Facets of a Muse

Examining the guiding genius of writers everywhere


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Back in the flow — sort of #amwriting

Last weekend’s writing conference was a blast, even if it was busy for me, with panels and presentations and one-on-one meetings with other writers. As an introvert, that sort of event, even if it is a wonderful meeting of writers doing writerly things and talking everything writing, is draining. On the other side of it, though, is the sheer amount of creative energy that coalesces at these events. I think it has a lot to do with all those muses getting together. It’s like a muse convention.

In any case, that creative energy has clung to me, and I have started writing again. Nothing major, but it’s a start. Right now I’m writing longhand, because I think that encourages the process somehow. And I can feel a sort of relief as I’m writing again. It’s like I get anxious when I don’t write for too long.

Then again, maybe that anxiety has to do with the blizzard we had this week, with around 5 inches of heavy wet snow. And damn it, the grass was just starting to turn green and the trees are starting to bud. Ugh. And now it melts. So, three inches of slushy snow + gravel driveway = almost impassable even with 4WD. I hope things dry out a bit by the time I go back to work on Monday.

In the meantime, I have the weekend slated for Easter entertaining preparation (read: spring cleaning). Nothing like the thought of relatives coming over to kick off a frenzy of cobweb chasing and dust bunny wrangling. But what better way to put off cleaning than to sit down and write?

I open the door to my writing office and discover the light is already on. And guess who is chilling behind my desk?

“It’s about time, love. I thought you would be a bit more industrious after the conference.” My Muse pulls his feet off my desk and exits my chair, sweeping an arm in its direction. “I warmed it up for you.” The smirk on his face tells me he probably did more than warm it up. I’d better check for whoopi cushions or tacks.

“Would I do that to you?” He sits on a corner of the desk, one leg dangling. His dark denim jeans, white t-shirt, and flannel shirt in the traditional red and black checkerboard pattern, sleeves rolled up to his elbows, makes me wonder what he’s up to. It’s like he’s preparing for a wilderness tour. Not that I’m complaining. Nope. Not complaining about the rugged look at all. I should be thankful there is no fedora or bullwhip in sight.

“Really, love? Why would I be up to anything but nurturing your creativity?” His crooked smile tells me I’m more right than I hoped.

“Uh-huh. Like you and all those other muses at the conference didn’t swap ‘how to get your writer’s butt in the chair and fingers on the keyboard’ stories? I’m sure you have a few new ideas.”

“I do. But I won’t use them unless I have to. You seem to be getting your stride back. Good job.”

“Don’t get too excited. You know I have to get ready for Easter.”

“Yes, but you’re writing again. And you set yourself up to be accountable with your project.”

What I suspect he didn’t say was something about being disappointed that being accountable to him isn’t enough. “You know, you are really good at your job. It’s just … I need someone who can help me work through the process again.”

“Do you know how long I’ve been helping writers work through the process?”

Honestly, I’m afraid to ask. With my luck he probably worked with Dante. Probably gave the man the idea for the circles of Hell. “No, but I’m good with that. Not knowing. I’ll be diving in to that after Easter. Promise.”

He studies me with those blue eyes of his. The room is getting warmer. I swear it is. His eyes narrow. “Good. I’m going to hold you to that, love.”

Ahh, yeah. O-kay. Anyway …

This weekend focusing on a much-needed, long-delayed bout of spring cleaning. Despite the three inches of rapidly-melting slush outside. Ick. Just when everything had finally dried out, we get this. Winter, you made your point, now go on vacation until, like, Christmas. Okay, maybe Thanksgiving. Just go away.

Have a wonderful writing week!

 

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No rest for the writer #amwriting #writers

FIRST order of business: A huge hearty THANK YOU to everyone who hosted me for my book release blog tour! You were all great, and busy–holy cow, I think there were three blog tours running at the same time. Bravo and thank you to all those who stopped by mine and the other tours!

Woo-hoo! Finally the weekend! Kids are at school, the weather is spring-like, and I can relax and unwind from–

“A-hem.”

Damn. He’s behind me, isn’t he. Good thing I decided not to do my version of the Snoopy dance.

