Facets of a Muse

Examining the guiding genius of writers everywhere


Contemplating a quiet summer #amrevising #mngarden

Before the pandemic (you all remember that, right? Life before?), in 2019 when my book came out, I remember scrambling to figure out how to “get out there”, basically how to engineer bookstore appearances, book fair registrations, and all that stuff we authors do to make ourselves known to readers. I don’t know how many bookstores or libraries or book fairs I did that year, but I do remember them. Or some of them, anyway. I went to my first reader/writer convention in March 2020.

For a day. Then everything shut down.

And I couldn’t write. For almost 2 years, something put a stranglehold on my creative energy, and though I tried, I could not write. Of course, anything related to in-person stuff was shut down, and virtual, while a great option, just isn’t the same, especially when it comes to talking to random people who might buy your book and become fans.

Now things are back. Last year, really, is when all the things started happening again. And I finally, somewhere late 2021, got my writing going again. I’m this close to a resubmit of Book 2; waiting on talking to a few more beta readers before doing another revision and sending it off to my agent with fingers crossed.

I’m working on a couple other projects, too. The thing I find I’m not doing (or terribly interested in doing at this point) is setting up those in-person things: book fairs, art fairs, bookstore appearances, all the stuff. Mainly because I don’t have a new book yet, but also because after the past couple years, I’m pretty content to be a homebody.

Oh, I know when Book 2 finally comes out I’ll force myself to do all the things again, but I dread it. Okay, I dreaded it the first time, but did it because that’s what you do to garner readers. Same will go for Book 2. And hopefully I’ll have the first book of a new series on the publication journey.

But this summer will be pretty quiet, except for the occasional panel, and maybe a book fair. I do have a signing event in July, along with a panel. Now all those things I’ve been setting aside since spring of 2020 are staring me in the face and begging for attention (you know, like organizing that stuff that came home from the office when they made everyone work from home and cleaning the refrigerator; actually, a lot of that deep cleaning stuff).

And I did get the garden in–now is about the time I need to start going out and stirring up those nasty tiny weeds before they decide to really get going. I didn’t have as much cut-grass mulch as I needed, so I’ll have to rake more the next time we mow what we affectionately call the “back forty.”

And it’s hot. July temps in the upper 80s and it’s only the first week in June. Ugh. We got all of what, one or two weeks of spring … maybe. I miss spring!

Anyway, the struggle to make writing the priority before garden and cleaning and–okay, not work because that’s how I pay the bills 40 hrs a week–is ongoing. Can’t wait for my Writing Sisters reunion in August!

Keep on writing!


Hi Spring–Bye Spring #springMN #amrevising

Well, we had our one week of spring, basically meaning the respite between Winter and Winter-ish in April and Summer-ish (temps in upper-seventies). Sigh. Spring is my favorite season, followed closely by Autumn, mostly because it’s warm enough to ditch the parka but still need a jacket, and the bugs aren’t out in force yet.

Not to mention that Memorial Day Weekend is the symbolic start to the summer vacation season. The ticks are out (and it’s a definite tick-heavy year), the mosquitoes are starting to ramp up their attacks, and the weather people are predicting the season’s first 90 deg day this coming week. Far too early for my taste. Leave the 90s to July, please. I can wait!

This weekend is also the traditional weekend to get the garden in. As any of you who have been following me for a few years know, I have a bad habit of planting a big garden. Needless to say, that garden takes a few days to put in: till the spot, put up the fence (because those damn rabbits!), put chicken wire around the fence (yes, those damn rabbits!), lay out the soaker hoses, then finally plant.

I’m at the finishing up spot of putting the chicken wire around the fence. After the past couple days I keep thinking I wouldn’t have to do all this if we didn’t have all the rabbits. The challenges of living in the country (yes, I know that rabbits can still be a problem in town, but I’m pretty sure we have far more of those rodents (and chipmunks) where we are).

And don’t forget my hubs reminding me to get the plants in (yes, dear, I’m well aware, and one or two days won’t make a difference, and I’ve been doing this for a while so I think I know what the hell I’m doing by now). He did help me put up the fence, which involves pounding in T-posts and dragging pig panels into place, all of which we acquired as part of the place when we bought it thirty-ish years ago. It was a lot of work then, and it still is, except we’re older now, so it feels like even more work.

So this weekend is all about getting the garden in. And again, I have far more tomato plants than I need, but I did buy onion plants this year instead of starting them from seed like I have in the past few years. Last year and the year before I didn’t have the luck I’ve had prior to that when starting onions from seed.

And I’ve gotten requests from a couple family members. My sister-in-law has been asking me to plant pumpkins for her the past few years because I have the room in my garden. No problem. The fun/surprise request? My son and his girlfriend asked me to plant beets! Surprising because my son has always been notoriously picky when it comes to veggies. Last year I didn’t plant beets because we had so many the year before. We gave some to my son and his girlfriend, and she loved them (she hadn’t had them cooked before she had them at our place). I also found out last year my son likes brussels sprouts 😮 They roast them in their air fryer.

