Facets of a Muse

Examining the guiding genius of writers everywhere


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A Tribute

First, Vikes flamed out big time. It was painful to watch. I don’t know what team they brought to the conference title matchup last week, but it sure wasn’t the one they brought to all the other games they actually won.

Ah, well, maybe next year.

So, I’ve been working on my presentation for the UW-Madison Writers’ Institute. I’ve got to turn in my handouts by March. Well, everyone else has to have their handouts turned in, too, so it’s not just me 🙂

WS mug

I’ve mentioned my Writing Sisters and I are doing an author panel. We’ve been discussing a handout for our panel, and a plan for filling the one hour-ish time slot we have. We want to let other writers know what we’ve done as a group and how we’ve managed to stick together for five–almost six–years now.

I’ve shared the story of how we got together. As we’ve been discussing our panel plan via email, we’ve been reminiscing a bit, contemplating a bit, reflecting on our group and why we’ve made it as long as we have.

As I was following the email threads, I realized just how much we mean to each other, and the role we’ve played in not only each other’s writing journeys, but the role we’ve played in each other’s lives.

You know, I was going to post some quotes from that email thread, but there are so many! I will, however, post a quote from our writing mentor, because it is so poignant:

“Compassion and support are so important. Good groups do get inside each other’s lives a bit, so that’s a good point to make. Individuals have to be willing to share, support, respect, nurture each other …”

And another, also from our writing mentor:

“So maybe another rule after compassion, patience, and long-term vision would be to add ‘actively nurture’ the relationship you’ve agreed to be part of, and to respect what that really means in terms of time, heart, and the work involved.”

Okay, one more from one of my Writing Sisters, about the how and the why of forming a writing group:

“I think most people think the ‘why’ is just getting critiques, but as this email exchange shows, it’s much more than that. It’s also small bits of encouragement or large amounts of butt-kicking depending on what’s needed. It’s advice and support about all the obstacles we face that detract from our writing, from medical issues to personal problems. It’s tips and tricks about apps, writing contests, software, research tools, and writing books.”

Bottom line, I was reminded just how much my Sisters mean to me, both to my writing journey and beyond. We haven’t seen each other since our August retreat, but I think about them often. It’s amazing, we were six strangers, then one more, but we “clicked” in a way that I suspect few groups of seven strangers do.

My advice to writers: find your group. It might be one or two other writers who share your passion for spending an afternoon at Caribou Coffee typing away, or a handful who spend a week every year at a little cabin retreat. Maybe you never see each other in person, but the important thing is the encouragement, the feedback, the sharing of successes and failures. The deadline of 30 days or six months and someone to hold you accountable. Other creative minds to bounce ideas off of.

Where do you find these people? Writing conferences, seminars, workshops, retreats. Writing classes that may take place over a couple hours or over a weekend. Online groups of like-minds (SFF writers, horror writers, romance writers, mystery writers, etc). Maybe even the guy or gal you always see sitting at a quiet table in the library hunched over a notebook or laptop.

Yes, you have to put yourself out there. Yes, you have to open up and share your writing and your writing goals. Yes, it’s scary.

But when you find your group, your collective energy will carry you all toward your writing target, may it be getting published, entering a contest, or just finishing a project.

Man, I miss my Sisters! April will be here before we know it 🙂

I’ll sign off with my modus interruptor, who keeps insisting she has the right-of-way when it comes to the prime spot on my lap.

zoey lapcat

Have a great weekend, everyone! Happy Writing!

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Random Ramblings–SKOL Vikings!

We’re getting so close. Soooo close. And I’m sure everyone across the country (well, except for Philly (Eagles are going down!), Jacksonville (Jaguars), and New England (Patriots) is wondering what the fuss is about.

I never really get this excited about football, mostly because the Vikes usually choke by now. And they almost did so again last week (which I totally expected them to do because, well, that’s what they do) except for that unbelieveable, much-overplayed last catch and run to the end zone, now heralded as the Minnesota Miracle.

2704_minnesota_vikings-primary-2013

You have to realize it’s been over 40 years since the Vikes have won the privilege of being in the Super Bowl. It’s been almost 10 years since they got this far in the playoffs. (For those who aren’t familiar with American football, we have two divisions: the AFC (American Football Conference) and the NFC (National Football Conference). Whoever wins the title of each conference gets to play in the Super Bowl. This weekend is the conference championship.)

