Facets of a Muse

Examining the guiding genius of writers everywhere


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Have pen, will edit #amwriting #amrevising

OMG! I just looked at the calendar. Do you realize we’re halfway through January already?! And I feel like I haven’t gotten nearly enough done yet.

‘Course, that seems like every day.

So, as I’m waiting for beta feedback to come in, I’ve been working on my police procedural, which I haven’t read for, hmm, a couple years I suppose now, since I didn’t do much writing in 2020 and last year was full of Book 2.

There’s something to be said for distance from your work. It was like pulling out a notebook you had forgotten about and reading that scene you wrote forever ago, back before you knew what the hell you were doing (as if I know what the hell I’m doing yet 🙂 ).

Some good stuff, but oh boy, talk about needing some restructuring. When I went through the story, I could see where the problems were: the first half of the book focuses on character development, and the second half on the mystery.

Yeah. I know, right? You gotta spend time with the characters before getting to the bulk of the good part? Not very balanced. So, I did the ol’ index card process of putting each chapter or scene on an index card and arranging them. I like to use a story timeline as a guide, kind of like an outline, but not really. I reorganized the timeline with the cards, and now have to make some scene revisions so it flows properly.

Hoo boy. Actually, it’s not too bad (better than rewriting the whole thing!), but still. I should have seen that problem a long time ago, but as with any other writing, you need to get some distance from your work to see it a little more objectively. Usually not years, though!

So, a takeaway? Set a project aside for a few weeks or longer (a couple of years?), let it (and you) cool off for a bit, then go back and look at it. Those little things, like sentences you don’t need, or scenes in the wrong place, or a different character as the mysterious spy, will be more noticable.

Stay warm! We’ll be welcoming highs in the single digits above zero next week. Gotta love winter in MN!

Throwback – Kitten Nyx and Kitten Tibbers being adorable!


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New Year, new determination #amwriting #amrevising

Another new year stretches ahead. Man, last year seemed to fly. Not sure why, but I remember hearing somewhere along the way that time seems to go faster as you get older. Or more scatterbrained.

In retrospect, last year was better than 2020, despite the tenacity of the pandemic. I was able to write again, much to my and my Muse’s relief. I got to see my Writing Sisters in person at our reunion! In-person family gatherings were back on the agenda. I even got to do a couple in-person events!

One of the things I’m thankful for (in hindsight, of course!) is being restructured out of my job. Weird, huh? It forced me to look for a new job, and that led me to my current job, which is so much better than my last one (at least than the last six months of my last one). So thankful! My new job is with a great company with awesome benefits and heck, I even got a nice raise compared to my old job.

Now, it’s look-ahead time. New Year’s resolutions? Eh, I’d rather call them intentions. Or items on my yearly to-do list:

Finish Book 2: Revise according to beta reader suggestions, one more beta round, and off to my agent. Can’t wait!

Finish revising my police procedural: After I sent Book 2 off to betas, I’ve been reworking my police procedural. It’s amazing how much I’ve learned since the last time I worked on it. And I’ve let it sit long enough that I have the perspective to see what I need to cut. Answer: More than I would have two years ago.

In-person events: Of course, this all depends on the pandemic, but I’m looking forward to Left Coast Crime (Albuquerque) in April, since the event in San Diego was canceled after the first day due to the pandemic. And Bouchercon will be in Minneapolis this year! As other events come up, I’m hoping to get back to seeing readers again.

Mini-writing retreat: I came close to doing it last year, except I had all that job-hunting to do. This year, I’m planning to head off to a local, erm, not really resort, and not really a BnB, but they have cabins in the woods a person can rent like hotel rooms. After my dad sold the house (I had been going there while he and my uncle went on their cruises), I realized I do need that valuable alone time to focus on writing rather than cleaning, or gardening, or grumbling about how I can’t find quiet with the TV on all day long.

Writerly groups: I’m now the official president of our local Sisters in Crime chapter, so that’ll be interesting. I’m also part of a new critique group for suspense writers, and a group of fellow Sisters in Crime members as an experiment in cross-marketing. Which reminds me, I have newsletters to write and a website to update.

