Facets of a Muse

Examining the guiding genius of writers everywhere


To the Revision Cave

Hey, how was everyone’s holiday weekend? Get enough to eat? Shop enough? Speaking of shopping, have I got a deal on a moody teenager for you–er, wait. *checks parenting rules* Um, forget that last part. Anyone know where I can find a time machine–cheap? I need five years. Just shoot me five years into the future. Please?

Anyway, just popping in for a quick note. As you know, I’ve been banging my head against the wall of revisions for my WIP, and my Muse has been trying to help (bless his heart), but I think I put him off this weekend. He visited a writer friend and helped her with a character while I was wandering in the Valley of Dark Moods (I got lost. Note to self: do not follow the moody teenager.).

This writer friend is working on her own deep revisions, and she asked me to write a guest post about my process. You can find it on Sue Bahr‘s blog. **Just a note: the Karen Wiesner book I use is First Draft in 30 Days. The title got twisted a little somewhere along the way.

Stop by Sue’s blog and say ‘hi’! She’s got some fun stuff going on over there. I’m heading back to the Revision Cave now. Well, after work and driving through our first major snow storm of the season. Oh boy. I can do snow through Christmas, but after that, I’m ready for spring. Who’s with me?





In place of our regularly (sort of) scheduled post

Julie’s Muse here. She’s supposed to be writing this post, but due to unforseen circumstances–sure, like I haven’t been warning her about this for the past three weeks. Sheesh!

Anyway, she asked me to write the post today–okay, she didn’t ask me. She needs to focus on her WIP, so I’m taking this off her plate. Just this time, though.

Did you hear that, love? Don’t think I’m going to do this every freaking time you get within spitting distance of Despair. Who sold you those one-way tickets, anyhow? I’m gonna kick someone’s ass. Round-trip tickets to Despair with layovers are the only ones they’re supposed to sell.

I’m gonna need a bonus for this. Cinnamon whiskey. Did you hear me? Hey, are you even listening? *curses under breath*

Anyway, she’s having a creative, er, mental crisis right now, of the sort that’s way above my pay grade. I sent her to con-fab with the ancient muses for a while, until she breaks through. Or breaks down. Whichever gets her fixed faster.

The ancient muses? You know, the Nature Enclave. No? Never heard of them? Okay, so maybe that’s not their real name, but they’re the ones we Muses hit up for inspiration. You may know them by their other names: the outdoors, wilderness, parks, nature, trees, oceans, waterfalls, mountains, Mother Earth, etcetera.

Anyway, my job for today is to make sure she comes back from her walkabout. *looks around* Dammit, lost her already. *pulls out author detector* Hmm. *adjusts settings* Ah, there she is, still wandering through the Valley of Dark Moods. I’d better bring her a light.

Oh, one more thing.



Kick it in Gear

Wait, what? So, here I am, ready to write up this week’s post, and I’m greeted with a snazzy new post-writing interface, courtesy of WordPress minions. (I think they’re minions. Cuter than gremlins, right?)
minion Okay, it just threw me a little.

We’re past the halfway point in the writing frenzy otherwise known as NaNoWriMo (or, in my case, NaNoRevMo). I’ve been doing pretty good–sort of. Still trudging through the middle of the new plotline, but with the craptastic rainy weather we’ve had the past couple days, it’s been good for my writing focus.

Still, it feels like I’m still slogging. I’m working on a scene where the new plot diverges noticably from the original storyline. From this point on, I’ll have to write more new scenes, versus recycling original ones.

Writing new scenes is like cooking the meal from scratch versus creating something new from leftovers in the fridge. Like just-off-the-grill steak and piping-hot baked potatoes versus beef and barley soup–hold the barley, add some potatoes instead. Both great, but the leftovers need more creative energy to tweak just right.

So, I’m forging ahead with a map of scenes that should be included, a compass that works most of the time (except when I’m on FB, dammit), and a Muse who seems to be less overbearing than usual. Question is, is it because I’m struggling to focus that he isn’t manning the whip?

“I can tell you why, love.” My Muse waves a partially-folded map at me. He’s channeling Indiana Jones today, complete with fedora, bullwhip, and shirt open halfway down his very fine chest. Wow, and I thought Harrison Ford was nice back in the day.

“Hey,” he snaps his fingers until I meet his gaze, “are you listening?”

“Um, what?”

He sighs and shakes his head. “Pay attention.” He snatches the map on my desk and replaces it with the one he brought.

“Hey, that’s my–”

“No, it isn’t.” He points to the denouement section of the recalled map. “Wrong project, love. Why are you working on this? This is the sixth or seventh book of your Donovan and Drake series. You don’t have representation for the first one yet. Hell, you don’t even have this installment outlined, much less drafted.” He rolls it up and shoves it into his back pocket. “Don’t get ahead of yourself.”