And the Vikes, despite three four appearances in the Super Bowl (all over 40 years ago), have never won it.

So, yeah, pretty wild around here.

Which is exacerbated by all the “SKOL Vikings” fuss. The SKOL thing wasn’t really much of a thing until we moved into our new stadium. One of our news stations did a nice story on it:

I don’t do any “watching the game at the sports bar” stuff. Hubs and I watch the game from the comfort of our own home (and with the benefit of a DVR, fast-forward through all the boring parts (like commercials) and spend a grand total of, like, an hour or a little more watching a 3- to 4-hour game). Of course, that means we don’t start watching until the game is at least half over. Still, beats sitting through commercials and commentary.

Since my Muse seems to be scarce these days, I’m spending my pre-game time working on my presentation for the Writers’ Institute in April. What was I thinking? I’ve given presentations at work for work stuff, but this is different. I’m trying to figure out what format (no, not just talking about Powerpoint versus Keynote versus Prezi) to do this in. I’ve got notecards with talking points. It’s more a matter of how to go through the material without boring eager writers to death.

And no, stand-up comedy is not on the agenda 😉

At least I’ve got one of my writing sisters with me on this. We’re co-presenting, so once I have something cobbled together, I’ll see if she’s got any suggestions. It’ll all work out.

It’s something I can work on that isn’t really affected by me being stuck in the mud on my WIP. That’s a whole ‘nother subject. It’s supposed to be nice out again today–above freezing–so I’m planning a long walk to get my head clear and the creative energy fired up.

Have a great weekend! Happy Writing!

 


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New Release Blog stop — author Lorah Jaiyn

Do you love dogs? Do you like a little romance? Then check out Whisper of an Angel by Lorah Jaiyn.

Whisper Available Now(1)

Available Now: https://goo.gl/fihFfA

Sometimes second chances start with four paws.

In the small town of Marshall Glen, Sofia retreats from life following the death of her husband. Six-year-old Kady lives in foster care and hasn’t spoken since a house fire stole her family. After she saves Kady’s dog from drowning, Sofia attempts to stay locked away, but learns that—

…even though she’s given up, her heart wants to—try again.

When Kady runs away from her foster home, Sofia meets the cop in charge of the search, Brandon—her first love. Sparks fly even as she struggles with her conscience. Is she being unfair to her husband’s memory?

When random acts of vandalism turn to attempted kidnapping, Brandon helps keep Kady safe. As the danger deepens, how far will Sofia go to save a child?

Would you like to meet Lorah? Here’s her interview with Rhetoric Askew:

Q: Lorah Jaiyn. Thank you for sitting down with us today in the Askew News Update room. Why don’t we start off with a little introduction. Tell us a little about yourself and what you’ve got to share with the world, today.

Lorah: Thanks for having me. I am so excited about this book. I started out in western New York before moving to Florida right out of school. I was the quintessential rebellious teen who thought she knew everything, so I struck out on my own adventure. After a few months of stretching my new independence boundaries, I planted roots right smack in the middle of the state. I’ve been married forever, and our daughter and toddler grandson currently live in Japan where our son-in-law is stationed with the Air Force. Due to a severe case of empty nest syndrome, I’ve finally settled down and started to put all the stories hoarded in my imagination to paper, to hopefully entertain others.

Q: What was the pivotal moment where you said “You know what? I’m going to be an author?”

Lorah: I remember telling my parents when I was a young teen that I’d have my first novel published by the time I was eighteen – romance, of course. Creative writing classes in high school were my favorite. My big plan was to spend a Christmas in NYCity, because that’s where all the big publishers were. Then, by the time I turned eighteen, life had taken over so it took ‘slightly’ longer than originally planned.

Q: What inspires you to create your fictional worlds and characters?

Lorah: In a word, reality. I grew up reading Harlequin romances and I’m not ashamed to admit that real life is disappointing when you’re expecting perfect relationships and fireworks. Sometimes my stories contain scenes that are therapeutic and the only outlet I have that is legal.

Q: Every author has their own method to the madness, so-to-speak, what’s your writing process look like?

Lorah: Get close to the deadline and panic. I’m such a pantser, always waiting til the last minute. I’ve tried outlining, but figured out that I fare better if I just blurt the story out of head and get it typed, then outline afterwards to make sure it makes sense. I also tend to handwrite first so I have something to follow when I type. I have enough partially used notebooks to stock Staples for a year. Or two. Each story needs a special notebook. Back-to-school time is better shopping than Christmas.