Wow. He grew up 🙂

Anyway, that’s on the docket for this weekend, along with still working through the plot for Book 3 and also reviewing/revising my police procedural. The garden stuff (and the full time job stuff) takes a good chunk out of the day, but once the garden is planted, I can get back to my brainstorming walks.

To those in the US: have a Happy and SAFE Memorial Day Weekend!

Zoey sitting outside


Best laid plans? #SNAFU

You know what it takes to plan a cross-country road trip: make sure the vehicle is up to snuff mechanically, plan a route, get the timing down (when to leave, when to stop and overnight, etc), figure out what to bring (food, snacks, tools, sleeping bags, clothes, etc.), check the weather, pack a lot of patience. Coordinate with the other ambitious pair driving out to CA. Let the kids know where you are. Make sure someone is around to feed the animals.

Best laid plans.

And that’s all fine and dandy until the Universe decides you’re not supposed to go to Portola, CA this month.

I can say I’ve been to Nebraska. Hillier than I thought it was. Of course, we never even made it halfway through the state. And there are some super nice people there.

On the bright side, we made it back home just fine the next day. But boy, that one day of travel was one helluva day. Didn’t have that one on my bingo card.

(Yes, I know what you’re thinking, you want me to give all the details. Considering we’re still working on figuring all the bits and pieces out, and Hubs’s paranoia, I’ll have to keep it vague, but I’ll bet you all can guess what happened.)

And we’re down a vehicle. (See, told you you’d guess what happened. And no, no one got hurt. Sooo grateful for that!)

You know how stressful stuff like that can be. Reminded hubs and me that we work pretty well together when shit hits the fan, or the Universe sends you a sign you cannot ignore. Yes, Universe, we got the message. We cancelled our trip. Happy now?

Oh, and note to self: travel during the week, because stuff is closed after noon on a Saturday in small towns in Nebraska.

Anyhow, I wonder if my Muse was disappointed he didn’t get to write my post today. Maybe he can do it next week. 😀

I did go back to work since I was home (rather than take the whole week off like I’d originally planned), which actually was good because we’re down two team members (out of 5) right now. My son was happy he got to take the cat to the vet to get it spayed (instead of flying out to Reno), which worked out because he and my husband then continued on another adventure to find a rust-free replacement vehicle for the next road trip to CA, because my SIL and BIL figure this won’t be the last one. There’s still stuff to do at my deceased BIL’s place before all the estate stuff can be finalized.

Not sure who’s going to drive out with hubs on that trip. Maybe I jinxed it; the last two times he drove out there I wasn’t along.


Back to the routine. Writing is always on my to-do list. This week I’ll start laying out the garden and get things planted. Another gardening season awaits!

Keep writing!

Kitten therapy–Nyx
Kitten therapy–Tibbers


So many directions at once #mnspring #amrevising

Do you ever have one of those weeks where things just seem to happen all at the same time? Welcome to my last couple of weeks. Hence my delay in getting this post written.

On the bright side, it was because I was working on my police procedural 🙂

Any-hoo, half of what’s been taking my time has been writing-related. We attempted our first hybrid meeting for our Sisters in Crime chapter meeting. Not too bad, ran into a few hiccups. Fortunately, I also attended a Zoom meeting for another SinC chapter that discussed hybrid meetings, and learned how they handled those same bumps in the road. Had a chapter board meeting after that (that’s 3 evening meetings this week, in case you’re keeping track 🙂 ) and discussed a few items. Handled a few items. All good!

Okay, other writing stuff includes the beta read I’m doing as part of the Inlet Beta Readers Club (that was one of those opportunities I mentioned last week) and continuing the revision process on my police procedural project. I will say, I’ve been able to get through the reorganization now. I’ve got to go back and add a few details, and a few additional short scenes. After that comes the “set it aside and let it cool” part. That’ll work out fine, because after I get this pass done, I have the Blueprint for a Book project I’m doing with a fellow SinC chapter author who’s working toward Author Accelerator certification.

So, remember that road trip I mentioned a couple weeks ago that upended my planned personal writing retreat? Yeah, that one. We adjusted that plan–I won’t fly back at all. I’ll drive out to CA with hubs, and our son will fly in mid-week to drive back with us. Simpler, because I don’t have to futz around with flying back, but knowing my husband, things might get complicated on the way back. Meaning, his brother (who passed away last fall) had a couple vehicles–CA vehicles, which means no rust–he is interested in bringing (driving) back (it’s a 1700 mile drive). Keep in mind these vehicles have likely not been driven for a long while (the tabs are a couple years expired). His super power is fixing things, and he has a habit of acquiring vehicles, especially vehicles with no rust (because every car on the road for more than a couple winters in MN has rust). (PS: do not ask me how many vehicles we currently possess (that may or may not be roadworthy). Just don’t.)

