Facets of a Muse

Examining the guiding genius of writers everywhere


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Reflect, Regroup

I cross off two more publishers on my white board. That leaves five actively reviewing my manuscript, with another five still in radio-silence. The publisher I’m really hoping to score is still on the active list. Now to find a four-leaf clover I can wish on–wait, that’s a falling star.

I should be writing some profound post on, well, writing. I finished and revised my synopsis (whew!) and promotional plan for my agent to send off to the publisher that asked for them. A synopsis I’ve done before, but this was my first promo plan (aka marketing plan). In my promo plan I listed my audience (adult mystery readers who like a little romance, suspense, and aviation), my street team (my fan-tab-u-lous writing sisters), the usual suspects (readings/signings at local libraries, bookstores, etc), and my web presence (blog, FB author page, Goodreads, Twitter, blog tours, etc).

I realized a few things as I put the plan together. First, I need to develop my “brand”. I’m looking at the websites of authors I know and the way they’ve branded themselves. I mean, I know my brand needs to work for me as an author, not for a particular book I’ve written, so I’ll need to do some serious brainstorming. It’s just that I could be writing instead (and procrastinating on the whole “branding” thing).

Second, so much of the promo stuff depends on having an actual book to release. You know, so I’ve got cover art, a release date, something to put in my newsletter (which is another thing I need to put together, along with every other first-time-published or waiting-to-be-published novelist, it seems). Hell, a title (because you know no matter what you call the book, the publisher may change it, especially when you think you have the perfect title). So, pretty tough to jump in early without more.

Third, I need to get more involved with local mystery writer organizations like the Twin Cities chapter of Sisters In Crime, as in attend a few meetings at the very least (one meeting a month seems reasonable, but I wish it wasn’t in Minneapolis; I’m not big on city driving). In the same vein, I should probably spend some time at Once Upon a Crime, an independent bookstore in Minneapolis known for supporting local mystery writers.

There’s probably a few more places like that where I should probably start showing up, so when it’s my turn, they sorta know me. And that doesn’t include all the other venues, like libraries, other writer/reader events, B&N, etc.

Hoo boy. Again the fleeting thought: What the hell have I gotten myself into? Do I really want to do this? I mean, REALLY want to do this? Because this is a LOT of work that isn’t actually writing. Somewhere in the back of my head I knew there was a lot more to building readership than shouting out to all my FB friends (and I don’t have all that many) and blog followers. Seeing the list on paper makes it more real. And more scary.

Then I think about how much I’ve put into this journey, or how long I’ve been on this journey. I spoke with an old high school classmate this week, whom I haven’t talked to for almost 20 years (no, following on FB does not count as “talking”). We talked a little about my book (I’d asked her to beta-read for me since she’s an English teacher, but she had other things going on at the time), and she reminded me about the books I wrote in elementary school.

*head slap* Oh, yeah. That’s right. Holy crap. That’s what, a really long time ๐Ÿ˜ฎ

I have to keep going, because if I don’t, it’d be like climbing to the way top of the highest and longest slide in the world, looking down at the run, and climbing back down. Remember when you did that as a kid, got to the top of the slide, got scared, and climbed back down? Because once you jump on and let go of the ladder handles, there’s no turning back or getting off except by putting your sneakers flat against the slippery part to stop–with the possibility of tumbling head over teakettle to the bottom–and climb off.

Persistence. That’s the difference between so many writers who don’t get there, and those that do. I’m sure you know writers who have an enviable way with words, but who stopped trying or don’t try to go beyond creative fiction assignments or lovely blog posts. Then there are the writers who struggle, read every book on writing they can get, attend conferences, andย practice. They stack up enough rejections to wallpaper a room. Still, they write another book. And another.

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They keep going, because they can’t stop. Won’t stop. The writer starts getting positive responses. Agents request the full manuscript. And one day an agent sends an email critiquing the writer’s full manuscript, requests a revise and resubmit, and suggests the writer call if she wants to talk about the manuscript. And on that call the writer discusses the agent’s notes, suggests changes, and gets energized. They discuss a timetable for revisions. The agent compliments the writer on her professionalism.

The agent says she wants to rep the book.

The writer does a happy dance! Then gets to work doing the revisions the agent requested.

Hmm, I guess this post was sort of about writing after all. I spent last weekend working on my synopsis and promo plan, so this weekend is time to dig into the second draft of my WIP. Finally getting back to the things that started this whole wild ride: those stories that keep tumbling around in my head, mucking up the works until I get them out (that’s how I justify the CRS (Can’t Remember Shi*) ๐Ÿ˜€ )

For my US friends, have a wonderful, safe Memorial Day weekend.

And WRITE!


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Gardens, retreats, and updates–oh my!

I add the new publishers from the second round of submissions to my list on the whiteboard in my writing office. I sense my Muse behind me, his energy radiating into me like a heater gone all psychic-creative vibes in place of warmth.

