Facets of a Muse

Examining the guiding genius of writers everywhere


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The Brainstorming Wall

I step back and admire the wall. It’s an expanse that stretches the length of my writing office, but more. It’s bigger than it looks because it’s curved just enough to add a couple feet to the length.

So, what’s on my brainstorming wall? A fresh coat of ideas, put up this morning with the help of some close writing friends. (I actually started writing this post last night, but distractions abound.) I’m trying to sort out my notes, matching them with the colored splashes on the wall. Still looking for that juicy tomato–wait, there it is, under the alfredo splotch.

“What the hell, love?” My Muse appears beside me. “Were you finished with it? The old storm? I thought you were still working on the revision.”

I glance at him. He’s dressed down in black sweatpants and a faded UCLA sweatshirt. “Slumming today?”

He shoves his sleeves to his elbows and crosses his arms on his chest. “You’ve been doing well, young Padawan.”

“Um, yeah, don’t do that.”

“Do what?”

“Do ‘Star Wars’ lines. Your Australian accent just doesn’t work with the whole Ewan McGregor thing. Or Liam Neeson. Or whomever.”

He puts a hand over his heart. “That hurts.”

“Har, har. The draft of my WIP is based on the old storm. This here is for the next round of revision.”

He approaches the wall, then swipes a finger against a grape jelly splash. “What’s this one?”

“That’s the one for compressing the FAA investigation timeline. I think it’s a great idea. I just have to figure out how to work that in with how long the victim was dating her current boyfriend, not that it’ll matter in the big picture. It just ups the tension for the main character.”

“So, what you’re telling me is I’d better take my vacation now.” He licks the jelly off his finger.

Um, give me just a moment. *mental side trip*  Sigh. *fans face with hand*

“Why do you need to take a vacation? I’m working on my WIP every day. You haven’t had to kick my ass the past couple weeks. I thought you’d be enjoying this smooth run.”

“Oh, I am, love.” He wraps an arm around my shoulders and squeezes. “You’re doing great. Keep it up.”

If you have close writing friends, use them for sounding boards when you have a story idea or plot knot. I’m fortunate to have my writing sisters. They’ve been instrumental in the plot revisions for my WIP, and their suggestions have made the story far stronger than it started out to be.

Writing friends are also good for reality checks, simply because they’ve had different life experiences than you have. I have a stalker in my WIP. One of my writing sisters had some insight on stalkers/predators, and reminded me how someone would really behave if they had a stalker in their past.

Whew! Caught it before I got too far into revisions.

These days, technology allows us to keep in touch with people all over the globe. I’ve got writing friends I’ve never met in person, but whom I feel I could hang out with at a coffee house or library (well, maybe not library–might get too rowdy 😉 ) for an afternoon and talk writing.

Gotta get back to it. My Muse is starting to pace.

Write on!

 

 

 

 

 

 


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Goodreads Book Giveaway: A Thousand Yesteryears by Mae Clair #mystery #suspense #Mothman

Mae is a wonderful storyteller, and I’m eagerly awaiting her new book! Take a gander, and check out the rest of her books.

Entertaining Stories

Hey gang, Mae Clair is releasing her book, A Thousand Yesteryears very soon. I’ve been excited about it for some time, because it includes the Mothman. Here is your chance to win a copy of the book by entering a Goodreads giveaway. I’ll let Mae tell you about it. Just look at that wonderful cover.

A huge THANK YOU to Craig for allowing me blog space to share some exciting news. Kensington Publishing is doing a Goodreads Giveaway for a paperback copy of my upcoming release, A THOUSAND YESTERYEARS. There will be two—count ‘em two—winners. The giveaway is open now through February 29th (how cool, a leap year). If you’re interested, you can enter here: Goodreads Giveaway!

A THOUSAND YESTERYEARS is a tale of mystery and suspense centered around events that took place in Point Pleasant, West Virginia. You’ll discover a small river town plagued by tragic history and rumored…

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Musing Mail

*Knock, knock*

“Hang on.” I finish my train of though before it escapes. Ever had that problem? You’re on a roll, with the words just tumbling out of your head onto the page, when someone calls for Mom and asks if there’s another gallon of milk in the basement refrigerator, and poof, it’s gone. That beautiful turn of phrase that was just perfect is gone.

*Knock, knock*

I open the door of my writing office. My Muse sidles past me and leans over my desk–no, my computer screen. “You forgot a comma here.”

“Why did you bother to knock?”

He taps the key, then straightens before extending a handful of envelopes. “What the hell are these?”

“They look like envelopes.” I have to smile. He seems a bit off his game, somehow. It’s kinda charming. “Why?”

He stabs them at me. “No, look at them.”

Shit. Fine. I take the stack. Each envelope is addressed to my Muse, in care of me. “Um, I didn’t know you could get mail.”

“Neither did I.” He snatches the envelopes from my hand and starts to pace. “This is your fault.”

