Facets of a Muse

Examining the guiding genius of writers everywhere

Okay, got enough for a while, thanks! #mnsnow


After a few years of ho-hum snowfall, Mother Nature decided to remind us that yes, it really is WINTER. The week before Christmas we got maybe 6 inches of snow. The week between Christmas and New Year’s Day we had a blizzard–it was tough to tell how much snow we got with all that blowing. THEN, we got more snow the beginning of this week. Did I hear you ask how much?

Well, not as much as Buffalo, NY got, or the mountains, but we got plenty.

Yes, you read that right. TEN inches. Remember, that’s all on top of the probably 8 to 10 inches we already got from the last couple snowstorms.

On the bright side, we don’t live in northern MN, where they got twice as much (at least) so far this season. I like to look at snow (as long as I’m not driving in it), it’s pretty, but shoveling it is a pain (this was heavier wet snow, not the light fluffy stuff–that all blew away in the blizzard). Hubs has used the tractor and snow blower more in the last three weeks than he did all last winter!

It just makes me want to hibernate until spring; good for writing, right?

Actually, watching the snowstorms reminds me of my book, Murder in Plane Sight, in which Winter played a big role. In a way, people who live in northern climes that get the “fun” white stuff almost have it made when throwing stuff at their characters. I mean, there’s nothing quite like being out in a snowstorm. I can think of a handful of MN authors off the top of my head who used winter–snowstorms and just winter in general–in their books to add to their characters’ troubles.

Who? Well, let’s see. William Kent Kreuger, Allen Eskens, Chris Norbury, John Sandford, Matt Goldman, Tami Hoag, I could go on. These are authors I’ve read recently (like, in the past 2-3 years 🙂 ). That’s one of the fun things, right? Set your story in a period of inclement weather, whatever the area is “famous” for, and throw some fun “forces of Nature” in to make things interesting.

In my book, my characters have to deal with a nasty winter storm by driving through blinding snow. Which is neither wise nor easy, since the snow reflects the headlights back into your eyes and you can’t see anything because of that as much as because of the snow itself. Allen Eskens had one of his characters escape the bad guy–right into fresh, deep snow and frigid temps.

Chris Norbury threw his character into remote northern Minnesota in a snowstorm. Driving in a snowstorm in the city is one thing; at least there are streetlights on both sides of the road. Driving in a snowstorm in rural areas? Not recommended; there’s a point when if you don’t have tracks to follow, there’s no way to tell where the road is. Of course, you don’t know if those tracks will lead you into a ditch.

On one hand, though, it’s way easier to follow someone in fresh snow. Matt Goldman’s character had that fortune, until he got to an area where the snow had already been tramped through. John Sandford’s Virgil Flowers took advantage of that, all except for the part where you can follow someone through the woods, but you have no idea what is under the snow to trip over.

And that’s just the snow. That doesn’t even count the cold. Hmm, I think I’ll save that for another MN mystery 🙂 . But MN isn’t the only place with natural challenges you can throw in your character’s path. You don’t have to treat them like the Donner party. What about floods, or hurricanes, or sleet, or tornados? Or extended periods of hot, humid weather? By utilizing what we all have to deal with, and not only the nice days when the sun is shining and the flowers are blooming, you can use the setting as a character in your own story. And of course, the classic example of that (modern day example) is Where the Crawdads Sing.

Wait, what about using the weather to give your character an advantage? That would be a nice change, the thick fog to hide their approach to a building, or the rain to hide the sound of that squeaky stair tread. Or a nice summer day when they can go on that hike or swim in the lake or enjoy a romantic evening stroll.

Oh, I did resubmit Book 2 to my agent before the end of the year. Crossing fingers she’ll like this revision. Now back to my police procedural project. Hope you all had a good Christmas/holiday of choice!


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??), one dog, five 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.

5 thoughts on “Okay, got enough for a while, thanks! #mnsnow

  1. You have had your share of snow, Julie! You’re right, too, about the way things like snowstorms can add quite a lot to a story. Things can happen when people are a little too cooped up. And that’s not to mention the physical danger of being out in a storm. I’ve seen that sort of thing used quite well, and I’ll bet you use it well, too.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh, man, I didn’t even think about the whole cooped up together during a storm thing (part of me wants to add an evil laugh 🙂 ) What a great idea, Margot! Now to figure out which project needs a bunch of people forced together because of a storm.

      Have a wonderful weekend!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Zoey looks cozy and warm and utterly unconcerned about the mounting snow outside. I remember, when reading In Plain Sight, feeling the cold, the chill, the intense strain and pressure from that weather, even though it was warm here. The weather in your book was certainly palpable. You did a great job… of making me never want to move there! 😉 🙂
    Also, looks like you’re nearly caught up at my blog. Well done!

    Liked by 1 person

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