Facets of a Muse

Examining the guiding genius of writers everywhere


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Garden 2022 Update #mngarden

Here it is, 2022 edition!

And so begins another growing season. This year is starting out pretty good so far, but a lot of hot, windy days and no rain is making me worried about the smaller plants. I’ve been watering them, so crossing my fingers they’ll keep on keeping on.

So, a few things I’ve done differently this year based on last year:

  • Bought onion plants (not sets) through the mail. I’ve done that before, but not for a few years because I started the plants from seeds (cheaper for sure!). The problem is, even this year when starting them in Feb, they were scrawny. They’re getting there, but still. The plants I bought are doing well. Next year, no seeds, just plants.
  • Started cucumber plants in the house. Last year I ended up replanting, like, four times before they came up, so this year I hedged my bets. I have to pickle this year, so I needed to be sure I would get some. I’ve already got a small cuke πŸ™‚
  • Bought (and am using) organic bug killer. This year I have brussels sprouts, cabbage, kale, and kohlrabi. I do not want the cabbage worms to decimate any of them, and last year, with the unbelievable number of cucumber beetles that attacked my green beans (and killed my cucumber), I decided I’m tired of picking cabbage worms by hand and I needed some way to fight back against the cucumber beetles. I have some tulle I bought years ago to make a floating row cover to protect the brussels sprouts, etc., but I can’t find it. 😦
L to R: Kale, onions, peppers, cucumbers

I had problems with my cukes coming up last year. This year? Pumpkins. I’ve replanted those three times so far. I want to grow some pie pumpkins; I cook and freeze the pumpkin so I can make pumpkin bread (I like that more than banana bread πŸ™‚ ).

Since we had SO MANY green beans (still have LOTS in the freezer) last year, no green beans this year (kinda sucks because somehow they were string beans). Same with the beets, although I think I’ll plant some later in the summer; fresh is always better than frozen ones.

I tried spinach again this year. So far, a measly 4 plants. I’m planning to plant some more later, closer to fall. Hopefully I’ll get some decent spinach this year.

Foreground: Peppers and cukes. Back: Brussels sprouts, cabbage, and tomatoes

The tomatoes are doing well. I got varieties that are resistant to early and late blight, so crossing my fingers they’ll last long enough to get a good harvest. The peppers? Some of the sweet pepper plants are looking pretty sad. I bought plants this year because the seeds I planted in March still don’t have true leaves. I suspect they were overwatered (thanks to hubs who helped when I was in ABQ for Left Coast Crime).

Kale and onions

And there you have it. Hubs has potatoes and corn in his garden again this year, but the corn isn’t coming up very well despite getting fresh seeds this year. We’ll see how much we end up with.

On the writing front, I’m almost done with the next revision of Book 2. Then let it sit again for a week or two before one more pass, then back to my agent along with the synopsis (ugh!). The novellas are ready for critique, so I think I’m going to use one of them for the Writing Sisters reunion this year–It’s our 10th anniversary! Woo-hoo!

Keep on writing and stay cool!


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Introvert much? #amwriting #amrevising

Summer Solstice this week!

So as I’m trying to figure out what to write for this post, I keep thinking about the writerly part of my life. Writing and revising, sure, but there is a lot more to “being” a writer.

I think most writers are introverts. We’re so much more comfortable huddling at home with our notebooks, pens, and computers than we are at in-person events like book fairs, writing conferences, and writer/reader conventions.

Okay, that last one comes from knowing that Bouchercon, THE mystery writers/readers convention, is being held in Minneapolis this year. This convention is to all flavors of the mystery genre as Comi-con is to comic books, sci-fi, and superhero stuff. Well, we don’t dress up as our favorite characters … of course, our favorite characters aren’t blue, or wear robes with light swords, or have pointy ears, and we usually don’t debate which Spiderman or Batman actor was the best.

