Facets of a Muse

Examining the guiding genius of writers everywhere


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One week in and keeping up so far #nanowrimo #amwriting

It appears that you will have to put up with me writing the post again. I suspect you’ll hear from me every week for the rest of the month.

Hell, I’ll gladly write these posts if it means my writer is actually writing. As I type, Julie is in her recliner in the corner with her laptop on her lap, and headphones on. Hmm. I don’t hear any typing.

I don’t even think her eyes are open.

“Hey, Julie.”

I know she has noise-cancelling headphones, but she should still be able to hear me. *snaps fingers* “Hey, Julie.”

Bloody hell.

She doesn’t even react until I’m standing at the foot of the recliner. I grab her slippered foot.

“Hey!”

Heh. You should have seen her jump.

“What the hell?” she says.

“Were you sleeping, love? I’m not here to watch you sleep.”

She pulls off her headphones. “I wasn’t sleeping. I was thinking.”

“Oh, is that what you call it now?”

She rolls her eyes, then sticks out her tongue. As I expected. I’ve been her Muse too long for much of anything to surprise me.

“Hey, I’ve been writing. I’m keeping up. And I finally hit a spot where I can just write. I’ve been having trouble with the transitions. Which, come to think of it, you could help with. Since you’re my Muse.” She draws out the last in a way that makes me think of a snarky teenager.

“You are fecking lucky I know you so well, love.”

A knock at the door to her writing office interrupts. She sets her computer aside and goes to answer the door.

Sigh. I can feel the energy shift. I suspect my writer’s expected surge of words over the weekend is fading.

Julie closes the door and returns to her recliner. “Just because my daughter is home from school–which, by the way, I wasn’t expecting–doesn’t mean I won’t be able to make my word counts.”

“Remember that, love. And remember you are busy next week, so you have to get ahead in your word count this weekend.”

She grumbles. “Just finish the post already so you can help me concentrate.”

The end of the first week of NaNo. Three more weeks and 40,000 or so more words to go. Lovely. I might have to call in reinforcments. A book dragon, perhaps?


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Na-no-na-no-na-no-na-no-WriMo! #amwriting #nanowrimo

Holy earworm, Batman! It’s our theme song.

I can’t help but roll my eyes. “Very funny.”

My Muse raises an eyebrow, adding to his roguish appeal, as if his cream-colored fisherman’s sweater, worn-well jeans, and five o’clock shadow wasn’t enough. “I was thinking campy.”

I have to add another eye roll, because what else do you do? “Har, har. Just write the post, please.”

He leans back in my office chair, fingers laced over his lean middle. “Relax, love. This isn’t my first post, and I suspect won’t be my last. How many words have you written today?”

Erm, yeah. About that. “I’m not quite at my target for today yet.”

“And why not?”

Damn. “I’m trying.”

“Not hard enough, obviously. This is the first day, love. You have to get your ass in gear if you’re going to hit fifty thousand words.”

“I know. I know. It’s only the first day.”

He leans forward, rests his crossed arms on my desk, and focuses his sharp blue eyes on me. “I’m writing your post. Your job is butt in chair, fingers on keyboard.”

I flip the leg rest out on my recliner and adjust my laptop. “I’m almost there. I’ll hit my daily goal today.”

“What about tomorrow’s goal? You have a local author fair tomorrow.”

“I know, I know.”

“And you need to turn in the next chunk of pages to your writing teacher, right?” He shakes his head. “I can only do so much, love. Do I need to bring Grumpy back for a month?”

Oh, gawd. “No. Don’t you dare. I’ve got my plan. It’ll come together.”

My Muse offers a wry smile. “It better.”

I open my mouth, then snap it shut before I blurt out the inevitable ‘or else what?’.

He chuckles.

“What?”

His crooked grin hits me like a Taser shot. Not sure whether that’s good or bad. “Get back to work.”

“Don’t forget Zoey.”

“Not my first post, love. It’s under control.”


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Sweaters, the spooky season, and a surprise #amreading #mnauthor

I was going to save the surprise for the end of the post, but I’m one of those people who shakes the present to try and guess what’s inside, so I moved the surprise to the top. You can thank me later πŸ˜€

One morning I got an email that made me do a double-take. Turns out, I entered my book in a contest (I did remember entering … eventually πŸ˜€ ).