“I know,” I say, trying to sound both chastised and contrite. Not sure I managed on either account. I pick up the map he tossed on my desk. Yep, this is my WIP.  It’s just that some stories are more fun to play with, especially when your WIP isn’t as interesting right now as the other story, the one that just popped into your head and said “pay attention to me”. Kinda like a cat. I’ve got the creative energy moving, but it needs to be redirected.

“Bullshit. I know you. You’re gonna play in the other story until you’re sitting in your writing chair with your WIP on the screen.” He pulls out a strongbox, one with a slot on top, then unrolls the map from his pocket. “Know what this is?”

A chill quiets my creative energy. Shit. It’s my idea box–correction, it’s my substantive idea box, the one that holds all my partially-defined stories. “C’mon, don’t put it in there. Dammit, it’s gonna take me months to sort through everything in there.”

He slips the map through the slot, then pulls a key from a pocket. “I’ve got the key. This doesn’t get opened until you finish your WIP. Got it?”


Hop on over to the Meet Your Main Character blog. We’ve got a great guest post from my fellow blogger, D. Wallace Peach, who writes YA fantasy. Due to some technical difficulties, our webstress didn’t get Diana’s bio up, so here’s a link to her blog, Myths of the Mirror. She’s rocking some great numbers for NaNo, so while she’s otherwise focused, she’s posted a four-part sci-fi story. Check it out!

We’ve also got a new author in our group over at MYMC, and we lost our web mistress, so the site is a bit behind. It’ll take some time to get things moving again while our replacement webstress gets oriented. With any luck, we’ll be back up to speed in no time.



The Writer’s Fear

A timely post from a fellow writer! I’m struggling with the fear, wrestling it into submission, but sometimes it feels like it’s getting the upper hand. Thank you for the encouragement, Anna!

Anna Dobritt -- Author


The fear lurks within all who put pen to page or fingers to keyboard. Should I do this? Should I actually sit down and write a story? What do I have to say that others would want to read? Our need to write is deep-seated, something we can’t deny. It’s a craving like you have for a cigarette or a drink of alcohol. Denying ourselves the opportunity to write leaves us with a deep ache within. Yes, we sometimes struggle to write, but we manage to get words down. A sentence here, a short paragraph there. Each word leading to the next, until the start of a story emerges onto the page or screen. The grammar may not be perfect, the sentences rough, but your message to yourself and your readers starts to come through. The plot takes shape with each piece of dialogue you write; the conflict between your…

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Writer’s log, Day 11

Writer’s log, NaNoWriMo Day 11–

The Internet was down the night before last, not that it mattered. Daughter’s tennis award dinner that same night ate up a couple hours. After I returned home, I couldn’t find my Muse. He went AWOL again, even after he agreed to stick close. Needless to say, not much writing done. *grumble*

November weather unseasonably awesome for MN. Last year, 20 degree highs–January weather in November. This year, we’re still pulling close to 60 degree highs. Yesterday was supposed to be the last nice day for a while. Walked during lunch, but missed a final outdoor run for the year after work. That early sunset just doesn’t work well for running along a dirt road with big grain trucks lumbering by.

Craft beer supply depleted. Maybe that’s why my Muse disappeared. Note to self: stock up on the way home.

Slogging through a new chapter added to support the revamped plot line in WIP. Trying to balance MC fear factor without overacting. Note to self: Do NOT watch Star Trek reruns. Correction, do NOT watch Bill Shatner in any shows.

Where’s my Muse? Gawd, he’s not even around for my blog post. I suppose he got tired of waiting.

“You are fecking pathetic, you know that?”

I don’t bother turning around. “Gee, nice of you to show up.”

“Really? You’re going to open that door? Not a good idea.” The sweet, smoky scent of burning autumn leaves surrounds me. “You’re out of craft beer.”

“I’m stopping to pick up more on my way home. Is that the only reason you stick around?”

“No, love, I stick around because I enjoy browbeating you.” I don’t hear sarcasm in his voice. He continues before I can interrupt. “I’m here to guide you, just like every other muse. I hear, though, I’m a bit harsher than others. Is that why you aren’t writing? Am I too hard on you?”

“No. I’m not writing because, like you said last week, someone keeps shaking the marbles and they won’t stop moving.” Sigh. “It’s supposed to be icky outside the next few days. The plan is to write.”

He appears in my field of vision when he rests a hip on my desk. He’s still rockin’ the rugged look, complete with flannel, denim, and trail boots, but clean-shaven this time. “How far did you get last night?”

I give him the stink-eye. “Two chapters, no thanks to you. I started dozing off, so I had to pack it up for the evening.”

He sets a collection of items on my desk. A folder with the University of MN logo, a snowball that isn’t melting for some reason, and something that reminds me of the cat harness we had when I was a kid. I have no idea why we had a cat harness; we never walked the cats.

