Facets of a Muse

Examining the guiding genius of writers everywhere


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Hey, is that … Spring?

Look quick! Don’t blink! We’re having Spring–for a week. Well, five days. Then BOOM! Summer.

Damn. I love Spring, and it’s way too early for 80 deg F temps in MN. Besides, the earlier it gets warm, the earlier I need to get the garden in. We’re past the usual last-frost date (not that it matters much in MN; we’ve had frost halfway through May), and the stinging nettle, quackgrass, and creeping charlie are popping up like it’s a race, so of course Hubs decides we need to get the garden in.

Okay, buddy. First, kill the weeds along the fence that we didn’t pull out last year, or the year before, or the year before that (I used to take the fence down every year, but since we wrapped the chicken wire around it, it’s a PITA to take down in the fall after the weeds have grown into it). We try not to use chemicals, so he got one of those dragon torches to kill the weeds. Great, except it’s more effective when you actually use it, and when said weeds aren’t a foot tall.

And the creeping charlie managed to breech the ramparts last year. I am this close to using an herbicide on that stuff. Hubs staunchly refuses, but damn it, he’s the one who brought home the grass clippings that started the invasion from another property we had. And I’m the one who maintains the garden.

Might need to be a little covert on this one.

Anyway, I didn’t intend for this to be a rant about weeds, or even about the “don’t blink, you’ll miss it” spring. I actually had a question for my fellow writers who have author websites.

So here’s the thing. I put together my website before Murder in Plane Sight came out. I was in IT for years, so doing it myself was a given. I looked at other authors’ websites to get ideas, and some authors posted about websites and tools on their blogs.

So, I did my research (ad nauseum) and picked a tool that worked well for me. It had more capability than WordPress, and I could use one plugin vs many. It worked great! Until it didn’t. So, this tool, at some point, stopped playing nice after it updated, and I couldn’t edit my webpage. So, I check in with the plugin’s tech support, who gave me a bunch of suggestions I couldn’t do because I don’t host my own site. I finally got it working again. For a while.

Then it happened again. I needed to update my site, and the damn tool stopped working again. So back to tech support. Basically, they said to rollback the updates. I did, and it worked! Rinse and repeat. It’s happened again, and I’ve turned off the auto-updates (which we all know is going to bite me in the ass at some point, because you should always keep software updated).

I’m done fighting with this plugin. Yes, it’s a subscription thing, but not too expensive (Elementor, if you are curious. And other people might not have any problems with it at all). Still, it should work after an update, right? Especially after I’ve followed all of their tech support suggestions to fix it.

Anyway, for those fellow writers who maintain their own author site, what themes or tools do you use? Suggestions? I’m starting the whole researching websites thing again, but I’m reluctant to spend a ton of time I could use to write (or plant the garden) looking for reviews and playing around with trial versions. Or playing around with my website when I don’t know if the tool I try will work for me, or even if I should redesign my whole author site. And that’s a whole ‘nother rabbit hole–looking for ideas on website design. Hell, designing a website when I don’t know what design resonates with me.

So, if anyone has any suggestions, toss them my way. I’ll probably have to set up a temporary new website to play around with until I get things figured out so I don’t mess up my real one.

Hope everyone is having some nice spring weather! Take a walk, enjoy the tulips and daffodils fast, because they won’t last long.

Happy Writing!

Watching chipmunks really wears a gal out


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So many projects, so little focus

My favorite season is Spring. The trees wake up, the grass greens up, the flowers, the birds–the two pairs of wood ducks who always stop by on their way to wherever they go showed up earlier this week (not sure where they went, though; haven’t seen them lately). The mosquitoes aren’t out yet (but I understand ticks probably are), and it’s usually pretty nice temp-wise.

We had a nice spring last year, weeks of gorgeous weather if I remember right. A few years back, we had a couple weeks of spring, maybe. Then Memorial Day weekend was almost 100 degrees F. Ugh. Summer started waaay too soon.

This year? Oh boy. We still had lows below freezing last weekend. Yes, a week before May we had freezing temps at night. The highs have finally begun to reach the 50s. Of course, that doesn’t mention anything about the wind. OMG! A little wind is expected, but dang, we’re talking 20-25 mph gusting to 30+. Yeesh. And gray gloom. I’ve had to use my SAD therapy light a few times because the sun didn’t show up.

Anyway (you know that talking about the weather is part of MN culture, right? 😀 ). Getting focused has been tough lately, for some reason. Maybe it was the binge-reading of an urban fantasy series (K. N. Banet’s Jacky Leon series, if anyone is wondering). I needed something light, and I swear I was only going to re-read the first one …

No excuse, though. I got feedback from my agent on Book 2. Not too much, adjustments here and there, but I still have to think a bit about them. I have my game plans for revising both Book 2 and my synopsis. And my final is next week–yippee (only because that’s my last class–not looking forward to the final, but whatever)! So, studying is on the to-do list. I don’t have any classes for the rest of the year, because the classes I need aren’t being offered, so that’s a break. However, I’m going to try to test out of one of my required classes at some point this year. On the list for a later date.

I’ve got my task list, I just need to focus. Always seems to be easier said than done, especially while real life is bumpy. Could be bumpier, though. So, what to do …

My time-tested method to deal with it (especially when the weather is less than ideal for walking)? NaNoWriMo. A reinforcement of the “write every day” mantra. Granted, I won’t be trying to write 50k words, but I dedicate a couple hours every night to writing (which has the added bonus of allowing me to ignore the incessant news Hubs likes to watch).