Q: When you develop your stories and characters, do you let them grow in front of you or do you have everything all planned out?

Lorah: Both grow as I write. Trying to plan is just a waste of time for me.

Q: Tell us about some of your favorite authors and books and why you love them.

Lorah: There are so many – after working in a used bookstore for years, I became very eclectic with my reading. I don’t stick to any one genre (although I avoid nonfiction, history, and biographies), but here are a few of my favorites:

  • Cecelia Ahern – her stories are always emotional and heartfelt, without being overwhelming.
  • Nicholas Sparks & Mitch Albom – oh, the feels. Guaranteed to make you cry.
  • Raymond Feist – Faery Tale – all time favorite horror – the only book I’ve read that actually gave me the heebie jeebies.
  • Rosalind James – her New Zealand series. New Zealand is my dream location and her books are very vivid with her locales.
  • I’m also a huge local author person. Connie Mann and Dylan Newton are two of my favorites – they are both multi-successful and have both been huge supports for me.

Q: You chose to publish your work through RhetAskew (a division of Rhetoric Askew, LLC), why did you choose them and do you feel it was the right decision?

Lorah: I’ve been in several Askew Anthologies and loved the time, devotion, and detail they put into their products. This is my debut novel, and I’m their debut novel, so it was a win-win right from the start. I love the staff and powers-that-be and it has been a very rewarding process. I totally made the right decision.

Q: What did you enjoy about the Askew process?

Lorah: Communication! This book thing is not easy – parts of the process are very daunting. But using Rhetoric Askew made me feel less overwhelmed, there was always someone right there to ‘hold my hand’ so to speak. I’ve never had to wonder what was going on.

Q: What do you hope your readers will take away from reading Whisper of an Angel?

Lorah: I want people to close the book with the sense that no matter how bad things are, it doesn’t mean that something good won’t come along. Keep your heart open to opportunities. And because I’m a big animal person, with a special love for dogs, I want people to realize that a dog can provide a special kind of love that you may not even know you need.

 

About the Author: “Whisper of an Angel” is Lorah Jaiyn’s debut novel. Her short stories have been featured in several anthologies, and she has much more in the works. Her mood dictates genre blend from magic to vigilante justice. She lives in Central Florida and credits her Jack Russell as both her muse and biggest distraction. Lorah enjoys creating with polymer clay and volunteers with a wildlife rescue. She loves exploring the great outdoors and is also totally addicted to the Hallmark Channel.

Stalk links:

Facebook: www.facebook.com/lorahjaiyn
Twitter: @writerlorahj
Website: www.marshallglen.com
Amazon Author: https://www.amazon.com/Lorah-Jaiyn/e/B01MQTN0X4
Amazon Book: https://www.amazon.com/Whisper-Angel-Marshall-Glenn-Book-ebook/dp/B078SDDRB9/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1515093077&sr=8-1&keywords=lorah+jaiyn
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/16150584.Lorah_Jaiyn?from_search=true


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Escape from the Deep Freeze

It’s early, so the sun’s not up yet, but lookie here:

Capture

After two days above freezing–yes, I said above freezing–we’re back to the icebox. Wind chill advisory until noonish. According to the weather guys, we won’t see double digits again until the end of the week.

Sigh.

So when one of my writing sisters tagged me on this picture from Seed Savers, I had to smile:
26239161_1693631804022263_7610006661865739579_n What a great excuse to dig out the seed catalogs I got after Christmas (because when is a better time to think about spring than when it’s effing cold outside?).

We just won’t mention the whole “writer’s stuck in deep mud and can’t seem to pull herself out” part of this, will we?

*checks for Muse*

Whew. He probably got tired of babysitting me and decided to do a pub crawl with Mr. E.

In the meantime, this is what I’ve gotten in the mail. Tell me this doesn’t look like fun!
IMG_0185_cr I usually save the seed catalogs for later, when it’s closer to seed-starting time, but it’s been so cold, and I’ve been so “stuck”, that after my WS tagged me, I thought, “Well, that’ll be a nice bit of escape from Winter.”

I like looking through the catalogs, with all the pictures of veggies and flowers, but mostly veggies. If you’ve followed me for a while, you know I have a vegetable garden every year. I figured I’d share a little about how I plan it.

