Facets of a Muse

Examining the guiding genius of writers everywhere


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Garden Preview, 2021 Edition #amgardening #spring #mn

Image by No-longer-here from Pixabay

Happy Spring! Hope everyone is fortunate enough to be enjoying some nice weather! It’s been raining here for the past few days; there is a distinct “squish, squish” sound when walking around in the yard. It’s great to have the rain. It’d be even better to have it stretch out over a week or two so the ground has a change to take it all in.

I figured it was about time to share this year’s garden progress. Here in MN we’re about six weeks or so (depending on weather, of course) from planting. For years, the cut-off for the last frost–reliably–has been Memorial Day. Except for that one year …

Over the past few decades, as we all know, the average temps have been getting warmer, so a lot of people put their gardens in weeks before the end of May. I’m just not that ambitious, except for that one year …

I kicked off my annual garden adventure weeks ago when I started my seeds. Every year (except for that one year 🙂 ) I start seeds in the house so that by the end of May, they are big enough to go into the garden. Part of that is cost; I can get a lot of seed for the price of flats at the garden center. The bigger part of that is choice of variety. The garden center carries the most popular varieties, but I often see varieties in my seed catalogs that look much more appealing.

Case in point: those cucumbers I tried last year that were like those snacking cucumbers you can get in the store, the ones you don’t have to peel. In a bigger garden center, you might (and I stress “might”) be able to find a comparable variety, but not where I live unless I want to drive to a bigger town. I happen to like supporting our local garden center. They carry seeds in bulk, which makes them cheaper than those prepackaged ones. Those bulk seeds also seem to perform a lot better than the prepackaged ones. I will never buy prepackaged sweet corn seed again.

In any case, way back when, I wanted to grow heirloom Brandywine tomatoes (If you ever get an opportunity to try them, do it. They are delicious!). You can find them in garden centers now, but back then, the only way to grow them was to start your own seeds.

I’ve progressed to the point where I seldom, if ever, buy peppers, onion sets, or tomatoes from a garden center. My seedlings are doing pretty well this year, especially the tomatoes. Because I have a problem with blight (a tomato disease), I got a few resistent varieties this year. Crossing my fingers that “resistent” means they won’t die before August 🙂

onion babies

Every year I make adjustments. Last year I hedged my bets with cucumbers (I did three or four batches of pickles last year, with 7 quarts per batch (at least)) and green beans (hoo-boy, lots of those) because of the pandemic. This year, a definite cut-back. No pickling cukes (and yes, I’m sticking to that!), fewer green beans (I promise!), no zucchini (because since the chickens have tasted cucumbers, they tend to avoid zucchini), and two varieties of pumpkins (only because my SIL asked me to grow some for her).

Here are my baby peppers, just coming up:

peppers, onions, peppers

And the tomato seedlings are doing really well:

tomatoes

We repurposed my in-law’s old china cabinet, and the mirror shelves (yes, actual mirrors) are there to keep as much light on the plants as possible. Not elegant, but functional. Another six weeks, and it’ll be time to actually plant outside.

Things are greening up around here, and the trees are flowering, which stirs up my allergies. Ugh. Best parts of the week? Beautiful start to the week (before the rain moved in) so went for the first outdoor run of the year. That felt great–until the next day when my quads reminded me how long it’s been since the last time I went for a run. Also got first shot of COVID vax (moderna). Whew! Crossing fingers we’ll be able to have our Writing Sisters reunion in person this year. Miss those gals!

Have a great week, everyone! Keep on writing!


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Muse-ing revisions #amwriting #amrevising

Image by JL G from Pixabay

LIghts are on in the writing office. The brainstorming wall hasn’t changed from when I left–wait, that yellow streak wasn’t there before.

It’s too quiet. Bloody hell. I leave for a few days, and my writer vanishes.

The outside door to the office opens. My writer toes her shoes off onto the mat beside the door as she closes it. She looks up. Her eyes widen.

“Nice of you to show up.” She hangs her coat on the rack and tosses her hat onto the shelf above it. “Wish I could take a break like that. Where’d you go? Sydney? Adelaide?”

“Muse conference.” I lean against her desk. “I missed you too, love. Where did you go? You are supposed to be working.”

She tucks her feet into slippers and shuffles around the partition wall to the mini-fridge. “I went for a walk now that it’s getting nice outside.” She pulls a water bottle from the fridge and drops into one of the recliners. “I had to do something to work out the snarl in the plot.” She narrows her eyes. “Since you disappeared in the middle of a brainstorming session.”

She said it like I ran off to plan some nefarious activity. “You’re doing fine, love.”

“Have you even read my revision?”

I gesture to the brainstorming wall, with its riot of colors. “We worked on it. You even added something new.” Now that I look at it, it’s a significant addition. “Isn’t this the idea you dropped earlier?”

“Yeah. And if you had told me to keep going with it, I might have figured out I needed to keep it sooner. I could’ve added it in the last revision.” She sets her half-empty bottle aside and pulls out her laptop. “Since you’re here, why don’t you make yourself useful and write my blog post so I can get back to work.”