“Like I haven’t seen it before, love. Go ahead. Get it out of your system.”

Well, now I don’t want to do it. I turn. Sure enough, my Muse is giving me the “are you quite finished” look. “What?”

He leans against the desk in my writing office, all rugged eye candy, especially with those fine-fitting jeans and his burgundy henley, sleeves shoved halfway up his forearms. He crosses those sinewy arms, which just pulls my gaze to his broad chest.

“You’re not usually so blatant about that, love.”

Damn again. I force myself to focus on his face, with the dimple in his chin and that bare shadow from five o’clock. And those blue eyes …

“Hey,” he barks as he snaps his fingers. “Focus.”

I shake my head to shuffle my thoughts. That was weird.

“Not really.”

“Would you stop that?” I’d feel better if he couldn’t read all my thoughts. Especially those thoughts.

He chuckles, and the room warms. Or maybe it’s just me. “I’m your Muse, love. And it’s flattering.” He raises a finger. “But you need to focus. You have stuff to do before you leave next week.”

“I know. I know. I just finished the blog tour. I think it went pretty well.” Now to catch up on all those other blogs I didn’t get to. Not sure I’ll ever catch up at this rate. “Speaking of, I hope you and Mr. E got your pub crawling done for a while.” I have to get moving on Book 2. For the eighth time.

He smiles that crooked smile that makes the room get even warmer. “You have other priorities this week. Sounds like it’s going to be a grand gathering this year.”

30th-writers-institute-email

April 4-7   Register now, because it’ll be a blast!

Yes! I can’t wait! There is something about being around all those other writers at the conference that stirs up creative energy.

“And you need to get your presentations put together.”

Um. Yeah. “You really know how to crash a weekend vibe.” At least he didn’t remind me of …

“You have cleaning on your list.” He holds up a piece of paper–where did he snag my list from? “Oh, and that can’t wait.” He ticks off an item. “This can wait, but you better do this one this weekend.”

“Where the hell did you get my list? And which one?”

“The dreaded ‘clean the refrigerator’ one.” He sets the list on the desk beside him. “So, can we get the presentations done tomorrow? Then you have the whole next day to clean.”

Oh joy.

This year will be a busy one at the Writers’ Institute, now that I have a real book I can sell at the book sale. And two presentations. And two panels. So, I’ll be getting further behind in my quest to catch up on reading blogs. Next week’s post will go live a day later than usual so I can get all the good stuff in from the big days at the conference. And it’s all good stuff 😀

Enjoy your weekend!

zoey chair

Does this chair make me look fat?

 


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Busy … But at least it’s SPRING! #amreading #mystery #newrelease

Celebrating!

It’s been a busy week+ since my book release. Whew! And bonus: I got my books the day some of my readers (the ones who pre-ordered) got their books. There is something about holding the book in your hand to make it real.

Then there’s the whole “deer in the headlights” thing when the first person asks you to sign their copy of your book. First it’s: OMG, seriously? Then it’s: What the hell am I supposed to write?

And my awesome blog release tour hosts have helped spread the word since last week. If you haven’t stopped by their sites, here’s the list again:

March 13: D. L. Finn
March 18: Betsy Kerekes
March 19: Staci Troilo Audiobook Release Day!
March 21: Joan Hall
March 25: Jacqui Murray
March 27: Mae Clair

I still stare at my book in a state of near-disbelief. It’s been a bit scary, because as an introvert, I’ve always tried to stay in the wings. It’s much quieter there. The problem with that, though, is it doesn’t encourage people to buy your books, which is kind of the point.

It’s real!

“Congratulations, love.”

I start to turn, but my Muse stops me. Instead he picks up a book as he drops an arm around my shoulders and pulls me into him. Today he smells like rain with a trace of earthy loam. Spring.

“It looks good, love.”

“Thanks. People seem to like it.”

He gives me a squeeze before letting me go. “And they should. It took you long enough.”

Do I detect a hint of scolding in his voice? “Hey, there are writers out there whose first book took twice as long as mine did.”

He sets the book back in the box with the others. “Uh-huh. There are also a lot of writers out there whose first book took half the time.”

“Your point?”