As writers, the craft is our focus. One thing writer conventions have is the opportunity to expand our knowledge of the craft. Is it enough for introverted writers to venture out and gather with hundreds of other writers? Eh, maybe. But hundreds?? The thought alone is enough to keep an introvert at home where it’s nice and quiet.

If we’re serious about getting that elusive book deal or pulling the trigger on self-publication, we know the whole introvert-stay-at-home-away-from-people thing isn’t going to cut it. Not only do we have to sell our books somehow, but one thing that can help on the book-selling front is a blurb from an author who is better-known than you are.

And that’s one of the things that should inspire writers to get out and meet other writers. It’s actually the most fun part of conventions, if you ask me. Talking to other writers–what’s more fun for a writer than talking about writing with someone who enjoys it as much as you do? Yes, being a member of a writers’ group like Sisters in Crime or Mystery Writers of America is good for access to other writers in the same genre, but meeting them in person?

Granted, you probably won’t be meeting James Patterson or Michael Connelly or Lee Child, but you could meet Brian Freeman or William Kent Kreuger. Or Kellye Garrett. Or Rachel Howzell Hall. Kellye, by the way, is an amazing people person. And Kent is one of the nicest people.

Yes, I know William Kent Kreuger. Check out his Cork O’Connor series.

I can hear you say it: Sure, but all those people! I can’t do crowds like that!

Neither can the rest of us. But for four days we can hang out and meet people. Why? It’s called “networking”. When my book 2 is ready (soon πŸ™‚ ), I can ask authors I know personally for a blurb. Doesn’t mean they’ll give me one, but knowing them personally gives me an advantage over someone they’ve never met.

Blurbs aren’t the only reason to network. Knowing someone who knows someone is valuable! Looking for a cover designer? Check in with that author you met at Left Coast Crime who has amazing covers and ask who they use. Looking for an editor? Ask around for recommendations. How about reviewers? Again, ask around.

And when you join a group of authors who are rebooting a local “meet the author” series, knowing someone like William Kent Kreuger or Matt Goldman or Brian Freeman is gold. Nothing like getting a NYT-bestselling local author to help the visibility of an author-reader venture!

More on that to come. In the meantime, stay cool this week (it’s going to be ugly-hot in most of the country for the next week or so) and keep writing!


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Of gardens, retreats, and a Muse #amrevising #amwriting

I leave my shoes, complete with a layer of garden mud/dirt on the mat just inside the outside door to my writing office. Then I feel something crawling on my leg. I strip off my garden jeans. Wouldn’t you know it, an effing woodtick. I use my trusty multi-tool pliers to introduce the eight-legged curse to the physics of pressure between stainless steel jaws. Heh. Take that, you little bloodsucker!

Now to find my comfy cotton lounge pants, which I’m pretty sure I tossed onto one of the recliners. Before I take a step, I hear the other door of my office open.

My Muse comes around the wall that separates the alcove from the outside door before I can escape. He arches a brow. I can tell he’s struggling not to smile. “Well, that’s different.” He loses the battle, and his wide grin stops just short of a snicker.

“Shut up and toss me my lounge pants. They should be on the recliner.”

He doesn’t move, just stares at me with a shit-eating grin.

“Fine, I’ll go around the other way.” I can get a clean T-shirt while I’m at it. I grab the handle of the door I just came through.

“Hang on, love.” My Muse disappears around the wall into the alcove and reappears a second later with my comfy pants in hand.

“Give.”

He makes a show of looking from my pants to his white T-shirt with its graphic of a surfing koala to me and back. “You know, you are as pale as my shirt.”

Well, at least he didn’t mention the fact I haven’t shaved my legs since last fall. “And that surprises you how? I live in Minnesota, and it’s barely summer. Toss me my pants.”

He pitches them to me. I practically jump into them.

“I’m sure there’s a good story behind that,” he says. I can hear the laughter in his voice.