He settles beside me, his arm a solid line along my own. “What’s the tally, love?”

I add a footnote below the list and mark two entries with an asterisk. “Six passes, five radio-silent but could still be interested, and seven active.”

“What about these two?” He points to the marked entries.

“Those are ones who asked for the revised manuscript when my agent nudged them and offered it. So, crossing my fingers they’re still interested.”

“Hrrumph.” He rocks on his heels. “What does your agent think?”

“She thinks my latest revisions are good, and that might be the clincher.” Hoping. Searching for that damn leprechaun who’s supposed to grant wishes … wait, no, that’s a genie.

“So,” he slings an arm around my shoulders, “writing retreat to your dad’s this weekend.”

“And next weekend.”

He nods. “Does that mean you are going to stop procrastinating on that second draft you keep promising to work on?” His arm tightens around my shoulders.

Almost like a warning.

“Yes, after I get my promotional plan and three-to-five page synopsis done for my manuscript. One of the publishers my agent submitted to is asking for them.” I know he’s aware of that. I suspect he wants to remind me I’ve been dragging my feet and he’s done watching me do it.

Gulp.

“It’ll be a dreary weekend, and you’ll have all day Saturday to work. On writing,” he adds, an edge to his baritone voice. “Right, love?”

“That’s the point of going to my dad’s while he’s away. No distractions.”

“Uh-huh.” He squeezes my collarbone. Hard. “Just remember that.”

Er, o-kay. At least I managed to get the garden planted before the cool, rainy week set in. Needless to say, it’s been too wet to do much outside, although when I checked the garden last night between rainshowers my onions were still looking good. Whew! Those are the ones I worry about the most, because they’re just tender seedings about 5 inches high and about as thick around as the wire from a coat hangar. Once they’re strong enough to stand up, I can stop worrying about them.

No pics this week since it’s been so icky outside and the garden looks way too forlorn. I imagine by the time the rain finally stops and it dries out enough to work in the garden that the weeds will have a decent head start. Sigh.

Hey, since I’ve got you here, anyone know of any good blogs aimed at middle-grade readers or writers? One of my writing sisters is looking for opportunities to guest; her next middle-grade book is coming out this summer.

Enjoy your weekend–stay warm, stay dry, and WRITE!


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Spring Distractions

I love spring. I mean, if I had a choice of an extended season, I’d pick spring. Most of the bugs aren’t out in force quite yet, the trees are that bright fresh green color, the grass is bold emerald (and needs to be cut already?!), and this:

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lilac flowers

I wish I could include the smell. I go out to the lilac bush and just inhale the scent. We only have one bush, the common lilac, but my dad has more varieties, including one that’s called a French lilac (I think). They all pretty much smell the same, they’re just different colors, for the most part. I hope they’re still blooming next weekend. My dad’s leaving on his annual Alaskan cruise, so I’m taking the opportunity for a couple weekends of writing bliss at his place. This year my aunt (a misnomer because she’s actually my uncle’s ex-wife, but still part of the family) and her sister are going with my dad and my uncle.

Oh, and this is another favorite part of the season:

asparagus_cr There’s nothing like fresh asparagus from the garden. Sooo yummy!

It’s getting to be about that time again, when the weather stays warm enough for the garden to be planted. Not that a person needs to wait until mid-May to plant (holy sh*t, it’s the middle of May already?! Damn, where did the time go? Wasn’t it just St. Patty’s Day?), but I really don’t want to think about covering anything that might die if we get any frost.

My hubby tilled the garden last night, so I’m planning to plant this weekend. Needless to say, I’m ready to get stuff in the ground; one less thing to think about. Then again, that means I’ll need to start weeding. Ugh. It’s almost depressing to see just how well weeds are growing already:

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creeping Charlie

The infamous creeping Charlie. Luckily, not in my garden area … yet. It’s a member of the mint family, so it spreads, but it should also be edible. I’ll have to dig up (or make up) some recipes. Hey, might as well eat it to beat it, right?

My son is done with his freshman year of college and is now home and enjoying life with no homework. His girlfriend came over yesterday and helped him clean out the chick box and put in new bedding. She loves animals, and enjoyed helping (I think), even if the chicks aren’t all that cute anymore:

chicks 1_crchicks2_cr

It’s almost time to move them outside into a nursery coop, a smaller area than our regular coop to let them acclimate to being outside. Our one remaining hen has been by herself since late last year when a skunk managed to get into the coop area (hence the new chicks). We think she’ll be happy to have some company.

I’ve been procrastinating on writing (in case you couldn’t tell ๐Ÿ™‚ ). My agent asked me to make one more small revision, so I’ll do that this weekend and get the manuscript to her next week for the second round of submissions. I’m looking forward to a couple weekends away from distractions at home to work on my WIP.