His eyes narrow. “Your second book better not take as long as this one did.”

I manage–barely–to avoid rolling my eyes. “I know, I know. And you know I’ve been trying to write Book 2 ever since I signed the contract with my publisher.” Seven rough drafts so far. Seven! I’m working on the timeline again. I need to start rough draft number 8. “But you know I also have other stuff to do in the next month.” Not the least of which is spring cleaning. Ugh. We host Easter for my husband’s side of the family. And taxes. And I need to finalize my session handouts for the upcoming Writers’ Institute.

There is still time to register! Click here!

My Muse rests a hip on my desk, arms crossed. “Are you going to work with me more this time?”

“Are you going to stick around instead of jaunting off to who-knows-where?” I counter.

“Are you going to sit your ass down behind the keyboard and write?” he counter-counters. “I’ve been here, love, but I can only stir up the creative energies for you. You have to write it.”

I can’t hold back this time. I roll my eyes. “Yes. I have been sitting …”

He waves a finger, cutting me off. “No. I mean, sitting behind the keyboard, no distractions. You have to re-establish your writing spot. You know it. I insist on it.” He stands, towers over me. “Got it?

“Yes. I’ve got it.”

He’s right, and since I haven’t done anything to set up my son’s room as a writing office yet, I’ll have to go back to my old spot.

Busy schedule coming up. I know there are a few other blog release tours going on, and I’m trying to keep up with them; I apologize that I’m so far behind. I’ve also got a few reviews to write, and some other promo stuff to experiment with.

And SPRING! Woo-hoo! Crossing my fingers we don’t have any late-season snowstorms like we did last year. This year looks promising, except for all the flooding. We are fine where we’re at, and I can get to work without a problem, so it’s good. I should start some kale and maybe a few tomatoes and peppers this weekend, so they have time to get big enough for the garden. I’ll keep you posted.

Have a wonderful weekend!


What? I can sit here.


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So close now #mystery #aviation #release #amreading

4Paperback-Book-T 96 dpi

The countdown continues! I’m both excited and terrified at the prospect of my first book going out into the world. The inevitable insecurities are careening through my mind:

  • OMG, other people will read my book!
  • Oh. My. God. Other people will read my book 😮
  • Will they like it? Will anybody like it?
  • All those people at work who already bought or will buy my book–what if they don’t like it? Will they still talk to me? (yes, I know it’s a totally unfounded fear 🙂 )
  • What if nobody likes it?
  • How am I supposed to write book 2 and market this one at the same time?
  • How do I contact bookstores to have them carry my book?
  • Where is my press kit? My publisher said they were putting one together.
  • What about a newsletter? Oh man, I should have put a newsletter together already.
  • When will I get my printed books? Will I get them by the first weekend in April for the Writers’ Institute?  *unintelligible grumbling*
  • I have to schedule author events. When? Where?
  • This is scary. What was I thinking?
  • I’ll be fine. I mean, every author has to learn the ropes, right?
  • Seriously, things will work out.
  • Damn snowstorm. A-frickin’-gain. When will it end????

Hoo-boy. I know all writers go through this with their first book. Heck, probably with every book. Deep breath. Everything will be fine.

“Relax, love.”

My Muse drops a stuffed duffel bag beside the back door to my office. His blond hair is sunbleached, a counter to the bronze of his skin. His well-worn jeans and hiking shoes don’t quite work with the muscle shirt emblazoned with a surfing gator and “Spring Break” in eye-searing orange and green. He hangs a red hoodie on the coat tree.

“Where the hell have you been?”

He flashes his crooked grin. The skin around his eyes is noticably lighter than the rest of his face. “Enjoying some sunshine.” He makes a show of opening the door once again and looking over the yard. “And sand. You know, not that cold white stuff outside.” He shuts the door. “You do realize the equinox is in two weeks.”

“Your point?” We’re supposed to get another 6-9 inches of snow this weekend. Ugh. “Don’t you have some pull with Mother Nature? I mean, you being a Muse with a capital ‘M’ and all?”

He sits on a corner of my desk. “Naw. Besides, she’s got her own agenda. Last I talked to her, she was planning, and I quote–” he makes air quotes–“‘weather experiments’.”