And yes, I should work on Book 2 and the synopsis, but I feel like I need a little bit of a break. Maybe a weekend with another project, maybe my police procedural or my rural MN project. Or, maybe a weekend with my urban fantasy; not too much time, though, because I don’t have that fleshed out yet. I get random scenes in my head that bug me until I write them down. So inconsiderate!

Hope you all are enjoying better weather than our gloomy, windy, almost-but-not-quite spring.

Keep on writing!

Nyx–plotting??


Writers and Books Festival season begins! #raac #amreading

Well, I’m off to my first in-person event of the year! If you’re in the area, stop by and say “Hi!”. I’ll share details with y’all next week. In the meantime:

Have a wonderful, writing-filled weekend! Or at least enjoy the first day of Spring!

Zoey the cat chilling on the deck


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Doing the shuffle #amediting #amrevising

While I’m waiting to hear back from a couple beta readers (heck, I even drafted another couple readers because my current ones have gone AWOL on me–you know who you are), I’ve been working on my police procedural, the one I set aside for a few years while I shifted my attention to Murder in Plane Sight (shameless plug 🙂 ).

I read it for the first time in years, and now see the problem with it–well, one of a few problems, anyway. It’s not balanced. The first half is mostly character development, while the action happens in the second half. Not the way to construct a mystery (hey, I think I’ve learned a few things over the past few years! 😀 )

So, I wrote each scene on an index card, and used those to rearrange the scenes. Some people do it completely on the computer, and I started doing that with Scrivener since I write in Scrivener, but I think it’s easier to actually shuffle physical cards around. I also think it’s easier to see more of the whole picture–dining room table vs laptop screen.

So I played “shuffle the scenes” this week, and I think I’ve got things balanced now. Now comes the fun part: sure, I rearranged the scenes, but each scene has to be revised so it fits into the new flow. Luckily the first few scenes and the last few scenes are fine as they are. It’s just the middle 50% that needs work. Kinda like all those books between the bookends that you want to rearrange by title, author, spine color, or size. Okay, not really, but you get the gist.

I’ve got my first in-person event next weekend–yippee! I’ll get to see some of my fellow Sisters in Crime buddies in real life! I did see some of them in person last fall, but I’ll see a few others outside of a small rectangle on a screen. And my sister-in-law is part of the group that organized the writers’ festival, so I’ll get to see her for the first time in a couple years as well.

And the Solstice is only a week away! Tough to tell with the below-zero wind chills yesterday. I think the “feels like” temp was somewhere south of zero despite the air temp being in the low 20s. Sure felt like January. Crossing my fingers that Old Man Winter is ready to call it a season and let Spring get her fingers in things. I am so done with winter; this year has been colder than average since Jan.

It’s tax season–ugh, and my class is back in session–boo, and the dust bunnies are starting to follow me around the house, so I’ve got a few things on my list, not to mention a couple more books to read before Left Coast Crime in April. I am so ready for my personal writing retreat in May!

Hope you are all staying warm (for those in the way of winter storms and this lovely cold we’ve been enjoying here in MN). Happy St. Patrick’s Day early! Keep on writing!

Nap time for Zoey


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I remembered :)

Okay, so I forgot to post last week–almost. Eyeball-deep in my police procedural, it was hours before I finally realized it was Saturday and I hadn’t posted. Sigh.

And then I started thinking about stuff going on, and I decided I was okay with posting late. Hell, I wouldn’t remember what I had for breakfast if I didn’t have the same thing every morning.

Anywho, this year is shaping up to be a lot busier than the past two (raise your hand if you know why *psst, it’s the pandemic*). Today (Saturday, March 5) is the grand virtual book festival called Cabin Fever, presented by the same wonderful volunteers who organize the Deep Valley Book Festival in October. I’m not on a panel this time, but I’ll sit in on at least one.

Oh, can’t forget Daylight Savings Time comes back in a week.

On March 19 (yes, another Saturday), I’ll be attending my first in-person event of the year–yay! If you are in the area of Rosemount, MN, stop at the Steeple Center (can’t miss it–it’s an old church) and hang out with a bunch of MN authors. I’ll be on a panel on female protagonists with the Midwest Mystery Works. It’ll be great–since I’m the only female on the panel 🙂 I’ll also be doing a workshop on writing mysteries, and promoting our Twin Cities chapter of Sisters in Crime. I’m guessing that a quarter of the authors there will be members of our chapter.

Then the Solstice! Yippee! Spring! Real Spring! My favorite season (although I know it’s only March and there’s still a lot of opportunity for snow and cold and such before Memorial Day)!

Then my next in-person event in April 7-10: Left Coast Crime in Albuquerque! Four days of mystery, crime, thriller, and suspense authors and readers mingling and talking all things books and stories and … well, you get the idea. I’ll be on a panel on Thursday, at the New Authors Breakfast on Friday morning, and moderating a panel on Friday. It’ll be a great time!

At some point, depending on weather, I’ll have to plant the garden. If the weather cooperates, I’ll be able to get the garden in before Memorial Day weekend.

I finally did it. I actually scheduled a personal writing retreat in May at a little getaway a few hours north of us with a name that just begs to be used for a writing retreat: Shire in the Woods. If the retreat goes well, I see an annual (at least once a year) pilgrimmage in my future.

Anyway, I have my police procedural on the docket since I have two beta readers still out with Book 2, but I just realized there are these things called “taxes” that are going to supercede some writing time. Sigh.

Whew. And that’s only until May. And I forgot about my class; it’s spring break this week, but I’ve still got classes until May. Uff-da. Anyway, I’d better get working on that list of mine.

Hope your weekend is filled with writing or reading or chilling 😀 😀

My son’s girlfriend and Tibbers