Murder in Plane Sight won IAN’s Outstanding Mystery of 2019!

Outstanding Fiction 2019 25pct

Okay, back to our regularly scheduled boring post πŸ˜€ πŸ˜€

Have you broken out the sweaters yet? It’s time to do the ol’ seasonal outfit swap–pack away the summer shorts and T-shirts, and pull out the sweaters and mittens. Now’s the time to stock up on hot cocoa mix and mulling spice (with apple cider!).

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Image by StockSnap from Pixabay

I have scraped frost from my windshield a few times already this season. It’s a reminder of what is to come. I don’t mind winter so much, up until the holidays, then I’m good with ending winter and opening the gates to spring. Of course, living in Minne-snow-ta means more than two months worth of winter. Try twice–no, three times that.

Okay, I do like winter, as long as I don’t have to drive in a snowstorm, or on icy roads. On the plus side, no weeding the garden, and a great excuse to stay inside where it’s warm and write.

All Hallow’s Eve is coming. That night kids look forward to. Dressing up is encouraged, and candy is the rage. Adults like Halloween, too. Have you noticed how many people decorate for Halloween these days? It’s almost like driving around looking at Christmas lights. with the inflatable lawn ornaments and the spooky haunted house setups in front yards , and even string lights. Sheesh. On the bright side, it’s warmer when setting all those decorations up than when you set up the outdoor Christmas stuff.

The trees are shedding leaves like crazy, which is a bummer because they are so pretty when they are dressed up in yellows and reds and pinks and oranges.

And next on the agenda for a writer trying to get her butt in gear? NaNoWriMo! I am anticipating the marathon, and planning to use the excuse to focus on regaining the habit of writing every day (actually to avoid stuff like housework πŸ˜€ ). I have a few projects I want to work on, and wonder of wonders, hubs cleared some clutter from my old writing space (since I haven’t worked on organizing my son’s room yet), so I have a cave–er, I mean, a spot where I can hide out.

Have a great weekend! Get that yardwork done before the snow flies!

zoey awake


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It’s over … mostly #gardening #minnesota #fall #autumn

poorgarden

Remember the snow from last week’s post? And I had to scrape frost from my windshield a day or two later. No, I didn’t cover anything this time.

How do you spell relief when you are a gardener in MN?

FROST.

Yep. Killed pretty much everything not related to cabbage. This picture is from the vantage of the potato bed. Not a great shot, because I dug potatoes weeks ago. It does look pretty desolate though.

The peppers and the zucchini are now wilty versions of their former selves, along with all the remaining bounty. It was a great year for peppers; I finally stopped picking them because, well, how many stuffed peppers can two people eat?

My seasonal favorites weathered the cold just fine.

I’m finishing off the last of the beets, and brussels sprouts are next on the menu, I think. Or kale. Or both. The sprouts did really well this year. I have had some already, but after a frost they tend to sweeten up a bit. Kale, too.

The biggest task now is to clean out the garden and till it. I like to take all the raked-up leaves (when I feel like raking them, because with a grove, it’s like cleaning up kids’ toys just before they roll through again; looks like you didn’t do anything πŸ™‚ ) and dump them into the garden before we till it in.

We’ll leave the sprouts and kale alone. They’ll be fine for a while yet. Oh, and another bonus we get almost every year:

raspberries2raspberries

I suspect it’s the variety, but we usually get some berries in mid-summer, then another crop in fall, depending of course on how cold it is. The raspberry flowers are some of the few flowers still around for the bees. When I was picking peppers a couple weeks back, I checked out the raspberries. So many bees! I don’t think I’ve seen that many bees in one place all summer. They weren’t the European honeybees, though. They were wild bees, which are furrier then the European ones, but not as big as bumblebees. So. Cool.

