Facets of a Muse

Examining the guiding genius of writers everywhere


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We’re not related, but we’re Sisters

It’s that time of year again! Yep, it’s the end of July, my daughter just turned 18, and OMG, where did the summer go? I mean, it’ll be August in … eek. Wasn’t it just Memorial Day?

I’ve talked about my Writing Sisters before. We even had a panel at the Writers’ Institute this year. This coming week we’ll be meeting for our annual reunion/writing retreat. We added an extra day this year because we always seem to run out of time, especially if we want to do some writing on our own.

Our reunions are as much about catching up with each other’s lives as they are about writing. I’ve said it before: how often do six–now seven–women start out strangers and end up sticking together like we have?

Pretty sure it’s not very often.

We are a writers’ support system, studying writing and practicing the craft together, with a healthy dose of critiquing, brainstorming, and encouragement thrown in.

That’s not all. We learn about each other’s lives and struggles. We offer shoulders to lean on (yes, you can hum “Lean on Me” now 😀 ). We know the names of each other’s children, grandchildren, pets. We offer condolences and get well wishes when someone suffers a loss or illness in her family. We send birthday wishes and holiday greetings.

Hmm. Isn’t that what families do? We aren’t related, but we have become a family of sorts. Writing Sisters.

Writing is a solitary pursuit in many respects, but we all know we need at least one other person to help us see the things we cannot because we are too close to the story. We need at least one critique partner to help us revise. We hang with one or more other writers, either in real life or online, in the interest of improving our craft through constructive feedback and sharing of knowledge, a writing group that works for us in our pursuit of whatever writing goal we have, whether a memoir, a poetry collection, or a new series about a vampire version of Sherlock Holmes (yes, I went there 😉 ).

Where was I going with this? Hmm. Oh, yeah. If you don’t have a writing partner, see if you can find one, online or in real life. There are a number of FB groups, as well as other online groups like FanStory, WritersCafe, NaNoWriMo, and Scribophile, to name a few. In real life, check out independent bookstores, a local chapter of a national authors’ organization like Sisters in Crime or Romance Writers of America, or the local college English department.

If you find the right group or partner, you have an opportunity to connect with other writers who can help you improve your craft, and may become like family along the way.

Have a great weekend, and hey, get some writing done!

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Summer’s half over. Where did it go?

We’re on the second half of July already.

Wasn’t it just Memorial Day?

Why does it seem the summer is never long enough? Then again, I live in MN, so our summer weather runs from about the middle of May through the middle of September, although where I live (and with global warming) we have comfortably-warm weather from mid-April (usually, except this year when we had a blizzard in Week 2) through mid-October.

We’ve had a combination of hella hot and it-can-stop-raining-now since the end of May. For the record, this Memorial Day (last Monday in May) hit a record 91 F (about 33 C). It’s cooled off some this month (all the way down to the mid-80s, which is about average), but the combination kicks vegetation into fast-grow mode. I swear we can hear the grass growing!

Due to the deadline with my manuscript, I didn’t get my garden in until the first week of June (we like to get it in on Memorial Day weekend at the latest because our growing season is relatively short).

This week, once it stopped raining and cooled to a temperature that didn’t cause instant sweat, I ventured out to the garden. Granted, with all the rain, my plants have been struggling a bit, not to mention all that water tends to leach nutrients away.

Anyhow, here are my before pics:

The weeds weren’t as bad as I’d feared, considering I hadn’t been out to the garden in over a week (I think). One thing to note is that we use a tractor–not a lawn tractor, but a utility tractor like this one (but with a cab on it)–to till. This year, since one of the rear tires on the usual tractor developed a huge tear in the sidewall, we had to use our big tractor.