“Excuse me?” I lean against the closed door. “How is it my fault?”

He stops. “You and your blog. You didn’t start out talking about us, and now you do, and now look at this.” He thrusts the stack at me. “It’s fan mail. Fan mail! For a Muse? Muses don’t get fan mail. Muses aren’t supposed to get fan mail.”

I have to chuckle. “You know, my Muse posts are my most popular posts. They like you. You even helped one of my fellow bloggers once when she was stuck on something. And you wouldn’t have met your pub crawl buddy, Mr. E, if I hadn’t started posting about you.”

“Not funny, love.”

“Sure it is.” Yep, he’s off his game. Still looks good, though. He’s wearing the burgundy Henley shirt I like, sleeves shoved halfway up his forearms, and his hair is mussed, like he’s been combing through it with his fingers. “Besides, I’m not the only blogger who posts about my Muse.”

“What am I supposed to do with these? Send autographed head shots?”

“No. You’re supposed to read them. You know, you may be inspiring other writers’ muses to become more active.” I swipe the stack from him. “Active muses are good. You’re a role model.” Now’s probably not the time to mention I’ve been thinking about a flash fiction series about how my Muse and I met, inspired by a fellow blogger.

I nudge him to the recliner chair in a corner of my office, and turn on the tabletop fountain on the end table beside it. “Sit. You’re making me anxious. I don’t know why this bothers you. I thought you’d be focused on my revisions. I just sent three chapters out for feedback.”

“Good job. I’m proud of you,” he says in an unconvincing tone as he drops into the chair. “You’re not going to stop the Muse posts, are you?”

“Nope. I like writing them. They help inspire me, just like you do.”

He leans back, closes his eyes, and pinches the bridge of his nose before he lets out an exasperated sigh. “I got fan mail.”

I settle on an arm of the chair and rest a hand on his shoulder. “Yep, you did. Kinda flattering, isn’t it?”

“I suppose so.”

I set the envelopes beside the fountain, then pull a couple beers from the dorm-sized refrigerator in the corner. I hand him one, then twist the cap off mine. “Just think of it as positive reinforcement of a job well done.”

“What if it gets worse?”

“Tell you what. For every piece of fan mail, send an inspirational note to the writer’s muse that encourages them to be more active. Give them a couple tips to get started. You know, like ‘Five Ways to Get Your Writer Out of a Rut’.”

He tosses the cap into the trash and takes a swig of his beer. “Okay. That I can do.” He points his bottle at me. “Now, you need to get back to work. Those revisions aren’t going to write themselves.”

Hope you all are enjoying the weekend. I just ordered my seeds; I’ll have to start my onions, tomatoes, and peppers pretty soon. Man, I can’t wait for SPRING!

 


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Saint Who?

Heh. Bet you thought this post was going to be about St. Valentine’s Day.

Wrong.

Oh, I have nothing against an excuse to buy chocolate. I am so there if it involves anything from Salzburg wrapped in blue foil with Mozart’s profile on it.

I was thinking more along the lines of holidays and commercial interests. Ever notice how many more jewelry commercials appear around Christmas, Valentine’s Day, and Mother’s Day? The “big” thing these days? Chocolate diamonds. Not the kind you can eat, but brown diamonds. Yes, brown. “Chocolate” sounds so much better than “brown” when you’re marketing something.”Brown” is, like, blah. “Chestnut” is fun. “Mahogany” is fun. Even “brunette” is interesting. But brown? That’s like saying poop-colored.

I suspect the truth is someone had a whole lot of brown diamonds that no one wanted because, well, brown. Who wants a brown diamond? White–hell yeah. Pink–okay, I loved those movies (if you need a hint, look up Peter Sellers on IMDb). Blue–there’s a famous huge pendant with a blue diamond. Green–I suppose there are green ones, but I’ve never seen any. Yellow–ugh, like crystalized pee (that’ll be the next marketing push).

So, before the preponderance of jewelry-quality created diamonds (De Beers loves that–not), I’ll bet someone went through the mined diamonds and chucked the brown ones into the Reject-for-Now pile. And some young marketing geek came upon the pile and said, “Hey, what about all these diamonds here? What are we gonna do with them?”

And someone replied, “Hell, kid, if you can convince people to buy ’em, we’ll cut you in for half.”

Okay, maybe not realistic, but fun to imagine. So, what has this got to do with writing?

You’ve heard the rote about coming up with a new take on things for your book to make it stand out from the crowd, right? I mean, how many vampire books are out there? Were-whatever books? Even zombies have moved into the mainstream–hell, even the classics (what would Jane Austen say about zombies in Pride and Prejudice?) No one wants to read another star-crossed lover story about a vampire and a human. Or another love triangle involving werewolves and vampires. Gawd, I don’t.