Not in my job description. Which doesn’t mean I haven’t done it before. “You can do it, love.”

An eyebrow arches. “I don’t want to lose the idea I just came up with. If you do it, I can get back to finishing this scene before I forget it.”

“You don’t know what to write for your post, do you?”

She leans her head back and sighs. “Fine, you’re right. I have no idea what to write.” She looks me in the eye. “Please?”

A sense of satisfaction settles in me. There’s my writer. As aggravating as she can be, she’s progressing.

“Hell, write about your Muse conference or whatever you were doing. Is that code for a pub crawl?”

“No, love. I’ll throw together something for the blog. Then we work on that wall.”

At least he was gracious about it. Usually he grumbles. I’m trying to stay focused, and feel like I’ve lost touch with so much blogging stuff. I apologize that I haven’t been visiting lately. It’s like I’m so far behind I just want to hide. Once I turn in my manuscript to my writing teacher (by the end of April–yes, I’m sure), I’ll feel better about trying to catch up. Miss you all!

Happy Writing!

Don’t bug me. I’m busy.


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All I got was a lousy draft #amrevising #amwriting #amediting

Have you ever seen T-shirts with the saying: My (sister/brother/best friend’s uncle’s cousin) went to (fill in name of awesome tourist destination here) and all I got was this lousy T-shirt?

Yeah, it’s kinda like that.

The door of my writing office that leads to outside clicks shut. “What is so important it couldn’t wait until after coffee, love?”

I look up as my Muse steps into view. “What took you so long?”

He leans against the partial wall that separates the recliner nook from the outside door, to-go coffee cup in hand. His T-shirt, a faded green with a wash-worn decal of a surfing kangaroo over an outline of Australia, is a fitting accessory to his gray sweatpants. Scruff covers his face, and he neglected to do any sort of hair-taming. He lifts the coffee cup. “Caribou. If I’d known I’d have to wait in line for fifteen minutes, I would’ve made my own.” He takes a sip. “What’s the emergency?”

Wow, he managed to say that without a smirk. “It sucks.” There. Simple. Succinct.

He raises an eyebrow. “It’s a draft. It’s supposed to suck.”

“It’s my third revision, and it still sucks.” Yes, I know I sound like I’m whining, but damn it. Just, damn it.

He takes another sip. “I’m not doing your ‘homework’ for you, love. My job is to inspire you.”

“I knew it was bad, and I made some changes that were supposed to take care of most of the issues, but shit.” I toss the stack of index cards (rubber-banded together, of course) at him. It hits that fine chest of his and drops to the floor. “How could you let me write this? There is no tension. Plenty of conflict–in about six scenes.” I fail to suppress a sigh. “I was planning to turn this in by the end of the month. There’s no way I can turn this in to anyone, least of all my writing teacher.”

He picks the stack of cards off the floor and settles into the recliner beside me. “Isn’t that why you decided to try this method to begin with?” he asks, waving the stack at me before tossing it into my lap. “To look at each scene and make sure each one had enough action, relationship, information, suspense, and emotion? You haven’t even done that yet, have you?”

“I don’t need to do that. I already know it sucks.” And looking at each scene illustrated just how much suspense and tension the story lacks.

“You need to do that, love.” My Muse finishes his coffee and tosses the cup into the trash bin beside the mini-fridge. “That’s how you determine what each scene is lacking.”

“Scene? Hell, the whole damn story is boring.” I bounce my head against the back of the recliner. Yes, childish, I know, but I don’t care. “I’ve been hearing how much people like my book, the amount of tension and suspense, how they couldn’t put it down. The pacing.” Bounce. “This book doesn’t have that.”

“It’s a different book, love.”

“With the same main characters.” Pretty sure this is what they call “imposter syndrome”. “It needs to be at least as good as the first one.”

He looks at me with his gorgeous blue eyes. “How many second movies in a series are as good as the first one?”

“Really?” I roll my eyes. “Shouldn’t it be, how many second books in a series are as good as the first one? Lots. I’ve read lots of series, and nine times out of ten, the second book is as good as the first, if not better.”

He narrows his eyes at me. “So, how are you going to fix it?”

I sigh. A big. Long. Sigh. “That’s why I called you. I’ll have to tell my writing teacher I won’t make the end-of-March deadline, but I don’t want to push the deadline back too much. I have to fix this before I let her look at it.”

His turn to sigh. “Okay, love.” He cracks his knuckles. “Let’s get to it, then. Where’s the brainstorming bucket?”

And that’s pretty much how my week went. Do you ever struggle with suspense and tension in a book? Any suggestions? I’m reverting to my “what if” and “what is her greatest fear” tools. As in, “what if this happens, then what?” and “what is she afraid of losing?” (see, I did pay attention in writing class 😀 ) It helps. It helps even more that everything has dried up enough so it isn’t muddy; it means I can walk without wearing my snow boots (which make my feet hurt after the first mile), which helps my brainstorming process.

Back to the drawing/writing board.

Happy Writing!