Facets of a Muse

Examining the guiding genius of writers everywhere


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Musing some help? #amrevising

Out my window my first morning at the Shire

When I open the curtains, I swear. I knew the weather wonks had mentioned snow showers up north, but I’d hoped they were wrong.

Nope, they were right. My first morning at my long-awaited writing retreat, and it snowed. At least I’m not planning to go anywhere today. Tomorrow is another story; I’ve got a panel tomorrow morning about 1 1/2 hrs away. An interruption in my gloriously quiet four days of solitude.

Oh well. I fire up the coffee maker and brew up a pot of Caribou Coffee, a nice change from the store-brand coffee we have at home (yes, store-brand–no coffee snobs in our house, just frugal). Then I settle in with my laptop for a day of revision.

*Knock, knock*

What the hell? I did not just hear that knock.

*Knock, knock*

“G’morning, love. Oi, open the door.”

Ahem, that’s weird. He only uses doors because I told him that whole popping in thing is just showing off.

Not like that’s ever stopped him.

“This better be good,” I shout back at him as I head to the door.

And stop.

Seriously?

My Muse is standing on the other side of the door, MN Vikings stocking cap on his head and hands tucked into the pockets of his leather bomber jacket. Beside him are two women, one blond and about my height and age, the other a taller brunette a little older than my son, her coat stretched over her abdomen.

You have got to be kidding. I unlock the door and glare at my Muse. “You were supposed to be here last night when I got in. What the hell are you doing?”

“You’ve heard of having lunch with your characters, right? Here they are. You can have coffee, since it smells like you just made a fresh pot.” He pushes past me. “Come on in, ladies.”

“Dude, there’s no room here.” Heck, there aren’t even enough chairs to go around. The table might seat four with enough chairs, but it’d be tight. Besides, I’m using one of the two existing chairs as a luggage stand.

“No worries, love.” My Muse waves a hand and two more chairs appear at the tiny table. He pulls the stool from under the teeny counter overhang in the kichenette and plants himself on it. “Have a seat, ladies.”

I close the door and plant my hands on the counter in front of my Muse. “What are you …”

“You said your agent told you their characters were still a little flat, so I brought them over.”

I don’t even try to stop my eyeroll. “Not when I’m on my writing retreat. You are supposed to be helping me revise Book 2.”

He shoots me a grin, the divot in his chin deepening. “I am. I think the coffee’s ready.”

Arrrgh. I pour coffee for my characters, and think about making my Muse pour his own damn coffee.

When I set the coffee mug in front of the younger woman, she leans to me and whispers, “He’s your muse?”

“Muse, with a capital ‘M’. Yeah, since high school.”

Her eyes widen. “He is so hot!”

“Connie,” her mother scolds, then grins. “She’s right.”

“Don’t tell him. He’s got enough of an ego the way it is.”

“I believe it. Now, he said you needed to get to know us a little better.”

“Look, Anna, he sometimes does things …”

She pats my hand. “He told us what you need, and we’re here to help. Now, do you want to talk about my Ed? My Ed would have liked you, too.”

Well, since they’re here, I might as well “have coffee” with them. “Actually, tell me how you really would have handled the whole thing.”

Well, a nice change from my last visit to the Shire in the Woods is that they changed internet providers. It’s still a little flaky, but waaay better than it was this spring, hence the blog post 🙂 It’s a little break from my revisions, which I’m determined to finish before I head home on Monday.

Hope you all have a wonderful weekend!


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10th Anniversary — Back at the Inn #crystalriverbb #amwriting

Another wonderful reunion!

I find a spot in the glider in the morning, before the sun heats everything up. Okay, it’s before breakfast, none of my Writing Sisters are up, and it’s peaceful, listening to the river. We’ve been spending some time just enjoying being here for another year. Listening to the river in the quiet of the morning is one of the best parts.

The glider creaks as a weight settles beside me and sets the glider in motion. “Enjoying your stay, love?” My Muse rests an arm on the back of the glider behind me.

“Always.” I indicate the new addition to the options for hanging out by the river.

“I noticed you’ve been taking advantage of the hammock. You were out here yesterday when my Sisters wrote my novella for me, weren’t you? And I’m sure you didn’t encourage them at all,” I add with a huge dose of sarcasm.

He leans toward me. “It’s good for you. Besides, it’ll be a great novella.”

I can’t hold back a sigh. “Yes, it will be. And when am I supposed to work on this novella? I want to get Book 3 brainstormed and put together a timeline before NaNo this year. Besides, I’m sure that’ll be the next request from my agent. Oh, and that’s besides getting my police procedural shaped up. And you’re not helping with the whole urban fantasy project, which you know damn well I can’t focus on until I get through the procedural, my rural mystery, and Book 3.”

He shifts his arm to my shoulders and slides closer. His chuckle vibrates through him. “You’ve been receptive the past few weeks. I’m just making sure you’ve got enough creative energy to get some stuff finished.”