Wait, plan? Ha! I plan to have a smaller garden, because WEEDS, but somehow that never seems to materialize. The smaller garden, I mean. The weeds ALWAYS materialize.

So, this year I swear it’ll be a smaller garden. Seriously. Because I’ve got other things to do, like start promoting my book coming out next year. And writing/revising book 2 and another book and probably revising another book my agent has looked at that needs a whole lotta work (and here I thought it was almost ready to go–phffft!)

Everything else is subject to how I feel that year, that is, how much trouble the veggie is and how much I don’t want to bother with it. I have things I always plant no matter what: tomatoes, onions, peppers (sweet and hot), cilantro (see a theme here? Fresh salsa!), cucumbers (pickling, not slicing), dill (see another theme? Pickles!), radishes, and potatoes. This year, since I’m not canning tomatoes (did that last year), I want to plant a nice heirloom slicing tomato. They taste sooo good.

Beets I like because they aren’t much work, just need to be weeded. Green beans are okay; the bush varieties still don’t grow as upright as they sound, and I always seem to plant way more than I need.

Zucchini is another thing I plant every year, but I always forget how big the plants get. And they’re fine until the squash bugs show up. Damn things. Some years they aren’t a problem, but other years I don’t get many squash because of those little bastards. They suck juices out of the squash plant, and of course in the process infect it with whatever nasty fungus they carry. And they’re creepy–think boxelder beetle but bigger and gray and they stink when you crush them. With blue goo inside.

Definitely doing kale again, but this year I’m starting the seeds in the house–I planted three times but they never came up, so I had to buy plants last year. And I want to do not-so-curly kale, because of the cabbage worms (you know kale is in the same family with cabbage and Brussels sprouts, right?) Speaking of, as much as I like Brussels sprouts, don’t know that I’ll plant them this year. It’s a pain in the ass to pick the cabbage worms every day (since I’m too lazy to cover them with netting so the stupid butterflies can’t get to them).

Hmm. The rest is up to whim. I don’t like planting corn because you have to have at least 4 rows to get good pollination, and we never seem to pick it at the right time. I always have borage, which self-seeds like dill and cilantro, because the bees love it.

I always plant spinach, too, but I haven’t gotten a good spinach crop in years. And I like to toss in flowers, because whenever you order seeds you get free samples of flowers. This year I might do marigolds to try and keep the rabbits out. They say it works. It’ll be a second line of defense 🙂 And maybe pie pumpkins this year–I love pumpkin bread.

Every year I like to plant something new, or at least something I haven’t grown for a while. A couple years ago I did sugar snap peas, and had the same lousy results I had the last time I planted peas (about 10 years ago), so probably no peas. Did eggplant–nobody ate it. Did watermelon, but never seem to pick it at the right time, though there is a variety where the rind changes color when it’s ripe. Did cantaloupe–see watermelon.

I’m thinking garbanzo beans this year. Or maybe … Hmm. That’s what the seed catalogs are really good for. Finding something new to try. So maybe artichokes. Or leeks. Or edamame. Or Napa cabbage.

While I’m off to peruse my seed catalogs, I’ll leave you with a parting shot (don’t say I wasn’t thinking about you, B 😉 )

zoey12-17-2

Stay warm! Have a great weekend and keep writing!


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Musing Resolve

I’m resisting the urge to close my notebook and toss my pen across the room. I still can’t focus. My mind keeps bouncing around–I should really start thinking about my garden. I love looking through seed catalogs. I can’t wait for it to warm up. Woo-hoo! It’ll be double digits above zero when I walk down the driveway to get the mail. I’ve got a book review to write. No, I really need to write this scene. I’ve got two chapters of beta reading to do this weekend. I love Christmas lights, but I suppose I should put them away. Am I going to be able to finish that blanket I’ve been crocheting for the past–yikes, that long?–before my daughter graduates? Hey, where’s the cat?

Arrgh. This is my brain on a severe lack of resolve. Or rather, focus. Where is my damn Muse?

Aaaannd . . .

*clock ticks echo in the room*

Um.

I set my notebook down (no, I don’t throw it across the room, as satisfying as that would be) and open the door to my writing office.

Nada. No one in sight.

O-kay. I head to the other door, the one that opens onto the beach/woods/field/–you get the picture. Steel-gray clouds brood over wind-roughened water. The Adirondack chairs at the edge of the beach’s sandy shore are empty.