Yep. Here’s hoping his brother convinces him it’s not worth it (and may have some regulatory complications that make it too big of a PITA to do it).

Not to mention that we have a week to get stuff organized for the trip. Mind you, hubs is excellent at planning for contingencies. His contingencies, however, are on the mechanical side of things. Which leaves all the other stuff (food, camping if necessary, other associated stuff, anything having to do with computers) for me to plan. Then to make sure daughter, who will be remaining at the homestead, has what she needs and remembers to do important stuff like feeding the animals. That’s besides the day program she’ll be starting, which requires her to drive to the Cities every day.


No wonder it seems like time is flying by. Sheesh.

Anyway, next week I’ll be on the road heading West, and the following week I’ll be on the road heading back home, so you may not hear from me for a couple weeks except for canned posts.

Until then, keep on writing!

A furry belly to keep you smiling!


Taking craft-wise opportunities #amrevising #amreading

One of the best things I ever did for my writing journey was take the plunge and sign up for a master novel writing class. A week of learning about the craft with 5 other aspiring novelists and a fanstastic writing teacher did more than expand my knowledge of the craft for that one week. It was the genesis of the Writing Sisters. I have learned so much from these ladies! Our relationship is more than just a group of authors, we truly have developed into a group that is more family-like than your everyday critique or writing group.

From there I went to writing conferences, and took more classes on the craft of writing. I even worked to get a Writing Certificate for Fiction from UW-Madison. Even genre conferences like Left Coast Crime are educational not only through sitting in on panels of other writers discussing various aspects of the craft, but also through talking with other writers.

Just like probably every other writer out there, I have shelves of books on the craft of writing, many of which I have read, and many, of course, are on my TBR list. I’ll read them. Someday. I’m also in a critique group with a couple very insightful writers. Basically, I’m trying to improve my craft. Keep learning about the craft of writing. Keep practicing the craft.

What I find interesting is how opportunities suddenly show up in my path. I mean, like, out of the blue. Kind of like how I got into my critique group. It was a chance post on FB, and of course I forget where or when. Anyway, the poster was looking to form a critique group with a few other writers. I responded, and now there are three of us. I have learned a lot from these ladies, and not only from their critiques of my work, but, as anyone in a critique group can attest, you also learn when critiquing the work of the other writers.

Recently I’ve had a couple additional experiences like this, where something shows up in my path. I have the choice of taking the opportunity or passing it by because maybe I’ve got so much other stuff going on. It’s always a dilemma, at least it seems like it initially. Should I? How much time will this take away from my own writing?

I’ve decided that doing anything that helps me learn more about the craft and meet other writers is probably worth it (especially if it’s free 🙂 ).

The first opportunity that popped onto my path recently came from one of my former writing instructors at UW-Madison. I subscribe to her newsletter, and she mentioned she was organizing a beta reading club to help writers find beta readers. I filed the information, weighing whether I had time to read another writer’s manuscript while trying to work on my own. About a week later she emailed me directly and asked if I’d be interested. I mulled about it for another week before saying “What the hell. Might as well.”

I met some very interesting other writers, and I have three beta readers right now reading Book 2. Not just beta readers, but beta readers who are knowledgeable about the craft of writing, because most of the writers and readers are her former students, I think. I have two manuscripts I’m beta reading. Sure, it’s time I’m not writing, but I’m learning from them. And who knows, I might be able to tap those writers again for beta reads in the future.

The other opportunity that appeared on my path was a post by a writer in my Sisters in Crime chapter. He’s going through Author Accelerator certification, and needed some writers to work with as part of the process. I’d heard about Author Accelerator at Writers’ Institute one year when the founder, Jennie Nash, was the keynote speaker. He described the process as “Blueprint of a novel”. I figured if he needed authors to work with, and I could learn some different techniques to help me get Book 3’s plot fleshed out, hey, I’m game. (and it’s free 🙂 ). Turns out that I’m at a point in my plot-creation process that will work well for what he’s doing. He selected me and one other author to work with.


The thing is, I figure if the Universe dropped these opportunities in front of me, it’s trying to tell me something. I don’t necessarily believe in fate, per se, but I do believe these things show up for a reason. I’ve learned through other life experiences (ask me about my first tech writing job sometime) that it’s a good idea to pay attention to stuff like this.

I guess what I’m saying is look for opportunities to expand your knowledge and practice of the craft. And if something “drops from the sky”, don’t be afraid to take it. It might be the very thing that connects you to a bigger opportunity later on.

Still waiting on spring here. I do have hopes for the upcoming week, though. Looks like they’re predicting at least 2, maybe three days of real Spring, with real Sunshine! They’re saying we might even get into the upper 60s. Yippee! I’m really getting tired of the chill wind, gray clouds, and drizzle. Ugh.

Keep on writing!