“Uh-huh. I don’t think creative energy is the problem at this point. It’s time. Can you slow down time so I can finish all these projects I have going?”

“I’m good, love, but that’s out of my jurisdiction.”

“Meaning, you could, but you don’t have permission?”

He hesitates for a long while. The gurgle of the river fills the quiet morning air. “I can’t slow down actual time. I can just make it feel like you have the time.”

“Oh, like when I’m on a roll and before I know it three hours have passed and I’ve written 5,000 words? When I’m so focused on writing that I don’t pay attention to anything else?”

“Exactly.”

Which is good, because that’s when I’m most productive, but it doesn’t put the rest of the stuff I need to get done on hold. I just have less time to do the other stuff.

We’ve been having a wonderful reunion retreat again this year. I always get so inspired when we gather. Time to get back to writing!

Have a wonderful writing week, everyone!


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I’m baaack! #amwriting #amediting

Blueberry Trail – Shire in the Woods

Last weekend I ventured farther north to my personal writing retreat. If you look at a map of MN, there’s a big lake sorta in the middle to the northish of the middle of the state–Lake Mille Lacs. My retreat was a bit east of that, a roughly three-hour drive for me. Our trees were almost fully dressed, but up by Lake Mille Lacs they were just starting to leaf out.

The place I stayed, Shire in the Woods, started out as a hermitage, but now offers cabin rentals for those who like the peace and quiet (except when people drive their motorcycles around and kids use their outside voices). It’s at the edge of “Lake Country”–farther north and west is the bulk of the vacation/resort area–so I suspect a lot of people stay there as a “home base” for fishing adventures. It’s also at the edge of a state park–more comfortable than camping, but not so ostentatious as “glamping”.

I didn’t take any pics of the cabin I stayed in because they have quite a few on their website. I stayed in the Loft, a tiny cabin with an upstairs (cool spiral staircase!). One amenity is free internet, but I found the internet connection flakey and barely usable. Which is fine, except that meant no research (heh, no rabbit holes) and barely sufficient to check email.

Looking out the front window of the Loft

I chose this cabin because of the two levels (separates sleeping area from working area) and the glider rockers. I like to sit in a recliner with the footrest out when I write, so these were appealing. There’s a tiny kitchenette that includes a mini-fridge and the bare basics of salt, pepper, coffee, sugar, creamer. I brought my own coffee (nice excuse to get some good coffee 🙂 ).

It was cool and gloomy–I think I saw maybe a total of a half-hour of sunshine the entire three days. The cabins are small enough (at least the Loft was) to not be too cold. There was an electric heater (one of the ones that look like a skinny radiator), which kept the place warm enough that I didn’t have to use any wood.

My intent had been to wander the trails a bit, but things were still thawing and drying out, so the one trail I did venture on had some low, very wet (standing water) spots. And wood ticks! Ugh! I brought some bug repellent with DEET on purpose because I know that a) it’s tick season, and b) they have deer ticks in the area. So as I’m trying to walk a trail and skirt around the wet spots, I’m traipsing through last year’s dead grasses and naked branches, prime wood tick hangouts.

I still managed to get wet feet (granted, they do tell you to bring waterproof footwear because of those low spots), and I have never seen so many wood ticks trying to hitch a ride at one time. I got back to the cabin, and brushed nearly a dozen ticks off my pants–that I had sprayed with DEET (40% DEET)! I showered right away, so I could warm up and make sure no ticks found a meal.

Needless to say, I didn’t venture on the trails after that. Note to self: probably a good idea to bring waterproof boots next time. And more bug spray. Lots more bug spray.

I finished my revisions for Book 2; now to let it cool off a bit before one more run though it. Also some progress on my police procedural that I have to reorganize. Not so much writing with that one yet, but shuffling scenes around. I did determine I need to write out a timeline to get the sequence of events set in my head; the index cards help, but I learned I need to walk through the scenes in a timeline format to really get a handle on where they are in the story.

Overall, a success! I’m going to go back for another retreat in October, after the tourist season but before the winter weather season (usually). Maybe it’ll be after tick season by then, and it’s usually pretty dry as well.

Next time I’m going to try the Woodlands cabin. Single level, but seems to be laid out in a way that allows some separation between the sleeping area and the working area. And it’s tucked away from the main activity. That is one thing I noticed–though the cabins have some trees between them, they’re still pretty close to each other in the grand scheme. The Woodlands is set apart; I found it during my trail adventure.

This weekend is garden planting weekend for me, so I’ll be not writing for most of it–boo–except it’s supposed to rain, so we’ll see how far I get.

For all those in the US, have a great holiday weekend!


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9th annual Writing Sisters Reunion #amwriting #amediting

Crystal River

“Come on. I asked you, and you said you would, and I quote, ‘be happy to write your post’.”

“That was before …”

“Uh-uh. Nope. No excuses. We have an agreement.”

“Not part of my job description, love.”