If you aren’t familiar with tractors and fieldwork, the thing to remember is the weight of the tractor will compact the soil, and thus make it tougher for plants to extend their roots. That’s why you see farmers using tractors with 4 or 6 HUGE wheels or tracs: not only does it help with traction when pulling larger implements, it spreads the weight of the tractor out so it doesn’t compact the soil as much. It’s also why farmers usually till the middle of the field first, then go around the outside perimeter last; that’s where the soil is compacted the most because the tractor turns there on every pass.

Anyway, by using the bigger tractor, the soil is compacted more (and after years of tilling with a tractor, we have some problems anyway with compaction). So, I strategically planted between the tire tracks from the tractor, which I think helps to keep the weeds down between the rows. Still, weeds.

Three hours and a couple gallons of sweat later, it looked pretty good:

Last night I actually picked our first zucchini of the season, and the handful of green beans left that some small varment (a mouse or vole, I think) didn’t munch. So, I sliced and sauted the zuke last night. There’s nothing like that first garden veggie (even if it is a zucchini 😀 )!

I tied up the tomatoes–which now have a few greenies on them–and wove the cucumber vines into the cattle gates I’m using for their climbing support. I’ve got tiny cucumbers on the vines, and more zucchini on the way. The peppers are doing their thing, and the beans, well, something smaller than a chipmunk is munching on them judging by the teethmarks in one of the surviving beans. Sigh.

On the writing front, I got my manuscript back from the line editor, and have relatively few corrections to make (yippee!). I also got another mockup of the cover. (No, I’m not going to show it until it’s done–mwahahahaha!) I’ll think about that over the weekend, along with the suggestions from my writing sisters, and give the cover person my feedback on Monday. My editor also gave me homework to do and return by the end of the month, including coming up with a teaser/hook (30 words max), a 1- to 2-sentence pitch for the book (max 50 words), and ‘highlights or aspects of the story that will appeal to readers (less than 150 words). Oh, and don’t forget the author quote used for press release.

And I thought the query and synopsis were tough!

Another step closer. I’ve got a lot going on over the next week, though, including an unexpected day at my dad’s today, an afternoon coffee meetup with one of my blogging friends tomorrow (can’t wait!), and Dad’s auction next weekend. Add working full time, weeding, and walking (because I know I’ll need the mind-space to do my homework for my editor), and my WIP (book 2) is getting very little attention. So much for a NaNo in July. Maybe August will be better; my Writing Sisters reunion is in (less than) two weeks! Nothing like a group of writers to get those creative energies charged up 😀

Here’s a quick (and yes, terrible) pic of my very own mini-panther:

zoeyprowl

Have a great weekend!


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Blank

Yep. The barren white page stares at me, daring me to deface it with words. Hell, with anything resembling a scene in my story.

Stuck. I’m not sure if it’s the transition scene or if I’m trying too hard to cover bases my editor pointed out in my manuscript, but something is blocking me.

Coincidentally (or maybe fortuitously), I’ve read a few articles about overcoming “stuck”, including an older one about breaking through writer’s block, and another about what to do when you stall out. BTW, if you aren’t familiar with Janice Hardy’s blog, you are missing out!

I’m trying to figure out just what I’m getting hung up on. I know my characters. I know the backstory. I know the plot. And I know I’m getting distracted by real life stuff. For instance, my daughter had orientation this week at college. She’s been terribly anxious about it because she doesn’t know what she wants to do (undecided). The college has a wonderful program to help undecided students explore their options. And the people are soooo nice (which my daughter commented on more than once).

We spent all day at the school. And by the end of the day, my daughter was feeling much better about going off to school (yay!). My plan was to get home and finally give my garden some attention since, well, it hadn’t rained for a few days (but it was hella hot and humid). That is, until it started raining as we got home.

So, I should spend the time writing, right? I pulled out my computer, and stared at the screen, and the dozen words I managed the day before. Added about a hundred words.

Sigh.

I’ve got the brainstorming wall out, and my bucket of ideas, but the spatters and splotches aren’t making any sense yet. And my Muse happened to “leave” his fedora on the corner of my desk. A hint, I suppose.