Gulp. “Um, why don’t you tell her she can send Spring on stage. I think Winter needs a vacation.” Although this week was the first week in over a month where it didn’t snow, like, every other day.

He combs his short hair back with his fingers and chuckles. “Yeah, well, she can be really sweet, but when she’s in a mood …” He shrugs. “Anyway. Are you ready for the release?”

“You mean besides not being able to actually hold my brand-new novel until who knows when? Oh, and no press kit yet.”

“You got your website going, though.”

“Yes! Finally! And I linked it to my blog. And my blog has a link to my website.” About flipping time, too. One would think someone who worked in IT for as long as I did would have been able to finish it sooner.

“Maybe so, but you never did a lot with web stuff. You did more basic programming and regular troubleshooting.” He loops an arm around my shoulders. “You did fine, love. Now, let’s see what kind of wine and chocolate you stocked up on. I might have to make a run.”

I have to say I’m glad he’s back, even if I’m not writing just now. I have workshop handouts to finish, and blog reading to catch up on. Sorry I’m so far behind, but I’ll catch up.

You can find the link to my website at the top of the page, or right here:  Julie’s Author Website. It’s nothing fancy; I’m taking Dan Blank’s advice about keeping it simple. I’ll have to do some tweaks once the book comes out, and make sure I add the audiobook when it comes out on March 19, one week after the book.

I’ll be hunkering down during yet another snowstorm. Then rain next week. As if the 6-9 inches over the weekend won’t be enough.

Stay tuned! Stay safe! And keep writing!

zoey1


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Almost there …

checklist-2077020_1280

So many things to think about, get prepped, and design. And time seems to slip away. Maybe I need to take a sabbatical. Or maybe just a weekend with nothing else going on. No kids home from college, which always throws extra energy into the routine, and usually means I don’t get a whole lot done.

I do have an excuse to hunker down for the next week: it’s going to be freaking cold. I mean, below zero cold. For the high. We’ve been so spoiled this winter, and now when the hard stuff gets here, it’s almost nostalgic. You know, the ol’ “I remember when we had -40 windchills. For days.” Yep. This is nothin’ when you think about it.

It’s Minnesota, after all.

“I thought you were going to do a cover reveal, love.” My Muse settles a hip on my desk beside me. “You have the image.” He’s doing the flannel thing, with an appropriate thermal shirt underneath his black- and red-checked flannel, sleeves rolled halfway up his forearms. Worn jeans and hiking boots complete the lumberjack flair. “So share it. Everyone’s waiting.”

I lean back in my chair. “Except when I share it, everyone is going to want to see the listing. And the listing isn’t complete.” I just sent an email to my publisher asking them to please complete the listing. A half-finished listing is not professional. I think I would be disappointed if I went to look up an author’s book and the listing didn’t even have the cover the author just revealed.

“The ebook isn’t even on the listing yet.” And we’re in the red zone in terms of book release. I mean, seriously. I’m trying to be patient. I really am. It’s just frustrating. My agent suspects it’s fallout from the merger. She’s probably right, but that doesn’t make things any easier.

My Muse sighs. “Everyone knows a cover reveal is just that. The cover. No one expects the listings to be complete.

“Yes, they do. I mean, how many times have I gone and put in a pre-order after the author has done a cover reveal?”

“How many?”

Of course he would have to ask. “Okay, I don’t know exactly, but it’s a lot. And I have to figure out my author website, and my newsletter.” Which I have been working on.

“The site will go through changes, love. Everyone’s site gets refined over time.”

“Thanks, but that doesn’t do much to reassure me. My publisher doesn’t even have my book listed on their ‘Coming Soon’ page yet.”

“It’ll work out, love.””

“Nice thought. I’m just not seeing it yet.” On the bright side, if I don’t have my author page finished this weekend, it’ll give my publisher more time to get the listing fixed before people see the not-quite-done one.

“Hey.” My Muse slips off my desk, takes hold of my arm, and lifts me from my chair. He turns me to face him, blue eyes full of reassurance. “You keep doing your thing. Do what you can do and don’t fret over what you can’t control.”