What the hell?

I close the door, fully expecting my Muse to pop in. Except he doesn’t. “Hey,” I say into the empty office, “where are you?”

Nuthin’.

Remember the Batphone from the old Batman show from the 60s? tenor I’ve got one like it (but way cooler) that’s a direct line to my Muse. I pick it up.

No dial tone.

Oh shit.

This isn’t right. He wouldn’t just leave.

Would he?

A curl of dread twists in my gut. He can’t leave. He’s my Muse. I toggle the cradle button. Still no dial tone. Crap. After hanging up the phone, I pace. Where could he be? “Hey, look, I’m sorry about the last few weeks.” My voice echoes in the room. “C’mon. Where are you?”

A knock at the back door. When I open it, my book dragon’s head fills the doorway, her red eyes glowing like Christmas lights against shiny green scales.

dragon1_cr I scratch her chin. “Thanks for coming, but I’m not looking for you right now. Have you seen my Muse?”

She draws back. *Really? I’m a perfectly good muse, you know.*

“I know. But I’m not working on a fantasy right now. I need my Muse. Have you seen him?”

She rolls her eyes. *Maybe.*

“What do you mean, ‘maybe’? Where is he?”

*He told me not to tell.*

“Are you kidding me? He told you? Why can’t he hear me?”

*Oh, he can hear you just fine.*

“Then why isn’t he here?”

She shrugs, stretches one gold-green wing. *He said something about appreciating the work he does. Oh, and something about how it feels to be ignored.*

Oh. My. Gawd. “Seriously? Tell him I need to talk to him.”

*He said I wasn’t supposed to be a go-between. Talk to him yourself. He can hear you.* With that, she turns and shoves into the air, wings sweeping down and kicking up wind as she climbs toward the low clouds.

What the hell? It’s not like this is the first time I’ve ever been stuck. And I’ve got a few extra weeks before my editor gets my manuscript back to me, so I need to finish the draft of Book 2. The notebook helps, but I’ve been letting myself get distracted. I need my Muse to be here.

I close the door. I’m not ignoring him. I’m just … dammit. I’ve been forgetting stuff, stuff that’s important but not writing-important. Life-important. Family stuff. And I’ve had a few discussions–not heated, but more than casual–with my husband about stuff I was supposed to remember but didn’t. I’ve even started bullet journaling to try and get a handle on it.

“You need to focus, love.”

My lungs stop working for a moment. I turn. My Muse is kicked back in one of the recliners in the corner, hands behind his head, legs crossed at the ankles on the footrest.

“Where the hell have you been?”

“Ignoring you. How does it feel?”

“I haven’t been ignoring you. I’ve been thinking about my books–that’s probably why I keep forgetting other stuff.”

He shakes his head. “If you’ve been thinking about your books, why is it you haven’t done any writing since before Christmas?”

“Because …” I falter. “I’ve started working on my presentation for the Writers’ Institute, and I’m doing a beta read. And I finished–”

“Excuses. Whatever happened to spending one or two hours a night writing, hmm? Tell me that.”

“I …” I’ve been slacking. Badly. And every night I chastise myself for it.

My Muse lowers the footrest and pushes out of the chair. “You need to get your shit together, love.” He waves a finger at me as a fedora appears on his head and a bullwhip materializes on his belt. “You’ve got stuff going on, but if you’re serious about this, you have to figure it out. You’ve done it before, why are you having such a hard time now?”

He’s right. And I think a lot of it boils down to waiting for my editor to get my manuscript back to me, because I know I’ll have to work on that. Which is stupid. I’ve got the time now, before I have any deadlines, to work on stuff, especially Book 2. And my presentation, which I actually do have a soft deadline for.

My Muse nods. “And there it is. You know what you should be doing, love, so do it. Hell, schedule it. You know your husband will hold you to it. He’ll send you off to write.”

He will. He has in the past. “You’ll stay here, right?”

A crooked smile brightens his face. “Me and my whip.”

I think I hear the Indiana Jones theme song in the background.

Another weekend, and dammit, I will work on my draft. Or my presentation. My son is heading back to school, so that’s one distraction out of the way. After a break in routine courtesy of the holidays, it always seems to take extra effort to get back into it. And we might even crack the freezing temperature this week–heat wave!

Have a good weekend all, and get some writing done. I will. Promise.