Facets of a Muse

Examining the guiding genius of writers everywhere

Progress … in more ways than one


budding tree branch
Image by MargGe from Pixabay

True to the forecast, Easter reminded us with a couple inches of snow that Winter tends to linger here in Minnesota. All week it felt like November: in the thirties instead of the our typical fifties this time of year. The returning birds didn’t seem to mind too much; they’re just as raucous as usual in spring.

One afternoon amid the cacaphony of the birds staking claims I heard the dog thunder off the deck, so naturally I go to see what on earth she took off after.

soaring bald eagle
Image by 272447 from Pixabay

Three bald eagles, one not old enough for the white head and tail yet, were soaring over the grove and the clearing beyond, suspiciously close to the chicken pen. They looked like they were there to laze about and fly in circles, but I suspect they were eying some easy pickings. The dog was barking and chasing them, as if that would discourage them if they decided to snatch a chicken.

One even flew around one side of the grove, it seemed to test the dog’s determination to chase it (which she did), or as a distraction so the other two could conduct their thievery in peace.

If you ever get to see bald eagles up close (we’re talking maybe 10 feet above the house or less), it’s a treat. Not sure I’d feel the same way if they had a chicken in their talons, but wow, it really is awe-inspiring. They did leave after a few minutes, and yes, we still have all of our chickens.

So ends week 5 of working from home. I contacted our ISP again this week to see if they could do anything about the abysmal speed. I got lucky; this tech support person changed our router settings so we are using a less-congested channel. Yay. Now the internet is at least usable during the day (still nowhere near the 6 Mbps we could be getting). It’s a good thing, too, because the ISP we were thinking of using came out for a site survey. Survey says there are too many trees in the way on the edge of town for a good signal (their transmitter is not on the water tower like we hoped). Sigh.

I turned in my first assignment for my new class. The beauty is I can use excerpts from my WIP for my homework! Speaking of WIP, aka Book 2, I’m starting the first round of revision. One thing I’ve learned about my process is that first–wait, eighth in this case–rough draft helps me put together a plot that works. Then after letting the manuscript sit for a bit, the reread allows me to refine the plot, so when I do start revising, I can adjust as I need to.

I suppose a lot of writers work that way, but I find I have a much better sense of where the story is going now, so I can make sure there is the proper set up early on. And that helps smooth things out later.

So those first seven rough drafts that didn’t work weren’t wasted effort, but they sure felt like it. Two freaking years of effort! Argh. Now it feels like: “Duh, of course this is how the story works. Sheesh. I can’t believe I thought it would work any other way.”

Then I look at those authors who release a book every year (you know who you are), and wonder how on earth they manage a functional plot the first time around. I consider myself more plotter than pantser, but I usually have a story all laid out in my head before I start. Not this time.

Granted, a lot of those authors don’t have a day job (read: retired), but still. Then again, a lot of it, I suspect, is practice. The more you practice, the better you become at putting together a plot that works without wasting–erm, spending time on seven(!) false starts.

The trees are starting to leaf out, our seasonal spring temps are due to return (yippee!!), and my seedlings are looking good. Hope you all are weathering this stay-at-home stuff.

Stay safe, wash your hands, and keep writing!

Zoey the cat sitting on teal recliner

Author: Julie Holmes, author

A fiction writer since elementary school (many years ago), and NaNoWriMo annual participant for over a decade, I have been published in small press magazines such as "Fighting Chance" and "The Galactic Citizen". I write adult mystery with a touch of romance, mystery with extrasensory elements, contemporary fantasy, and epic fantasy, and I'm represented by the fabulous Cynthia Zigmund of Second City Publishing Services. My debut novel, "Murder in Plane Sight", has been released by Camel Press (an imprint of Coffeetown Press/Epicenter Press). In real life, I am a technical writer and empty-nester with a wonderful hubby, one cat (what writer doesn't have cats??), two dogs, six chickens, and more chipmunks, squirrels, and rabbits than any garden should have to deal with. My garden, our hobby farm, and Nature's annual seasons are some of my muses.

19 thoughts on “Progress … in more ways than one

  1. That’s the thing about writing, Julie. We all go at our own pace. We’re all different. I’ve found that comparing myself to other writers isn’t productive. It’s more productive to find a writing life that works for us. As to all the nature out there, you were lucky to see those eagles. I love ’em, and we don’t see them around here.

    Liked by 1 person

    • You are so right, Margot. I get frustrated thinking about it, so I need to remind myself that I am revising now, and each day I’m that much closer to finished πŸ™‚

      I love the nature around here. We have a pair of wood ducks that stop by for a couple weeks every spring, and a couple weeks ago I saw a nuthatch. Eagles, though, are a special treat. We see them around, but not at our place very often because there isn’t a lot of water nearby.

      Have a great week and stay safe!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I know what you mean about the signal. I used to work on a team that located cell phone towers. We loved water towers.