The chickens are all laying eggs now, or at least most of them are. And the flock likes to follow us around; a couple of the black ones are really keen on being shadows.

chickens

Five of the seven: 3 black, one brown, one speckled

We keep discussing letting them out of the pen for a few hours (putting the dogs in the house, of course), but hubs said he heard a coyote during the day earlier this week. So, probably not letting the chickens out to roam. Not now, anyway. I feel bad because there isn’t any vegetation in the pen (hubs and son “re-landscaped” the area when they redid the pen this spring). I throw tall weeds in the pen for them; its’s a great use for those weeds that are too close to the garden fence to mow.

And more homework! I’m revising my next chunk of my WIP to send off to my writing teacher. I want to get the draft done before NaNo starts. A dream, unless I whisk off to an isolated cabin with heat, internet, wine, and chocolate for a week or two. Still, I’m going to try. Even without the chocolate πŸ™‚

So, as Dory says:

dory

Have a great weekend!

zoey_cr


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Don’t say it’s Snow #minnesota #amwriting #winter

snow2

It is. The four-letter S word. NOOOOO! It’s too early! It’s only almost the middle of October.

Then again, we will miss out on the BLIZZARD hanging out in North Dakota. Whew!

So not ready for this. I’m still trying to enjoy the fall colors. Sigh. Then again, bonus: what a great excuse to stay inside and write! Granted, this weekend–tomorrow really–is only a taste of winter, and we get back to our regularly-scheduled autumn next week. Cooler than average, but no snow.

I didn’t get a chance to take a picture of the garden; I’ll try to get it once the weather clears up in a couple days. The only things really left are the kale and the brussels sprouts. I’m not going to cover the peppers or zucchini. They will fall to the cold.

I’ve got one more unit left to finish for my class. I get to write a query and synopsis for my WIP. However, I’m going to finish the draft first. Translated: put off writing the query and synopsis as long as possible. πŸ˜€

And for those preparing for NaNo this year, I’ll see ya there! (buddy up if you want: my NaNo handle is Aislinge) Depending on how far I get with the draft for Book 2, aka my WIP, aka my class project, I’ll either keep working on that, or start drafting–again–another project I keep thinking about. And I’m going to squeeze in a short story somewhere in there. Our local Sisters in Crime chapter is putting an anthology together again this year. Deadline for submission is December 1. Whether my story will get chosen or not, who knows, but it’d be great if it was.

Another short post this week. Somehow I always feel like I’m trying to keep up or catch up. It’s tough enough to keep up with things around a full-time job, garden stuff (except that’s pretty much done now), and house upkeep (read: the house is sooo not clean). Crossing my fingers any sort of cold or flu stays far away.

Some of my writer friends have been under the weather lately. I know I can’t write or work on the computer when I’m sick, so I tend to watch TV, or maybe read. TV-wise, I will often pull out a How to Train your Dragon movie or a Star Wars movie. What about you? What do you do besides sleep when you’re sick?

Happy Writing and may Winter stay away for another month!

zoey2

Bah! Wake me when it’s over.


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October Already?

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Image by StockSnap from Pixabay

I’m still trying to figure out where September went. Or maybe I just blinked and it vanished. The trees are starting to wear their colors in our area. I was driving home from work and noticed the hills along the river have more yellow in the green now. There are a few brilliant pinks around, but more of the deeper magentas.

It’s my favorite part of autumn. The colors, fewer bugs, the garden is pretty much finished, and there’s something about the apples, pumpkins, and squash that are ready about now. I don’t know what it is. Maybe it’s the cooler weather; a great excuse to find more “cozy”. You know, hot cider, flannel, fireplaces lit, curling up with a good book, but no snow. Not yet (except way up in northern MN, where they got a dusting earlier this week).

I haven’t grown pumpkins for a few years, but I might have to next year; I’m thinking it’s past time to make pumpkin bread. I’m not one for pumpkin pie, but I have a good recipe for pumpkin bread. And apple bread, but it’s the first part of the harvest, so I’m not tired of apples yet. I just bought my first tote bag (about a peck) of Honeycrisps. There’s a new variety out now, developed, like the Honeycrisp, by the University of MN: First Kiss. It’s the first year it’s available, so there aren’t many around yet, but I’m interested in trying it.