“It falls under the ‘and other duties as required’ clause.”

I give my writer my best narrowed-eyes look. “On one condition.”

“No conditions. You know damn well I’m trying to be productive, even if it’s being in a critique discussion with the rest of my Writing Sisters.” My writer plants her fists on her hips. “What did you do besides float down the river yesterday?” she asks in a tone of suspicion.

“I relaxed.” And a little recreation, but I’m not inclined to mention that. So what if I got caught up in a game of Frisbee golf? “Besides, you went on an outing, too.”

She narrows her eyes at me and raises a brow. “We went to a historical house-slash-museum.”

I allow an eye-roll. “Because you write historical fiction, right?”

“No, because it was an activity, it was interesting, and what if I do decide to write something historical?” She purses her lips. “C’mon. I work, and you write my blog post. I’m working on my writing.”

Sometimes I can’t resist yanking her chain. “I haven’t seen a whole lot of writing so far, love.”

“You know how this works. We go over everyone’s stuff. Today is my turn. Besides, we always whip up creative energy when we get together. I’ll be charged up by this afternoon when we have our writing time.” She adds a finger wag. “And I’m expecting you to be available, not off on some kayak down the river.”

I have to smile. Gods, I love when she gets fired up like this. It’s a special kind of energy those eight women wind up, even if one of them is connecting through whatever video chat thing they have going. “Of course I’ll be available, love.”

“And you’ll write my blog post?”

I toss an arm around her shoulders. “You know I will, as long as you are working.”

“Great!” She hands me her computer. “Here you go. I’m going to go for a run before breakfast.”

The ladies had a great session yesterday, from what the other muses tell me, so I’m not too worried. I’d better get another game of golf in before they start up today. Keep writing!

Tibbers and Nyx


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Virtual Fellowship #amwriting #amediting

My Muse closes the door to my writing office with a quiet snick. Today he looks like a man on a mission–in the Bahamas. Red and white board shorts clash with a bright green T-shirt calling out Adelaide, Australia, with various sea creatures spelling out the name of the city. His flip-flops snap with each step. Nice calves. Nicer chest.

“I see you’re typing up a storm, love,” he says, sarcasm thick.

Yep. Me and my blank screen are going for the record here. “What’s with the T-shirt? Couldn’t find one that said ‘I went surfing back home and all I got was this lousy T-shirt?'”

He grabs a chair and straddles it, arms crossed on the backrest. “Happy day to you, too.”

I focus on my screen. “You know, you could have hung out here during our virtual writing retreat.” I would have liked the company, but I’m not going to tell him that.

“Sure, I could have.”

I feel his brilliant blue gaze drilling into me. I resist the urge to glare back.

“Next year, love.”

I take in a deep breath and let it out slowly. I had a great virtual retreat with my writing sisters. We were able to help each other with plotting, characters, and all those other pesky bits we run into, like inciting incidents and starting points.

Virtual is great, because you can feel like you’re all in a group, but it’s not the same as getting together at the B&B in Wisconsin, where we can really stir up the creative energies. Damn pandemic.

“Hey, if it makes you feel any better, the muses didn’t gather, either.” He rests his chin on his folded arms, looking far more innocent that I know he must be. “We could have, you know.”

“Uh-huh.” That surge of creative energy that buoys me after our reunions was replaced this time by a sort of grief, like I had lost a piece of a beloved collection. “I miss getting together with them. I miss the Inn and the river out back and the labyrinth and meeting at that cafe in Waupaca. Having chocolate and a glass of wine by myself … There was something missing.” Seven other someones, to be exact.

“I know, love. Focus on next year.” He gets up and heads to the wall calendar, where he flips to next August. “Next year’s reunion will be here before you know it.” He drops the pages and returns to the desk. “You guys have a virtual group chat every week, now every other week. It’s not like you don’t see them very often.”

I lean back in my chair. “I know. It’s just … this year has been so crazy.”

He looms over me. “Really, love? You’re just getting that now?” He rests a hip on my desk beside me. “You told your writing sisters what your goal is for next year’s reunion. You will have Book 2 done and either ready to submit or submitted. You’re doing good on the second revision. And you have a good plan for the other project. So get back to that second revision and finish it so you can work on the other project.

“In other words, focus.” He taps my forehead. “Suck it up, and get writing.”

“I have homework.”

“And?” he asks. “It’s writing. That’s what you do. The more you write, the faster the time will go, and pretty soon you’ll be on your way to the inn to meet up with them for your next reunion.”

He’s right, of course. I just need time to collect my scattered focus. Next week I’ll be back in the swing of things.

Man, one month of summer left already. I’ve done one batch of pickles, and I’ll have to do another one tonight, along with some green beans. I knew I’d have a lot of beans, but holy cow! Hubs reminded me that pickled green beans are pretty tasty, so I’ll add that to my pickling session later.

Hope you all are maintaining some semblance of sanity and staying safe.

Happy Writing!