Facets of a Muse

Examining the guiding genius of writers everywhere


Hiatus, part 2

Do you ever wish you had a place where you could go and leave the real world responsibilities behind and just write? No cleaning, no full-time job, no migraines, no cleaning … you know, that alternate reality where all you have to do is get your revision done? Or write that first draft (for the second, third, fourth, etc time!)? Or polish that stupid extra scene you had to add because you came up with a brilliant way to address the plot problem you ran into?

Yep. I don’t know where that exists, either, so I’ll have to make do with working around my to-do list that I’ve been putting off for weeks. Any-hoo, I’m almost finished, and damn it, I will turn my WIP in to my writing teacher before the next time we Zoom chat (on Tuesday).

I’m gone writing. Be back next week, when I’ll make up some brilliant wisdom to share (or just the fortune from a cookie 🙂 )

Zoey the cat chilling on the deck


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A little potpourri #amrevising #amgardening #amreading

Dontcha hate it when all those pesky real-life responsibilities get in the way of your writing? Cleaning, paying bills, full-time job, cleaning, paying taxes, migraines, COVID vax, updating my resume (yep, I’ve fallen victim to the acquisition company’s line: “I’m sorry, but your position will be eliminated as of the middle of summer), socializing with the fam. You know, the stuff you have to do because you’re a grown-up (at least in age). Hang on, I have to go open the chicken coop so the girls can get out and stretch their legs.

Okay, I’m back. We lost a chicken a few weeks ago to some unknown predator. Could have been a raccoon (though why a bandit would bother trying to kill a chicken is beyond me; I don’t think they’re that ambitious), or a hawk (except hawks don’t usually eat the head right away), or a skunk (again, would they go through the effort), or more likely the tomcat we’ve seen roaming around (and that treed Zoey last week). Hey, as long as the remaining four do their jobs and lay eggs …

Speaking of outdoors, hubs tilled the garden. Since last year, he’s tilled two spots: my usual garden, and what he calls “his” garden, where he plants potatoes and the sweet corn I swore I would never plant again. This year I asked him to save a spot for the pumpkins he asked me to get for him (Pepitas variety, in case you’re wondering. Hull-less seeds so he can roast them in the fall). Besides, my SIL asked me to grow some pumpkins for her. The two varieties need some space so they don’t cross-pollinate. Hubs planted some potatoes already, with more in line to plant.

Me? Nothing in the garden yet. In MN we know we can have frosts as late as the week before Memorial Day. In fact, we’ve had frost warnings the past few days. Which doesn’t bother cool weather crops like lettuce, spinach, cabbage and relatives, and a few others, but in my world I’d rather plant once instead of plant some, then later plant or re-plant the tender stuff. Besides, I have a revision to finish.

The seedlings are looking really good. I’ve started hardening them off, which is a fancy way of saying putting them outside for a while so they get used to cooler temps and wind. I figure I’ll stick with my usual timetable of Memorial Day weekend for planting.

Things are looking up for in-person events this summer–YAY!! I’m mostly excited about the probability of seeing my Writing Sisters in person at our reunion this year. Okay, I’m excited to see my fam (sibs and such) at our summer gathering, too. Last time I saw my sibs was during our Christmas Zoom. My dad made a surprise visit a couple weekends ago, because he wanted to get out.

Now, my dad has this wonderful (not) habit of calling just before he leaves home (instead of, like, the day before) to see if we’re going to be around for a visit. Luckily, he’s about an hour and a half away, so that gives us some time to quick-clean (trust me, it’s not nearly enough time, because all that cleaning gets in the way of writing 🙂 ). He didn’t used to call ahead; my mom would. In fact, I got a call from my mom one day (years ago!). She asked if Dad had talked to me about the piano.

Me: Um, no.

She then gave me a heads up: Dad’s on his way with a piano (from my aunt and uncle).

Me (and hubs): What?!

We managed to find a place for it before he arrived. After that, I think my mom explained to him that the appropriate thing to do (especially when moving an upright piano) is call ahead. (A little backstory so you don’t think my dad is crazy-spontaneous: we had talked about getting the piano (which my aunt and uncle (Dad’s brother) wanted to get rid of), but moving an upright piano isn’t exactly an easy task. Calling moving companies was on the to-do list. I think my uncle complained (?) to Dad about what to do, and Dad took it upon himself to move it for us).

BTW, I’ve tried to pawn that same piano off on my brother (since we rarely use it anymore), but he got an electronic keyboard for the girls instead. Good plan. Way easier to move a keyboard than a whole piano.

Well, better get back to revising. And of course, I’m only halfway through thanks to real-life responsibilities, so yet another week before I turn it in. I promise. 😀

Write on!


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Muse-ing revisions #amwriting #amrevising

Image by JL G from Pixabay

LIghts are on in the writing office. The brainstorming wall hasn’t changed from when I left–wait, that yellow streak wasn’t there before.