So there’s the rundown. Light on the writing stuff, heavy on everything else helping me procrastinate. I need to buckle down; I’m getting into that itchy, irritable, agitated state of mind that develops when I don’t write enough. I keep thinking about my writing sisters reunion coming up in August. Ahh, to have a few days to think only about writing. I can’t wait!

Have a great weekend, everyone! Happy Mother’s Day to those who have kids, and to those who don’t, because you probably fill that place in someone’s life, even if they aren’t your own child.

Happy Writing!


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Of Revisions and Muses

The writing office is empty.

Bloody hell. Now where’d she go? I hate this time of year. She’s too distracted by Spring–and yes, I capitalize it because it’s becoming a pain in my ass, just like my writer these days. On the whiteboard wall, I see nothing’s changed. Stands to reason since her agent returned from vacation a couple days ago.

What the … Her laptop is on her desk along with this:

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Seriously? I’ve put too much time into my author; there’s no room for another Muse.

A whoosh carries through the open back door of the office, like a giant swinging a huge bloody flyswatter. Before I get to the door, Julie steps through and combs fingers through her hair.

I lean back against her desk, arms crossed. “Where the hell have you been, love?”

An iridescent green head pokes into the office through the door behind her, red eyes locked onto me. I’ve got to deal with her Night Fury conscience; I don’t have fecking time for a whatever-the-hell kind of dragon this is. “Where did that come from? I’m not playing ‘lead muse’ to a team. I work alone.”

Julie runs a hand over its golden nose and nudges it back out the door. “Don’t worry about him,” she tells it. “He’s kinda grumpy.”

The dragon glares at me. I return the favor and add a little bit of Muse temper. It snorts and disappears back out the door. She takes over the glare, hands on her hips.

“What the hell was that for? So I took a break.”

“You didn’t answer my question.”

“My daughter gave it to me. It’s the first thing she’s ever brought home and said she bought especially for me, and she’s almost 17. What the hell are you so pissy about? I’ve been working on my outline.”

Uh-huh. If that’s work, I’m going to have to get the big guns out. “And what did your sister-in-law say about the manuscript?” I ask, knowing full well what her feedback was. I just want to see if Julie’s been thinking about it instead of goofing off on the competition.

Her eyes narrow. “You’re jealous.” A smile inches across her face, deeping the dimple in her cheek. “You know, you seem a little insecure for a Muse. That’s so cute.”

I ignore the heat in my cheeks and give her my sternest Muse look. “I’ve worked with you for how many years? I’m not going anywhere.” Unless she replaces me. Naw, she wouldn’t do that. Would she?

She crosses the office and pats my shoulder. “Don’t worry. That one is more suited to my fantasy stuff, and I’m writing mystery right now. And stop writing my blog posts for me.”

“If you were in here doing it, I wouldn’t have to.”

She sticks her tongue out at me. *Thhppptt* She brushes past me and settles in at her desk. “Go away until I’m done with this. I need your help with one spot my sister-in-law mentioned in the manuscript.”

“Fine. I’ll be back in an hour. I’ve got to take a walk.” I think the forest path should do it. “One hour.”

I wave. “See you in an hour. Don’t get lost.” Geez. Who knew he’d be jealous?

Anyway, now that he’s gone for a bit, I’ll finish this off. My sister-in-law finished her read-through, and loved the book. Said she’s going to read it again, in fact. Now, before you get the idea that because she’s family she’ll gush over the manuscript, I want to say there’s a reason I asked her. She’s a retired elementary school teacher and was a librarian. She knows books. She reads books. And she’s not a blood relative ๐Ÿ™‚ . She reads John Sandford (MN author), William Kent Kreuger (MN author), and Kathy Reichs.

She loved the book, yet had a few things she noticed. One (and remember my earlier post on the subject) thing: she wanted more technical details.

Yeah. The very thing my agent has been telling me to dial back because that’s probably tripping up the editors.

Why, you ask? She was married to a pilot, so she knows the airport (my book is set at the Minneapolis-St. Paul airport), and the main character being an aircraft mechanic is interesting to her. And she loves the TMTI (my opinion) that Kathy Reichs has in her books.

She had some other very good suggestions, and she mentioned some of the things she really liked. And she specifically said: “This is going to be a series, right? Because it has to be a series.”

๐Ÿ˜€ Talk about warm fuzzies!

Anyway, the revision is due to my agent on Monday, so I’m looking at the things my SIL suggested. There’s one in particular I think I’ll focus on that’ll have a bigger effect on the story than some of the others.

And for those who missed flower pics last time (I don’t grow flowers intentionally unless it’s to use up seed in the garden, because weeding ๐Ÿ™‚ ), here you go:

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yellow violet

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purple violet

And, of course I have to close with Zoey, who refused to stand still or look at me when I took her picture.

zoey roam_cr

Have a great weekend, all! Next weekend I might have to get the garden started ๐Ÿ™‚