Each piece plays a part in the next few chapters of my WIP. I have to check out that snowball. It’s cold, slippery, but isn’t melting. Weird. “What? Emptying your pockets? I don’t need this stuff. I know where the next scenes are going.” I pick up the harness. “Ferret?”

“Of course it’s for a ferret. This ‘stuff’ is to remind you to focus on the story.”

“Where’s my Dash-8? I mean, if you’re going to go all out,” I add with a healthy dose of sarcasm.

He hands me a wad of cotton fabric. When I un-wad it, a print of a DeHavilland Dash-8 airplane covers the front of the t-shirt. 9ec94f32b0022767804c40f540da9000d421bf56

“Gee, thanks.”

He pulls a chair up next to me and sits, bottle of craft beer in hand–when’d he get that? “Ready? We’ve got a blizzard, an UNSUB, and a romantic thread to work on.” He twists the cap off the bottle and snaps it across the room. “Let’s get to it.”

Writer’s log, Day 11. Muse returned. Back to work!


Slow Out of the Gate

Hiya! Day Four of NaNoWriMo is almost here.

My grand plan to dig deep into my WIP rewrite is stumbling off the starting block. I’m like the dust hovering in the wake of American Pharoh’s first step out of the gate at the Breeder’s Cup.

Can you say “real life”? I knew you could.

So, needless to say I’m a bit late with my blog post. And I think my Muse is hanging at the pub with Mr. E, because he’s certainly not gracing me with his presence. I’ve been staring at the same scene for two days, not sure where I want to take it.


What the–

“Don’t be blaming me for your brain freeze.” My Muse leans against the door he so rudely closed. He’s wearing a black polo with the Guinness logo embroidered on the upper left chest, dark indigo jeans, and deck shoes. The stink of stale beer, fried food, and cigarette smoke hovers around him.

“Oh, and I suppose your pub crawl with Mr. E supersedes working with me on this? Where the hell were you, anyway? Smoking’s not allowed in bars anymore.”

“Cork. That’s in Ireland, love. You’d like it. Very nice local brew, good music, friendly folks.”

“I know where Cork is. In case you forgot, my contemporary fantasy is set in that area of Ireland. Are you finished getting your wanderlust out of your system for a while? Ready to get to work?”

“Are you?” he counters. “You’re not settled.”

“What’s that supposed to mean?”

“It means,” he paces to a stop in front of me and pokes a finger into my forehead, “someone’s shaking the jar up here, and the marbles haven’t stopped moving.” He lowers his hand to my shoulder. “You aren’t focusing.”

I brush his hand off my shoulder and retreat a step. “First off, you smell like a bar. Second, that’s why I need you to stick around.”

He shakes his head. “Um, no. My job, as your Muse, is to channel creative energy and foster inspiration. Your job, my darling writer, is to sit your ass in the chair where there aren’t any distractions and focus on the story.”

“And here I thought your job was to keep me in line so I can write.”

His grin is far too warm and welcoming. I’m starting to feel like a cat being lured into the carrier for a trip to the vet. “It is, but that’s so my primary tasks are more effective.”


He heads to my writing chair. At his touch, it changes from a worn, stuck-halfway-to-recline, Lay-Z-Boy wanna-be into a plush oh-man-I-could-so-sleep-there chair. Why doesn’t this make me feel any better?

“You know that chair says ‘take a nap’ more than it says ‘sit your butt down and write’, don’t you?”

He settles into the comfy chair and puts his hands behind his head. “Yep.” He waves at a corner of my writing area. An ergonomic kneeling/sitting chair appears, complete with a small desk at the appropriate height. To his credit, the view from my window now looks directly into a thick Northwest forest complete with ferns, moss, and a sense of quiet wonder. “Now, get to work, and maybe I’ll let you take a turn here after you get a couple chapters done.”

“Or what?”

Something electric crackles in the air. The scent of ozone wafts past me. “I’ll think of something.”



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How Writing Quickly Can Improve Your Storytelling

As I’m stumbling out of the gate for that deep revision of my WIP I working on for NaNo, this piece illustrates with far more humor than I can the reason I do NaNo to begin with. As long as my Kirk brain doesn’t over-act… 🙂

Kristen Lamb's Blog

Screen Shot 2015-11-02 at 10.06.26 AM

Ah, it is National Novel Writing Month. Many of you are participating in NaNoWriMo (write 50,000 words in a month) and many are not. Either way is fine. Your call. I love doing Nano simply because I have to fast draft everything because I tend to nitpick stuff to death, especially fiction.

I fast draft all year, so November is the only time I have company and lots of immoral support.

Why do I love writing fast? So happy you asked!

Many new authors slog out that first book, editing every word to perfection, revising, reworking, redoing. When I used to be a part of critique groups, it was not at all uncommon to find writers who’d been working on the same book two, five, eight and even ten years. Still see them at conferences, shopping the same book, getting rejected, then rewriting, rewriting…..


Great, maybe Kathryn Stockett, the…

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