“Yes, it was a woodtick. I killed it.” I push past him and grab my laptop off my desk before I settle into a recliner. “By the way, where have you been?”

He grabs two bottles of water from the mini-fridge and hands one to me as he settles into the other recliner. “Around. When are you going back to that cute little cabin?”

“Not until October. Glad you liked it.” It was definitely a good few days. No distractions except those of my own making (and with lousy internet, fewer of those). No TV all day long, no news, no work, no trying to focus when there’s all the other stuff to do, like clean, and procrastinate cleaning.

“Hmm. You should go back before then.”

“Can’t. Besides, it’ll be way busier over the summer.”

“Bummer. You’re about due to go back to Book 2, aren’t you?”

“Yes.” I’d like to spend more time on my police procedural, though. Sort of. I got the scenes rearranged, and I’m on the first run through them to make sure all the events that I rearranged are now in the proper sequence. I feel like I’ve lost some of the voice, though. I’ll have to focus on that on the next round.

“Tell you what, love. Give the procedural one more week, then get Book 2 done.”

“That’s the plan. I still have to figure out how to cut 10,000 words.” Ten thousand words? I almost–almost–forgot about that.

“And don’t forget about those novellas.”

“I haven’t.” I can’t work on those until I get Book 2 revised and sent back to my agent. “You aren’t planning on disappearing for a pub crawl or anything are you?”

He winks at me, dimples deep in his cheeks with his sly smile. “No plans, love, but I haven’t seen E for a while.”

Whew, it’s getting warm in here. Better get to work. Hope everyone is doing well, writing well, and staying healthy!

Last week, kitten flashback. Here they are all grown up!


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It begins … Garden season 2022 #amgardening #mngarden

Picture from last year (because I haven’t taken any pics this year yet)

Memorial Day weekend is the traditional garden-planting weekend here in MN, especially since we’ve had a cool spring (hey, at least we’ve had what we can consider spring, instead of jumping right into summer πŸ™‚ ) This year was no different, despite my hubs’ insistentence I had to get the garden in far sooner.

It’s a procedure, at least for me. I posted pics last year, so I’ll spare you this year. Granted, I don’t spend all day putting the garden in. I go out after work (or on weekends, after an early supper) because it’s started to cool down (of course, that’s often prime mosquito time, too). It ends up being about two-three hours at a time.

One of the biggest time consumers is raking grass for mulch. Yes, we have a lawn tractor, but a) the grass tends to be closer to a foot tall instead of three inches tall (no golf course lawns here, more like four-wheeling), and b) with grass that tall the mower clogs pretty easy. Bottom line, in my mind it’s faster to rake it instead of mowing super slow and stopping every fifty feet to unclog the chute. Besides, it’s exercise. And it saves gas, which is saying something these days πŸ™‚ .

I actually started planting last night–finally. Memorial Day was “Storm Day” here, so I intentionally didn’t plant because we were due some severe weather. There were a few tornado touchdowns in MN, one even within 30 miles of us, and sheets of rain and WIND! If I’d planted anything, the stuff would have either drowned or gotten beaten up from the wind.

Then the wind. Sheesh. Laying out fabric mulch and covering it with cut grass mulch that is a couple days old is fine when the wind is light, but once it hits 10+ mph it’s kinda futile cuz the grass is dry (wet/fresh grass is heavier).

Anyway, I got the tomatoes, peppers, and cukes in. Tonight I’ll put in the rest, and rake up more mulch if I have the energy. It seems like every year I have less energy to do that stuff. And hey, I’m not that old, although sometimes it feels like it πŸ™‚ . I remember watching Romper Room after school and Captain Kangaroo, just to give you an idea …

As for writing, slowly but surely. I’m working through the reorganization of my police procedural, but I’ll have to go back to Book 2 soon and do another run through it before I send it back to my agent.

Hope everyone is having a productive early summer/late spring!

Keep on writing!

Flashback: Nyx and Tibbers as kittens