed to know such awesome women. I have many other connections to incredible writers; I don’t think I could list them all. We as a writing community encourage and support each other, and that helps all of us.

I think that’s enough for now. It is a manageable list, and I think I’m going to have plenty to work on.

What are your intentions for this shiny new year?