“Fret? Really?” No one says “fret” anymore.

A crooked grin stretches across his face. “Yes, really. Look it up.”

Sigh. Okay, here’s something to tide you over:

teasers_cr

Oh, and can’t forget Zoey:

zoey_cr

She sure looks regal here. Yep, just like a cat to think she’s in charge. 😀

O-kay. Stay tuned …


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Clueless, but trying

The back door of my writing office opens, letting in a blast of crisp winter air and a flurry of snowflakes. Despite my sweats over long johns–my winter casual wear in the house–I shiver. “Shut that. It’s cold.”

My Muse closes the door and stomps snowy boots on the doormat. He unwraps a red knit scarf from around his neck and pulls off a matching stocking cap before he tugs off his ski gloves. “Brisk. Actually, love, it’s refreshing.” He starts to cross the office, his boots thudding on the floor.

“Hey, stop. Don’t get snow all over my office. Take your boots off.”

An eyebrow arches high before he complies, leaving his boots on the mat as he peels off his leather bomber jacket. He shoves the gloves in his hat and his hat into a sleeve of the jacket before hanging it and the scarf on the coat tree beside the door.

“Nice of you to come back during the snowstorm.” I lean back in my chair and feast my eyes — er, take inventory of my Muse. A cream-colored fisherman’s sweater–looks toasty warm–and jeans, with thermal socks–wait. “Minions? Where did you find those?”

minion socks He follows my gaze to his feet. “What?”

“Never mind.” I return my attention to my computer.

My Muse drags a chair beside me. “I see you haven’t taken down your Christmas lights.”

The huge whiteboard on the wall is a perfect mount for my lights, which I draped around the perimeter. Another string of lights surrounds the door trim on both doors. “I like Christmas lights. If I wait long enough, I can call them Easter lights.” christmas lights

He groans. “Uh-huh. What are you working on, because I know for a fact that isn’t your WIP.”

I frown at the screen. “Author website. And newsletter. And cover reveal posts, although at this point I’ll just bypass the reveal and plan for the release.” *grumble*

My Muse rests his arm across the back of my chair, which means he’s leaning close. Really close. And that sweater is toasty warm if the heat radiating from him is any indication. “Aaand,” he indicated the screen, “this is which?”

“Website.”

“So what’s the problem? You used to be in IT.”

“But I never built websites. I can do it, it’s just a matter of deciding how to do it. I mean, what it should look like.” Then there’s the time suck of digging around the internet for a free theme that strikes me as the right sort to use.

Ever go on Pintrest? Yep, like that.

“Hey, you’re my Muse, so muse me. C’mon, I’m drawing a blank here. I can’t decide whether to tweak a ready-made template or create a new one. Or what it should look like. I have a landing page that basically says I’m not finished with the site yet, but I don’t know where to go from there.”

His chuckle rolls out from deep in his chest. I know, because at this range, I can feel it. “You’ll figure it out, love. You always do.”

“Fat lot of help you are.”

He looks at me, his blue eyes sparkling–with something like humor, I suspect. “You do realize I am here to help, right? With the whole channeling creative energy thing. Besides, you’re making it too complicated.”

“How so?”

“Focus on the books you know will be coming out first. You can always adjust from there.”

“So, what you’re saying is, leave my police procedural out of the equation for now.” I’m sure he’s right. They are on the back burner right now in favor of my book coming out, Book 2, and another mystery on my list to write. Well, redraft, which seems to be my thing these days.

“What is the saying? Keep it simple? Do that.”

Geez, nothing like being vague. “That’s the plan.”

So that’s my plan over the weekend, the first whole weekend since the kids went back to school. I really should clean. And take down my Christmas lights. And work on the workshop I’m doing in March for our local Sisters in Crime chapter. And I haven’t gone through any seed catalogs yet. And I’m way behind reading blog posts. And …

Anyway. It’s cold and snowy–first real snow of 2019, although I’ve been enjoying our mild winter so far.

Happy Writing!

zoey nap


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A-Musing Return

Blue goo drips down the brainstorming wall like a slime creature suffering from narcolepsy. A crimson splat mixes with a yellow blob. I lob another idea at the wall, this one a bright green. It hits and bounces against the wall like a skipping stone across the water until it shatters against a pink and orange swirl. 