It’s too quiet. Bloody hell. I leave for a few days, and my writer vanishes.

The outside door to the office opens. My writer toes her shoes off onto the mat beside the door as she closes it. She looks up. Her eyes widen.

“Nice of you to show up.” She hangs her coat on the rack and tosses her hat onto the shelf above it. “Wish I could take a break like that. Where’d you go? Sydney? Adelaide?”

“Muse conference.” I lean against her desk. “I missed you too, love. Where did you go? You are supposed to be working.”

She tucks her feet into slippers and shuffles around the partition wall to the mini-fridge. “I went for a walk now that it’s getting nice outside.” She pulls a water bottle from the fridge and drops into one of the recliners. “I had to do something to work out the snarl in the plot.” She narrows her eyes. “Since you disappeared in the middle of a brainstorming session.”

She said it like I ran off to plan some nefarious activity. “You’re doing fine, love.”

“Have you even read my revision?”

I gesture to the brainstorming wall, with its riot of colors. “We worked on it. You even added something new.” Now that I look at it, it’s a significant addition. “Isn’t this the idea you dropped earlier?”

“Yeah. And if you had told me to keep going with it, I might have figured out I needed to keep it sooner. I could’ve added it in the last revision.” She sets her half-empty bottle aside and pulls out her laptop. “Since you’re here, why don’t you make yourself useful and write my blog post so I can get back to work.”

Not in my job description. Which doesn’t mean I haven’t done it before. “You can do it, love.”

An eyebrow arches. “I don’t want to lose the idea I just came up with. If you do it, I can get back to finishing this scene before I forget it.”

“You don’t know what to write for your post, do you?”

She leans her head back and sighs. “Fine, you’re right. I have no idea what to write.” She looks me in the eye. “Please?”

A sense of satisfaction settles in me. There’s my writer. As aggravating as she can be, she’s progressing.

“Hell, write about your Muse conference or whatever you were doing. Is that code for a pub crawl?”

“No, love. I’ll throw together something for the blog. Then we work on that wall.”

At least he was gracious about it. Usually he grumbles. I’m trying to stay focused, and feel like I’ve lost touch with so much blogging stuff. I apologize that I haven’t been visiting lately. It’s like I’m so far behind I just want to hide. Once I turn in my manuscript to my writing teacher (by the end of April–yes, I’m sure), I’ll feel better about trying to catch up. Miss you all!

Happy Writing!

Don’t bug me. I’m busy.


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All I got was a lousy draft #amrevising #amwriting #amediting

Have you ever seen T-shirts with the saying: My (sister/brother/best friend’s uncle’s cousin) went to (fill in name of awesome tourist destination here) and all I got was this lousy T-shirt?

Yeah, it’s kinda like that.

The door of my writing office that leads to outside clicks shut. “What is so important it couldn’t wait until after coffee, love?”

I look up as my Muse steps into view. “What took you so long?”

He leans against the partial wall that separates the recliner nook from the outside door, to-go coffee cup in hand. His T-shirt, a faded green with a wash-worn decal of a surfing kangaroo over an outline of Australia, is a fitting accessory to his gray sweatpants. Scruff covers his face, and he neglected to do any sort of hair-taming. He lifts the coffee cup. “Caribou. If I’d known I’d have to wait in line for fifteen minutes, I would’ve made my own.” He takes a sip. “What’s the emergency?”

Wow, he managed to say that without a smirk. “It sucks.” There. Simple. Succinct.

He raises an eyebrow. “It’s a draft. It’s supposed to suck.”

“It’s my third revision, and it still sucks.” Yes, I know I sound like I’m whining, but damn it. Just, damn it.

He takes another sip. “I’m not doing your ‘homework’ for you, love. My job is to inspire you.”

“I knew it was bad, and I made some changes that were supposed to take care of most of the issues, but shit.” I toss the stack of index cards (rubber-banded together, of course) at him. It hits that fine chest of his and drops to the floor. “How could you let me write this? There is no tension. Plenty of conflict–in about six scenes.” I fail to suppress a sigh. “I was planning to turn this in by the end of the month. There’s no way I can turn this in to anyone, least of all my writing teacher.”

He picks the stack of cards off the floor and settles into the recliner beside me. “Isn’t that why you decided to try this method to begin with?” he asks, waving the stack at me before tossing it into my lap. “To look at each scene and make sure each one had enough action, relationship, information, suspense, and emotion? You haven’t even done that yet, have you?”

“I don’t need to do that. I already know it sucks.” And looking at each scene illustrated just how much suspense and tension the story lacks.

“You need to do that, love.” My Muse finishes his coffee and tosses the cup into the trash bin beside the mini-fridge. “That’s how you determine what each scene is lacking.”

“Scene? Hell, the whole damn story is boring.” I bounce my head against the back of the recliner. Yes, childish, I know, but I don’t care. “I’ve been hearing how much people like my book, the amount of tension and suspense, how they couldn’t put it down. The pacing.” Bounce. “This book doesn’t have that.”

