I open the door to my writing office, glass of ice water in hand, to find the lights on.
Great, he’s here. Wait, let me adjust my brain. Great! He’s here! Yep, that’s better.
I poke my head around the door. Sure enough, my Muse is sitting behind my desk, leaning back in my chair, and focusing on my laptop. The board shorts and tank top I expect to see him in this time of year are absent, replaced by cargo shorts and a T-shirt. His skin is still tan, his blond hair sun-bleached, and his bare feet guarded by leather Birkenstocks (at least he isn’t wearing socks!) He doesn’t react, but I know he knows I’m here.
I ease the door closed behind me.
“It’s about time, love.” He still doesn’t look over at me.
“Aren’t you supposed to be riding waves somewhere south of the equator. Like, Australia? Not that I’m complaining or anything.” I rest a hip on my desk. Nope, not complaining at all. I’m glad he’s here, and not just because of the scenery, although I’d be okay with it if that’s the only reason he’s here. I’d never complain about the opportunity to see that.
He lifts his head, a knowing smile stretching across his face, deepening the divot in his chin and showcasing his dimples. His roguish grin lights his blue eyes. “You can wipe off the drool.”
Damn it. The last thing I need is his ego making itself comfortable. I sip my water instead. “I have no idea what you’re talking about.” Okay, I can’t stand it. I swipe my hand across my mouth. It’s water. Really. “I need your help, anyway.”
He stands and brushes past me on the way to the mini-fridge. The scent of coconut sun lotion and ocean follows him. He may not be dressed like he’s ready to catch some waves, but he smells like he is. “You need to focus.”
“What do you mean? I’m focused. I’m working through another revision, I have Writing Sisters’ eyes on it, and …”
He retrieves a bottle of water from the fridge. “You do, and that’s good.” He twists the top off and swallows a quarter of it. “But your head–” he points to his own “–is not with the book.”
“Um, you do know I’m trying to find another job, right?”
“Yes. I also know you’re binge-reading that urban fantasy series for the third time, instead of reading the craft books you got over the past year.”
“Hey, blame MM for that. She’s the one who introduced me to Kate Daniels.” Of all the series I’ve read over the years, Ilona Andrews’ Kate Daniels series is the first one I ever felt compelled to turn around and re-read as soon as I finished the last book in the series. I’m still trying to figure out why. I’m leaning toward the character development.
“Uh-huh.” He narrows one eye at me. “You’re not ready to write that urban fantasy, love.”
“Then stop sending me ideas for it.”
“Stop reading urban fantasy and get back on track.”
I fail to stifle a grumble. “Whatever. I don’t know what to send out to my Writing Sisters for this year’s reunion. I want to write a short story, and I have an idea, but I have those other projects …”
He settles into one of the recliners. “Which project do you want to work on next?”
He would have to ask that. “Both of them. My police procedural is finished, but I need to make some adjustments. The rural mystery isn’t finished. I need to work on a short story so I have something to submit to anthologies.”
“Which one do you want to work on, love?”
Honestly, right now I want to get a new job so I can relax a bit. I must be hesitating too long, because he leans forward and rests his elbows on his knees, hands clasped around the bottle.
“Which one have you been thinking the most about lately?”
“Story or characters?”
He shakes his head. “Fine. Characters.”
“My police procedural.” Except I’ve been thinking about the characters in their arcs that occur about six books into the series. I have only the first four books drafted, and only the first one polished (which I have to remodel a bit). “That doesn’t help me. Which project should I send to my Sisters? If I write a short story now, I can revise it a couple times before I have to send it to them. Besides, they’ve already read the police procedural, except for M.”
“Do you really think you can write a short story in time to send it out in two weeks, love?”
“I could if I sat down and wrote it. I’ve already talked through the plot during my walks.”
“Can and actually doing are two different things. You’d have more time to write if you weren’t binge-reading.”
“It’s a mental break.” And damn it, I’m trying to figure out why I like those books so much. I’m pretty sure it’s the characters. Which, come to think of it, is why people keep asking me about my second book with Sierra and Quinn.
“I could share part of the novella.”
An eyebrow arches onto his forehead. “The novella you haven’t written yet?”
“I’ve written part of it.”
He sighs, gets to his feet, and crosses the office to stand in front of me. He lays a hand on my shoulder and squeezes. “You know which one I would choose.”
Yes, I do, if only because one of the characters is modeled after him. It’s the one closest to finished. “You’re really not being very helpful, you know.”
“I am, love. You just don’t see it yet.”
Do you ever struggle with what project to work on next? How do you decide?
Keep on writing!