Yes, I’m already thinking about next year’s garden, and I know what I’m not going to plant: zucchini. Nope. No zucchini. I cooked up zucchini only once this year. I’m debating about cucumbers as well. But the chickens love cucumbers …

Saturday I’m off to another book festival, so Sunday is slated for writing. I still have a homework assignment I promised my writing teacher I would finish by Monday. And all those blog posts I’m behind on. So my word for the weekend is: FOCUS.

Short post this week, so I can practice FOCUSING. On the bright side, NaNoWriMo is coming up in a month. I always take the opportunity to reset the habit of writing every day. Which means, FOCUSING.

Have a great weekend, everyone, and keep writing!

zoeyprowl

On the prowl


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Giving her the heebie-jeebies #amwriting #mystery

The unit I’m working on in my writing class has to do with setting, how it can become more than just a backdrop or stage for the story. The words you use to describe the setting also contribute to the atmosphere or “feel” of the story. Think Edgar Allan Poe. When you read his stuff, notice the descriptive words he uses. For example, here are the first few sentences of “The Fall of the House of Usher”:

Β DURING the whole of a dull, dark, and soundless day in the autumn of the year, when the clouds hung oppressively low in the heavens, I had been passing alone, on horseback, through a singularly dreary tract of country; and at length found myself, as the shades of the evening drew on, within view of the melancholy House of Usher. I know not how it was –but, with the first glimpse of the building, a sense of insufferable gloom pervaded my spirit. I say insufferable; for the feeling was unrelieved by any of that half-pleasurable, because poetic, sentiment, with which the mind usually receives even the sternest natural images of the desolate or terrible.

No sunshine and rainbows and unicorns there. Just that little bit will call clouds to rain on a parade. For comparison, I use the first page of Where the Crawdads Sing, which I’m almost finished with. I like it, but it’s a bit slow. The descriptions are really some of the best parts of the book. Delia Owens makes the marsh a character in the story:

capture-where-the-crawdads-sing

There is so much atmosphere here that the reader has the sense of standing out in the marsh and experiencing some sort of transcendence. And notice the personification of the swamp. The setting should get co-star billing in this.

Back to my homework. My current assignment (*aside to my writing teacher*Β yes, I am working on it πŸ˜€ ) is to take a character and put them into a setting that makes them uncomfortable. And they can’t leave the setting during the scene.

See where the heebie-jeebies comes in? Part of the task is to decide whether to use a scene that’s already written, or write a new scene. I haven’t quite hit the part of the story where this comes into play.

It’s one thing to put a character into someplace unfamiliar; that’s almost like cheating, because any unfamiliar place can make a person uncomfortable. Discomfort can range anywhere from that lost feeling one can get in a huge parking ramp at the airport to the goose-pimply spooky feeling when you wander into an old house at night to get out of the rain … and the door slams shut behind you (and yes, for all those Supernatural fans, I’m counting the days until the last season premiere!).

But that’s too easy, right? Okay, how about the ol’ “fish out of water” trick? Take a yuppie and drop her in the woods miles from civilization (and you know she’s wearing heels, because they always do), or take the farm-raised nature kid and make them find their way through Times Square at rush hour.

Eh, still too easy. The point of taking the class, besides to get my butt in gear on Book 2, is to exercise my author muscles and build a great story. So, if anyone has read my book, you know that my main character had a stalker about six years before the book starts. She’s worked hard to overcome that visceral fear of being followed, and she’s conquered that fear.

Or has she? *rubs hands together and cackles*. So I will put her in a place where she learned to be comfortable again once her stalker was put in prison. And make sure she thinks someone is following her. That’ll make her squirm.

Think about a place you are comfortable, like the library, or the gym, or the coffee shop. Now, think about being in that place when a massive storm moves in, and there’s a weird creepy guy who has been staring at you for the past hour. The lights go out! Thunder crashes. Something brushes against you. In the next flash of lightning the creepy guy isn’t where he was–he’s gone. And you can’t leave. Mwahahahahaha!

Yes, this example is dripping with cliche, and I now have a scary movie script started πŸ˜€ πŸ˜€ πŸ˜€ It’s all about using the setting to affect the character in a way that bumps up the tension in the story.

I’ll be trying to catch up on reading blogs and doing my homework this weekend. Hope you get some writing time in, too!

zoey chair

Hey, you’re not taking my picture, are you?