And of course, he’s somewhere but not here, probably on a pub crawl. Maybe I need a pub crawl. I wonder if I could find him–I could crash his crawl.

Damn, that sounds like fun 😀

This weekend I have got to get into the garden, or I’m going to need a machete to find my way. I’ll try to take pics and post them next week–if I’m brave. And writing, damn it. Maybe I’ll get things moving by scribbling for a bit with pencil and paper. That seems to help, even if it’s just “thinking out loud but on paper”.

I’m counting down to our annual Writing Sister reunion–yippee! I’m also counting down to my first meeting with a blogging buddy. I always wonder what it would be like to meet the cool blogging writers I know in person. I get to find out next week!

Anywho. Hope your creativity is moving along better than mine 🙂 Have a great weekend (and may the weeds fail to choke out your veggies 😀 )

 

P.S.: Hey, S, my Muse left a note to ask you if your “package” arrived. If you want to return it, let him know. He might have another that might work out. 😉


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Slow start

If you’re looking for Julie, I sent her on a walkabout. A long one, on the forest trail. With any luck she’ll snag some inspiration. A Muse can only do so much. Lead a horse to water and all that.

I tried to send her on a week-long walkabout, but she won’t listen to me. She’s got this damn fixation on doing a NaNoWriMo this month. There’s even an “official” Camp NaNoWriMo going on. Another first draft, she said. This is her third “first” draft.

Bloody hell.

I know what her problem is. Focus. Per usual. She’s got too many fecking things bouncing around in that head of hers, not the least of which is …

*slam*

“Are you kidding me? You sent me on a walk so you could do my blog post for me? What the hell?” My writer storms across the office and stops in front of the desk, hands on hips.

“You needed the walk, love. Tell me you didn’t work on the plot during your walk.” I venture one of my charming crooked smiles. “I dare you.”

Heh. I can see it in her eyes. She did, but she doesn’t want to admit it. “I can’t add words to my draft if I’m out walking. I’m behind, which you well know, and I won’t be able to catch up this weekend because I’m going to my dad’s.”

“You know, love, there is such a thing as voice-to-text.”

She rolls her eyes and groans. “Do you know what I do on my walks? Dude, I talk things through. That’s not writing, and if I used speech-to-text, it would be a mess. Seriously. Now get out of my chair and let me finish my post.”

If I could get her to direct that fire into her writing, she’d have no problem making her word quota. Easier said than done, of course. “No.”

Her jaw drops just a little. I love surprising her. She cocks a hip and crosses her arms on her chest. “I thought writing blog posts was outside your job description.”

It is. Sort of. “And here I thought you would appreciate the help since you will be away at your dad’s this weekend. That way you can focus on your first draft. Again.”

She offers a wry smile. “Very funny. You’re the Muse. You’re supposed to help me with this.”

“I’ve been trying, love. You’ve finally gotten the story rolling, haven’t you?”

“Sure. After three false starts. Half my word count is stuff I’m not going to use.”

“It’s a first draft. There’s going to be a whole lot of stuff you won’t use. That’s why it’s a draft.” I get to my feet and round the desk to face her. “I’m here, and I’ll be sticking around.” I lower my face to hers. “Don’t make me dig out my fedora and bullwhip.”

*stare-down silence*

“Fine.” Damn it. I shove around my Muse and drop into my chair, still nice and warm from him.

Anyway. Excuse me just one minute…

“Stop that.”

“What?”

God, he’s just so … er, aggravating sometimes. Yeah, let’s go with that. “Stop staring at me.”

He gives me that crooked grin of his. Is it warmer in here? “Then get to work, love.”

Arrgh. Okay. Bottom line, I’m behind on my first week word count. Like, way behind. I’m going to bring my computer or my iPad to my dad’s; between helping him sort stuff for the auction and digging through a couple boxes left with my name on them, maybe I’ll get a little time to do some writing.

Enjoy your weekend!