Novellas: I wrote two novellas starring the main characters of my published book over NaNo last year. I need to revise those and maybe use them as a tool (bribe?) for my newsletter peeps. Or stuff them into a drawer. Hmm. Maybe during my mini-writing retreat I can revise them enough so they don’t read like a 5th grader wrote them.

Finish my rural MN mystery: It’s roughly half-finished. Of course, that might get elbowed out by Book 3. Who knows?

Okay, I think my list is long enough. Uff-da. How are you planning to use your new year? More writing? More nature-walks for brainstorming? Fewer hours in the rabbit holes and time-sucks of the internet?

Whatever you choose, may you enjoy good health and an abundance of creative inspiration!

Have a great new year!

Another day, another nap.


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Muse-ing Backup #amwriting #amrevising #amreading

Image by Jill Wellington from Pixabay

Bloody hell, it’s cold. I shut out the icy wind, stomp off my boots, and peel off my coat. I could have picked a writer anywhere in the world. Hawaii. The Bahamas. Hell, New Zealand. But no, I had to pick Minnesota.

No one is at the desk in my writer’s office. Not a surprise. The aroma of mulled apple cider infuses the air. The walls reflect colored light. I almost expect to hear carols.

Almost.

“Oi, are you here?” I round the wall that hides the alcove from the back door.

Christmas lights drape like garlands over the two recliners in the nook. My writer is focused on her laptop screen, headphones on–good. Very good, unless she fell down an internet rabbit hole, like Facebook. Then it’s just a time-suck. She’s wearing a fuzzy hoodie, sweats, and booties she has claimed are toasty warm. Her feet are tapping out a rhythm against an imaginary floor.

“Well, at least it looks like you’re working.”

She jumps. “Damn it! You scared me.”

I have to take pleasure in the small things, even if it annoys her. “I called out when I came in, love.”

She pulls off her headphones. “Whatever. You’re late again.”

“Late? For what?”

“For writing my blog post.”

“Excuse me? Your blog post. I’m here for inspiration.”

“Uh-huh. And writing my post this week. Where were you? Adelaide? Sydney?”

“Minnesota.” I grab a bottle of water from the friggie and claim the second recliner in the alcove. “And why would I be writing your post this week? You were going to talk about writing and voice, weren’t you?”

She hands her laptop to me. “Here. Just, I don’t know, write about the solstice. This is your chance to share about all those pre-written history stories of whatever celebrations they used to do for the solstice.”

“Why would you think I’d know anything about that, love? I am not that old.” Chaucer, maybe, but not the Iron or Bronze Age.

She gets up. “I don’t know, think of something. I have to walk.”

“Why?”

“Because I can’t focus. Again.”

I can’t help but smile. “It’s not that you can’t focus, love. Say it.”

She turns to me and rolls her eyes. “Arrgh. Fine. I can’t decide what to work on.”

*Chuckle* “And why is that?”

“Really? I suppose you’re going to take credit for me being inspired by three different projects, one of which isn’t my current genre. You were the one who started that. Remember? That urban fantasy?”

“Yes, I am going to take credit, love. And you’re thinking about the urban fantasy because you’ve been reading Jim Butcher and KN Banet for the past month. So pick something. You’ve been doing fine with the police procedural.”

“Yeah, but I have to reorganize it, and add some scenes, and pull some scenes.”

“It’s called ‘revision’.”

“Yeah, yeah, I know, but I’ve spent years on that book.”

“And you’ve won a contest with it, and a publisher offered you a contract for it, even if you didn’t take the offer. Finish the revisions, love.”

“It was a small publisher, and they wouldn’t negotiate the contract. I need to work on Book 2.”

“You will.” I love it when she’s like this, with all that creative energy. “You’re still waiting on beta reader feedback for book 2 anyway. Go walk. And bring back some of that mulled cider I smell.”

“It’s a candle.”

Damn. “Then bring back some hot chocolate, love.”

Happy Winter Solstice! Can’t wait for the days to start getting longer again (more sunlight, not more hours)!

Nyx as a kitten and lap warmer