    I’m also in wonder over people who get a book out a year. I’m trying but it’s a ton of work–pretty much all I get done all day. How do these other folks do it?

    Liked by 1 person

    • I ask myself that question all the time πŸ™‚ We did find an ISP that does have a transmitter on the water tower. It’ll still be three weeks before they can come out and do the installation. Now to manage with our marginal internet until then. Had issues today again. Sigh.

      Have a wonderful week, Jacqui! And I have a few prehistoric novels for my Kindle app πŸ™‚


  3. I’m not a fast writer, but I’m okay with that.:-) Love the eagle and the kitty photos. Gorgeous cat!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Depending on the story, I can write at a decent clip, but sometimes, like my WIP now, I plod along. Seeing the eagles was a treat! If I could get a good photo op, I’d share pics of the wood ducks that stop by our place every spring. They’re pretty tricky to get a good picture.

      Have a great week, Priscilla!


  4. I love watching bald eagles soar, I see them more by the nearby lake. When we had chickens they were on every forest animal and hawks diet. A Bear even ripped the coop door open. So we gave up, but someday I want to try again maybe a new location. Glad you got a faster speed for your internet, ours has been fading in and out the past several days. I have my garden seeds ordered apparently everyone, at least here, is buying them up. I couldn’t get everything I wanted, but I’m happy with what I did. Have a great week, Julie.

    Liked by 1 person

    • A bear?! At least we don’t have to worry about that. We’ve been lucky for the most part with our chickens. The ones we lose are usually the ones who think it’s a great adventure to fly over the pen, and of course the dog takes full advantage (and if not the dog, we have coyotes around). The dog knows she’s not supposed to kill and eat the chickens. She’s even tried to cover up her misdeeds by “hiding” the carcass out in the “back 40” where the weeds grow waist high until the coast is clear.

      I’ll have to post an update on my seedlings. They’re doing pretty well so far. Next is to call the local greenhouse and order the few things I still need, like seed potatoes and, hmm, something else I’m sure.

      Have a wonderful week, Denise!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Hello, my Zoe-Zoe. Looking at me all coy. You haven’t told her about the other cat, have you, Julie? I wouldn’t want Zoey to get jealous.
    Sorry about the cold out there. I’ve been thinking that when the weather warms up in the northern hemisphere, it will likely help a lot of people (thinking of myself here) deal with the current situation we’re in.
    Glad things are clicking with draft seven! I’m looking forward to that book!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Nope, haven’t told her you have another lovey. I told you the universe is trying to tell you a cat belongs in your family πŸ˜€ πŸ˜€

      Finally the weather is back to spring. Of course, no one told Mother Nature that spring does NOT have to include 40 mph wind. It would have been great weather yesterday and today, except for that darn wind. Sheesh.

      I’ve been making some steady progress, which feels good. Next thing is to pick out another excerpt to turn in for my next class assignment. Double-duty drafting!

      Have a wonderful week, Betsy!


      • That’s cool that you can do double duty. Thank goodness!

        Now the neighbor cat is curled up in a ball next to our front door. That poor sweet thing likes us so much. I’m told she’s already old, so I certainly don’t want my kids (okay, and me) to get too attached.

        Here’s hoping spring eventually kicks winter out and rolls in with a vengeance!

        Liked by 1 person

  6. I’m glad you got the internet speed up, Julie. That’s a big relief. And good news on the writing progress! The leave came out here yesterday. BAM. It was so weird. I hope spring shows up your way soon. 10 days to planting here! Happy Writing.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Of course, as soon as I mention the internet speed being tolerable, today was a whole ‘nother story. Sigh. We did commit to getting new internet installed; the company does have a transmitter on the water tower we can see from our back window. So, we should have something better–in three weeks. Until then, limping along as much as I can.

      Whaaat? You get to plant next week? Out here I try to wait at least until mid-May, because we can get frost through May. And never know when we’ll get snow again in April. Ahhh, the fun of spring in MN πŸ™‚

      Have a great week, Diana!

      Liked by 1 person

  7. I work in a lab and often call Mayo, always asking about the weather, knowing that’s what we’ll get here the next day.
    My wifi also went out last week. I got weirded out with no cyberspace and it made me think about my life “before” the web and put things into sensible perspective. The problem with that was a sales campaign in four days. A bit stressful but it was fixed in 2 days. Whew!
    Will be envying your garden. Keep the pictures of it coming, please.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ugh. At least you got your wifi fixed so quickly! Okay, 2 days isn’t real “quick” but better than nothing. I had to contact tech support yet again when our internet tanked this week. Again. Now they’re sending out a new router, which should get here in 3-5 business days. Sigh. And yes, it’s a good reminder of how things used to be. Interesting how dependent we’ve gotten on that instant access to the internet.

      I’ll keep posting pics πŸ˜€ I’m waiting until my peppers are big enough to transplant into the peat pots before I post pics again, but they’re doing well.

      Have a great weekend!


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