That could work. I peer closer. I’m pretty sure that will work. Still following the pattern on the wall, I reach back for another idea.

No bucket. Damn. I know I left it …

“Looking for this, love?”

I swing around so fast I lose my balance and catch myself against the wall. My hand slips across the mosaic of ideas. I flail, scrabbling against the slick wall.

My Muse catches my arm and hauls me upright before I hit the floor, his other hand occupied by my idea bucket. “Still clumsy, I see.”

Steady now, I move to wipe my hands, until I see the mess. Like finger paints, only brighter and a bit more slickery. “Geez. It’s about frickin’ time. Glad you found your way back.” Seriously. I’m glad he found his way back. Grumpy was starting to get on my nerves. For the past two weeks.

He hands me a towel he pulls from his back pocket. The texture is odd, like velour but scratchier. It does the trick, though. While I clean my hands off, I notice his five o’clock shadow has an extra 12 hours on it. He’s wearing a Hard Rock Cafe sweatshirt from Surfer’s Paradise, wherever that is, sleeves shoved to his elbows. His wearing-them-well jeans and flip-flops complete the ensemble. Then I notice his blond hair is lighter on top, and his skin has acquired a bronze tint.

“Queensland,” he supplies, even though I know I didn’t ask out loud. “And yes, I did enjoy some sun. It’s summer there, you know.” He scratches at the stubble on his face while he checks out the brainstorming wall. “Progress, I see.”

I finish cleaning off my hands and dangle the towel–now looking like a rainbow vomited on it–toward him. “Some.”

He sets the bucket on the floor and snaps the towel at it like a shower room gotcha. The colors shoot from the towel into the bucket, each hue reclaiming its ball shape as it hits the target.

Damn, he’s good.

“Grumpy said you made NaNo. Congratulations, love.”

“No thanks to that killjoy. You know, he’s worse than you are. I am sooo glad you’re back.” Then I plant hands on my hips. “Don’t do that again.”

His blue eyes sparkle. “You progressed on your WIP and you won NaNo. And you worked some things out.”

I poke his distractingly-solid chest. “No excuse. Isn’t there a rule against wagering time with your writer in a poker game?”

He just grins.

Damn distracting. “Anyway, you heard the news, right?”

He tucks the towel back into his pocket. “Which news? The news where you’ll be starting your term as VP with the Twin Cities Sisters in Crime? Do you have your panel ready for the January meeting? How about the workshop about using Word and track changes?”

I roll my eyes. “No. Well, yes, but no.”

He raises an eyebrow. “The news where you’re getting more visibility at the Writer’s Institute in April? Two presentations, a panel, and two half-hour sessions with other writers. Plus selling your book. You are going to be a busy woman that weekend.”

30th-writers-institute-email

“Well, yes, but that’s not what I’m thinking about.”

“You should be. You know it’s a great opportunity to get your name out there.”

“I know, I know. It’s on my list. I have to work on my presentations.” Sheesh.

“You got your cover?”

*Grumble* “Not yet. I have seen a draft of the final. Don’t get me started on that.” It’s out of my control. Besides, my agent is looped in on that. She knows what’s going on.

“You’re at the three-month mark.”

“I know. I can’t do anything about it.” Except grumble. “Okay. Here it is. I’ve got an offer for the audiobook version of Murder in Plane Sight.

A smile brightens his face. He wraps his arms around me and gives me a huge bear hug, forcing my face into his shirt. Mmmm, smells like the sea and coconut.

“Congratulations, love!” He releases me. “Well done.”

“I have to give my agent credit. She’s awesome!”

“So, when the book comes out, you’ll have Book 2 ready to go.” It wasn’t a question.

Figures. “I’ve got promo stuff to work on. And I have to revamp my website. And get a newsletter going.”

“Book 2,” he says again, this time adding a scolding finger. “At least you found the plot issues during NaNo.” He rubs his hands together. “Now, about this wall. Needs something over there.”

Sigh.

It’s the last weekend without kids before Christmas break. My plan: writing. Lots of writing.

How about you?