So, how do you make a vampire/werewolf/human/demon/angel/zombie romance fresh?  Well, you could try the old “I’m supposed to kill you but I’ve fallen in love with you so how do we get out of this mess” story line. Not for romance? How about the old “we need to convince our families to put the feud aside and work together to fight this new threat” trick.

How do you make vampires fresh? How far can you break from the mythology and still have a recognizable vamp? A vamp that can walk in daylight? Yawn. A vamp that doesn’t need human blood? Heard it. A vamp that can control weres? See Laurell K Hamilton.

Or, you could try the “chocolate is the new brown” method. What mythic creatures have been tossed aside because they’re “brown”? Basilisks. Gargoyles. Dwarves. Selkies. Pucas. Ogres. No one wants to hear about an ogre, even if he has a talking donkey sidekick. Unless he sounds like a Scottish Mike Myers and the donkey is a smart-ass.

Basilisks? Remember those, with the stone stare? Look how JK Rowling turned it from “brown” to “chocolate”. Gargoyles? I know there’s at least a couple urban fantasy series featuring the brutes. Dwarves? Hello, J. R. R. Tolkein. Selkies? Try Anne McCaffery’s Petyabee series. Pucas? There’s a contemporary fantasy featuring a Puca co-protagonist by this new writer, J. M. Goebel–wait, it isn’t published yet. Disregard. And there’s a two-fer by C. S. Boyack with both dwarves and a basilisk.

So, sift through the “Reject for Now” pile for a “brown” diamond you can make into a “chocolate” gem. Bigfoot. Nessie. Mothman (check out Mae Clair). Wendigo. (Damn, I’ve been binge-watching too much Supernatural.) Will o’ the Wisp (C. S. Boyack again). Mer-people (though that’s almost played out now). Better yet, pull something out of the bin from Norse, Egyptian, Native American, African, or Chinese/Japanese/Korean/Vietnamese myths. Shine ‘er up. Tuck a Thunderbird into your fantasy. Add a touch of Horus. Mix in a Valkyrie or two.

Damn. Too many cool story ideas, not enough time. Besides, I’ve set my fantasy aside for now. Needs revision, but not until I’ve got my WIP polished, and I’ve got a different fantasy I want to work on. Alas, my Irish myth-based contemporary fantasy will have to wait for a bit.

Enjoy your Valentine’s Day weekend. Me? My hubby isn’t what you’d call romantic by anyone’s measure, but after 25 years, we’re good with a TiVO-ed  episode of Supernatural and a glass of wine.


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Snowstorm = Writing

IMG_0437_cr Two days ago I walked down a muddy driveway onto a mushy gravel road, reveling in the glory of a January thaw. I live in Minne-snow-ta, where we’ve been spoiled absolutely rotten this year. We hit 40 degrees (F) this past weekend. I thought I’d jumped a month forward in time; it was March weather. Glorious!

Those infamous weather people have been warning about a “big” storm heading our way. Big, of course, is a matter of perspective. In my area, the last “big” snowstorm dumped all of 3″ on us about a month ago. This one, they said, would double that. Maybe even triple it if you live in the southeast corner of the state.

Even though the weather gurus said the storm wouldn’t reach us until lunch time, school was canceled (I thought for a minute I was out East–it’s a pretty preemptive strike for MN). I thought they’d at least go through noon, but we haven’t used any snow days yet this year. I went to work early (a 45-minute commute on a good day) and figured I’d head out before the storm reached home base.

Have you ever watched the National Weather Service radar? It’s great. I watched the storm creep ever closer to home, and wouldn’t you know it, those weather gurus were right on the money for timing. Before the radar echo hit home base, I left work (with my boss’ blessing and a promise to finish up the day’s work from home). What a nice drive–no, seriously. I saw no snow falling at all until I was about 10 miles from home. Snow slithered in ribbons across the road, but the visibility wasn’t bad. I thought the school surely could’ve gone at least half a day. I thought maybe I was being a little too cautious by leaving work when I did. I could’ve stayed another half hour, right?

Then I got about 8 miles from home base.

Have you ever seen a fog bank, where the fog is more wall than cloud? Now, imagine driving into it, but wind-wrangled snow instead of fog. Those last 8 miles assured me I’d made the right decision to leave work when I did. Had I waited another half hour, the conditions would’ve gone from “not too bad yet” to “this sucks”.

IMG_0440_cr

This shot is out our “backyard” toward town, about a mile away. If you look real close, you can see the faint shadow of town in the distance.

We’ve gotten about 3″ so far, I think. Anyway, I finished up work for the day, and now I’m playing catch up. This post is late, I’ve got a dozen or more posts from blogs I follow to catch up on, and I’m almost done tweaking my manuscript. Then back to my WIP.

I like snowstorms, as long as I don’t have to drive in them. They’re a great muse, quite soothing in the hypnotic paths of falling snow and hushed sound. I think I’ll break out a cup of cocoa and watch the storm for a few minutes. Yes, that sounds lovely.