“It’s a different book, love.”

“With the same main characters.” Pretty sure this is what they call “imposter syndrome”. “It needs to be at least as good as the first one.”

He looks at me with his gorgeous blue eyes. “How many second movies in a series are as good as the first one?”

“Really?” I roll my eyes. “Shouldn’t it be, how many second books in a series are as good as the first one? Lots. I’ve read lots of series, and nine times out of ten, the second book is as good as the first, if not better.”

He narrows his eyes at me. “So, how are you going to fix it?”

I sigh. A big. Long. Sigh. “That’s why I called you. I’ll have to tell my writing teacher I won’t make the end-of-March deadline, but I don’t want to push the deadline back too much. I have to fix this before I let her look at it.”

His turn to sigh. “Okay, love.” He cracks his knuckles. “Let’s get to it, then. Where’s the brainstorming bucket?”

And that’s pretty much how my week went. Do you ever struggle with suspense and tension in a book? Any suggestions? I’m reverting to my “what if” and “what is her greatest fear” tools. As in, “what if this happens, then what?” and “what is she afraid of losing?” (see, I did pay attention in writing class 😀 ) It helps. It helps even more that everything has dried up enough so it isn’t muddy; it means I can walk without wearing my snow boots (which make my feet hurt after the first mile), which helps my brainstorming process.

Back to the drawing/writing board.

Happy Writing!


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When characters change their story #amwriting #amreading

Holy crap! It’s almost March?! Wow! Either I haven’t been paying much attention (likely) or time has been flying (eh, not as likely). I’ve been working on my rural MN mystery project while I let Book 2 steep a bit. I figure I’ll give it another week before I tackle the next revision; I’m aiming to turn it in to my writing teacher by the end of March.

Really.

Anyway, I’ve been tinkering with the rural MN mystery for a few years, off and on between spits and starts with Book 2. I think it’s a neat story, and I’m trying out a few new-to-me techniques, like dual timelines and first-person POV (first person isn’t new to me, but I haven’t used it outside of a few short stories way back in the day).

I’ve had my main characters put together for a while. I know their histories, their motivations, and all that good stuff. I know where they came from, what they do for a living, and their favorite flavor of ice cream … okay, maybe not that last one, but you get it.

Secondary characters are a little different. There are secondary characters and secondary characters. Maybe minor characters is a better term. Yeah, let’s go with that. I still know the backgrounds of secondary characters; I suppose they would be called the supporting cast in a movie. Those are the ones with a history of some sort with the main characters.

Minor characters are the ones that pop in and out of the story because someone needs to be there. In my book, Murder in Plane Sight, I needed someone to take my main character to a place where she would cross paths with a secondary character. My main character, Sierra, had no reason to be anywhere the secondary character was.

To remedy this, I looked at Sierra’s background. Aha! She has a younger sister. Her sister’s sole purpose in the story is to make sure Sierra is someplace in particular. Voila! Minor character (for now), and she’s just the way I imagined her.

In the rural MN mystery, my main character is digging for information. There are two minor characters she talks to, kinda like witnesses. They both started out as “man on the street” characters who appear once, do their job, and exit – stage left.

I wrote a scene with the first minor character, and it went as expected. Five minutes (book time) of questions, and the minor character is finished. Bye, have a nice life.

Okay, on to the next scene. I had a similar vision for the MC’s conversation with this minor character: ask a few questions, go their separate ways.

Yeah, not so much. The character is a guy in his mid- to late-twenties, a cook in a nursing home who people claim looks a lot like a young Steve McQueen. In my mind, he was a “good neighbor”, willing to mow your lawn while you go on vacation or stop on the side of the road to help you change that flat tire. A “Minnesota Nice” kind of guy. Easy going. Pleasant. Just, nice.

He must have decided “nice” was overrated, because by the end of the scene, I had a new suspect/possible bad guy. How the hell did that happen? I swear he was nothing but a guy all the little old ladies love because he’s handsome and charming.

On the bright side (because there’s always a reason a writer’s subconscious does stuff like this, right?), I now have another someone who could have done the crime. I don’t know his background yet, so he may have a motive I haven’t discovered. Besides, who wouldn’t want to see more of a young Steve McQueen look-alike?

One more week to explore this story before I go back to Book 2 and revision round #4. Oh, almost forgot:

If you have some time next weekend, join me at the Deep Valley Book Festival’s “Cabin Fever” event! I’m on panels at 10a (CT) and 1p (CT). It’s fun, it’s authors, and it’s FREE! No driving required (or pants, if that’s your thing 😉 )

It feels like spring here, at least until it snows tomorrow. Sigh. The equinox is in three weeks–yippee! I’m starting my seeds and dreaming of fresh green grass and new leaves (when I’m not thinking about Book 2, that is 🙂 )

Happy Writing!

Wake me when it’s spring